Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What To Do When You Lose Your Job

Losing your job blows. There's really no better or less crass way to say it. Losing your job, either voluntarily or involuntarily, affects everything from your emotional well-being to your bank account. You become frantic, stressed-out, and desperate to find a job, any job, that will give you some semblance that your life isn't spinning wildly out of control.

Trust me, I know. I've been living it for two months now and, like I said, it blows. Unfortunately, curling up into a ball in bed and emerging only to use the bathroom and forage for sugary snacks is not a feasible option for coping.

So, what should you do?

I'm not here to tell you to put your nose to the grind, keep sending out resumes, network LinkedIn like you're lobbying for a four day work week, and pray to whatever deity you pray to that something will work out. You're already doing all of that and more, and certainly don't need to hear it from me.

However, I do have a short list of a few things you should start doing:

First, surround yourself with awesome people.

Last night I was feeling like rubbish, frustrated that, after two months, I still have yet to even interview for a single job. I found myself questioning whether I'm at all employable or if I should just call it a loss and run off with the circus. I really despise clowns, so it was an all time low. Then today I received this in the mail:

Long story short, that Star Wars card (which was given to me for my high school graduation from my best friend's awesome husband (then boyfriend)) has bounced back and forth between myself and my friend Amy (who admired it freshman year of college) for over ten years. I truly never know when he'll show up. Annakin and the uplifting message that I'm not alone in my struggles was exactly what I needed today.

I have other amazing friends too. No more than two or three days go by in which I haven't received some sort of encouragement or pick-me-up from a loved one. Even though a significant part of you may want to hide away from the world in shame, keep in contact with the ones you love - you'll be blessed by their support and someday, it may be up to you to return the favor. Also, it's important to keep things positive and remember to rejoice with your friends when good fortune comes their way, especially when comes in the form of a brand-new, shiny blue Prius (Kimmy, I'm super excited to go for a ride in your TARDIS ;-)). It can be hard to continually be so upbeat and happy for everyone else when you feel like you don't have much to celebrate yourself. Smile anyways. Friendship goes both ways and it's your job to support them as much as they support you.

Second, keep thinking long-term.

When it comes down to it, you may not end up at the job of your dreams. You may have to settle for a "It Pays The Bills" kind of job in the meanwhile. That doesn't mean you can't still end up with your dream job. Though it's nice to have plenty of time to catch up on your favorite TV shows (all ten seasons), take a couple hours a day to study for the LSAT. Or take a class at the community college in SEO or coding. Use your time wisely because later, you'll have to account for those 4 months between jobs. (Fingers crossed it doesn't take that long.)

(Pic, via.)

Thirdly, do that thing you've always wanted to do.

You've always talked about how much you'd like to do a triathlon, but who has the time to train? You do. You've got shoe boxes full of photos and several scrapbooks just waiting for you. Run over to Michaels, buy some fun stickers and acid-free double sided tape, and get crackin'. Write that novel. Take up yoga. The point is, there's so much stress involved in job hunting, that you have to do what you can to stay sane. Do the things that make you happy.

I'm writing this post for myself as much as I am writing it for others in a similar position. I need to keep reminding myself that although I'm facing a major life hurdle, life hasn't stopped. I have a tendency to say, "When this thing gets sorted, then I'll do this..." But what if life never gets sorted? One thing may resolve, but another challenge is right around the corner. Life cannot be put on hold and rather than wallowing in self-misery (which gets very boring after ten minutes, anyways), I need to get up, get dressed, and live my life to its fullest.

It's the only life I'm going to get, after all.

And finally, eat that second cupcake.

Because, if we're being honest, you need it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Surprise! It's a Girl?

Okay, okay, I am definitely not pregnant, and neither am I adopting a baby, but there is somebody I would like to introduce you all to. Please welcome the newest addition to my life: Josefa, age 12, from Bolivia.

Last week, I made the decision to sponsor a child through World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, described by their website as, "dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice."

During college, a friend and I co-sponsored a little boy named Armel through World Vision, though after a period of time I gave up custody to my friend as I wasn't doing a good job of maintaining my finances in order to help support this little boy. Since then, the way I gave up on Armel has often weighed on me and I've considered sponsoring a child multiple times. Life, as it tends to do, got in the way and though my intentions have always been good, my follow-through has often fallen on the side of rubbish.

I'm a selfish human being, as most of us are (it's not our fault, I believe it's just our nature), but I think I'm a good person as well, which means I'm constantly battling my demons (that most frequently take the form of comfortable beds/chairs and television sets). I can be lazy. I excel at being self-absorbed. To my shame, I spend more time taking life for granted and don't spend enough time considering the injustices in the world.

I want to change that.

I recently read A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans, in which she tackles legalism and the role of women in the Church, in order to better understand herself and how God wants her to serve. In this book, she dedicates a chapter to championing women's rights on a global scale, describing many of the atrocities that are committed against women daily - some of these acts are so heinous, I was immediately brought to tears - and that, as women of valor, we are called to support our sisters and do what we can to change the global understanding that women are somehow inferior to men.

Now, I'm not the kind of feminist who tries to elevate women by putting down men; that's sexism, not feminism. I am the kind of feminist who believes in equal pay, equal voice, equal education, and equal rights, including the right to not have to live in fear of being raped, mutilated, or killed just for possessing two X chromosomes. According to Amnesty International, 1 in 3 women worldwide will be "beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime."

30% of women worldwide? I'm blown away. Why aren't these kinds of statistics shared as often, or as publicly, as say the latest box office reports or NFL stats?

The title of my blog post seems innocuous enough, or even exciting for expectant couples awaiting their bundle of joy, but there are countries where discovering your unborn child is female is one of the most disappointing pieces of news that can ever be received. It startles me that female infanticide appears to be on the rise, not the decline. According to an article from the March 2010 issue of the Economist, in the 2000s, the ratio of boy to girl babies was 124 to 100 in China, and as high as 130 to 100 in some provinces. In the 1980s, it was 108 to 100.

I was lucky. I was born into a family that not only welcomed me with loving arms for being a girl, but one that deliberately wanted a girl and tried hard to have one (and managed to get one after having just two boys, phew!). Millions of girls around the world are aborted or abandoned and left for dead simply for being born female. I am grateful that I was born into a family that loves me for who I am, who understands and celebrates my value.

Lately in the US, there has been a lot of debate regarding Gun Control and Gay Marriage, both important issues, but where are the conversations about human trafficking? Where is the outcry over young girls being forced into marriage? "Honor" Killings? Domestic Violence? "Dowry" Deaths? Female Infanticide? To me, these issues are just as serious, just as important, and just as deserving of public attention.

So, how can I/we help?

An obvious way to help is to get involved, of course. There are many humanitarian organizations out there, requiring a great deal of research. I want to be involved, but the issue is so enormous that it will take a lot of time and consideration to determine where I can fit in and contribute.

Another way I thought I could help, in a very tangible way, was by sponsoring a child. I specifically wanted to sponsor a young girl on the precipice of adolescence, one of the most precarious times in any girl's life, and especially for those living in places where their rights are limited. Though our connection will be over quite a distance, with the exchange of letters occurring over the course of months instead of days, I'm hoping that by knowing there is someone out there specifically thinking and praying for her, and through the love and support of her family, that Josefa will come to know her value - her great, unquantifiable value.

As I figure out how and where to get involved, there is one important way that I can help out in the meanwhile: I have a voice. I can use it on behalf of women everywhere whose voices have not yet been heard. The power of a collective voice should never be underestimated.

My encouragement for you is to also share your voice - men and women, alike. Start a conversation - anywhere, with anybody. Use your voice, get somebody's attention. Then maybe that person will get another person's attention and so on, until we have the world's attention and everybody will know that we will no longer abide violence against women.

So listen up, World. We're ready to be heard.


Women In Prison: A Fact Sheet, provided by Amnesty International.

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Am Not Charlotte Lucas

(Images via here and here.)

Today is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, as I'm sure you've already learned if you've spent any time on the internet today, and in honor of this celebrated occasion, I wanted to add my own voice to the surplus of Austenian commentary.

My first (recollected) introduction to Pride and Prejudice was via the BBC adaptation starring Colin Firth, a favorite of my father's, during my early high school years. However, it was not until I was 17 when I first cracked open the novel to end all novels in my romantic teenaged heart. Having recently experienced my first heartbreak, I was primed for the wit of Lizzy, the absurdity of Mr Collins, Mr Darcy's heartfelt declarations of love (both of them), and the idea that true love can prevail over all adversity. Nothing is more appealing to an impressionable young woman than a witty, opinionated, independent heroine who wins the devoted love of the greatest gentleman in the county (read: most popular guy at school), who is also an upstanding person in possession of a kind and generous heart. Pride and Prejudice was like catnip to my nerdy high school heart.

I not only loved Lizzy Bennet, I wanted to be her. And for the next several years, I truly felt like I was her. I took total ownership of Lizzy in my heart, framing my own sense of humor after hers - ironic, challenging, though I'm afraid my humor has a bit more bite to it (consider it a natural progression based on the times) - and learning to observe the world around me, satirizing it in my mind with an eye for the ridiculous. I'm even self-aware enough to be honest in that I share many of Lizzy's flaws, including a stubborn streak and disinclination to accept another person's point of view if it does not match my own. (I'm working on it.)

I've even kept an eye out for a dashing stranger to whom I could take an immediately disliking to based on a slight against my vanity, then through great trial and upheaval, fall madly in love and get married in a double ceremony with my sister and her beau. No such luck there, unfortunately. (I haven't got a sister.)

Adopting Lizzy's personality was mostly successful for the first few years, but time, with it's unfortunate tendency to pass, has caught up with me. I'm no longer a lively 20 year-old, but a woman of 28 (soon to be 29) years. Now, when I revisit my favorite story through either film or novel, I often catch myself identifying not with our darling Lizzy but with poor Charlotte Lucas.

What's happened to me?! (If there is any circumstance that calls for an interrobang, it's this one.)

In the novel, at 27, Charlotte Lucas is "on the shelf," with very little opportunity to make a decent marriage, which would otherwise leave her completely dependent upon her family for the rest of her life, be a laughing stock as an "Old Maid", and never enjoy the comforts (ie independence) of having her own home. With little to no prospects on the horizon, Charlotte agrees to marry Mr Collins without hesitation. Does she love him? Of course not, but what choice does she have? She wants a home, a sense of purpose and identity, which Mr Collins can provide.

Lizzy, of course, is aghast, but she would be. Lizzy is notorious for her iron sense of will and independent spirit, which Charlotte clearly does not possess, but is most likely quite envious of. To Lizzy, marriage without love is out of the question, because her very nature is opposite to that kind of conformity. She is consistently rebuked for her opinions (if not for having them, for freely expressing them), and it is clear that she finds great pleasure in challenging the status quo. To Lizzy, settling would never be an option.

But what else does Lizzy have that Charlotte does not? The luxury of youth. Lizzy's idealism is as much a product of her youth as it is her general personality. Charlotte, on the other hand, has several years on Lizzy and the maturity to understand that love is not always a requirement for marriage.

Naturally, all of this is in the context of pre-Victorian England during the early 1800s with which the novel takes place. A far cry from 21st century America.

Like I said, I'm 28, about to be 29, and at a stage in my life where the majority of my friends are married, making their first contributions to the baby boom, and buying their first homes. I own a cat.

On my bad days, I feel a lot like Charlotte - getting closer and closer to 30 (which feels like The End), watching all my friends find happiness, while the best suitors I get put even Mr Collins in a respectable light. Did I squander my time as Lizzy and let Mr Darcy slip through my fingers, now cursed to spent the rest of my days as Charlotte, in a loveless, ridiculous marriage?

The older I get, the more I start to question my notions of relationships and marriages and wonder if the things I prioritize in a relationship are the things that are really needed to have a successful marriage. Arranged marriages start looking rather attractive once I start going down this line of thought.

And then I slap myself.

I am not Charlotte Lucas. I am not necessarily Lizzy Bennet either, but I am definitely not Charlotte Lucas. Charlotte comes from a time where women had basically no chance of advancing in the world through any means other than marriage. Charlotte could never forgo marriage, move to London, get a job doing something she loves, and spend the rest of her days living how she desires, with or without a man. England and the society of that era would never allow it.

Lucky for me, I can do just that if I so well please. So what, I'm not married, don't own a house, and don't have anybody relying on me as their sole source of nourishment. I have the luxury of living in a time and place where women are independent, can make their own choices, and seek their own happiness.

It's time to stop thinking of 28 as being past my expiration date. Just because I'm not married yet, doesn't mean I won't marry. I have all the time in the world to find my Mr Darcy and until such a time, I plan on making the most of the freedoms of my era, in whatever ways I see fit.

If you find yourself making the same mistake as me, thinking you're a Charlotte, take a step back and consider all the advantages you have at your fingertips. You don't have to settle for anything, least of all for being like Charlotte. Our happiness is our to create and lucky for us, we don't need a husband's signature to do it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bucket List: Club 33

In my last post, I mentioned that my 2013 mantra was to "Get it Done", referring to all the things I've wanted to do but, for whatever reason (mostly laziness), have made excuses not to do. This concept is something that I've been working on for months, even during last year while making good on 2012's mantra of "Make it Happen." A big part of my "Get it Done" plan is to work on my Bucket List.

In case you've been living in a well in the ground, a bucket list is a list of all the things you want to do/accomplish before you die, or (in more morbid terms) "kick the bucket." Often, a bucket list comes into play after somebody has received life altering news, such as discovering they have terminal cancer. That kind of eye opener really changes how you view the world and how you want to experience it, spurring you to go after your dreams like you've got nothing to lose.

We can all take a lesson from the people who really embrace life and live every moment to the fullest, to not take anything for granted. In that vein, I think, when it comes to bucket lists, why wait? Don't wait for tragedy to strike and give you a reason to go after what you want. Do it now and when your time comes (hopefully after a very long and fulfilling life), you won't have any regrets.

As an inaugural bucket list post, I wanted to get the ball rolling with an amazing experience I had last June. I've been absolutely remiss in my blogging, especially that it's taken me well over 6 months to report back on my incredible dinner at Club 33. (For a detailed history on Club 33, please visit this site.)

I remember hanging out with my best friend many, many years ago, Facebook stalking people (naturally), and coming across an old friend from high school who had posted pictures from her own visit to Club 33. We were blown away, realizing for the first time that plebeians such as ourselves could ever merit an entrance to the most exclusive restaurant at Disneyland. Club 33 jumped to the top of both of our bucket lists that day. For most Disney aficionados, a visit to Club 33 is the crown victory of all Disney experiences.

It was my greatest pleasure to be able to make that dream come true for myself and my best friend. I happened to have worked for a major corporation that owned a membership to Club 33 and once I discovered that exciting little piece of news, it was all I could do not to beg my boss for a reservation. (Truth be told: there was some begging.)

But you don't really care about this, do you? You just want to get to the photos of one of the most exclusive venues in all of California. (Fair warning, the following is photo-heavy, slightly out of order, and not of the greatest quality, I'm no professional photographer, but you should get a decent idea of how great Club 33 is.)

On opening day in 1955, Disneyland patrons came wearing their Sunday best, including high heels for the ladies. It was my best friend's dream to wear heels on Main St., USA just like those who came before us. Another box checked for unique Disney experiences.

It was my singular goal to ring the door bell at 33 Royal St. There was another party who arrived when we did and the hostess was gracious enough to let the other party in first, then humor us as we rang the bell. Goofy, but that's how I roll at Disneyland.

The view from our table, overlooking the River of America, and the french elevator that takes you up to the dining areas. You could also take the stairs, but I recommend the elevator, which was a replica of one Walt himself saw while on a trip to France.

A bit of the dining room and the decor, very classy.

The greatest people you'll ever meet.

As of June 2012, there were two menus: the Vintner menu, with specific courses, or an open menu that you could choose from. We all went with the Vintner menu, without the wine, and the chef even made special accommodations for my best friends, who are vegetarians. The staff at Club 33 will go out of their way to make your stay as magical as possible.

My dinner was absolutely delicious. Everything was cooked to perfection; I even willing ate seafood and liked it! I do not think you could go wrong with anything on the menu, but I really enjoyed everything that was served on the Vintner menu. I highly recommend going that route, as you get a little taste of everything.

Club 33 is the only restaurant at Disneyland that serves alcohol; having a cocktail was definitely a requisite part of the evening. We were also given complimentary shots on the house, and although none of us are big drinkers, we definitely appreciated the special gesture. Also, we decided it was prudent to have second desserts as the dessert menu is beyond decadent, it's obscene with deliciousness.

The ladies room at Club 33. I really couldn't resist taking photos in here. Nor absconding with a handful of monogrammed Club 33 hand paper towels. No shame here.

On the walls you'll find original concept art from Mary Poppins, The Happiest Millionaire, original photos featuring Walt Disney, as well as concept art for Sleeping Beauty's castle. There are also original prop pieces from the films, such as the table featuring the two vases under the castle artwork, which is from Mary Poppins, and the phone booth, which is from The Happiest Millionaire.

These are photos of the Trophy Room, a separate dining room, meant to resemble a gentleman's lounge.

Through door #1 leads to my favorite ride of all, Pirates of the Caribbean. Next time you're on the ride and are passing by the Blue Bayou restaurant, look up at the balcony to where the wicker chairs are. That door you see? It leads straight into Club 33!

After dinner, we were able to go out onto the balcony and watch Fantasmic! and the fireworks, as well as people watch. Having spent years on the ground and looking up at those balconies, wondering how I could get up there, I feel very accomplished having made it after all.

We had an amazing server, Chase, who made our night so special by bringing us Club 33 swag and tolerating our paparazzi-like tendencies (we unashamedly took photos of everything). Our night would not have been as amazing if it weren't for him!

After several hours (and trust me, we dragged it out for as long as possible), we eventually had to bid adieu to Club 33. With pretend tears, we said farewell, but not goodbye, as we will definitely be figuring out another way to once again enjoy the magic of Club 33.

(*Photos provided by myself and Kimberly Williams)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wanted: Dream Job

Wanted: Dream Job, via.

Last August, my place of employment was bought out by another company that is based out of Ohio. For several months, my coworkers and I speculated that they would certainly close up shop in California due to the high cost of doing business in this state. Our fears were confirmed at the beginning of December when we were given our notice. As of March 1st, I will no longer be employed. Cue desperation.

Today's job market is not much better than when it was at its worst a few years ago, especially in California. The end of the year/start of the next is a notoriously poor time to find a job as most places haven't confirmed their budget for the next year. Although jobs may be posted, employers aren't really entertaining any thoughts of interviewing until they are certain the job will be funded. Cue panic.

I'm in an interesting place as far as my career goes: I don't really have one. I am in possession of two science degrees but I quickly discovered that, after a stint doing cancer research, science is not where my passions lie. I love words; I want to write. The jobs I'm interested in are in publishing. I think I'd be great as an Editorial Assistant, I'm just a tough sell because of my strange education/work background and lack of the catch-all English/Literature degree. Going back to school isn't a feasible option for me right now, since I'm still trying to pay off my other two degrees. Adding a third just seems greedy.

I'm doing my best to stay positive and I'm sending applications/resumes out everywhere. I'm not the type to put all my eggs in one basket, to my mother's relief, and I'm entertaining jobs outside of my preferred field as well. When it comes down to it, I've got bills to pay and I'll get it done - whatever it takes.

To keep my spirits high, I've made an excellent list of my dream jobs below. Everybody has a list of those jobs that they think they would absolutely love and be killer at, but truly have no chance of ever becoming due to lack of transferable skills - ie rock singer, space cowboy, double agent for the CIA (I'd kill to be Sydney Bristow).


My Dream Jobs:

Staff Writer for a Sit-Com. Maybe it's because I've been listening to a lot of audiobooks by comediennes, but I would seriously love to be a staff writer for a tv show like Modern Family or The Office. The hyberbolic realism of these kinds of shows are so completely on par with my own semi-ironic-but-no-I-kinda-mean-it sense of humor, we'd be a great, no, fantastic fit. I haven't tackled screen writing yet, but I do live in LA and the starving artist that I'm aspiring to be has to write at least one screen play in her lifetime. Did I mention I live in a loft addition that is more or less a garret? I'm practically there!

Body Double. Even living in LA, I have mostly been immune to the Hollywood influence, with no real desire to Be A Star. Granted, I used to parade around my house when I was 14 emphatically trying to convince my parents that I had "Star Quality", even as I possessed no discernable talent apart from being a world class pain. This eventually turned out to be your standard, run-of-the-mill teenage egocentrism that is quickly squashed by the time junior year rolls around and you still haven't been kissed. That's when the Tortured Artist phase begin. Still waiting to grow out of that one.

No, I've mostly disregarded any real desire to be a famous singer/actress/model/athlete. However, the film process has always been a fascinating topic to me. I often enjoy the behind the scenes special features on a DVD more than the actual film. Anything that gets me a glimpse into the actual cogs of a working film is like catnip, I can't resist it. So, secretly, of course, I have kinda, sorta, always wanted to be a body double. I'm practically average in every way (a pseudo-mediocre Mary Poppins, if you will), including: height, weight, hair and eye color, etc. I'm moderately athletic, so with a bit of training and conditioning, I could probably wield a sword convincingly enough, ride a horse, fall off a tall building, or get blown away by an explosion with minimal to no harm to myself. I think I would rock at it, actually. I'm not afraid of much in terms of physical activity - I'll climb anything, seriously - and I'm not freaked out by gross stuff, I'll sit in a vat of mud if I have to. I'm extremely reluctant to do any nudity, which is probably why I'll never be a body double. Right, that's why my body double career would never work out . . .

I've actually been told on several occassions that I have a passing resemblance to Anne Hathaway, and my aunt is convinced I should be her body double. I would gladly volunteer to do so! (She does her own nude work, so I'm totally set.)

Kinda, sorta? AH photos via here and here.

Voice Actor. Okay, so maybe I lied about not really wanting to be an actor. I don't, not really. Put me on a stage and I'll clam up tighter than Scrooge McDuck's wallet. But voice acting for cartoons or reading audibooks? Sign me up! I already have a voice that sounds childish, often cartoonish (from what I'm able to discern from hearing myself on camera/voice mail, etc), I have even been weirdly complimented on my voice from a stranger in a Communications class I took in college. I'd need to work on my ability to create different voices for different characters, but again, I think I'd enjoy this career enormously.

Travel Correspondent. A la Samantha Brown. She has the best job. I love traveling and would find such great pleasure in learning about different cultures, exploring different cities, and reporting back my findings. I'm not the biggest foodie, but I'd give it the old college try if it meant I could travel anywhere in the world on somebody else's dime. I'd even eat raw fish, which is a HUGE concession for anyone who knows me. I think she's freelancing right now, but Samantha is about to give birth to twins, which will keep her fairly busy for quite a few months. I volunteer to cover any assignment that she is unable to complete. Please?

Meteorologist. Not really, but I do think they're kind of cool. They're the psychics of the science world. What other job lets you make wild Nostradamus-like predictions about the weather with limited accuracy or results, and still get paid?

I could totally do that.


It may appear that I'm joking around and not wholly serious about any of these jobs - which is mostly true - but if there's a casting director or agency reading this and want to have a conversation about any of the above opportunities, I will gladly sit down with you and explore my options. No, really.

Until then, I'll hang in there and, with a little hard work and some luck, I'll get the job I've been dreaming of.

Someday, via.