Post Women’s March: How I’ll Help

Last night, every time I woke up to feed my daughter (four times!) I struggled to go back to sleep because my mind was racing. All I could think about was Trump’s team having zero qualms about lying on their first full day in office, the overwhelmingly uplifting feelings of solidarity I felt at the Women’s March in Boston yesterday, and wondering what the fuck I was going to do next.

Yesterday wasn’t just about feeling the catharsis  of standing together with other people against oppression, nor was it about getting a photo-op capturing my participation in the march for posterity (though I will teach my children and grandchildren about what I did). On election night, I was enveloped in sleepy and tearful postpartum hormones that made me feel like I could do nothing but hold my newborn baby and let a deep sense of dread seep up from my core to my brain, filling it with doubt and sadness. Three months later, I feel firmer in my footing and more confident in my ability to help. But, here’s my problem: I am an introvert through and through. Meeting new people gives me anxiety. I get nervous when I order a coffee. I have to psych myself up to call people on the phone for work. But, I’m prepared to set that all aside and tell my ego to shut the hell up for once because the fear of being embarrassed if I say something wrong is not as bad as the fears I have of hate, discrimination and oppression becoming legalized.

I’ve probably seen this statement from Trump supporters a thousand times since November 9th: “I lived through Obama, you’ll live through Trump. Get over it.” OR “We won, get over it.” Well, remember the Tea Party Rallies? Me too. Sit down. BECAUSE GUESS WHAT MY TAX RATE IS GOING UP UNDER TRUMP AND I’M NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT. Also, the asinine crap about how happy Trumpists are over the repeal of “Obamacare” aka the Affordable Care Act make me sick to my stomach. That rant is for another day. I hope you all don’t get injured, sick or die before then.

The point of my writing this is that this morning I visited the Women’s March website to view the 10 Actions/100 Days. It reminded me that I live in a very progressive district, so I need to double my efforts and reach out to swing districts to help. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Are you registered to vote?
    • No? Get that taken care of well in advance so you aren’t scrambling to do it before the midterm elections. Rules are different in every state. Find out more here. When you’re done, mark your calendar for the Midterm Elections.
    • Yes? Great. Please mark your calendar for the Midterm Elections.
    • Either way: Here’s what’s at stake. The Conservative majority could get even bigger. Millenials need to outnumber the backwards Baby Boomers who show up at the polls.
  • Do you know where to find out about legislative activities?
    • If not, go to  Congress.gov and sign up to get alerts on the bills that affect your life and your community. These are the issues you need to call your Congress members about.
  • Sign up for Swingleft.org to find out where your nearest swing district is so you can get involved and help influence the elections.
  • At least once a week, or when it is urgent, I will call Congress.
    • I could say to myself, gee, I wish I had the time. As a nursing mother, I have to take multiple breaks during the work day to pump milk for my baby. During those 15-30 minutes, I will make a phone call. PHONE CALLS ARE THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO REACH REPRESENTATIVES. You can’t ignore a phone call the way you can ignore an email or a letter. Be persistent.
  • If I’m not sure what to say, I will do my research and write myself a script so I do not fumble.

More than once since the election, I’ve been asking my husband if he can apply for residency in another country. I’m seriously dreading what could happen with this illegitimate presidency. I’m really glad that I live in the Northeast, and I plan to live in a progressive part of the country for the rest of my life. The only problem is that inside this bubble, everyone else who is left vulnerable in red states doesn’t get to enjoy the freedoms and liberties that I have. Here is why I will fight for rights for all:

  1. Even if you are Pro-Life, I support your right to have access to safe and affordable birth control and abortions.
  2. Even if you are Pro-Big Business, I support your right to receive a livable wage so you don’t have to struggle working multiple jobs to make ends meet.
  3. Even if you believe that God gave Earth to man to reap wealth from its resources, I support your right to live in an unpolluted environment where you will be unharmed from cancer-causing industrial by-products.
  4. Even if you believe that taxes being taken from your paycheck to support government programs that care for the elderly, sick and needy, I support your right to receive money taken from my own paycheck to help you when and if you find yourself in a vulnerable position. 
  5. Even if you believe that the United States is a Christian country, I support your right to practice your religion freely so long as you respect everyone else’s right to practice their religion freely. 
  6. Even if you view Black Lives Matter as an Anti-Police movement… Well, I don’t really support you feeling that way because it’s not true. Black Lives Matter. They Matter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6MVjwnNIg4

I’ve probably left some things out because I’m trying to write this as fast as I can before my baby needs me again. Hopefully I have another opportunity to get amped up on coffee and write soon.

The 12 Weeks I’m Looking Forward To?

Today is Mother’s Day 2016. I’m looking forward to becoming a mother in October this year. However, I do feel that whenever feelings of happiness, excitement and total amazement begin to arise, they’re quickly buried by stress and anxiety when reality hits me. There’s a lot I need to buy (cribs/bassinets, strollers, diapers) and a lot I need to do (enroll in a daycare, figure out budget) before my little guy or gal comes. Currently, at 15 weeks pregnant, I am on a wait list for a daycare in our soon-to-be neighborhood that doesn’t open up until February 2017. Yes, this is normal.

It’s also normal that 12 weeks after I leave work to give birth to my child, I will return again. I will be able to count on my mom for the first few months after I return to work and prior to the daycare wait list spot opening up. I’m extremely grateful for that, but it doesn’t change my fear or anxiety of the unknowns about having a human life to be responsible for. The Sims was so not good practice for me. What’s with the arbitrary number of 12 weeks for leave? Is it because it’s a the length of a fiscal quarter? It’s impossible that it has anything to do with childhood development. When I first started to research daycare, I’d think about handing over a child I will barely know to be cared for by strangers for a majority of the hours that he or she spends awake during the week, and tears would fill my eyes. It’s not that the baby will mind this, but I will.

While discussing my leave with a co-worker, she told me that I might want to take more than those 12 weeks or that I might change my mind about coming back full time because everything will change when the baby is here. All I could think was, “I definitely don’t have the resources in my life right now to be less than full time at work”. I know that once week 12 is up, I’ll be back. I know that any effort to work towards a civilized paid parental leave policy won’t happen before my baby is born this year, but that’s not going to stop me from talking about it and writing to congress to demand it for the future.
 
I feel really, really sad when I think about all the opposing forces against women’s careers and when/if they choose to have families. First, we push ourselves to work hard in our careers so we can have stability, pay off our student loans, and maybe even have some accomplishments we’re proud of. Assuming we are childless during our career-ladder climb, we rely on drugs and devices to remain childless – amazing drugs and devices that are under attack and seemingly always in jeopardy of becoming less accessible to us. Second, we either opt out of having children altogether for whatever reason – kids aren’t for everyone, so don’t assume that they are and don’t make someone else’s reproduction your interest – or we take the plunge to either stop preventing pregnancy from happening, or full on planning for one. If we’ve made it to the point where we’ve been able to plan out when our family begins so that it’s a time we deem optimal, a host of questions arise. Am I healthy enough? Will age be a challenge? Is my insurance good enough? How will I cover my co-pay for a hospital stay at birth? Will my work be supportive? Can I afford to go 12 weeks without pay? Can I afford daycare? These questions transform pregnancy from a process of life into an experience where the commoditization of so many aspects in life becomes apparent. You’re either privileged enough to have the job with a business that is eligible for the 12 weeks unpaid guaranteed by the FMLA, or you aren’t. Maybe you’re really lucky and have a generous employer with an excellent paid parental leave policy. My guess is that most people do not work for such employers. Either way, starting a family in the United States comes with sacrifices and burdens that fall heavily on women. Our careers are set back and we lose wages.
I feel like the person who came up with the 12 week number imagined that they’d be giving women a break, but also helping them get ahead by not giving them too much time away from the job so they can continue to work on those careers of theirs.
In closing, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver made a Mother’s Day episode that I watched again this year. It made me feel all the sadness, rage and stress that I experience at one point or another throughout the day now.

$15/hr to work in Fast Food? Yeesh! Why would you deserve that?

Why do I care about this? I don’t know, why do you? Let’s chat because it seems like someone else’s hard work and good fortune is offending you.

On July 22nd, a panel in New York state made the recommendation that fast-food chain restaurants raise minimum wage to $15/hr. Minimum wage in New York state is currently $8.75. I’ve noticed a lot of people I know from Western New York are deeply outraged by this victory for fast-food employees. To those individuals who find themselves angered by this – maybe because they worked in the industry and didn’t experience this benefit, maybe because they think it’s unfair to upset the wage hierarchy – I have some items I want to go over before you continue to use your energy and mind space to complain about this.

1. Do you hate that your tax dollars go to welfare programs to support poor people? Do you consider it Communism?

Maybe you shouldn’t be hating the recipients. This is actually a victory for you – not just them. Every paycheck, taxes are taken out in order to fund a safety-net for members of our community who fall into bad times. This could be a temporary condition for them – I was on food stamps once – or a chronic problem due to a system that perpetuates poverty for many. For fast food workers making a minimum wage under $10/hr, tax payers foot a bill of $7 BILLION PER YEAR (source: Bloomberg Business) to make up the difference of their living expenses in the form of social welfare programs. This does not mean we should be mad at the people who are working the low wage jobs. We should be angry that multi-billion dollar corporations engage in a compensation strategy that funnels tax payer dollars through welfare programs in order to subsidize wages and increase their own profits. In the United States, even if you don’t hit up McDonalds, the corporation has made it compulsory that you still help line its executives pockets. So, if you thought $15/hr was absurd, back in 2013 it was reported that McDonalds CEO’s make $9,200/hr (source: Business Insider). Yes, a McDonalds CEO earns $9,200 per every hour worked at the expense of cheap labor and poor quality food. Do NOT get me started on the quality of this food. I’m resisting a tangent, so here’s a Huffpo graph of what we shell out every year in what is essentially corporate welfare:

2. Do you think people who work Fast Food jobs are just high school kids and it isn’t a career? Do you think they’re lazy, unmotivated, or opportunists?

I’m struggling to start my point on this one. Not because I don’t know what point to make, but… you’ll see how I feel when you make it to the end of this post. Maybe your local McDonalds is staffed by perky teens saving up to buy a car, but if you go for a road trip or set foot in any metropolitan area, you’ll see something different. What angers me about this point is that it reduces a source of income (that supports individuals, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, entire families) to an indication of immaturity and lack of development. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, about 1 in 4 fast food employees has a child. Having a child is by no means an indication of maturity, but it definitely indicates the added challenge of doing something like going back to school. You need to pay for your child’s expenses. You do that with a job.

3. If you encountered a working mother or father employed at minimum wage by a fast food restaurant, would you say any of the things you did in your Facebook post to that fast food worker’s face? 

Like, would you walk into a McDonalds, order off the dollar menu, then berate them about your personal struggle with their life? Would you pull up in the drive through and after being handed your food, yell BY THE WAY I DISAGREE WITH HOW MUCH YOU GET PAID BECAUSE… and start trailing off as you speed away from the pick up window with your hot Big Mac because they started to give you a really confused look that made you realize just how crazy you sounded?

I digress from statistics and tables to just try to make sense of your character. Facebook can become a very cozy place. You’re among, friends, right? You’re just typing some statements into your phone or your computer, right? It’s just your thoughts. It’s not like you’re standing by the on-ramp to the thruway brandishing a big cardboard sign and shouting at cars going by. Some people would have it that everyone is “entitled” to an opinion (for whatever reason they’re led to “believe” that).

The entire reason why I’m spending my time writing this is because I feel sad that you have these opinions and beliefs. I feel sad that even if you’re complaining about $15/hr from a consumer’s perspective, you’re still supporting a big business who does not care about you over the families in your community that you live side by side with.

4. The bulk of this post has been what I THINK but now I’m going to tell you how I FEEL about your opinion. 

Editors note: I am taking a break from my normally scheduled block of time for freelance writing. It get’s fast and feverish here. 

It makes you look mean.  Are you a parent? How would you feel if your child walked into your house and started spouting classist or racist rants? Would you enable them, agree with them, and tell them it’s ok to hate people for the way they are?

You sound jealous. And maybe you are! But jealousy is not attractive and it certainly isn’t productive.

Look, I don’t want to call you names. I don’t want to hurt your feelings. But, if you do anything to directly state or insinuate that a fast food worker’s labor is inferior to you because you worked so hard to get where you are and someone like yourself is more deserving of better wages…. you’re missing the point and I pray that God bestows the gifts of compassion and empathy upon you. This isn’t about you. The victory of these people does nothing to detract from your own personal success and career choices. This doesn’t affect you (unless you eat a ton of Fast Food and you’re concerned about a price hike).

If you’re concerned about a price hike and you want to get outraged about it, I suppose just keep in mind that it’s probably going to happen. So be prepared. It’s not going to happen because the companies fear becoming insolvent by paying those extra couple dollars an hour (without any other benefits like health insurance or retirement), but it is going to happen because the companies know that you’re a sucker for their Dollar Menu economics and they want to win you over with it. They know that you equate a cheap burger to value, and they know they can stir your emotions and political ideals by tacking on $0.50 or another $1.00 to make that burger less valuable than it used to be. A Two Dollar Menu doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? These companies don’t care how much money you spend at their restaurant on any given visit, they just care that you’re spending. They don’t want to relinquish any control they have over keeping you happy with the status quo, so they’re going to do whatever it takes to make consumers think they’re experiencing a huge economic blow to their wealth that will deprive you of your treasured burger (made from several tortured cows in every bite — I HAD TO!) all because the workers who sling said burgers demanded more money for their time.

In conclusion – you don’t have to feel the way that you do, and I don’t have to feel the way that I do about you for having the opinions that you do. The point of all this is that a corporation like McDonalds does not care about you. It doesn’t. Not at all. They see you as a prospect, a source of money, a dollar sign, and a pawn in an economic game. I see you as a person. You are a citizen of the same country as me, a member of my community, and I care about you enough to risk you hating me and thinking that I’m a stupid bitch for explaining in detail why you should stop wasting your time saying mean things about fast food workers.

(Reprise) Smell Ya Later, New York: Street Harassment

Ladies: when someone tells you that street harassment is actually a compliment, they are telling you to shut up. Never shut up.

Originally posted on a blog from yesteryear, I unearthed a beauty of a post on a subject that is receiving a lot of responses lately thanks to the video above. I’ve come across facebook posts where folks are trying to open up earnest conversations about why “God Bless You” and “Have a Nice Day” are considered harassment, and I’ve seen videos of men telling women they’re thinking about it wrong and they should be thrilled to be receiving compliments. I’m happy that some people are taking the time to analyze the issue, and I dreadfully disappointed that there are men and women who fail to analyze AND empathize. See below: Continue reading (Reprise) Smell Ya Later, New York: Street Harassment

Creativity And My Job: I Want All Or Nothing

First things first, I’m on a spending fast and I gotta be accountable to myself on here. I had an intense week, but I’m really pleased to see that the little line calendar line on Mint is closer to the middle of my budget sections, and the bars in those budgets didn’t budget at all this week.

9.13 budgets

I used my pre-paid Amex on Thursday to get a sandwich because I had no time to pull something together in the morning AND get all my stuff at work done, so now I’m down by $8 from my $200 allowance for food this month. I feel STUPID about it, but at the time, survival was more important than dipping into that money. My husband has been helpful by bringing home food from events and picking up takeout when I was too burned out to throw some beans in a pot. On Thursday night my ghostwriting client took us out for an upscale seafood dinner at Atlantic Fish on Boylston. I haven’t gone out to a nice restaurant since my honeymoon, so I had to work really hard to contain my excitement when I was asked to pick out the bottle of wine for the table. I ordered a 2012 Vermentino and savored every sweet, slightly briny and lightly effervescent sip I took between eating lobster & avocado salad and seared salmon with mashed potatoes and asparagus.  It was a really nice reward for working really hard all week.

Speaking of Work…

This week I spent 52 hours sitting on my ass in front of a computer working. When I came home each day, I couldn’t handle looking at a computer again, so I passed up blogging opportunities. I didn’t finish all of my work, so I had to bring home my laptop to finish editing invoices by Monday.

Yesterday, I had my annual review. It was scheduled for 9am, and before I left my apartment, I was psyched up for it, prepared for criticism, and ready to bring up the fact that I would rather focus my work more on accounting instead of marketing. At 8:30am, one of my reviewers asked if we could move it back to 1:30. Half an hour before the review? Ouch! Before I responded “Sure, that’s fine,” I was thinking “Do I have a choice?”. It knocked me down a little bit and immediately made me lose a little of the mental momentum that propelled me to feel prepared to have a smooth, well-said and productive discussion. Losing that momentum and spending the morning anxiously over thinking about what I would say probably explains why I CRIED for godsakes in the middle of the review. All of my ratings fell in the category of meeting or exceeding expectations, but when we arrived at the point where I needed to set goals for the coming year, I broke it to my reviewers that I wasn’t so sure that I could clearly do that because I was more interested in accounting, my responsibilities are split 70-30, heavy on accounting since the controller is out on maternity leave, and that I thought we’d need to reassess my position overall. One of the reviewers was “surprised” because of my “creative background.” That made me want to cry even more, but when I looked around the room for tissues and realized I was in a conference room and not in a therapy session, I cut it out. Afterwards, I told a co-worker about it, and she reassured me that she had cried in all of her reviews. Womanhood sucks.

I’m sick of people thinking that a creative background in writing or the arts means you have the ability to apply it to a corporate environment in a stylish way and thrive. Sure, creative people can be marketed by corporations, they can be members of the board, etc., but for me — an employee that doesn’t actually create — the concept of a corporate environment is antithetical to creativity unless it pertains to being tricky with getting more money out of pockets. Creativity almost feels like manipulation instead of having a genuinely good idea that revolutionizes the business and revamps the playing field — that’s innovation, and an entirely different egg to crack.

The marketing work I’ve been doing has been surrounded by rigid limitations and confines, and it has distanced me from where innovative minds hang out and make decisions. I work with Adobe InDesign, which is an awesome program, and I love writing and editing, but there’s nothing creative about inputting, formatting, and editing a pre-determined formulaic text that appeals to the corporate sensibility of the real estate world. I’ve found that I can only repeat the same ten words about different (but awfully similar) projects or concepts a few times before I stare blankly at the computer screen as I type and feel a total disconnect between the formula I’m punching the words into and the description on the page it will create. I draft, organize, print, collate, bind, and submit proposals for new work, and even though I put the whole thing together and coordinate the whole process, I feel like I have no real ownership of the work that went into making the whole thing happen. I’ve learned that for me, creativity and the corporate setting are contradictory. I want all or nothing. I can’t forgo my own interpretation and expression in favor of a stroking a lump of words that I know add up to “what they want to hear”, “they” being prospective clients. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE clients. I love the money they give my company in exchange for services, but I don’t want to be the funnel through which communications with them passes.

My work in accounting on the other hand gives me much more satisfaction and enables me to have control over a process where there’s always a right answer, always (sometimes not) a great result (money!), and there is no blatant lie about the creativity involved with the job. When I worked at the restaurant, I remember being kind of envious of the girl who worked on the books. When she left and there was a new bookkeeper brought in, we worked together and I really enjoyed crunching numbers and *thinking* about the strategic decisions I would make with the business’s money, but not being able to say anything about it because at the end of the day — wasn’t my problem! Even though I got fucked over by some decisions that I made about money while there. I’m actually a little wrong about there being no creativity in accounting. I’ve been able to use creative and strategic thinking in application to developing approaches and processes for handling the way I get things done while the Controller is out on maternity leave, and there’s a lot of gratifying pay-off in seeing those processes in action actually work.

The rest of the year will probably be a bit of a challenge at work, but I’m ready to work through it and get what I want. As a member of the economically screwed over generation, I’ve heard that I’m very lucky to have a job. It would be a shame to do something stupid to sabotage it, but in the long term it would be even stupider to put up with it and spend the coming years unsatisfied with what I’m doing with my life. Essentially grounding myself from going out and doing things on the weekend that usually desensitize me from over thinking possibilities and outcomes has actually been productive. In more ways than one, I’m making the most out of not spending money, and I’m really thinking about my current situation and the future. Warning: Only do that if you are 100% ready. It’s terrifying.

Nice To Meet You

This blog is about three things I give F’s about: Finance, Food, and Fitness. Who am I and Why am I writing about those things?

Normally, I avoid eye contact and any conversation with strangers, but I’ll make an exception for you. This is just the internet after all. I have no eye contact to avoid. 

I don’t have an elevator speech for myself, but after being trapped in one with me, here’s what you might learn: Continue reading Nice To Meet You