Saturday, July 9, 2016

I Went To A Black Lives Matter Protest Last Night And Had Privileged Thoughts

This summer has flown by - we are already about three weeks away from Harry Potter's birthday and quite a lot has happened since my last published blog post. I have a few posts that I've been working on still in draft form, but I am jumping my drafts to write what feels like the much more important piece. Bear with me here.

This week, the deaths (read: public executions) of two black men at the hands of police officers made important headlines and the Black Lives Matter movement found another rallying point with which they could provide an outcry about the systemic and institutional racism that feeds our country.

From my privileged place of white woman in America, I feel the Black Lives Matter pain when these headlines appear on my Facebook feed but very rarely in my everyday life. So with the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, my pain appeared and my heart was heavy with hurt and guilt. I felt at a loss for what to do and how to fix the biggest problems our country has been facing since it's beginning.

I sat at my computer all day (still not working at a job by the way) seeing people on Facebook saying the wrong things and the right things and being unclear where my voice was needed. I re-posted as many things as I could and tried to silence the "All lives matter" contingent that couldn't see what harm they were doing. But I knew I wasn't doing enough and I was at a loss for what more I should/could do. And then, the Facebook event invite to a local Black Lives Matter protest came to me. I finally had a way that would feel like action in all the passivity that social media provides.

So I pondered attending. I wondered if people I knew would be there. I wondered the extent to which I would be welcome. I pondered and pondered and continued to ponder. Not a drop of action. And then, my mother texted me to ask if I was attending because she was thinking about attending. And I said yes. Someone had reached out to me directly and that was the sign I had been waiting for. Since my family would be there, I would feel a little safer and a little more welcome and I knew I would be with my community.

Ugh, the privilege is palpable. I had to have my own supportive community around me to feel safe and comfortable standing on the sidelines and demanding real justice, equality, and peace. I needed to have my mother and father nearby to feel comfortable putting myself in a potential line of fire and supporting people who, by their skin color, are always in the line of fire. I couldn't find it in my heart to actually put my life on the line and put my opinions out there in public if I didn't have my support system behind me. And I think that's wrong.

I think that if I have an important opinion, especially one about the natural human rights of the living and breathing wonderful human beings in this world, that I should shout it whether or not my family is behind me. Whether or not I am standing amidst white people who also support those opinions. Whether or not I might meet some scary person who disagrees. So I think I'm going to try to shout from now on. Civil disobedience and protests still feel like all I can do, but to me, it feels better than sitting around re-posting and sharing on Facebook. I have already surrounded myself with people like me and most of the people I know on Facebook are on the right side of this, even if passively, as I am ashamed to admit I am. I need to leave Facebook in order to be heard and to be effective and to be a part of this important movement.

So I attended the protest. I started silently. I listened to the chants and tried to figure out which people holding megaphones were in charge. I began to think about what extremes I would be willing to go to when I heard them speak about leaving the sidewalks and entering the intersection during the rush hour commute home on a Friday. I measured, for myself, the amount of vocal white and black people there and tried to decide whose lead I should be following. I started crying when people entered the intersection. My heart started beating extremely fast when I saw the police officers entering to remind people that this was unlawful and they needed to return to the sidewalk. Tears streamed down my face when I saw their hands to their batons, ready to pull them and, I assumed, use them. My heart slowed down when people backed to the sidewalks and out of the intersection. When the cops returned to watching the peaceful protest from a safe distance, I felt that I was finally ready to contribute.

I noticed when a black person lead a chant and after twenty minutes or so, finally had the courage to chime in. I also noticed when some white members chose to say "Hands Up!" rather than the "Don't Shoot!" echo, and my heart ached for what they didn't even realize they were doing. I noticed people greeting friends and colleagues who they recognized. And I noticed when this important protest became a social hour for my parent's colleagues. For a moment, I think they forgot where they were and what their focus should be. How do I remind them?

When my mom felt strange crying "No Justice? No Peace!", I yelled it all the louder and sank into the confusing feelings because we needed to be present and follow the black leaders. When we discussed the addition of "No Racist Police!" to that same chant, I felt like we were learning and growing together.

When white people lead a chant, I wanted to silence them. When they were interviewed for a TV camera, I wanted to silence them. I had learned (that very day) that Black voices needed to be heard far more than white voices. I learned (that day) that my silence was just as important as my presence.

I learned how to be active and passive all at once. And all I can do now is hope it helped. All I can do now is try again next time and be louder sooner. I can bring water for people to drink and granola bars for people to eat and trash bags to help keep the area clean. I will think clearly about a sign I would like to write and hold with pride. I will think consciously about drawing just the right amount of attention to the group, but not to myself. I'm still white. My place is behind the Black leaders - supporting their every move and echoing their fight, unless they ask me to stand before them and protect them.

I know that I'm still learning. I know that I'm still hoping. I know that I'm still praying.

I know that I still hold racial biases, no matter how hard I fight. Learn for yourself whether you have implicit biases you didn't even know you had. Share with your colleagues who think they are color blind and above racial bias. We all need to be aware of our faults and our privilege before we can move forward and actively fight against our faults and our privilege.

We can do better. We have to do better. Black Lives Matter. Full stop.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Funday Updates

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They bought me donuts. They bought me donuts because I am leaving and because my birthday is tomorrow. They also signed a birthday card for me. And a thank you card for my hard work. And included in the thank you card was a gift card and a very sweet note ensuring my success wherever I go.
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I am definitely going to miss this sort of validation and encouragement! I wonder how I can encourage myself and validate my own work when I am not actually working. This blog might be a good way to start if I can measure some version of success or if I can challenge myself to write semi-frequently. I think the self-reflection in a blog is an important step to knowing one's self and encouraging one's thoughts and feelings. The more I share and the more I reflect, the more real my version of life will be and the more valid the story I tell.

I've been told before that saying your goals out loud and sharing them publicly is great motivation. I'm not quite sure I'm ready for specifics yet, but I think a SMART goal will follow soon. For now I say, I will write. I will.
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And a special thank you to my bank friends. I doubt any of you will ever read this blog, but if you do please know how great you have been the past few weeks. You got me out of bed before 8 and had me showered and dressed to face the days. You pulled me away from Netflix and popcorn. You taught me quite a lot about Accounts Payables and Corporate Finance and I'll take the knowledge with me wherever I go next. You also started the writing again. Thank you for listening and thank you for providing a platform for me to write.

Thank you!!
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Funday Monday - An End, A Beginning, A Crisis, and Bagels

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Today is my final day at the bank where I have been a temporary staff for the past month. I am so grateful for my time at the bank and for how welcoming the bank's staff have been. Both the financial benefits and the social benefits from this job have been a blessing in disguise in the midst of my unemployment.

To celebrate my departure, I bought bagels and brought them in for everyone to share! Now I just need to figure out how to tell people I brought bagels for them without having an email address to send the message. I'll keep you posted with updates as this post gets written.
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This weekend provided the first of many "summer" weekends when my partner and I left our Midwest city to find the closest thing we could find to a beach by an ocean. Since we're in the Midwest, large bodies of water are hard to come by. Luckily, we did manage to find a lake beach with sand and sun and spent a few hours lounging and swimming. It was the perfect start to summer and I cannot wait to pack up our beach bag and head back out there every few weekends or so. Ahhh...the beach bag.

So in preparing for our trip, I went to Target planning on buying a bathing suit and some sun screen. When I left, I discovered I had accidentally bought a new bag for the beach, sun screen (two types), a new bathing suit, snacks for the road, new sunglasses, and an array of kitchen appliances. Ugh, Target. How dare you? I spent way more money than I planned on spending and when I checked out, could not get a gift card to work! I cannot afford to spend excess money and yet I did anyway! I'm about to not have any income coming in, again, and yet I still spent excess money! I can't begin to tell you how disappointed I am in myself, but instead of trying to do that - I'm going to ignore what I did and instead we can talk about the fun that I will have tomorrow!
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Tomorrow is my 25th birthday. I will have been on this world for a quarter century tomorrow evening and I am certainly not where I thought I might be when I turned 25. Let's reflect.

(Brief pause - someone just came and grabbed a bagel. Word is spreading.)

I graduated college 3 years ago, completely unaware of the struggles that would follow. I anticipated that I would spend a year abroad and find all my answers while I was abroad and be able to come home and get started on my perfectly planned out future. By 25 I would be in love, in the career I wanted, or in school trying to learn more and be better at the career I wanted. And here comes 25 and I am no closer to knowing what I want to do or how to get there and I'm not even in a career to pass the time and make the money while I figure it out. Talk about your quarter life crisis! Maybe that explains that trip to Target....

But let's forget all of that - this is a blog about funemployment! It's time for the fun!!
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Tomorrow is my birthday. I do not have to go to work in the morning, which means I get to sleep in as long as the cat will let me sleep. I also scheduled an appointment with my aunt for a hair cut and some fun summer color. As part of our house-sitting agreement, she gives me free cuts and colors so luckily this is not a part of the quarter life crisis. Although I guess we'll see how short my hair gets or how drastic the color....to be determined.

I also have a meeting at a local children's theater. I've interned there in the past, but this time around am going to be hired to work in their box office for a few nights this month. I'm excited for the tiny income it brings me as well as the excuse for me to spend more time in the theater. I can never shake my love for theater, so this will be an incredibly fun job for me regardless of what I am getting paid. For my birthday, I get to start working in the theater again, however briefly. I cannot wait :)

In addition to the pampering and work meeting, I get to celebrate with my family! We have a family dinner and dessert night out planned as well as board games at home. I'm lame, I know, but to me gathering the family around a game and spending quality time with each other is the perfect gift. That being said - I know I'll be getting some presents, so I'm totally looking forward to that part as well.

So that's the fun of tomorrow! Tomorrow is one day and look at all the fun that will be present! Ahhh, presents!! I can't wait!!
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Ok, I'm getting annoyed at people not eating my bagels so I'm going to head out and do the rounds and make sure people know that they are here and that I want people to eat them. That and I should really make sure my supervisor has work for me to do today - I feel bad when my being here seems to be a waste of time.

Alright, I'm off. Happy Fun Day everyone!!!
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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thursday Fun Facts

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I still have no clue what this blog will look like and what format will work best for everyone here, but I figure until I receive feedback from the folks at home, I'll just keep writing.
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Want to know a couple fun facts from today?

1) I am nearing the end of my temp work at a bank and mentioned that I would like to bring in bagels on my last day. One of the IT guys asked if I needed any money from people and I refused it even though I am going to be unemployed again after I leave this job. What the hell is pride? How do you make it calm it's shit when you're poor and trying to save all the money you have?? Come on!!! So the fun fact here: I'm still way too proud to admit that I need help.

2) I have had only a few smaller projects to work on today and managed to write an entire blog post on a separate blog that was way too freaking long. But while writing, I discovered that I didn't get "hungry" (read: bored) while I was writing. I made it all the way to 12:30 and managed not to feel hungry or realize how much time had passed. Maybe the fun fact here is that I love writing?

3) I sneezed earlier and split my lip in two separate places. I need to use chapstick, I guess? Is that fun?

Are we having fun yet???
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Currently listening to: The Cycle of Life, from the podcast series "Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People". So far, about 5 minutes in, they're talking about death, which reminds me of my very favorite podcast "Dear Hank and John". Check out both if you find yourself wanting to listen to some poignant thoughts and hilarity. Both podcasts have both interspersed throughout.
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Fun fact: my supervisor just brought a breadstick to my desk. She really truly understands me and now I'm craving Italian food. Anyone up for an Olive Garden trip?
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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A Fun Present

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My temp agency has me working at a bank this week. Amidst the fun of inputting invoices, filing W-9s and scanning and copying enough for a lifetime, I managed to make friendly acquaintance with people in the surrounding cubicles. Two of those cubicles belong to the friendly IT men who work for the bank. We trade stories about burpees, planks, board game cafes, Doctor Who, and upcoming weddings. Men after my own heart, both of them, I tell you. Even though I would call us mere acquaintances at this time, it is true that my ENFP-T personality means that I understand people and those people understand me almost immediately into the beginning of our relationship.

As it turns out, this acquaintanceship was no different, and as I sat in the bathroom playing with my phone, this beautiful gift of bubble wrap was laid out awaiting my return.

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Who says working at a bank can't be entertaining?? Stay tuned for more tales of funemployment.

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The Longest Introduction Ever to The Self-Righteous Blog of a Very Privileged and Unemployed Woman in Her Twenties

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To those in a career that feeds both your soul and your bellies, I salute you. Although I am not quite sure of your existence.


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My journey in unemployment started on March 15th, 2016. As of today, I have been unemployed for 77 days, 9 hours and 52 seconds, 53 seconds, 54... And boy, have these past 77 days been a ride. A wild ride? Eh, not really. An enjoyable ride? Uhh...sorta? Well, let's get to that in a moment. First, you deserve to know why I am in this unemployed state - how I found myself here and how I have remained here.

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I am one privileged motherf***er. I was born into a loving family with two parents who were committed to each other in God's eyes and in the state's eyes. The state of Connecticut, for those who are wondering. Both went to great schools on the east coast, excelled, and were on their way to true adulthood. My parents are white and I am as well. My parents are physically able, as am I. My parents were raised in accepting and loving (if not sometimes tumultuous) homes and raised me in one just as accepting and loving. My grandparents worked full-time jobs as long as I knew them and supported their families and my parents followed suit as they made their way into adulthood. It became only natural that I followed in the footsteps of those that came before me.

I went to a private liberal arts school on the east coast and although my student loans are through the roof, they could have been quite a lot worse had it not been for the aid my parents and my school were able to give me. So here I am, benefitting from their privilege. My parents encouraged me to study what made me happiest rather than that which would set me on a career path and I half listened to them. I chose Psychology as my major, which I absolutely loved and left me with no real career path; however, Psychology was the least whimsical pursuit I could have chosen in college. Without any knowledge of how the world works, I chose a useless major that would no sooner get me a job in my field than it would get me a job as a rocket scientist. I would need a Masters to make my way into my chosen field, but as a sophomore in college when I chose my major, I had no idea the road I was setting myself on.

Fast forward two more years and I graduated from my swanky school with incredible friends, incredible experiences, a desire to affect change, and not a single clue how to make it happen. I started off on what seemed to be the right path, but quickly realized I was not prepared for any of the curveballs life was going to throw at me after years of being taken care of by my parents, my school, and my friends. I pledged my allegiance to a mission group and promised a year of service abroad to my fantastic friends and family who donated to the cause. Two months into my year, I couldn't take it anymore and ended my service year early. I came home to feelings of shame and embarrassment and barely left my parents' home while I recuperated. They allowed me to sit and wallow and readjust to my privilege while they supported me financially and emotionally.

After a few months of swallowing my guilt and shame I finally pulled myself together enough to apply for a few jobs. The plan was to continue living with my parents until a college friend moved to the area. We would move in together and try this whole "adult" thing out for ourselves. I got a job at a daycare taking care of and teaching some young privileged children in the area. I only know they were privileged based on how much I knew their parents paid for their care. I know I am judging and making assumptions, but I'm feeling a little self-righteous in my unemployment, so bear with me here. After about a month working at the day care, my college friend moved in with my parents and I while she and I looked for an apartment that would accommodate the two of us, her dog, and our income level. As we looked, I became close friends with a co-worker and we all three decided that three was better than two and began to look for three-bedroom apartments.

I worked at the daycare for a full six months before deciding my finances couldn't rely on a teacher's salary and I found an office job that paid a bit more. I lived with these ladies (and the dog) for a full year before we parted ways and I found a smaller apartment in my favorite neighborhood with my old co-worker. Oh, and I fell in love. 

Where 2014 had been a year of new challenges and changes, 2015 became the year to adjust to them. When my office job started to feed on my soul, I retreated into my relationship and looked for my happiness there. When the love in my relationship started to dwindle, I retreated back into my job and looked for friendships that would distract me from my life outside of work. When my greatest work friend decided our company was no longer best for her, I realized that everywhere I had retreated to was not what I wanted it to be and it was time for some real change. I ended my relationship of almost a year and a half. I received a promotion at work that allowed me to stay on in a new role that better suited my skills. My roommate and I began to talk about our future together and began to plan for separate apartments when our lease was up. I began to dream about a future where I had my own things in my own apartment that were organized exactly as I wanted them. I began to dream about finding a love that inspired me and encouraged me rather than bringing me down. I began to dream about a job that appreciated my natural abilities and encouraged them and even promoted me because of them. And one of these dreams came true.

My promotion in January of 2016 did not have the affect I desired and I still remained unhappy at my job. Our lease wasn't up until April of 2016 and I was still bogged down by the clutter of our two separate lives living under one roof. I did however, find love again. I had the relationship I wanted with a person who wanted me as I was and at my best and at my worst. This was the relationship to remind me that I could have what I wanted and that I did not have to compromise me or my beliefs or my pride to have what I want. This relationship inspired me to find myself more than anything has before. Ah, the privilege.

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So here we are. In March of 2016, I quit that job. The next month, my roommate moved out and I now have an emptier apartment that I can decorate to my liking. However, you might see the conundrum...I have no income. I have savings, but I am not willing to spend it on anything frivolous when it might need to go to paying my bills until I find the job that is right for me. Because I do not have a job, I have a half empty apartment that I cannot fill with furniture and homeware that I so crave to be a part of my lifestyle. It's too bad about my privilege not extending to every corner of my life, huh? 

I have the relationship, but I can't spend money on the person I love to shower them with extra affection because I need to save every penny. I have the apartment, but I cannot fill it with my wants because my needs are too important. And I left the crappy job, but have yet to find the replacement job.

The first month of unemployment I sat on the couch, cuddled my partner's cat, and watched every episode of Grey's Anatomy that was on Netflix. It was the perfect distraction and I could afford to not look for a job within that first month. My privilege got in the way of my goals and I became passive in my job hunt because I could be. Every week or so, I would apply to one or two more jobs, considering that "trying". Even now, two and a half months later, I have not even begun to "try". I am passive. I am lazy. I am fine, so I do not need to try. I have savings. I found a temp agency willing to try me out. I dogsat. I am not trying, I am just simply getting by.

So this is the blog to try to inspire something. I'm not sure if I am inspiring myself to find the job or if I'm inspiring myself to find meaning in this unemployed period. I'm not sure what my goal is or where this will take me, but it is all part of the journey.

Are you having fun yet?

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