“My dog is ten pounds when he’s fully grown, but still.”

My old neighbors, they have these two dogs – I was so terrified of their dogs, I would freak. This is when I was afraid of any dog, any shape, size, whatever. I was afraid of it. Any dog, I was afraid of it, and I have a dog now, so it's, like, super weird that I ever was afraid of dogs, but I was terrified. And now I think I was stupid but, anyways, I was – there were these big, humongous dogs, and I never had an encounter with them, but I thought they were the scariest things, and I would freak out every time I walked down that – down our road, ‘cause they would, like, always be outside. And I didn't really understand – I was young – like, what an electric fence did and stuff. And so, I would walk down and they would be barking at me and they're massive, like, 150 pounds a piece or whatever, and they're just barking at me and acting – they're just, like, fake running at me and I am, like, freaking out and, like, running away and, like, screaming for help. And it was – it's just terrifying because those dogs were, like, massive and, like, they look so mean. And now I'm not afraid of dogs, like, I have a dog walking business, and I have a dog. My dog is ten pounds when he's fully grown, but still.

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“…there was people my age who are too quick to grow up.”

This entry is from one of our Youth Interns, Kierstin Alston. See the "Meet the Team" page for more information. One of my cousins was telling me about anime that they watch, ‘cause one of my cousins is very into anime. And so he was telling me what animes to watch and he was like, “It's your birthday. How old are you turning?” And I told him how old I was turning and then he was like, “Hey, let's watch an anime together.” So we watched an anime together and he was giving me this whole entire background of the anime. And his brother comes in. His brother was just messing with me, but he got upset 'cause his brother was messing with me and we couldn’t take the time to watch the anime, and I always find it funny when my older cousins, not my older cousins, but like, you know, ‘cause I'm the oldest, right? So I find it funny when the cousins who are a bit closer to my age. So, probably around like 10 or 10 – you know, 11, 9, when they get to that age, I find that they try – they try to act – I don’t wanna say they act cooler, but they do very much so try to act like they aren't kids as well, just trying to fit in. And I always found that funny, 'cause I'm like, you don't have to fit in, you’re talking to the girl who used to play with baby dolls all the way up to eighth grade. Which is also something I found was actually pretty weird to some people because I have – see, I played with dolls for a very long time. But I like dolls. And it got to a point where I wasn't playing with dolls as much as I just liked dressing them up, and doing their hair and stuff. I feel like for me dolls unleash a creativity side of me. They always have been a side of creativity for me. I don't know if it's because my grandmother on my father's side has a doll collection, or what. But dolls have always been, like, a creativity escape for me. I can always dress them up, do their hair, do their makeup, you know, it was just easy for me. So I didn't understand why there would always…

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“I think it kind of (…) give a lesson about, like, hidden potential.”

And so, I think the closest call – or, like, the most recent call I've had was this summer. So since we couldn't really go anywhere this summer and last summer, I've been spending a lot of my time outside playing basketball. And so I remember, this was a few weeks into the summer and, you know, whenever I shot a hoop or did a lay-up or something, bees would like, just come after me. I don't know where they would come from. And so I was so confused. And so one day the ball went over the hoop. And so I go to grab it. And I see these hornets going in and out of my basketball hoop. So they were inside my basketball hoop on the backboard on the back side of it and, like the little holes that are meant for, like – I don't know what they're meant for. I don't even know why there’re holes in that. But the backboard is hollow, right? And so the hornets had made like a home inside of it. And so I go inside I tell my parents and nobody believes me for a week, because I would go and try to show them and for some reason the hornets wouldn’t come out. And then one day, I chuck a football at it and a hornet comes out and my parents see. And so my dad, he brings the hoop down. We use – I don't know what the spray is called, but it's supposed to, like, kill the bees. And so, we sprayed them, and then all of the hornets came out. And I took the screwdriver to, like, break the honeycomb. So that, like, the hornets or other hornets don't come back and, like, build a nest again. And ultimately it was very scary. But at the same time, the honeycombs are beautiful, I think it was the first time I'd ever, like, seen the honeycombs up close and I think it's just so amazing how this small creature can make something so beautiful, and I think it kind of shows like – or gives a lesson about, like, hidden potential.

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“I’m eating Smarties right now. Thats not really calming me down.”

But this comfort food? I don't know, like candy? Like food that makes you calm down. Like any food will calm me down. I mean, unless I don't like the flavor then I will spit it out and I will get mad. Like, spaghetti or lasagna -- no, not lasagna. I don't know why lasagna doesn't calm me down even though it's like one of my favorite foods. I don't know, I'm eating Smarties right now. That's not really calming me down. Though I was eating chocolate earlier, that calmed me down. I don't know. I might be getting this definition wrong.

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“I have often been told that I sound like our former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.”

Just for your information, I think you are all Northerners and you probably don't know very much about Southern accents, but there's not just one Southern accent. And I did not actually discover that until James Earl Carter Jr. was elected President of the United States in 1976. There was an article in a Newsweek Magazine edition shortly after his election talking about Southern accents. This article quoted an expert linguist who has spent a lot of time studying Southern United States accents, and the linguist concluded that the state of Georgia actually has four different types of Southern accent. I do not remember which one it said that President Jimmy Carter speaks, but I do remember that one of the four Southern Accents in Georgia is called Gulf Coastal Plains. And that means it stretches from somewhere in the central area of Georgia, where I live and was born, and goes all the way down through Southwest Georgia to the Gulf of Mexico. I believe that the accent that you're hearing in this recording is a Gulf Coastal Plains accent. I have often been told that I sound like our former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

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“I’ve never felt more empowered in my life.”

My brother recommended that we go to New York City and I agreed. And then before I know it, after all these years, thirteen years at that point of deciding I was never going to go to New York City and it never really came to mind, uh, we found ourselves in a car going to New York City one day later. And I'm not sure if I've ever felt more empowered in my life. I'd been on certain trips in my life. I had flown to the Bahamas and I had been to Texas and gone on a road trip with a friend to South Carolina and, you know, these like things that just seem like there's these reasons for going. There's family there or there's friends or you have a main attraction that you want to go see. I had done that type of traveling, but never in my life had I tapped into this revelation that, if there's a place I wanted to go, technically I could go there whenever I wanted so long as I had a day off and a car that worked. And so I went from thinking I'd never had a reason to go New York City. I didn't know anyone in particular there that would pull me into that region. I went from just being like, "Okay, yeah. I'll never go because why would I and plus who knows what could happen?" to suddenly like "All right, well. We're ten hours away, and let's make it happen. Let's drive straight to Midtown Manhattan." And so that's what we did.

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