Feminist Joys: Impressing International Acquaintances

So yesterday, I went to kickboxing. While I was putting on my handwraps, a mysterious woman walks in. The woman, I soon learn, is a boxer from Germany who comes to exercise in the gym whenever she is visiting the United States.

I heard she just finished her Master’s degree and has not been able to train due to having to study all the time. I want to get my Master’s degree so I asked her what her degree is in and which school she went to. This is how I found out she’s from Germany. She told me that in order to be a teacher in Germany, you have to have a Master’s degree. Here in the United States, teachers don’t need Master’s degrees unless they want to be college professors. We continued talking about the differences between United States schools and German schools. In Germany, secondary school starts in 5th grade.

She asked me what I want to get my Master’s degree in. I told her Computer Science. She figured it was mostly guys in that field. She is very correct. I told her that I’m a software engineer and told her an overview what I have been doing at my job (didn’t go into details since having a security clearance means not to discuss what projects are specifically about). She said she was very impressed.

And that’s why I named my blog post “Feminist Joys: Impressing International Acquaintances”. Many times, feminists and womanists have things to rightfully be enraged about, especially in this political climate. To me, this is something to be happy about.

The future teacher of 5th through 10th grade students is here until mid-January. With her boxing experience, she would be a good sparring partner. Sometimes I’m the only woman in the combined boxing/kickboxing class and one of the black belt kickboxers feels like I should spar against women more often. I’m the oldest female who is a regular attendee in class, with the second oldest being in high school. I feel like I’ll be less scared to spar against our friendly visitor compared to sparring against my coach. It will be a good way for her to return to boxing. Due to having to study so much for her degree, she said she’s in the worst shape of her life. Anyways, she won’t be here for too long. She will return to Germany to start teaching in February. Good luck with teaching, Izzy!


Self-Reflection: My Thoughts from Volunteering on Thanksgiving Morning

This blog post is a follow-up to my post Oooh, A Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunity. Thought anyone who read that post would want to know how things went.

It’s Thanksgiving. A time to gather with family and friends to eat food and hopefully not have to work. I got to spend Thanksgiving with my parents, boyfriend, brother, sister-in-law, and niece. My grandparents are having car trouble so they weren’t able to make it :(. Franklin was looking forward to seeing my grandmother again. Double sad face. But before I got to eat food and play pirates with my niece and boyfriend, I did some volunteer work.

Let me talk about some things that were mentioned in the above linked blog post first.

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.

When I got to the community center at 10 AM, I had to park in the grass since there were many more volunteers than parking spaces. Many of us had to park on the grass. I walked into the community center and signed in. I was asked what I wanted to do and I told the person at the sign-in desk that I wanted to serve meals. She told me where I needed to go and I walked into another part of the community center. In that section were the people behind the tables who were handling the food, people who were lined up holding the Styrofoam containers that the food will go into (these people were called “runners”), and the people who were in charge of packing up the meals for people who were delivering. I was one of the runners, and it involved 2.5 hours of walking in an oval-shaped. Got lots of walking done.

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.

I did not have to worry about being turned away due to too many volunteers. I think if I showed up any later, then there would not have been enough servers, runners, or meal packer positions for me to do anything. Though I had my GPS with me to drive to the community center, I don’t feel comfortable driving to unfamiliar places unless I do a test run and don’t need to go on an interstate highway. I took a route that was 10 minutes longer just to avoid driving on the interstate to get to and from the community center.

So let me go into detail on my runner role for today’s volunteer opportunity. When I got assigned to the runner role, I got in line with another group of volunteers. Gloves were passed around since we’re going to be around food. We were told what we needed to do and were shown where the Styrofoam containers were located. There were two lines since we had 1,000 planned meals that were going to be delivered. I think the meals for people eating at the community center were served in another room. Those two lines had the same foods. Once I grabbed a container, I went through the line to get the following food items placed in the containers in order: stuffing, mashed potatoes (later changed to macaroni and cheese), turkey, corn, green beans, sweet potatoes, and gravy to go over the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and turkey. We would then go to a table to close the containers and leave the containers at the table before going around to repeat the process of grabbing a Styrofoam container and having the meals placed in the container. I did this until a little after 12:30 PM.

During that time walking around in circles, I befriended a younger person studying graphic design. She will be studying abroad at a university in Seoul, Korea next semester. Best of luck to her. Like me, it was her first time volunteering for this specific event. She found out about the volunteer opportunity through someone at her church while I learned about the event from an online news site called “The Patch”. The Patch has local news, but it has a Patch for many cities around the United States. She said she’ll definitely be back next year and I thought it was a good way to do something other than sitting around waiting for family. We exchanged phone numbers at the end.

So what are my thoughts about the volunteer activity? Even though I did not see the dining room or the line of people waiting to be served meals, I still feel like I made a difference. Some people don’t want to donate money due to many charities using a majority of the donated money to pay their workers instead of using a majority of the money for their cause. Here, we’re donating our time and have something tangible to give to those in need. Also, during one of the first few times I was having food placed in a container I was holding, I had the thought of “What if I was in line to get food so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting a meal?” A few people I talked to wanted to do this too, but I didn’t see them. I probably missed them since they showed up earlier.

Maybe a few people can join me next year.

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.


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.


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.


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.