Monthly Archives: May 2012

Finding a Career Mentor

Not too long ago, I’d actually started thinking about seeking out a mentor in IT. I thought it would be good to find someone who has followed the career path that I’m interested in as far as building up a career in IT and get his/her thoughts, tips and direction on how to do it. I haven’t really figured out who to target, but I also haven’t looked into it a lot because I got off track by applying for jobs. I also have another blog now where I blog about college football, partially to make a little money on it but also to establish one place on the web where I have most or all of my sports pieces so that it’s easier for people to follow me and for me to gain more attention in sports journalism. I post new material on that blog every day, so it’s taking quite a bit of my time. Luckily, the down time at work is allowing me to write most of my pieces there, get them posted and then do some light marketing in order to drive traffic over to that blog.

Well, for whatever reason, sports journalism opportunities keep presenting themselves to me before IT ones do right now. First, it was getting sports job interviews. Now, instead of finding an IT mentor per my original idea, I inadvertently ended up with a sports journalism mentor. He writes for one of the major sports news sources, and most of those companies with an interactive online presence allow you to email writers comments, questions, etc. A lot of people email these sports writers to call them idiots for what they’ve written or to argue with them about their viewpoint. I’ve gotten it before, and, thinking back on it, it’s kind of a compliment because I think that’s when you know your writing matters at all. At the same time, I almost never email sports writers because I think it’s generally a waste of time. Most of them read what you write, but they won’t interact with you unless maybe on Twitter. You might get a “thanks for reading,” but nothing that really lets you know this is a real person. I’m writing this as if it’s a negative thing, but I’m also a big hypocrite on this point. For me, most sports fans are too illogical and emotional to be responding to their emails or comments.

Well, I did email this guy, and he is someone whose writing I’ve been reading for two or three years now, which has spanned over his last two jobs. I guess I got bored enough to email him a sports question, and about a sport I only watch when the tournament comes around. He emailed me back, which was surprising to me. Even more surprising, he emailed me again when he put the question on their site to make sure I saw it. So, I figured he might actually respond if I ask him some questions about sports writing. And he did. We spent the last couple of hours while I was at work emailing back and forth. He answered everything I asked him. I never asked him for advice, but he gave it anyway and told me I can email him whenever and he’d be happy to help. I responded with some more information about my background so he could give more advice, and he paid attention to it and just responded to me as if we’re penpals or friends instead of in a more formal way. He interacted with me via email the way I interact with people via email, and I never find people who email the way I do–very attentive, detail oriented, covering everything mentioned, attempting to be as helpful as possible.

Having someone offer to help me without my asking him to is surprising to me because I honestly think most people are full of shit. Whether you ask people for help or not, it is my opinion that you can’t count on most people. I don’t trust people, I don’t think people want to help and I don’t like asking people for help. I’m sure this is a huge part of the reason why, until recently, I haven’t really liked my new job–I felt it was set up for me to need entirely too much help from other people. But most of the people around there seem to value “team work.” The trust/help factors also probably have a little bit to do with why I still don’t have an IT mentor, even though I came up with the idea to get an IT mentor and not a sports journalist mentor. Obviously, I am not anyone who would be good at career networking, and I’ve obviously never found a job that way. But my SJ mentor told me that’s how he got some of his sports jobs, and I know there are a couple of IT jobs I could get because of it–one from being related to the right person, and one from talking to the right person one night while I was still working in hotels.

What I’ll do with all this information, I don’t yet know.

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I’m Going To Have To Stop Watching WE TV Because of Kendra

They’re killing me.

I mainly watch the channel because of “The Golden Girls.” And, unfortunately, reality TV has taken over to the point where it’s basically impossible to not have at least one reality show you like to watch, unless you just don’t watch TV. Being a sports junkie, I mainly keep my TV tuned to sports. But it’s that time of the year when the best sports are just about done (I’m trying to watch the NBA playoffs–really, I am–but it’s just not the same as football, or even college basketball). But other than sports and old shows, I have been watching some of WE’s reality shows–“Braxton Family Values,” “Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best?” and even “Shannen Says.”

All three actually are kind of boring, but they have their moments. I definitely expected more from Shannen’s show. I love Shannen. I will not watch any episodes of “Beverly Hills 90210” unless she’s on it. As cheesy as those storylines were, those were the best episodes of the show. I even liked “Our House.” Shannen is cool. The show, though, wasn’t. Maybe if it didn’t focus on her getting married…

But I tell you one WE reality show I won’t be watching–that “Kendra On Top” crap.

WE is just crossing the line with that one. It’s sickening on so many levels, and WE is driving me nuts with commercials for it every single commercial break.

Kendra is some chick who got famous by using Hugh Hefner. She was one of three “women” featured with him on this show that came on E! TV called “Girls Next Door.” One of my friends watched the show, so I saw a few episodes. From what I could gather, Kendra seemed like she wanted to be black. The WE commercials they show kind of support that perception. She still comes off as very white. She’s not like the stereotype of that white person who can’t speak standard English, wears baggy clothes, only listens to rap, only hangs out with blacks and that kind of thing, i.e. a wigger. She’s more like the “I’m white, and I do and say ‘black’ things every now and then, but I’m very lame and poser-ish when I do it” type. Kind of like The Offspring’s “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)” white person. I remember this one episode of “Girls Next Door” when she took the other two “women” to see where she grew up, and they were kind of laughing because Kendra was always trying to make it seem like she grew up in the “ghetto.” Her house turned out to be this nice, suburban-type house.

I think about that episode a lot of the time when I see the commercial for this “Kendra On Top” reality show. And I also just think about…well…what a lot of people, particularly women, think about with the Playboy type of females. In other words, I get more judgmental than I already am.

I do want to share this thought:

I have realized that women who use their looks and their bodies to get ahead in society are smart women. It honestly just never would have occurred to me to do that, even if I could. These women don’t get credit for this. But I now just think about how I focused so much on doing well in school, academics and higher education, and I look at where I am now. And being intelligent academically and getting degrees have worked for a lot of people, and it’s still working for some people. It didn’t work for me, and there’s not much I can do about it. I know that I don’t have the looks to go out there and use that to open doors for me. But women like Kendra do, and I can’t really fault them anymore for finding some way to have the kind of life that they want. Other women, like me, still have to figure it out.

But she still gets on my nerves.

For one thing, do I really need to see a commercial featuring her every time a show on WE goes to commercial break? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–I don’t like having anything or anyone shoved down my throat.

Second, although I understand she has the type of look that’s valued in society, I don’t find her that attractive. It will probably always kill me that women can be considered attractive just because they are thin, blonde, have blue eyes and/or dress a certain way.

Third, the commercials show her kid a little bit. And I can’t help but think, “I feel sorry for that kid.” Probably for the same reasons a lot of us maybe used to think about Britney Spears’ kids–and maybe still do–and just feel sorry for them.

Fourth…[sigh]…you know…don’t want to offend anyone. Not sure this is something I can make some people understand. Interracial relationships are one thing. Having and raising multiracial kids is another thing. I just think that not everyone is cut out for either of those things, but especially the latter. For instance, there are just some white people who have no business with mixed kids. I don’t know Kendra, so I’m not saying anything definitively. It’s just, going back to this lame, poser-ish “I relate to black people” act…the way she comes off makes it seem as if she actually doesn’t really know anything about being black. She’s actually kind of offensive.

For one thing, you can relate to black people without having grown up in the ghetto or pretending to grow up in one…um, because not all black people grow up in ghettos. I read a thing or two about her husband, Hank Baskett, and it seems as if he might be an example of that fact. For another thing, if you really grew up in a ghetto, you might be proud of the character it has instilled in you due to challenges you overcame, but you also know that it’s not a walk in the park or anything to glorify, unless you’re trying to sell records or make movies off it. And, for that matter, I think the average black person knows that being black is not a walk in the park or anything to glorify.

Yeah…kinda worry about someone like this raising a part-black kid.  And right now, her child barely “looks” black, which might actually be worse. A lot of the time, kids with that type of look would hardly be raised as black or in touch with what it means to be black. But with a parent like Kendra, the real danger might be that the kid gets raised with all kinds of ignorant, incorrect ideas about being black and won’t have much of an opportunity to find out any differently because he will be around a lot of white kids and, because of how he looks, won’t necessarily be treated the way a lot of blacks are treated. So, another reason I look at the kid and feel sorry for him.

Again, as I said, I don’t know her. Maybe she’s a fine mother. You never really know.

Either way, I can’t stand the commercials, and I know I’m not going to be able to stand it when the show finally airs.

So, I’m going to have to give up “The Golden Girls.” I know it comes on the Hallmark Channel, too, but those times don’t work for me. Like, right now, there’s the usual Monday marathon on WE. It’s on after work, and I can watch it until I go to bed. Every weekday, there are episodes on after work. But I just don’t think I can take it anymore, and Kendra’s show debuts on June 5th (I know because, as I watch GG, there’s a little thingy in the bottom righthand corner that tells me this garbage).

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Rethinking the Job Search

So, quite a bit has happened this week in terms of job and career stuff.

For starters, just to confuse me, the past two days at work have been the best I’ve had since working for my new employer. I have not had to deal with jerks. They did call, but they asked to speak to someone else. Fine with me, if they have decided they no longer want to deal with me. My co-workers and I discussed this last week, because one of the jerks spoke with the other female tech geek after speaking with me…and then from that point on he started asking for one of the guy geeks. This jerk seems to take what the guy geek says and swallows it more easily than, certainly, with me. And I say exactly what the guy geek says. So, when he started asking for GG, I basically said to the others that, apparently, he does not believe anything the women say. And they mentioned it does happen there–one time someone actually asked to speak to a man.

Anyway, instead of jerks, I got grateful clients, compliments and a lot of issues I could resolve by myself. I have been getting along with the female tech geek, and I feel that I like almost everyone at work. I also was sufficiently busy those days. I think I have figured out how to game the system a bit, which helps make my job so much easier. In other words, I am figuring out how to get the issues I’d rather resolve and leaving other stuff to other people.

One of those days, I spent my lunch break doing a phone interview with a site that is interested in having me write for them. The interviewer is a Michigan guy, so we talked a lot about Michigan. Everything sounded great…except the job ad and site were misleading in a few ways, including the pay. I have basically concluded that writing for them wouldn’t be worth the effort, especially since there are other options out there. And if I am going to lose free time, it needs to be totally worth it. Plus, this is not even the sports writing job I was referring to a couple of posts ago. That one, I still haven’t heard back from. So, I’m moving on and considering another opportunity.

At the same time, I had mentioned applying for other tech jobs…and now I am thinking maybe I can hang where I am. If I get a sports writing job that would allow me, financially, to quit, then I would. But now it feels less urgent. I believe that, with as many good days as I’m having, there must be some super bad ones around the corner. I am not at all sure this is just me becoming more comfortable at work, because every time I start to something bad happens. And this used to happen often at my last job, which is a big reason I stayed there as long as I did. If I had not argued with my supervisors, I probably would still be there. But the argument changed everything for me–kind of embarrassed me because it made me act in a way I don’t like to and it also made me the subject of gossip–and I just can’t work where I feel my relationship with my superiors has been tainted.

Speaking of…when I mentioned that I like almost everyone at work…my supervisor is weird. I cannot put my finger on it right now. I can’t say I dislike her. But there’s something about her. She is just very awkward with me, and I can’t really say that about anyone else at work.

Bottom line, I don’t want to get stuck in an intolerable situation by being lulled into a false sense of calm. As it has been recently, I could handle working there. I still wouldn’t be learning as much as I might like at work, but I could be content.

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The Media Is Changing, For Better and For Worse

I was at work today trying to find a way to amuse myself, as usual, when I found that daily thought-provoking link. This was incredibly timely, given that I just applied for some sports writing positions.

Now, I know that I have some readers who are either not from the US or who seem to be a little bit more Europeanized than Americanized. I also know that such people tend not to “get” Americans’ deal with sports, particularly American football. If they like anything, it’s often garbage sports like soccer. So, I’ll try my best to make this something you can recognize.

You don’t have to read the whole link above. The short of it is someone wrote to a very successful sports journalist for advice on how to get into sports media as a career, and the sports journalist allegedly responded. For the purposes of my post, really, the most essential thing the alleged author of the email says is this:

Most of my good friends who are columnists for major newspapers and 
websites or work as anchors or commentators on ESPN also are not fans and 
also don’t take sports very seriously. 

You CANNOT be a fan of a team, or even a sport, and do this job 
effectively. I care little what my alma mater, Tennessee, does in sports. 
If you are a fan, it tempers everything you write and say. Again, my 
friends who are award-winning sports columnists in Los Angeles, Dallas, New 
York, Chicago and other cities are much more interested in writing, reading, 
the theater, history, and they have a passion for doing the job, not a 
passion for the subject. 

If you do read the whole thing, I would say that most of what the author wrote is gold. And, certainly, it is beyond me why anyone would want to be a sports writer if he/she doesn’t love to write. Writing was probably my first love. Sports writing or not, I will always write. It doesn’t matter what it’s about or if it’s just a personal blog or what I officially do for a living.

But I think the excerpt above reflects yet another basic generational misunderstanding. In other words, this guy is “old” and increasingly out of touch, at least on a couple of points.

See, I think most of us recognize that “media” is rapidly becoming less professional, less airtight, more technology-based…and more biased. Almost every time I watch ESPN, I see a member of the sports media who clearly seems biased. And some of them have, more or less, confirmed they have some bias. I don’t think anyone who follows college football on ESPN doubts that Kirk Herbstreit loves the Ohio State Buckeyes, and he really doesn’t try to hide it. He played football for the school, so I don’t have a problem with this–especially since he is one of the college football analysts whose opinion I look forward to hearing most. I think he’s a very good analyst. But he’s biased. He’s a fan.

Not just to pick on rival Ohio State–let me whip out examples from my Michigan Wolverines.

About USA Today sports writer and fellow Wolverine Nicole Auerbach, taken right from her little bio on the site:

Nicole Auerbach joined USA TODAY in the fall of 2011 to oversee online college basketball coverage. She’s a New Jersey native and a big fan of Big Ten football and basketball. She firmly believes Madness need not be limited to just March.

For those of you who don’t know, our Michigan is in the Big Ten conference. That’s probably why she’s a Big Ten fan, and I know that’s why I’m a Big Ten fan.

And this is from Chantel Jennings, another Michigan Wolverine, from her days at The Michigan Daily. She is now a sports writer over at espn.com for WolverineNation:

…[I]n four years, I’ve gone from being a premed student to an English major, I’ve been an activist, a GDI, a sorority girl, back to a GDI, an almost-IM sports champion, a volunteer in prisons, a basketball coach, a Spaniard, a Daily writer, a Daily photographer, a student and a Michigan fanI’ve done my best to separate myself from being a fan at the events I covered. But as I sat on the baseline at the Duke/Michigan basketball game this year, I wanted to tell Coach Beilein that I think he’s a great coach. More importantly, I wanted to tell him I think he’s a good man.

Bleck. Beilein. A discussion for another day. Anyways. Moving on…one more example.

Dana Jacobson, a former ESPN anchor, took being a Michigan fan/alum a bit too far by taking a huge dig at another one of our rivals, Notre Dame:

Sources have confirmed that Jacobson, a co-host of “First Take” on ESPN2, currently is serving a one-week suspension because of her behavior at a Jan. 11 roast for ESPN Radio personalities Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic at Atlantic City, N.J…Jacobson reportedly said “F*** Notre Dame,” “F*** Touchdown Jesus,” and “F*** Jesus” in an attempt to talk trash to Mike and Mike co-host Mike Golic, a former Notre Dame football player.

Yes, we take these rivalries seriously, people. I, myself, have trashed rival Michigan State in writing before just because they’re our rival (well…and because they beat us, which is unacceptable).

Here’s the thing:

Biases and a lack of professionalism in journalism are not just in sports journalism. And bad writing in journalism is growing in part because more and more people have access to some type of journalistic platform. And sorry, but blogs have somewhat become journalistic platforms. Why, several major sports companies in the US have bloggers. That’s because these companies are smart enough to see the way technology is changing the media and journalism, and they are rolling with it instead of fighting it and applying old standards, a la “you can’t be a fan” and “you can’t make it writing for some online blog.”

I have to lament this on one hand and thank it on another, because I guarantee you I would have no hope of being a professional sports writer otherwise. Another one of those writers over at WolverineNation came from a blog, and the blog from which he came is run by a guy who has gotten opportunities outside of that blog–a guy who is a respected, widely-accepted source by pretty much everyone in sports when it comes to Michigan sports, particularly Michigan football. Oh, yeah…also pretty sure he’s a Michigan fan. Giving fans journalistic access is all the rage right now, and I don’t think that’s going to stop. And obviously, some of these fans are going to write well enough and report well enough to get bigger and better opportunities.

But there are times when I watch journalists–any kind–interviewing someone, and I’m just sitting there thinking, “This person is an ass.” And I’m thinking that because the journalist is showing too much of a bias. I am not too young to remember when journalists used to calmly ask questions and just sit there and listen to the responses. The response was for the public to render a verdict on–it wasn’t for the journalist to do that. The journalists are there to find the truth and bring the public access to knowledge. But nowadays, the journalists are sitting there judging, and they come into the interview with their minds made up about the people they interview. They don’t hide it well, either. And so the interviews sometimes come off more as attacks, not interviews.

Being a sports fan, I read a lot of sports sources. I used to read AOL FanHouse, which is now rolled into Sporting News. Apparently, Sporting News ditched a lot of the FanHouse writers. Since I like to write sports pieces and since I like to think of myself as mature, I rarely respond to sports pieces with any sort of personal attack on the writer–typical behavior for sports fans. But I probably complained at least half the time in FanHouse comments about the writers. Why? They sucked. One thing fans love to comment is “I can do your job.” FanHouse was the one place I ever wrote anything like that. Pieces always had grammar, spelling and/or factual errors. I’d bet you the writers Sporting News axed were the ones I complained about. Most sports fans whine about the content of sports pieces, but my gripe is almost always the quality of the writing if I’m complaining. Unfortunately, there are now plenty of writers out there–not just in sports–who can’t write and also aren’t being edited well. So, I will give that to the writer of the email all the way at the beginning of this post.

I will also give him that it’s challenging to be a fan, have biases and–if you want to be good at what you do and be fair–be a good sports writer. Hopefully, it’s not impossible. But his email is not the first time I’ve thought about that issue. I thought about it while writing on my college football blog, and I thought about it while watching guys like Kirk Herbstreit on TV who clearly had their team and conference allegiances.

So, I did something that I found myself wishing others in sports media would just come out and do:

I admitted my biases to my readers. In plain English.

I’m a Michigan fan and a Michigan alum, so it goes without saying that I have issues with Ohio State, Michigan State and Notre Dame.

I also just do not like USC and Florida. I just don’t.

I’m a Big Ten fan, so I don’t like the SEC. The Big Ten/SEC thing is a sports version of the North vs the South. I’m from the South and everything, but my loyalty is to my school and the schools with which it is aligned. I also just happen to not like anything that is shoved down my throat, and the sports media does an excellent job of shoving the SEC down everyone’s throat. By the same token, I can’t stand LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning and if Tom Brady weren’t a Wolverine I probably wouldn’t be able to stand him.

So, there you have it. I would repeat this little list on any sports job I get if allowed, just for the purpose of full disclosure. Has this admission freed me in my writing? Not entirely. I have had all kinds of issues with admitting that the SEC is the best conference in college football. I am just now developing the ability to admit this, and the SEC has probably been the best conference over the past 5 or 6 years.

But I have written that college football needs Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC and Florida to be elite teams, and that I respect Ohio State and Notre Dame. My second favorite team behind Michigan is Wisconsin, and Wisconsin lost a game at the last second to the hated Michigan State last year. At the end of the season, I wrote that this game was the second best game of the season (after TCU-Baylor, two teams I couldn’t care less about, personally). And once, I received a message from someone who said they liked my writing because I am more down-to-earth than other Michigan fans…in other words, I don’t have all this blind loyalty when it comes to Michigan. Michigan’s a popular pick when it comes to winning the Big Ten and going to the Rose Bowl this coming football season. But I don’t hesitate to tell any and everybody that Michigan will probably lose more games this season than they did last season, won’t play in any BCS bowl and Michigan State will likely win the Big Ten (which probably will include yet another win over Michigan, at which point I will vomit…er, in private).

In other words, it’s like Jennings wrote in the Daily–some of us are fans, i.e. biased, but anyone in the media–or trying to be–needs to separate from bias and exercise the utmost professionalism.

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Follow Your Passion…But Which One?

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at work reading blogs, and there was this one post about giving up a passion and asking readers if they’d ever done that. I remember writing that I had–I’d given up a career in the music industry. But I also wrote that I believe that everyone has more than one passion.

Here we are a few weeks later, and I am faced with the truth of that very statement.

I love technology…always have. And I was starting to feel that I’m finally making progress in terms of really making a career in IT. But this was a tough week at work. One day was so bad that I didn’t speak to anyone for the rest of the day after work. I basically locked myself in my room, and that was the kind of thing I used to do maybe once a week on average at the last place I worked because I’d get off work so angry. I don’t want that to start happening with this job.

I used that evening to just think about what the real problem was, because it wasn’t really the bad day, per se. And then the next day I discussed it with my mother. Now, my mother is interesting–she is always giving advice when you don’t want it. But if you ask her, she is utterly unhelpful. She’s suddenly all “whatever you think is best,” and when I’m asking is the one time I don’t want to hear that. So, I told her this before I told her the issue, which is, more or less, what I’ve been telling you on this blog for a while now.

I basically told her that the job is not tech enough for me, and I don’t see myself being able to learn the kinds of things I wanted to or thought I would learn when I accepted the job. I mentioned that job at Michigan that I saw available a couple of weeks ago–the one I wanted to be able to maybe apply for a year from now–and I said that with the way my current job is if I did apply for that job at Michigan next year I wouldn’t even be able to do that job unless I came home from work every day and just learned stuff on my own (which I really should be doing anyway, but I’d get the Michigan job because they’d assume my current job taught me the things I’d need to learn to do their job…and I do think jobs should prepare you to move up/on, even if indirectly). So, basically, I’m not developing many new skills, and the ones I have are not being used and probably would waste away to some degree in this position.

My mother agreed with this. She said that when I first told her what I was doing, it sounded like receptionist work. Well, exactly. That’s my issue. She asked about opportunities for advancement (basically, what is a way for me to do more technical work there), and I told her the only thing I’d be able to do is study and learn about servers on my own and then I’d be able to get one of those positions there. However, I have never been interested in working on servers, although I already know a little bit–it was one of the things I was asked about in my job interview, and the guy who asked me about it responded that what I know is “90% of what they do.” (“They” are the guys who work on the servers, not people who do my job.) I’ve only ever been interested in repair/building computers, networking and programming, and I’m already trying to learn about networking and programming. I don’t want/need to add servers to the list.

The funny thing is when the guy said what I know is 90% of what they do…I haven’t seen that that’s totally accurate, but I have definitely seen that a lot of calls we get are server-related issues, which means I hand a lot of calls off to the server guys, i.e. I’m not doing a lot of tech work. Again, I feel like I take calls for other people all day (as well as all the crap from angry clients who think I am responsible for causing/fixing problems when, in actuality, it’s either nothing to do with my company or it’s the techs who actually do handle the problems). Other people at my job are fine with this, and maybe that’s why some of them have had the same job for almost a decade. I can’t imagine having a position that is more entry level for almost 10 years, and a lot of the tech geeks on tech geek forums tend to agree with me…they think, really, you shouldn’t have those jobs for more than a year or two if you truly have what it takes in IT.

Anyway, I must have been due a miracle, because I actually managed to get some advice from my mother–find another job.

And then bam. Same day and everything. I was surfing the internet, and I saw an ad for a sports writer position.

See, for the past few years, sports have been my other passion outside of technology. Back in 2007, I started a fan blog on espn.com, and I also wrote a bit at Bleacher Report. It was just for fun, and I didn’t get paid. I didn’t write at Bleacher Report for that long, but I kept blogging at espn.com–maybe because I am on that site every single day. I didn’t think anyone read that blog; I thought it was just for me. But, apparently, ESPN hired some community editors or something to pay attention to the blogs and kind of showcase some of the better stuff from the fan community.

Suddenly, I’m getting comments and notices from the community editors. “We featured your post [name of the post] in [blah blah blah]” and “On [blah blah blah date at blah blah blah time] your post will be featured on the front page of espn.com” (the latter I completely missed, by the way, because I was too busy watching bowl games and writing blog posts to put on another site). Then ESPN started the whole SportsNation thing with a TV show by that name, and now their blogging section is called SportsNation. So, I started getting messages saying they featured whatever post in their SportsNation section. And then another fan blogger there started a group for the best bloggers at espn.com and he sent me an invite. So, I used the attention and audience I was getting over there to link to pieces I was writing for other sites, and for a few years I basically had two jobs. Sports blogging wasn’t really paying that much, so I always had to keep another job. I remember telling someone that it’d be awesome if I had a position that allowed me to travel and go to a bunch of games during the college football season. I’d cover football, and that would be my actual job.

The last time I submitted a football post, it was January, the end of bowl season. I still had some more pieces I’d written that I wanted to submit, but I never did. In the last piece I posted, I wrote about the bowl games. But I also wrote that I was done. With espn.com in particular, I was sick of their horrible web infrastructure, which sometimes made it difficult to format posts or even just to post. But in terms of sports writing in particular, I was kind of tired of juggling it with another job and also tired of not just being a fan. I couldn’t watch games without thinking about what I’d write and deadlines, and it’d totally take my weekends, which meant I never had a day off work during the fall and some of the winter.

So, when I said I was done, I was. I hadn’t thought about writing anything since then. When I wrote a post here about my dream job, I didn’t think about sports writing, although I did say that one of my dream jobs would be to work in Michigan’s athletic department. Truthfully, I could have expanded that to just saying working in sports, although I’d love to work at Michigan. But I have never really actively pursued sports as my career, and I’ve thought about that a lot more in recent years. I used to play basketball when I was younger, and when it really would have mattered in terms of opening career opportunities for me I wasn’t interested, i.e. high school and college. A few years ago, I started thinking about what if I had taken basketball more seriously and played college basketball. I’m short and not that tough, so I probably never would have played in the WNBA. But it still could have opened a lot of doors, and I probably wouldn’t find things such as working in Michigan’s athletic department or being Michigan’s women’s basketball coach to be unrealistic.

In short, I guess I found working in technology to be more realistic than working in sports. Until a few days ago.

I was looking at the job ad, and it was almost everything I wanted. I’d become an actual member of the media. I’d get press credentials. I’d get to go to games. I’d get paid. I’d get to write pretty much every day.

The problems?

I’d get paid regardless, but I’d get paid more the more traffic I generated. That means that, at least initially, I probably would still have to work another job. Come the end of August, this would be a problem…because the end of August is when college football starts back up. Because my current job doesn’t require much from me, it’d be easy to sit at work, keep up with football and write as much as I need to during the summer. But in the fall, how could I do all of that and go to games? I know my local airport. Even if I wanted to attempt this crazy schedule, I know I would not always be able to get flights out on Friday evening and make it to a game on Saturday, then get back home on Sunday and write. At some point, I would not be able to keep both of these jobs, and it’s unlikely I’d find another job that would allow me the flexibility I’d need.

The other big issue is I’d probably have to just cover Michigan. I’d rather not just cover Michigan. What I’ve really wanted is my own column to just wax on and on about whatever in college football. Now, I don’t mean that I should just be able to not pay dues and walk into a company and be the featured columnist. I just mean I’d ideally be one of many columnists rather than being confined to one team. I’d love to be at a Michigan game every weekend, but it’d be incredible to go to different places and not be limited in what I write given that I love the entire sport and not just one team.

Given these two things, I debated whether or not I should even apply. But I finally did because I’m curious. There’s no guarantee that anything will come of it, but if it does I’m still not sure what to do. I hesitated to even write this post because I don’t want to jinx anything. I guess it’s no big deal and might even be a good thing if I don’t get the position. But honestly, usually when I apply for a sports writing job, I get the job. There has only been one time so far when I haven’t gotten a position, and, ironically, that was the one time a woman was doing the hiring. I used to worry when I submitted applications and writing samples to men that being a woman would hurt me, but it never did.

So, now that I’ve told you I almost always get the position, I probably won’t. 😉

We’ll see.

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Does Everyone Have One? My Shallow Thing

This morning, I realized that probably everyone on this earth has a shallow thing. A shallow thing is something about your physical self that you’d spend quite a bit of time and/or money working on just to increase your happiness. It might not even be anything anyone else has an issue with when it comes to your physical appearance. Oftentimes, it’s not. It’s just something that you don’t like and would rather change.

Common shallow things:

-A lot of women have issues with their breast size and either opt for breast augmentation or seriously consider it

-Hair coloring

-Acne treatments

-Trying to lose weight (although some would argue this is more of a health issue)

Now, I actually can relate to all the above-listed shallow things in some way, but none of these is quite my biggest shallow thing.

As far as breast size, I’m the opposite of some women. I have wanted to get a breast reduction at times. I used to really want one, but I have died down about that quite a bit. I probably would not spend money on surgery unless it became more like a health issue.

Coloring my hair is a very mild desire of mine. I’ve never done it, and I’m not sure I ever will.

Both of my sisters have serious acne issues. One of them has had these issues ever since she had chicken pox as a kid, so she grew up with serious acne and had to deal with that socially. My other sister, I’d say, has acne issues because of stress and hormones. She grew up with really nice skin. I have not had smooth skin since becoming a teenager, and I probably never will. I don’t have big acne problems, but you just can’t run your fingers over my face and feel nothing but smoothness. I tend to have what my mother calls “fine bumps.” They are really, really, really small bumps that seem to be right beneath the surface. I have not figured out how to get rid of these, but I am generally fine as long as there are not pimples, scars and dark spots.

Weight…ah. This should probably be my big shallow thing. It’s not, though. I could definitely write a separate post all about this issue. I guess all I can tell you right now is I pretty much never feel bad about my weight. I would like to lose some weight. I would like to have an easier time shopping for clothes, especially shirts (again, those damn big breasts and just general top heaviness). I do like to work out, depending on what it is, but I don’t look at working out as only–and maybe not even mainly–being about losing weight and being healthy (which, I hate how people act as if weight and health are inseparable/the same thing–again, a separate post).

So…the one thing I’m willing to open up my bank account and pour money out to fix and, thus, feel better about myself, regardless of what most people have to say?

My teeth.

I have wanted Invisalign for years…probably ever since I first saw the commercials on TV. I have just never really been able to afford it. I am now getting to a point where I can, if I’m not already there. The only thing is I’m supposed to be saving money to move. I also don’t have a car, and it’d be helpful to get one. It also just doesn’t, to me, make a lot of sense to get money and immediately spend it, especially since I have student loans. Still, money seems to burn a hole in my pocket. When I feel that I have plenty of it, I start coming up with all these things I want to get and I get them. Those things are usually tech gadgets. But now, especially since I have dental insurance through work, I’m starting to think more seriously about pursuing Invisalign.

Other than needing to save money to move, there’s another issue–working full time. I read a bit about getting Invisalign, and it just seems kind of like you have to visit the orthodontist a little too frequently. I just don’t know how I’d work this with a job. I don’t believe in telling employers, “I have to leave early,” “I’ll be late” or “I need to take a long lunch.” I did also just get this job not that long ago.

To back up…

I was the kid who needed braces but never got them. I don’t know that braces, back then, could have fixed everything. Basically, my top teeth are the issue. I have an overbite and a gap, and the teeth on one side of the gap stick out more than the teeth on the other side do. I’m not extremely, extremely self-conscious about this, but when I do think about it it’s the kind of thing I’d have no trouble putting down thousands to fix. I would not do it for my breasts, acne or weight, but I’d do it for this. I can totally see going into an ortho’s office and his telling me, “Oh, yeah, this will be $5000, and then there will be an extra $500 for this and an extra $250 for this” and I’m just like, “Oh, okay. Whatever.”

Not totally sure why. People can be asses about teeth, but people are definitely more so asses about weight–especially now when they can kind of cloak their comments about people’s weight in terms of “oh, it’s about health/taking care of yourself” when it’s often not (it’s about you not liking what you see in someone else). But as I said before, for me, it’s not about other people. If it were, then, surely, I’d care more about my weight than about this. It’s kind of like a physical pet peeve. I had someone whom I really liked tell me that she thinks gaps are sexy, and if we were happily married and I could get Invisalign to get rid of it I still would. With your shallow thing, other people just usually are not the point, even if they think the total opposite about your shallow thing than you do and view it positively when you don’t.

The thing is I didn’t realize I had this physical thing that I’d be willing to spend either a lot of time or a lot of money on to make it “right” until this morning. As I said, I’d wanted Invisalign for years. But it never clicked with me before that this was my “breast augmentation” or my “plastic surgery.” I used to think something was wrong with people who went out and had cosmetic surgery or botox, and now I have to rethink that.

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Think College Is Worth It? Think Again!

Although there are a lot of people in the US who still seem to be living under a rock when it comes to realizing the increasing worthlessness of college degrees, still spitting out the standard beliefs about going to college, there’s a lot of focus on the “education crisis” in the US, i.e. the student loan crisis. The unemployment and underemployment rates among recent college graduates, the amount of debt, the number of graduates defaulting on student loans because they can’t afford to pay, the threat of interest rates going up on federal government student loans.

I’ve mentioned that I have so much debt from student loans that I, like a lot of fairly recent graduates, live at home with my parents. I’ve also mentioned that I attended Michigan (Ann Arbor), which has a reputation as a school with a lot of wealthy kids. I’ve had (in the context of sports) haters throw this in my face, and I’ve seen and heard people talk about Michigan peeps in this type of way just generally. There was recently an article over at annarbor.com that, perhaps indirectly, depicted Michigan in this way and got a lot of comments from people with that haterade “rich kids” flavor.

Michigan nearly costs like an Ivy League school does even for in-state students, which is probably some of the reason why people think everyone who attends Michigan is rich. It is, for all intents and purposes, a private school. The academics are up there with private schools, as is the prestige. The university receives very little of its money from the state of Michigan–less than 2%, last I heard. I started wondering why Michigan isn’t a private school, as I certainly believe it should be, and I guess I wasn’t the only one because I was present when someone actually asked one of the deans, I believe, why Michigan doesn’t just go private. The answer was basically that the state constitution would have to change, and this would likely not get that kind of support.

After reading this, my guess is that Michigan is not the only university in the state that hardly gets anything from the state. I can’t see any other reason for why people in Michigan would attend schools that are far less elite than Michigan is and leave with the amount of debt that they are. Frankly, Michigan isn’t even worth the debt with which many of the students in these two articles are leaving lesser undergraduate schools. Us Michigan peeps love our school in a way that I really have never seen with other schools, so Michigan can get plenty of money from alumni. These other schools in the state of Michigan, though, are likely having to charge way more than they’re worth to make up for what the state isn’t giving them without the same kind of alumni dollars, and the kids who attend these schools are coming out with a ridiculous amount of debt because of it.

Personally–and, sorry, the intent seriously is not to sound snooty or elitist–when I see Eastern Michigan and Wayne State resulting in $80,000-100,000 worth of debt, presumably just for undergraduate studies, I wonder why anyone in his or her right mind would do it.  I wouldn’t do it for Michigan undergraduate (though I did do it for Michigan graduate school, which is a different story), and I certainly wouldn’t do it for Eastern Michigan. Much to my relief, some of the people in that second article above actually say they wouldn’t do it again. The people who say they’d do it again, with all due respect, are clearly on crack.

Would Do It Again?

Um, in terms of college–forget graduate school–I definitely wouldn’t. I have tried, with much success, to forget how much debt I had upon graduating from college. I think somewhere around $40,000, and that’s because my parents borrowed some in their own name. To me, if you go to a private school–and I’m talking about an elite one–this should be your max. With public schools, I’d say you should leave with about half the amount of debt, maybe $25,000, unless it’s one of the public Ivies like a Michigan or a Cal-Berkeley, UCLA, UVA or UNC (in which case, $40,000 or so). Otherwise, going to college isn’t worth the hassle.

Why Do I Feel This Way?

Well, let’s just take me, for example.

College–The Pros

My college experience was kind of backwards. I enjoyed it academically, but that’s about it. Actually, I really loved it academically, especially once it became more about taking the courses I wanted to take. I loved going to class and discussing literature, and I loved hearing what people had to say in social science classes. I am very intellectually well-rounded because of college. I know something about almost everything.

And my degree has come in handy a couple of times. More accurately, my degree came in handy in getting my latest job, and the school I attended came in handy on my first full-time job after graduation. I was actually just talking to my mother about this. I found out that pretty much everyone I work with has some kind of formal education in information technology or computer science. I’m the only one who doesn’t. My mother said, “Wow. You must have really impressed somebody.” Thinking back on the job interview, I’d say so.

There are two owners, and one of them has an IT background. When I interviewed with him, he asked me several questions about networks to gauge my knowledge. I was able to answer all of those questions correctly, and he seemed impressed that I could–probably because my education has absolutely nothing to do with computers. He commented on this, but he framed it as a positive. He wondered at why there are so many people out there with liberal arts degrees who really just take to IT, and then he did something most employers should do sometimes but don’t–he looked at what I studied in college (psychology and English) and [correctly] saw how those studies could help in his business, i.e. the critical thinking, problem solving and speaking skills that someone with my background should have. He mentioned these skills and commented that I have the kind of voice that he is looking for while bringing up another interviewee who obviously knew his tech stuff but couldn’t speak that well. I would also think that, since there is a people-interaction element to my job, he saw how a psych background could help with that, too. More on this in a second.

With my first full-time job, my employer had, what I think of as, a very immigrant way of thinking (and he is an immigrant). He blatantly looked down on people whom he assumed were unintelligent and were working menial jobs for him because they weren’t trying to better themselves. When he realized that I’d graduated from a really good college whose name he respects, it changed our entire relationship. He treated everyone else like crap. With most employers, you can’t really tell them that your ambition is to leave them for something better at some point, but this guy loved hearing it and is more than willing to help me with just about anything at this point. Immigrants really seem to respect people who are willing to start on the bottom and work their way up without complaining and get their education, especially Asians and Africans. They don’t question it the way Americans do, because Americans feel entitled to skip the bottom in any way they can. More on this in a second.

College–The Cons (In Addition To Debt)

I don’t really think I can come up with too many ways in which college prepared me for work. At this point, the idea that you go to college in order to get a job or get a well-paying job is completely ludicrous, and not just because college no longer results in either of these things anymore. It’s because college has very little to do with work.

Point taken about my current employer making the connection between my studies and my potential as an employee in an unrelated field. I think it can be a valid connection. Unfortunately, most employers don’t. And they won’t bother trying to make the connection, which is why social science and humanities majors have a hell of a time finding work after graduation. When I really think about what a social science or humanities major does in college, I have to say that, for most people, it probably isn’t a valid connection…or at least not reliable enough to regularly base hiring decisions on it. You don’t know who partied their way through school and aced their English degree just because English is a very easy subject to them. You don’t know who was in classes or at universities where professors just give grades, engage in grade inflation or grade on the curve. In short, you don’t know if the person actually came away with the skills you’d think someone would gain by earning a degree in a particular discipline, and you don’t know who knows how to use those skills outside of the classroom. This is why employers emphasize work experience more than anything else now.

Although I’m touching specifically on social science and humanities, I would also say–despite what a lot of people believe–this goes for pretty much anything you can study in college. For example, last I heard, nursing was one of the “in demand” fields in terms of jobs after graduation. So, a few years ago, I took a look at some of the job listings for nursing positions. I also looked at ads for another “good” field, accounting. Both of these fields’ listings pointed to the logical principle of “necessary but not sufficient,” i.e. a degree is necessary but not enough for getting these jobs. The majority of the listings were not for recent graduates–they were for people with a year or more of experience in nursing or accounting. My brother-in-law went back to school to get an accounting degree, and, so far, it has been as worthless as my psychology degree has been because he lacks accounting work experience.

Beyond skills, there’s subject matter. I learned a lot in college, but how much of it is useful on the job? I’ve found that most of what I learned in college is only good for great conversations with people. Unless you are going into a specialized field, there is nothing you can learn in college that you will need in the work world. For most of us, everything we need to know is supposed to be learned before high school graduation. That’s why I don’t understand this:

If we make college unaffordable, we’re going to be a poorer state. Have a poorly educated state and you will have a poorer state.

Having a poorly-educated state is about people leaving high school poorly educated, which is definitely the case nationwide. I will readily admit that I learned many useful things in college in terms of the world and people. But you can learn these things by…well, living and looking around and thinking about what you hear and see. And a lot of people seem to view technology as the bad guy and as something that contributes to making our youth even more ignorant. As a tech geek, I can’t help but see the good in technology. Because of the internet, you can find out just about anything you want to know. It’s all about how you use it, and some academics understand that…which is why you see some of them using technology in the classroom. I could read the same great literature I read in college on my Kindle app and participate in book club meetings to get the discussions I had in college. As I’ve written before, young people are stupid nowadays because parents and schools are failing them. It starts way before college, and college does nothing to fix it.

The fact that I’m the only one in my current position who doesn’t have an academic IT background actually just furthers my thinking that I don’t need one. Of all the people who do anything technical at my place of employment, I think only one or two of them has any sort of degree anyway–the others just have some schooling. There are people who say you need some kind of degree in the IT field, and there are people who say you need an IT-related degree. But it seems this is true only for some employers, and it seems true if you want to make more money or to get a bit of an edge on someone for some positions. Is it worth $50,000+ of debt? Personally, it’s not–especially when you consider that $50,000 in student loans works out to losing more than just $50,000, even if you’re only talking about interest. If push comes to shove, I can always go back and get an IT degree…after I actually have some money of my own from working, not money I borrow. But at least it’s a decision I’m not making as some dumb kid who doesn’t know any better and while I’m too young to really know what I want to do with my life–another problem I have with college. Adults should attend college, not teenagers.

The point I made about Americans feeling entitled to skip the bottom–this hurts recent college graduates a lot, and it also goes back to the point I made about how it’s crazy to think college gets you a job. People think going to college will allow them or their kids to skip the bottom. Nowadays, not only does it not allow people to skip the bottom, but it can make it very hard to even get a job on the bottom just because of the mentality that college allows people to skip the bottom. In other words, going to college instantly makes people “overqualified” for a lot of jobs while they’re still not qualified for any other jobs.

If you go to an immigrant employer, they’re not going to talk this “overqualified” nonsense. They will love you. But American employers won’t because they haven’t figured out that they dismiss degrees and over-value them at the same time. They think, “We’re not going to hire this recent college graduate because he doesn’t have the experience, but someone else will definitely hire him.” They don’t get that every other white or black American is thinking exactly the same way he/she is, as if employers in the US don’t all, more or less, do things in similar ways. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten that “you’re not good enough for us because you only have a degree, but you’ll be good enough for someone else because you have a degree from a good school” bit. Until I got lucky with the immigrant employer, I never was good enough for “someone else.”

If I could choose again, I’d just skip all of this confusion and debt and go directly from high school to the bottom of the work world. I ended up having to start on the bottom anyway, six figures of debt later, so…[shrugs]. One of my sisters basically told me that she is not going to make her kids go to college because of what she has seen with me. In other words, if they don’t want to go, no big deal. I agree with this. Save your kids’ financial future. If they can’t get a scholarship, work their way through college (which most colleges are too expensive to do) or have you afford to foot the bill, there’s no sense in borrowing tons of money.

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I Think I’m Paranoid

Just a little salute to a good 90s alternative group. 😉

Except maybe it fits the situation?

Bloggers, have you ever felt that the wrong person got ahold of your blog link and it made you hesitate to express yourself completely?

It’s been, what, four days or so since my last post. I probably could have posted some interesting reading two of those days, because some things have happened that I’m dying to share. But one of those things also resulted in my “paranoia.” Now I find myself thinking, “Can I write about this, or will it cause a problem?”

Obviously, this is not what I wanted to happen with this blog. I wanted to be able to complain freely about my life and have other people relate to the subject matter. I have thought several times over the weekend, “Go ahead–it’s your blog!” And I have also thought that maybe I’m just being paranoid.

But having the wrong person find my blog happened once before, back before I attended law school. It’s also not out of the question, in my case, for the blog to be found and people who know me to figure out it’s mine.

At this very moment, I am leaning more towards “screw it, it’s your blog” and letting the chips fall where they may. Honestly, I need the blog as an outlet. A complete outlet. And maybe I really am just paranoid.

Yes, I’m A Woman. No, I Don’t Cook. So?

Bleh. It should have been my first sign that today was going to amount to a bag of crap.

So, I’m sitting at work very early, so sleepy…willing my Emergen-C drink to kick in (which I now officially believe doesn’t work). I had my unlucky shirt on, which I deemed as such after having a couple of royally bad days at my previous job the first couple of times I wore it. As the car I was in approached the street where I work, I mentally said to myself, “I hope I didn’t make a mistake wearing this shirt.” I’m not particularly superstitious, plus I “know” it’s ridiculous to attribute bad days to a shirt.

I made a mistake wearing that shirt.

So many things happened today, but there’s only one I want to share with you because it brings out the philosopher in me. This is the very first thing that got under my skin.

So, Chatty Cathy rolls up and starts talking to me about Mother’s Day. And she asks me if I’m going to cook for my mother. To me, sleepiness is very similar to being drunk in terms of how it affects the brain. So, my reaction was at least a bit uninhibited. I am repulsed by the idea of me cooking, so I’m pretty sure I turned my face up. And being that I was too tired to speak any louder, I kind of muttered something like, “I don’t cook.” And I am almost positive I said it in a way that came out as snobbish or disgusted. I assure you, it was meant more in disgust than in snobbery. I cannot assure you that’s not how it was taken.

In response, CC goes something like, “Uh oh. She’s one of those.” And she says this to the only female I actually work with–you know, the chick I don’t particularly care for and who, it seems like, doesn’t particularly care for me.

Now, if I were blacker than I am, I would have busted out with, “What the fuck does that mean?”

People, I’m sorry (no, not really)–I’m repulsed by the idea of cooking, okay? I mean, for me. If you want to cook or if you feel that cooking is a necessity for you because you don’t want to pay to eat out all the time, you have kids or you just believe that you should cook for your husband or that everyone should cook, that’s you. It’s okay. But for me, it’s just one of those things. I can’t really articulate it. I think, for me, there’s just something about stuff like cooking and cleaning that symbolizes being at the absolute bottom of the rung…which makes asking me if I cook damn-near offensive.

There are a lot of people who would never work in fast food because that seems to symbolize the bottom of the rung. In fact, there are a lot of people out there right now who need a job, and most of them who say they can’t get a job are not being honest. They probably could get a job either ringing up fast food customers or mopping some floors, but they wouldn’t dare think of it. Now, I have recently seen a few people who actually are saying, “Dude, what the hell? I can’t even get a job at McDonald’s!” But they are probably in the minority of unemployed people who have actually tried to get a job at McD’s. A lot of us just won’t even go there, regardless of how bad things have gotten, because it’s perceived as too demeaning and menial. Not putting ’em down–right there with them (and for people who need these jobs, will work these jobs and do work these jobs–do what you have to do). I just seem to, on pure reflex, take that attitude beyond work and into my personal life, for some reason.

This doesn’t mean I never cook or clean. I prefer not doing these things for myself, but I will every now and then. But since I am not married and don’t have kids, I have rarely seen a real need to cook. Since I live with my parents right now, I don’t do any grocery shopping. But when I lived alone, my grocery shopping consisted entirely of food that either did not need to be prepared or could be prepared via microwave. You can so get away with this nowadays, and, for the most part, I never wanted for anything. When I lived by myself, I was buying and eating things like vegetable medleys, yogurt, cereal (for the whole grain, fiber and other benefits that some cereals offer), cheese, oatmeal, tuna. I microwaved stuff like mac and cheese, pizza and chili. Way back when I was a freshman in college and had to figure out how to eat in the dorms, I would make sandwiches and even microwave stuff like spaghetti. You might not be able to make elaborate, home-cooked meals, but you can eat a lot of the stuff that people think necessitates cooking skills. Best of all, it’s quick.

Do I refuse to cook–and let me make it clear that I do refuse to cook–based on some feminist principle? I thought so, until I realized that example about how so many people who need jobs won’t even take fast food or cleaning jobs. Yes, I’m a woman. But a lot of people won’t cook or clean for a living on principle, pride or whatever you want to call it. Of course, there are those people who justify it by saying those jobs don’t pay enough or they’re too educated, but is that really the very base of what they’re saying? I’d think that would only be so for people who won’t take any job that doesn’t pay enough or for which they’re over-educated. But most people are not like this, especially in regards to being over-educated.

To me, the feminist issue is not much different (but there are differences) from the issue that both men and women have with working in fast food or cleaning–the belief that some people have that those who are less than, and only those people, are “supposed to” cook and clean. As I said, other people only see this in relation to work. I happen to see it this way beyond work and only towards myself. And much more so with cooking than with cleaning, for some reason. If there is anything feminist about it for me, it’s the assumption and irritation that people ask me about cooking only because I’m a woman.

I understand exactly how most other people view cooking. They think it’s a normal part of life. Although I grew up seeing both of my parents cook, and then my sisters, I just seem to have internalized the way society seems to view cooking in relation to a career over how people view it domestically. And maybe this is because there’s not very much that is domestic about me. I have always been more career-focused, and I have spent most of my life doing things just because of what they might do for my career. I know one can be a chef or caterer, but I think even those careers get reactions that are only a little bit better than telling people you’re a musician or an actor when no one has ever heard of you and you don’t yet have any hits…or deals.

Okay, well, maybe I was wrong–maybe I can articulate it.

Look, I did a cursory internet search regarding people’s views on women who don’t cook, and I ran into one post where someone seems to view women who say they don’t cook as being proud about it. I am neither proud nor ashamed. I just know myself. I know I have status-based issues with the idea of me cooking and that when I do cook I suck as a cook. It’s not my thing, and when something is clearly not my thing it makes me not want to do it all the more because sucking at schitt hurts my perfectionistic self-esteem. It’s yet another thing that “confirms” to me that I should not ever have kids, and it is yet another thing that makes me feel relieved that I’m a lesbian and don’t have to deal with a guy thinking like a guy on this issue.

And I know this about you–you’re better off not asking me anything about cooking.

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Giving Up On Love, the New Norm?

This past weekend, I was looking through threads on a forum that I visit every now and then. Without giving away what type of forum it is, I will say that it is frequented by people who are introverts. I ran across a thread that basically asked how everyone there planned to  find love, given their age and personality (this was, I think, the 30+ section). A pretty good percentage of the people who responded–and many did–gave some version of the first thing that came to my mind for myself:

“I don’t.”

In other words, a lot of people there had “given up.” And because of the type of people who visit this forum, this was probably the only place I’ve seen where you can say you’ve given up and you have way more responses of agreement than the typical (and cheesy) “you’ll find someone when you’re not looking” or “there’s someone out there for everybody” and all the other garbage that people who have given up don’t want to hear/read. Sure, there was a little bit of that. But in general, it was person after person who believes he or she will be single forever and doesn’t plan to do anything about it. As I said, given their personality type, these people probably won’t do anything about it. This is not to say they will remain single and won’t find love, but not doing anything decreases your odds–especially if you’re a guy (because guys are still expected to be the approacher and women still approach men less than men approach women).

I got to thinking about what that thread might mean, and I did a little internet search for support.

My theory? More and more people are giving up on finding love. 

What might this mean?

Well, in the US over the past 20 years or so, we had reached a point where–as far as marriage is concerned–something that was less common became, essentially, the norm. That something is divorce. I’m starting to think the new wave of what’s normal, as far as marriage is concerned, will be less and less people getting married, more and more people being on their own. While seeing that a lot of people are out there proclaiming “I give up” sparked this belief, there are many other things out there that probably will play a role in this theory becoming reality, if it ever does.

Some of these things are complicated and ironic to think about–in particular, the increase in interracial dating/marriage and the increase in the number of people understanding that they’re not heterosexual. Although I do believe that gay marriage will be legalized throughout much of the US in a relatively short period of time (when you think about other “civil rights movements”), there are still other complications with that–the difficulty of finding gay partners vs straight ones, the number of people who still won’t feel comfortable coming out of the closet but don’t want to enter into a heterosexual union and so on. And interracial relationships, however un-PC it comes off to some people to point this out, work in the favor of certain racial and sex groups to the detriment of others. Certain groups seem to be gaining a wider net of options while others seem to be losing options. It’s complicated, so I’ll leave it at that.

I could also, perhaps, point to people who have been married and divorced and just don’t ever want to get married again or think marriage is not for them. Or people who have “learned a lesson” by looking at their parents and their failed marriage(s). And, of course, there are people who get fed up with relationships or being rejected.

Obviously, a lot of people who say they give up are full of crap. Like…these people who are 19 or 20 years old talking about “I’ll never find someone” when they’ve barely been out of diapers. But the older people who say this have a lot more power to set my theory into motion, because if there are a lot of people out there who feel this way and, thus, will not approach anyone or get on online dating sites…this will affect other people, will it not? Maybe it causes other people to give up, for one thing. It certainly can keep connections from being made…unless, of course, you’re the type of person who either believes in fate or who believes that pretty much no one who “gives up” actually gives up.

Personally, I’m thinking that I just need a reality check every now and then, and that’s why I never can completely steer clear of “love.” It’s like that thing that we all have–maybe a friend or a previous job or, even, an ex–that we ditched for a pretty good reason, and then at some point we think back or even go back because we couldn’t remember why we left in the first place. That’s the only purpose romantic relationships seem to serve for me, at least at this point in my life–they remind me of why I try to steer clear of relationships. I have not been sufficiently brainwashed by society, I don’t think, to keep trying out relationships for the more romanticized reasons. I start pretty much every relationship or emotional attachment knowing it’s not going to work for whatever reason. Most of the time in my life, I don’t even want a relationship. Rarely have I ever wanted to be married.

So, I’d recently gotten my necessary reminder, and I’d been keeping it at the forefront of my mind. This was cool, until my mother recently starting making a point that gives me pause–who is going to take care of me when I get older?

This, along with money, are the only things that ever scare me about being single forever. I know this seems unbelievable, selfish or both to a lot of people. But these are the two things that make me think, “Whoa, maybe I really do need to find someone.” Although I would honestly guess that money being a motivator is not unique for a lot of people, especially [heterosexual] women. I’m just not sure how much of finding someone to be with is about that for these people and how much is about more romanticized notions.

But for me, the thing is if I were making a good amount of money, I wouldn’t worry about this. I would simply be able to pay for really good care. But since I likely will be poor all of my days (if for no other reason than student loans), I do have to think about what my life will be like in a couple of decades. I’ve also realized by looking around that being single literally doesn’t pay. There are people who make what I make, and they have a house, a car, independence and can, more or less, pay all of their bills…because they’re married to someone who is also bringing in money. If this is not the case, then you have to be partnered up with someone in some way to make it. One of my co-workers has a roommate. I live with my parents. At least in the US, it is becoming more and more impossible to get by here as a single person. It’s too expensive living and being single. You have to have more than one income, especially if you’re a woman (because we still get paid less or do jobs that pay less than jobs that tend to attract more men).

With the way that morons are destroying the country, it will only become even harder to live here. Republicans want to get rid of any governmental assistance…stuff like social security, unemployment benefits, medicaid. And it will probably happen, or those programs will provide less than they currently do. And Democrats seem to talk the talk but leave everything status quo, whether it’s because Republicans veto everything they think will help or because they just don’t know what to do or–like all other politicians–are just flatout full of schitt…or, if you’re Obama, because you’d rather be out at lowly NCAA Tournament games between 16 seeds (I mean, dude is neglecting his job not even for the national championship game–it was 16 seeds playing to officially get into the the Tournament. And the game itself was horrible, btw–not even worth his time).

For the first time, I am really starting to see why some people look for someone who has money. I might have to give this more consideration.

In the meantime, I am back to thinking about something I’ve thought about a few times before–an arranged marriage. I’m thinking maybe I should just grab a guy I can tolerate and ask him for a business-like marriage. I’m sure there’s a gay guy out there I can talk into this. The only problem is I can’t make this type of marriage work any better than I could make a marriage-for-love work. A business arrangement carries the very real possibility that one of us will actually meet someone we want to be with and want out of the arrangement. There’s no guarantee this person will take care of me when I need it most, nor is there a guarantee that I will always have this person’s money to help me out.

Hmmm, marrying financially well is looking better and better as I type this…especially a rich old man. 😉

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