Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Eternal Fear of Failure.

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When I was younger, I could think of nothing more frightening than rejection.  Being told no.  Losing.  Lately, however, I find myself with an unusual new attitude.

Nobody is going to take away my birthday if I fail.

I am applying for things that I won’t get, I’m attempting things that scare me.  I’m trusting people when I swore I wouldn’t ever trust anyone again.  I’m throwing caution to the wind and running with scissors.

You know what the most amazing thing is?  I’m making friends and progress.  I’m getting close to people who could do massive emotional damage to me, but I’m slowly recovering from my fear.  I’m doing things I care about with people I care about.  I’m making a fantastic life that could go horribly wrong at any moment, but I’d have  to quote the great theatrical production,  South Park if something happened:

“I’m sad, but at the same time I’m really happy that something could make me feel that sad. It’s like, it makes me feel alive, you know? It makes me feel human. And the only way I could feel this sad now is if I felt somethin’ really good before. So I have to take the bad with the good, so I guess what I’m feelin’ is like a, beautiful sadness. I guess that sounds stupid. ”

I’m going to stop being a big sap now, but I just want to encourage everybody to try. It doesn’t have to be something big. Start small.  Do things  you’re afraid of.  I have and my birthday is still in April, right where I left it.

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Chattanooga vs. New Orleans

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Yep, that got some people’s attention.  Before you start screaming, let me tell you what I’m talking about. (Important note:  Hover on the pics, I’m asiding.)

I grew up in Chattanooga with the intention of leaving as soon as possible. I have never wanted to be here.  I can tell you all the bad things.  Crooked politicians, Market Street could collapse at any moment and leave us all in a pit of the old part of town, the schools don’t have enough money, my old high school doesn’t even have a choir…one of Chattanooga’s biggest problems can be summed up simply by saying “the Ridgecut”.

I always wanted to go to New Orleans. Badly.  I didn’t get to go until 2007, but from the minute I set foot in the city, I loved it.  The air breathes differently.  It’s a hot in August that I’d never experienced before, and that’s saying something for a southern girl.  The mix of people that you run into on a given day in New Orleans makes you feel like you’ve walked into some other place where country doesn’t matter, you’re all from nowhere.  The food is amazing, and the most important thing…there is music everywhere.  There is art everywhere.  There is history everywhere.

I am, however, in Chattanooga.  For better or worse.  As previously mentioned, I find that Chattanooga and New Orleans are having similar crime issues.  The circumstances, though, have forced me to acknowledge what I like about Chattanooga and what personality we have as a city.  We have history.

I can find things in New Orleans, lots of things that I love.  I accidentally wander into things there.  I know things here, though.  I know that the best cheeseburger is at the Doctor’s Building Coffee Shop (sorry, everybody else, I love Chaco).  I know that I can get homemade relish and cream cheese on a hotdog at Good Dog.  I know that I can fall over in Coolidge Park and read in the grass during the warmer months.   I know which stores have stacks of records or books stuck in their corners.

I figured out that the most important thing about Chattanooga is that I know where to find my friends.  They’re always right over there…or over there… or over here if I need them.  Have I made a difficult decision to keep Chattanooga instead of trading it in for New Orleans?  In a lot of ways, but I have something that I’d have trouble finding in New Orleans, people who love me and they aren’t replaceable.

Ridiculously Naive and Exceedingly Hopeful.

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So, I think we’re all agreed that Chattanooga is sort of overrun with people who misuse guns.  We are overrun with gang violence.  We’re overrun with educational issues, not enough funds for educations in the arts, etc.  Everybody has some sort of “action” plan, but I’m not really sure how much real action there is behind any of these.

I’m a big fan of New Orleans as a city.  They have a similar problem, though.  Anybody who’s been there or keeps up with things there knows that there are two huge things in New Orleans, music and crime.  When this came across twitter today, I thought it was a great plan for them.  They have a huge musical heritage and a huge musical community.  “Too bad it wouldn’t work here.” was my next thought.  It was immediately followed by, “But why shouldn’t it?”

A friend of mine said that he was repairing and buying instruments on his own for a while, but that he had no community support, so he stopped. That makes me a little sick and extraordinarily sad.  Chattanooga has just started a large arts event and puts artwork on all the corners downtown to show how “artsy” and progressive we are as a city.  We take pride in our art museum and our symphony.  We have murals and sculpture gardens, we have a community theatre.  You know what else we have?  We have nine shootings in thirteen days, and that was the total from a few days ago. I haven’t even seen the news to see if we’ve had more.

If we are willing to support the arts, and willing to plaster our streets with outside artists work, then we should be willing to support a local art scene that could possibly help save lives.  We should be able to realize that more police presence only goes so far.  It’s not enough to stand by and say, “Well…what are you going to do?”  This is your city.  This is your community. I’d be willing to do a lot of work for a program like this, but I certainly have no money, I don’t know instruments, I can’t teach anybody to play (except some very beginner piano lessons and some very beginner voice lessons).  I can’t supply a place.  I can supply organizational skills, I can supply enthusiasm, I can supply moral support…other people have other skills and resources.  Am I being ridiculously naive and exceedingly hopeful?  Yep, but sometimes that’s what you need for progress.

If I die…

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Well, I mean, I’m going to.  I mean soon, though.

It’s probably that I spent too much of my early life in funeral homes that makes me think like this.   My family came from a place and time where you still had all-nighters in the funeral home.  I slept on a lot of red velvet, Victorian-style sofas until I woke up one morning with my eye swollen shut and we realized I might be allergic to the upholstery cleaners they used.  I think that’s why I think a lot about my funeral.  I’ve always done it.  In high school, I was planning my funeral.

I’d rather die than have it in a funeral home…ok, not funny, but I really can’t stand them.  All the neutral colored, neo-classical architecture. Blech.  I don’t want a bunch of people bumping into each other in fancy clothes, wondering if they can or can’t take the coffee in with the casket.  I don’t want a casket either. Ugh.  And for the love of high school basketball, I don’t want a bunch of $500 flower crosses on tripods!

I want everybody to cook something.  We’re in the south, you’re gonna do it anyway, might as well make it useful. Put on jeans and t-shirts, or tuxes and fancy ball gowns, or duck costumes.  Whatever you feel comfortable in that day.   Use it as an excuse to go get something you’ve always wanted and never thought you’d wear.  (“I wasn’t going to buy that crystal coated gown with the fifty layer tulle skirt, but then Alice died…*sigh* I had to wear something!)  Take your covered dish down to the Riverpark and get a table.  Somebody might have to rent the pavilion, it’s Chattanooga, it could rain on the three people who show up without warning.  Hook up my laptop and hit shuffle.  Listen to all of it.  Buffy musical, Here Come the Mummies, Irish pub songs, the whole nine.  After you leave, the family is going to go to New Orleans and throw my ashes in the Mississippi anyway, because even my ashes aren’t spending eternity in Chattanooga.  (Heck, pack up and go to New Orleans with them.  Go to one of the art museums, go to Jackson Square, sit at Cafe Du Monde and get caffeined up, go to the Avenue Pub and have the Dumptruck waffle fries!)

Most importantly, learn things.  I’m alright that you won’t learn the higher, loftier things from my funeral.  You certainly won’t learn how important it is to have a big, close-knit group of blood relatives.  You won’t learn how important it is to have a long career.  I hope you learn that music is joy, it’s sorrow, it’s pain, and it’s love.   Learn that trees are amazing, and color is everywhere.  Find out that you can learn things from fictional books, because I always have.  Being frivolous, being silly, and being hysterically happy aren’t actually childish.  Learn that painting a mural on any wall of your house is ok.  It’s your house. You want a big black and silver tree in your closet?  DO IT!  Try things! Rejection is only one person’s opinion (or a group…depending on what you got rejected from or over), and sometimes that hurts, but they can’t take away your birthday.  Please learn that helping people doesn’t always mean using money…and that your family is a collection of people that love you because they want to do it, not because they feel required to do it.  Donate your organs!  They may be crappy, but there’s a good chance they’re still better than somebody else’s organs.  In summation, life is not something that happens to you, it’s something that you create.

I feel better now that I’ve gotten that out, so maybe somebody will learn something without me actually having to die…because…that would be cool.

What is your “Red Dress”?

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This is what I’m on about for the past two days.  I’m working on some thoughts about the red dress thing.  Physically, I can provide dresses. They aren’t the greatest ever, but they are what I can donate to the cause.  What if that isn’t all I can donate?

What if each community could provide a Red Dress Place?  Not a “foundation”.  A foundation implies paperwork and money and a bunch of frownie face individuals who have to approve where the red dresses go, but a few people who can manage the sizes.  Here’s the thing…a red dress doesn’t have to be a red dress.  Read this for details:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferleggio/2012/01/09/traveling-red-dress-movement-proves-social-media-foundation-is-still-people-empowerment/

I know people who have “red dresses”.  One of them has wind-up toys, one has antique books, one has cars, one has a massive collection of yarn.

One thought I had was a collection of girly flowery dresses for young girls for pediatric patients. How cool would it be to supply enough dresses to provide a princess tea party in pediatric ward?

So, what’s your “red dress”?  What do you need to that is flamboyant, dynamic or magical?  What do you have that could be magical to somebody else that you can pass on?

Why I need two blogs and other excuses.

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Anybody who knows me knows that I will take off on a wild tear and decide to fix the world.  There are just things that need to be done and I often need a place to tell people about them.  I also might get a little wordy on things that have absolutely nothing to do with food.

I’m currently mulling around ideas in my head that are going to need a place to go for organizational reasons, and while tonight isn’t the time to go into details (so far, the details still include bunnies and white clouds…I’ve had an awful lot of Nyquil), soon it’ll all need to come out.