Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Bunch of Lazy Addicts

Since I've been unemployed, I've noticed more the negative view on government assistance programs such as welfare, medicaid and food stamps. I've never seen these things as negative. Many of the "jokes" which come in the form of memes, ecards and just generally ranting on social media are also very racist in tone, which to me is abhorrent. Much of it is also placing blame on Obama, which is just ignorant and uninformed.

According to CNN, the economy added 295,000 jobs in February. Also, we've seen 60 consecutive months of job growth with 12 million jobs created.  At 5.5%, the unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since May 2008.

 I know some people work the system, but of all the people who access these services, I would guess the majority needs them. I've never needed to use them before, but now, having lost my job, I do. I'm on medicaid once my insurance runs out with my employer, I've filed for unemployment (which is still being processed), and I've applied for Basic Food (food stamps). I have worked from the time I was 15 up until I was a stay at home mom. I've worked shitty jobs just to have a job. Not all of us are taking advantage of the system. What if we didn't have that system in place? Should we just let our people starve and become homeless because they lost their jobs.

Also, I've applied for 12 jobs since being let go and I've heard from 2, rejected by both. I'm looking. But I cannot look 24/7. I'm taking a class to better myself, I have kids to attend to and basic life stuff. The negativity I've seen about those who are unemployed is pissing me off. I have a few things to say about these memes.

Oh, yeah, this is funny. I have a smart phone and tattoos. I got them before losing my job. So, I have to cut off my phone service, which is the only phone I have, because I applied for government assistance? I have teenagers too, so I should have no way to get a hold of them and vice versa? Seems legit. And sometimes I get a pedicure...that my mom pays for when I drive her. You have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. You have no right to judge.

There are limitations to things you can buy with foodstamps. You cannot buy alcohol or tobacco. I cannot even purchase my household products. But am I supposed to buy ONLY fruits, vegetables and proteins with my food card? My kids can't enjoy a popsicle every once in a while? Or some goldfish crackers or a bag of chips? Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Granted, I actually very rarely buy chips, but if you saw me buying them with my food card you would instantly judge me (I'm generalizing by using "you" I understand. You know what I mean though)? And if I want to buy a bottle of wine for dinner and use my own money since it's not covered by food stamps? We cannot have SOME of the finer things because I lost my job by no fault of my own? Screw you.

Really? Working at McDonalds is more respectable than unemployment. How about you lose your job, then we'll talk about this. I am in marketing. I'm a professional writer. Even unemployment says to look for jobs that are suitable for you. I could probably  not survive working at a fast food restaurant.

You see, not everyone using the system is working the system. There are good people out there out of work and it's not that easy to find a job. Would I buy rib eyes with my food card? No. But I might buy a cheaper cut. Lobster? No. But I might want some salmon or shrimp. Every once in awhile of course. Am I to be judged for that? What people buy with their cards are their own business. My money will last a lot longer than people who spend their money on stuff like that.

So before you good Christians go about judging people, why don't you take a walk in their shoes for a little bit. Put yourself in their place. Would you give up your cell phone? Would you not want your kids (and you for that matter) to have treats?  Would you really work in fast food if you were a CEO or basically had any job that was not in fast food? (I'm not dissing fast food workers, I'm just making a point about finding work for people with skill sets in other areas)? Wouldn't you try your best to make things feel as normal as possible?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Life After Work: Denied

I applied for unemployment as soon as I was let go from my job. They say even if you earned money that week, or whatnot, to still turn in your weekly claim. They also said if you have some kind of medical condition that might inhibit your working, get a note from your doctors.

If you read my blog regularly, you will know that I suffer from Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome (CFS). I went to a naturopath and she said I have adrenal fatigue. Anyway, it's all severe fatigue. What is does to me is pretty much tire me out by early noon, force me to sleep, causes memory and focus issues, sometimes my joints and body hurts, basically, it sucks and I hate it.

So I got a note from my doctor that states that I can work, but only party time. No biggee, I've been working part time for 5 years now and it pays the bills. So, as I'm looking for jobs, I'm looking mostly for telecommute and part time jobs. Now, locally, marketing and writing are not hot commodities, that's why I'm looking for telecommute freelance work. I figure if I can get at least 2 of those jobs (okay, maybe 3), it will be like having 1 job.

Also, I'm still trying to start my own business and write and all that crap.

I get weekly mail from Unemployment stating that they're still trying to decide if I'm eligible. I figure, whatever, no big deal, as long as it starts coming in soon because I'm going to eventually run out of money if I can't find work asap.

Last week when I file my weekly claim, it says there's some kind of issue and I need to call the office. Fine. I try to call and it's nearly impossible, so I sent an email. I get an answer back that I still need to try to get a hold of someone by phone, but it looks like I screwed up on my first weeks claim.

A day after that I get a letter stating that I've been denied. WTF?!?  The denial comes from the fact my doctor hasn't cleared me for work and I have to be available for work.

Um...she did say I was cleared for work. Part time work.

So I finally get someone on the phone (they had to call me back because their phones were backed up for an hour and a half O.o) and she tells me that I have to be available to work 8 am to 6 pm M-F. I'm like, "I am." She tells me, no, I have to be available for full time work.

What kind of bullshit is that? I worked part time, paid into the system, my work isn't contesting it...

Because I have CFS? I'm perfectly capable of working a job as long as it's not over 5 hours a day.

I asked, so what are people with medical issues supposed to do? Go hungry? I
mean, I suppose I could apply for disability, but I CAN WORK! I suppose I'm eligible for that, but I don't feel right about it.

Anyway, she put my paperwork back through. If it doesn't go through this time I have to appeal. Meanwhile the bank account is dwindling away.

I mean, seriously, I'm a single mom of two teenagers who just lost her job. I'm not trying to work the system. I just want to get by until I can find something else! I actually want to work. I looked it up and it said that you could get unemployment if you worked part time. So what's the story? I cannot believe it's just because I have CFS. #discrimination.

So, anyway, that happened. We'll see if they'll accept it this time. If not, I get to go through the appeal process. Joy.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Where did he go?

A friend of mine from high school and college told me we lost a high school friend. I wanted to ask, "Where did he go?" Because at our age, we're too young to be losing people. It's not time for our schoolmates to start dying on us.

Yet, it's happened. This isn't the first school mate that has passed, but he's still one of the first and someone I spent a lot of time with in high school. So this one hits very close to home.

We're not young anymore. And this is the age that we start losing people. This is when people start having heart problems and contracting cancer. One out of 3 women contract cancer. 1 in 5 die from it. Think about your closest friends. Which one of them will it be? Men's outlook is even more dire. 1 out of 2 contract. 1 out of 4 die.

My mantra about life being short is sad but true. This is why I live big. I admit to
having used questionable judgment at times, but I learn from my mistakes and have few regrets. If I make it to old age, I don't want to be sitting around with my 50 cats saying to myself, "if only I'd done_____" or "I wish I would have tried_____" I want to have done all the things.

I also want to make an impact on the people around me. I want help, nurture, and support my family and friends. And if I've had a falling out, I want to be content with the lengths I have gone to to make amends.

When it's all over, I hope to look back at my life and not lament the things I never did. I want to go out satisfied that I'd lived life fully, leaving as few failures as possible in my wake.

Friday, March 13, 2015

YA and Sexism: The virtual vilification of Andrew Smith

Twitter has been blowing up lately over an interview Andrew Smith,  author of YA books such as Winger, Grasshopper Jungle and the Marbury Lens, did for Vice. The article is called, The Failure of Male Societies: Author Andrew Smith Tackles Monsters and Sex. His interview had female bloggers calling him out as a sexist and misogynist.

In particular, it was just one answer. This one:

Q. On the flip side, it sometimes seems like there isn’t much of a way into your books for female readers. Where are all the women in your work?
A: I was raised in a family with four boys, and I absolutely did not know anything about girls at all. I have a daughter now; she’s 17. When she was born, that was the first girl I ever had in my life. I consider myself completely ignorant to all things woman and female. I’m trying to be better though.

 A lot of The Alex Crow is really about the failure of male societies. In all of the story threads, there are examples of male-dominated societies that make critical errors, whether it’s the army that Ariel falls in with at the beginning, or the refugee camp, or Camp Merrie-Seymour for boys, or the doomed arctic expedition, they’re all examples of male societies that think that they’re doing some kind of noble mission, and they’re failing miserably.

 So, that's a big deal, right? OMG! I can't believe he said that!!! Um...right. Women were having a fit because Andrew Smith says he doesn't get women. I tweeted this:

I mean, seriously? Isn't it a well known fact that men don't get women. And honestly, I don't get men, so there's that.

One Tweeter mocked him SEVERAL times. Wow. Um...I just don't know what to say about all that except, you have too much time on your hands.

A blogger stated that it "assumes that men and masculinity are the default settings
for humanity." Really? If that's what that statement is assuming then I'm reading it wrong. She goes on to say that "Saying 'I'm trying' is not the same as trying." She thinks that by supporting Smith and saying he was just being honest "let's those with privilege off the hook." WTF? Can you say, read too much into something? Jesus.

Yet another: "The interpretation is that women are less than human, or at the very least, inherently different from men. That is one of the oldest sexist arguments in the entire world." Uh, how does one one interpret his statement translate into this?

Last one I'll share: "This is an astounding claim to make and one that exacerbates a lot of pernicious misogynistic attitudes, in the publishing industry and society at large." Does it really? Misogynistic? Come on!

Okay, one more, but I don't remember where I read it, but she said something to the effect that "how can he come up with all these fantasy/fiction ideas and not understand women?" I'm paraphrasing of course, but it was something like that. Um, last time I checked, these were two completely different things. Women are carbon based and living. Fantasy books are make believe and pure fiction.

I would call myself a feminist. I'm a huge proponent of women's rights and equality. But I was not offended by this interview in any way.  I truly do think people have nothing better to do than find fault that isn't there.  I think just as some women are more comfortable writing female characters, Andrew Smith is more comfortable writing from the male POV.

This is what I think about Smith's statement.

Andrew Smith:
  • was being completely honest with his feelings.
  • writes quirky books about boys.
  • is writing what he wants to and what he knows and should write because he's brilliant at it.
  • says he doesn't get girls, not that he doesn't not want to get girls.(Big. Difference.)
  • female readers LOVE his books.
  • I believe saying your trying is trying.
  • We all don't write everything perfectly.
  • Most these bloggers took what he said out of context and did not post that 2nd paragraph of his answer, which explains a lot.
  • The interviewer set him up to answer in that way.
  • Just because you have the imagination to write the way Smith does, does not mean you have insight to everything on the planet.
  • If you read the article he also says he grew up with 3 brothers, no sisters and his parents were abusive. The only woman in your life is abusive. So, doesn't it make some sense that Smith doesn't "get" girls.
This was a virtual witch hunt on Twitter. I love Twitter, but I don't like when things like this happen. Especially to good people. I cannot vouch that Smith is "good" but many people defending him know him personally and say as such and I believe them.

Another thing,  why do some writers, and I'm generalizing, I know, but most the bloggers I know also write...anyway, why do some writers feel the need to cut each other down? This business is hard and cruel enough as it is without us fighting each other. Why do we have to seek the worst in our colleagues? We're not really in competition, I mean to a point I guess, but we should be supporting each other, lifting each other up, not keeping each other down.

This vilification of Smith forced him to shut down his Twitter and Facebook. I hope it's only temporary because I like seeing his posts and I really do think he's brilliant. - even if he doesn't "get" girls.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Life After Work: Tacoma Athletic Commission

I haven't blogged in a while. Since right after being let go from my job. You'd think now that I'm not working I'd have all the time in the world, yet I feel busier now than I ever had. Between looking for work, trying to start a business, side work, writing and other whatnots...I'm exhausted.

I'll talk about those things another day though. Today I'm going to talk about a cause I joined - the Tacoma Athletic Commission (TAC). I was asked to join by one of the committee chairs after submitting an ad I designed for my father for one of their banquets publications.

TAC raises funds, holds event, recognizes the achievements of local athletes (and others in sports related fields) and dedicates itself to youth sports.

They have a Golden Gloves boxing championship, a Golf Classic, an Old Timers Baseball/Softball Banquet, ceremonies for stellar high school athletes for each season, and in June have a big event to give away scholarships to the Male and Female Student Athlete of the Year.

TAC also supports other athletic events held by the parks, high schools, colleges, sports clubs and teams, and other events held in the area.

They are responsible for bringing the Tacoma Pierce County Sports Museum, the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame, the Tacoma-Pierce County Softball-Baseball Old Timers and the Washington State Sports Hall of Fame to Tacoma.

I decided I needed a cause. I mean, I support other things, but have not been actively involved. I decided since I came from a heavy sports loving background, I played ball, coached soccer, one of my kids is still playing college level soccer, and I have talents to volunteer, that this would be a good fit for me. I'm also a big proponent of kids playing sports to keep them in shape and out of trouble.

Today was the first meeting I've gone to and it was a good time. Seeing all the athletes from years past - record setters, award winners - was pretty intriguing. The guest speaker was Andrea Geubell,  a track and field star that went to Curtis High School.

Andrea holds records in Long Jump, Triple Jump, both indoor and outdoor, 400 Meter and 100 Meter Dash.  She won a gold medal for Triple Jump at the
2012 NACAC Under-23 Championships. She took the win at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and helped take her college, the Kansas Jayhawks win their first NCAA women's title.

She's back in Tacoma, still training and substitute teaching. She wants to give back to her community and help other athletes achieve their goals.

We have a ton of great athletes to come out of our city.

  • Lawyer Milloy - NFL Patriots
  • John Kitna - NFL Seahawks, Bengals, etc.
  • Marcus Trufant  - NFL Seahawks
  • Jon Lester - MLB Red Sox
  • Isaiah Thomas - NBA Kings
  • Nate Burleson - NFL Vikings
  • Ron Cey - MLB Dodgers, etc.
  • Jeffrey Conine - MLB Marlins
  • Sugar Ray Seales - Boxer
  • Kaye Hall Greff - Olympic gold medal swimmer
  • Gretchen Fraser - Olympic medalist in Alpine Skiing
  • Phil Sykes - NHL Kings, Olympian
  • Alex Montgomery - WNBA Liberty

I could go on and on...

I'm looking forward to helping TAC however I can and meeting more local athletes.

My Dad. He's awesome.

John Messina, Personal Injury Attorney

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