Word to ya Mother

One of the highest grossing holidays of the year, on Mother’s Day we throw color collages in many forms to the women who sacrificed their time, energy, and bodies—for us.

As this lovely meme attached describes, some could fair better on a day such as this. Some could have better mothers. Or, their mothers could be alive. I know my Dad, who lost his mother at age 16, always feels isolated on Mother’s Day. I should call him after I post this.

I’d like to take a minute to call in to question what we are celebrating, truly, here. Happy humanity day? Perhaps that’s a little crass. But maybe not.

Happy Mother’s Day to the women we laud today, but have yet to give them their proper place in history. Or present.

Happy Mother’s Day to the women we vomited on as babes, and they didn’t abandon us. At least not immediately. (If you’re reading this, someone must have taken care of you).

Happy Mother’s Day to the women in politics I know who are forced to answer the question, “What will you do with your kids when you’re in elected office?” while campaigning.

Originating in 1905, Mother’s Day was created by a woman named Ann Jarvis, in honor of her deceased mother, who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil war. Ann sought to create Mother’s Day to honor all mothers, because she believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”

Later, Ann Jarvis became resentful of the holiday, after consumerism redirected its true meaning, which was for sentiment, and not for profit.

We might think that on Mother’s Day we do good deeds by adorning the women who came before us with gifts. But I beseech everyone, even those who had the opportunity to send their mom a card this year to try, more appropriately, to mother themselves.

Now, what does that mean?

Do the work necessary to build and fulfill your soul. If Mother’s Day could be interpreted as humanity day, get to understand your own.

-Meditate

-Begin yoga classes (with your mom or “surrogate mom”)

-Read a book that fuels your curiosity

-Contemplate your lot in life

And maybe, just maybe, all of this self-care will help you to fathom (or remember the reality) of blowing up to the size of a balloon, and how the miracle of life might encourage us all to be a little bit nicer to one another…

Like, IDK electing a woman as president sometime. Just once. Or maybe 45 times to balance it out. (It would be really cool).

Good Meme

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Help with Moon Shots

If you ever want to see an idea of yours lift off, don’t be afraid to ask for help in the process. When you seek help, you’re likely to land a bit closer to the moon (or on it).

Sounds like common sense, but us humans are a hard-headed bunch. Arguably because we don’t have telepathy. Alright, enough with the space references.

As a graduate student, I had an opportunity to intern with BBC Worldwide in NYC, remotely from Washington.

Although in retrospect I wrote a couple of click-baity articles for BBC Future, it meant a lot to me then, and empowered me greatly as a writer.

Prior to that moment I was not chosen to be an editor for my graduate school journal. If I had been, perhaps I wouldn’t have fought for the opportunity as fiercely with more on my plate.

Never give up folks!

I found the “seeking writers” listing while working part-time at the Communication, Culture, and Technology Program (CCT) of Georgetown University’s front desk. I was answering emails from our general account, when up came an inquiry from someone with a real-deal bbc.com email.

Now, I’d like to take a minute to say that this email was targeted. After being selected for the program, where I met other inductees at orientation in NYC, I realized that the students were from Universities like Brown and UC Berkeley.

I can remember feeling incredibly lucky, and angry that an opportunity like this would not have found me in Kentucky.

Because I was in a communication/technology program, I applied to write for BBC Future. My selection included multiple trials where I sent editors headlines and story-pitches related to the world’s changes.

I have no way of knowing this, but I assume that I was one of the few applicants who crowdsourced my story pitches. I had no shame. I asked all of my bright friends for help by saying, What kind of story about the future would you like to read? Each of their responses led to brilliant concepts that I vetted and packaged into pitches.

After I was selected and speaking to my editor Simon Frantz, who was a former-physicists-now-writer based in London, he said with circle-glasses, “Do you want to know why I chose you?”

I stared at him blankly at my computer screen.

“Because all of your writings were focused on people.”

I smiled. I thought about home. I thought about how much I loved Lexington and what I had written for my community. And then I thought about my peers in CCT.

I could not have fully pulled it off without them. Now, I thank them for their generosity and encouragement.

Whether accomplishments or life-milestones, these events are always better enjoyed when you have people to share them with.

I believe that the myth of the self-made man is unveiled when the network of support steps in to tell you things like, “I remember when you were in your mother’s belly” or “I’ll come get you, what time?”

Slow Down

“If you just moved from Kentucky, why are you here in the summer?” he mocked. “DC blows in the summer. It’s hot and filled with interns. Nobody wants to be here. You must be running from something.”

A perceptive comment from a fleeting DC Tinder chat in the night, sometimes the truth is revealed aptly from the boastful finance guy you never intended to meet anyway.

Molly five years ago was just as hard-headed as Molly now, but with a little less information about life. If I could tell her something helpful, it would be: take your time. As with any rush, you miss details along the way.

Five years ago, when I first moved to Washington, it was early summer. My lease had already begun with my roommate, and I thought it was high time I started living and working there before I started graduate school.

I didn’t realize it then, of course, but this effort was a foolish attempt to repay my family for years of back-breaking work, so that I might feel better about the expense of my move.

Little did I know, I was sacrificing the last few months of my mother’s life to make shy of $1000.

I chose The Washington Harbor restaurant Sequoia, by the Kennedy Center, in all of its corporate glory. A chain establishment, Sequoia was multi-leveled with large glass windows and served decent food, but it was most coveted for its view of the waterfront and tiki bar.

Working there had major pitfalls. Common with service industry jobs—oh, I also saw “Common,” the rapper, there—the staff was over-worked. As a hostess I would sometimes stand for 12-hour shifts, was often treated poorly by patrons, and ate my lunch in the basement kitchen during off-mealtime hours.

Each morning I would enter through the soured back entrance, by the Dumpster.

For that short time, I befriended a tea-party supporter named Mario, whose parents were Bolivian.

What was happening back in Kentucky, was much different. Back at the farm in Winchester, Lauralee and mom were making last batches of canned salsa and sharing sweet time.

In the sweltering harbor swamp adjacent to Roosevelt Island, I was sunburnt, sweaty, tired, depressed, and floundering.

“Come home,” my tipsy mom would tell me over the phone. The way I dealt with her alcoholism was detachment. “Come home,” she said.

I would roll my eyes and verbally reject her. At the time I thought I was trying to “make it.” She didn’t understand. What I was really doing was being incredibly naïve, shutting out my family and my country past.

So zeroed-in on becoming somebody, I was forgetting to just, “be.”

To be okay with myself in transition. To be okay with spending time with my family, up until the moment school started. To be okay with riding on the edge of a troubled, rural Kentucky past, and my future, more esteemed, self.

If I could say anything to former-Molly it would be: to let your dad move your crap to Rosslyn, ride back home with him, and spend the rest of the summer enjoying your family and friends.

Give yourself some grace. Don’t be so hard on yourself. And for chrissakes, slow down.

I would tell myself that it’s okay to receive the gifts your family worked hard for. Do it mannerly, but it’s okay to just take them.

That’s why they worked so hard in the first place.

A Mother’s Advice

The last piece of advice I learned from my mom was, “If you put a lemon rind in the garbage disposal and grind it, it will make your kitchen sink smell good.”

A simple motherly import, the lemon rind became a “life hack” for me, that at the time I took for granted.

But that wasn’t actually the last thing I learned from her. No, her lessons for me continue onward to this day.

My mom was a beautiful, bubbly, and sarcastic person. Someone who doesn’t truly know how funny they are. Sandy Lou quipped jokes in life’s pauses, and left rooms with flat statements for the person left to interpret. I miss her.

But as the fate of many Kentuckians, she succumbed to poor health and struggled with addiction. Throughout my college years I watched my mother dwindle, and her spirit. I wish for the ways she could have seen or lived a life otherwise.

When she passed, I was 23, having just moved to Washington, D.C. She was 53.

The notion that her life could have been so different is in the hearts of all of my family members left behind. Last week my Pappy said, “She could have had it made.”

This notion that her narrative could have been different, for me, has become the ultimate teacher.

I have Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” stuck in my head. And I can see my mom, fresh in her 40’s with wraparound Oakley sunglasses that people weed-eated with (or watched NASCAR), in the driver’s seat of her white Chrysler town-and-country van singing, I went 2.7 seconds, on a bull named Fumanchu!

This actually happened. There were many van karaoke moments.

As a red-headed youth, my mom was very outgoing and athletic. On her 18th birthday she sky-dived. Lauralee and I have since lost the t-shirt.

She was a great skier and known roller-blading talent. Had a dazzling smile, and as a young mother, donned floor-length dresses of many colors. Wore perfume titled, Moon and Stars. Her aura was engaging and articulate.

This is the mom that I would like to remember her as. And as time does truly heal, this becomes the mother that I choose to remember.

The outgoing woman who lived in the moment.

I remember my 23-year-old self, crying on the floor of my apartment in Rosslyn, Virginia. As I mourned, I also kept standing up. Kept attending graduate school classes. Kept meeting friends. Kept going.

While the cavern in my heart ached for her, the worrisome mother’s voice I carried in my head started to fade. Be careful. Don’t go there, began to evaporate.

With the outcome of death at each of our doorsteps, how could we not just pack-up and go?

Right now. Like, right now.

The summer I received my Master’s degree, I took planes to Paris, France and Sydney, Australia. Both to meet friends.

That fall, after working a grueling, fear-mongering temp-job near the Farragut West metro station for three months—where I would hide in the bathroom contemplating whether or not staying in D.C. was actually worth it—I quit and then boarded a plane to visit my friends in Mumbai, India, before returning home to Kentucky to contemplate home without my mom.

Undoubtedly, I acknowledge my privilege to travel. But being raised by a Kentucky family whose trauma in poverty taught them to constantly conserve had warped my brain to think that to travel was too much, too grandiose.

That I too, was asking for too much.

I saw how the last chapter of my mother’s life was crippled by fear. I would not let hers become my own.

Today I crave exploration. Even in the Bluegrass state. Because each day is an adventure. I frequently think about planning my next trip.

Some might call this grandiose. I call it living intentionally.

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& Advice

“Advice is often for the giver, not the receiver.”

-Quoth someone I can’t recall.

This is a blog for the kids who grew up in the sticks, and came to town looking for something more. Who “got there,” and were real confused.

This is a blog for the young people who ever doubted themselves. Who felt like a fish out of water.

Who sought help, but found the person who was supposed to be helpful, to fall short or fail them (adults are flawed??).

In my short life thus far, there are many moments where I wish I had a mentor. And now I’ve fumbled around long enough to know that I can be one, for a little more than a handful of circumstances.

I hope you find the entries that follow this one to be helpful. I can’t wait to share my life lessons with you, answer questions, and offer up advice.

Take it or leave it. Connection is what matters, and knowing you’re not alone.

Yours truly,

Molly Gene