Saturday, July 27, 2013

On the conflict of writing this post on a Google platform and what that has to do with sex

I'm not sure how to deal with this article about the "dark side of Startup City."

I have a tech startup job I adore. As someone who grew up on a computer, my job allows me to use skills I've been developing since I was about nine or ten, when I used to log onto Prodigy to play RPGs. I have the Internet to thank for allowing a sort of shy, troubled, wounded kid to socialize in meaningful ways. I know how to handle virtually any CMS and set up stories for the web because I used to Livejournal. I was an early adopter of Twitter. Since the beginning I've been touched by the social aspect of technology ... and now I get to do it for a #living.

I acknowledge I was privileged to have access to a computer since such a young age. I hope one day every kid gets her own classroom laptop.

Living in San Francisco, experiencing the effects of tech on the city, having to dodge the Google buses as I ride my bike to work, I am forced to consider some of the new challenges I think the entire world will have to face. For a hot minute, I tried to find my own place in San Francisco, but they actually wanted $1500 a month for that studio in the Haight. I understand there are some concessions one makes to live in a desirable city and I'm willing to make them. I grew up in a house with a backyard no one tended to and as far as I am concerned, the smaller the space, the less there is to clean, so I embrace apartment dwelling. But, I mean, still! The studio was smaller than my current bedroom. I've decided to stay where I am and find a roommate because ultimately, the thought of never seeing my corner store dude again sort of devastated me. That's community, right?

A few nights ago, the building manager of the $1500 studio saw me out in the Haight. She ran up to tell me that out of everyone she saw at the open house that day, she advocated the most for me, but I was ultimately denied because I didn't meet the income requirements. I'm making more money than I ever have before and I guess I still can't afford my own place. I thought I was doing pretty okay!

Outrageous rent and anonymous space shuttles carting around blissfully unaware techies ... I think these issues are all pretty complex and nuanced, the tips of icebergs set in place by decisions people made years ago. I'm glad these issues are making their precedents in San Francisco because I think it will set the tone for the rest of the country (and I think San Francisco will set an appropriate one).

This speaks to larger scale problem-solving and conflict resolution, which is something I've been trying to be mindful of. How does one listen to all points without bias (The ego?) and devise the best strategy? If you ask me (you didn't), the impossible rent and Google shuttles are sniffling-nose symptoms of patriarchal hierarchical practices (racism, sexism, classism) founded in part by dogmatic (Western?) religion, so my secret -- albeit long-gestating -- little weapon of activism is just being a strong woman who supports the endeavors of other women (of color). But unless people are willing to have that conversation, then I don't really think we can hope to undo anything.

I mean, speaking of patriarchal practices of oppression, I know I'm late to the game, but yikes! That "Blurred Lines" song and accompanying video is uh, unsettling? Which is really too bad because I like sex. I like campy sex. I have a secret wardrobe of revealing clothing and I've taken back the word "slut" more than a few times. I could sit and tell you everything that's gross and creepy and wrong with "Blurred Lines," but if you don't already see that, then you're just another victim of #rapeculture. And anyway, since we're talking about solutions, I was just thinking about how cool it would be if they had featured a woman rapper who threw in an interlude about how yeah, she hella wants Robin Thicke to bone her, and how fun it is to seduce each other because ultimately, she is consenting to having sex with Robin Thicke, or T.I., or Pharrell -- or, fuck it, all of them at once.

I don't want to embed the Thicke video here, so I'm posting this satire instead (I want one of each, please ... the men and the women):

Speaking of sex, I was trying to find a female equivalent of the word "womanizer" since I was ruminating on my current approach to casual dating. It was just a thought exercise, but I was disappointed to realize that while "womanizer" and "cad" have sort of charming connotations (think James Bond), "slut" certainly does not (Paris Hilton came to mind?). So if you're pissed about gentrification and heaving tech bubbles, consider the larger picture: institutionalized systems of oppression starting with the very way we perceive half the population as mere objects without voice.

Or -- whatever -- one can always retreat into nihilism.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Blogs are totally subversive

My profession -- and therefore my world -- is consumed with micro-blogging. Even at its longest, my daily professional writing rarely exceeds 200 words.

Let us never forget July 4th, 2013, when, standing on a rooftop in Noe Valley as the sky crackled around us, I (almost) fiercely defended the legitimacy of social media. I say "almost" because I quickly realized it was a battle not worth having because hah! Access to social media is a really privileged thing.

However, where I used to blog (or -- eek! -- Livejournal) I now write too-long posts on Facebook that Edgerank hides or scattered 140 character spits on Twitter. I have this blog but I don't write it in because guess what? Writing professionally can make you word-constipated. Even when you just write about cats and dogs. Everything has to be profound and polished and strategic.

But then I found myself wrapped up in this Bossy Femme blog and I was like, "Hey! This isn't perfect, but this person is intriguing." And then I went to post on Facebook and then I was like, "Don't do that, silly. Use your blog."

So here I am.

I spent all day sleeping after coming home with sand in my shoes because I am not feeling 100% and I am supposed to go on Vacation(!) next week. Except now I'm awake at one in the morning. #messlife

I have been in a funk because I have been worrying a lot. My primary concern right now is moving and its implications, as well as the effect it's going to have on my finances.

For the past year and a half I have been living with my kid sister and it's proved detrimental. Okay, that's a dramatic word for it when, really, my family is just sort of dysfunctional and it depresses me and it's not their fault, but I can't have anything to do with them. I know! It's crazy! There's this weirdo American idea that "family" is this thing -- this Norman Rockwell illustration of cozy holiday dinners -- but that's not what "family" looks like for me! "Family" looks like me moving out of the house as soon as I turned eighteen. The point is I need my own home. (I'll cover #familydramz and #newradicalfamily ideas in another post.)

There is this apartment that I really want in the Lower Haight. It's a studio and people from anywhere else in the country would balk at the monthly rent. These are the issues my proximity to my dream have elicited:

  1. DAT RENT will have a sort of significant impact on my finances.
    • Becomes:
      1. How dare I complain about not being able to afford spontaneous Britney Spears style trips to Walgreens, "WHY ARE YOU SUCH A PRIVILEGED BRAT, LIZ?!"
        1. "You've lived on much less before, Liz, and had a blast. You can do it again."
      2. Shouldn't I be spending that money on life-enriching things like travel?
        1. But I don't want roommates? 
        2. It's my money -- I can spend it however I want?
        3. But having a well-decorated home of my own is what I've always dreamed of?
      3. This would be easier if I just gave in and found myself a partner to live with.
        1. How dare the government punish single people -- I will not give into your heteronormativity. I am a committed eternal bachelorette for many good reasons (among them that extremely intimate relationships are problematic for me).
  2. But if I spend all this money on rent and decorating my new place, it will be that much more difficult to leave.
    • Becomes:
      1. Why am I always thinking of leaving? Why do I live my life around how much it will cost to move it? Why do I live my life wondering how many boxes I could stuff it in?
      2. Is it okay to settle down?
      3. Where the hell else in the world besides San Francisco could I really live as a pink-haired, face-pierced, hairy, polyamorous, kinky queer who works in social media and still be regarded as not only a professional, but an expert?
      4. It's okay to finally "come home" -- I am not destined to become my parents.
      5. If I "settle down" I won't have the upheaval of change to distract me from dealing with some of my more constant issues -- AND THEN WHAT?!
  3. Why is everything so much easier for everyone else?
    1. "Hahah, shut up, Liz, that's not true." 
      1. Okay, I know.
Yesss ... I just outlined my anxiety. Which is cool. I feel more in control of it now.

The truth is this is what I want. This is the Pinterest dream come to life. I shouldn't feel ashamed for how I want to spend my money -- it is, after all, my hard-earned money.

Nor should I fret about things "not working out," because, so far, things have. I forget to give myself credit. I came to San Francisco with nothing but a meager savings. Everyone said it would be difficult -- and it was -- but I was resourceful and now I am in a position where I can realistically consider rent in a certain price range. I will still get to travel. I will still get to eat oysters. Things are going to continue to improve because I am far more clever and strategic than I'd like to believe. Not only that, but I am already very lucky to be able to live this life.

And no, committing to a city for longer than five years won't turn me into my parents, especially when I am living in one of the most exciting cities in the world. San Francisco is problematic in many ways, but in a lot of other ways, it's almost perfect. Maybe it's okay to fall in love forever, especially if that city has taught you how to fall more in love with yourself.

Speaking of self-love, it's time to get back to sleep so I can be well for my trip to Los Angeles -- the other almost perfect city in the world.

P.S. I know the hashtags are totally useless. #stylechoice

P.P.S. I need to do this more often -- for realsies.