Maybe You’re Just You

When people first meet me, the first thing they usually say is this:

You’re really sweet.

You’re really kind.

You’re really nice.

At first, it seems like that’s not a bad thing, you know? Like being really of something. That’s fine. That’s good. Over time, however, that really changes into too.

You’re too sweet.

You’re too kind.

You’re too nice.

All my life I’ve heard that I’m too sweet/kind/nice {insert-whatever else synonym here}. All my life. It’s the first thing anyone says. Or they mention that I’m short or that I have a great smile. Now, yes. I am short. And you know what? I do have a great smile. I’m confident enough to say that. I smile at everyone I walk past because you never know what people are going through. Maybe they could really use a smile. And maybe — just maybe — they could use a little kindness.

When I was younger, I was a people pleaser. I did what my friends wanted because well, I wanted to have friends. I did what Heather (my mother) wanted because I thought that maybe if I made her happy, she’d stay home and be with us kids. Growing up as a people pleaser — and if you were and maybe still are one you know this — kind of sucks. People walk all over you like you are nothing to them. You are their doormat. That’s all you are to them. As I grew up I realized that. I realized that I had no voice because I thought — believed that I wasn’t allowed to speak up because it would be rude. I believed that if I said something wrong that I would no longer have friends. That they would turn away after I finally said no. It wasn’t really until I moved to Arkansas at 19 that I realized that I could say no. I could have an opinion. I could have a voice. Thank you to my aunt Wendy for that. Yes, I am proud of that. I’m proud that I am not afraid to voice my thoughts. Now, don’t get wrong. Sometimes I still do bow down or out of an argument because I simply don’t care enough to say someone is wrong or because I simply don’t want to continue on with this argument. That is something I’m still working on. It will take time but I will get there.

The thing is, even if I do get to that point where I am the first to give my opinion, I don’t want to lose my sweetness or kindness or niceness. No, I’m not going to let anyone walk all over me. I am not a doormat. I am not however going to be the person who is so aggressively opinionated. You know the ones. The ones on the internet who start arguments and never let it go. The people that my aunt and I look at and say:

Tell it to them, Taylor.

Here’s the thing, I don’t see a problem with being sweet or kind or nice. Don’t let people walk all over you. Don’t be a doormat. But also, don’t be a jerk. The world is shit, okay? And yeah, it’s full of shit people at times. Most of the time, honestly. But I still believe that there are good people. And if you can just be that one person who can be kind, then maybe, the world won’t be such a shitty place. No, I’m not saying that kindness is going to save the world. I’m not saying that love is either. That’s some Lifetime, Hallmark bullshit. What I am saying is this. There are already enough assholes in the world. How about you not contribute to the asshole pandemic? It takes more effort to be kind to someone that it does to be a jerk.

So yes.

I am sweet. I am kind. I am nice. But never mistake that for weakness. I will have your back if you have mine. I will keep your secrets if you keep mine. I will protect you if you protect me. If you betray me, that trust takes a long time to regain. But you can regain it, if I feel you are worthy. If you hurt someone I love, you will never see me coming. I am ruthless when it comes to the people I love. I am fiercely passionate about the things I believe in.

I am sweet. I am kind. I am nice. But there is so much more to me than that. Those words do not define me because I like the rest of you am a complicated individual. But while those words do not define me completely, I am also not ashamed to be those things. Sweetness, kindness, niceness is not a weakness. It’s a superpower.

So I want you to take a moment. What is your weakness? What do people tell you you are too much of? Maybe you’re too loud. Maybe you’re too proud. Maybe you’re too sweet. Like me. Maybe you’re too serious. Maybe you’re too funny. Maybe you’re too brave. Maybe you’re too cautious. Whatever it is. I want you to think. Because maybe, just maybe, that’s not a weakness. You’re not ‘too‘ much of anything. Maybe you’re just. . . .you.

-K

50 Random Questions

Here’s a bit about me! Copy and paste and join in on the fun!

  1. What is the color of your hairbrush? Red.
  2. Name a food you never ever eat.
    Blueberries.
  3. Are you typically too warm or too cold? Cold.
  4. What were you doing 45 minutes ago? Watching Criminal Minds
  5. What is your favorite candy bar?Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Cream candy bar
  6. Have you ever been to a professional sports game? One basketball game and one hockey game.
  7. What is the last thing you said out loud? “Three things helped with my headache. Mom cuddles, a crystal and a shower.”
  8. What is your favorite ice cream?
    Cookie Dough.
  9. What was the last thing you had to drink? Mountain Dew.
  10. Do you like your wallet? Yes. It’s The Lion King so awesome!
  11. What was the last thing you ate?
    Lasagna.
  12. Did you buy any new clothes last weekend? Nope.
  13. The last sporting event you watched? Super Bowl LIV.
  14. What is your favorite flavor of popcorn? Buttery popcorn.
  15. Who is the last person you sent a text message to? Angela Ash.
  16. Ever go camping? Yes. It’s been a good 10 years though.
  17. Do you take vitamins? No. Probably should though…
  18. Do you go to church every Sunday? Nope. Not on Wednesday either.
  19. Do you have a tan? Yes.
  20. Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza? Yes. I love Chinese food.
  21. Do you drink your soda with a straw? Only at restaurants and fast food places.
  22. What color socks do you usually wear? Colorful.
  23. Do you ever drive above the speed limit? No. I’m an old lady. My mom is always telling me to speed up.
  24. What terrifies you? Driving. I guess.
  25. Look to your left, what do you see? Roku remote.
  26. What chore do you hate? Laundry.
  27. What do you think of when you hear an Australian accent? Hugh Jackman.
  28. What’s your favorite soda? Mountain Dew or Barq’s Root Beer if I can find it.
  29. Do you go in a fast food place or just hit the drive? Drive thru generally.
  30. What is your favorite number? 13.
  31. Who’s the last person you talked to? My mom.
  32. Favorite cut of beef? Hamburger?
  33. Last song you listened to? What A Man Gotta Do by Jonas Brothers.
  34. Last book you read? Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined.
  35. Favorite day of the week? Thursday.
  36. Can you say the alphabet backwards? Nope.
  37. How do you like you like your coffee? I don’t.
  38. Favorite pair of shoes? My boots.
  39. Time you normally go to bed? I try to go to bed my midnight.
  40. Time you normally get up? Around 9 or 10.
  41. What do you prefer, sunrise or sunset? Sunrise.
  42. How many blankets on your bed?Two.
  43. Describe your kitchen plates?Round and mistmached.
  44. Do you have a favorite alcoholic drink? White wine. Specifically peach white wine.
  45. Do you play cards? Rarely.
  46. What color is your car? Invisible.
  47. Can you change a tire? Ha. No.
  48. Your favorite state? California.
  49. Favorite job you’ve had? Wildwood Park for the Arts.
  50. How did you get your biggest scar? Punched a brick wall.

Share your answers!

Stay safe and sane, everyone!

-K

K-Mart

This is a piece that I wrote for my nonfiction class a few years ago. It was my first real experience writing something that was about me, rather than a fiction story. This is true. This is raw. Writing this was therapeutic. It was like, I released everything that I’ve felt since my childhood. I wanted to share this story with you.

My stepdad had been with us since I was four years old. When I was 14 years old, he locked us out of the house. There we were—Mom, Tristan, Chloe, Kody, and I—standing outside the front door of the house while Mom screamed and pounded for us to be let in, but it was no use.

It was the worst and best moment of my life. Worst since I didn’t know where we were going. Best since we were finally free of Brian. Things had been steadily getting worse between Brian and Mom. There wasn’t a night where they weren’t arguing. There wasn’t a dinner where there wasn’t curt responses and barbed words.

Brian kicked us out because he thought Mom was cheating on him. Again.

This was the third time he had kicked us out.

They had a repetitive process. Fight and then make up. Fight. Make up. Fight. Apologize. Fight. Fight. Make up. Rinse and repeat. It was a never-ending process. We’d move out, then we’d move back in. Or he’d move out then move back in. There was no end. Tristan, Chloe and I never talked about it, trying to make it easier for Kody. (Later, when Camron was born, we also shielded him too. It was like an unspoken rule between us three older siblings to prevent our younger brothers from seeing the truth of our shitty childhood.)

One-night, Chloe and I finally talked about it. That elephant that had always been there was finally acknowledged rather than shoved into a closet with the door locked and the key thrown out the window.

It was a bittersweet moment for me. Chloe and I were never that close. Tristan and I were close, being only a year and a half apart. He and I stuck together, two peas in a pod. But Chloe and me? After she turned 10, we didn’t get along—no more playing Barbies or playing dress up. I was no longer her hero who dressed up as a princess with her for Halloween even though I wanted to be a witch. Chloe looked at me, and she was angry and jealous. Why wouldn’t she be? Mom always asked Chloe, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” She grew up with this complex that she had to be exactly like her big sister, and due to that, our relationship was strained.

But that night so many years ago, we understood each other.

Chloe and I were in bed, feigning sleep, when Brian and Mom started fighting. Since our room was right next to theirs, we could hear them very clearly. It didn’t help that the walls were thin, and Mom and Brian weren’t exactly trying to be quiet. I was glad that Kody’s room was further away, so he couldn’t hear them arguing. Chloe was crying. I could hear her, and I asked if she was okay (clearly, she wasn’t), but like me, she was too stubborn to seek comfort. I got out of bed, laid down next to her, and held in her my arms. I pulled the blanket over us, hoping it would muffle the yelling. It didn’t. Chloe didn’t pull away from me, instead, she sought comfort from me. Her big sister.

She asked, “Why do they always fight?”

How was I supposed to answer that question? I was 14 years old. I should only care about boys and makeup. But I had to be the big sister: “I don’t know. But it’ll get better. I promise.” She clung to me, suspending that teenage independence she already developed at 10 years old, and we cried together.

The next day, Brian and Mom were getting along again. We went out to eat. Chloe went back to hating me. We were one big happy family. It was like the fight never happened. But it was all lies.

Here we were again, a few weeks later, standing outside in the rain, us kids crowding around Mom underneath the overhang of the garage. Chloe and Kody were crying, the latter clinging to Mom. Tristan was indifferent. I was resigned.

“What are we going to do?” I asked Mom again in-between the yelling and banging.

“I don’t know. But we’ll figure it out, okay?” she said.

Mom continued to yell and pound on the door until Brian threatened to call the cops. We left and stayed with a friend of Mom’s.

I assumed that we would move back in with Brian. They had that process after all. Fight. Kick Out. Make up. Come back. Fight. Kick out. Make up. Come back. I figured this would be the same. We’d stay with Mom’s friend. Mom would curse Brian’s name. We wouldn’t see him for a few weeks. But then he and Mom would kiss and makeup. We’d come back like we always did. Brian would apologize to Mom and to us kids. He’d shower us with presents and tell us that he loved us.

I was wrong.

We moved into our new house in Tulsa a few weeks later.

The house wasn’t perfect. It was smaller than the one in Broken Arrow. But those first few weeks in the new house? That was perfect. It was just us kids and Mom. She was our mom again. She played with us. She watched movies with us. She was our mom. Just ours. We lived in a crappy little house, but we were together.

Chloe and I shared a room again, and neither of us were very happy about that. Our room was cramped, barely big enough for the worn-out desk, relatively new dresser, and hand-me-down futon. Chloe and I hated that futon because the mattress always slipped out of the metal frame and we’d wake up hitting our heads. Tristan and Kody shared a room, and theirs was just as cramped. The house had rats in the garage, and the roof leaked when it rained, but we were together, and we were away from my stepdad. It was beautiful. I was happy. We were happy.

There was always this fear that Brian would come back, but Mom promised “This is it. I’m not going back. We’re not going back. I promise. It’s just us.”

I believed her. That was my mistake

A few weeks later, the bastard moved back in. I was pissed.

He’s been in my life since I was four years old. Growing up he was “Dad.” I still call him Dad when I see him occasionally. He stayed, and a part of me that will always love him, just like a part of me will always respect the fact that he raised children that weren’t his.

Brian was more of my dad than my biological father ever was. But he was cruel and vicious. He knew the right buttons to make us all cry. There were times I wished he would simply stay out of my life. There were times, especially on the days he and mom argued and threw things, that I wanted him gone. I didn’t want him as pseudo father or even a stepdad. If having him meant that my mom was always crying, then I didn’t want him. I didn’t need him.

Brian was an angry man who took out his frustrations on his girlfriend and his kids. He put my mom down, calling her all sorts of vile names: Whore. Slut. Skank. Worthless. Stupid. Cheater. He put us down, calling us all sorts of horrible names: Stupid. Lazy. Disrespectful. Ungrateful.

I didn’t need a father if he was going to be like that. I needed a mother. Of course, I didn’t quite have one of those either.

Living in Tulsa wasn’t perfect, even before Brian moved in. There was no win-win situation. Mom worked nights and didn’t come home until the next morning. I watched my siblings, ensuring they were fed, bathed, and safe. Mom was a shop alcoholic and half of the clothes in her closet still had tags. Mom spent money that she didn’t have which meant the pantry was barebones empty. But Mom was doing better. She was trying. She was better without Brian. And now the bastard was back. Again. So much for promises.

Brian came back because, in my mom’s words “He’s going through a rough time. He’ll only be staying until he gets a new job.” I couldn’t protest. What was I supposed to say? That he was a bastard, and I didn’t want him living here? I kept my mouth shut. It wasn’t like my opinion mattered.

Two weeks after Brian came back, I ran away from home. It certainly made for an interesting story come that Monday. I already had a reputation at Memorial High School for being quiet, usually tucked into a corner reading or writing with my earbuds in as I dared anyone to say something to me. Those brave enough to approach the rather standoffish new girl quickly became my friends. Being the new kid was horrible. But starting high school as the new kid? That was even worse.

We had moved to Tulsa to get away from my stepdad, and now here we were, a month after moving, and he was living with us. To me, fourteen and the oldest of 4, this was crazy. How could my mom let him come back? I didn’t understand it then, and 9 years later, I still don’t.

I couldn’t take that anymore. I couldn’t take Brian or Mom anymore. So that day, Saturday, I woke up early. Brian was at work, so I didn’t have to worry about him. I wrote a cheesy note that simply said, “I’m sorry.” I packed a backpack with clothes, a bag of chips, and a bottle of water. After I was dressed, I walked to the door. For a moment, I considered not leaving. I thought about my siblings: Tristan, Chloe and Kody. As the oldest, I was the responsible one. I made sure they got on the bus, did their homework, and finished their chores. That was my job. Being the oldest meant sacrifice, especially growing up in a broken home. But in a rare moment in my 14-year-old life, I thought about myself. I didn’t want to be responsible.

I was tired. I should have been thinking about school and boys, not concerning myself about if my stepdad decided to become physical with my mom. Again. In that moment of walking out the door of that shabby house with the rat-infested garage, I was selfish.

It was brilliant.

As I walked out that door, my heart felt like it would beat right out of my chest. I slowly closed the squeaky door. Once the door was closed, I ran. I kept running until I was a good few blocks away from my house. There was something. . .freeing about walking. But there was also guilt. I’d walk a few blocks then pause and turn around, looking back at all the responsibilities I had left behind. It was like I could hear my siblings: “How could you leave us, Keke?”

I had finally left my prison. I yanked open the barred door and ran as fast I could before I was caught. I was no longer bound by my mother’s expectations and my siblings’ need for the only true parent they knew—me. I was torn between excitement and guilt. I felt free from my prison but that crushing guilt at abandoning my siblings still came back. I swallowed that guilt and continued to walk. It was around eight in the morning. The sun was shining. It was a beautiful autumn day. People started on their daily business. I waved to a few neighbors I passed when I took walks. They probably thought I was out taking a walk again, but a longer one and that’s why I had the backpack. Walking didn’t make it seem real to me. It didn’t seem real until I realized I had nowhere to go.

I didn’t have any friends in the neighborhood. What did I do? Well, being a 14-year-old girl with no job, no cell phone, no car and no friends, I did the logical thing.

I walked to K-Mart.

It was a good two miles, on the side of a well-used road next to a Long John Silver’s and A&W fast food restaurant. Now that road is a four-lane highway, and K-Mart, Long John Silver’s and A&W are closed. The houses that once were across from them are gone.

The sidewalk was bumpy and uneven. I tripped more than twice on the way to K-Mart. But finally, I reached my destination.

What the hell was I going to do now? I walked into the store. The lady up front noticed my backpack and told me I couldn’t stay. There I was, a gangly bespectacled girl with a backpack, and she said I couldn’t stay because it would—in her words—“Disrupt the other customers.” She probably thought I was either homeless or a runaway. She was right about the latter, but I had hoped for a little sympathy.

With tears in my eyes, I asked, “Can I borrow the phone?” My voice cracked twice. That lump in my throat getting larger by the minute. I was barely holding it together.

“Yes, but you can’t stay here,” she repeated. As if I didn’t know that already. As if I didn’t know that her customers were more important than a teenage girl carrying a backpack with red-rimmed eyes.

I called my grandparents, proud that I had memorized their number. My grandparents were Brian’s parents. They had been in my life as long as he had. They enjoyed traveling so I didn’t get to see them that much, but they always made it clear that even though Tristan and I were not my stepdad’s biological children, we were still their grandchildren.

When my grandma answered the phone, suddenly no words come out. I felt like I was being strangled but somehow, between sobs and hiccups and the cashier rolling her eyes, I managed to ask, “Can you come pick me up? I’m at K-Mart. I-I ran . . . I ran away.”

There was a slight pause on the phone before my grandma responded, voice soft with that no-nonsense tone, “We’re on our way.”

“Okay,” I choked out.

I handed the phone back to the cashier. “My grandparents are on their way,” I said. She nodded, lips pursed. “Fine. Just don’t make trouble.”

I spent around twenty minutes pacing around K-Mart, ignoring the looks the cashier lady gave—as if I was a problem. I spent most of my time in the toy section, pushing the buttons and making noise . . . which was exactly what the cashier was worried about. But if she was going to be rude, I could be too. 

I couldn’t believe that I did it. I’ve thought about running away before but this time, I did it. I wasn’t quite sure how to feel about that. I was still feeling guilty; pushing all the buttons on the noisiest toys helped to distract me from that guilt. After a while, I could feel the cashier’s eyes on me, so I walked back up to the front, that way I wouldn’t “disrupt the customers.” Not that there were any customers.

A few minutes later, my grandparents showed up, and I ran into my grandma’s arms. She gave me a hug, as did my grandpa. I felt safe and loved. They said I could stay with them until things were sorted out—my grandpa’s words.

For a moment, I was free. Then right as we were about to walk out the doors, my mom walked in, talking on the phone. The second my mom saw me, I was shoved right back into my windowless cell and the barred door slammed shut. She grabbed my arm and yanked me away from my grandparents while they did nothing.

“How could you do this to me?” she screamed in my face. Yes, because it was my fault that I wanted to run away from home.

I was dragged to the car. My grandparents looked at me with pity, but there was nothing they could do. My grandma told my mom. “You need to fix this,” and then she told me to call anytime. My grandparents left me.

The car ride was quiet. Mostly. Mom talked on the phone to her friend about how her oldest daughter ran away, and she just couldn’t believe I did this to her and to my siblings. I ignored her. A few times I contemplated opening the car door, rolling out action movie style and praying I didn’t get run over by another vehicle. I didn’t do it, but it was tempting.

Finally, we were back to that shabby house where my mom and I screamed at each other. It was back to prison where she threw things and I threw things. Tristan, Chloe and Kody were outside playing. Mom didn’t want them to witness our fight.

Or maybe she didn’t want to give them ideas.

“How could you be so selfish?” she yelled.

“I hate it here! He’s changing you again!” I yelled.

“So this is my fault? I am doing the best I can!” Really. She was doing the best she could? We barely had bread and milk in the house while she went out drinking with her friends. Tristan’s shoes were peeling at the bottom. Chloe needed new glasses. That was her best?

“Well it’s not enough!” I yelled.

It was a disaster. I slammed the door in her face and locked the bedroom door. I grabbed my iPod and listened to Avril Lavigne’s “Nobody’s Home” on repeat. The chorus kept repeating in my head:

She wants to go home but nobody’s home. 

That’s where she lies, broken inside, with no place to go. 

No place to go to dry her eyes. 

Broken inside.

The song played in my head until I finally fell into an uneasy sleep.

Later that night, Mom walked in. She laid down next to me, pulling out my earbuds and hugged me tight, waking me up. She said the same old things. “I’m sorry. Things will change. I promise. I love you.” The next day, she and I went out to eat and shopping. She got me a new purse, a notebook, and Ghirardelli chocolates—as if food and clothes could make me forget. My running away was never mentioned again, but it was not the last time that I left.

When I was 19, I ran away from home again, but this time I didn’t have to come back. This time, I had grandparents who could save me. This time, I was gone for good. This time it wasn’t running away since I was a legal adult. She couldn’t drag me back this time.

I’d been planning this move for a month, but I didn’t tell my mom I was leaving until the day before. My grandma and I have been talking for a few weeks. With the help of my friend, Angela, who understood more than most about my home life, I planned my escape. Angela and her dad took me to the storage unit and helped me gather my things. Angela helped me sort through the garage and find my books. I grabbed whatever I could. Whatever could fit in Angela’s dad’s car. Anything that wasn’t completely necessary was left.

Angela’s dad was going to drive me to Fayetteville to Mom’s parents. I knew I had to tell my mom though. To this day, I still don’t know how she didn’t know what was going on. I was very clearly gathering my things. I was very clearly packing. But she seemed so surprised while standing in the kitchen when I said: “Tomorrow I’m leaving. Angela’s dad is taking me to Grandma and Grandpa’s.”

My mom sighed, in that way she did when I had disappointed her. That sigh used to make me feel something. It doesn’t anymore. I felt nothing. I no longer needed her approval. I hadn’t since I was 14. She looked at me with those hazel eyes, filled with disappointment and betrayal.

“I told you I’d take you next weekend,” she said, her arms crossed. In my peripheral vision I saw Chloe in the doorway watching the argument unfold. It was her fault that Mom had found out so soon. I wanted to wait until the last possible minute, but Chloe had eavesdropped on Angela and my conversation. Thus, this confrontation.

Angela was waiting in my bedroom. She had offered to be with me when I told my mother I was leaving. I told her that I had to do this myself.

“You said that last weekend. And the weekend before that. Angela’s dad is taking her to Iowa. It’s on the way. I am leaving tomorrow,” I said firmly. Fayetteville wasn’t on the way to Inola—in fact it was sort of out of the way. Angela’s dad would have to go up then down to get en route to Iowa. But he offered. I didn’t ask but he offered. I couldn’t refuse it when I might not have another chance.

Mom’s lips were pursed. She was angry. But there was nothing she could do. I was a legal adult. I had my social security number. I could re-order my birth certificate. I had everything I wanted to take with me. Clothes, books, and artwork. The few things that I couldn’t find, I could replace.

The next day, I said goodbye to my siblings. Kody and Camron cried and clung to me, but I told them I’d call when I could. Tristan hugged me and said, “Good luck.” Chloe glared at me and didn’t bother to say goodbye. Mom looked at me and said, “If you want to come home, call me.”

I got in the car, and I was off to a new life. A better life.

A few weeks after living with my grandparents and uncle, my aunt Wendy—or rather Aunt Meme—came and picked me up. It was an adjustment for me. I’ve never really had a parental figure. With my mother, I always felt like the mom. Living at my aunt’s, I didn’t have to ask if I could make myself hot tea like I had to at my stepdad’s. Hell, there was food in the house. My aunt provided for me. She says, to this day, if I need something, tell her. I’ve never had that before. She helped me enroll in Pulaski Technical College and get all my basics courses done. She encourages me and lets me talk her ear off about my art, writing, photography—whatever my interest is at the moment. She’s teaching me how to drive, something that Heather never encouraged. Once, I ended up in the ER while she was in Texas on vacation. She was supposed to be home that Sunday. Instead, she was there the next day. When I asked her why she said:

“My kid is sick. Of course I’m here.”

It certainly threw me for a loop.

Maybe that’s why I started calling Aunt Meme ‘Mom.’ Neither of us are sure when it started but I call her Mom now. I think it probably started off as a joke. Either Paul, Paige, or Pagan (her children, my cousins) called her Mom and then I said Mom. It made sense. It felt right.

I’ve graduated from Pulaski Technical College a two and a half years ago. Come next spring, I’ll be graduating from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock with two majors. I know that is in part thanks to her, my mom. She may have not given birth to me, but she’s my mom. We joke that a stork just dropped me off one day and I’ve been here ever since.

I’ve lived in Arkansas for 6 years, and not once have I called my mother and told her to come get me.

Occasionally I go back to Oklahoma, for Thanksgiving, for a wedding, for a comic con, but I never stay long. I don’t talk to my mother. Or rather, I never actively call her. She calls, I stupidly answer, groan, and feel exhausted. Talking to my mother makes me want to smoke. She tells me how much she misses me, loves me, and how she wishes I was home. She suddenly has to go every time I tell her with certainty, “I am home.” Then she calls a few weeks later and starts into how the boys, Kody and Camron, miss me so much. Suddenly, I’m the one who has to go. She does that all the time, trying to use the boys so I’ll come back. That’s the reason why—even though I really want too—I can’t entirely cut her out of my life. I know her. I know Heather would be petty enough to make it so that I could never talk to the boys again.

That’s another thing that’s changed. I don’t think of my mom as ‘Mom.’ I think Heather. To her face, and when I talk to my siblings, she’s Mom, said through gritted teeth with lots of eye rolls, but to my best friends, my aunt and uncle, my grandparents, she’s Heather. I don’t know when that started. Maybe it had always been there, but now I had the courage to realize that I never thought of Heather as a mother. Even my friends know when I say Mom I really mean my aunt. and when I say Heather or my mother (usually with a tone of disdain) I mean my biological mother.

I keep in contact with Tristan and Chloe, especially now that they’ve both moved out of Heather’s. Now that they aren’t pulling me back into her drama, I can speak freely to them. Tristan is happy with his fiancée and a new baby.

Chloe and my relationship has never been this good. There was a time she only texted me for my Netflix password. She moved out of our mother’s house last year. Since then, Chloe and I have gotten closer. I think having us both out of our mother’s house helped. Made it easier for us to connect and be sisters. We FaceTime regularly actually. And I enjoy our conversations. We are sisters.

When I first left Oklahoma, I did feel bad. The guilt was crushing, and sometimes I wanted to go back. But now? I don’t. It doesn’t hurt anymore. I am home. I don’t have to go to Oklahoma if I don’t want too.

This time, I left my prison for good.

This piece is now published in Quills & Pixels 2019 edition! My first published piece! Quills & Pixels is the nonfiction journal for the Rhetoric and Writing Department at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. I have the honor of being an editor for the 2018 edition and now, the honor of being a writer in this year’s edition!

Only (A Poem)

In the end

There’s only this

There’s only now

There’s only this moment

There’s only your breath on my skin

There’s only words left unspoken

Because we are too afraid

There’s only late nights

Laying under the stars

And telling each other

Our dreams

There’s only a lie

Because you left

There’s no breath

There’s no words

There’s no late nights

There’s only me

There’s only staggered breathing

As I try to forget you’re gone

There’s only regret as I remember

The words I never said

The words I wish I had said

There’s only late nights where

I can’t sleep

And the silence is loud like

A wave crashing on the shore

The sand being worn away as the

Waves keep coming in

There’s no our dreams

Because there’s no us

There’s no you

In the end

There’s only an empty bed

And a cold tombstone

There’s only the sharp

Cruel moment of sudden loss

Of a loved one

Suddenly being gone

Like a sand castle on the beach

Being swept away by

An angry roaring wave

And being gone

Just like you

Gone

Like you never existed

At all

-K

My Body, My Choice; Your Body, Your Choice

I don’t normally get political. Seriously, I don’t. My friends get on Facebook all the time and combat the internet trolls who don’t know how to express their feelings without spitting out vitriol.

My friends put on their armor and prepare for battle. Meanwhile, I’m the one behind the moat waving a white flag or shouting encouragement at my friends. It depends on the issue. Do I have an opinion? Yes. But politics is one of those subjects that never ends well.

I hate politics. Do I get that I need to stay up to date? Yeah, I get that. But politics give me a headache. Politics either make me want to scream and punch a wall or cry into a pillow.

So yeah, politics and me? Not good friends. Maybe like frenemies? Or that one person you talk to at the office but don’t know their name. At all. Yeah. That’s it.

However, I do try and stay up to date on what’s going on in this fucked up world. I don’t want to be oblivious after all. Just walking around like tra-la-la-la and not seeing the giant ass meteor of politics ready to CRASH in front of me.

My best friend Angela gives me news updates. My Aunt Meme explains things we hear on NPR. I actually get most of my news from NPR which I actually like listening too (shocker, right?). But NPR has a way of making things well, make sense and easy to understand. Plus they have some of the most interesting stories. Like the story about this woman and her bird, Bonk (it made my aunt and I tear up it was so touching).

I am aware of what’s going around me so I don’t get the meteor of politics landing on me and crushing all my hopes and dreams. I’m just a bit more. . . not sure the word I am necessarily looking for right now.

I suppose I am more neutral? Or relaxed when it comes to politics?

However, recently something has come to light in Arkansas that will affect me and other women in this state.

Roe v. Wade. We all know what it’s about. We know how important it is. There was a time in our history where women had to do some pretty messed up things in order to get an abortion. They would go to unlicensed doctors or even perform an abortion themselves.

This is what Roe v. Wade states, “that access to safe and legal abortion is a constitutional right.” (Taken from Planned Parenthood’s site.)

Now we, as women, are able to get an abortion at clinics. That’s thanks to Roe v. Wade. It set things into motion. Yes, there are states that a lot stricter when it comes to abortion laws but with Roe. v. Wade, at least there’s something. States can’t deny abortion rights. But if Roe v. Wade gets turned over, then that could very well change.

Personally, I am pro-choice. If I was to get pregnant right now (even with birth control and using a condom) I would get an abortion. I am 24 years old and living with my aunt. I do not drive. I don’t have a steady enough income. And I am still in school. I am not ready for a child at this moment. And okay, yeah people say “Maybe you should practice safe sex?” Well, birth control and condoms are not a 100% guarantee. Things happen. The condom could be old or the birth control might have something wrong with it. Some might say “Then don’t have sex.” Well having sex is my personal choice. Not theirs. Just like having an abortion is the woman’s choice.

(Fyi, NO I AM NOT PREGNANT. That was just an example.)

If Roe v. Wade is turned over that means that the states can make getting an abortion illegal. In fact, Arkansas, my lovely state, has created a “triggered” abortion law that I believe will come into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned. This law would ban all abortion in the state of Arkansas unless in a state of medical emergency. This includes victims of rape. This means that if a woman is raped and she gets pregnant, she can not get an abortion unless there is a medical reason as to why she needs one. It’s the same if incest is involved.

Arkansas is the 5th state to introduce a law like this and get it passed as a “trigger” law if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Others states include: Mississippi, Louisiana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Now, remember, this law only comes to effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned, which is something that everyone is afraid of. Either way, the fact that this law is even on the books makes me angry. First of all, how are “trigger laws” even legal? Like how can people make a law that is based on if another law is going to be overturned?

The 1950s called.

They want their stupid laws back.

What right does anyone have to tell a woman what she can do with her body? This entire thing is just so frustrating. Like no. You don’t get the right to tell me what I can and can not do to my body. It’s my body, my choice. I don’t have any right to tell you what you can do with your body. It’s your body, your choice. What kind of world do we live in where this is suddenly not the norm? How is this our world now? We’re going backward in time and it’s fucking stupid. It’s like we’re becoming The Handmaid’s Tale. (A great if not a bit scary in the reality show on Hulu. It’s also a book that I need to watch.)

Basically, the world right now? It’s a mess. And it’s not just women’s rights that are being ripped to shreds. It’s the LGBTQ+ community, it’s people of color. . .It’s everyone. I was talking to my aunt this morning and she said that it’s even worse today when it comes to race and LGBTQ+ than it was when she was in high school. That was thirty years ago.

What the hell people. Have we gone backwards in time? You know for a while there, we were doing phenomenal. Gay marriage got legalized. It seemed like every other week there wasn’t a story on a poor kid getting shot up by the kids. Now though, it’s a fucking wreck, honestly.

Also has anyone else noticed how angry people are now? You can feel it in the air. Everyone is all angry and ready to punch someone in the face. And it’s just a disaster. I really hope it gets better after the 2020 elections. Like seriously.

Here are some links to more about the law in Arkansas:

https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2019/feb/19/arkansas-governor-signs-triggered-abortion-ban-law/

https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2019/02/224859/arkansas-abortion-trigger-law-roe-v-wade-overturned

https://www.apnews.com/c169c252f666406386c65cacc7ef2d73

https://www.thv11.com/article/news/politics/arkansas-panel-endorses-proposal-to-ban-abortion-if-roe-ruling-is-struck/91-6533aeec-038c-4454-8f22-8f77b2c967f3

But to lessen the stress and make you less angry, here are some awesome posts from my favorite place, BUZZFEED!!

(Credit to the cover picture goes to my friend Samantha Dickson whom I met in Washington D.C. She went to the protest when Kavanaugh was confirmed and was happy to share the pictures she took.)

Buzzfeed Posts:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/sydrobinson1/weekly-dog-posts-feb-22-2019

https://www.buzzfeed.com/ishabassi/cute-animal-tweets

https://www.buzzfeed.com/jennaguillaume/baby-australian-animals

Bonk’s Story:

https://www.npr.org/2015/02/06/384291762/the-birds

I am experimenting with a drop cap and using the shaded boxes. To add something to the blog. Not sure if I like it yet. We’ll see. Anyways, enjoy!

-K

(Fuck A) Silver Lining (AKA I Need Motivation)

I haven’t blogged in 5 days. Sorry. But hey I am here. (Or am I?)

I haven’t had much motivation to do well. . . .anything. Also I had a concert.

Panic at the Disco Concert

Wednesday February 6th, I went with my cousin Paige and my two friends Bailey and Precious to see PANIC AT THE DISCO in Memphis, Tennessee. We had Olive Garden and then left around 3:30pm to get on the road. We got to Memphis around 5:30pm to a rather shady hotel that definitely was NOT in a good part of town. As Precious said later that night “I can feel it in my ankles.” After we got to the hotel, we got changed, charged our dead phones and then headed on our way.

It took us about 30 minutes to find where we were supposed to park. Then we finally were inside. The two opening acts (Betty Who and Two Feet) were good. Even if I had never heard them before that night.

Then Panic at the Disco came on. Brendan Urie started with “(Fuck A) Silver Lining” from the new album, Pray for the Wicked. Precious was right about that.

It.

Was.

Awesome.

I saw Justin Timberlake in January and while JT was amazing, don’t get me wrong, he was, Brendan Urie blew him out of the park. Seriously. The energy was incredible. I’ve been to a few concerts and Panic! was definitely the best one.

The video is of “This Is Gospel” which is one of my favorite songs.

It was amazing. Really. And being with the girls was something I really needed. I didn’t really know how much I needed it until that night. I was in a great mood the next just by getting out and being with people. I need to work on getting out more.

I had to leave of course but Panic at the Disco was seriously amazing. The second to last song he played was “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and it was great.

Brendan mentioned that he’d been singing in Panic for 15 years. I have been listening to Panic for 15 years. I have grown. And so have they. It’s incredible.

School

I have had no motivation to do class work. It’s not that I don’t care. I do. Hell I want to graduate. But I am not motivated. At all.

Today I woke up at 9:30am and since then have been working on homework. I am finally caught up. I forced myself to do homework and do it well (or at least semi well) because I am not going to fuck up my GPA. I guess I just need to get through my little funk is all.

Or try at least. I got this. (I think. I hope. I pray.)

Another video! Enjoy! And sorry for the bad quality. My phone is terrible.

-K

Why Am I Watching Videos of Soap Being Cut?

So all day today I’ve been watching videos of people cutting soap. Why? Well for some strange reason it’s soothing and kind of like slows down my brain. All day I’ve been sort of cranky but for some damn reason watching videos of soap being cut and listening to the soothing noise helped me relax.

I wonder it it’d help me sleep…

Short post but I am in pain so hard to concentrate.

-K

Songs I Am Currently Obsessed With

These are songs that I am currently obsessed with – for different reasons that I will explain.

Why am I obsessed with this song? The emotion in it is amazing. I love Jacoby Shaddix and I love Maria Brink. I have listened to Papa Roach for years, and now thanks to this song, I’ve been listening to In This Moment (Maria Brink’s band). The emotion between them and the lyrics is just incredible. This song is about a relationship that is going through a rough patch, but no matter what they still love each other. And like gravity, they’ll come back down. Come back together. Like most of Papa Roach’s song, this song is relatable.

One of my favorites parts is when Jacoby is singing:

” ‘ Get the hell away!”
You’re not a husband, not a father, just a pig
And you can never change all the things that you did!’ “

And Maria Brink is on the phone saying the words with him. It’s a beautiful line.

Other songs of Papa Roach I like are “Falling Apart,” “No Matter What” and “American Dreams.” Check them out!

I found Firefight while on browsing a playlist on Spotify. Since then I have played this song. A lot. Can you blame me? I like her voice. I like the beat. I like the lyrics.

Lyrics are what really attract me to songs most of the time. If I’m more in a dance mood, then yeah, it’s a beat. But I listen to music for the meaning of the song.

For this song, she’s asking for help. For someone, whether a friend or a lover, to ‘stay close.’ To stay.

My favorite lyrics:

“Precious denial,
A stone to break my back.
The chains I carry won’t cut me any slack.
Imprisoned by fear,
No room for my heart
My only hope,
Only you can heal the scar.”

“Hanging on a by Thread” by The Letter Black is another song I found via a playlist. In fact, I clicked on “Song Radio” for the Fireflight song and this song popped on that list. I fell in love and have been playing it ever since.

The Letter Black is like a mix of Flyleaf and Halestorm. This song is similar to “Stay Close.” Another song about asking for help, saying ‘hey, save me from me because I’m fucked up.’ I like this song so much that it’s the title for a Batman fanfiction that I am working on. (Yes, I write fanfiction. In another post I’ll tell all the ones I’m working on.)

My favorite lyrics:

“Save me from losing myself
I’m hanging on by a thread
Can you see who I am
Underneath my scars
I’m afraid to fall
So I’m holding on to you
No I won’t let go
I’m hanging on by a thread.”

Now to completely shift gears and onto my next song. Seriously. About to go from alternative rock to soft pop.

This song. God. Do I relate to this song. Every time I hear this song, it makes me tear up, which is strange since not a lot of songs do that. But “Consequences” by Camila Cabello, makes me feel so hard. I can’t listen to it repeatedly otherwise I feel like I need to cry and need a hug from my aunt.

I think we all can relate to this song. Who hasn’t fallen in love with someone and it was a rush. God, it was amazing. And then when it was over, you realized that it wasn’t good. It wasn’t amazing. It fucking sucked. It hurt. And while you want to regret it – and hell, you do – you also know you’ve learned from it. This song reminds me of Morgan. (If you don’t know that story then you won’t get it. But if you do know the story, you’ll get it.) And it hurts. But I still listen to this song.

My favorite lyrics:

“Loving you was dumb, dark and cheap
Loving you still takes shots at me
Found loving you was sunshine, but then it poured
And I lost so much more than my senses
‘Cause loving you had consequences.”

This song. Oh lord. I have listened to this song on repeat at least 10 times. Probably even more than that.

This song. Out of all the songs, even though the music seems sad, the lyrics are almost hopeful. This song is about being in love with someone and it’s like, well “fire on fire.” It’s about being with someone and you just click with them. It makes sense. And it’s amazing and incredible and terrifying all at once. It’s like a wildfire raging out of control until the firefighters come and then it’s all well.

This song makes me long for that kind of love. I like that instead of comparing it to fire and water, the song is like no, it’s fire on fire. It shouldn’t work, but hell, it does. And that’s okay. It’s about not letting people tell you it’s wrong. It’s a hell of a contrast to “Consquences.”

My favorite lyrics:

“Fire on fire, we’re normally killers
But this much desire, together, we’re winners
They say that we’re out of control and some say we’re sinners
But don’t let them ruin our beautiful rhythms.”

First, the video to this song is a bit trippy. Seriously, watch it. Second, the video suits the song quite well. I can’t remember how I found this song. I think I was on YouTube and it did the whole autoplay thing and this song came on.

This song is so real. Broken people find broken people. The lyrics are sad but the beat is almost peppy? It’s a contradiction. That’s why I like it. It doesn’t match, but that’s okay.

When it comes to relationships, I always say that in order to love someone, you have to love yourself first. With this song, it’s saying “Hey, you’re broken. And I’m broken. But that’s okay.” It’s a different perspective. That maybe broken can fix broken.

My favorite lyrics:

“Life is not a love song that we like
We’re all broken pieces floating by
Life is not a love song, we can try
To fix our broken pieces one at a time.”

And that’s it for today!

Bonus song because the video cracks me up.

-K