I asked God for a Sister

I almost texted her on Thanksgiving, then on Christmas.

I got the phone call while on the road, passing the Beau Rivage. I barely made it to the Biloxi Yacht Club to park.

“Miss DeRae, we’ve found your sister unconscious,” the lady said. Before she could explain further, I asked what hospital she was sent to. I usually got calls that she was sick and had passed out at school or home. I had just figured it was an episode, considering she had just had a surgery the week prior.

“No ma’am, she is gone. She won’t wake up,” she replied.

I just lost it. My heart hit the floorboard of my Honda Civic. It dragged along the highway as I kept up in traffic. I thought the surgery had gone well. The color of her skin was the most beautiful I had seen in a while and she had said she felt so good. All we had to was wait for a new transplant, her second one. I had forgotten that she was dying.

I had begged and begged my mother for a sister. I was so lonely. I spent my days in my room, playing by myself. I was either left alone while Dawn worked, if she had a job, or left alone because she was asleep. Dawn was dating someone great at the time and decided, “Well, okay.” Everyone worried about how my baby sister would appear — would she be addicted to drugs? She came on May 6th, 1997. She was perfect and everything changed.

I would get the shit beat out of me if I played too loud and woke her up. But I still loved her. She would get the shit beat out of her if she colored on my drawings that I kept on a high shelf. But she still loved me.

Dawn hated most things. She hated for anyone to say she was a bad mom, she hated for anyone to defy her, and she hated the way my family tried to confront her. But one thing was for sure — she loved Dusti.

Dusti grew ill shortly after the hurricane. I had run away at this point and was staying with family in the meantime. I was called to the office at school to say that Dusti was admitted to the hospital. They fought to tell me that it wasn’t my fault, while Dawn placed the blame on me. I was the reason she was overweight, and running away from home caused the stress that lead to her heart failure. I was a weak kid, very emotional and super fragile to any criticism, but I wasn’t fucking stupid enough to think that I made her sick. That was always one small victory I had over Dawn.

She received her heart transplant the following April after she fell sick. Dawn lived in Birmingham with her while she received hospital treatment. She had wiped out my whole bank account and savings (accruing from my father’s social security check that she had only given me access to a few months prior to Dusti’s hospitalization). But I didn’t care, I knew she needed to eat and feed Dusti, too.

Dusti and Dawn were always close, forming a greater bond by hating me, but now that Dusti was severely handicapped from her transplant and health complications, the bond had grown from loyalty to absolute need. They couldn’t live without each other. Dawn needed the unwavering companionship, considering she had used up her favors with most of us. Dusti needed the companionship and continuous ‘care’.

One day, while in college, I received a phone call. Truancy had turned Dawn into DHS. They took Dusti from her care. I thank God everyday that I had the professor that I had. She didn’t even blink when I cried in her office to explain that I couldn’t be there any longer, and I had to find a way to see my sister. Dr. Price is an angel among us, not asking for details, just asking that I stay strong. How do you explain that your sister was taken to foster care because your meth-addicted mother probably hadn’t waken up enough days in a row to get her to school? I didn’t even have to.

It hurt tremedously knowing that there was nothing I could do. I lived in an apartment with roommates. I worked nights and weekends to pay for school and my bills and Dawn’s bills. Even if I did have the means, Dusti wouldn’t live with me anyway. She really despised me, as Dawn created this thunder dome in her head where I was always the opponent. No matter the situation, I was one she needed to fight to survive. I was the one keeping them from excelling and living a happy life.

Dusti caused a lot of problems. But she was mad. And I get it. She didn’t have a chance from the beginning. I had freed myself from the mental hell that was living with a substance dependent, undiagnosed bipolar parent. She was stuck. That was her only friend. Her caretaker. Her teammate. She couldn’t be a kid. People were barely willing to open their doors for her if she needed a home. She had no rules with Dawn and had developed some of Dawn’s ugly habits. Plus, Dawn had literally threatened to kill anyone who got in the way of them.

But, I still had hope for her. I remember the point in my life where I stopped being mad at the world and started to just pave my way to a life that didn’t have to be so angry. I had hope that she’d harness her intelligence and make a career that she should be proud of. I never expected her to hate Dawn like I did, but I wanted her to see that she didn’t have to live in a hell. She didn’t see it as a hell, though. She saw it as home.

I can’t believe that I forgot she was sick. She was working hard on creating a life for herself. We had our issues. It was always anger versus depression versus fault versus regret anytime we were in contact. When the phone rang, I knew the conversation would go one of two ways… I was either getting cussed at for failing as a sister, or she was asking for help. I didn’t mind either, honestly, so that I could have contact with her, to know that she was still working towards her future.

I haven’t been the same since she left. It’s been the hardest seven months of my life and I fear that the pain isn’t over. I don’t know who I’ll be when I wake up in the morning, and that’s something I really hated about Dawn. You’d think that I would have had this revelation that life is short and you should never get upset about the small things. I’ve only realized that I don’t have to waist my time trying to hold a family together because God says I should. God tells me how to be a better person, and he has shown me that blood has nothing to do with family. Action does.

I don’t regret any interaction I had with Dusti. She was still a baby in my eyes and I knew the way she acted wasn’t her fault. I never said anything I would regret because I made sure that the things I said to her were something to learn from. I should regret that I forgot that she was sick. It hurts me that I did, but I think forgetting created this dialogue between us about the future. I didn’t rush her to make decisions because her time was short. I didn’t know how she wanted her funeral. I just knew she was building her life, one piece at a time. I find some peace in knowing that she finally has her friend back, in the clouds of heaven. I wish things could have been different. I wish she had had more of a chance.

Live, Laugh, Look out for Crocs

Whilst looking back on my most recent dating failures, I decided to try and make a connection between the men I’ve dated and why it didn’t work. I soon saw a pattern in the “wants” I was trying to fulfill. Every person is different, but it is particularly interesting to take a step back and ask, “Why am I doing this?” for each person I’ve considered a partner in a romantic relationship. Each new guy had something that the last didn’t have, an attribute in his personality or a little more excitement.


Stage 1: Dating for an Escape

I mean, you’re 16. What do you really know other than that there is no other way to-
A. get the emotional support you need in such trying teenage times through love notes and Myspace photo comments

and

B. get a ride to ANYWHERE
I didn’t have a car until maybe a few months before I went to college. High school was a struggle. I just never knew if Dawn was going to be pro-mom that day and willingly bring me to Beta Club meetings or football games so I could cheer. It was nice to have someone to text on those late nights when I went to bed hungry or sobbing. It was nice to hear “You’re beautiful” or “I can’t wait to see you”. It was just enough to fill the void of what I never had. But soon you learn that it just isn’t enough. You realize that he actually doesn’t want to go to college and really isn’t as dreamy as you thought he was. The want to settle down and get married is still there because that’s what you think you’re supposed to do, but you really want to go to college first. So then you start to see that compatibility is more than thinking each other is cute. Ugh, so complicated.
But, I am grateful for the sweet serenity I found in being someone that he wanted because I never felt wanted at home. His family was always great and welcoming. I had photos of us in my hands that didn’t make me wonder if the smile on my face was misleading or make me question the circumstances like so many family photos I had. They were mine, under wonderful circumstances.

 

Stage 2: Dating for the Thrill

You know what sounds fun?
Dating a chef, dating a guy with a motorcycle, dating a guy that regularly breaks the law and stays out late, dating a frat boy, dating someone you work with, dating a physician…
You know what’s not fun?
Dating any of these people because they were all terrible.
Every single one. Why? Because no matter how many fun features a person has, it doesn’t keep them from be oh-so wrong for you. They can talk and they have skills and they bring you places. It’s all fun and games until you realize that he’s been sleeping the homely, fat intern or he says, “you don’t go to the gym enough”. Then BOOM, you’re stuck with the unwavering shame of the impulsive connection you were carving so, so deep. And then he moves the intern into his home (this has happened to me twice, by the way). There were so many cringe-worthy instances, as well as so many beautiful relationships, that were short lived. I began to see the effort I put forward to make these guys work for me, and I grew tired of trying to mold them into what I wanted them to be. But the miracle comes when you see that they ARE NOTHING compared to the person you are. And the person you are now is not, and will never be, the person you were. I changed exponentially during college when I took hold of my demons and started planning life for me. So, onward you go.

 

Stage 3: Dating to Complete Me

After realizing my list of failures was growing too long for comfort, and the men that I was surrounded with in my business industry wasn’t what I wanted, I downloaded the illustrious application known as Tinder.
What a joy it has been; such an interesting concept. It really is like stop-and-go traffic at a bar. One look at his clothing, the manner at which he approached you, and who he surrounds himself with, and then you decide, “eh, okay” or “absolutely not, please step down”. Dating is tough this way. One look at a guy can create these false narratives in your head more quickly than you can explain- “He looks like he’s mean to his mom”, “I bet he tells you what to wear on dates”, or “20 bucks says this dude has definitely suffocated a Tinder date and dumped her in the Wolf River”. How do you really know?
I eventually just ended up settling for a few things. He needed to dress appropriately and have an actual career that you could select from that little pull down option (nothing pisses me off more than someone’s job being something completely idiotic like “Krusty Krab” or “Your Mom”) and a guy looking to settle down. I just wanted to find a guy that had some things figured out that I wouldn’t mind possibly sharing a future with. I didn’t see anything wrong with that. It felt like the right thing to do until I saw myself being forced into someone else’s vision of “the way to do it”.

This last one was a doozy, but I learned a lot about myself. I met a someone through a mutual friend. The first time I met him I wasn’t impressed – very boring and forgettable. But I eventually saw him again one drunken Mardi Gras night after some witty text exchanges. Then, after a couple of months of just happiness and laughs, I got hit with the “Hey, I’m buying some land and plan to build a home so that I can live here forever. I want to get married and have 3 children as soon as possible. These plans are concrete and won’t change, even with career opportunities or my spouse’s preference in consideration.” My bad, because I thought he was just going to ask me to be his girlfriend. I know that I had settled when I chose to continue to see him for 4 more months, but I knew deep in my heart that forever wasn’t a one way street. It’s not an ultimatum. If I’ve learned anything from my life, it’s that plans don’t always go the way you want. You can plan it down to the nitty gritty details, but life has a funny way of knocking you on your ass and all that matters is that you get back up and accept the things you cannot change. But marriage is building something for you both. I always envisioned myself finding someone amazing and us doing life TOGETHER, not applying to some bullshit position as a housewife with a mediocre man. Someone who loves that I cry during episodes of Shameless, who understands that family time means meeting Justin and Kayla at their apartment to watch Drag Race, who doesn’t leave me questioning if I’m enough and I’m adored.
But also, can we acknowledge WHO IN THE FUCK ASKS THAT AFTER TWO MONTHS OF DATING? WHOOOOOO??? Only men I would date. Only me. I can really pick ’em.
It all came to a head when I received flowers after a big fight. From an ex-lover who, even in his distant way, knew I needed a sign. He kept in touch in little ways to make sure I was doing okay. We shared the same pain from our childhood and just can’t lose each other. So unreal for someone on the outside to see the misery I felt when the one person who needed to see it was right there. There were a ton of little things I should have seen before coming to this point – he didn’t want to meet my family, didn’t want me to meet his, didn’t want to hang out with my friends. After he dropped that “be my housewife forever” bullshit on me, it just felt like a job interview.
It still hurt, though. You put the effort forward and you dedicate the time and your heart. You go out of your way to do great things for them. You look back at the copious little signs that made you wonder.
I’m now at a point where I question my judgment. Am I just attracted to assholes? Am I placing importance on the wrong attributes? Will I miss out on the love of my life because he wears shoes I hate or doesn’t make me laugh on the first date?
It didn’t stop hurting until someone I admire immensely said to me, “You dodged a bullet”. She’s the most beautiful person. She’s probably the woman he’s looking for, not in the mediocre way but in the way that she is confident to have as many babies as possible and cooks wonderful meals. For her to see me, the value that I have, and to confidently say those words to me without a shadow of a doubt while I couldn’t quantify my worth, I felt the weight of her words fall upon my chest. And she was right. No matter what, he wasn’t it. Now not, not tomorrow, not ever.
So, what’s Stage 4? I’m not 100% on the official one but I think I want it to be “I don’t date but if you come around and add quality to my life, I’ll join you for the ride”. I do recommend finding the strength to believe those words everyday, though, no matter what stage you think you’re at.
All I know is the last one is still carefully searching for his cookie cutter wife.

But I’m cake, Bitch 

Growing up Blue

I wasn’t always so damaged. I remember being very self confident and optimistic as a young child. Life was really exciting and I had so many friends. I remember being a class favorite; kids would vote for me to be in the school plays and always wanted to play with me during recess. I didn’t realize my home was any different from anyone else’s. 

Having friends over was pretty tough, considering we lived in a very old trailer that wasn’t well kept. There was no central a/c or heat, faulty flooring giving into time, and a washer and dryer that rarely worked. It was eventually when I would stay with friends as I got older that I saw the very subtle differences. They slept in matching pajamas after their mom kissed them good night. Meals were prepared all the time and the family spent time together. They all woke up together, too, getting ready by sharing bathrooms and reminding each other to not forget their bags. I had not experienced any of this, not even once. 

There were mornings where I guess my mom was in a pretty dark place and wanted to take it out on me. She wouldn’t wake me for school and refused to talk to me, drive me to school, or allow me to ask someone to bring me. One time, she watched me get ready for a dance for an hour then laughed when I was ready to go. She just sat and laughed, and I missed the dance. It happened quite often and was completely heartbreaking because I loved school so much. I grew to just love being away more. The worst incident had to be when she took me to a concert. I was fooled to thinking we were going to have a great night. We ended up sitting next to a friend from school. Her grandmother had brought her to see the concert as well. The next morning, my alarm didn’t go off at 6 a.m. I walked into the living room to see my mom sitting on the couch, staring at me with a sheepish grin. “You invited your grandmother to the concert. You little bitch,” she screamed, spit spewing with each word. She hated my grandmother on my father’s side, but the woman at the concert wasn’t her. Wasn’t even close. But I had to suffer. 

I didn’t feel the weight of my life until high school. She never came to my football games and wouldn’t drive me. I would attempt to stand up for myself and get punched in the head. I would miss the bus and was told I should just die. The self confident, happy little girl had disappeared. Friends would all of a sudden stop calling. No one wanted to stay over. I cried over everything. Any sense of disappointment or anything overwhelming sent me to tears. I had to ask my friend down the street to wash clothes at her house for school the following week. I had to ask others for rides to football games so I could cheer. And I always had to ask for rides home. I guess it was too much for some of them.  

College was the brink for me. I drove my car that I was only able to get through a loan from my uncle, and I packed my one bag of belongings from an apartment I rented while still in high school. My first semester, I got in trouble for tapping my pencil and shaking my leg. I was directed immediately to the campus counseling. It escalated fairly quickly to the campus psychiatrist. Depression and anxiety were the diagnosis. No matter the therapy, I still was blue. And I still cried when someone yelled. 
Now, not only do I have to tend to my illnesses, I have to hide them too. Most people don’t get it. I’ve had boyfriends who are supportive, but I’ve had a few that were not. One exceptionally terrible boyfriend thought he could help with YouTube videos about how you just think yourself into pain and medicines were placebos. Such a douche canoe. Just like the guy who sent me this message on Tinder: “As long as you’re not one of those crazy bitches on meds.” No sir, I am not. Just a sad bitch I guess. 

I’m a work in progress. It’s hard to feel like you’re on top of the world when you had the value of dirt drilled into your mind. It’s a process, there is no one fix. The most important thing is to keep taking care of yourself. 

I didn’t intend to bare this much sadness from my heart, but the messages I’ve received since the release of my blog have been utterly amazing; there are so many people like me that need to know it is okay to not have these grandiose childhood stories. I don’t always have something funny to say. My sense of humor came from being not so cute in grade school and the mere need to survive in a dark place. It comes in waves, brought on by days when I can conquer the demons. It’s okay to have hard times and to talk about them. Go see someone and talk to them about it. Ask about medicine. The pain is real and it won’t let go until you can look it in the eye. 

But I do okay for myself. I get by with a shit ton of help from my friends, endorphins from the gym, and live music. My friends know when to ask and know when not to ask how I’m feeling. 

Though, I do often wish I was a different color. 

“How hard it is to paint yourself a different color when you feel so blue

Different shades in varying lights, but when you’re born blue

Turquoise, teal, navy

Tiffany, royal, and baby are still blue

What does it matter when you’re born blue

To have different shades of shame”

Where He at, Tho?

How do you just fall head over heels for a man that’s sweet, loving, driven, and hard working? I’d love to. Like, I heard its great. Why don’t I just naturally want to be with these men forever? My Pinterest is over flooding with great DIY shit, and meanwhile, I’m over here having to return messages on Tinder that say, “How much does a polar bear weigh?” Get a new pickup line. I need to know how you feel about gay marriage and craft beer immediately. Start with that.
I have friends that try to explain to me how to date a good guy. He should be this and that…but I just can’t bare to sit through another dinner with a guy where I have to hear about how his family trips to Sonoma or the 5K he runs every Saturday morning.
I think Kevin said it best in Season 1 of Shameless: “Fiona is a hood girl. When she says ‘fuck you’, it means ‘I like you’. You keep asking her to lunches and getaways. It’s embarrassing. All day long, all she does is make decisions. Fucking make them for her.”
I meet nice guys all the time. I even date them sometimes. But after a few dinners, some deep conversations, or dating them for 4 to 6 months, I start to feel really bad for them. They usually have family dinners, baby showers for their siblings, and birthdays for their dads. I don’t have those. I never have. There isn’t an opportunity to invite them to these wonderful little events that I’ve always dreamed of having. And then I feel like they’re being shorted. They should totally be able to experience those things as well. They deserve a woman whose mother taught her how to make spaghetti from scratch. A woman who has lots of great pottery-like dishware to serve it in. A woman who has been beautiful her whole life, laughing and going out with all of her other beautiful friends she met in college. A woman who is super intellectual, who went to a great college and is ready to have an army of children. A woman that has never questioned her beauty and has never questioned that she wants a big home full of children in a beach side city.

And sometimes they realize that first and leave.
And there aren’t enough prayers, classes, mentors, or medicines to make me that woman. And they all deserve that woman. But I ain’t it.
And I guess the ultimate question is, do I want him? Do I even want a man with a checklist he carries around, looking for the cookie cutter wife of his dreams? One that has this ultimatum of a cottage home and 3 kids by 2019, laundry done on Thursday and in bed by 9 at night? No, I really don’t. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want a nice guy.
I guess I don’t have a type of partner I want. I just want mine. The guy who goes with the flow. He’s okay with getting surprised by life along my side. He’s willing to bend and adjust. The idea that growing and doing life together is much more exciting than dragging someone along the way.
But I haven’t given up today. I dream that one day I meet the man that doesn’t mind that I don’t really have a talent for cooking, but I try and ask questions. A man that doesn’t mind that on Sundays I watch Game of Thrones with my friends, and Tuesdays I eat lunch with my friends, and Friday nights I have dinner with my friends because they are my family. A man that appreciates my good spirited attempts at Crossfit. A man that will laugh at the memes I save to my phone and gladly eat off of my Marshall’s purchased plateware. And finally, a man that appreciates that I cry when I watch Teen Mom. But alas, he is not here. At least not here watching Shameless and eating pre-made paleo meals with me (Prep by KUG. Check it out. She’s the only reason I eat anything remotely homemade. Yeah, I just plugged that).
Is he out there? Will he watch Disney movies with me and also hate post 9/11 Toby Keith music? I could only hope. I have a lot of love in my heart to give.

I’ve loved the shit out of the wrong ones with all of my heart so I could only imagine how life would be with the right one.

But, for now, it doesn’t really matter. Because I have the most amazing friends a girl could ask for. They fill the voids that my life has dug so deep. They put loving thought into their actions.  I couldn’t do it without them. I can spread the love in my heart among them all, and I can feel like I’m home. And we can watch Rupaul’s Drag Race and eat queso.

Don’t Make Fun. Make Fries Instead 

Monograms Moms: Look, I hate a monogram just as much as the next hateful single person, but think about it. They’re the last ones getting robbed on your block. Nobody wants to steal their monogrammed China or sectional. Their friends don’t borrow and “forget” to return their scarves and blouses with the stupid mixed up monogram with the last name in the middle and 2x bigger than the other letters. Also, you should really bad for them because they can’t resell all those smocked onsies.



People with Unique Names: You do realize that babies do not pick their names, right? So stop berating little Chair or baby Fork. It is their asshole parent’s fault. I understand that uniqueness is very admired and I admire it as well (Le duh), but for Christ’s sake, take some consideration and think about your kid waiting for his/her Starbucks coffee… made by AloeVerraLynn. I’m just grateful that I atleast have a unisex, typical white kid name for my first name (Taylor) so I can apply for jobs and bank loans without having to worry about the racist white guy scimming over my resume, because I STILL HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THAT IN 2017. UGHHHHHHH. 

The Kardashians: We all know they aren’t rocket scientists but they never claimed to be and they sure know how to put their name in your mouth. I love to see when people get pissed that they’re invited to speak on subjects such as business and social media. You know why? Because they literally dominate both. They run business and sell merchandise. To come back from media coverage that is suppose to be damning and rack in millions of dollars is unreal, if you understand how public relations works. You’re just mad no one likes your bum ass selfie you posted at 2:35 p.m. from your filthy bathroom.


Anyone in a gym: I don’t care whether you came out of the womb doing deadlifts, anyone who has the audacity to ridicule someone taking a step towards a healthier life is worse than that triangle space between your car seat and center console that sucks your possessions from your very hands. The teasing is what keeps them from going in the first place. Would you make fun of the sinner or the broken hearted going to mass for the first time? I sure hope not because Jesus sees everything. 

And while, we’re at it- Crossfitters: Wonder why you never see a selfie from a Crossfitter at the gym? It’s because they’re actually engaging in exercise that increases their heart rate and challenges them. I am NOT CUTE after a day of Crossfit because I actually did athletic things. Meanwhile, you’ve already posted 3 selfies in the mirror at some “Meatheads Meet and Greet” gym in the same workout tank you always wear. Anyone working to better themselves deserves praise. If you love going to the gym to do two sets of squats over a span of 2 hours, that’s great. But, don’t even make fun of my Crossfit “class”. You’ll be eating your words when you see how nice my ass is after squat day. 


Anyone with a big truck: Yeah, you may make jokes about how big his wang is, but YOU’RE STILL GOING TO ASK HIM TO HELP YOU MOVE YOUR COUCH. 

Anyone who doesn’t know how to do seemingly simple tasks: I can’t begin to count the times someone has made a snide comment because I didn’t know how to apply makeup or didn’t know I was suppose to dust the crown molding in my home. You just don’t know what kind of life people have had. My mother didn’t teach me any of that. But I can make the shit out of some boxed augratin potatoes. But not because she taught me. Because potatoes. 

Things I’m NOT Giving up in 2017

Hello there.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever met me, and that’s fine, but just know that I am extra. That’s why this New Years Eve, I am going to remain true to myself and not give in to this “new year, new me” bullshit. I ain’t giving up SHIT. Here is my unforgiving list for 2017.

  1. Dr. Pepper. Trump is president. And he likes to belittle women. I’ll drink what I damn well want.
  2. The word extra. I personally love the flavor of being over the top and I don’t feel like enough people do it. Live your best life: bedazzle it, eat everything, text him, go places, yell at people.
  3. I’m not giving up on Britney Spears. I’ll never give up on her. We’ve all had questionable times in our lives. Her’s involved an umbrella. It’s whatever. She’s still the queen of pop in my 90’s baby heart ❤️
  4. I’m also not giving up on the remaining four harmonies. But they gonna have to work to make up for the pain that was the split of runt Camila.
  5. Forever 21 even though I’m 26. #ForeveraTHOT #thatswhyitsforever
  6. Finding the rug of my dreams. And maybe a man but my floors are bare right now and I’m stressed about it and that’s more important.
  7. Being petty. Sometimes these folks just need to know how they’re acting  and I’ll GLADLY point it out. Screenshots for er’body. Don’t come at me with nonsense and expect for me to not show the tri-county area. #PettyWap
  8. Curse words. They’re the color of my life. There are situations in life that can’t be described with anything other than “fuck“. My favorite line from a Christmas story: “He wove a tapestry of obscenities”.
  9. Supporting the diversity of the world. I’ll always be the gays’ biggest supporter. I’ll always root for the girls. I’ll always feel pride when I think about our first black president. I’ll always cheer when Victoria Secret hires an Asian model. ALWAYS
  10. Crossfit. Yes, I Crossfit. No, you didn’t know about it because I suck and I ain’t trying to tell folks about it. But my goal is to be relevant in 2017 and make it more than 400 meters before I want to die; also, to not have people wince when they see me load my bar for a snatch, so I shall continue onward.

Quitting is for the faint of heart, and my heart is propelled by whiskey and rap music, both of which shall never perish. This new year, think about the things you love and keep doing them. Keep loving and keep sending memes to your side pieces.

Ain’t Always Rainbows and Butterflies

I’d like to start off with a correction submitted via family. A credible source, a.k.a. my Aunt Delores, called my cousin to let her know the following reference to how my name was chosen in the previous blog. It states as follows:

“Dammit, I get blamed for everything! Dawn decided on DeRae months before she was born as an ode to me and Alice Rae but then we got in a fight and I wasn’t even allowed at the hospital or to see her for the first year of her life!”

I trust the pertinent source. Oops.

My mother’s birthday was this week. This year makes 3 years that she passed on a cold night before Thanksgiving. 20 years this year since my dad’s passing as well. Holidays are the hardest, for some odd reason. I wasn’t going to write a blog with this caliber of topic, but a very great friend gave me the courage to do so. All that I am is due to not having my father and excessive attempts to avoid my mother.

Oh, growing up with Dawn was not the easiest for me. She struggled greatly to find a good life balance between raising an intelligent, wild baby and raging on the weekends with God knows who. She had had a rough childhood, too, for various reasons. She had never finished college and couldn’t really hold a job for very long between wavering mental illnesses and just plain tomfoolery. Drug tests always had a mind of their own for her — “Oh, I don’t know what happened. I think they saw the Tylenol I took and misread the test,” she would say. She was always in some sort of trouble. Always.

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I never had the mother-daughter heartwarming moments. She couldn’t order for me at a restaurant. She didn’t remember my social security number. She let me watch Silence of the Lambs and the Rocky Horror Picture Show when I was a small child because they were “so good” and tried to order me margaritas at dinner, but I wasn’t allowed to dance in my first competition because the costume was a sports bra and athletic capris.

She didn’t attend my college graduation. She called after to say that she couldn’t find a parking spot so she just left. Pretty typical. She did the same at my high school graduation.

I’ll never forget when one of the many times she had wrecked her vehicle. I had just given her money to buy it. It was an older Honda, and it was not the prettiest car but very sufficient for her to find a job with, at the least. She ran clear off of a straight road, right into a mailbox. The only fucking mailbox for miles. How? Oh, just wait….

“I vaguely remember there being a doggie in the road. I sure hope I missed it.” Now, I’ve ridden in a car numerous times with Dawn. She don’t stop for nothing; she don’t stop for mammals, mobiles, or your momma. I just knew she had to have been texting and clearly under the influence; therefore, I asked.

“Dawn, did they give you a drug test?” The all too familiar glance she took out the window as if Jesus himself was there to bail her out of that moment melted across her face. I knew what was coming…

“Uh, yeah. Actually they did. It didn’t come out right. I think people have been putting drugs in my food. I just don’t know why, I’ve been good”.

I took one glance at the nurse there, who clearly wanted to die. And then I lost it.

“DAWN, AIN’T NO FUCKING WAY THAT PEOPLE ARE PUTTING METH IN YOUR CHEESEBURGERS.” Out goes the nurse. Then out went me.

She took the insurance money from her wrecked Honda and purchased a newer Ford Mustang… and she wrapped it around a telephone pole a couple of weeks later.

We had an interesting relationship. I took care of a ton of things for her financially. She meant well, but she just didn’t do well. I’d receive a phone call that either went one of two ways:

“Hey DeRae, it’s Dawn. Your Mother (I have no idea why she felt the need to specify every damn time). I’m just seeing what you’re doing. Are you still in college? Can I borrow some money?” Or I got cussed out for being a piece of shit. It just depended on what day it was and how she was feeling.

People always had something to say. I have news for y’all: not everything is black and white. Not all mothers are created equal. Not every situation has this clear, shiny solution that you can flip to the last chapter of the fairy tale to find. My life was never a clear story. I don’t owe anyone a sappy explanation of why I did/do the things I do. If anything, I owe the people that were there when she wasn’t. Every football game. Every awards ceremony. Every graduation. Every birthday.

But, I did learn a great deal from her, except they weren’t intentional lessons. My favorite of all is that love is proactive. You can’t go around and expect people to help you. You have to give love to get it. She loved drugs and she passed enjoying the only thing that made her feel good. I can’t be too upset about it.

jr


D to the Rae

Let’s back track a little here…
I was born and raised in Hancock County, Mississippi, in a “city” called Kiln. We usually call it “the kill” because it’ll dismember your hopes and dreams if you don’t get out quickly enough. Trucks are more decked out than homes and groceries are 30+ minutes away.
One fine evening, my mother couldn’t fit in her size zero acid wash jeans to go out to the bar. Thus, it was discovered that I was on the way (one of her favorite stories to tell because I was such a surprise and she was so extra).
DeRae was decided as my name not too long after I was born. My grandmother was named Alice Rae. Quite a few people in our family have Rae for a middle name. Everyone in our family agrees Alice Rae was a bitch. Why we’re all named after her really beats me, but tradition is tradition. My mother, Dawn, and her sister, Delores, clearly have ‘D’ names. As the story was told to me, by Dawn (so, God knows it’s probably fabricated or exaggerated), she had intended to name me Taylor Rae. My dad had a raging crush on Taylor Dayne, pop princess of the 80’s, so that was his contribution. Once I was born, it was brought up that my name didn’t have a ‘D’ in it. Apparently, it was brought up by my Aunt Delores, and that sent my mother into a rage, right at the moment she had finished writing my name on the birth certificate. Out of frustration and complete lack of consideration for the rest of my life, she squeezed in the ‘De’ in front of the ‘Rae’. It was from then on out, I would dread school roll call and waiting for my name to be called at any bank or office. I am, however, grateful for the diversity of my two names. In a very Deep South community, I can use Taylor for all of my banking and career- oriented needs because I don’t trust racist ass people. DeRae is used all other times, because it is oh-so-fitting for my personality; I’m unique, difficult, and hard to handle for the normal person. 


My first job was at Dolly’s Quick Stop in the Kiln. It’s literally the most profitable establishment the Kiln has because of its bomb-ass chicken on a stick and decent diesel prices. I didn’t have a car but the store was conveniently on the way home from school for most people so I could convince whoever I was dating at the time or friends to drop me off. I worked there with my best friends, and it was nothing to close that sucker down on a Saturday night, Smirnoff coolers and candy bars in hand to head to the parties.
In true country fashion, I had my first kiss in a barn. It was beautiful, dimly lit by the moon, and it smelled like shit. And it was a barn, so there’s that. There weren’t many places for kids to go do things. Most high schoolers hung out in the Dolly’s parking lot, the Chevron parking lot in Diamondhead, or in a random field… like the one where I almost died from vodka a few golden times. Due to the lack of access to teen-friendly entertainment and lack of adequate fostering of talents, activities often included stealing traffic cones and drinking. You know, very philosophical things. There was a ton of camo… more so in school than in the woods. Kids rode horses in school and often got expelled for having hunting knifes in their backpacks. High school football is the way of life and your mom went to school with everyone else’s parents. 
Before the days of Myspace, Facebook, and the internet in general, one great way to keep up with the community was to check the arrest records. Now, as an adult, it’s a great way for me to keep up with classmates. Among the usual offenders was often my mother. No one knew trouble better than Dawn. It followed her, befriended her, and clung like a Tinder date that realizes you have a great job and no children. I’ll never forget when a kid from school came running to me in the cafeteria with the arrest records in tow to say, “Hey, is that your mom? Isn’t that her right there? See her name?” I had one of two options: own up or act up. 
I acted up. But, by acted up, I just mean that I denied it and went on my merry way. 
I often think back to that day. Was I sad at the time? Yeah, it was difficult growing up like that. Am I still sad? HELL NO. The fat little fuck that embarrassed me that day is extra fat, has a dog for a wife, and multiple kids he can’t afford all while posting racial slurs on Facebook that he can’t even spell correctly. And I’m hot. Karma is bitch, but she’s an efficient one, I’ll tell you that.

Quit Playin’ Games with My Heart

This blog post was going to be a special edition of my Tinder swipes but I’m in Tunica, MS, land of nothing, and I ran out of men after 7 swipes. Oops.

I have dated, and dated, and DATED until I just couldn’t look at men anymore. I’m a fan of many flavors, mostly selfish. The last two were the BIGGEST ASSHOLES imaginable. Those stories are for another day. For now, bask in the transparent glory of my lackluster dating life.

I honestly feel like I’ve just been shuffling a deck of cards and stopping at the suit that I thought I needed. After each flaw I dump, I go for the exact opposite. Last guy wanted to propose and buy a house? – let’s bang a frat boy bartender that can’t spell. Bartender didn’t work out? Oooh, what about a boy in law school who thinks 30+ miles of distance is too much to handle? YASSSS, you’re slaying the game because when he succumbs to the crippling distance of two cities that are side by side, you can get googly eyed over a guy that works at your new job! (Spoiler: He weighed 76 pounds and was banging EVERYONE in the tri-county area)

I feel like I’m playing duck, duck, goose. When you play the game, you can easily read when the “goose” is coming. They won’t say duck more than 2 times around the circle. It’s excessive and annoying. It’s easy to predict a small time frame to be prepared to run. Except life doesn’t work like that and the guy you met on Tinder that isn’t digging your distressed black denim and your lack of cooking skills is yet another duck.

Always a duck, never a goose.

I really do believe some girls claim goose too early. And that’s okay. Get your duck, girl. But, it’s not my jam. I’m tired of wasting time on ducks.

If there is one thing I’ve learned (not that I’m a genius, just a well-versed victim)… fuck ducks, man. If he can’t understand your anxiety, your family dynamic or lackthereof, and your chronic need to constantly swab your ears (please tell me I’m not the only one), then HE AIN’T IT.

And I truly believe God is finding entertainment in my dating struggles because I use to draw portraits of boys I liked in Sunday school classes. I’m feeling the wrath of my ADD everyday.

For now, I entertain a date here or there. But, I’d much rather spend 3 hours in target alone, buying organic potato chips and home decor for my rental home. 

All of my Exes are Married: The DeRae Graham Story

I want nothing more than to share a wonderful story about a strong woman who overcomes poverty, adversity, anxiety, and mediocrity, who grabs life by the horns and screams from the mountain tops her worth and how much she loves the world.

Sorry, this ain’t it.

I’ve accomplished some of these things, like getting a degree while paying my mom’s light bills, but I still have panic attacks when my friends are 3 minutes late to pick me up.

I wish I could give you a synopsis of what you’ll see in chronological order, but God knows that ain’t happening. I’ll give you blurbs of what I’m feeling that day. I still black out at bars but I have goals and aspirations.

Yes, my name is DeRae. Yes, that is my real name, pronounced deh-ray. I’m 26 years old, not married and no children, so basically the least “successful” resident of South Mississippi.

I work in Food and Beverage and have for years. The food is amazing and the people are the worst so I love it.

My life is interesting to say the least. And I guess I’m sharing in hopes to have a handful of people to say, “oh, I’ve been there too”.