“workin’ 9 to 5 what a way to make a livin'”

The summer of 2013 will go down as one of the most emotionally tormenting of my life. 

 

Knowing that I’d be graduating with my M.A. in May, I started applying to jobs late February/early March, [arrogantly] anticipating that I’d be employed by May or June at the latest. 

I was excited to see how many employers would come knocking at my door. I was excited to be presented with 501135 job choices, having to send “Sorry” emails to contenders who didn’t quite meet my high standards. I made a spreadsheet, I checked Monster, CareerBuilder, idealist, etc., day after day, revising my résumé, saving 5015125156 versions of my cover letter, and asking everybody I knew (and their mothers. Literally.) if there were any leads. I was pumped. This was going to happen. I’d be employed. Then I’d be rich. Then I’d save the world. In that order. 

One job application turned into 15, which turned into 50, and by the beginning of August, I applied to roughly 100 jobs. I stopped using my fancy spreadsheet by the end of June, discouraged and depressed. 

People would reach out to me and ask me what I was looking for. Former professors, acquaintances, family members, and friends all asked me what I was looking for. My broad answer was usually, “something in the nonprofit sector, working with young people, maybe foster kids.” I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. The jobs I was applying for fit into no particular category. I toyed with the idea of student affairs for a while, but I didn’t get my M.A. in that, so it was hard. I applied to a handful of res life jobs. I applied to dozens of jobs in the nonprofit sector. Administrative positions. Direct service. Social services. Counseling. Social work. Why the hell did I go back to school? I was applying to all these jobs, and nothing quite stood out to me. Here and there, I’d get excited and would pray for a call back. But most of the jobs I applied to just felt like I was going through the motions. Like I was a broke college grad eager to earn a paycheck doing nearly anything. 

I distinctly remember considering prostitution and/or drug dealing sometime in June. It was that serious. Of the nearly 100 jobs I applied for, I went through about 10 phone screenings/phone interviews, and sat down for about 7 actual interviews. That’s a small percentage, folks. 

In June, I hit a wall. I was depressed. I was sleeping all the time. I was crying. I was mean to my family. I was hopeless. I felt under-qualified, undeserving, and just confused. People continued to ask me how they could help and what I was looking for and I just didn’t know. Or maybe I was just too afraid to say it out loud. Because I know that for the last few years, I’ve had my heart set on aspects of volunteer management. But I was afraid to put it out into the universe because I was afraid of failing. 

By early July, I’d mastered a completely vague, but entirely precise answer to those who asked what I was looking for. It went something like this, “I don’t know what I want to do, but I do know that when I read the job description, I’ll know that’s what I want to do.” Doh. I bet people walked away just laughing hysterically at my naïveté, but that was okay, because it was the most genuine and honest answer I could muster. I knew I wanted to do good, I knew I’d probably be happiest in the nonprofit world, but beyond that, I couldn’t think of a job title that matched what made me light up inside. 

Through those summer months of job searching, I’d hear from close friends and family over and over that it would all work out, that I had to be patient, that I would eventually end up exactly where I belonged. I believed it, but it was hard. Bills stacked up, debt increased, and days just flew by as the light at the end of the tunnel seemed to be running further and further away from me. 

I applied for a job with Jesuit Volunteer Corps to be a Program Coordinator. In short, the job required me to be a support person, a relationship manager, and a volunteer manager. It was perfect. I was excited. I felt like I met all the qualifications, and then some. When I thought that the time frame for the job had passed, and I didn’t get that golden Second Interview, I sunk deeper into my depressed state. Why wasn’t I good enough? Why don’t people like me? What is it about my lack of skills? What can I do to make someone want to hire me? 

At the same time I was waiting to hear back about the JVC job, I applied to a job at my alma mater. It wasn’t a fabulous job, and I was super over-qualified for it, but I felt like it was my only other option. 

 

Anyway….I’m tired of reliving those dark days. Let me jump to the good stuff. 

I was convinced I’d get either the LMU job or the JVC job. Convinced. I was sure one or the other (but probably both because I’m fabulous like that) would work out and that I’d be employed soon. Early August, I was riding a dangerous wave of confidence. I’m not sure how it happened, but I guess God spoke to me, and I was listening, and I was sure something was going to happen very soon. 

 

Tomorrow, I start my first day at JVC. It’s been a whirlwind. In the last 2.5 weeks (ish), I was offered my dream job, which I consider more of a career, and I have since moved 350 miles from home. 

I’m sitting here in my host’s house, thinking (for the 672019th time) about how lucky I am. The last few weeks, I’ve felt endlessly blessed, humbled, and just damn lucky. God made me wait. He pushed me down so that I could get off my high horse, so I could taste humility again (because, let’s be honest, I was sure that agencies would be pushing each other down to hire me), and make me learn to be patient and really assess what was important to me, what was valuable to me. At the end of the day, I do understand that all that time I spent waiting, looking, searching, wondering, crying, was invaluable. It was invaluable because, now, more than ever, I’m assured that this is where I am meant to be. This is where I have been called, where God wants me, and this is where I’m going to make the most of it. 

What makes this amazing, though, is that this is exactly where I’ve always wanted to be. And I didn’t even know it. Or, better, I didn’t even allow myself to want it. My fear of failure, my fear of the unknown, my fear of change, all enabled me to suppress one of my biggest dreams, yet, God knew all along. And it feels great. 

I don’t know what I did in a past life to be so fucking lucky, but, trust me, I am aware of how blessed I have been in this life, and I intend to only pay it forward. You have my word. 

My childhood was rough. My teenage years were almost as hard. And since then, it’s been no looking back. I was meant to go to LMU and become immersed in social justice and faith. I was meant to be a Marian. I was meant to live in community my sophomore, junior, and senior years. I was meant to do Good Shepherd Volunteers. I was meant to spend time at Five Acres. I was meant to go back to LMU for grad school. I was meant to have met Tom King, Antonia Darder, Lorena Chavez, Daniel Hannon, Jon Alvarez, Vivian Troche, Yari Betancourt, etc. Everything has been so meticulously planned out. I trust that my anxiety over the years has not been in vain, but it’s amazing to just look back and see how clearly my path was carved out. And I thank God. I thank God for his generosity, for his love, for his faith in me, for all of this.

The last few weeks, all I’ve been able to think about is just how amazing a life I’ve led. It has not been a life without struggle and pain and heartache and confusion and hurt and scars. But it has been a beautiful life and it has only been getting brighter. 

Amazing. Thank you. I acknowledge all this is yours. And I only intend to do good by you. 

I need to end with this photo I saw on Instagram today: 

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And, my favorite quote of all time (I think): 

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Reflections on the past week

Last week, I found out that my biological dad had been in a coma in the hospital after some kind of altercation. Not surprising news, as he’s always had a pattern of getting himself into these predicaments, but the family was talking about things like taking him off life support and having funeral plans in place.

It hit me hard. I was overwhelmed with mixed emotions. Anger, frustration, sadness, fury, heartbreak, nostalgia, and so on.

The night I found out, I cried in the car ride home. Blasting Kelly Clarkson and Matchbox20, of course. I sobbed and I just felt so raw. I got into bed and just started typing on my iPhone in my Notes.

Here it is. Me, unfiltered. My in-the-moment feelings about the man who is my biological father. Who I hate, but want to love.

How do you say Goodbye when you’ve never even said Hello? How is it fair that somebody can act as a tornado, running through good people’s lives, and just leave, fade out, and disappear, with a path of chaos and wreckage behind them? Why does he have the right to cause pain, frustration, emptiness, and just get to leave it all behind? My dad was jumped/run over by a car/beat up/something I don’t know what, this week. He was in a coma on Thursday, maybe longer. He woke up. My aunt asked him how he wants to go. He shrugged. Because it’s easy to be the mess, to cause the hurt, to create the tears. The ones that get left behind have it hard. We have the unanswered questions, the What Ifs, the Whys. How dare you have this control over my life. How dare you disappear, then have the audacity to suddenly appear, but be dying? You never came back, you never came for me. You never wanted me or cared about the hurt you caused. You just walked away because that’s what cowards do. And now you lay there, innocent and dying. And I have to deal. I have to say goodbye to you but I never even had a chance to say hello. You never saw me graduate. You probably have no idea I’m getting my Masters next month. I bet if my degree were coming in a needle, in a bottle, you’d give half a damn. But you just lay there, unaffected by the tears you’ve put on my face, immune to the sorrow and emptiness we all feel. I’ve failed without you, I’ve succeeded without you. I’ve had my first kiss, my first love, my first heartache, and you were never here. I learned how to drive a car, I got my license, I wrecked my first car, and I got my first brand new car, and you weren’t here to see any of it. I went off to college, met amazing people, became a woman, became an outstanding human being, and if was all no thanks to you. You missed it all. Yet I lay here feeling like I’d give it all up just to feel you love me, to feel you gave a damn about me.

Of course, days later, he slipped away. No longer in the hospital. Don’t know where he is. I imagine next I’ll hear news of him is in a situation not unlike this one. I think I forgive him. But I’m not sure yet. And that’s okay.

You make me want to puke.

Fuck you.

Your face makes sick.

Fuck you.

I don’t know how you have this hold on me.

When your name pops up, my stomach flips every which way.

When you’re brought up, I hold back tears.

i always wanted you but could never have you.

I hate your stinking guts.

 

Blah.

 

Grandpa

I know I’ve posted about my grandpa at least a couple of times in the past, so if you don’t care to read on, peace out.

It has been well over two years since he passed but I rarely get through a day without thinking of him.

I have been a caregiver for my grandma for just over a year now, and it’s been tough, to say the least. We have extremely similar personalities: we are stubborn, we are sensitive, we are passive aggressive, and we remember everything. We butt heads more often than not, but at the end of the day, I love her so much. I am appreciative for the time I have with her and I’m happy to be making the memories I am. I love her. But….sometimes I can’t help but think, “She’s not Grandpa.”

See, my grandpa and I had a very special connection. He appreciated me and was always very comfortable being vocal about that. He made me feel special and he made me feel so loved (this is the opposite of my grandma and the silent ways in which she shows affirmations). I miss the way my grandpa would smile. I miss the feeling of his smooth hands, like a well-cared for leather. I miss his musty scent. I miss the way his eyes looked behind his glasses. I miss hearing his cane hit the concrete as he walked by my bedroom window every morning. I miss his little words of wisdom (from money-saving tips, to the value of education, etc). I miss his hearty laugh and his care-free attitude. He was known to be temperamental, sure, but he was always sweet as can be with me.

Last week, as I was driving on the 5 towards Los Feliz, a huge wave hit me. I realized that my grandpa and I were always so much closer than my grandma and I have ever been. We could sit in silence and both be smiling. I found myself sobbing in the car, missing every bit of that man so much. Then I felt so guilty. I cried because I felt guilty that the love I have for my grandma and the relationship we have isn’t quite the same.

It’s not bad, by any means, but it’s just not what it could be. Most of it is my fault. I’m not nearly as patient as I should be. I don’t take initiative with her. My private moment in my car reminded me how important it is to care for my grandma now while she’s still here. Maybe it was a sign from my grandpa himself. Maybe he was there with me, gently prodding me to be better with my grandma. He always had that way about him.

I hope he’s with us, proud of me, proud of our family for how we’ve stepped up to the plate to take care of his beloved. I hope he knows how hard we try. I also hope he still visits her in her dreams. She’s in pain every day because she isn’t whole. Their love was real and I just don’t know how she gets on without half her heart. Bless them. Bless him. Bless her.

I’m voting like my lady parts depend on it.

I admit it. I’ve been a huge violator of posting political crap all over my Twitter and Facebook. I care. Sue me.

As the election gets closer, I’m getting more and more anxious. For the better part of this calendar year, I kept thinking, “Obama’s got to win. He will. There’s no way the majority of voters will be stupid enough to believe the Right’s crap.”

But these days…I’m terrified. My lady parts are scared. I just don’t know.

Listen, I’m not the most versed in economics or foreign policy. I admit that I’m one of those voters that focuses almost strictly on social issues. Many social issues ARE economic issues, though. I care about birth control. I care about ownership over my lady parts. I care about DREAMers. I care about the climate. I care about legalizing marriage for all. For just about all of these issues, President Obama is the person I want to lead this country. He’s a moderate politician, don’t get me wrong. I’m completely aware of that. But he’s not stuck in 1950. He’s not a power-hungry politician wanting to control my uterus. He (at least for the time being) cares about the things I believe in. So I have to vote.

Please, if you’re thinking to yourself, “Eh, Obama will win, I don’t need to go vote.” YOU ARE WRONG! You must make your voice heard!

And if you’re reading this thinking, “Well I’m voting for Romney, so Fuck you,” have a nice day. You have a right to vote and there’s clearly no swaying you. Bless our rights.

If you’re reading this as an “undecided” voter, WHERE THE FUCK HAVE YOU BEEN? The two candidates could not be more different, especially in matters of social justice. Please. Read a few articles. Broaden your mind. Being Undecided is not cool, not trendy, and not going to get us anywhere. You have no right to complain about where our country is headed if you don’t vote because you are unsure of which candidate you like/agree with more.

November 6 is just days away. Read up on where you need to vote, and get your butt out there.

Also, if you’re in LA County and need a ride to your voting location, please message me, and I’ll try my best to help you out. Please don’t skip out on voting because of something like transportation.

Have a great day!

Eeesssh! I’ve …

Eeesssh! I’ve been terrible at updating this thing. I’m sorry. 

 

Quick update: 

 

Romney scares me. Obama 2012. 

School is stressful. 

Life is good. 

I’m working on improving myself. Physically, mentally, emotionally. 

I’m happy. 

Women Making Moves Interview!

Twitter has really enhanced my life, in that it’s brought me back to a heightened level of learning about issues, talking to people I wouldn’t otherwise “know,” and networking on a level that really makes the world feel smaller and change feel more tangible!

I follow Nicole Clark, a social worker, consultant, and activist. She very kindly asked to interview me for her series Women Making Moves and I very happily agreed to the awesome opportunity to share with the blogosphere and this new wave of feminist activists making moves online!

Here is the interview! Hope you enjoy reading and hope it helps to shed some light as to who I am, what I’m about, and what I want out of life.
If it makes you feel some type of way, holler @ me on Twitter!  and check out my tumblr, Feminist Photo Blog Project

Thanks and happy world-changing, my fellow amazing people!

My buddy Depression

I apologize it’s been a little while since I last posted. Wait, no, I don’t. Because this is my dang blog and I’ll post when I want. But, still, I’m sorry.

You see, I get into a funk sometimes. I guess you can blame it on a past of depression, insecurity and loneliness. I go through these ups and downs, of being really social, lively, and happy, then to being kind of reclusive, self-pitying, and depressed. I can’t help it so much as I can just pinpoint when it’s happening and not let myself spin out of control.

My low month is usually February. Don’t get me wrong. I’m plenty depressed during other months, too, but February always seems to get me. I’m not too sure why. Well. That’s a lie. I am sure why. I just don’t like my brain’s rationale of why. See, February contains my mom’s birthday, my birthday, Valentine’s Day, and sometimes Chinese New Year (based on the Lunar calendar). I guess it has most to do with my birthday and Valentine’s Day. I usually get myself into this funk weeks before my birthday, in anticipation of being severely let down. I don’t remember the last time I’ve had a kick ass time and I guess I always feel kind of let down because I’ve never had a friend, like, try to plan me a party, or some stupid shit like that. I know, I know. That sounds amazingly immature and irrational. I get it. It’s just that…maybe you can blame it on my Pisces sign or my INFJ personality, but I go above and beyond for a lot of my friends and I constantly get sad when the same doesn’t happen for me. It goes back to something deeper. It goes back to my biological dad and being let down by him all the time. Luckily for me, my understandings of psychology and emotional disturbance allow me to understand that my depression and sadness don’t always have much to do with what is actually going on in the moment, but what happened to me years and years ago.

I know, for instance, I seek approval subconsciously from people because as a kid, my dad constantly voiced his disproval with me and his distaste of me. He always made me feel like I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t pretty enough, wasn’t skinny enough, and that has been something that has carried into my adulthood. Like I said, I’m just glad that I can pinpoint these things. When I was younger, like 15-18/19, I would go into these deep depressive states of contemplating suicide, sleeping for hours and hours for no reason, eating until I threw up, and my parents (mom and stepdad) would be so frustrated with why I was doing this, not understanding and not getting a straight answer from me. The thing is, at that time, I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know that my dad was still haunting me, that his treatment of me, his emotional and verbal abuse of me still lingered. Words didn’t kill me, but they sure held me down.

That’s probably why I go above and beyond to please my friends. Because I fear their disproval. And that’s also probably why I go into an antisocial funk. Because it protects me from being let down. I’ve “detached” myself from them before they have the chance to let me down. Ugh. I’m kinda disgusted with myself as I type this. But it’s the truth and I’m sharing it with you, the anonymous reader.

Having worked with young people with issues like depression and other emotional and mental “problems,” I know that you don’t just cure this. I can’t just wake up one day and say, “Okay! It’s gone! I’m all better now!” This is something I’m going to have to always manage, always going to have to find ways cope with it. Some days I’m better at it than others. That’s just how it is. I have this internal battle going on inside of me and I want one side to win, but the other side just seems to feed off of that and get all competitive and shit! Haha.

So, that’s what’s going on with me. The last few months (and especially this month), I’ve been dealing with my lil buddy Depression. I’m trying to get her under control. I’m trying my best. It’s sometimes week by week, sometimes day by day, sometimes hour by hour. BUT! My depression says nothing about my character, my strength, my beauty, my spirit. That’s something I need y’all to know. Something I need to constantly remind myself. My depression is a part of me, but does not define me, does not override my humanity.