Chapter 2023

I’m creatively constipated.

There is so much energy, and by that I do mean anxiety, pumping through my veins lately that I don’t know how to sit down and channel it directly. My adrenaline is all over the place and it’s making a mess! It’s like a toddler Tasmanian devil wrecking everything in its path.

As 100% not on board with using nouns as verbs as I may be, the easiest thing for me to say is that life has been life-ing, at a rate that I don’t quite love for me.

I closed the chapter on the last two years of my life in August. I graduated from LSU with my MFA.

Two days later, on that Sunday, I received the news that my cousin Tavio passed away. He was one of my favorite people, and one of the funniest. So much of my humor is influenced by him.

I reached out to his sister, my cousin Danielle, asking if I could speak with her. She said she didn’t have the energy at the moment, but she did congratulate me on my graduation. I thanked her and told her I loved her.

I was unable to attend Tavio’s services, as I had a trip that was booked as a graduation gift from my boyfriend and his family.

Two weeks after I got back, Danielle passed away. She’d been battling breast cancer. I hate that I didn’t know it was coming.

I felt like I was living in a Lifetime movie. Here I had this milestone in my life that I was celebrating while my cousins’ earthly lives had come to an end, and much too soon. I can’t explain the emotional turbulence I experienced, for so many reasons. Guilt because I hadn’t seen Tavio since before COVID, and because Danielle had always just been right there. The last time I saw her was almost exactly two years ago. She supported the comedy show I produced that got derailed by the Omicron edition of COVID. I can’t believe she showed up, along with her daughter, my cousin Deanna. In fact, Danielle was one of the first people to encourage me to do stand-up. If only I’d thanked her more for her support while she was here.

“If only” and “Why didn’t I?” were the chorus of my thoughts for weeks.

It also felt like deja vu. I lost my Dad right after I was supposed to have graduated from undergrad at Rutgers. Instead, it happened right before I began my last additional semester.

I know it’s coming for all of us. But sometimes the universe’s timing is so tragic, it’s comical.

I attended Danielle’s services, mourned with my family, and was grateful I got to say goodbye.

In the following weeks, I focused my energy into putting some cash in my pocket and slowly getting back into the gym. I tried to control the only things I could control. My physical and mental health.

At the risk of sounding like an a-hole, I have to say my self-esteem suffers when I’m not making enough money to live the way I want to. During grad school, for those two years, we were scraping by and due to the demands of the program, we didn’t have much time to work outside of our commitments to the school. For this reason, I worked my little tuckus off training clients and teaching classes before I moved down there so I could live off some savings. My bills were double what was coming in from my assistantship, and prior to moving I was earning at least thrice what I made monthly at school. But that free tuition though…

Putting some money in my pocket again post-grad school was important for my mental health. It was also essential for my impending move back North.

In August, I went from living in my apartment in Baton Rouge, to my boyfriend’s place. Then on November 17, after getting off stage for Hell Yes Fest, a comedy festival in New Orleans, my boyfriend and I hit the road and drove my vehicle packed with my belongings to my brother’s in North Carolina. After spending some quality time with my brother’s family, I got back on the road, solo this time, and headed to my mama’s for Thanksgiving.

Current location: Dirty Jersey, USA

I went from Dirty Jersey to the Dirty South and back, are we seeing a trend here?

I am back, and it is cold. 🥶 I’ll be honest, I’d take this cold any day over the heat I experienced this summer in Baton Rouge. MY GOD. Apparently it was historically hot, as it was when I went to the UK for the first time last summer. I’m beginning to think this Thicken Nugget brings the heat. 🔥

Narcissism aside, it’s wild to be back. I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to be back. Atlanta was looking like the move for a hot moment. It still may be at some point. For now, I’m here, and even though it is technically home, I’m feeling like a transplant who happens to have hella homies in the area.

I kind of like that for me though. I feel like the stakes are higher now more than ever, the thought of which does give me minor panic attacks every 16-18 minutes, hence the toddler Tasmanian degree of anxiety.

I’m nervous and also super excited because I am leaning into leveraging my skills and training as a professional performer to assist “civilians” with their communication skills, connecting to their voice, and overall confidence. I am super excited for this business to get booming because it combines so many of my strengths and passions.

First and foremost, producing and planning events is a skill I have cultivated since childhood, ever since me, Chelsea, Alex, Nicole and Sam were the Spice Girls in 5th grade at recess on 84th Street between Park and Madison Avenues. I, the Sporty of the girl power gang, would hop on my Macintosh computer before Apple was a deity, and I’d print tickets to our recess concerts. I would carefully cut them out and distribute them in the cafeteria to fellow students in all the grades, including the older kids, flex. 💪

Not only do I love to entertain people and take them on a journey, I also like to serve. Not food, cuz I can’t cook.

Entertainment is a form of service in its own right. Artists cut themselves up into tiny pieces and repurpose them to offer a collage of a life. That life becomes all of ours, with a beginning, middle and an end. It’s a source of connection, reflection and an experience and escape.

I waited tables for a long time. On and off, I was about Twelve Years a Server and truth be told, it was my favorite job. Not just because of how many guests told me I was the best waitress they ever had, double flex 💪 💪 , and how great that is for my taller-than-me ego, but because I genuinely loved providing people with a positive, memorable experience. These weren’t just customers whose meals I was responsible for, a lot of times they were memories I was playing a role in creating. All we have in life, all that is truly ours is our memories; birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, repasses, communions, I served them all. I didn’t take that responsibility lightly, thus, I may have traumatized some line cooks along the way and for that I am sorry.

That is why I’m excited for this skill to evolve into corporate workshops and group trainings. I have a limitless flow of value to tap into that’s ready to materialize. I have always aspired to be a source of love and light in the world. I did my best to do that during the pandemic and before grad school via virtual personal training and fitness classes. I helped people become better! Now I want to help people effectively and authentically communicate and become the best versions of themselves in all of their relationships, be it personal or professional.

My biggest obstacle in all of this is my relationship with money. Growing up it was often a source of stress at home, and I grew to resent it. I internalized that money was this evil thing that you could only earn through pain and struggle. I never thought it was possible for me to demand any amount of money for my knowledge or skills, or at least not enough to grant me financial security. I have long been an underearner. I just never felt qualified or worthy of fixing it.

Sidenote: One time when I was waiting tables, the subject of education somehow came up. I’d disclosed that I went to Catholic school for most of my life, to which the guest responded “Look how that worked out for you.” Somehow I managed to not react or hack a loogie into his drink. That is progress. JK I would never and have never loogied into anyone’s ingestible goods. I did tolerate a lot of disrespect in all those years, from staff and guests alike, and as grateful as I am for the restaurant jobs that subsidized my artistic education, I don’t want to look back.

Today I’m putting the pieces together, taking everything a day at a time, and every day one step at a time. This transition has been challenging and it will continue to be, but I am also so excited for the life that I’m rebuilding. I am reconnecting with everyone I love and with the people who set my soul on fire. In some ways I’m picking up where I left off, in others I’m completely reinventing. I’m getting back to fitness so that I can show up as my best self for me, for others and for these auditions honey okay!

In honor of my late cousins, I am doing my best not to take any moment for granted, while also giving myself grace.

I am looking forward to the next phase of my evolution, and to manifesting a life beyond my wildest dreams.

Chapter 2024 will bring me success as a comedian, actor, and entrepreneur alike. And so it is.

Make sure to stay updated on all my shows and events.

I’ll leave you with my personal favorite affirmations, that I turned into RAPfirmations, for you to bring into the New Year:

  • I receive money easily and abundantly. 🤑
  • I have everything I need to succeed. I have everything I need within me. 🙏
  • I am bright, I am brilliant, I am beautiful. I am #blessed. Yes. 🙌

Love and light,

Alana J ♥️ ✨ ✌️

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