Sunday, September 9, 2012

Finding the Words Behind Los Angeles

It’s that time.

Tomorrow I secure everything I own in the back seat of my car, and I hit the highway.

I’ve been planning for two months. Really I’ve waited for this my entire life. Everyone has a dream when they’re a child. Obviously mine wasn’t to be a writer in Los Angeles at age seven, however it was to be great. I wanted to change the world.

I wasn’t even sure what that meant. To be honest I’m still not sure.

My mother told me everyday that I was special. She told me that I was great, and would do big things. I really couldn’t tell you if that was true at the time, but when you’re told something every day of your life it eventually sticks.

When I was in the fourth grade I entered a poetry contest. Everyone in the fourth and fifth grades were required to enter. To be honest, I can’t remember the name of the poem, however I do remember some of the content. The poem was about people who were different. It was about treating everyone the same, because we’re all human.

One line stated, “I can run really fast, and I can jump really high… But my shoes aren’t brand name so you won’t let me try.”

I didn’t come from a wealthy family, so I was often overlooked. I was denied equality based on my social status and family’s income. At age nine, not only did I recognize inequality, but I wanted to change it. Another line was about being a brunette in a group of blondes. Later in the poem I reversed it to be a blonde in the midst of brunettes. And took a sinner in the presence of saints, to a saint among sinners. The truth is, someone is always the minority. It just depends on whose perspective you look from.

I saw that then. I realized that we were all equal, and it wasn’t fair to discriminate. Maybe that’s why I’m so passionate now. It has always been my fight.

I came in second place, and won a $25 gift card. A fifth grader who wrote a poem about fishing won. Actually it was about telling a lie about how big the fish was. Don’t ask me how I remember all this. I guess there are just a few significant moments in my life that I will always remember.

I knew then I wanted to be a writer. Of course at that time I also wanted to be a scientist, a professional basketball player, and a member of TLC. I am terrible at math and science, I am 5’5 and un-coordinated and can’t sing or dance for hell, but I still want to write. I make an effort to write something almost everyday.

It’s not even just that I want to write. I want to write something significant. I want to write for the greater good of humanity. I want my words to help change the world. I know that I’ve got something important to say.

It took me until two months ago to decide that’s what I wanted to do for a living. It’s funny, because I’ve had people tell me most of my life that I am a good (sometimes even great) writer. That I have an interesting perspective, or original tone. People tell me that my words and thoughts feel like their own. I’m relatable. Despite all of that encouragement, I never felt good enough. I was afraid. I thought that I “couldn’t do it.” It took me sitting down with the President of Stephens College, and a half-assed Power Point of all of my likes and dislikes, before I ever really considered it.

I had four different types of writing I enjoyed on the Power Point, but for some reason I still couldn’t see it as the obvious answer. I still considered it to be a hobby. She made it very clear.

“Something on this page keeps popping up.”


“Yes. Do you love it?”


“Is it your passion?”


“Then go for it.”

A lot more went into that conversation. A lot of thought. A lot of tears. A lot of worry, and anxiety. A lot of prayer… But I made up my mind.

Tomorrow, hobby or not… I’ll go for it. If it’s a hobby, I’ll find out the hard way.

But I’ll have a beautiful story to share with my grandkids (in place of Christmas presents, because clearly I’ll be broke). The story about the time that grandma moved to Los Angeles with nothing but a few boxes, an air mattress and a dream. I’m taking a chance. I’m giving life and happiness a fair shot. If you need me, you’ll find me on the beach with a peanut butter sandwich and a lap-top.

I couldn’t have done it alone. I’ve had a number of people supporting this dream along the way. I’ve even had a few try to tear it down. I thank them as well. It only fuels my flame.

Here’s what I propose.

If you’re looking for some entertainment. In the mood for a story. Or if you’re just bored…

Go on this journey with me. I’ll be tweeting from @TennesseeMartin and Instagraming under TennesseeMartin. I’ll also be blogging each Sunday still on The Graduates Guide.

Meet my friends (you might know a few of them). Experience Los Angeles. Watch the rise and fall of my everyday life in the film industry, and probably a sunset or two. This is my open invitation to you to come and check it out. Also, don’t be shy. Ask questions. Make requests. Every time you engage with me, it’s one more thought or idea I might not have come up with on my own. Let’s live a little.

Tonight I’ll be spending the afternoon with my step mom and co. in Savannah, Tennessee. Tomorrow I will wake up at 5 a.m and hit the road. I’ll be honest. I’m nervous. In the last few days a lot in my life has changed, and with that I thought I’d change my mentality. I also changed my route (or at least the people who are on it.)

I’ll be going through Dallas, TX first. I’ve been there once, years ago. I have a good friend there, who dances, so I’m grabbing lunch, watching a rehearsal and spending a few hours catching up. It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen her.

I’m not sure yet if I’m staying in Dallas or a few hours away, but from there I am heading to Vegas.

In Vegas I will meet one of my Twitter followers. We have been friends since last January, and I’m looking forward to meeting a fresh face. Unfortunately I will have driven approximately 18 hours by that point so we won’t be going out on the town, however we are getting breakfast the following morning before the rest of my trip.

Those last few hours will be tough. I can already feel the nerves. I’m excited. I’ll be meeting my new roommate for the first time. Unpacking what few items that I have stowed away in my car. I have an air mattress, a guitar I can’t play and a heart that I’m trying to piece back together.

I’m most excited to see my friends. The ones who have supported me from afar. On the 12th, my plans are still up in the air. The 13th my friend is having her birthday celebration. The 14th I’m gathering a few good people together to head down to the beach (I’ve really missed it. The 15th I will be at the Los Angeles Country Club on Wilshire for an event with some very incredible Stephens Alumnae. The 16th I will begin my internship… I’m nervous, but I know I can do it.

Following that, I have no clue how life will go from here. What I do know is that it’s not up to me. I won’t even attempt to make a plan, because I know that will interfere with the one God has in store for me. I plan to just approach life with an open mind every day, and appreciate the little moments that he allows me to experience. The good and the bad. I’ll learn from them all.

I’ve gotten this far. I can do anything. All I have to do is pray about it. He will give me the power if it is in his will.

Also, if you have followed me on Twitter lately, you know that I am working on a new project with another writer. Her name is Rae. You probably know her as My Silent Half. Together we are creating a project called WomanKind. It’s a social experiment compiled by 8 female writers. We will be releasing more details regarding this project over the next few weeks, so keep it in the back of your mind. You’ll be hearing about it later.

Finally… The time has come. 5 a.m will come very quickly. Remember. Twitter. Instagram. I’ll be posting!

This is my story. This is my life. This… Is The Graduates Guide.

Remember me,

I’m Tennessee.


  1. I so appreciate how you share your heart and journey through your writing. I Just moved to L.A. a month ago for a semester long film school program. I have no clue what I am doing after the end of December and there are days that I have no clue what it is that I am doing here now. I am learning to remember that God has a plan and that I just have to look for it. It is nice though to hear from someone else who maybe experiencing some similar feelings. Thank you

  2. I can't wait til Sunday every week to read these. Be safe have fun & be GREAT!!