Guest Post: YOUR Voice Can Change Lives

 

Today (as promised), a guest post by Cynthia Eastman, formerly homeless writer, activist, and founder of Common Ground Worldwide as well as Earth Angel Volunteers, a knitting and crochet group who make caps, hats, scarves, gloves and mittens for homeless/abused men, women and children.

Cynthia is one of the hardest-working, most supportive, non-judgmental people I have ever met; a true peacemaker and a kind heart, and it is a privilege to call her my friend.

 

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YOUR Voice Can Change Lives

By Reverend Cynthia Rae Eastman

 

Brianna and I met a couple of years ago as authors writing for a blog on homelessness. Just like many of you reading “The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness” blog, I too have been reading and watching her journey unfolding and morphing into what is now a book of the same title.

One thing that I have found to be extremely inspirational is the fact that in the midst of experiencing homelessness, Bri was always concerned about all of the others, who were suffering as a result of not being able to afford housing. From the very beginning, she was helping to serve as a voice for those who are homeless.

Clearly, she was thrust into positions of being interviewed on national television, which most of us will never experience. We could all tell that this was a bit scary for her, yet when opportunity knocked, despite the fear and unavoidable stigma associated with being homeless, Bri courageously told her story and made sure that she did what she could to debunk the stereotypes.

Even though we may never personally be under that sort of spotlight, I would like to suggest that we have other smaller, yet powerful ways to have our voices heard. For example, recently, I was invited to speak at our local Homeless Services Oversight Council concerning giving a report on the National Conference on Ending Family Homelessness, which I attended in February. Following my presentation, I decided to remain for the rest of the meeting. During that time, the topic of creating a “Safe Parking” project came up.

As I listened, I could hear various members voicing concerns and the time came when, rather than voting on and passing their endorsement of this project, it looked like the item was going to be tabled in favor of more research. When the chairman of the council asked for “Citizen Comments,” despite not planning to speak or having prepared anything to say, the sound of my tear-filled voice shocked even me.

“I was a divorced, single parent of a 13 year old, when I found myself between jobs,” I said. Then continued with, “My son and I ended up sleeping in our car. It was terrifyingly dangerous. All night long the police kept telling us to move. In this county alone, there are over 3,800 men, women, and children, who are homeless and only 200 shelter beds. People MUST sleep somewhere! I just want to thank all of you for taking the steps necessary to help the people in our community, who are experiencing homelessness.”

Much to my surprise, following these heartfelt impromptu words, a vote was again called and this time, it passed unanimously! It was the first time in my life that I realized my voice could have such a powerful impact and potentially make a positive change in the lives of others, who are struggling. After the meeting, the woman, who was most opposed to moving forward with the vote, came up to me and thanked me for putting a face to homelessness.

Tips for Having Your Voice Heard

Story of a Homeless Veteran, who is speaking out:

 

Most of all, I encourage you to remember this quote by Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”, Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3])

It is critical for all of us to speak out in our communities concerning our experiences with homelessness. Our voices can be powerful tools for positive change. Let your light shine and your voice be heard, because one person truly can make a difference and that person is YOU!

 

Oh, Yeah, I Forgot…Oops!

Photo credit: Kyria Abrahams

So with all the whirlwindy dervish stuff going on at the moment, it absolutely failed to attract my notice that both my blog’s birthday and my own have whizzed on by without commemoration.

So, to recap: February 23rd, my blog turned two years old. February 26th, two years homeless/in accommodation limbo. March 6th, turned 26 years old. Eep. I think I just rolled into “over the hill” status.

By a funny coincidence, I ended up spending my birthday in NYC.  My editor flew me out to New York for a couple of business meetings regarding the book release on April 27th.  It was the first time I’d ever met my editor and publicist in person (they are the kindest, sweetest women ever!) and the first time I’d seen my agent since meeting him while I was in NYC a year and a half ago for the Today Show.

They were super sweet and not only flew me out and put me up in a hotel (which was like luxurious nirvana…a real, soft, fluffy bed!!!) but pulled out all the stops to give me a great birthday by introducing me to some of the most fashionable cafés in town.  And my “adopted mom” in London, Vicki Day, called the hotel and had them order me a chocolate cake from the Amish Market up the street, and put it in the fridge for me.  When the concierges heard it was my birthday, they upgraded my room for free.

It was kind of amazing.  I was, predictably, depressed to have to get back on the plane home.  But that’s life; back to reality, nose to the grindstone, etc.  I’m so lucky and grateful that I got to have an experience like that, though!  Thank you so much to Deb, Shara, Chris, Vicki, and Alice!

 

Socrates Sculpture Park in the rain. Photo credit: Kyria Abrahams.

While in the city, I also hung out with my friend and fellow author (of I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed) Kyria Abrahams, who lives there.  I got lost in Grand Central Station, saw the Noguchi Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, Build It Green!, and was treated to wine and cheese at some adorable little hole-in-the-wall Italian bistro.  Kyria, a photographer, is building her portfolio, so she insisted on taking a bajillion photos of me, which generally tends to make me really really really uncomfortable, but she’s a pro at what she does and isn’t above sometimes being sneaky to get a great shot (she’ll totally dart in and snap one when you’re just strolling along, talking, and not expecting it.  Or drying your hair in the hotel bathroom.  Yeah.)  She also drove me to dinner with my agent, which makes her a braver woman than I.  I could never drive in NYC traffic.  Thank you for the great time, Kyria!  (Read her book, people. Seriously.)

It was raining in New York.  I love the rain.  I love New York City.  Together it was all sort of perfect.

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So now I’m back on the lot and such, still loving the theatre, etc.  The company sent me to work a festival today in Fullerton.  I love Fullerton as a city, but I hate going there now.  It’s where I grew up and my mom lives about a mile and a half from the college where the festival was.  It’s paranoia-inducing any time I go into Fullerton now, especially after the close call last time.  My car is too distinctive and my mom is not above keying a paint job or even getting a little stabby-stab happy with tires.  I’ve seen some things, people.

But the festival was lots of fun and it was the first theatre festival I’ve ever been to in my life; enjoyed it immensely.  I did see one of my high school teachers there, which was kind of weird.  I feel so old.  All the little high school and college kids were adorable and sooooo innocent and pumped up and silly and sweet.  I wonder if I was that cute when I was young (probably not.  I was pretty sullen/angsty/awkward, if I recall correctly).

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Photo credit: Kyria Abrahams

Publishers Weekly reviewed The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness this week and the review was pretty glowing for PW.  They called it a “candid and wickedly humorous memoir…Karp’s voice is instantly appealing and her message that basic respect shouldn’t disappear when you lose your home is a vital one.”

I waited for the “…but”.  It never came.  There was nothing negative in their review.  I thought this was very cool, but didn’t quite understand the magnitude of it (not knowing the ins and outs of the industry).  It turns out that PW is like the Coca Cola of the trade papers and it’s the one review that gets posted smack dab in the middle of your Amazon page and some other retailers’ pages.  It’s the first review of the book that you see, and the most important.  And I guess PW has a reputation for occasionally being kinda harsh/snarky/tough on books.  Especially by new authors.

Now that I know all this, I am very, very thrilled.  And scared.  Mostly thrilled.

Guess what makes me even happier?  The following quote from Augusten freaking Burroughs appears on the back cover:

“Brianna Karp is the perfect example of how a person can triumph not in spite of adversity but as a direct result of it. This smart, pragmatic young woman takes us inside the new face of homelessness in America and her dramatic memoir guides us through our assumptions, fears and judgement into a place of understanding, compassion and respect. Truly essential reading.”

Augusten Burroughs has read my book.  Augusten Burroughs, the author of Running With Scissors, You Better Not Cry, A Wolf at the Table, and Dry…liked my book enough to say super-kind things about it. *brain short circuits*

ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG.

Yes, I am a fangirl.  I can’t help it.  Authors are my rockstars.

If Jeannette Walls liked it also, my heart would stop and my head would explode and I would die the happiest person on earth.  (Hint, hint, universe.)

So I think I’m going to list some of the advance reviews I’ve gotten on the Read the Book page over the next couple of days, including from ARC galley readers who work at bookstores and such and have reached out to me (don’t worry; if you’re one of those people, I won’t use your name if you emailed me privately, just what state you’re in.  If your review was public though, on a blog or in the media, then I will properly attribute and link it).  I also promise only to quote professional reviews or reviews from strangers who have reached out to me; nothing from friends, because that would be cheating – they’re sort of obliged to tell me they like it, even if it’s a lie!

Exciting, exciting things happening.  Picking up speed.  The next two months are set to be the craziest in my entire life.  I’m game.  Let’s do it.

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(Note:  I’ve got a moving story from Rev. Cynthia Eastman of Common Ground Worldwide, about altering perceptions of homelessness, that I’d like to make into a guest post this week.  Cynthia has agreed to this; so stay tuned!)

 

Homeless News of the Month (Plus Booky Updates!)

Photo credit: Amy Norris; eightsixty9.com

Hi everybody!

Whew, work is keeping me hopping lately! BUT, there were several news tidbits lately that really struck me and that I wanted to share with you guys:

I’m gonna start off with the article that made my blood boil (that way I can finish up on a positive note with some more uplifting stories):

Five homeless people have died as members of the “control group” (very lab rat terminology) of a $110 million study funded by the Canadian government:

Like police detectives, Michelle Patterson’s group of interviewers scour city streets, homeless shelters and churches on the hunt for some of society’s most downtrodden.

But rather than hunting for suspects, Patterson’s team follows clues to track down 200 people who make up the control group for an ambitious national housing study.

Interviewers with the At-Home project have ended up in hospital rooms, jail cells and even the morgue in their efforts to locate control group participants in Vancouver’s $30-million study into housing the mentally ill. Five have died since the study began just over a year ago.

Three hundred other study participants are provided a roof and assistance through the project. But the 200 members of the TAU (Treatment As Usual) control group are only monitored by project staff.

They are not offered any housing or support services, said Patterson, co-investigator of Vancouver’s arm of the study and a clinical psychologist who does research at Simon Fraser University.

This raises some vexing moral questions.

All of the potential study participants were identified as needy. And yet only some are receiving help.

But without the control group, researchers could not prove whether advancements in the health and stability of those given housing resulted from the project.

So:  We need to spend $300 million dollars (and the lives of 5 people so far), to prove that a homeless person is better off with shelter than without.

Nice.

Of the 500 participants in the survey, 300 are housed and provided with support services; 200 are left as the “control group” and given absolutely nothing.  Nada.  No help whatsoever.  300 participants were identified as having high needs, 200 as having moderate needs.  OK, so if you can only afford to help 300, and you absolutely have to pick who to help, you’d suppose they’d aim for the ones with high needs, right?

Except no.  It’s all done randomly, by lottery.  Which means a good chunk of those with the highest needs are being turned right back out there onto the street.

Oh, but I should clarify.  They don’t get nothing.  They’re given a one-time “honorarium” of a whole $30 in exchange for being tracked down and answering questions about how much their life still sucks every 3 months.  Lovely.

So yeah, to reiterate:  Dangle the carrot of “hey, we might give you a home!” and then instead go, “oops, sorry bro, you didn’t make the cut.  Here’s your $30!  But hey, it’s for science!  So thanks a lot!  Buy yourself a cup of coffee and a hot meal.”

“We have got to know people, and it’s difficult for our field staff,” said Patterson, who has been involved in other research projects involving this vulnerable population.

Oh, yeah.  I bet it’s been really tough on your staff.  You know who else I bet it’s been tough on?  The people who died on the street because you handed them $30 and sent them on their not-so-merry way, without actually helping them at all.

The study is ongoing until March 13th, 2013.  So fear not, there’s a good two years yet for plenty more of their “control group” to die off, thus proving their theory, that housing really does help homeless people.  Unbelievable.

 

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On a higher note, happy stories!

A friend sent me this – please watch tonight’s episode of Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel – the network has teamed up with the 100,000 Homes Campaign to help house homeless Americans. The Travel Channel has committed to donate 10 cents for every viewer who watches the March 1 San Francisco episode – up to $100,000 – to the 100,000 Homes Campaign, in addition to other donated marketing efforts to promote awareness.  The episode airs tonight at 9 p.m. E/P.

Twitter helps a homeless man reunite with his daughter! Social media has become such a force for good in helping the homeless, and connecting them with the outside world.  This story gave me the warm fuzzies.

Miss Colorado has come out and spoken to the media this week about being laid off from her job, evicted, and how she is currently homeless with her mother.  She remains optimistic, however, and plans to compete at the Miss America pageant in June.  I wish her all the best.

 

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Personal news:  I am holding in my hand an Advance Reader’s Copy of The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness, and it feels kind of awesome and surreal and dizzying all at once.  ARC’s were sent out a week ago and I’ve been getting back some super-kind, positive emails from so many lovely people all over the country (and even one in the Netherlands!), telling me how much they enjoyed it or that it moved them, as well as relating their personal stories and why the book connected.  (No negative reviews yet, luckily, but I’m sure they’ll come at some point, so I’ll enjoy this while it lasts!)

I’m so dumbfounded and awestruck that the book really has touched people already, and grateful for the advance feedback.  So please know, if you’re one of those people that emailed me, I thank you!  It means the world to me.  Also, absolutely feel free to leave a review on Goodreads as I’m sure it would help spread the word!

If you’ve already read the book and I haven’t heard from you yet, I would love to – so please drop me a line!  info@girlsguidetohomelessness.com.  If you work at a bookstore or in the media and are interested in scheduling a book signing, public speaking engagement, or interview, the contact info for Shara Alexander, who is booking all of that, is here.  If you write for a blog, newspaper, or magazine and would like an ARC so you can do a book review, she would be the person to contact about that, too.

Also, you may have noticed a new tab up in the top-right corner of the site – the book is up for preorder!  So far I have three retailers up there (Amazon, Borders, and IndieBound).  It’s available from more (i.e., Barnes & Noble, Indigo-Chapters in Canada, etc.) but I’m still waiting to be approved for their affiliate programs so I can put up a link…however, it’s already up for pre-order from all of them, so just search for my name on their websites if they’re your preferred retailers).

Thank you again for your support!  I love you all; I’m so excited for the book launch, and I know this would never have been possible without my friends and readers.

 

Happy New Year, Readers! (And You Can Totally Pre-Order My Book)

Happy 2011, everybody.  I’m holding out high hopes for this year to be most excellent.  Fingers crossed.

Been working at the theatre for just over three weeks now.  I absolutely love it there.  If it keeps on going like this, this is by far, no contest, my most favorite job that I’ve ever had.  The people are so great and they seem to like me pretty well, so I’m pleased about that. There’s also some breathtaking shows coming up in the second half of the season, so I’m really stoked about getting to see them.

Most of the people have fled the lot after code enforcement came and turned things upside down.  All the trailers and vehicles and such had to be removed from the property.  I think the lot owner gave most of them away, or sold them for peanuts.  I was one of the few people allowed to stay, and have been esconced in one of the converted garages/sheds on the property.  That’s kind of nice actually, since it’s a little more room and open floor space than the trailer, but it’s still legally…iffy…for me to be here, of course.  Laying low and more camping out than anything, switching between Riverside and my friend’s house in Orange County every now and then when I get the chance…I think the code enforcement officer is coming back for a follow-up visit this week or next, and I need to have my stuff out of the garage when he arrives, so it looks like everyone has cleared the lot.  After he confirms that and goes away, maybe I can furnish it a little and stuff.

I’m not sure where the people who left went.  It was pretty horrible, everyone was (understandably) upset and at one another’s throats about the last-minute shakeup and uncertainty.  I think most of them had no idea where they were going to go.  I did hear that one was pulled over a week later for driving his car without a license and was arrested on an outstanding warrant or something.  He’s spent the past few weeks in jail.  A shame, but I guess at least there they feed you.

Sage is visiting her family out of state at the moment, so I’m babysitting her dog Piglet, who is the sweetest.  He and Fez are best buddies.

It almost seems really trivial after everything else, but hey, my book just went up for pre-order last week on several sites!  I need to find pretty shiny clicky buttons to all the major retailers and install them conspicuously on my site, but at the moment you can find the book simply by searching on Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, etc. etc.  Please feel free to pre-order if you like! (Wow, this is so surreal.)  The sites say the book will be available April 26th.  I’m told that I start promotion-y stuff last week of April, first week of May, so I’ve gotta prep for that whole whirlwind again…  O.o

Happy Holiday Wintery Season-ness From Bri and Fez!

Everybody seems to be posting holiday pics and sending out Christmas cards en masse, so allow me to contribute to the pile.  Fezzik, of course, looks typically stoic and dignified and embarrassed to be wearing a silly hat.  That’s a Neo mastiff for you.  He’s almost 5 years old now, so he’s starting to get a little grey around the muzzle…poor sweetie.  I think it goes with the wintery season.

I’m not gonna be celebrating this year, though.  Being an ex-Jehovah’s Witness, I did/do want to.  You know, the tree, the colorful ornaments, the tinsel, the eggnog and general pervasive warm fuzziness. I’ve kind of got that longing for my first perfect Christmas in my head, even though I’m an atheist now so I suppose it really shouldn’t matter all that much…but it does.  Call it romanticism or love of tradition or whatever you will.  I do want to experience the holiday, on a purely secular level.  But I think I need to skip it for the next few years.

Last year I tried for the perfect white, romantic Christmas, and instead I ended up thrust against my will into the midst of hell x 12.  Christmas/New Year right now are more trauma triggers for me than anything else, and I need to avoid them until I can handle them.  Which is likely to be a loooong while. I just can’t deal with the stuff haunting me at this time, so naturally, I’ll hide indoors and ignore it after this blog post.  (Because nothing says “I excel at coping with horrific tragedy in a healthy and rational manner” like pulling the old ostrich maneuver.)

Still, I want to wish all of you a Merry/Happy/Joyous/Pleasant/Safe Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Holiday, Winter Solstice, Yuletide, Generic Snowy Weather, and whatever other seasonally-appropriate greetings that Wikipedia can generate for me in a single hasty fell swoop.  So I let Sage play around and test her new photo studio on me and Fez; ergo, the above photo.  Ironically, my mom gave me that scarf, which I really love because it’s very Christmassy/autumny/cornucopia-esque.  And has dangling, multi-hued, crimpy stringy bits.

Enjoy your families and friends and presents and holiday cheer and snow and love and joy and happiness and sparkly Christmas ornaments!  And also, if you’re in Orange County, go see your local production of A Christmas Carol!  The theatre I’m about to start working at is putting it on.  And if slightly raunchier/edgy adult humor is more your thing, check out the Chance Theatre’s production of Eight:  The Reindeer Monologues.  They stage it annually.  It’s tradition.  And also the funniest thing ever.

I was supposed to start tomorrow, but they have to run a background check to make sure I’m not a criminal mastermind or possibly a wily, evil genius con artist like Leo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can.  I filled out the paperwork today but it hasn’t come back yet.  Rats.  Probably tomorrow.  It’ll be nice to have work to drown myself in.  I really, really want to work full-time again and I can’t wait  :)  I was getting so damn sick of random, unreliable temp/freelance junk.

Aaaaaaand…I’m off on a tangent.  Steering sharply back to finish off with blog topic:  Happy Holidays!

ZOMG, I GOT DREAM JOB!!!!!

You are looking at the new marketing assistant for a really prestigious, world-renowned, Tony-Award-winning theatre with a huge reputation for taking risks and premiering a substantial amount of new and edgy material.  Seriously, some of their commissions have even won Pulitzer Prizes and been made into movies!

And I just (somehow) beat out at least a few hundred people for the job.  I know this because while I was waiting for the interview, I struck up a conversation with the receptionist and she mentioned just how many bajillions of inquiries they’d received.  She also told me that I was the very first to be interviewed for the position, so I worried that I’d be forgotten in the ensuing two weeks of interviews.

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, ohmygodohmygodohmygaaaawwwwd!!!!!

Interestingly, when they called to tell me, I was lying on the ground frantically trying to put my toenail back on and staunch blood from spurting everywhere.  Somehow, I’ve managed to trip and fall down the stairs for a second time in a couple of weeks, this time ripping most of my big toenail off.  This is weird for me, since I don’t tend to be particularly notable for clumsiness, or prone to injury.  I hope it’s not getting to be a habit.  I can only say that the stairs I was supposed to be walking down were no longer there.  They had been moved.  Silly me, expecting there to be stairs where there have always been stairs, and instead finding only air…anyway, I lay there sobbing, watching my toe turn black, and afraid to walk for fear of dribbling blood all over the place (I really don’t handle blood very well), until somebody came and brought me Hydrogen Peroxide and bandages.  Then I saw the missed call on my phone, and went from “life sucks” to “woohooadrenalinerushmaybeIgotjobafterallomgmustreturncall!”

So…yeah!  One of those “good news, bad news” situation.  Or really, more like “brilliant news of awesome-ness, bad news”.  When the hiring executive offered me the job, I sort of half-hopped, half-hobbled in a circle of “yay!”

I go in Monday to fill out paperwork, and then I presume I start Tuesday, or however long it takes for the background check to come back and let them know that I’m not a felonious psychokiller, or whatever.

I’m sooooo thrilled!  Things are looking up  :)  But now the adrenaline is starting to subside a little and ouch-ness is returning, so I just really need to find some painkillers and perhaps a really large shoe to wear on my right foot until the swelling goes down.

And then I’m sure in an hour or so, pure terror will set in.  This organization is a huge fecking deal. Please, please let me be brilliant at this job!!!

Because We Are Nerds. That Is All.

These are my two absolute bestest friends in the whole entire world; Brandon and Sonia.  They took me to Medieval Times! Because Sonia had never been. And because we are dorks.

Our knight was hot, yet inept in battle.  His squire was hot and…overall…ept.  Very ept. Tantalizingly so.  Yum.  And they were totally crushing on us.  We screamed really loud and they threw us a flower.

(Because we are nerdy, geeky dorks.)

I’m debating whether to crack a corny “Three Musketeers” joke.  But no.  I won’t go that far.  Ye may breathe a sigh of relief.

Brandon is the one in the DeLorean shirt. Sonia is the one with the fabulous tan. I am the one sans fabulous tan.

This is from about two weeks back, but it just popped up on Sonia’s Facebook feed for me, and it makes me feel happy and sunshiney, so I’m posting it even though it has nothing to do with homelessness.

Everybody should now go out and wear goofy hats this week, in solidarity.  So I have decreed it; so it shall be.  Sally forth, young (wo)man, and make it so!

Happy Thanksgiving, Readers!

Happy Thanksgiving (or similar holiday, if you celebrate) to everybody! May your turkey (or tofurkey, or Chinese takeout food, or whatever you’re into, really) be tasty!!!

I am dogsitting for two Dachsunds in San Bernardino (Sage took on too many petsitting clients to handle over the holiday, so I’m one of the ones pitching in to help her cover them all). Their owners are on a cruise until Sunday.  So I’ve got a nice warm house and a big TV with cable to keep me entertained for a few days!  It’s kind of out in the middle of nowhere, so very quiet.  Also, I’m right at the base of the mountains, so on Monday went up 18 miles to Lake Arrowhead and had breakfast in this little town called Crestline where everybody knows everybody.  There was snow covering all of the trees and windy roads and cabins and it was so gorgeous!  Where I’m staying for the week, though, there’s no snow…just been quite a bit of rain, which I also love!

Feeling a bit sick for a couple of days; wonder if maybe I caught a cold in the mountains or something. Did a lot of sleeping though, and getting a little better.  Otherwise, having a fab holiday!  I wish the same to all of my loyal friends and readers  :-)  I’m thankful for you guys!

~Bri

And Now We Play the Waiting Game…

Had the Dream Job interview today, with a very well-known, prestigious, cutting-edge performing arts center. I *think* it went far better than I ever could have hoped, but we’ll see…Sometimes you feel like you really knocked an interview out of the park and are super-confident that the job is yours, and then you never hear back.

I got a really great feeling about it, though, and my interviewers were very awesome, laid-back people who were easy to talk to.  It was also by far the longest interview I’ve ever had – something like an hour and a half or an hour and 45 minutes-ish.  I’m usually incredibly nervous during interviews (though I’ve gotten better at hiding it, I think), but after maybe the first 3-5 minutes, I wasn’t nervous any more at ALL, and that’s really saying something.  It really was much more like a two-way, friendly conversation than a one-sided interrogation, as some interviews can seem.  They said that a big buzzword in their department was “engagement”, and it showed in their interview tactics.  Also got a great feeling about their culture and management style, and a sense that while the work is very fast-paced and challenging, their department has a great sense of humor and fun.

Plus, c’mon, free tickets to all plays in addition to working in an industry I love?  Yes, please!

Sooooo…yeah.  Really, really hoping this is it.  You know me, always looking for my niche and the place I’m gonna fit in.  This is a company I can see myself sticking around at for quite a while, because that’s what people who love their job do!   :-D

They were to make a decision by Wednesday or perhaps right after Thanksgiving, but I got a call this evening saying that the hiring director was being called out of town all next week on a family emergency (major suck!  Poor guy.) and they are pushing back the decision date to Dec. 1st.  And that they would like to keep me in the running because they really enjoyed our interview, so don’t worry if I didn’t hear back from them by Wednesday, and please let them know if my employment status changes before then.

That’s kinda a good sign, right?  Maybe?

Hope so, anyway.  The one thing that worries me most is that I struck up a conversation with the receptionist and learned that I was the very first interviewee for the position (and that they’d received and are still receiving hundreds of inquiries about the job).  I don’t know how many more people they’re going to be meeting with, but I think it’s usually a little better to be one of the last interviewed than the first…just because that way, you’re the freshest in their mind.  I really hope that I made enough of an impression to hold my own against the rest of the candidates to follow.

Anyway, yup yup.  We’ll see.  This would be one of the greatest things that could come along for me right now, and I believe I have a lot to bring to the table that would benefit them, as well.  Dream jobs don’t come along every day; they’re relatively rare even in a good economy, and I’m not the sort to take an opportunity like that for granted.

I am now going to go off and stare at the calendar until December 1st rolls around  ;-P  Also, my friend Brigitte’s birthday is on Sunday and there will be tasty brunch-ness at El Torito!!!  What should I get her as a present?!

This is the Week of Interviews…

…You know how you can send out résumés for weeks or months with absolutely no feedback, to the point where you figure perhaps your email server is malfunctioning, or something, and then suddenly in a 48-hour span you get four calls for interviews?

Well, that’s been my week, anyway.  Yup, four calls in 48 hours.  I’ve also made a ton of progress on the new site and have to whip up a post for BlogHer, as well as answer some interview questions for an column my pal Kyria Abrahams is writing, and it would seem there are some media interviews coming up regarding a campaign about inspirational women that I’m a part of, and I may even get to travel to an awesome, prestigious conference next week!  This means pretty much the most über-hectic window of time in quite a while.  You know I’m loving it.

Of course, I suppose none of the potential jobs could pan out.  But I’m thinking positive.  I’m gonna rule the world and rock those interviews, baby!  To top it all off, one of these companies in particular is offering what is pretty much my dream job.  They all seem like awesome positions – but this one is absolutely, by far, my favorite.  It’s right there for the taking, therefore I’m throwing all of my energy and hopes and dreams into that one.

So cross your fingers and toes and eyes for me and send me a few waves of positive, “yes, your dream company will hire you!” vibes, please.  Kthxbai  ;)

* * * * *

On the social issues/homelessness front:

This is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week in the U.S. Fittingly, it’s the week before Thanksgiving.  You can learn more about it and how you can help out from the National Coalition for the Homeless here.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, most major metropolitan areas offer programs like this one in Seattle, where you can “adopt” a low-income or homeless family by donating a cooked/uncooked turkey, or even an entire Thanksgiving meal.  Such a seemingly small thing as a holiday dinner makes a big difference to a homeless person, and until you’ve faced homeless, it can be difficult to grasp just how much of a deal it is to feel included in something bigger than yourself.  Please consider contacting your local shelters/churches/city departments to see what similar resources are offered in your area, and volunteer.

If you’re in the SoCal area, the Los Angeles Poverty Department is presenting a gallery installation and performance event at The Box called “State of Incarceration”.  The stated mission of the project is:  ”This exhibition’s goals include contributing to the public’s ability to visually and viscerally imagine the conditions resulting from policy choices that have made California the state with the largest prison population in the US. Another goal is to create an opportunity for former prisoners to share their lived expertise, about the prison experience, the state of incarceration and how to survive it. And the ultimate goal of the project is to create a moment of exchange and reflection on how we the people of California, as a state can recover from living in a state of incarceration.”  There will be 5 performances, each one different, interactive and experimental.  The exhibition takes place today through Saturday, and all performances are free to the public.  I’m really excited about this and hope to make it to L.A. this weekend to check it out.

Finally, I’d like to feature two articles I read this week that discussed poverty and the recession, that really resonated with me:

One is an older article from the Washington Post (about a year and a half old) that my friend sent me, which explores and demonstrates in vivid detail the adage “you have to be rich to be poor”.  I felt like I’d had the wind punched out me after I’d read it.  It was one of the most comprehensive explanations I’d ever read of the challenges that the poor face, and the way they are, for all intents and purposes, bilked and “charged extra” where ‘higher’ social classes are not – and thus prevented from ever ascending out of p0verty.  There was so much I could relate to about it – from the descriptions of check-cashing venues to unethical payday loan scams to the constant waiting – waiting at the laundromat, waiting for the bus (which often doesn’t arrive on time or at all)…always waiting.  The poor are the waiting.

The second article is from this week’s NY Post.  It makes quite a convincing case that, with the economic collapse, the “middle class” has been pretty much completely obliterated – to a degree, we’re kidding ourselves if we self-identify as “middle class”; that comfort zone buffer is gone.  There is no more gray area and it’s pretty clearly delineated that at this point, you’re either rich or poor.  Depressingly, the author doesn’t seem to hold out much hope for the middle class as we know it to return any time soon.  I, of course, am keeping my hopes up that she’s proven incorrect.  I have a feeling that she would rather be incorrect, too.

* * * * *

Since I’d rather end on a happy-ish note…pictures from Hallowe’en!!!  In case you’re trying to figure out what the heck I am, I’m some sort of vaguely steampunky/airship-piratey personage.  I had only four days’ notice that I was invited to attend with my friends, so I threw together my costume in that span of time.  Everything you see there, with the exception of the goggles, was either thrifted or vintage stuff that I had lying around.  I’m pretty proud of the bustle, especially.  I soaked several thrift-store, faux-hippie prairie skirts in tea to age them, cut them up, and stitched/pinned them into something of an anachronistic bustle.  I don’t know how to sew, either, which makes me feel all the more accomplished – hooray, I did something nominally creative!!!

Obligatory Satanic smurf shot for my ex-JW pals (who are the only ones who will get the reference, of course!) Quick summary - there's a JW urban legend about a demon-possessed smurf. Yes, the Jehovah's Witnesses honestly believe that smurfs are little blue demons. I was not allowed to watch Smurfs growing up.

Group shot, refueling at the Starbucks on Santa Monica Blvd. Mr. and Mrs. Pac-Man (we couldn't walk more than a couple steps without people wanting pics with them!), Flynn from Tron, Helga the German barmaid, Steampunk Pirate, and Amélie.

These guys had to have neckaches by the end of the evening.

Not the best pic of me - I'm rocking the deeply desirable and currently oh-so-in-vogue "chinneck" - however; the best pic of my costume! The corset is actually this vintage 1930's medical corset and I'm wearing it backwards - it has this very cool fan-lacing effect at the bottom that I thought was too awesome to hide in the back beneath a bustle!

Bustle! I made one!!! And sewed it to a belt! I had to take it off while riding in the car. Also, it was kinda heavy, so by the end of the night, a bit of a backache. SO worth it, though!

Why, yes. Yes, that is me, Lena and Brigitte swooning over the Old Spice guy and his dog, Antoine Dodson.

This is the photo that, on the very slim chance that my book is a breakout hit and I do become a world-famous author, the tabloids will publish with the caption: "Does world-famous author sensation Brianna Karp love cocks?!" Seriously, though, this guy was such a sweetheart and you can probably tell I was totally bashful in his presence. Scantily clad, cutie-patootie gay guy + hipbones that could cut glass = seriously smitten, slightly flustered Bri.

And we did indeed help to break the Guinness world record for group dancing the “Time Warp” – 8,239 people dancing at once!  Check out the vid:

I wish our stage was this awesome, but ours seemed to mostly consist of drunk and confused people who weren’t quite sure what the hell was going on, and perhaps fittingly, the guy leading the Time Warp onstage had no idea what the hell he was doing – he was reading the lyrics and moves off a flip pad, no joke!  Still…I was there, and I danced, dammit!  I contributed and I can say I’m one of those 8,239 people!  Yay!!!

Anyway, I’m off to a job interview.  *Insert renewal of plea for positive hiring vibes!!!*