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Audio Angel
World Blog

/bläɡ/ a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style. Fridays @11:11am PT

SUBJECT : Happy 2024 + BLACK MYSTERY MONTH v.5 • BLOG POST 014 [02.02.24] Black like she never left. Heh. OK! So… 4 years… So, THAT happened. Yeah, so some of you are new here. Some of you were there in 2020 when this fresh lil baby of a blog was born and then quickly had to run away to grow up to become who she is now.  
 Ever becoming. Welcome to this whole… thing. I rarely know what to say, yet I trust and deeply enjoy the exploration of what comes to mind to share and when and how.  
 How have *you* been?  
 Has it been weird? 
 As I mentioned, 4 years ago… some of you, I spoke to much more frequently and now very little. It’s possible there were even some awkward / uncomfy exchanges ESPECIALLY in 2020. Or complete drops in communication. Yet, if you’re receiving this, please know, I’d be happy to connect one-on-one and share about our worlds. 
 So, welcome back or welcome. I’ll be posting every Friday. Sharings. Shows. Stories. This kinda stuff. And I decided to come back in Febrooary so I could also re-start *BLACK MYSTERY MONTH {cue canned applause} yeee! I’m thrilled about it. I hope you dig it, too.  
 So here’s that. And see ya next week with more!  
 NEXT SHOW: MON 2/5 @ THE LOST CHURCH, SF w/ the bestie of besties Dan B in our folky duo QUIET TIME! 7:30pm * Buy tix and surprise me with smiles and your lovely presence. Would love to see ya!
 As always - If you’d like to NOT continue hearing from me this way, PLEASE REPLY WITH THE WORD “UNSUBSCRIBE”, and you’ll be all set.  
 Black Mystery Month v.5: Audio Angel World Blog (014)  
 [ disclaimer voice ] If you want OFF OF THIS LIST, please say the word! <3 
 Little Black Squares Everywhere 
 Talk about not being able to TALK about it. Talk about feeling so fucking outraged that it was numbing. Imagine the complexity of feeling surrounded by friends of over 20 years who seemingly just woke up on June 2nd 2020 to realize that not only there was Systemic Racism in America, but that *I* was their Black friend who they felt they needed to let KNOW that they now knew.  
 Oh. My. Fucking GOD! 
 And just how were they going to sum up their new found outrage, shock and awe about the culmination of the many acts of violence that Black Lives Matter was speaking out against?  
 Stand up and march side by side with folks o’ colors in protests? Yeah, some did. Masked up and everything! 
 Send money to BLM and other organizations? Yeah, some did that, too. Some STILL have that old -ass link on their page that supposedly had some connection to BLM and sent loot somewhere. 
 Start - (key word - cause this is NEW to so many) - reading books and the googles and really LISTENING to Black and Brown folks about their complex and varied experiences in America. And even “amplify” them by posting about them here and there on their larger platforms. Yup, some did that, too.  
 But on June 2nd, 2020. The way a lot — like a ridiculous amount of folks I knew - chose to show support of their new found rage against the machine…  
 A Little Black Square on their Instagram or Facebook Page. 
 A square.  
 Often, with no words. Maybe a hash tag or two. But yeah. No thoughts. No feelings. No clear indications with WHY they were doing what they chose to do. 
 For me, there were truly layers of grief, sorrow, rage, and anguish at this simple act. 
 WHO in the fuck did they think they were helping?! Did they even care?! Could they even began to fathom the potential damage they were furthering?! And again… DID THEY CARE?!  
 It was and remains. A mess.  
 A constructed distraction to the real problems and potential solutions.  
 Yet, me… in the midst of it… had NO fucking bandwidth to discuss it UNLESS there was great willingness to actually listen. 

Because for some of my friends, it was the first time they really could comprehend the VALUE of their ability to listen to people of color. Especially Black People. Especially their Black friends who were hurting or numb or fucked up or struggling even more deeply with mental health issues or sad or angry or broke AF because of a world-wide pandemic or dooood YOU FUCKEN NAME IT!  
 Yet in the midst of MANY of those struggles I listed above (and personally dealt with several) … a realization came so clear.  
 I had been co-dependently care-taking the White folks around me by sublimating the depth of the pains around several of my experiences as a Black Woman in America - for YEARS. 

But that first week of June 2020.  It all came to a screeching halt. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I had ZERO tolerance and capacity ALMOST like I never had it prior. It was SURREAL the amount of privilege I began to have to finally say NO to interactions that no longer worked for me. Sans explanation. With some sadness. Yet mainly with a sense of relief.  
 4 Years later, the grief isn’t gone. The rage still comes up and out and through. And my ability and capacities around discussing this topic and related ones, has grown.  It’s still messy. I feel now and said then, we’re quite possibly at the very beginning of learning how to maneuver our way through some deeply painful territory. NO ONE IS GETTING IT RIGHT. For me, it’s not about that. It’s about humility to say, I really don’t know how to do this, yet I’m willing to make mistakes and TRY right alongside you — WHILE — taking privileges into awareness.  
 One note I wrote at that time still sums up a lot of my feelings: 
 Not being a “racist” isn’t enough … it’s about being able to say - I am a white person who has been living with the benefits of Systemic Racism and I’m willing to STOP reaping those benefits to create an equitable world.  
 It most likely will not be easy, convenient or comfortable. Yet, if that’s what truly matters to you, I believe it’s worth it.  
 *Black Mystery Month comes from the idea that Black History Month can also include the mysterious stories of *who* Black people really are - not only the ones who “made history”. So, throughout this month, I’ve decided to share 4 stories of me and my experiences being a “Black Mystery”. I think I made it up, but I didn’t take the time to google if anyone else has coined this idea. 

SUBJECT : Lucky 13 • BLOG POST 013 [04.02.20] 13 Reasons I’m Lucky aka Fortunate aka Grateful aka Blessed… 13.) I’m doing this blog today instead of yesterday cuz like Eric Cartman… I DO WHAT I WANT… and… I do my best to keep my agreements. 12.) I have clean, running water and electricity and them innernets… 11.) I feel very loved by all whom I love regardless of distance. 10.) I am continuing to work from home on Voice Over projects, and one I did yesterday had the directors and writers exclaiming : “YOU’RE AMAZING!” … I’m too honored. 9.) I am in the most loving relationship with myself and my man at this super intense time of changes. 8.) I eat VERY WELL, every day. 7.) I feel well in this moment and will take myself for a workout walk after I post this. 6.) I’m giving myself space to grieve when grief arises. 5.) On 3/23/20 I celebrated 4 years of sobriety (drugs, alcohol, white sugar) and still choose daily not to use the things / do the behaviors that I once chose to medicate through my emotions. 4.) I got to sing and celebrate a dear inspiration Rev. Elouise Oliver for her 89th b-day. It was a digital church service w/ 100 people via zoom! Technology is amazeballs. 3.) I’m very intelligent and highly creative. 2.) I’m deeply sensitive and that is helping to make my daily choices clearer. 1.) I can express myself powerfully through music. And I did so in this video. Check it! Ever just have a song stuck in your head and need to sing it out? This one came to me last night. So I did. “Be One” was written by the majestic composer + Bassist Bill Lee (Spike’s Dad) for Spike’s impactful film “School Daze”. I recall being blown away at School Daze for millions of reasons, but it was the music that stood out and had so much heart. I knew of Phyllis Hyman from watching old VHS tapes of “Duke Ellingtons’ Sophisticated Ladies” on Broadway. I was overwhelmed at the beauty and power this larger-than-most Black woman exuded … she dripped BEFORE drippin’ was a thing… I mean, it was just … who she was! And, according to what I understand, she was ALSO… a woman struggling with mental illness, which lead to her suicide in 1995. To look back and honor all the complexities that her music was filled with inspires me to show up as fully as I can - with all of what makes me me - whenever I sing. It’s highly likely that I miss you. :-) Love, Rashida
 Question to answer: 
HOW - ARE - YOU ?! Do you want to make a FaceTime-type date or phone call soonish? Request for input: I am open to suggestions about online/work from home opportunities - I have a full home recording studio. I am open to collaborations with music producers for paid & unpaid creating. I am open to online expression coaching clients & any suggestions about ways to best market that service. Opportunity to contribute/hire: Rashida Clendening aka Audio Angel. Voice Actor. Vocalist. Actor. Expression Coach. 
Religious Science Practitioner. Graphic Designer. Video Production. Consultant.

SUBJECT : Healthy Boundaries • BLOG POST 012 [03.25.20] That’s what I’ve been thinking about in preparation of sharing this blog post. (and yes I totally get that Healthy Boundaries is rapidly taking on a new meaning - which fascinates me too.) Anyone who knows me well, knows how important the CONCEPT of Healthy (emotional) Boundaries has been to me over the past 20 years in particular. How it’s shaped my closer friendships and work relationships. How I’m always striving to learn how to have them with more KINDNESS and less FUCK YOU. hah. Sigh. I just laughed for the first time in a couple of hours. That felt good. :-) This is a lot ya’ll. Right now, I’m thinking about what to share and how much to share. All of you know of me and I, of you - yet I don’t have agreements with many of you about what our shared communication could/should/will look like. That’s not what this blog was for… It was originally for me to have the courage to share, authentically, in ways that didn’t seem as safe via social media. And to be consistent about it - regardless of it’s content from week to week. Is it cool? Is it helpful? Will they like it? - letting those thoughts go. Yet, right now… in the midst of every day feeling like a week in itself - because of what I feel is SOMETIMES being asked of me to deal with… I feel uncertain about the best way - the healthiest way - to do this blog thing. So, I went back and forth with myself thinking that, and now I’ve said it to you. It’s a lot simpler when I just sit down and type it. And when I say what is SOMETIMES being asked of me… I mean asked of… by myself. I have this fantastic voice in my head who magically expects me to know how to do things before I’ve ever done them. And of course, She gets outrageously upset when /if I do it WRONG or produce a result she doesn’t love. She’s quick with a punishment, that one. You can only imagine how upset she’s been with all that’s going on. I do my best to hear her out while NOT letting her run the show. These past few days, I’m practicing diligently to let Tenderness, Consideration & Ease be in the driver’s seat, so to speak. Sighs Again. Thank you SO much to all who reached back in after my last blog, and for the time shared. It means so much right now. I start to tear up just thinking about it. For all who maybe wanted to, but didn’t. Please feel invited to. Even if simply to say, Hi Shida. :-) I truly hope you are well. And if not, I truly hope you are getting the support you need. Love, Rashida

SUBJECT : Both /And • BLOG POST 011 [03.18.20] At the East Bay Meditation Center, there’s a laminated sign on the wall with their “Agreements for Multicultural Interactions” - this is my favorite one: PRACTICE BOTH / AND: When speaking, substitute “and” for “but”. This practice acknowledges and honors multiple realities. GoodLawdHaveMercy. What a difference a week makes. Talk about multiple realities. Every DAY has been so FULL of experiences. Of … UNPRECEDENTED… moments. Thank you John David for that word. I love the accuracy of it. The reality of it. AND… there are many everyday … precendented (not a word) things… so many common things that I have burst into tears with gratitude for in the last 24 hours. Overall - I am feeling fine, healthy and well! I have all that I need in my home right now! Earlier tonight, I got to meet up online with about 75 other artists in a digital “Open Mic” and it was overwhelmingly fulfilling! AND… I feel angry. I often feel anger right before I feel powerless or depressed, but those feelings haven’t come up. More like I want to fight my way through and be mad at others for not knowing how to handle this situation better. AND …I feel sad. I feel like there is a small rashida inside who is very unhappy about what’s going on in the world and is tugging at her inner mom’s pant leg A LOT more than usual. We call that inner mom “Me-Mom”. :-) Sigh. AND … I am bowled over with feelings of the aforementioned gratitude. For the immense amount love in my life. For my health and well-being. For my ability to feel deep faith in the midst of turbulence. AND … I feel curious. Where is this “other side” some people are saying they’ll see me on. What will it look like? Who will WE be? What is this time creating in us all? So, these are a few of the realities I am honoring…at THIS MOMENT. I would sincerely love to know how YOU are feeling if you have the capacity / interest in connecting. Lastly, there’s some “homework” at the bottom if you’re interested. Onward, upward and through. Love, Rashida P.S. Wheee! I just made a lyric video to a song my lovely friend Ian Varley (aka InObscura) and I made back in 2014 that won’t leave my head, so now it’s heading to yours! Question to answer: HOW - ARE - YOU ?! Do you want to make a FaceTime-type date or phone call soonish? Request for input: I am open to suggestions about online/work from home opportunities - I have a full home recording studio. I am open to collaborations with music producers for paid & unpaid creating. I am open to online expression coaching clients & any suggestions about ways to best market that service. Opportunity to contribute/hire: Rashida Clendening aka Audio Angel. Voice Actor. Vocalist. Actor. Expression Coach. 
Religious Science Practitioner. Graphic Designer. Video Production. Consultant.

SUBJECT : Grandma + The Green Blinking Cursor • BLOG POST 010 [03.11.20] I keep visualizing that blank screen after Joshua finishes playing in “War Games”. At some point they were all looking befuddled at the little square green cursor… For me, it’s like… So much to say that it all stops at the gate and just sits and waits. Blinking. Thinking. Do I want to share this? Do I want to GET INTO that? Maybe I should go to youtube and watch Beyonce again. NO! Come back, Rashida! It’s an interesting time. I’m feeling wonderful overall and full of ideas and thoughts and distractions. Not one central thing this evening, which, as I mentioned, usually is very helpful to me. Thanks so much to all who took the time to say what they might like to see me share about. You all inspire me very much. I’ve taken it all to Shidalou HQ and everything is under review. heheh.

SUBJECT : MARCH?! • BLOG POST 009 [03.09.20] Fuck outta here. It’s not March. That’s not real. Wow. Yes, here come the “WOWS” again. That was so fulfilling to share my stories like that and now I feel like having a theme or a container may make this Blog more interesting. For me and for you. Hmm. I miss talking about Rashida in 3rd person. She’s pretty cool. But it’s like… she’s not me. She’s her own story. A character. Who has a story to be told. It was awesome to get perspective / feedback from many about things I wrote or aspects of myself through their lens. And it was great to attempt to not worry about how it would land and simply tell my “character’s” story. I’m proud of what I did. And I’m proud I’m continuing to keep my word. It does cross my mind at least once a week, you’re gonna just fuck up and forget to do the Blog, you know that? And then a spiral of other thoughts along those lines - “Why are you bothering?” … “What’s the point really?” … “You should be more focused about this, and see if it can it make you some damn money?!” … “Ooh you almost forgot… just let it go…” It’s good though. And I’m here. “Music March” crossed my mind. But, I donno, seems too simple. Not that things need to be challenging or hard… but I’m ALWAYS doing something musically-focused. I’m not ALWAYS writing blogs and sharing my inner-most thoughts with fools. I do love a good theme. And a container. A way to focus my thoughts and actions. It brings me a sense of calm. Wonder if it could be a Sagittarius quality —we’re supposed to be the Archers of the Zodiac, so … if I’m aiming my arrow directly, I have a shot at hitting the target, and even I miss, I know what the fuck I’m doing. But when I have no target… chaos is highly likely. Not that some chaos isn’t the best feeling to be lost in ever. But I guess I’ve enjoyed it most when I was on shrooms or ecstasy and that’s still a situation I did have control over. Hmmmph. Ya’ll always make me think and realize things about myself. Thanks for that :-) Well, here’s a question (other than the ever-implied, “How are YOU this week?”) - if you had your say, what would you like to see with this blog? Love, Rashida

SUBJECT : BLACK MYSTERY MONTH v.4 • BLOG POST 008 [02.26.20] A Lover & Personal Power & Big Brother Beat In the late summer of 1996, De La Soul & A Tribe Called Quest both released albums after a bit of a hiatus. At that point in Rashida’s life, her cassette of “De La Soul is Dead” was her co-ALL-TIME-FAVORITE (next to her forever fave, “Legacy” by Art of Noise.) And after being highly disappointed by De La’s “Buhloone Mind State” - she was overjoyed to feel in-tune with the new depths they were reaching for on “Stakes Is High”. It was like an old best friend who went away for good, somehow returned! So, Rashida would spend her late nights either on the phone with college friends playing the 2 albums and singing along with the lyrics or dancing by herself to them all around her sparsely furnished 1-bedroom apartment in Lakeland, Florida. She spent her afternoons into just past midnight working at her newer job as a Graphic Designer at The Lakeland Ledger. She was hired sans degree from Florida A&M University because she was quite talented and much more interested in making money than finishing school. She had pretty odd sleeping habits, pretty poor eating habits and though she loved dancing, it was her only physical activity. She was probably weighing close to 320 pounds by the Fall. It was more weight than she ever wanted to carry, yet it was normalized in a sense because she was used to it and everyone around her was as well. It was part of her identity. She wasn’t consciously depressed, and she still had a great deal of optimism and hope for life in general. She was always thinking she should take “better care of herself” but almost every time she’d try a different diet or start going to sleep earlier, it never really worked out. So she’d stop and would go back to her same habits. She was 22 years old. Around September, she had also developed another “interesting” habit. On nights where she was particularly bored or lonely, she started using the local(ish) phone sex lines. Well, SHE didn’t… Jenny did. She very rarely felt “sexual” when she would enter into this world, yet she knew it was a way to get attention from men and she was always told she had “a great voice”… so she began to use it to get what sometimes could feel like love. It was also a big act in a sense. Jenny could do, say and BE whomever she wanted! She rarely told anyone what she looked like in real life, she didn’t have to. Unless things became more serious and discussions of meeting became a reality. This happened a few times. And it was at the end of September that she met a man who become her lover on the phone and in real life as well. We’ll call him Lover. Rashida began to meet with Lover for dinners and movies, but mainly, the two found themselves enjoying each other’s company and talking. He was quite a bit older than Rashida, early 40’s and Italian. Through their differences, they found many similarities and interests. Music, of course and psychology. “What makes people the way they are… can that be changed…” this kind of thing. They found it very easy to communicate and both began to care for each other more deeply than expected in that first month. One night after working, Rashida found herself watching the infomercials. 3am, exhausted, yet wired and dreamy. She was always moved to tears by the one with the big motivational speaker dude who used Tina Turner’s “Simply The Best” to get people hyped up. It seemed like a miraculous kind of thing to do. To go to a self-help seminar and be all empowered and shit. Who gets to do that, she wondered? They made her feel like maybe she could, but HOW? It may have been a few days later when Lover called to share some interesting news. He explained that the social work agency he was working for was gifted 2 tickets for the upcoming Tony Robbins’ Seminar. In November, it was coming to Orlando, about 45 minutes away from her. He had read a book of his and wished he could offer the ticket to Rashida because he had a feeling it would be a great thing for them to do together. But the tickets had to be for staff members and many were excited to go. So, they agreed that he would go and when he came back, he’d share ALL that he could with her. Rashida was very excited for him. It was almost like she was going and she was good with that. As November arrived, Lover shared that the person who was scheduled to go with him decided to bow out to go to a golf tournament instead. So the ticket was going to the next person in line, a woman from one of their satellite offices. The event was from Friday to Monday. On the Wednesday before it, Lover still hadn’t gotten a confirmation. Rashida could feel it, but was nervous to get excited. He said he left her a message on her answering machine saying she had until Thursday morning to confirm or else he had be passing the ticket on to his “intern” … Rashida! She never got back him and the next day, Rashida found herself in a sea of excited attendees, overwhelmed at what she had dreamed was possible and where she now was. On the very first night, they were to split up from anyone they may have come with, asked to find a new “partner” and prepare for the Firewalk Experience. Rashida had heard a few stories of this walking-on-hot coals-thing, but didn’t really believe people were doing it and was pretty damn sure she wasn’t going to either. But she would play along. Tonight’s lesson was all about the power of Decisions and how the Firewalk can encourage breakthroughs in that area. Tony coached them on how to do it. How to get into a PEAK STATE and then… WALK THROUGH their fears. It was all about the mental state. She spotted Lover’s eyes way across the room, they both had doubts, but shrugged and kept going with it. She and her new partner lined up with ALL the other event attendees. People were stoked, terrified, crying, whooping and hollering like… YEAH… I did it! This is Amazing! Rashida smiled and cheered THEM on, while inside, she was like… OH HAIILLLLLLL NO! “I’m not gonna be the only one who leaves here on a stretcher with Burnt-Ass-FEET!!! But, I’ll pretend I’m gonna ALLL THE WAY until I have to turn around and go back…” But…Nobody was turning back. Time was running out. The line kept getting closer … to the fire pit… and Rashida had to TRULY decide. As she got to the last possible point to turn back, She was at the front of the line…one of the staff members asked her what she was truly afraid of (other that burning off her damn feet)… and tears welled up, because she said, “If I do this… SOMETHING I’M TERRIFIED TO DO… there’s nothing I can bullshit myself that I’m MORE AFRAID OF AGAIN!” They heard her out. They reassured her of the safest way to do it and that they believed she was ready. And after all the pretending, doubting and denying that even SHE could do this…something in Rashida agreed. She did it. And She hollered and screamed and cried…because she knew, in that moment, She had changed the course of her life forever. The next days’ focus was on using the new bolder decision making skills to DESIGN the next 1, 5 & 10 years of her life. Rashida felt inspired and a bit more confident to let her mind play with this. 1997 felt wide open and she began to write down what her journal entry might be in November of 1997. She wrote of living in San Francisco, working as voice over actor and owning her own roller coaster. She wrote of being in love and feeling beautiful and strong in her body. She wrote about winning Oscars and Grammys. She wrote about singing onstage with Billy Joel. Rashida and Lover completed the weekend. They were both very different than when they first arrived. In positive ways overall, yet they both knew, life would literally, never be the same. Which was Tony’s musical anthem for the weekend - Thanks, Haddaway! They continued seeing each other, but by February of 1997, things began to shift and they were more friends than lovers. Also by then, Rashida had lost 30 pounds (she actually lost it all in January because of Tony’s 30-in-30 plan… which she would never recommend for someone who carried as much weight as she did at the time - and that’s another story). By March, she had saved up enough to do the next training workshop with Tony and made plans to attend a 9-day seminar in Southern California. By April, she realized, she could either take the 9-days off and keep doing something she was great at, but didn’t fully love or she could quit her job, move to San Francisco, start to take classes in Voice Acting and figure the rest out after the seminar in early May. She continued studying and learning and playing with these new techniques to help her “Live Her Dreams” and by December 1997 - from her bedroom in her San Francisco apartment, she wrote this in her journal: 3:56 am 12/3/97 Weds. Oh Lord. Chile Please. I’m all shaky, just been crying and freakin’ out all night. It happened. SHIDA TO SIGN WITH LOOK TALENT!!! YaHooooligans! Dude, the way it happened was so brilliant. She rocks hard core and she is the best. It’s so beautiful. (“she” is my former agent) She brought the perfect scripts for me to showcase the talent dude. The girls in class were all winking at me tonight, it was a slightly weird vibe. Funny. So sleepy. I LOVE YOU. YOU ARE BECOMING THE BEST! *Black Mystery Month comes from the idea that Black History Month can also include the mysterious stories of *who* Black people really are - not only the ones who “made history”. So, throughout this month, I’ve decided to share 4 stories of me and my experiences being a “Black Mystery”. I think I made it up, but I didn’t take the time to google if anyone else has coined this idea.

SUBJECT : BLACK MYSTERY MONTH v.3 • BLOG POST 007 [02.19.20] Friday Nights in St. Pete 38th Street South in St. Petersburg, Florida was basically 11-year old Rashida’s entire world. 
 A world of relative security, she remembers asking her Mom once, “Are we rich?” Her mother rarely answered her money queries and just rolled her eyes dismissively. 

If 38th Street was a line, they were smack in the middle of it. Palm trees and other large bushes and greenery filled the street. Certainly making it feel even bigger than it was to her. They lived in a lovely, pastel green, 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home with a pool. Just like everybody else on her street. 

Their neighborhood was called Broadwater. She remembered at some point learning that a few of her best friends who lived outside of the neighborhood, didn’t seem to have as much money as they seemed to. She didn’t feel too much about it, but she definitely noticed it. And even though this was where she and her family lived, this only world she knew - because of her experiences thus far - her inner world was developing into a deeply complex and sometimes precarious place. At 11, she had already experienced much that made her feel a bit older than than that, like maybe she had more information about life than she should at that age, but she really couldn’t be sure, she was just a kid. It seemed though she was often treated as older than her age by her family and other adults. Maybe because she was physically bigger for her age?
 For instance - At 7, she had her first encounter with the great beyond - watching her beloved yet bizarre Siamese cat called Mesu, slowly head out to the large tree in the middle of their half-circle driveway to go lay down … and never get back up again. She wasn’t sad about it, mainly perplexed. Her Father warmly explained, that he was an older cat and it was his time. At 8, she and her Brother flew on Eastern Airlines to one of her first Summers’ away at her Grandmother’s apartment in the Bronx, NY. Her Uncle took her to see the new hit movie starring another 8-year-old girl… “Poltergeist”. Yeah. The impact of that would traumatize her well into her early thirties. And by 11, she was old enough to come home from school alone sometimes. As long as she called her Mom at work as soon as she walked in. Then if the phone rang while her parents were both still at work, the only way she was allowed to answer, was if it rang twice, then there was silence, and then ring again. Their own little family “bat signal”. It was 1985. Friday nights, at that time, meant one thing to Rashida - PIZZA! Not that she wouldn’t have eaten it everyday, but it was always a particular treat that her Mom held out like a prize for good behavior. If on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday bedrooms were still a wreck, homework wasn’t done or clarinet hadn’t been practiced - it was tolerable. But if those chores weren’t handled by Friday… NO PIZZA. Which clearly, to Rashida and her Brother… was NOT an option. On this night, Rashida’s Dad was working out of town and her Mom was due home from work around 5:30pm to pop in quickly then turn around and head out to Pizza Hut. This was the plan and both kids were super excited to try the newish Priazzo Pizza. They joked about it loudly. Singing about it. Yelling about it. Mom came home and wasn’t in the best of moods, but was tolerant and asked them to take the noise outside while she changed out of her office clothes. Off to the garage they fumbled…pushing each other along the way in a rush to grab the broomsticks and play a game of “DUEL!” “EN GARDE” yelled Rashida’s Brother as he held out the broomstick in front of him - swordlike - as they had seen in “The Man of La Mancha”. Rashida giggled gleefully, taking a swipe at his sword. They were both heavier kids, so any activity definitely produced a lot of huffing and puffing. But they were having fun. Yelling about “Priazzo’s Honor” and other silly things. Rashida watched her Brother pull back for a great strike, so she held out her broomstick sword in front of her chest horizontally, as a form of protection. But her Brother’s broomstick was coming from the side and THWACK - sharply hit Rashida in the arm. More surprised than hurt, Rashida exclaimed, “DAMMIT! YOU BASTARD!” and she and her Brother laughed loudly as she rubbed her arm. That is, until she watched her Brother’s face sort of melt into a scared and sad smirk. From the doorway of the garage she heard her Mother speak loudly, “What did you say?” Rashida’s mind went blank. Her mother really didn’t tolerate any kind of swearing or “bad language”, it was something she and her Brother did ALL the time… just behind her back. “Rashida… WHAT DID YOU SAY?” Hot tears we’re instantly flowing down her already sweaty face. She shook her head in confusion about what to do, what to say and how unfair it was that she was getting caught when her Brother swore ALL THE FUCKING TIME… “RASHIDA MALIKA?!” “Brother?… I said… Brother!” “Get in the house.” Rashida was beyond confused now. This couldn’t be happening. Her Brother looked so pained, but knew there was nothing HE could do. Rashida began sobbing loudly and slowly marched through the kitchen - eyeing the pool, maybe she’d just throw herself in - through the living room - wanting to kick the table and bar stools over in protest - all the way to her bedroom door where her mother announced… “We’re going to go now. With out you. Stay in your room until we come back.” Rashida fucking LOST IT. This was… some kind of bizarre worst nightmare. She had had dreams of being abandoned by them. Left alone in the big Albertson’s Grocery Store parking lot, surrounded by trees and silence. It was truly one of her biggest fears… combined with… the cherry on top of … NO FUCKING PIZZA!!! Through her cries of outrage she could hear the garage door come down and watched helplessly as her Mom’s Cutlass Cierra pulled out of the drive-way. She stood at her bedroom window in utter disbelief. This WAS NOT HAPPENING. She opened the window and through the screen she could see her Brother looking back at her in the passenger seat. She HOWLED in defeat, sadness, rage and regret. He would later tell her that he could literally hear her sorrowful screams all the way down to the END of 38th Street. *Black Mystery Month comes from the idea that Black History Month can also include the mysterious stories of *who* Black people really are - not only the ones who “made history”. So, throughout this month, I’ve decided to share 4 stories of me and my experiences being a “Black Mystery”. I think I made it up, but I didn’t take the time to google if anyone else has coined this idea.

SUBJECT : BLACK MYSTERY MONTH v.2 • BLOG POST 006 [02.12.20] Grief and the Gas Station 5:55pm. Berkeley, California in early September. The weather was turning from warm to just a bit hotter, but today was unseasonably cooler. It had been a little over a year since her brother transitioned and 6 months since her mom transitioned. 2015. A year that would end up being full of vivid, almost acute memories - with exquisite senses of every possible emotion - and also, completely blank spaces and numbness. Rashida loved driving. It was a wonderful escape for her after years of bumming rides, borrowing cars and scowling at strangers on public transportation. Rashida loved driving fast. She found comfort in the extremes of life. Driving 90 mph and conversely taking full weekends off to meditate at her church. It reflected her feelings about life at that time and how quickly her emotions could shift. But more specifically, she loved being in the car. It allowed her to be outside in the world, yet “safe” inside her bubble. She had been doing a long-term rental of a grey Toyota Corolla and it often felt like it was her whole life, on wheels. On this day, she was speeding back towards her lovely home in Oakland, Bernadette. It was called that because it was apartment B and also because when Rashida entered it for the first time, she asked its’ name, and Bernadette was what the apartment said. She was coming home from a rehearsal for an upcoming show. Singing and music making was also a fabulous and requisite distraction at this time. A wonderful place to pour her emotions as well. She never cared for driving in Berkeley. Too many Pri-i. That’s the plural of Prius. Also, too many people who were WAY too considerate of others for her taste at the time. Always eager to make the grand gesture of stopping and allowing others to pass and cross, long before they were actually in the way of traffic… in Rashida’s opinion. And, She would tell them so. Safe in the bubble, of course. “What the fuck are you doing?!” - “Turn, turn, turn, TURRRRN!!!” - “Nowhere to go? Nothin to do? Must be nice… FAHHHHHK!” Definitely an obvious issue with Road Rage, but she didn’t think much of it, she just liked to be highly efficient with her time … and she was often - always running about 10 minutes late. She wasn’t proud of this…but she also didn’t have the where-with-all to do much about it. She kinda had a lot on her mind and hoped that people she knew was doing her best. She pulled into a gas station that had unusually lower prices, it was on the way to Bernadette and she happened to have cash on her. It had been a full day and she was excited to get home and do nothing. Probably order food in and watch “Frasier”, which was her new comfort show of choice. Her former choice was old clips of “The Cosby Show” on Youtube and that year, 2015, was the beginning of unraveling a lifetime of positive associations with that show. But, that’s a whole other story. The sun was setting and as Rashida left the car to head in to the cashier, she quickly thought, “I don’t need my scarf… I’ll only be out here a second.” She paid the nice cashier and he gave her change. She headed back out to the car. Grabbed the gas and began to click and click. No gas came out. She looked back and forth at the pump. Then at the cashier who now seemed miles away. She was instantly agitated and stormed back inside. “Did I do it wrong? What’s wrong?” … he kindly replied, “You may have done it too quickly, go give a try now.” “Ok, thanks.” She stormed back out - grumbling to herself. “Give it a try? What the hell? What’s so hard about this…” she sighed loudly. It felt colder than when she first walked in. The temperature can seem to shift so quickly once the sun starts to go down in the Bay. Gas pump out. Into to tank. A quick look at the cashier for any last minute info. Nothing to say? ok… Click… Click… Click. She’s screaming inside her head now. “WHAT… THE … FAHHHHK?!?!!” “WHHHHHYYY??!!!?” She felt completely irrational and COMPLETELY justified. She just wanted the gas, why couldn’t she have the gas. Back inside she stormed. The cashier stood up this time and visibly stepped backwards at her approach. She huffed, “What happened?!” He smiled with a true calmness and attempted to match her concern, “Please Miss, just try it again.” She didn’t know what else to do. She felt like she couldn’t trust him or his ideas. She wanted to say “Fuck it” and leave, but she knew she needed gas for another long day of running around tomorrow and also the thought of going somewhere else, and having this happen again… unbearable. Gas pump out. Into to tank. A voice popped in her head to remind her, that you always have to call on Angels and ask for their help when you want intervention… so she sighed, on the verge of tears, “Angels’ … please…” The gas began to flow and Rashida angrily snatched the car down open and plopped down heavily into the Driver’s seat. She pulled down the visor mirror and began to speak to herself lovingly as she looked into her own eyes… “WHAT … IS … WRONG? … Are you ok?” Tears began to flow and flow. “No…no…” Rashida began to cry, hard. She had already been consciously grieving since March of 2014, yet truly thought that AT SOME POINT…the grieving would just be … over. That she would simply feel better, and miraculously have more acceptance about all the changes that the past year and a half had brought. She wanted a timeline. She wanted to know WHEN it was all going to stop being SO MUCH. When would she STOP needing, what she judged, as an inordinate amount of comfort, for these grievances. Ones that she would show the deepest compassion to others for. PLUS, she was HAPPY for them. Her mom and her brother. She was happy that, in her view, they CHOSE to move on from this plane of existence and the difficulties they were experiencing here. She also had truly complex relationships with both of them, so to sum this is up as “missing” them was highly incomplete. She felt so concerned that she would be misunderstood about all her thoughts and feelings, that she often felt filled to overflowing if she wasn’t able to let it all out safely with her therapist or closer friends. She was 41 years old, and had done all kinds of spiritual and emotional work on herself. Shouldn’t she know how to do this BETTER?! Deep down, she judged herself very harshly, but, maybe as a way to cope with it, it splattered out of her sideways … as judgement of the world. While the tank filled, she did her best to let herself feel it all, as a way to move through it and not run away from it. Click. The gas tank was full. She took a deep breath, put her scarf around her neck, slowly got out the car and put the gas pump back. She still had tears in her eyes and had calmed down a bit. Truly ready to go home to Bernadette now, she drove there slowly, with a little more patience than earlier. The sun had completely set. It was 6:15pm. *Black Mystery Month comes from the idea that Black History Month can also include the mysterious stories of *who* Black people really are - not only the ones who “made history”. So, throughout this month, I’ve decided to share 4 stories of me and my experiences being a “Black Mystery”. I think I made it up, but I didn’t take the time to google if anyone else has coined this idea.

SUBJECT : BLACK MYSTERY MONTH v.1 • BLOG POST 005 [02.05.20] Standing in the mirror, she examines. She’s got her straightened hair pushed up underneath a funky / floppy hat that she’s been obsessed with ever since her male best friend (she’s got a female one as well) told her she looked “cute” in hats. She’s wearing mostly black because it’s a goth/industrial club night and while she doesn’t call herself “A Goth”, she’s always heard black makes you look slimmer, so WHY NOT? No make-up. Large hoop earrings. She’s waiting for her friend to come pick her up from her mom’s home in South St. Petersburg. It’s 1991. She’s on Christmas break, home from college. She’s 18 years old. She’s me. “CHRISTIAN - ZOMBIE - VAMMMPIRES…” - the band My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult is blasting and Rashida and her friend chant along with the song, “The Days of Swine & Roses” on the drive over the bridge to Ybor City, near Tampa, where all the cooler clubs are. She and her friend laugh wildly at the thought of their parents hearing this music. Not in a rebellious way really, it all seemed … comical to her. Sure, she had things she was angsty and mad, even enraged by, but she wouldn’t know how deeply + WHY she was hurting for years to come. And she also wouldn’t realize how important music (dance music specifically) would be in laying the foundation for becoming an adult and a professional performing artist. Rashida didn’t have a curfew. Her mom trusted her to come home after she was done “going dancing” with her friend. She did wonder if it would have upset her mom to know the lyrics and sounds she was dancing to. Would it have scared her very Christianity-believing mother? Was the vibe to “satan-y” ? Would she have tried to stop her? Was it a lie of omission to NOT share the details? Truth was, she didn’t think her mom really WANTED to know and they had a bizarre understanding… some kind of trust and knowing, that Rashida was always, ok. Sometimes Rashida resented this trust. What IF she needed help? She had an innate sense she COULD figure things out on her own, but did that come from the idea that she HAD to know, in case somebody ELSE needed help too? Her internal mantra at that age was very much “That’s just not fair…” Like there was some great external imbalance in a majority of situations that she just had to stand-by and deal with. Oh! And she had to smile through it. Because she was a fat girl and nobody likes a SAD fat girl, so you better at least smile, be as pretty as you can and be funny. It was all bullshit, and somehow she knew that and she had a budding faith of her own (independent of Christianity directly, maybe tied to it) that she wouldn’t ALWAYS feel this way. A distant hope for the future. Back on the dance floor - She clasped her hands behind her back like the other dancers. Head down, swaying methodically to the beats of KMFDM, Front 242 and Nine Inch Nails… she was learning how to surrender to the music. To listen and let it guide her. There were no aggrandized DJ’s back then. Just a dark dance floor where she would begin to let go of who she thought she had to be in order to become who she was to be next. *Black Mystery Month comes from the idea that Black History Month can also include the mysterious stories of *who* Black people really are - not only the ones who “made history”. So, throughout this month, I’ve decided to share 4 stories of me and my experiences being a “Black Mystery”. I think I made it up, but I didn’t take the time to google if anyone else has coined this idea.

SUBJECT : WonderWorld BLOG POST 004 [01.29.20] POEM: WonderWorld by Shidalou It’s a wonder It’s a chore It’s unreasonable It’s a bore It’s leaving me more curious with its’ answers Than ever before I’m alone, inside this thing Yet “with” me, so many sing Here and always Gone never too far Coming back to find this familiar station Tuned in, I’m always listening From it, no vacation A dream, a declaration “we are one, we are one” I hear I listen So very lost + leaning in Like happy children Who know There’s something special yet to come *** Hi there, how are you? I’m ever-interested. So grateful to all who reply and still don’t feel the need to actually REQUEST a reply directly, this is mainly so I can keep my word about sharing with you… FOR NOW?! An experiment I’ve committed to for a month. Fucking January is almost gone and if this is setting the tone for the year itself, it seems like it may be a bit of a rollercoaster. Which is cool by me cuz I LOVE Rollercoasters. I love to feel that rush WITHIN the safety of it all. Makes me think about my prayer and meditation practices. They ground me in a sense. The foundation for the wildness and changes and HOLY SHIT I DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING and sadness and procrastination and goofy good fun. My faith that ALL THINGS ARE WORKING TOGETHER FOR GOOD helps me experience all of this with a deep breath and a lil more capacity every day. That poem was inspired by… well… actually… I won’t say, it’s open for interpretation. Feel free to ask or share your reaction. I’ll do my best to reply a lil more quickly than right before I send the next weeks post! ha!

SUBJECT : Wowie Zowie BLOG POST 003 [01.22.20] Hello! Wow. You will note, I say “Wow” a lot. I recall once, during an argument about 6 years ago now, the other person actually asked me to STOP saying “Wow” so much as I reacted to some old bullshit they were telling me… I of course reacted with my natural, WOW, and took a breath and explained, it’s very natural for me because that’s how I’m experiencing the moment. With a MASSIVE sense of wonder, curiosity, amazement, sometimes overwhelm, sometimes disgust, sometimes awe… all expressed simply, through… WOW. So, today I am wowing at the reality that approximately 24 minutes ago I felt such overwhelm and frustration at the thought of sitting down to write this, I had to talk myself through it and assure myself everything is ok and WILL get done. Then I ate a little something while my yam is cooking for dinner (takes about 50 mins). I TOTALLY feel so much more capable of doing this. Seems so simple right? Eat, Sleep, Water … when I cover the basics, most things go A LOT better. Especially - during what I’ll call my “cycle”… time of the month. This feels like it may be oversharing, yet, as I mentioned last week… I’m a woman. I have a menstrual cycle. So yeah. That should be normal, not shame-enducing… and it’s certainly very personal. For me, it can be an even more emotional time of the month than my already wow-tastically emotional self. I find myself crying more deeply and laughing more often. Right before it… sexy-time can be more passionate. The main notice I felt TODAY about it being this time of the month is that I often take this time to be specifically internal. Like, my cycle has come to visit, do her job and be with me a few days, so I choose to limit my time with others. Now, this doesn’t always work out and sometimes I’ve got other plans on the schedule already and “she” gets to come with! ha! Sigh… So today I felt, I don’t want to share. My body is hard at work. She’s here. Just want to rest. And I’ve made this commitment to myself. So, this is what I’m sharing. And I honestly didn’t think I would. I also chose to go on Instagram and clear out all the bots and pages that give me weird vibes. Are we following each other there? I’m @audioangelworld. I mainly use it for announcing shows and sharing about music things / voice acting & acting gigs. I hope you all have an amazing week. Heading back under my blankie - Love, Rashida

SUBJECT : Gee, Thanks! BLOG POST 002 [01.15.20] Well. That was a lot easier than I built it up to be! A very general Thank You to all who took the time to write and share about what’s up with them and all the loving supportive replies. The 2nd week of the year proved to be vastly different from the first. Kind of like a wave I suppose. Energy in, Energy out.*** (see below) I felt that big push of energy from New Years day mellow out in a sense. I found myself (and a few that I communicated with) A LOT less motivated. And it was a feeling I was very used to. Almost a sense of resolve. Like, "Oh well, that’s over. Too bad." Like something in me was attempting to run a “Depression & Depressive Behaviors App” inside my brain. Makes me think of a day last year, where I felt for the first time, actually HAVING ENERGY & MOTIVATION (but no set plans) - feeling like I had an actual choice in how to use that energy. That RELAXING WITH ENERGY as opposed to having to stop most activities and REST & RECHARGE from EXHAUSTION was possible for me.  I think that sense of exhaustion can come from being a very aware person. Often “on” … in a sense and highly sensitive to my environments and those who are in it. I am also recovering from behaving as a co-dependent person. For at least 35 years of my 46 on the planet, I got a lot of emotional validation out of care-taking others. It was also done out of skewed sense of survival / self-protection. For Example: If I ensure you’re ok, then I won’t have to worry about if you’ll fuck up my plans or environment AND I’ll get to feel valuable/worthy/loved. It was a control tactic out of fear. Now, I attempt to practice trusting that even if you do something that fucks things up, it’s not my responsibility to fix it and all will be well in the end anyway. It always is. Sigh, speaking of co-dependent behaviors, I think I was attempting to care-take YOU, dear reader, as I typed today’s blog... I noticed to MAJOR desires to leave out sharing MY recent experiences with... RACE ISSUES & GENDER ISSUES. I’m a African-American Woman living in America. There’s not a day or an hour that goes by when that DOESN’T occur to me or influence the lens I see the world through and YET… I feel worry and concern at sharing that (in ALL it's wondrous joys & seemingly unbearable devastations) … at being misunderstood for even bringing it up… so I hesitate. Out of fear.  Instead of trusting that you can take care of yourself as you read and that any replies related to a subject that can be SO LAYERED / CHARGED will be handled organically, with healthy boundaries and the best ways we both know how. So, Fuck that. These subjects matter to me and that’s what I'm striving to share more of via this blog. So, I’m going to be sharing. This is a notice, not an apology. Ok. So I have a strong desire now to end this post with a joke or happy music. Something to potentially lighten up how typing all of the above made me feel. But that would only be an attempt to control how YOU feel about me. Which is not my job. My job, here, is to be honest and share — So my job, for this week, is complete. I am always wishing you well. Love, Shida ***Over the wknd, I made a fun video kind of playing on the confidence I felt the first week and the stumble that the next week brought - all while dancing, one of my number one joys. Czech it!

SUBJECT : Happy 2020 BLOG POST 001 [01.07.20] Hey! It’s me, Shidalou. Longtime no see potentially, or maybe we chat all the time. How are you today? You know I’d love to honestly know. Last year around this time, I took what I thought would be a 6-month break from my scope of Social Media (Instagram, Facebook & Twitter) It was an amazing relief and very eye-opening to see how I used my time. I mainly took the break because I was recognizing some addictive behaviors in my usage. I also wanted to see what it would be like as an artist to not be connected in the typical way most are and use my e-mail lists & website mainly to share about events/projects. I think I sent 2 e-mails last year of that type. And my last website update was in March 2019. That’s changing soon. #dontjudgeme :-) I was back on Instagram by June mainly because I also started a podcast with my Partner John about our different approaches to all facets of health / weight loss while being in a relationship. There’s a link to that at the end of this post. So, this year, I’ve decided not return to Facebook, stay on Instagram (and sometimes Twitter) and really commit to “Blogging” regularly. You’ll hear from me once a week. As with most things I enjoy, I’m approaching this an experiment. It most likely will be my thoughts, fun kitty pix & music, events I’m producing or performing at… The main thing goal is to share, authentically and bravely, what’s really going on in my worlds. I feel like I stifled that A LOT over the past several years on Facebook mainly…then on Instagram too. Fear of being misunderstood and fear of being judged. I suppose the fears may still be there on some level, AND the desire to try and share in alternative ways is STRONGER than that fear. I’m always aiming for what makes me (and ideally others) feel MOST connected. Sometimes it’s taking space for a while and figuring out exactly what that is. Sometimes, it’s an hour-long phone call or FaceTime. Sometimes it’s getting a youtube of a song you know I’ll love or that we loved together. That was another reason I wanted OFF of social media. To help redefine what it actually MEANS for me to feel connected to friends, fans, family, acquaintances - in the healthiest ways depending on the relationship. I definitely felt lost trying to find it WHILE participating in it. So the break was really helpful. So yeah, here I am. One year later, trying this approach on. If you’ve read this far, and would like to continue hearing from me this way, replying is great and not required. If you’d like to NOT continue hearing from me this way, PLEASE REPLY UNSUBSCRIBE, and you’ll be all set. Happy Freakin New Year. 2020. Wow. Love, Rashida

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