Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Oh, change.

It's been quite awhile since I wrote something here...I know this, because my mother said something to me and I jokingly mentioned it to a friend who agreed. I can't put my finger quite on why I stopped writing. I don't know if it's because I didn't think it was pertinent anymore or if was just that writing changed for me,  it didn't necessarily stop being important it just...turned into more of a chore, less of a pleasure and frankly, I had way too much going on.

So, a quick catch up? Over the course of the past 9 months, things have grown in me, been birthed from me -- not literally, still no babies here but go with me on this. I left the sunny, sandy, white beaches of Panama City Beach to take on a new beast, Wichita, Kansas, had an uneventful breakup, an unfortunate situation, and a world of change. I've grown in ways that I never thought could happen so fast, my heart has changed, my priorities are the same but now they follow a different direction and suddenly the things that I wanted have started to become molded into something totally new. I know I'm speaking in general terms, but it's hard to say in specifics just what changed.

Over the course of one long drive spread out over two days, with an almost ticket for going 3 over the speed limit, a nice stay in Memphis, and a quick discovery of a new home, I found myself in a new place crying (like I always do) and praying for things to get back to normal.

Now, here I am...6 months at my new job.

Crazy how life comes at you like this, take all your expectations and twists them around. Plants you in a new place, fertile soil, and you realize you've never truly tasted life before. It's invigorating to put it simply.

I've had the pleasure of interviewing state officials, covering the NCAA tournament, preparing to travel all over the country and even out of the country, and somewhere in the process met someone that I unabashedly, unapologetically, and quite unexpectedly love.

Basically...things have changed...and that's exciting. So here's to 6 months at a job I love and more words to come.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bonnaroo Take 2

So, as I detailed a bit yesterday tomorrow is my second go round at the big farm in Manchester, TN for say I'm excited is an understatement, but there's even more reasons for happiness this year than I had last year.

Last year's festivities included me going by myself, sleeping in my car, missing the first day, and a whole host of other things that weren't necessarily ideal - despite those things, I still had an AMAZING time, got to meet some awesome artists and some even more fantastic people.

This year is going to be even better.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Get Lucky

This past week has been a blur of good decision making fun times with friends and tons - I mean tons - of good deals for me. I don't know how I've managed to have such good fortune as of late, but considering how different things were just over a week ago, I'm extra grateful and completely aware of how fast things can change in a small amount of time.

For example, on June 1st, I was pretty sure my life couldn't get much worse. I thought my story for my job had fallen through, had no idea where to go, then I found out that my apartment complex double charged me rent on top of other financial things that I had coming up and I wasn't getting paid until the coming Friday. In hindsight, which is always 20/20, I realize that while my anger/confusion was completely justified, it certainly wasn't the complete end of the world.

Then after making some very rational choices and finally calling for help (something I've always struggled with) things got better and then things got to be the best they could be with the entire situation being resolved without my bank account being cleared out.


So, what else has been up? Well, Wednesday comes my oh-so-looking-forward-to-this-trip drive to Manchester, TN for my second go round at Bonnaroo, but because I'm on this whole let's be a grown up thing, I decided it was a good idea to get my car checked out.

Oh hey new expenses, what up?

It's almost time for an oil change, my air filter is considerably darker than it should be (and that's putting it lightly) and lo and behold, 3 of my tires are from 2008 - read as: you need to buy new tires because these ones probably won't be able to make the trip.

So now what? Well, since bargain hunting has turned into a thing for me, I went to work - and boy, oh boy, I got lucky. Long story short, I saved a bundle. Like...hundreds...saved...oh, glory. GLOR-RAY.

Anyway, this is a good news report for me and a reminder that so much can change in a short period of time. So often we get caught up in the right here, right now, we tend to never think about whether or not this thing no matter how big or small will matter in a month.

That being said, happy Monday - I'm saving money and I have a short work week! I'll try to post pictures from Bonnaroo throughout the week, but if I can't be sure to check out my Instagram for shots throughout the festival!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Preventative action.

I've never been especially proactive about going to the doctor, I'm one of those people who waits until a problem presents itself before I step foot into any office, for one, I don't have the money to do it and I don't have the time in my schedule.

I've had an issue with one of my teeth for longer than I'd like to admit - no pain, just a filling that came out. For months I used some mush that you can buy at CVS to "fix" the problem but after doing that a couple times, I just left it alone. It's never been a noticeable problem, more like a nuisance that I just became accustomed to; for example it became common practice to rinse my mouth after each and every meal to make sure no food was stuck in the gaping hole in the back my mouth. No one ever noticed because, I never really complained about it.

As I read that, it hits me that I use that same method for almost everything in my life. When I have a problem that's starting to stir me up, I tend to wait it out, to just push it to the back of my mind, put some temporary blockade up in an attempt to fix it.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The familiarity of sound

With summer starting to poke it's head through my curtains, I've gotten into the habit of leaving my windows open and blinds slightly cracked to catch the breeze - one of the many advantages of living so close to the beach, for all my complaints about how this area may never be a home to me, it certainly is a nice place for temporary dwelling when conditions are ideal - which is generally at least 7 months out of the year when the heat is just right and the humidity isn't out of control.

For the past few days, I've become accustomed to the sound of the fountain outside my apartment shutting off abruptly around 11 pm and then cranking on every morning at 7 am. It's a sound I never really noticed before, something that I honestly took for granted the last few months that was a big positive point when I first moved in, rather than having other apartments or woods to look at, I had the fountain, I had the sound of water to wake up to and then if I wasn't content with the sound, I only had a 15 minute walk to get to the beach.

I never realized how much sounds matter to me until I really began to concentrate on waiting for that 7 am waterfall to begin to flow, my indicator that it was truly time for me to get my day started if I hadn't already. Before, when I lived with my grandparents, I would laze about upstairs until I heard my grandmother making her breakfast: tea in the morning, with toast, and two hard boiled eggs.

It was like clockwork.

I knew that once I made my way down the stairs, I could expect to see her at the table in the kitchen, fully dressed for her day, newspaper laid flat where she would be working out the crossword puzzle and occasionally stealing glances out the window she faced while she sipped her morning brew.

Familiar like the sound of the garage door opening at our old home in North Carolina. Knowing that I could almost count down the seconds it would take for my mother or father to open the door and turn off the alarm.

It's little things, that move us forward like clockwork. It's the sound of my grandfather bellowing out through the house What up spook to my mother or to me, it's my mom jokingly telling my dad You're not the boss of me, you can't tell me what to do, with a scowl on her face before laughing.

It's hearing my own laugh and realizing just how much I sound like my own mother that went from being something scary to something comforting...the knowledge that even when we're far apart, that I can always have that as a reminder of where I came from.

It's the little things, the rhythm I've created at work when putting my stories to tape, the way that someone says something the same way every time, the staccato form our weekend weatherman says the news starts right now, while the evening weatherman almost sings it to's sounds that we just learn.

I remember sitting up at night at my great grandmother's house in Philly and listening to the sounds of the street. Cars speeding, ambulances, firetrucks, police cars, all these sounds turning into a lullaby of sorts in the summer.

I remember the song my grandfather and I call ours...and listening to it almost always makes me cry because it reminds me just how close he and I are.

While there are plenty sounds that I love, a fresh rain storm, kids playing outside laughing, mothers cooing their children into submission, there's nothing that comforts more than the sounds that I know definitively; the things that never change that have become engraved in my being as a small nook to escape into when the world is so loud and I need some peace.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In recognition of the woman I'll never be.

A friend of mine recently went through a rebranding of sorts in all that she does. While the new her and the old her are similar in a lot of ways, especially her open and honest writing style, there are some things that have changed. I can look at her and see how this new focus has caused her to grow and develop, the changes have been incredibly positive in her life and it all started by being willing to distance herself from her comfort zone and taking a chance on being the full authentic her.

Needless to say, the people I truly consider my friends are some of the most inspiring people you would ever have the pleasure to meet - and obviously, they inspire and challenge me.

I've spent the past at least 4 of the past 6 years attempting to be something that I'm not - and frankly, I'm tired.

It wasn't until I cried for the second time this week in a conversation with a woman who is becoming less of an acquaintance and more of a friend, that I came to realize that sometimes to make things work out, to make things ideal, you have to compromise who you are - and for years I had tried.

I had tried in college to be the girl that hung out with all the cool kids, went out to the clubs, and was crazy. I indulged in my excess, it worked for a year until it backfired and in response I shut out everybody.

Or at least I tried.

Later, I would try to put on the face of the reformed. No drinking, no hanging out, being so cautious with my words, so protected with my thoughts, trying in vain to be someone else, someone I knew and admired and thought of as better than me.

I've only had 2 years where I truly felt like I was being true to myself and those were the years that I filled my life with poetry, music, writing, and what felt like sisterhood to the girls that lived on my floor at school. It was camaraderie, it was honesty, it was great.

I wonder if being an adult is just a series of compromises that we make to feel better about where we are in life. Do we change our personalities to make others more comfortable? And if so, how much do we change? Coming from a culture of being upfront and blunt about my feelings and being transported to a place where everything is fine and dandy and all about appearances is stifling, but today and for the rest of my life, I'm putting the mask down.

The things that make me who I am aren't bad, they're different. I'm a woman who loves to read and loves to talk, I'm loud and a bit impetuous. I sing, I dance, I scream, you can always tell when I come to work because my music is loud enough you can hear it before you can see my car, I eat all the time, and I love it. I love the little pieces that make up the bigger picture of who I am.

The hardest thing about trying to be something that you aren't isn't whether or not you succeed with deceiving the people around you, that's actually the easiest part, but the hardest part is understanding at your center that you haven't been authentic to yourself, that you're not free, that you've offered up only an empty shell of a person to those that you claim to be close to.

There's nothing wrong with being the person you are.

I guess after being around my friends that have seen me at my highs and lows, I'm realizing that being authentic is something that has to be valued. I know that not everyone deserves to see me in my full, and I also know that not everyone can handle me in my full, but those that can and do have always been the best. Tuesday I got a text from my friend that brightened my entire day:

I love you always. You're a bright light in my life. You're always welcome.

It was a short message with the most meaningful words that I could possibly receive. You're always welcome. Despite my crazy spells, my loud nature, my random decisions, and my general muchness, I was always welcome, and I know it wasn't just something she was saying for the hell of it. It was real.

I guess it was that message and several others that helped me to come to terms that I need to stop being a people-pleaser, I need to stop trying to make everyone a friend and realize that not everyone is meant to be a friend, that it's okay to not be liked, even without reason, and that the people who are worth my time, will be clear as day. Not everyone will accept me as I am, and while it may be a little late in the game to be willing to acknowledge this fact, I prefer getting it now versus never getting it at all.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Homeward bound

I don't think I've had a more genuine cry as I did on Sunday at 12:39 pm.

Every now and then, you have a moment that touches you to your core, that really stirs your heart and makes you think and Sunday at 12:39 pm, I had mine.

The Arnold family in all their glory before
I started a mini sob fest on the train.
This weekend I went to see my parents at their new home in Virginia, while there I saw one of my four sisters, grandparents on all sides, my aunts and cousins, and a handful of friends - and to say that I felt at home and in the right place would be a gross understatement. I was the happiest that I'd been over those 3 days than I had been in a long time. It wasn't a fleeting happiness either, it was a wake up in the morning and look forward to my day type of happiness that hasn't been present in my life so strongly for about a year.

I traveled, via car and two trains, from Panama City Beach to Manassas, VA, for about a full day and half both ways and it wasn't until my second trip, the one back to Florida that it hit me just how much I didn't want to come back to Florida.

There's something to be said about spending 6 years away from all your close family. It's one thing if you dislike your family or if you don't trust your family, but it's never been that way for me. My family has always been a rock for me, a part of my core. When I went away to college, I was fine, I could see them over the summer or over the winter break and they didn't seem so far away, but by the end of my freshman year, I was ready to drop out of UF, transfer to a new school, and leave the state behind. I don't know if I was desperate to get out of where I was or if I just needed a change, or if I thought running away was the answer. I've only been in one other situation in my life where I've truly wanted to leave somewhere and never come back, and that was when I maybe 10.

There's a small part of me that wishes that I had transferred out...but I know that the bargain that I made with myself and with God about my decision to stay had amazing results, and the people that became my second family, my children, my residents, became the things that kept me going...because I didn't want them to hate their new home as much as I did in that first year.

It wasn't until I was on a train watching my mom search for my face and having her stop - still unable to see me - and have her still be looking me dead in the eye that it hit me what I've missed so much.

The people I've met here have been some of the sweetest, most caring individuals you could ever find. They've let me into their homes, cooked for me, helped me when I was down and out with literally nothing but a deflated air mattress and a laptop...but for all their efforts to be there for me, they don't know me. No matter how much I may open up, they still won't completely understand who I am, where I came from, or what I'm really like - simply because they haven't seen me - and I miss that.

I miss intimacy - not a closeness to a person, but the lack of fear that when I'm exposed that I will still be loved and cared for, that I won't be looked at in shame or anger. It's a feeling I got when I started dancing with my family and caught my cousin taking blackmail worthy video, it's the feeling I got while sitting and drinking with a close friend that I hadn't seen in years, it's the feeling I got when sharing secrets about fears and being a grownup with my's the exposure that I've tried to develop with people here that I simply don't seem to have the ability to facilitate.

I don't know if the reason I cried when I left Manassas was because I missed being near my family, I'm sure that it was a piece of bigger puzzle, but I think what I really missed was the comfort of being home despite being in an area I'd never been before. I missed being raw, honest, open and not being scared that I would turn people off to me - because these people have seen me at my worst and they didn't run away then.

I've come to accept that the phrase home is where the heart is isn't as much about love, but about feeling the freedom of intimacy and closeness, the ability to be open and honest with no fear of rejection. It's not something that can be grown just anywhere - it's in special friendships, special relationships that we turn from two people into a true love bond, and I hope that one day, whether I'm close to family or not, that I'm able to call someplace my home.
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