Daily Prompt: Fearless

My name is ironic.

See, I’m Kasey, and one definition of that name is “brave” or, according to wikipedia, “vigilant in war.” I’m not that, either.

My parents might or might not have looked my name up in 1000 Baby Names or whatever it’s called; in the end all that mattered was the tribute to my great aunt KC. I’ve posted on this before, and mentioned that I really feel more like a Kate.

You could argue, though, that brave and fearless are not necessarily synonymous. In my head brave is filed under “being really freaking afraid of doing the thing, but doing it anyway because it needs or is worth doing.” I’m about 50/50 on that one. Sometimes I sit back and realize that the thing might need doing or be worth doing, but someone else can handle it because I am not equipped for that mess. Brave is finally telling my boss that no, I don’t want to go permanent at my job because I might very well be perfectly competent, but I’m just not satisfied enough to spend the next couple years plugging away at invoices just to keep my resume from looking like I drop jobs on a whim. Fearless is throwing caution to the wind and walking out at lunch like a coworker did a few months ago after a particularly passive-aggressive diatribe from our permanent coworker that was couched as constructive criticism; I was just as mad, but I’ve got bills and loans and a new(er) car to save for.

So maybe I’m not fearless. And maybe that’s a good thing. I do need to get on the bravery thing, though. My boss is waiting for an answer, after all.



If you’re in the Knoxville area and you see this:

teddy bear

…it’s totally me, toting around the panda my parents gave me a full decade ago. Because my life’s in the midst of some major upheaval and NO ME GUSTA. I just uprooted myself and moved five hours from the place I’ve called home for the past four years—without a job, without much beyond a landing spot in a friend’s spare room.

(It’s a pretty sweet landing spot, to be honest. My friend and her husband are amazing cooks—and they both know full well that I am most definitely not. Plus they have adorable kitties and a dog. Plus a million other things that I can’t quite quantify.)

A couple months ago, I complained about change literally hurting. And it so does, even when you put on your big girl pants and just rip off the band aid. Especially when you realize that copious amounts of hard liquor probably won’t make it any better (and are too broke for copious amounts of anything to be an option). Still, Knoxville is an amazing city and I should be able to find a good job (maybe not a great one, but my jack-of-all trades resume is what it is). Dunno if I’ll be able to find a decent apartment with my credit the way it is, but that’s why they invented individual landlords, n’est-ce pas?

In the market for more adult coping mechanisms, by the way; what do y’all do to make a new place your own?

Image via pixabay

Hand-me-downs and Heirlooms

Clothes and toys, recipes and jokes, advice and prejudice: we all have to handle all sorts of hand-me-downs every day. Tell us about some of the meaningful hand-me-downs in your life.

I still think of hand-me-downs with a shudder. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to all the teasing my brother and I didn’t tell our parents about. See, when I grew up my family clung to working-class by the skin of our teeth thanks entirely to a father who worked himself to the bone to keep food on the table and a mother who to this day is incredibly thrifty. Until I was in high school my mother shopped at consignment stores and accepted used clothes from who-knows-where because we just didn’t have the money for new, let alone the name brands that are absolutely crucial in a small-town junior high. I had clothes, and I was grateful to have them at all, but there’s something sticky and stinging about wearing a top the popular girl from Sunday school wore a few times before it ended up in a donation box. There’s something even stickier about said popular girl pointedly complimenting the top in front of everyone—the compliment could have been genuine, in hindsight, but that got lost at the moment (I’ve always read negative subtext into interactions with popular kids. It’s a habit I’m still actively trying to get rid of. And it’s hard).

I don’t like hand-me-downs.

But I have an old rosary that my great-grandmother sent to my mother, who passed it on to me, years ago. It’s huge and solid and not at all to my tastes—I like my rosaries delicate—but it’s precious because it’s all I have left of the feisty ninety-two-year-old who once reportedly lectured my father when he tried to cut up my spaghetti, because by god a two-year-old should get messy eating spaghetti; who crocheted everyone in the family a pair of slippers in our favorite color every Christmas; and who regularly sent my brother tins of persimmon cookies when we were little because he was her cookie monster. I don’t know how old it is, whether it’s been blessed, or even if it did more than sit on a shelf until some random impulse had her practically laminating the envelope she sent it in with tape. It’s the rosary I grab when I’m feeling sad or anxious or scared, because it was hers.

It’s not a hand-me down. It’s an heirloom.

Thinking Pink: Being a Girly-Girl Feminist

There’s a lot of pink and frilly in my life right now. I can’t quite tell if it’s a sugar-flower girly-girl binge that’ll peter out in a year or two, or if I’ve finally managed to incorporate the part of me that wants blush-pink tops and lace and pearls into my otherwise aiming-for-adult experience of feminism. Liking those things has always seemed a little shameful, almost as if by preferring them I was sliding back fifty years into a chiffon-and-pearls-filled anti-feminist head space.

I was maybe eight the first time I remember consciously rejecting all things girly; I was Not Like Other Girls, after all, and had to visually differentiate myself from them by skewing toward cooler colors and no-nonsense construction. This was hard sometimes, because my family depended pretty heavily on hand-me-downs and consignment stores until I was in high school. I never actually point-blank told my mother what I was doing or why I didn’t want to wear that skirt with the weird frill and lace around the hem, either. I don’t think I could have. I couldn’t articulate at fifteen that I didn’t want to wear visually feminine things because femininity in a small Southern town was a very specific box to fit into—and I had absolutely no interest in a box whose walls were marriage (after college if you were feeling particularly adventurous) and babies, home and church, and football games every Friday night.

Even in college I kept to my usual habits, but I finally developed the language to explain why I was doing what I was doing. Feminine traditionally has connotations of inferiority, of smallness, and of Other before Self. So I kept wearing blues and greens and avoiding things that were too obviously feminine. I was Not Like Other Girls, after all.

It wasn’t until I moved half-way across the country for grad school that the pattern finally started to shift. I found a circle of great women and girls both in real life and online who challenged the idea that liking dresses and lace and pink were the first slippery steps down the cliff to marriage and babies and losing my Feminist Card. I’ve realized that there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to stuff my wardrobe with blush tops and skirts and lace—I am a feminist no matter what. I can take my space in the world and all it entails and make it feminist. Maybe there’s something a little off about wanting to reclaim the girly-girl aesthetic from its traditional space in modern American culture. Maybe it’s presumptuous. But I won’t know unless I try, right?

Still in big city. Now what? Or: I’m 27–when the hell did THAT happen?

So. Um.

I kind of completely forgot about even having a blog since I graduated.

Two years ago.

2012-2014 has been one long weird stasis episode. I looked for work that fit with either of my degrees; didn’t find anything. All the teaching jobs I came across wanted someone with a PhD in hand, or at the very least someone who was post-Quals. I got kind of desperate by the time summer was over, and for the hell of it went in to put an application in for a front desk job at a hotel I’d never even heard of out by the mall. And I got it.

Fast forward through six months of tossed-in-the-deep-end survival seasoning training and another year and a half of sticking it out from pure, spiteful stubbornness because the front office manager implied in the interview that he didn’t think it’d be worth training someone with a master’s because I’d probably find something better in a month anyway. And I might have, but once the managers figured out that I was at least halfway competent, if not very confident, I got bumped up to full time and earned a reputation as first shift’s flexible pinch-hitter. I only asked for days off when it was really important, which meant that I almost always got what I wanted. Despite that, and making some good work friends, I fucking hated that job. If I’d had more in savings, I can’t even count how many times I wanted to just quit. I am not built for constant face-to-face, how-can-I-kiss-your-ass-today service industry interactions.

It’s gotten better since I’ve moved upstairs to group reservations; lots more time on the phone, but I can always nudge meeting planners to use email instead. Because I have my own desk, extension, voicemail and all that fun stuff. I’ve only been up there four months, so I’m still a deer in headlights, but my new boss is fabulous about answering questions–I did let her know that I’ll probably drive her crazy with them, just like I did my managers downstairs. So far she’s been cool with it. I already know that travel agents are just awful when they get carte blanche, that sports groups are gray hairs waiting to happen, and that school groups–Beta Club has competitive events?!–are going to drive me to drinking hard liquor.

My backup plan should the PhD/teaching thing not work was to work as a docent in a museum. I have a history degree, I have around a year’s experience doing tours at one of the museums in town. I should be good to go. Except I’m not. I have mind-blowingly, soul-crushingly huge loans to pay back; I have bills to pay; I’d like to eventually live in a place that doesn’t require me to use a fan to blow the cool air from my one window unit into the other rooms of my apartment; I’d like to have a new(er) car that actually has functioning AC and fluid reservoirs that aren’t cracked. And I’m trying to get by on less than $20,000 a year. Forget having a family or an actual life with that (And forget asking for a raise; S4S doesn’t do raises. Not merit. Not cost of living. Nada).  Plus, the jobs just aren’t there if you don’t have a museum studies degree and years of unpaid internships under your belt.

I need a new plan. Or even the vague outline of a new plan. Maybe not Doing What I Love, but doing something that needs doing. Except how the hell do I figure THAT out?