Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Just the wrong side of comfortable

Last night I had an adventure. Who has adventures on a Monday night you ask. Me, that's who. It was not the kind I prefer, like how an unplanned happy hour with friends after work rolls into VIP backstage passes at an exclusive concert that then ends in a sunrise breakfast at the singer's penthouse suite. This adventure was born of tragedy and familial duty.

My uncle is in a hospital with a tight, one handed grasp on life. He's very, very slowly recovering from a fire that about a week ago claimed all of his and his late mother's belongings. My mother, the ever faithful sister and daughter, drove to Little Rock to see about him, sign any papers that need signing, and just be there for her one and only brother. My dad rode with her to Little Rock at the end of last week. They rented a car to do this. That would prove problematic when my dad came home Sunday night on the Greyhound and the rental car needing to be back by Tuesday afternoon. And this is how my Monday evening became an adventurous one.

My mom called and asked me to pick up her prescriptions because my dad was going to meet her in Texarkana to trade cars. I told her I would pick them up. She then asked for some other things, clothes, facial cream, etc. I could tell she wasn't really paying attention, she kept repeating things and her voice sounded distant like she was trying to remember how to live everyday life. It made my heart sink and the anxiety I've been stuffing down since last week rise up and threaten to steal my voice. I knew I couldn't let it do that, for her sake. I knew if I lost it, she might too. I took a deep breath and reassured her I would get everything she needed.

Ninety minutes later, my dad and I, clothes and meds in tow, on an otherwise ordinary Monday night, headed out into the darkness to have an adventure. I drove first, as I was already awake but my day was wearing on me and I knew if I slept I wouldn't want to drive later. The drive there was pretty good. My mom's car is new, like less then six months new and fully loaded. As my dad slept, I let the 80s on 8 XM station take me to my childhood over and over again with songs I, surprisingly, remembered most of the words to. Sleep hit me pretty hard about thirty miles from State Line Ave, our exit that would take us to the agreed upon meeting place, and I started to dance to the music to stay awake. I also started to think about all of the road trips I'd taken over the years.

My dad started to wake and I remarked to him how it always seemed to be me and him in cars on trips. He drove me to my college orientation at Texas Tech way back when I was freshman in college. The two of us drove to Chicago to christen my brand new subcompact car when I was in film school. We talked about that car, the Silver Bullet, and how I put all but 300 of the 154,000 miles it lived to gain. We also talked about it's tragic death, by broken timing belt, and how if I'd gotten it changed at 150,000 miles like I was supposed to I would probably still be driving it. We talk about the road trip vacation we took to Virginia to visit my kamp friends, and the drive home from Cleveland one summer after a family reunion, and the many, many trips to my Grandmother's house my mom and I took the year before she passed away.  I thought a lot about the time we have spent in cars and on the road and how I never once regretted a single minute of it.

We did start a little late and had to stop for food so we were pressed for time but my mom's new car is a turbo, and I was driving so w e made to Texarkana with  minutes  to spare . My mom got lost getting to the redevue, which irritated my dad but I understood. I knew she was not thinking straight, she's a worrier, like her mother. We exchanged hugs and made sure all the stuff I'd brought was what she need. My cousin, my uncle's only daughter rode with my mom so she and I chatted about brothers and Georges in our family. My grandfather's name was George, my uncle's name is George, her brother's name is George, and my brother's name is George. They are all interesting characters and have done a thing or three that has made us frustrated with them. My parents chatted about work, medical bills, and wether or not to seek cautionary legal advice.

We said our reluctant goodbyes, got in each other's car and started back to our destinations. My mom and cousin immediately started to Little Rock. I curled up in the front seat and nodded off. My dad took fifteen minutes to figure out the car, what all the button did, how to work the radio, how to pair the phone to the car for hands free calls, and how to charge his phone before starting back home.

I spent the next three hours semi-conscience, Nancy Wilson, Whitney Houston, and Patti Labelle lulling me back  to sleep after each bump in the road nudged me far enough away from sleep for me to be aware that the car we rode in was just on the wrong side of comfortable. One bump woke me to a phone call my parents were having about my uncle and how because all his papers had been destroyed, it was hard to know who to call for what and what bills needed to be paid. Another jarring brought me to a parking lot and my dad hurriedly exiting the car, muttering something about a bathroom. I noticed the tightening and dull ache in my back and decided I would probably never buy this car given the choice.

Soon enough after an interesting stop to fill up on gas, in which my dad pressed all the buttons and pulled all the levers in the car to try to open the gas flap, I felt the familiar backing into our driveway that meant we had make it. Though it didn't end with an introduction to a celebrity I've been wanting to meet since childhood, our adventure ended without event. I crawled into bed hoping the next three hours would feel like eight.

There is a 5-hour energy staring me down on my desk, wondering why I have not taken it yet.

My brain is wondering why I didn't buy two when I had the chance.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I'm Mad As Hell but I think I'm going to have to take it

I've noticed my anger has returned recently. I used to be angry all the time when I was younger. It was my knee jerk reaction to everything. If I wasn't absolutely happy or excited, I was angry. I finally got tired of that  in my early twenty, of being emotionally spent by small things like traffic and poor customer service. I decided I wasn't going to be angry any more and I made a short art video about anger. My friends helped me make it and it was one of the pieces I left film school not feeling embarrassed about. For a long time I was not angry. Irritated, tired, sick, all things that can appear as anger but aren't. Until the end summer this year.

Now that I'm writing about it, I'm not entirely sure it really is anger I'm feeling. I think it's just deep disappointment and frustration. I will freely admit that I suppress my emotions. I do this because I'm an intense person and have no subtle reactions to, anything really. I am hyperbole. Everything is the best or the worst. I love it or I hate it. I am both willing to give my life for my family and want to kill them at the same time. I found that people don't handle my reactions well so I suppress them for the most part. When I am happy, I generally laugh too loud, when i am sad I find it hard to find the motivation to get out of bed. When I'm angry, truly angry I want to start a three week long riot, over throw the government and BURN SHIT TO THE GROUND! I have never had a mental scale as it were so all of these reactions seem perfectly normal to me. Other's expressions and fearful eyes would tell me other wise. I suppress my emotions because I want people to like me.

I also suppress but I think about everything too much, I analyze every word I said or didn't say from the dinner I had last night. I think if my motivation for wanting something or doing something are correct. I want to know if it's sadness I'm feeling or am I just tired and need more rest? It can be exhausting this process I have of second guessing everything out of my mouth. Usually when I'm talking, I don't have this dialogue. It's later at night when I am on the cusp of consciousnesses that I begin to critique whatever was said a hour ago.  I'm working on stopping this terrible habit cause it has the same affect on me as YouTube comments, they make me weep for humanity and burn with a passion of wiping us out for the greater good of the planet.

It occurred to me some moments ago that one of the reason why I feel angry was not only my odd level of working exhaustion but that I am dissatisfied with my life. I am not angry but disappointed that I didn't get what I wanted. Not that I get everything I want, in fact rarely do I get to feel real satisfaction about life. For example, I bought a car last year because I need a reliable one. The car I've wanted from the time I was a child was a 1987 Monte Carlo SS, black with chrome details. I knew this car would not only be out of my budget but hard to find and maintain so I didn't even search for it. I instead looked for a car that would last me at least ten years with regular maintenance and bought a honda accord. It's very nice and it gets me to work and I very much like it. But that little kid who wants the super sport still isn't satisfied.

After graduation this past May, I thought for sure my life would change. Not in that well scripted Hollywood fashion that Disney is always trying to sell but in the small steps way. that in a year I could look back and see how much change had taken place and that it's hard to believe I was ever in that place to begin with. I thought for sure that even if I didn't find a new job, I would have moved out and gotten my own place. Or had at least meet someone who would take me on regular dates if not had some sort of romantic relationship with. None of this has happen. My boss is still dismissive of my opinions, I still live in the same room i've been living in for decades, I hurt both my feet and haven't worked out in months, and thought I have meet some great people this year, people I adore and want to spend a lot of time with, none of them are available to be in a romantic relationship with me.

It's frustrating to feel like you are always treading water. And Facebook doesn't help by telling when every person I know is getting married or engaged or having a baby. I am happy for you friends and acquaintances, some of who I literally have not seen since high school, but please, stop telling me about how happy your life is. I know it's happy, okay?

Man, I sound like a winy, lonely baby. I should just except that this is my life and I am here for much, much longer than I expected. 

I wanted to love him

He wasn't much to look at. At least I told myself that the first time he walked away from me wearing that grin.  Just a brown skinned tallish man of almost forty who needed a haircut. He was too thin like he was used to not eating. Which wasn't true. I later found out he ate a great deal but never the kinds of foods I imagined an almost forty skinny man would eat.

His name is Charlies and the first time we met, he said I stole his heart. It was at a grocery store one late Thursday evening. I had gone to see a movie after work and then to drinks with some friends. The movie was forgettable, the drinks not so much. It was summer and every night during summer is a reason to sit on a random patio and chase a few beers with stories of 'that one time we' and 'remember when's. Our laughter spilled over the worn wooden boards of the patio and on to the street, passers by finding themselves smiling as they walked on. I would have stayed on that patio until the bar closed but I promised a friend I would make her cookies. I said good bye three times before I actually left, the joy of the evening evident in the smile that wouldn't leave my face.

Though I was sleepy, I wasn't in a hurry to find my bed so I drove to the all night market in the nice part of town and strolled down the isles. I thought of summer barbecues long past as I absently dropped items into my basket. I remembered wanting to make fried pickles and wandered to the isle which held the neatly stacked jars. It was in this isle that I first spotted him.

He was reading an ingredient label so intently he didn't notice I said excuse me. I wanted the customary few moments before again saying, this time with feeling, "Excuse me." He jumped a little and looked at me puzzled, like he'd forgotten where he was. I reached for a jar of pickles on the shelf in front of him and smiled slightly. He returned the smile and apologized for being in my way. I shook my head and said, " You have nothing to apologize for. That label must be very well written."

He laughed and said something about how it could use an editor. I smiled and turned to go. "Do you like that brand best?" I heard him call out. I turned and now he a jar in each hand, a look of sincerity on his face. His light blue button down shirt had wilted in the heat, the crispness of the starch gone. His pants were in better shape, still creased but out of place atop of rubber flip flops. He closed the small gap between us and as I spoke, I could smell leather and old spice.

"I like this brand just fine. It's perfectly average." A small grin grew on his face at my answer. He relaxed a little and I noticed that the frame around his green eyes were bent.

"I guess if you are buying pickles from this place, you can't expect more than average," his reply tinged with disappointment. He placed both the jars back on the shelf and turned back to me. "What are you going to make with those average pickles anyway?" I started to walk toward the front of the store and he followed.

"I'm going to make fried pickles. It's the best way to transform anything average into fantastic," I said noticing how comfortable I was talking to this stranger.

"You are a wise woman," he replied and I thanked him. We talked all the way to the cash register and after I checked out, he offered to walk me to my car. I told him I couldn't let him do that, I would make it too easy for this van of kidnappers to spot me. He laughed and said he only kidnaps people on weekends. Our conversation ebbed and flowed as walked to my car. I was vaguely aware of time passing but wasn't sure in which direction.

After minutes or hours or days of talking in the almost vacant parking lot, he asked if we could maybe talk again in a different setting, some place that had already prepared food. I replied I would enjoy talking in a quiet booth in a dimly lit restaurant where live jazz peppered the air. He asked if Jane Austin was a friend of mine, an old one I answered.

I give him my number and he left me with a happy smile and promises of frequent calls to reassure himself that I was not a figment of his imagination.

I wanted to love him.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

American Bible Challenge AKA, You Don't Know Jack About Jesus

So remember way back at the beginning of the summer when I want to that tryout for a new game show? Hosted by Jeff Foxworthly? About the bible? You can read about my adventure here.

 Anyway, so the show premiered, Yay!! It made it to the air, how wonderful is that? I watched the first episode and you know what? It was a good show. The first thing that struck me was how relatable the people were on the show. I felt like these people I could have easily met at a BBQ or church picnic or, if we are honest with each other, neighborhood bar.

The show consist of six, yes six, rounds. I felt this was a bit much but they do have an hour to fill. The first four rounds are there to prove who really knows their bible and who just memorized the answers to Trivial Pursuit. The fifth round is where the questions really get hard and eliminates the weakest team. The six round is a classic game of who can answer the most questions in one minute. The questions are all from one subject, this week Women of The Bible, and the teams are given about thirty minute to study and refresh.

I enjoyed watching the show and got a nice surprise that I could hang with the trivia until the last round. I'm glad it's a good quality game show and hope it becomes a regular occurrence.

 Here is a trailer for the show if you still haven't seen it:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Southwest Airlines, I accept your apology.

The view on my way back to Dallas.

So remember that post I wrote earlier this month about my experience flying into Chicago? If not, you can read that here. It's a detailed account of everything that went wrong and the letter I wrote to a SWA senior vice president about how disappointed I was with Southwest.

Thanks to a Facebook friend, who sent me a link to this blog: How to Complain To Airlines, I decided to act like the rational person I kept insisting I was and send a strongly worded email to the airline. The email I sent is based on the letter in my blog, the main difference being length, as the email form had a character limit, and an additional request to reimburse me the extra cost I incurred getting to my destination. 

So what happened you ask? A few days after I sent the email, I got a reply from Tenicia, who works at Southwest. I fully expected for her to apologize and tell me how sorry she was for my bad experience and then deny my request for reimbursement. And this of course happened. What happened next is what took me by surprise.

She told me she was going to refund the purchase of my plane ticket. Not give me a voucher toward my future purchase but actual refund my money. I was surprised by the offer but cause most airlines will do anything to not give you your money back and actually this is what I wanted, my money back. Of course I was skeptical as she said it would take one to two billing periods to process the refund. I thought for sure my request would get lost in piles of electric paperwork. So it was a pleasant surprise yesterday when I checked my credit card account and discovered Southwest had already processed the refund (It took about a week from the time the email was sent to the time I got the refund). I wanted to hug Southwest for being decent human beings.

I know what you're thinking, "You're content to just get a refund for a botch plane flight?! Why aren't you suing for partial ownership of the airline?" The answer is yes, a refund is good enough and here's why. The cost of the plane ticket was close enough to the extra cost I incurred that a refund was good enough to satisfy me. That and thought I was made to feel like I didn't matter, the fact that I got an actual person to send me an email and tell me, "I'm sorry. We totally dropped the ball on handling this well," made me feel like a person again.

Yeah, this unplanned diversion changed my vacation plans but nothing too terrible happen and it gave me a chance to have a bit of an adventure. On my impromptu road trip, I got to visit eight states and spent sometime driving through some beautiful parts of the good ole US of A. Was the drive from Nashville to St. Louis to Minneapolis tedious? Of course but I got to spend it with two of my favorite people and now we have a story to tell about the vacation that started with an unplanned road trip.

So Southwest Airlines, I accept your apology. You owned up to making a mistake and did what you could to make it somewhat right. Will my next plane trip be with you? Probably not but the one after that probably will be. Here's to having unplanned adventures and being a decent human being.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The true cost of Bags Flying Free

Every year for the Fourth of July, I go to Chicago to visit family. Also around this time is my cousin's neighborhood famous birthday party. Celebrated with ridiculous amounts of food, friends and fun this is an event I greatly anticipate attending. I mean who wouldn't like a party with tons of home cooked food and a corner fireworks show that could at many moment light someone on fire?

This year, the weekend prior to the Fourth was also my family's reunion in Minneapolis. This was the first time in decades I had been to this family's (my father's mother's side of the family) reunion and my first trip to Minnesota. I'd planned to fly into Chicago the day before the reunion and drive to Minneapolis for the weekend. This solved the problems of a) having a car, as we would rent it in Chicago and have it for the length of our trip and b) being able to afford to fly to Minneapolis (as the air fare was twice the cost of flying into Chicago).  But everyone knows about best laid plans – rarely do they usually don't go according to, well, plan.

The night I left Dallas, June 29th, there was a freak thunderstorm in Chicago and it knocked out the power at both airports, Midway and O'Hare. My plane was diverted to quite possibly the worse airport it could have been diverted to, Nashville, TN. What's wrong with Nashville, you ask? It's an airport in a small market. All the flights out of the city were already sold out before I was stranded there. So me and 300 other people were trying to get to Chicago on eight flights already sold out.

Remember my great plan to drive to Minneapolis from Chicago? Now, not happening. I'm not used to being stuck anywhere without a backup plan, blame girl scouts or too many crime shows but being prepared is important to me. This was the first time is years I had a problem I didn't have a solution to. I felt helpless and forgotten and the airline I was flying, Southwest, did little to help me feel otherwise. Here's the letter I composed to sent to their Customer Service department. I tried to find an email address associated with an actual human being who would read it in a timely matter and respond but apparently company email addresses are a trade secret at Southwest Airlines.

So here, for the internet to read, is my letter of disappointment. I won't say I'll never fly Southwest again but I can tell you my bags flying "free" will no longer be a reason I go to them first.

Dear Teresa Laraba, SVP of Customer Service, 
As the Senior Vice President of customer service and a person who is very proud to work for a company known the world over for its customer service, I would like to inform you of the trip I took Thursday June 29th.
I left Dallas at 8:30 pm on my way to Chicago, IL. I am sure you are aware of the Wright Amendment preventing Southwest from flying directly out of Love Field into Chicago's Midway airport. This meant my plane into Chicago had to come from Houston's Hobby airport. My flight left Houston around 10pm and once it was in the air, a severe thunderstorm in Downtown Chicago causes Midway (and O'Hare) airports to shutdown. This caused all incoming flights to this airport to be diverted. The flight I was on was diverted to Nashville, TN. Before the plane was unloaded, we were told that all the flights for the next day were already sold out and that the line we needed to stand in to talk to a Southwest representative  already had 300 people in it.

After waiting in this line for two hours, I was told by the gate agent the only way I could fly out of the airport was to fly standby and I was not guaranteed a seat on a flight to Chicago until Saturday evening. I was also told I could not stay in the terminal over night as the airport was closing. I asked where I was supposed to go for the night, and the gate agent shrugged her shoulders. By this time it was 3:30 in the morning. I was tired, as I had worked all day, and extremely frustrated to be in a city where I knew no one, had no way of leaving and was apparently going to be until Saturday night.

Because I had no place to sleep that night, I stayed up and waited in the ticket counter line so I could speak to someone as soon as the counter opened. I should mentions one of the reasons I chose to fly instead of drive from Dallas to Chicago was because of time. I needed to be in Chicago before 8:00 am Friday, June 30th but had to be at work on Thursday, June 29th. If my schedule was not time sensitive, I would have driven to my destination. Now, because my flight had been diverted, do to an event no one could have prevented or predicted, I missed my deadline. 
When the counter opened at 4:30am I spoke with an associate and asked her if she could put me on standby to any flight going to Minneapolis, MN. She refused to do this, and told me Southwest is only contractually obligated to get me to Chicago. I told her I needed to be in Chicago June 30th by 8:00am and since that was an impossibility because of the storm, now what I needed was to be in Minneapolis as soon as possible. She told me the reason I missed my window was not the fault of Southwest and that Southwest only had to get me to Chicago, the earliest time available was a 9:55pm flight Friday, June 30th, evening and there was a possibility that I might get a seat on that flight.  
I told the associate I was aware of the fact that no one asked for the storm nor was I blaming or trying to hold Southwest at fault for this event but want I needed as a customer was to be in Minneapolis, not Chicago, tonight. She told me I didn't understand, that Southwest wasn't responsible for getting me to anyplace but Chicago. I asked her if she would please speak to a manager about this issue as I was told something different by the gate agent the evening before. She did ask her manager and once again told me I didn't understand, that Southwest was only obligated to get me to Chicago. 
This was when I walked away from the ticket counter as the associate didn't seem to understand my needs as a customer. It was 5:00am Friday morning at the time and I had been up for twenty four hours, I had been stranded in an airport that I was incapable of leaving for probably two days, I was offered no hotel or rest area to stay in until I could arrange for alternative travel and most disappointingly, my problem was not seen as important enough for someone to help me find another solution to my problem. Thought the storm inconvenienced a large number of people, all I wanted was some service and to know I mattered as a customer. This Is not how I felt at any point in time that I was stranded at the Nashville airport.

In order to get to my destination, I had to find alternative means (renting a car and driving) which caused me to incur an additional cost of $202. This made me rethink my decision to fly with Southwest knowing that if I had taken American Airlines, Delta, or United, not only would I have had been put in a hotel over night, I would have had a seat on another plane, what another airline if necessary, the next day. I am also aware that this type of customer service would have given to me at no additional cost.

After the poor handling of this situation, I can not say that Southwest will be an airline I do business with for quite sometime. You have lost my trust as a company that can fulfill its promises on service agreements. I know this was an event no one expected but the handling of this situation was extremely disappointing and frankly not worth the $60 in additional baggage fees I "saved" by flying SW.

Sorely disappointed,

Sydnie Montgomery

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dreaming A little Dream

*Sorry I didn't edit it before. I was in a rush but that isn't really an excuse. Here, version two. I think it's a bit better. Also, I must tell you about my night watching the hipster and the homeless in the social tango of friday nights in Dallas.

The fire red sky peeks through my blinds, teasing me awake. My eyes, forever obedient to the light and not my brain slowly open to a dimly lit room filled with grey shapes tinted in faded greens and blues. I turn to glance at my clock, worried I'd over slept and it's green eyes whisper, "It's three oh eight, sleep child, sleep." My rushing heart calms and I turn back to the soft mountain of pillows that makes up my headboard.

I wonder if the special ops people in my dream got out of the building before the missiles blew up the floors we were on. As I slip back into oblivion, the panic I felt in the dream becomes thick and oppressive. I feel a need to rush but I'm not sure what I should be rushing to. I see people in front of me surrounded by mountains of broken armor and debris. They are talking but it's hard to make out what the subject is. They don't seem to notice me. This makes me wonder if I have some kind of optical camo or if I'm just not worthy of their attention. I notice how this is the case in most of my dreams. They madly kick and rake the piles with their hands looking for something. I walk past them and one of them mumbles something about survivors and loose ends. I make my way out of the room, which is so large the scale frightens me. It would appear the room was full of people before it was full of unwanted remains.

I walk down a flight of stairs wide enough to drive a vehicle down and find a team of people who are familiar to me. They seem to know me more than I know them. They ask if I am okay, I assure them I am fine, one man in particular seems concerned with my well being. He is rather striking with intese grey eyes and a chin that last saw a razor a few days ago. He looks tired and holds my gaze longer than what's comfortable. No one says anything for a heartbeat before he suddenly starts barking orders to the small team. Team is almost a stretch as there are only five of us. I have a feeling that recently our team was much larger. The three other people rush to obey and I am left with the man with the commanding eyes. He says nothing to me but we look at one another, our eyes unable to look away from each other. Nostalgia rises in my chest as he steps closer and I know I meant something to this man. I look at his face and his eyes are red around the edges, recent tears hiding in his crow's feet. I open my mouth to say something but one of the team returns. They are talking but I can't understand what they are saying. Someone is playing the piano. The rest of the team returns quickly as the music gets louder. I start to feel like someone is pulling me from another dimension. At least, I imagine this is what it feels like to be pulled from another dimension.

The room starts to fade from around me. The team doesn't seem worried and neither do I. The music is getting louder as the room vanishes and again my eyes slowly open to a loud rumble from the other side of the window. The melancholy piano beckons me to awake and I reach for my third hand, alarm clock and general life device, my phone. I silence it into letting me dream for fifteen more minutes and caress the softest of my pillows as I reach for oblivion again. The storm clouds outside lull me to a dreamless sleep.

I miss the man with the intense eyes. I wonder of he misses me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Showing Love

photo credit Michelle at maladjustedmedia.com, from this blog post

Fridays go one of two ways at work for me. Either they are full of unrealistic amounts of work that need to be finished before I leave or they are painfully dull as I will have nothing to do. Okay, that is slightly untrue, but from my perspective it is. Last Friday, June 8th, was somewhere in the middle of that scale, full of waiting on other people so I could finish assignments. While I was waiting, I came upon this article on HuffPo | Religion. I mean with a title like Jesus in Drag, how could I not read it?

What I expected to be an article that bashed the church for its non acceptance of gays or about some radical protest that included drag queens dressed as Jesus. What I got was the story about how a straight man, Timothy Kurek, learned to step outside his comfort zone and identify with the gay community. He did a social experiment were he lived as a gay man for a year and at the time he wasn't planning on writing a book but as the year went on, he felt compelled to share his experience with others.

What struck me about the article was his description about being in the closet and how detrimental it was for him:
The combination of knowing I had to constantly hide my true attractions and orientation, with the reality that I couldn't even hope for the possibility having a relationship, was overwhelming. And what I went through is NOTHING compared to the experience of the average gay and lesbian. They were never able to say "only 12 or eight or six more months of this before I get to be me again."
As a women who doesn't have to hide the fact that I'm attracted to men, I still have a hard time approaching men to show them I am interested. Mostly because I'm scared they won't be interested in me but also I'm afraid their reaction will include ridiculing me for being interested in them. If I was attracted to women, I have no idea how I would handle it. How could I handle constant rejection from people passing me on the street? Have you seen the way people look at LGBT couples as they walk down the street, it's terrible. If I did approach a woman I thought was attractive and she reacted violently to my interest, how would I handle that physically and emotionally? Reading that article gave me new respect and love for my gay friends. It also reminded me that I have a lot to learn about relating to people and showing them Christ's love.

I'm a firm believer in the fact that we serve up the bible in America with a generous slathering of cultural bias. We spend so much time using the bible to justify our ridiculous live styles, we miss the real truth present in it. We have become so weighted down by possessions and expectations that if someone were to live their life according to the principles in the Word, we wouldn't recognize it as biblical living. We would either put that person on a pedestal and tell them how much better they are than us and how we could never do what they do or we would write them off as crazy, telling them they are taking the bible too seriously and avoid them so we wouldn't feel guilty when they came around.

I'm not saying because of this article I'm going to sell all my possessions and tour around the country yelling scripture from the top of my lungs but it has made me keenly aware of how I view people and how I treat them when they are in my presence. Here's to showing people the love of Christ and making good first impressions.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Gramblings! It has begun.

For what seems like ten years, me and my friend Mattie have been talking about starting a podcast. We also talked about making a transmediated Pride and Prejudice and seventeen other projects but of course all those things had to take a back seat to school. Now that school is over, we have this interesting thing called leisure time. Time to do one of those seventeen project and the first one we picked is the podcast.

You should know that Mattie and I are basically the same person. We like a lot of the same kinds of things, laugh at the same jokes and genuinely enjoy spending time together. When we first met, we would spend a long time talking in the parking lot after class because we like making each other laugh so much. It was after one of these many parking lot conversations that we had the idea that we should record our parking lot talks and put them on the internet. We started calling these talking sessions Gramblings because they were general ramblings we had while in grad school. We recorded the first one this past Saturday and had so much fun we went over our agreed upon time limit. 

So for your listening pleasure, here is the first episode of Gramblings. It's work and kids safe so listen whenever you want. Or RIGHT NOW!

You can follow us on twitter too, @wearegramblings.

Monday, June 4, 2012

American Bible Challenge Hits Dallas

In an effort to achieve one of my goals I talked about in a previous post, I ventured out to Vista Ridge Mall Saturday to take some pictures. I was informed that an open casting call was taking place for a new game show on The Game Show Network. It's going to be hosted by Jeff Foxworthy and the title of the show is American Bible Challenge. From the sound of it, the show is going to feature contestants from around the nation who know the bible the best.

Having not heard of the show before, I did what every person who uses the internet does when they need information, I Googled it. What I found was various blogs and articles asking more questions than providing answers. I did find the basics of the show, those being that eighteen teams of three will compete for a charity that will be the beneficiary of the competing team's winnings. How these teams will compete, how long the show will be on and how much bible knowledge you need to know to actually get on the show Google couldn't tell me. I decided it was time I go see for myself. I recruited my mom and her best friend to join me and we headed out to Lewisville.

When we got to the mall, the audition was easy enough to fine as it was located just inside a popular mall entrance. We first saw a crowd of around two dozen people standing, in movie queue formation, to the right of a pair of well lit stages. The stage on the right was small and had a background with the logo of the show repeated on it, like you would see on a red carpet. A few feet to the left of this stage was a much larger one framed with boldly designed banners announcing the presence of GSN and the American Bible Challenge. To the left of the main stage was a table covered in American Bible Challenge swag and signage and next to that table was a table for the local christian radio station. As contemporary christian pop music blared, we absently took up the clipboards we were handed and strode to our place in line.

As we filled out the forms, the standard "we want to get to know ya!" kind, we struck up a conversation with the lady in front of us. Her name was Clara and she was from Lewisville. She'd heard about the audition on the radio and wanted to participate because it was something completely different. She also wanted to support anything that would encourage people to see Christ in a positive light as she felt society has been discouraging people to have faith. She had one more reason she wanted to audition for the show, a reason I sympathize with, and that was she wanted to see a Hispanic person competing. I looked around and out of the thirty or so people present only half a dozen were people of color. Knowing that Dallas has a huge African American and Hispanic church going population, it was sad to not see more people who looked like me.

We waited in line for about ninety minutes and I got a chance to  take a few pictures. Unfortunately, we didn't get to try out for the show as my mom had an appointment to get to. We left Clara and told her we would be rooting for her if she ended up on the show. All in all, it was a good idea to try something new.

So, you wanna be on tv?

Mom filling out the forms.

The eager crowd. 

This lady looked fabulous in her pink.

KLTY was there giving away a lot of prizes.

American Bible Challenge Swag.

She was delightful, the table attendant. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

This Unexpected Life of Mine

FoRReals has been deemed Masters. 

I recently found out my crush from high school is having his second child. At first I was sadden by this news, thinking that instead of his beautiful wife in his Facebook pictures, I could be there holding a beautiful little brown one year old girl with blue eyes and impossibly curly black hair. I started to think about how all my teenage life plans had me married with children by now. I started to feel like I'd failed myself, that I some how let myself down because I hadn't fulfilled those plans.

But then I started to think about were I am in my life. Granted, I've accomplished very little in the way of my life plans but let's face it, plans you make in high school, outside of general ideas of education and seeking a passion, are silly and should be abandoned as soon as humanly possible. I remembered the accomplishments I had completed so far in life and how great those things are. I mean, I just earned a master's degree for crying out loud and I was feeling like a failure for not achieving more in my life. That's me and Mattie above, by the way, right after graduation. It was bitter sweet that day. I'll write about graduation at a later date, back to high school life plans.

I think it's time I went a little bit easier on myself and instead of making plans, start listing goals. Goals are so much easier to achieve than plans because plans only exist to achieve goals. How I'd forgotten this, I don't know. I think I was focusing too much on the steps than the purpose of those steps.

So. Goals. This could be difficult in prioritizing which ones are most important but none the less, here are a few I want to reach before the end of the summer:

  • Finish LBP videos
  • Start a podcast. Or two.
  • Write on my blog at least twice a week.
  • Take more pictures.
  • Start a board game club.

I should say this is a short list, edited down from the wish list I made two weeks ago. That list was impossibly long and not possible to complete in one season or four. I know this is a new beginning to something exciting. What that something is, well, we will have to discover together.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The fastest, longest two weeks ever

I had planned on posting more often. I didn't want to this to be a once a week blog but at this time it is looking like that will be the case. The last two weeks have been spend reading, writing and researching just about everything for my Capstone project. I read articles, journal entries, books, magazines, watched movies, TV shows, documentary series and YouTube channels. Research is tiring anyway and then I was sick too! I had a sinuses infection. Nothing major enough to go to the doctor for but I did stay home one day and sleep.

I subscribe to TheRumpus.net and everyday my inbox is given a taste of proper blogging. Stephen, the blog's creator and head writer, talks about life and all of it's beautiful dirty messiness and how wonderfully painful and great it can be. He writes about his childhood and adulthood and work, you know, life. He is fast becoming one of my favorite writers to read. Mostly because he sends me email I want to read but also be he inspires me to write more.

I have wanted to be a writer in the classic sense from the age of about two. My mom tells me when I was little, a toddler in a car seat, I would tell her stories from the back seat of the car. Often they were the bedtime stories from the night before that I retold with myself as the heroine. I don't remember this but it does sound like something I was likely to do at two or three. I do remember in kindergarten reading stories and rewriting them in my head so they were more interesting. I mean, Dick and Jane were not just walking for hours and hours, something had to be chasing them or attacking them. I do remember one time in the third grade I got in trouble for writing a paper that was too descriptive. The teacher told me what I wrote was fantastical and not likely to ever happen. I thought what is wrong with that?

I was not kind to my writing talent after graduating high school. Though I wrote my share of art history papers during undergrad and a few short scripts that my screenwriting teacher really liked, I did nothing to groom my talent. After earning my BFA, I was afraid to start writing. I was afraid that because I had waited so long to start writing again I would discover my talent found a home in someone else, that person more appreciative of it and not bond by fear to not use it. I am glad to say that over that past few weeks I've learned it liked me too much to leave but like an atriphed muscle I'm finding it hard to use well right away.

I know I'm supposed to be writing about how I spend my money but the money thing isn't the real reason I have this blog. The real motivation is it write. Neil Gaiman, who I love, says the best way to become a writer is to write. Write a lot. Just write and eventually you will be good enough to share that writing with someone else. Stephen from The Rumpus says that best way to keep a blog is to write everyday. I believe him as studies have shown consistence more than content is what wins on the net. Please read a blog more often when it publishes daily verses weekly. I'm probably months away from being a daily long form blogger but I do plan on getting there.

I read an article on the plane this morning about a guy who was hit by a car, it severing his C6 vertebrae. The doctor told him he would never walk again. He told him You didn't know me well, do you? The doctor shook his head at him and walked away saying he was delusional. Five years later this man became the first person to ever walk again unassisted after such a traumatic injury to his spinal column. He did it through old fashion hard work and having a very detailed plan of action. He said to write down three goals you have. Now rewrite them until you have the three you really want to accomplish. Once you have that, tell no one. Telling people these goals makes you a talker, not a doer. I realized after reading this article that I am a talker.

I tell people my ideas and goals and I speak words hoping they come true. I have very little faith these ideas will come true mostly because I don't know how to make them more than words but also because I don't have faith in myself to complete them. I used to believe the world was mine to conquer. I'm not sure when I started believing I was defeated but that stops today.

Feb twenty five is the day I become a doer again. I have to go now, I've goals to write.

Friday, February 10, 2012

And inhaling, and exhaling

I was driving home the other day and I saw a truck with spinners on it. A thought came to mind as I pulled away from the red light, that we are such a spoiled country. I want you to think back, back say ten years ago, when spinners were popular, when your biggest complained in life was that gas was $1.50 a gallon (which was outrageous), a movie ticket for a 7pm show was $8 (which was outrageous) and you spent all your spare time customizing your Myspace profile (which was, of course, outrageous). We, as a country, had so much money we invented wheels that kept spinning when the car stopped. How stupid was that? At the time, not at all. It seemed so necessary to show the other people you were in traffic with how much money you had. Now it just seems laughable what we 'needed'. Now, we're just happy to have matching hub cabs on a car that get's 30 mpg. 

Anyway, enough with the reminiscing. This week was brutal. That should be in all caps cause I felt like fifth grader stuck in a cage match with The Undertaker and The Rock. It seemed there just weren't enough hours in any of the days to get everything done I needed to get done. I blame Tom Brady cause I don't like him and I had to watch the Superbowl Sunday night instead of doing homework. It's an American social law, isn't it? If you don't watch the Superbowl, you will be shunned by your friends and your neighbors won't make eye contact with you. 

I spent most of the week playing catch up. I thought Monday night would be productive but I ended up spending most of the night on the side of the highway waiting on roadside assistance. The first hour's wait was for a nailed tire. The second two and half hour's wait was for a spare tire that lasted 30 seconds before coming off the rim. 

After giving bad directions to some friends who agreed to come rescue me, we waited together for the tow truck. I was towed to Hamm's Tires downtown Dallas (Shout Out!), paid for a patch and a broken valve stem and started wearily on my way home around 10:30 pm. Tuesday morning, I had a bit of a meltdown. Stress and lack of sleep overwhelmed me and the idea of getting out of bed seemed impossible. I didn't much for the first part of the day but sulked and pouted. 

After convincing myself to not only get out of the bed, I got out of the house and did what I had been putting off since I bought my car, the purchasing of new tires. After a trip to my friendly neighborhood Discount Tire, I apparently found the shadiest shop in my town to get an inspection done. I mean these guys were the least professional people I'd ever seen running a repair shop. They ignored me until they found outIi need actual work done on my car then they tried to flirt with me to get my business. You know what creepy mustache guy? That stuff doesn't work when you have teeth missing.

I instead of putting it in the heads of creepy pedos, I took the car to my trusty mechanic who always sells me the best parts for the car, not the best part for his profit. He told me the catalytic converter had gone out and I needed a new one. Seeing how this car was made less then ten years ago (and not in the 60s as I would love it to have been. It would also have to be a Barracuda, Charger, Corvette, Chevelle, or Camaro in that case.)  and it's inspection is up this month, I didn't have much of a choice  but to get the work done. 

This entire week has been full of me spending too much money and not getting enough sleep. I plan on fixing all that next week.

Taco Republic: $5.95
Total: $5.95

Wal-mart: Lunch food for the week: $19.72
Bistro B: Superbowl party food: $14.07
QT: $44.46
Total: $78.25

Hamms Tires: $20.00
Braums: Ice Cream (I was slightly depressed): $2.15
Total: $22.15

The Wave Wash: $7.00
Discount Tire: $541.64
China City: (Cause you need delivery when your car is in the shop) $18.45
Total: $567.09

Wal-mart: Mouth rise: $5.78
Ted's Automotive: $464.64
Total: $470.42

Carenow: (From way back in Dec, they are just now sending me a bill SMH) $21.90
Office Depot: $7.62
Whataburger: $6.70
UTD Library: (Cause the printers on campus don't take cash) $10.00
Total: $46.22

TOTAL: $1,190.08

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Long, LONG Weekend

I still haven't fully recovered from my impromptu road trip to Austin. It's always a great joy to spend time with Jen and the boys. I especially like the oldest one. His jokes are corny but he'a a great guy. I'm glad he's feeling better, being sick for a long period of time, like 2011, can wear on the moral.

What I didn't plan on was not sleep for the last five days. I don't know if I'm just stressed out about school or life or what but actually falling asleep and staying that way for the past week has been an impossibility.  Yesterday I left work with vertigo so intense, it was making me nauseous. When I got home, me and my bed spent some much needed quality time together. After sleeping eight hours, I got some food and decided to watch movies until I fell back to sleep. Also I didn't account for my threshold of what is and isn't watchable bottoming out when I'm tired. I ended up watching two mediocre films that honestly never should have been made let along watched.

Both films had really good actors but they were giving terrible performances which tells you, bad acting isn't about the actor all the time. I mean Keanu Reeves gave a good performance in the first Matrix film and he normally can't act his way to end an awkward phone call. Anyway, if you are thinking about watching Death Race 2 or Men Who Stare At Goats, don't. The latter was watchable but fell flat at the end and the former was a huge mistake in being made at all. If I had IMDB'd the first one, I would have found that it was directed by the same guy who made that new Scorpion King 3 movie and you know if a guy is stuck making sequels to other peoples films, he has problems.

My spending was a little on the edge of out of budget but I reeled it back in. I even paid extra on my car last month as in addition to a road trip, I paid bills this weekend. Because I slacked on showing my  spending for the past five days, I'm going to catch you all up at once.

7 Eleven, Gas: $25.62
7 Eleven, snacks: For the road trip: 5Hour, cup of coffee, bear claw: $7.40
McDonald's, dinner on the road: $3.25
Friday's Total: $36.27

Exxon Mobil, snacks: coffee, bear claw: $3.02
Saturday's Total: $3.02

No Purchase (Yay!)
Sunday's Total: $0

Jack In The Box, dinner: 4 tacos, oreo shake: $5.27
Monday's Total: $5.27

Kroger Fuel, gas: $40.19
Hong Kong Market, lunch for the week: $12.53
Bistro B, dinner with a friend: $10.04
Tuesday's Total: $62.76

TOTAL: $107.32

Paid on car in Jan: $350
Total owed on Car: $5,363.42

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I'm getting the hang of this now.

This day did not start well. I slept right through my alarm to the tune of an extra hour and fifteen minutes. I'm convinced that I would have slept all morning if my mom had not come in and woken me up. I don't think I'd ever gotten dressed that quickly before and I was only twenty minutes late to work. What was strange was another co-worker of mine  also missed their alarm this morning and was late. Weird.

Parts of this day happened in slow motion. The hour between ten and eleven AM took at least three hours to pass while the hour between two and three felt like fifteen minutes. Time, you are a cruel mistress. Anyway, I was so sleepy by the time I left for class I was sure I would be napping through the entire thing. To my pleasant surprise, class wasn't boring. Wellllll, the first part was but after a certain someone stopped talking things picked up and the discussion was interesting.

After class, me and a friend sat in my car discussing life, the universe and everything and after promises of departing soon we ended up at Jimmy John's unable to ignore our talking stomachs anymore. In my budget I worked in that I can eat out twice a week and this was the first time I ate out all week, I'm proud of myself.

I'll be going out of town this weekend so I might not get to blog about the next few days. I'll catch you all up on Sunday, okay? DFTBA!

Store: Jimmy John's:
Items: 1 Veto w/ everything and a cookie. + $.50 discount for being a student (Woot!). $6.71

TOTAL: $6.71

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day Three. Seriously.

I need a new umbrella. The rain and wind and years has worn out my $3 IKEA golf umbrella. At least I need the umbrella I bought last week to be delivered so I can retire my $3 one. On the drive home I told myself I should research how to repair an umbrella but when I got home, what was waiting for me on the front porch? My much anticipated packages from Thinkgeek.com!

Now before you call foul and try to take away my two disc special edition of Casablanca, I ordered these items with a gift card I got for Christmas. No money out of the bank means no punishment. The one item I really could have used for the last two days was my super cool umbrella I ordered. Because I'm a proper film geek, I got this one:

Can anyone tell me what movie this particular item was in? Don't cheat and look it up! Oh you're just going to Google it anyway so I'll tell you. Blade Runner. One of my all time favorite scifi social issue movies. Cyber punks and androids who don't know if they are human or machine, what's not to love?  The only thing about getting this umbrella TODAY was the rain had stopped by the time I opened the package. Is it selfish for me to want it to rain some more so I can use it tomorrow? 

In other news, I came straight home after work even through I really, really wanted to stop at Target and see if they had jewelry on sale. Hooray for will power!


Day Two, I Mean Three

I meant to write this yesterday but grad school takes up time. So does life so some of these post might be half a day late. Anyway, I was prepared to write about how this week would probably be boring when it came to post and I would probably end up talking most about why I decide to blog about this goal, the history of why I made this a goal, etcetera, etcetera when yesterday morning I opened the ridge and discovered I had nothing for lunch. It was a good thing my friend Kate gave me some leftovers, which were amazing by the way, or I would have to eat my snacks for the week for lunch yesterday. This would have left me snackless and prone to making bad choices when it came to spending and eating.

After school related meetings which had me leaving campus around 7:30 I braved the rain soaked traffic and stopped by my preferred non-Walmart store to get something for lunch. I have had salad everyday for the past week and a half and was sick up to my eye balls of salad. Also, I have a confession to make. I hate salad. Well, I strongly dislike it. Rarely do I ever go anywhere and say to myself, "I could really go for a salad right now."

In fact I don't like cold food with the exceptions being ice cream and potato salad. Which means I don't eat pizza or chicken cold, I always get my sub toasted at subway and hardly ever will you see me chewing on ice. I'm just not a fan. At all. But I will eat food I dislike because it's good for me so for the past week and a half, I have eaten cold salad for lunch. When I was in the store last night, I decided I was shopping for chili. What would be more filling on a cold wet day, or rest of the week as Greg on channel 8 tells me, than a too hot to handle, literally, bowl of chili?

I located sed cans, grabbed three if them and headed to the checkout. On the end cap at the register, there was a bag of corn chips for $.89 so I grabbed those too. Frito pie for lunch?! I didn't resist.

I spent less than six buck and was feeling pretty good about myself. It wasn't until I heated up my can of chili today that I thought about the calories I would be consuming. If you don't pay in one way, you end up pay in another. I don't plan on buying anything else today.

Store: Aldi
Items: 3 cans of Chili, A meat snack stick, a bag of corn chips

Total: $5.75

Monday, January 23, 2012

2012 Mission = A debt free me

What I have just below my monitor. Cause I need reminding.

People make new year resolutions every year, usually with no real intention of keeping them. They get caught up in the euphoria of new year and all the possibilities it holds. Everyone thinks this is their year. The year they get that dream job or meet that dream person. No one going into the year thinking, this year will be painful and tragic and I will be glad to see it go. If they do have those thoughts, they usually keep them to themselves, hiding them behind the canned answers they give others when people ask, "What are your resolutions this year?"

I can honestly say I don't make new year resolutions. I set realistic goals I wish to complete by years end. Some are carry overs from the year before as long term goals, others are born out of that euphoria of possibilities and lifetime desires I think are ready to become realities.

My goal for this year, to be debt free. This isn't a new goal for me, not really. I was debt free before I started school two years ago. The only debt I have now, besides student loans, is my car. I owe around $5,500 and have four more years to pay it off but I don't want to wait that long. I calculated that if I cut out all unplanned spending and follow my budget closely, I could pay off my car by the end of the year. And that is what I plan to do.

No more trips to the Dollar Tree for one thing and buying $15 worth of crap. No more going to Walmart for three things and coming out with six bags of stuff I do not need. No more good deals from Woot or Amazon Gold Box. If I don't need it, absolutely and completely, I will not buy it.

A few rules to help me stay the course

  1. I will post every cent I spend on this blog. At the end of the day, I will post each item that I purchased and a total of what I spent. If I didn't spend any money that day, my total will be zero.
  2. I will post how much I have paid on my car and the total that remains monthly. If I pay on my car more than once, I will post that as well.
  3. If I do buy something I don't need, I will agree to a punishment to be carried out in the form of surrendering something of extreme value to a friend or total stranger. This something of extreme value will probably take the form of a favorite movie or book I own. Details about surrender to be worked out later.
  4. I have previous agreements about vacation/ travel that I already committed to for this year. Outside of these plans I will not be traveling until my car is paid off.
  5. Once I have paid off my car, I am not obligated to obey these rules. 

That's it folks. I think. If you have a suggestion, please feel free to voice it.

Ready. Steady. Go.

I almost forgot. I bought nothing today.

Total Dollars Spent: $0.