In The End

I honestly have no idea what brought Brooke Fraser to mind. But for some reason, I found myself looking up her music this morning, adding “Albertine” to my offline music downloads. And tripping out on the realization that album is ten years old. (Almost eleven!) Released in 2007 and tied to some memories that I can recall better than I can remember last week.

I was living in Australia back then. And part of the church that she was part of. And I remember her playing a song off the new album during a service – just her and her guitar. And I remember thinking “Hmm. I wonder what it’ll sound like when it’s done.” And then experiencing the done version with a full band and video backing at the women’s conference that year. And being blown away. It was an exquisitely well-produced experience of a great song from a great album. An album named after a Rwandan orphan Brooke had met in her travels… her Compassion child, was it? I can’t remember that part clearly and I may be mixing up Hillsong sponsored things. Anyway, as that song (track #5 on the album) started to play this morning, I remembered the origin story of the song and I felt a flash of panic. This is a song written ten years ago about a Rwandan orphan, by a white Kiwi-slash-honorary-Australian, wonderful and easy-going people who are not particularly known for their racial sensitivity. So I braced myself for the possibility of losing another thing in the fire of “well that didn’t age well”. But it was fine. Still a moving call to action. Which made me sad in a different way.

“Now that I have seen, I am responsible.
Faith without deeds is dead.”

That’s the hook and the primary message of “Albertine” – Responsibility. Once the excuse of not knowing is stripped away, deeds are proof. Of sight. Of growth. Of change. Of life. Brooke had seen the aftermath of the genocide that had taken place in Rwanda, some ten years before her visit, and felt the weight of the storyteller: to tell the story.  And so she did. And she wasn’t the only one, there was a lot of concerted effort at that time to help the people of Rwanda, to rally the world to restore hope there. And God bless everyone who took part. Who took on bits of the responsibility. But I do remember a quiet question being asked from quiet corners: What about the Aborigines? There was an undercurrent of cynicism about the willingness of so many Australians to restore hope in Rwanda in the light of their unwillingness to confront the harm done in their own country. And as an outsider with no skin in either game – Rwanda or Australia – I kind of felt like help is help and a rising tide lifts all boats and all in good time. And all of that. I understood where the murmurs were coming from and I got it, but I didn’t get it.

Now I do.

Do you know what the best kind of responsibility is? The optional kind. The ones what we don’t actually have to do.  The “extra mile” things. It’s the difference between arriving on the scene to pour hope on another country vs. stepping into the messy issues of your own history to extract justice. The difference between being a hero and being here. But if we’re honest, we’d all much rather be heroes, because it’s hard to be here.

Which is why listening to “Albertine” made me sad today. Because I know a lot of heroes. Compassion photos of brown kids worlds away decorate many a fridge in my world and it wasn’t that long ago that practically every birthday I knew of was being donated to Charity:Water… I know a lot of very helpful people, good people doing good things: Heroes. Who are absolutely useless here. Who would rather talk about it, than actually be about it. Because they think talking is actually something. And in this climate, yes: saying Black Lives Matter is better than nothing. But actions still speak louder than words. And to say Black Lives Matter, but continually only hire white folks… guess what? Your “better than nothing” is actually just nothing wearing some trendy merch.

I got this text the other day and I wish I could say that it stopped me in my tracks, but what it actually did was remind me that I haven’t actually been making any lately. I’ve been quiet. And getting quieter. And some of that has been good. I’ve been able to step back and reassess a lot of the noise I’ve surrounded myself with and some of the old favorites – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat – got cut from the playlist. Quite possibly forever. (jk about Snapchat. It was NEVER a favorite.) And a lot of my own words have been coming back to haunt me. To remind me how long I’ve left them lingering in limbo. Out of my mind, but not yet in your sight where maybe… just maybe they could help you see something. Something that might just make you say, “Now that I have seen, I am responsible…”

And so with that in mind, I’m definitely letting go of this blog.  “SingularShe” started as “The Miss League” which was started as a safe place for single women to grapple with being single. And I’ve struggled to write consistently for it for the past year and some change because my grappling has changed. My conclusion on my singleness is this: It is what it is. But more importantly, what it’s not is a punishment or an indicator of worth or sign of personal deficiency. It just is what it is. And until it changes, there is nothing I can do about it other than do everything I can to be the best, most whole, most honest and authentic version of me – good, bad and ugly – not for some man, but for myself and for everybody else. Which means I have to see these other grapples through – the ones between my faith and my religion, my race and my nation, and those places where the failures of my religion and my nation in regards to my race are not matching up with my faith. It is messy stuff. And I love it. It’s what I’m here for. But it’s not exactly what you, reader of this particular blog, signed up for, so… I have to let this go.

My thought right now is that the SingularShe will officially end as what it was originally going to be when I wrote its first words: a book. I’ll finish going through all the old posts and compile the best, brightest and most relevant of them and throw that bad boy on Amazon for whosoeverwill.

And operating under the assumption that my friend is right and the world does need my voice, I’ll be working on speaking up in the ways that I can: through scripts and songs and scripts full of songs. Some of which are going to ruffle feathers. (Some of which already have. #SAINTS.) But I have to do it. Because I’ve seen too much. And I don’t think that was by accident. I have stories to tell and like Brooke Fraser, surveying the aftermath of ten years time, I feel the weight of the storyteller. To tell the story. Because now that I have seen, I am responsible.

And faith without deeds is dead.



So that’s that. Hit me up in the comments or via email (livelovelagata@gmail.com) to let me know if you’ve got any favorite posts you’d like to see in the book. (Or most definitely don’t want to see.) And please don’t think things between us have to be over forever – we can still kick it, you can find me at JaniceLagata.com and spoiler alert: there are already a few warm up posts over there…

Sick and Sorry

Sick and Sorry

“Is it too late now to say sorry?”
Abraham Lincoln
(or Justin Bieber. I always get those two confused.)

I felt sick for all of February. Every single day. And I’m pretty sure it actually started sometime in January, possibly even December, but February was when I actually noticed that I consistently didn’t feel good and hadn’t for a while. And it was nothing major or unbearable – no pain, just a constant feeling of being slightly nauseous. All. the. time. Hungry, full – didn’t matter. In fact, the only time I didn’t feel sick was when I was literally in the act of eating. It was like my body would think “Ooh! Maybe this will help!” but it wouldn’t. And within 5 to 10 minutes, I’d be back to feeling BLAH. And so, naturally, like any reasonable adult with health insurance and a will to live, I thought about going to the doctor. I thought about it a lot. I even looked up my insurance card and spent a fair amount of minutes on the interwebs trying to find an “in network” provider, but the doctors with the best reviews and most human-like photos were booked solid until April, May, 2019 and the other ones were a little too available (why is your next available opening at 11am when it’s 10:45 right now??) So I did eventually book an appointment (for April 14th, I do believe. hashtag: adulting) but in the meantime, I figured I’d keep soldiering on, bravely, nobly. Handling all the stresses and responsibilities of life in New York, all the while suffering. Silently. Bravely. Nobly.

And then I figured out what was wrong. And I’m sitting here today feeling absolutely fine. As fate (and probably genetics and age) would have it, I do believe I have become lactose intolerant. So now that I’m not having milk in my tea, eating ice cream like it’s my job or downing Chai lattes, I’m feeling a-ok. Which is great. But in looking back, this whole experience has been fascinating because it made me realize how easy it is to get used to functioning at a sub-prime standard. To be feeling sick while carrying on as if its normal. Because as far as anyone else knows – everything is normal. You’re normal. And doing just fine.

But I wasn’t. And I’m still not. Because it wasn’t just my stomach that was bothering me. My soul has been sick for all of 2017 thus far. The poor thing feels like she’s wasting away. Actually… no. Wasting away sounds like a problem of lack, so I guess my soul is actually on the verge of imploding from the weight of everything that I’m not doing.

I came into 2017 with solid ideas of things that I wanted to do, goals to accomplish, endeavors to… endeavor. And here we are with the first quarter of the year very nearly over and what have I done? Basically, nothing. I hosted one disaster/reading in January and have been fixated on everything I don’t have and can’t do ever since. And it’s ruining everything. I can’t enjoy anything because I feel convicted all the time. I went to see a friend in a show last week, a terrible TERRIBLE show (my friend was amazing) and I was so mad. Not at the show or the writers, but at myself. Because what the hell am I doing? The team of people behind that terrible (TERRIBLE) show actually sat down, made a plan, found supporters, held auditions and produced something. Middling talent and absolute terribleness, be damned – they did something. And people came and saw it. I know because I was one of those people. Because my friend, my insanely wonderfully talented friend, was in it. Because my friend just wants to work. And those terrible (TERRIBLE) writers produced work. And meanwhile… I’m sitting over here fixated on what I don’t have and can’t do.

And my friends deserve better than that.

So I probably owe you an apology. And please believe, if you have talked about/asked for prayer re:/mentioned in passing any of your audition stories/struggles, you wouldn’t have known it, but I have felt convicted. And if you have joked/not been joking about auditioning for me someday (which an annoying number of you have recently, #jesusbecreeping) please know that I probably went home and cried about it. Which is exactly what I deserve.

Earlier today, I saw that quote about strength being for service and not status and it just hit me how that covers all the different kinds of strengths it takes to step out and do something – not just the talents and skills, but the strength of will it takes to face possible ridicule, failure and falling short – because somebody has to do it. Whatever talents we have, aren’t just for us and us alone, they’re supposed to find their place and fulfill their purpose in conjunction with others. For others.

So I have to stop living with this sick feeling of holding back. And I don’t know… but maybe you do to.  We all want to whatever we do to be the best thing ever and the easiest way to stop ourselves from moving forward is to imagine all the worst case scenarios but we’ve gotta push past all that. Done is better than perfect. Something is better than nothing. And honestly, this moment – knowing that I’m not really doing all I can to push forward the people and the causes that I care about — this is the worst case scenario. Well… the second to the worst. The very worst case scenario would be to live quietly with this sick feeling for the rest of my life. But ain’t nobody got time for that. Not me. Not you. And not the people waiting on us to move forward.

So let’s not let this month end and this quarter close without offering some sincere apologies by making some moves.  And cutting back on the fears and excuses that have been keeping us sick. And, hopefully, we’ll all feel better in the next quarter.

I Did A Thing…

I Did A Thing…

I actually did a few things over the past few weeks, for example…

one.
I did a spoken word piece as part of Black History Month observance at my church.

two.
I made my first guest appearance on a podcast.

few.
I started writing a book of poetry, thoughts and essays on race in America. (And I only added that to this list to make my claim of doing a “few” things true and to force myself to finish said book by publicly announcing it. And thus opening myself up to public disappointment and ridicule if I don’t finish it.)

Myself to me:
“Thanks a lot me.”

Me to myself:
“Anytime girl. I gotchu.”

Anyway… here are proofs of two out of the few things…

The podcast… TBD with Ky and Vee features two minority millennials giving their unfiltered opinions on everything under the sun while searching for a way out of the “friend zone.” I’m a guest on the last half hour or so of episode 34.
NOTE: Parental Discretion Advised. For real. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Because I just did.

The spoken word piece… “AS IT IS”