Thursday, June 5, 2008

In the air - Wheeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

I’m still on the airplane now, but I had to open a new page and start a new entry because the old one really needed it’s own space to breathe. Spekaing of space, I’m traveling high over a gorgeous sea of clouds, puffy, white and perfect. My girlfriend would know what type of clouds these are- humunculous or cumlumcouscousc or whatev. I specify them as ‘pretty’.

I wanted to write a separate blog post about the rest of my time in Chicago- especially about the event at Women and Children’s First- one of the best bookstores in the city. Besides the fact that it is one of the few actual feminist bookstores will in existence in this nation of Borders and Barnes and Nobles, it was my bookstore in Chicago- the one I would walk into even when I didn’t have money to spend, just so I could feel stronger by the walls that surrounded me. Feminist bookstores- I’m pro.

Anyway- I was back in Chi-town, my home town (actually, I’m from the suburbs of Chicago- that’s right- Elk Grove Village, bitches. All the Elk in da haus, holla). But I lived in Chicago for awhile, dare I say- during my ‘formative years’ and Clark Street was a vein of the city that I traveled so frequently, it really was my entrance into the heart of Chicago. I walked around in Andersonville, the Swedish/Lesbian neighborhood (no kidding) just to remember I was home, and crossing the street- what else do I see but an old man in his blues convertible, top down, pumping out the song ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ until I want to burst out with love and song but I don’t I just smile real big and walk into my favorite café- Kopi Café where I take a moment to have Mexican latte and write a few postcards. Then, off to Women and Children’s First- where they actually have a little sign that says ‘LIVE TONIGHT – SABRINA CHAPADJIEV 7:30’. I literally stop in my tracks when I see that. And start laughing. It’s so hilarious and surreal, having my name in big letters like that where any Swede or Lesbian might walk by and see it. I feel like I have reached the very bottom of fame. It was awesome.

Inside, I meet Megan Tracey- the incredible actress who co-founded Chicago’s About Face Theatre- a theatre for queer and trans youth in Chicago. About Face is an amazing institution, and I didn’t realize that Cin Salach had set me up with it’s founder. I’m in awe and she’s hot so the night’s got a great start on it. Soon after, I see Cin Salach- great spoken word siren, music maker, and brand new mama Cin!! I knew Cin ten years ago when I studied in Chicago for a semester after I saw her perform at the CURIOUS THEATRE BRANCH (best theatre in Chicago. So good, they don’t even care what you think.) Cin and Patricia Smith are good friends, so Patricia recommended Cin to read and it was a perfect fit.

And then finally, met Stephanie Howell. The indominatable Stephanie Howell. It was incredible. We’d had a few heart-wrenching, tear-jerking conversations via phone about the edits on her piece, and so it felt so incredible to finally meet her.

So it was me, Megan, Stephanie and Cin and we f-in rocked the house. Boo-yah, lesbian Swedes- ‘Live Through This’ in da HOUSE!

(what planet am I from?)

the place was jam-packed, my parents were there with their friends, old Chicago friends of mine were there, old friends from college showed up because they saw the listing in TimeOUT and then the rest just came because of their Women and Children’s newsletter.

It was an incredible reading. I read from the intro, Megan read – no- she interpreted ‘Silent Body, Speaking Body’ the piece by Anonymous- bringing such a beautiful presence to it, much different from Julia Allison’s reading at KGB- which was very still and haunting. Megan’s was very matter of fact, as if she was a teacher herself (which she is) yet the careful touch of Anonymous’s words shone through and the piece rang out like a bell above a frozen lake.

Stephanie went next. Holy SHITE!! HO-LEE-SHEE-ITEE!! Listen, I told you I had just met Stephanie, so you must have intuited that I had no idea how she’d be as a performer. You’re exactly right- I had NO Idea! (God, you’re good). But from the first word she uttered. . .hell, no- before the first word. Before she inhaled, as she looked straight out into the audience and smiled, I felt a bit like I was about to witness an something very amazing. And I was. For those of you who do not know Stephanie Howell- her reading was both hilarious, tender, painful and fierce. We laughed, oh, how we laughed – laughed with Stephanie as she talked about her fatness. And then we cried with her, and then we were silent, and then enraged, and then full of desire/power/strength as she spoke her story.

She read a heavily edited version of her piece, but did end with ‘Today I weighed myself- 238 fabulous pounds’. However, after she said that – she went on to tell us that, at the end of herself writing that piece, that was the truth- that was how much she weighed at the end of writing that piece. But ever since then, she’s decided to not weigh herself any longer. Now she is just trusting that she is the right weight. She is giving herself the pleasure, the respect of not weighing herself. And it’s hard- it’s hard for her. But that’s where she is now.

Finally, Cin went up to read Patricia Smith’s piece, “A Little Hell Breaks Loose”. Again, Cin and Patricia are old friends- they were both heavy into the spoken word scene, both were featured on the same cd where it was them and two guys reading, and are seemingly life-long friends. Their actual voices are very different. However, Cin is one of the few people who can handle Patricia’s language. She reinterprets with a softer, but just as resonate strength, and allows the story to unfold before your eyes. She’s amazing.

Okay, I want to write more, but we’re landing now, so I have to get off this thing before the Diva-licious stewardess dude gives me the arched eyebrow again.

Here I LaGuardia Go.


Ravenmn said...

Cool blog, Sabrina. Any chance of you making it to Minnesota? There are several independent bookstores that would give you a platform.

Michael said...

Sabrina Chapadjiev... What a blast from the past! I just stumbled upon your blog and site; they both reminded me how incredibly and impressively creative you were 9+ years ago at IWU. It's great to see the direction you've taken since.

I realize this note is short, but I didn't really want to email your blog! I wish you all the best!

-Michael Turner