Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Three Years That Changed My Life

I talk a lot of schitt about college. It is a bitter topic for me, and I try pretty hard to convince young people not to go because no one grabbed me and told me I shouldn’t go. It sounds odd because, for decades, adults have been grabbing young people and telling them why they should go to college. It’s just that I found first hand with both college and then graduate school that the things adults tell young people when they grab them aren’t quite true anymore. College dropouts become rich CEOs (or rich rappers with aptly-titled CDs, not to mention slut-wives) while people who see college through end up in debt for at least 10 years while getting a starting salary of maybe $25,000/yr or $30,000/yr…whenever they’re lucky enough to even find a job.

At the same time…I have a hard time reconciling this knowledge/experience with the other experiences I gained from attending college and grad school, not to mention how to reconcile it with the respect I have for education and academic institutions in general. In fact, I can honestly say that grad school had a profound effect on my life. It changed my life, for better and for worse.

I skipped out on work Monday, and my mother and I went several places. One of them was a store that sells all college gear, particularly for sports fans. I’m always up for buying schitt that reps the University of Michigan (I damn-near have Michigan everything), which was my grad school–the school that changed my life. After we returned home, my mother and I were talking about how she, my father and my oldest sister lived in the San Francisco area before I was born. It was interesting that this came up, because I had been thinking a lot about something recently. This led me to tell my mother something no one knows about me.

Everyone who has known me for long enough knows I love Michigan. Love Michigan.

But Stanford is my dream school. It was my dream school when I headed to Michigan. If I could think of a reason to go to Stanford and afford it right now, I would. And as much as I liked Michigan, had I gotten accepted to Stanford for law school as well, that’s where I would have gone. Of course, the three best law schools in the nation rejected me (Harvard, Yale, Stanford); I very nearly had my choice of top law schools aside from those. The only other school that felt “right” aside from Stanford was Michigan. So, despite the better scholarship offers from other schools and the questioning from fellow Southerners, I went to Michigan.

My mother’s response–to my mentioning that I didn’t get into Stanford and that was the only reason my parents didn’t end up taking trips back to the SF area for [at least] three years instead of to Ann Arbor for three years–was something along the lines, of course, of “everything happens for a reason.”

Oh, of course. I know Michigan happened for a reason. I wouldn’t trade my time at Michigan for Stanford. Would I trade it for less debt, to get back the debt it put me in? That’s a tougher question, it really is.

See, among many things, Michigan is, for me:

-Where I realized I could actually be friends with other women

-Where I fell in love with sports

-Where I truly accepted that I am, and started identifying as, a lesbian

-Where I learned that college towns–not suburbs, not the country and definitely not cities–are right for me

-Where I found the only “community” to which I 100% love belonging (um, sorry, blacks and LGBTs and women)

-Where I really began to recognize, love and appreciate the black or African-descent woman, as well as her beauty

And it’s not all positive experiences.

I suffered from depression for at least a semester while I was at Michigan, which led to my seeing a psychotherapist. The psychotherapist was one of my friends, but we still had real sessions. It’s interesting–for much of my life growing up, I wanted to be a psychologist…got my psych degree. Never once did I think that people could walk out of counseling sessions feeling worse than when they entered them, but that’s how I felt after every session with my friend/psychotherapist–every…single…one. Needless to say, that’s not how I recovered from depression…but that’s a story for another time. 😉

I also had a racial experience at Michigan that is the base reason for why I just don’t view white women in a romantic light/as a romantic option anymore and probably never will again. Obviously, you can’t make an entire race/sex carry the burden for something that happened with one person of that background, and that’s not really the case here…but it got the ball rolling, I learned a lot about the deep lack of understanding between black people and white people (of each other, not just white people not understanding blacks), and now I’m where I am. I must say that, although I wouldn’t quite say I’m glad the experience happened, it was good for me in some ways. Out of it grew the way I now see black women, which is a way in which I didn’t quite view them before. And I think it’s important for black women to completely see other black women’s worth, beauty, intelligence, attractiveness, etc. If we can’t see it, who can/will?

And obviously, it goes without saying that being in debt for the rest of my life is not anything positive that Michigan gave me.

But even out of these three negative experiences came a lot of learning, very important learning and experiences. I went through everything and then some at Michigan–really could have a TV series based off it…we’ll call it “Ann Arbor 48109” or “Michigan Law”–whereas my college experience was relatively uneventful.

I mentioned one of the things I gained from Michigan was a love of sports. I even did some sports writing on the side. Well…people who don’t understand sports or diehard fans or why fans and experts get so emotional…they often ask about it. One of the things I try to articulate, perhaps unsuccessfully most of the time, is my belief that love for a particular sport or team usually doesn’t develop from the sport/team. To me, there is usually something else–being from a particular city or state, the people around you, the school you attend. First and foremost, I love my school because of everything I went through there, everything it made me, everything it taught me. And that led me to support my school in whatever, be it sports or anything else. It’s the reason why I will watch garbage like baseball from time to time or softball (which…softball, for some reason, I actually like now)–if it’s Michigan playing, I will watch.

My favorite sports are football and basketball. I grew up playing basketball, and my family is a basketball family. My father has basketball championships. But I hated football growing up. After attending Michigan, a huge football school, football is my favorite sport. I didn’t suddenly become interested in guys running for three yards and passing for 15 yards just because it was interesting. It never was, originally. Truthfully, if it’s the NFL, it’s still not interesting greater than 50% of the time. I just don’t have that NFL equivalent to Michigan, no emotional connection. I hate where I’m from, so why would I root for my state’s NFL team?

Michigan is why I like college football and why that’s my favorite sport. And the love I have for my school is why losses are so painful–particularly certain ones. Any loss to Ohio State or Michigan State (rivals). The loss to Indiana in basketball earlier this year that cost Michigan a conference championship…that still brings tears to my eyes because of the way it happened. Even my father cursed and was angry after Michigan lost that game, and he, being an SEC guy, likes to pretend he is not a Michigan fan (he is). There are other Michigan losses I could reference using just two words, and [college] sports fans would know what I’m talking about–Appalachian State and Time Out. Horrific and horrific. We (Michigan) have the most legendary fails in college sports, for real, so you can’t blame me for feeling pain. But we are also among the most successful programs in college sports, so you can’t blame me for feeling pride, either.

So, would I want to give all of this back for, oh, $100,000? I don’t know who I’d be without all of this.

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Operation Find A Job Pt. 4–How To Interview

4) You Need To Learn How To Interview. Now, let’s say you’re one of those people whose resume must be right and you’re applying the right way, because you’re getting called in for interviews. So, you’re going on interviews. Perhaps you’re even making it through to the next round of interviews, when required. But after that, it’s crickets. Or rejection letters/emails. You don’t understand it.

Um, not too hard to understand–there’s something about the way you interview. It doesn’t even have to be that you come across negatively in any way. It could just be that someone is always coming across as more so the type of person with whom this employer would rather work. That’s fine, to a degree…but at some point, you need to be the one who comes across as the person an employer would most prefer to have.

I know a bunch of people who just don’t “get it” about interviews. Look, once you get called in for an interview, you’ve basically passed the qualifications assessment test–now it’s a personality test. Now, I know everyone nowadays has social anxiety disorder or is taking pills for something or the other. I’ve told you a thousand times on this blog that I can’t stand people. But it’s time to put on your tap-dancing shoes and give the performance of your life. If I can do it, you can do it. Act your ass off in that job interview. Be likeable. Be friendly. Be agreeable. Appear as if you’re easy to talk to and as if you can talk about a variety of topics that have nothing to do with work with absolutely anyone. Have that can-do attitude. Be outgoing. Even if this is not how you are, you need to be this way for 30 minutes or an hour.

In the earlier stages of my blog, I worked tech support for a small company. And I used to write about this female tech with whom I worked who had serious personality problems. I know that she had been applying for jobs and going on job interviews for years while working for this company because others there told me. She thought once she graduated from college that she was out of there, but it just hasn’t worked out like that. Still, she has seen others at this company come and go, several of them leaving for better, higher-paying jobs. I’m sure she wonders why other people are getting good jobs while she can’t, especially since she is very knowledgeable in IT.

Um. So, someone who is quiet, awkward, can’t look people in the eye when she’s speaking to them, speaks at an inappropriate voice volume (either way too low or spikes too loud while she’s talking), is overly emotional and has a habit of speaking in a rude way wants to know why she doesn’t get hired after job interviews? I can only imagine how her job interviews go. If she didn’t know how to perform around her co-workers, even to some degree, then I’m sure she’s not performing in job interviews…because the performance you give in a job interview is going to have to carry over to the job once you receive it, even if not full force.

I think advice articles steer people a little bit wrong when it comes to interviewing advice, and I think people make too big a deal about interviews. For example, I don’t really think you need to “study” a company before an interview and then whip out info about the company to show how interested you are. I don’t prep for interviews beyond what I’m curious to know. I certainly visit the company’s web site, I ask questions in the interview and I might even look up reviews from former/current employees. But I do it for me–not for the interview. And I think when you do it for you, it’s easier to come across as naturally interested as opposed to “interested because an article about job interviews told me to do these things.” If you’re busy thinking about what an article or web site said, then that’s where your focus is in the interview–not on showing the type of personality you need to be showing.

To me, interviews are just what I said–a performance, unless you’re the type of person who is naturally sociable and outgoing. A lot of us aren’t like that. If you need to do any prep, it’s to get yourself ready to be “on.” Interviews are about you seeing if the job is right for you, learning about what the job is and the expectations, performing (if you need to) in order to pass the personality test that is before you and talking about you–largely your resume and past work experience.

Lost in all the traditional advice given in interview pieces is not only that you need to show the right personality and hit the right chords with the employer in terms of who you are…but also that you’re being evaluated on your speech. It really does matter in a lot of cases, and I’ve had employers flatout tell me it matters that I speak well during the job interview. So be mindful of this, as well.

You have to understand that the need to perform does not equate to the need to be over the top and obvious about the fact that you’re not being exactly who you are. I just think there are examples all around us of people who appear to be confident, friendly, conversational and such that we can easily copy in a job interview, and that’s what we’ve got to do. If you’re not comfortable with this, I think the best way to get comfortable with it is through doing a bunch of interviews. I feel like most interviews, more or less, go the same way, and they are–as I said–largely about your resume, which is a part of the hiring process that you’ve essentially already passed anyways. It’s funny that people worry so much about what questions they’ll be asked, especially given that they’ve already passed the questions, for the most part. Now it’s about how you sound, act and look when you answer. Do interviews to get used to the questions, but, more importantly, to get used to performing and speaking a certain way while answering the questions. Do mock interviews or real interviews for jobs you don’t really care whether or not you get offered.

Now that I’m used to the performance aspect, when I am contacted for interviews I know that the job is as good as mine at that point. This is despite being a black female who is almost always interviewing with a white man or a white woman (and I would like to emphasize again here that you need to appear to have no problem talking to anyone about a variety of non-work topics, which might be the #1 reason why I can get white Southern men to hire me). The hardest part for me is just getting the callback. I almost never get rejected after a job interview–and, again, this is coming from a self-proclaimed people hater, a loner, someone who is socially challenged and quiet (someone who, if I were a white male, would fit the profile of a serial killer, if you will–I know this). If you learn how to interview correctly and focus on what’s really important in job interviews, neither will you.

What can I say? Acting was the first thing I ever seriously wanted to do with my life. Didn’t work out, but it’s serving me well anyhow. 😉

Next Time: Pt. 5–Employers and Their Values

Pt. 1–You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search

Pt. 2–Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It

Pt. 3–You Don’t Know How To Apply

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Judging People

Man, I am getting killed at work. My manager selected me for some dumb project that has nearly every part of my body hurting. Aside from barely being able to walk, I have cuts and bruises, too–just very physical [and completely disorganized] work that has totally screwed up my work/morning/leisure schedule. I have been so tired after work this week that, apparently, I paid one of my student loans and then forgot that I paid it just a couple of days ago. On the way home, I looked at today’s date and was like, “Oh, I have a loan due today and I forgot to pay it!” I logged in and there it was–paid 7/23.

Ahhh, I am losing it, people! I was seriously about to pay that loan again had it not been for the double zeros beside “amount due,” and I completely do not remember paying it two days ago.

After this week, though, I have to wonder if I’m also not losing my ability to judge people accurately. I’ve always been great at putting my finger on who someone is–sometimes completely on intuition, but a lot of the time it’s based on observing them, maybe speaking to them. It doesn’t take much for me. Sure I’ve been wrong before, and I’ve wondered a lot if I was just wrong about my “ex”…although one way or another, I obviously was wrong in my assessments of, at least, our relationship.

See, when I was told this week at work that I’d be working on this project with these particular two guys from work, I was just like………

Well, I was not happy. To me at the time, there were fewer combinations of people that could have been worse for me to work with. I’m cool with most of the people in my area at work, but I wasn’t with these two. I wanted to beg my work bestie Clara to come work with me on this project, but I kept my pride. Still, surely, there went laughter for the week, right out the window.

Now, one of the guys…my judgment of him did not result in dislike, but we never speak to each other. He just seemed quiet and dull, which I’m sure is how I appear to most people. Plus, if I’m being perfectly candid–and you know how I do it–despite the fact that I probably get along better with [straight] white men, incredibly oddly enough (being a black lesbian, but then again maybe that’s why–no sexual/romantic interest from either side), than any other group of people, I still do have a tendency to completely dismiss white men when I first meet them (as I usually do with white women, as well, if I’m still being honest)…meaning…I don’t view them in a social light. This certainly has not always been the case; it is something that has happened with age, for sure. Frankly, being anti-people like I am, I don’t view most people in a social light, but this is most true with white men.

So, I know that I ignore this guy at work–I am fairly aware of the fact that I do, especially since he is, like, one of two white guys in my work area. I grew up being treated this way by white people (grew up? Hell, it still happened in grad school), so now I do it back to them without even thinking about it or without correcting it when I know I’m doing it. I think the reason things changed with age is because it has happened so much that I now just assume that’s how it is between black people and white people, or even between black people and Asian people a lot of the time.

Bottom line–I know race affects how I treat people, how I interact (or don’t) with them. It’s something most people won’t admit, but I do. Sex/gender affects it, too, but in a less consistent way than race does. I perceived this guy, whom I will call Spencer, as a nice guy but a nice white guy. So, ugh, I have to spend the rest of my week working with a quiet, dull but nice white guy? Sucks, man. Yeah, that’s how I felt.

But the other dude, who is black? Yeah, he was even worse. Probably the least friendly person towards me since I have been working at this new job, but he is cool with everyone else. Spencer probably had spoken to me more than this dude had, prior to this week. I was pretty close to not liking him, but I can’t explain it–he just seemed like an ass. I couldn’t figure out if he was one of those black guys who looks down on black women (I’m the only black female in my work area) or what. Even if I said something to him, he wouldn’t say anything. Let’s call this dude Corey.

Okay, so I’m not wanting to work with these dudes. Even though I didn’t beg Clara to come with me, I did tell her that much.

People, I tell you–During the work project, I was surprised by how much Spencer was starting conversations with me and how comfortable I felt with him, and Corey seriously had me thinking that if he weren’t married I might be able to fake being hetero in a hetero relationship with him…well, maybe for two weeks, anyway, before running screaming back to homoland. Spencer and I talked quite a bit on the first day. He’s a very nice guy, period.

Corey is from Mississippi, and, let me tell you–he acts like a guy from Mississippi is supposed to act. Ladies first, opens doors, offering the lady a seat before he takes it, offering an umbrella on a rainy day, doing all the heavy lifting–just straight out of a manners manual, if there ever was one. People might consider this chivalry, but I consider this Old South. See, the one thing we Southerners loved to take pride in once upon a time ago was that we–all of us, not just the men–had better manners than everyone else. Yes, that was our belief. Some of us still believe this; unfortunately, it is a dying art in the South because parents here aren’t doing their jobs right anymore. Southern guys my age usually aren’t like Corey anymore, especially not with random chicks they aren’t trying to impress.

And it’s not as if I think guys should open doors or do all the heavy lifting, because I don’t really (however cool I think that stuff is). But I do think some of this stuff is part of being Southern, i.e. all of us down here should be holding doors open for people and all of us should thank someone who does this or who opens a door for us, but relatively few of us do anymore. I’m not saying this is or was exclusive to Southerners, but I do think we used to hold people to a certain standard of manners more so than others, that we used to teach Southern kids to be a certain way and we used to be proud of it. That’s what Corey embodies to me, and that’s why I very briefly thought I could be straight for about a week or two. Nowadays, all Southerners seem to brag about and be nationally exalted for is being better in college football than everybody else is (cheating-ass teams full of criminals and druggies, one of which produced Aaron Hernandez, but everyone conveniently forgets all that…except us Big Ten fans).

Anyway…we all judge people, so that’s nothing I’ll ever apologize for. It’s a very important defense mechanism. I just think that, for a variety of reasons best summarized as life, I have gotten too defensive. When I think about dating and relationships, I think about how I’m going to defend myself better the next time around…defend, as in protect…not as in arguments. I don’t think about the things other people probably think about when they think about love and finding the right person–happier things. When I think about work, friendships, anything social…it’s all the same. Everything has become a battle of sorts, and it’s hard to relax. On one hand, the feeling that I’m sick of people is totally real. It’s there, that’s how I feel–especially after my last job. On the other hand, it’s almost as if I dislike or dismiss people as soon as I meet them for no good reason.

I used to be better at this. Wanting to defend myself against people, I suppose, has made me, actually, a worse judge of people.

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Operation Find A Job Pt. 3–How To Apply

3) You Don’t Know How To Apply. A lot of people seem to think Craigslist is a scam. But in my experience, it’s the best place to apply for jobs. There are definitely scam listings on Craigslist, but you have to learn how to spot them before you submit a resume. I always try to look for an email address that seems valid that is posted in the ad, i.e. it has a company name in the address, and look for a company name or site address that looks professional (i.e. not salesbiz.com) in the listing. I also look at how much the advertised salary is, and if it seems too high for the job description I don’t apply.

I pay attention to how often I see the same ad listed, spelling and grammar, and how the job itself is described. There are job ads that seem to be posted on Craigslist several times a month for several months, and that just seems odd to me–seems that if it’s a real position it ought to be filled within a month, and even if they’re having to re-hire that tells you something, too. I’ve mentioned a few times on my blog about a previous job I had where I repaired laptops, and I see that company advertising all the time on Craigslist. It’s a legitimate job, but there’s a reason they’re always hiring–the best employees get tired of the bullschitt and leave at some point, and they “lay off” people who can’t meet their unrealistic standards all the time but they lie to them about why they’ve been laid off, i.e. that they don’t have enough work.

Also, I’ve found that legitimate Craigslist ads tend to be fairly well-written, though this is not 100%. More on this in a second, but the general rule is ignore ads in all caps, poor spelling, and poor grammar–especially if they don’t have any information such as a company name or an email address that seems legitimate or professional, not a Hotmail or Yahoo! one. And be wary of jobs that seem too good to be true or like they will hire anyone, or jobs that sound like sales or multi-level marketing jobs that don’t pay a steady salary.

Another good use of Craigslist can be posting your own “seeking work” ad, but it depends on how you write it. No matter what, you will get a bunch of fake emails. But if you’re creative enough and write the ad with your mind towards what employers look for, you will also get actual employers responding to you. I actually got a job this way once, and the woman who responded to me sent a poorly-written email. If she hadn’t put the company’s phone number in the email for me to look up online and verify it was a legitimate business, I might have ignored it. But it turned into a job interview, and I was hired.

The first thing you’ll have to do is write a subject line that stands out from the hundreds of other “seeking” ads on Craigslist. Second, in the ad make yourself sound like an employer’s dream–no excuses, always on time, can-do attitude, pleasant demeanor. Make yourself sound like an ass kisser who is always happy and willing. Third, let them know what skills you have and what you’re interested in. I’ve been contacted for legitimate positions almost every single time I’ve posted this kind of ad (just not always with the kind of position I wanted), but it really starts with having the right subject line in order to get employers to click–something creative and something that lets employers know you’re different from other employees. Make it sound like it’s all about them, not about how you need a job right this instant.

So, I’ve gotten several jobs through Craigslist, but anyone who reads the blog enough will also see that I’ve gotten jobs through employment agencies, as well. In my opinion, employment agencies are hit-or-miss, especially depending on where you live, and you also have to be looking for certain kinds of jobs in order for them to be of real use. Employment agencies weren’t worth schitt for me when I was in Chicago, but they’ve been the primary way I’ve found work since being back in my hometown. In Chicago, it just could have been the kinds of jobs I was looking for, as I had no IT experience back then and wasn’t really looking for IT jobs when I first got there. But in my hometown, it almost feels as if IT jobs primarily hire through employment agencies. Pretty much everyone I’ve worked with at my current and previous jobs came through an employment agency, even if they are now full-time employees directly of the company for which we work.

I’ve also found jobs through job listings on college career services sites, and this was despite not technically being a student at that particular college.

I think these are the best ways to find jobs–Craigslist, employment agencies and career services sites. I have never heard a peep through sites like Indeed or SimplyHired, and the one time I heard anything from sites like Monster is when an employment agency posted an ad there (the one through which I’m currently employed).

I think filling out applications in any way, shape or form is a waste of time. You always want to apply for jobs to which you submit just your resume and cover letter. If they want an app after that, that’s fine. But you need someone to actually look at your resume, and you’re probably not going to get that when you apply via app, especially if you apply online. Most, if not all, sites use a filtering key word system that will wipe out even qualified applicants, but the thing is their applications are extensive and time-consuming. It’s not worth it to spend an hour filling out an application when you have a better shot at a job where you just email your resume after writing a 10-minute tailored cover letter.

And I’m surprised that people still physically go out and submit resumes or apps. This, too, is largely a waste, in my opinion. What’s worse is some people still advise people to do this. I’ve seen people say that it helps your chances for the employer to see you.

Look, I’ve worked places where people would come in and ask for applications or submit apps they filled out already. Greater than 9 times out of 10, you’re handing in your application to someone who has absolutely nothing to do with hiring you. That person takes your app and puts it in a stack that no one touches or in a mail thingy on the manager’s office door. That manager might go through those apps if someone quits or is fired and he needs someone right away, but more often than not your app is merely one in a million that just sits somewhere. The manager will hire someone via recommendation from a current employee, family member or from an employment agency before he hires someone who submits a handwritten app. And even if you get the opportunity to hand your resume or app directly to a hiring manager, it usually makes no difference at all. He/she will encourage you to your face, but your app is still going in the stack of infinity.

You don’t need to go anywhere. And the thing about going out asking for apps is these places usually aren’t looking to hire, kind of as I suggested above. Just stay home, hop on the computer, make sure your resume is alright, pound out a good cover letter for each job ad you like and submit resumes via email. Focus on places that actually say they are hiring and are asking for submissions–this gets more results than physically pounding the pavement and submitting apps to random businesses.

And one more thing before I move on–passing your resume on to someone else to pass on. I haven’t seen where this works, either. Usually, the person to whom you give your resume has no real influence, so it’s as good as your emailing your resume to wherever this person is sending it.

You’ll notice that I don’t mention networking, although that’s not to say that networking doesn’t work. But I recognize that most of us don’t have that networking sort of personality, including myself, and aren’t going to do it no matter what. Many job advice articles you read will continue to tell you that you need to network, but I’m telling you whatever I think is more important, works more often or is something that any of us can or simply must do. You don’t have to network. Still, in a sense, I did get my last job through networking. The best part was I hadn’t purposely set out to network my way into a job when it happened, which is so awkward. Whenever I’ve tried to network, it didn’t get me anywhere. So I say don’t force networking. Focus on the other tips I’m giving you, and if you see a natural opportunity to network with which you feel comfortable take it.

Next Time: Pt. 4–The Truth About Job Interviews

Pt. 1–You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search

Pt. 2–Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It

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Operation Find A Job Pt. 2–Your Resume

2) Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It. A lot of people don’t really believe this is the case. But let me tell you–if you’re sending out resumes and you’re not getting any responses, especially if you’re focusing your job search correctly and using a variety of mediums for applying, then the problem is your resume.

While searching for my first “adult” job, I ran up against a few people who wanted to get a few hundred bucks out of poor job seekers in order to properly write their resume. But instead of getting scammed, I kind of scammed all of these people. I would submit my resume to them for the initial free consultation and, of course, they’d rip it to shreds. Now, you’d think that these people, just wanting money, would tell you some things that aren’t exactly true about your resume just to sucker you in and get you to pay them. But one, in particular, gave me a lot of really good info. The others gave me one or two things that were true and useful, but the guy who gave me a lot of good stuff? I scammed the hell out of him. I took all his good info and ran, never to be heard from again.

He basically told me that resumes should have active words and not just state what you did. Resumes should focus on results and achievements. So…I took the info he gave me, took it a step further by doing internet searches on resumes that did what he said resumes should do, and I looked at those examples. I spent one weekend re-writing my resume to be more like those resumes I saw online. Then I continued focusing my job search. I can honestly tell you that since changing my resume using this guy’s advice, I have gotten great results/more responses from employers.

With a lot of people, they will say something like, “I know it’s not my resume. Others have looked at it, and they respond positively to it.” Well, the same was true for me before I learned how to write my resume the way this one guy who wanted a couple hundred bucks to do it essentially taught me without charging me. Most resumes I see are not like how this guy said they should be or the examples after which I modeled mine. They don’t show how you, as an employee, have made an impact and gotten results where you’ve worked; they state the duties for which you were responsible and assignments you completed. No one knows this is relatively ineffective because this is how everyone was taught that resumes should be written. But up against a person who has presented solid figures for how how much they increased revenue, brought in more business or drove up customer satisfaction? Merely listing duties looks kind of bland.

Obviously, if you’ve just graduated from college and don’t have much or any work experience, you have a resume problem. Still, you should be able to get a ranky-dank customer service job without having a resume full of results/impact. Best case scenario is you have internships, summer work experience, part-time work while in school or just something that looks like work experience that can go on your resume. If not?

You gotta do what you gotta do. And what you might have to do right here is be less than honest. Yeah, I said (wrote) it. And this goes for anyone who needs a job right now. If worse comes to worse, you might need to stretch the truth on your resume. And it kills me how so many people poo poo this. Most people will tell you to volunteer or do something else that doesn’t pay. But what if you need cash? You have bills. You have student loans. You might even have kids. You don’t have time to volunteer for a year and hope somebody will pick you up permanently and pay you. I’m not telling you to lie–I’m just saying you don’t have to be 100% honest.

What is people’s deal with being less than honest? Are you worried someone is going to find out? Do you think you’ll be banned from working ever again? Do you think you will be fired? News for ya–you already don’t have a job. If you get a job based on less than honesty, someone finds out and you get fired, hey–at least you were getting paid for a period of time…vs now, when you’re sitting there with nothing. Big deal if you get fired. Get the job first. If you’ve been unemployed for a long time, what do you really have to lose?

Honestly, there’s no real reason why anyone ever has to find out you were less than honest. Don’t get the position and start running your mouth or letting inconsistencies fly. And if you use people to help you be less than honest about the experience you have, get with them ahead of time and work out what you all will say. Seriously, work out all the details ahead of time.

You gotta do what you gotta do, right? Nowadays, you are magically expected to get work experience without being allowed to get work experience. I advise that if there is something you know you know how to do–perhaps you do it all the time but just don’t have formal work experience doing it–get with people who are willing to say you worked for them and serve as a reference, and slap this on your resume, maybe as freelance or contract work. I am so not kidding. If employers are going to be ridiculous with you, they’ve got it coming. Nobody’s got time for all these unrealistic roadblocks to getting hired, and listing your education, all your school activities, all your school honors and semesters on the Dean’s List aren’t getting you anywhere. If you have to manufacture work experience in order to get a job, do it.

Like I said, this should be a last resort. I had several people who were willing to be references for me as a contractor when I decided I wanted to get into IT because they knew I had the knowledge–some of them are people I’d help with tech issues on several occasions–but I ended up getting an entry-level IT job where they just basically hired anybody (they hired hundreds of “just anybody”s, and it showed every single day). So I never had to use any of my faux references…but, trust me, I damn-sure would have had it come to that. I have no shame, and neither should anyone else when it comes to getting a job and surviving.

I can’t emphasize enough, though, that if you’re going to make up work experience, it does need to be something you know a lot about or for which you have skills, just not in a formal sense. On one of the tech message boards I sometimes visit, I saw another user basically advise a newbie to IT who is applying for jobs to be dishonest (and, of course, others jumped in and disagreed). But he also pointed out that in IT, anyway, if you say you know your stuff and you don’t, you’ll probably get found out. I think this is true. I mean, I had an interview for an IT position once where I interviewed with four different people, and my interview with one of the owners basically was a verbal quiz about networks. I don’t come from an IT background and, at the time, had very little formal IT work experience…but I aced the verbal quiz, and so I was hired.

Employers don’t always test what you know in job interviews, but it does happen–and if it does happen when you’ve made up work experience in something in which you lack knowledge, you’re busted. So, the user who was advising the newbie to be less than honest is on the same page as I am–be dishonest if you know you have what it takes but just lack the experience to prove it.

Next Time: Pt. 3–Looking For Jobs In All the Wrong Places

Pt.1–You’re Not Focusing Your Job Search

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Operation Find A Job Pt.1–Focusing Your Search

It’s funny that I just put up an “about” page about how this blog is for me, because I’m about to present an entire series of posts that actually is for you. I have changed jobs, what, 50 million times since keeping this blog. And when I re-found my most recent job opportunity, it occurred to me that I should probably put up a post letting people know how I do it. But I’m just now finding the words to make decent post on this topic.

I definitely used to be one of those people who struggled to find a job. I was in the “degree but no experience” category, and our society was shifting towards work experience being the end-all be-all with degrees carrying less and less meaning or allure. Now, some 10 years later, you finally see articles, videos and stories on the news about the education debt crisis and the damage student loans are doing to young people’s lives, young people who are either not working or are “underemployed,” etc. But this problem, as I suggested, started well before the media really got hold of it. So…for someone like me back then, there were no articles or real advice out there to help me.

And if you have been in the position of struggling to find work for months, especially if you have had to rely on the help of others financially during this time frame, you know that people are not at all sympathetic or understanding. They throw advice at you, most of which is not helpful but with the tone of, “Come on, it’s easy; you’re just not trying hard enough.” Or they try to “help” find a job and show you job listings that, for one reason or another, don’t fit your background or interests. They give you generic advice without the understanding that each field is different and your field has its own set of rules–I have found this is true for law, and I have found this is true for IT, for example.

Well, let me introduce you to my motto, which has served me well:

You gotta do what you gotta do.

If you start to think like this and act with this in mind, you will find a job. I am not promising you the job of your dreams. Clearly, I have worked fairly steadily since conquering my problem of finding a job but have hated every job (except my current one). But still, you need the money. Get a job first, get the necessary work experience and then deal with finding a job you can at least tolerate. Best case scenario is the job of your dreams, but that’s something most of us never find/get.

There are six big things I see with people who stay unemployed for a long time:

1) You’re Not Focusing. Yeah, you sit at your computer every day and shoot off at least 20 applications. Or you drive around, stopping at every business you see and asking if they’re hiring, filling out apps, etc.

Yeah–this is not focusing. You need to figure out, first of all, what you’re most qualified to do. Then, among the list of what you’re qualified to do, figure out what you’re willing to do. Then you need to apply for those jobs only. See, you’re not getting results by applying any and everywhere because the hiring manager either throws your app/resume in the trash altogether or, when he/she looks at it, they’re trying to figure out why you even bothered because they see no connection whatsoever between your background and the positions they have available. Why are you interested? Why are you qualified? Never fill out an app and, on the blank by “what position interests you?” write in “any.” There has to be a match between your background and a known position if you want a realistic shot at getting a job out of the deal.

Focusing your search helps you get better results. It also wastes less of your time and causes you less frustration. There might be days when you only apply for one position. But if it’s a position that fits you perfectly and all signs point to there being a pretty good likelihood you’ll get a callback for an interview based on the listed requirements, job duties and what you’ve done, then that is far more productive than scouring every job board online and applying for 30 seemingly random positions.

For people who have the issue I had of not having much work experience, my observation/experience is you’re little qualified for much more than customer service types of positions. That’s the way it is–doesn’t matter how much your degree cost, and it damn-near doesn’t matter what your degree is in (there are, of course, exceptions). You’re looking at a low-paying job where you’re going to have to deal with assholes all day, more than likely. Retail, hospitality, front desk, call center, tech support/help desk, food/restaurant types of garbage. This is what you should largely be applying for. Sad but true. Stick it out for a year, do the best job you can so you can get good job references or be the first in line for a better position where you work, focus on getting promoted or gaining skills that will allow you to move on to bigger and better things.

For me, I got down to the point where I would do just about anything except fast food and cleaning. Somehow, I got the idea to apply to hotels/hospitality, which I had not been doing before. It just seemed like an easy job, and much of the time it was. It wasn’t long before I got my first full-time, post-graduate job working in the hospitality industry. Within a year, I was being offered management positions at my hotel. And if that had been something I wanted to do, I would likely be making more money than I currently do and working in hospitality. But the experience still helped me get other, higher-paying jobs than what I started with.

Next Time: Pt. 2–Why Your Resume Isn’t Cutting It

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The About Pages

I’m off to jam before bed (I napped for a while, or else I’d just be going to bed right now), but just wanted to mention that I added a new “about” page concerning this blog, i.e. “About the Blog.” Important reading.

Also, for those who don’t know, there is an “about” page (“The Best Life Has To Offer”) that has links to my posts that seem to have gotten the most interest from people. It has been there for a while. I’m not one of those people who tracks page views and things like that, so it goes by likes and how many followers I got immediately after those posts.

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Old Job, I Wish You Hell

My former co-worker New Tech sent me a text today letting me know he got another job. I know I wrote several posts ago when I first left my previous job that I was hoping he’d get another job pretty quickly after my leaving so that my former employer would really be screwed. This is my third week at my new job, which is not quick enough for me–but it’ll do. 😉

On top of that, he let me know that the guy they hired, what, four or five weeks ago–the one whom my supervisor wouldn’t put on tech support and give me my old, better, less stressful job back–has already quit. No notice, either, from what I understand. Love it.

Background info for those who care and/or just so you understand why I want, particularly, my old supervisor to be in a situation where he’s pulling what little bit is left of his hair out.

So, now my old supervisor once again has to find someone new to work tech support while the company already has a newbie there, and he also has to find another new employee for desktop support. Remember, this dude’s excuse as to why he wouldn’t put me back in the better, more enjoyable job that I had is he didn’t want two new people on tech support. The guy who quit wanted to do tech support. Maybe if he had been put in that position, he’d still be there. My supervisor lost me in part for the same type of reason. And now not only does he have all this turnover, he will have basically two brand-spanking new people on tech support. He always was going to have relatively new people on tech support, one way or another. It’s a losing battle for him, one that didn’t have to turn out as badly as it has.

I knew schitt would fall apart when I left, and it’s happening. Again, I do feel sorry for the company’s employees who rely on the IT department, because they are going to suffer with all the new people working the interactive positions–especially with the lack of training that newbies receive and with how long it really takes to learn the ropes there. But if I had been treated better, I would still be there and would at least be helping, would be a more experienced worker who is still around to help until new people on tech support got up to speed (as opposed to the guy who is supposed to help new employees but just sits around texting all day and takes off early and whatnot. I was, by far, the most helpful person to New Tech when I worked at that company) while predominantly doing the job I liked.

But, sorry as I may feel for the other employees, I still had to laugh when I was getting these text messages because the IT department over there is screwed up with all these lazy men “working” in it, including my former supervisor. It deserves as much trouble as it can get. People at my new job work, even when they really don’t have to and even though they don’t make good money. They’ll stay late, they’ll go find work if they don’t have any, they will do what’s “beneath” them, most of which I’ve started to do (yeah, good luck with that “staying late” thing, haha)…and I respect that. My old employer just doesn’t have my respect.

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I Am Chronically Unacceptable

I don’t like talking about romantic relationships. I find it a particularly unpleasant, uncomfortable topic. I won’t talk to most of my friends most of the time about my relationships because I can sense they don’t care, or they care up to a point–i.e. the “how we met” kind of details vs the “I’m having problems/need advice/feel hurt” type of stuff. They don’t want to hear the latter, which is all I have to talk about 95% of the time when it comes to relationships. I won’t talk to them about my lack of relationships because I know that they will poo poo the negativity, i.e. the “I will never find anyone”s and the “love is bullschitt”s. And I don’t like talking or hearing about other people’s relationships, especially if they’re happy. That’s just the truth. Keep your happy coupledom over there.

Now that I have work friends–another female has joined the mix after she walked over to me and Clara last week, told us we’re having too much fun and that she wants in on it (the adult version of “can I be friends with you?”)–I am getting badgered about why I say I am never getting married and tortured hearing about Clara’s boyfriend. That started last week. And then this past weekend, I made the mistake of stumbling across all this schitt that underscored just how unlikely it is that I will ever get married.

Dating and relationships are tough all around. I am exposed enough to the straight world to know it’s tough for a lot of straight people. It’s just a tough thing. But think about what it must be like, first of all, for gays and lesbians, who are dealing with a limited pool with somewhere between 5 and 10% of the population being gay/lesbian. And then throw being black on top of it, especially a black woman–the population that has the toughest time dating. And now I am in, I’d say, the two toughest populations when it comes to dating.

If you ever do an internet search on black lesbians and dating, you’ll probably run across a few blogs. Two of them are just…maddening bullschitt. Not going to name names, put links or anything like that. Not trying to start trouble, and I don’t waste time arguing with narrowminded people because…you might as well just find a nice, sturdy wall and yell at it. Could be because it’s that time of the month, but they pissed me off when normally I don’t get pissed outside of sports. What pissed me off is in these two blogs, black lesbians bash black lesbians. What makes me laugh is then these two b!tches wonder why they have such a hard time finding the right woman. One of them actually claims to want a black lesbian while the other one seems caught between wanting a black lesbian and being, like, a lesbian Tiger Woods. But neither get why they can’t find that right black woman. Wait, that’s not quite right–they think they can’t find that right black woman because, essentially, 99% of black lesbians aren’t good enough for them.

I don’t spend time in the LGBT community, although I have tried to do that in the past. But one thing I’ve noticed is several black lesbians are a cross between men and straight black women when it comes to the way they talk about what they want in a mate and why they reject others. I often find straight black women as snobbish and unrealistic [for them, not for all women–but considering black women aren’t on an even playing field with other women due to society’s ignorance, yes, unfortunately, unrealistic for them] with their standards. That’s not to say everything on their list is snobbish or unrealistic, but some of it is and then they wonder why they can’t find the man they want. More on that in a second.

As far as the comparison to men, what’s most notable and, perhaps, most disappointing is just the way some black lesbians describe other black women/lesbians with the tone of “you don’t match what I’m looking for; therefore, something is wrong with you” vs simply “that’s not my thing.” I feel like men indirectly send messages to women that because they’re not this, that or the other, there’s something wrong with them. That’s where a lot of our sex/gender inequality and women’s low self-esteem compared to men has come from, and, yet, we have a group of women doing this same thing to women.

One thing I notice the more snobbish, “you’re not this way, so something’s wrong with you” black lesbians always love to do is proclaim how intelligent and/or educated they are. I…????? Like, so? These women, straight and lesbian, are always talking about how black women are looking for someone on their level but they’re going to have a hard time finding it in another black person. I graduated from top-ranked universities, got a professional degree. Let me tell you–intelligence and education don’t have to come from school. Just because I attended elite schools and earned a professional degree doesn’t mean I must only date someone who did the same thing. For years, the smartest person I knew aside from myself was someone who attended one of those acting/music schools for a while and then left and just worked jobs…then eventually went to school for audio recording, and then again went to school for acting. She has never been to a regular ole 4-year university. But philosophy, sociology, literature, politics–you name it, she could go from topic to topic for hours and give good conversation. “Intelligent” black women really have their heads up their @sses about this one, just thinking they’re too intelligent for every black person and assuming they’re the only ones who graduated from college or that it even matters whether or not they did.

Another thing–you can be intelligent and educated but still be an ignorant @ss. I am one, but I recognize it, unlike these other chicks. I know that I have some narrowminded thoughts in my head. You can also graduate from college nowadays riting lik dis. It doesn’t always mean you’re all that.

“I have my own everything.” Okay, great for you–in times like these, you’re lucky if you’re able to have everything despite the fact that you got your degree. Nowadays, degrees are more of a liability than an asset because they’re so damned costly and, yet, employers value work experience far more than that costly degree.

“Where are all the good-looking black lesbians? Most black lesbians are ugly.” Chica, hit the mirror. So many black women, both straight and lesbian, think they’re way hotter than they are. This is not to say black women can’t be hot. There are plenty of hot black women. But I don’t know what’s up with black women and black men–they’re the first to call someone ugly when they’re not all that themselves. Some of the more physically attractive black lesbians I have encountered have also been some of the more open-minded in terms of what’s beautiful.

But the worst one, other than all this “I’m educated, I’m educated, I’m educated” snobbery has got to be the weight hate. Weight hate is getting out of hand in general, but up until this past weekend in the LGBT community I thought only white gay guys needed their teeth knocked down their throats for being such @ssholes about people being overweight. Apparently, a lot of black lesbians need to be kicked up to Canada. And the thing about being a black lesbian but being a complete @ss about women being overweight is…um, the majority of black women are overweight. If an Asian guy is an @ss about overweight women, if a white guy is an @ss about it…I can kind of see that. Asian women are rarely fat, relatively speaking, and white women are not fat at the same kind of rate as black women are. But if you’re black, then overweight women should be at least somewhat normal to you. So, again, where is all this snobbish bullschitt coming from? Oh, you grew up predominantly around white people? You were brainwashed by the media shoving white women with eating disorders in your face? What is it?

In any case of events, being overweight is becoming the norm. More and more people are going to have to get over it or be single, whatever you might think about how healthy it is or isn’t or it showing they don’t take care of themselves or whatever bullschitt excuse you have for hating overweight people.

I could keep going, but I’ve got work in the morning…so two last points: I guess black lesbians think they can get away with trashing black lesbians because they are black women or black lesbians. But being a black lesbian doesn’t make it okay; it makes it worse. We already get trashed by everyone else; we don’t need black lesbians to do it bigger and “better” than everyone else does.

Also, Atlanta is just that–Atlanta. Just because most black lesbians in Atlanta seem to be a certain way doesn’t mean that’s a reflection of how black lesbians are everywhere else. If you think that’s the case, you need to take some of that money you make from your good job and your education and your own everything and go see the US, something I have had the luxury of somewhat doing. If one city in the US makes you quick to give up on or look down on black lesbians on the whole and assume they’re all uneducated, all have slept with men, all have kids out of wedlock, all have nothing in common with you, all are ghetto or lack refinement, then you’re not as cultured as you think you are and you’re just looking for any excuse to “prefer” non-black women.

Over the last 10 years, it has amazed me the schitt black men talk about black women because, from my life experiences, I’d say no one has more reason to “hate” black women than black women do. Black women treat each other like schitt, and the things I’ve read from some ignorant black lesbians would have proved it even if I didn’t live it. And yet, these black lesbians who clearly don’t think other black lesbians are good enough don’t even really have much to offer as to their problems with black women aside from the shallow and superficial. I could provide story after story of bullschitt I’ve experienced at the hands of black women, starting from elementary school going all the way to as recently as law school. No one has more reason to hate black women than I do, and, yet, I don’t.

So, why am I going to be single? Because, yes, I do prefer black women–and I mean “prefer” the way it’s meant to be used, not the incorrect way most people use it when it comes to race and dating–the very women for whom I’m not good enough for, inevitably, about 5 reasons on a 21-demands list. I like women of color, and never say never but I don’t think I’d date a white woman ever again. But I’m not going to be by myself because black women aren’t good enough for me, like some people. Instead, I’m always the one who is not good enough–not for whites, not for my ex-girlfriends, surely not for Asians and now not for black women. That’s not a plea for sympathy–that’s just telling it how it is.

The end of my Crimson Wave Rant (cookies for those who know what “crimson wave” is and where it came from).

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Respecting Different Opinions

Today at work, Clara told me she is “against” people being gay. No, she doesn’t know I’m a lesbian. Work is probably the last place I’d ever come out, because you’re talking about putting your livelihood on the line…which I don’t think is worth it. I don’t have time–or money–to try to sue anybody, either.

Also, because work is the only place where I really interact with people, I get a kick out of a couple of things about being in the closet at work–1) how everyone assumes you’re straight, unless you are just obvious, and 2) the way people talk about gays and lesbians when they think they’re speaking to another straight person. I could never want to miss these two things.

In particular about #1, it’s not the assumption and its “privileges,” but the things I learn because of the assumption. What I love about #1 is, personally, I think there are too many signs that I’m not straight that people just don’t get. Lesson #1: Straight people do not have gaydar. Like, at all. Just because you’re straight and can recognize a feminine-acting man or a butch woman doesn’t mean you have gaydar. If you can’t figure out a female sports junkie who doesn’t wear makeup, never wears anything other than comfortable clothes, doesn’t wear jewelry, never does anything with her hair, doesn’t give men the time of day or talk about them romantically…just for starters…individually, these things don’t necessarily mean anything, but it should be enough to give an observant straight person (especially another woman) pause when all put together, I’d think. It doesn’t seem to, though.

About #2…I’ve found that people usually don’t, in my experience, come out and admit they have any issues with being gay or lesbian, regardless of whom they think you are. This is why I respect what Clara said to me today. Usually, people will bullschitt you in some way about gays and lesbians and their opinion. I can tell this is something other gays/lesbians haven’t learned, but I’m black. I know people are full of schitt when it comes to minority groups–all of them.

In the US, people love to do a black people vs gay people thing, just a way to make black people the bad guys because they’re sick of hearing about black people and racism. Finding ways to make black people incredibly intolerant is “in” right now. Usually, it’s white people making black people the bad guy when it comes to homosexuality, but sometimes you get some dumb black people joining in. Basically, according to these people, black people hate gay people. Black people are the only ones who hate gay people. Everyone else is so much more accepting, unless, perhaps, if they’re Republican or Christian or Southern (never mind that this is a good percentage of the population, much more so than black people make up, even if you exclude the black people who are also Republican, Christian and/or Southern. Incidentally, pointing the finger at any of these groups isn’t 100%).

I would say the majority of all [American] people fit into one of two camps: They are “against homosexuality,” or they are “okay with it” or “don’t care” at some point but say or do things at other points that indicate this is not entirely true. Personally, I’ve seen more “I don’t care, but then again, I do” stuff from people–black, white, whatever–than anything else. I know of so many black people who are like this–this is how my mother is. But maybe, just maybe, you’re more likely to get unapologetic honesty from blacks–and other racial minorities–than from white people.

I often find white LGBT allies and neutrals disingenuous in some sense, or exaggerated, or clueless, or don’t care/do care-ish. This is also how most white people are with race, and I do think the two are related–white people understand consequences of being brutally honest about gays/lesbians more than black people do, I’d say, because they’ve already seen or experienced white people suffering consequences of being brutally honest about blacks. We black people talk schitt about white people, and nothing happens. Talk schitt about Asians or Latinos…usually, not much happens, but sometimes it does (like, if the target is Jeremy Lin, NBA star). Talk schitt about gay people–surprise–schitt happens.

Bottom line–most people won’t just say what they really think about gays/lesbians or gay rights without trying to soften the blow somehow or without adding whatever statement that convinces them they’re not a bad person.

But Clara? Just flatout said she’s against women with women and men with men, and it’s not in the Bible and not what God wants.

Cookies for Clara. Seriously. I used to think that I couldn’t be friends with someone who thought like this…but…well…I am just not offended by her opinion. First of all, I view it as just that. I am not one of those people who thinks everyone has to agree with me about gay rights or else it means something really horrible about who they are or for my life. Her opinion does not make or break gay rights or any of my personal relationships [or lack thereof, on both counts]. She does some little bullschitt job for a major international company. Seriously, gay people, people who do little bullschitt jobs don’t mean schitt, unless they’re trying to cause you physical or financial harm.

Second, I don’t equate what she said to saying she hates gays/lesbians, and I think that’s the mistake most gays/lesbians make. Like I’ve written before at this blog, it’s about knowing how to read people. Even before our discussion about gays/lesbians came up, we talked about interacting with people. And she correctly pointed out several times that she talks to everyone. So, do I think she’d stop being friends with me if she knew I am a lesbian? No. Would she treat me differently? Yes, in the sense that it would end up part of our conversations and jokes/teasing, because that’s how she is. We talk candidly about all kinds of things most people wouldn’t, especially two people from different racial backgrounds. And she’s one of those rare women who doesn’t get offended by anything you say, and I always like to say I’m the same way.

So, no, I don’t have a problem with someone not bullschitting everybody, for a change, about her opinion on gays and lesbians. Of course, I had to give her a hard time about it, but she didn’t backtrack or try to clean it up–she stuck to what she said. I can’t stand people saying racist or homophobic schitt, then coming back with fake apologies and proclaiming they’re not racist/homophobic. We’re all racist, and we’re probably all homophobic to some degree, too. If you own your truth, I will respect it.

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