• Damn the Man,  Writing

    Choices

    Thursday Morning As I take attendance, my voice rolls out just like my high school theatre teacher taught me. “Enunciate to the back row,” I can hear her booming in her high, clear voice. That voice still rattles around in my head, reminding me how to project and how to capture the attention of a room. Unfortunately, the buzzing in the classroom muffles the sound of students announcing their presence. Sounds do not carry well in this room. Some of the ceiling tiles are missing, and there are enough layers of paint on the windows to make opening them an Olympic feat–a feat I attempt every day to atone for the lack…

  • Damn the Man,  This is Me

    New Year: Anew

    It made sense to end the year as it had gone on. So much pain last year needed acknowledgment. As much as I enjoy star shine and buttercups, it would have been wrong to paint opalescence over the chaos. But now that the wind has died down, the shelling has quelled, I survey the rubble and see what’s left. Good things happen in the midst of turmoil. I see a glint of red amidst the gray–it is the capability of action. Fear, so much fear, held me back from taking risks for many years. The freedom of having little left to lose dissolved that fear like acid. Strangely, I am fundamentally changed. I take…

  • Damn the Man,  This is Me

    Employment. Finally.

    I have a job now. I blinked my eyes forcefully and next thing I knew I was filling out HR forms and getting a TB test. In fact, it happened almost by accident. After completing my annual exercise in futility, i.e., applying for teaching jobs all over the Southland, I pushed aside my fear and asked a friend from grad school how she got her job and if she could pass along any words of wisdom. Only a few emails later and the school called me in for an interview, hiring me within five minutes of interviewing. I left the room feeling immensely giddy and slightly confused in my uncomfortable suit. I have…a job?…

  • Damn the Man

    Racism, White People & Ferguson

    White people like to pretend that racism doesn’t exist anymore. I was taught, as a child, to not see skin color. We are all the same, I was told. We judge based not on the color of one’s skin, but on the content of their character, ad nauseam. So I tried not to see what was apparent. I constructed a dichotomy in my perception of people; what I saw, and what I was supposed to see. This voluntary blindness blinded me to the truth, that people are different, and people with skin colors other than white have very different experiences of America. It shames me to say that in my youth, I…

  • Damn the Man,  SoCal

    The L.A. Scene

    One of the great injustices in the current unemployed’s list of hoops through which to jump is the new-and-improved prospective employee-vetting process. Yeah, they ask for normal things like your resume and portfolio, but they also ask for the equivalent of a college admission essay and “what makes you interesting in 140 characters or less.” In the past I’ve tried to make myself sound more interesting than I am by detailing exactly how much coffee I consume on a daily basis, but so far no takers. For one particular job in media I saw the other day, the prospective employer requested I list my favorite magazines and newspapers, just to demonstrate that I am “with it” as…

  • Damn the Man,  Depression is a Bitch

    Not Waving But Drowning

    Walking usually boosts my mood, but today the walk is a mistake. My forehead glistens with sweat and my skin feels like a droplet of icy water might sizzle on it, like a searing griddle. The temperature makes the air seem white, as if bleached by too much L.A. sun. One minute I am walking my dog around the neighborhood, trying to smother the invasive thoughts with an inspirational podcast that I listen to like it’s my daily dose of Zoloft. The next minute I am drowning. My chest constricts and the memory of advanced pneumonia covers my vision with its wet fingers. I slow my walk to a halt and the dog…

  • Alcohol and Sobriety,  Damn the Man,  Depression is a Bitch

    Baking on a Friday Night

    I don’t know if I’ve told you this, but when I’m stressed out, I bake. Sometimes cookies or bread, but more often than not, I bake complex items that take on lives of their own. Dishes with several well-timed steps that take hours to bake, chill, whip and beat into submission. It’s like choosing a geometric theorem over simple addition; it takes every ounce of concentration, so there’s no room in my brain to fret and run my worries over and over like a hamster wheel. So, when I’m stressed out, I bake. This is why I have a platter of chocolate mousse in my refrigerator, why I have a tiny mountain of scones…

  • Damn the Man

    Rejection Haikus, or Yeah, I Could Be a Mime

    I am not good at taking rejection. It’s one reason why I never asked anybody out in high school (or ever), why I went to a local school instead of putting my hat in the ring for a more prestigious university, why I am always super-nice to people, even when I don’t like them. (Except you. I totally like you.) This is why I chose to go into writing. It’s such a supportive, warm-and-fuzzy ambition with little possibility of rejection. So I’m not really upset I didn’t get this job I interviewed for on Wednesday. Really, I’m not. An hour-and-a-half commute into the heart of L.A. – or as I affectionately…

  • Damn the Man,  The Sacred Arts

    A Grown-Up Job

    $13/hr. One week vacation the first year. Overtime expected. Looking for a go-getter with a can-do attitude, 5+ years of experience. Send us resume and cover letter explaining what makes you stand out from the crowd. What is it with employers these days? I think to myself as I scroll through the 5th job board of the day. I spend most days jumping through elaborate hoops, with a folder of 12 different resumes, 12 cover letters, 2 portfolios, 5 salary histories and 1 list of references, only to not hear back from 99.99% of places I contact. I keep a spreadsheet of every place and position for which I apply, so I…

  • Damn the Man,  This is Me

    My Dammit List

    I’ve been meaning to write this for years, since before starting this blog. However, I resisted for a long time. Partly from fear, partly because words have power and I’m afraid of speaking something I can’t take back, and partly from vague notions that I’m still figuring it out. See, I’ve always been sort of a boundary-less person, someone who compromises herself in the face of stronger personalities and perhaps economic necessity. But I don’t like this about myself. I wasn’t always this way, but years of muckety-muck and you develop some gnarly coping mechanisms. I transform myself so I don’t get hurt. Believe me, defense mechanisms that rob you…

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