Editor's Note: This piece is written and performed by a contributing guest writer, Ashley Anderson. We chose to include this piece on Fab Feminist as a follow-up to "I am enough because I say I am" and "Don't Pray for Las Vegas" by Alexa. We chose this to close our prose trilogy because it fuses the themes present in both previous pieces: identity and civil unrest.
Ashley is a creative who has recently launched her own website called The FrequentSee Project. She has struggled with her own anxiety as she works to accomplish her dreams while supporting herself financially. She has used poetry and her spoken word performance below to express her emotions on the current political and civil atmosphere. Watch her stirring spoken word performance below and read about her creative process for and beyond "To my Left, on the right." We encourage our fellow Fab Feminists to think critically about their beliefs and engage in an open and diverse dialogue to better our world. These are Ashley's words.
The FrequentSee Project was my savior.
I was in a deep depression. I screamed at walls. Smoked like a chimney. Anxiety over 9000!!! I was angry and cynical. I was everything I never wanted to be. And I started to realize it. So I built a garden. Hand-tilled the ground. Manure on deck.
And I got chickens.
It was dope for a while, the feeling of accomplishment each morning as I removed the chicken-butt fruit from the A-frame coup I built, picking peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers from my latticed garden, too. I learned a lot.
I also learned it was not enough.
Yes, I am country as hell--I have never needed to tell a soul twice upon meeting them.
But that wasn’t what I wanted to do.
It was a part of my identity.
But it wasn’t the reason I was put on this spinning rock in space.
I cried a lot, struggling with my dreams and my identity.
And then I read You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero.
I listened to ‘Magic Lessons’ by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Took a good hard look in the mirror.
Still smoking like a chimney, I wrote on the back of an OfficeMax paper bag, “what do I want to do?” From the depths of my soul the vomit of a burp came up--Movement Direction.
My next immediate thought was, “How the fuck do I do that?” followed by an ever-present feeling of dread about how unqualified I am for my dream job; how do I expect my little self to make a difference in the artistic community? I’m not smart enough to do this; why would anybody even want to watch something that I put out?
I felt the childhood me screaming at my parents. All the angst, all the courage, all the determination in little Two-Foot to conquer the fucking world.
So, I listened to little Two-Foot and threw caution and doubt to the wind. I bought a logo.
And with that, I bought permission for Kid me to take the reins and let Anxiety and Fear sit this game out.
I began to pour love into myself CareBear Stare Style.
The day after my genius visited, a friend and I grabbed coffee, sat in the Teahouse “garden” and together birthed the name “The Frequency Project” with the help of a scene set next door: a man was threatening another with a crowbar at the next bar over.
I wanted to capture regular people, in regular life, being their authentic selves wherever that self is at the time. Their truth is better and more beautiful than anything I could write.
….But I could dance that beautiful truth.
With the FrequenSee Project, my want is to set up a booth at different demographic locations in Atlanta and ask people,
“Will you tell me a Story?”
Capture the musicality of their words, pitches, percussives, plosives, volume, inflections,
their “frequency” and put it into a physical theatre piece.
Bring their verbal story into the physical world.
Make communication beautiful.
Provide a peek into a life you have not experienced so that you can witness the things you have in common, the things that are different. Hence, FrequentSee: to experience a window into another person’s life, letting them tell their own stories their own way.
Soon, it led to other ideas:
Record the spaces that I occupy.
The Frequency of a place.
Whispers, Yells, background noise, horns, wind, tracks.
Use that PLACE as music to choreograph an abstract piece to it. Paint a picture with sound and shapes through space.
But then... I had to choose that place. I need to go and be with people I know nothing of, in a culture I know nothing about, live, love and experience them.
I have a connection to the Mayans still living in the Jungles of Belize.
Let’s. Fucking. Go!
Let’s study their movement culture, live with a people occupying a completely different lifestyle from me, let them teach me who they are, why they are, how they are. And utilizing their gifts and lessons of life I’ll have learned and let it influence the choreography.
I bought the ticket.
I am saving for the equipment I need to bring to Belize. Camera. Recorder. Solar chargers.
How can I cut costs?
I quit smoking.
I sold all my stuff; I have a foam mat, clothes, blanket, a mushroom chair, and two chicken coops.
I started renting a room since it’s cheaper than a house or an apartment.
I need to train.
Gym, Foot Exercises, Handstand Training
And I’ve got to train my voice.
My artistic voice.
Find out what that is...
That thought led me to write poems.
Then I posted those on a website I bought:
Maybe I should record me speaking them?
Post those on there!
I have a beautiful friend who is down to film me who has the most dope DP (director of photography) skills.
The idea was to choreograph a piece on top.
….But one day a poem ripped out of my throat after the White Supremacists March and kneeling NFL players:
I am born out of the Red South. I know, love, and am related to the people who those I love on my Left preach negatively about on social media--unfriend them, shame them, remark, “how stupid are they?” while putting themselves on an, “I am so right and you’re so wrong” pedestal.
Like. OK, Left. Fuck it. Get over it. You’re right. How far has that gotten ya, being “right?” “Left” is just as bad as the Right it hates for one reason: because it WILL NOT LISTEN. Talk about Pot and Kettle. Everyone is afraid of what the other can do. Fear is leading the way we interact.
Nothing is going to happen immediately. Never. Ever.
We have to talk. Love. Show compassion.
So I called my friend that night and went,
“Dude. I gotta do it”
And they fixed me up.
Now, I’m writing for a sequence to put out.
While saving for equipment to record my time with the Mayans.
While being the happiest, most creative, most physical, most training, most loving individual I have ever been.
AND AM LEARNING CONSTANTLY!
Learning how to love myself.
So that I know how best to love the world.