Posted on April 24th 2009, 7:19 pm
The time has come!! And by that I mean I finally got my blog working again. Apparently a plugin for twitter broke things somehow. Now you won't see the "Tweet this" button. Oh well. Maybe it'll come back later when it's fixed fully.
The latest news in my life...I'm unemployed! I know I know...you're thinking "What?!! When did this happen?!! Why?!!" Well let me tell you the story. Three weeks ago today I was walked into the office yet again. I was surprised because it was a total blindsiding. I had to speak directly to HR via the phone. Apparently someone had reported my freelance work anonymously, and since I was doing work with a home builder, there was concern it was a conflict of interest.
They asked me to describe my relationship to the client and why I never reported the work to management. The work I took was video editing for a local client. I made my decision to take the work based on several reasons. The client had recently dropped a big production house contract. So they weren't interested in working with another big house. Specifically, they wanted freelancers. They didn't have the budget to pay that much. So I knew they couldn't pay the rates the company I worked for charges. Most importantly though, they wanted Full HD utilizing a very modern camera. The company I worked for did not have the capacity to work with the footage at all. So it was in no way competing with my employer. I felt very assured that it wasn't a conflict at all. So I never reported it.
I explained that to HR and they took the information and perused over it for several days. They came back to me the following Wednesday, April 8th. They said that they did believe it was a conflict. I was presented with a memo that stated that I would have to drop my relationship with my client and sign to continue my job. I took a couple hours to figure out if this was what I wanted to do.
I truly felt that I had made the right decision. I did not feel this was a conflict of interest at all. I even had my logic confirmed to me by management locally. So I was at a loss as to why corporate felt differently. In my heart, I knew I had done nothing wrong. To add to that, I really enjoyed my freelance work. It was about the only thing in my life revolving work that actually fulfilled me creatively and personally. Plus, I needed the extra income. This work was basically digging me out of a hole that I needed to dig out of. My budget was monthly in the red without the work. So I had to choose between financial difficulty or more financial difficulty. For me it was a catch 22 all along.
What it came down to for me is a moral decision. I felt that by signing the memo, I would be admitting wrong doing. I couldn't do that when I know I didn't. I realized that no matter what, I had to be happy with myself. Anyone that had been talking to me a lot lately knew how unhappy I was working there. So with both my morals and my happiness in question, I chose to not sign knowing full well I'd get fired.
I came back and told them I wouldn't sign and why. I thought I'd be pretty much fired that day. Instead, I was told that it had to go back to corporate for them to think about again. Here I'm going...ok...what's there to think about. Turns out their was, and I will respect the wishes of the company and say nothing other than the next day I was told information that changed things. I was given a few more days to figure things out. I had until Monday 13th to decide.
In that time, I was contacted about a possible job in Eau Claire, my college town and also where my best friend lives. So Thursday the 9th, I drove all the way up to EC to go to a job open house. Turns out it wasn't my cup of tea, but I decided to take a vacation day and really think about the situation over the extended weekend. I sought the advice of close friends in the EC area, like a former professor and some close advisors. They seemed to reaffirm my feelings.
So I came back home and on Sunday night, I wrote out my official statement, which was two pages long. Basically it just fleshed out my reasons for not signing. So..I went to work on Monday and low and behold...my boss was out for the day. So...I used the day to get my software into shape knowing that I wasn't going to be doing much more work on it now. Tuesday rolled around and I finally got the chance to sit down with the management and give them my statement. I could tell they weren't thrilled by my response. Again, I was expecting to be fired right there, and nope...it had to go back to corporate again.
For the rest of the day I found myself twiddling my thumbs. There wasn't any reason for me to start working on anything knowing it was my last day of work. Turns out it wasn't. We didn't hear back that day. So I prepared to go to work on Wednesday the 15th. On my way in, I got a call from my boss saying I didn't need to come in. They hadn't heard back yet, and really there was no sense in my coming in with nothing to do. I was told I'd still get paid. Ok...no problem. Later that afternoon I got another call. Turns out legal was out until Friday. So, I didn't have to come in Thursday with pay either, and I'd be called when to come in Friday. It surely seemed this was dragging on at this point. We all knew where it was going.
Friday I was called, and I was told the decision everyone knew was coming. My employment was terminated. I was able to come in and pick up the last of my stuff....I had already packed it up anyway. I said my goodbyes. I actually choked up a bit when saying goodbye to the two editors. I'm going to miss them. I may have had my issues with the job and so forth, but for the most part, the people were great. It's unfortunate the company treats their employees the way it does though. That's another topic for another day.
So...I left. I have to say, too, that despite what most people would feel upon getting fired...I have no remorse. I'm thrilled its over. I've wanted to get away from the job for at least a year and a half. It's finally done. It didn't happen in the way I had wanted it to, but all things happen for a reason. I've gotten a few more freelance gigs, and quite honestly, I love the freelance lifestyle. I feel so much more freedom and control. I'm still making money, and I'm feeling fullfilled creatively. I'm not feeling tied to a cubicle. I can take a break if I want to. I can sleep when I want to and get up when I want to. This is what I've wanted for so long. It just took me getting fired to get here. I'm actually really happy now.
Before I move on, I do want to say something important. I don't know if Scott or Julie are reading this, but I just want to say thank you. I know you both pulled for me with corporate. I especially want to say thanks to Scott because I heard some of your back and forth with HR, and it told me how much you cared. I really and truly appreciate that. I wanted to express my thanks to you in person, but unfortunately you weren't around when I came in to say my good byes. I'm sure we'll talk again, but now it's officially in writing.
So...where do I go from here? My plan for moving in with Chris is moving forward a bit earlier than expected. I'll be moving in mid May instead of late June. I've got a part time job lined up that starts in July. I've also got plans to talk to some people about using the city business incentive programs in the Chippewa Valley to get myself a camera. I also plan on moving forward with my non-profit. So, I think it's time to let my dreams happen. I'm very excited.
In the meantime, I'm working on getting my new web hosting lined up. After that, I start work on my professional websites. Then I get genderverse underway. At that point, I start the book. During that time, I want to podcast again. I'm looking forward to it all.
So that's part 1 of this 2 part series. Stay tuned for part 2...
Posted on April 3rd 2009, 5:40 am
I guess not. My freelance barrage continues. Today I pick up more footage for yet another video. I thankfully should be done with the majority of my work by early next week. Perhaps that means I will be able to take a few moments to myself and enjoy myself. Tonight I took two hours to go to a spiritual seminar that I had signed up for. I've been going once a month to the LGBT community center in Milwaukee for a spiritual seminar. Unfortunately for the last two months I haven't been able to go due to first being sick and second being busy with freelance. It was good to go again.
So...apparently March 31st is the Transgender Day of Visibility. I wonder if other activists find out about these days through the interweb the day of and wonder why they didn't know about this day before. That's happened to me a couple times before. So...I didn't get a chance to do anything for it other than wonder why the Transgender Day of Visibility didn't have more visibility within the community beforehand to plan events.
Also...I wanted to write about it on March 31st / April 1st, but as it turns out, my web host was having troubles. This seems a more frequent ocurrence of late, and the more research I've done, the less impressed I've been. This particular host used to be known as an awesome host. Now their reputation is falling fast. I didn't realize why Adam had been complaining about them so much until I started to see the problems appear. So...since I have to pay my hosting bill within the next couple weeks, I've decided to move hosts. You may see a day or two where my site is down. It won't be for another week or so yet though. So no worries.
That's it for today...time for sleepy. G'night.
Posted on March 31st 2009, 4:17 am
The freelance seems to never end. OK...well it sort of does. As of today, I got final approval on two 30 second spots I had been editing last week. The producer and I had gone back and forth on fixes and I think we're both really pleased with how it turned out. With all this editing work, I feel like I'm starting to feel that creative groove come back slowly. It's that groove I had when I left college. Now that I'm shooting and editing all the time, I am just in the moment more. It feels good.
In other freelance news, I've decided to dump the flash web project. It's a bit too much for me, and I've been really stressed out about it for a long time now. I have yet to hear back from the guy I asked to take it over, but I'm sure regardless, it'll all get worked out. The web is good for me when it's a personal thing that I have passion about, but I have trouble finding my creative drive for a web client. I think I'm just going to remove it from my freelance offerings unless it's simple. I'd rather be editing or shooting.
Once I get the final ok on that switch, I'm going to start working on Genderverse.net. I've got the database structure set, but I haven't felt comfortable donating any time to the project while I've got other responsibilities. So, hopefully with much of my video work done and the web project off my plate, I can get moving.
I feel bad that I haven't had time to work on my podcast. I've done nothing but work for the past several weeks, which is a good thing. It just means I've had to put other things aside, and that included the podcast. The good news is that I wrote up the rundowns for the next podcast this weekend. I'll be shooting it this week. I'm aiming for a two podcast a month release schedule. I have the next two already blocked out. Let's hope that schedule works.
I'm doing a photo shoot this weekend. For once, it's not me taking the photos. My friend Ken asked me about a year ago if I'd want to do a shoot with him. It'll be a little different being in front of the camera. I fully expect to be uncomfortable at first, but I think I'll loosen up and have fun as time passes. I'm bringing a bunch of fun clothes to wear. I'll have a whole bunch of fun as well as professional pictures after this. I think I'll use some of them for this site's design.
This past weekend I got something I really really needed: Down time. I spent most of my weekend catching up on movie watching and some TV. I've caught up on all of the Legend of the Seeker episodes out there. The show has gotten better. It was good to begin with, but I really like it now. I also watched "Super Size Me", which has helped me commit to never going to McDonalds again. I didn't like the place to begin with and rarely went already. So it won't be hard. I also watched Chocolat, which was a charming and beautiful film. The next two on my list are "The Invisible" starring Justin Chatwin, and Chicago with Rene Zellweger.
I feel a little bit of a need to respond to a lot of the comments I got on my last blog post about my voice. I don't have a bad voice by any means. I realized recently that if I wanted to, I could sing. I might subject my podcast viewers to that too at some point. I feel like I should explain. I have a strong history with music. In college, I actually got into the University of Wisconsin: Eau Claire school of music, which is actually a very good music school. The Jazz band has won many a Grammy. While majoring in music wasn't for me, I did enjoy the subject enough to complete the music theory classes. In that time we had to do some singing in class, and I was surrounded by women with these beautiful Soprano and Alto voices. I've always wanted to sound like that...to sing like that. Instead I would sing along with the class and feel embarassed that my voice didn't really fit in either the male or female categories. I felt kind of awkward.
So that's where my vocal discomfort came from. It's taken me a number of years, but now, while that jealousy is still there in some form, I am comfortable with the way I sound. I have a unique voice that people have often complimented me on. It's just another aspect of myself that I'm proud of.
The joys of cooking have continued for me. This Saturday I made myself a lovely dish. It was chicken coated in Italian breadcrumbs, baked in olive oil to a nice crisp, browned exterior. The inside was moist and delicious. I had sugar snap peas and broccoli as the vegetables. I also had some long grain rice to complete the meal. My dessert was a package of fresh strawberries. What a fantastic meal.
Tonight was not as fantastic. I was going to make spaghetti, which I don't make often. I bought some sauce on Friday when I went grocery shopping. One of the jars was on clearance. It was Barilla Roasted Garlic pasta sauce. I love garlic. So naturally I thought it would be great. It wasn't. In fact it was terrible. I was shoving the sauce out of the way to try to just eat the noodles. Now I know why it was on clearance. Let's hope the recipe I have for homemade mac and cheese turns out better.
I don't know why I didn't mention this earlier, but I had a meeting with Chris and another one of my good friends, Erika, about starting a non-profit and what it would take. I have amazing friends. They want to help and were guiding me in the right direction. I think the most amazing thing was that throughout the whole meeting, the term in use was "we". It's as if there was no question that they would be directly involved in the cause. I can't believe sometimes how awesome my friends are. I've been asking around to some friends who are close to both me and this cause about being on the board when we get going, and they've been all for it. I'm excited to see where this door leads.
On that note, it's time to head to dreamy land. It's an early night for me...just past 11:00, but I need the rest. With all the sleeping in over the weekend, I didn't sleep much last night. Thanks for sticking with my blog post until the bitter end. Haha...g'night all.
Posted on March 23rd 2009, 4:05 am
A few weeks ago I had the flu, and I was glad to see myself get past it. Being sick isn't fun at all. Then this weekend happened. Saturday was a blast. Chris was in town, and we went to the Milwaukee Art Museum. The Calatrava is a stunning building, and the artwork inside is also. Afterwards, we went to a restaurant on the east side called "County Clare". It's an Irish food place. I've eaten there before, and it was good.
This time I decided to get a burger. I know...not very Irish, but I hadn't had red meat or a hamburger in quite a long time. I figured...why not. Seems it wasn't cooked very well. A few hours later, the toilet and I were spending some quality time together. It was a one way conversation mostly...I don't vomit very often, but I managed to do so a lot last night.
Sunday we had planned to go see "the Watchmen", but I was just drained. I ended up sleeping most of the day. Finally at about 6:00 I was up and moving around. Here I am...not 5 hours after that already in bed again. I hope I'm back up to 100% tomorrow.
I've been meaning to blog all week, but my free time disappeared. I've been working on freelance all week, and it looks like this next week will be no different. I guess that's a good thing, but my personal life has taken a dive because of it. I didn't really have time to do much of anything besides work and eat. Even my sleep was cut short. The check will make it all worth it though.
I had something interesting happen over the past week in regards to gender. I've been thinking about my voice and how it's still somewhat gender neutral. For the longest time that bothered me. If there's anything that gives me away, it's my voice. But why do I care if I'm "given away" as trans? As the past few weeks have progressed, I've thought about this a lot, and I've come to the conclusion that I like my voice where it is. In fact, I think my voice being gender neutral is great.
One of the things that bothered me is that when i went through voice training, the entire purpose of it was to teach me how to conform to the social expectations of female speech. Basically it was forcing me into a gender binary normative behavior. But I don't accept that gender is a binary. So, my voice truly represents me as the transwoman that I am, and I'm proud of that. I like the fact that when I'm around, I make people think. Screw gender norms.
In other news, I did my taxes last weekend, and I was relieved to discover that I am getting a return. I thought I was going to have to pay due to my business, but I had enough items to write off and not nearly enough income to have to pay. So that's good. I also will be finally paying off my medical bills. Apparently my account went to collections, which I felt bad about, but since I was willing to pay them straight away with my tax return, they were willing to give me a discount. So that's great. I'm soon on my way to having less monetary stress on my plate.
I have plenty more to say, but I think I will save it for another day this week. I am rather tired despite my sleep. I better get some rest so that I'm recovered for the work week.
Posted on March 11th 2009, 4:27 am
Well it certainly seems like Tuesdays are my blog update days. Maybe it has a lot to do with it just being the only day of the week I don't find myself swamped....wait...no that's not true.
I'm almost completely over being sick. I'm at about 93% right now. All I have left is a little bit of a runny nose and a slight cough. I think I'll be back up to 100 % soon. All things considered...I'm not surprised at all about getting sick. I've been super stressed and I've not been getting enough sleep. I get sick once or twice a year at most. I guess it was just my time. At least this time I didn't get a sinus infection like last year's nasty cold. Yuck.
Today wasn't bad after a string of days that just sucked. I wish I could tell you why too. There's a lot of reasons, and I'm not allowed to talk about them. Yeah, I'm being serious. Let's just say...there are a lot of things I'm not happy with right now and there are a lot of possible things that may change that in the near future.
Anyway, back to today. I stopped to help out two people today, and it made me feel great. I was at the grocery store, and a woman was calling for some help. I looked over as I was walking, and it was a woman in an electric wheelchair. She needed help getting something. No one else was paying her any mind, and that really bothered me. I walked over and helped her. She was a very nice woman and was very gracious. Why don't people stop to help others more often?
Also, I went to check out and swiped my two items at the self check station. I looked at the price and was like "Gah!!". It was several dollars more than it should have been. I had two items: a pepsi and a donut. The bill was six dollars for some reason. Turned out someone had scanned dishsoap and forgot to void it. So I did. I went to swipe my card afterwards, and the receipt was already on its way out. Turns out someone had gone through but didn't finish their transaction. So instead my two items were on that person's card. Most people would walk away claiming a freebie. I have a conscience. I told the clerk, and she took care of voiding that transaction. I rang my stuff up and paid. I was thanked for my honesty.
That transaction was the last one I'll get this week. Payday is Friday, and I am literally flat broke until then. When I got home from work today, I opened my mail box to find a collections letter in there in regards to my medical bills. I called the number and had a long conversation with the man on the other end. They expect me to pay back $700 in five months. I have literally no room in my budget, and they want me to pay 150 a month or so. I have no idea how I'll manage that. I don't get it. So many people hold off on paying medical bills. I was specifically told to put that last on my list. Why am I dealing with collections? How do other people manage when they have bills outstanding for much longer and at much higher rates? I hate money.
At least there's some light at the end of the tunnel. I have some new freelance lined up. Another editor backed out, and I got the gig instead. That's always good for me. The videos are 3 minute clips for a set of restaurants in the area. There will be five of them, and they pay $350 each. Starting this month. Maybe I will make it through ok. In fact, I may come out with even my furniture paid off! Who knows. Maybe in a couple months...I'll even have some money in savings?!!
I have to do my taxes yet, and I'm not looking forward to it. I may have to pay. Due to my sickly financial situation, I never was able to put any of the money I earned through freelance away. I overpay on my full time job taxes and I can write off a lot of things for my business. So we'll see. There's also a possibility of a return. Here's hoping. I'm putting money away for taxes this coming year. That'll make me less stressed next March.
There's some potential change coming in my future. I've been thinking about what I want to do in the coming year, and one of the things that has come up recently is grad school. If things continue, I may have a lot of my debt paid off by the time I could start grad school. I've missed the deadline for applying for this coming fall. That's actually ok. I still have to take the GRE. I am thinking about two options. The first is the more likely of the two. I'm considering the Mass Comm graduate program at the University of Minnesota. My major would be Mass Comm with an emphasis on communication processes, structures, and effects. The minor would be in feminist / gender studies. The second option would be at the Annenberg School for Communication, which is part of USC. That's like...the premier of schools for communication, and it'd be difficult to get in...and pay for. But I might as well try, right?
There's a position opening up in Chippewa Falls at a dentist office. It's not glamorous. It's a receptionist position. I know the owner / dentist, and she's a really awesome person. She's a friend of mine and Chris'. She actually mentioned it to me. It'll be opening up in July. If I apply and get that, I'd move in with Chris. He's moving into a house that costs $700 a month to rent. It's much bigger than my current place and is cheaper. We'd be splitting costs. So bills would be cut down by a significant amount. I'd go from $760 a month in rent to $350. Plus, I'd be living with my best friend. We've done that before and we know it works. So neither of us is worried.
It's a big move, but at the same time, I think it's the right one. I'll be happier. The job is much lower stress. Paying bills will be easier. And with the lower stress job...I might be able to get more done on goals of mine. Right now, I work my job and when I come home, I don't want to go back to work. So nothing gets done. If I had a low stress job, things might be different. So I'm strongly considering it.
My big concern has been freelance and whether I'd keep it. Honestly, I can't see why I'd lose work. I have an ftp site, and most of the work I do has web delivered content. I'll probably be down in Milwaukee once a month to meet with people and work on some longer term projects. It could prove even more lucrative than staying here. That's my hope at least. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Podcast news...I'm working on an ambitious approach to my next few. This upcoming one will be about the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation. I'm going to start shooting this weekend. I'll probably shoot some of the middle of it during the week, and hopefully it'll be online sometime late next week. I'll post about it. The ones after that one will be a three part series. :D Aren't you excited?!! I am.
OK...I have to get up early tomorrow. I'm leaving work for an early lunch tomorrow to help a friend go to a doctor's appointment. I want to get to work earlier to make up for the time. Hopefully I'll find some time to post another update before next Tuesday. Have a good week otherwise. :D