Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sucker Punched

I was eighteen the first time that I was sucker punched by life. It was the summer before I left for college, and I had moved out on my own. My stepbrother owned a small house near a graveyard a few miles from my parents, so I moved in the remainder of things that I owned, and tucked all of my new dorm items into a corner… waiting for the moment that life would be better. The moment I could escape it all.

My stepbrother rarely came home. Instead, he slept sitting upright in a recliner at my parent’s house. He never did like to be alone. Myself on the other hand, it’s all I ever wanted.

I had only a few weeks before I packed everything into my Xterra and drove off into the show-me state sunset. That’s why I answered the night that my ex-girlfriend called. It was the first time we had spoken in a year.

Her father found out that we were dating when we were sixteen years old. He threatened to kill me, and called my parents house at six am cursing me to hell. Finally, my mother placed a restraining order against him, but I never got over her. Eventually, trying to sneak around to see each other and speak to each other became too difficult. She fell in love with a mutual friend, and I was no longer a part of the equation.

She wanted to see me. I wanted to see her. So I called my best friend to come over and be my cover up for the evening. We would put my friends car in the front, hide my ex’s car in the back, and the three of us would hang out and catch up over all the things that two years found itself filled with. The evening started off simply enough, but then the bottle of Bacardi Zombie came out. Two eighteen year olds and a seventeen year old passed around the gallon of liquor and before we knew it, we were all lit.

The two of them had always had chemistry. Years prior, my “too adult” sixteen year old self thought that it would be fun for the three of us to make out together. What it really created was an immeasurable amount of jealousy on my part. That’s actually how her father found out to begin with. We were all sitting in the jacuzzi when he turned the corner to find the two of them making out as I watched with discomfort. Combine that history with an unhealthy amount of alcohol, and we were reliving my worst nightmare.

My ex insisted on sleeping in the middle. Next thing I knew they were cuddling. I stood up angrily, slurring something about how things never changed and went to the other room to be by myself. What I didn’t realize was that in just a few hours everything would change.

Sometime through the middle of the night I made my way back to the bed. I had work at seven am, and still needed to get some decent sleep. Around five-thirty my best friends phone rang. It was her father. He wanted to speak to me.

My stomach sank. Did he know that we drank the night before? Why did he want to speak to me?

When I got on the phone his voice was shaking. “I need you to bring her home. Now. We will get her truck later.”

“Ok. Everything alright?” I already knew the answer was no.

“It’s her mom. She shot herself last night. Don’t tell her anything yet, just get here.”

The sucker punch of life. How does an eighteen year old take on that much responsibility?

“We have to go.” I told her. “Your dad said leave your car. He will get it later.”

“What’s wrong?” She could read it on my face. “Fucking tell me.”

“I’m sorry. Your dad will talk to you when you get home.” My ex looked at me with concern, but subtle understanding.

“Just go home, and he will explain it all.” She tried to encourage, despite the fact she was still slurring her words.

I managed to get her in the car through her tears. The next ten minutes were the slowest of my life. With each turn down that long dark gravel road, I felt like I was approaching the end of whatever life I had known.

When we arrived, her father was scrubbing blood and meat off of the wall. Her mother had turned a shotgun around on herself, and blew a hole through her stomach. She wasn’t happy with her life, or her marriage. She couldn’t find any other way to deal with it.

I watched my best friend hit her knees as her father told her what had happened. My mind went into auto-pilot. Her father asked me to leave so they could get to the hospital. I got into my car and began driving to work.

Life doesn’t stop just because you want it to. It doesn’t get easier just because things have been tough. When I thought that things couldn’t get any worse, my phone rang. It was my ex. She was still drunk when she left my house, and in light of the morning’s turmoil she wasn’t paying attention to the road. She drove her car up an embankment and into my grandparents pig-pen.

She was ok, but my grandparents came off the hill to check on whoever had wrecked beside their house. My grandmother recognized her, but my ex lied about her name. My grandfather could smell the alcohol on her breath, and saw the remaining Zombie in the back seat. For whatever reason, when her friend showed up he allowed him to take the alcohol out of the car in case the police arrived.

When they were certain that she was alright, my grandparents let her call a tow truck to carry her car to the county line. She would then call another truck to take it home, terrified of what her father would say if he found out where she had been.

He never found out. She and I spoke a few more times over the years, but for the most part we were done. My friends mother survived. She even remarried later on. Our friendship dwindled after that. I went off to college, and my friend joined the military. She met a wonderful young woman who I am convinced she will marry. Seven years later, and I still think back to that morning. It still makes my heart sink, and turns my stomach.

I am still terrified of what life is capable of… Because when you’re not looking – and not careful – life can throw punches whose blow you may or may not be able to withstand. Fortunately, the outcome was better than worse. I feel stronger because of what I have endured, but I still question if I could ever endure anything similar again.

You face what you have to when it comes. It will be hard as hell. Life isn’t always easy, but we will always survive. We have no other choice. Don’t take this life for granted. It is far too important to waste on stupid fights, drunken nights, and reckless mistakes. Pray for the best, but stay prepared for anything. You never know what right hook is waiting for you. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Life Embraced

Recently, I have come across a number of young women seeking life advice. These women are from various cities across the world. Most of them range between 21 and 30. Ironically, most of their questions are very similar, if not exactly the same. I believe that it’s because despite who you are or where you’re from, everyone goes through the same struggles around the same time. It’s the moment in life when you finally face adulthood. I like to call it “Life Embraced.”

I’m a dream chaser - My mother claims that I was born underneath a wandering star. I grew up in one of the smallest towns in the south you could possibly ever imagine. I was thirteen before I ever spent a week away from my mother, and even then I only went to stay with my grandparents forty-five minutes away. I thought that my mother was going to lose her mind. We have always been incredibly close, so it was difficult for her to let me spread my wings.

Still, she has always been incredibly supportive. She began stressing very early on that I was required to go to college. It wasn’t optional. I could choose where I went. I could choose what I wanted to do, but I had to go. My mother never pushed her opinions on me. When a lot of parents said things like “I’ll only pay for this if… (Insert ridiculous restriction here)” my mother said “Find something that makes you happy. And work your ass off. You’re going to college to learn, not to party. But partying will be a fun perk.”

My stepfather on the other hand, was the one who wanted to apply restrictions. He wanted me to stay in Tennessee and start out at the local junior college, then maybe go to a University an hour or two away. He expected me to study nursing like my mother had. When I chose a fancy-schmancy liberal arts college and chose Film as my major, he tried to convince my mother to force me to stay home. She wouldn’t. Near or far, my mother would always be my biggest fan. Support was built in to my childhood.

When I began applying to Universities, I refused to apply within state. Financially it was going to be much more difficult for me to afford, but I knew I didn’t want to stay in Tennessee. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to stay in the south. I applied to over fifty colleges. Most were four or more hours away. I had narrowed it down to Harding University in Arkansas (a religious affiliated school) and Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri (the second oldest women’s college in the nation.) I chose Stephens. What I didn’t realize was that decision was going to shape the rest of my life. A women’s college education is very liberal. It comes with very few restrictions, and has it’s own built in support group made up of other like minded women that become something similar to a make-shift family.

The point is, even if I didn’t know it at the time –I was setting myself up for success. I picked a great school with unlimited opportunity. The other women I met while in college motivated and inspired me to reach higher, and do more. Maybe you’re already in school somewhere. Maybe you’ve graduated already, but you still have to set yourself up to succeed. Make a plan. Plans for me are like goals, only if I redirect my efforts and change my plans, it doesn’t feel like a failure. Goals/plans change over time. We grow. We change as people. Obviously what we want to accomplish will change as well. 
            You just need to start with a plan, and continue to push to achieve whatever that plan is. And surround yourself by people who are trying to do the same thing. Those are the people you will climb up your ladder with you. They will encourage you. You will feed off of their motivation. Find a place to be the best version of yourself and stop at nothing.

Cut out the bullshit – Before I went away to college, people from High School had very low expectations for me. When everyone else’s scholarships were announced at graduation, they skipped over mine. I was the lesbian. The hillbilly. None of my siblings went to college before me, so I would likely follow suit? Right? NO. There will always be haters. There will always be someone telling you that you can’t do something. Do it anyway. And when you’re done, don’t look back. Life is too short for “I told you so’s.” You’re not doing what you’re doing to prove others wrong. You’re doing it to prove yourself right. So love yourself enough to succeed.

Love hurts – You’re going to fall in love. You’re going to have your heart broken. You’re probably going to break the hearts of others. You will have moments where you feel like your entire world is falling apart, and you will have moments when you think that you will never love again. That isn’t true. Not every person you fall in love with is the one that you’re meant to be with forever. Some things in life are meant to be temporary.

Sometimes we are supposed to love for a moment, whether we are learning a lesson from that person, helping them along with something they’re going through, or figuring out what it is that we don’t want and can’t deal with. Heartbreaks suck. It can make you feel like you’re worthless, and make you believe that you are flawed. This is not the case. You are perfect just the way you are, but there’s a chance the two of you weren’t perfect together and that’s why it didn’t work out.

It’s ok to let go. It’s ok to move on. And it is okay to try again with someone else. And in the instance that you are the one who has been broken up with and you are struggling to get over it, keep in mind that everything is temporary. There is a reason it didn’t work out – whether it be the wrong person, poor timing, or maybe even because there’s someone else out there who is a better fit for both of you.

Embrace life… Let it happen. Love yourself enough to make this life the best you could ever have. Settle for nothing less than everything life has to offer…

All questions can be directed to

Remember me, I’m Tennessee. 

Monday, November 17, 2014


She said to me,  “I love you, don’t you see? My mind floats back to you, but you’ll never be the dream I see myself dreaming.”
            So I lay there on the living room floor, pouring glasses of Merlot.
Dreaming of a time when I’d be dreamt of too.

I’m the safe bet. The gentle heart. The old soul.
I’m the best friend, the confidante.
            I’m the girl who everyone thinks will always be around.

From afar, they admire me.
Read my works of art entirely, and perceive me to be the person that they imagine upon that page.

            But I am more than they can handle.

I fall apart when she tells me she still loves me.
Even when she says it with her lips.

I wake up in the morning shuffling foot in front of boundaries.
Trying not to trip over her heart on my way out the door.
Because it’s complicated.
            And I never was good at determining between fact and fiction.
Or the morning after.

I steady my hand as it dials another number.
Another day, another dollar.
Pushing - my way - to the top.

But by nightfall, I find myself back on this couch trying to undo you.

You always made it easy to write about heartbreak.
I hope that doesn’t “annoy you.”

Good luck on your first date.
            It should be interesting.

She will never take your breath the way I did.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

We All Go Through It

“You never know what you have until it’s gone.” The phrase is tossed around, but often we don’t divulge what context in which it is being used.

I’ve been single now for how many days? Oh… it’s turned into weeks? We’re approaching months? There are days I wake up thinking that she’s still beside me. I can feel her breath on my neck. Her hand twisted slightly beneath my t-shirt.

No one on earth can tell you that moments like that don’t feel amazing. They do. Every single moment takes you over and breaks you down. That’s why my closest friend from college is three years deep into an abusive relationship. Because “sometimes” it makes sense. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt. Sometimes they love each other… really.

My girlfriend never hit me. Not even close. In fact she went out of her way to love me. But I’ve always felt like you should never have to go out of your way. Love should just exist.

I was “too gay,” she wasn’t out to her family. I consider myself a political activist, she thought Joe Biden was a football coach. I spent everyday scraping change so I could chase a dream that I’ve fought for since I was 14… She took everything one step at a time. Goals came to her one by one, as she achieved them.

We’re two different people. The very core of our foundation reflects two very different halves, and as much as I wanted it to work…. It just didn’t. Looking back, I don’t regret a single moment. I love her. There are so many things about her that I love.

I loved the way that she loved me. Because she did. To her, I hung the moon. She told me everyday that I was perfect, and I can’t remember a single time I asked her to hold me – that she didn’t with open arms.

And the sex was really amazing. Like, “If I was home alone tomorrow and she showed up, I probably wouldn’t turn her down” amazing.

But sometimes it’s not about the sex.

Sometimes it’s about the conversation. Sometimes it’s about lying in bed at 2 a.m. and uncovering parts of each other’s souls that no one else has ever seen. Sometimes it’s about caressing her confidence. Telling her over and over again how beautiful she is, and how much you enjoy spending time around her.

Sometimes it’s about viewing your relationship like a piece of art and nothing less. Like something painstakingly beautiful that was dwelled upon for hours at a time until it was considered perfect, and even then you went back, caressing it with each tender change you endured.

Sometimes it’s about feeling the freest when you’re consumed. I always felt as if my relationships were a distraction. Yet I love being in them.

I want a career. One I can look back on in 40 years and be proud of. A career that one of my grandchildren can say they pursued because of me. I want to leave a legacy… the traditional way. Passed down generation to generation.

I would like a partner. One that shares the same progressive values, and unchallenged determination as myself. I believe that these things are important in a person. Especially when you’re dating someone like me. Because I am stubborn. Once I realize that something is wrong, I can never pretend again that it wasn’t. That’s one reason I can’t go home.

I want two children. This does not, however, depend on whether or not I have found the partner. I am willing and capable of doing this one solo. I might decide later that two is not enough… That is a very real #FirstWorldProblem you might face.

I want to leave an impression. And I hope – to God – that it is a good one.

Yet here I am on a Friday night, with her. 

 I feel her palms, pink and tender to the touch as they caress my cheek. She doesn’t know yet, what it feels like to be with a woman, and I doubt that she ever will. Because I am growing weary of their lonely games. The straight women who kiss you because they’re drunk, but tell your friends that you “forced yourself upon them.”

You can’t remember which part was forced…. When you attempted to kiss her and she pulled away, or the two nights prior when she kissed you and you let her.

Life, and love, and sex… you thought it would all get easier as time passed. A more false assumption was never assumed. Now you sit patiently, your eyes peeling back layers of social media, dating websites, and whatever lies in between. You aren’t shallow. You swipe right. To captivate you requires only a few small things.

You must be:
Someone with a good attitude.
Someone with ambition.
Someone with the desire to learn and to grow. Always. Even after college.
Someone who treats you well.
Someone who lets you be you, and enjoys the person you are.
And finally, someone who has great sex with you.

Yes. Sex is that important. Don't be dumb. 

Find what makes you happy. Find who makes you happy. Whatever it is, just enjoy yourself. Life is too fucking short to eat the Chinese buffet alone.

I don’t post as often as I used to. My obligations have tripled. My ability to go without sleep has all but disappeared, and the moments that I feel engaged are continuously decreasing. I can’t tell if it’s from overexposure, or lack of quality light? What makes you shine? (I have no idea what any of that means.)

Good night!