Growing up my favorite times were spent on my grandparent’s farm in Northwest Ohio. I love the solitude of the corn fields and being able to explore the barns and outbuildings. My cousins taught me how to butcher chickens and ride horses, and I would always find any excuse I could to swim in their pond during the hot summer months.
My grandfather would put on George Jones records for me in his “man cave” (really it was just the old root cellar). If I was lucky he’d pull out his dulcimer or guitar and play bluegrass. My mom also made sure my sister and I had a proper country music education. I’ve traveled the Midwest to see Merle Haggard, George Jones, Brad Paisley, and Alan Jackson (more times than I can count).
So, I knew I was a blue-collar, country gal when I left for college in Michigan. I was proud of that fact. I had a bit of Southern Ohio drawl. No one could place my accent freshman year. I had people ask if I was from Europe; they were so confused with how I spoke!
It wasn’t until I went on to graduate school that I realized being all country made me stand out in a way that wasn’t great. So, I suppressed it. I tried to be academic and intellectual, but that isn’t me. Sure, I’m smart and I’ve worked hard for my degrees
.I now have a Ph.D. in communication studies and I’m a full time college professor at a small liberal arts college in Michigan. I’ve won awards for my research and been published in peer-reviewed journals and interviewed by The BBC, Marie Claire, Good Magazine and The New Republic, but that doesn’t change who I am. I’m still a redneck.
However, one thing time has taught me is I don’t like big words. I’m not an intellectual, and I’d much rather be in ratty jeans and a t-shirt any day over a blazer and dress pants. Roll over Beethoven and give me George Jones! Being smart doesn’t mean you have to give you your roots.
That’s what this blog is about- identity, ideas and sharing my perspectives on living Southern in a Northern state.