Sunday, October 28, 2018


**Disclaimer** This isn't the easiest subject to write about. This is strictly personal. I accept feedback and constructive criticism. I'm not pointing any fingers, just trying to point out what I see. 

Written October 6th, 2018:
I have given many hours of thought to this topic in the last few days, though the essence of it has followed me since before I became aware of my own privilege—which honestly has only been in the last decade.
I’m writing this from a truck where I was attempting to take a nap before work. I slept in the back of a van last night, and had a dream that a man was peeking into the van in the middle of the night and I tried to hide from him to avoid the unimaginable. In several weeks I haven’t slept in the same place for more than three consecutive nights.
Yesterday all these thoughts formed into a direction... I called my grandfather to ask about his health- he offered me a couple hundred dollars to pay my graduate school application fees. This is Privilege, I thought.
Just hours later, on the phone with a good friend, I’m listening to their frustrations at not having the extra $750 to pay their reduced lawyer fees in an attempt to gain custody of their own children. This is poverty, I feel. Despite being told I’m getting a check for several hundred dollars, I feel helpless to help their position.
Last night, at the end of a sporadic 12 hour day of computer work, meetings, organizing, etc, I’m with a co-worker in a work truck at a grocery store.  A gray-haired leather-skinned man with a strong Spanish accent waits outside the car door for us to finish our conversation, before launching into his request for money for a bus fare, etc. etc. Coming to the end of my emotional roller coaster for the day, I told him firmly that I was at trying to end my work day, and had enough charities on my mind at the moment. Immediately, I felt guilty. I have seen friends struggling with addiction-- living off of the dollar bills they find in their apartment until the next paycheck come in-- offer kindness, food and even money to people in similar situations. Here I am, (despite not having a job after this month) with a car, and a savings account—which is surprisingly more than so many people in this country—and I’m a bitch to someone struggling to get by.
This morning I went on a walk with an empowered young woman with no family to offer her hundreds of dollars for graduate school. She has her own apartment, and a job and is going to school, but doesn’t have much in the way of savings. She has benefited (if you can call it that) some certain financial state requirements for kids taken from their families, but not in a way that eases the emotional burden of such. She is one example of this growing population of people just trying to get by, who will continue trying to find more jobs and seek more government assistance to pay the rent for the older generations who feel entitled to rob the youth. 
After our walk, I went to get some coffee at my favorite coffee shop, full of gray-haired customers and hipsters alike. After spending $8 on coffee and granola and using their free wifi, I passed a homeless man on my way to the car. Most of his speech was incoherent, but he assumed I had a job, denied asking for money but suggested that I smoke (implying I give him a cigarette), then as I walked away said he didn’t want to date me… [incoherent]…I hope you have a great day …[incoherent with increasingly negative tone]. I thought, as I walked toward the truck I’m typing this in, of the commonly uttered statement by white middle class and working class people, as a dismissal for giving to the poor and underprivileged: “I’ve worked hard for my money. I’ve earned this, etc…” Whew. What a statement. Is being born a white cis male or female and getting the management job you apply for, and then, yes, working 60 hours a week getting your team up to speed to accomplish important tasks for the world, “working hard?” Did you work any harder than the college student who spends 5 hours a day, 6 days a week teaching 30 kids in childcare? Or a woman born of Mexican-immigrant parents who works a night job as a janitor and a day job making tortillas and in the meantime is teaching herself English. Why are you entitled to 3x her salary? Because you worked harder? Because you had someone help you pay for college?...
Perhaps none of these thoughts are new to you as they are to me. My own privilege in this world is just finally clicking. I know that a lot of the people reading this might defend their behaviors with a “you can’t help the whole world” sort of statement, and that’s just where you are. I know I can’t help the whole world, but I can certainly figure out my place in this one. I may have the privilege to be an out-of-debt, college educated straight woman, but I can commit to sharing my meager means with those who need it more than I do. And where I can’t give with money, I can give in time. In the time it takes to get a high score in Bejeweled, or whatever, I could volunteer at any number of organizations...

In my assessment of our American right now, there is a lot of privilege. At least amongst the types of people browsing facebook every day and reading my blog. And there’s also a lot of poverty. The privileged bunch tend to have the opportunity to ignore certain realities of the challenges of rising rent prices, drug addiction, the daily impacts of climate change, etc. Then, even amongst my friends, there are people who don't have financial support from their families or even emotional support from their families. I have one friend who grew up from a middle class family that stopped talking to him when he had his first breakdown that resulted in him being diagnosed with manic depression, and now he's in a hospital psych ward in Oregon, surrounded only by other homeless friends as family. 
However my brain is wired to work, I cannot fathom how anyone can ignore these situations, in a growing globalist society, and live in ignorant bliss in their own communities. Aside from the issues and wars and injustices of the whole world, even in your own communities, there is poverty, there is pain and there is a suffering that we all could work to heal. I just. Don’t. understand. the apathy.
Here’s an idea, for example. How many middle-upper-class families do you know, that have a spare room in their house for when their adult-child comes to visit (or something similar)? How many nights do those nicely adorned beds in high-count thread-sheets collect dust? If every middle class family got to know and adopted a homeless person, showed them the compassion and connected them with the resources necessary to help them get on their feet, that could mean millions of people assimilating back into society… Obvious there are challenges with this model, but it's a thought/start. 
I also feel a little bad, harping on working class folks, and certainly, don’t want to discredit their work and families and problems. For example—in the last three-ish years: I have had three serious partners, the love of my life passed away, I took my first serious full-time job with benefits, I have helped fight custody battles, blah blah blah… Despite considering myself a pretty strong woman, I have been through many challenging and defeating things in the last few years… and yet, now as I come to the end of my full-time job, I eagerly await the opportunity to slow down and process. What a privilege! To think that I’m exhausted from all the normal things that happen in life and yet I'm relatively immune to the spiral of problems that keep many oppressed and in poverty… is quite the privilege.

I have spent the last week driving around the Pacific Northwest, hearing hard-working people with no means to invest talk about great ideas that will never be supported. As we search for a parcel of land to hatch our own dream, I'm met by constant examples of how a small number of people are exploiting the rest of us to make themselves richer, for what? More yahts? 

So what does all this matter? The 1% is taking over the world, and we’re all being funneled around like sheep (most of us blissfully ignorant of our situations) towards a war that will likely eradicate at least 40% of the least-wealthy populations in our country, if not the globe... But I guess I feel like recognizing our place of privilege amongst all that, is the least we can do. …

Sunday, October 7, 2018

I Quit

On Tuesday I facilitated my 100th expedition. 

One month ago I moved out of my house-- the most stable living situation I've had since living at home. Weeks before that, I had carefully crafted an e-mail to my boss (edited to remove my emotions, thank you, David) stating my desire to end my employment with this organization.

After 7 summers, six seasons, and three full years, I'm resigning from the work I once felt was worthy of all my energy. I'm leaving the responsibility of taking care of others' children and 27 acres, and the anxiety and guilt of working at a non-profit, and focusing instead on myself and family. 

This was perhaps the most difficult decision I've ever had to make, just a few hairs above taking this job in the first place. By ending my role in this position, I'm ending endless bragging rights, opportunities to work in the sunshine, and shutting the door to an amazing community of dozens of like-minded people. To many still in the role, this decision was hard to fathom. What's gained by me moving out of my house and ending a job I've labored over for years, is acknowledging a need for a reset. And the world has shown me several reminders of the importance of this decision as of late: 

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To be clear-- I think I'm on a generational straddle between making long-term career commitments, and the increasingly flippant idea that self-care outranks community-care, and commitments can be broken. I have been loyal to this organization and it's community to the point of my own self-destruction...and after much consultation with friends, lawyers and a therapist, I've decided it's time to go.

There's so much I Could say about the difficulty in the decisions I've made in the last few weeks, or months... but one way to summarize is this: 
"Find what you love, and let it consume you" is tattooed on my left hand. It's a daily reminder of the way I live and love-- by diving in deep. 
Remember the scene in Matilda in which the kid has to eat the entire chocolate cake in front of everyone? I love chocolate cake. But eating one piece of it leaves me unsatisfied. All I can think about it getting to eat cake again. So, my style is to plunge in, and eat the whole damn cake, or as much as I can until I'm so sick of cake that I never want it again. For better, or worse--that's what I did with my first fiancé, and that's what I've done with this job. 
I got a taste of this new exotic flavor. It's family, it's support and comfort, and I'm gonna dive in.