Thinkers’ Thursday & GiST: Part Something

I’m so far behind it’s disgusting, but if I don’t do this now it’ll never happen.

1. Court observation wasn’t as intimidating as I expected.
2. Children Services agreed with the CASA recommendation despite the conflicting goals of the two agencies.
3. Plans to have friends over on Friday night even though the house is a wreck and the yard is full of gone-to-seed dandelions (drat).
4. Dexter’s been doing so well with the basics that I think he won’t try to bite or growl at the guests.
5. Said friends’ toddler daughter. NOMNOMNOM. So sweet. Baby high-fives.

The CASA court observation was fascinating, and not nearly as emotionally draining as I’d expected. Every piece of training makes me less and less nervous about actually doing the advocating myself, eventually. I think that means they do a damn good job of training the advocates, for which I’m very grateful. Mike is still doubtful that I’ll not end up in some horrible situation, but I’m assured that safety precautions are more than available and that the final responsibility of decision-making is not mine, so I’ll continue to sleep well at night. I don’t see how the judge does, though. Even the cases that are obvious must still weigh on his mind. He’s the speaker at tonight’s training, so I’m looking forward to that. All in all, it’s a lot of food for thought. As if I don’t have enough, but I am still glad that I took this on, despite the big time-drain it’s been with the training. Gotta run!


Fair Pay Day

Today is Blog for Fair Pay Day. Today’s date was chosen as a perfect illustration of the pay disparity: April 28 symbolizes the day in 2009 when the average woman’s wages will finally catch up with those paid to the average man in 2008.

I don’t make a lot of money. Granted, I realize that I’m much better off than 90% of the world’s population, perhaps even 95% or 99%. However, for a college graduate holding a degree in a scientific field, I make chump change. I don’t think the reason for this is primarily my gender. I work for a small company – that’s the primary reason. Secondly, I have good benefits. We just moved from a premiums-fully-paid health insurance program (though maternity coverage was excluded, which was bullshit) to an HSA, which will be much better in the long run. The company is seeding the savings accounts for us. We have 401(k)s, and though we don’t have a contribution matching program, the company does make regular profit-sharing contributions. Right now, the 12 weeks of maternity/paternity leave is unpaid, but I think I can get that changed before it’s a dire need for me.

All in all, it adds up to a rather decent compensation package. But in actual, bring-home dollars, it’s not a lot of money. I have absolutely no reason to not believe that if I were a man doing this exact same job, I’d be making more money. Whether this is because men typically are expected to and do negotiate their salaries more often and more effectively, or because, let’s face it, it’s still a man’s world in most industries – though not all – I do not profess to know. When I joined this company, I was the only female employee. That didn’t bother me, and the ratio has since changed drastically, but I have no illusions that at the time, I was a more attractive candidate than a man with my exact resume for at least two reasons: I’d probably accept a smaller starting salary, and they probably (and perhaps correctly) assumed that I’d naturally take direction and instruction better, and be willing to do more grunt-work than a man would. I washed a lot of fucking beakers for a few years. Surely I could have said no, I didn’t dirty that stack of glassware so I’m not cleaning it. But what’s the point? I paid my dues, hopefully not too much more so than a man would have, but that is not my point here.

In the state of Ohio, women on average earn 74% of what men earn. That’s four percentage points lower than the national average. Why? I am willing to listen to rational explanations of why this is acceptable. I just have a hard time imagining those reasons.

Please add your voice. We’re calling on the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which aims to strengthen current laws against wage discrimination and provides tools to enable the federal government to be more proactive in the fight. The bill has already passed the House. We have a form up where people can write to their Senators at:

Obviously I’d take a pay increase based upon nothing more than fairness. However, as I was told a million plus times as a kid, life isn’t fair. In this issue, I’m not a great example of how unfair, either. There are women out there struggling to keep it together. Some succeed, some fail. They should have at least the same chance as a man would in their position or personal situation. The simple fact that there are way more single mothers than single fathers as heads of households should be incentive enough to close the wage gap.

What do you think?

I just said, "Come on, dog…let’s blog."

Lilacs, Round Two. Coming soon to a leaning tree near…well, me.

The tiny pink chile pepper buds on the redbud have exploded, yielding some leaf buds.

Soon to be shasta daisies.

Rose of Sharon

Crabapple blooms

Some kind of variegated hosta, looking good so far.

Clematis buds, also looking healthy.

And what I’m most proud of so far this year, the first bloom on something I planted myself last year. Huzzah for perennials! This is a true geranium (as opposed to what most people call geraniums, which are really pelargoniums).

And promises of many to follow.

GiST: Part 38 of 365 & CASA

1. Falling asleep and waking up to the smell of blooming lilacs outside the open window.

2. Planning a girls-getaway to celebrate turning the dirty thirty next year.

3. Thinking that New Orleans might be perfect. A little Bourbon Street, a few beignets, some Garden District, architecture, old cemeteries, good girlfriends…yummy.

4. Knowing that I need to try on my “real” suit to see if it still fits to wear for NYSCC. Knowing it won’t fit. Not really caring.

5. The truly insightful parts of the CASA training so far.

Yesterday the director of the supervised visitation center was our guest speaker. She specializes in advocating for domestic violence victims and gave a good talk on how even though our primary task as CASAs is to advocate for the children, we’ll also have plenty of opportunity to guide family members to get help for having been victimized or witness to violence within the family.

One of the activities was a role-playing type game. She gave all nine of us trainees a handful of paper strips, yellow and green. Green represented your cash; yellow your dignity. She read off descriptions of the situation at home. First dear hubby is just sort of a control freak, not giving us full access to money even though we work full time, not wanting us to go out for evening playdates with the kids, etc. Then he gets physical, grabbing by the arm, shoving, etc. Then the beloved family cat disappears, later to be found nearly dead…in the freezer. [yikes] At each turn, you can decide to go to a hotel, rent an apartment, or go to the shelter. Going to and staying at each place costs money or dignity or both. Going home costs nothing, other than the obvious. Most of us left the first time he laid a hand on us (only one left at the first red flag – controlling money and time), and we were split between trying to stay in the hotel, the apartment, or the shelter, but we all ended up having no other option than to go home. It sucked. I would like to think that it’s not realistic. We were all vehement (though we weren’t even supposed to be talking) that we would have other options and resources (friends, new jobs and new bank accounts, we would be able to pay the rent!), and WE would. It was so obvious that we were nine middle class white women that have self-esteem, educations, support systems and healthy relationships. None of us took dude’s shit, because it’s unlikely that we’d ever find ourselves in that situation.

Every argument we presented was thrown back in our faces. We’d have new jobs now, with new bank accounts – but we never went home to collect our SS cards & birth certificates. He’d canceled our credit cards. We had no childcare. By the time the shelter got us on waiting lists for housing, food stamps, childcare, and whatnot, our time allowed for staying there was up. Legal aid had denied us because we made just too much money – on paper. Those of us that hired attorneys spent our last dollars on retainer fees and then couldn’t pay to actually file for divorce. We were all nine left standing at the shelter, no money, no dignity. No choice but to go home.

It was very difficult to try to put myself in the shoes of a woman who didn’t have a support system, an education, her own money. The only thing missing was for the director to stop everything and come take extra cash at each turn to feed our drug problems. It was so frustrating. I’m not one to really ever give in or accept it if you were to tell me I have only one option and that I’m not going to like it. But some situations can’t be as easily manipulated, especially if you don’t have the tools required.

The whole experience was empowering and yet unnerving. The nine of us in that room were then that much more motivated and committed to the idea that people helping people can change things. Maybe not for the current generation of abusers, but for their children. We can’t save every one of them, maybe not even half. But each one that breaks or is removed from the cycle is one to the good. That was the empowering part. The unnerving part is realizing that I’m in for a rude awakening. I’m very much a middle class white woman with an education and a support system and my own money and self-esteem. I’m going to see an awful lot of quite the opposite. While I know I can handle it, I just pray I handle it well.

Fully Retractable

It’s been a long time – since the good ol’ myspace days – since I last posted a copout lyrics post. But something about today’s first, fresh hint of the warm and sticky Ohio humidity to come is making this earworm irresistibly attractive. I wanted to wait until the eighth day of May to do it, but I already can’t stop hitting repeat.

Shooed out like a house fly
This house was half my mind
I don’t dispute the doubts you’ve outlined
But it’s my right to waste your time

These things
May come to be
and these things
won’t kill me
and these things
it stands to reason
these things
please tell me

throw out the la-la by the busload
Match the photo to the description
I do indeed and shall continue
Dispatch the shiftless man to points beyond

and spieling
so ceaselessly
is my grief
please spare me
your feelings
the spattering
it bores me
don’t test me

and half-masted
bass boosted
fully retractable

Burned in on the 8th of May
She was spectacular
I walk the halfmoon by the busstop
sliding cross the street to her

That’s hot.