Friday, October 29, 2010

We want to move next year

Yes, you read that subject line right: we don't want to live in Oregon anymore. In fact, we don't want to live on the West Coast anymore.

It has not been a horrible experience: Stefan has a decent job -- and in this economy, having a job at all is amazing. This has been the perfect place to learn to ride a motorcycle. I'm not sure we would have been able to get the Africa Twin titled free and clear anywhere else. There are a lot of adventure motorcyclists that are in this area or come through, and they have been wonderful to get to know -- there are quite a few people we hope to keep as friends forever. We have loved living in a HOUSE. And Albi's had a great time.

But this area just isn't for us. I won't go into all the many reasons, but I will say that the last straw has been my health; as of today, I'm now on an intensive anti-asthma/allergy regimen for the first time in 15 years, something I've only had to be on once before -- when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. I do not want to live this way again.

We will stay here for the rest of 2010, ofcourse. But we really are hoping that, a year from now, we are moving to or living elsewhere.

Where do we want to go? Back East. I'll be looking for jobs in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Virginia, West Virginia, the DC area, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and even Kentucky. We'll entertain the idea of other states as long as the climate is neither desert (we really love trees) nor summers of endless 90+ days (we melt).

We hope we can find a friendly, low-crime community where Stefan can be a volunteer or reserve firefighter again (he does NOT want to be a full-time firefighter!), relatively near a large city.

First, however, one of us needs a JOB. I will start looking after January 2011. I will be looking for an opportunity to:
  • manage/direct a program at a nonprofit, university or government agency.
  • direct the marketing, public relations or other communications activities for a major project or program at a nonprofit, university or government agency.
Among the jobs I've applied for recently, to give you an idea of what I'm looking for:
  • managing editor at a large international nonprofit
  • program director at national nonprofits focused on women
  • program director for an international law-focused nonprofit that delivers its program through a wiki
  • marketing director for the continuing education/adult education program at a university
  • coordinator of a nonprofit-focused program at a state's attorney general's office
  • chief communications officer for a division of a large international foundation
  • senior writer for program development at a large, international health institute
  • directing a program that places media professionals in the developing world to train new journalists
  • public affairs specialist at a federal office that manages several international programs
  • director of communications in North America for an American University abroad
  • public information officer for a conservation district
I have a profile at LinkedIn, as well as details on my own web site about my professional activities. If you have any specific questions about what I'm looking for, feel free to contact me.

As for our plans for the holidays: we'll be sticking around here. Other than going to San Jose for work in January for work, I don't have any travel plans; we're hoping to still be able to do something fun on the motorcycles in the Spring. If we end up stuck here for all of 2011, we may even try to do a motorcycle trip in Mexico!

And before we go, we would still love to have visitors! Our guest room awaits...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Have you been a bully?

All these teen suicides tied to bullying from classmates and based on the young person's perceived sexuality, whether the teen was really gay or not... Day in, day out, these kids heard the most vile things possible to define them. Many of these teens suffered physical abuse as well. The pain of the Rutgers University student who committed suicide after his sexual encounter was filmed by classmates and broadcast online got to me in particular. That so many people delight in saying the most vile things they can think of to another person and engage in activity meant specifically to humiliate another person makes me lose my faith in humanity.

You don't think what the bullies said was that bad? It was just innocent teasing that everybody does? Okay -- go say it to your mother, your father, your spouse, your own child, or anyone else you love, and then get back to me with their reaction. If they laughed and said, "Oh, you are so funny!", then I stand corrected. I'm not talking about teasing or even very harsh criticisms -- I'm talking about saying something very personal about a human, with the speaker's intention being only to crush that person emotionally.

I have had some faith restored in humanity by the actions of so many high-profile people -- Daniel Radcliffe, Bette Midler, John Shore (a Christian blogger), Ellen DeGeneres, and Tim Gunn, to name but a few -- who are reaching out to gay teens to convince them that things do get better, that there is a lot of love and support out there from a variety of sources. And, ofcourse, Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" video campaign rocks more than I can put into words.

I could write a very long blog post about all the times I was bullied and threatened as a child, even though I wasn't gay, and repeat all the words that were used over those many years to tear me down as a child and as a young teen, as well as the physical pounding I took from a couple of other kids regularly. But instead, I'm going to talk about when I was a bully.

There was a group of neighborhood girls who bullied me in my pre-teen years. Individually, they were fun to hang out with, but get two or more of them together, and they became focused on making me cry. Each was a master at getting me to share the most intimate secrets one-on-one, which they would then use as a group to say the most vile things to me possible. There were days I saw two or more of them outside and I would stay in the house and watch TV, despite Mom calling, "Jayne? Have you seen so-and-so outside? You should go play!"

Elementary school was my sanctuary from the Mean Girls because they were in different classes from me and, for some reason, they were never interested in targeting me there, even at recess. But one day, in the fifth grade, it happened: our classes were all out on the playground for recess. And I saw the Mean Girls were targeting... someone else. Someone I didn't like either (not for anything personally about her -- she was just really annoying and whiny). For reasons I will never know, the Mean Girls invited me, their usual outside-of-school target, to join in.

For a moment, I was thrilled. I was being included! And if someone else was being targeted with the Mean Girls wrath, that meant it wasn't being focused on me! Maybe this was a turning point! Maybe I wouldn't be the target any more! Maybe I was now cool. So I joined in: we walked by the girl, coughing to show how much she was making us sick by being near us, and walked on. And everyone dissolved into laughter. Except me. I looked back and saw how incredibly hurt she was. I felt like crap. There was nothing fun about this. I walked to the swing set and started talking to others. The hyenas didn't notice me. I watched them walk by the girl again and again, coughing, talking and laughing. Yeah, I had stopped, but I didn't say anything to show them, or the girl, that I knew it was wrong.

I regret that day hugely. I bet that girl remembers that day. I bet it's burned into her memory. I'm so sorry for that.

In all these discussions about bullying, I think it's just as important to think about when YOU have been a bully, not just when you have been bullied. Why did you do it? Do you still do it?

And don't just talk to your kids about what to do if they are bullied; talk to them about why being a bully is wrong, what the consequences are of targeting someone for humiliation, and what they should do if they see someone being bullied.