Net Worth Week 95 – A Change Is Gonna Come Edition

Gentle Readers,
The conference was exhausting, but served its purpose well.  I met some potentially good connections. I communed with other queer-folks. I saw friends. I agreed to mentor a friend on something I’ve been mentored on for my business and I’m looking forward to it. I even got to tell the person who mentored me how I’m finally able to start paying it forward.
Dog-sitting has reminded me that long commutes are terrible for being able to do anything. It is nice to not be with my roommates though. There has to be a better way to achieve that.
I finally received a small part of the estate paperwork I require, but still no death certificate. I’m wondering if the VA would like some media attention… The man has been dead for a few months. Someone needs to sign the damn certificate. I can’t process anything without it. His creditor would like their money. My siblings would like their life insurance. I would like to begin the process so that I can end the process at some point.
I am still waiting for my dentist to receive my next (last?) sets of invisalign trays. I’ve been wearing the current tray for triple the normal length. We even moved back my semi-annual appointment so that we could do both in one fell-swoop. So close! And my pain is definitely improved. I’m so glad I did this. Even though the expense has been great.
The good government gig is advancing me through. We are still waiting on a start date still. Huzzah! Back to higher pay, fewer hours, and more interesting work. And for the first time since I began temping, a supervisor who will supervise and who seems genuinely interested in my career. Very strange for gig work, but I am excited! It is coming at a good time. The current gig just cut our hours and it looks like at least some of us will be let go soon.
Skill building is still on the low burn, but once I am back in my own place it will be easier to get in to the new routine for what I think I need to focus on next.

This week’s net worth numbers

1/26/2018 2/2/2018
 Joy 1112 1113
 Travel 1  1
 Down Payment 19 19
 Retirement 21 21
Moving 286  287
 EF 57  57
Business 5  5
Life 2099  2040
IRA 17216  17036
Brokerage 894  884
Rewards Card 2 -4563  -5040
CC (largest)  0  0
CC (longest) 0  0
Rewards Card -5000 (BT)  -5000 (BT)
SL 1 -106063  -106179
SL 2 -46747  -46799
Earnest -1381  -1384
 Net Worth -142044  -142939
Percentage Change -.28%  -.63%

Have you ever felt a shift for the good in your finances even when they technically are not improving?

Someone’s Blog Made Me Come Out of the Closet – For Real

Gentle Readers,

I had the pleasure of meeting Tanja and Mark from www.ournextlife.com this weekend and it was a blast. If you ever get the chance to share space in a bar with them, I would definitely recommend it. Double-points for a bar with good cider options to go along with the dark beer I love.

There were a ton of local PF/FIRE bloggers and folks who enjoy reading said blogs. I confessed repeatedly that my blog is extremely personal. It is the height of navel-gazing. Its sole purpose is to help me navigate out of debt on the way to FIRE. I sometimes write about more broad personal finance topics, or homophobia, but most weeks, I only have the capacity to post my net worth numbers. It is basically a public diary with myself. I love that people read what I write and encourage me, but I honestly do this for myself and am not entirely sure what others get out of this. Even if you did not read this, I would probably keep writing this. It is a space for me to learn and grow.

I was reminded this weekend that blogs have had an immense impact on my life. Even navel-gazing ones that are “too personal.” I came out of the closet very late in life, and I did it because of a blog. There were good reasons for staying in the closet having to do with my own safety. But, eventually, that changed. I did not anticipate it changing. I actively worked against it changing. But change it did.

In my mid-twenties, I was in grad school in a new city for me; this was a miserable and expensive time in my life. Part of the misery was how sexist my particular school was. I sought refuge with other feminists, and found many of them online. I was looking for like-minded folks to reassure me that there was good in the world, and that this situation would pass. That I was not wrong for wanting women to be treated as equals.

I found someone. She lived in my city and went to a nearby school in a similar program. She was older than me and fierce and feminist and very queer. We began communicating through her blog about our hatred of the kyriarchy (it’s like the patriarchy, but includes all the ways that people are marginalized) and our love of full-fat food. We were soon sending each other long, personal emails about everything in our histories and lives. It was intense and beautiful.

At the time, I was a Christian. My response to some very dangerous homophobia I experienced earlier in life was to try to conform to the religion of my parents. For many years, it worked. As a good Christian woman of a particular type, I could not be expected to date wily-nily. I was able to avoid the question of why I did not desire men by being a good religious observer. There could be no sexual intimacy without marriage. I was safe.

Except that the religion I was part of was not good for me as a woman or a lesbian or someone who cared about the world. It hurt my soul. But it provided cover for my closet. I was miserable, but I felt safe-ish.

But this blogger changed that. She wrote about feminism and sexual violence and what music she loved. I fell for her before I even met her. She told me she loved me over email before we had hugged. She loved me as a friend, but my brain ignored that tiny fact.

I knew I was in dangerous territory. I knew that she could see right through me. I knew that she knew how much I wanted the freedom she had. How much I wanted to be with her. I also knew that nothing could make us be together. She had no interest in me and I couldn’t even write the words “I’m a lesbian” without panicking.

Even still. I read her blog. I saw what possibilities life could have through her posts about Mad Men.

And I jumped.

I finally said out loud that I was a lesbian.

I lied and told her that I never knew before and that my particular brand of religion hadn’t impacted my closet.

She knew I lied. I could not hide how much I wanted her life.

We were only friends for that summer. While it did not feel like it at the time, she mercifully stopped being my friend shortly thereafter. I was bereft. I had to look at myself and go for what I wanted. I had to tell people. I had to pursue people who were kinder than she could ever be. I had to figure out what life out of the closet felt like.

I cried a lot that summer. To my brother. To my erstwhile best friend. To tertiary friends from college who helped me plan to come out to our far more conservative Christian friends. To anyone who would listen.

But then, eventually, I stopped crying. I was excited to be living life truly for the first time. My classmates noticed a change in me and were actually much better to me as an out lesbian. I was happier and folks were happy for me. It was beautiful, but I had a lot to learn about HOW to date. My roommates helped me set up dating profiles and even went to crappy lesbian bars with me when I was too afraid to go alone. They listened to me kvetch. They helped me pick out outfits. They were wonderful.

All of this happened because of someone’s niche blog about feminism and music. I fully intended to remain closeted my entire life. But a glimpse into someone’s personal truth changed everything about how I live.

So I’m glad you read this navel-gazing blog about my money situation. I hope that something here is what you need to read. I hope that you can live life on your terms.

Has a blog ever impacted you like this?

 

Ways To Be An Ally

Gentle Readers,

You know that the LGBT community has suffered an incredible loss in the past week. We are grieving. Each in our way. We know that other people are grieving, too, but that some allies are afraid they’ll somehow mourn incorrectly. You can not mourn human life incorrectly unless you harm someone. I was asked to write what allies can do. This is my attempt.

There are many correlations between LGBT communities and the Financial Freedom community. We are all non-conformists who question everything. I hope that more FIRE folks can question things outside of financial decisions.

Be careful with your words. 

To me, this is the most important advice in all realms. If we are mindful with our language and thoughts, we’ll have been careful with other peoples’ hearts and lives. We will make fewer assumptions.

  1. Stop assuming that people are straight and cisgender. There are so many ways to be and you assuming otherwise often means that your friends do not feel comfortable telling you about their real life. One easy fix is changing your check-in language to “Are you seeing anyone? What are they like?” No gender was assumed. And you just might find out about his hot new boyfriend.
  2. Believe LGBTQ people when we tell you what our worlds are like. Especially when our world sounds alien to you. If we tell you that we have a gender outside of the binary, use google to look up the definitions. Here’s a primer available for free. Don’t ask us to explain the intersections of our lives to you. Learn from other allies and google. There are numerous nonprofits and university sources available for free online happy to explain things. It can be exhausting for us to explain the terms to you, because you have so many levels of learning to do. Do that with non-impacted folks.
  3. Ask us how we are doing during this trying time. So many of our families have rejected us, and maybe we need to know that you are thinking of us. We may not feel like talking, but your support will be appreciated.
  4. Stop insulting men by comparing them to women. So much of homophobia is wrapped up in idea that gay men are insufficiently masculine and gay women are insufficiently feminine. So much of homophobia is rooted in a hatred of things deemed feminine. I read a piece recently where a blogger said that the worst thing that could happen would be a for a girl to beat him in a race. Imagine what it is like for girls to know that men feel this way. Do better. Consider women to be people – worthy of being in competition with.
  5. Stop telling children to “man up.” Allow all children the freedom to express the full range of human emotions. Don’t tell them that crying is for girls or sissies. Crying is for humans. Joy is for humans.
  6. Stop devaluing femininity.
  7. Stop worrying about who is in the bathroom stall near you. People just want to pee. Get the hell over it.
  8. Learn about “toxic masculinity.” So much of violence in our society is rooted in the ideas about what a man is owed, whether respect, access to sex, access to money, or something else. You know before the headline is finished that the killer is a man 98% of the time. This statistic has stayed the same throughout most of history. This is revelatory. Something about how we raise and treat men causes some men to be very bad in ways that very few women are. We must begin to understand this. We must begin to change this.
  9. Learn about the link between toxic masculinity and domestic violence, and domestic terrorism, and mass shootings.
  10. Read female writers.  Read queer writers. Read “Exile & Pride.” Read writers who are different from you. Try to begin learning what assumptions underlie your life.
  11. Learn about other communities in the US.
    1. Stop mocking the South. All of the US has issues and it is lazy thinking to scape-goat an area of the country. Stop.
    2. Stop referring to “Fly over” states. Learn their names. Learn their value to the US. Learn their cultures.
    3. Stop assuming that LGBT people are safe in cities or safe in gay meccas. We are not. 75% of hate crimes in most cities are against LGBT people.
    4. Learn about other people’s religions.
    5. Learn about other people’s sexualities and gender identities.
  12. Know that you cannot remove queers from the world. We have been part of the environment since the dawn of man. Learn to live with us.
  13. Stop accepting hateful rhetoric against queer folk. Literally, stop listening when someone is telling lies about us. Tell them why you are stopping. Be “rude” in confronting them. Stand up against your people so that maybe they do not kill my people, maybe they’ll stop writing laws against my people, and maybe they’ll let us live.
  14. Don’t take personal offense if an LGBTQ person does not want your prayer – so many of your religions have been used to bludgeon us. At times, to death. If you are praying to comfort us, you may want to consider our actual experiences with people using praying as a weapon to “pray the gay away” and how it would make you feel if strangers prayed about the way you experienced sex and intimacy.
  15. Stop attending homophobic movies and churches. Seriously. Don’t support things with your time and heart and money that tear other groups down.
  16. Learn about LGBTQ history. Learn about the cases that told us that we were perverted. Read about Alan Turing and all the other queer inventors and historical figures who were tortured by their countries. Learn about how the US government responded to HIV when it was a “gay disease” – they literally left us to die. Learn about laws that precluded us from adopting children. Learn that even today 40% of homeless youth are homeless because their straight parents rejected them for being LGBT.
  17. Fight back against the rhetoric rising against Latinx folks in this country. It is significant that this US citizen attacked an LGBT club on Latin night. Rhetoric leads to hatred. Hatred with access to guns can lead to mass-murder. Demonizing a group of people will not help you, and can lead to their deaths and suffering.
  18. Stop assuming that your choices are natural. Your choices are constrained by your assumptions. Every human feels normal. Every human chooses differently. It is not normal to be straight, it is just common.
  19. Please call your governors and representatives and tell them that you believe in worker protections for LGBT people – we can literally be fired just for being gay in over half of these United States.

Our hurts are deep and complicated. The most important thing to remember is that we can treat one another with dignity. There is enough dignity to go around.

Pulse was created by a sister who loved her brother and wanted to honor him after his death from HIV. That is radical love. She took her sorrow and served a community in love out of it. Use your sorrow for good when you can.

There is a gofundme to help the victims of this horrific attack, if you can, please join me in supporting them monetarily. https://www.gofundme.com/pulsevictimsfund

In solidarity,

ZJ

Stonewall Reverberates at Pulse

Gentle Readers,

Today we mourn the 50+ lives taken senselessly. They were our brothers and sisters. They were queer, transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and so many other things. They were predominantly people of color. They were celebrating Pride. This is terrifying and heartbreaking. If you have queer people in your family, please check in on them today and this week. Encourage them to talk to grief counselors, even if they were not in the zone of danger this time. Our hearts are broken. We know it could be us next.

The Stonewall Riots are why we celebrate Pride in June. The history of persecuting queers who were visible is long and violent in our country and throughout the world. There were laws prohibiting homosexuality in public in most of the United States. Folks were subjected to mental and physical torture to “cure’ them. People were murdered. People were harassed by law enforcement and the law for being “deviant.” Deviance included women not wearing enough “feminine” articles of clothing. They were harassed for being different and not conforming to that era’s strict constraint of appropriate gendered behavior. Business that catered to LGBT folks were routinely raided and the people subjected to violence of all natures at the hands of the state and ordinary citizens. The laws were part of the problem. Beatings and sexual assaults at the hands of police were common. There are differing accounts of what precisely occurred on the night of Judy Garland’s funeral. Law enforcement raided the Stonewall Inn, again. And someone struck back. Some accounts credit a transgender woman with throwing the first punch or bottle. Some accounts credit a butch woman. Other accounts credit a drag queen.

But someone who refused to live according to dominant culture’s ideas for them struck. And others joined. The riot involved violence, but also group unity in public. There had been secret societies before – don’t think the LGBT liberation movement started at the end of the 1960s. They shouted about gay liberation. They faced their persecutors. The cops eventually sought refuge in the Stonewall Inn. The riot cops came. The queers did not leave. They stood and fought as a group. This happened over multiple days. They sought liberation from police brutality, unjust laws, and a strict society that told them to conform to ridiculous notions of what it means to be a human. What it means to have worth. We are still working on liberation.

We’ve had marriage equality for a year now, but have seen a growth of anti-transgender laws in particular. We are not free. There are other freedoms we seek. We do not have workplace protections in many states. We do not have the privilege of peeing safely in many places. We still have queer kids being abandoned by their families. We still struggle for gender non-conforming people to have the dignity inherent in their bodies protected. We still struggle to not be murdered for our very existence.

If you can, please donate https://www.gofundme.com/pulsevictimsfund. Over fifty families will need help with their grief at this tragedy. 

In solidarity,

ZJ