aka: my life until now...
for as long as i can remember i've made it my mission to do two things- treat people as i'd want to be treated and never, ever be a cliché. the thought of being just like everyone else always terrified me and whenever i tried it it did nothing but make me feel even more unique and different.
my fear of being normal is due in large part to the fact that on paper- i am. since being accidentally conceived on moving day after the birth control was packed, my life has been painfully typical. upon entrance into the world i was cloaked in the most common name of the 80's, "ashley". growing up as a white, middle class girl with blond hair, blue eyes and having a pink 1989 vw cabriolet as my first car, it would have seemed that my barbie-doll life was well on its way to "happily ever after". where many would see a blissful, easy-breezy path towards the future- i saw monotony, complacency and the most dreaded of all- settling.
i've always had a love/hate relationships with plans. part of me yearns for the security of having an agenda and goals; the other part of me shuns anyone/thing that attempts to 'chain me down' and keep me from a freedom filled existence. in 2005 i graduated high school and there was no question- i was going to college for communications, in hopes of someday figuring out what the hell i wanted to do other than talk in public places and prank call people. (which i was very good at, i'll have you know)
it was an interesting place to be, between the certainty of the next four years and the looming uncertainty of what path i would go on after i got that piece of paper. i needed something more concrete. during my first year of college i tried desperately to sink my teeth into something fulfilling, something that would awaken me and set my dreams in motion. class after class; club after club; activity after activity; i found nothing that shook me to my core, i wasn't happy…i had to fix the problem.
there will always be those who doubt your choices on your journey towards ultimate happiness...sometimes that person may even be you. all too often we are scared to do what we want because we've been told "it's not sensible" or "it's not right" or "that's not the way it should be done". in 2006 i broke my parents heart and quit college in pursuit of my dreams.
my dreams were still pretty free-form at that point. ok, well that's a lie- i did know more than anything i wanted to be a stand-up comedian. it was the only dream i'd had since childhood that never went away. i love making people laugh, i enjoy being clever, and i like writing...it seemed like at every bend the universe was pushing me towards comedy. i wanted to move out to LA in hopes of making it big. ahh but then the pesky "i refuse to be a cliché" line kept swimming around in my head. "really ash? you think that you are any different from the countless other dreamers who flock to the west? you think an awkward, string bean of a girl would be successful on stage? you need something solid, something secure...you need to get a ball rolling on a career path."
after refusing to acknowledge my dream, i pushed onward in my search for happiness and i made a plan. i enrolled in a broadcasting school and quickly fell in love with radio. since childhood i could be found recording my own shows and forcing whoever would listen, to do just that. after being in school for a few weeks, i couldn't wait to get into a real studio. i snuck down the street one day after class and i talked my way into my first internship at a male talk radio station (unbeknownst to my teachers). the president of my school took me under his wing and pulled out all the stops in order to get my feet wet. he urged me to apply for a job with his daughter, which just so happened to be at the discovery channel. i landed the gig as a media librarian at the discovery channel communications HQ. in the year that i had been home after quitting college i had secured a full-time job with benefits, an internship at a popular radio station, and was going to broadcasting school...life was truly blossoming.
during my internship i worked for the morning show which consisted of four main guys, two producers, and a movie reviewer. on day one they pulled me on air to get to know me a little bit better. at the time i had just turned 19 and i was only recently comfortable discussing my sexuality publicly. it wasn't long before i was known as the 'hot-bisexual-intern' to listeners (i came out as a lesbian a year later), which was a regrettable way of confirming to my mother (a station listener as well) that i wasn't kidding when i said i wasn't straight. sorry mom!
i gobbled up any job i could around the station. from setting up events to recording commercials to escorting strippers to the greenroom…i did it all and happily so. i loved my time as an intern but as soon as it began the ride was over. a day prior to my internship being complete i was offered a position at the station, which i took (to replace the job i had recently left at the discovery channel) and staid there for another year and a half.
people are incredibly dismissive of radio due to the FCC manhandling all creative forces at play on air. many also complain that radio stations play a selection of music that's repetitive and often way too mainstream. what few outside of the radio world know is that terrestrial radio has the potential to be entertaining, interactive, enlightening, and something really magical. i will never stop believing in radio- ever, i only hope that the FCC someday recognizes the err of their ways and adopts the mantra from our own constitution- "freedom of the press".
finding a sense of belonging in the radio community, i pushed forward on the airwaves. i left the unpredictable world of male talk radio for a more straight laced spot on the dial- news stations. with all the shtick and sexually themed conversations i'd been a part of in the past, i welcomed the complete 180 of being in a news room reporting on serious events. i accepted a job working weekends as a traffic reporter and in a matter of months i had moved into a full time spot during the weekdays. a year after my first shift on air, i was offered a position on TV as the afternoon traffic girl- at 21, i couldn't have felt more accomplished.
for the past three and a half years i've dutifully reported the traffic day after day in the nations capital. it doesn't exactly get me the ladies but i'm sincerely fascinated with the ebb and flow of cars (traffic nerd 2 da MAXX). a ride with me is often sprinkled with little known reasoning behind major work zones, or fun stories of major accidents. nothing brings me as much joy as discussing the gruesome tales i've witnessed/reported on throughout the years...unfortunately, this isn't a shared love and more often then not people think i'm morbid or weird for finding my reports on daily death so fascinating.
that itch that prompted me to leave college is flaring up again in a major way. in recent months work has demanded nearly all of my time. i don't say that in the way that most people do when they are mindlessly complaining about their job- i say it in the most honest way possible. while i've gone to a social gathering here and there, since the end of the summer i've been swallowed socially by my job. sitting in it- driving through it- reporting on it- or trying to avoid it; traffic is all i can see. in years past, complete career saturation has been a welcomed occurrence; i like loving my job and don't mind being consumed with it. but the moon is shifting and the tides are changing in my little world, i'm gaining the confidence needed to reach out and follow the stars that live in my heart.
i know dreams won't stay asleep forever...i just hope i wake up in enough time to chase mine down.