Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reason 5,432,109 why I love working with the young women

the great slumber party of 2011

This picture is just one of the many reasons I love working with the young women. This week to be the camp leader again. Of course I agreed. I LOVE girls camp! When the girls found out they cheered. When you are having a rough week, nothing beats having a group of teenage girls cheer for you.
I've had such a great experience working with the young women at my church, and with "Little" from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, that my dream and goal of becoming a foster mother to a teenage girl keeps coming back to me. Oh how I wish I had a real, stable, and well-paying job so I could get myself back into a position where fostering would be a reality again. (New to this blog? I was approved to become a foster mother in Utah just a few days before I got laid off 2 years ago.)
I don't do New Year's Resolutions, but if I did, getting back to a position where I could be a foster mother would be my top goal.
Until then, I'm just glad I get to "foster" and witness things like this-
Owling on the fireplace mantel
Monkeying
 
I have no idea

Friday, December 30, 2011

You can laugh if you want to

Earlier today something a little insulting happened to me. I realized at the time that once the sting wears off of it, I'll find it funny. But first, I had to find my sense of humor again. And I just wasn't in the mood. While sitting here stewing about my bad mood I came across this absolute gem on YouTube. And suddenly, everything is hilarious.

(I miss my dear sweet Kara, Sionnie, and Emilie that I lived with in Cambodia, who are all from Oz. There's something about knowing some Australians that make it that much funnier to me. I love their nonchalant attitude about everything. I should move to Australia.)

So what was the big insulting thing?
I got offered a job.
But not just any job!
The store I've been working at offered me a job after a high schooler quit this week. I've never been so proud. All those years of professional marketing experience, college, and working hard to be the best at my little minimum wage retail job, and I am now qualified to REPLACE A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT!
On one hand- I got a job offer in 2011! Yeah me!
On the other hand- seriously??
In case it doesn't sound insulting enough, let me also explain that for the second week in a row I didn't get paid due to an HR error. Stand on your feet all day, working holiday retail, for pennies, killing your back, all just to make an honest buck, then you don't even get paid, and then they offer you the chance to replace a high school student.
You can be insulted, get depressed, whatever you want. Or you can just laugh at the absurdity of the situation, right?
In the same week I managed to write a piece that got syndicated by a well-respected publication and got picked up for reproduction by another well-respected authority AND I got offered the chance to replace a high school student in a cashier job.
I'd rather just laugh. And watch that clip again.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Carrying the weight of the world in my shoulders apparently

"Massage by Blind" sign in Cambodia
Yesterday (and by yesterday, I mean my yesterday, which was Tuesday, even though most of you won't read till until Thursday), I made a quick trip to the mall to do what people do in the days following Christmas at the mall (spend gift cards and exchange gifts). On my way out I saw the little Chinese couple who give cheap massages at their kiosk. (I have asked and confirmed, yes, they are Chinese.) It is about $1 a minute for these massages. I've been standing, bending, twisting, and lifting while working retail, not to mention dealing with this awful sinus infection. My body HURTS. I couldn't help myself. I had $8 left on my gift card Visa, and I put it to good use. This tiny little woman, no more than 100 lbs and 5 ft tall, massaged beat me to a bloody pulp. I have never been manhandled like that before.
It was awesome.
Even after the buzzer went off saying all 7 of my minutes were done, ($1 for a tip) she kept attacking me. I pointed out time was up. She slammed me back down and kept driving nails into my lower back. Finally, about 10 more minutes later she let me get up. I was woozy for a minute! She looked at me very sternly and said, "You have bad back! You have problem! You nee help!"
Trust me, lady, don't I know it!
After the torture session ended I could actually turn my head from side to side again. It was a beautiful thing. I ran home and went straight to bed, enjoying my pain-free back. I was rudely awakened by my store manager calling and asking if I could fill in today on a 7 hour shift with less than an hour's notice. Just call me Wonder Woman! Sure! I managed to write a piece for that major publication I now write for, post 2 blog posts, walk the dog, eat, bathe, and almost even got my hair dry in that one hour. No small feat I tell you!
And then I stood on my feet, picking up books, twisting at the waist constantly, etc., etc., for 7 hours.
I hurt all over again. There are days I wonder if my minimum wage retail job is really worth the hassle. Sure, there is income. But how much of that money really makes it home when you subtract the necessity of brown bagging it, gas, massages, advil, heating pads, heavier painkillers, etc.? Today I wonder... And wish I could spend more than $8 on a massage right now.
Makes me miss Cambodia and the $6 full body massages. Even if they did include awkward naked moments next to total strangers! (Come to think of it, maybe I never share that story on the blog because such awkwardness was so normal to me by then?)

You can find me around the interwebs this week-
Swing State Voter (1 week till Iowa!) - And Newt Gingrich is not going to be the next GOP nominee.
Cutting Back and Going Green - Talking Turkey Tips (and you know how much I love to brine turkeys)
Meridian Magazine - Why There Are More Singles Today Than Before
Motley Fool - Putting Stock in Politics (plus a new story every day)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Secret Message from Me to My Awesome Nephew

Happy Festivus for the Rest of Us


I hope everyone had a very, merry Christmas! My day was filled with lots of love, laughter, crazies, and family. And I loved every single second of it!
My one and only Christmas wish was to find a job! And here we are just 2 days after Christmas and I have to admit, I'm well on my way to feeling like I have one. For the past two months I have been really focused on "becoming a writer." I hate that expression so much. "Being a writer" - what does that mean anyway? Well, for me it means actually making a realistic income getting paid to write for publication. And today I have a story running on the Motley Fool - Putting Stock in Politics, new content up on Swing State Voter (what I wrote for today was not that significant, but you should check out what I wrote on Saturday!), and my column is running on Meridian Magazine -Why There are More Singles Today Than Before. And if time allows (after I get back from working at the mall), I will have new material for a delicious and inexpensive recipe at Cutting Back and Going Green by the end of the day.
I'm getting published in various places and starting to make an income with writing. This is all very exciting for me! But until checks start getting cut and money rolls its way right into my mailbox, I get to go fill in a shift for someone else at the mall. Nothing like putting that college degree, 13 years of professional experience, and all those published writing credits to good use like ringing a register all day for minimum wage!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Choose to be happy


Why this video? I say why not this video? I had TMBG stuck in my head today, but as it turns out there is no official video for the song I was thinking about. So I picked this one instead (official video from TMBG, who go by the ParticleMen on YouTube). And really, when is the Flood album not appropriate? 


Today I came close to tears. It was just a rough day for me, nothing out of the ordinary, just rough. You know, unemployed/underemployed rough, lack of money rough, a little too by myself rough, and feeling inadequate to accomplish some challenges in front of me.
And then to top it all off, a friend of mine had something good happen for her. Normally I could have felt happy for her. And I know I should have. But mostly I just resented that she has a job, a husband, cute kids, and things are going really well for her. In comparison, I was struggling to be grateful for my minimum wage job working holiday retail.
Why does she get to be happy? Why is something good happening for her? What did she ever do to deserve this? When is it my turn? How much more patient do I have to be? Stomp my foot and pout! I want it to be my turn to be happy now! Dang it!
But I caught my self. I remembered there is more going on in my life than I can ever explain. There are great blessings everywhere, if we stop and just recognize them. I did get to enjoy a tremendous accomplishment today. Certainly something I never thought I would do! And I am very happy about it. I got a compliment at the store about how good I am with making customers happy. I wondered how I was ever going to have the time and gas money to drive over to someone's house to pick up something from them today. But when I got home from work I found it sitting on my front porch. Maybe that awesome job in another state hasn't called me back again like they said they would. But a freelance job turned into a great situation today. And I did all the work for that job while still in bed this morning before I even got up and brushed my teeth.
I can be happy if I want to. I just have to remember to recognize my blessings, and stop getting sad when my life doesn't turn out as I had attempted to plan it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Crazies

Last Christmas, hanging out with my baby sister!

Hello Friends! My week went from being incredibly dull and boring, to suddenly very busy and unexpected. The store that cut all my hours down to just 4 last week, and said they wouldn't need me this week, suddenly wants me for 20 hours over 3 days. (And may I just say, that thus far, those have been some of the busiest, nonstop, craziest hours I have ever worked in my life?)
I'm quickly making a few small gifts for the family I will be spending Christmas Day with.
Oh and let's not forget, learning and practicing the song I am singing on Christmas in church! (not an easy feat considering the 2 months long sinus infection I've been fighting!)
And I'm happily hosting my extended family on Christmas for a big family dessert party. This will be my first time ever to host my extended family for any sort of event. And the first time we've ever had any sort of gathering at the new house. I've got my work cut out for me.
Somewhere in there I need to make a turkey, gravy, and dressing for dinner (at someone else's house) on Sunday as well.
I'm happy to be busy. VERY happy to be busy. And I really need to go get my vacuum back from the repair shop. That's really one of the keys to success this weekend.
But oy! Am I ever exhausted right now! Mostly, I just want to get some sleep!

Monday, December 19, 2011

That's Miss Writer to you!



After approximately 28 years of writing, I can officially call myself a professional writer today. Never did I imagine that when the day would come that I could say that I am being paid to write for someone else that I would be writing about the stock market and investments. In fact, had I ever known that this day would be coming, I probably would have taken very different courses in college.
But nonetheless, this is a big day for me. I am officially getting paid to be a blogger for a major online publication. It is part-time, freelance, pay-per-click work, but hey, it is work. And I will always be grateful for work. (This is also the future of all writing. It screws the writers over, and really benefits the publishers. But it is what it is.)
So if you have a few minutes, check me out over at the Motley Fool. I've only been blogging for them for a few hours, but I've got a post up already- Why is Facebook finally going public? 
For those of you counting, (heaven knows I am), here is a round up of all my current writing or blogging projects-
Meridian Magazine's A Single Thought - talking about dating, and being single in the LDS Church
Swing State Voter- blogging about politics (I usually get 2 posts a day up) (guest bloggers welcome!)
Cutting Back and Going Green - blogging about good deals, saving money, and living a green friendly life (guest bloggers really welcome!)
Jobs By Erin- IT job listings
This blog!
The Motley Fool Blog
and I am attempting to finish writing a novel by the end of the year. 12 days left to go! (I'm never going to make it.)
For those of you who may be confused about why I wasn't a professional writer before, and now I am-
I write professionally all of the time. I've done quite a bit of professional writing. And I do hope to make money off of my other blogs. But I am by no means a professional blogger, just because I have blogs with ads on them. For this new writing gig, I have been hired to write. And actually, this is using "hired" in a very loose sense of the term. I have no contract. However, I have been invited to write for them, and I will get compensated. It is a tricky, fine line. Suffice it to say, I'm very flattered that I get to do this. And I am very excited about this opportunity. It can lead to really good things!
That all being said, I am still very much looking for a job.

Awesome Conversations with my Awesome Little Cousin


Me: Are you excited for Santa to come this week?
Awesome Little Cousin, age 6: YES!!!
Me: What is he going to bring you?
Her: A PUPPY!!!
Commence wild 6 yr old hopping up and down as she describes puppies.
Her father overhears this from a distance and steps in to intervene: What did we discuss about how Santa doesn't bring puppies?
Her: I LOVE PUPPIES!
Him: Santa doesn't bring puppies. Santa brings toys.
I change the subject: Did you write a letter to Santa?
Her: No, I don't know his address to mail it to him.
Me: Oh, well that's easy. You just write "North Pole" on it, and the mail man will take it there.
Her (bewildered): But how will he know which house is Santa's?
Me (bewildered): The mail man just knows.
Her: My mail man knows where Santa lives and can go there?
Me: Um, yes! 
Her: My mail man is really smart! (pause) But I don't know how to write a letter.
Me: I bet your big brother will help you.
(He's home from college.)
Her: He will!!
He hears this and comes over to join us.
Her: Erin Ann says you can help me write a letter to Santa to ask for a puppy!
Wait, that is so not what I said.
Him: No, remember, Santa doesn't bring puppies. Santa can only bring toys that he or the elves make. Santa can't make puppies, puppies make puppies.
Very sad face.
Me: If Santa can't bring you a puppy, you can come over to my house any time you want and play with my dog, okay?
Her (light bulb going off): Wait, where did you get your dog?
Me: Umm...
Her: We'll just tell Santa where to get puppies and then he can bring me one!!
Six year old logic. You cannot beat it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Are singles delaying marriage?


Y'all can all stop asking why your single friend isn't married (yet). And you can also stop asking me why I'm not married (yet) too. The latest data show that single adults now almost outnumber married adults. But no, this isn't a post about why singles are people too.
Within a few years, the majority of adults over 18 will be single. And that's not a number specific to a religion. That is across the United States. Alexis de Tocqueville observed in the 19th century, “There is certainly no country in the world where the tie of marriage is more respected than in America or where conjugal happiness is more highly or worthily appreciated.” Well, that was before a few things happened, now wasn't it?
Before we had shows like "Married... with Children" and "Sex and the City" convincing us marriage would be awful. (Comparatively, TV shows in the 1980s and earlier that were all about families.) And before birth control and the feminist revolution said it was okay for adults to have free, uncomplicated, uncommitted sex. Marriage just isn't popular or needed anymore.
The Pew Research Center study on marriage says, that the median age for marriage is now at its highest level as more young people put off tying the knot or cohabitate instead. Last year, only 9% of 18-to-24-year-olds were married, a big drop from 45% fifty years ago.
Contrary to popular belief, money and the economy are not the reasons people are "putting off" marriage. Most people (according to this survey) believe it is a values revolution. Approximately 4 out of 10 adults under the age of 30 now consider marriage to be obsolete. The number of adults who married over the past decade fell from 57 percent to a threshold-breaking 51 percent.
Single adults are shying away from commitment to another person and leaning towards a more self reliant future. In my humble opinion, men no longer have the confidence and security that they will be able to provide for a family, so they stall on marriage, and committing to relationships that may lead to marriage. And women no longer need a man to provide for them, so they aren't thumping men on the head with a rolling pin and demanding a ring. Both sides are okay with pursuing, at least for the time being, a lifestyle of self-reliance and independence.
According to the study, the majority of singles would like to get married – especially among those between the ages of 36 and 45 – but for many reasons they just aren’t. As a single woman, I can give you a lot of those reasons. The study says it is because victims of divorce are very reluctant to get married. Others put careers and education first. And with less social obligation to marry these days, finding Mr. or Ms. Right seems less urgent.
As a single woman, I'm going to add in a big caveat to that. SOME singles are putting off marriage for those reasons (divorce, careers, etc). The rest of us are by-products of those people. It reduces the chances for the rest of us who want to get married and always have, to have the opportunity to do so, while we are forced to wait for them. 
My dear friend, Lindsey at the R House, recently blogged about what not to say, and what to say, to women and couples struggling to have a child. (Her thoughts about Judging the Duggar Family are absolutely spot-on!) It got me thinking a lot about the insensitive things that are said to me about being single, not being a mother, etc. So very often I receive thoughtless comments from thoughtless people about why I'm not married (yet). Usually someone has made the completely erroneous judgment that I have "put off" marriage. Or that I am "putting my career first." Nothing could be further from the truth. The only reason I am not married is because I haven't been asked by the right man yet! And until the right man comes along, I will continue to do my job to the best of my ability, take care of myself, and get my financial house in order. But I have never put my job ahead of my long-term pursuits for marriage. And it drives me crazy when anyone insinuates that I have. 
When I read what Lindsey had to say about well-meaning, but hurtful, comments regarding not having children, I felt a lot of sympathy. I want children. I want them now. Do you really think I don't know that my chances of bearing my own child are slipping away? Believe me, I'm very aware of the fact. So when you drop your baby in my lap and tell me I "need the practice," please know that it is only because I love your child that I don't tell you what an insensitive and rude person you are in front of your child. I'll let your child figure that out on their own time. 
When you ask me, whether teasingly or thoughtlessly, what's wrong with me that I'm not married yet, please understand that I'll give you the polite shrug and smile. But on the inside, I'm holding to the numbers in the Pew study with all my heart. The study tells me it isn't all my fault. Maybe I'm not married (yet) because other people are putting it off, which delays it for me as well. The study brings me comfort on the days that I am terrified that maybe it is me. Maybe there is something wrong with me that no one wants to marry me. When you ask what's wrong with me, you are just jabbing that knife in a little deeper. 
For me the most fumbling question is "Don't you want to get married?" If the answer is no, you probably have a good reason. If your answer is yes, you just feel like a loser, picked last for the team. 
Instead of asking if someone is interested in getting married, find out if they are currently dating (which may or may not be any of your business). And then, be a good friend. Look around and introduce them to someone. Or invite them over for family dinner. Most singles I know love to hang out around families with kids (for a few hours at least). Or keep your friend in your prayers.
Don't ask questions you probably aren't entitled to the answers to. Instead, if you really care, pray for them and send them positive thoughts. Or better yet, DO something for them!





Friday, December 16, 2011

Receive a FREE Picture of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ by Liz Lemon Swindle (one of the pictures available)
Would you like a free picture of Jesus Christ to place in your home this Christmas? Some wonderful people in Texas are giving away FREE pictures (you pay for the shipping though)!
You can get all the details on Meridian Magazine on why and how.

Faith is born from a relationship with Christ. Like any relationship, it begins by spending time together. We spend time with the Lord as we pray and study His word. But in a world filled with distractions it can become easy to forget Him unless we surround ourselves with meaningful reminders. By putting a picture of Christ in our homes we are creating a reminder to ourselves, and those we love, to spend time with Him each day.

Here is how you can order a picture-

1.     Begin at Home
The Lord taught us that we should be doers of the word and not just hearers only.
If we are going to realize the power that art has in transforming other’s lives we must begin with our own.
As our gift, you can receive a free picture of the Savior to display in your home by going to: www.pictureofchrist.org/freeprint

Pictures still speak the most universally understood language. – Walt Disney

2.     Share with Others
The Lord has asked each of us to share the “good news” of Christ. We can do this by giving our friends and neighbors a picture of the Savior this Christmas. This gift bears a powerful witness to others that we are Christians who know and love the Lord. To receive your pictures of Christ go to: www.pictureofchrist.org/partner
Another way to share with others is by talking about your experiences. It is amazing that over the short three years of the Lord’s ministry He healed thousands. Even more remarkable is the realization that He did this one-by-one. Certainly, He could have healed en masse the crowds who gathered for His help. Yet, He took the time to touch and talk to each person individually. You can do the same by sharing your witness of Christ at: www.pictureofchrist.org/share

3.     Give a Gift
There are many this holiday season who need the Lord, but are not sure where to find Him. You can help by donating pictures of Christ to those in prison, the military, or other local charities. Just go to: www.pictureofchrist.org/give

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Spirit Surprise Attack



I got into the tiniest bit of Christmas Spirit on Monday night. It all started out by looking for an extension cord for my TV. Which lead to rummaging through boxes in the garage to find one, which is where I ran across the Christmas lights (with an extension cord attached to them), which I unpacked, then decided to hang up, which lead to putting out a wreath, and the next thing you know I found a fake tree and set it up too. And you can't just put up a tree, you have to put ornaments on it. And there you have it. I accidentally decorated for Christmas. The tree is only 5 feet tall and rather puny, and looks fairly comical in a 30x30 room all alone. And the angel is ridiculously large to be sitting on it. (Maybe I'll pull it down and put a picture of David Boreanaz on top?) But I'm glad it is there. And as you can see, so is my dog.
Just when things started to get impossible and tough over the weekend, good things followed. I'm finally getting over this sinus infection from hell, and found the right medication that is really making a difference. Until yesterday I was taking my antibiotic (which is trying to kill me from the inside out), Claritin, Mucinex-D, Nasonex, Pepcid, Tagamet, Chloraseptic (for the sore throat that won't die),  usually another decongestant as well, and using a neti pot. After all of that, I was still feeling the same after the medications as I did before them. So I took to the internets and started googling exactly the words that described my sore throat. Two quick hits later, and I found a page on WebMD describing exactly how I felt. I ran to the store, bought Prevacid, took it in the parking lot, and felt great by the time I got home. Today I am only taking the antibiotic, Claritin, Tagemet, and Prevacid. And I'm still pretty sure the antibiotic is trying to rip my guts to shreds, but I'll deal with it.
So now that I'm feeling much better my attitude has improved. Funny how that always goes hand in hand like that! My attitude is also greatly improved by getting a phone interview with an interesting company today. It was very unexpected, and I'm feeling very out of practice, but I am happy about it. Just a few more days left to make Christmas for other people great, and I'm ready to get at it!

Happy Birthday to My Favorite Guy




I told Dallin today that I don't like it when little boys turn 10. Because then they are big boys, and sometimes big boys don't like to hang out with their aunts very much. Without missing a beat he said, "I'll always like you Aunt Erin." And that is why Dallin is my favorite 10 year old boy! Happy Birthday, Little Man!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Take a Deep Breath and Carry On


Every once in a while I get hit with a sneak attack of loneliness. Not the kind of loneliness where I live alone and have no friends. But the kind of loneliness that says I'm destined to be alone forever, never fall in love again, and die an old maid. I hate that feeling.
It wasn't my favorite weekend ever. As always, I've tried to stay positive, focus on my blessings and what I have to be grateful for. But my hours at work got cut significantly- down to less than 10 hours! And next week isn't looking any better. While I'm grateful to be making some money, this is barely enough to survive on, let alone thrive on. Forget buying Christmas presents. I'll be lucky to have enough money to buy gas just to get to work!
All that aside, I just felt alone. It really doesn't hit me too often. But it hit me full force this weekend. Just that empty, dead feeling of "what's the point in even trying?" Sometimes it hits when you look around and don't like your options. But since moving here it is less not liking my options, and more not having any options at all. The lack of other singles my age to do things with. The lack of ability to travel to other towns to meet other people. (Read: worked 7 hrs at minimum wage last week. That doesn't even pay to fill up my economically friendly car!) Living alone where I can go for days without talking to another human in person. Feeling like I am losing my social skills. Just feeling like the leftover loser that never got picked for the team. That kind of awful loneliness that leads to actually thinking about ex-boyfriends in a longing way. And that is a very dangerous road to go down!

This feeling is easier to overcome when there are good things happening in the rest of my life. When I can say it is all okay, because the Lord has other things in store for me. I was meant to do something else first. But when it feels like my whole life is a waste? It is really hard to find the positive, big picture side of things.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Best Christmas Songs





I thought I'd follow up my post about the worst pop holiday songs by asking what you think the best Christmas songs are?

I found this list of the 99 most essential Christmas masterpieces on Amazon today ($5 instant download!), and it got me to thinking. What are the most essential Christmas songs?

Here is my list of songs or albums I just love to hear at Christmas-

Harry Connick, Jr "When My Heart Finds Christmas" My favorite song? "I Pray on Christmas" #11 I sing that song all Christmas long. (My secret love and talent- thanks to my high school and elementary music teacher, I can sing gospel and swing with the best of them!)

Christmas isn't Christmas without a gorgeous version of "O Holy Night." And every year I find myself searching for the perfect rendition. This year that goes to Nathan Pacheco , who's older sister I grew up with. His mother was even my voice teacher for a while. So maybe I'm a little biased. But the boy can sing!! (Seriously, check him out!)

My overall favorite Christmas album also changes from year to year. This year that place in my heart goes to Josh Groban's Noel album

If you haven't heard the Josh Groban "duet" with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on "O Come All Ye Faithful" you are missing out! It gives me chills!

One of my absolute most favorite Christmas songs will forever and always be I'll Be Home for Christmas by Frank Sinatra. Another secret love of mine (not so secret if you were ever my roommate) is belting this song loudly whenever I hear it.

We listened to a Fresh Aire Christmas a thousand times over as a family when I was younger. I still love this album. And I still, not so secretly, like to pretend I'm conducting my imaginary symphony when I hear Carol of the Bells.

The list of songs that I love to sing, and it just isn't really Christmas until I have sung them, will wait for another day.

What songs would you add to this list? Obviously, I like my Christmas music big, beautiful, with full orchestras, and with truly large, polished voices.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Worst Pop Holiday Songs Ever

For no good reason other than I felt like it, I delved into the world of vlogging today to discuss the WORST POP HOLIDAY SONGS EVER. I apologize for subjecting you to my renditions of these total disasters.
Also, I may or may not have been wearing pants while creating this video. What you will know after watching this, is that I need to work on my nostril flaring. And not positioning the camera in such a way as to give me serious double chin action.


Monday, December 05, 2011

The stuff dreams are made of

My old living room, before I repainted the wood furniture and added an area rug.




There are days where I miss my old life so much it hurts. I just close my eyes and walk through my old house, room by room, and step by step, and look at everything all over again. I worked so hard to make that house my own and get every detail just right. I miss it so much.
My stuff has been in storage for nearly 18 months now. I never thought it would be so long before I would be reunited with my furniture. Every once in a while I think of a pair of very trendy boots that must have been left in storage. (I can't find them here, which makes no sense, because I don't know why I would have put them in storage.) I only got to wear my cute boots once before putting them in storage. They are so overly trendy that I wonder if they will be completely out of style and ridiculous by the time I get them back someday?
I know I won't be unemployed and living in Roanoke forever. Today I realized that I have very few happy memories of Roanoke. Not because good things haven't happened here, but because ever since I arrived I have been trying to leave. I haven't put down any roots, or made many connections. I'm just always trying to stay uncommitted and free, because you never know when I'll finally get a job and leave again.
Today was a simple and easy day. My shift at the mall got cut at the last minute. So I came home and worked on my Swing State Voter blog, and knitted some hats while watching movies. I know someday I'll have a full-time job again and dream of the day where I can just sit on my bed and watch Netflix and knit for charity all day. I try to enjoy what I have and be grateful for these opportunities.
But it is nice to escape back to my old life in my memories once in a while. It is nice to remember that I was once a respected professional, who published articles in her field, lived in a big pretty house, and had nice things. I even had trendy boots and bought trivial things like matching coasters for my kitchen table. I vaguely recall that girl, but it has been so long since I have seen her she feels like a figment of my imagination now. But it is nice to visit her in my memories on occasion. 

Help End Sex Trafficking

Riverkids Students

Through a long meticulous process, Riverkids was awarded a place on GlobalGiving, which is a very important milestone for us.
It would be awesome if you could help us reach 50 donors from the US to make a tax-deductible donation of $90 each by 31 December 2011.
$90 provides industry visits and teambuilding field trips for 20 young women and counselling from 2 Social Workers for one month.
The Riverkids Bootstraps program helps young women aged 16 and up who are involved in the sex trade in Cambodia to commit to vocational training into safe jobs. The women talk and bond through outings to fun places like the waterpark or behind-the-scenes at a restaurant that give them a chance to be ordinary young women and see new opportunities. 60 women have already graduated into safe jobs in hairdressing, housekeeping, cooking and sewing. We have a waiting list of women eager for a second chance.
The project will help 20 young women and girls to step out of sex work. It will reduce the amount of girls at risk of child trafficking, sex trafficking, sexual abuse and HIV. It empowers the women to support their parents and younger siblings with a stable and safe job. For a female with low education, these training we provide are comparatively easier for them to learn and the skills are very useful in Cambodia.
Please visit Global Giving to make your donation today!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Me Versus the Homeless Lady with 15 Kids


Thursday was the 2 year anniversary of the day I got laid off. Definitely an anniversary I never expected to be marking. Significantly, Thursday was also the first day I got a paycheck in a very, very long time. It is amazing how bringing home money that I earned, even if it is just minimum wage for a holiday job, can feel so good. Being able to support yourself really is important.



Today (Friday) I shared this news clip of a homeless woman with 15 children on Facebook. She was making the news for her antics in demanding that "someone" has to do something to give her money and housing for her children. No father(s) in the picture. She swears the state agencies that intervened (by paying her rent and giving her welfare assistance) messed everything up for her. In all of her (ridiculous) demands, she never once asks for a job, she only asks for handouts. She wants welfare and help, but doesn't want to have to live by the rules the state requires of her. (So she landed in jail.)
This story really hit me hard. First, it just makes me mad that here I am trying so hard to find a job and support myself. I don't qualify for any sort of state or federal assistance, in spite of the fact that for 20 years I've paid taxes. And now that I do have a job, in spite of being underemployed and out of work for so long, I am paying taxes again that go to help this woman. The system is unfair to both me and her.
I am ridiculously happy for someone who only earned $90 this week. I'm exhilarated really! Thrilled! I earned money! I don't have to ask for handouts! I feel sorry for this woman that she doesn't understand the pride and happiness that comes from being able to provide for yourself (and her 15 kids). Having lived with that sub-standard feeling of guilt that comes from being dependent on handouts her whole life (no matter how grateful you are for them, there is this feeling of being a loser and a failure that you have to accept them), her entire sense of self-worth is completely warped. I really do feel sorry for her. (And simultaneously, I'm mad at her that she is abusing the system.)
I've become completely fascinated by the upcoming presidential elections. I'm closely watching to see which candidate has a jobs reform package I feel good about. I'm also looking intently at their Social Security reforms. Each of the candidates has a jobs recovery plan. But to be honest, as I look at them, I don't see how any of those plans will help me. I know that isn't the right way to look at it. Once these new jobs are created (in energy production), new money will be made, more money will be spent, and the cycle eventually leads to all companies having more money and more hiring happening. I just hate knowing that my job is at the end of that growth cycle. (How did I end up in a career considered as "window dressing" to most companies?)
It frightens me really. I don't know when a "real" job will come along. But until then, I get to send a few dollars a week into the system that supports this ridiculous woman.
And don't even get me started on Occupy Wall Streets demands for more handouts.

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