Who Lied To You?

“Who lied to you?” It’s just such a versatile question. Usually it comes out when I hear people’s ridiculous expectations for adulthood. I have low expectations from life. Some would call me cynical but I prefer the term pragmatic.

 

To clarify, I don’t mean that I’ve resigned myself to being unhappy. Far from it. My parents made sure I had a healthy self-esteem, and they’re very encouraging of me pursuing my career goals. They were also supportive of my decision to get married at a young age. But they never let me operate under the illusion that things would just be handed to me, that the world is naturally fair and just, or that I would never experience disappointment.

Some people think you should raise your kids without fear of limits, and I agree with that up to a point. There’s no need to tell 5 year old Johnny, who wants to be a movie star, that the odds of him just being able to make a living off  chewing gum commercials and bit parts like  “Guy at Bar #2” are slim to none. But 13 year old Johnny who just joined the drama club, got a part in the school play and announced he wants to go to Juilliard needs a reality check. Don’t crush his dreams, but he needs to be looking at community theater and acting lessons and open casting calls like yesterday. And if he’s not willing to give up quality time with his Xbox to work towards his dream, then maybe he’s just interested in acting as a hobby and should consider other career options.

So yeah, adulthood is expensive as f*ck. And stressful at times. But am I surprised that workplace politics are often reminiscent of grade school? Or that nobody congratulates you for cooking at home and paying your bills on time? Or that as a woman, sometimes people are more concerned about my marital/motherhood status than my job goals? No, no, and no. Shoot, sometimes when things go left I honestly wish I had an excuse to be mad. But (un)fortunately, nobody lied to me!

A lot of my peers also seem to be really invested in becoming known. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’ve never really wanted to be famous. Sure it would be cool, but (possibly to my detriment in this branding focused world) I’m more of a get sh*t done and let the chips fall where they may kind of girl. The only validation I’m seeking is my own contentment because the approval of others is a fickle beast. I don’t have time for it.

 

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How to Lose an Employee

Every other week there’s an article about how Millennial employees are all lazy, entitled brats. Well, the truth is that sometimes the problem is a little higher up the food chain. Below are the best practices for running off anyone in your organization who wants to see it succeed…

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  1. Be unclear about your expectations.  Whenever possible, give out work assignments with competing priorities and no additional guidance. Sink or swim!
  2. Emphasize form over function. Reward low performing employees who milk the clock by coming early, staying late, and getting little to nothing done. Chastise anyone who leaves less than an hour after closing time, even if they’re high performers.
  3. Delegate, but don’t train. Why should managers do any work as long as there is a lower ranked employee around? Pile on the to-dos, but don’t show them how to actually do their job. They’ll figure it out and if they don’t– fire them!
  4. Never admit that management could be improved. If anything goes wrong, it’s always the underling’s fault. Deny any knowledge of a crisis. Always throw your employees under the bus, that’s what they’re there for after all.
  5. Minimize feedback. Don’t take the time to meet with your employees unless something is wrong. Never give them a chance to correct the problem early. Much better to ambush them with a 10 page dossier of shortcomings so that it can really sink in.
  6. Overwork and underpay. Pay the minimum acceptable wage for every position and don’t pay benefits. Who needs full medical and dental with Obamacare? Employee bonuses should never be expected. A new car for the CEO gives peons something to strive toward–it’s practically motivational.

Back to the Future

It’s 2015- the year that Marty McFly traveled to in Back to the Future II. We’ve arrived, y’all. But while everybody else is worried about self-lacing sneakers, hoverboards and flying cars, I want to know where my Jetsons-style conveyor belt automatic shower/groomer is. Anyway, going into a new year always makes people ripe for reflection and I’m no different. Last year I was mostly concerned with getting my law license. This year, I really want a full time job (or a clear sign that I need to be putting my energy into entrepreneurship).  Other than that, my goals are fitness related but I’d rather expound on that in a different post. So for my New Year’s entry, I’m giving you a list of 10 things that could have been blog posts but weren’t. Enjoy!

1. I’m deeply uncomfortable with this new TMI world we live in. There’s a difference between keeping it real and oversharing. Just seems like nothing is sacred or private anymore (people take selfies on the toilet, for God’s sake). The desire to be their authentic is eroding discretion. Example:  S.ex is wonderful, but I don’ care to hear about bedroom gymnastics, or anything related to it, from anyone but my husband. You can be gay, straight, or humping a goat- I’m going to figuratively stick my fingers in my ear and yell “LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” if you start spilling the details. Sorry, I’m a retro model.

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2. A lot of stuff gets lumped under the umbrella of shaming and intolerance. And I’ve lived long enough to know there is plenty of that out in the world. But there are times when it seems that folks just can’t handle it when others won’t  validate your life choices by agreeing with them. Part of being an adult is learning that

a) You don’t need the world’s approval for everything you do, and you won’t get it.

b) Sometimes the reward for living life the way you want, is simply living your life the way you want.

3. Freedom of  speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences. Sony learned that lesson when they got hacked and all the water cooler gossip they’d been emailing back and forth got out*. So did a bunch of people on this Tumblr when their racist antics got back to their employers. Some things are best kept to yourself.

 

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4. Being married is boring sometimes. But so is life. You don’t kill yourself out of boredom so why kill your relationship? I think part of the reason people divorce so much is that we’ve got too many options (Tinder, Snapchat, Match.com) and too much time to think about them. 100 years ago there were no washing machines computers, tv,  or microwave ovens. The US population has more than tripled (from 100.5 million to 320 million) in that time so there are quite literally more options out there. At some point, you gotta learn to be happy with what you got, and make it work. And if you’re bored, here’s a hint: try being interesting and see what happens.

5. Sometimes you just have to let  it go. Unless you suffer from a mental illness like depression, happiness is a choice. Stop doing things that make you unhappy. Step away from the computer screen and dance to your favorite song, call a family member, hit that tree pose, whatever. People make changes when they get fed up. If you’re not at that point yet? Shut up and stop lying to yourself and annoying everybody else.

 

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6. “Friend” isn’t a word I use lightly. Friendship means we have each other’s backs. We tell each other the truth even when it’s uncomfortable. We can make mistakes and forgive each other. But most of all, we reciprocate. I have never been popular, and I’ve had a lot of alleged friendships that ended badly.** So I want to know that my friendship is reciprocated. We all get wrapped up in our hectic lives. But if I can look back a full calendar year and my only  contact with you was when you’re returning a call/text/smoke signal from me, I assume we’re not that close. You think about the people you care about most. If we’re really friends, at some point you should think “Hey, I haven’t talked to Lecie in a while, let me see what’s up with her.” Folks who are married and/or a parent get more leeway but at this point, most people I know don’t fall into those categories.

7. If you can’t afford hired help, being a housewife is hard. Balancing a budget, meal planning and grocery shopping, the neverending drudgery of dirty dishes, calling the bank/cable guy/insurance company to avoid bogus fees and keep from getting the runaround….not sure how I’m going to juggle once I’m working full time. As for the dishes at least, I finally said “eff the planet” and bought paper plates. Totally worth it.

8. Why do plane tickets cost so freaking much for so little? The widest economy seat today is still narrower than the smallest economy a mere 10 years ago, and boarding times have tripled. All so they can nickel and dime you with stupid up-charges. You’d think since fuel costs (probably largest variable cost for any airline) are dropping, ticket prices would go down. Nope. F*ck capitalism.

 

I could go on (rants #onfleek), but my word count is long enough as it is. Ciao!

 

 

*PRO TIP: By this point everyone should really know that you just do NOT talk sh*t via work email. Honestly, for the purposes of plausible deniability you shouldn’t write down your sh*t talking at all, but if you absolutely must, do it on your personal email, on your personal device, on your personal internet connection. You’re welcome.

**Yes, I know the common denominator is me. But given that I have very honest friends and none of them has yet to tell me that I’m an extraordinarily difficult person to make friends with, I think I just had a run of character-developing bad luck.

 

 

Being Human

From my Facebook page:

These riots didn’t happen in a vacuum. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning them. But people are feeling angry and hopeless. For the past 200 years black folks have been trying to beg and plead our way to acceptance. The model of peaceful protest, Martin Luther King Jr., got shot in the head anyway.

What more do you want us to do? We change our diction; we straighten our hair; we starch and iron our clothes; we use our inside voices; we get degrees and move to the right neighborhoods. What happens? We get a pat on the head and our brothers and sisters who are too poor or maybe too proud to stamp out every sign of their cultural identity continue to be slaughtered in the streets and thrown in jail for offenses that result in no arrest or mere community service for their white counterparts.

THE GAME IS RIGGED. And in the age of information, a refusal to see the facts or connect the dots is willful complicity in the perpetuation of racism. Yes, racism. If you see a white man with a gun as a patriot exercising his 2nd Amendment rights, but a black man with a gun as a thug, you’re racist. Period. But you know what? Change is the only constant in life and you have the ability to break free of your mental conditioning. But most of you won’t because it’s easier to believe that black people are incapable, or choose not to succeed, than to admit that a large part of your privilege and comfort in life was built on the backs of slaves and continues to benefit from the blood, sweat and tears of black folks.

Trayvon Martin. Jordan Davis. Renisha McBride. Mike Brown. Tamir Rice.  What do they have in common? They were all gunned down by scared white people.

Fear is a monster. And I will never understand why it is so hard to see past brown skin to our shared humanity. We, too, sing America. We like to eat, drink, sleep and fall in love. Just like anyone else. So our voices are louder, our speech more colorful, our hair more buoyant and our features fuller. We are people first and foremost. Some of us are slowly starting to understand that degrees and the King’s English won’t protect us. Ever since we were carted across the Atlantic, the idea that we might one day rise up against our oppressors and exact bloody vengeance has taken deep root in their collective psyche. The truly sad thing is that most black folks don’t really want that. Nor do we want “special treatment”. We want TRUE equality. The kind that means a multi-syllabic, creatively punctuated name won’t get your resume tossed in the trash. The kind that means we can ask for help from a neighbor without fear that we’ll be shot in the face. The kind that means we can trust the police to serve and protect us too. The kind that means a black man in baggy clothes can be thought of as a hipster instead of a thug.

When will America get that there is nothing to fear? That love is more powerful than hate? That all we want is to be your countrymen in word, thought and deed?

 

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In Defense of Millenials

I love to see a good anti-millenial article. It makes me chuckle. Why? Because all this concern trolling intentionally ignores the fact that the world is fundamentally different than it was when our parents were our age. Like, 180 degrees type different. If I had graduated from law school in the 90s, I could have easily landed a $60k/yr job with full benefits at a local firm (BEFORE passing the bar) and that would have been considered mediocre. These days you’re ecstatic to get $40k/yr. And if you can get $50/mo on your health insurance premium and two weeks PAID vacation? Ballin’!

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So in defense of my generation, today I’ll be cheerfully dismantling some of the vicious lies spread about us. All aboard the Snark Express!

 

1. Millenials are responsible for stores being open on Thanksgiving day because they’re “more than happy to leave the dinner and go shopping.” Well, when you’re already living with your parents, Thanksgiving is just another Thursday! The turkey’s gonna last a week and we can DVR the football game. We definitely can’t afford a house and the new smart tv only goes on sale once a year. Fiscal responsibility FTW!

2. Millenials are destroying brands like McDonalds and Coke. When you can’t afford health insurance, you realize pretty quickly that your health is your greatest asset- and maintaining it means staying away from the things that you know for a fact are going to kill you. Coke? Nah, we’ll have the water without the side of stomach ulcer. McDonalds? We’ll save our dollars for Chipotle- at least their meat is 100% actual meat. *shudder*

3. Millenials are failures at dating and don’t know how to love.  Ha! Money can’t buy you love, but it sho nuff pays the bills. Between grad school, our unpaid internship, our minimum wage part time job, and our side hustle, who has the time (or disposable income) to date anymore? Sex is free and we can squeeze it in between class and updating our resumes. Besides, if the Greatest Generation had Tinder back in those days, they wouldn’t have bothered with dinner dates either. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

4. Millenials don’t know basic skills like sewing. I’ll take that L. The only thing I can do with a needle and thread is stitch a hole and put a button on. It would be nice to be able to make an outfit from scratch, but when you can just pick up a $12 shirt and $25 pair of jeans from Old Navy…why bother? Besides, these skills were usually taught in classes like Home Economics, which are getting cut all the time to make room for more standardized test cramming. Knowing how to make  Rice Krispies treats and wool socks isn’t going to get us into college.

5. Millenials are to blame for Hollywood’s excessive mining of nostalgia to sell movie tickets. When you’re thousands of dollars in student loan debt and can only afford an apartment by living with 3 roommates, you tend to take comfort in your childhood pastimes. Since our childhood memories are wrapped up in media that is still readily available, we can and do indulge frequently. The emergence of social media also means that our media consumption habits are amplified and easily quantified by the Hollywood brass. Sorry we’re not sorry! #TeamAutobot

6. Millenials are lazy and taking too long to grow up. Ah, the catchall indictment of 20-somethings. The great irony is that not a single one of us is really excited to be living the struggle life. I for one would love to have the funds to put down $10k on a house. I look forward to the day when I make $300,000/yr and don’t have to rely on a tax refund to pad my savings account. Unfortunately, the business world simply can’t (or won’t) support the influx of young, educated people at a wage where we can achieve complete financial independence. Sure, many of us are entrepreneurial- but it usually takes 3 years for a business to turn a profit. In the meantime, our choices are a) hit up mom and dad; b) sell drugs or get on the pole; or c) give up and live in a box on the sidewalk.

All humor aside, any rational adult should be able to realize that millenials are just trying to make it. There were plenty of self-involved Boomers, they just weren’t visible on the same scale that we are. The only reason many of us seem “entitled” is that we know for a fact we’ve worked harder than previous generations and have zero to show for it. Think about it: high school math now goes through calculus; the SAT has an extra section;  many of us had to pass a standardized test just to graduate high school; college admissions are more selective than ever; and we’re competing for jobs with people who will work for pennies overseas. Expensive cars and home ownership are out of reach, so why not buy the new iPhone? Until the government intervenes in a big way- like forgiving some (or all) of our student loans, subsidizing mortgages for folks with advanced degrees and low incomes, or making corporate America funnel some of that bailout money into entry- and mid-level jobs that require professional skills- we’ll just have to muddle through as best we can. And instead of crying about it, we’ll smile- and take a selfie.

 

Justice can see just fine

 

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I am not licensed to give legal advice. This is a commentary on basic theories put forth in legal education. Absolutely nothing in this post or this blog should be construed as legal advice.

Alrighty then, let’s get to it. As a black person, law school completely shatters any remaining notions you may have had that justice is blind and impartial. Bullshiggity. As my AP US History teacher told us, “The Constitution was written by and for rich white male property owners.” Despite amendments to the contrary, it remains that way in fact. The problem is not so much with the machinations of the legal system as with access. Except for cases of criminal defendants, lawyers ain’t free. You gotta pay to play in the court system.

Sometimes (okay, make that a lot of times), what’s legal isn’t always right or fair. For instance, unless you work for the government your boss can do just about anything short of harassment. Unpaid overtime? Consistently changing your hours at the last minute? Making you reschedule your vacation even though you put in for it six months ago and have someone to cover your work? All legal, and doubly so if you’re in an “at will” employment state (meaning you don’t sign a contract to work for them). So what if that baby isn’t yours…if you were married when she was born, you gotta take care of her (assumed paternity). If you promised your baby mama that you’d pay child support as long as she didn’t take you to court and later found out you weren’t the father…sorry, you’re a daddy now! Pay up.*

The latest legal issue to irk me is the Wal-Mart wage discrimination case. The Supreme Court denied class action certification** because the class, which was thousands of female employees, was unmanageably large. Having just finished my second semester of Civil Procedure, my legal mind gets it. We owe fairness to the defendant as well as the plaintiffs, and trying to decide how to provide relief in the form of money damages would be problematic. Trying to prove that Walmart had an overarching policy of discrimination that trickled down into the management of hundreds of thousands of stores, is problematic. However, Walmart is a multibillion dollar international corporation. In order to ensure efficiency and uniformity of management, common sense says that if you can find more than one store in more than one state that discriminates against women, they’re all doing it. At any case, that’t the crux of the issue to be tried! Courts are supposed to be efficient, but we live in a world of Big Business and the courts have a responsibility to adjudicate the big messes they create. And they shouldn’t get to brush off a case simply because it would be hard to prosecute.

 

*How in the world you can sleep with two men before getting pregnant and believe one to definitely be the father “in good faith” is patently ridiculous to me.