Saturday, March 26, 2005

Wanda Alston & Stop the genocide of GLBT people

I work part-time for the Sacramento Observer and disappointedly read an article on a 19-year-old young man leaving his home on Valentine's Day to never return. He was gay and living with his parents, all his ducks in a row only to be found chopped up like animal flesh in a plastic bag in a Brooklyn subway. What is going on? My last post was a disgruntled moan about a sensleless murder. It's definitely time to stop reading the news but how do you avoid it when it's your job? My condolences to the family and friends of Rashawn Brazell. I feel for the poor transit worker that recovered Rashawn's dismantled body, I would have quit my job. The National Black Justice Coalition ( wrote a description of the incident and they have been working very hard to get the word out and let people know that hate crimes are far from being a thing of the past. I just can't believe that someone could that but I should know better, hours of Law & Order SVU should have taught me better. Sometimes, no matter how much violence we are faced with in today's times, I feel that the world is numb. I talked to my co-workers about Rashawn and everyone just covered their mouths and stomachs because it is too painful to embrace, I just felt sick all day. The NBJC is one of my favorite organizations at the moment. Next to the ACLU, Equality Marriage of California, the NBJC is top notch, advocating for sisters and brothers of color who are part of the GLBT community. Their dedication is phenomenal.

Wanda Alston, fervent activist, feminist and gay rights leader was murdered in her home by William Parrot, who apparently needed drugs, her credit cards or he just has a thirst for killing the innocent. An anonymous caller tipped the Washington, D.C. police and Parrot was arrested. Wanda will be missed by her partner, friends, family, co-workers and admirers. She was a remarkable woman, working for NOW, serving the GLBT community through numerous coalitions and I realized that I attended a march in San Francisco in 1996, "The March to Fight the Right," because of Wanda. She was on the frontlines of that march and several others internationally. That has remained my favorite group march due to the theme. You couldn't walk anywhere without being bombarded by every activist imagineable. The point was: No one was left behind. We are all human beings who seek love, life and liberty and it is a shame that Wanda died for that right. My heart goes out to all who knew Wanda. These times we're living in are way too tough to handle. Tonight, I'll leave my television off.

The job search is going very well, in fact the ACLU is hiring and I am up against some stiff competition but I am so excited to have the opportunity to apply. It is my dream job. I've also considered definitely commuting to San Francisco. Sacramento employers expect you to live on low rages because real estate is so cheap but one does have student loans, bills and rent to pay unbeknownst to most of these suburban employers. I'd also like to have a better chance at securing domestic partner benefits for my boyfriend. It is really tought to find an employer in this town who will offer benefits to marriage free folks like myself. Just another example of the system forcing me to conform. The job market in San Francisco looks fabulous, game developers, publishing, software, video/film firms are all hiring so wish my happy ass luck. This blog has been keeping me in good spirits and has definitely provided me with an outlet for my madness.

My mother turns 65 in a week. I am so excited to see her and spend the day and just recall her life. She is the most amazing woman I have ever met. Whenever I feel down, I think of all she's been through: schizophrenia, domestic violence, loss of parents, children and here she is: happy and energetic, asshole husband gone for 12 years and counting and nothing phases her. Maybe it's the prozac but she's my special lady. She makes me feel elated to be alive, just so I can be near her. Well, I'm off, laundry and Sam Adams are calling.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Crimes of Passion and Sheer Madness

In September of 2003, Justine Vanderschoot, 17 years old, with a bright future ahead of her was murdered by her boyfriend and his best friend in the Aurburn area of Sacramento County. Her boyfriend, 20, suspected her of cheating and tapped her phones, recording her conversations with friends and a new male friend which piqued his immature rage. He decided to take action and along with his roommate and best friend, he planned to end her life. He spent adequate time in her home, becoming close to her family and sister and unbeknownst to them, they would lose Justine at the hands of the very young man they tried to mentor. He came from a broken home and had many issues (obviously) that Justine's father was aware of and tried to save him because he was a good kid. Yeah right. He took Justine for a drive and confronted her to no avail. In a rage, not receiving the answers he was waiting for, strangled her and with the help of his roommate, dug her grave and buried her alive. The roommate didn't like Justine and felt she spent too much time at their apartment, that was reason enough for this bright guy. Can you believe that women continue to die at the hands of men?

What I don't understand is why don't more men take to the streets and demand an end to this violence. Why are we taking this lying down? Women have been marching, protesting and the feminist community has sponsored countless events to give a voice to this genocide but here we are in 2005 and women will die at the hands of a man faster than cancer.

Anger, rage and disbelief are emotions I am quite friendly with at the moment. I want everyone to stand up and say no and to begin a campaign like the war on HIV/AIDS to keep our women alive and to educate our young boys from infancy to adulthood that violence is not the answer. Taking a life should not be an option. Women give birth to life everyday yet many of us do not live long enough to enjoy the lives we create.

I hear about the war on Black men consistently. There are meetings, conferences and agendas put together by men to fight police brutality and injustice but where are the men when we need them to fight our battles? There is a small group of men in this country that have done what I am seeking and that is to team up and let their voices be heard, but an increase in that small number must be quadrupled if we ever expect to protect our little girls, sisters, mothers, cousins, nieces, and women. Rape is still going on in Sudan, in wartime countries soldiers are told by someone that it is okay to enter the homes of innocent people, destroy their families, and harm the women of these families. I just don't understand why society hates women so much but in a double edged twist we cherish them and depend on them. We love sex in this country like oxygen, yet it is the prostitutes that suffer and are blamed for sexual deviance. I honestly believe that if we began to teach our children about sex, giving it the human and emotional analyzation that it deserves, we would save so many women from rape. If we discontinued this war on women and viewed them for who they are: human beings. Cut out the word mankind and replace it with humankind because women bleed just as men do but currently we seem to be shedding buckets to earn to respect in this world. We're made to feel unsafe walking alone at night, we're never free from insiduous catcalls on the street and we can never just be left alone to roam free like a man in safety and security. Most intelligent men can see this and do what they can to make the world a more kind and accepting environment for the women they love.

But alas, I see the irony everywhere, even in the gay community, women are seen as sex objects, by gay men! I was sitting in a bar listening to the comments made by a group of gay men about a contestent on American Idol. Her breasts, not her talent were the topic of conversation. It was really sad to hear. If gay men have a hard time seeing us for more than a pretty face, how do straight men see us?

In a society where, "show us your tits" is a come-on and hip hop videos feature men disrespecting women to the point of sliding a credit card through their butt cheeks is tolerated, we have a major problem. Is respect, liberty and freedom from sexual and physical violence too much to ask? To not be called a slut because I enjoy not be stereotyped or not have to give up my last name because it isn't as worthy as a man's last name when I marry? To give my children my last name because, naturally, I gave birth to them so it makes sense to me, (or to share, or make a up a new last name).

I feel like women are becoming brainwashed and complacent like the Black slaves of yesteryear. We don't ask these questions enough and we don't dissect our roles in society enough, instead, we cake our faces with make-up to impress a guy, we wear the clothes, we perform the dance and jump through surgical hoops to look like the woman he wants....but what do we get out of it really? Self-esteem issues, eating disorders, breast implants that malfunction and a hatred of other women we feel we must compete with. I look at the typical guy who puts half the time and effort into looking like himself to impress a woman minus all the said issues listed above. What a strange dichotomy this gender deal is.

But now, even men are feeling the pressure to look to good and be fit like Brad Pitt. Maybe it's just time to get real with ourselves, real with each other as human beings. We can't all meet the standard of beauty and nor should we have to. The inner beauty is what we fail to see as important, that inner beauty, if Justine Vanderschoot, had the chance to acknowledge it, would have led her clear away from her psycotic boyfriend. She, like so many women, fall into the trap of outer beauty, "jealousy means he loves me" and further confusing messages. I think men are shaking their heads as well. They have so many mixed messages on how to be a man but there is one message that is not absorbed: be respectful of humankind, of the needs of all living, breathing persons. No one belongs to you and your power only controls your actions. Live wisely and avoid violence because it does not equal brawn or strength, it equals weakness.

To all the young women of the world who have gone too soon and to Justine Vanderschoot and her family, may those cowardly lions who felt they had the power to take her body, recognize this: you may have taken her life, but you did not rob her of her spirit because the spirit can never stolen.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Denise Richards files for Divorce

Oh and what is going on with Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen? Who files for divorce six months pregnant? I want to know who she caught him in bed with this time...oooh gossip.

Hump Day

My old co-worker called Wednesday "Hump Day" because it was that middle ground between now and Friday. I have to say that Wednesdays are my favorite, Sundays are great for being lazy and I personally refuse to work a Sunday, it's just wrong.

I'm looking forward to getting out of the house tomorrow afternoon for lunch at Mikuni's, one of my favorite sushi spots with my old co-workers. Friday is the Ron White concert. My friend Rob, his fiancee, Christie and a slew of friends and family are going to have dinner at Brew it Up downtown and then off to the show. I've been to the Sac Community Center for two concerts: George Carlin and Ani DiFranco. Both were awesome. I think the venue is just really laid back and the set up is cool.

I went out last night and had a few drinks at the Mercantile "the merc" bar with my friend John. The weather has been so wonderful lately and their patio is perfect. John and I shared drinks and really bonded over family woes. Every now and then, it's great to get lost in conversation and just sit back and listen to someone.

I switched up on my job search by searching directly through company websites for career opportunities instead of just checking job boards. One of the companies I sent a blind resume to responded. They don't have an immediate opening but their current office admin is going on maternity leave in the spring, which is just around the corner. I would actually really dig working for a web firm again. It's casual, it's interesting and the environment is creative and the staff should be cool too. Well, wish me luck. Later.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Unemployment Blues

Just Like Judy

So, it's the beginning of the week for most of you but when you're out of work, it's just another Monday. I woke up at 11am and stretched, looked outside at the beautiful day ahead and wondered why I couldn't be happy sitting on my porch watching the rest of the world work. My boyfriend and everyone else I know are busy and when you've got free time, but no one to share it with, it's as if the down time is not as exciting as it otherwise would be. Lately I've been feeding my boredom frenzy between getting this blog reactivated since I set up the account under my former work email (Done! Thanks blogger!) and reading about other sacked employees on the web.
The first story to catch my attention was the infamous Jessica Cutler, fired for her blog, (, her blog has been revived for voyeuristic viewers like me), which recounted her sexual exploits with Capitol hill reps. Not only is Jessica famous and on her way to best-seller land (I'm jealous!) but she's happy to be unemployed. Go figure! Jessica's Washington experience makes her the uber-Monica. Personally, I think she's awesome but I find it so ridiculous that none of the Washington elite who slept with her came clean and honest about their dalliances with the former Washington intern. I applaud her for her being brave and shedding light on my favorite topic: sex and politics. Oh what an ugly web these elitist pricks in Washington weave...I can be much more forgiving of Ms. Cutler for bedding these cowards for top dollar but I have no sympathy for the men who did graciously and without any provocation or thought to their wives or children. They committed these acts because they could, because it's easy to get away with murder in this world and never suffer the consequences.
Does anyone even remember Ms. Chandra Levy? During the summer of 2001 I was especially interested in her case. She had an elicit affair with Gary Conditt, fell in love and ended up missing and later found murdered. The 9/11 crisis wiped her out of the spotlight and we will never know what happened to Chandra beyond speculation. Her story was so gruesome to me, due to her age and that she was from Modesto, not far from my current location of Sacramento, where the gossip of politicos spreads like the state budget. How did this happen to her in the safest towns of America? My heart still goes out to her family and what they must endure everyday that they know Gary Conditt, lives and breathes, fucks his clueless wife, (who should have left him after the affair came to light), and doesn't even bother to give more than a nod to their pain. Shame on Washington, shame on those power hungry men who supposedly serve our country with pride...I bet they serve with pride alright - along with a spoonful of cocaine, newly recruited interns, hired, screwed and fired - all with an ego larger than the entire United States.

Moving on from my obvious irritation with Capitol Hill (and my obsession with sex and politics), Mark Jen was fired for revealing just a bit more than his former employers at Google anticipated. Free speech in this country is at an all time low. Mr. Jen was let go from Google because he socked a few jabs into the web search behemoths policies and health plans. So what? The KKK is allowed to spew their ugly agenda all over the web and believe me, that offends many more citizens of this country than a few digs at an employer's work policy. I believe he had every right to speak his mind or maybe I'm underestimating the power of a blog. Recently, blogging leapt out of the online journal label to become a substantial income for some, turned the heads of literary agents who now entertain the idea of searching blogs for aspiring writers (hey, over here, I have plenty of time to write!) and also a tool for gathering information about current events. More internet geeks read Wonkette, Gawker or Kingblind than they read their local paper. I can't remember the last time I picked up a local paper. It must have been the cover of the SF Chronicle with the headline WAR in huge black ink and I bought it because it scared me, no one under 35 expected to ever see that title on a news cover. That definitely brought me to three conclusions: 1) Go out and have sex like it's the last time, 2) Forget about climbing any corporate or success ladder, life is about giving back and helping everyone around you be as happy as possible, so buy the next person in line a cup of coffee instead of buying your latte and walking out the door never making eye contact with anyone, 3) Damn the man (Bush).

Work for my last employer hit a head just after the six month mark. I was happy but not really satisfied. I was hired as an office manager to fill in while the former was on maternity leave. I took the job too quickly, big mistake, because I was laid off for three months from my last gig. I didn't want to risk running out of unemployment or driving my boyfriend crazy so I accepted what I believed to be a great opportunity. The pay was crap and I've come to accept that as part of of being a Sacramentan. In San Francisco, my hometown, I made so much more to do exactly what I'm doing now but my experience in the workforce has grown and I'm thankful for the addition to my resume. My new employers seemed fun, hip, young and relaxed. Little did I know that those three things do not always equal to a professional workplace. We all want two hour lunches and bosses who don't care if you're a few minutes late but my employers were too cool so I knew something was up. The catch turned out to be an office where everyone was married, conservative and uptight about many issues I take with ease. I worked with two gay people at my last job and diversity was rich. Not so with the new employer where everyone was White. That wasn't a big deal at first but I saw the separation that brought between myself and the rest of the staff. Race was not the issue as was general acceptance of other cultures and genders. I found even the women to be sexist at times which I found humorous at first and sad during other occasions.
After my position increased and I was getting hip to the game, I believed it was time for more than verbal compensation. One of my employers agreed that I should see more buck for my dollar since I was obviously giving more than I received. I drew up a beautiful review proposal stating my needs, and I outlined the position I was hired for and the change in my job description, even my boyfriend was impressed. He was certain I would walk out of there with a smile as I did with my last job where I got a raise and an employee of the month award within two months.
Not so fast girly, we'll neglect the fact that you called this meeting and we neglected to acknowledge your need for a review and we'll turn you down flat. Nice. I began my job hunt like a speedy little devil looking for souls to steal. I felt like I was almost free...just that much closer to outwitting them when they turned the tables on me. I was ready for work on an unsuspecting Monday when I was called into a meeting to discuss a serious matter. Apparently after changing the server, they read through all the emails (or just mine, I believe) and found a particular email to a friend in Berkeley gossiping about the weekend and her need for a new herbal connection. The word herb and grow ticked off some bells and I was asked to resign. No need to pay a pothead unemployment. I was both shocked and amazed and I learned a valuable lesson. Never discuss herb through work email, sometimes you can slide and screw up but not on company mail. Never feel pressured to sign a resignation letter, you will still qualify for unemployment as I did, but stick to your guns, if they're going to fire you, let them. I felt stupid for signing their bullshit letter but even worse for letting them let me go instead of vice versa. They used my skills, underpaid me and then gave me the boot.
Personally, I believe the two co-workers I confided in ratted my job search out and they found this bit of evidence to can my happy ass. Coincidentally, neither of the aforementioned co-workers called to wish me well or stop by and a be friend. I do keep in touch with two of my old co-workers and for their support, I am eternally grateful. Good friends in the workplace are tough to find, loyal ones who will acknowledge your existence after you're sacked are even harder.
I have received great feedback from Craigslist and monster so I think I will beat the unemployment blues...for now I'll blog away.