Weak Friends are the Best Friends

14 Jul

My memory isn’t as strong as some, constantly deleting irrelevant information to make way for the new. Its why I can go all Sunshine-on-the-Spotless-Mind on most of my past relationships.  Delete enough photos and evidence, I can forget all the snide remarks, half-truths, or the time one of them barely made it to my 29th brunch and birthday party.  Hangovers, am I right?

In the midst of an old profile pic one of the, mostly-removed-from-my memory, dude has a comment….about a comment.  Indicating that my post was phishing for “likes”.  I don’t know who spends their time patrolling the internet, giving out demerits for gregarious popularity and an over abundance of friends.  Trolls, maybe? But I don’t live under a bridge and I’m not tracking likability.

It brings me back to a conversation I’ve been having about real friendships.  The kind where your friends are able to share difficult information with you.  But its not these deep friends that are going to indiscriminately like, post, and read piles of information.  Your bestie can braid your hair, but isn’t going to build your network.  Its what Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, calls “weak ties”.

I see you being judgey. How do weak friends make you strong? Its your weak ties that are able to keep you afloat in the ever booming and extending network.  Even better, when you’re collaborating with so many others, their interests come back to you, too.  Reasons why I enjoy Urban Geek Drinks, brought to you by my favorite weak tie friend Jon Geeting. A local space where people from across Philadelphia can meet, make a new friend, and bring projects to life.

Why should you care about how many likes you receive on your latest podcast or photo?  Something you’re putting out is connecting IMG_3654with a wide audience, far beyond your family unit, and its packing a punch.

You’re likability is now your network to success.

So, cheers! I’ve made it.

I have over 2000 connections on Facebook. Albeit, I lost a few along the way.  The overwhelming number are weak ties. Here’s to a slamming network of collaborators bursting at the seems.  I cannot wait to celebrate your every success.

Goal-Ready Friends Need Only Apply

10 Jun

I wrote for an essay contest.  Do people still do these things?

I have to give it up to the theMuse.com, this is one of the easiest ways to farm out the grunt work of finding the creative and nuanced ways to rethink careers, advice, and another Top 10 List.  Why do it yourself if you have millions of followers?

Hello?  Hive mind, tell me my fortune. They’re not wrong.  Let me have your expertise.  I can try it on for size, implement, and revise.

I love theMuse and other searing websites, like GetBullish because they remind me that we all have a lot to learn from one another and that my attitude issues, are just a symptom poor perspective.  If you haven’t notice, I’m devouring the heartland at a scorching rate.  

I’m building an empire of side projects, like essays for fun.

 

Career advising is a part of my job description these days, not because I was expertly trained in workforce development or because I can nail anyone’s leadership style in less than five seconds, but because my hobby kept finding its way into conversations on the job. And not just water cooler chatter, real, genuine conversation about choice, passions, and the pains of personal discernment.

I left one of largest cities, flooded with young blood and brimming with the energy for change, from one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S. where political and pop culture icons regularly graced our halls, and diverged from a litany of friendships…for a position in rural Iowa.  For the chance to build my side project into effective change.

It seems crazy to walk away from the allure of what may have been my success. Ten years ago, I would have told you this was all that I wanted. And it was. I had dreamed up this idea of my life and created it—the American dream in true Millennial form.

I’m not sure there is any way to learn this fully without the experience. What I would share with my younger self may not have made a difference.  It may not have even made it across my threshold of awareness for such a stubborn, determined girl.  But I would hope she could see these headlines.Good job

 

Unemployment is the gift of agency.

The anxiety of unemployment can set anyone up to jump at the first good thing. Some folks are lucky enough to be able to pass up a mediocre position or two (that’s called privilege) before settling in for something really engaging. I struggled with waiting to hear back from employers, and my fierce survival instinct kept me hunting for jobs late into the night. It was hard to keep my emotions tempered and not let the mounting feelings of desperation pour out during phone interviews.

It was months into a new position before I had a moment to reflect. Unemployment had been one of the healthiest breaks in my life. For perhaps the first time, I set my own agenda, made my own food, and kept a regular weekly schedule.  I wish, in that moment, I had understood the power of my own agency.

Only recently have I returned to such a pattern, this time with paid work as shared priority with my personal health. I would want to know that my time, the way I spend it, is a valuable asset in my success.

 

You don’t owe anyone, anything.

I had already accepted a position in another state and was midway into packing up my life when a second, more lucrative job was offered, which didn’t include moving and came with way more prestige. I had an ethical dilemma on my hands, so I called up a friend in the New Jersey Department of Employment to discuss my next steps. Her advice would be the single moment of clarity in this decision. She said, “This is America. You don’t owe anyone, anything.”

Perhaps not the good employee behavior I’d been taught or the type of loyalty I’d like to portray, but she was right. Why tie my entrepreneurial spirit down to a dead end job?  My younger self should know being bold will have its consequences.  They are worth it. Say no, don’t shy away from difficult choices, be your own trailblazer.

 

Give Gratitude.

I never expected gratitude to be my blind spot. Today, it’s part of my foundation in building positive work culture and relationships among staff. But I wouldn’t understand the necessity of gratitude until I needed it the most.  Brene Brown recently said,

If we really want more authenticity and vulnerability, and we know that it leads to more creativity and innovation, then why do we continue to create organization and family cultures that punish people for showing up as their whole selves?”

Don’t wait to give gratitude, it’s part of acknowledging who you are and being able to share that with your colleagues.  Gratitude is part of building a better more creative environment, personally and professionally.

While there may be many things I would hope to teach myself, I’m glad I’ve learned from my community as they helped shape me as a leader, employee, and friend.  I have such gratitude for my initial mentors, my first supervisor, and my students, who never cease to challenge me.

I am most surprised to find I’m braver than I’d imagined. Pushing myself beyond my areas of comfort, uprooting my life to better become the person I’ve dreamed about.  More so than ever, I’m better at taking my own advice.

Speak Louder Than Words

3 Jun

For years I burned CDs and made mixes for the people I cared about.  Today, some folks still make annual compilations of the year, I’m always a fan of the new Girl Talk. I hear tape decks are back in style. 

The last mix I made was over six years ago for Drew, and long time musician and my then boyfriend.  The mix making was really his wheel house and one of the ways he showed his love for me.  A small, intensly thoughtful gift.

The last year and half have posed some of my most difficult challenges, most obviously my struggle with depression, continued negative patterns in relationships, and understanding the role of positive communities (personally and professionally) in my overall health.

I made this mix for all the folks who played a part in the last few months.  Designed from start to finish in chronological order from January 2015- May 2016.  I know it certainly hasn’t been easy and I honor each of you in your own way. Love shouldn’t be scarce. So, I love you and wanted to make a small, thoughtful gift to share.

Time Passes

12 May

There is nothing you will read here that isn’t at least 2 years old.  A few new edits and few moves, but everything feels a bit dusty, slow, and left behind.

This is what failure looks like.

It feels like drowning without knowing you can’t swim.  Doing your 100% in the wrong direction. This is 3 years of being totally consumed by things other than myself. By my work, by the interests of others, by energy poured into another with no return.  Sounds bleak.

But where would I be without my crass humor?  My ability to be in the most dysfunctional situation and find beauty.  Bleak is a literal exposure to the elements, likening its softer existence to being windswept.  I am windswept. I’m stormswept with levees to break.

Change isn’t a warm, comforting feeling, like a down blanket on a cold winters night.  Its a gut wrenching jolt into the cold waters of reality, where I find myself wriggling in the bitter chill, gasping for air.  Because I can’t breathe when I’m drowning, no matter how much I dream for the sun.  

Not every neighborhood is meant to be rebuilt.

I started reading again.  I believe there will be a lot of “agains”.

“The ‘Brilliant Masses’ are composed of nothing less than the many great people of our generation, the bright, the talented, the intelligent, and resourceful– far too many of whom are operating at a quarter-speed, unsure of their place in the world, contributing far too little to the productive engine of modern civilization…all feeling like they haven’t come close to living up to their potential… Being guided by the heart is almost never something an intellectually motivated person chooses to do.  Its something that happens to them–usually something painful.” – What should I do with My Life? by Po Bronson

Let’s not wait.

Let’s get dangerous.

Let’s make champions.

Make the Move

11 May

You know it.  Philly has been calling you, or at least all of your friends have been calling you from Philly asking for you to come “home” already.

Truth, Philly is dirty, trash strewn, and real.  I mean, really real.  Maybe the education system is not one you want to put your little ones through, as if you have kids… Eagles fans piss you off (lets go Steelers!)  or you’ve heard the troubled whoas of SEPTA.

But you are still interested in moving to our gritty city.  Why?  Because your neighbors are solid, and always there to lend you some sugar, or a beer.  Because your hood is the best, especially when you throw down the best block parties.  Because rent it cheap, work is abundant, and your urban family loves you hard.

Welcome home, come find your spot.

Plug me in, I want to be a robo Barbie.

7 Oct

I’m an advocate for connectivity and shared information.  There is nothing I hate more than repeating something over and over to get the same result.  (See dictionary for: insanity).

I’m also have a long time ethical standard for personal privacy. You might know my mantra of “no evidence”. I feel like a life of crime syndication would have been a great career choice.  I could still work for some of the biggest crime bosses in the world, the government! My jest via the open air internet has gotten me blacklisted before.  The number of physical pat-downs (aka the tax-payer hugs) that I’ve received at the airport has reached a  comical level.

I discovered how well connected I was with the world outside of my regularly frequented bureaucratic structures.  I was taking a client out to a fabulous breakfast at Cafe Renata and needed to keep the receipt.  Little strips of unreadable of paper usually find they way to the bottom of my purse or simply make it to the trash without thought.  Having a emailed copy, or better yet filing through my Expensify account tracks all of my financial moves and keeps me connected.  Who else likes being organized?

The  “square” does. A little swipe device that you can attach to your iphone to take credit cards. Super cute and small, its a real creeper.  When I went to ask for the receipt the clerk smiled said she already sent it to my account.  What account?  Little “square” has been tracking me all over town.  Cute and creepy “square”.

I also track how much “rest” I’m getting.  The shear evidence being collected on me though my sleep cycle is terrifying. While testing a new sleep app Sleeptime, I was fiddling around past mid-night, always chipping away at the hours, to log into some silly thing that will track my zzzzz’s.

I signed in with Facebook because at least it’s easy and now Facebook can track my sleep patterns. Mmmmm I feel the pressure of the Surrogates.  Soon, Facebook will know so much about me they can create me a life sized robot barbie!

What the sleep app did was to trigger an email to me address, so when I woke up it was already recapping my pattern.  I can’t wait until I’m robbed during my deep sleep cycle!

Today the gravity of how interconnected finally hit while in the deep haze of the morning commute.  My laziness coupled with the epic effort it takes to arrive at 30th St. Station for the long-ass train ride north, leaves me exasperated.

I don’t like to try to begin with so if I could expend less effort that would be great.

I was left with whopping 5 minutes to purchase my “monthly passes”.  Dazed and totally blanking on how ticket kiosks work I just desperately plugged my card into the NJ transit machine.  Without any instruction the screen shifted from a series of unnavigable questions to entra tarjeta and lit up with pass for Trenton Transportation Center to Princeton monthly, at $169.

I pushed yes about 10 times like a game show.  Even the little NJ transit boxes know my name. I’m a commuter super star!  And NJ transit is killin’ it!

Bitch Face

30 Jun

Parker rang me, “I’m here,” he said.

“You’re a day early and I’m 4 hrs away, but I’ll be there when I get there. Don’t worry.” I hung up the phone and drove home after an incredible day in the Pennsylvania backcountry.

He remarked at my ease in a seemingly stressful situation. Hosting three out of town trans-men, new to the city, and their first time above the Mason Dixion Line.  It had been a year since we last saw each other and my life had then revolved around my blood thirsty ambition, lingering cattiness, and the sick sense of revenge I get from eating BBQ at an ex-boyfriend’s wedding.

I’ve made some serious adjustments to my life over the last year. As I welcome my 4th year in Philly and committed to another two, I will have to accept I’m no longer ” new” to the city.  I will have lived here longer than an other move.  Nawlins, I’ll see you soon enough.

What major  changes sent my life careening off its tracks?

  • One beautifully failed relationship.
  • The cascading effects of family loss and inheritance.
  • And 6 panic stricken months of unemployment. Everyone’s true meet-your-maker state of mind.

Despite the fact I was an absolute disaster this last year and I may have actually been cracking under the pressure, it pushed onward in some personal development.  If I stopped using my bitch face and holding folks at arms length, I might just tackle the “grow” in grown-up.  (I know a lot of you  already had this figured out, but I’m shitty at practice).

With a little help from Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life by Dear Sugar, I laid down my fighting words.  I made some sincere apologies. Not because I like the soft cooing words of an advice columnist, but because she reached off the page and slapped my bitch face right off.   She’s a cursing columnist.  I like cursin’.   So, if you’re looking for a book to knock your ego down a peg or two, she’s your one women rodeo.

I pull a lot of my early morning laughs from the You Made It Weird podcast, where the conversation can get excruciating and frank. With help from comedian Pete Holms and a montley crew of one-on-one guest conversations, this makes it into my slap-my-bitch-face-with-real-funny-talk.  I love a good candid show.  Nothing makes me feel more connected than the terribly awkward and intimate knowledge of each other.

What has face slapping and awkwardness got to do with anything?  The key players in the get-down-on-the-ground-until-you-can-smell-humble game.  I think we’re all working on mastering this.

We all can have a case of Bitchy Resting Face.

I Hate Spring

10 Jun

It makes me want to fuck like a rabbit.  These pollens make me stupid and what I “need” is a Greek tragedy to get over myself.  Where art thou Romeo?  I’ve got some nightshade and teen angst to kill.  So, I do the best to protect my total idiocy.  I put stop gaps in my behavior, reminders to check myself.  Is this me or Mother Nature?

I can curb my carnal instincts (someone punch me before I hurt myself). Although these recent articles beg for the realization that I might just be on point.

But not street dudes, harping around like a bunch of birds in heat.  I feel like I’ve stepped into Discovery’s Plant Earth segment about mating calls.  I hear you baby, cat calling, sidewalk hustling, lip smacking.  Aren’t there rules for this?

You know what will really win me over? Serenade me at midnight while I walk down a dark street. Slide your hand along my ass as you inappropriately linger too long in the trolley car.  Aggressively scream that you’ll steal me from my roommate who you’ve assumed is my boyfriend. 

Don’t get me wrong.  There are unbelievably awkward moments that result in successful relationships. Like the Fu Wah guy’s sister, for instance, was followed by an Eagles player that came into her restaurant and bought her flowers on the daily.  Maybe if he wasn’t a popular sports figure, we would think this was creepy.

I still think its creepy.  But I also think cute Asian chicks have their own personal seduction hell.

This is all to say how excited I am about Hollaback Philly!  They did some work in my hood and are headed to be a panel at the Trans-Health Conference this weekend.

 

 

Yo, white girl, you a 10!

Thanks, I wonder what a full 100 looks like?

A Love Letter to SEPTA

1 May
Dear SEPTA,

Despite the running shitty jokes about your service, we know how hard you work. We’re there on the early train busting our asses to work, too. We know you keep a balanced budget despite our friends in Harrisburg throwing you under the bus (literally). And we know those 1981 trolleys, though vintage, are better for our air quality than any Prius. So I fucking  love you, despite the fat-kid-in-gym-class-getting-picked-last scenario.

While getting the 5th largest population in America to work on a miniscule capital budget you did me some fucking justice. You found my keys… to my life. House, bike, car. The whole bit. You found them, tagged them, and saved them. For me.

You better believe I fucking love SEPTA.

With all my heart,

Lost and Found Article #61