Thursday, August 30, 2012

In Anothers Eyes

When my Best-Friend mentioned that she wanted to do a guest post on The Graduates Guide, I was ecstatic. She is the one that I turn to for everything. If I'm unsure about a decision, need someone to guide me or just someone to call me on my bullshit, I turn to her.

She's the kind of deep thinker that when she speaks, you listen.

She doesn't really need an introduction. Her thoughts speak for themselves. Enjoy:

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'Ok…hmmm…cant really say I know where to begin because I have never written a blog before..so TN if ya wanna edit this beginning go for it lil homie.

Where to begin, ya know maybe it is because I don’t trust very many people, hell maybe its because I never want to let anyone in, so I figure if I can shape the direction the conversations I have with people it will keep them from trying to figure me out, maybe it is as simple as me just genuinely caring about people. Whatever the reason is I love to ask questions, I ask questions about everything, how it works why it works where you come from why you choose the shoes you were wearing. My friends will tell ya I ask about everything and on occasion have to be told to stop cuz I am being annoying. When I was in high school we were pushed to ask questions, I attended a engineering magnet where it was our “job” to make things break things and find different ways to make things work again. In college I was a legal studies pre law major where again it was our “job” to make arguments. Now I am a bartender and love what I do, along with slingin drinks I get to meet and talk to different people everyday and let me tell you there are some interesting people out there.

Where am I going with this? A challenge you could say, a challenge to you, the reader. To step out of your comfort zone and learn something new about your fellow person. I always try to make it a point to learn and get to know the people I work with, ask questions, actually listen not just hear what they have to say. I feel like with the way technology has evolved people are so absorbed with their phones and facebook and twitter and pintrest that people are not taking advantage with what is right there in front of them. They don’t listen. And in a way it is sad to me because you could have such a big impact on someones life and miss out on it because you were distracted. Some people at work say that Im tricky because I “don’t miss a beat” and “know everything” that is goin on. Its not that I just listen and care, that simple, I make the people at work feel like it is all about them when I talk to them. And so later when they are having a bad day or are stressed I know how to help them out, maybe that’s a question about the golf tournament they are looking forward to or their birthday that’s in a week. Something to make them feel like they are not alone, even if it is for a moment. Cuz lets be honest it is nice not to feel alone and like someone cares about you, instead of being ignored and walked passed.

Through work I was able to meet a very amazing man and had the chance to have him in my life for the past 3 years, and through questions I was able to learn the amazing life stories he had to share and at the end being able to give my respects and know he was tired of fighting organ failure and was not going to be with us for much longer. His name was Tom, a regular that I saw 5 days a week. He was a stockbroker that worked just down the street and to the common person was.. well..a grump.. haha he would give the waitresses hell about being like “an old rug that curls up at the ends that no one wants” and was quick as a whip with his smart ass comments. But if you took the time to get to know him you would find he was much much more then that. Tom and I became “friends” when he walked in one day and I said “good morning sir how are ya?” his response “well it was great and then I had to wake up” so I naturally came back with “well you eventually have to go back to bed so at least you have something to look forward to” he looked at me laughed and we were friends ever since. By paying attention I got to see how even though he didn’t know the children in the restaurant he would melt at the site of kids. He would show me pictures and stories about his grand kids, and I had the pleasure of meeting his grandchild Alice who he would joke about being his girlfriend because she was better looking then his wife. Alice coming from the intelligent gene pool of Tom recited the pledge of allegiance to me in Latin and she is in kindergarten. Haha put my kinder days to shame. Somethin him and I would always talk about was movies and it was awesome because he would talk to me about how he was in the military during the time of the movie and how they did a great job with recreating that time, or how they did a poor job. We also chatted about the news and he would enlighten me on why things were the way they are and how when he was a boy they were different. Toward the end of Toms fight instead of asking stupid things like what do you want to eat it, changed to why he was cold in the middle of summer and what did the doctors say. Needless to say things quickly turned for the worst and I found myself searching all 4 hospitals trying to find him and found that he had a disease that the doctors were baffled by. So naturally they would send students to his room since it was a teaching hospital to ask about his symptoms and if they knew Tom they would know 2 very important things. 1 he does not like to repeat himself 2 when he is done talking he is done talking, don’t continue to bombard him with questions because he will just close you out and stop talking, if he had the chance Im sure he would have done what I saw him do everyday when he was done meeting with the other regulars, put his hat on put his hands behind his back say “k bye” and walk out. When I found out he stopped dialysis I knew I had to see him so I called and asked around everyone I could till I found him. I walked in to his room and because of what I had asked and listened to the answers I immediately broke into tears. It was dark, his wife who he loved dearly was not there, he didn’t have pictures up of any of his grandchildren or family and the t.v. was not on CNN. With a heavy heart I said hello and grabbed his hand and he said with a whisper “thank you so much for coming” I asked how he was doing and he said he was tired, I asked if I could bring him some pie (because he loved pie) and he said he wasn’t eating anymore. He was starting to dose off again and I couldn’t hold myself together anymore so I hugged him said I loved him and Ill see him later. That was the last time I saw Tom alive, he died a few days later.

So again I challenge you, go out, learn something, ask a few questions take a chance and listen to someone. Doing that has brought such an array of interesting different people in my life that I can say I have been blessed to know and learn from. Give someone a chance to impact you and change your life and your outlook on things. Maybe your Tom is just a stranger away and you will never know until you ask."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Delayed By God


August 24th, 2012:


I am sitting at the airport.

 O’Hare in Chicago to be exact. This post isn’t about where I’m going. In fact that part is completely irrelevant. Why would I write a predictive blog about something that has yet to happen? For all I know, I might never make it there.

 What I want to talk to you about instead, are the moments that led up to this. Do you ever just feel like doing something crazy? Something like booking a flight to a place you haven’t been. That’s what I did. I had three days of vacation left before I leave my job, and they have been great, but this was an opportunity.

 I woke up at 2:30 a.m. I showered, and packed up the remainder of my things. After a two hour drive to St. Louis, I parked my car in a lot about two miles away from the airport, and walked to the bus stop. A young girl in her late teens stood there by herself. I said “good morning” and she smiled. Nothing significant. It was simply an acknowledgement, which sparked my next thought.

 I was soon to be surrounded by thousands of blending faces, but what would it take for me to stand out? Even if it was just to a few. If one person could reach their destination thinking “how nice” about the young girl in the grey t-shirt, with a camouflage back-pack and simple smile, then whether or not I ever reached my destination would be irrelevant. My trip would have been a success.

 What I really wanted though, and even tweeted about, was to share one sporadic and in depth conversation with someone face to face. Maybe on the plane?

 So I started my morning of happiness and encouragement with the check-in ladies. They were struggling to wake-up, again it was only 5:45 am at this point. They took my bag, and whispered quietly amongst themselves. I smiled, and said loudly “Good morning!” The first of the two smiled and said “good morning” in return. She asked for my I.D, and I made a joke about how the picture was what I usually looked like at 5 a.m. The other lady looked at it and they both laughed, reassuring me it looked fine. Before taking my bag to the next kiosk I paused. I looked at both of them and said, “Thank you ladies. Very much. I hope that you have a fantastic rest of your morning.”

 How many people do you think usually go without making eye contact with these women? Just shuffling through their busy day. How many genuine “thanks” do you think they get? Apparently not enough, because one lady reached out and touched my hand. She said “Thank you. You too, Dear.” I waved, and carried on my way. I made an effort to pass friendly smiles to as many people as possible.

 What I found was that before long, I was feeling really happy. I wanted to smile. Here I was at an airport at the crack of dawn, but I was enjoying myself.

 My flight was supposed to board at 7:15 a.m, and depart at 7:45 a.m. We boarded, but almost immediately the captain came across the line.

 “I apologize for the delay, but there seems to be some electrical issues with the tail-lighting. It will take approximately thirty minutes to correct.”

 During this time, no one sat next to me. I was alone in my two-person row, sitting quietly beside the window. I was a little disappointed. I had planned to strike up my conversation here. That's the problem with planning. Nothing ever really goes the "way we planned".

The captain came back thirty minutes later telling us they were unable to correct the problem and we would need to exit the plane, and reboard a new one. 8:15. My connecting flight was at 9:45. We could still make it. At 8:30 am there was still no new plane. The other customers were getting anxious, as I found myself doing also.

 I did the only thing I could think to do at the time.

 I turned to the ladies behind me and struck up a conversation as we waited. Turns out they were a mother and daughter taking a trip to Scotland for the daughter’s birthday. The daughter works in Ontario, so they rarely get to see each other.

 The mother and I discussed how delay was simply God’s plan. I said what I always do, which is “Everything happens for a reason, and exactly the way that it should.” She agreed.

 Turns out she is a writer. I mentioned my blog to her, and she seemed genuinely interested. We talked about an upcoming project idea that she asked to apply to be a part of. She didn't know a thing about me. Not my sexuality, not my ethnicity, not my religon (per say). All she knew was I was a friendly stranger with like minded views on the reality of our lives and lack of control on it's outcome. There was no reason for us to stress. It wouldn't change anything. 

Another ten minutes full of enlightening conversation later she said to me, “You are a lovely young woman, and I have genuinely enjoyed this conversation. Now I see why God pulled me off this plane.”

 I was baffled. With one sentence, this woman made my whole day better. It wasn’t even bad before, but I knew I stood out to her. I had my conversation, and I enjoyed it face to face with a complete stranger. It really is funny how God works. We were both human. Good hearted, friendly people. What I realized even more strongly than ever before, is if we could all ook past the things that we judge each other based off of, we would find equality. It's already there. It's just waiting on us to embrace it.

There are good people, and there are people who struggle to be good. I don't think anyone ever really sets out to be bad. If they do then I can only assume that they struggle with that based on a heart filled with sadness. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's difficult to think anyone wakes up intending to cause harm. 

This woman was able to look at me for who I was. Not for what I did, how I was born, or what my preferences were. 

I will fight for that… everyday. I will keep that lovely woman in my mind. I will carry her words with me everywhere I go. People like her are the reason that I strive to be better. They're the reason that I believe that one person can make a difference. That's the reason that I won't give up until we reach that place in our hearts.

 I boarded that plane moments later. It brought me here to Chicago, and now I sit quietly in a cubicle off to the side writing this post. I’ll still make an effort to smile and say hello, but for the rest of the day I think I’ll listen.

 It’s amazing to see the changes in my life that God is making right in front of me. The person I’m becoming, the way that I feel. There was something missing in the days before… Something that left a gaping hole inside of me. That something was the wonders of God. I don’t mean to preach, and that’s not what I intend. Even if you aren’t religious or don’t worship the same way that I do, I encourage you to believe. I encourage you to have faith in something greater than yourself. I wouldn’t consider myself religious. I consider myself spiritual I encourage you to appreciate the wonders of the world and all that it entails.

 Another hour and a half until I board the next plane to my final destination. What’s funny, is in a way my trip has already climaxed.

 Remember me,

 I’m Tennessee. 

The Simplicity of Cinema


In lieu of my newfound dedication to living life to it’s fullest, one day at a time…

I woke up last Sunday morning a little late (ten o’clock). It’s actually significantly later than I usually get up. I felt rejuvenated. I spent some time “reflecting” with a very kind soul, and then got up out of bed… Stumbling to the kitchen I pulled the left over Thai food from the fridge and sat down at the kitchen table with my two roommates.

What did I WANT to do? Not what did I have to do, or what did I need to do. When I closed my eyes and pictured the perfect day, what did it entail? After a moment, I realized whatever I did I wanted the roommates there. I genuinely like spending time with them. Of course one is my best friend, and the other her girlfriend, but even if they weren’t together I would still genuinely enjoy both of their company. They’re both extremely intelligent, and while sarcastic, significantly enjoyable to be around.

So over leftovers, and a Sunday morning conversation I asked them “what should we do today guys?”

After a long pause of no ideas I said “Let’s go see a movie!”

We looked up what all was on, and realized we had two options that we couldn’t choose between. They were “The Odd Life of Timothy Greene” and “Hope Springs”. You read that right. One Disney movie about a young boy who sprouts from the garden of a lonely young couple, and another about an older couple who struggles to rekindle the romance and sexual intimacy in their 31 year long marriage.

Initially those might seem like the two most insanely opposite films we could have chosen. In a lot of ways they were. When we got to “Timothy Greene” the first thing I noticed was the audience that was preparing to watch it with me. It was a mixed crowd. A lot of families, with children. Younger to middle aged women, and throughout the room their husbands and boyfriends decorated their arms… Hesitant to be seen at a Disney film.

The film starts, and the main couple walks slowly into an elevator. They’re devastated. Another woman walks into the elevator with her small child. The couples discomfort with the mom and son foreshadows the storyline ahead. After trying to conceive, and failing the couple felt they had no option other than to give up on becoming parents. The two of them return home and attempt to put their pain into a box full of notes describing their perfect child. From the box grows a young boy in the garden like a plant. The only things noticeably different about him are the leaves growing from his ankles, and his truly unique adult perspective.

He is exactly what they thought that they would want in a child, however a series of events reveal that you can’t always predict life, and what would a film be without a significant problem standing in the way of their happiness? Long story short, it may or may not end how you want it to.

The movie overall, is adorable. Is it my favorite? No. Would I recommend it on a rainy day with a bowl of soup and a cozy blanket? Absolutely. It was interesting to look around and see the smiles, and tears of joy (and some sadness) on the other movie-goers. In that moment, I felt exactly like them. I knew the feeling in their hearts. I could see it on their faces. I felt it. I could relate so intimately to people just like me. Many that was my age. It was comforting.

I thought to myself as the tears rolled off my cheeks “I really hope I keep it together for the next one.” Yeah. Didn’t happen.

The next film was “Hope Springs”. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones join Steve Carell in a heartwarming film about an older couple, Kay and Arnold (Streep and Jones) who decide to travel to Maine in search of the romance that has neglected their 31 year relationship. The film was outside of each of their comfort zones, and I found it to be incredible not only in content, but also their ability to portray characters. Apparently Tommy Lee Jones referred to the film as an actor’s catnip. Enticing for them to accept.

Streep, who has often played strong, harsh female characters (The Iron Lady, Devil Wears Prada), finds her femininity in a role where she craves the warmth and attention of her over-worked, too-cold husband (Jones). Jones has often played that type of character. In No Country for Old Men and Men In Black, you see the harsh, hard silence that fits him so well. I will admit in the beginning of the film, I hated him with every fiber of my being.

Kay initiates the change by booking them both a ticket to see Dr. Feld (Carell). She says simply that she wants to feel wanted again. She wants to feel “married”. Naturally, disconnected from the world, Arnold is confused by this statement, but for the sake of not being alone he follows her hesitantly.

He shows no effort to work with Kay or the doctor. The first break through is when the two of them try to find intimacy again. Having not had sex in five years, they are more than out of practice. Multiple times during the film they try to regain that, and unfortunately FAIL epically in most cases. What’s interesting though, is despite the age difference between them and myself, I didn’t find it to be awkward to watch (only when it was supposed to be). They both did a phenomenal job.

Now let me pause and say, I don’t find myself to be an overly physical person. I don’t HAVE TO HAVE physical interaction, and I rarely ever CRAVE that type of activity, however when I am in a relationship, I am rarely ever deprived of it either. Watching this film I was baffled by the lack of touch and intimacy. Kay would wait patiently for a kiss goodbye, and Arnold would briskly kiss her across the forehead. He could have been more intimate with a high-five or a slap to the face with a flaming chair. When she went to him offering herself for something more, and he turned her away like a stranger, I cringed. How could he be so heartless? How could he be that cruel, to make his wife feel so unwanted? This couldn’t be real.

However when I looked around at all of the “over 50” women in the theatre with me, I quickly realized my assumption was na├»ve and immature. The tears on their cheeks, and the wads of tissues grasped tightly in their hands told me I was very wrong. Could this be? Do couples reach a time where commitment forgets love, and convenience replaces passion?

I look at my own parents and peel back the blind layers that cover my eyes. My father kisses my mother goodbye most days, but the last time I saw any passion between them was a brief dance to “their song” at my sister’s wedding. I saw a brief glimmer of romance in their eyes. A sparkle of what had once been. My parents love each other, but thirty something kids, and 17 years later I don’t know if they’re in love.

This scares me. To watch someone stay in a relationship long after that yearning is gone… That must be miserable.

I know what that passion feels like. I know what it’s like to get butterflies for the one you love, and long for their kiss. I know what it’s like to fall madly and hopelessly in love, but will I too one day reach the place where convenience takes over?

I’m making a promise to myself today, to do everything in my power to keep that from happening. To love the one I’m with day in and day out in a way that she will never forget, but also in a way that she will always remember. It’s one thing to never be forgotten. It means you made a great impact. But to be remembered, is something in itself. That means that they want to reflect upon you without reason. Nothing has to spark their memory, it just happens.

I encourage you, if you’re in a relationship to look at the one you’re with and ask yourself, “Does she know? Does she know how she makes me feel, or what I would do for her?” If there is any question, than tell her. Better yet, show her. (Or him.)

The best way to keep the one you love, is to love her the way you did when you got her. Don’t wait five years without intimacy and cost yourself two thousand dollars in therapy to fix something that never should have broken.

The movie was incredible. It opened my eyes beyond belief to my own behavior, but also what lies ahead. I encourage you to watch it. The ending might surprise you. I wanted to stand at the door when people walked at, and hug every single “over 50, teary eyed woman” that passed. They are beautiful. You are beautiful.

Love someone today. Love someone tomorrow. Love someone for the rest of your life… That concept alone is truly incredible. Are you up for the challenge?

It's beautiful really… 

How two films can bring you so close to those around you, without ever having to say a word. How they can affect you. Your emotions. Your mentality. That's why i'm going back to Los Angeles. That's why i'm pursuing writing in film. I want to make that difference in someone's life. I want to make their Sunday memorable… 

Rememeber me,

I'm Tennessee. 



Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Truth


The truth is...

I’m selfish.

I spend so much time preaching to people about my opinion, my view on life, that I forget to live it myself. How we have to seize the moment in every situation, while still appreciating the beauty in the little things around us.

I think one thing that hinders me as a person, is the fact that I’m a writer. I look at everything as a story. I can see a red solo cup… A simple red plastic cup… And tell you that it is an incredible drinking glass. A luscious and vibrant red, easily accessed and disposed of, perfect for every occasion dining necessity. I could list of all of the many incredible uses, from spur of the moment picnics at the park, to Olympic beer pong wonder containers. I can tell you how that cup has been with me at my lowest, drink after drink chugging down every bad memory I ever had… To my finest, washing away that addiction one ice-cold water at a time.  I can in many ways, make that cup look beautiful and enticing.. But the truth is, it’s still just that. A red, flimsy plastic, throw away cup.

I think that’s why I am let down so often in life. I look at people for who I want them to be, instead of waiting to find out who they really are. I try to impose my vision, and write the story of how I think that things should go. Rarely in my life have I ever just taken a step back and let things happen.

I sat down today, feeling sorry for myself. I realized that I have two weeks from this day at my job here in Columbia. In 16 days, I will load up my car once more, drive to Tennessee for a week, and then I’m off. Jack Kerouac-ing it across America back to California. I cried. Really cried. I don’t mean watching Lion King and Mufassa dies cried. I mean really felt it deep within my soul, ached my heart and it leaked out through my tear ducts, cried. I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I have felt it before. I felt it last January, when I realized that I had no idea who I was becoming, but it wasn’t the person I wanted to be. I wasn’t me.

You see, I do pride myself on being a good person. I do a lot of really nice things for people, and I’m often told that I say just the right things… But I can’t tell you the last time I sat back and just listened.

There are so many beautiful stories out there. Stories that have already been written by people. They live them every day. I have the ability to give a voice to those who can’t speak for themselves, but here I am still selfishly spinning each story to my own perspective.

I seem to forget that I don’t know everything, and that not everything is what I think it is. That I’m not the only one with an opinion, and that I don’t know the only way to do things. There are a lot of people out there who might not be like me, who might appreciate other things, but that doesn’t make them any less right. It just means that we’re different. And that’s what’s so beautiful right? That’s why the story flows so well. Because there are people out there so unlike me that add their own flavor to every situation.

I had a chance to peek into the life of someone else… To realize that everything doesn’t revolve around me, and that not everyone has to do the things that I’ve done. Not everyone has to walk down my path to be fulfilled.

Twitter is a mysterious thing. It is time consuming and addictive. It builds false appreciation, and unrealistic justification. I was baffled to see that I went from 200 “followers” a few short months ago, to 1,700. On one hand it’s meaningless. What does it really matter? I thought that the more people who followed me, the more people I could affect and hopefully help. But what does it matter how many people follow me, if the things that I say aren’t realistic or helpful? I had rather have 200 “followers” and help a handful, than 20,000 and never change a soul. And maybe even then, I’m not supposed to change their soul. Maybe it’s about someone else changing mine. So on the other hand, I guess for me it can also be a nice reality check.

I mean really how prideful must I be, to have the audacity to believe that I have all the answers? People ask me questions, and without hesitation I share my opinion like it ought to be written in stone somewhere. You’d think that God himself felt the same damn way.

The truth is I’m 23. I have done a lot for my age, but I have so far to go. I have never had a truly successful relationship, because either I gave my heart to those undeserving, or I tore it away from those who did terrified that I couldn’t live up to their expectations. I am just at the beginning of my career, and while I think that I could one day be really amazing at whatever it is that I choose, I still can’t make up my mind what that thing really is. Do I believe that I am special? Yes. I think we all are. But I am no more special than you, or anyone else.

It’s so ironic that I preach to everyone else to experience life and appreciate these moments, when one by one I’m watching them all slip past me.

Like I said. I had the chance to peek into someone’s life. A few someone’s actually. The first is an incredible woman who happened to compliment my blog. After reading her own, I began to wonder how she was impressed by my words, when hers held so much depth. I have no idea who she is. She writes from an anonymous account, but she has no idea the impact she holds. She said to me today:

“Being anonymous helps me to write, but a lot of days it’s lonely too.”

Now there was more that followed that, but for the sake of privacy, that’s all I am willing to share. She has opened up to me with a certain level of confidence that I refuse to betray.

Instead of listening to her, and what she had to say my response was purely selfish. I turned the conversation around about myself and how I technically write under an Alias as well, seeing as how Tennessee wasn’t my god given name so I “understood”. That wasn’t the point. What she was saying had nothing to do with me. It was her perception. She felt alone with no public identity. Instead of asking her why she felt that way, getting her opinion, and helping her sort her thoughts, I immediately tried to justify her thoughts and give her reasons why she felt that way. Who the hell am I to do that?

She was looking for an open ear, a friend if you will. Instead I became a pompous asshole who thinks too highly of myself and feels like “I understand” everything. I don’t. And I hope she knows that I am sorry. I’m willing to listen. Without any comments.

The second person has become someone much closer to me. I’ve never met her. I know only what she has shared, but so far I feel like I know her better than most people I’ve spent years of my life with. I have a lot of acquaintances, but very few people who know me and vice versa. She doesn’t force me to tell her things. She just simply allows me to if I feel like it. She gets me… and I hope I’m not wrong in saying this, but I think I get her too. She has a beautiful heart. One that is admirable and deep.

I vented to her earlier, and instead of allowing me to wallow in my bullshit, she corrected me. She did it in an incredibly nice way though by saying “I’m an outsider looking in. It’s okay to have moments… Just don’t forget who you are and where you came from. You’ve been broken. You’ve been hurt. But don’t let those things make you second guess who you are and most of all determine who you can be. You’re great. If I have to tell you that everyday, I will. Don’t let the shades of grey seep between the black and white.”

Those words meant the world to me. I don’t think she realizes truly how much she helps. Even now I sit thinking how lucky I’ve been to get to know such amazing people, but I think it’s time now to take a step back in a way. I’ll still post, don’t worry. But I want to make it very clear that I’m just as scared, and lonely, and broken and confused as every one of you. I’m not above any of you. I go to bed and wake up the same way that you do, and when it all comes down too it, I have just as many questions that I still need to answer about myself.

You’re fine. You’re right on track. Just live life day by day. That’s all we can do. Don’t float through life however. Let’s all make an effort to remember SOMETHING important about each, whether it be a sentence, or a feeling. Let’s enjoy each others company, share a conversation. Let’s live. I’ll start today.

It’s not all about me…

Tennessee.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ready


It happens.
I can’t tell you when. Or why.
But one day you’re sitting there like you have everyday before…
And it hits you.
You’re ok.
You’re better than ok.
You’ve moved on.

It’s been a really long time since I could say that I was ready.
I didn’t even know what being ready meant.
Ready for what?
For whom?
When I love, I love hard.
I can’t say it’s always a good thing.
More times than not I put too much of myself into a relationship, too soon.
Usually for someone who isn’t really interested.
I think to myself.. You know what.. I could be good for them.

What the HELL?
What am I doing?
Why in the world is my first thought not.. They could be good for me.
Why do I always try to take on what everyone else needs and desires, and never really try to fill that within myself?
I get it from my mother.
I’m a caretaker.
I take on the burdens of other souls, because I still can’t quite fix my own.
It’s easier to fix the problems of everyone else than address mine.

I’m done.

I’m ready.
I finally know what that means.
I’m ready to love someone who loves me back.
Despite my flaws.
Someone who sees me for what I’m worth, but is worth my time as well.
Someone I could put first, but would never let me.
Someone who doesn’t put me on a pedestal, because damn it if I won’t fall.
I’m scare silly of heights.
Heights remind me how far I’ve had to come, and then I question my footing.
Should I really be where I am?
Probably not.
Statistically.
But I am. And watch me. I’ll keep going.

That’s what I’m saying.
I want someone to share that with.
Someone who isn’t afraid to fly.
Someone who says “Fuck it. Let’s do this. All or nothing.”
And yes. I want her to say it just like that.
F- word and all.
Because that means that she doesn’t give a damn about anything else right then.
Only what she feels.
Why not?
Why can’t I have that?
Why can’t I be with someone who just knows what they want?
And that just so happens to be me.

I haven’t met her yet.
Do I know her? Maybe.
I dream about her every night.
And I already know that she thinks about me too.
Because she knows that I’m what she is waiting on.
Maybe someone who says to me…
“Keep me. Yes. No matter what happens, we keep each other. Got it?”
So simple…
But so sure.
Those are the words of a girl willing to give me her heart.
A girl who is willing to take mine.
No…
Honored to take mine.. But promises not to break it.

I’ll get it. If it’s meant to be…
I’ll get what I’m waiting for.
All of those in my past will look on longingly.
Wishing that they had taken a chance. If not with me, with someone.
That they hadn’t been so scared.
They’ll wish for something similar in the future.
Knowing that they missed the chance of a lifetime.
But I’ll never even see them stare.
I’ll be too wrapped up in her.
My heart beating in her hands.
Ready.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Week The Women Went



She's the strongest woman I know.
 I can remember being about 6 years old. My mother came to the school to pick me up, and she was in a white set of scrubs. She was tired. Her eyes weary, but to me she looked like an angel. That's the way I'll always remember her. My angel.
 My mother was an RN. She was the head of Intensive Care at a large hospital in Mississippi, and saved many lives... occasionally even my own. When I was just five months old, I contracted Viral Encephalitis. To put it in English where the real world understands, that means that at five months old I ran 106 degree fever and my brain swelled immensely. I almost died.
 My mother noticed that something was wrong immediately and took me to the hospital where she worked. They had no idea how I received it, but it didn't matter. My life was on the line. She packed me in ice, and for three days my mother waited beside me. Caring for me alongside of a team of health professionals. She nursed me back to health. She saved me. I literally owe her my life for more than one reason.
 She is a beautiful woman. Maybe not to everyone, but to me. She has scars on her face that age her skin. Her anxiety and stress level has added a few years as well. Not to mention the fact that she has at some point or another, been a mother to over 40 children between adoption, foster and marriage. I however am her only birth child. Regardless of it all… She is beautiful. 
 She has a big heart. She takes care of everyone and everything. She would literally take the shirt off of her own back just to give it to someone who wanted it. A lot of times I find myself frustrated at how much responsibility she has been strapped with, and willingly takes on.
 On an average day, my mother wakes up and dresses the twins for school. When she gets them on the bus, she usually  prepares my step father for his day of leasurely man duties (whatever that entails.) Immediately following that, she makes phone calls to the bank, hospitals, and billing companies to make sure that she hasn't fallen behind on any payments.
 By the time she's done, it's around 10 o'clock. She's usually somewhere between her third or fourth cup of coffee, and despite my nagging, her second or third cigarette. She showers, gets dressed, and drives to Corinth, which is about 45 minutes south of home. She picks up my grandmother, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's, or my grandfather who is suffering from Emphysema. She takes one or both of them to their doctors appointments for the day. They usually range anywhere from Nashville to Memphis or anywhere in between. That's close to a three hour drive in either direction.
 Among her list to care for as well is one of my other 6 or 7 siblings she still lends a hand to, my step-father, his father, his sister, her kids, and numerous friends/ neighbors who might need support. After doctors appointments/ errands, she does the grocery shopping,  then she finds herself back at home getting the twins bathed and fed, then ready for bed. At the end of the night she follows up with my step-father to see if he has had a pleasant "Man duty" day, and then struggles to keep her eyes open long enough to call me for our daily chat.
 Now what I haven't mentioned is that my mother suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and troubled kidneys.
 She has been sick since I was around 11 years old. She had a c-section when I was born, and for some unknown reason, the scar burst, letting gangreen set in.  I nearly lost her. I can remember her lying on the couch, day in and day out, a sweat broken across her forhead. Sitting next to her with a glass of ice water nervously wondering why Mommy couldn't get up. Why she wasn't the same.
 When she finally recovered, her immune system was down, she developed the Fibro, and there have since been signs of Lupus as well. Still, everyday she fights through the pain. She can no longer work as a nurse. She suffers from short-term memory loss.
 Still she raises two incredible boys, a host of other young adults, and grown men and women. She supports three to five different households, mentally, emotionally, physically and partially financially. No one else ever offers to help.
 If she is down for a day, she's just down. Sometimes that means that the twins might go with someone else for the day (what a burden) or someone has to take themselves to the doctor (god forbid).
 I hate that she doesn't get the assistance she needs, or break that she deserves. I hate that she literally carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, or at least the weight of Olivehill.
 That's why when I saw the trailor for "The Week The Women Went", I couldn't help but wonder. What would it be like if my mother just picked up and left?
 "The Week The Women Went" is a television series premiering on Lifetime on August 14th. The entire show is based off a social experiment where every woman in one town gets up and goes for a week, leaving the men behind to care for themselves, their children, their lives and the community.
 This show covers the experiences of multiple families who interact with each other within the community. The question you have to ask yourself is, how important are women? How much do they contribute to the general public as well as to the personal lives of their own families? Who REALLY wears the pants in the family? Would families be able to fend for themselves and still function healthily and properly without the tender love and devotion of the women within them?
 I personally think that my entire family would crumble without my mother. I myself know that without her my entire life would have been different. She was my biggest support system, my biggest fan, and ultimately my best friend. She encouraged me, loved me unconditionally, and shared with me pricelss wisdom that I too will be able to pass down to my children.
 She is my Hero.
 I know that there are really good men out there. I also know that every woman isn't the supportive caregiver my mother was, but I also know that a lot of them are.
 I can't wait to see how their story plays out. The effects of an estrogen-less society. I'm curious to watch and be a part of their experience. When I asked Jon Kroll (producer of The Week the Women Went) to offer a quote for this post, I was expecting something very brief. I expected one to two sentences saying something along the lines of “The show is great and you should watch it.” What I got instead was the passion of a man who truly believe is his work.
His input was so incredible that I couldn’t pick just part of it to share with you. Here it is. Raw and uncut for your eyes only.
“When I first met with Elli Hakami of the BBC about "The Week the Women Went" I knew I had to do the show. It's not often in the non-scripted television business that we get the opportunity to work on big, compelling social experiments that ask provocative questions like this one does. The only other such opportunity I had was when I produced "Amish in the City" in 2004, and that show was one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career. So for me, it was a no-brainer.

There's just so much to explore with this project. Yes, the base concept invites the reinforcing of stereotypes and at times those stereotypes are certainly reinforced. But there was something undeniably magic about having one community made up almost entirely of men and children and another of women, even for just a week. None of these people had experienced anything like it and I think they were changed because of it. If anything, I think the many "tasks" the men undertook as part of the show distracted them in a way that had them let their guard down at times, and really be themselves, something that often doesn't happen on shows like this for weeks. And if the women thought they were just "on vacation," they were in for a surprise because the experiment was in full force at their resort, with many of them experiencing a kind of sisterhood they never had before.

Some who see the show may wish for more, that we had dug deeper, but remember it was only one week. If you look closely, between the screams and the tears and the messy households, there are incredible, quiet moments of discovery throughout the series that had me and the rest of the crew continually engaged and fascinated.” Jon Kroll- Producer
Thanks to social media and technology, we can actually follow along with these families as their story unfolds before our eyes. Who knows. Maybe  I can even get my own family to watch. Maybe I can help them see what an incredible woman that they have in their lives.
By following the #WomenWent hash tag on twitter, you can chat live with the cast members during the show. Ask them questions about the show, and their lives.
 You can check out the entire verified cast here:
 So let's find out... What happened "The Week The Women Went"? 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Let Love Live

I want to make a difference.

Every day when I wake up, I immediately begin thinking of ways to do that very thing. I’m no saint, but my mother taught me from a young age that the point of life is to love and be loved. I live by it. We do the best we can, and when we can it is always the best.

About two or three times a week I will get a blog comment, tweet or email asking me questions along the lines of life and love. One of the most common questions I get is “How can I make a difference? How can I inspire others the way that you/ your blog has inspired me.” Honestly I think that it’s different for everyone, but ultimately it all goes back to Love.

Love yourself. Love each other.

Support one another and encourage others to do the same. It doesn’t really matter which medium you do it with. Me personally? I write. It’s what I’m passionate about. It’s what I love. Others make videos. Some people do spoken word poetry. Some people use art, and photography as their means to spread love. A lot of people love, and you never really realize it because it isn’t right in front of you. A kind gesture, or caring thought is really all it takes.

A few weeks ago I received two free roses for no reason. Instead of taking them home and admiring them myself, I snuck into the office a few minutes early and slipped them in front of the door of a few of my co-workers spaces. I didn’t tell them who they were from, because frankly I didn’t have a reason to. I just did it to brighten someone else’s day. Could you imagine if everyone did something every day that was selfless and kind? Hopelessness would eventually wither away.

It’s really easy to spread hate. Negativity catches like wild fire and spreads with no encouragement. It takes very little respect or morality to bash someone or something, but to stand up for yourself, others and the things you believe in with dignity… Now that takes effort.

Ultimately to change the world there is one thing that we all have to do. We have to let love live. That doesn’t just mean for gays and lesbians. It’s for everyone.

That’s why I was so excited to find that somewhere out there was a guy who felt just like I did. Who saw life in the same terms as myself. Not only was there a person, but an entire company.

Who is this mystery company you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

Let Love Live is a clothing company founded four months ago by a very inspirational man named Collin Higgins. When I asked him to describe “Let Love Live” in his own words he replied “Let Love Live” “promotes the message of positivity. We live in a society today that likes to focus on the negative and bring one another down. Our goal is to be uplifting to our friends, family, and strangers anywhere we come in contact with them. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your background is, your gender, race, sexuality, religion, or disability. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, kindness, fairness, and honesty. John Lennon said it best “ All We Need Is Love “.” Collin refused to take all the credit for the company’s foundation simply because he believes the picture is much bigger than himself. I agree, (but frankly I still think this guy rocks).

Not only is “Let Love Live” promoting a positive message and giving us cool clothes, but 10% of all of its proceeds go into funding other uplifting non-profits. There are companies like Chic-Fil-A who offer funding to Anti- Gay groups, and organizations like Westboro Baptist Church who receive funding to hate… well… EVERYONE. These companies are in the public eye daily due to their hate and negativity. Hate spreads. It doesn’t need any help. Hate generates more hate, and before you know it everyone is pissed off, blaming each other and in a really crappy mood. Why ot give some credit and publicity to a company that is spreading the wealth to LOVE.

“Let Love Live” has carefully selected a few very great causes to support. Collin shared with me “Right now we are working with two great young non-profits. The first one we have chosen to work with is Bands That JAM for Africa. It is part of J.A.M which stands for Joint Aid Management. Their mission is to help feed and educate young kids in Africa.

The second non-profit is Rock Out Autism. They help raise funds to help support programs that have the focus to raise awareness and create programs for both young kids and adults who have Autism.

What is neat about both Non-profits is they were both started by young high school aged kids who had a passion and went for it. Both organizations do yearly concerts to raise funds, and both have made great strides so far.”

Now if you know me, (and a lot of you do through my blog) you know that the thing that I am most passionate about is the rights of LGBTQ people. This is where Collin really caught my attention.

“We are still searching for one more non-profit to work with. Our goal is to find a LGBT organization that has a focus to help young adults through struggling times. We want to support an organization that reaches out to help make a difference not only in the young adults’ life but is there for family support.”

Finally. Someone gets it. It’s not just about being gay. It’s not about being Christian, or Caucasian, or Female. It’s about being human. It’s about being supportive to your fellow (wo)man. It’s about sharing love with someone regardless of what they are, and instead loving them for the type of person they are and the way they represent themselves. It’s about coming together as one and LETTING LOVE LIVE.

We can all make a difference. And you can start now. Let Love Live has agreed to give a 10% discount to any customer that Mentions #TheGraduatesGuide or #Tennessee in their order. Again, another 10% of that order will go to non-profits to promote love and equality for all. When is the last time a t-shirt gave you something in return besides itself? By purchasing ONE SHIRT, you are standing alongside every other individual who fights for something in this world. You are showing your support for LOVE, and INSPIRING others to do so, while also financially supporting other organizations who support the things that matter most to you.

On August 1st, an insane amount of people stood out in parking lot’s across the country waiting in line to financially support a company that is against gay rights. Well I have to wonder… If that many people came together to support Love and Equality, would we see a change in this world? If they supported the study of Autism and it’s causes, if they supported the humane care for African children. If people everywhere supported LOVE, what would this country be like? What would this world be like?

Keep in mind that they only started up four months ago. By supporting this independent organization, not only are you helping them send out the message that love is the most important thing, but also grow as a company. Every dollar earned allows them to get more creative with their designs, create more intricate work and include other pieces that fit different styles. You could be a benefactor in helping a company start from the ground up, and carry a bright new message all the way to the doorstep of every human being.

It also helps them give the support to other organizations that is needed to change the world that we live in. So please, if nothing else, check them out. If you like what you see, or like what you’ve read then do something crazy. Make a purchase. Represent. Change the world. LET LOVE LIVE.

“A small act of kindness or a positive message to someone can start a chain reaction, we challenge everyone to begin their own chain and hope that one day it can link back to them.” – Collin Higgins

 (Don’t forget to include #TheGraduatesGuide or #Tennessee into your order for your 10% discount!)


And be on the look-out for pictures of myself rocking my TWO new Let Love Live shirts. (They are currently en route to me as we speak!)

Thank all of you beautiful people for finding interest in my words. I have very much enjoyed being a part of your lives.

Remember me,

I’m Tennessee.