i pledge allegiance.

i said the pledge of allegiance today for the first time in a long time. i actually cannot remember the last time i recited the pledge. as the maui county council chair asked everyone to stand and recite it, my heartbeat quickened in fear that i might have forgotten the words, and i’d have to brand myself a shitty american for the rest of my life. but as i put my right hand across my chest, the many years of daily repetition paid off and muscle memory moved my mouth to form all the correct sounds.

i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

i cannot remember the last time i voiced these words. i cannot remember any time where i have actually thought about the words i was voicing.

but today, i heard my voice.

i sat in the maui county council chambers surrounded by women and men there to honor maui resident teresa shook (the women responsible for igniting the women’s march), and i heard my words loud and clear.

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just as it would often hit me unexpectedly while dissecting one of the many great poems in my intro to poetry course in college, the words transformed from merely words into actual meaning. especially there in that moment, standing with my palm pressed over my heart in a room full of local government officials and everyday people truly wanting the kind of nation our forefathers pledged.

we are all united. we cannot be divided. we will fight for liberty and justice for all. i pledge my allegiance to this. i have pledged my allegiance to this subconsciously since kindergarten.

but today, i actually took the pledge. and i will take it here again:

i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

img_1102and then i sat back down in my chair and listened to maui county’s councilmen, local residents, and even a german tourist, give their testimonies celebrating teresa shook, celebrating the fact that one facebook post from a retired attorney from a tiny island in the middle of the pacific, could spark a movement. i watched as women and men wiped tears from their eyes, inspired by the powerful stance our nation took when its appointed leader challenged our unity. we are indivisible.

i am the product of a hardworking father with a creative and charismatic personality and a hyper-driven mother who is an extraordinary example of independence and intelligence. the values they consciously (or unconsciouly) instilled in me encouraged understanding, acceptance, growth, and love. through their actions, i saw that fear could be conquered, that perseverance leads to results, and that perfection is a daily practice.

and today, as i made my pledge of allegiance to our flag and the nation it represents, i celebrated those lessons…

our nation can conquer fear.
our perseverance leads to results.
our perfection is a daily practice.

12 signs you were born and raised in the Chicago suburbs

In honor of heading home for the holidays… 12 signs you were born and raised in the Chicago suburbs:

1. You have a photo of yourself being knighted at Medieval Times.

Or crowned princess on your birthday, in my case. Nothing like slipping back in time and investigating ancient torture methods before cheering on the black and white checkered knight as he conquered the evil green knight in an epic jousting match. Let’s not forget the whole eating with your hands element, either.

2. The last Metra train determined when you had to close out your tab. 

And missing that last train meant a very expensive cab ride home from the city. You also knew that open containers were totally cool aboard the train, and necessary since Chicago cocktails were triple the price of your local Main Street bar. Let the train pre-game begin!

3. All your major life events were celebrated at Colonial. 

Or whatever your local diner happened to be. Dance recitals, school musicals, graduations, etc. all ended with a Kitchen Sink at Colonial. Not only did you get to celebrate your accomplishments with a 6-scoop ice cream sundae served in a miniature kitchen sink, you also got to walk away with a bumper sticker to prove you’re a fat ass.

4. You have at least one photo of yourself crying at Six Flags Great America. 

All right, maybe not every Chicago suburbanite hates walking around amusement parks in drenched denim as much as I do, but they definitely have made the trek to Gurnee at some point in their lives. One ride on the Viper’s 25-year-old wooden track (forward or backward) and you’ll be doubting your sanity for years to come.

See the rest of this article on Matador Network!

 

24 reasons illinois is the most underrated state

in case all my friends and family from back home have grown sick of reading my stories about australia, here is some homegrown content you can enjoy! check out my latest article on matador network and be sure to share, like, and comment on the original blog post.

1. It has Chicago.

Let’s just get it out of the way first since it’s the most obvious reason Illinois is awesome. Although it is not the official state capital, as most foreigners think, Chicago is the epicenter of culture for the Midwest. From Shedd Aquarium and Sears Tower (yes, we will forever call it that) to the Taste of Chicago and Lollapalooza, the Windy City will always give New York and Los Angeles a run for their money.

2. And Chicago gave you deep dish pizza.

Let’s not forget this very important fact. A piping hot, cheesy pie from Lou’s is just what you need after a long night on Division, so thank goodness Chicago invented it.

3. The historic Route 66 starts in Illinois.

It doesn’t start in Michigan or Indiana or any other Midwest state, it starts in Illinois, just one block SE of this Adams Street sign. The 301 miles covered in Illinois offer some of the best when it comes to Americana icons, like the oldest usable service station — Soulsby Service Station.

4. The Land of Lincoln was the first state to abolish slavery.

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified by Illinois on February 1, 1865 before any other states. Way to go, Illinois (and you, too, Lincoln).

5. There is 26 miles of salt-free beachfront.

That’s right. No spitting every five seconds. No burning eyes. No layer of dried salt on your skin when you get out. Just crisp, fresh water allowing you to wakeboard without the lingering fear of getting eaten by a shark. And if you ignore the fact that you know geography, you can imagine that Lake Michigan goes on forever.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE OTHER 19 REASONS!