Can’t Sit Still

Today I made four different to do lists, three organizational spreadsheets, and scheduled an unending stream of touch bases and meetings for the coming weeks. On any other week that would make me anxious about all the things I’ve got to do, but right now I’m just feeling a wave of relief. Why? It means I’m finally sitting still long enough to plan.

For the last two months I’ve been on the go non-stop. Vacations, work, a festival, and a tragedy have kept me busy and moving so much that a free moment to lie in my bed and plan out my next few weeks feels like bliss.

I’ve always been a restless person and love being on-the-go, experiencing new things and visiting old friends. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve done some much-needed adventuring recently.

The breakdown?

  • Musical acts: 20+
  • Surprise appearances by Lauryn Hil or Jay Z: 2
  • States I’ve been in: 5
  • Old friends visited with: 10
  • Drinks while visiting old friends: ….
  • Comedy shows: 2
  • Unexpected reunions: 1

And then I realized…

  • Distance Travelled: 13,600 mi.
  • Days of work running on <5 hrs sleep: 8
  • Flight Legs: 9

 

These past two months have been a much-needed reminder that I also need time to decompress. As I’ve been traveling and asking people to fill my time with new activities I haven’t been very good about giving myself space to breathe.

So friends far and wide: I’m taking a break. I am committing to a few weeks–knowing me it wont be any longer than that–of time to relax. Reading, planning, cooking, sketching, and generally doing the things that make me happy and relaxed. What a novel concept.

That comes with the caveat that I’ll be traveling next weekend, because God forbid I sit still. But it’s for a great, and hopefully relaxing reason: my mom and dad’s 30th wedding anniversary. The Family will be schlepping from our respective corners of the map to Bryce Canyon for a weekend. They aren’t a particularly taxing or tiring bunch, plus it’ll help me knock 2 new states off my list on my quest to get to all 50 states.

And then I swear I’ll sit still. Until the next adventure arises?

A peek at a few of my travels

A peek at a few of my travels

 

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The Lebron James of Filibustering

I was going to do a “whoops-haven’t-blogged-in-a-while” update on my life, or the city, or curried rice with shrimp, or Yeezus, or any number of important topics. But then… Wendy Davis.

For those of you who haven’t been obsessively following this for the past 4 hours (or 9 hours, or days), Senator Wendy Davis spent her day filibustering the SB 5 bill in Texas that would severely limit women’s access to safe abortions and restrict women’s health care access. She stood on the Senate floor speaking out against the bill and reading testimony from women about their own experiences with reproductive freedoms. She wasn’t allowed to leave for a bathroom break or lean on anything. Yes ladies and gentlemen, she did not pee for 13 hours.

And suddenly my day seems a hell of a lot easier.

The updated Wikipedia page for Wendy Davis

The updated Wikipedia page for Wendy Davis

Coming from the liberal haven of Providence I didn’t ever have to explain to people that my body was my own and if you want in on my medical decisions, well, tough cookies. I didn’t have to worry about whether I would have access to women’s health care.  Today our girl Wendy stood up for women who aren’t so fortunate. You don’t have to agree with her politics to see that what she’s doing is totally badass.

Women are silenced all the time, and it is so easy to let that silence go unnoticed. Rape culture silences women. Gaslighting silences women. Restricting women’s health options silences women. Hell, women silence other women. To see a female politician refuse the silence and take a stand for women’s rights is pretty inspiring.

There’s something to be said for kick-ass women taking a stand.

And when it comes right down to it, that’s the best return to blogging I can make. Because the past few months have been all about kick-ass women. I am fortunate enough to work for a company that values and celebrates women, and for a CEO who understands how much kick-ass women can achieve. I had the pleasure of celebrating a very exciting birthday with my kick-ass mother (I wont out your age on the internet, Mom, I promise). Her birthday celebrations were filled with people reminding me how rare women like her are.

And today, Wendy Davis.

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(There is a whole lot more to write about the democratic process and the badassness involved here, but that’s for another day. It’s 9:57pm PT the crowd is still cheering, trying to prevent the vote.)

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(As of 10:12pm PT it’s unclear whether a vote happened, or if it made it in before midnight central time. It is, however, clear that Wendy is still kickass)

(10:23pm PT: Allegedly a vote took place before midnight and the bill passed. In the tweets of @JamilSmith, “Oh, so THIS is what voter fraud looks like?”)

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The Cover Letter Funk

I have written at least 15 different first sentences for this post. Why? Because I’m in a funk. It’s 3:00* on Thursday and I find myself in a cover-letter induced, can’t form a sentence funk.

I try not to post too much about the job search because quite frankly it’s not very interesting. For the most part I alternate between searching for jobs to apply to one day and then applying to those jobs. Every ten days or so I get frustrated by not having heard back from anything. That leads to a stage of the process I like to call “sulking,” which is followed closely by “complete emotional exhaustion.”

Then, in the words of Brian McKnight, “I’ll start back at one.”

I think one of the hardest parts of the whole process is remaining positive. There’s such a “don’t worry, be happy… or else” mentality about everything. People seem to get genuinely uncomfortable with natural expressions of doubt, sadness and anxiety. Well let me be the first to say I have a whole lot of doubt, sadness and anxiety, and I refuse to apologize for it. It feels like I’m walking down a long hallway full of people ready to ignore me. Non-response after non-response after non-response.

On top of that I feel like any break I take infects people with the notion that I’m kicking back and relaxing, that I don’t have a job because I’m not trying hard enough or I don’t want it bad enough. Tied into the positivity push is the notion that you can never do too much. And while there’s truth to that, rejection as a full time job is just too overwhelming. I’d be in entertainment if I wanted that as my career.

When asked about the process it would be wonderful if I could smile politely and say, with a sparkle in my eye, “It’s been a really great experience, I just haven’t found the right job yet.” In reality being asked how the job search is going makes me want to reply with any number of inappropriate responses, including running away, dead staring, and spitting ice cubes at the question ask-er while saying “LIKE THAT, IT’S GOING LIKE THAT.”

So, needless to say, staring at a blank screen and trying to write about why I’m the most stupendous employable person who will bring so much to the table it’ll knock your socks off is not high on my list of Things I Want To Be Doing. Cover letter funk indeed.

If you’re like me and you find yourself in a cover letter funk, step back from what you’re doing to do something you enjoy. I like to take a walk, watch a show or cook (I’m a stress baker). Additionally, I recently got great advice from a woman I met with in California: make it fun. For every 50 serious jobs you apply to, she recommended, send out 1 outrageous cover letter or apply to one absurd job. Perfect advice.

*Evidence of the Funk? I did indeed start this post at 3:00 and didn’t post it until now because I was distracted, doing other things, forgot it for a bit.

(Image Source: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread776925/pg1)

Nora Ephron: Embrace Mess & Make Trouble

A week or so ago when Nora Ephron’s death was the main headline, a number of blogs and news sources posted her 1996 commencement speech at Wellseley. I hadn’t heard it before, but naturally I was drawn to it since she’s a fellow “mess” advocate:

What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind.

This post comes a week late, but I needed some time to digest her speech. I spent some time dwelling on her words, thinking about which parts resonated with me most. The more I considered her speech, the more I realized how important her advice to women is, even 16 years later. I could sit here and go on feminist-yes, that awful f-word, feminist-rants about the continued anti-women undercurrent in popular culture. I could rant for days about the frustrating legislation that keeps getting proposed and seems to undeniably target women (or, more specifically, poor women). I could point you to Killing Us Softly, a video by Jean Kilbourne about how advertising depicts women. But the question remains: what are you going to do?

Ephron pointed out that women can’t rest on the excuse anymore that no one is giving them options. Sure, there are still people who want to make it hard and have certain ideas about what woman “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing. But they, quite frankly, are assholes. There’s no longer the expectation that you will only “marry” greatness. There’s an expectation you will be great. Work hard, defy odds, be great. Those are the lessons all the best women in my life have taught me, and the ones Ephron endorsed.

One quote in particular stuck out to me, mostly because I cringe every time someone says I’m “unladylike”.

Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.

Freshman year a particularly self-important guy first told me that the way I spoke wasn’t ladylike. Another delightfully forward thinking college student told me I should keep my legs and mouth closed if I wanted anyone to see me as a lady. Hell, there are girls in my sorority who would use the phrase “not ladylike” to describe girls they didn’t like. But if being a lady means following arbitrary rules and cleaning up messes, well I think I’ll stick with being a woman. For Ephron and all the other badass women out there, I hope I break the rules and make a little trouble. And to the boys who told me to shut my legs and shut my mouth, I hope your daughters join me in my rule-breaking trouble-making someday.

Five-Year Plan

I’ve never really had a five-year plan. My excuse is that I’m planning on things being un-plannable. Cop-out excuse? Perhaps, but I’m sticking with it. Current plans include the rest of my trip to San Francisco, job applications, time in New York TBD, taking the GRE, a cousin’s wedding and a whole lot of cooking. Other than that? Beats me.

I did, however, invest in my own version of a five-year plan.

I’m currently on an extended trip to San Francisco (more on that to come), and after browsing the SFMOMA gift shop I bought this five year journal. It has enough space for a few lines about your day, and when you get through a year your entries begin again under the ones you’ve already written. I like the idea that you can easily see what you were doing exactly a year before. I’m thinking for now that’s all the five-year plan I’ve got in me.

My five year journal and the book I'm currently reading

You can find your own five-year journal here.