Sunday, May 27, 2012

Land of the Free and Home of the Brave

Something is missing.. As I sit here quietly preparing to spill the words of wisdom I hope to procure, I ask myself. Why? Why do I write? Why do I continue to apply attention that may or may not ever develop into anything? The answer is simple. I love it, and life is about love.  So then I ask my next question. What is the point? Well when I first opened up to the thought of writing a blog I wondered what to call it. I reflected on my own life and wondered what I would want to read. The biggest thing that came to mind was that I wanted advice. Maybe not even advice necessarily, but I wanted perceptions. I wanted to process thoughts of other people and compare them to my own beliefs. I wanted to grow in my own opinion. Listen to each belief and relate that to my own. Figure out who I am.

The hardest thing since graduation for me has been realizing that I'm no longer a child. I have real responsibilities. Not only does society expect me to develop and mature, but there is a constant yearning inside of me to BE. It's difficult to explain. I am becoming. Becoming.... Becoming what, I don't know. I just know that I appreciate the constant change and accept it as a natural part of life. Better yet, I welcome it. Who am I to think that right now I'm at my prime. How selfish would it be to believe that I am the best now that I'll ever be? I know without a doubt that the ampleness of the worlds wisdom will occupy me for a very, very long time. 

I was talking with my best friend... Beau. That's what I'll call her. She's been one of my closest confidantes over the last 3 years. We met my freshman year, and naturally I hated her. She was talented in every way, great looking, and as we would eventually find out... Gay. When I was young I hated a challenge. Anyway, Beau and I hung out last night. We try to have nights occasionally where we just sit. Reflect in each others company. A few years older than me, she is also much wiser. She brought up a very valid point that I've often felt, but never verbalized. She asked me a very serious and haunting question. She asked me, "Does it ever feel like you were born into the wrong time? Like maybe you were supposed to be born into a different era?" After I listened to her realization, I realized I felt the exact same way.

She pointed out that she felt as if she was to simple. She was content with love and happiness. She was also deprived of the passion found particularly in the seventies. I completely understand. I have always felt a little to deep, a little to overwhelmed with the sense of urgency behind life. To stand for something. The need to be a part of something much bigger than myself. I've always wondered how it would have felt to be a part of a time where love and peace were the ultimate ideas. Where kindness was not only understood, but still expected. A time where honesty and trustworthiness weren't foreign. Everyone was an activist and an optimist, and disbelief was abnormal. I long for a time where selflessness was offered without reward. Then I remind myself that there were exceptional people who started that movement. People just like me, and just like you who put faith into their hearts and lept into their own dreams hoping to create a wave of familiar passion around them. That faith rippled, and before we knew it there was a movement. A need to be better. That movement is slowly becoming extinct.      

We all know someone in their forties or fifties who has been doing this for a while, but it just didn't go the way they had hoped. Someone who when they look back, realizes that they wish they would have done more... Do you want to be that person? Are you going to settle for mediocre, or are you going to capitalize on your youth. Take into consideration that maybe its possible that you're supposed to be incredible and just go for it. After all... What do you have to lose? Just the other day I was watching an interview of Michael J. Fox and he said something that really intrigued me. He said "You don't always have to say yes, but say yes more than no because no doesn't get you anywhere." He's right. You can settle for mediocrity and allow yourself to dissolve into the routine monotony society has accepted as the norm, or you can take a chance. Chase a dream. Reach for a star. I suggest that you make life a little challenging. Don't pick the easy way out.

 Right now gays and lesbians are suffering from hate. We have advanced far enough that we can walk down the street holding hands without being beaten or stoned (sometimes) but we haven't gotten far enough that we're considered equals and enjoy all of the same rights the every other American has. We're not asking for anything extra. Nothing special. Just the ability to live, and die free. Now I have to ask. Did you vote in the last election? Have you ever protested something or volunteered for a cause? Are you a part of the movement in our generation doing what you can to help the freedom of yourself and others or are you someone who claims that you're "not into politics" and just waits for change to take place? You my not be interested, but politics are certainly interested in you.

Could you imagine what life would be like right now without the generations before us who fought in the streets, picketed with signs, sacrificed their reputations to stand up for what they believed in which was the right to freely love whoever they wanted. The Matthew Shepards and the Teena Brandon's who were caught in the crossfire. I have already had 2 encounters with Westboro Baptist Church, multiple encounters with discrimination and hate, and live everyday as a second class citizen because "I'm not normal".

Which side are you on. Are you going to float through life riding on the success of your predecessors or are you going to stand up and help set the example for the generation who follows. As few people that care in this generation, the next generation scares me. We've become so selfish, believing that we're entitled to everything, when we've done none of the ground work. What if we had to start over each generation to fight for our rights. What if we as women couldn't vote now until we fought for it. Couldn't wear pants. Couldn't go out in public with our girlfriends. (some of you might still be going through that.) so what do we do about it?

We fight. We love. We search for peace , happiness, equality and all of the other beautiful things that make this world an amazing place. We're in America. Land of the free and home of the brave. Isn't it time we reflect that?

Remember me... I'm Tennessee.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Twin Time

My family came in for the weekend. Well I say family, but it was really only like a fourth of them. My mother, step-father and adopted twin brothers got into town Friday and met me at my house with half of my co-workers to move my furniture in to my new apartment. I have amazing people in my life, because that could have been an awful experience without a little help. Basically I revolved the weekend around the little guys.

Friday after move-in, Lo and I took them to Shakespeare’s for pizza. It’s this Columbia specific pizza spot that lets the kids watch them make pizza through the glass. They also throw a ball of dough out for each of them to play with during their wait. The boys loved it. After that Lo and I played Frisbee with them on Campus. We waited for the Student run Summer Theatre Children’s production that our Theatre majors were hosting. They got to do all things that little kids love including run around the room, draw on the walls and sit in my lap. We went to the hotel after to meet back up with my parents, and took the boys swimming. My mom said when we left, they fell right to sleep. The next day I picked them up around noon. It was like heaven for them. We got happy meals, then relocated to “Bonkers” which is this Chuck E Cheese on crack children’s play place. They wanted us to climb through the obstacle course with them, so an hour of my time was spent angling my body to fit through nooks and crannies that the National Guard couldn’t have achieved. After that we went to the upper level and played video games. I’m always amazed at how smart they’ve become. Six years old, and they’re reading words that my step-father still struggles with. They picked out a toy from the counter with their tickets (of course they didn’t have enough for the toy they wanted, so I bribed the manager to let me purchase them.) Then we went to Toys R’ Us and they got to pick out $20 worth of toys each. By the end of the day as they carried their very full bags up to the hotel room, I realized how well I had been played. J I’m a sucker. I can’t help it. Finally we ended the evening with a movie at the theater. Avengers. Now you can look at this experience in one or two ways. It either went really well, or really poorly. They fell asleep 45 minutes into the movie and slept through the whole thing. Again, it’s not so great that they found no interest in the film, however Lo and I really enjoyed it and the peace and quiet on their end was fantastic. My parents caught up with us after for dinner. Every family vacation deserves a fine dining experience, so where did my father choose? Golden Corral…

The weekend went by way too quickly. They left before I ever woke up Sunday morning and were back home not long before I started my day. As I’ve gotten older a few things have become apparent. I will never live at home again. I will never wake up every day and see them. Hug them. Wrestle with them in the yard. I will never get to see the seconds tick by in their lives as they age before me. I will only be graced with these incredible glimpses in time to cherish the memories we produce. They mean the world to me. I think I’ve become so close to them because they remind me a lot of myself.

At age 7 I had my IQ tested for the first time. I was very far advanced intellectually. I read and comprehended at the level of a student in the 8th grade, and the only subject I wasn’t excelling above and beyond in was math. I spent every free hour with a book in my hand, and my Christmas wish list to Santa usually consisted of a list of books, and microscopes/ chemicals for experiments. Had I been given the education that would have challenged me I might have been exceptional. I can see that in the two of them. Except my mother didn’t get sick until I was 12 which meant for the most important part of my childhood she had a strong mind that could push me. Now she does well to stay awake during day light. My step father never even graduated high school, so he isn’t much help academically. I sometimes wish that they could live with me, and then I have to remind myself that I’m simply not ready for that type of responsibility. After my two day weekend with them, instead of finishing my laundry and taking the trash out, I rented a movie and melted into my best friends couch before going home and falling into bed.

I think one day I would like to be a mother, but for now I’ll just figure out adulthood.

Remember me. I’m Tennessee.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

North Vs. South

It's terrifying how you can be in a heavily populated area one minute with diversity, some equality and intellectual human interaction and then you take a wrong turn, drive fifty miles and you find yourself on a gravel road approaching what could be the inspiration for the film Deliverance. That doesn't happen in real life you say? Well I suppose it depends on your definition of real, because it was certainly real to me. That's where I grew up. I was born in Corinth Mississippi about 5 miles from the rail road tracks. Corinth played a huge role in the civil war. The Union won nearly every battle there and some say that Corinth was one of the primary reasons that the Confederate lost the war. Thank God. (For all you bible belt, bible thumpers out there you can relax. I'm not taking his name in vain... I'm genuinely thanking him. Then again, if you've read any of my last 6 or 7 posts you've now realized I'm a liberal lesbian and how i take his name is the least of your concern.) Back to my point. Why is Corinth so important you ask? Well, it's known as the Crossroads of the South because the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, running east and west, and the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, running north and south, crossed in its downtown. Whoever had access to that point had access to travel and supplies from every direction. History lesson is almost over I assure you... It's my personal belief that the most vile of Confederate Rednecks fled the Union controlled Corinth and headed for the rolling hills of Tennessee.  Particularly Olivehill, which is where my mother moved me to at age 5. Now before I get into that please understand that I don't think everyone in Tennessee is an ignorant hick, nor is there proof to  back up my theory (historically), however life experience and generations of inbreeding tell me I am correct. See where I'm going with this? My area was known for two things... The best catfish you've ever tasted, and the most meth ever produced. I find it unbelievable that African Americans are stereotyped as drug dealers and dangerous thugs. I assure you nothing is scarier than a family of 4 generation inbred, uneducated meth making rednecks with shot guns and bear traps who've spent their lives casing the 10 miles of woods they grew up in and still sign their name with an X.. Even gang members have to be able to spell blood or crypt. These people, many supported by their drug production and welfare are not the type of people you want to mess with. Now my family never produced any drug of any kind. Just hay, and purple hull peas. However the extended family that my mother married into was often related to each other in more than one way. And the drugs weren't far away. My mother raised me to know that college wasn't an option for me. It was a requirement, which was a good thing. My high school didn't really encourage college attendance although some of the teachers tried their best. I remember one instance where my graduating class (there were 27 of us seniors total) went to the local community college to a "college fair". There were 3 representatives present and they spoke for 10 minutes each. That was the extent of our college preparation as I remember. Maybe 25 of us graduated high school. Nine of us went on to some sort of higher education (tech school and 2 yr university included) and the last I heard 6 of us didn't drop out. Only 3 of us graduated college on time. I haven't started Grad School yet, but when I do I will be the first and only one to do it. I was the only student to go out of state, the only one to play two Sports on scholarship and the only one to not have any of my accomplishments announced at Graduation. (Let's just say they weren't so fond of my sexuality.)  I went home this weekend. I surprised my mother and step-mother both for Mothers day. They were both in shock. They laughed, they cried. We talked. We reminisced. I enjoyed it, but at the same time it was really sad and hard for me. As I get older and look back on the way I was raised I understand how poor we were. I understand why I never had the nicest clothes and family vacations were a fantasy. Our closest thing to a vacation was my parents renting a local hotel room for the 4th of July so us kids could swim in a pool instead of the creek for a change.  Two months ago my step-father took a trip with his son to New York City. My step brother delivers materials to different companies in an 18-wheeler (a job that didn't require a degree of any kind). It was both of their first trips up north, and my step-dads furthest trip away from home. He didn't want his son to make it alone. When the got to NYC the were early (it was 2 am and they couldn't unload until 6) so they parked on the side of the street in the middle of downtown to wait until morning. Dad wanted a coke (I'm southern. We call every carbonated beverages coke. He saw a man standing outside of a bar so he got out and asked him where he could find a drink. Fortunately the man wasn't a drunken psycho and politely directed my father down the street. He told him there would be a convenience store on the left past the subway. Of course the man was talking about the underground form of transportation however my father walked five blocks looking for the yellow and green sign of the sandwich shop. He never found a subway but he found the convenience store, got a drink and returned to the truck only after passing three hookers standing at the top of the subway staircase. It was his first and only big-city experience. He is 49. That is the reason why I can't seem to remain in one place, the reason I won't settle for anything less than the best. Life is meant for living. We only get one chance to do every thing we've ever wanted. At our college graduation the president said something to us that I will never forget. She said "Say yes first and then back track to no." You have to take chances and risks. You have to step outside of your comfort zone.  No one ever achieved greatness by sitting back and waiting on it.  People tell me all the time "I'm not like you. I can't do the things that you've done." That's simply not true. If I can achieve my dreams, then anyone can. I'm not even there yet. I have a really long way to go in life, but I think I'm off to a good start. Think about what you want in life. Don't think is it realistic or not. Everything in life is possible you just have to determine what is important to you. If you want to earn six figures then you have to go to school. You're probably not going to win the lottery. People say that they can't afford an education, but will you really be able to afford the life you want  without one? There is an avenue to take to get to every possible scenario in life. Two wise women once taught me you don't have to reinvent the wheel. someone somewhere has done it before you. Figure out how they did it and run with it. Life happens exactly how it is supposed to and just the way that it should, but if you don't put any effort into it then it is supposed to be mediocre.  If you want it to be incredible then do the things to make it that way. Ultimately I want to change lives. I want to inspire people. I have no idea how I will do that, but in the meantime I'll gain as much experience as possible in every situation that I can. By doing so I'll be able to relate to more people in different predicaments. I believe somewhere along the way I will find my purpose. Either that or my purpose will find me. I am as average as possible.  It is my strong will and love for my fellow man that makes me exceptional. If I can be great anyone can. Thank you for hanging out with me on this Sunday afternoon. I'm looking forward to making this a Sunday tradition. I enjoy writing but I've enjoyed comments even more. I love connecting with my readers. You're the reason that I write. If you have any questions or suggestions on topics I should cover please feel free to leave them in the box below. I would love to see what you all come up with.  Until then... remember me. I'm Tennessee...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Little thing called life...

In this moment, while listening to “Fine By Me” by Andy Grammar, I lay in bed smiling. How cute would that be? To have someone permanent…

Ironically “Build Me a Girl” followed it. Now this guy has the right idea. He knows what’s important. What are we here for if it isn’t to love and be loved? Take a step back for one minute and take a look at the overall picture. We as children in the ideal life are free to read books all day during the summer, and spend our afternoons talking on the phone or playing outdoors. Life is so simple. We never think twice about the troubles we cause our elders. I for one know that although I was a pretty good kid, I’ve been a pain in the ass a time or twelve. Not to mention as I got older, I became hell on wheels…

It’s amazing how angry a 22 year old can get. You spend so much time thinking about the decisions your parents made, and how you’ll never be that way. I know that I thought that I was better than where I came from. Who I was. I was going to change it. I moved to California, bought some skinny jeans, and stopped wearing a bra. All of a sudden I became this entirely different person. I was better than Tennessee. Better than my past.  

I took on the position of Executive Assistant at a Non-Profit production company, and next thing I knew I was hanging out with celebrities, attending Hollywood events and for some reason more and more people knew my name. I developed an attitude and stopped calling home. I was grown.

What I found was I lost myself out there. I wasn’t mature enough to be on my own yet. I still felt like the world revolved around me, but the truth is it’s much bigger than you and I. A million miles away there is a little boy in Africa crying because he can’t count how long it’s been since he ate a meal. Not to mention the little girl who just can’t count because education isn’t that important. In many countries women are still considered property, and people have to hide in their homes for fear of being a victim of war. First World Problems has been trending on twitter, and I’ll admit that I’ve used it myself but the thing is it’s real. I recently spent two weeks without a cell phone. For the first two days I was nothing short of going through withdrawals. By the end of the two weeks I hardly thought about it. Mind you I had my work phone, but only my mom and best friend used it to reach me. No games or apps, no texting. A lot of people have never seen a cell phone, much less owned one. For a quick moment it was just me and life. One on one. I found that I’m not so bad at it… This life thing. I love life. I love everyone in it. I want to help everyone. I want to love. Bringing me back to my first point. What is life about? It’s not to see who can earn the most money, just to die and give it to someone else. It’s not about how many people realized how awesome you were or who wanted to be you. It’s about loving someone. Anyone. Everyone. It’s about taking responsibility for our actions and helping our fellow man/woman. It’s about accepting each other’s differences and hating only hate itself. (Kudos to Obama's public announcement.)

It’s about each and every one of us putting our hearts out there with the trust that no one will break it. If everyone was vulnerable then it’s no longer vulnerability. So live, love, prosper and find happiness within your hearts. If you can’t find your own, I have plenty to share.

Remember me... I'm Tennessee.