Seven years ago today I was in my hometown for my mom’s funeral. It’s not really “a thing” for me anymore and I usually just commemorate the day by reading funny things I’ve written about her.
Everything just feels worse when you’re already down though. Like, I lost my phone Sunday. It felt like the end of the world. I’ve lost my phone in the past, and it just felt like an annoying inconvenience. Last year around this time, I breezed through just fine. This year, I wish she could help me laugh at some of my misfortunes and then cook for me.
My mom didn’t cook as often as some moms did because she worked and she ran a business and I had so many extra-curriculars to be shuttled to and from. Plus, my parents were both really social and cooking dinner wasn’t super high on the list of priorities. When she *did* cook though, we had a ball in the kitchen. Sometimes my dad would be sitting at the bar working on something of his or helping to shuck corn or shell peas. I would generally be in the way between picking the music. And my mom would be in charge of directing the topics of gossip, because both of them were messy and lived for drama.
So. Given my current emotional state, what would Dianne do for me?
First, she’d tell me to pray, and I’d let that go in one ear and right out the other. Then she’d ask me what I wanted to eat. I can’t fry chicken like she could and my salmon croquettes never come out right, but there’s a crock pot in the kitchen, so I just made some BBQ sauce and threw some chicken in it. Also, the grocery store by me has Lipton, so I bought some bags and some sugar, and we finna have sweet tea. I haven’t made cornbread from scratch in years, but I went over the recipe in my head and I think I still got it. I bought me some early peas and some sweet potatoes, and I’m bout to cook like my mama.
Tomorrow, I’ll try to press Reset (for the millionth time this summer!) but today we finna eat good and pretend I don’t have any problems. If y’all got some good gossip, feel free to drop it in my inbox. Dianne would.
Thank a librarian.
Libraries are community centers and librarians keep them going!
I spent a lot of time at the library as a child because I didn’t have any friends.
Just kidding! I had lots of friends and was totes popular, but I was basically an only child since my older sister was off to college before I was even forming memories. She taught me how to read, my parents encouraged it, and since they both worked, books were an easy way for me to entertain myself.
Parenting Life Hack: If your kids have a quiet hobby, you spend less money on Excedrin for migraines.
My hometown had about 400 people and only 17 of them could read, so we didn’t have a library, but just across the river in the bustling metropolis next door where 9,000 people lived, there was a library staffed with nice ladies and one old gay man who basically raised me while my mom did errands. A librarian is not a babysitter and they don’t get paid to watch your kids, so please don’t just drop your kids off in front of the bookdrop and hightail it outta there. However, my parents were really relaxed about leaving me places, because they were very old and the Scary News Stories didn’t phase them. There was a higher chance of your child being abducted in the 1940s than the 1990s, yet our parents and grandparents were out all day by themselves from sunup to sundown while we were expected to be tied to our parents at all times. My folks pretty much functioned under the premise that nobody was going to take me out of a library — I would have to actually follow them, and I wasn’t stupid (and I didn’t/don’t like people).
So I spent many a Sunday afternoon in the library while my mom was running errands and my favorite librarian, Ms. Greer, would actually entertain me….by putting me to work. Had I known I was doing her job for her, I would’ve asked for a cut of her paycheck, but 3rd Grade Me was very excited to ink the inside back cover of all the new books with the fancy library stamp. I felt super important being trusted with the task of taking the returns and putting them in their proper spot on the shelf (thanks, Dewey Decimal training!). She had me take Lemon Pledge and wipe down the study corrals and I did it with gusto.
When my mom asked me to pick my socks up off the floor, it felt like the end of my life, so I guess she wasn’t asking me nicely the way Ms. Greer did.
I spent more time in the library growing up than any other building that wasn’t home or school, so when I saw this story about some Australian librarians checking on their senior citizens during COVID, I wanted to tell y’all about it because librarians are truly underappreciated.
When Melbourne’s Yarra Plenty regional libraries first went into lockdown in March, shut the doors and left the remaining unborrowed books on their shelves, staff were sent home with a phone.
“One of the hardest things about lockdown was people being separated from their community,” said Lisa Dempster, Yarra Plenty’s executive manager of public participation.
“The library is often a hub for the community, and we identified the most vulnerable cohort of our community would be the elderly.”
So the library staff pulled from their database the phone number of every library member over the age of 70 – a total of 8,000 records.
Then the librarians started calling those members. All of them.
(cont. The Guardian)
I lived next door to a little old lady 6 or 7 years ago and I would do errands for her and do her grocery shopping and sit with her a couple of times a week. After I moved, I used to take her to church once a month up until last year. Her daughter moved in with her and thought it was “weird” that a former neighbor would still check up on her, but I like her. She’s like a Bonus Grandma and her kids weren’t checking on her. She spent most of her days alone in her apartment, and since she was right next door, I could go over there and sit on her couch and do what I would normally do on my own couch — watch TV and play on the internet or crochet. Her daughter is/was convinced I was just spending time with her because I wanted to get into her will. It just didn’t occur to her that I would want to look after my neighbor or look after a lonely old lady.
Not to generalize, but Western cultures don’t care for our elders the way other cultures do and we don’t look out for our neighbors the way other cultures do. We don’t build community the way other cultures do. Librarians do that! Libraries are community centers and librarians keep them going! Librarians get to know the people in their community, like the nerdy little kid who sits and reads quietly on Sundays while mom is at the beauty supply store. Librarians care about that community, like these senior citizens getting calls from their local library to make sure their faring well during a pandemic. Think about adding libraries to the list of causes you look for when choosing a politician to champion. They’re always under attack and they need our help to keep serving communities quietly and constantly without any gratitude.
I did thank Ms. Greer though. Before I went off to boarding school I bought her a nice card and sent it to the library.
Working for Anti-Vaxxers: Week One
How did I get here?
How did I get here?
Short re-cap in case you missed my summer blog…
The publishing company I worked for laid off a whole bunch of people in May because print media is dying and y’all hoes don’t read shit. I didn’t qualify for unemployment because I got a crappy lil retail job last fall for the holidays and kept it to work a couple of days a month because of the discount and the extra drinking money. NY State said since I have a job, I’m not unemployed.
Add that to moving expenses and the cost of just existing in New York City, and I was so excited about the prospect of a paycheck after living on fumes all summer, I didn’t really do any research about the non-profit foundation that hired me.
I’d signed on to work for an autism foundation run by anti-vaxxers.
The goal was to keep applying for jobs and to keep interviewing until I found a better position and hopeful I’d get another job offer before my start date, which was last Monday. But alas. That’s not how my life works, and I reported to work last week full of shame and angst and apprehension, but with the very real need to buy groceries and pay my phone bill looming overhead.
Whatever you’re thinking about a foundation full of anti-vaxxers is probably correct. There is a lot of nervous white woman energy all over the office. I only saw two non-white people all last week, and one was mixed. It’s like working with a parody of Jenny McCarthy, and luckily for y’all, Emma Stone did that for me so I don’t have to explain any further.
They’d just had a huge fundraiser, and since I was hired by the fundraising and events team, most of my time was spent crunching numbers and learning how to allocate money. The rest of my time was a lot of training about the company…and signing a lot of NDAs. Apparently they’ve had problems with people being hired under false pretenses, “spies” from other organizations infiltrating their barn of crazy to then go back to the real world with dirt. So there is a lot of paperwork about what you can and cannot say about your job.
One day last week, I’d just finished up some training exercises with two other new people, and I saw my trainer browsing through Instagram.
Emma: Oh it’s okay. Using your phone and stuff during down time is no big deal. There are ebbs and flows throughout the day, especially on this team.
Me: Oh that’s cool.
Emma: As long as your work is done or whatever, nobody really cares what you do. What’s your Instagram? I’ll follow you.
Me: I don’t have IG.
Emma: Really? Why not?
Me: **shrug** I just don’t use social media. I’m more of a private person I guess.
CLEARLY that is a lie, but my Instagram is “rafidangelo.” If you Google “rafidangelo” you can find anything I’ve ever written. I’ve always used the same handle on every social media platform because I used to make a lot of money doing this and you want to be easily searchable when your income depends on traffic to your site or sites. It’s impossible to erase a social media history like mine, so my employment strategy is to make sure I’m not searchable. The name I use on my resume is a name that does not appear anywhere on the Internet. So, on my application, the spots designated for social media are blank.
Anyway, it’s hard working for an organization that is directly and unquestionably making the world worse, but I have to set it aside in a corner of my mind because the most immediate pressing issue is keeping a roof over my head and food in my stomach. I can’t save the world if I’m hungry in a gutter somewhere, so I figured I could just keep my head down, keep booking interviews, and sooner rather than later, something will break and I’ll land a job elsewhere.
Friday I went to work for a halfday because the office empties out around 1 for Summer Fridays, and on the way out, the HR lady called me into her office.
Y’all. She had two blogs I’d written about vaccines.
When you’re the kind of organization worried about “spies” making their way in, having no social media imprint of any kind is a red flag. When I told Emma I don’t use it, they went back to my file and decided to start digging, which they should have done in the first place. When Susan from HR put my words in my face, I came clean and told her I wasn’t a spy, I just needed a job. I didn’t do my research on them the same way they didn’t do their research on me because we were both excited about the way the interviews went and what I could bring to fundraising and events planning. They needed new energy, I needed a paycheck, and we were both sloppy about doing our homework.
I couldn’t convince her I wasn’t a spy, but she said even if I wasn’t covertly working for another organization, my feelings about the topic were obviously at odds with the beliefs of the foundation, so I couldn’t work there.
So that’s how I got fired from a job I didn’t want a week after I started.
What have I been up to this summer?
Unemployed, un-internetted, and unraveled! A mess!
*EYE* personally think this story has everything: drama! surprise! humor! tragedy!
It’s long though. There are probably 87 other things you should probably be doing instead.
Let’s go back to May when I was gainfully employed and literally the most productive person at my job…
So here’s the thing about being really good at your job: you have a lot of free time. Every one in my office had a lot of free time to shoot the shit or waste time on Facebook or take nine hundred smoke breaks, but I had the most because I was the fastest. It is what it is — I was the youngest, the most tech-savvy, and the fastest on the keyboard. Whatever you give me to do, I could do in half the time as anyone else. Fortunately, I’m great at filling up time and whenever my boss called me into his office, I’d first think “omg I’m about to be fired” but then he’d tell me how great I was and give me a new job responsibility. I would frequently be tasked with finishing other people’s work because mine was perfect and finished ahead of schedule.
I knew sales were down, not because I was on the accounting team, but because I’m nosey and not stupid. I could see they were down about 25% but like I said, I was the best at my job. I’m safe right? Wrong.
One day around lunchtime, my boss’s boss came by my desk and told me to follow her to the VP’s office. Deadass I thought I was about to be promoted for being amazing, until I got to her office and there were two other employees from my team in the room.
What are y’all doing here in my promotion meeting? Y’all celebrating with me? Brought some cupcakes or something?
As soon as the VP started talking, I knew I was being let go.
“Sales have been down…”
“We’ve had to make some cutbacks across the company…”
So instead of making a smart economic decision based on which employees are making the most money, they decided to let go of the last 16 people hired because they didn’t want to have difficult conversations about performance with their buddies who had been on the job for fifteen years.
And that’s how I got fired from the first job I ever liked, the first position where I knew without a doubt that I was doing an excellent job with absolutely zero criticism of my performance from my boss, ever. They can all choke.
I don’t know if y’all know this about depression, but minor setbacks are the end of the world. Losing a job feels like the big asteroid is four hours away. Hot girl summer ended before it even started.
I got home that day and my roommate was yelling on the phone as usual.
Back in February, I moved to Brooklyn for the first time in a decade because I needed a change. I was super unhappy living in Harlem, I was tired of the crowds 24/7, the noise, the high rent, the endless delays waiting on the train at 125th Street. I told a guy at work I was looking to move and he said his friend was moving out of an apartment in Prospect Heights. I went by, met the roommate who was staying, and our little 15-minute interview/apartment viewing turned into two hours of hanging out on the couch. Great! Sounds like a good fit. He was intense, but I’m fine in the presence of intense personalities because mine is so dry. Let’s call my roommate Matt.
Things I found out about Matt after moving in:
- He’s an out-of-work actor who doesn’t work other than act. Do you know how annoying that is? Every other actor I know waits tables or works security or delivers packages. Matt sits around all day watching Netflix.
- He yells. A lot. About everything. Not at me, but TO me. Every day. Just yelling about his shitty day and his shitty life where he’s always the tragic victim up against the world.
Anyway, so Matt is yelling on the phone and I went to my room and closed the door. A few minutes later he came in to tell me that the internet would be cut off in ten days because of “those assholes at Spectrum.” THOSE assholes. I’m sure.
I pieced together what happened from bits and pieces of his rants. Years ago, during a period where the internet was slow, Matt called customer service and yelled about it. He got forwarded up the chain and yelled at enough people until he finally got his problem resolved.
Wait, that’s not it.
He got forwarded up the chain and yelled at enough people until a supervisor finally said “you’ve abused our customer service people enough and we’re cutting off your Internet so you never have to call here again.” I’ve worked in customer service for almost 15 years. I’ve been called names, threatened, and narrowly avoided projectiles. I can’t imagine how much yelling and cussing that would have to be directed at me for a manager to say ENOUGH! Whatever that level is, that’s what Matt did.
Still, he needed internet and he didn’t want to pay extra for a better service, so he called Spectrum again and used his brother’s phone number instead. They didn’t flag the address — because there are three apartments there — so the new phone number didn’t raise any issues. Everything was fine for a few years, until May when the service was slowing down and obviously Matt couldn’t handle that, being that he’s an out-of-work actor on the couch all day streaming Netflix. He called and yelled and at some point, he let it slip when they asked for a callback number, and he gave them his real number instead of his brother’s number. It flagged and bye bye internet.
Now I’m living with an angry out of work actor playing the perpetual victim with no internet while I try to find a new job. Every first interview is a phone interview. I suck at phone interviews. Therefore, it’s been a very long summer, looking for coffeeshops with free internet to set up shop for a few hours at a time so I can apply for jobs and answer emails.
Let’s switch gears! Y’all know Travis:
Travis and I have been talking off & on about moving in together for the past six years, but the timing was always off. Or we were fighting. He lives in a three bedroom with our other friend, and the third room was being sublet by a guy who [redacted to preserve that guy’s privacy, but it’s really dramatic] so the room was going to be vacant on August 1st.
I hate my roommate! Travis needs one! Sounds great!
I told Matt sometime around mid-June that I would be moving out August 1st. I only had to give him a 30 day notice, but since I already knew I was moving, might as well be nice and let him start looking, right? Wrong. My previously mildly annoying roommate turned into a mega asshole roommate instead. Whereas he would normally make a smoothie at the reasonable hour of 4pm, now he would make them at 1 or 2 in the morning on a kitchen cart parked in the hallway. Instead of behaving like a reasonable person showing a room to strangers and coordinating with the current roommate, he would text me half an hour before someone was going to show up and expect me to leave the apartment so it wouldn’t be awkward.
Have you ever woken up at 9am butt naked to your roommate and a perfect stranger looking at your closet space? I have! He text me at 8am to tell me someone was coming to look at the room, and when I didn’t answer, instead of rescheduling he just let himself and the stranger into my room since the bedrooms don’t lock.
I don’t know if y’all know this about depression, but all of ^^that^^ up there is not helpful!
Anyway, back to the job search.
I’m great at second interviews. Anytime I’ve ever landed a second interview, I’ve been offered the job. The problem is the phone screening. As some of you may know, my resume doesn’t say “Rafi D’Angelo” because that reads as “brown man” and most of my work experience is white woman jobs. I’m not going to tell you what my resume says because I don’t want a prospective employer to be able to google it, but I realized a few years ago when I was looking for a job, that if I put a white woman’s name on it, I got a lot more calls and emails from recruiters. If the first interview is in person, I can charm them into forgetting I’m not a white woman. If the first interview is by phone, that’s a more difficult hurdle to jump over. Add that to the unfortunate tendency for very slow, lengthy, drawn-out hiring processes for white collar jobs, and I was still unemployed in mid-July, almost two months after being fired.
Now let’s talk about how shitty unemployment is!
When you get fired, you apply for unemployment. You give your answers, the state verifies that with your employer, and then you get your benefits based on how much money you used to make. There was no problem with my unemployment application and everything was as it should be…except for my part time job.
I started working at a clothing store last October because I wanted a part time job to get me through the holidays when I tend to be even more depressed than usual watching my friends post cute pictures with their parents and siblings. Instead of spending all of November and December eating my feelings, I figured I should get a cute lil part-time job, make some money, flirt with some co-workers, buy some new clothes at a deep discount, and keep my mind off of how sad my life is.
Seasonal employees get fired on January 15th, but obviously I’m good at retail — I was the assistant manager of a Gap store in college — so they kept me on to work 3 or 4 days a month so I could continue to use my discount until the next holiday season.
The State of New York said I’m not unemployed because I have a job. At a retail store. Even though I lost a salaried position at a publishing company. At one point, I gave the lady a hypothetical scenario as such:
“So if I made $200,000 a year working at a bank and $3,000 a year working at a fruit stand, but I lost the job at the bank, I wouldn’t qualify for unemployment because I still work at a fruit stand?”
“But if I previously made $1000 for working all day and now I would make $50 for working three hours, does that count as having a job?
“So I should quit the job at the store so I can qualify for unemployment?”
Unemployment is based on your last position, and if you quit your last position, you don’t qualify for unemployment.
“So what should I do?”
Ask your job if they will give you more hours.
Needless to say, that’s not how retail hours work, especially for someone who was only being kept on to work less than 15 hours a month just for the discount because they like you and want you to come back for holiday. When I tell you I ran out of money fast? I mean I ran out of money FAST. I used up all my savings and the kindness of strangers to pay a tax bill I didn’t know I had. I went into summer running on fumes anyway, and now I don’t qualify for unemployment because I fold t-shirts three times a month.
By mid-July I was ready to take any job, and so I did. I got a job at a luxury travel agency, a job I had basically done before years ago when I was working at Quintessentially Concierge, the kind of job I quit because my soul was dying at work every day being forced to cater to rich entitled white people.
On my first day on the job, the girl training me called poor people “riff-raff.”
Back in May, I applied for an events & fundraising position at a non-profit and I thought my phone interview had gone well, but they never got back to me. They got back to me the week I accepted the travel agency job and they scheduled a second interview the Monday I started training with the rich kids. I left work, went to the subway, and it was so hot I just started sobbing. I was tired, I was exhausted, I was frustrated, I was HOT, and I guess it had all been building up, and I stood there for a good five minutes with the floodgates open.
But guess what? I put myself together, went to my interview, and positively SMASHED it. I knew I had that job before they shook my hand and said “we’ll let you know.” They did indeed call me the next day to offer me a position while I was eating lunch with my borderline-Republican trainer at my new job. I politely told them it wasn’t a good fit and it was better that I realized sooner rather than later, and I was outta there.
The non-profit told me I could start the next day or I could start August 15th. They were in the middle of planning and throwing a fundraising gala, so I could start immediately and hit the ground running, or I could wait until after the big shindig and have a more traditional onboarding process.
Earlier this year, Travis decided to celebrate his 30th birthday in Montreal, so we all paid for our late-July vacation in April. However, the travel agency wouldn’t let me start after my scheduled vacation, so I figured I’d just lose the money I’d already spent as opposed to lose the JOB I’d just gotten, and I told the boys I couldn’t go on the trip. Here’s the non-profit giving me the option to start AFTER the trip.
But I’d been out of work for too long and I couldn’t afford to wait until September for a paycheck, not when I have to move in August. So, that’s sad, but at least I landed a great job! Throwing events to make the world a better place?
I told everybody about my new job so they’d be happy for me, but one friend was definitely disturbed by my new position. Here’s a rough transcript of how our conversation went.
Me: I got a job!
Bill: Doing what?
Me: Events and fundraising for a non-profit!
Bill: Oh wow that sounds perfect for you. What’s the non-profit?
Me: It’s for autism called [redacted for my privacy, but I’ll tell you if I know you]
Bill: I’m just gonna assume you didn’t look them up before you applied…
Me: No why?
Bill: They’re anti-vaxxers looking for a cure. You’re basically raising money to prove how vaccines cause autism.
That trip to Canada was already paid for so I most certainly did go celebrate Travis’s birthday with him because I was not about to show up all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to help ruin the world.
SO THAT’S HOW MY SUMMER IS GOING. My birthday is coming up and all I have to look forward to is a job where I get to ask rich people to give us money to feed the public more lies that will definitely lead to kids dying from diseases that were almost eradicated decades ago.
Anyway. If you were wondering where I was this summer, that’s where I was. If you wanna donate to my terrible summer, feel free. This is about the time of year where I ask for birthday drinks, so we’re just gonna combine those together to save time.
Watch: JLo & Maluma “Pa’ Ti” and “Lonely”
Young white murderers are little boys. Young Black victims are grown men.
Young white murderers are little boys. Young Black victims are grown men.
Watch: Whitney Houston “Saving All My Love” (1986 Grammys)
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