In 2015, my band was booked to perform at a week-long festival in North Carolina. We were housed in a beautiful cabin on a private ranch, surrounded by other cabins that were housing other musicians, artist, vendors, and crew in charge of running the festival. We were not booked every day to perform, and on some days when we only had one show, so we had a lot of free time on our hands to wonder around the festival to check out other bands or join jam out session in the artist lounge. On one of these days, I wondered off on my own to check out the booths, looking to buy some crystals. I came across a white tent with a sign that read, “ten-minute reading for twenty dollars.” There was a small table inside the tent with two chairs. The astrologer had pamphlets on the table with information of his services. There was also a clipboard hanging by the entrance of the tent where he wanted people to sign up for the reading. Next to the clip board was a sign that read, “out to lunch, be back in ten minutes,” so I signed up, and left to check out the other booths around the tent. I was really eager for the reading, because I needed to get confirmation from something that was revealed earlier that year. I walked back after ten minutes, and found the astrologer sitting on one of the chairs. He looked like a Zen master. He was bald, wearing all white and barefooted. He asked me if I was Annette in which I replied yes. He asked me to sit down, and informed me that he was going to ask me a few questions. He proceeded by asking me for my name, date of birth and time of birth, and within seconds my natal chart popped up on his laptop screen. The reading was only for ten minutes, so he dove right into it. He started studying my chart intensively. He hummed a few times and asked me if my current job was my only job, in which I answered with hesitation, yes. I knew where he was going with the reading. I dozed off and started thinking of how long it took me to build up momentum with the band. How I didn’t have time to do anything else, because I was not only performing with the band, but I was taking care of a lot of the business matters. I had put in sweat and tears, and pinched every penny to make my dream as a musician come true. I thought about how I would leave my daughters for months at a time to go on tour, so yes, this was my only job. He then proceeded to tell me that it looked like my career was ending. He must have seen the shock and fear in my face, because he tried to explore other options with me. He stated that it looked like I had a passion for writing, and maybe writing could be my next career move. I nodded a few times but zoned out for what I felt was a long time. I was not ready to explore any other options with him, because all I could think of was, “What the heck am I going to do?”
After my reading, I went back to the cabin where my band mates and I were being housed, but I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling. I felt like I was on the outside looking in. I felt this fear come over me, and immediately started making myself small. I wanted to be invisible to try to avoid what was coming. I went into denial, and told myself that the reading was not real, but I knew it was real.
Two months prior, I had booked a reading with an astrologer from Portland who was visiting Los Angeles. We sat down at a coffee shop where she pulled up my natal chart. She observed it and asked me a few questions regarding my career and interest. She, like the astrologer in North Carolina. said the words I did not want to hear, “Your job is ending.” She said that I was going through a lot of abuse in this band, and that it was not a safe space for me. She was right, the environment within the band was not a healthy one. It was not a space where I was growing artistically. I felt lonely when I was on tour, because I did not have the emotional support of my band members, particularly from the men in the group. There was a gender gap within the group. The men always seemed to find a way to make me feel small, or point out the things I was doing wrong. They created a space where I was constantly walking on eggshells, and they made me believe that I was not doing enough. I started withdrawing myself, and compromised with them, because I didn’t know where else to go. I had conditioned myself to believe that I couldn’t make it out in the world without this band.
When the tour was ended, a band meeting was called, and in that meeting, there was a lot of criticism in what the women in the band could do better. We were not acknowledged for our contribution, and the guys in the band were just patting themselves on the back. It was at this meeting that I finally spoke up and gave them a piece of my mind. You could tell by the look on their faces that they were not happy to hear what I had to tell them. I was demanding respect, and told them that their actions were far from what they were preaching on stage. They considered themselves feminist, but that is not what they were when the curtains closed. They were abusive and disrespectful to the women in the group, and used their status to seduce women that they met on tour. In speaking out, I was reprimanded by not being allowed to perform with the band, and within two weeks the band voted me out. My job had ended.
I was torn and went into a deep depression. I was completely in darkness, and didn’t know what I was going to do. I would wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety. I cried more than once every day for months. Every time I would go on social media the band would pop up announcing where they were performing, or I would get tagged by a fan asking why I was not at the show. The people who I thought were my friends disappeared once I was no longer in the band, so feeling lost and alone, I disconnect myself from the world, and isolated myself. There were too many pieces shattered, so every day was a struggle to pick myself up. I couldn’t look at my instruments, so I put them away.
My first connection with the world was six months after my ending with the band. I enrolled into a vocal class at Pasadena Community College. I was the bass player in the band, so I was really shy to sing in front of all my classmates. In my first performance in class, I made all the student turn their chairs around to face the wall. I didn’t want them looking at me sing, but I loved it. I loved it so much so that I enrolled for the second level of vocal class, and in that class, is where I performed the first song that I wrote on my own. My classmates and the professor loved it, and that was the beginning of regaining a bit of my confidence. Two months after my class ended, I reached out to the director of an organization called East Los Angeles Women Center to see how we could collaborate. The organization had booked my ex-band for a couple of shows, so we kept in touch throughout the years. The woman in charge offered me a position right away as an Educational Specialist. I always tell people that this job saved me, because it gave me space to grow and heal myself, while educating women on the cycle of violence. The director also gave me a platform where I got to perform on my own for the first time at a Gala, and then continued to hire me for other events, because she believed in me. This past year I taught myself how to play the guitar to perform the songs that I wrote throughout these past three years, I was even featured in a few open mics. People have reached out to hire me for a few events, and I am currently recording my own music. On this journey, I have found this immense love for myself. I wouldn’t have seen my potential as a solo artist if I was still part of the band. I am still putting the pieces together, but what I thought was a last call at music, was really a call to a new beginning.