Sunday, June 28, 2015


  1. a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.
    "her ambition was to become a model"
    "her ambition was to become a diplomat"
    • desire and determination to achieve success.

In a 2014 post, one of my favorite bloggers/authors/people, Ramit Sethi, talks about ambition, success, and the negative, unconscious beliefs ("invisible scripts") we have about it. Some of the common beliefs about successful people that he lists are, "He must not have a social life," "She must not spend any time with her family," "She got lucky," "He knows people."

This post + video really struck a nerve with me. I've heard a lot of similar stuff.

Examples of some negative beliefs about ambition and hard work that I have heard from other people:
  • When hearing about my fiance's career: "He's probably a workaholic."
  • After I said I always planned to work full-time: "So you hate kids?"
  • Same topic, from elsewhere: "If you didn't need the money, why would you want to go to work?"
  • On ambition and landing good jobs: "Having more things isn't important."
  • On discussing your dream job: "It's really hard to get a job right now."
  • When focusing on that dream job: "You shouldn't be so specific about the jobs you want. That's why you don't have one yet. Cast a wide. That's how I got a job."
  • And frequently, "Any job is great. Take what you can get."

None of these assumptions are necessarily true, but it's easier to believe that they are than it is to set ambitious goals and work towards them. At the time, I knew that people saying, "It's really hard to get a job right now," and "Anything is great," were trying to make me feel better. But I knew it wasn't true. There were people out there who were interviewing for and landing the jobs I wanted. The reason I didn't get them was not because of the economy or anything else: it was because I had not yet developed the skills I needed to land them. Other people had those skills, therefore, they were getting the jobs. Whilst thanking people for their sympathy, I went about developing those skills so that the next time (or in a few next times), I would get that job.

But aside from job searching, why is ambition in general sometimes thought of as a bad thing?

Ramit's theory is that your ambitions "reflect on them," because "they are not as ambitious as you are." (It's true, many people giving voice to these invisible scripts did not have a "dream job," or an idea of what a "dream job" would be for them.)

For those of us frustrated and tired of hearing these assumptions about ambition, Ramit just encourages us to keep working hard, because rather than discouraging you, eventually naysayers will admire what you've accomplished. Ramit also suggests that we start hanging around ambitious people.

Guess I need to make some more friends!

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Atlantic on Adjuncts

Courtesy of Logan Ingalls, Flickr


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

NYT on Boomerang Kids - I, or How Do We Move Out of Our Parents' Homes?

Courtesy of Paleontour

Technically, I am not a boomerang kid. A more accurate descriptor would be failure to launch, since my alma maters were local and enabled me to live at home through my early-twenties.

The New York Times article "It’s Official: The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave" is an in-depth look at the rising trend of living with your parents well into adulthood. The stats on how many adults still rely on their parents for financial support shocked me. I had no idea.

When I was living at home and trying to get out, it seemed that there were a lot of other young adults who had made it -- who were employed and financially independent. Many of them even had fun, artsy-type jobs that you wouldn't expect would pay very well. As time went on, however, I learned that some of these young adults were not actually financially independent: their parents still paid for rent, car payments, or other bills. On one hand, I envied their ability to live their own lives apart from their families, even if it wasn't totally on their own steam. On the other hand, I certainly didn't want to depend on my parents for regular financial help in my mid-twenties.

According to Davidson at NYT:
"One in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents. And 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from them. That’s a significant increase from a generation ago, when only one in 10 young adults moved back home and few received financial support. . .

But over the past 30 years, the onset of sustainable economic independence has been steadily receding. By 2007, before the recession even began, fewer than one in four young adults were married, and 34 percent relied on their parents for rent."

Turns out, I was in the same boat with everyone else, after all. The question is, how do we get out of that boat?

Davidson reminds us of history, saying, "For most of recorded history, a vast majority of people began working by age 4, typically on a farm, and were full time by 10."

He notes that childhood and mandatory education are post-industrial ideas, and that "[a]s the country grew wealthier. . . childhood expanded along with it. Eventually teenagers were no longer considered younger, less-competent adults but rather older children who should be nurtured and encouraged to explore."

The U.S., however, is not getting wealthier. "[I]t was natural for each generation to become richer than the previous one," Davidson says. "Now that’s no longer true."

As current twentysomethings and possibly future parents, what do we do about it? How should we respond? There are so many factors involved -- the recession, school debt, etcetera.

Nevertheless, I have to believe that we can find a way out: both for our generation and for the next one.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Atlantic: On Excercising At Work

Courtesy of Amy Selleck

I love The Atlantic's video on workplace exercise, so funny.

An appropriate exercise routine depends on the work environment, of course. Right now, it's not really okay for me to do desk push-ups and such in place, so I organize exercising around my break times:

15 minute break, morning: squats, deep and demi plies, calf raises, pushups, triceps dips, and sometimes kicks or arabesques or lunges, depending on the day. Then I sit down and stretch for the last five minutes.

30 minute lunch: I eat lunch at my desk and then use the half-hour to read while walking around the block at a moderate pace.

15 minutes, afternoon: Here, I will often go downstairs for a turn about the parking lot.

I can also add more bits of walking into the day by going downstairs for the mail, using the restroom, or as suggested in the video -- walking over to talk to coworkers in-person.

How do you work out at work?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Preparation & Taking Stock

Courtesy of Kathryn Decker

Deciding: what grad school to go back to for a Master's in English, Fall 2014.

Listening: to KUSC, LA's classical station.

Working: on projects/preparation for new job (coming soon!).

Applying: for part-time jobs (or flexible full-time) in Riverside, LA, & North Orange County.

Learning: German again, slowly but surely -- daily.

Practicing: martial arts, kickboxing/Tae Bo on YouTube, looking for a new (inexpensive) dojo.

Writing: a second novel, historical fiction -- pirates.

Reading: Even Now, by Michelle Latiolais, one of my favorite authors.

Enjoying: fresh grapes.

So excited that summer is finally here!

Props to one of my favorite blogs, Yes and Yes, for this simple suggestion.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Presidents & Grandfathers

Courtesy of @CNN

I'm not endorsing Hillary Clinton for 2016, but as noted on Jezebel and several other blogs, asking Clinton if being a grandmother would interfere with her possible presidency is both asinine and sexist. Thankfully, she had a great response.

Speaking of defeating sexism and breaking glass ceilings, check out this HuffPost article on three women from India, Japan, and Syria who graduated from the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1885.

Author Mallika Rao sets the scene:

If the timing doesn't seem quite right, that's understandable. In 1885, women in the U.S. still couldn't vote, nor were they encouraged to learn very much. Popular wisdom decreed that studying was a threat to motherhood. Women who went to college, wrote the Harvard gynecologist Edward H. Clarke in 1873, risked “neuralgia, uterine disease, hysteria, and other derangements of the nervous system,” such as infertility. “Because,” went Clarke's reasoning, in a classic bit of mansplaining titled "Sex In Education," a woman’s “system never does two things well at the same time.”

 The heroes behind the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania were the Quakers, who believed in women's rights and education.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Goodbye to the Old

courtesy of Steve Davidson

My place of employment for the last six months has been pretty interesting. Whether to write about it or not -- and how to write about it if I did -- has been a conundrum. It's an office that would be grossly misrepresented if I only described the positive anecdotes. At the same time, I didn't want something other than positive anecdotes surfacing online. I apologize. I suppose I should have had this blog figured out more. That was also the business's major, major flaw.

The venture is now sinking, and will close in a few weeks -- so I can say whatever I want.