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Author Archives: Tomaca

I Can’t Live Without You

July 31, 2019 tomaca 0

 

I can't live without you

Squirrels running across the ground to climb up trees,

Birds and their serenade in those trees,

The comforting shade from the leaves on the tree,

I can't live without you.

 

I need

The grass under my bare feet,

surging the energy of the earth through me,

the endless beauty of a variety of plants and flowers

the smell of grass and other greenery.

I can't live without you.

 

To stand at the foot of a tree and to look up in admiration and praise.

To stand in worship of its grandness and beauty.

Its kindness

Its love giving soul.

Shade me, cover me, tower over me in magnificence.

Its conversation full of ancient words and times

when magic was real for all.

I can't live without you.

 

And Sun, you know I stand in worship of your rays

your life giving warmth

your love giving smile.

I can't live without you.

 

Balance is nature.  I can't live without you.

 

I can go other places where you don't exist and visit for a short time, but ultimately, I have to be where you are.  The forest calls me.

I won't leave you again.  I can't live without you.

Mwanamkee Kwa Mwuitoo
(Tomaca)

 

 

Approved

July 26, 2019 tomaca 0
Approved

APPROVED!

Written in January, a few days after my arrival in Vegas:

 

I woke up to rain – again in Vegas! People say this is very unusual.  It may rain for an hour and then stop and they never see rain again.  So all of this rain, rain, rain is very different for them.

I decided to take the morning to sit and write.  I wanted to document things before they got lost and covered with all of the new things.  It was nice to sit in bed and type all of the things flowing through my mind.

It would be nice to be working from memories that are as vivid as possible but I am actually recapping the last few days and find that things are getting lost as each day starts to run into another.

I have so many pictures that it will take time to get them all uploaded to the website for inclusion in the blog, but I need to get it done.

After spending some time writing, the rain subsided some, I decided I need to get back out on the job – find a place to live!

I took out and started walking again.  This time in a different direction.  I ended up coming across the court house and law offices, etc.  From asking a gentleman in a suit – obviously a lawyer – I am in downtown Las Vegas.  The motel and party Freemont Street are in downtown.  I didn’t want to continue to experience these kind of buildings, I wanted to see more residential areas and began walking in yet another different direction.

I happened by a really nice looking complex. I went in and inquired about residence and was shown a really cute studio apartment.  Everything was included in the rent with the exception of electricity. Thanks to living at Rivers Bend in Windsor, I was introduced to the concept of paying fees for sewage, water, landscaping, etc.  This seems crazy to me.  And I felt certain I was being ripped off by these monthly fees, but what can you do?

So the fact that everything was included in the rent except electricity was a great deal.

So here we go, we go outside and walk inside.  Take an elevator up to the second floor and then – we have to walk outside past everyone’s door, turn a corner and then turn another corner and here’s the door.  The problem is that we have to walk on that narrow walkway with the open rail on the side.  It I wasn’t walking with the young lady, I’d be hugging the walls, sliding along slowly because of the fear of the height and the open rail.  Oh no, this place was really cute, but I couldn’t handle getting to it.  We went back downstairs, I got my ID and said thanks very much.  If you get something on the first floor, I’d be interested.

811 East Bridger Ave., Las Vegas - where I lived.

 

 

I continued on my mission and start walking again.  I was headed back toward party Freemont Street.  Then I saw the pawn shop!  I ran straight in there to look at the music equipment.  I had sold all of mine versus trying to ship everything.  Plus, I didn’t have an address to ship things to, and I didn’t want to impose on people by asking them to hold a bunch of boxes for me. So everything is gone and has to be replaced.

I saw a nice acoustic guitar for $50.  I saw a nice Yamaha keyboard, but at $300, it was out of my price range.  I saw speakers, basses, microphones – everything I loved and wanted to have.  As soon as I move I plan to at least get a cheap guitar.  I need something musical in my life!

I recorded the pawn shop address in my phone so I could find it again.  I’ve been using my gps for walking directions and it’s been really helpful.  So, I’ll get back to the pawn shop as soon as I have a place to put things.

At the pawn shop, I met a young lady who had just moved here two weeks ago from New York.  She came because Vegas rents were more affordable than New York rents.  She said the strip had the same kind of vibe as New York to her and the weather was great.  For instance, today, we’re walking around with light weight jackets versus bracing for snow as they’re doing in New England - today! We talked about how native Las Vegas people feel that the weather here today is freezing.  It’s probably about 50 degrees.  She laughed about the fact that there’s even a store that sells heavy down winter coats and people actually buy them and wear them here. Oh – if only they knew what we experience in New England!

She also told me about some really affordable apartments that I should check out.  When she mentioned the name of the apartments, I felt like they sounded familiar.  I knew that I had looked at them on the web, but couldn’t remember if I had actually been there.  So, after I left the pawn shop, I plugged the address in the gps and headed out.

After ½ hour of walking, I realized that this was the area I was in yesterday.  As I got closer to the address, it dawned on me that I had already looked at these places.  Walked all that way for nothing.  And mind you, my legs are really sore from all the walking I’ve been doing (but that’s a great thing!).  I decided I would head up to the place where I put in the application to follow up.  Three to five business days for a decision just seemed like a long time to wait for approval.  I need to be out of the motel by next Tuesday.  My goal was to find a place to live this week.   And I liked the vibe this place had and I can feel myself living there.

I’m at the door and the ladies buzz me in and the one I spoke to yesterday said “I was going to call you!”

I found out that I was approved!!!   Oh, the thrill, the joy, the gratitude!! Praise!  She said I could move in within the next few days.  I’ll stop by tomorrow to sign my lease and pay my rent and deposit. I will then have an official address, keys and be back on the grid!  Lol!   I’ll get my new Vegas PO Box set up immediately thereafter.

After that, I danced my way down to the motel office and asked if I could leave early and be refunded for the days I did not use.  They graciously said “yes.”  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

My legs are really killing me from all the walking I’ve been doing (and again, that’s great!!). It’s getting challenging to move them! LOL.  Be glad when I’m in my own spot and I can soak them in the tub.

I went down to party Freemont Street to get some pizza for dinner and then headed up to the room. I’ve been working on all of these posts over the last few days.  I need to get the photos uploaded.  There are so many.  I’m probably going to wait until I get my macbook shipped out to me.  Yes, shipped out.  I have three little boxes that my kids are holding for me to fedex to me.  They contain my macbook, sewing machine, studio headphones and other miscellaneous little stuff.  So glad I’ll have an address!!!  Yippee!  I can get my stuff!!!!

Tired today.  Tomorrow I’ll go back to the apartment building and hopefully be able to sign the lease, get a definite date.  I will also step up the search for an inexpensive car.  I need another George.  He’ll be my rock and take me where I need to go around here.  I realize that everything has fallen into place for me here.  It's been easy.

I’m excited.  Good night!

Bye Bye Las Vegas!!!

July 24, 2019 tomaca 0
Bye Bye Las Vegas!!!

I'm writing this one month and two weeks after I left Vegas.

The last of the items remaining in my studio apartment.

The last day - my last day.  It only took a couple of hours to get the last of my things out of the apartment and to clean it.  I met this nice Phillipino lady named Milka.  She came across me as I was putting what little furniture I had obtained in the hallway.  I was hopeful that people would come and take what they wanted.  I refused to put good stuff into the dumpster.  I can't waste things like that; it's not who I am.  So, Milka comes along and says "this is nice!  Can I take it?"

"Sure, everything is being given away."

She said, with great astonishment - "You give away everything!!?? What else do you have to give away?"

She came down the hall with me to my apartment and took a look at the several boxes of kitchen things, hangers, clothing, etc. and asked if she could have everything.

"Sure! " I responded.  "Come back at 3:00. I need to finish getting everything ready."

She and her husband announced themselves precisely at 3:00 with a gentle knock on the door.  They loaded up their arms and made a few trips up and down in the elevator to carry everything.

After that I looked at my clock on the wall and it showed me I still had several hours before my flight. I could have taken a bus down to the main strip to see the site for the last time.  But, I never found that interesting - - the strip.  I put the clock in the last box of things to give it away.

Earlier in the day, I ventured out and said a final farewell to friends on Fremont Street.  The temperature is supposed to slightly tip over 100 today.  It's crazy.  In Vegas, you are being roasted from above and below.  The sun is so hot and intense.  The concrete absorbs and holds all of the heat and just blasts you with oven roasting temperatures from the ground.  I was glad I said my farewells before the temperature peaked too high for my comfort.

I loved my little studio apartment and thanked it for being there for me.  It was adorable and everyday when I walked in, I said hello to it and always said goodbye.  Sounds strange, but it's gratitude.  We should all always have gratitude for everything - where we are, what we're doing -- even the fact that we're breathing.  Life is a magical place.

I thought about all of my initial plans to go to Vegas and be in Vegas.  I spent two years dreaming and planning.  In my mind, I thought I'd be there for at least a year, maybe two.  I came here to sing.  Not to make the big time, but to support myself financially as a singer and artist.  Sadly, I found that the entertainment industry in Vegas is extremely racist.  I watched white women who could not vocally tie my shoes, being given the stages.  African American artists - dancers, singers, bands and other types of performers - are not allowed on certain stages.  Never.  This was the reality of Vegas.  There were racial rules.

I was extremely saddened and surprised to learn that this is how it worked there.  But, then when I think about the genocide being inflicted on human beings like myself, (police murders, people calling the police on people of color for frivolous reasons, white americans killing Black Americans and getting away with it, etc.) I should not have been surprised.  I always felt like art and talent made a difference.  Sigh.  It doesn't.

So I didn't have the interest in fighting against the discrimination.  I didn't see a reason to go around and to prove my skill and talent to anyone.  I know what I've got and it's a spiritual gift that I will gladly use wherever I am and however I can.

I learned what I needed to learn in the six months I was in Vegas.  And, after a time, I found myself in great need of trees, grass, squirrels, shade, reasonable summer temperatures --- and more and decided to go home.  It was a good adventure and unfolded so much within me.  Wonderful things that were waiting to happen inside of me happened while I was there.

So back to my last day - I sat around watching netflix on my phone until it was time to go to the airport.  I dialed up an Uber and headed out.

The Uber only took 15 minutes to get me to the airport.  It rode straight down a main street and it only cost me around eight dollars.  When I landed in Vegas, the cab took 30 minutes and cost me $60.  He took me on the highway -- and obviously for a ride financially.  I was upset when I realized I was ripped off.  ...and I gave the cab driver a nice tip too!  Oh well...

It was my first time flying Southwest.  I was a little nervous because it only cost me $200 to fly from Vegas to Boston.  That was so cheap considering Delta and American flights were upwards $450 for the same trip.  However, the flight was fine.  I left at 11:30 pm and got to Boston at 5:30 am.  It was a perfect ride.  The staff was very kind and helpful.

I was surprised at how many small bodies of water could be seen from the plane as we got closer to Boston.  I don't know where we were exactly - New York state, Massachusetts - - I tried to take a picture of the landscape from the plane, but it didn't fare too well.  I got great glare shots of the window instead.

A successful, smooth landing followed by the great de-boarding of the plane!  It's always slow going - - you have to sit there and wait for the people in front of you to move out.  Once I step off that plane and out into the hallway, it feels like freedom!  Whooohoo!  You're out of the tube and free!

I got my luggage and stood out in the Boston air waiting for the bus to take me to the bus station, so I could catch a bus to Hartford.  It was cold and rainy.  I dug out a couple of t-shirts and put them on under my Las Vegas hoodie in an effort to be warm. It didn't work too well. I didn't realize that I was so cold on the east coast. No bother though because soon I was on the bus, traveling the last stretch to Hartford. It would only take an hour and a half to be back on home soil again.

My daughter and grand daughter surprised me and met me at the bus station.  I told them I would find my way and not to bother picking me up.  I didn't want to take them out of their way and impact their day, but you know how daughters are -- or at least mine is.  If it's Mom, I'm going to be there.  So sweet.

My blog is no longer entitled  "Vegas Life News."

Good by Las Vegas!   I take with me so many revelations and gifts and knowings.  The Creator has blessed me.  I understand why I was sent there.  I could not have blossomed in the way that I did otherwise.  It could not have happened anywhere else.  There are new things I know now and these gifts and things I cherish.  Thank you.

 

My friend Gerome

A reminder to myself!

Pretty flower bush at my apartment building

Rocks, rocks and more rocks! No grass in the desert (except in affluent areas).

The First Full Day – AKA Day One

July 22, 2019 tomaca 0
The First Full Day – AKA Day One

THE FIRST FULL DAY – DAY ONE

I am finally catching up on my blog writing, now that it's July and I'm back in Connecticut! This experience is from January 16, 2019.

The night I got into town, I did venture around the corner to visit the famed Fremont Street.  I had actually never heard of it before, but know now that it's a famous location.  It's part of the old downtown.

It was raining so the street, though with some people, seemed a little low key.  It's just a few blocks covered with gambling places, restaurants and street performers (which was really cool!).   I didn't spend a lot of time because I was more focused on my mission to find a place to live...

I don’t know exactly how many miles I walked today, but I am certain I covered A LOT of miles.  I walked in the opposite direction of the party side of Fremont Street.  I just walked.  There are so many motels and places to rent all over.  There are also quite a few motel-type living places that are fenced in and under renovation.

I went into establishment after establishment viewing rooms and apartments for rent. Each one held my passport for security as they showed me what they had available.   The nicer ones didn’t have anything available.  One place even had to run a criminal background check on me before they’d show me anything.  Well, good security!

There was one that was pretty funny.  It was considered a one-bedroom, which was really one small room and a framed area that contained a bed.  There wasn’t room for much anything else.  I had to laugh once I got inside.  “This is a studio apartment!” I told the woman.  It had a sliding glass door for the entrance and the door didn’t even lock. Yikes!  And – and – it was on the second floor.

In Vegas, most of the apartments are set up motel style.  So the entrances are open to the outside.  You don’t go inside of a building to your apartment.  You walk up the stairs and down the walkway to your door.  I felt skiddish going up these awkward, open stairs to a second level and then walking down an open walkway (yes, there’s a rail on the side, but I’m still skiddish – the heights thing).

I continued to walk and saw one really sharp building. It was tastefully colored and people had balconies.  You walk into the office and there’s hip music playing in there and in the lobby.  It’s a hip place, obviously appealing to the younger, working crowd.  I inquired about the rent and it was $1,100 for a studio.  Was appealing, but more than I wanted to pay.  On to the next spot.

By this time, it was probably around 11:00.  I had been out walking since about 8:30.  I said to God, okay- how much longer?  Where’s my place?  I tapped into my inner self and looked around to try to figure out which direction I should head in now.  I felt like I found the right direction and started walking.  Then lo and behold, I came across a really nice looking building.  And it was an actual 4-story building versus the usual motel type set up.

I have to say that when I looked to move in June 2018, the thought of renting an apartment inside of a building really turned my stomach!  One entrance for everyone, everyone walking up and down the hall way, someone living on top of you, on the side of you, below you – ughh!!!  I just couldn’t do it.  Once I decided to go into pricey Rivers Bend in Windsor, my whole spirit was instantly put at ease.  My own separate entrance and no one on top of me or below me and just one shared wall!  That worked. That’s why I went there.  When I got to Vegas, I had that same interest.  But, when I saw how everything was set up like a motel, it just didn’t feel right.  So, as I walked up on this building, I saw a gentleman sitting on his balcony and we waved at each other.  I asked “Where’s the rental office?”

“Right around the corner.  Keep going you’ll see it,” he replied.

There it was. As I was buzzed in by the ladies at the front desk, it felt right.

The young lady showed me their show studio apartment and I liked it instantly.  It was really, really cute!

Back downstairs, she gave me the spiel, and asked if I wanted to fill out an application.  I would need to give a couple of money orders for the credit check and to put a hold on an available unit.  I asked where the post office was so I could get money orders and found out it was just up the street and around the bend, so to speak.  I said I’d think about it and left.

I ended up going straight to the post office.  I got both money orders and went right back there and filled out an application.  It felt right.  I felt like this was going to be where I make my start in Vegas.

“Okay – we’ll have an answer in 3-5 business days and we’ll get back to you” she said.

As I left, I was very hopeful that I would be approved and be able to rent this place.  So at 12:00, I called an end to my work day and allowed myself to be a tourist for a little while.

I went down the party side of Freemont Street and took time to go in and out of the stores and to get a clearer idea of just what restaurants were there.  I looked at the endless supply of Las Vegas memorabilia and thought about sending gifts back to family and friends at home.  But, knowing that I couldn’t really spend money, I enjoyed the thought of doing such a thing.

I hung around Freemont for a while and then caught the shuttle up to the real Las Vegas Strip.  It cost $8.00 for a round trip.  Still not having a good idea of just how far away the strip was, I was hopeful that I could walk there.  After getting on that bus and seeing just how far it had to go, I realized that it was definitely not in walking distance!

The bus made stops all along the strip.  I didn’t know really where I wanted to get out, I just kind of rode along.  Finally, I decided I’d jump out and start walking around.  I was really physically exhausted from all of the walking I’ve been doing since I came here, but pushed on.  I probably spent a couple of hours walking up on one side, crossing over and then down another. I took lots of pictures with my cell phone. The lights and razzle dazzle on the strip is extensive and was far more than I had even imagined.

Again, exhausted, I decided that I should really get back and rest up. I knew that my legs would be sore tomorrow.   I’m standing at the bus stop with another woman.  She said, “here’s the bus! This is the one we want”

It turns out that it wasn’t actually THE bus.  It did go back down to Freemont Street and bring me close to the motel, but it wasn’t the double decker bus that I rode down on.  This was actually a free bus and I didn’t have to actually pay freakin’ $8 for a special bus to get to the strip!  Oh well!  :  )

The poor woman realized after many stops that she was on the wrong bus and had to get off and get an uber ride.

I got back “home” and stretched out, grabbed my computer and started writing commentary for my blog.

What Will I Miss?

June 11, 2019 tomaca 0
What Will I Miss?

So, yeah, my big brother died.  Very suddenly too.  You know how we think we're all going to be here forever?  Or, when someone does leave, we'll be prepared for it?  Yeah.  Not so in reality.  Sigh...  I love you forever Huck!

Well, as I said in the previous post - change in plans.  I wasn't going to make it home for the funeral, I was going to just send money instead.  It was a choice, either send money or pay for travel and not send as much money.  I spoke to a friend who said that I absolutely had to be there for the funeral.

"It's imperative that you be there for him.  Just make it one way," he said, "then worry about how you'll get back afterward."

That struck me.  I was thinking to myself, yeah - I could come home, crash on a family member's couch and work for a couple of weeks and come back.  But, the thought of coming back... did I even want to come back?  Did I need to come back?  What will I miss if I don't come back to Vegas?  And the answer to that question was, "nothing."  In my heart of hearts, I didn't want to come back. I wanted to stay home.  I won't miss a thing.  In fact, I would miss a lot of things in Connecticut.  I AM missing a lot of things at home.  My little girls, my big girl, my sons, my fam, my siblings, grass, trees, birds, squirrels, cookouts!  I feel like I am missing so much.  Thus, I am making the a one-way trip. I'm not coming back and I'm really happy about that.  Huck did that for me.  He brought me home.

I was initially thinking I had to stay here for a year.  That's when my lease is up.  So, what the heck, I'll have a place to visit when things start to cool down in Connecticut.  But for now - I'm outta here!

And my Fremont Street fans -  I love them!  They have all expressed that they will miss me.  One man actually cried.  He was one of my body guards.  He'd come by often when I was performing and if someone was talking to me - he'd stand back in the distance, point and give me the look -- is that person bothering you?  I'd smile and wave at him, letting him know that all is well.  He would nod, move on and come by later.  I couldn't believe he cried when I told him I was leaving.

He said, "Your talent is amazing.  There's no way should should be singing on the street here.  You should be singing on the big stages. It's because you're Black and that's how things work here." 

I can say from what I've seen and experienced in Vegas, there is a lot of truth in what he is saying...

Someone explained to me that I really uplifted people with the music and I am such a vibrant, nice person.  I am nice to everybody and made everyone feel good and welcome.  I say hello to all of the regulars - not just the street folks, but the people who work out there.  I ask everyone how they're doing.  The street performers too are really cool.  Well, that's all God.  I can't take any credit.  However, I did enjoy the farewell breakfast, lunch and all the warm hugs and extra pennies from the homeless people in my tip box!  I love people in general.  But, these people I really love and will miss.  I will hold everyone dear in my heart and in my prayers as I live my life.  Even if I never see any of them again, I will

Photo by a fan!

remember them with love and send that love their way.

I found what I needed to find in Vegas.  It's all in me now.  I'm grateful to have these new treasures and to continue the journey at home.  The funeral is Friday.  So I can go to that and be a wreck and then move on.  I've got work lined up starting Monday.  I love how God (or life) just takes care of everything for me.  The way is made.  I'm doing what makes me happy.  I feel good!  Thanks Huck for bringing me home.

Give me a little time to get situated and I'll be back out performing in Connecticut and I will finish that CD.  It's been eternally open-ended, but I'm going to slap a December 1st release date on it.  And - I will be releasing it under my own label and doing my own distribution.  Oh, excitement is!!!

Stay tuned.  I'll be back!

 

 

The Winds Are Changing

June 4, 2019 tomaca Comments Off on The Winds Are Changing
The Winds Are Changing

I received some devastating news today.  My brother died.  He was a very talented, very kind-hearted guy.  I used to tell him that he was "Sweet Uncle Huckey," because whenever his young nieces and nephews were around, he would pass out money whenever he had it.  They loved him.  They would all flock around him - and not just for the money!  He was generous to a fault and a very sweet person.

His skill level as a carpenter and builder was off the charts.  I remember when he was doing some work on a three-family that I had purchased, I brought my young son there to get some hands on training.  My son wasn't interested at all and just fooled around the whole time.  My brother said to him - "You could put me on a piece of dirt and I could build a house on it.  What you can you do?"

My son, who was into gymnastics and sports muttered under his breath - "I can do amazing things with my body."

I laughed and took my son home.  He said, "Mom, I don't want anything to do with a bucket and a handle."

I said, "This is not about a bucket and a handle son, this about hammers, drills, saws and the amazing creativity and skills that come with it.  Your uncle is amazing and can teach you a lot."

Yes, my brother was amazing because our older brother made him amazing by teaching him everything he knew.

I had just talked to him two weeks ago about having him be a GC for the house that I wanted to build.  He said that he wasn't in shape to do that kind of work anymore.  And I told him, "No, you wouldn't do the work; you would be in charge of making sure the workers did everything right."  He was down with that idea and confirmed that he could do that.  It was my dream to build and have him there to make sure it was done right.  Well, so much for dreams...

It's funny too because he accidentally butt-dialed me after that conversation.  I picked up the phone and responded "Hi," and could hear the sounds of the pocket cloth rubbing as he walked.  I should have called him back so that the phone would ring and told him that he butt-dialed me, but I didn't.  Even though I talked to him recently, I wish I could talk to him again.  My sweet Huckey.

This news comes just as I decided to make some changes to my own life.  The Vegas journey has been coming to an end in my mind.  My lease is up at the end of the year and I am planning to return home.

There are a lot of reasons for this change.  After my two years of careful planning, dreaming and finally the great execution(!), I arrived in Vegas with a mission to just sing.  I was going to come here to find a way to support myself using my gift.  So, I've been singing on the street for tips (hahaha!)...

But singing the songs that I like everyday helped me to understand more about the songs that I actually like to sing.  I love jazz.  I love showtunes.  I love the James Bond Goldfinger theme song.  I've always loved Shirley Bassey's voice, but actually singing that song on a regular basis makes me love it more.  I love that vibe.  I'm totally into that slow moving, deep vibe.  I just want to stand there and let these kinds of songs vibrate through me.  I've got Chaka tunes, Aretha tunes, Patti tunes, Fleetwood Mac tunes... but it's the slow moving ones that truly move me.  Give me the tunes I shied away from years ago when people (who obviously knew me better than I knew myself) tried to push them on me - Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Dianne Schurr, a little Barbara Streisand.  They've been waiting for me to be ready for them.  I'm ready now.

I also feel like that music shouldn't be lost.  I was graced by being touched by people years ago who fought to keep that music in the present time.  Today's popular music is absolute garbage. I am constantly wondering where the real singers are and I'm so tired of hearing about money, sex, bitches, niggers and hoes.  Wow.  So I feel it is important that I be one of the ones that reaches back and pulls the real music forward.  I proudly assume the role of "preservator" and hope to help to reverse some of the chaos brought to fore by today's empty, yet violent "music."

Maybe being older makes the difference for me.  Maybe?  Wisdom from age.  Wisdom from experience.  Wisdom.

When I was young, Chaka was my queen.  I wanted to do all the upbeat dance music.  I wanted to party, dance, sing and scream on stage.  And, I wanted the audience to party down with me.  It was great fun.  But, now, standing in place and singing feels natural.  The desire to jump up on the tables and to run around with a wireless microphone is gone.  The old stuff is my new vibe.  And it's interesting that I had to come all the way out here to discover that.  But, I understand it.

I also understand the privilege of the broad depths of gifts that I've been loaned for this lifetime.  My ability to write, my ability to describe, define, to motivate, to share, to understand, to sew, to love, to create, to be, to sing, to desire, to dance, etc.  Such great fortune!  Such privilege!  I am so grateful.

Coming to Vegas has helped things that were fermenting deep in my soul to complete their ferment process.  It cleared my head - my spirit. I understand Lord, I understand.  I know now why I had to come clear across the country to find myself.  The revelations are unending.  I am ready to go home.  So the planning process has begun for the continuation of my journey back on the east coast.

I still hate winter and I don't look forward to being in the cold again.  But, I will rejoice when Spring comes and I get to experience everything green reawakening and rising up from the earth.  That smell in the air is amazing.  And, I won't complain when we have those hot, humid weeks and the sweat pours off of you just because you you're alive.  Because you're alive!

Vegas gave me an idea for a film  - "The Healer."  I can't wait for the world (or who ever enters The Healer's world) to hear about her.  The unwritten books I've been carrying around in my head for decades are talking to me all of the time.  Their conversations with me have increased since I've been here.  The list of songs that I need to finish sing in my head while peering at me from the wall, stuck up with a piece of tape, in clear view just above my laptop's screen.  So the unfinished projects are making themselves prominently heard on a daily basis and in a more clearer and louder tone.  I'm going in a whole different and exciting direction.  Vegas did that for me.  And now Vegas tells me to prepare myself to go home with this new knowledge, understanding and vision.

I've always known that I have a variety of creative interests and the talent to manifest them.  I've always known that.  But now I know differently.  Now I know more.  It's hard to explain.  Perhaps I can try:  I am a singer, songwriter, a book writer (I prefer "book writer" to author), a film maker, a bag designer, clothing designer, an actress, a painter, a photographer, a person who tries to fix everything and is often successful, a woman who can hang sheet rock, use a drill, a sawzall, a dancer, a mother, grandmother, a former wife, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a spirit, a healer, a storyteller, a creative, brilliant human being and so much more.  I AM.  And, I do love me some me - amazingly so.

I love my brother and am saddened by his journey into the Spirit World.  But, I understand.

I need to prepare myself to go back home.  I understand.  The winds are changing.

 

Competition

May 29, 2019 #tomacavegaslife, awake, tomaca 0
Competition


Someone recently told me I was afraid of joining a musical project because I was afraid of being shown up by other vocalists.  Sigh...  Disappointing when people project things on you.

My vibe is this -

  • First of all, I'm fierce as a vocalist.  I can sing almost anything. I am extremely very versatile. I've got at least 3 octaves.
  • Second of all, I'm not afraid of competition, not ever.
  • Third, lastly and most importantly - I don't believe in competing.

 

Let me tell you why  -  I am a spiritual person (not religious - spiritual).  As such, I don't see life like most people do.  I respect life, love, The Creator and other people.  I try to look beneath the surface and to see a person's soul.  I look for beauty in everyone.  It's a little much to go into here at this present time, but I process experiences and situations differently than a lot of other people.

I respect the fact that each of us is significant and special.  Each of us has gifts, talents and skills.  When it comes to music, as with anything else, appreciation of things is subject to what people like and appreciate -- what they vibe with personally.  Sometimes judgement, especially when it comes to today's televised talent shows, is very subjective.

But, anyway, I don't advocate talent competition.  I believe in talent display, but not competition.  It is subjective. How will children ever develop confidence in themselves and in what they are working on developing, if they are torn down after losing a subjective competition?  We want to pass accolades on who's the fastest, the strongest, the bravest, the "most talented."  Certainly, having measurements to gauge is important, but it should be done differently.  Award everyone for displaying their gifts.

Granted, while searching for work as a vocalist, it is considered a "competition," with the award of the winner being the one who gets the job.  However, I don't see auditions as competitions.  I see it as showing people what I can do to see if what I do fits with what they are trying to do - just like any other job.  The only person I am competing against is myself  as I am seeking to reach higher plateaus with my skills and abilities.  Period.

When I was teaching voice lessons, I had a young female student who was intent on entering and winning a talent contest at school.  I gave her my philosophy on competing and emphasized the importance of focusing on developing her singing gifts and skills versus using them to compete.  "The only one you are in competition with is yourself," I told her.  But, of course, I supported her decision to enter this contest and worked with her to help her make her performance the best it could be.

She did not win and was disappointed in herself.  I pointed out the subjectivity of the contest and how it all works. We talked about who did win, what they did and what the judgement was like.  I helped her examine the event and the outcome of the event. I helped her explore the development of her own skills in comparison to where she was when she started.  What do you want to get from singing?  How does it make YOU feel?  What do you want to do with it?  How will you help yourself and others by sharing it?  Such important questions.  At our next class she was able to answer them and felt elated at not having to place the pressure of disappointment on herself for losing.

It's not about being the best - it's about being the best you can be.

Gifts, talents, skills - - they are for sharing, displaying, helping, supporting - - not competition.

My voice, my vocal ability is a gift!  I have worked very hard to develop it, hone it, love it, praise it, enjoy it, embrace it and to share it.  I will not use it for competition.  And, I am not afraid of what anyone else has in comparison to mine.  In fact, I appreciate others whom I can learn from - who can help me get up to my own "next rung."  And, as someone who has studied for a long time and taught voice, I can learn something from everyone.  We all have something to offer.

But my gift?   I will use it to add to the vibration of the planet as it was designed to be used - as all gifts are designed to be used.  Each of us has special abilities to share with everyone else.  It's what we should do in the love of life.

 

The Thing That We Fear Just Wants Our Love

May 20, 2019 #tomacavegaslife, tomaca, vegas life 0
The Thing That We Fear Just Wants Our Love

I am scared.  I have to say it.  I have to acknowledge it.  I have to express it, look at it and examine it.

I was unafraid when I spent two years making plans and slowly implementing those plans to come to Vegas.  I was unafraid when I downsized from a 3 bedroom house to a one bedroom apartment and was purging, purging, purging.  I was unafraid when I emptied out my one bedroom apartment and selling or giving away everything I owned.  I was boasting, bragging - telling everyone that I'm outta here!

I was looking forward to January 15, 2019 - to getting on that plane and arriving in Vegas.  It was all so exciting.  Then I did it. And the excitement carried me for a short time.

Four months later and fear is starting to set in.  I am questioning why I even did all of this.  Why didn't I stay home so I could continue to be present in my children's lives and hold my granddaughters? Why am I here? What am I doing? What did I want to happen? What did I expect? What am I looking for?

So it's a time of deep reflection and deep soul searching.  I am reviewing events, occurrences, thoughts and self-made promises.  I have to think about what I've gained versus what I feel I've lost.  Because the things I feel I lost I repeat in my head over and over again - - I'm missing my little baby girls.  I am missing my sons, my daughter, my wonderful son and daughter in law.  I miss dropping by my little sister's house and sitting for a time just to feel the wonderful love that we have as siblings.  Family cookouts, spring, grass, trees, the amazing bird orchestra that starts at 3:30 am as they sing to the rising sun, familiarity of environment, knowing where everything is, knowing how to get anywhere I wanted to be and so much more...

I don't like Vegas overall.  I don't like the streets - they've got 6 to 8 lane expressways that are supposed to be streets.  Most of the streets here might as well be called highways.  People speed on them.  Crossing the street is intimidating, even when you use the cross lights.  Actually, you have to use the cross lights.  There's no other way to get across those expansive streets safely!

Because grass will burn in the sun, they've got rocks everywhere that other places would have naturally have grass. The whole place just looks hot and uninviting to me.  I'm a nature girl - a tree and grass girl.  What am I doing in the desert?

The main strip is very commercial.  I've yet to venture through there extensively because I don't find it interesting. Bars, restaurants, stores and tourist attractions such as waterfalls, dancing fountain waters, gondola rides ... pricey and uneventful - meaningless to me.

Fear of heights, fear of driving on the roads here, fear of uncertainty, financial fears...  Fear can close down your world and it was starting to do that for me.  I was beginning to feel dizzy and lightheaded anytime I was out of the house.  It was difficult to move about.

As my head was spinning, my courage vanished and I was overrun with doubts and fear, I happened to find a fortune cookie paper that I had kept for the last three years.  Today I decided to use my big, black bag and checked all the pockets before I loaded it up and there it was, waiting for me for this very day.

"The thing in us that we fear only wants your love."

 

This reappeared in my life just at the right time.  It gave me pause.  It returned my focus.  It gave me new purpose.  It helped me to pull it all back together.  No one wants to be afraid.  No one.  I was waking up and going to sleep with all of this fear every damn day.  -- and it was increasing in intensity daily.  I realized that I was choosing to be afraid.  I was self-sabotaging and shrinking my world and imploding.  It really, really made me think about everything and reevaluate everything.  My fears only wanted my love.  I wanted comfort, reassurance, courage - to be free from fear -- to know that everything was okay.  As I really delved deeply into everything I was thinking and feeling, I started to become aware that everything in fact was okay.  I was okay.  I was enough for me.  My love was enough.  God's love was enough.  My spirit guides and my ancestors were close to me and I know now that all is well. I feel them with me.  Once I freed myself from all of that, my clarity returned and I began to more clearly see and focus on what I've gained since I made my bold cross-country move and came here.

The biggest thing is the unfolding of some (what I consider new, but have been told were dormant) spiritual gifts.  The gift of transmitting love through my hands.  The ability to strengthen and expand my aura, to mount my angel wings.  I won't go into great detail, but I will say that it's powerful, beautiful, worthy of celebration, further exploration and future sharing.

I have learned how to sing!  Haha!  My voice is stronger and more versatile than it's ever been in my entire life. Singing two, three, four hours a day will do that.  That's what I'm doing on a daily basis as a street performer in Vegas.  And I consider it more practice as well as performance.  I am honing my skills, honoring my talent and praising the Creator all at the same time.  I am so much more aware of the vibration.  One of my mentors taught me that music is a prayer - and it is.  I've always believed that statement.  But, now I can see and experience my own prayers when I am singing.  I can feel it now and I can consciously project it now. And it feels good.

It's kind of like how the voices of some singers can put you into a trance, or pull the joy out of you - put the joy in you.  There are so many singers that I would marvel who could do that.  I am learning how and by God, it's amazing.

I love my voice.  For so many years I would secretly lament about what it wasn't.  I complained about it.  I put it down.  I was actually ashamed of it.  I just wanted right enough, powerful enough... it wasn't like Chaka Khan's!  Ha ha!  Until now, I never let it be all that it could be.  I would listen to my favorite singers and focus on what they had, what they could do and compare it to mine -- and of course mine wasn't anything compared to theirs.  But now I have come to respect/approve and embrace what I was given, what I have and what I developed. For the first time ever, I am confident about my vocal talent.  I can hold my own now - even in comparison to some of the best out there - and I gladly, proudly and boldly put myself on their level.  I'm bad.  Yes, I said it. I'm an incredible vocalist.  And my goal is to continue exploring and developing this wonderful, wonderful sacred gift that I've been given.

I've been able to reinstall my courage to move around, to go to new places - to journey out more.  I wasn't comfortable venturing out. I would feel dizzy and lightheaded.  I was enjoying my little spot on Fremont Street and the freedom to sing whatever I wanted and the necessity to appeal only to myself in terms of song selections.  I was happy to close my world in around me and to just sing and go home - not venture out beyond the downtown area.  Patting myself on the back now, my warrior shield is back in place and I am "free to move about the cabin," so to speak!

We create our world for ourselves (and collectively) by allowing ourselves to dream and by taking appropriate actions to manifest those dreams.  Our creativity comes from dreaming about what if's,  how's and why's to accomplish what we need to accomplish to venture forward into the reality we are creating for ourselves.  Most people just dream though.  They don't take the actions for manifestation.  Unfortunately they feel it's not for them and never move forward leaving their dream to be just that - a dream.  All of that to say that my creativity is back!  Solutions are uploading into my mind everyday.  I love my brilliant and creative mind!  I am gifted to be able to see the light pixels where the color is missing.  I can add in the dark pixels to complete the picture.  Freedom from fear has reopened the floodgates to the ideas that have been waiting for permission to come.

I can honestly say that I came all the way out here to be able to support myself as a singer.  I've always believed it possible and I'm here to make it happen.  But, something else is happening as well or instead.  Hmmmm.  Spiritual growth and development.  Inside things are changing and it's marvelous.  I'm being molded, created and preparing for rebirth into something, someone new and spectacular.  Same, but different.  An unveiling of a mystery that my soul has known forever, but my conscious mind has never seen.  As this happens and all of the other beautiful things are happening, I will sing fearlessly because God told me to.  And the fortune cookie saying, it's now on my altar where I will look at it frequently so I won't ever forget.

 

What I Love About Tomaca

April 10, 2019 #tomacavegaslife, music, tomaca, vegas life 0
What I Love About Tomaca

This is actually how the conversation starts.  "What I love about Tomaca is that she's a fantastic vocalist.  She has a commanding presence and great repertoire.  You're just what people are looking for!" he says with a huge smile and great enthusiasm as he steps in front of me as soon as I finish a song.  He asks me a few more questions and then starts talking excitedly about what he'd like to do for me - get me with a great band and put me at such and such casinos, and on and on.  I give him my phone number so I can get back to work and on to the next song.

"Give me a call, please.  I'd like it if we can talk a little later." I said.

I wasn't impressed; I wasn't enthused, but I was curious as to whether or not he was for real.

The next day, I get a call.  "How soon can we meet?"

We set a date, time and location.  But, before that date comes, I get a call:

"I'd like you to check out this band.  Meet me at such and such a place, get a table in the front and I'll meet you there at 10:00."

Me - "Okay."

I arrived at the casino and even though it's rundown AF, there's people there playing the slots, hanging out, drinking and eating.  The band wasn't to start for 15 more minutes.  No sense in getting a table up in the front, the place is small.  And I met "James Brown, Jr."  At least that's what he said his name was.  He said that he's won dance competitions all across the U.S.  He said that if I danced with him, he wouldn't embarrass me.  (Sigh.)  No thanks to dancing, I'm just here to watch the band.  Fortunately, there was a table of females and he left to harass them.

I went up to the bar to get a soda and there was one bartender and several people waiting to be served.  People left tips in a glass that sat on the bar in front of them.  The bartender, instead of waiting on the people who were waiting, decided he'd go around the bar and collect all of his tips.  Then he started pulling money out of his tip bucket and proceeded to count all of his money.  After taking his time to count it all, he put it in his pocket and then resumed serving customers.  Totally classless!

I finally get my soda and return to the show room.  The band is just about ready to get started because the musicians were on the stage tuning up.  Obviously it was a show band because there were three mics set up on the front of the stage and the singers weren't out yet. So, then the band pumps up a funky dance beat and James Brown, Jr. immediately gets a woman to dance with him.  He starts doing all this crazy stuff including somersaults as he's bouncing around looking wild and ridiculous.  Yes, he was a little off...  Anyway, finally the three front guys come out and they start doing the standard motown faire.  They have about 5 basic steps that they do for every song.  I have to give credit where credit is due, they were working very hard and the small crowd that was there was very excited and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  I am certain that they will talk about what a good band they saw at the casino for a very long time to come.

Personally, the motown bands that I saw in Connecticut were far better from the singers to the musicians to the way the music was played.  These guys seemed to just play pretty straight forward; there was no umph to what they were doing.  The singers were good singers, but nothing exceptional.  I know it seems like I'm downing this band; I'm not really.  I am saying that they were average and they were doing their job.  And it's interesting that they were a touring band.  They were from another state and Vegas was one of their stops.

Meanwhile, I'm keeping an eye out for the promoter or agent, and after half an hour of listening to the band and him not showing up, I call for an uber and head home.

The next day there are apologies galore.  He actually fell asleep and woke up the next morning.  Okay...

"Well, what did you think about the band?"

"They sucked."

"Ah, that's what I was thinking, but I wanted to know just what level you were on when it comes to live music and musicians."

"What!!!???" says my mind.  "Are you kidding me?"

"So why don't we meet tomorrow and let me run some things by you?"

"I'm working Fremont Street tomorrow," I say.  "I probably won't have a lot of time available," because now it's clear to me this guy is full of it.

"Okay, what about the day after?"

"Okay.  Text me."

That day comes and I get a very long apology text for standing me up the other night. He adds that he's camped out at Starbucks working on some things, he'll be here for X amount of time and why don't I stop by and see him.

I don't respond to the text and continue on with my day.  Late that afternoon, I get a call:

"Well, I'm about to leave Starbucks.  I was hoping you'd stop by."

"I'm on Fremont Street.  If you want to talk, how about you meet me there."

"Great.  I'm on my way."

I'm on Fremont and I wait and wait and wait.  Finally, I get a text - he's here, where should we meet?  We hook up in front of the stage where there's a country band playing.  It's a cover band that he enjoys and he thinks they're great, so he wanted to listen to a couple of tunes.  So we stand there listening as I'm getting impatient, but that's okay, I'll just adjust and be patient so I can hear what he has to say.

Finally, he says "Let's go." and I'm thinking we're going to find a place to have a conversation, but no, he wants to check the other stages to see what's going on.  There's the attempt to hold my hand as we move through the crowd.  I pull my hand away and continue to follow him.  Then there's an awkward moment where we run into a "Barbara," whom he introduces me to and then apologizes to her and says to her that we should talk about it, but this isn't a good time.

At this point, I'm just done.  I'm really ready to just split, but he starts heading further up the street to the next stage.  Finally, I ask him if he has things he wants to run by me.  So he goes into his bag and pulls out magazine clippings of different shows that are happening in Vegas.  He asks me what I'm looking for in terms of music opportunites.

"I want to be with a really good band."

"Awww, gee, if you were interested in being in a show, I could help you with that."

Then he starts showing me clippings of the different shows and events coming to town.  Gives me a contact number so I can supposedly get into these shows for free and says "I guess I can't help you."

"Ya think?" my mind says.

I just go, "Well I've got some music to work on, so I'm going to get on it."  And we part ways.

The next day, here comes another big, long text that includes "I think you got spooked when we ran into Barbara..."

I replied, "I didn't get spooked.  Barbara had nothing to do with anything.  I met with you because you said you wanted to run some things by me.  I am here to sing, nothing more, nothing less" (which would address his thoughts about dating since he tried to turn the meeting into a date).

So - my first exposure to Vegas bullshit!  Ha ha!  It didn't take long.

But, I did meet a very nice man who was very helpful.  I had applied for a job with a company he managed.  He asked me where I was from and what bought me to Vegas.  I said I came here to sing.  He said he didn't want to hire me for a job that I wasn't going to be happy in or stay in.  He also said he was impressed with the way that I carried myself and the way I spoke.  Then he said someone like me didn't belong out here performing on the street like all of these other people.  He said I needed to be elevated and gave me phone numbers for agencies and had a number of suggestions.   Even after all of that, he told me to stay in touch and let him know how I was doing.  I met someone like me!  This is how I treat people.

I gave him a hug and said thank you for being human!

I contacted the places he suggested.  But, the limited Vegas entertainment that I've seen, puts emphasis on youth and white skin color - especially on each of the three Fremont Street stages.  And - only minimal vocal talent is required.  For females, being half dressed on the stage is also a requirement.

But, I let all of that go.  I'm not even concerned anymore.  I am having a great time just singing out there every day.  I am singing better than I've ever sung in my entire life and my voice seems to be capable of newer things every single day.  I used to struggle singing Aretha's stuff and Chaka's stuff.  Now the struggle is gone and those sounds and those notes just come with great ease.  My voice is so diverse and I finally believe that I can sing anything.  I am so grateful to God that he put this in my heart to do.

God said sing, but the song is starting to change.  I will elaborate more on this statement in time.  But, I'll briefly state that my view of humanity is changing.  I am learning, growing and doing differently and more deeply. I praise God for this change of view and for bringing me to Vegas.

 

 

 

View From My Office

April 5, 2019 #tomacavegaslife, music, tomaca, vegas life 0

This is what I see every day (note that the image is minus the people).   I arrive early - just after 8:00 am - to make sure I can get my spot.  By 10:00 and 11:00 am, other artists are arriving.  To guarantee I can get that spot, I show up at 8:00.  People do that.  They will show up two hours before they want to start performing and hold their spot so no one else will take it.  So, even though I get there around 8:00, I'll start around 9:00.  This is good though because I'll spend half an hour doing vocal warmups to prepare.

There are tourists drifting about early in the morning, but not that many.

At night, Fremont Street is a hot spot.  There are hundreds of people walking up and down the street, visiting all of the stores and bars.  However, the competition and waiting time for for circles is excessive, especially on the weekends.  Some folks wait four hours to be able to have two hours of performance time in a spot.

During the winter, it was really easy to get a spot because not a lot of people came out to perform.  However, now that the weather is really nice, everybody and their mama shows up!  Lol!

So, I stick to the mornings and it's okay.  It's wonderful just to sing and let the energy flow through.  Though I need money, if I don't make that much, it's okay because it's practice, it's training and it's a beautiful thing!  My voice is able to do things that I never could do before.  It's growing, expanding and blossoming.  Before when I was singing, I had certain limits or inhibitions.  These things have melted away as I have opened up to the Creator and the energy of the universe.  It just flows through me and it's amazing.

GOD SAID SING!

 

Headed to work! LOL!

BECAUSE GOD SAID SING!

 

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