Something Concrete

Sometimes when the world begins to slip out of my grasp, I turn on orchestra music and begin to write. Tonight I am listening to the song I played the first night I spent in my home. I remember how frightened I was at beginning all over again, the foreign terrain presenting unearthed obstacles and overwhelming newness. But seven years later, this town has grabbed hold of my heart, and I think I'll let it stay in its grasp. In this life of emotional upheaval and physical wear and tear... it is nice to sit on something solid and turn on music in the room you grew up in. It is reaffirming to go run on the path you walked on as a girl, giggling about homecoming dates and math class. 

Gertrude Stein is one of my favorite writers, a complete genius I would argue and a woman with vision. She once said, "America is my country, and Paris is my hometown." When I first read that, my body resonated with her words, I could feel my heartbeat quicken and my blood begin to rush. The idea captivated me. Where you are born is undoubtedly where your roots first sprout, but the place you call home...that could be an ocean away.  People, I have begun to realize spend their whole lives trying to find their home. They try and find it in a job, in a mate, and worst of all, they'll claim they don't need one.

My home is not a building. There is no roof over my head in the place I feel at peace. I have always, and will always be a person where mobility is my motherland. When I am in motion, I am at peace. I could be on a sidewalk, in a car, on an airplane. Those are the moments where I can say I breathe without thinking and all is right.  Yet, there is something about the small town sidewalks of where I grew up. I sometimes laugh to myself and think what those white pieces of concrete would say to me if given the chance. How many conversations it was forced to hear about boys, school, and dramatic endeavors. How many lessons they had prayed I would just learn already. And how many laughs and tears were shared on its body. 

So tonight as I listen to Hans Zimmer lull my heart back to a functional pace, I look out onto the sidewalks that let me walk all over them. We all need something concrete in our lives, and sometimes, it's really as simply as a square of white cement. 




Barbara Jean

Tonight I'm going to get personal with you. It is the first snow fall of the season and I made a promise to myself that with every first snow fall I will always pay homage to someone I have loved the most. This person knew me as Kristin Marie or Kris. This individual taught me how to live and encouraged me to dream. My guardian angel took form when I was in my early teens, telling me I had enough to carry on by myself. This woman is my icon and I am humbled to be her legacy.

My grandmother's name was Barbara Jean. She was a no-nonsense gal, and my Grandfather has told me that was the first thing that he loved about her. She dyed her hair platinum blonde when she was sixteen and took New York on a stroll. Never bigger than a size two her entire life, she adored the fashion the city inspired, and her frame allowed it. Growing up she would often take me up and down 5th Avenue and informed me the city had better lessons than any grammer book. The shops were illustrations and the people passing by provided an oral piece of literature that no desk and chair could provide.  

I was an exhausting child she'd tell me. But "don't ever lose that energy" she'd say. We had a wishing tree we'd go to and I'd sit and selfishly list off my demands of the universe. She taught me that a wish had to be something you were willing to go halfway on. You and the world had to both give a ton and then take just a little. When I'd tell her my fears she'd make me explain why. "When you know why something scares you, you can overcome it," she'd quip, a familiar smile erupting on her red lips.  

In my fifteen years of knowing her, I never saw her without makeup. Even when cancer was threatening to cross her last line of defense, she walked beautifully into battle. She invested in wigs, head wraps, and even a cloche hat or two before she'd let anyone see her as less than an ambassador of style. Although fashion forward, she clung to the trend of smoking cigarettes even if it meant lighting up in a hospital. She was a woman who knew what she liked and did as she pleased.

In an apartment at the beginning of Queens was where most of the woman I am today took form. We were best friends, her and I, and she always spoke about the future we'd share.  She was the person in my life who told me I was a princess, and that there was nothing shameful about pursuing a life of royalty. When I began to write my first stories in fourth grade she'd pour over them, and overnight I had my first editor. My first story was a soap opera about cats who could speak. After she read it she suggested I write about people instead. "Write about what you see," she'd say.

When my stuttering arrived, she'd sit patiently until I could get everything out. She never rose her voice, and never looked away in frustration.  She listened and we would talk for hours. Usually because if I spoke too quickly, one sentence could take ten minutes to deliver.

When my Grandmother was diagnosed with cancer my world fell down, but it didn't fall apart like some people say. My Grandmother raised me to deal with crisis and excel through chaos. And although I spent nights bargaining deals with God, I rarely cried for help or a hug. I was too busy playing poker with the heavens.

Slowly the woman I had known and loved with everything I had, began to drift away. She stopped wearing her wigs and our talks made her tired. Our days became shorter and her nights became longer. So long that her nights became a coma, in which she would find a month of slumber. 

My Grandmother was a stubborn woman. Fierce and fiery. She wanted to go with the snow, she'd always say. And on a cold March night in Manhattan, while fresh snowflakes glittered on the ground, my Grandmother took a walk with Jack Frost.  

She'd come and go with the snow. And with the flurries outside I have to smile. Always had to make an entrance. Well welcome back Barbara Jean. It was a dull summer without you.




Projected Change

Some nights you just gotta blog it out.

Last night watching the election coverage I found myself thinking about three things:
1. I really like charts and color coordination.
2. If it's "projected" then it shall be.
3. Change is a big word.

Four years ago I was in Chicago when President Obama took office. Wearing my greek sorority gear and my eyes were wide with curiosity.  The world was forever different we were told, America was going to change. My college campus was buzzing with youthful inspiration and my peers felt validated. We decided this election. We finally had come into an age of having power. Our voices were heard after years of a bad connection. Finally the government replied loud and clear, yes my friends, I can hear you now.

I was in the middle of college four years ago. Dating a different guy, hanging out with different friends, and the real world was on the horizon but no where near the shores of Lake Michigan.  I was living in an academia haven, where the Greeks ruled all and every answer I'd need was spelled out for me in a book.  My political musings were the results of a Liberal Arts college and my parents. I believed in idealism and I treasured its sanctity.

Now, here I am.  Four years older and I've applied for my real world residency. College is over and there are no more talks of Dead Poet's Society. I spend my days discussing facts and possibilities, but not ideals. My choices are my own now and I believe in the things that I've chosen. I am surrounded by a generation that has lost its voice as we have too many people yelling. Too many cries for help and not enough hands to offer aid. We have become a generation of "borrowers" instead of inventors.  We borrow the strifes, and we share in the grief. Yet, four years ago we believed in something called change. We have forgotten, I have forgotten, that change is not brought on by one man. Change is a movement paraded by the masses. Change is one voice speaking calmly and clear. Change is for the visionaries, not the movie goers.

I want my generation to show this country our innovative genius. No matter the leader, we need to be rallying the troops. Because things are not going to change without us. We are the writers, the teachers, the assistants, the students...we are the next ones in line.

Will we be ready when it's our turn?

Because this generation has a child's christmas list of wants, and a poor man's grocery list of needs.

I want to see my friends get jobs. I want to see our economy grow and prosper. 

But what I need? I need change. I need a stronger America. I need my voice.

Four years ago, I was sheltered from these thoughts. My thought process ended with my whines and wants, and I always just assumed the right people already knew my needs. But now it's my turn and yours to inform them. While I'm waiting in line I'm getting my thoughts together, and forming new ideas. I'm looking inside to bring back out the inventor.  We need to invent our generation and give ourselves a cause. We need to write our words in one another's hand, choosing every word that is wise and every breath that is warranted.

Because, as for me, when it's my turn, I'm not one to approach the podium without a speech.