Great Migration Analysis

Moving across the country is not for the faint of heart. Especially when that moves comes at a double eclipse month with several retrogrades and no money. But for posterity’s sake, I want to detail our time-even if it’s just to laugh about in the future.

My husband, dog and I left Ohio on August 3-just one week ago. What should have been about 12 hours full go turned into a 15 hour car trip. And it wasn’t without incident. We made it out of Ohio with ease (although it felt like it took forever) and into Indiana, actually a little early. We hit overnight construction and it ate up half an hour, but that wasn’t so bad. We made it to Terra Haute and stopped for gas. By then it was drizzly. We left the gas station and it began to deluge. And in the middle of a one lane construction zone highway, our driver side windshield wiper flew off. We waited for the rain to subside, but ended up spending over an hour just inching up between construction cones until the next exit when we searched for a Walmart. In the pouring rain, in a Walmart parking lot, at 2:30AM, my husband got out and changed the windshield wiper-something neither of us had done before. The rain slacked off soon after and we returned to our trip.

Missouri came much later, but we reached St. Louis and I had to make a stop. The first gas station’s bathroom keys were stolen and the second gas station had no restroom at all. So I waited until Columbia-quite a long drive later. We got out of Missouri as soon as possible-especially with that ACLU/NAACP travel advisory going on. The whole state just seems…troubled. And you’d really have to be there to understand.

Kansas came as a relief, honestly. It meant we only had about two hours left to drive and then we could get out and about. But they were long hours nonetheless. We get to our apartment (finally!) and it’s, well, it’s something. The people were very accommodating, but compared to Columbus, it just didn’t compete. There are huge stains in our carpet, we spent almost half an hour going over things in our apartment which were defects from the last tenant. Then we are charged for 2 months upfront (which I planned for, but hoped against.) Then we took an emergency nap (because we hadn’t slept in going on 36 hours) and it was off to do errands. We made it to the utility office to turn on our water-success!

My dad had thoughtfully booked us a hotel room for that night (because we had no bed). The hotel told us when we arrived that they would not be able to charge his card and needed mine. I didn’t budget in that kind of money, but desperately needed rest. We order pizza and then sleep until the morning.

We return to our apartment and begin putting things away. Our appliances look like they’re maybe 20 years old, are incredibly loud and our water squeaks. I almost jumped out of my skin when the washing machine turned on. And while we’re on the subject, our washing machine holds 5 pairs of jeans-total. So laundry is going to be fun this year. Sunday, we went to the store, picked up some essentials and began to make our life in our little apartment. The walls are thin, the people are polite-but too much so. I suppose that’s a weird thing to note, but it’s like being in the deep south without the drawl.

Internet didn’t get turned on until yesterday. Our bed got delayed until today. My financial aid is up in the air currently because I have to go through extra verification. And I need to stop on that for a moment.

My financial aid is due (at the LATEST) September 1. I logged in and saw a flag on my account. I was told I needed to do some extra verification steps-which could take 3 weeks from receipt of all forms. Which puts finality at August 31 if all papers were received today. But I have to deal with the IRS-so that clearly won’t happen. I called the school and asked what I could do, because I’m not trying to cause trouble, I just want to change the world. I was told that if my paperwork was late, and they didn’t finish it, I’d be charged a late fee-even if they had everything received. And so, last night, with money I couldn’t afford to spend, I went to the store and bought a printer and started filling out my paperwork. Here’s the kicker though-they didn’t put the flag on my account until August 3. Which means that I was already screwed before I had a chance.

And that’s about when the panic kicked in. Because I am just one person and the universe has not been kind.

I wish this was everything. It’s not-not even by a mile. But I want to stop there because I know it sounds like I’m just having a bitch session. And while it’s helpful to list complaints, that’s not everything.

Because when I decided to come here, I asked myself what my goal was. And yes-law school is important to me. But I wanted a personal goal. And I decided upon the following:

I want to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Those were my exact words. It’s felt like I’ve eaten them since I got here, but I had in mind going to new places so that I could get over my social anxieties. I imagined a life of friends and cordial interactions. I imagined a little nest in a red state in which I could plant myself and allow blue flowers to grow. I thought about all the diversity I could bring this little Christian corner of a country that flourishes in differences.

I feel overwhelmed, under prepared and honestly, I just feel like I’ve made a really big mistake. But at rock bottom, I have no where else to go but up. And I find peace in that. I’m not saying that I am just oblivious to this struggle. I feel like I’m in survival mode 100% of the time. But each day brings me a little closer to being completely okay. And I think that’s important. I kept pushing this frustration and rage and anxiety into the closet I’d labeled “Adjustment”. But it’s more important to admit to myself that I’m in over my head and that’s okay. Because if this is the worst that comes at me, I’m dealing. And that means my goal is gonna be accomplished and law school can’t be harder than that.

 

Advertisements

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.

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

As a White Woman, I’m tired.

I know-I’ve set myself up. But hear me out.

I’m tired of watching my friends with higher melanin counts be discriminated against. I’m tired of hearing stories of Muslim women getting their hijabs pulled. I’m tired of seeing violence against minorities. I’m tired of police instigated violence against those minorities. And I hear you, getting up in arms-I’m tired of police getting a bad rap for the crimes of the few bad apples too.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? I’m tired of a few bad people ruining life for everyone else. I’m tired of ableist, sexist, racist, classist culture that tells people I love that their love isn’t good enough to count as the real thing. I’m tired of the people who decided that unless a person fits a certain mold, they aren’t worth anything.

I’m tired of people coming into fast food establishments on Sundays and looking down at the people working for being there on “God’s day”. Because if you didn’t come in, we wouldn’t have to be there either. And while we’re on the subject, I’m tired of being looked down on because it’s not a cross around my neck, it’s the symbol of my belief system.

I’m tired of people whitewashing. I’m tired of watching the political ideologies systematically remove the concerns of myself and the people who need to be heard so that those with the most money can continue to sweep us under the rug. I’m tired of our news outlets labeling every murderer and deviant as “mentally ill”-unless of course we’re talking about rape and the perp is a collegiate, white athlete.

I’m tired of listening to people apologize for their broken English because they’ve been trying, but it’s hard. I know it is. You’re trying-no need to apologize. And while we’re on the subject, I’m tired of seeing the fear in people’s eyes when they’re out and about. I know I’m not imposing that fear on them, but I belong to this culture and can’t help but feel it’s my fault in some way.

I’m tired of being caged in a rape schedule. I’m tired of living in a country where more than half of the people didn’t want DJT to be president, but because of a 200-years-outdated system, and laws which require fealty over logic, here we are. I’m tired of speaking with my international friends and hearing them talk about “Americans” with hesitation and an almost disgust-and completely understanding why. I’m tired of feeling like I belong to a country that hates diversity-because that’s the most awful thing a country could do. Apart from create refugees and then not take care of them.

I’m tired of being poor. And now, I know that comes with degrees-and I’ve heard the “it could be worse” speech-and that’s true. But I know what it’s like to go through a food pantry line and receive moldy, outdated food and have to make it work because that’s all you got. I know what it’s like to live on pizza rolls and peanut butter and jelly (all off brand of course) because that’s filling, but not really nutritious. I’m tired of being poor enough that it hurts, but not poor enough to qualify for help.

I’m tired of seeing people on the news who served the country and are now homeless. I’m tired of seeing families on the street because life was hard on them in one way or another. I’m tired of abusive spouses or partners taking their anger out of others. I’m tired of the justice system that is “innocent until proven guilty” unless you’re talking about rape or domestic violence, because then it’s guilty until, well, always guilty in some way.

I’m tired of people being removed from their homes because they weren’t born here. I’m tired of seeing families broken apart by immigration officials, because their kids were born here but they came in hopes of a better life and now they’re getting that life ripped away from them. I’m tired of hearing the word “illegal aliens”-because it’s impossible to be an illegal human being. All humans are equal-because we’re all humans. And it’s beyond time for our social structures to catch up.

I’m tired of people getting denied healthcare because their bodies came a little frayed at the edges when they entered this life. I’m tired of people rising from the ashes who forget what it’s like to be at the mercy of the system.

I’m tired of abuse of our people. I’m tired of waiting for the corrupt government to tell me that instead of waging war on women’s rights to choice, they’re waging war on poverty, on neglecting human rights. That they’re going to provide healthcare to the people in Flint-because they’re owning up to what happened. I’m tired of wondering if those poor kids understand that the government fought for them to gestate nine months, but because they’ve been born, no one cares if they survive. I’m tired of staying up all night wondering if the heroin epidemic that took people I went to school with could just end if our education system didn’t cause so many mental health problems.

I’m tired of watching the injustices done against the First Nations. Since the first white people came to America, all we’ve done is pillage and murder and worse. And for what? Manifest Destiny? Since when does the white people’s god desire human blood to be spilled in order to gain redemption? And why are we still taking? Why is there so much greed for something that we’ve already taken by force? I’m tired of watching the government I have to pay taxes to use my money to wage war on the health and well being and sacred lands of the people who were here long before the ones who look like me.

I’m tired of being lumped in with the people of past generations who believe that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps-because so many of us don’t even have boots. I’m tired of people looking at my generation, the most diverse one yet and lumping us all together as lazy, ungrateful, entitled. Because maybe all we’re entitled to are the liberties denied us by those who want to use our own identities against us.

I’m tired of being made to feel ashamed because my sexuality doesn’t exist. I’m tired of being ashamed because my mental abilities aren’t neurotypical. I’m tired of being made to feel less than because my weight is “more than”. I’m tired that it’s 20-effing-17 and we still don’t have equality-even though it’s been fought for for much longer than I’ve been alive.

I’m tired that there are people who think human rights are negotiable. I’m tired that people are abducted from my neighborhood and sold into modern day slavery, with the promise of money to fix their poverty. I’m tired of explaining over and over again that feminism is equality-and it had better be intersectional or it’s not even feminism, it’s just a lie. I’m tired of fearing for my friends who are transgender, because the patriarchy is so ready to have them removed.

I’m tired.

I grew up with stories of having dreams, of independence, of resistance. My fourth grade teacher threw out the lesson plans and we spent all year learning about African American individuals who would largely go unnamed in history. My seventh grade teacher spent the year teaching us about the Holocaust and how when books were burned, it was work on progressive sexuality first. I grew up with a fondness for people like Thurgood Marshall, Sojourner Truth, Phillis Wheatley, Noor Inayat Khan, Cleopatra, W. E. B. DuBois, Amra binte Abdurrahman and Sayyida Nafisah. I was taught the stories of First Nations people-the story of the Great Turtle, Coyote and Iktomi, and the to-be-feared power of a woman during her cycle.

So yes. My skin is a pale tan. But my heart breaks for the suffering of people who bleed the same color as I do. And it is for these reasons that I have accepted my admissions offer to the 2017 Fall cycle of law school where I will focus on a combination of criminal law/trial advocacy and tribal law. I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, but I can stop this cycle of being the white woman tired and start being the white woman trying.

Opinions are like…

As you may find, there will be times in your life when you’ve made the decision that’s best for you and suddenly people are coming out of the woodwork to tell you their take on it. They might mean well, but ultimately, you probably didn’t ask for their opinion in the first place.

There are a couple competing factors in my life right now, and that’s where this all stems from. First-law school. Second-the move associated with it. Third-my new artwork. There are a couple more, but this is probably a solid start.

I told my parents about law school, told several people at the university, told my in-laws. And each of them had a thought. Some of them were quite welcome, some not so much. Naturally, as news does, my upcoming decision spread. Through the course of that spread, an acquaintance told my mom that I shouldn’t move to one of the schools because they were moving there and it would be awkward. One person told me that I was mistaken to have applied to one of the schools. Several people didn’t even say congratulations before telling me that I was moving too far away. I had a lot of people tell me I was moving too far actually.

And my artwork, well, that would be my tattoo. The one I got so I could look at it everyday and remind myself that I control my future, and that if I’m unhappy I have the power to change it. That one. Most people have been very supportive. And yet, there have been those who immediately cracked down on the “regret”, “mistake” and “you shouldn’t have”. I expected that when  I got it, I’ll be honest. Did I roll my eyes? Of course I did. But here’s why.

I make the decisions in my life. I account for my husband and our dog. I know better than outsiders about my finances, my life choices and my motives for doing things. If you don’t sit down with me and do my budget, research schools, spend countless hours looking at statistics for our new home-then you have really no business telling me how to run my life. I choose what I do because it fulfills one of two requirements. One: it makes me happy. Two: it’s the best option for my family. And that’s that.

This whole month has been an experience in brushing things off. And although I can’t say that I’ve succeeded in letting nothing get to me, I’m much more capable of it than before. So naturally, I have some things that helped me.

  1. Sort out the message from the words. Maybe that advice giver had a great point about your decision that you want to consider further. But maybe it’s lost in their opinion. Chuck the opinion out and work on the “good stuff”.
  2. Check yourself. Leave your sensitivities at the door. If you let every single thing get under your skin, it’s gonna be a long day. Are there some things you should be frustrated about? Sure! But not everything-or you’ll go mad.
  3. Choose wisely. As I said, I knew there would be naysayers about my tattoo-so I was prepared. I should have been prepared for the people who did that to my law school choices, but I wasn’t. So I spent longer than I should have working through it.
  4. Work through it. Forgiveness, as I learned from a trusted “advisor” isn’t a one-and-done event. It’s constantly choosing to forgive them over being hurt. Holding on to that anger hurts you more than it hurts them. Really.
  5. Self care. Seriously. Making big life decisions is hard enough without adding in unwanted opinions. Make sure that you’re caring for yourself on all levels-including taking time to just do nice things for yourself. It can make all the difference and you’ll be better off.

One last unsolicited piece of advice (hah-get it? Because this post is…nevermind): don’t sink. I know how easy and tempting it is to smear people with little passive aggressive messages. I do. But you made the choices because they were best for you. Don’t jeopardize that by stooping. You do you!

opinion

Frankly my dear…

I’m a pretty complex creature. I have good days, bad days, days of all kinds of things. I’m an extroverted introvert and I could list a ton of labels that would go on for days. What I wanted to be, for a very long time though, is frank. Just very up-front, not wishy-washy. i want to call things like I see them, and have other people understand it as I meant it.

Which is why I started blogging in the first place. It’s why I tell the hard stories, the ones that are personal, the ones that enrage. Because if no one else will say anything, I have to. And that goes double for the topics I am passionate about: mental health and ending rape culture. This should come as no surprise-I talk about pretty much nothing else.

Something came up recently that crossed my mind and I thought I’d share it here. It’s a mental health blog day, so I want to be upfront with that. I’ll be talking about self-harm (although only about scars-no descriptors or pictures) and I will be talking about moving forward and healing. I’m going to start with the story I just submitted to The Mighty.

“My self image has always been a love-hate relationship. I grew up in a world where a woman who was headstrong, opinionated and loved herself just didn’t exist. That’s not to say that I had no support to be those things, but rather that I listened to everything else. Everything that was telling me how not good enough I was, how unacceptable it was to be me.

“I started self-harming as a freshman in high school. It wasn’t a cry for help, or a plea for death. It was a desperate attempt at a reprieve. I didn’t want to die, I just had no other way of expressing the pain and the level of emotions I felt on the inside. And although my skin has been forgiving, I avoid looking at my arms. I can see each and every scar and I think that hurts more than it did making them. The few people who know say that they can’t really see them, but it doesn’t matter-because I can.

“So I decided I was going to get a really pretty tattoo-something to cover them up. The most of them were on my left arm, so the location choice was easy. I spent weeks designing, critiquing and reworking until I had everything I wanted. It was a beautiful representation, the most lovely piece of artwork I’d ever made. I chose to remind myself that if I am unhappy, I can change. So I made a promise to myself that whenever I was frustrated or I didn’t like the choices I’d made, the situations I was in, I’d move on to something I did love, and that made me happy.

“When I was explaining my choice of design and placement, I picked my words carefully. I wanted to remind myself that life was beautiful. I picked the placement so that I would never self-harm there again. Why? Because I’d worked so hard on that art and destroying it was something I absolutely could never do. The hope and love that it represented were things that simply had to last much longer than the pain of a blade, or the pain on the inside.

“Later that night, as I reflected on what I’d said, I cried. If I could have such reverence for art-why couldn’t I have it for myself? I’ve spend decades becoming the person I am. A piece of art that takes that long is something that should be treasured far more than something that takes a few weeks and yet I’d spend half that time tearing it down, devaluing it and ripping at the very fabric of its creation.

“The thing is, I only let four people know I was getting my tattoo. I told two of them the meaning behind it and I kept the final design a secret from everyone except the artist. I sat down in the chair and when I got up again, the art on the inside was finally reflected on the outside. I keep looking at my arm, not seeing the scars that reminded me of how sad I was, how fragile and full of self-hate I was. Instead, I see hope and the promise I made to myself that unless I can say “I wish for this” to my choices, I have the power to change the situation, the duty to make myself happy, and the courage to be exactly the wonderful artwork of a person that I am.”


With that in mind, I went to work yesterday and my arm was uncovered-so everyone saw. I’m quite frankly very proud of the art, and the meaning and I had no problem telling everyone about it.  I even told them why. And the looks I got back were, well, they were interesting. And that’s what got me thinking.

I wanted to tell them the story of courage and beauty and love–self love. And the reactions were varied-usually some place between a pitying “I understand” or a shocked “I didn’t know that about her”. I’m not upset at either of these, but it made me think about why I was telling people in the first place. I’m not a “sharing” person, but I wanted everyone to know about it. So where was the disconnect?

I was so frank about what I wanted people to know because if no one is going to start the conversation, then I will. And as I said, if that means people give me looks, ask nosy questions or change their opinion of me, then that’s fine. Because maybe it’s the first time they’ve come in contact with these issues-and I want them to know that their preconceived notions might be wrong.

**Disclaimer-my work people are really great. They weren’t judgy or nosy, nor did they look down at me-I’m just saying that those are the reactions I’ve had from others.

 

 

 

 

An offer to make the world better.

If you are afraid:

-to enter a restroom because your gender doesn’t match your biology

-to pray in public

-to speak your native language

-because you came from a different country

-because you wear a headscarf

-because your skin color is not white

-because your religion is not Judeo-Christian

-because your religion IS Judeo-Christian

-to hold hands with your loved one in public

-to be yourself

-because the government doesn’t see you as valid

-to discuss your disability, or admit to having one

-to walk alone

-because you feel triggered

-because you just are

 

 

Then I will:

-walk with you

-support you

-encourage you

-learn about your culture

-respect your decision, maybe even ask questions to learn more

-stand beside you as an ally 

-respect your beliefs, and stand up for your right to have them

-respect your beliefs, and stand up for your right to have them

-delight with you that your found love-and respect your relationship

-tell you that you are irreplaceable because of your individuality

-tell you that you are valid, and that a government can’t take that away

-help you take pride in your uniqueness

-I will walk with you

-understand that you have every right to feel that way, and I can’t invalidate you

-fight for you, so that you can live in freedom