The last time I spoke to Anna was around 2007 when I moved away from NYC to start my life over. I spent 17 years in that city. A past life in this lifetime.
Some people live their lives in chapters. I live mine in serial novels.
Anna and I were just two crazy girls drawn to all things mystical, holy, and beautifully mysterious.
We were opposites really, yet we connected. Anna is very non-judgmental whereas I’m, uh…highly opinionated. She loved meeting new people. I’m a misanthrope constantly working on adapting to this civilization.
Anna and I lived our paths in reverse. She came from a sheltered upbringing and entered a corporate environment, while I came from a chaotic world filled with war, immigration, homophobia, and lived the life of a struggling artist.
Whereas I was an artist trying to find my place in the world, she was a worldly person trying to find her place as an artist.
She grew up in the suburbs, was a cheerleader, and ran with the popular crowd. Anna worked in law and worked hard for it…the bar exam and the works.
She had a spiritual awakening/calling. Her career as a lawyer was just beginning and she was doing very well. One day, she quit to become a musician…
This was a crazy, bold path and meant giving up a lot of things; a comfortable material lifestyle and social status, etc.
Then she disappeared to India forever.
IBM: Poughkeepsie’s Death Valley
We had our upstate days and downtime nights in Chinatown. That was my friendship with Anna.
I spent a great deal of time at her parents’ house in the suburbs of Poughkeepsie. It’s was a pitiful town ‘cause IBM was headquartered there and brought great things to the valley until the company collapsed roughly fifty years later. With this, came massive desertion in commerce, which affected economics and quality of life.
Thanksgiving took place at Anna’s parents. Our friends from NYC took the Metro-North to meet up with us there.
Her mom was kind and highly tolerant of the cats Anna dragged home: a transsexual in transition, a lesbian film producer, an East Indian Siddha yoga girl, and an illegal Japanese model.
I was heavily into meditation so I often took breaks to be alone. They pulled a fucked up prank on me.
Anna’s mom has this weird collection of freaky dolls—most of them resembled Chucky or designed to stand facing a wall in shame, weird shit like that.
Well, the Chucky doll was the creepiest of all.
While I napped in the dark, they snuck in and laid the creepy doll on the pillow next to my face, then waited to hear me scream my head off when I woke up.
We were just big kids at heart. Our friends took turns videotaping each other getting rugburn on our asses while using the carpeted stairs as a bumpy slide from the second floor. We’d rub our sore butts and laughed silly.
Anna and I once went to the supermarket and took joyrides on the motorized carts. I will probably never do that again. I knew then that it was wrong. Those carts are for elderly people. But we decided to act out and be goofy. No one busted us for it because we were cute and besides, the workers secretly indulged in the free entertainment.
The karma paid back quickly.
Anna bought a dozen eggs, I think they might have even been organic or the more expensive kind. When we left the store, she was happily skipping and swinging the grocery bag back and forth forgetting eggs were inside. They were smashed. We laughed.
Her mom was lovely and supportive of everything Anna did. A sweet Italian woman. She wasn’t one of those moms who were like, “Oh, Ji’s a lesbian, she can’t share the same bed with my daughter.”
Anna and were not sexually attracted to each other. We had this clear line between us that was comfortable and natural without ever needing to define it. She could chill with gay women. It was rare and refreshing for me to meet a straight girl this comfortable with her sexuality.
One year, her parents were getting the roof fixed and Anna and I shared her room. We heard the guys climbing the ladder against the wall. I looked over at Anna, she was in deep sleep. Her face was so peaceful and everything was covered except her feet: just her toe rings sticking out. I should’ve taken a picture but there was no Instagram back then.
When she woke up, I said, “Anna, I have this kinky fantasy of workmen looking through the window of me having sex and now it’s happening!”
She laughed so hard. We weren’t having sex. But the image of the workmen climbing up the wall and that image messed up her head. She couldn’t stop laughing.
Anna’s super athletic and often went mountain biking at Minnewaska State Park. The paths and hills there are pretty raw. I was afraid to join her because we were total opposites athletic wise.
I’m a sedentary poet who considers typing a serious form of weight loss and exercise.
She pulled into the parking lot, unloaded the bikes, and started peddling toward the trail. She looked back and I might have appeared to be a half block away. The parking lot had a slight incline and my thighs were burning from just trying to get out it. We weren’t even on the rugged path yet and I was already out of breath.
Anna has this sexy way of laughing at people—especially when they are in their most failed or vulnerable state. She didn’t mean to. It was that Mona Lisa smile. She wore it with love and humor and often when I’d say outrageous things or being pathetic—which was clearly the case when I accepted the Minnewaska challenge.
She cycled up and down that rocky path about three times while I struggled to peddle. It was like a sad rerun: watching her pass me on her way up, then on the way down, then up, then down. She was gentle and patient. Doing laps was her way of still having us both benefit. I’ll always remember that 💙
At the early beginning of her pre-rock days, she was struggling to put together a band. We once drove to Manhattan from Poughkeepsie for an audition. I’ll never forget the deserted industrial warehouse where I dropped her off, wondering if she should even be in there with dudes she never met before.
Anna got glammed up and wore a scanty miniskirt. We stopped in a smalltown delicatessen of some sort that was a throwback of some 1950s soda joint. It was the suburbs after all, and Anna wanted to grab a cold drink.
I will never forget the teenage kid who served her. He was this chubby white kid with short stubby blonde hair, wearing a white uniform. His face turned fire hydrant red and his hands were shaking so hard. It was like he had never seen a pretty girl before. His coworker was watching and dying of laughter.
Anna was very polite. There was that Mona Lisa smile again, lovingly holding back from laughing at the kid’s massive fail.
Professional Sofa Surfing in Chinatown
I visited Anna so often, I may as well have been a resident. Living in Chinatown is a completely different experience than visiting it, even as a New Yorker. We both agreed that it was nice being in a hood that felt like entirely like another country (i.e. no white people). Chinatown’s imprint on me was sobering and magical. I wrote a lot of poems about my time spent there. One of them is dedicated to her rooftop. It’s called “Even in Plain Sight”…
When the World Twin Brothers fell
just elbow distance away,
Chinatown’s countenance held still
no death lingered on her face.
This town is a selfie always in itself.
Invisible artists shop at Pearl Paint
Invisible actors bring fame to anything they eat
Invisible politicians shake hands with shopkeepers
Invisible tourists gawk at suicide ducks on display.
I am one of the invisibles
Chinatown’s reality, never real
she’s a mother who doesn’t embrace
“Tough love,” they say…
Despite the black oxygen choking the NYC sunless sky, Anna loved escaping to her apartment rooftop. We spent a bit of time there.
Maybe we both hungered to feel on top of the world.
Her kitchen was the size of a broom closet. But we still cooked up a storm. The counter-less sink area was so small, we leaned the dishes along the windowsill to dry.
Back then, I was enrolled in cooking school. She loved having me take over her kitchen.
I brought over a recipe from my school. It was dubbed “The Pizza Police.”
It called for the worst of the worst processed flours to get the magic crisp, so refined that you could probably use it as talc on a sweaty day or sell in a dime bag just for laughs.
That recipe contained the secret of making the best pizza that has brought NY its fame. Just don’t expect to survive it if you’re celiac.
I partied at clubs late at night, then would stop at a 24-hour soup house right around the corner. It was the most amazing wonton soup: filled with a billion finely sliced vegetables loaded with broth inside the pouch of each large wonton (there were three). The skin was so delicate and freshly made. The place had a dumbwaiter, the strangest contraption on earth—because hot dishes were being cranked up from the basement. Sketchy.
I’d slurp the wonton, trying to let the broth burst inside inside my mouth before the fillings spilled out; sort of like biting into lychees, catching the delicious nectar before losing the ooze. After devouring my hearty meal for only $5 bucks, I’d turn the corner and walk up a long flight of stairs to Anna’s place. She wasn’t around to laugh at me but…
Those stairs were a major workout and guaranteed to help you collapse in deep sleep from utter exhaustion.
Anna made me laugh. I made her laugh. She’s one of the few people who enjoyed the fuck up things coming out of my mouth and challenged every dare I’d come up with. She never censored me. She would just hold back a laugh before it grew harder. She did it in an endearing way. If smiles could imitate rolling your eyes, that’s Anna’s Mona Lisa smile.
A new ice cream shop opened up across the street and had lines going out the door with Asian kids.
I wanted to check it out but only if we could go wearing her 3D glasses. She was cool with it, so we walked down the street wearing 3D glasses and ordered ice cream. No one was impressed. It was New York after all. Please. Or maybe Asians have no sense of humor.
I upped the stakes and said, “Let’s walk down Chinatown one day wearing only our underwear and skimpy top while holding hands.”
She said “Okay.” Nothing fazed her. But we never got around to it. Somehow Madonna’s SEX book was stuck in my mind and I didn’t want to be that childish and unoriginal. It’s difficult to shock anyone in NYC…yet I’ve been shocked many times by what people bring onto the subway: like a black dude eating his dinner while using his hunting knife as a fork.
Becoming the CEO of Soul
When Anna finally resurfaced from India, she returned to Poughkeepsie and knew music was her calling.
Of course, every other person in NY is an artist, actor, or musician. This didn’t seem like anything new.
The next thing I knew, she was starting a band called “VAJRA.” She mentioned it to me, but I didn’t grasp her vision. She was working on a new sound by blending her affinity with Eastern spirituality with modern rock music in a powerful, dark, aggressive way. This was so out of the blue.
I was oblivious to Anna’s love for rock music, the electric guitar in her room, her practice, her songwriting and the beginning of her singing/voice lessons. When you live in a city filled with so many talented people, all of this just seems normal.
Flash forward 2017, there she is… Annamaria Pinna doing live shows and touring with VAJRA, the gypsy-rock metal band she created.
Truth is, if she was an overachiever in school, a competitive cheerleader, and lawyer, there is there is no stopping her if she decided to make music. I’m proud of her for doing her thing. Anna is clearly a woman of power and determination.
When you take raw creative power that can be used to build a company to build your soul instead, the boldness in taking risk is all the same.
There’s zero difference between being a CEO of a company or the CEO of your life. The true definition of success is determined by how to properly channel your creative energy.
Anna looks and sounds great. Her voice and music have grown tremendously. The music is an authentic fusion of classic rock, metal and the etheric, sensual, and exotic.
My heart was touched to see a little YouTube home video of Anna visiting her parents’ with her bandmate to work on new songs.
While watching the clip, I got to revisit that quaint, covered porch and seeing her cat, and her mom where I most remember her: cooking. Always cooking meals for us brats.
Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.
I left New York at the time when we were both starting over.
To grow, I had to let my past die to truly get a fresh start. People need to grow in their own unique direction and sometimes remaining in close contact isn’t conducive to that. The only thing I regret is not being there to watch her grow.
Anna is living out the true rocker life.
Her image oddly reminds me of my fringy antecedent self. I was the one wearing the dark, rocker image and trying to clean myself up while she was the clean girl getting immersed in New York’s underbelly.
What a contrast to where we are now.
I’m looking at Anna and seeing a reflection of my own energy and power and finally respecting that as I watch her master dark energy through music.
The interesting part is that I just came out as an Indigo Child to discover Anna mentioning in an interview that she has a neurological condition called Synesthesia (the ability to see shapes and colors in sound).
She never told me about that and if she did, I might not have been ready to understand it. Maybe she discovered herself as an Indigo without realizing it….
It turns out that despite being opposites, we connected because we’re spiritual sisters. The bonus part is, I had also found my Indigo twin. 💙
Rock on, sister.
From the forthcoming album, ‘Irkalla’ – the 1st EP of The Trilogy Series** http://www.TheVajraTemple.com Engineered & Produced by OH NO! ØKTAPUS at Red 13 Studios (www.red13studios.com) Mastered by Camilo Silva F. (www.camilosilvaf.com) of Video Produced by Vajra and Idit Nissenbaum Shot, Edited and Directed by Idit Nissenbaum with additional footage shot by Vajra and Steven ES.