81 Million Strong

Millennials are now the largest living generation in American history. We are the most diverse and the most educated. In 2016, we will account for one-third of the electorate. ONE-THIRD.

And we are also the generation least likely to vote.

Why?

According to Harvard’s Institute of Politics, 75% of Millennials “don’t think that…voting is an effective means of changing society.”1 But is that a self-fulfilling prophecy?

If we don’t vote, the politicians that have been elected may not reflect our ideologies or promote our interests. The legislation they pass and the policies they create reflect their voting constituents, not us. They have no obligation to do so; we didn’t put them into office.

And then when society continues to promote policies with which we disagree, we get to say “well, voting doesn’t change anything.”

But we didn’t vote. So that’s not really true.

Trying to find the power in a single vote is a lost cause. When a person, jaded and disillusioned by problematic aspects of our electoral system, says, “my individual vote doesn’t matter,” that person isn’t wrong. For anything besides city council elections, your vote is not going to make or break a candidate.

But we can’t let this feeling of powerlessness cloud the potential power in voting. It’s not individual voters that matter; it’s the bloc.

There is strength in numbers.

The more millennials vote, the more politicians will want our vote. The more they want it, the more they’re willing to do for it.

Voting can be a real means of changing policy.

So what if we did that? What if 81 million registered to vote, took a little time to figure out where they stood politically, and then voted.

What if 81 million people voted?

~

Guys. I did a thing. I bought a domain, and then did a thing:

http://www.81millionstrong.com/

This is me straight up asking you to go to this website, check it out, spread it around, and maybe help me try to do a thing.

I’m tired of feeling unheard. But, no one will listen if we don’t demand to be heard. So it can’t just be me. It has to be us.


 

1. Weiss, Joanna. “Millennials Don’t Believe in Voting.” Boston Globe. 8/21/2015. https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/08/20/millennials-don-believe-voting/cGb7sx5ZvkmDCsNd3shTDO/story.html

Your Health and You, Part 1: Time to Get Up

I was reading Candace Walsh’s memoir “Licking the Spoon” on the bus a few days ago and had one of those great life-affirming moments.

In chapter four, Candace recalls her mother’s body issues. “She always felt fat,” she writes.

But Candace wholeheartedly disagreed. “I didn’t know what she was talking about. She was my mommy and she was beautiful. She had given birth to three kids, ate cake and cookies all the time, and was still only a size 10.”1

~

I have a been a size 10 for about a decade. Occasional size 12 jeans find their way into my closet and a few larger-sized dresses from posher stores that don’t cater to silly notions like size-measurement uniformity for women’s clothing. Oh, you’re a size 10 at the department stores? Well here you’re a 14, you average slob.

I have mostly made peace with my weight. There are days when I look in the mirror and wish I was a little thinner, but I am a different person from the 18-year-old who had low self-esteem and wished she could be beautiful.

A lot of that came with age. In the ten years from then to now, primarily in the last three though, I have recovered a lot of that lost self-esteem. I am now a 28-year-old who thinks she is beautiful. I have lots of imperfections, but I love myself, and like seeing myself in the mirror.

And I want my step-kids to be different from Candice. I don’t want them growing up thinking I didn’t love myself. I also want them to grow up knowing that I was motivated, energetic, and healthy.

~

Six months ago at my annual checkup, my doctor and I discussed my weight.

There is a 10 pound range that my body sticks to. When I’m good, when I’m feeling motivated, and full of life, I am on the low end of that range. I eat well, I try to stay active, and I am pretty successfully healthy. At my checkup: not so much. I was feeling lethargic, and couldn’t be bothered to do anything. I also was looking for a new job and the hopelessness of it all was wearing down on me, and my body.

“You need to get active, lady,” my doctor told me. She, by the way, is a straight-talking, pragmatic, encouraging, ball of the light. I love this woman. She reminds me of my 8th grade math teacher who I was simultaneously terrified and in awe of. “You need to get on your feet, and find that motivation.”

And I did. Finally.

I reached out to my wonderfully active, warm and encouraging, trainer and friend Fawn. She played on my kickball team, and always looked amazing. I asked if she could help me. She made me a deal.

“All I want from you is your enthusiasm.” she said. No money needed.

“Sounds amazing.” I replied

Three weeks later, I started the 21 Day Fix.

Every day for 21 days, with Fawn as my cheerleader and coach, I worked out for 30 minutes, I paid more attention to the foods I ate, and I saw change. In inches, in size, and in action.

I felt awake again, full of excitement and motivation. And I was just plain happier. I was in a better mood, and looked more enthusiastically for work, promoting the best version of myself to potential employers. I got interviews for the first time in months, and I was hired. Good things happened because I had gotten off my ass and done something.

~

Now, it’s been a few months since my Fix, and I have stayed on the low side of my 10 pound range, which feels great, but I haven’t been exercising lately and have felt my energy lessen every day. I’ve been using cold fall nights as an excuse to do nothing, but lay on the couch with Bear. And now, my motivation is lagging. I’ll have bursts of enthusiasm that seem to blow away with the wind.

So it’s time to get on my feet again. And I’ve raised the stakes:

One of my best friends is getting married in September, and today I bought my dress in a healthier size: an 8. To fit it, I will need to lose 5 inches from my waist, which is a realistic, doable sum to lose.

And, I just messaged Fawn.

My next Fix starts December 1.

 


Walsh, Candice. Licking the Spoon: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Identity. (Seal Press, 2012) 45

 

Leaps

“Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.” So advised author Ray Bradbury. That strategy is too nerve-wracking for a cautious person like me. I prefer to meticulously build and thoroughly test my wings before trying a quantum leap. But I have observed that Aquarius is one of the three signs of the zodiac most likely to succeed with this approach. According to my astrological calculations, the coming weeks will be a time when your talent for building robust wings in mid-air will be even more effective than usual.”

Rob Brezsny
Willamette Weekly
Sept 23, 2015

~

I used to be afraid of leap-taking. If I had to pinpoint the moment that I thought it might be best to stop taking risks, it was during a spelling bee in the sixth grade. My first word was temperature and I summarily misspelled it in front of the whole school. Prepubescent Georgia pretended she didn’t care, but she was an eleven-year-old know-it-all who had gotten something wrong in front of a large group of people. I was embarrassed and angry at myself for failing. So I stopped taking leaps; no chance of failure that way.

When I was in college, I fell back into leap-taking. It wasn’t really a fall or a leap; it was a shove by my friend Dave, and it changed the course of my entire college experience, and my life. The landing wasn’t soft. It was rough. But oh—the adrenaline, the endorphins, the experiences.

By graduate school, leap-taking and me had a deep and powerful relationship. When one of my best friends sent me a Groupon ad for a small skydiving company in Wisconsin, I believe my first thought was:

I need to find $180.

Still in the middle of PhD applications—Pre-Great Rejectioning—jumping out of a small airplane sounded like a great symbolic leap into even higher education. It was to be my rite of passage into my academic adulthood. If you can jump out of a plane, you can write a dissertation. What ended up happening turned out to be even better.

~

The day after graduation, with two weeks left until my move to Portland, my friend and I drove out to the Illinois-Wisconsin border to jump out of an airplane. My tandem-jumper Sean was a six-foot-two South African man with a delightfully morbid sense of humor. With a job like his, he needed to scare and amuse me enough to keep me calm. He had a huge smile on his face when he asked me why I thought he had a bowie knife strapped to his side.

“In case you need to cut the parachute if we get stuck in a tree?” I offered naively.

“It’s for if you go crazy on the jump and I need to cut you off,” he retorted.

~

A few minutes before the jump, I asked him how landing would work. It had been the only thing we hadn’t covered on the ground during our ten-minute training session that had followed the half-hour waiver-signing where you had to initial your name next to repeated warnings that you would probably die.

Sean told me we’d worry about landing later, i.e. when we were no longer in the plane, which I laughed at for a few seconds.

“But seriously, how does landing work?” I repeated, more earnestly.

“If the ‘chute doesn’t pull,” he said, “it doesn’t really matter how you are supposed to land. You’re going to land either way. There’s no point talking about it until we know the ‘chute works.”

He had a point. A very basic risk of leap taking is falling flat on your face, although the result isn’t necessarily as horrific as smashing said face into the ground attached to a large, weird, but incredibly attractive man from South Africa. Did I mention that he was incredibly handsome? If I was going to fall to my death, it seemed like a pretty awesome way to go. But I digress.

The parachute worked. We landed safely. But, it wasn’t the rite of passage I had envisaged months before. It was an evacuation, a rebirth, a return. I went up a tired, burnt-out student and landed a regular fucking human being. It brought me back to reality. And it reminded me—in a weird, morbid way that only my South African guide could have imparted to me—that you’re going to land no matter what. So why not leap? Why not enjoy it? Even if you have no idea what’s going to happen. You can always figure it out in midair. 

~

Today I took a leap with Bear. We adopted a dog.

He’s laying at the foot of the bed right now. He’s a snorer.

Standing Up

This is a story that I never really planned on telling.

~

April of my second year of graduate school, I slept with a friend. We were safe. We used protection. It was consensual.

A week later, I felt some discomfort, so I went to the student health center on campus. When I met the CNP, she seemed simultaneously kind and patronizing. She asked how many sexual partners I’d had and my answer, which was neither high nor should it have mattered as long as it was safe and consensual, made her eyes flicker with what felt like judgment.

We proceeded with an exam, and after two minutes, she lifted her eyes to meet mine and said, “you have something, girl.” My body began to shake. I asked what she thought it was. She said herpes.

I broke into tears.

She gave me the herpes talk. She told me that this virus wouldn’t ruin my life. She told me that medications would help with flair ups. She told me that everything would be okay. She was kind. But I could still see the judgment in her eyes.

I told the least amount of people possible. I spoke about it to just those best friends who could see that something was genuinely wrong with me. Something had made me quieter than usual.

I couldn’t bring myself to tell the friend, though, which was wrong of me. It was immature. But, ultimately and thankfully, it didn’t matter.

~

I spent 8 months thinking I would never be able to have a normal sex life that didn’t include “the talk.” The guy I’d dated right before I left Chicago had handled “the talk” well  though and it didn’t stop us from dating, which gave me some solace.

But after that relationship ended in Portland, and after months of trying to ignore something that made me hate myself, I went to Planned Parenthood for a check up, and with the intention of getting more antivirals for what had felt like a minor ongoing irritation.

~

I nervously sat in the waiting room until my name was called by a woman in standard nurse scrubs. She led me to an examination room, where I changed into the somehow small and loose shift they give you, and waited for my examining nurse. When she arrived, she shook my hand firmly and jovially with a bright smile.

“What can I do for you today, Georgia?”

I explained my previous diagnosis, which had been a visual diagnosis without blood work. The CPN in Chicago had explained that it took 6-8 months before the virus could be confirmed that way. The nurse in front of me listened to all of this intently, nodding along as I spoke.

She had me lay down, and after only a few seconds of examination, she lifted her head to meet my eyes, and said, “Well Georgia, I don’t see anything that would make think you have herpes. You do seem to have a pretty bad case of bacterial vaginosis, which you have probably had for 8 months.”

I broke into tears.

“We can do blood work to make sure, but everything looks really great besides the infection.” And then with the kindest, most compassionate eyes I had ever encountered in my life, she said, “you have a beautiful vagina.”

I burst into laughter as tears continued to roll down my cheeks.

With Planned Parenthood, no news is good news as far as getting results back. After 4 weeks, I was officially in the clear, and felt healthy for the first time thanks to antibiotics.

~

While I am relieved that I don’t have herpes obviously; that’s not the point. I am lucky. I get that. For a lot of people, there is no misdiagnosis. But it’s not that. It’s this:

On an examining room table,
wearing only a cotton shift,
my legs spread open in stirrups
in the most exposing of positions:
I felt safe.
And more than that:
fully, wholeheartedly welcome.
No judgment.
Just compassion.

I stand with Planned Parenthood.

Final Moment of Zen

I cried during most of Jon Stewart’s final episode of The Daily Show last night. After Stephen Colbert gave one of the most earnest and ardent—actually, just watch it. It starts around 3:15. You watch it? OK.

After Colbert’s sendoff, I lay on Bear’s chest with tears running down my cheek, and asked him, “Do you think this is how people felt when Johnny Carson left The Tonight Show?”

Doing anything long enough will transform a person into a fixture for the people around him. Four nights a week for sixteen years—more than half of my life—Jon Stewart was there, whether I watched him or not. As I grew older and more interested in the world around me, he became a guiding constant: a North Star. He helped to shape my sense of humor and political views, and taught me that the foundation for both should be the same thing: the truth.

I cried for many reasons. I was sad to see him leave, sad to lose him, and sad his departure meant that there was a generation of teenagers who would grow up without him to guide them. But Trevor Noah can, and I hope will, be their Jon Stewart: their beacon of truth, their revealer of bullshit, their guiding constant. I will no doubt learn to love Trevor Noah, but Jon Stewart will always have my heart.

I cried last night because part of me realized that Trevor didn’t have to be a constant for me. He will be the North Star for the new kids growing up in a world just as sensationalized by its media and just as corrupted by its politicians as mine was. But not me. Jon Stewart had guided me through that part of my life. And now Peter Pan was coming to teach another little girl to fly. I had grown up.

I cried last night because I couldn’t hold it in any longer.

The door I walked through—the threshold I crossed—when I moved to Portland feels like years ago now, which it, of course, is. So much in my life has changed: family, friendships, love. The only thing that remained constant was my job (that and Jon Stewart). For three years, I worked with the same small group of people that became family.

And in the last month, six of my coworkers have left or given notice of impending departure, including me. As I wait to hear back from a job interview, I know that the little mom and pop coffee shop that gave me my first job, and some of my best friends, in Portland, will consist of a whole new group of people soon. This part of my life, as we all move on, is ending, and the threshold I crossed that lead me here is so far away.

I find myself nostalgically looking around me, trying to take in every memory I have, wishing I had paid more attention, done more things, and appreciated my life for what it had been: a beautiful mess. I spent so much time trying to pull myself together, find my path, and figure out my life. Did I spend enough time just living?

I can see a new door up ahead, a new threshold to cross. And part of me doesn’t want to leave. But I can’t stay. There is only forward.

As the threshold nears, and this period of my life reaches its end, I have tried not to be sad. I held it in as best I could. But when Jon Stewart said goodbye one final time, the levy broke and I couldn’t hold in anything any longer.

I am going to miss this beautiful mess I had. And I am going to miss Jon Stewart.

But it’s nice to remember that nothing is really constant. Except death. And no one has died.

On Love, Part 3: Parenthood

It seems as if everyone I know from high school is about to get married or have a baby. Temporally, it’s about right. We’re in our late twenties. People are pulling themselves out of their crises and getting their shit together. It’s happening.

Up until last year, I had been certain that I wanted to fall in love, get married, and, most importantly, be a mother. When I was a little girl, I would stick out my tummy and pretend I was pregnant. But when I finally got to a place in my life that included children—you know, all that wonderful, gushy stuff like falling in love and thinking about getting married—things changed.

There are these things you carry within you during your life that you think you are absolutely certain of. Some are genuinely foundational and never leave you; they are intrinsic to you as breathing. Some things you just grow out of. Others you realize you had only ever liked the idea of.

Things changed when I realized that I didn’t necessarily want to be a mother. I just wanted to be a parent.

~

My niece was born in October 2013. I had hung out with more than a couple babies in my time, but this little girl, who we lovingly call Marve, was my first real experience. Every Thursday, while her mama was at work, and her daddy got some time to himself, I spent the day with Marve. For 8 hours, I was given a small child and my most basic mission for those hours while she was in my care, was to make sure that she didn’t die. I also made sure she was fed, rested, happy, and loved. Very loved. Abundantly and wholeheartedly loved. I loved the fuck out of her.

Quickly I learned how to change her diapers, I learned how to dress her, I learned how to rock her to sleep, and then I learned that after a day with Marve, I was utterly exhausted and beyond relieved to pass her back to her parents. With her, I got to have a little bit of cake and eat it, too.  She was my first taste of parenthood. And though I could see, and to a very small degree feel, the simultaneous joy and burnout that came with an infant, it was the latter that stuck with me. In small increments, my maternal inclination was wavering.

Then, a year ago, I met my children.

~

Bear told me right off the bat that he had two kids. After 8 months of dating, he brought them to a kickball game to very informally meet me. He introduced me as his roommate and friend. The afternoon, though rainy, was wonderful and almost uneventful.

The next week, after I had gone on a first date of sorts with his ex, the woman that would easily become my friend and sister-wife, he asked the kids if it would be okay if he and Georgia dated.

“Sure,” the kids both said nonchalantly over ice cream.

Bear brought them over to spend the night regularly, and routines developed: dinner, then dessert, then tooth-brushing, then pajamas, then stories, then bed. Almost overnight, I had become a parent to a little boy and a littler girl.

Smartly, Bear had waited almost a year before coalescing his two worlds.  He and I never explicitly discussed when I would meet them, but there didn’t seem to be a need. I didn’t want them to meet me until they could be certain that I wouldn’t be going anywhere, and I didn’t want to meet them for the same reason. I didn’t want to fall in love with them and then lose them. Because I knew I would. I knew it in my gut. I would meet them and immediately love them, just as I had with their father.

And I was right. These two little people were crazy, silly, loud, smart, funny, and I loved them the day I met them. Even better, it didn’t take too long for them to love me back.

But as much as I loved them, I was still a little relieved when we gave them back to their mom. The significance of that feeling took a little while to sink in. Then, I just knew.

“Between Marve and the kids, I think I’m done,” I said to Bear when it had hit me.

“What?” he asked.

“I don’t think I want kids of my own. I think the kids are enough for me. A kid of my own would be too much. I’m too selfish with my time and sleep.” Bear smiled and told me that I would be a great mom if I wanted to have a kid of my own.

Then, a couple minutes later, he turned to me and all but declared, “we’ll be empty-nesters in 14 years!”

~

Most of the time, I feel like I have the best of both worlds. I get to be a parent and a single, no-responsibilities lady. I have nights alone to myself. I have nights where I can cuddle little kids who drive me crazy and made me so very happy at the exact same time. I have a balance. But every so often, an inkling returns.

There was a night not too long ago when Bear’s daughter Addie, who is five now, woke up in the middle of the night crying, and all she wanted was her daddy. As she clung to Bear, I felt a pang in my chest. That night, as I tried to fall asleep, I found myself crying. I knew how much I wanted to keep the balance I’d found in life, but I would never be anyone’s mommy. Not really. So I lay in bed that night and cried for a child I would never have.

And then, the next morning, as I walked downstairs with slightly puffy eyes, I saw two silly faces sitting on the couch in pajamas giggling about who-knew-what. While Bear went upstairs to get dressed, I made sure they had shirts and pants and socks and shoes on. Then, I helped them put on their coats and backpacks, and I told them I loved them as they walked out the door.

Like all parents do.

Getting the Career You Want, Part 3: Do it yourself (and maybe fail)

Failing is good for you. It doesn’t feel that way. It feels like a piano dropping on your head, or having your heart ripped out, which makes sense. Failure comes from a Latin word, fallere, that literally means to fall. But that—the pain of the fall—is also a mirage, a trick, which also makes sense. The same Latin word figuratively means to deceive. The pain, as much as it hurts, hides the lesson. The hard part is getting past the pain to find it.

The harder part is giving yourself the chance to fail at all.

~

Job searching has been a waiting game. And while patience may be a virtue, but it is not one of mine. When I hit my six-month mark of job searching last week, it was safe to say that I was tired of waiting for HR managers to get back to me. I was tired of waiting for that job that is a career: that golden job that has passion, purpose, and a paycheck rolled into one. My happy job was not appearing.

Then last week while reading in bed, I had a moment. It was one of those light bulb moments. I was reading the end of Barbara and Shannon Kelley’s book Undecided.1 The chapter I was reading discussed the struggles of single parents, having to work all day and come home to a second, full-time, unpaid job: homemaker. It’s hard enough for a household with two parents to work and come home and take care of the house and family, let alone having a single person do it all. As I read, I was reminded of Amy Poehler’s autobiography, Yes Please (which you should go buy right now).2 She was very candid in her book about her support system for her kids and herself as a single parent. She expressed how grateful and fortunate she was to have people in her life to help her. And sitting there in bed, reading this book and thinking about another, a train of thought hit me like a…train.

What about those less fortunate parents? The ones that can’t afford the support.
The ones that aren’t as lucky as my spirit animal Amy Poehler.
What about them? No one should have to do it alone.
How can I help? What can I do to help?
What can I
do?
Could I make it a career?
Who cares about that—how can I help?
What do they need help with?

It was a lot of rapid questions, but my very Type A mind had the answer:

Their to-do lists are too long.
Make their jobs their only jobs.
Let them come home to a clean home.

And just like that, a plan was born:

to start a nonprofit organization that provided free home cleaning services
to low-income, single-parent households.

The next day, I started to research. In my county of less than 800,000 people, 8% of households are single-parent and yet they make up 22% of all households in poverty. And with increasing costs of living and static minimum wage, the number of single-parent households in poverty is rising three times faster than the total number of single-parent households.

These folks are struggling and cleaning homes is a small action. It can’t and won’t fix their lives. It can’t pull them out of poverty. But maybe it can help alleviate some of the stress and frustration. Maybe these parents can have more time with their kids. Maybe they won’t feel like they’re alone. Maybe they’ll just get a couple extra seconds to breathe.

~

So after six months of waiting for another potentially great job to appear one morning on a job website, I found myself with this possibly wonderful, probably going to fail idea sitting in my lap. It had all the big points I cared about: helping people, working outside the 9-5 box, making things clean and organized, and getting the chance to see inside other people’s homes (my spirit animal understands me on this one). Why wait any longer? And you know, Zorg was right when he said, “if you want something done, do it yourself.”3 Yeah, he was trying to steal magic stones and destroy Earth when he said it, so contextually, it’s not the best saying to live by, but I appreciate his determination and sentiment. If I wanted to find my happy job, maybe I needed to stop waiting for it, and just do it.

~

There are three truths for starting a business:

  1. It will be a shit show at the beginning no matter what you do.
  2. It is very probable that you will fail.
  3. If it’s something you’re passionate about, you’ll ignore the first two and do it anyway.

1. Kelley, Barbara and Shannon Kelley. Undecided: How to Ditch the Endless Quest for Perfect and Find the Career—and Life—That’s Right for You. (Seal Press, 2011)
2. Poehler, Amy. Yes Please. (Day Street Books, 2014)
3. The Fifth Element, 1997

Getting the Career You Want, Part 2: Deciding you want more

June will mark my third anniversary with Portland. July will mark my third anniversary with my job.

Most jobs I’ve had have had predetermined expiration dates. Not most, all, in fact. Every job I’ve ever had has been a student job. For all of them, with commencement came resignation. Until now. Nothing is stopping me from working the same job indefinitely, except me.

I love my work family—the owners, my co-workers, the regulars. But I can’t stay forever. There’s no real opportunity for growth, no big promotions and raises, no 401k, no health benefits. This job is not a career. And even if it was, it’s not my career.

I want more.

I need to find a job that I am passionate about. Bear calls it your “happy job.” I need to find hedone in work, something I forget about even though I have the word permanently affixed to my body.

~

I started looking for a new job nonchalantly about a year ago. It wasn’t serious. I wandered through craigslist, indeed, and idealist to see what was out there. Occasionally something would catch my eye, but I don’t remember actually submitting any applications. It was just a flirtation.

Eight months ago, I submitted an application just to test the waters. I didn’t expect to get an answer, and when nothing came of it, I was only mildly disappointed. You see, while I was flirting with the idea of a new job, I felt staunchly loyal to the one I had (and have). These people had given me my first paycheck in Portland, as well as a second home, and friends when I could count the number of people I knew on one hand. I felt guilty for thinking of leaving them at all.

Five months ago, I submitted an application for a job I wanted. I didn’t tell my bosses. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, and I didn’t want to tell them anything prematurely. Why stress them out with the possibility of my resignation. Nothing came from that application either. But, I was no longer flirting. I loved my work, but I was discontented with my job. I was ready to start wholeheartedly applying to things. I sent in another two applications for jobs without tell my bosses. Can we contact your current employer, applications asked? No, I replied, you may not.

Three months ago, I was having dinner with one of my oldest friends in the world who always happens to live in Portland. He was convinced by the end of our meal that I should and could get a job at his work. I waved away his zeal with a humility soaked in self-deprecation, but he was adamant. The idea stuck in my head and I kept my eye on the employment page for his company. When a job opening arose, I sent him a text about it. His response was full of exclamation marks and a promise for a letter of recommendation. This was the first application that seemed not impossible.

I spent a week wrestling with the idea of telling my bosses. I had seen them burned so many times by employees that I was scared they’d be mad or hurt that I wanted to leave. But, as I thought about it, I knew I needed to talk to them. Always a better writer than speaker, I wanted to make sure I said everything I needed to. So I sent them an email:

M&M,

A job opportunity has presented itself in the last week. A friend from high school works at a company downtown that might have an opening for me.

Nothing has happened yet. I haven’t submitted an application. But I will be because this is a job I think I’d be really good at.

I thought about not telling you guys about it, mainly because it seemed premature. I didn’t want to unnecessarily stress you out about something too soon.  But. Then I remembered that you guys are more than just my bosses. You guys are my family, and you want me to succeed in my life. Why wouldn’t I want to tell you?

Also, whether it’s for this, or another job, I want to give you as much time as I can to process and prepare. I am willing to do whatever you need to ease the eventual transition. I have no intention of leaving you scrambling.

I’d like to be able to tell the HR people at the job that they contact my current employers. I don’t want to do any of this secretly. You’re family and I want your blessing 🙂

Geo

I sat down with my bosses the next day and they told me that they loved me, wanted me to be happy, and know that—while they’d keep me on staff indefinitely if they could—they knew I couldn’t work there forever. With their blessing and the promise of a glowing recommendation, I applied for that job.

More than that, my secret was out. I was looking.

Saturn’s Return: An Afterthought

Every word has a root. Passion comes from the Latin word for suffering. Interjection comes from two Latin words that mean to throw into. Peach actually comes from a Greek word that means Persian because in antiquity, the peach was the “Persian apple,” mêlon persikón.

Every name has a root. Your name means something. Your parents gave you that name. They gave it to you for any number of reasons. And to say that you—who your parents barely knew when they gave you that name—and your name are as intrinsically tied as a word and its root is crazy.

But I believe in it.

Serendipity, synchronicity, fate. I kind of just believe.

~

I spent my childhood being a weird, little amateur etymologist, who fucking loved telling people that my name meant farmer.

“It’s a Greek word,” I would say proudly. “It means one who tills the earth.”

I went through a small period during junior high when I realized that all the pretty girls at school had names that meant princess or purity or some other cute shit and I was embarrassed about my name. It also didn’t help that my name hadn’t been a popular name since the 1880s. I had an old lady name. An old lady name that meant farmer.

I spent twenty years thinking that my name was just the feminine form of the name George and meant farmer. But that wasn’t really true. Yes, Georgia is the feminine form of George as far as names go, but in Greek—in Greek!—Georgia does not mean the same thing as George. I had been wrong the whole time.

Because it’s like this:

In Greek,

eriorgos is a wool worker,
eriorgia is wool working

thalassorgos is a fisherman,
thalassorgia is fishing

hierorgos is a sacrificer,
hierorgia is sacrifice

Georgia isn’t the one who tills the earth. Georgia is the tilling of the earth.

Georgia is Agriculture.

Maybe that’s why Saturn doesn’t scare me. Saturn is my bitch.

Saturn’s Return

It takes 29 years for Saturn to orbit the Sun.1 So for 29 years, it moves through the sky and the zodiac until it returns to the exact spot it hung on the day you were born.

~

In the pre-industrial world, without artificial light blazing through the night, the evening sky was, well, vibrant. The stars filled the dark blue expanse. The luminous moon and its phases determined how easily you could venture outdoors. The Milky Way was a billowing, ethereal rupture across the sky. And there were five planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

The messenger, sprinting quickly through the night’s sky.
The beauty, brighter than even the brightest star.
The warrior, red with both.
The king, largest of all the planets.
And then there was Saturn.

Saturn is an old god, older even than Rome. He was worshiped by the tribes of Latium. He and his counterparts—Attis, Ba’al, Kronos, Tammuz, Xipe Totec—are relics of sorts. They are the gods of those first settling people, the first agrarians. These gods were the cultivators, sowers, and harvesters.

So, slowly crossing the sky is the old god, the farmer. And with wheat in one hand and his scythe in the other, he is also the god of generation and dissolution: beginnings and endings.

~

Astrologers say that Saturn’s return ushers in thresholds to be crossed, from adolescence to adulthood, adulthood to old age, and old age to death. They say the returns can be brutal, like Saturn himself. And while later incarnations of Saturn are brutal, violent gods, I think that these sensationalist astrologers are wrong, about Saturn and his return. You should Google it, though. All of the top results say that it’s an emotional, psychological, and physical endurance trial that you just have to survive. Just have to survive. That’s so apocalyptic. Beginnings and endings are brutal, but so is life. Change is scary. That doesn’t mean we have to survive it. Life isn’t some passive thing done to you. You can be afraid, but don’t just wait for it. Run at it.

~

Today is my 28th birthday.

On the day I was born, Saturn was in Sagittarius. He left the archer on my first birthday, but Sagittarius remained. My sister is an archer, Bear is an archer, I love the show Archer. Sagittarius is part of me it would seem. And now Saturn is back in Sagittarius. He got there two days before Christmas, and he’ll stay for a couple of years.

I don’t know how much a giant ball of hydrogen and helium can affect your life, but change is coming. I can feel it. It’s in the air. And I’m not just going to let it happen. I’m not just going to survive. Because Saturn isn’t the harbinger of death. He’s not as violent as we make him seem to be. Saturn’s a farmer. He’s is the bringer of life. So I’m not going to shrink away. I’m going to celebrate.

 


1. 29.4 to be exact.