Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Coming Together

Do you ever forget where you are? What you’re doing? Your body becomes warm for no reason and your cheeks flush. I do occasionally. Usually when I’m having an epiphany. When I realize that something I thought was, really wasn’t at all. Or something that wasn’t really was.

I feel that way today, as I am flooded with memories of my past. Reasons why I made the decisions I did which brought me to where I am. Seven years ago, I became pissed off at my high school for not loving me as much as my mother loved me and for not accepting me despite the fact that she had. That triggered in me the desire to push back. Instead of confronting them head on, I began planning my ten-year reunion. I would go far. Further than anyone expected. I would become something so great that everyone would have no choice, but to apologize and acknowledge that they had been wrong. This queer had a future.

Little did I know that the battle I was preparing myself for didn’t exist.  I would never please them, or prove them wrong. In fact it wasn’t about that at all. It was about proving myself right. It was about loving myself and being the best person that I could be so when I laid my head down at night, I rested peacefully.

After school each evening I spent countless hours online filling out college applications and requesting information about colleges anywhere outside of the state of Tennessee. I researched everywhere from Mississippi to California, Philadelphia to Washington. When I chose Stephens College it was for a number of reasons. I loved the campus, the admissions counselor called me every week, and they offered me the most scholarships. It wasn’t until I got there that I realized how much of an impact that decision would make on my life. A child with no direction and a five-gallon bucket full of dreams, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew was that I loved the thought of living it.

I switched my major because I began crushing on a girl in the editing lab, and when I stopped talking to her I found words in the production of my student films. I was so busy trying to push out the message that was trapped in my soul that I forgot to learn the basics of how to convey that message. I’m not saying that I didn’t learn anything, but I am saying that if I had to do it all again I would have thought less and listened more.

I love words. I use them for everything. Work. Personal life. Pleasure.

It was a pattern I didn’t understand until recently. While in school I fell for another girl. One who believed in me. One I wanted to impress. So, I searched all of Hollywood for an internship. As fate would have it I met a woman who knew another woman who had an intern position open that I was perfect for.  I went with blind eyes and an open heart. When I returned my eyes were open, but my heart had closed. We broke up.

I thought at that point that I knew everything. I had been from Tennessee to Maine. Missouri to California. I had traveled further than my mother, spoke more eloquently than my father and don’t get me started on my siblings. The bar wasn’t set very high. I was a success. No one could stop me, no one could tell me any differently, and they certainly couldn’t change me. I was a walking disaster with a chip on my shoulder and my heart in a small plastic bag somewhere around the heel of my shoe. I walked on it every day just to toughen it up.

So there I was walking across the stage at my College graduation. My family sat politely in the crowd. My father even put on khaki’s. I’ve seen that twice before. For a wedding, and for a funeral. He’s a blue jean kind of man, and those mean don’t wear slacks. He joked with me for the longest time he was going to walk in wearing overalls. Looking back now I should have let him. It was a day like any other day marking no real significance in our lives. We’re not measured by those big moments in life. Not really. We’re measured by the little ones. Like the first time you heard your favorite song, or read your favorite poem. I’m measured by the those first time feelings I get every time I stand on the beach and the way that I can still remember that summer in Maine just by smelling a burning log.

My family followed me afterward to the bar I worked at. There was a frat party happening, but my boss was a cool guy and let them sit with us at the bar. I poured my parents a drink for the first time that night. They had never drank in front of me until I was 20 years old, and even then they did it at their own hand and sparsely. 

We laughed together. All of us for a few hours. It was beautiful.

I swung through Tennessee and then I was off to California. I was going to be somebody. That was the first time I came out here. It took a whole other list of decisions to get me to where I am now. Two years later and I'm on my second California “wave”. 

What I've realized is that I am somebody. I’m Tennessee, Tenn, Tenny, Casey, Cassandra, Hollywood, and “Hey You, PA.” I’m a 24 year-old graduate of Stephens College. I’m the daughter of a farmer and nurse, and sibling to 9 kids with various histories, backgrounds, and families. I am a girlfriend, and friend, and worker. I am me. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Finding Myself

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “I need to find myself.” I’m guilty, as I’ve said it before too. This morning however, I have wondered… does this phrase mean what we all think it does?

I believe it to be overused. The truth is, that nine times out of ten… People are saying it to describe the feeling of unfamiliarity inside themselves. My theory is that you’re not lost… Simply growing. Not all growth is necessarily good for our health or well being. In that instance, I would call it more of a change. I think that in that scenario, what people are looking for is that part of themselves that they enjoyed prior to that change.

Still, it isn’t lost. You didn’t drop it anywhere. It didn’t fall out of your bag. You never misplaced it. No, this change came gradually and you let it take place. With that being said, there is no need to search for it. It hasn’t gone anywhere.

This trait is still a part of you. It’s just waiting for you to tap into it. Maybe you’re angry all the time, and you want to be happy again. You used to be an incredibly happy person. You didn’t lose that happiness. You don’t need to find it. You simply need to BE happy.

A friend of mine complained to me that she felt like she used to be more fun. She was more social in the past and hadn’t gone out with her friends in ages. Now I knew her during her “more fun years” and she thought that being around each other would bring the fun out of her again. I pride myself on being a pretty “fun” person, but the truth is she doesn’t need me to “find” her fun side. She just needs to DO more fun things.

The problem with “searching” for yourself is that if that is the only action you are taking, you’re wasting your time. Where exactly does one go about finding themselves? Is there a governmental facility similar to the post office or the DMV where you can check your box to see if you have arrived? Maybe you go there to order that lost trait, and within 7-10 business days there you are… A brand new you.

However, I doubt that is the case. My suggestion would be to change your plan of action. Instead of mourning the loss of something you didn’t lose, and wondering whether or not it will ever be found, recreate it. It’s still tangible. It’s still accessible. The great thing about our personality is that it’s ours and we can do with it as we please. It’s up to you not to destroy it.

Now if the part of you that you’ve been searching for is the more creative side. Maybe you’re a painter and have lost the stroke of genius your brush contained once before… think about why things might have changed. If you used to spend two hours a day in class with a paintbrush in your hand, and now you just walk sulkingly by a canvas wondering why you can’t create anymore… then there is your problem. Be proactive! Practice. Force the results that you want until you no longer have to in order to get them.

Think back to high school or college. You never aced a test you didn’t prepare for (unless you’re some incredible genius who frankly doesn’t even need to read this blog) so why wouldn’t you prepare for life?
I’m the go to girl out of my friends. If anyone needs advice, then they “come to pick my brain”. I used to charge a six-pack, or bottle of bourbon, but as I’ve gotten older (and my liver weaker) I now request that we sit down face to face. I enjoy these people… my friends. I like helping them.

The conversations range over everything from dating and work advice, to sex tips and baby problems. (I’m less of a pro at the whole baby thing, FYI.) I enjoy thinking about problems strategically. I like figuring out if there is a solution. Half the battle is realizing when there isn’t. Of course it is a last resort, but even for me that is a struggle.

I’m interested to know what you’re going throughIf you just want to run it by someone, my email is I would be happy to hear from you. 

Remember me,