Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Hosting Job in Latin America

So... I wanna be on the Travel Channel. This was my oh-so-subtle "I really want this gig" email to the producer. Yikes! Desperate much?
I'll beg. That's so pathetic, but my desire for this opportunity is surprisingly deep.

Surprising in that, since I checked my email this morning, I've thought about this opportunity all day. At the doctor's office, I saw so many little kids - running around, sniffing their noses, playing with blocks - all from unique backgrounds and yet getting along as if siblings. Walking back to my apartment in Queens, I thought about how different this city is to my native Kentucky. I thought about how my move to New York has changed me, altered my world perspective, and taught me how deeply "home" is sewn into the threads of my heart.

I love culture. I love how, even in America, we are so different. How when I talk about my Mamaw & Papaw, I have to explain that they are my grandparents. How when I say it's cold enough to wear a toboggan, I have to explain that it is a sock-cap and not a sled. How when I want chicken, I want it fried... when I want milk, I want it whole... when I want hugs, I want them tight, back-slappin', and even from strangers. That --- is my Southern culture.

I love culture. I love how, even in America, we are so different. How when I went for drinks with the folks at work, we had to "Salud" before the first sip. (oops - thirsty me!) How when I get my nails done, the ladies let me practice my Spanish with them... and all the other clients stare at the white girl. How the Latinos I know just dance and dance and dance... at work on break, dancing around the breakroom... on the train with a loud ipod... at New Year's parties, birthday parties, cookout parties - they dance! With their families! Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Reggaeton! Esa --- es su cultura latina.

I love culture. My dad traveling to Kenya, Africa while I was in the third grade, bringing back elephant teeth, wood carvings, jewelry for Momma, and so many coins. I got an authentic African princess dress and went to Miss Henson's class saying Jambo to all of my friends - Hello-ing them with so much pride. My daddy was finally back from Africa and he'd bought me presents! He came to school with me and showed pictures, told stories, and gave out coins to EVERY SINGLE classmate. At my high school reunion, friends I hadn't seen in forever approached me saying, "I still have that coin your Dad gave me in 3rd grade."

I really think that so many people would appreciate the beauty of culture if they weren't scared of it... didn't misunderstand it. I want to teach them.

I've been begging my husband to take me abroad. He's coming around from the days of "plan a girls' trip with your friends". I think my travels as a Latin American journalist would teach him to open his eyes and his heart to the world beyond our borders. I was looking at grants recently, trying to find a way to travel and write and learn and learn and learn. And then, this opportunity...

I am a sponge. I long to soak up every pore with musica, y comida, y las risas de la gente alli. And I am so inquisitive - want to understand not only the machine, but how it works. I would make a super Travel Journalist. I just know it.

I am a writer. I am a hard, hard worker. Growing up in a small, farm town of 6,000 in Kentucky, I learned to feed the cows, set tobacco, build fence, roof a shed; and I learned to get all A's in school, learned to love the God of my parents, and learned to gaze out beyond the barbed wire borders of our 40 acres...

To appreciate boundaries and to test them, too.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Secret Stealing

A secret is something that lives inside. Rents out a corner in your heart. Stocks up on food and water and supplies, then bars itself up for the wait. A secret waits. It's something you're not proud of, or you are; but no matter what, no one else would understand - appreciate - its worth. A secret is a treasure. Some kind of diamond that you have come across and if you tell, then you're trading it in and where's the sentiment in that? A secret is sometimes the only thing that you have that's really yours.

A secret is a keepsake. It's not meant to be passed on.

I don't like when my friends repeatedly pump me for information. I want to live my life, collect my experiences, and CHOOSE which to share and which to keep. There can be something so special in a keepsake, like my grandmother's Bible, and no matter who I show it to, no one will grasp it's true worth. I keep it to myself. I keep it special.

I also don't like to lie. A secret can be safe - especially when the secret is nothing wrong - but I want to guard it behind a smile, not behind lies. So when you pump me for information every time we meet, you force me to put up a new lie, a new plank to the fence-post around it. And soon, the wood is hardening my heart and the secret that was so beautiful is becoming an eye-sore.

I like my friends to hold me accountable; but if you ask me once - something personal really, that's not really appropriate anyway, that I should come to you with when I'm ready, not the other way around - and then you ask me again - and then again...

Either you don't believe me or you don't want to believe me.

But it's MY secret to keep. My lie to tell.

Let me have my secret!

I have promised someone that I would not tell this one thing. That it was safe, crouched low underneath my soul. When you constantly ask me these personal questions, you cause 3 reactions:
1. Cause me to lie to you - a friend - someone I don't want to lie to.
2. Cause me to break his confidence - a love - someone I don't want to betray.
3. Cause me to question your motives - a friend - that won't give me peace.

Secrets carry a societal negative stigma, but I think that's wrong. If you want something to yourself, people jump to conclusions... get scared... doubt you.

Then do those people really love you? Or want to own you?

A secret is a small, small piece of the soul. When I love or trust someone, I let them see inside my soul... let them see what I feel is healthy for me to share. Secret stealers think they know more about my emotional health. I do not understand that.

When I have company over, I show them around the house. The den, the dining room, the bedrooms, the bath. I fail to take them to the attic.... and they never seem to mind. I'm thinking of moving my secret upstairs.

A good friend has good intentions. Wants to help. Wants to "listen". Feels that sharing my secret brings us closer. It doesn't. The prodding and distrust only pushes me away.

And the crazy thing is... I probably would've told you about it eventually, but on my own time.

You don't need to know everything. I think that you may carry the same secret, but I have never asked you about it... while you question me every time we meet. In the car, at a restaurant, on your bed.

You finally break me down... mainly, because I know I'm a bad liar and because I am tired. Tired of this game.

I trust you. I know you will keep my secret safe... I just wish I could have had one truly special thing all of my own. Something I didn't feel bad about til I saw the disappointment in your eyes. Which ruined the purity of my secret.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

iGod - Part I

for The Journey Christian Church
I am... bright blonde hair sticking out of a too-big head, static cling pullin' at it, wool Christmas sweater not helping. Am child. Am princess, am center of the party, am digging under the tree like a bee to honey, wrapping paper tossed here and there, thick rug carpet somewhere underneath it all. Am curious like crawling into cardboard boxes, mischievous like hiding in Mamaw's closet, cute as a kitten like squeakin' out "Jesus loves me this I know" in front of the whole family. Am 4 years old. Am a doll.

i am.

I am... voice high and off key, big braces flashing the congregation like, "Bam! I got a solo in the youth choir!" Am energy. Am adolescent. Am middle school piano lessons, intramural basketball, am all kinds of passing notes in class - old enough to know what name-brand jeans are, poor enough not to own any, but hip enough to tight roll the ones I got. Am in love for the first time... every - single - day of sixth grade. Am a puppet.

i am.

I am... crackin' a joke at my locker as the seniors strut down the hall. My friends laugh at me and I am a hair tossing, twirling, crimping, big bangs sporting junior - boy crazy like I need something to change - my - life. I am youth group on Wednesdays, french-kissing on Friday nights, and Sunday School on Sunday mornings like it was God saving my soul and not Brian Whitson. Am myself and my shadow. Am a mannequin.

i am.

I am... moving the tassle from the left to the right and the only one of my friends not getting married. Am college graduate like Mom and Dad are so proud and college graduate like wanting to rip up every photo they're snapping - like I don't know what to do with my life. Am a blonde haired, perfect smile, life of the party, college graduate with a degree and no office to hang it in. Don't want to work for Dad, can't teach like Mom, and 22 years of "I'm sinning and I know it" to even ask God what He thinks. Am a blank stare, fake smile, and broken heart. Am a shell.

i am.

not alone... but feelin' that way.