Self-Discovery · Self-Reflection

Finding My Voice in a Patriarchal Workplace

So today’s post was supposed to be an informational post to help people with finding the right birth control for them, but I did something at work that I’m proud of. Even Santa Claus was proud of me (more on Santa Claus later in this post).

So at work, we have to write user stories so there can be work for us software engineers to do. However, the software that is used for creating the user stories can only be fully used by certain people for right now. Me being one of them. That means people who can fully use the software has to input user stories from people who can’t create the stories on the software. However, I noticed that I’m the one being asked by another developer to input his user stories and another guy’s user stories into the software.

Is this sexism? I don’t know. I had to nip it in the bud.

So yesterday in our daily stand-up meeting (where some people sit down) after I said what I had done the day before and what I planned to do that day, I had asked if anyone else was being asked to input the user stories and I firmly (but professionally) stated that I will not be the secretary for this team. It felt good to nip any plans of taking advantage of me due to misogyny in the bud.

So one of my team leads (I have two) told me that he doesn’t want me feeling that way and he’s hoping that the additional creator licenses will free me from having to be a scribe. He also thinks they would have taken advantage of me if I didn’t speak up. Glad to have a team lead on my side. Then today before the stand-up meeting, a co-worker whose nickname is Santa Claus told me I get a gold star for yesterday. He told me he raised three daughters and he’d expect them to react the same way. As Santa said, I’m not a damn secretary.

I just don’t want a repeat of my previous job and just want to stop things before they start. Becoming a feminist has opened my eyes to opportunities to stop being silent. My mom got a magnet from a friend that says “Woman of strength and dignity” and it’s based on a Bible verse. That magnet will be me and I won’t let men or misogyny get in the way of that. I have the goal to not be like the old version of me who will be overly weak (as learned from an exercise I did with a therapist) and be worried about doing or saying something that makes people unhappy.

Maybe this is the beginning of my transformation. Come join me as I transform.

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Awareness

Veterans Day: What Does It Mean?

So today is Veterans Day. It’s a day where people honor military veterans. But do people know where this day originated? Because I’m a milso (military significant other) whose boyfriend is a veteran, I’m probably required by the milso community to make a post about today. So I will, with a little education taught to me by the project manager of my previous project. But before I do that, let me recognize the veterans in my life:

  • Some people I used to work with (army veterans, navy veterans, and air force veterans)
  • My grandfather (Korean War army veteran)
  • My Godfather (Army veteran)
  • My kickboxing coach (Marine Corps veteran)
  • Franklin (Army veteran, currently in Army National Guard)

Who in your life is a veteran? You can tell me in the comments if you’d like.

But what are the origins of Veterans Day? Believe it or not? November 11th wasn’t originally to celebrate veterans. It was originally Armistice Day, a day to celebrate the signing of the armistice between the Allied nations and Germany during World War One. The armistice was signed on November 11th at 11 AM (Source). In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed that Armistice Day will be commemorated to honor those who fought in WWI. It wasn’t until 1954 when November 11th became Veterans Day, a day to celebrate Veterans of all wars.

Because of people who were or are in the military, we have the freedom to protest what we want to protest. Football players have the freedom to take a knee or stay in the locker room during the locker room. People have the freedom to boycott the NFL this weekend. Sure, I’ll think you’re a whiny nationalist who needs to stop seeing veterans lives as more valuable as black lives, but you have the freedom to boycott things.

My boyfriend loves free food, so he wants to have a free meal today. I’m surprised that some restaurants that are participating in giving free food to veterans and active duty military will accept a picture of someone in uniform as their proof of service. Guess we can use the picture of my boyfriend wearing eclipse glasses when he was at his Captain’s Career Course. Thank a veteran for their service, but only if you’re sincere about it. Don’t thank someone because you think you have to; it makes the thanks seem fake.

Self-Discovery

Oooh, A Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunity

Note: This is categorized as “Self-Discovery” because I might discover that my life’s purpose is to volunteer for causes.

I’m not new to the world of volunteering and serving the community. In high school, I volunteered 4 hours per week during the summer of 2008. In university, I joined a volunteer-based club called Service Corps. I also made no-sew blankets for kids in the hospital. I have also picked crops at a farm that is dedicated to providing food for food banks. This morning, I found a volunteer opportunity on a local news website.

I saw that volunteers were needed to help with a community Thanksgiving for people who cannot celebrate the holiday with family and friends. People can volunteer to help set up for the meal, transport people to and from the community center where the meal will be held, deliver meals to people who are unable to get to the community center, or serve meals. Personally, I’d just want to serve meals, but I can help with setting up as well. You can either sign up ahead of time or show up that day. By the time I got home from work, the Eventbrite sign up was sold out. I’m still going to show up that day, and if they don’t need me there since every thing is covered, I can just go home. The Thanksgiving meal will end at 2 PM, so this won’t prevent any volunteers from being able to enjoy Thanksgiving with their families.

I have difficulties finding food kitchens to volunteer at that aren’t far away, and to see this opportunity show up meant that I had to take this opportunity. I knew someone who was once in a situation where he had to choose between hunger and homelessness. It will be nice to see that people and families won’t have to worry about whether or not buying food for their Thanksgiving will cause them not to be able to pay for a roof over their head.

Maybe there is a Community Thanksgiving meal being served on Thanksgiving that you can volunteer to help with serving meals. Or if you’re in Canada, maybe there was a similar opportunity for you to volunteer. Any volunteers that are needed will be advertised on local websites. At this community meal, volunteers will be fed too if they want. No thanks. My family is coming together for Thanksgiving and I want to save my meal for someone who truly needs it.

Uncategorized

Oh Wow, I’m 25!

Yesterday, on November 2nd, I celebrated my 25th birthday. This is a big thing for me, and it’s not because I’m a quarter of the way to 100 (people at the gym kept telling me that). It’s because I didn’t think I would live to see 25. The reason why I didn’t think I was going to live to be 25 years old was because of my declining mental health at the time and due to the fear that white supremacy was going to win. Not even 24 hours after Donald Trump was elected president, people started ripping hijabs off of people’s heads. Nooses were being found. People were being attacked. Racism is on the rise. I expected to be killed due to the color of my skin being “wrong”. End socio-political portion of this blog.

So what did I do on my birthday? I went to work and a team lead decided that we were going out to lunch to celebrate my birthday. We went to Panera Bread, which is within walking distance of the office. I also saw a baby snake in the office. We set it free, but I consider it my birthday snake and I will call it Paul. No, I don’t know why I picked the name Paul. After work, my parents, Franklin, and I went to Outback Steakhouse. My center-cut sirloin steak was a little hard to cut first. I like sirloin steaks because that cut of steak is mostly lean. Then I blew out candles and opened gifts when we returned home. What did I get, you ask? I got:

  • Two sets of new handwraps
  • An AMC Gold Experience Package (not sure if it’s called that, but the tickets are Gold tickets). This includes two Gold Experience tickets good for any movie, a voucher for a free small popcorn, and two vouchers for a free small drink. Franklin instantly declared that we’re using the tickets to see Thor: Ragnarok.
  • Two Panera Bread gift cards. Yay for not having to pack a lunch sometimes!
  • A personalized belt display for my kickboxing belts. This was not on my wishlist, but it was a last minute gift that my mom ordered once I came home with my green belt.
  • New sports bras. My previous ones were losing support so I bought two new ones to replace the old ones. Now I have more sports bras so I won’t have to worry about not having clean sports bras. Plus, these bind my chest a little.
  • A gold necklace with a pearl on it by the brand Tara bought at Smyth Jewelers. Yes, I was there to pick out my own necklace that Franklin bought me. Over a month ago, he decided to get me a necklace for my birthday because I was the only woman at a family event not wearing one. I’m not really a person who wears necklaces. I have a few others, though. I even wore this necklace to work today because I am making sure to get his money’s worth of use.

Also, my kickboxing coach texted me to wish me a happy birthday. That was a neat surprise. That’s all I wanted to say today. Now I will e-mail my boyfriend to see how drill went today.

Rant

Picky Eaters Aren’t Childish!

So as I was looking up blog posts about picky eaters, I got so enraged that I was almost in tears. When I saw a post on Reddit about this, I was made to feel childish. As I may have mentioned in more than one blog post, I’m a picky eater. I already feel bad about being a picky eater. Being called “childish” and “a deal breaker for dating” makes me feel worse. I can’t help it that I’m a picky eater. I don’t want to be a picky eater. I don’t want to have to look at restaurant menus to see if there is anything I can even eat. You all are failing to even consider the many (but not all) reasons why someone’s picky.

  • Food allergies and intolerances. My niece is allergic to peanuts, my best friend from university is allergic to mushrooms, and a cousin has Celiac Disease. While my best friend’s food trigger can be avoided more easily, it’s not very easy to avoid things made of peanut products or gluten (though there are more gluten-free options than when my cousin was diagnosed). You know what would happen if they weren’t picky about what they ate? They’d get sick. My niece and best friend will break out in hives and my cousin will end up with intestinal damage.
  • Mental health and neurodiversity. Many people with autism do not have many foods that they will eat without having a meltdown. Based on stories I have read, some people with autism have so few foods that they will eat that I can count with one hand. With other stories, I can use both hands. OCD can be a factor too, when it comes to foods touching, texture, color, etc. Now don’t go self-diagnosing yourself as OCD because of this.
  • In some cases, it’s a disorder. There are many conditions, besides the aforementioned autism, that is a factor in having what is called a “feeding disorder”. Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), formerly known as Selective Eating Disorder is one of them. ARFID is very selective eating that is not attributed to lack of available food, a medical condition, or mental health issue. Learn more about it here. I eat a lot of different foods in comparison to the people whose stories are on that site’s guestbook.
  • Food restrictions based on religion. Some religions prohibit the consumption of certain foods. A majority of people who follow the Hindu faith are vegetarians. Hindu practitioners who aren’t vegetarians still avoid beef. Muslims and certain sects of Judaism prohibit pork. I used to work with a woman who is vegetarian because she is Hindu. The barber in the hair salon I go to is Muslim. This is non-negotiable. They cannot eat your pulled pork sandwiches.
  • They’re vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, or anything else that means they don’t eat animal products and/or meat. With the exception of pescetarians who go to a seafood restaurant, there aren’t many options at restaurants for those who don’t eat meat. Yes, there are restaurants that only serve vegetarian or vegan meals, but how far do you have to go to find that if you don’t live in the city? I’m not a vegetarian, but the nearest vegetarian-only restaurant that I know of is about 26 miles away.

I am less picky than I used to be, but I’m still picky. My pickiness is largely based on how food looks. I’m also worried that if I order a new food at a restaurant, I won’t like it and I will have wasted money. I’m not picky based on texture, but I have liked certain foods or snacks because of its texture. Sometimes, me trying new foods would be a result of not having any choice. One time, Red Lobster ran out of chicken tenders on Mother’s Day, so I had to have a chicken caesar salad. I wanted to try the caesar salad, though, so I guess it wasn’t that bad of an experience. I also had to try beef stew one time at my ex-boyfriend’s family dinners to celebrate someone’s birthday. There was way too much wine in it. I’m sensitive with overpowering tastes, which is why I don’t like chocolate.

However, I have discovered foods that I like because of trying new things. I love sushi now, after trying it in March 2016. My boyfriend’s father’s cousin made the best French toast I ever had (I first tried it at my childhood friend Samantha’s 13th birthday sleepover). Franklin, honey, if you see this blog post, tell Ms. Linda to invite us over for brunch again. Maybe for Christmas? I first tried miso soup in 2014 when a moderator group I was a part of went out for Japanese food. Very delicious. I always get miso soup with my sushi.

So shame on you if you want to stigmatize people for something that it turns out they can’t control. Trust me, we don’t want to be picky eaters either.

Mental Health · Workplace

I Was a Victim of Workplace Bullying

October is Bullying Prevention Month. There was also a recent workplace shooting two miles away from where I’m currently working. A coach in kickboxing told me that the guy was bullied at work. Due to these reasons, I must come out and talk about my experience with workplace bullying.

In August 2015, I finished a 20-week intensive developer training and started employment at a company. More than a month later, I was starting to have problems. One main problem was this one guy who joined my project team. He gravitated towards me because I have the same issues with programming that he does. He would show me things that helped him, but sometimes he would treat me as if I was cognitively disabled. At one point, he directly asked me if I have any learning disabilities because it seems like I did. It hit me hard because he has a few learning disabilities (turns out I have ADHD, but didn’t find that out until this past June. That explains why I have trouble thinking in ways programmers have to think). I was also told that I tried too hard to make friends with a group of people I started sitting with at lunch.

I tried to get my mom to get me evaluated for learning disabilities and autism, since many disabilities don’t get picked up as kids. Disabilities don’t always get picked up because people learn to adapt. She wouldn’t do it. I know she doesn’t want to think about having a child with specific issues. She had a younger brother with autism. I ended up having to see my third (and final) therapist after a mental breakdown at home where I said I wanted to shoot up my workplace. I was also having homicidal thoughts. I stress this part because if it wasn’t for the fact that we had metal detectors at both entrances of the building I worked at during that time, I would have been the one on the news. People would strengthen gun control (which is necessary, IMO, but don’t focus on that in your comments) to further stigmatize people with mental illness because of me.

So I saw a therapist on Thursdays once a week, then later once every two weeks. It wasn’t effective. I recently learned why therapy doesn’t work for me, and it’s due to an aspect of ADHD that describes me. That’s irrelevant, though. People started rumors about me and also actively tried to get me fired. I had to report the rumors to my mentor because if the higher-ups heard about it, I’d likely have been either terminated or put on a performance improvement plan (which almost always leads to being fired anyways). Many months in, every meeting with the exception of daily standup meetings mentioned how I need help with things. The team thought it would motivate me to become better, but I shut down. I stopped caring about work. I was only there to make money and leave.

Things got so bad that I started having physical manifestations of my mental health issues. I noticed a few bumps on my right hand. A few days later, they appeared on my left hand. Then they spread to part of my forearms. At this point, I thought I was having an allergic reaction to something. Even at my childhood friend’s sleepover for her husband’s birthday, I woke up with my arms itching like crazy. They have a cat, so I was scared I was finally becoming allergic. Luckily, as I discover a week later, was not the case. These bumps even spread to my face for a day. The Monday after my friend’s husband’s birthday, I got let go from my job as a part of a wave of layoffs. That night, I was at my itchiest. Then on Wednesday, my bumps were clearing up. I chalked it up to one of two things: a reaction to a different body wash due to my sensitive skin, or a physical manifestation of my anxiety disorder.

On Wednesday, October 11th, I celebrated a year with my current company. Even now, I have still have lingering issues with what I went through at my old job. One person described it as post-traumatic issues (but they are not a licensed therapist so I’m ignoring that statement). I am making sure I don’t do anything that will make me a target for bullying. I have sadly found a potential bully on my current project. I hope I won’t have to return to therapy because I might as well quit my job if that happens.

Books · lgbt

“Harmony” Book Review

It’s another LGBT book! It’s another review! One day, I will have a book review that I can post on YouTube. Well, I already do, but I still haven’t done the review yet. I forget how I found this book. Probably also online in the Gay and Lesbian book section of Powell’s Books. I’m going to need a bookshelf for all the LGBT books I want.

Meet Andrea (mostly referred to as Andy in the book). She is a viola player in a string group that plays at people’s weddings. Meet Brooke, the bride-to-be who hired the string group to play at her wedding. When Brooke met Andy, it caused Brooke to unleash feelings that were forcibly suppressed for years. Join Brooke as she learns more about herself.

It took me so long to finally read this book. I got the book for Christmas last year, but didn’t start reading it until the last day of June. I finally finished the book on the last day of September. I’m not exactly a slow reader.

The first few chapters and the final few chapters are pretty short while the chapters in the middle were longer. I think the book went too fast in regards to Andy and Brooke desiring each other. A few chapters into the book (I believe chapter 3), Brooke and Andy go back to Andy’s apartment for… things that go past making out. I also didn’t like Brooke’s character very much. As much as I relate to her in having trouble with establishing a sense of self when everyone dictates your life, I did not like that she seemed to play with Andy’s heart when deciding what to do with her life.

I honestly thought that Brooke was actually bisexual and this is another book that showcases the lack of bisexual representation in books and the media. However, when I read more of this book, it was clear that Brooke truly is a lesbian. Yes, she was engaged to a man, but she was living her life the way her parents wanted her to live her life. When she started realizing that she likes girls, her parents sent her to therapy as a way to make her straight. We have now learned that conversion therapy is psychologically harmful.

One thing I like about the book is that feminism is a part of the book without it being a major theme. Andy is passionate about female composers, especially since female composers are not a thing that people are aware of. When people think composer, people think of men. Near the end of the book, a guest conductor talks to the orchestra and stresses the importance of the concert they’ll be playing. The conductor is also passionate about women being composers and talks about the time when women couldn’t be composers. The conductor advocates for women by hosting a concert made only of songs composed by women. As a feminist who wants women to be supported and uplifted in male-dominated fields, I liked that part.

Despite me not liking Brooke’s character too much, I want to one day be like her. She learned to stop living the life that others want her to live and started living the life she wanted. This year, 2017, I started working towards that. I’m still struggling with it, and I know that my parents are struggling with the fact that I didn’t turn out the way they wanted me to be. A person without mental health issues, a person who believes in God, a person who doesn’t care about what people think. Although I will never be free of mental health issues, will always care about what people think, and can’t find anything logical about religion (and feels that religion can harm more than help), I have to start being what I want.