Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Breaking News: Homophobes Give to Homos

In these economically woeful times everyone needs to be doing their part. Today, my family and I did our part to support the gay and transgendered community of New York. Although my parents have a gay son, they still remain one of the most anti-gay and homophobic people I know. So I always giggle when an awkward homosexual situation presents itself on tv, at the mall or wherever else we may be. So imagine my delight as they clap for and donate to the prancing homos. I need to give a little background here.

We wanted to see Hairspray on Broadway so we entered our names into the lottery to get cheap tickets, you enter your name in and if they draw your name you get 2 front row tickets at $26.50 a piece. We’d heard that Hairspray is a sure fire show to get into with the lottery, but since this week has been tourist central we didn’t really have a chance. As we wallowed in our failure we decided to go to Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway where your servers pimp out their talent in order to get a few tips. That’s pretty much as good as a Broadway show right? The first thing I noticed, after the long line, was the flamers prancing around belting tunes and waiting tables. Sister #1 has been to the restaurant a few times before and befriended one of the servers. The server she befriended, to my astonishment, was King of the Flamers, complete with a limp wrist, lisp, and perfectly coiffed hair. As they passed the microphone around between servers I noticed that they all shared these flaming traits. I began adding little side comments to whatever the family was saying. My mom would say “Wow, look how big he can open his mouth!”

“I’ll bet that comes in handy,” was my response.
Pointing out that these guys are flamers does not take away from the fact that they have immense talent, and I’m sure they are very nice, respectable people. It was just interesting to see my family’s reaction to them. With me, if I bring up anything “gay” their faces go stony and all conversations stop. But here they are clapping their hands and singing along with the gays. After a few enthusiastic numbers, one of the servers announced that a “singer’s donation bucket” would be going around to gather small donations for their singing careers. As my mom threw a few dollars into the bucket all I could think was that once the servers divided up their shares one of them was bound to go out and use that money to buy their next pair of leather chaps or the latest and greatest sex swing.
I also made a new friend today.

I named her Laila Rose the Transgendered Human Statue. She would constantly change her poses at an excruciatintly sluggish pace. Laila Rose the Transgendered Human Statue, would also giggle in delight and tap you with her flower if you dropped money into her box. I have never been presented with a better reason to give a dollar.


She gave me her heart. I will cherish it forever.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New York So Far...

*Good enough to be reposted.



* Read me a bed-time story!




*Boys vs. girls gingerbread trains. I declared the boys the winner 3 different times. You don't need to see the girls's.

Friday, December 26, 2008

GYPSY = Orgasm

ANGEL: New York City
MARK: Uh Huh
ANGEL: Center Of The Universe
COLLINS: Sing It Girl
ANGEL: Times Are Shitty But I'm Pretty Sure They Can't Get Worse
MARK: I Hear That
ANGEL: It's A Comfort To KnowWhen You're Singing The Hit The Road Blues. That Anywhere Else You Could Possibly Go After New York Would Be A Pleasure Cruise
~RENT

Right now I'm writing this on the kitchen floor of my sister's one bedroom, one bathroom, high rise apartment, located in Queens, New York. The kitchen floor also doubles as my sleeping quarters during this trip. My dad said it was "important to my sister" that she provide us housing for the week that we are here. I said that it was important to me that I get a good nights rest and get a hotel. He won out so here are the six of us squeezed into this apartment. The apartment is really nice. We're located on the 36th floor and we have a great view of the city across the river. Yesterday (Christmas day) the Empire State Building was lit up in blue and white for Hannukah and red and green for Christmas.

We spent today in Herald Square shopping our little hearts out. I believe the rest of New York shared our brilliant idea and joined us in this little shopping adventure. My "personal space bubble" was popped as soon as we stepped off the subway, and I don't think I'll get it back until I get off the plane in Salt Lake City. We shopped and shopped until our feet and wallets begged us to stop. After shopping came my highlight of the trip, GYPSY! Being the musical fanatic of the family, I was in charge of picking which Broadway show we were going to see. I chose Gypsy. This decision was made based on two factors: Patti LuPone was the star, and there were strippers. Neither of these factors let me down. Patti LuPone was absolutely flawless in her performance as Rose. I have been listening to the soundtrack for months, but I still got chills as she belted out the lyrics written by Sondheim. The gay part of me manifested itself tonight. I was giddy with excitement as we waited for the play to start. After it was finished I clapped until my hands were sore and could take no more. I don't think anyone really enjoyed the play as much as I did. Sister #1 fell asleep, and Sister #2 was caught up on the stripping. I was ready for Patti to jump on up and start all over again. Here is a youtube video of her singing the famous Everything's Coming Up Roses.





*Sister #2 and I out on the pier right by the apartment. Notice the Empire State Building in the background all lit up.


*You know the star is a big deal when her name is bigger than the title's.


Side story: We had a nazi door woman in our section at the theater. We got in trouble for taking pictures before the show started, climbing over the seat, and having candy in the theater. She was on us like a hawk. Ours weren't the only balls she was busting either. No one was going to do anything against the rules in her section.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I've got friends in high places

I met the real Santa Claus today at The Road Home while volunteering at their annual radio broadcast fundraiser. I started out collecting donated items, then graduated to taking pictures of kids with Santa. You'd better be nice to me or else I'll tell my new friend Santa to skip your house!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Parties, who needs 'em?


Who came up with the idea of political parties? I hope they are in hell and preparing the welcome party for Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reiley. We love to put people into boxes and that is what political parties allow us to do. These boxes allow us to know someone without ever getting to know them. You’re a homophobic, gun tottin’, bible thumpin’, uneducated, conservative red neck who speaks a hobbled form of English which liberated you from having to say the g’s at the end of words. I know all this because you just told me you’re a republican. And you’re a hippy, tree hugging, gay loving, New Yorker reading, elitist, atheist who would love nothing more than to see abortions on demand. I know this because you told me that you’re a democrat.


Instead of researching and learning as much as we can about candidates and their positions on important issues, we simply check the box of the candidate with the preferred letter in parenthesis at the end of their name. With the huge quantity of information ready at the tips of our fingers, thanks to an amazing tool called “Google,” we can learn voting histories, stances on issues and many other important things to know when considering which candidate to vote for. In this “don’t make me think, just make it work” society we live in, that research is too much work. I need to find out how the people from “Lost” got on the island and why they’re there. I can’t be bothered to research candidates who will shape the world my kids will live in.



Here in Utah we have an infamous state senator named Chris Buttars from West Jordan. He continues to be re-elected despite the downright moronic statements he makes. Last legislative session while debating a bill he said “This baby is black. It’s a dark, ugly thing.” He has gone on record as saying that the Supreme Court’s decision on Brown v Board of Education was “a bad decision.” What the hell? Where does this guy come from? I truly wonder if the people of West Jordan would keep re-electing this fool if he didn’t have (R) at the end of his name on the ballot. How much better would our government be if all candidates were allotted the same amount of campaign funds and were not backed by giant parties? It would be so much better if we didn't have the crutch of political parties to lean on, and instead had to actually learn about the people we're voting for.


Instead of getting our panties in a bunch about which party is in charge, we should be working to come together and fix the problems we've gotten ourselves into. Instead of pointing fingers at which party is to blame for these problems, let's work together to solve them. We deserve better than the vain, corrupt, and bitchy system that is our political parties.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tag, I'm it

I guess I've been by tagged by Nola.
8 Things

8 Of my Favorite books
1) Nobody Don't Love Nobody
2) Dry
3) Running with Scissors
4) Beloved
5) Glass Castle
6) The Street Lawyer
7) 3 Cups of Tea
8) Kaffir Boy

8 Things That Happened Yesterday
1) Worked and hated it.
2) Left work early.
3) Went to the Albertsons and bought pickles and popcorn
4) Had a Fabulous Fart Feast with Fannie Francine Feltcher
5) Had an intimate moment with Seth (My imaginary boyfriend.)
6) Laughed till I cried on about 3 seperate occasions.
7) Left for work early so I wouldn't have to drive my crippled dad. (I'm an ass.)
8) Got Starbucks

Things To Look Forward To-
1) Starting my new job
2) Visiting Sister #1 in New York!
3) Christmas time in New York
4) Finding Tina Fey on the streets of New York and getting coffee with her. Then she'll say "Hey you're pretty cool. Wanna be on 30 Rock?"
5) Celebrating the New Year in Times Square.
6) Volunteering at the radio broadcast at The Road Home on the 22nd. Be there if you can!
7) Reading for fun and not for school.
8) Going back to Ghana some day.

8 Things On My Wish List-
1) Good books.
2) World peace.
3) No more hunger
4) A Greyhound. They're beautiful.
5) A one way plane ticket to Ghana.
6) A lunch date with Nola and baby Lila.
7) My laundry to wash itself
8) World peace.

8 Things I Love About Winter-
1) Christmas eve
2) Christmas morning
3) Christmas afternoon
4) Christmas night
5) Christmas music. Kathleen Battle and Kristin Chenoweth are at the top of the list right now.
6) Snow (sometimes)
7) Snowboarding
8) Family time

I tag
Sam and whoever else reads this blog.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Seth. The Boyfriend.

“Hey, wanna go steady?” I casually ask Seth as we stroll down the street arm in arm on a brisk December evening.

“Sure,” he replies. “Does that mean I get to fart around you, fight over the remote control, and tell you the truth when you ask me if you look fat?”

“Yup! I think this is going to work out just fine, Seth.”

Seth has strong arms, a chiseled jaw line, high cheek bones and a mind quicker than Stephen Colbert’s. He can be easily mistaken as a Greek God. We met in a coffee shop on a cold November afternoon.

*queue flashback sound effect*

I’m sipping my tall mocha and listening to “A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas” on my iPod when I notice a certain presence enter the room. I look around searching for its source when my eyes lock with this tall, dark and handsome man’s. After ordering his Venti caramel macchiato (low fat, no whip) he makes his way over to my table. “Is this seat available?” He asks.

“Of course,” I reply.

“What are you listening to?” He asks.

“The new Kristin Chenoweth Christmas album.”
“Oh, my goodness I love Kristin Chenoweth. I watch Pushing Daisies religiously. I can’t believe it is going off the air.”

“I know America just needs to pull its head out, stop watching stupid shows like “Lost” and recognize quality entertainment.”

“You said it!” He agrees. “My name’s Seth. What’s yours?”

“Taylor.” I search for something to talk about, anything. What on earth can I have in common with this gorgeous piece of man meat standing in front of me? I go with the proverbial “Do you come here often?”
“No, I just moved here from Seattle to take a job working with refugee families from Darfur.”
“Wow, that’s incredible! The pay must be pretty dismal though.”

“Yeah, but that’s ok. I inherited a large sum of money when my grandpa died. He invented post-its.”
A man with heart, drive, a career, AND money?! How could this have happened to me?
“I’ve gotta run I have some appointments to get to. What’s your phone number? I’ll call you and we can get together some time.”
I scrawl down my number on a napkin and give it to him with a toothy smile.
The best thing about this relationship is that it produces absolutely no stress. I am free to do whatever I want, whenever I want. I don’t have to worry about who pays for dates or who will initiate sexual contact, and the awkwardness that can entail. I don’t have the dent in my paycheck that a relationship usually produces. And I never ever have to compromise. The very best thing about this relationship is that it’s not real. It’s a figment of my imagination. So let me introduce you all to my imaginary boyfriend, Seth. He embodies everything I want in a boyfriend without the emotional and financial cost on my end. One day I’ll find the real life version of Seth, but for now the imaginary version works just fine for me.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Family....isn't it about time? (final one)

Mom

My mother is an incredible person, and we share a bond that she doesn’t share with either Sister #1 or Sister #2. That bond has been tested and strengthened through the past year and a half since coming out. My mom was the person who’s reaction I feared and dreaded the most. I didn’t want to hurt her the way I did. I hate that she views my homosexuality as a reflection of her parenting. She has said multiple times that she believes if she were a better mother than I would not be this way, and that breaks my heart. I owe so much to her, and I could not ask for a better mom.

I love when my mom is proud of me and the things that I do. The other day I did very well on a test so I texted her and she replied “You’re a genius, I’m so proud of you. Keep up the good work!” Those simple words made my day. Whenever I won a tennis match that she couldn’t be at, or did well in out of state volleyball tournaments that she couldn’t be at, she would be the first person I called to tell. It makes me feel good when I know she is proud of my accomplishments.

My mother is the sole reason behind my success and love for both tennis and volleyball. I’ve had some incredibly talented and knowledgeable coaches in each sport, but I attribute my love, interest and success in these sports to her. As early as 4 years old I can remember going to her volleyball games and seeing how much fun the sport is. I was always her warm up buddy. We would pepper (pass the ball back and forth) and impress all the other women with the skills my mommy taught me. As I grew older and became more competent in my skills I joined a club volleyball team, which is not cheap. Both my sister and I (and later my other sister) were playing on club volleyball teams, costing upwards of $4,000.00 a piece depending on where we would be traveling for tournaments and such. My mom left the house and went back to work so that her kids could have the opportunity to enjoy the game they love. And when I was frustrated because I didn’t feel like I was the best on my team and wanted to quit, my mom wouldn’t let me. I was so mad at her for that, but now I couldn’t be more thankful to her. In addition to paying for the club volleyball fees and the insanely expensive tennis lessons, she also drove insane amounts of miles to get me to each practice. I had volleyball practice 2-3 times a week near Thanksgiving point (a 45 minute drive each way) and tennis practices 3-4 times a week in different parts of the Salt Lake valley (a 20 – 30 minute drive). Her life revolved around getting me to practice on time, well fed, with the proper equipment, and with an excitement to start practice. I owe her so much for her sacrifices to me. She put me before herself and I will forever be in her debt. Despite my mother’s flaws, I love her fiercely.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Love?


If there is one thing I excel at, it is asking questions. I am fascinated with how people work, and why they react specific ways in certain situations. Here are a few questions I have about love, specifically dealing with lovers "That word bums me out unless it's between the words meat and pizza." - Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

The big 4 letter word…..love. What does that word exactly mean? What does that word imply? What are you willing to do because of that word? What are you willing to abstain from because of that word? When is it appropriate to use that word? What’s the difference between loving someone and being in love with someone? Where do you get the words to accurately express your love? From songs? Poems? Shakespeare? He’s always good for a line or two. What’s the difference between lust and love? How and/or when does lust turn into love? Is love supposed to be messy? Is love worth fighting for if it means losing yourself in the fight? How does love transform you? Your ideals? Your goals? Your opinions?

Does love bud, blossom and then wilt away like a flower? Is it like our stock markets right now…unpredictable? Is my love the same as your love? Is it ok to love differently? Does love make you blind? Does it consume every part of you so that all other passions and goals melt effortlessly into one passion and one goal; that one passion and goal now being your love for another person? Is it ok to use the same strategies, pet names, or rituals used in a previous love? Is that appropriate? Is that honest? Is that love? Is it a good thing to love someone so much that you will do anything for them? If someone says that they are in love with you do you have to be in love with them back? Can the relationship last if you aren’t ready for that yet? Is it right to fall in love if you’ve recently ended a relationship? Does that undermine the previous relationship? Is that disrespectful to the previous lover?

I have my answers to some of these questions. Wouldn't life just be a lot easier if we knew all the answers to all the questions? Although, where would be the fun in that?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Family...isn't it about time?

The Sisters



Growing up, Sister #1 and I were partners in crime. We ganged up against Sister #2, my parents and whoever else stood in the way of our fun. I love her. When she was a crazy teenager I would always wonder how the hell that brain of hers worked. The things she did to get in trouble with my parents never made sense to me. I was constantly asking her “Why do you do that? You know mom’s going to freak out. You know you’re going to get grounded. Why do you do it?” Even though I didn’t understand why she did what she did, she could always come to me and just talk. We would wait until my parents went to bed then I would sneak into her room and she would tell me about her latest boyfriend, party, drama, whatever was going on. She told me secrets and that was my favorite part. I loved that I knew things about my sister that nobody else knew. My role in these night time pow wows was simply to listen, and I did it well. I felt so honored that a “grown up” like her would come to me to talk about all her “grown up” problems and tell her “grown up” secrets to me. These talks would last late into the night only to be broken up by an annoyed parent who mistakenly thought they put us to bed hours ago. I guarded Sister #1’s secrets with my life. My mom would always try to get the secrets out of me but I was a steel trap! Sister #1 also comes with her flaws. One of which is her impulsive need to be in charge. She needs to be the one calling the shots. Sister #1 will decide if she wants to listen to and follow what you say. Sister #1 will decide if what you are doing is right or wrong. And once she has made that decision there’s no arguing it and there’s no changing her mind. Despite her flaws, I love Sister #1.


Sister #2 is the ying to Sister #1’s yang. Sister #2 is a tom boy. She hates dressing up, my mom is constantly telling her to “act like a lady” and she could kick any boy’s ass. My sexuality being revealed to everyone has produced major tension between Sister #2 and I. She does not know how to process this inconceivable change of events. I know she wants to bond with me, talk about boys and be normal. She feels that if she stooped down to that level then she would be just as evil as me. Hopefully with time she will realize that love trumps all else. Despite the tension, I still have many fond memories of when we were very little and we played all sorts of imagined games together. We played house, dogs, 3 Musketeers (there were only 2 of us), pioneers, good guys vs. bad guys and a number of other wonderful magically envisioned games. Despite her flaws, I love Sister #2.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

It is a tradition for my family to go around the dinner table and say 3 things you are thankful for. My family went to Las Vegas to spend Thanksgiving with some family there, and I have to work so I am home alone on Thanksgiving. Since I won't be able to carry out that tradition with my family I am going to do it here.

1. My family. A few days ago my sister came home from New York where she's carrying out her dream as an interior designer. It was so great to have the whole family together. It was the first time since I came out that there were no tears shed, no arguments, and no hurt feelings. We watched BYU get owned by my school (GO UTES!) and we had fun. We played stupid games that only my family would think is fun. We laughed about things only my family would find funny. We teased each other the way only we can tease each other. Everyone had a good time. I am so thankful for them and the support and stability they provide to me.

2. My friends. I have never been the type of person to have a large group of friends. I have a very very small group of friends who I share everything with, and that has been how it has been my whole life. I have friends who I can talk to about stuff that I can't talk about with my family and I am so thankful that I can have that additional support. Where would I be without FFF & FFF (don't worry if you don't get the reference.) To those few of you who I call friend, thank you.
3. Last, but certainly not least, my dog, D'koda (Sister #1 made up the spelling for his name so don't judge.) I call him my little orphan because he was found by a family friend in a dumpster at the restaurant where she worked. He was only 2 weeks old and barely alive. He couldn't walk so we would carry him around in a towel to keep him warm. And when he woke up in the middle of the night hungry I was the one waking up to make a bottle (which smelled absolutely rancid) for him. D'koda sleeps with me every night and he is my walking buddy. He can be dead asleep and I'll say "D'koda, do you wanna go for a walk?" and he jumps right up and is ready to go! No matter how shitty my day is D'koda will brighten it. I am so thankful for him.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Spot

That title sounds sexual, but I promise this isn't a sex post. Yesterday while I was walking with my dog, I found My Spot. It's a place that I can call my own. A place that no one else will go. I sat up there, in My Spot, took pictures, reflected on life, thought about futures, and played with my dog. I'm out the door right now to go back to My Spot. It is a place I will frequent often.












Sunday, November 23, 2008

Family....isn't it about time?

My family is made up of a mother, a father, Sister #1 and Sister #2. I love each and every one of them very much, and also very differently. I don’t love one family member more than another, I just love them differently. All the experiences with coming out of the closet has challenged and tested these relationships but I was reminded tonight how much I love my family, and how much they love me in return. And the best thing about the love of a family member is that it doesn’t go through the honeymoon phase and then morph into an entirely different thing altogether like a romantic relationship. Familial love is constant. Familial love is strong. Familial love is important.

The First Installment of Family....isn't it about time? My Father.

My core values come directly from my dad. He’s a meticulously honest and ethical man. Anyone that has ever done business with my dad will tell you that he does not cut corners or take the easiest route. About 7 or 8 years ago my dad had the strangest idea to start up his own architecture firm. I watched as he worked his fingers to the bone getting this new business started. No matter how stressed and over worked he was at work he always left that stress at work. He has mastered the art of compartmentalizing (I need a little bit to rub off on me!)
In addition to instilling values into his son he also passed on one of his own passions which is sailing. When I was 10 years old he bought a 1986 MacGregor 26 sailboat and every weekend we would go out to the Great Salt Lake and sail around. When I was 14 he bought a much larger boat to stay on while he was in Hawaii on business. A long time ago it was featured on the cover of Cruising World Magazine and that is where this photo comes from. I have been blessed to have the opportunity to make 2 trips with him to Hawaii with the sole purpose of each trip being to work on The Lady Leanne II.
The most recent trip, two summers ago, the boat was sailed from its home in Kauai to Oahu so that it could be pulled out of the water and undergo routine maintenance. I went with my dad so that we could sail the boat from Oahu back to Kauai. It was an incredible and treacherous adventure. We expected the journey to take about 18 hours. So armed with a compass, GPS device, some snacks and rain gear we embarked out into the open sea. The plan was to sail along the island of Oahu until we reached the point of the island, then turn port (left for those not nautically savvy) and go straight for Kauai. We left in the early evening and sailed all night long taking shifts at the helm. I would drive for about an hour or two then sleep while my dad took a shift for an hour or two.

I can only attempt to convey the awesomeness of this part of the journey. We had a great breeze and we were cruising along at around 7 – 10 knots (I don’t know how that converts to MPH). I have never seen so many stars in my entire life. It was BEAUTIFUL! It was so quiet, but not the type of quiet that gives you the willies. It was the type of quiet that will calm any nerve and cure any hurt. There were only the sounds of wind in the sails and water rushing beneath the boat. Sometimes I would get caught up at looking at the stars, the shoreline, or straight down into the black water. At night there are sparkles everywhere, like magic. I later learned that the first explorers thought that there was gold in the Pacific Ocean. It has to do with the chemical makeup of a type of plankton in the water reacting with the churning water. It is entirely too scientific for me to understand. (Imagine seeing a million of these sparkling in the water) After staring for a bit I would look at the compass or GPS and realize I was off course and a correction was in order.

I watched the sun rise and as soon as it did it was time to take off into the truly open ocean towards Kauai. This is when the hellish part of the trip began. Without the protection of the island the waves became huge and the wind strong. The horizon would disappear as we dipped down into the trough of a wave and then reappear as we reached the crest of the next wave, only to go down the next one and once again have the horizon disappear. These constant up and down, side to side motions instantly sent my sea sick prone father to the side of the boat to vomit repeatedly. I was forced to take the helm and coordinate being tossed by the waves, keeping wind in the sails, and making sure we were close enough to our intended route. I had never gotten sea sick before that trip, but boy did it hit me. It was a combination of the sweltering heat and enormous waves, tossing us around like a toy boat in a bathtub with a four year old, that did me in. While I puked over the side of the boat my dad would take the helm, and while he puked over the side of the boat I would take the helm. After repeating this cycle many, many, many times we were absolutely exhausted. (It takes incredible effort to drive the boat in these conditions. You have to fight the waves and work with them at the same time and fight the wind but work with it at the same time. It takes muscle and endurance, something we were not prepared for.) In the middle of the ocean, with no land in sight, we heaved-to (meaning you just let go of the wheel and the boat turns into the wind; stopping you completely) and slept. We woke up and returned to our cycle of drive, throw up, drive, throw up until we couldn’t take it any longer and heaved-to again.

After 18 hours we finally had Kauai in our sights. I could not have been more excited to see a small brown hump on the horizon. We made it safely into harbor 24 hours after departing from Oahu. I was in awe at the will power my dad showed to keep us on course while his stomach and head were doing an Olympic gymnastics routine. We depended on each other that day. We weren’t father and son that day. We were equals, working together to reach our destination. We gained a greater respect and love for each other because of our joint triumph over sickness and sea. Our very own The Old Man and the Sea, coming of age story.

Despite his flaws, I love my dad.



*My dad took this picture at the end of our journey. I was EXHAUSTED!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Purging


I am sick of worrying that I might say something that can be taken as offensive. I’m sick of walking on egg shells. This is me being emotionally honest. Take it how you want.

How do you do it? How do you turn your back on the past one and a half years and jump right into another relationship? He’s not even cute. How do you do it? Why did you do it? Why did you jump into a relationship? Were you dating him before I got home? Did I play such a menial part in your life that you can just brush off the past year and a half and jump right in with someone else? Did I and we mean nothing to you? Seriously? What the fuck? It still hurts. Do you not hurt too? Is this new relationship somehow a way to mend your hurt? I really really really don’t get it.

Why do I feel like a tissue, all crumpled up, thrown away, useless? Why do I allow you to play such a big part of my life even now? My deepest desires desire you, but my reasoning rejects you. As I sleep my dreams torment me with memories that rip open the wound and send me receding back into solidarity and reclusion. I wake up every single day and hope that my day will be filled with thoughts other than you, but somehow you find a way to weasel your way in, curl up in an arm chair and watch the emotional circus that is me.

Every sight, sound, touch, smell leads me back to memories of you, of us. It feels like I have a bruise and I keep poking it just to see if it still hurts; to see if I can even feel. I couldn’t be dating someone else even if I wanted to. So how do you do it? I’m supposed to be a strong independent person. What happened to me? Your pity is the last thing I want. I knew you weren’t mine while I was still in Ghana. I wrote in my journal on July 10th “…I know something is up on the home front. If that is the case then I am determined to move on quickly and not be a lame, depressed, lethargic person for a long time.” Haha I actually laughed out loud as I read that. I have turned into the person I never wanted to be. And for that you will be nothing more than an acquaintance, memory and learning/growing experience to me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Sealed Box on a High Shelf

This post has been in the works for a couple of weeks now. I've written and re-written it several times. It is important to me, and I can't seem to get the words right. I want to stress that I am writing this as a cathartic exercise for myself. This post isn't intended to be a message to anyone in particular. I'm not seeking anyone's sympathy. Although, empathy would be nice.

To keep with my vow to not bottle things up anymore I need to talk about why I am hurting so bad. Shortly after returning from Ghana my boyfriend, “Bond,” of a year and a half decided that a relationship was not something he was interested in anymore. He claimed it wasn’t me but a relationship in general that he didn’t want. That fateful break up night was full of promises not to be bitter, angry, and resentful, but I am finding that extremely difficult. The year and a half I spent with this boy was a roller coaster ride in every aspect of my life.

Last year my parents found out that Bond wasn’t my best friend, but in fact my boyfriend. I’d like to tell that story. I need to tell that story.

Bond and I are hanging out at his house after a morning of teaching swimming lessons when a knock comes at the door. Shirtless, Bond answers the door and finds my dad standing there. My chest tightens and my stomach flips. Why is he here? And how did he know where to find me? A million thoughts race through my head. “Oh shit he knows. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. OH SHIT!” (I’m still baffled as to how he found out where Bond lives.) My dad asks me to go with him.

I get in the car and my dad asks me “Are you dating Bond?”

“Yes.”

“This is huge, Taylor.”

I get home after driving around listening to my dad tell me how evil and wrong my relationship with Bond is, and my mother and older sister are in tears. My dad takes away my phone, laptop, and car keys, cutting off all contact with the outside world. I go up to my room and punch a hole in my wall. My oldest sister comes up to my room. “Do you want to go for a drive?” she asks. “Sure” I reply. We drive to the temple of all places. I think she thought proximity to something soooo holy would cure the gay right out of me. We talk about my past, my mom, and what I am going to do for the future. She gives me her opinions on why I think I am gay and I give her mine. We return from our drive and I go to my room and stay there for 14 days. In these 14 days I sleep little, eat little, bathe little and read voraciously. I read about 2 books a day and virtually everything the LDS church has ever said about “Same Sex Attraction.” (that euphemism bugs me)

I am lying in bed just about to fall asleep (an accomplishment in and of itself) when I hear a series of clicks on my window. (This is strange because my room is on the 3rd floor.) I open the drapes and see my friend Kiersten standing outside. She tells me in loud whispers that Bond is too afraid to come onto my property but he is standing out in those bushes. I want to see him so I make him come to the window and he tells me, in loud whispers, how much he loves me, how much he supports me and he tells me he is going to sneak a phone to me so that I can remain in contact. My heart was filled with happiness and love after they left my window. Only he can make me feel this way while I’m feeling so shitty. I couldn’t fall asleep that night because of the excitement I was feeling. It is such a comfort to know that somebody still cares and somebody is still on my side.

On the 13th day of solitary confinement I celebrate my 18th birthday. My cousins are in town so I pretend that everything is happy and good (gotta keep up those appearances!) the next day, my parents and I finally have it out. We talk, we yell, we accuse, toxic words are exchanged and we cry, boy do we cry.

“I know you aren’t really gay. I know that you don’t want to live like this.” My mom tells me.

“Mom, I am sick of you telling me how I really feel.” I reply “You have done this my whole life and I am sick of it.”
She starts to cry. “There you hurt me. You accomplished what you wanted.” That is not what I wanted. That is the opposite of what I wanted.
My mom tells me “Taylor, you need to make a choice. You can choose God or you can choose this.” She spits out the word "this" as if its poisonous and will cause an imminent and painful death. I’ve had enough. I can’t take the ultimatums, the untrue statements and the revulsion they show for me, their son. I go to my basement, get the luggage I got for graduation and pack just about everything I own. I write a note to my little sister filling her in on why I need to do what I’m about to do. I text Bond (from the smuggled phone) and tell him to come pick me up because I’m leaving. After I get everything packed up my parents realize that I am serious. I am leaving their house, their protection and their supervision for an undetermined amount of time. My mother breaks down. I have never seen her like this. The woman who gave birth to me, raised me, taught me to love tennis and volleyball, drove my ass to every single volleyball practice and tournament no matter the distance and my oldest friend is reduced to a shaking mass of tears and increasingly audible sobs. My heart breaks knowing that I am doing this to my mother. I need to leave though. I cannot stay.
Bond arrives and I get my bags and prepare to leave when my dad hugs me and tells me “The door is always open, Taylor. You are always welcome in this house.”
I reply “I know but I need to leave.”
My mom can do nothing but wail. She tells me repeatedly that she loves me. “Why are you doing this?” she begs. “Why are you doing this?”
I leave.
“What the fuck did I just do?” was all I could think of. I get to Bond, load my bags into his car and break down in his arms. I’m sobbing and I can’t get anything out. He, my parents and my older sister are the only ones who have seen me in this state. I sit there in his arms for a while and simply sob. His arms bring me comfort despite the grief I am feeling about the heartbreak I am causing my family. Comfort only he can provide me. I want to tell him everything that went on but I can’t. It hurts too much. He drives me to where I spend the next 2 months. Thank God I have someplace to go.
That night in a foreign bed, in a foreign room I am hit with another wave of “What the fuck did I just do?” My only solace comes in knowing that I have Bond. I know he’s not going anywhere. I know that he loves me. I know that he supports me.
On August 20, 2008 I lost that love and support completely. Two and a half short months later I am still mourning that loss. Bond has moved on with his life, gotten a new boyfriend, and is happy from what I can tell. Why was it so easy for him to move on? Why can’t I do the same? I shared the most private, sacred and personal parts of me with him and I don’t regret that for a minute, but it is hard to accept that someone else now occupies that part of his life. My occupancy in that part of his life was something that I respected, cherished and held most sacred, but now there is someone else there. I know millions of other people have had to deal with this but that doesn't make it any easier for me.
It is time to put the lid on the box from that chapter of my life. It’s time to seal the box shut and set it on a high shelf only to be reopened when I'm ready to revisit that chapter, a long long time from now. I’ve already made good use of the shredder; that was a good start.

There’s only us
There’s only this
Forget regret
Or life is yours to miss
No other road
No other way
No day but today
~Mimi Marquez from RENT

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Bright Spot on this Gloomy Day

Tonight is Kids Book Club and for our activity we are going to make leaf stamp collages. To gather up all the leaves to make the stamps I took my dog, D'koda, and went to my favorite trail. I love hiking and I don't do it nearly as often as I should. It was beautiful to see the changing leaves and hear the rushing of water from the river running parallel to the trail. It was so peaceful and beautiful. I am kicking myself for not taking my camera. Oh well that just means I have to go again.


There was no one else on the trail so I let D'koda run free. He is so funny. He would run run run ahead then stop and look back and notice I was still behind him then run run run back to me, make a circle and run run run ahead. When he's on a leash he walks calmly and by my side but once I let him off he takes off and loves every minute of it.


As I selected leaves and put them in my bag I was hit by an appreciation of what I have here. When I was in Ghana everything was so new, exotic and beautiful. I take for granted the beauty just minutes from my house. We have some of the most beautiful sunsets, mountains, leaves etc. and I definitely don't take the time to appreciate them as often as I should. In every situation you find yourself in there is beauty. The trick is appreciating it. You don't have to be in a far of exotic land to appreciate the beauty around you.


On a different note. I just finished reading Running With Scissors and I recommend it to EVERYONE! It's definitely R rated but I highly recommend it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

True Friends


What is a true friend? Someone you grew up with? Someone who you spend most of your time with right now? Your dog? To me there are two kinds of friends superficial friends and true friends. Superficial friends are the ones that you hang out with, laugh with, make fun of, and just have a good time. True friends are the ones who stick with you even when it’s not fun anymore. True friends tell you, not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear. They are the people who say “Hey, quit being a douche.” Or “Are you sure that’s something you should be doing?” but at the same time they are also there to support you no matter what. The best example I have of a true friend is Britton (he is the one on the right in the picture above.) Britton and I have been best friends since Jr. High. We raised hell at tennis practices together, crashed cars together, worked together, laughed together, and cried together. When everyone found out I am gay he didn’t skip a beat. He talked with his gay piano teacher about it and talked to me and supported me with all the decisions I made. That is the mark of a true friend. Some of my favorite Britton/Taylor moments happened in tennis practices. We were notorious at North Canyon Swim and Tennis, Salt Lake Swim and Tennis, The Jewish Community Center, Eagle Ridge Swim and Tennis, and the Woods Cross High School Tennis Team. We could never play doubles together because it would just turn into a silly game of how hard can I hit the ball at your face? And he was one of the only people that I could play against and not lose my temper. We could never get sick of each other no matter how much time we spent together.

He is now on a 2 year, religiously affiliated vacation and not a day goes by that I don’t wish he were back here. I’m sure he’s a great missionary and will still be the same dorky, bobble headed Britton when he gets back, and I can’t wait till he gets back.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

VOTE!

It seems kind of stupid that we're fighting two wars in the name of democracy yet we have one of the lowest voter turn out rates. GO VOTE DAMNIT! I don't care who you vote for just vote.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm done.

My heart is pounding. My hands are shaking. My tears are flowing. I don't know what to do. Why do I feel like this? Why am I so messed up? Why am I tormented in my dreams with things that were but never will be again? I hate that I feel like this. I hate that I'm even writing about it. I hate that I don't have anyone to share these emotions with. I feel alone. I feel desperate. I feel hopeless. I feel like if my family doesn't leave the fucking house soon so that I can go running I will blow up. I feel immature. I feel like a moron. I feel like a failure. I am done. What am I supposed to do? What changes to my life should I be making? How can I become a different person so that I don't feel like this anymore? Why does it work like this? Why the FUCK did I ever leave Ghana? My mom said "Maybe we can figure out a way for you to stay for the rest of the summer." I responded "No, I need to come home." that is probably the stupidest thing I could have said. Life in Ghana = love, happiness, purpose. Life in Utah = hell. I hate that I bottle everything up. On August 20, 2008 I put everything into a bottle sealed it tight, and now it is exploding and getting my pillow and shirt pretty wet and salty. Why do I do this? Why can't I cry for more than 2 minutes at a time? Why does it have to be an all or nothing situation for my emotions? I need to get out of this god forsaken state. I just need to go. And now that my family has finally left for church I can go running, hopefully that will help.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies is my favorite show right now. It is so different than anything that is on T.V. right now. I love the quick, smart dialog and the vibrant, colorfulness of it. There is nothing on T.V. quite like it. I've heard it described as a hybrid between Tim Burton and Dr. Suess. I think that is definitely an accurate description. There are moments as I watch when I'm like hey that totally applies to me! Like this dialog between Chuck and Alfredo Aldarisio:

Alfredo Aldarisio: Did you say depressing? [opens it up] FDA-approved, pharmaceutical-grade herbology.

Chuck: Like a bully for your emotions.

Alfredo Aldarisio: Emotions need to be bullied. Indulging depression is like indulging a horrible, willful child. If they’re allowed to run roughshod, you’ll find yourself catering to its every whim. So, bully it and bully it good.

Chuck: Everyone needs to be bullied sometimes. Do you have any literature?

Everyone needs to start watching this show so that it doesn't get cancelled. It really is an amazing show!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ghana loves Barack!

I often had the same conversation with Ghanaian taxi drivers, shop owners, rastas, and even some of the older orphans. The conversation went like this.

Ghanaian: What country do you come from?
Me: America
Ghanaian: Do you support Barack Obama?
Me: Of course! Do you?
Ghanaian: Yes, he will bring money to Africa.

While I don't know if their belief that Obama will bring all the money to Africa is true, I did find their excitment and support for Obama awesome.

Here's the Barack Obama song by Blakk Rasta. Gilbert loved to introduce all the new volunteers to the Barack Obama song. (it has also become my morning wake up song)

Enjoy.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Perfect Remedy for a bad day

Today sucks. In an effort to lift my spirits I'm going to talk about the one thing that makes me truly happy right now, and that is the kids in Africa. I don't think I can ever convey the profound and lasting impression these kids left on me. Even though I am not with the kids physically every day. I carry them with me where ever I go. They will forever be a part of me. I miss the kids more than I have ever missed anything, and on this extra shitty day I am going to talk about them.

If you've read previous posts then you know about Kelvin. In the video below I am having a conversation with Kelvin in the few English words he knows. If you listen at the very beginning you can hear him calling me "Auntie Taylah" There's a funny story behind that name. I was trying to teach Kelvin how to say my name and it started out as just "T" then we graduated to Taylor. One day at the school I was getting all the kids rounded up so we could go back to the toddler's compound to get changed out of school uniforms. Kelvin neeed help with his shoes so he yelled "Auntie Taylah!" I was surprised because he had never called me this before. Kelvin realized his mistake and started laughing. He thought this was the funniest thing ever, as did Jessica (co-volunteer) and I. So the name stuck. I was known throughout the orphanage with all the kids as "Auntie Taylah". I miss walking into the orphanage and being greeted with a chorus of "Obruni!" and "Auntie Taylah" from all the kids. As soon as they saw us coming there would be shreiks, cheers and lots of little arms wrapped around my legs.




One of my most favorite and most vivid memories is of Kofi's laugh. He didn't laugh often but when he did it was infectious and one of the best laughs I know of. Sorry this video is dark. I took it right before bed time so it was dark. Turn your volume way up and listen to Kofi's laugh. If his laugh doesn't at least make you smile I will pay you a million dollars. It gets me every time.




To the kids at Osu Children's Home: I miss you. I love you all. And I will be back. Hopefully soon.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Love it!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cats

Anbody who knows me well knows that I am a sucker for musicals. My iPod is full of soundtracks from my favorite musicals. Some of my favorites are Wicked, West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Hairspray, Joseph and the Amazing Technical Dream Coat, Evita, Pretty Woman, Fiddler on the Roof, and Sweeney Todd just to name a few. Saturday night the family and I went to Cats at Capital Theater. Cats is the longest running play in Broadway history. I had never seen it so I was excited to see it for the first time. The singing, dancing, make up, and costumes were all absolutely amazing. My favorite songs were Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats and Memory. After watching Cats I can't wait to see Wicked this spring. Here's a video of Memory performed by the original Broadway cast.



My other favorite was Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I want YOU!


I am very happy to have the opportunity to be a Co Director for the Kid's Book Club Program at The Road Home. Part of my job as Co Director is to get some volunteers for the program. So I am calling on you, who ever is reading this blog. Book Club happens every Monday night at The Road Home which is located at 210 South Rio Grande Street (455 West) Salt Lake City, Utah 84101. The Kid's Book Club is a great way to get involved and make a difference in our community. The goal of the program is to help children ages 5-12 gain an interest and love for reading. Volunteers will read one on one with a couple of kids, then come together and read a fun group book. Afterward, art and/or snack activities centered on the theme or characters in the group story follow to reinforce the enjoyment of reading. Volunteers should come with an open mind and a love for reading and kids. I should warn you up front that it can get chaotic. If you like nice well mannered children who only speak when spoken to, then this program probably isn't for you. Volunteers should be able to work effectively with these awesome kids and be positive role models and examples. I mentioned in a previous post about the insane number of famlies living at the shelter (last week there were 20 families in crisis shelter, meaning not in a room of their own). As a result of the increase in families there is also an increase in kids coming to Book Club. We need all the help we can get. I hope to see you there. If you have more questions you can e-mail me at taylorhorn@hotmail.com.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Amazing!

This is absolutely my favorite thing right now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Memories

Why is it that you never really have a true appreciation of a person or place until they are gone? When I miss a place or a person it is the very small things that get to me the most. I miss smells, sounds, words, sensations and feelings. Feelings of contentment, feelings of love, feelings of thinking I know what the future holds for me. Life has a way of keeping you on your toes. As soon as you feel like everything is as it should be, something always happens to destroy this feeling. I used to think I knew what the future held in store for me. The simple truth is, I don't. I never will, and that's ok. I can appreciate what I have right now; celebrate who I am right now, because tomorrow is a new day with new events, new people and new experiences. While the future is always new and exciting, memories are always there to remind you of the past. Memories are strange. The smallest smell or faintest sound can bring a faded memory back to vibrant multi color in an instant. I love memories. They can be painful (even the good ones) but they are mine. No one else's. They are mine to be dusted off and revisted like an old photograph. Memories have the ability to change my day. I can be walking along and smell a cologne, see a landmark, or hear a song and the rest of my day is thrown into a pot overflowing with an eclectic mix of emotions. Sometimes it gets to be too much and that's where releases come in: tennis, running, writing, and crying (or a combinations of these). I have learned that when a memory is painful, ride it out. because there just may be a pleasant one hiding in there somewhere. A memory which forces a smile onto your face no matter where you are. Those are the best memories I possess.

Dream Big

In my weekly meeting at The Bennion Center (the community service center at the University of Utah) we were given this poem which I really really like.

Dream Big - Author Unknown

If there were ever a time to dare,
to make a difference,
to embark on something worth doing,
it is now.

Not for any grand cause, necessarily--
but for something that tugs at your heart,
something that's your aspiration,
something that's your dream.

You owe it to yourself
to make your days here count.
Have fun.
Dig deep.
Stretch.

Dream big.

Know, though, that things worth doing
seldom come easy.
There will be good days.
There will be times when you want to turn around,
pack it up,
and call it quits.

Those times tell you that you are pushing yourself,
that you are not afraid to learn by trying.

Persist.

Because with an idea, determination,
and the right tools, you can do great things.
Let your instincts, your intellect,
and your heart guide you.

Trust.

Believe in the incredible power of the human mind.
Of doing something that makes a difference.
Of working hard.
Of laughing and hoping.
Of lazy afternoons.
Of lasing friends.
Of all the things that will cross your path this year.

The start of something new
brings the hope of something great.
Anything is possible.
There is only one you.
And you will pass this way only once.
Do it right.

Monday, September 8, 2008

S.O.S

I have the opportunity to work at The Road Home every Monday night. I work in the Kid's Book Club Program there. I love the chaos that occurs there. I love talking to the kids and their parents. The parents are doing their best to give their kids the life they never had. I respect and am inspired by the hard work they put into raising their kids. I always go away from The Road Home feeling physically drained but spiritually full. Today was an especially draining day. It was my first day being "Program Director" and organizing and planning the group reading book and activity. So after reading The Thingumajig Book of Manners the kids brainstormed about some "manners" that we should have in book club. "Don't say bitch" and "Don't go into the boy's bathroom" were some of my favorites that the kids came up with. (I tried to make the kids come up with rules without using "no" or "don't" but they didn't really grasp that.) After the chaos was over and the room put, somewhat, back together I waited with 2 kids for their parents to come pick them up. As we were waiting in the lobby I noticed that there were about 4-5 families living in the lobby. They had run out of rooms in the shelter and had set up emergency shelter in the lobby. I have never seen this many families living at the shelter. Usually the winter months bring in a lot more families and that is when it gets crowded, so it was strange to see that there were this many families displaced at this time of year.

I definitely lean to the left. I am a big proponent for the little guy, pro-choice, pro gay marriage, and anti big business (Wal-Mart is the epitome of evil). Looking at all the families in the lobby, all the kids in book club, and all the cars being lived in near the shelter, it hit me. This is the reality of the economic mess we are in. It is no longer just numbers stated by politicians and talking heads on CNN. It isn't just something that you see in the newspaper. It is reality. People's, and more importantly, children's lives have been turned upside down. While oil execs are raking in record amounts of cash, regular people are foreclosing on their homes and being forced out onto the streets. A small number of these families are homeless because of addictions as stereotypes would suggest. They are a product of our economic situation and the current administration occupying office for the past 8 years. They are a product of high gasoline prices, high food costs, foreclosure rates, high insurance costs etc. But most importantly they are human. They are just like you or I. They deserve the same health benefits as you or I simply based on the fact that they are human beings. I am so blessed to live in a home, go to school, go on an amazing trip to Africa. We have all been blessed and because of that we are able to give. Whoever is out there reading this blog, go work in a homeless shelter, work at the Utah Food Bank, or simply donate money if you're short on time. We need change, everyone is in agreement on that. "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi

Sorry to get political but it was just on my mind after tonight.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Now that I'm home...



A lot has changed since I got home from Ghana 25 days ago. Changes for the better, and changes for the worse. You never really know how much you love a place until you have to leave it. That is how I feel about Ghana. I was excited to get home to a boyfriend, a hot shower, Wendy's, and some clean clothes. I had painted such an exciting and beautiful picture of my life back home; I was excited to get back to it. Now that I am home I realize the picture is faded and definitely not what I had envisioned. I always chuckle when I get the question "So...how was it?" There is no way that I can sum up my entire experience in one conversation or even a days worth of conversation. And a simple "It was good" does not serve justice to my experiences and memories. There is so much that I learned and am still learning from my experience in Ghana. There is a plus to being home and that is a fast internet connection. Meaning that I can finally upload some pictures.


Kelvin









His name is Kelvin. I've talked about Kelvin in previous posts. He was adopted towards the end of the trip, and in my opinion he is going to have a pretty easy time assimilating into his new british life style. His mother's house will be the cleanest in all the land thanks to Kelvin's love and excitment for helping out. Kelvin taught me that sometimes you can't wait for someone else to rock you to sleep. Sometimes you just have to do it yourself. He also taught me about standing up for the little guy. Kelvin was not afraid to stand up for his peers against some of the older orphans. I miss Kelvin, and think of him daily.



Kofi






This beautiful little boy is Kofi. In the beginning Kofi was always serious, never talked and rarely cracked a smile. After a few weeks though, he was all smiles and chattered away in Twi. I never understood what he was saying but I loved it all the same. Sometimes Kofi would go back into his serious state and just watch the other kids. He would cry when necessary but would quit when it was no longer necessary. Kofi taught me that there are times when you need to cry but there are times when you don't. There are times when you need to be serious and take a step back and just watch, but there are times when you need to get in there and have fun. Who cares if no one understands. I miss Kofi, and think of him daily.

Tsulee


I never got to say goodbye to Tsulee, he was adopted while I was on my trip up north. Tsulee is smart. He loved learning new English words. And I loved hearing his sweet gravelly voice. The orphans and I would play a game, I would say "On your marks" and they would squat down and touch their index fingers to the ground like a modified runners starting position. Then I would say "Get set, GO!" and we would all run run run, turn around and start all over again. This was Tsulee's favorite game. We played it everyday after dinner and if I forgot Tsulee would look at me and say in his gravelly, accented voice "Auntie Taylah! On your marks!" Whenever we were moving to a different part of the orphanage Tsulee would remind me to get my bag by saying "Auntie Taylah, yo bag, yo bag." Tsulee taught me that no matter what your situation is, you can always find a way to have fun. I hope Tsulee is happy with his new family. He definitely deserves it. I miss Tsulee, and think of him daily.



Ama Foli







Ama Foli knows what she wants and wants it now. If I were holding her and, god forbid, put her down to pick up another screaming child, Ama would throw a fit! She may be small but she could make older boys cry. Ama Foli was also known for her songs. Ama Foli loved singing. "Sea Saw up and Down" was my favorite in her repitoire of songs. Ama and I also had a little ritual. Whenever she was in a particularly bad mood I would simply put her on my back, she would rest her head on my back and I would hum, sing or whistle my favorite Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, or Kristin Chenoweth songs. We would walk around the orphanage like this until she was calm. One day I went to the school to pick up our school kids and I noticed Ama Foli was crying. This was nothing new but I decided to go see what was up. I went to pick her up and she winced, I looked to see what was causing her pain and noticed that right knee was at least 3 times the size it should be. I carefully carried her back to the house auntie to see if anyone had noticed this. She told me that Ama had already been treated, and that the swelling had gone down considerably from the day before. I was careful with Ama's knee the rest of the day. Towards the end of that day Ama was running, singing and throwing fits just like the same old Ama Foli. The only difference was a slight little limp which brought a little comedy to my day. I learned from Ama Foli that no matter what life throws at you there's always a way around it. She taught me that I need to carry on with my normal life no matter what emotional or physical pain I may be in. I miss Ama Foli, and think of her daily.



Lydia



Lydia was one of our morning, special needs girls. She has both physical and mental disablities but I don't know the name for them. She had little control over her limbs and muscles. She could walk a short distance if you were holding her hands. She could hear you if you made noises into her left ear, and she reacted to bright colors. I have to admit I was a little squirmish about Lydia when we first started taking her out. Her days are spent on a pot in her own waste and she was only cleaned when we cleaned her or when we asked for her to be cleaned. After I got over those issues I immediately fell in love with Lydia. She has a smile that will melt your heart in an instant. I have never seen a smile that big and that genuine. Lydia was also picked on by all of the other kids. It was a game for the other kids to kick, hit and pinch Lydia until she cried. I stopped this behavior whenever I could see it but I couldn't be in there protecting her from the kids at all times. Lydia taught me about survival. Lydia is a survivor and a hero of mine. I know I would not be able to take the abuse and sub human treatment she was objected to and then smile and radiate happiness a moment later. I miss Lydia, and think of her daily.



Adu


Adu was one of the few kids at the orphanage who were HIV+. This was not what defined Adu though. None of the volunteers kept their distance from Adu because of his sickness. He was just too cute and charming for that. He loved falling asleep in your lap and playing silly games with rocks or leaves. He shared Ama's love of singing but I never could understand the words he was singing. I learned an important lesson from Adu. He is labeled as HIV+ but that was not Adu. I may be labeled by some people but that is not me. I miss Adu, and think of him daily.
These are just a few of the kids and just a few of the lessons that I learned from them. I hold dear in my heart every memory and picture of the kids and Ghana. I had hard days but I wouldn't change a single day if I had the chance. This experience benefitted me then, now and I know it will in the future. Because of events occuring since I got home, I often find myself feeling like my world has fallen apart with no hope for the future. In these moments I look back at my pictures, read my journal entries, and try to heal myself that way.

Thank you everyone who supported me in every way during this adventure. There may be future posts if I feel so inclined on this blog so keep checking back. :) Peace and love.

Oh and if anyone wants to sponsor a child so that they can go to school just let me know and I can get you the information to get started on this process. It really doesn't take very much money to sponsor a child.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My very last post

What an adventure it has been! I don't even know where to begin in this post. It really hasn't hit me that tomorrow I will be leaving Ghana. Yesterday I had to say my goodbyes to the kids and that sucked majorly! I have gotten used to seeing them every day and being there to comfort them when they're crying or laugh with them when they're happy. There are definitely things I am going to miss in Ghana but maybe a few things that I'm not going to miss so much....

Things I'll miss

1. The kids!
2. All the other volunteers and meeting new people.
3. Cheap transportation
4. Jollof Rice
5. Walking everywhere
6. Hearing "obruni" everywhere I go
7. The friendly people
8. Melody, Tina, Gloria, Gilbert, and Annie (the people who cook for us at the compound)
9. Back packing through Ghana
10. THE KIDS!
11. The relaxed pace of life
12. Bucket showers
13. Hissing at people (It's now a bad habit of mine)

Things I won't miss

1. The hassle of getting a taxi
2. Bargaining for everything!
3. Open sewage
4. B.O.
5. Yams
6. Hand washing laundry

Some most memorable experiences while here
  • Trying the local foods, Kenkey is the worst! Banku isn't too bad and Omo Tuo is my favorite.
  • Backpacking all the way up to Northern Ghana. We planned it and executed it all on our own and it was an adventure I will surely never forget.
  • The 2 adoptions that I got to see. Adoptions are very rare and these were the only two I've heard of since I've been here.
  • Peeing on the side of the road just like the locals :) It's great to be a guy
  • Going to the beach with the little ones.
  • Getting Kwame (the brand new orphan) to come out of his shell.

These are just a very few of the most memorable experiences. I'm excited to go home but at the same time I know I'm going to want to go back asap! I have to jump right into the swing of things and the fast passed life which I'm not too excited about. But hopefully, with any lucky, I will be able to take the lessons I've learned here and apply them to my life back home and be a better person because of them.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Adoption

Two of my kids have been adopted with less than a week apart! The first to go was Tsulee (pronounced Choo lee) He was definitely one of my favorites. He always wanted to play and loved the attention he got. Whenever I would say "Let's go home!" Tsulee would run up to me and say "Auntie Taylah, your bag! Your bag!" reminding me not to forget my bag. He was also a very intelligent kid who picked up a lot of new English words since I've been here. I don't know where he went because I was on my trip when he was adopted, but I really hope he is in a good home that is able to provide for him all the things he needs and deserves. He is such a great kid and I know he is going to do great things in his life time. The second kid to go was Kelvin. Kelvin was a definite favorite of the aunties and us volunteers. We found out he was being adopted when we were changing the kids out of their school clothes into play clothes. The aunties all of a sudden got very happy and excited, I asked why and they said "Abroad! Kelvin is going abroad!" Abroad in this case meant England and what a great little british boy Kelvin is going to make. He is such a little helper around the orphanage. I think this is why he was such a favorite of the aunties. He also stuck up for the smaller and weaker kids. I'm going to miss Kelvin saying "Auntie Taylah, le'go home" Kelvin was kid that I would go to if I didn't know a child's name or if I needed to know where they were. I could just say "Kelvin, where is _____?" and he would make sure that we went out and found them. I am so excited that these two boys finally got a break in life. There is an irreplacable hole in the orphanage. Work definitely isn't the same without these two. I miss them already.

Monday, August 4, 2008

My last Monday in Africa :(

I can't believe it has finally come, my last week. What a weird feeling it is that next week at this time I will be home in the hustle and bustle of every day life. I can't believe how fast the time has flown by. I have had the best time and experience since I've been here. I owe so much to the kids for teaching me so much about life, love, fun, and happiness. I know that the lessons they have taught me will be with me forever. I wouldn't trade my time here for anything in this world! I expect that this week will go by as fast or faster than every other week since I've been here. From hearing from other volunteers who have already gone home, I know that it's going to be a weird adjustment coming home. I will take some getting used to driving my own car, sleeping under no mosquito net, doing laundry in a washing machine (I can't wait to do this) and eating normal food. I know I'm going to miss and be thinking about the kids constantly! Hopefully I can take what I've learned here and apply it in my own community with the opportunities I've been given there. I know that there are kids who need love and attention in America just as much as the ones here in Africa. That's another thing that is going to take some getting used to.......white children..... haha. It will be weird walking down the road and not hearing small children yelling out OBRUNI! OBRUNI! OBRUNI CO CO! (the co co part means red and is always directed towards me because of my African sun burns:)) I am excited to get home and see everyone and finally be clean. I definitely have bitter sweet feelings about it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Mole Adventure

What a crazy adventure! There is no way I can describe all of it in this one post. Here are a few journal excerpts.

7-28-08 Day 43

All of today was spent on a bus. The 10 hour bus ride from Accra to Tamale turned into a 12 hour bus ride. My butt was not happy with that by the time we arrived in Tamale. The ride wasn't all bad though. It was very cool to see the extreme differences between southern and northern Ghana. Northern Ghana is A LOT more rural. We passed countless small villages made up of sticks and mud. The people are also darker here in northern Ghana. Unlike southern Ghana which is predominantly christian, northern Ghana is predominantly Muslim. There were a lot of men wearing long dress looking things and funny hats on their heads. A lot of people would wear black eyeliner around their eyes. Men, women, and children all wore this eyeliner. I'm not sure if it is a tribal thing or just a cosmetic custom.....

7-29-08 Day 44

We started our day at 3:30 AM today. We had to catch a bus to take us from Tamale to Larabanga which is right outside the park. We went to the station where one of the big orange Metro Mass buses would take us to Larabanga. We spoke with a guy there and he said that it would probably be hard to get tickets since we didn't book them the day before. The same guy told us he could take us to a different bus which could also take us to Larabanga. The walk to this mysterious bus station was extremely sketchy! It was pitch black and not a nice part of town (There weren't really any nice parts in Tamale) As we were walking I saw some people running a ways ahead of us. Our guide stopped walking and had a cautious/worried look on his face. I saw one of the men running and carrying a big machete. Our guide told us that it was a thief, the tone in which he told us this made it seem like it was an every day occurrence. We changed our route a bit and headed to the bus station. The bus there was not nearly as nice as the metro mass bus which isn't even that nice. We boarded the sketchy bus which could fit about 30 people uncomfortably, 25 people comfortably. The seats were hard and the horn sounded like a train horn but I figured it was only a couple hours drive so I could manage. A couple hours turned into 5 hours. The road was paved for about the first hour then we got to the dirt roads. At the beginning of the dirt road was also the first place that we picked up people from the small village there. We were stopped there for 45 minutes just waiting for all the people and their various items to get packed into the bus. It was CROWDED! We got underway and continued along this dirt road going about 50 MPH on this very bumpy and dusty road. WE continued to pick up people from the small villages along the way and the bus got fuller and fuller. Just as you thought that they would not possibly pack even more people onto this rolling steel death trap we would pull over and load in more and more people. The smell of the people and their various market items was absolutely foul. There were at least 50 people on this bus by now. We finally got to Larabanga which was a small and interesting town. We put our stuff down at the Salia Brothers' Guest Houses which are made up of clay and stick huts. Then we took a tour of the oldest Mosque in Ghana, built in 1421. After a well needed nap we woke up in time to go to the National Park. There we saw baboons and whit ox (warthog looking things) walking all over the Mole Motel grounds. The walking safari started at 3:30 and we saw elephants right off the bat. It was AMAZING! There were 2 of them and they were eating. It was cool to see and hear them ripping off entire branches of leaves. They didn't even seem to mind us watching them at all. After they walked away we kept walking through the park and saw lots of different animals. We saw Bushbucks, white ox, these striped barking deer things (they really barked like dogs!) and a lot of other cool animals. After the tour we ate dinner and went to bed with our alarms set for 3:30 the next morning.

7-30-08 Day 45

We had to go on the treacherous bus ride again this morning. We were on the orange Metro mass buses but they were still packed way beyond maximum capacity. It was raining really hard and there was lightning which would light up the entire early morning sky. As it rained more and more the roads got slicker and slicker but this did not slow down our driver. I was drifting off to sleep when our bus fishtailed out of control coming within inches of hitting the dirt banks and tipping over. After we finished sliding around we continued at the same speed we were going before. It was truly a miracle that we didn't tip over. We finally made our way to Kumasi (about an 8 hour journey) which is the second biggest city in Ghana with Accra being the first. I loved Kumasi! We went to where they weave the beautiful kente cloths. It was really cool to see them in action as they weaved intricate designs into the cloths. After dinner that night all of the sleep deprivation and our schedule of 1 meal a day caught up to me and I got a little sick :(

7-31-08 Day 46

We left Kumasi at around 6:00 this morning and had a surprisingly tolerable bus ride to Accra. I didn't get sick on the bus and I even got to sleep a bit. The ride was about 5 hours from Kumasi to Accra......Despite all the time and pain in the buses I had a good trip. On the previous page of this journal there is a quote which reads "[B]less not only the road but the bumps on the road. They are all part of the higher journey." ~ Julia Cameron. This quote is highly applicable to my trip. It was a great experience and every bump, both literally and figuratively, contributed to the excitement and adventure of the trip. I miss my kids terribly and can't wait to go back to work. What ever am I going to do when I have to leave them forever??? :(