Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Time Out

I'm amidst a busy week of prepping for travel, as we leave on Friday to drive back to PA for a week- hence, the missing Monday post. Bear with me.

Once again, I'm applying for jobs, which I hate to do. (See archives for cover letter rant.) As I wade through full-time job postings and keep my ears perked for part-time openings, I'm stuck in a quandary: where is the boundary between wasting time and "putting your time in"?

I hate wasting my time (In a cosmic, life sense. In an everyday sense, facebook and pinterest can attest to my time-wasting skills). When I look for jobs, I want a job that will help me in some tangible way. For the most part, I don't need the "well, at least now you know you don't like it" jobs. I know what I don't like. While it's difficult to judge a position from its posting, I will be frustrated and annoyed if, come August, I'm stuck once again accepting the first offer I get out of desperation. I don't want to simply fill my time for the sake of a paycheck. I want a job with direction.

On the other hand, I know that to an extent I need to "put my time in" doing the drudge work. I don't believe in this principle one hundred percent, because I'm pretty sure creative and hard-working people can make opportunities happen for themselves without spending unfulfilled years making copies. I know that in many career fields, it's important to work your way up from entry level. It both garners respect and allows you to learn more aspects of your industry and your organization. I'm perfectly willing to learn and grow through experience this way.

So where's the line? How do I tell the difference between wasting my time and putting my time in? I'm an impatient person, and I'd like to figure this out NOW.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Street Walker

Today I walked into town instead of biking, and upon arrival at one of my favorite coffee shops, I reflected bitterly whether that was the correct choice. I chose to walk because I wore a skirt today and I didn't feel like changing before I left home. On the 18-block trek between home and the Haymarket, at least three different men yelled or honked at me. To say their comments were unwelcome is an understatement.

I hate being yelled at on the street because of what I'm wearing. I hate that some men feel their first and only interaction with me can be some kind of advance. It's just plain rude to speak to any human that way, and I am enraged that this happens to women, to me, very commonly. About every other time I choose to walk into town, actually. If you want my attention, try "Hello, how are you?" Is this phrase too difficult? Have these men forgotten how to politely address a stranger?

Is it my fault for wearing a short skirt? Was I "asking for it"? I had on tall boots and a modest tank top. I do not think this outfit makes me a hussy. Am I supposed to wear a longer skirt or pants to avoid rude catcalls? Am I supposed to be flattered by men commenting on my looks as I walk by? I do not dress to attract the attention of men. I dress to satisfy my personal aesthetic, to feel confident, and, in this instance, to stay cool in the summer heat.

Men, I ask you: refrain from yelling out to women from on the street about their looks. Do not comment, honk, or whistle. Even more important: tell your friends to do the same. Tell every man you know that this is unacceptable treatment of women, of people. Don't laugh it off or claim that it's a joke or "not a big deal." It IS a big deal. It's offensive. And don't feed me the line that "boys will be boys." By excusing male behavior this way, you not only marginalize the dignity of women, but degrade yourselves. Aren't you intelligent, reasonable people who can conduct themselves according to social standards? By claiming that "boys will be boys," you imply that males are immature and irresponsible, unable to control or prevent any kind of bawdy behavior. I believe you are better than that. Help me on this one.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I had one of those "uh, duh" moments today. I got myself out of the house and attended two classes at the Y back to back. The first was an intense cardio and strength interval class, and the second was yoga.

Within the first ten minutes of my first class, it hit me. I am competitive. I am social. I enjoy physical challenges. Why haven't I been taking these classes all along?! No wonder I can't motivate myself to go strength-train by myself. I need competition to push me forward. When I'm there by myself, I'm far too conscious of my actions- not self-conscious, just thinking of the silliness of picking up heavy things in different ways over and over again.

It seems lately, I'm doing better at shedding whatever protective skin that has been hiding me from myself. The realizations I have about myself are not new, they are simply rediscoveries of my childhood traits. Instead of trying to grow out of them, I need to revel in them. Have you ever peeled away a layer of yourself to be reminded of something you always knew? I plan to embrace my rediscovery. I will not try to hide behind indifference just because I don't feel skilled enough. I will bust my ass to win. Should I fall short, no one can fault me- after all, I busted my ass.

Probably, I won't be able to avoid having another "duh" moment in my life, but I would like to. I want to avoid them by reconnecting with my core qualities, reminding myself of the joys that I've always found in life, and continuing to try new things and awaken new loves.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Thing 1

I need a thing. This is not the post I intended to write today, but it's something that presses on my mind. The writers that I admire- hell, the people I admire- all have a thing. A passion, a calling, a vocation, a hobby, whatever you call it. It's a thing.

Perhaps I've given up my thing. My thing used to be dancing. I still love it. I still feel moved toward it and by it. Through my own circumstances and the mental blockades I've erected, I haven't felt that movement in some months, a couple years even. When I get back on the dancefloor with a partner, it's so effortless to just feel the flow move through me. Why did I ever allow anything, even myself, to keep me from that?

Sometimes I feel the pressure to have the right thing. Community development and sustainable living are my "trade,"at least by educational standards. I feel like those should be my "things." I do stay involved in them, engaging in volunteer work or adopting new practices at home. Achieving the flow in this field is harder to come by, though. I don't feel confident or competent enough to let it go and trust my own groove, like I do on the dancefloor. I can only hope these things come in time.

And now, I have writing, which I am trying to make into a thing. Can we have so many things? So many passions, so many callings? I'm wondering if by pursuing more than one, I strengthen them all (like cross-training), or I detract from them by scattering my focus. Who knows. I'm going with the first option because I like it better. It's more positive.

This summer, I'm retrieving my things.

Friday, June 8, 2012


My apartment does not provide me sanctuary. It's not uncommon for me to start feeling cagey, even amongst my own creature comforts, and start pacing through the three main rooms. Part of the claustrophobic feeling is that I only have three rooms to pace. No matter where I am, I cannot have my own space to breathe.

Despite this need to be alone and gain some mental distance, sanctuary to me does not mean a quiet, isolated space. I need hustle and bustle. Like so many opposites in the world, my ideal sanctuary is a spot separate from, but next to, busy-ness and people. What good is quiet space in a sea of quiet? I prefer to achieve quiet while others continue to scurry about. As a kid, this came when I shut myself in my room with a book for hours, while hearing the rest of the household continue on its business. These days, it's finding a coffee shop where I can sit undisturbed and anonymous while watching the come and go of customers and passers-by.

I can't find sanctuary in my apartment. Even if I go in the bedroom and shut the door, the bed is the only place to relax- and sitting in bed makes me feel sluggish, no matter the time of day- and instead of the muffled hum of the household, I hear the barely dampened sounds from Patrick's computer through the thin walls.

Hopefully someday, in a house of our own (or even a larger apartment!), I'll be able to find that separate-but-close-by space that affords me mental peace. In the meantime, I'll just have to keep buying coffee.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I experienced two events this week that made me so pleased to be American. In this era of controversy and constant contention, it made my heart happy to remember the great and wonderful things about this country.

First, an outdoor jazz concert. How wonderful to see hundreds of people gathered to enjoy music that grew and evolved here in America. Experiencing live music with crowds of others enriches the sound. Everyone hears the same thing and interprets a little differently. The quintessential community moment.

Secondly, this morning while helping harvest lettuce as part of my work-share for our CSA, I worked next to two immigrant farmers-in-training. Boushia (that is NOT how her name is spelled) is Chinese and Maria is Hispanic. English is a second language for both women, but they communicated without (outward) frustration, using the words they knew. Then Maria taught Boushia the Spanish words for lettuce and radishes. THIS is the America that I'm proud to live in. These two immigrants from incredibly different countries are both learning skills to increase their economic vitality and do so within the American system. The farmers-in-training at Sunset Farm represent a large diversity of ethnicities. They express their culture at times by growing crops from their country of origin, but all are learning how to grow in the Nebraska climate. In doing so, they join a community of farmers in Nebraska, a community of vendors at the farmers' market, and a community of immigrants that really is a melting pot.

I'm so glad to have these experiences to draw from. When I feel politics and mainstream culture are getting out of hand in a uniquely American way, I will remember that these moments exist as well. Then I can say with a full heart that I'm proud to be an American.

Monday, June 4, 2012


I'm an attention-hog. I love the spotlight. I take any chance I get to be in front of an audience. I think this is part of why I write.

It's not so much that I expect applause for my writing. Rather, by putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, I get to monologue for however long I want. This is one reason I journal. Aside from the therapeutic qualities, I love that I can simply tell my story- whatever it may be- with no interruptions, no distracted looks, no listening to responses. Emails are the same way. I could have a conversation with a friend, but I always have to remind myself to ask about the friend. (Yes, I have to remind myself of this. Yes, I am still a good friend.) When I email the friend, I get to just say everything right away. I'm equally excited to read their reply, and perhaps I can be so excited because I've gotten my piece said already.

I don't anticipate shaking my desire for attention or my self-centered (self-full!) thoughts. However, I do hope that I continue reminding myself to use writing to start conversations, too. My favorite blog, A Practical Wedding, is a great example of this. The founder, Meg, uses the blog as a way to cultivate a community; often the comments are just as intelligent and original as the blog posts themselves. She has accomplished this masterfully, and I hope that I, too, can use my words to address social and cultural narratives.

And so, dear captive audience, tell me: what conversations do you enjoy having?

P.S. If you haven't added A Practical Wedding to your daily reading list, do it now!

Saturday, June 2, 2012


How easily would you be able to distill the breadth of your experiences to one piece of paper? Single sided. 11pt font. If it's easy for you, then I need your services.

I despise cover letters and resumes like no other task I've had to complete. It does not get easier with gloves on (like gross cleaning tasks). I cannot hire someone else to do it for me (review it, yes; know my life well enough to create content, no). I have no problem talking about myself or tooting my own horn. My problem is doing these things authentically while conforming to arbitrary formatting and language structures.

My understanding is that a resume and cover letter form the first step in determining if an applicant is qualified for a position and how well they will fit that position. But I'll counter that you can have the most capable person in the world fill the position and spend the next however many years hating that person's guts because he or she is a huge jerk. Think about the people you work with. You can train them on the skills they need to complete their job. You cannot de-jerk-ify them. So isn't it more important to find someone to fit with the climate of the office? And how can personality be determined by such structured writing?

This is why I struggle to find jobs. I must first overcome my revulsion for this application structure, then complete said application materials, then hope they find redeeming qualities within them, THEN I get to charm them in person. I would much prefer to just charm people outright and have them offer me a job because they have met me, have seen me perform tasks, and know that I'm not a nitwit.

Just one more reason writing makes sense to me as a career choice. If I'm trying to get hired somewhere, or even just get one piece published, I am judged on my work or my body of work. I don't have to write some silly letter that falls over itself trying to compliment the employer AND show I am a worthy human being, all while using every single loaded buzz word I can remember.

Forget representing myself in the two-dimensional. As a woman, as a writer, as a human being, I am far more complex than that.