Light It Up

Get a taste of limelight and quite possibly you may combust. I have always somehow stumbled into “the limelight”. Never personally intended, not a goal of mine historically, quite the opposite has been my desire. Most of my pre-pubescent to adult life I’ve spent actively shying away from cameras and other recording devices. Being bright blue-eyed and bushy tailed, it takes a steel gut, Teflon coat, and a flawless diamond smile to survive the shadow and glow of this stage we call life, and the show must go on. Caring is creepy. Giving a damn at all costs energy and is fueled by passion which can be to some, crazy. I like being a crazy, been one my whole life. My name is Julie Voice, and I give a damn.

I did some modeling as a toddler. Catwalk, commercial, magazine. I utterly detested it, it was so boring, I hated being groomed and outfitted. People only liked me if I was cute and did what they told me to do, nothing was real, like the sets, everything was fake. The other budding starlets were tiny little assholes who only saw me as blonde haired blue eyed competition. Sufficed to say it’s never been a goal of mine to be a part of that world and were the first nibbles and bits to learning that haters just gonna hate. Growing up I got my desired role in every play I ever auditioned for from ages eight to seventeen, losing friends along the way. So much unintended drama would always follow. I got almost every solo I ever tried out for in community and church choirs growing up, making best frenemies along the way. I just wanted to sing, dance, act, play, and make friends! But alas, I would allow others jealousy to steal my joy and create massive confusion on what a friend actually is and even give up singing and acting for over a decade because of all the toxicity it created in me. This cycle of haters would follow me around forever until I finally didn’t give a fuck. Luckily it’s not too late for me, there’s still time for me to finally not give a rat’s ass what other’s think and do amazing and interesting things. I’m a be me, no matter the adversary. 
I happen to whistle and roam in the 94590, been here since I was in kindergarten and Arnold was Detective John Kimble. Vallejo, CA. I grew up here, and yes am still here. Each day I walk into The Simpson’s poster that is my community. Nobody ever tells you this, but Vallejo is Mayberry meets Richmond, CA. And I don’t care if that makes you look at me sideways, if you from here, you know. It’s a small world after all, and since I am crazy enough to give a fuck about my hometown that gets me noticed by my good intentions, kind smile and before you know and without asking, whether you like it or not, I magically transform before your eyes and ears into a Vallejo tour guide/concierge. Perhaps at times I allow the passion to consume me, and at times feel like I am the only one who really cares. When I was in high-school it was impressed upon me by teachers and counselors that Vallejo, CA on my college applications would count against me and hurt my chances to get into a good school. So much depression in this city since I got here, and now the nation has caught up the same mess we been in. Vallejo’s dueling bankruptcies and current state is a mirror of the nation. It’s hard to look in the mirror when you don’t like what you are. I always root for the underdog, especially when it’s my roots. My mom apologized to me last year, she said “Julie, I am so sorry we raised you and your brother in Vallejo, please don’t let Vallejo be your cause.” At first I was confused and thought she was shooting me down and then proceeded to take me down a peg, but now I believe she said it, because after living here 20 years herself she knows once you scratch the surface of Vallejo City politics you slowly die from sepsis, ok again, overly dramatic, just sayin, not literally just metaphysically. When people study Vallejo, CA they are amazed at the lack of oversight, mismanagement, and magical money that can disappear into thin air, under tables, down funnels and asbestos linings. 

 A toll away from East Bat reality, Vallejo ain’t that bad. Where Hayward and Richmond provide monetary relief for those in Alameda & San Francisco Counties. Vallejo provides social pecking order status therapy to its own and surrounding counties. In other words, you end up in Vallejo for one reason. The euphemism I have spent years of my life force energy contemplating can be surmised with one word, affordability.  Vallejo is an asphalt island of grifters, misfits, and commuters in The San Pablo Bay and floats between the black and steel commerce seas of Intersate 80 and Highway 37. Or simply a commuter town. So many come and go. Since grade school all my best friends end up moving onto greener pastures. I got used to it. But it is difficult at times feeling abandoned and having to start over. I now can finally celebrate when I find out someone who’s been in for a while gets out of this city of supposed opportunity. Vallejo has its own flavor. Being from Vallejo leaves an impressionable mark. And for most rational people that mark smarts enough to get out before it’s too late, but not me, oh no. But like any city region on the fringes of the metropolis, the grass is always greener.

I love who I am, I love that I grew up in Vallejo, it helped form who I am. All I’ve ever wanted is to is do my part to make my city a little cooler and help inform people that Vallejo ain’t that bad. Plus I’ve spent much of my life trying to put a finger on why Vallejo is the way it is and has such a bad wrap. But I am finally over it, done digging through the guts of reason. I will just keep doing me and continue finding and seeking solutions to what I see are problems, cause that’s how I am built. I have received overwhelming feedback regarding my crazy “old fashioned” communitarian ways here in Vallejo. Historically I get pity from people, but I don’t collect that shit no more. Plus not gonna lie, but it’s creepy when I go to events and strangers tell me I am a “famous community celebrity” and tell me super creepstar things like, “Heeeey, what’s up Julie Voice, I know you, but you don’t know me, FACEBOOK PUBLIC PROFILE BABY.” So I will focus on the AMAZING supportive words and encouragement I’ve gotten by so many close friends, past school teachers, my dad, my boss, old bosses, close acquaintances! I’ve been told by many to “keep up the good fight.” So Vallejo’s stuck with my crazy ass for the meanwhile.

We all possess a light that if treated responsibly, cultivated, and nurtured can make intriguing things happen. I see Vallejo as the jewel of The Bay, and I’m stuck on its glow, be it radioactive or just unconditional, unrequited love. I would be this damn caring no matter what piece of land or sea I grew on. It’s all relative, life is what you make it, and same goes for your community, and all I want is to always take pride in my homeland and make sure it gets its props. You are more capable than you think, be you, even if you feel nobody believes in you. All it takes is you.