That’s it. I quit. I’m movin’ on.

Quick Read

It has been 4 months since I last posted on this site. I’m not sure what really happened. Lauren went on an adventure that took her out of Seattle. Sophia got a new job and moved to the city. And me? Well nothing happened and I think that was the problem. I wasn’t growing, I wasn’t enjoying work, and I wasn’t really doing anything but getting caught up on my “read 1 book a week” goal.

Although I read some amazing books over the last 4 months, I had a looming date of July 10th, 2015 that was slowly creeping up. This date was the end date of my program for work. This date meant I would have to settle down in one job for the foreseeable future. This scared me.

I started working on my resume and portfolio just in case. I have always dreamed of living in NYC so I applied for a few jobs there. Then I decided for awhile that I would stay at my company, I didn’t want to make any hard decisions. Months went by and I was complacent. I began talking to old professors, old coworkers, new managers, and new coworkers. They all had a different idea of what I should do and I wasn’t excited about any of them. Some said to go travel, saying that this is the only time I would be able to live like that. Others said to not travel because it shows you aren’t serious about having a career. But, am I serious about having a career? Well apparently not, because…

Ladies and gentlemen, I have quit my job. Yes, this is true. I will no longer have my very well paid job in the tech industry after July 10th, 2015.

This means you will probably hear more from me. I am taking off the rest of the month of July, doing some traveling and spending time with family. I’ll talk more about the decision, my plan, and some other things I have up my sleeve in later posts.

— J

I’m going to leave you with this vintage video of Adele, singing my current theme song:

The Year Winter Didn’t Come to Seattle

Quick Read

Every person I know, who doesn’t live on the West Coast, is flooding social media with pictures showing off their winter. Week after week of freezing temperatures, feet of snow, and no end in sight. I posted about the West Coast’s winter, too.

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November: Dusting of snow

That was it. That was all of our winter. One morning, Nov 29th, barely a trace of snow. Since then, it has barely rained, there is no snow in the mountains, and I don’t remember the last time it was below freezing. Oh wait, maybe Nov 29th. We’ve been privy to a different type of winter. One of bright sunshine, low 60 degree weather, and most importantly– we get to enjoy it on the weekends. This weather isn’t odd for any city in California, but we’re in Seattle. The city that everyone thinks it just rains all the time. That is entirely untrue and I have proof.

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March: Discovery Park in Seattle

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February: Lake Union from my apartment

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January: View of Mt Rainier and downtown Seattle from the Space Needle

We basically missed winter entirely. The trees and flowers are blooming, people are already experiencing allergies, and we can hike trails without the fear of snow. The old adage we have in Seattle is: Bad Winter, Good Summer. I don’t think we’ve ever had this nice of a winter in my lifetime, so I’m interested to see if the opposite is true. Until then, find me standing outside in the sun! — J

Operation Tidying Up: Part 1, Admitting the Problem

Organization

I am in the middle of a transformation. I’ve created a little cocoon of inspiration and I am about ready to break free and become a tidy butterfly! If you aren’t following, here is the rundown: I am not the tidiest person. That isn’t the easiest thing to admit on the internet, but the first step to getting help is to admit you have a problem. I generally keep common areas clutter-free, but my own room looks like it has been hit by a hurricane at all times. There are more clothes on my floor than in my closet. I have three dirty clothes baskets full of clean clothes that I’m too lazy to put away. My current shopping addiction-kick and the fact that I am currently living in a bedroom that barely fits my queen sized bed and a small dresser has led me to frustration and a deep desire to get my life together. This weekend I stopped into Barnes & Noble to browse and came across a book that caught my eye, “the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” by Marie Kondo. Now that I have finished the 206 pages, I am now ready to get started on my quest to a tidy life! I’m going to document my journey and hopefully it will help inspire you to do the same!

Kondo’s KonMari method has you go through everything you own in a special order and you ask yourself “Does this bring me joy?”. If it doesn’t, get rid of it. If it does, you will continue to cherish it. After this practice, people have been known to quit their jobs, get divorced, or even come across great luck! I’m not sure if any of that will happen to me, but I will make sure to document myself having to go through all my books and the tears that will most likely ensue when I have to get rid of my Harry Potter memorabilia.

Why I KickStart

Curated

We live in a world full of people with so many great ideas, but resources are scarce. That is what makes crowd funding so interesting and why I love to browse sites like KickStarter. The first time I participated was back in 2013 when Kristen Bell announced that they were FINALLY going to begin a KickStarter campaign to fund the Veronica Mars movie. They broke all sorts of records and were able to create a movie that did the series justice. Ever since, I find myself browsing KickStarter campaigns to see what I can find. Here’s a list of some of the ones I have funded and some that I am SO very tempted to fund:

The Veronica Mars Movie Project: unprecedented campaign to fund the making of the Veronica Mars Movie. As a Marshmallow I couldn’t say no to finally getting what we always wanted: a movie! (fully funded, completed)

OdiousList: an R-rated version of Scattergories. I was brought up on that game and can only play cards against humanity so many times! (fully funded, through March 9th)

The Rising Star Project Documentary: documentary about a local Seattle theater’s flagship educational program. I love going to the 5th Avenue Theatre and always want to promote the arts in my city! (not fully funded, through March 9th)

Hogwarts: the Ballet Based on Harry Potter’s Famous Stories: ballet and Harry Potter… need I say more? (fully funded, through March 2nd)

I would like a Madam President, please

Feminism, Politics

57% of adults are apathetic to the idea of having a woman president during their lifetime says this Pew Center research. This number scares me. Women’s rights are being challenged every day in the United States of America, land of the free. If women don’t have political power, who is going to help protect these rights? What scares me even more is that the same people taking away these freedoms don’t care if there is a woman president. I’m talking to you, Republican men. Why do only 16% of you care to have a woman president? It’s almost as if you don’t respect women.

If I live until the ripe old age of 85 and every subsequent president after Obama completes two terms, I have the potential to have eight more presidents in my life time. Statistically speaking, half the population is women so I should see four women presidents in my life. Historically speaking, none should be women and at the rate we are going I probably won’t see a woman president. We can’t let history continue to repeat itself. I want women to be represented in all leadership, not just as the President of the United States. Different problems could be solved with women in leadership. Don’t believe me? Watch this video that describes how diversity drives innovation.

I want women to be inspired to become leaders and make this world better. I was lucky enough to have Grandma always supporting women leaders and giving me awesome shirts like the one in the picture below. Don’t we want more people engaged in the political process? I believe a woman president would do that– and bring something refreshing to good ole U.S.A.

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3rd grade Jenna sporting the “Someday a woman will be president” t-shirt gifted by her grandmother

Surprising Find at the Starbucks Roastery

Gender

Last weekend I went to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room which is fairly new to Seattle. I was excited to see how they roasted the coffee beans and created the different brews. All my friends have raved about it and I even know some people who go every weekend. What I didn’t expect, was to be more interested in the restrooms.

WP_20150208_13_33_25_ProI was confused while I was walking towards the restroom and saw people do a double take. Stopping in their tracks and looking around dumbfounded. When I got closer I realized why: Starbucks had unisex restrooms! You wait in line with everyone else until one of the many large stalls opened up– and this idea was so foreign to people they awkwardly looked at each other to verify that they were allowed to be standing there. You might not understand why I am so excited about this but I have a reason why. When I was in college, I was taking classes in the dance department. One day between classes I was sitting at a bench outside the restrooms and a faculty member was giving a new student a tour of the facilities. I was watching the student stop in her tracks and say “The restrooms are unisex?” She went on to tell a story about growing up and people questioning which restroom she should be allowed to use. I don’t want to share the personal story in detail, but instead this learning: Creating a space that is cognizant of diversity allows people to be comfortable and thrive. You will never understand what this entails until you learn about the trials and tribulations of all walks of life. I would never have looked at a restroom the way I do now if I had never heard that story. I still have a long way to go until I even begin to understand how she feels in those situations but I hope it helps me start to create a better world for her.

Diversity in Hollywood

Essay, Feminism, Gender

I am someone who gets invested in stories. I get sucked into books, especially series, and I recently realized I prefer this new age of television (ability to watch full seasons via Netflix, Hulu, etc) to movies. This new age of television has also brought a much needed touch of diversity with more and more lead characters, writers, and show runners who are not only Caucasian, middle-aged, men. Even though I am drawn to these new shows, cable television has definitely missed a few steps along the way.

Going through the current major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC), diversity is starting to take hold, but usually as an addition and very safe. The Mindy Project was lauded for featuring an female who is Indian as the lead, but most of the rest of the featured cast is a Caucasian boys club. Modern Family features a gay couple, but most of the cast, including the couple, are middle-class Caucasian. The Big Bang Theory shows off the stereotypical Caucasian (and Indian) “nerds” and the dumb-blonde Caucasian woman. It finally (sort-of, almost) got its act together when adding the smart, nerdy Caucasian women. I will give it props for showcasing a character who is (most likely) on the autism spectrum.

Some outliers include Fox’s Glee (in its last season) who tries to “champion the underdog” by showcasing characters who are transgender, bi-sexual, gay, disabled, etc. ABC’s Black-ish features a middle-class African-American family.  We also have a saving grace in Shonda Rhimes, whose series include Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, and Grey’s Anatomy. They all have strong, female leads. They also feature ethnic and sexual orientation diversity. They definitely aren’t perfect, but I feel they are some of the only series where diversity is effortless.

Cable television isn’t perfect, nor does every show have to be a perfect depiction of diversity. But, I am now looking towards new television outlets to set the bar.The change from traditional cable networks to other content creators and providers has allowed for a more thoughtful and daring look at diversity. Maybe there is less red tape. Maybe they don’t have to rely on ad revenue. It is clear that they have more freedom to explore. Here are some quick examples of these shows:

– Transparent on Amazon: Transgender father, tackles gender identity. Female creator and producer who enacted a “transfirmative action program” that favors hiring transgender candidates over cisgender applicants. All the bathrooms on set are gender neutral.

– Girls on HBO: Created, produced, directed, written, and starred by Lena Dunham. All four leads are female, not just sex focused a la Sex and the City.

-Orange is the New Black on Netflix: Mostly female cast in a woman’s prison. Tackles ethnic diversity, gender identity, sexuality, and represents people of different socio-economic backgrounds.

– Looking on HBO: Unfiltered view of 3 men’s lives who are gay in San Francisco.

This has got me thinking: maybe I am staying away from movies because it hasn’t transitioned as quickly as television. I have no interest in the fifth Transformers movie especially after watching the opening scene with Megan Fox in the sequel. I am clearly bored of the Spider Man reboots, every Iron Man, X-Men, Avengers, Wolverine, Thor, Hulk… wait there are still more Marvel movie franchises I haven’t listed? They must be making so much money… anyways, I digress. Where is the diversity? Reese Witherspoon started her own production company because Hollywood was lacking in movies with “clear, female voices”. Interestingly enough, most of my to-see movie list for the last year wouldn’t exist that company: Gone Girl and Wild.

It is your call Hollywood, how quickly are you going to catch up? I guess I am just going to continue sitting here, binge watching Netflix until you do.

A Special Valentine’s Day

Dating, Friendship

I had a wonderful Valentine’s day with an old friend,  an older friend, a new friend, and a even newer friend! We went to brunch, shopped at boutiques in Ballard, enjoyed the sunshine, and spent a lovely evening drinking wine and baking cupcakes. However, something even more wonderful happened: My best friend got engaged! I received the call as we were walking back from dinner and my momentary freak out to the news caused enough alarm a security guard came running to make sure everything was okay.

He proposed on the beach in San Diego at sunset with rose petals– so romantic! So crazy to think that my boy-crazy friend since we were five is now engaged. What a great reminder on Valentine’s Day about how beautiful love can be! Congrats to my favorite couple,  Victoria and Michael, on their engagement– can’t wait to celebrate with you both!

What to read when you want to get out of your own head

Books

Do you ever have a bad day where you are feeling sorry for yourself and you want to stop? You want to realize that other people have complicated lives too? You want to get out of your own head? Sometimes I find that best thing to do is to get absorbed in a book where the protagonist is unlike yourself. Their struggles, the way they think, their morals– they are different from your own. Here are a few books that have helped me do exactly that and are ones I strongly recommend picking up. What’s even better: they are all quick reads!

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Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favorite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

I realize these are all male protagonists. Feel free to suggest any similar books with female protagonists– I’ve been looking but haven’t found any! 🙂 — J

I am woman, see me do all the dirty work

Feminism, Gender, Workplace

When I find myself  in a room full of women at work, I get uncomfortable. You may be thinking, “Jenna, what are you smoking? All you do is complain about there not being enough women in tech! You should be happy!” Au contraire, mon ami. When I find myself in these situations it means one thing: this meeting is about housework and no men showed up to the cleaning party.

There are certain tasks that are outside of normal “work” work which I classify as dirty work. For example, I helped plan numerous events last year which was executed by a v-team. We planned holiday events, cultural potlucks, outreach events, etc. Sounds like fun, but it is really all dirty work. The team was volunteer based and comprised of about 12 women and one man whose job was to cook the meat at the potluck. I am currently party of a diversity and inclusion v-team for all of IT (20k people) in my company and there are about 25 women and two men.  With the current diversity statistics in tech, this disparity just doesn’t make sense. What’s even more interesting is that this extra work isn’t helping women in the eyes of their colleagues. It doesn’t even help them get promoted. Women help more, but benefit less.

The number of meeting requests I send out, emails I compose for others, events I plan– it has almost become insulting. Why should someone with a bachelors degree be spending so much of their day finishing these tasks? Especially when my male counterparts don’t. I will admit that I am the reason this has happened. I volunteer to help. Someone has to do the job. Why is it then, that it is usually women?