Saturday, May 5, 2012

Reaching Wrists Up

If you reach wrists up at something scared, it will subconsciously know you won’t hurt it. That’s what body language experts say at least. I’ve learned a lot in the two years since I last wrote in here. I hope you don’t read any of my senior year foolishness. I was a dummy then. I’m a dummy now. I’ve learned a few things about how to relate to people, but I’m still learning daily. In a recent conversation, I tried to explain my daily theology about how I think of people, and quite frankly, I butchered it completely. I do better with words on paper than I do with talking. I always have. Here’s what I’ve learned. Here’s what I strive for. I fail daily. I fail hourly.

I want to make my home, my life, my heart and my reporter’s notebook a safe place for people to land. People are scared of other people. We’re cynical and we’re broken. Reach at people wrists up. Show them you’re not scared of getting hurt. It is not, nor will it ever be, my job to fix everything.

When someone does let you into their little world, you have a simple task: Magnify the good, minimize the hurt and treat past wounds with care. You won’t fix them. You can’t fix them. You can only be cautious and patient as time heals them.

If you can’t take away their pain, bear it with them. A few weeks ago I had ringworm. I got it from a little girl I teach ballet to. My arm was disgusting, but I secretly loved it. It didn’t make her pain any less, but for a little while, I knew how she felt. There are few painful situations I can relate to. I’ve been blessed. I’ve never been hungry. But I’ve had ringworm. It itches. She itches. I still look at my arm where I had it.

Have a warm bed for the tired to rest. Have at least one meal you can fix for the hungry to eat.

Always carry enough cash to give a homeless person a meal. (Sorry about messing that one up today, homeless man I met in Chattanooga. You'll be fed, but you're going to have to get it off of the dollar menu.)

 Don’t change anyone. They’re that way for a reason. It’s not your place to figure out why.

Remember the little things that people like. If they tell you their favorite color, remember it. If they tell you a TV show they love, remember it. You’ll need to pull on those little bits of information if you want to love on them.

Buy presents first, figure out how to pay for them later. I have no idea how I’m going to pay for my first semester of grad school. No clue. I spent too much on ballet costumes, gifts, cards and mail. It was irresponsible, but I wouldn’t do it any differently if I could start over. Act first then figure out the details later.

Send cards.

My Daddy always said to be ten-feet-tall and bulletproof. I’m more sure of that now than I ever was. I don’t think he means to not let anyone hurt you, I just think it means to heal fast. In all, I matter less than you. And you. I’ll be fine. I heal fast. I have a good doctor. I’m grounded in family and Alabama roots. If I get hurt helping someone else, it doesn’t matter. If there’s one thing I’ve learned above all else, it’s that I’ll be OK. Now let’s make you OK.

Maybe I’m being too emotional. Maybe I’m being passive aggressive. Isn’t everyone with a blog secretly being passive aggressive? I should just tell people I want to know this so they can keep me accountable. This is a list of goals, not a list of accomplishments. Maybe I’ll keep them better here than in a running list in my head.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hey, insomnia.

It's back. I swear, I didn't sleep in college. I expected to come home, get ready, complete this massive to-do list of catching up I had accumulated over the past four years, and sleep. All I came home to was kitten sheets and a homemade quilt. And, that's where I have been for the past few weeks. I think it's healing, really, to camp out under the hand-sewn girls with colored bonnets that cover little girls' quilts. There's something about going back to your room, not your apartment, but your own little room with your first furniture and those pictures from forever ago with the only real friends you still have that just...heals.

This room hasn't changed much, and really, neither have I. I think coming home before moving to Chattanooga may be one of the smartest ideas I've ever had. You just remember who you were, who you are, and the reason you went to college in the first place.

Something should be said about the massive amount of Disney Princess stuff in this room. It wasn't from when I was a little girl, though. I got all of that in highschool when the Left Side (our "gang") still believed in making wishes and Prince Charmings. I still ahve the pictures of us outside Dave and Busters that first time. It was the spring of my freshmen year, and we had all had possibly the hardest previous year that we will ever endure. Still, that's my favorite picture. Above it is one from one of my 13 birthday parties at Rosie's. Aside from Farrell not being in it, that picture is close to perfect. Next is the Tea Party picture from when I was Alice, Kari was the March Hare, and Stephanie was the Mad Hatter. What else. My rhinestoned point shoes are on the top of my shelf from when I was Cinderella and needed glass slippers.

I still have pictures from Winterfest, DMA, Disney World, Dave Phillips and every single "Left Side Pretty Picture" from picture week.

I think this has been good. To come home, to remember where you came from, and to remember the ones that are going to keep in touch no matter where you go.

Yea, it's cliche. But they have to be cliches for a reason. They're almost always true.

And so, it is valid to say that there is something healing between kitten sheets and homemade quilts.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

27 pairs of stillettos.

I just got home from the Southern Christian Writer's Conference, and it was one of the most blessed experiences of my life. I have never had anything so inspiring and I met so many wonderful people.

Part of it was learning to write every day, so here I sit, ready to write. As I was resting (not packing), someone knocked on my door. It was a black girl with braces and tattoos. Something or some person on her left forearm. I couldn't tell. She wanted to sell me magazines. I have no money. I couldn't invite her in because I'm in the middle of packing and there are TONS of clothes everywhere. I cannot tell someone I don't have money when there are currently 79 pairs of heels, 27 pairs of stilettos, sitting in the floor of my apartment. So, we sat outside while she gave me the song and dance about the books and magazines I couldn't afford. In all honesty, I couldn't afford them. I'm constantly in trouble for overdrafting, and I know there is not an extra $48 in the bank right now to buy 3 years of Woman's Day.

Jerk. I felt like a jerk.

We made a deal. I gave them all the change I had, plus green tea and my last two Weight Watcher's icecream if I didn't have to feel bad. They asked me if I smoked. I don't. I would never. By this time another girl came to talk. She had tattoos, too, and her dress was far too little.

I thought about going into a lecture about how God didn't want them to dress like that and how he didn't want them to drink or smoke. I didn't. I'm not good at that. I have never been good at talking about God. I choke every time. I suppose that's why he made me a writer.

So, I sit here, spiritually exhausted from the weekend and feeling like a jerk for not buying a Spanish cookbook. One of them told me her mother died of breast cancer. I wonder sometimes if that's not what I bring God. I have a room full of skills that I have gotten over the years. All the lessons and ideas, all the community service "I should do" things, all the letters I should write, all the phone calls I should make, and all I can afford is a cup of tea and 70-calorie raspberry icecream.

Packing in general has been humbling. So often I wonder why I have been chosen to have such a wonderful life: potentially the world's best parents, the best friends, an amazing family, the opportunities, the freedom. Putting all that I own in the open has made me realize, once again, how blessed I am to have parents that will give me anything I want (within reason. 27 pairs of stilettos are reasonable-ish). Did I really need two poor girls to hit it home, God? Obviously, I did.

Monday, April 26, 2010


My great grandmother just died at 100 years old. 100. I can't even be sad, because after 100 years, she deserves a break.

It's made me think: Where will I be in 100 years? Where will this world be in 100 years?

Sometimes, I wish I were Amish. There's something about that lifestyle that attracts me. The simplicity, the faith. Yea, I think they might have it all right. But, I have been called the 100% opposite way. Still, I have no idea why.

Some proof:

I've often made deals with God. I've heard it's not how you're supposed to work, but it works in our relationship. I dedicate a set amount of time to a project, and he follows through on the end. Example: I promised to keep the faith, keep our relationship, not drink, not party, not get involved in anything I'm not supposed to, go to church, go on missions, and work hard for four years. God was supposed to provide a job at the end of it.

About a month ago, I got frustrated because I didn't have a job offer.

Then, even in this economy, I got six job offers in six wonderful places. I think God was showing off a little, but hey, when you create the world, you can do that.

I got into a grad program in Springfield, IL. that only takes 18 students a year.
I got offers in Huntsville, Beaumont, Shreveport, upstate NY, and Chattanooga.

I've never been special, and I'm still not. That's why this story works out to His glory. And, I haven't even graduated yet.

I feel like I end so many of these posts saying, "I can not ask for more," and I probably do overuse that. It's just so true.

I'm moving to Chattanooga in two months. I use "I" so much in these posts, which is funny because they are never about me.

The bottom line is that I think this whole thing is funny. I wish I were Amish. I think it's the coolest life imaginable. And, I've been called to work in the worldliest part of the earth with the wildest people. I think it's going to be ok, though, the whole "little girl heading out alone" thing. If the same God that holds salvation and can conquer death and this job market has His eye on me, I'll be ok.

Grace and Peace,

PS: This has been my verse throughout all of college:

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:7-8. Perfect, isn't it?

Monday, March 29, 2010


I'm finally doing it. I'm finally going home to interview my grandmother and get the one love story I want to hear. I've told it on here before, but this time, I'm going to write it for real.

The other story I'm working on is the history of Bryce through the eyes of the Partlow children who lived there when they were growing up. The PR director at the Department of Mental Health told me nobody had ever done this angle of Bryce before. I'm pumped.

What now?

What next?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Trying my hand at fiction.

This is what I wrote for a Creative Writing class:

They call me Mister Jones. My momma stuck one little bit of respect in my name because she never thought I would earn it on my own. I won’t, either. She left the little note tucked into the folds of my blanket before she put me on the steps of the Presbyterian church, knocked on the door and ran away.

That’s how I got my start, as one big game of ding-dong ditch. Hell, I don’t even know if that note that said “Mister” was supposed to be my name. Maybe that whore that birthed me was just trying to get a man’s attention like she was always doing.

There’s something fun about growing up a whore’s child. All the nuns in the orphanage give you that look where their eyes change shape all together. I swear it’s true. Those eyes turn into teardrops that look like they’re going to fall off the sides of their face when they look at a whore’s child. I was passed around from foster home to foster home, but I figured you could guess as much. That first lady I lived with, Shirley Thompson, I think, man she was a nice lady. But man, I hated living there. She lived in one of those big antebellum houses that folks had died in during the wars and stuff. Once, one of the housekeepers told me that a man had shot himself in the upper room where I slept. You just can’t find any sweet dreams in a room where some soldier blew his brains out. I swear it.

I moved around a lot, but it wasn’t so bad. Nobody ever laid a hand on me, but few God-fearing Baptist women do dare lay a hand on a 6’7 black boy whose mother had to get rid of him before she went out to turn tricks for the night. There was this other lady, Joan something, we called her Miss Joan even though she was married. It takes a special person to take in a foster kid, but I swear sometimes some of them are as crazy as a Bessie bug. So this Miss Joan, she used to pray for the demons to release my poor soul every time I acted up in school. I could hear her through the vents that connected her room to mine. She hadn’t figured out this vent thing, so one day I got bored and decided it was time for those demons to start talking back. I don’t know what demons sound like, but luckily, neither did Miss Joan. Anyways, I started talking in a real low, scary voice and convinced Miss Joan that the demons were actually coming down to earth to talk to her. She must have talked to those demons for more than an hour. Then I had to start wrapping up the conversation because the maid would be calling for dinner soon and I don’t think that demons take the same kind of dinner hours that we do. Maybe they do, but I doubt it. I swear, for almost three months after that, she would try to sprinkle me with a little holy water that she got from a missionary that came to speak at the Little Gethsemane House of Prayer last August.

I always get to this part of the story and people ask me when I started playing football. I have never touched a football in my life and I never plan on it. So they ask me when I started rapping. Rapping? Really? I don’t rap.

What have I done with my life then? (people who have done more always like to ask that question just so they can tell you what they’ve done.)

I survived.

For now.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I was up all night writing about a little boy, Xander, who had been adopted from Ukraine. It started off as a happy story about an adopted babies. I've changed the angle to be a story about how Down syndrome children are not wanted in Eastern Europe because they're still considered to be Mongoloids. I've hated every minute of this research. I found Facebook groups against DS people. It has made me sick. In trying to do the children justice, I've just begun to hate their biological parents.

Here's the lede:

The child weighed 16 pounds on his fourth birthday. He had never seen a toy because his keepers thought toys would give children with Down syndrome heart attacks. He had never smelled like Johnson & Johnson because baby powder was considered too much of a luxury at the orphanage in Artemivsk, Ukraine. The only taste he knew was vegetable broth out of an infant’s bottle and the only home he knew was a closet where he lived with five other children. He stared at the ceiling for 23 hours out of the day and for one hour he was put in a cage on the front lawn just so he would not forget what the sun looked like.
Still, he was one of the lucky ones. His hands and feet were not bound to his bed by leather straps.
There were six metal beds in that closet. Each bed contained a small child that was unable to leave unless it was at the hands of their keepers.
They did not want to hurt him, so they didn’t touch him. The six damaged children at the orphanage were kept in one little room where they were safe, and the other children were safe from them and their diseases.
The child laid in the bed and rocked from side to side for endless hours. With each movement, the skin on his back would rub away leaving bedsores on his undiapered bottom. They will never heal.
With every motion, a little piece of his neediness would rub off with his skin. With every sway he would replace the need to be touched and held by a human with the sensation of the threadbare sheet against his skin. He would later be diagnosed with autism, and would struggle with different sensations as he tries to find some touch and pressure that is satisfying. There was no one to hold him in the orphanage, no one to touch his face. All he had was the pressure of the bed against his back and the sight of the shadow creatures on the ceiling.
On the day he was born, the doctor that delivered him told his parents that he looked different from the other children. He had little arcs under his eyes and his toes pointed in the wrong direction. No tests were done, but because of those signs that he was not like the other children, they left him there. His birthday and the day he was abandoned became one, and it would be a thousand nights before he had clean pajamas again.
He never heard a lullaby and he will never know what it means to belong to someone who shares his eyes. To his biological parents, he was just another one of God’s mistakes.
He was a bundle of hopelessness, wrapped up in a cheap blanket and left to be picked up by whomever got the task of driving to the hospital that day. He was condemned by an extra chromosome, and the sentence was carried out by the ignorance of the Ukrainian people. In Eastern Europe, they still think Down syndrome children are damaged goods. Nobody wants a mongoloid child.

I hate this, but I'm glad I'm writing the story. I don't think Professor Bragg will like it because it's just a student scratching the surface on what could be a major break in the fight for human rights, but I'll keep this around. I'll see if anyone wants it, and the one day, I'll do this story right.