Saturday, August 20, 2016

Female Friendship: Exemplars

I've written about Patriarchal sisterhood, the ways in which women are turned against each other, even in the closest familiar relationships.

Here’s the truth: friendships between women are often the deepest and most profound love stories, but they are often discussed as if they are ancillary, “bonus” relationships to the truly important ones. Women’s friendships outlast jobs, parents, husbands, boyfriends, lovers, and sometimes children. -- The Rumpus, Emily Rapp 

I also have begun to tackle ideas of a better sisterhood and friendship, the ways in which women can help and support each other.

I've read a lot about the women who founded Black Lives Matter, the ways in which black women supported each other in order to create a grass roots movement about improving community relationships. I'm certainly not at that level, but I think it's an exemplar of what women can do when we work together and build on each other's ideas.

In the early history of the Women's Liberation movement we can find the focus on decentralized friendship and consciousness raising through sharing experiences among a gaggle of united women. The movement didn't focus on a singular leader, allowing women to collaborate in an organic way, like the amoeba with natural exponential growth.

One narrative reading that affected me, especially as a young person beginning my career and activism was this story, of a woman who met a cohort of older and more experienced women. The way that Emily was able to learn from them, be guided and supported, while also giving her energy to a shared cause was something that resonated with me.

What I realized, sitting there, was that these women had been in these kinds of emotionally challenging situations for over 20 years. Together. They understood, together, as friends, and apart, as individuals in the world, the urgency of compassion, and that it often goes unnoticed but that this doesn’t make it any less important or vital or difficult to sustain and cultivate. And they also understood that you could try as hard as you possibly could, and disaster could still strike – mercilessly. Without warning, without fairness, and with fatal consequences.

I joined a few online groups that allow me to speak and think with women. Sisters send each other notes of love and support when we describe our challenges. Elder women advise younger ones on the strength inside of our hearts and minds, the resillience of the female to continue through struggles that our fore-mothers have survived; they share the tricks gained through experience. Young women share the silly Buzzfeed posts that give giggles and reality check the hurt of male negation.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Police Round up

I listened to the Democracy Now podcast for August 3rd. They had a lot to say about the resignation of Chief Bill Bratton.

It's been a long time coming; what's truly amazing is how normalized these aspects of police violence are like stop and frisk. I remember when I first watch this video and was aghast.

Now we have to be grateful for police offering to wear body cameras, cameras that open a whole host of privacy issues, security storage issues, and finally seem to mysteriously turn off when actually needed.

I don't know if Black Lives Matter's or the Million Man's March platform directly lead to the resignation of the chief architect of a form of police surveillance. But I think that the stakes are too high for us to stop marching and protesting.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

So, I have a job at Boston University in the Development and Alumni Relations’ Research.
You can read my cover letter for my application, to get a sense of how I described both my previous experience from working during college and my current experience of working part time. I can go into more detail on the experience of writing dozens of cover letters or provide a tableau of them if it would be helpful. I spent a lot of time tailoring my cover letters to the position I was applying to. Often I went line by line between my resume and the job requirements. Certainly, working as a temp gave me a sense of how Boston University described its goals, such as their focus on the current campaign fundraising goal or wiki-databases. But most of the cover letter was focused on the tasks listed in the job posting.
Research coordinator positions can cover a broad range of tasks, especially as clinical research coordinators, development research coordinators, and project research coordinators have completely different areas of focus. A decent description of my job can be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook. I find the handbook to be really helpful for both salary and responsibility descriptions. Reading the descriptions, I often direct my focus on duties based on whether the position is in federal, non-profit, academic, or profit.

Fundraising managers typically do the following:

  • Manage progress towards achieving an organization’s fundraising goals
  • Develop and carry out fundraising strategies
  • Identify and contact potential donors
  • Create and plan different events that can generate donations
  • Meet face-to-face with highly important donors
  • Apply for grants
  • Assign, supervise, and review the activities of staff
Neither my job duties nor my salary are quite so expansive. Maybe with a promotion! My job is a mix of the above and an Administrative Service Managerposition. I do a lot to maintain records and the daily running of the office.
My research coordinator position focuses on the research needs of the Development researchers, researchers who focus on identifying potential donors and tracking the likelihood of giving. I also cover some tasks similar to a clinical research coordinator in that I manage several large subscription and database services. I do also manage the budget for the department with the oversight of the director and the assistance of the sourcing and procurement teams. Unlike a clinical research coordinator, I don’t have to balance research grants; that falls to another member of the Development team. Managing paper files is also a large part of my job. These paper files are used by researchers and prospect managers to find information on previous correspondence, promises to give, and fund updates.
Really, these paper files are a very large part of my job. Data and record keeping are critical for financial and privacy reasons. I’d really like to improve some aspects of the record keeping. I do my best to pay attention to how people use the files I’m in charge of, so that I can be vigilant for changes that could be helpful and cost-effective.
What can be strange is that I’m very used to academic and non-profit workplaces due to my experience at MIT and at museums in D.C. and Boston. But Boston University is not only a different place; I’m in a different position within the higher education field. The Development field is kind of a mix of these two areas, the lofty goals of funding new research to solve big problems and the lowly limited budgets found outside of industry. Plus, fundraisers do brush elbows with donors and travel to meet international parents, but researchers type away and pour over FEC filings. I do like the work, especially the balance of personality and workplace found by going across some of these boundaries.
Another part of my job?


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Being your best self: Curation

I know that I seem to constantly come back to my goals and attempts to improve myself.
I hope that it's helpful to see how much of a task it is, something that must be constantly brought into awareness with purpose.

Part of being the best version of yourself is curation. I mean curation in two ways
  1. Exhibiting the best parts of yourself
  2. Silencing the worst parts of yourself
So here's a bit of part 2

Curation and Honesty

Geek x Girls has a comic about part two. The Three-A-Negroes has a whole section on their podcast for times people have failed at part two.
I think we're all familiar with this in professional environments.

Maybe we love to sit on our couch at home, sprawled out in our jammies as we stuff chocolate into our mouth. But we're not going to do that while in the middle of an interview or a conference at work. That's not dishonestly. That's simply comporting ourselves appropriately for our goals and the situation at hand.
I think most people have had at least one friend who uses honesty as a front to say hurtful things. As the comic points out, when this hurtful friend does have something meaningful or constructive to say, we've gotten so used to tuning them out. Of course, we don't want to be that person!
We can translate this to our daily life. For example, writing this blog, I have drafted ranting complaining posts and then deleted them. I've curated content here that helps both readers and myself to have a positive look towards life. We can't move forward if we're constantly using our energy to look back and complain about how hard the journey is.

Curation and History

The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) had an exhibit that had a controversy around the curation. The exhibit, The West as America, gave an accurate if politically charged view of how America has represented itself and the westward expansion of white settlers into occupied Native lands. You can read more about the controversy at the SAAM here. 
While I wasn't at the SAAM while this happened, I did hear about the controversy. 
Whether the curator made the right choices about the exhibit, the institution has remembered the way the exhibit's honesty was perceived. The Smithsonian wisely has chosen to learn from the experience and controversy. Even when tackling politically charged issues such as the mistreatment of Indigenous people, the Smithsonian is careful to portray the issue honestly and leave room for guests to have a positive experience of the museum. 
Again, being your best self doesn't mean hiding your morals or ignoring the truth. In those situations, rare and difficult, that a hard truth must be vocalized, your best self will find a way to curate a positive message. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Millennial Entitlement: Meet Reality, Old People

I am so sick and tired of people calling my generation entitled.
You know what, I am entitled.
  • I don't think that people should be fired (or worse killed) because they aren't sufficiently subservient to power.
  • I do think that if you work hard, you should have enough money and stability to live comfortably.
Interviews with Border Patrol Agents - Chet Wilson and Jim Runyan
Interviews with Border Patrol Agents - Chet Wilson and Jim Runyan
These are not big things to feel entitled to: these are the foundations of the America that was preached to me for the 20 years I grew up. And who was preaching it to me? The same people who now what to call me entitled for believing their words about a meritocracy. These aren't new expectations:
For an America of vision that sees tomorrow's dreams in the learning and hard work we do today; (Reagan Presidential speach 1985)
I don't expect to be handed something for nothing. Like most young people, I simply think that hard work and honesty should be rewarded.
We can help teenagers, who have the highest unemployment rate, find summer jobs, so they can know the pride of work and have confidence in their futures. (Reagan Presidential speach 1985)
I did my unpaid summer internship, which even Reagan would have expected to be a paid job. I did this unpaid work after putting in the academic work+luck of getting into a premiere university. Even this  recognition was devalued as "affirmative action."
I've even given up the dream of home ownership after reading about the increasing price of homes in Cambridge, Boston, New York, Portland, D.C. and most major cities that could employ me. I mean, even Reagan thought that home ownership wasn't too far an opportunity to dream of, but I've taken the millennial hit and given it up.
It's time that all public housing residents have that opportunity of ownership. (Reagan Presidential speach 1985)
So what are the entitlements of my generation?
  1. Job
  2. Job
  3. Job that covers expenses
  4. Job
  5. Job stability???
IMG_2253Like, literally that it: Millennials want to be able to get a job after spending an average of $35,000 to get a college degree (WSJ blog). We'd like that job to pay for our basic expenses, an apartment shared with roommates, groceries with the occasional trip to a farmer's market, not even cable just Netflix.
Even adjusted for inflation, that’s still more than twice the amount borrowers had to pay back two decades earlier. [...] “It’s unfortunate that college costs are going up and the student aid, the grants, are not going up at the same rate on a per student basis,” Mr. Kantrowitz said. “College is becoming less and less affordable, though it’s still just as necessary.” (WSJ blog)
Here's the real kicker about being called entitled:
The person who is calling me entitled probably received their wealth, stability, and success because of the racist history of the building of suburbia and white wealth.
Wealth is not just about luxury. It plays a significant role in shaping a family's life chances and creating opportunities - in ways we often don't notice. [...]
Government housing programs and policies helped generate much of the wealth that so many white American families enjoy today. By lowering down payment requirements and extending the term of home loans from 5 to 30 years, revolutionary New Deal programs like the Federal Housing Administration made it possible for millions of average Americans to own a home for the first time.
But the government also set up a national neighborhood appraisal system that explicitly tied mortgage eligibility to race. Integrated and minority communities were ipso facto deemed a financial risk and made ineligible for low-cost home loans, a policy known today as "redlining." Between 1934 and 1962, the federal government backed $120 billion of home loans. More than 98% went to white homebuyers. (PBS - RACE the power of an illusion)
Conversely, the same person telling me, a foster care alumni and mulatto who has paid her own way through college, that I'm entitled since I expect a job once I graduate, is probably not voicing this same message to a white kid who's an Ivy league legacy with a stable family background that doesn't qualify for federal aid.
See, I know that every generation thinks that the next generation is full of deadbeats and utopianists.
Photo on 12-10-14 at 12.55 PM
But there's something particularly virulent about the discourse in the mainstream about Millennial entitlement.
I think that a lot of the bite of this discourse is that we are now talking about a large group of minority youth who feel emboldened to flex their due rights.
  • Black and Latin@ people expecting their slice of the American pie!
  • Young kids who speak languages, C++, Java, HTML, even chatspeak, along with the Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and more that older generations haven't bothered to learn!
  • Affluent white kids who have tattoos, gauges, piercings and who expect to be taken seriously despite having markers that older generations associate with poor minorities!
  • Black "entitlement" to life, due process, and a view of the American dream without the obscuring violence of the Confederate flag!
All of these entitlements challenge fundamental assumptions about who deserves what, who can claim an American identity and the rights that come with it.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


My biological mother passed away.

Although my relationship with her is complicated, I'm going to miss her. She was my link to my grand parents who loved me dearly.

My mother gave me a lot, a strong sense of justice and a desire to understand the complex patterns that make up the world.

Well, that and a love of cats!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Blogging Update

I've realized that there are a lot of blogging features that I don't use.
And that's stupid.
Really what I do is create good content that interests me. It's pretty narrowly focused; I think I do have something of an established type or style of post here. 
The content is good and I put a lot of work into this blog.
But somehow no one is reading it. 
I guess I've always known that there's more information on the internet than one person can really sort through. Finding good content is like finding a needle in a haystack. Harder still if the content is unpromoted. Maybe it's more like trying to find a needle in a haystack while someone keep suggesting you look in the manure pile. Unless you have adblock.
So I want to try to figure out a way tor really promote and earn from the content I put out. I've put in a lot of time, at this point, I've been blogging for several years with decent consistency. 

I'm also changing that brand of content a little bit. I'm trying to focus on showing my progress in more fields: I want to give specific examples of how I've improved academically and professionally. 
As always, I'm working to produce and display more of my art work. I've been making decent progress about taking more photographs. I'm really glad to say that I've made records of more happy memories since starting this blog. Also, I want to show the art work that I'm producing, including each step of the production process. I think that this is helpful to me because I'm reminded to be conscious of my choices. And it's helpful to you, dear reader, because you can literally see the progress I am making and use those techniques (or mistakes) to edify yourself.