• 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?…

  • Adventureland!,  Off to See the World,  This is Me,  Writing

    The Un-Recap BlogHer Recap

    I arrived alone, and I left alone. In between I built on past relationships and set the foundation for new ones, but ultimately it was me. Alone. Like I am all day, every day. Just me. Instead of sharing a hotel room with another blogger like last year, I stayed with family members who happened to live five minutes away from the convention center. It was the only way I could afford to attend this year’s BlogHer, cutting corners and accepting hospitality. Ultimately, this fostered relationships with relatives I only get to see infrequently, so I didn’t mind in the slightest that I was away from the hub of excitement.…

  • Alcohol and Sobriety,  Family Dynamics,  This is Me

    I Would Change My Name

    I was starting to realize I always notice smells. This room smelled of bureaucratic dust and the yeasty, lingeringly angry odor of people standing in line all day, exactly how I imagined the county recorder’s office to smell. We stood right up front, because we made sure to get here just as the building opened. Warned of the epic wait times in Los Angeles municipal buildings, a lifetime of lengthy DMV lines and once, a four-hour wait to apply for SNAP benefits, had prepared us. I had taken the morning off work and met my future husband here, this beige hub of government business. Paperwork must be filed, names must be changed, and this…

  • 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…

  • This is Me

    Stretching the Truth

    I had been looking forward to today for months: the End of the Year Fifth Grade Swim Party Extravaganza Spectacular at the city’s community pool. I was a good swimmer who knew how to dive, and I looked forward to showing off my mad aquatic skills in front of the entire class. Plus, there was a diving board, which was so cool there was no way to begin to explain how cool it was.  My eleven-year-old mind couldn’t fathom anything better than an entire school day in the water. We could shed our student masks and just be ourselves for a whole day. My wiry limbs felt like they would rocket…

  • Damn the Man,  This is Me

    Where The Heck Have I Been? A Story In Graphs

    By now, you’ve noticed I haven’t been blogging as much. Lately, once a week is about all I can manage. Why, you ask? Well, I have a convenient chart ready that explains where my time has gone and simultaneously demonstrates my bomb Excel skills. Where Natalie Spends Her Time Hm. Something’s not right. I didn’t include some of the other stuff, like forgetting important dates, crying about it, and not cleaning my house. So I just made another chart. Other Important Ways Natalie Spends Her Time Okay, this one’s not entirely accurate. There were a few hours on Valentine’s Day when I needed to not work and you know, spend…

  • Ovid Quote
    Alcohol and Sobriety,  Damn the Man,  This is Me

    How I Talk Myself Down: An Unemployment Checklist

    There comes a time in every job search when you start awakening with a start in the middle of the night, covered in a sheen of sweat and vague recollections of a nightmare about working at Starbucks and maybe at some point you were bottle-feeding a kitten that morphs into a baby piglet. This time usually coincides with the last few weeks of your unemployment checks, right around the time you’re cataloguing every mistake you made looking for freelance work during the past seven months and my God, why didn’t you apply for all the jobs, just to be safe? Gentle hints from loved ones about maybe getting a full-time job…

  • Alcohol and Sobriety,  Damn the Man,  This is Me

    The Art of Holding Back

    Looking back, I’m not sure why I was so nervous. Maybe it’s because it was my first “real” job after rehab and the wounds of alcoholism were still too raw, my self-image tender and peeling. Maybe it’s because I hadn’t worked at an office in three years, since getting laid off right before the recession. Maybe it was being one of two women in a roomful of construction men who bandied about casual insults like they were NERF balls. In any case, I was the low woman on the totem pole and grateful to have work at all after nine months scrambling frantically for any scrap of employment that didn’t…

  • Damn the Man,  Depression is a Bitch,  This is Me

    A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Work Today

    A funny thing happened on the way to work this morning. And by “on the way to work,” of course I mean walking the twelve steps from the coffee maker to my desk still clad in my pajamas. Let me set the scene for you: Late Wednesday I lost a copywriting contract that was important to me. It was steady, well-paying work that I enjoyed doing – the first time in my entire life I did something at which I excel in exchange for monetary compensation. I didn’t do anything wrong, it was just one of those downsizing things that have become an integral part of this post-apocalyptic economy. I’m no…

  • The Sacred Arts,  This is Me

    Advanced Conversational Spanish

    “¿Qué piensa usted del evento en la página cuatro?” I caught the last words, “page four,” and ruffled through La Opinión as I translated the rest in my head. There was a distinct pause as I flipped through the pages of my mental Spanish dictionary: “Piensa” = “pensar” = to think. She’s asking what we think about something on page four… By the time I mastered that verbal trickery, the other students were already chatting in blurring machine gun staccato. I tried valiantly to translate every tenth or fifteenth word using my handy yet admittedly slim mental dictionary. DOS booting up in the early nineties was faster than my memory retrieval. This is…

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