Thursday, March 27, 2008

Welcome to SEE Level.

About me:

The opinions reflected in this blog are not those of the liberal media, any right-wing lobbyists, or even my 84-year old grandmother. Well, maybe some of her opinions, because you don’t mess with the Scotch. But that hardly tells you a thing.

Is it possible to have lived both a privileged and a disadvantaged life? I am an only child from a well-respected, old money family with a long tradition of being upper class. The fall from grace happened before my time with my mother, a victim of her own mental illness. Without a father, siblings, or involved relatives, and my quite literally crazy mother purporting to be my only comfort, I can truly call myself an orphan. I almost single-handedly raised myself, entering the workforce at age fifteen and becoming entirely self-supporting by eighteen.

I was lucky to attend a prestigious public high school; I guess I was on the right side of the railroad tracks, even if I had to live right next to them! I volunteered to take college-level courses and enlisted as a principal performer in a semi-professional acting and musical theater company, but was drafted to work twenty-five hours a week to support the family. During high school, I also won scholarships to attend summer work camps in the Dominican Republic, where I helped provide medical services to sugar cane field workers and aid in the construction of a free clinic.

Case Western Reserve University, in its infinite wisdom, was very generous to me. Their scholarship money convinced me, just barely, that I should stay in Cleveland for college. I waited tables and took internships to pay the rest of my way, earned my nerd points by staying on the Dean’s High Honors list, and spent much of my free time becoming a competitive Latin Ballroom dancer. Make no mistake, I didn’t go to some Arthur Murray school; my teachers, including some from Dancing with the Stars, helped me bring in Silver and Gold Championship medals, giving professional cred to my Latin dancing skills and joy to men everywhere.

How’s that for diversity? If my background were any more so, I could try running for President this fall. My hope is that this blog reflects the range of life experiences I’ve had and the rich variety of people who have touched my life. While some Americans clearly are challenged by the idea of speaking in coherent sentences, I hope I can add, if not sentences, then great sentence fragments to the conversation we Americans have during our commercial breaks. I aim to focus on our values, social norms, how we have come to be this way and what the future holds.

So what did I gain from not passing “Go”, not collecting my $200, and skipping my childhood? I’ve had to be fiercely objective, and I’ve noticed societal issues that are often overlooked. I’ve been burned, but now know what to expect and how to read people. I will aim for SEE Level to be a ship of the line, an anchor of truth, solid moorings in a wild and turbulent sea of opinions! But I digress. I hope to re-evaluate some of our everyday conclusions and share the common sense that I’ve acquired on the open road, or, if you enjoy the nautical references, the high seas. My background gives me a perspective that is beyond my years, but my youth, I hope, gives me the context you want—real advice that isn’t from your parents!

* If you are interested in sponsoring my blog, please send a generous contribution to me in lieu of flowers. Then your corporate logo will be my wallpaper, your product will feature in my life in incredible motivational moments, and I will be yet another well-paid shill for the commercial machine!

About the Blog:

SEE Level will mainly be a social commentary that will often follow national and local news stories covered by the mainstream media. It will also include interesting people, events and musings that don’t make the news but I feel are equally worthwhile. SEE Level will often feature Los Angeles, my current home base, but my native Cleveland will also have a consistent presence, as will the Southern United States. Don’t get me wrong; this blog will not just be for Angelenos or Southerners. Those locales will simply serve as source material for the larger questions I have. In addition, my interests, activities and work often take me to interesting and often bizarre scenarios, providing me the opportunity for a SEE Level version of Countdown with Keith Olbermann’s “Oddball.”

I believe that blogging is much like keeping a published journal. Part of the value of journaling is in seeing your thoughts in front of you and wrestling with the reality of “is this what I really think?” I know I will be affected by this experience, but I also hope that my thoughts and honesty will be a catalyst for your own questioning and self-discovery.