My Awesome Place, the STREET TEAM

 

Image

So you want to be a part of the STREET TEAM for My Awesome Place?

Most of the responsibility for promotion usually falls on the author, and since Cheryl is not here to do that promotion, we need you! As the official Cheryl B/My Awesome Place Street Team, here are some things you can do to help fill that gap:

 Review My Awesome Place on Amazon.com, on BN.com or another bookstore site. Try to be as specific as possible with your review. You can also add it to a “book list” at www.indiebound.org

Ask your local library or school/college library to order a copy of this title so that people in your community can enjoy it. Check back a month later and if they still don’t have it, request it again. Once they have it on hand, call the library in the next town over and repeat the process.

Record a video review and post it on YouTube. You can talk about your response to one of the stories in My Awesome Place or what made you laugh/cry (often at the same time, that’s the beauty of this book). Be sure to link it to our website http://www.topsidepress.com to help folks find a copy of the book.

Join GoodReads.com, add My Awesome Place to your bookshelf and write a review.

Post about My Awesome Place on Facebook and Twitter and let your friends know that you liked it.

If you’re a visual artist: draw, paint, animate a video, or make other visual art about one of the stories (or one of Cheryl’s one liners) found in My Awesome Place. Then, share that on your blog/facebook to tell your friends.

Add a quote from the book, along with a link to the book’s site on Topsidepress.com to your email signature.

Tell a local book club or writing group about My Awesome Place. Writers’ groups, especially, will be touched by the fact that Cheryl’s writing group was instrumental in putting the book together after her death.

Email professors you know from Women’s Studies or Queer Studies classes and tell them about My Awesome Place and suggest they incorporate it into their syllabus next semester. You can tell them that My Awesome Place hits on a lot of important themes: the acceptance (or non acceptance) of bisexuality in the greater queer community, recovery from substance abuse, creativity and chosen family versus family of origin: all themes they are probably trying to cover in their classes.

 Help us make contacts with the recovery community. Narratives of recovery from substance abuse by men are EVERYWHERE but women’s recovery memoir is much less common. Contact your favorite recovery blogs and suggest that they review My Awesome Place. Tell us about recovery groups or organizations that should know about My Awesome Place.

Email your favorite book blog and ask to write a guest post reviewing My Awesome Place.

My Awesome Place is a great escape to New York story about a quintessential New York artist and is even dedicated to the city of New York. If you have New York media contacts, or know someone who writes about New York culture, tell them about My Awesome Place.

Buy a copy of My Awesome Place. Buy an extra copy to give to your favorite creative young person.

Comment here to let us know how you’re helping to spread the word, Thanks so much, amazing community!

Only Cheryl could write a book AFTER she died…

From Kelli, Cheryl’s partner:

At the time of  Cheryl’s death in June 2011, she had been working on a memoir for some time, workshopping with members of her writing group, a group of amazing women she had been meeting with for over nine years.

After her death, Cheryl’s literary executor (and friend) novelist Sarah Schulman worked with Cheryl’s writing group to assemble the manuscript and ready it for publication. On October 23 2012, Cheryl’s first book My Awesome Place: The Autobiography of Cheryl B will be released by Topside Press.

From the back cover:

My Awesome Place is a rare authentic glimpse into the electrifying arts scene of New York City’s East Village during the vibrant 90s, the chronicle of a movement through the eyes of one young women working to cultivate her voice while making peace with her difficult, often abusive, family.

An unlikely story for someone whose guidance counselor recommended a career as a toll booth attendant on the New Jersey Turnpike, Burke was determined to escape her circumstances by means possible-physical, intellectual or psychotropic. Her rise to prominence as the spoken word artist known as Cheryl B brought with it a series of destructive girlfriends and boyfriends and a dependence on drugs and alcohol that would take nearly a decade to shake.

The book is getting GREAT buzz:

“Bracingly honest and insightful throughout, particularly about family relationships and what it felt like to be young in NYC in the 90s” – Kirkus Reviews

“Cheryl B was a brave and powerful accomplished artist. When I read the story of her journey from the suburbs of New Jersey through downtown New York City in the 90s,to the end of the century, I was glad she’d had the chance to write it down.” -Kaylie Jones, author of Lies My Mother Never Told Me

“A harsh, funny totally real look at being a girl- a broke girl, a fat girl, a queer girl, a writer girl, and the struggle to escape your family and your lot in life. My Awesome Place is like meeting your new best friend” -Michele Tea,  author of Valencia and Rose of No Man’s Land

You can pre-order the book here (free instant ebook download with pre-order) and please like My Awesome Place on facebook to keep up with what’s happening and find out how you can be a part of the MAP STREET TEAM!

If you’re anywhere near New York City on October 23, come out for the book release party at Bluestockings. It’s going to be a mad, sad celebration of this fierce work that Cheryl created and that her community completed: readings by members of Cheryl’s writing group, me, Sarah Schulman and some of Cheryl’s former students!

We’re hoping every queer and marginalized writer, every one who has struggled to find their awesome place will be on hand to help us celebrate the wonder that this book is and be pissed off that Cheryl didn’t get to stick around to see it happen.

Image

A note from Cheryl’s partner

Hey everyone…

It’s hard to believe it’s been not even a year since Cheryl started this blog, since Cheryl was diagnosed. It’s been four months since she died.  I feel like we haven’t even begun to understand what it means to lose Cheryl, or at least I know I haven’t. Every day I am reminded of so many amazing things she did for me, how she encouraged me to be a better person, how she made the world a better place by being–as one friend said at her London memorial–“the patron saint of shy kindness”

Cheryl would probably smack me right upside the head if she knew I just called her a saint on her own blog!

Anyway, I will try to continue to update here as much as possible, and will continue to maintain the domain and the redirect. Sometimes  I do forget to post updates here though, so it’s best to keep an eye on Cheryl’s facebook page.  Although I don’t have access to her account and therefore can’t accept friend requests, you can subscribe to her feed, since all the posts are public.

There will be more information about the fund we are setting up at Astrea to honor Cheryl, as well exciting news about her work here soon. In the meantime, I will be posting a little bit about Cheryl and our live and love together at Grief Sucks.

Thanks so much to each of you who have loved and continued to love Cheryl, and by extension, me.  One of those the last times Cheryl spoke she said “I’m sorry about all this. You didn’t deserve any of it.” and I said “no honey, but I deserved you, and life with you has been amazing”

Life without Cheryl is rather horrific, but I’ve been so lucky to have the continued support of all the amazing people in Cheryl’s life. Thank you so much.

Kelli

The Cheryl B Fund at Astrea

Astraea is in collaboration with Kelli Dunham & Community to establish a fund in Cheryl B’s memory. Your contribution can be mailed to 116 E. 16th Street, 7th Floor, NY, NY 10003. If mailing a check please be sure to indicate “In Honor of Cheryl B” in the memo section. If interested in making your gift online,  visit Astrea online and please indicate that the gift is in honor of Cheryl B in the notes field.

ABOUT ASTRAEA

The Astraea Foundation is a dynamic global foundation providing critically needed financial support to lesbian-led, trans, LGBTI and progressive organizations. Astraea staff, board, members and grantees all share a deep commitment to feminist principles, racial and economic justice and human rights.

What an amazing afternoon….

That was one helluva afternoon, wasn’t it?

For context reminder, a little excerpt from Cheryl’s memoir:

“While many of my peers frolicked on the Jersey Shore in beaded half-shirts, I spent much of my teen years in my room listening to Pink Floyd albums on cassette, rereading Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton and filling sheets of loose leaf with stream of consciousness prose.

I often fantasized in front of my mirror, heavy on the blue eyeliner, as I accepted imaginary literary awards and ran with a crowd I had painted as my own personal Warhol factory (a scenario in which I was the Warhol).

In my make believe multi- disciplinary art world
I was understood,
I was part of the scene.
(It would be) A place where I was awesome”

Cheryl found/created the place where she was understood/part of the scene/awesome.  As Sarah Schulman observed on Sunday “The memorial itself proved that Cheryl’s life was a success”

Thanks so much for being present and for all who shared in all the different ways.

I am especially grateful to Genne Murphy and Sinclair Sexsmith for taking care of the majority of the details as well as Dixon Place for donating the space.

We’ll be linking below to the texts of what various people  shared at the Memorial. If you weren’t a part of the official presentation but would like to add your comments we’d love it if you did it below.  Comments will be moderated because that’s the default for the blog, but I will approve them as quickly as possible.

With so much love, respect and gratitude for this amazing community,

Kelli Dunham (Cheryl’s girlfriend/partner)

Here’s what was shared at the Memorial by:

Ducky Doolittle

Sinclair Sexsmith

Kelli Dunham

Derrick Kardos

Truly WTF news

Cheryl died in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 18th. The details of her memorial follows. We will be adding links to press and blog posts here, so if you’ve written something you’d like to be included, email cherylblegacy at gmail dot com) with the link and we’ll include it.

If you are interested in publishing Cheryl’s work, those requests are being handled by Sarah Schulman, she can be reached in care of the legacy address as well.

If you’d like to remember Cheryl with a donation, we are in the process of negotiating with an LGBT arts organization to provide a writers’ scholarship in Cheryl’s name. The details of this should be settled in the next few weeks, so please keep checking back.

You can also RSVP to the facebook event for the memorial service here.

Late, brief, update

Trying to get my thoughts and experiences together about the last few bizarre weeks here in WTF land for a longer post, but for now, here’s a few sweet things to share.

WTF Cancer Pie has returned as (heart) for your lungs pie:

I also missed Sideshow’s One Year Anniversary Show on Tuesday night, but I got a little present from the audience and my co-host Sinclair Sexsmith:

And there’s nothing like a homemade card from your 6-year old nephew:

The more surreal stuff TK.

And now for a little poem

I’ve decided to participate in NaPoWriMo, 30 poem drafts in 30 days, for National Poetry Month this year. I originally set out to keep my cancer blogging and my NaPo stuff separate, but it was probably silly to think that I would.

So, I may cross-post some of the cancer-related draft poems here as well. The rest are on my Tumblr.

NaPoWriMo Day 3

Saturday Morning

The anvil on my chest won’t move

Crowds work their way through Times Square, through me, around me

Stopping every ten paces to catch my breath

My wig and sunglasses seem a disguise: weird tourist lady with a pissed off local look

In Port Authority I sit on a stairwell looking like a heart attack

A homeless man checks on me

He’s the only one

I can’t say thank you but look at him and nod my shaded eyes

Storefront reflections used to measure the size of my abdomen, the fit of my pants

Now there is a meltdown on display, a picture of everything running together yet unable to walk

*cross-posted with cherylb.tumblr.com

Unremarkable Organs

From a recent scan report:

“The liver, spleen, adrenal glands, pancreas and the kidneys are unremarkable.”

Don’t worry guys, you’re not unremarkable to me. Thanks for keeping it simple.

Poked

11/11/10*

The phrase “bone marrow biopsy” immediately brought to my mind a choir of my older male relatives chanting, “yagaddabefugginkiddinme.” At the very least, it was the most ominous-sounding procedure on the menu the week before I started chemo.

The pleasant young female doctor, who had previously professed an affinity for such deep extractions, would do the honors right in the office.

K and I arrived early for the appointment, eager to get it over with. As soon as we entered the examination room, we were privy to various sharp objects lying in wait on a tray. This has happened to me before, while anticipating gynecological procedures, but these tools seemed even more spectacularly medieval than the ones at the gyno. These bitches will cut your bones, I thought.

As the doc explained in horrifying detail what would be done, I zoned out. Please, just like put me in a K hole and do whatever you need to do, I thought. I’d never done the drug K, but had been around others in its depressing, zombified state, that seemed about right for this procedure. After the tutorial, I laid down on my left side, where Kelli sat looking into my eyes as the doctor found a good spot on my right pelvic bone (i.e. my butt) to take the plunge. Needle pricks, local anesthetic, so far so good.

“I’m going to go into the bone now with some anesthetic. Believe me, you’re going to want this,” the doc said as if from a distance.

I winced.

K offered, “You’re doing great honey. I love you so much.”

WOW. THAT HURTS. ARE YOU F***ING SERIOUS!
I gasped, followed by tears.

“I’m sorry about this. You’re doing great,” the doc said. There was a short break, before she came at me with another implement.

“Now I’m getting the marrow sample, going into the bone.”

Less pain, thanks to the anesthesia, but incredible discomfort. More tears. K kissed my forehead and the doc delved deeper into my bone.

“You’re doing fantastic,” both women said.

“I love you so much,” Kelli added. “You’re so beautiful.”

An uncomfortable intimacy took over the situation, as if we were participating in a surprise three-way: My girlfriend caressing my face as the doc worked up a rhythm, her tool thrusting in and out of my backside.

Finally, she got what she was after, placed it in a specimen jar, where it formed a red globule, not unlike those in a lava lamp.

“Got it. Beautiful!” The doc said, holding it up. “Now I just need to get a tiny piece of bone…”

*Previous entries leading up to this post:
TGI Hodgkin’s
2010 Space Biopsy
The Longest Weekend
Last Call at the Radiology Lab