Saturday, April 28, 2012

Around the World

I talked to my best friend today. I know that usually might not sound like a big deal, but my best friend is a Peace Corps member and currently the hottest English teacher in the Ukraine. We met our freshman year of college. She was a Bob Marley listening, Aretha Franklin sounding, urban hippie from Chicago. And she was intoxicating to me. I of course was a small town redneck in a 4 inch wide belt buckle and Ariat boots. My “Good Jacket” was a carhartt.

We we’re opposite in everyway. She was cool. She smoked hookah. She drank alcohol from Mini bottles and sang the most beautifully of any voice I have ever heard. I used to sit outside her door our freshman year and listened to her when she cleaned her dorm room to Karaoke tracks.

 I of course was obnoxious. I was loud and proud. When I started college I went from my small town home in Tennessee to “Collegetown USA.” There were 35,000 college kids in one town and I was determined to be myself…. My overly exaggerated oober-gay self. I was actually known on campus for turning straight girls. They called me “The Metric System” because I convert.
My best friend was the “Ultimate Straight Girl” for me. I was in love with her. We stayed best friends all four years of college. (She’s actually in the wallpaper of my twitter background.) That was about how long I spent hitting on her... every day. Now it’s usually just once every week or two. I still love her. I even drove to Chicago one summer to see her. We both grew up, and I’ll give credit to her. Her passion, and innate greatness was a huge inspiration to me as I got older. The summer after our Junior years we had to do our College Internships. She ran off to Atlanta to work for CNN and I headed out to LA to become the assistant for a nonprofit LGBTQ company in L.A. She graduated that next December and I had been much to caught up in my own life since I’d been back. We hardly saw each other that semester, and now I regret that more than anything.

She is flying in from the Ukraine to see me! We haven’t seen each other since last February, and in July we will be reunited for a total of 4-6 days. Pre-planned events include  a 6 restaurant tour, an either great or terrible decision to get matching tattoo’s (I have 6 and she has more) and a case of beer for her brother who determines if I can keep her that last two days. (I’ll even go imported. This post is supposed to be worldly right?)

I can’t wait. I’ll be in my own place by then. My best friends here in Columbia are the greatest. They’ve been letting me couch crash for 2 months. 5 people in one apartment, plus who they’re dating and pets. Needless to say I am very grateful, but I’m sure we’ll all be happy when I relocate.

It’s funny. We talked today about how since she has been overseas, she’s decided she wants to go to Med school. (I told you. This girl is incredible, and never ceases to amaze me.) We joked that we could share an apartment in Nashville. She wants to attend Vanderbilt. The thing is it may not be a joke. I’m so uncertain about my life right now. Who am I? Where am I going? Thus far I’ve been a wanderer. School in Missouri, summer in Maine, Executive in Los Angeles, passing through Mississippi, back to Columbia and still moving. My life in Columbia is temporary as of now. I wonder when I look across the Map where I’ll be next. The truth is I have no idea. Should I try my hand at LA again? Or maybe Nashville. It would be nice to be near my mom. Especially with the changes back home. I’ve not done New York yet and always thought Atlanta was an option. Maybe something bigger? Maybe I’ll venture to a foreign country for the first time.

I wish there was a logical equation that I could just plug the values of my life into and it produce the best answer. Like 23 year old graduate+ film major+ medium to large city+ job required= Casey’s Life Plan. I think my biggest problem is I don’t really know my options. I guess I keep sitting back waiting for an answer, but it’s not going to just come. I’ve always considered myself a fairly lucky person, but the truth is so far I’ve played a large part in making my own luck. I’ve just got to get back to it. Instead of relying on my best friend to inspire me, I’ll just have to find that fire within myself.

What do I like? And how am I connected?

Animals- I have a friend who knows someone at Animal Planet.

Music- My school has a connection to MTV

Decorating and Design-  HGTV.  A Stephens Alum works there. (Located in Tennessee)

Atlanta- I know someone who used to work at Tyler Perry Studios. I had a meeting on the studio lot last May, but lost that connection. It would take a little work and digging.

Being a College Admissions Ambassador- I’ve really learned to like this new job, but since my spot at Stephens is temporary, I don’t know if I could ever be this passionate doing my job somewhere else. I think the only reason I like it this much is because it’s Stephens. I was a part of that.

British Accents- If you know me, you know I would love to meet a girl like Adele. Mmmm. (Now to find that job that’s required.)

Sales- I hear there is a really nice Real Estate Company in Dallas that sales A-list apartments with my name on it.

L.A- I’ve already got a job offer from BET but it was for July and I can’t leave that soon.

Basically I have NO DAMN CLUE. All I know is that life is too short to just spend every day in boring repetition doing something you hate watching the days pass by, but without making a significant contribution to the history of our world. I’m not saying you have to be a Martin Luther King, a Whitney Houston or Steve Jobs. I’m just saying that even if you just touch those around you, you’re being productive right? I want each person who meets me to feel like the five minutes they spent in my presence was a contribution to their lives and mine. I want to make a difference. I want to live.

I think what I’m going to do, is a month or two before the end of my job I’ll put my name into as many pots as possible, stir it and see who pulls my name out. Someone somewhere wants me. I’m certain of that. Everything in life happens for a reason and exactly the way it should. You'll hear me say it more than once because I believe it.  I’m lucky in the sense that my entire life I’ve had this deep seeded confidence in myself… Maybe it’s because so many people had so little expectations of me that I never felt pressured. I could shoot for the moon because no one would be disappointed if I let them down. I could always go further than they expected. I believe in fate. We are provided with options, and based on our decisions, life ticks along as intended. Sometimes wrinkles and wrencehes are thrown in to make sure were paying attention. I think that they're there so we get practice facing difficulty, for those really tough times in life.
Basically what i'm getting to, is we are all capable of greatness. Never limit yourself. I'm just 1 in a billion of us who have many days left to live....

How will you live yours?

Remember me,
I'm Tennessee <3

Never let go.... Or if you do, let go of yourself.

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write. I think it comes in spurts. Much like the day I first created my blog, I’ve sat down many times staring at this blank sheet and the words just wouldn’t come. Today, I sat down, and I’m not sure if they’re actually coming to me, or if I’m just so tired of being sick/asleep in bed that I’m forcing myself to do something. I have no voice, my lymph nodes are terribly swollen. I look like a train wreck, but I have Disney Princess shaped chicken noodle soup and I’ve been watching Titanic so it’s difficult to complain. I try to look on the bright side. Unlike Jack, I will survive. I’ve always wondered though. We literally see almost every part of Rose. We know that she’s not a big girl, however that door she’s floating on is pretty large. Why in the world didn’t she move over? I mean for real though? They both could have went to America, lived happily ever after and had sickening cute little Jack Rose babies. Instead however she just sat there on a board by herself and watched Jack (being stabbed by a thousand knives “cold water”) sink to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s crazy to think that something so terrible really did happen. Obviously not that particular story, but the story of the Titanic and the many unsuspecting people on it. No one ever thinks anything like that could ever happen… Which is why we have to live each day to the fullest…

I want to find her. My Rose. Celine Dion will forever be the sound of love for me. The two of them combined make Heaven on film for me…

Okay so maybe I want more than a few hours. Maybe I want more than a Rose. I want a girl who is in love with me. One who looks at me the same every day, and that’s just as in love as she was the first time she said it. Someone who wants to hold my hand as much as I want to hold hers. I want a girl who calls me beautiful and does cute things for me too. I’ve been in the one sided relationships. Is it to hard to ask for something more?

A girl who lays her head on my shoulder, but is also ok with me laying my head on hers. A girl who realizes that we’re both girls. I’m not the man in the relationship. Or the only woman. We’re just in love. A couple. Two people who fit perfectly together regardless of gender.

I want a girl who spends each and every day unfolding life with me. I don’t know what’s in store, and neither does she.. But why not watch it play out together? A girl who has great taste in music. That doesn’t necessarily mean my taste. What if it’s a taste that I haven’t heard of? It could still be great. Which brings me to my next point. I want a girl who can introduce me to new things. A girl who is confident in her own opinion. I’m starting to see the pattern here.....
I want a woman…

I know we all have those days where we think to ourselves, I need to grow up. But what if we really do? What if it really is time. I’ll be the first to admit. I’ve been that girl. The “stays out all night girl” who shows up to class still drunk. The girl who bartended just so she could drink for free. I’ve been the girl who didn’t care who I was dating.. I had someone else lined up. Now was it always the right girl? My record shows…… Never.
So maybe it's time. I'm 23. I'm right on the cusp of college kid, and grown-up. It's weird you know? I remember the days of how I felt in under-grad. Some days it doesn't feel that different... Some days it feels like i'm in a whole new life. So why not start over with someone who wants the same things?

I know she is out there.

I’m not giving up. You couldn’t show me a thousand failed relationships and see my opinion change. I believe. I'll find her.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Can You Hear The Ocean?

My mother called me tonight. I had just gotten back to the hotel room, and selfishly as soon as I answered the phone I took over the conversation. I told her stories of business dinners and awkward admissions experiences… When she didn’t laugh I became offended. And like most self-involved people my age, I became defensive.

“What’s your problem?”

She began to choke up. I immediately broke into a sweat. I might be sensitive, but my mother is the strongest woman I have ever known. She was the head nurse for a hospital 6 months after graduating nursing school. She went through labor with me alone because my father walked out of the delivery room and didn’t come back (for two years). Literally he stood up, walked to the elevator, passed my grandmother on the way down and never looked back. Did it phase her? No. She raised me by herself. Last year, even after being out of the unit for 12 years, mom pulled over on the side of the highway, and was a first responder to a terrible car accident. She literally had to search for a man’s arm on the ground while holding pressure to the remaining limb to stop the bleeding. One of the paramedics told me later that she was the reason that man is still alove today. I’m telling you. If the woman in V for Vendetta hadn’t have been a pansy ass whiner in the beginning of the movie, that would have been my mom. She was an Idgie Threadgoode if I’ve ever seen one. (Fried Green Tomatoes.)

Yet, here she is crying muffled tears on the phone with me tonight.

“It’s your grandmother.”

Now I referenced this woman a few seconds ago, but here’s the truth. My mother’s real mother died right before mom turned two years old of cancer. My mother was raised by her aunts and grandmother, along with her father occasionally. She had two older brothers, one of whom married pretty early on. His bride was the most beautiful real life Barbie doll my mother had ever seen. Her name was Glenda. You know, like the good witch on the Wizard of Oz. And good she was. She bought my mother (who grew up in rags picking cotton) beautiful dresses and toys. Not often, but when she could afford it. Before she and my mom’s brother, Robert Grant we’re engaged, Glenda was pursued quite often. When she finally agreed to the engagement she had to give back 2 class rings and one bracelet to her other suitors. R.G knew how lucky he was. They’ve been together now for 47 years… That’s more than most people can say in a lifetime.

Fast forward back to my mom’s pregnancy. She knew I wasn’t going to have a grandmother, so Glenda offered to be that for me. From that point forward they were Granny Glenda and Papaw Robert Grant, and god did they love me. I was their Grandbaby. The light of their life. Neither of their sons had children so I was it. She made sure to tell me every time she saw me that I was her favorite and how special I was.

I remember as a kid going to stay with them during spring breaks and things. She would take me to dinner, then to the Y. We would walk for a while then she would go swim while I’d go shoot around. She made sure to stop everyone to point out her precious grandchild. They never knew that I wasn't really hers.

As I got older, she did too.

When I came out as a Lesbian, they we’re the only two people I wasn’t allowed to tell. My mother was certain they would both have a heart attack. I used to get so frustrated.

“This is stupid. If they love me they won’t care.” I would say.

“Casey, they just grew up in a different time.” Mom would reply.

When I began driving I went all over the place. When I went near my grandparent's house, mom would suggest I drop by. I was actually a pretty good grandkid so I went fairly regularly when I was home from school. At least once every visit I would pick her up at home and take her to dinner.

“Helllloooooo Da-hling.” Granny would answer the door. “Where are we going today?” She would ask in her sweet southern drawl. She always knew the answer. She had a favorite Mexican restaurant where the waiters knew her order and would playfully tease her when she would ask them to teach her Spanish. I used to laugh so hard at her.

“Let me get those Fajita’s. And honey, bring me some Peek-o Day Gal-Oh. (Pico De Gallo). The men would roll laughing.

I loved her, but I hated how stubborn she was in her beliefs. No tattoos, No piercings, No drinking, No Gays. If you broke one of these rules "God was frowning." It was how she was raised. My Junior year she finally noticed my tongue ring. She nearly flipped out of her chair. Slowly, one by one my tattoo’s showed themselves and before long she was asking my mother if I was on drugs. Have no fear though. I was still the favorite. I wondered what would happen if the gay thing just happened to fall out as well.

I think I had rather have faced that phone call than the one I received tonight.

“Casey, it’s Granny Glenda. She’s sick.” Mom wheezed through ragged breaths.

I knew this. She has been having dizzy spells lately so she hasn’t been able to walk on her own. She gets a little confused and flustered, but it was because of her blood pressure. So we thought. Last week my mother was giving her a bath and she began screaming at her all of a sudden.

“Get out of here! Only my sister in law June gives me baths! You have no business seeing me like this! Leave!” (June is my mother.)

Then when she couldn’t close her lipstick mom tried to help her. Granny threw a handheld mirror at her and it shattered across the wall.

My mom thought maybe she was just under a lot of stress until my grandfather called her crying. This man never cries. I was pretty sure if he ever did the tears would be made of melted iron. He took a ragged breath and began....

“We were standing in the bathroom. I was helping her brush her teeth and she looked me dead in the eyes. She was so sad and lost. She asked me longingly, ‘Have you seen my husband?’” He whimpered.

He has been fighting emphysema for two years now and spends most of his days in a wheel chair. Slowly, day by day they are withering away. I hate to say it, but in a way I guess they’re doing it together.

She has Alzheimer’s. You hear about the disease. How it ruins lives and breaks apart families. How the gentlest soul becomes a terrified monster overnight. You never think it could happen to someone you love, until it does and then you never think you’ll survive.

My mother told me that by the time I got home she probably won’t recognize me. It just increased this badly over the last three weeks, and I’m stuck at work for the next two. The tears are rolling off my cheeks as I think about it. They’re not made of iron. Nothing about me is. I’ve cried over every episode of Undercover Boss and Extreme Home Makeover, so how in the hell am I supposed to withstand this? I’m angry. Why her? I need her. PaPaw needs her… And my Mama. How am I going to walk into a bleached cold nursing home and feel normal? I won’t. Things will never be the same again. I’ll never be the same again. A little part of me died tonight. A bigger part of me is still dying. We still have her, yet she’s not herself. I don’t know who this woman is. I want so badly to climb up in her lap, my hands on her beautiful porcelain cheeks and beg her….

“Please Granny. Come back. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have gotten the tattoo’s. I’ve pulled out all my piercings. I’ll be better. Just come back.”

I can see myself 3 years old sitting on top of the tractor in her back yard. Papaw is holding me up as Granny is clapping alongside us.

“See that pretty baby? That’s my baby Casey.”

Yes. I’m your baby Casey. I’ll always be your baby Casey… And you will always be my sweet, sweet Granny Glenda. As I lay my head down tonight I can feel the grass between my toes. I hear her laughter in the distance as she calls me inside for a snack. My pink and white sippy cup on the kitchen table next to her can of 7UP. On my way through, she scoops up the seashell on the counter and puts it to my ear.

“Do you hear that? That’s the ocean. Isn't it beautiful?” I wanted to tell her that’s silly. The ocean can’t be trapped in a seashell. It makes no sense. But here I am, my grandmother trapped in a withering mind, which makes no sense either. I want so badly to go back. I want to stop everything for one moment and hold her here. Just to tell her I love her and it make sense one last time. To tell her I hear the ocean. I hear it loud and clear.

I want to see her eyes and not her confusion. Her smile and not her tears. I want to see my past…. Yet the past is passed, and now here I am. Crying in a hotel room like a little child, Little Baby Casey longing for her Grandmother. Alone.

"If It's The Beaches"- Avett Brothers

Friday, April 13, 2012

Calories and Construction

I have an addictive personality. I know this about myself.
It took me four years of college and 10 months of straight sobriety to realize
that I am capable of being sober although I have to actually work at it. If I
have one drink, I want two. If I have two… Well… I want 6 drinks, four shots,
two beers, and to sing and dance on stage (naked, though most of my friends
stop me.) And it doesn’t necessarily have to be in that order. That’s why I had
to consciously limit myself. What I have found is my sanity means more to me
than a good time. It’s fun to go out with your friends and “forget the world.”
It’s not so fun to forget your debit card, ID, name, address or dignity. Nor is
it fun to wake up and piece together the events of the prior evening. If you
are genuinely embarrassed by the stories your friends tell you, yet you can’t
recollect them on your own you have a problem. When it happens more than once
it becomes dangerous. By allowing yourself to do this, you are giving up what
most women struggle to maintain which is your own control.
Now I’m not suggesting you join a convent. Everyone deserves
to cut loose every now and again, but if your entire day revolves around
consuming large amounts of bread or protein to coat your stomach (or whatever
other bullshit myths we’ve taken into daily practice to pretend we’re
protecting our bodies) for that evenings
“alcoholic hydration process” then you need to rethink your schedule. It’s
easier said than done I know, but last May I put the bottle down. From June 1st-
February 10th/ish I didn’t drink. AT ALL. Between that, not eating
like hell all the time, and running once or twice every two weeks I lost 30
pounds. I wasn’t anorexic by any means. We ordered out 2 or 3 times a week and
I never held back on the cheese or sour cream. I went from 147 pounds to 117.
In January I began lifting/running 5 days a week. I felt great. I gained 5
pounds (mostly in muscle) but it was the best I had felt in years. I have never
been obese. Pudgy and thick yes. “Built like a softball player” definitely, but
by applying myself and cutting out the booze I began to develop my best self. I
started drinking socially again when I moved back to Columbia. It became my
stress reliever and quickly I added another 5 pounds to my weight.
Now understand that
while I’m a lesbian, I’m still a woman. My weight, as well as my appearance,
etc. are still very personal/embarrassing to me, however I hope that by sharing
I might be able to help encourage someone (maybe myself) to try. If you’re not comfortable with where your body
is at then take a step back. What can get you there? I don’t mean developing a
drug habit or bulimia, and don’t think that I am taking these serious problems
lightly. That’s not what I’m saying here. I’m saying that there is a healthy
way and an unhealthy way. I’m saying that each of us have a “temple”. (Forgive
me for the religious reference.) I don’t mean Sunday morning temple. Nor do I
mean you are going to hell for drinking/ doing drugs. I mean that we have this
temple that we experience all of the grand pleasures of life from. The giddy
moments, the deep breaths, the first kisses, and the cold tears. We feel
remorse and grief. We feel pleasure and excitement. All of that from inside of
our skin. We have to protect our temple from the destructions that slowly decay
our walls. The effects of drugs and alcohol are very real. Some more serious
than others. 1. (The one most of us can relate to.) The fluctuating weight
gain. Lets be honest, I’m never going to quit drinking entirely. I like to have
a casual drink every now and again, but if you look in the mirror and are
reflected with disgust (While I can tell you all day that you are beautiful AND
Most of you aren’t going to believe me. So instead of being
repulsed by your reflection, actively (and naturally) pursue a reflection that
you enjoy. Go for a walk. Eat grilled chicken, not fried. Drink water instead
of sodas/beer. Eat an apple instead of a chocolate bar. Drink less alcohol
(sugar!). Think of it as a life choice not a diet.
Mind you I had a cheeseburger and fries for dinner. Was it
the best choice? No. But I had an apple for breakfast, and grilled chicken stir
fry, light on the sauce, no rice for lunch. It’s good to live a little, but don’t
expect results without application.
I feel like I just went on an open testimony for Jenny
Craig. Not my intentions. I have minimized my drinking again to nearly nothing which is why I brought up this topic.
…… @&^*&#*&@&*#(*@*&%*&!(*_)#(!@^(
That’s how I feel about that.
Next thing on my mind. (I jump around a lot.)
What is love? How do we know when we feel it? In the past I’ve
thought “this is love. I love her. Definitely.” Then we break up. It almost
always ends terribly, and I second guess my assessment. Did I really love her
or did I love the thought of her? (I hear people do that a lot.)
What sign pops up in front of us with flashing lights and a
siren that says “Hey yo trick. Don’t be stupid. This is THE ONE.”
Oh wait…. That doesn’t happen? Damn.
I guess that just means we will have to wing it. We will
have to throw out our fairy tale expectations and realize that the love of our
life (while some of us, aka me wish that The Little Mermaid was our future
bride) Is actually human. A real person with real thoughts, and real mistakes.
I know I for one will never be perfect. I’m complicated as hell. I’m sensitive
and emotional. I have a cotton candy perspective of life that dissolves when it
rains. Everything is great until you pour on my parade. Then I have to take a
step back. Am I saying I fall apart? No. Am I saying I wish things were’nt so
damn complicated all the time? Absolutely. Who wants the stress and the
pressure? No one.
But if there weren’t any low points, then how would we ever
truly appreciate the high ones? If we never experience genuine sadness then how
can we comprehend sheer bliss?
Something tells me that deep down we already have the
answers. Were just selfish and naïve. We often take the hard road in life
because we’re too stubborn to admit that there was an easier way. We didn’t
pave it, so we want to blaze our own trail (which is great) but expect things
to set on fire, and eventually burn down. Mistakes will be made. Feelings will
hurt. Hearts will break.
Uplifting isn’t it? Here come the words of wisdom. Life is a
day to day process. We can sit all day preparing our future, but the truth is
we can only lay out the blue print. Fate is going to build it however it wants,
and it might not follow your plans. So, go big. Take your plans and draw out
the biggest damn high rise that any architect has ever seen. Present a
challenge… Because if you fall short and wind up with ten stories, it’s much
better than hoping for 5 stories and getting a double wide trailer… Ya feel me?
Most of you right now are thinking… She has lost her mind.
What can I say… I have a weird appreciation for analogies. So write your own.
Whatever it takes to make the most of your life… Do it. You get one shot..
Yesterday will never resurface, so today… Today you should live it up.
Until Next Time:
“Second chances are for Hollywood Blockbusters. They are
unrealistic and only last 90 minutes. Take the first and only chance you will
get and run with it. There are no rewind, pause or stop buttons on life. Only

Remember Me. I'm Tennessee.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Before I Found a Home

Today for work My co-worker and I… We can call her Jane. (Like how I make up random names for people? Just imagine what yours would be.) Jane and I went to the Equine Affaire in Columbus Ohio. For those of you who don’t already know I am an Admissions Counselor at the greatest college in the world. Stephens College. I’m slightly partial seeing as how I did graduate from there, but all joking aside it is pretty amazing. However that’s not what this post is about. This post is about how I spend all day talking about something I love. I get to smile at people and hope they smile back. I use wit and humor in conversation to make people more comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I mean come on. Some of you have been there, the others will be there soon. And if you don’t fall into either category then you might have opted out of school altogether. To each their own.

I actually almost opted out myself.

I graduated from a class of 27 in BFE, Tennessee. I don’t mean 27 people in my homeroom. I mean that’s how many seniors walked across the gym floor at graduation. We didn’t even have a stage. Clifton was full of Rednecks and racists and wasn’t the greatest place to grow up. It taught me to be tough and to appreciate everything I had, however it also caused me far more pain than any 16 year old ought to have to face. I wanted out. I needed out. I can remember sitting in my bedroom floor with Nickleback’s Far Away blasting as loudly as possible without enticing one of my 8 family members to check on me. I was crying because my girlfriend, who had also been my best friend for about two years, had dropped the cd off for my birthday. She followed it by telling me we couldn’t speak anymore. Her father had found out about us months prior and threatened my life, reported me to the police and insured that every parent within a 40 mile radius knew what a sick a twisted pervert (aka homosexual) I was. I found out later she had been seeing a friend of ours, but at the time I believed that she was ending it because of me. That being with me (a girl) was just too hard.

Some parents refused to let their daughters speak to me. The girls hid from me in the locker room, the guys called me faggot and dyke when I walked through the hallway. I hated myself. I didn’t want to be different. My foster sister at the time stole my journal and took it to school. They passed it around like a Harry Potter novel. Everyone read it front to back. It was a best seller, with the worst consequences. I went through hell. I really only had two choices. Girls like me did one of two things. Some played college athletics…. Others joined the military.

So I got a recruiter for both.

Stephens College was recruiting me for basketball, and the Army was recruiting me for everything else.

I almost signed with the army. It made the most ssense. I wasn’t the brightest bulb. I wasn’t the best athlete. I was awkward and uneducated (yet smarter than most in my school.) Yet Stephens wanted me. They really wanted me. They cared. I went to Columbia to visit the campus and from the moment my foot touched pavement in a Stephens parking lot I KNEW. This was home.

Stephens called me every two weeks or so helping me with my decision. My Army recruiter called even more than that. He scared me. I didn’t want to join the Army. There isn’t an aggressive bone in my body. Kill or be killed? I was dead for sure.

When Stephens called to tell me I was getting a Scholarship for softball too I threw down my guns (Ya like that?) and surrendered. I was a Stephens woman. When highschool graduation cam I was the only student to go on to play two sports on scholarship in college (They didn’t announce it.) I was the student to go the furthest away. (They didn’t mention it.) I also received academic scholarships for my academic performance and ACT scores. (You guessed it. They never mentioned that either.) Everyone else crossed that floor with beaming smiles as their scholarships were read and their families applauded. I held my head up and crossed the floor in silence… My mother gazing proudly back at me. She has always been my biggest advocate. She told me “It doesn’t matter who they think you are. It matters who you know you are.” She was right. When I graduated college this past May only two other people out of that 27 graduated college on time. Only 6 of us stayed in College out of the 9 or so that went.

When I think back on the years I spent in Hell I realize that they didn’t hate me. They were intimidated by me. I terrified them not because of what I was, but because of who I was. I wasn’t satisfied with fitting the mold. I didn’t want to graduate high school and go to a community college or tech school while raising 4 kids and cooking my husband’s supper. I wanted more than that. Much more. Even had I been straight I believe I still would have been too different for their liking.

Sometimes I get sidetracked….

What I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to be what everyone wants you to be. You’re just fine being yourself. One day you’ll meet other people who are themselves just like you… And that’s what I found at Stephens College. I found a home, where my friends became my family. I fell in love with an institution that nothing short of saved my life by educating me and exposing me to culture and history. A school that taught me that I was my only enemy. Nothing else could stand in my way, and when I let it sweep me off my feet Stephens took me great places. Places that I’m sure you’ll hear about eventually….

But that’s why I’m back here working for Stephens. An Admissions Counselor advocating for the college. My entire life I’ve wanted to help people. I’ve always wanted to make a difference. How can I do that any better than to help give the same opportunities to other young women that were given to me. What if a little Tennessee Martin crosses my door step someday? What if I can save a life, like Stephens saved mine. I can only hope….

On a brighter note. I’d like to give a S/O to Janelle Jackson who allowed me to peek into her very personal world of poetry last night. I would have included it with the other artists, however I received it after my post was submitted. I’m also a writer of poetry so I know how hard it is to put your work out there in front of a stranger. It feels strangely familiar. Kind of like the way I feel each time I submit a new blog post. There is a rush of excitement followed by a wave of fear that never fails.

I think the one I connected to the most was called “I Hope You’re Happy”. You can check them all out here!

Until Next time:

“You’re worth it. You’re always worth it. What in the hell is “IT” anyway? “IT” is whatever you believe it to be because only you can determine your own fate. Whatever you want to achieve, you can achieve. Whatever you want to do, is practically already done. Because you are strong. You are the best you there is.”

Remember me. I’m Tennessee. XO

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Inspiration Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

I didn’t plan to write again this soon, however I promised
to let you in on my life currently and as each day passes. So, currently…
I have a friend… We will call her Keeley. We have known each
other for 4 years now. My freshman year of college I went to Shakespeare’s
pizza. (Those of you who aren’t from Columbia haven’t been introduced to the
incredible goodness of Shakespeare’s, but trust me. It’s great.) I met up with
my basketball team to have lunch with a recruit. I arrived late as usual. When
I walked up they were already seated. I looked at her. Cute girl. A lot of
make-up. Not too much, but… well… she was obviously straight. I mean does hair
and makeup before a game AND IT’S IMPORTANT kind of straight girl. I remember
thinking (I can’t act to gay.) She wound up going to another school. She told
me later she regretted it.
Fast forward two
years. Somehow thanks to a mutual friend and the social networking phenomena
that was facebook we began talking and slowly became friends. She was
interesting. She loved music. Great athlete. And for some reason she liked
talking to me too.
Now I’m sure many of you lesbians are already thinking “They’re
about to hook up.”
I wish. ;) She is pretty great, but we were genuinely just
good friends. We connected well. The only problem? I was gay. She was from a
really small town. She hadn’t been exposed to a lot of things. Especially a loud
and proud lesbian like me. I mean it’s Missouri after all.
She used to drive two and a half hours to come hang out with
me. We would all go out. Tear up the town, and eventually crash back at my
place. That was College, and it was fun… But I graduated and moved out to
California to work for an LGBTQ production company. (I was THAT gay.) She
stayed behind to finish school. We stayed friends, occasionally sending each
other songs, or photos and a catch up text every now and again. She was slowly
beginning to forget that I was “gay”. I even got her flowers once. She didn’t panic.
When I left California she was one of the first people I
reconnected with. When I moved back to Missouri she came to visit within the
first month. Once again we all went out (we didn’t go quite as hard as we used
to). While at one bar for drinks and appetizers we were deep in our
conversation when a very drunken frat boy walked over and sat down at our table
of 5. He stared for at least a minute before he finally spoke to me.
Him: “I want to hug you.”
Me. -__-
Him: “Can I hug you?”
Me: “No thanks.”
Him: “Why?”
Me: “I’m a lesbian.”
Him: “Great. Me too.”
He proceeded to stand up and walk around behind me to another
booth. He began leaning across my seat
to grab me. He quickly wrapped his arms around me as I tried to sqiurm away. By
this point my friends were becoming angry. Even Keeley was seeing firsthand
some of the things that lesbian’s go through on a daily basis. When he finally
tried to grab me, my best friend stood up and pushed him back. (She’s a beast.)
Then he turned his sights on her and her girlfriend. Annoyed, all 5 of us stood
up. I thanked him for so impressively clearing a table of 5 women, and we left…
When we were finally outside my best friend said something
to me that changed Keeley forever. She said “You know better than to tell them
you’re a lesbian. It becomes a challenge.”
Keeley was infuriated. She texted me from her home a few
days later.
“I’m writing a paper about you.”
I was shocked. What kind of paper? No one ever writes about
me. It’s always the other way around. She was writing a diversity paper about
growing up in a small town with a narrow concept of life (and sexuality), and
how becoming friends with me opened her eyes to the very real pain that some
people have to face just for being themselves. She is now a strong advocate for
equality… And a very strong shoulder I lean on. She often thinks that I saved
her. The truth is she saved me. It’s hard to keep going. It’s hard waking up
each day knowing that someone somewhere probably isn’t going to like you, not
for who you are, but for what you are. It’s even harder thinking that no one
really cares, but I have proof. Sometimes one person can change a life. Someone
can make a difference. Even if it’s one person, one time, it’s still worth the
fight. So the next time someone writes you off, write them a letter. Tell them
how thankful you are to have met them. You never know who comes into your life
that might end up staying.

Side note:
So today I asked some of my followers to submit some of
their work. Art of any kind. I got a few
responses, and it turns out exactly as I expected. My followers are talented AS
So for starters… Megan Littler
Words that will woo.
Yes I said Woo… Because literally the first 45 seconds of
listening to Preston Gunderson sing the words that were co-written by Follower:
Megan Littler all I could think was DAMN… She actually almost made this boy
seem attractive to ME. The song (Accidental Love Letters) has a great vibe and
the lyrics were great. It flowed so well. I noticed in the comments that
someone actually thought it was Jack Johnson Cover. And while it is similar to
his style, I have to admit it has a little more soul. “My accidental love
letters were always written to you.”
Well, Megan. Feel free to write me a letter anytime.
For Megan’s work, click here.
Bridget Beall - Girl Wonder-
The great thing about not putting any restrictions on what
you call art is that you get to experience a lot of great new things. Bridget
has been a devoted follower for quite some time, and while I’ve often tweeted
her, I never knew that there was so much incredible talent bottled up inside. A
wonderful composer with a large variety of style, I put Bridget’s soundcloud
page on repeat only to find that I loved every single piece. I think Three
Sixty Six is my favorite. Check it out.
Kaitlyn Gaskill- If Nicki Minaj had a white twin.
Naturally I expect most lesbian musicians to carry a guitar
and sing Melissa Ferrick. (Nothing wrong with that. She is one of my
favorites.) I can’t tell you how pleasantly surprised I was to find that THIS
GIRL is a rapper. I mean legit. Not stutters when she tries to spit a rhyme or
talks about her pencil skirts and lunch box. She actually has relatable lyrics
(and some of them are lesbian specific which I love.) I really like her latest
song “Move”. However with 15 tracks to choose from, your favorites may be
different from mine! See for yourself!
Hope you enjoyed all of this awesomeness! Until next time:
“Everyone has potential. You might not have found what you’re
great at YET, but that’s why we try new things and make mistakes. Some people
never step outside of their comfort zone, and in return never find true
happiness. Some live life as it was intended (to the fullest) and in return live
and die completely satisfied.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In the "Beginning".

If it’s possible to see the day this blog was created,
you’ll see I created it a while ago and just haven’t written…
When I first came to this empty white space I thought “How
will I find the words of wisdom and courage that are needed to make the impact
I hope to achieve?”

And the answer? I closed my laptop with the page still

So here’s the truth. I still have no clue what I’m
doing. If my words portray wisdom and
courage, then it is fate. Those are the only words intended to flow freely at
that moment. Today I still don’t have expectations for this blog.
I can’t guarantee you that you’ll love it, or that you’ll even so much as like it. I
can only hope that maybe you can relate. If I’m lucky, you might even take
something away from it.
Most people start at the beginning. I personally think that
is ridiculous. There’s no way I could tell you everything you would need to
know about me from the beginning. There’s way too much to cover. I can tell you that
I was born in Mississippi. My family life was far from perfect. My parents divorced somewhere around the time I was born. (What a treat right?) Welcome to the world baby girl, and you
sir? Sign on the dotted line. I can tell you about growing up an only child
with a single parent until my mother remarried when I was 5. We moved to
Tennessee, and unfortunately that’s where I spent most of my life, as one of 10
kids. I can tell you about coming out in the south when I was 14, and literally
being paddled (Yes I do mean “Whipped” with a wooden board) for being gay… but
none of these things will bring you any closer to knowing me.. I would miss all
of the stories that actually made me who I am. Like the time I fell off my
bicycle and broke a beer bottle with my wrists. I have matching scars on each,
that sometimes people still gawk at assuming I must have been suicidal. They
have no real understanding about how much I cherish life. Or how instead of
sleeping with dolls and teddy bears, this 7 year old cuddled with 3 full sized
basketballs at night.
So, I’ll do it this way instead. If you’re reading this then
you’re starting this journey with me. Right here from the beginning. This
beginning. Our beginning. That means that you will get to know me day by day
through my words. You won’t be affected by my past unless I gradually reveal
it. Consider me someone you ran into in a coffee shop or book store. Someone
that you may or may not continue getting to know. Consider this a new
And as new friends we might as well start with today. Today
I am packing my things, signing my final documents and sending out my last few
emails before I sleep the night away preparing for my 6 day journey. I am going
on a business trip to Columbus Ohio. I’ll be going to the Equine Affaire there.
I’m sure you’re wondering “What kind of job sends you to an Equine Affaire in
Ohio?” Mine does. I’m an Admissions Counselor for the best College in the
world. Stephens College (I graduated from there as well.) It’s an All Women’s
College located in “Collegetown USA”, Columbia MO. I’m sure a lot of you are
thinking “Of course the lesbian went to a women’s college.” And you’re
absolutely right. I did. Not even because it was all women. (Most of our girls
are straight!) I went because they gave me scholarships to play Basketball and
Softball, and because from the moment I stepped foot onto campus, I knew I was
home. And that’s exactly what it has become.
My mind is wandering. The point I was getting to is I’m now
the Admissions Ambassador for our Equestrian Program (As well as a few others
I’m sure you’ll be hearing about), and because of that I’ll be in Ohio for 6
days. Lucky me? I hope so. I’ll be gradually blogging for however long I feel
is necessary to get my thoughts out so feel free to follow along on this
journey with me. In other words?
“ It’s nice to meet you. My name is Tennessee.”

Until next time…
“One day we wake up and realize that it was all true. We
really do have the option to be anything we want, we just have to travel down
the winding roads that lead us there. Whether you want to be in a circus (I
suggest befriending a clown), an Astronaut (Get over that fear of heights AND
wise advice from a good friend : Don’t smoke Menthol cigarettes) or maybe you
really just want to be a Librarian (petition for the preservation of in-print
literature) you can do it. Believe in yourself and stop at nothing to achieve
your goal. No one is going to hand you the opportunity and trust that you’ll
achieve what you say you will. They want to see results before they take a
chance. So actively pursue your dreams. If you don’t believe in yourself… who

Remember me. 

I’m Tennessee.