I’m Only Human

 

I did a LOT of research when I first decided I wanted to go to law school. Like, obsessive amounts of it. And I think I needed to. I planned for every option I was interested in, found places that would accommodate my husband’s academic interests and then found schools where I would thrive, but also where I would be challenged. I went big-picking places I’d always wanted to go, places I never thought to look at, places I wasn’t sure I’d love but thought I’d try anyway.

I applied to a college in Kansas, Ohio and two in Washington (state). Ohio was my “not sure I’d love” school; Kansas, my “never thought to look at”; and the two in Washington, my “I’d love to go”. It was a journey getting accepted, to be sure. So when I found myself in a pressure zone, I applied one more time. This time, to a place I never even bothered to look at, because it was lower on the rankings, it wasn’t somewhere I’d ever heard of and I thought I’d hate it. Wouldn’t you know it, they were the place I accepted an offer from?

So I took a chance. They took one on me, I might as well return the favor. And so a new wave of research took me over. What were they like? Did they cater to their students? Would I fit in? Drawbacks? And I began making calls to apartments.

No one said anything bad.

And that’s not to say that I expected them to, but I’ve been looking into American Gothic stories and seriously-it began to sound like a cult. “The school is so wonderful.” “I have a relative who went there.” “We just love the school.” “The school has done so much for us.” And the list goes on like that. That’s the thing. I wasn’t expecting “Oh it’s terrible. You’ve made a mistake.” But EVERYONE had something nice to say. And they said it. You’d think *someone* would have just said nothing, but no. And a little flag popped up in my head. Maybe I was jumping into something WAY over my head.

So I did more research.

And either I drank the Koolaid, have fallen under the curse or something mundane, I have actually come to love the idea of moving there.

They have a chocolate festival, a library that’s decorated as giant classic books, a lantern festival (like floating lanterns-like in Tangled) and it’s in the capital, but it’s a fraction as populated as the one here. Plus, they have trees-a luxury I am currently not afforded.

Each time I get nervous about it (and it happens quite a bit), I sing “Defying Gravity” to myself. And it’s kinda fitting, but more so, I need that reminder that the only thing holding me back is me. It’s my choice to “close my eyes and leap”.

Now, when I announced I was going there, a good many people came to me and told me I was making a mistake. And while that could be true, the reasons were pretty limited to “it’s so far away” and “their political action right now is very damning”. And I have had some time to come up with responses.

First-I know it’s far away. That’s what I wanted. I want to see the world. I’ve lived in the same state my whole life, never seeing much of anywhere else. That doesn’t set me up to help people, does it? And my parents were both from Ohio, met in Colorado and then came back. My husband’s dad was from Ohio, met hubby’s mom in Arizona and came back. Wandering is in my blood-and there’s no way I’m letting other people run my life. I’m too old for that and I don’t have enough time for it anymore.

Second-there is a kids movie called Robots  (with Ewan McGregor and Robin Williams, may he rest in peace) in which a single line pops up repeatedly: “See a need, fill a need.” I knew from a very young age that I was meant to change the world. That sounds crazy, but it’s something I have never truly doubted. I thought I was meant to do that through medicine, but it was justice. And although I’ve had several talks with myself about my capabilities, I know that I can do this. So yes. Each state has their problems right now. Does that mean I should move in with my parents and hide away from the world until someone fixes it? ABSOLUTELY NOT. If I see something needs fixed and I have the ability to do so then it quits becoming a concern and starts becoming a duty. So while I know I’m moving to a pretty conservative red state, maybe I’m meant to change the world starting with them. And if this is but a stepping stone, I’ll have gained some lessons at the very least.

I saw a post in a Facebook group about the Bill Cosby case being a lesson in rape culture. The response was “if I had been on the jury….” and while I appreciate the sentiment, being on a jury isn’t the only way to make change. Being a lawyer isn’t the only way to make change.

It’s our duty as citizens of the world to be passionate. To be passionately involved, to be passionately informed.

Change is hard. Life is hard. But if we all pitch in, at least we’re all together.

Brother, can you spare an hour?

There’s been no amount of downtime to spare lately, so I wanted to do a quick word plop.

Everything has been in preparation for, in plan for, in thought of the big move. And it’s rapidly approaching. My husband and I have been pulling full time schedules, me with the lower end of that spectrum, him with 60+ hours a week. We’re working for scraps-fast food pun intended. And I wanna talk about the mindset behind that last sentence. I didn’t notice it so much my first job, or my anthropology job (which I miss so much) but somewhere along the way, my husband and I started measuring things in hours.

One cup of coffee, a scone and a breakfast sandwich: 1.3 hours
One 24 pack of Dr. Pepper: 1 hour
One textbook: 37.5 hours

Because ultimately, the question isn’t: “Can I afford this?”

It’s: “How many hours of my life is this going to cost me?”

And I think that it’s that rooted thought process that is dangerous. Because your worth suddenly becomes stuck in time (almost literally). It gets warped-money falling by the wayside, the only currency is time. And for a generation that is constantly plagued with accusations of entitlement, impatience and a lack of foresight, this process is, well, humbling.

I’ve worked in food for a little over 3 years, retail for another year plus and then I’ve had academic jobs for 4 years. I have worked the entire time I’ve been in college-a trend which will no doubt continue in law school. However, let me explain how this ideology relates to the bigger picture.

Suppose you have someone who didn’t go to college (and therefore has no college debt), working in a minimum wage job. They can’t afford much-full time on minimum wage will give you roughly $300 a week (before taxes) in Ohio, or $1200. If you live in Columbus (the capital), rent in a SAFE neighborhood is $700-$900. If you’re by yourself, that’s almost your entire paycheck. And that’s supposing 40 hours guaranteed a week (which is HIGHLY unlikely in fast food). Anyway, with your $300 that are left, you must pay utilities, insurance and buy gas. Suddenly, you’re down to your last $50 and you have to buy groceries for an entire month. Oops.

This isn’t a sob story about raising minimum wage (although that would be great), this is the reality of the situation. I have student loans-which I know I will need to pay back. But in exchange for making that crossroads deal, I am able to put a pause ( momentarily) in the question of how many hours I must sacrifice while I am attending classes. This is renewed each summer, when I look for work in the food/retail industry and it rattles me a little further each time. But let’s do a thought exercise.

For any given day, the following are probably true:

-I need to buy gas
-I have at least one apartment bill due
-I need to feed myself and my husband
-I have to put air in our car tires

So let’s pick a day at the middle of the month (because my bills hover around then or the beginning).

Gas: $20
Bill Due (Electric AND Insurance AND Phone): $100+$45+$90
Food: $20
Air for tires: $.50

Total for the day: $275.50

There are 24 hours in a day. Let’s suppose it’s a work day, suppose I have full time and get 8 hours of work that day. That’s $8.15*8=$65.20 for the day of work.

At minimum wage, it would take me 34 hours (not including taxes taken out) to pay for just 3 bills and the extra bits. So let’s look at it a little differently.

Gas: 2.5 hours (and my commute is just 10 minutes, plus I walk)
Bills: 12.3 hours + 5.5 hours + 11 hours
Food: 2.5 hours (it takes longer to afford food than it does to burn the calories off from eating it!)
Air: 4 minutes

I know this post has a lot of math- I get it. I took most of the pressure off you, but as always, feel free to check me.

All I’m saying is, for a generation of “entitled” people, we’ve never been so coerced into selling our souls just to stay alive.

Words Unspoken

Yesterday, as I was waiting on customers, a woman in a hijab came through my line. I asked her to wait a moment so I could finish up with my current customer. Before I grabbed a pair of gloves I said,

“Before I start, I have a question for you.” I’m not sure what went through her mind in that split second, but I know the look on her face was unsure and borderline scared. “The lady before you had a ham sandwich-would you like me to get new knives?”

Her face immediately lit up-and all fear was gone. “Yes please, that would be great.”

So I go to the back and grab new knives, put on a fresh pair of gloves and make sure that I made their food without contaminating it. I made sure they knew when I switched stations that it was a new knife there as well-just in case they hadn’t seen me set it on fresh wrapper. When I rang her out, she said

“I just wanted to say thank you. It’s very rare to find anyone who will accommodate us.”

A million things ran through my mind to say, but all that came out was “It’s no problem at all.” You see, what I wish I had said was:

I’m so sorry that it’s rare to be treated as a human being, with equality and kindness. I’m not an expert at much, but I know that getting between you and your god isn’t going to do me any favors with me and mine, and it just makes me an asshole. If taking five seconds out of my day to get extra knives means that you can find peace at the end of your life, then I am so happy it was me you got as your server tonight. I know the media sees you and your religion as a threat, but I see you as people. I know you just wanted a sandwich and I want you to know that I did my best. I want you to know that it’s never an inconvenience to be a decent person-because I know the power of kindness. And I want you to know that just as Da-esh does not represent you in any way, so too am I not represented by the man who holds the title of president and his racist allies.

I wish I’d told you about how I went to a Ramadan feast and it opened my mind and heart to see strangers offering me food-even though they hadn’t eaten all day. About how I though your hijab was absolutely beautiful and that it complimented your skin tone really nicely.

I wish I’d had said these things, but all I said was that it wasn’t a problem. And it wasn’t. I just wish you knew why.

Manchester

I’m saddened, as many are, by the events of the past few days. As has been news across the globe, an attack on a concert occurred, killing almost 2 dozen people and injuring almost 60. And as I was coming across the tweets, messages and prayers, I found something along the lines of:

Never forget, this was an attack on children, and on young ladies.

Which gave me pause, but ultimately I couldn’t find any fault in it. As someone who’s been to a few concerts, a great majority of the participants have been presenting female individuals. That’s not to say all of them, or even that I can assume their gender, but that a large majority were children and their parents. (I’m thinking Katy Perry, here, who I went to see in 2014.) That concerns me a lot.

But I’m not here to discuss politics, conspiracies or anything of that nature. I’m merely pointing out a point I found interesting and relevant, while hoping that those affected are found, healed and at peace. As I said in a tweet earlier: May the lost be found, the gone be at peace and those responsible suffer immensely for eternity.

I’m sorry Manchester. May the divine bring you hope and peace.

For the rest of the world, take note. Through pain, healing. Through hardship, resilience. Through fear, unity.

69 Days

We’re in the countdown stages now, folks. Ben and I are moving across the country in just 69 days. And I’m starting to wonder what I was thinking. Not in the “reconsidering everything” way, but rather in the “is that even enough time to redo everything” way. FOr better or worse, our lease is up in 70 days and we’ve already filled out the “intent to vacate” form. So where does that leave us?

Well, in a time of great transition, apparently. Both of us have a very busy summer ahead, and it’s all for the sake of making our move smoother. We’ll be traveling nearly 800 miles to relocate in yet another college town (albeit, one that’s 6 times smaller than the one we live in now). I’ve used Google StreetView enough to realize that it’s nothing like I’ve been expecting-and that that’s okay. I knew when I applied to places that I wanted a change, and that’s precisely what I got.

Anyway, I’ve also begun reaching out to people to ask if they’d like to meet up one last time. And I’m making a couple journeys to my hometown for similar reasons, but on the whole, it’s time to break away.

When I was in high school, I told everyone that I’d leave Ohio and I’d never ever come back. I was so full of hostility towards the state that I couldn’t see ever staying here. And yet, 6 years later, I’m only just preparing to leave. And that’s okay. My intentions, although not at all as furious as before, have not changed. My parents are both from this area, but they met out in the west. Ben and I met here and we’re off to the west as well. Not because I feel a sense of destiny to our pending location, but because I need to go.

I had a hard time explaining to Ben why it was that we needed to leave Ohio. I explained it poorly for the first several times. (He wasn’t opposed to the idea, he just didn’t know why I was so insistent on it.) I’ve never been out of Ohio for longer than a small family visit every now and then. I’ve made stops in the surrounding areas: WV, TN and I’ve even been to MI, NC and TX (we flew). But never more than just a few days, as I said. And when I proposed Seattle (not where we’re headed, however), Ben didn’t quite understand why I desperately needed to go to a place I’d never even seen. So I’m going to try and explain it to you. Thankfully, it’s more coherent that it was the first few times.

I’ll be honest, I feel a little lost. Like I don’t really belong here. I’ve felt that way for many years. Like being at a friend’s house and knowing you’re not home, but staying there for a long time. It’s warm and inviting, you never feel like an intrusion, but ultimately, you feel an increasing need to move on. One day, you finally can’t take it anymore, and you announce you’re ready to go home. But your home was burned down, and that’s why you’d been staying with them. You know that the place you belong is somewhere, but now you have no idea where it is. You just want to find it and be at peace.

That’s how it feels.

I struggle a lot with the idea of destiny. I flip between feeling worthless and feeling destined for greatness. Especially when reality sets in and I have to look at all the choices I’ve made as a pathway to where I am now. Surely, the amount of struggle means that I’m going to do something great, that I’m going to change the world, right? But in the end, that’s not a guarantee. I can work towards it, and I am, but it may not happen. So what then? Because I’ll be honest, some days it feels like I’m needlessly suffering if I can’t change everything.

ask-believe-receive_thumb

So in these next 69 days, I’m going to be working on my manifestation skills, honing them into reshaping the way I think. I will be big.

That’s what a friend and I’d been talking about lately. How we only ask the universe for the things that we desperately need and no more. But it’s never really working in our favor. Because we weren’t born to be timid and weak and hushed. We were born to be wild and courageous and loud. So I’m done asking for the bare minimum. I want the world. I want all of it-the good, the bad, the happy, the frustrating-all of it. Not because I am entitled to it, but because I am stardust and if I can make universes, surely I can be big enough to change my own destiny.

Fear v Courage

There’s a lot to be said about courage and fear. Everything I’ve seen is usually in response to some vague stressor that makes us feel doubt, concern and general consternation. And I think that that’s worth mentioning. However, I want to do a good old fashioned mental health blog today. The kind that’s more or less just preaching to myself.

In Facebook, you can look at all the things you posted on that day throughout the years. And today pulled up a piece I’d done here that was designed as a letter to myself. I talked to myself about abusive relationships, about self-hatred, about perseverance. And all of those things are important. But they’re not the only things I need to tell my younger self.

Anyway-fear. I found myself at a place mentally where I knew I wasn’t poised for success. But I’d convinced myself that it was completely necessary for me to be there. I told myself the list of reasons I had to be there, and then told myself that list again. And the louder I yelled that list at myself, the more I hated why I was doing it. So I shushed that voice that told me I had to and I got out of it. The list of reasons isn’t gone, but I sure am.

Do I have a plan? Nope-I have like 12% of a plan.

But what I do have is my mental health. And as I told someone today, that feels very selfish. That person then told me that mental health is never selfish.

And they were right.

I was so caught up in the embarrassment that I was going to ignore the voice telling me I had to because I couldn’t be happy with it. And I looked down.

I’ve told you this story. About how a little girl said the four words that changed my life. I wish for this. And the truth of the matter is, I couldn’t bring myself to say those words. So I left. I made myself feel better, happier. I chose me over all the reasons telling me “them”.

So here’s the deal.

Courage isn’t the thing keeping you rooted to the bottom of the ocean, fighting the tides. Courage is the thing whispering quietly to uproot yourself and be free. Fear isn’t getting swept up in the breeze, not knowing where you’re going. Fear is never leaving the mundane because you’ve convinced yourself not to take chances.

And so I took a leap of faith. Which was rewarded by an opportunity. I am pleased to announce that I now have a series on Channillo! You can find out more at: Coffee and Criticisms

I Am A Pre-Existing Condition

With all of the things going on in the United States these past few days, it can be tough to want to keep looking at the same daunting information. I know-really. Because a quick Google search for US news leads you to headlines about the healthcare bill, religious freedom bills, Penn State death, the GOP, the EPA, and a whole host more.

Searching Google, then, for the AHCA (aka: TrumpCare), you’d be compelled to scream. And I’ll be the first to admit, I reviewed all the information I could, watched the Rachel Maddow show to blow off some steam and then I ranted to my husband. A lot. Because, as I know a lot of you can empathize with, this felt like yet another attack on my identity. Not only that, it’s an attack on my education, my career, well, just about everything I suppose.

Here’s some important things to note:

-Go to your insurance manual/provider-look up all of the conditions they have the right to deny coverage for. Check off how many pertain to you (and your dependents). The greater the number, the more likely you’re going to be without insurance.

-Do you use Medicaid/Medicare? Cause that’s another tick in the “probably won’t have insurance/insurance I can afford” box.

-Do you use Planned Parenthood as a reproductive healthcare provider? Add some more ticks to those boxes.

Now, there is one small piece of hope. The Senate is much harder to get it to pass. And in order for it to be the ACA replacement-it HAS to pass the Senate. So that means we have time to call/fax/ResistBot all the Senators.

If you’re savvy with Twitter, you’ll have no doubt noticed the last couple of days have been filled with the hashtag: IAmAPreExistingCondition. That is in direct response to the House voting to approve this heinous bill. And that’s where the title of today’s post comes from.

Now I know-this post has been the Campbell’s Chicken Noodle of political posts (super condensed, no surprises) but the important things to take away are that activism is hard-but necessary and together, we will overcome.