I have spent most of my life thus far in Illinois. Before you ask, I do not live in or near Chicago. ( If you sense a smidgen of disdain in my tone, you should.) Aside from two years in Indianapolis, I have lived in Southern Illinois, always closer to Kentucky than Chicago.
I was raised in the country by country people. My entire family was raised in the South (Texas, Kentucky, and Mississippi). They raised me, I assume, much in the way they were raised – with a firm hand. I suppose I am thankful for that, but I still think most of them are completely insane. My grandmother was my saving grace most of my life. She is the only person I have never doubted and ever trusted entirely. Don’t get me wrong, she was just as crazy as the rest of them, maybe more, but she was (and is) my guardian angel.
I currently work as a medical technologist and records clerk for a small medical office. I won’t lie. I hate most of it, but it pays the bills (sometimes), I can get off work whenever I need to, my co-workers and I get along most days, and I don’t need a doctor’s note every time I get sick because I work for a doctor. There are some perks to working for barely over minimum wage and rarely getting full-time hours. I would really love to be a paid writer – journalist, novelist, columnist, bloggist (anything ending in “ist” that has to do with writing). As we all know, it takes time and money to chase a dream and I don’t have much of either. For now I am happy writing in my spare time between assisting with epidurals, digging through years of medical records, commuting 62 miles round trip to work, and spending time with my boyfriend, family, and friends.
I have a past, but it’s not as bad as you might think. I grew up in a pretty conservative home, mostly raised by my grandmother on my dad’s side and my biological mother. My mother struggled a lot in her younger years, grew up without a father, and had a difficult time understanding me as a child. Who am I kidding? She still has a hard time understanding me. My father’s mother was a saint! She was always there to pick up the pieces, take me off my mother’s hands when she couldn’t deal with me, and save me from my mother when I couldn’t stand another moment in her presence. My mom means well, and she tried really hard, but she has crazy in her blood! I don’t blame her, and I love her. She’s a good woman, but we’re too much alike to spend more than a few hours together at one time. Grandma and I were joined at the hip from Day One and most of my favorite childhood memories have her in them. I lost her in January, but I can feel her with me every day.
Growing up in a strict household saved me from a lot of the things my friends struggled with. I didn’t lose my virginity at a young age, or drink before I was 21. I never smoked a cigarette until I was 30, and I have never tried illegal drugs. As thankful as I am, and proud, to be able to say those things, I also feel like I missed out on a lot of things -rights of passage. I never went to a homecoming dance or learned how to put on make-up. I didn’t get to die my hair with Kool-Aid at a slumber party, get grounded for breaking curfew, or get caught making out with a boy in Beer Can Alley. I never went to a real concert until I was 30 years old, not even New Kids on the Block (Now I’m showing my age). When I finally realized I didn’t have to follow those rules anymore, I kind of went crazy. I moved away to Indianapolis, drank a lot, hit a few (shhhh) strip clubs, made some very non-conservative friends, and woke up one day when I was sleeping in my car and showering at work because I lost my roommate and my apartment. I came crawling back home and married the first redneck to come along.
Ten years later, I am divorced, have suffered a total of four miscarriages, and have an entirely different life than I ever imagined for myself. I moved to a new town, have all new friends (aside from the few tried and true), have an amazing boyfriend, and I love my life. Despite my shortcomings and imperfections, despite the hardships that seem to follow me, I love my life. I love myself. I wouldn’t trade what I have for all the money in the world.