Fa Real?

I like to think of myself as an intelligent, strong, independent woman.

I assume most women like to think that about themselves.

I work hard. I take care of my responsibilities. I take care of my finances. I take care of my car.

My husband considers me his partner. We share responsibilites equally. Except laundry…cause he won’t touch it no matter how much I hint or ask or declare I’m not doing it all.

But I don’t do dishes, so it all evens out.

I do not do things in my life based on antiquated gender roles. My daddy raised me to take care of myself and be a specific kind of person not woman. My husband treats me as his equal in everything. Because I’m his partner in life. Not a 1950s version of a wife.

I studied gender and feminist theory in school and I love it. I dearly love it. And if someone wants to hold the door for me because I’m another human being and that’s the polite thing to do more power to ’em!

But if you hold the door because I have a vagina, I’m not gonna be impressed…

A few weeks ago we had lunch with Homie’s family. At one point during our lunch my fil made some comment about how the last time he rode Amtrak he had to give up his seat to a woman.

The comment alone wasn’t entirely the problem. He said it in a bragging/lamenting way. As in “oh it was such a drag and so inconvenient” but at the same time his facial expression and his tone and body language were demonstrating that he was so proud of himself. He literally did a fake humble shoulder shrug. “She said she didn’t need to sit, but I kept insisting she take my seat until she finally did. But ah what are you going to do? If there’s a woman you have to give your seat.”

Seriously? You don’t have to give your seat to someone just because they have a vagina. I find that to be disgustingly insulting. If someone is older, or obviously injured, or maybe pregnant then by all means offer your seat. But if there are more people than there are seats and you are capable of standing and don’t mind doing so then you should offer your seat to anyone around you.

A male standing near your seat might have an injury that makes it difficult or painful for him to stand. Or maybe he’s just tired. But our stupid cultural norms have made it unacceptable for him to admit that.

So ask around, offer your seat, but don’t badger and insist that someone with a vagina takes it.

I didn’t say it that explicitly, but I chuckled and said “well…it’s not really necessary to give your seat to someone just because they are female. If I were that woman I would think it was rude of you to insist that I take your seat when I politely refused.” And he was incredulous.

I had kind of pushed that conversation and my outrage over it to the back of my mind until now.  I just got a call from my fil. He never calls me. I didn’t answer because I’m at work. I listened to the voicemail and it said, “I know (your husband) is at work, probably busy, and working hard so I thought I’d call you since you’re not.”

Umm… I’m assuming you meant you knew I’m not at work and not that I’m not busy or working hard. But fa real?! Do you seriously not realize that by saying that you are implying I’m not at work, I’m not working hard, and that I’m just sitting on my ass?

It’s especially irritating because he doesn’t know anything about my work schedule. Or really much else about me.

Love how I never get a call until you want something, and in the process you’re going to insult me. And maybe I wouldn’t quite read it like that were it not for the whole Amtrak story. But fa real man?!

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Reading List

 I super crazy love to read. I’ve been bummed because I wrote a reading list for 2013, but then I left home for 4 months for my internship and immediately after that all of my books got packed up and put into storage where they have been since September. A bunch of the books on my list I haven’t been able to find at a local library here.

I have read a couple of good things though recently, and I figured I might as well list them out. Here are my favorite five from the last couple of months:

1. The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler. The book is about girls who were strongly coerced into giving their children up for adoption. I’m a huge fan of adoption for kids who don’t have parents, but this book was a great, although heartbreaking look at just a few of the many girls who were forced to give their children up.

2. American Wasteland by Jonathan Bloom. Freaking awesome. If you aren’t horrified by the amount of food wasted in the United States, you will be after you read this book. It is definitely a must read.

3. The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzsch. I’ve read all the books in the Hangman’s Daughter series and I have loved all of them. Somewhere on the fence between mystery and suspense, they are well-written and entertaining.

4. The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell. Just read this book. If you don’t read a single other book this year, read this one. It was fantastic. It kept me confused until the very end. Usually, I find that I can whiz through books, and while I find lots entertaining, it tends to be few and far between that a book is so well written that I savore the dialogue between characters. This book was a great story, believable, and every tiny detail about the writing was perfect.

5. Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer. This book had a good plot and it was the perfect length. I still wanted a tiny bit more, but I was satisfied with the way the story ended.

And here’s a list of everything I’ve read since June. Not even gonna lie though, some of them have sucked!

1. Unplanned by Abby Johnson

2. Compact With the Devil by Bethany Maines

3. The Glass Wives by Amy Sue Nathan

4. Sleepless Nights by Sarah Bilston

5. The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber

6. The Beggar King by Oliver Potzsch

7. Wally’s World by Marsha Boulton

8. Taking Eve by Iris Johansen

9. The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David Shipler

10. Beautiful Day by Elin Hildebrand

11. A Can of Peas by Traci DePree

12. The Debt by Angela Hunt

13. The Dilemma by Penny Vincenzi

14. Fifteen Minutes by Karen Kingsbury

15. Food Inc by Karl Weber

16. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

17. The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan

18. The Glass Room by Simon Mawer

19. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

20. The Body in the Piazza by Katherine Hall Page

21. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

22. Gone With the Woof by Laurien Berenson

23. The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

24. Etched In Sand by Regina Calcaterra

25. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

26. The American Way of Poverty, How the Other Half Still Lives by Sasha Abramsky

27. Spend Well, Live Rich by Michelle Singletary

28. Family Pictures by Jane Green

29. Your Money and Your Man by Michelle Singletary

30. Sycamore Row by John Grisham

31. Time Flies by Claire Cook

32. Philida by Andre Brink

33. The English German Girl by Jake Wallis Simons

34. Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love by Sarah Butler

35. The Power to Prosper by Michelle Singletary

36. She Rises by Kate Worsley

Money Talks

In Sept. Homie started a new job. He freaking loves it. But his salary is pathetic. And I don’t say that jokingly. I have been the one encouraging him not to worry about the salary range but to pursue something he will love. I know the difference non-profit vs. private sector salaries have. But this is lower than a low non-profit salary. This is a token amount and taking advantage of skilled individuals who want to serve.

And at some level, that’s still cool. We knew going into it. What we didn’t know though was that I would have my job offer fall through due to politics and the use of prohibited hiring practices.

That means instead of being just above where we need to be to pay our bills and have a place to live we have been far below the poverty line.

Comically far below it actually. Up until January our average income per week since September has been about $135 dollars. Da eff is that?!

We are considered legally homeless. We don’t even make the minimum income to qualify for Section 8 housing in this area. But ya know, I got my diploma for my MA sitting on my dresser.

I was supposed to start a job in November, but they took so long doing my paperwork that I wasn’t actually able to start until January.

The crappy part is that the job is only part-time. But the pay is just enough that it puts us exactly where we were with me killing myself 40 hours a week at a job that paid $8.50 (which is what most of the jobs in this suburb pay).

We’re still stuck though in this limbo of making too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to pay for health insurance.

Making enough that it feels crappy to continue staying with my parents, but not enough to meet the minimum income requirements of any apartment complex.

We can afford rent, but not all the extras of utilities and groceries, and random household items that come with running a household.

Or we could afford those things if I didn’t have student loans…

I actually have very little considering I have two degrees and six years of school under my belt. I have right around $20,000 in loans, $11,500 of that from graduate school.

When I made the decision to get my MA it was partly based off of the fact that my starting salary with an MA would be about $10,000 higher a year than with just a BA. I thought that was a great choice! Two more years in school would give me $10,000 more a year in earning potential and would allow me to pay off my loans in two years!

I’ve been agonizing over whether or not I should have my payment plan changed for my loans. Right now I just have the standard 10 year repayment plan. I didn’t want to change that because I thought my lack of reasonable employment would be short-lived.

But now, I’m only two months away from having been done with school for a year and I have fewer career potential job prospects than I did when I graduated, or even in September.

So now I’m wondering if I should switch to some kind of income based repayment plan. My student loan payment is 25% of my monthly income right now.

It’s frustrating because on paper I did everything right. In high school I worked full-time during summer and part-time during the school year to save for college. In college, I worked 18 hours a week to pay for my living expenses and tuition.

I did two internships in the field I want to be in, I got a Master’s degree, I earned good grades. I saved and paid cash for my car. I only took out exactly what I needed in student loans. I saved money, spent cash, and always made myself wait to purchase things to make sure I wasn’t making an impulse buy.

And yet despite all of those good choices, I still don’t have a job. And I suspect that I’m not the only one in this situation.

There was an article in the Washington Post yesterday about how student loan debt is affecting first-time homebuyers. I shouldn’t read the comments, but I did.

It’s frustrating to say the least to constantly be criticized as having made poor choices or as lazy because of where I am. I’m not living with my parents because I’m lazy. I didn’t take out student loans to live the high life in college. I didn’t get a “degree in beer pong” as one asshole characterized it.

I worked my ass off working two jobs to get a degree that at the time was marketable in the field I wanted to go into. I took a reasonable amount of debt given the potential returns for it. Right after I made those choices the market bombed. And it still hasn’t recovered.

So called “entry-level” positions are asking for two-five years of experience of potential candidates. How can I get experience if no one will give me a chance to work? How am I supposed to pay off my student loans if I can’t work. How am I supposed to pay rent when I have to pay off my student loans with a job that I could have gotten straight out of high school?

Even my fil made some crack about “the liberals” wanting to support people who live in their parent’s basements. Yeah… you can imagine how well that went over.

I want to buy a home. I want to pay off my student loans. I want to save for retirement. I want to get my own place. I want to work. But in the meantime, it would be really awesome if people could stop telling me how this is all my fault.

Failure

I have felt like a failure perpetually since September. That burden gets heavy man.

I feel like I have failed in everything. I achieved my goals for my education, but the job that was supposed to come after that point I haven’t managed to attain.

And I haven’t been able to find any kind of career position in the almost 2 years that I have been looking.

I had a couple of potential opportunities and they just slipped through my fingers.

I feel like a failure.

I failed at my biggest goal ever.

I am failing to fully support myself financially.

I am failing at planning for my future.

I am failing at friendships.

I am failing as a wife.

I am failing to be the person I want to be.

I am failing at my faith.

I just feel weary of carrying this burden of failure around.

How To Undermine A Rape Victim 101

This is exactly what needs to be said about this.

“Tell yourself that a knee-jerk reaction of you must be lying or remembering it wrong when faced with a victim’s accusations of rape is not a sign that our society is so very, very fucked up. Tell yourself that it’s rational and logical to want to know all sides of the story, though you never want to know the other side, the perpetrator’s side, when your house is broken into or your wallet is stolen or your child is hit by a car.”

 

If you stand silent, you stand for a rape culture that brutalizes the victim. If you stand silent, you stand with those who have committed heinous acts.

The Belle Jar

Trigger warning for talk of rape 

Preface the victim’s open letter about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father with a statement saying that he deserves the presumption of innocence. Always approach situations like this with the thought that the victim might be lying; remind yourself and others that the burden of proof is on her.

Insist on referring to the victim as the rapist’s “adopted daughter,” as if that mitigates what he has done. Using subtle language cues like this, imply that though it might be rape, it’s not really incest because the the rapist is not the victim’s biological father. Pretend that adoptive parents somehow feel differently about their children than biological parents do.

Like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, insist on your ability to differentiate between an artist and their art. As a spokesperson for the organization said, “The…

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A Bit of Background

I began blogging in 2001.

It was how I dealt with moving to a place I didn’t want to be.

My most recent blog I faithfully updated from January of 2009 until April 2012. And then I had to stop. There were too many people I knew reading and I wasn’t comfortable putting all of the things I was dealing with out there.

Actually, more than that was that the things I was dealing with weren’t my stories to tell. It wasn’t my pain to put on display. And I couldn’t break the confidence of those closest to me.

I didn’t blog from April 2012 until February 2013, and then I blogged again for a few months. But in June 2013 I posted at the very start of what was supposed to be the grand adventure at the start of my career. And things didn’t work out like they were supposed to.

And from June until now everything in my life has been in shambles. It has continued to slide in a steep downward spiral.

And I feel like I did when I was 13 again. That’s a horrible feeling. Nothing like being in your mid-20s and realizing that those demons you thought you slayed were just buried deep inside you.

So I decided to deal with it all the way I did the first time. By blogging about it. So here goes nothin’

 

Where Is Here?

Here is:

In my parents basement

Legally homeless

Living without all of my belongings except my clothes, everything else in a storage unit

Working a job that I could have gotten straight out of high school

Unable to find a single place to live because I don’t make the minimum income requirement

Unable to get a job in the field I intended to work in, despite having about 10 promising leads back in July

Stuck.