Growing Up Okie

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Photo by taliesin on Morguefile.com

Growing up, I realized we were perceived differently. Visitors would joke about our having electricity, and even as a child, I understood that my parents were patronized simply for being Oklahoman.

As I matured, I attempted to separate myself from any semblance of a more rural lifestyle and upbringing. I educated myself and improved my grammar, eliminating much of the slang common in the area. I also refused to wear boots or listen to country music. Yes, I was uppity. I’ll admit it. In an attempt to gain respect from those who looked upon me with disdain, I became ashamed of my own home state.

I realize that others’ impressions of Oklahoma are quite limited. Whether it is the review of Cattleman’s Steakhouse on the Food Channel or the recent devastation brought about by tornadoes throughout the state, people only see wheat and cows and twisters. But Oklahoma is much more.

Unfortunately, it took a talk with my grandmother to realize that. She told me and my brother about the teasing she received growing up and how she grew to be proud of Oklahoma. Although they tried to pin her with what they perceived as a derogatory term–and historically it certainly was that–she took it upon herself to say, “I’m proud to be an Okie.”

Now, it wasn’t until much later that I understood the history behind that term, and it took a trip to California for me to see that those views of Oklahomans still exist. When I introduced myself to a person there in LA, he immediately effected a Beverly Hillbilly type accent and asked, “How you likin’ the big city?” Bristling at the insult, I simply said, “I’m liking it just fine.”

I realize that everyone has to have someone that they feel is beneath them. If people decide to patronize me just because I’m an Okie, that’s just fine. I’m no longer ashamed of having grown up in rural Oklahoma. I’ll gladly listen to country music, but I’ll admit I still don’t have any boots. And as far as accent or vocabulary, I don’t try to hide my twang any longer.

Ya’ll come back now, ya here?

A Short Guide to Me

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Photo by EmmiP on Morguefile.com

Yes, I’ll admit it. My Scrooge-like motivation for beginning this blog is to gain an online presence and hopefully obtain a job. Who isn’t, right? With so many out of work or even dropping out of the workforce altogether, I know I’m not alone.

Much of my situation was brought about by me. At the age of 40, I realize the mistakes I made in choosing my degrees and subsequent work. With degrees in English and history, I wasn’t qualified for much other than library tech, writer, or teacher. I wish now that I had listened to my parents when they tried to guide me toward a more practical degree path, but that won’t change the past.

At the time, I was on fire for writing and learning from the work of others. I wrote constantly and thought little about the future and what it might be like to be middle-aged. I take a bit more practical view nowadays. I still love reading and writing–and helping others to find their own love of those skills–but I also need to eat. With time comes responsibility as well as the desire to care for those who rely upon us. The passion is still there, but I regret not being able to care better for my family.

Now, having lost my teaching position due to budget cuts, I need to find additional work. My family relies on me solely for income, and I cannot flub this one up. This blog is therefore a part of my attempt to “show off” my writing skills and possibly gain some gainful employment.

That being said, I hope that it will be much more. So keep reading. As Tom Bodett might say, “I’ll leave the light on for you.”