The Year I Came, Saw & Conquered

I’ve been back in California for nearly a year now. As I’ve written before, the last year has been one of personal growth and introspection. I’ve lost and gained friendships and lost a noticeable amount of weight (26 pounds for almost 26 years alive LOL). I’ve seriously doubted my self-worth and struggled with some depression….and came out feeling stronger and more defiant than before. But most importantly: I’ve come to enjoy life without the sense of near-absolute certainty and security I had come to embrace for years.

Back when I moved to DC for the internship at The American Prospect, I expected to land some sort of job in the journalism world. But towards the end of my time with The Prospect, I realized that journalism wasn’t the career for me – it’s unreliable (especially in the digital age) and doesn’t pay well for the amount of work that has to go into it. I was feeling homesick and nostalgic for the Golden State and wanted to jump start a career as a political staffer in the LA area. After making several connections and applying for several dozen jobs, nothing really panned out. In the meantime I worked side jobs to keep just enough money coming in to make monthly payments on my (thankfully) small student loan and a couple credit cards.

My next step was to apply for jobs in DC, too. Washington is both the political and non-profit heart of the country – there are countless opportunities for a job-seeking millennial with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. So I started applying for political and PR/communications jobs in DC a few months after moving back home. I scored a few interviews and made some great connections that have since helped me tremendously. But the biggest obstacle to being a young politico in DC again has been the fact that I’m no longer in DC…yet.

This past January, I had to go back to work at my old Starbucks store. Did I want to? Not really. But my source of income was small and unstable. My old employer would at least pay me a steady wage. My manager has also been incredibly understanding and kind by bringing me back onto the team. One never really forgets how to make a Caramel Macchiato or a pitcher of coffee once you’ve spent years making them so my transition back to Baristaland was pretty smooth.

Had I known that I’d be back at my old Starbucks store a year ago, I would have obviously made some different decisions. For one, I would not have quit Starbucks in the first place. Say what you will about the two-tailed, green siren – she provides a good work environment and exceptional benefits for a food service company…and she allows her minions to transfer to different stores across the country. I probably would’ve stayed at the DC Starbucks I was at until I landed a permanent job.

But I didn’t. And that’s okay.

I’ve been forced to accept the fact that life – no matter how well you think it’s being managed and/or controlled – does not always go as planned. I planned on having a career in my field by now. I planned on living and working in the City of Angels. I planned on living and working in Washington, DC. I did everything I knew to do and have accepted all the constructive input I’ve sought out. And yet here I am.

Don’t confuse my acceptance of life’s uncertainty and unpredictability as defeat. To the contrary – I feel more ambitious than ever. My drive to succeed and make my own life has never been stronger.

As a matter of fact, I’ve applied for nearly 30 internships and fellowships since the beginning of May – DC internships and fellowships. My new plan is to once again be an intern in the District while working at (preferably) the same Starbucks store I was at before. I learned my lesson from last year and won’t quit “the Bux” until I land a permanent and full-time communications/PR or Capitol Hill job. The goal: Get to DC, continue to network, and stay. I’ve already had an interview and have another coming up. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be back in DC by early June.

Of course this plan could easily change or be upended by another one. But building my resume with a third internship or fellowship – one I am definitely qualified for – is an excellent way to launch a successful career. Just being back in DC will only expedite the process, too. Life threw me some important, lesson-learning curve balls. I’ve taken notes and redoubled my efforts. It’s not in my nature to settle for mediocrity or collapse in defeat if things haven’t gone according to plan. I’ve only got one life to live and I want to look back on it someday knowing that I did everything in my power to make it successful and fulfilled.

As always, stay tuned. 🙂

just me

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Sequester-ing It Up

Perhaps it is best to think about the political gridlock and massive dysfunction on Capitol Hill as just another storm in a politically turbulent climate (thank you for the brilliant analogy, Rachel Maddow).

If you don’t understand what a “sequester” is, you aren’t alone. There are a few different meanings, but for this instance and in Washington, it is the $85 billion worth of across-the-board cuts to the federal budget.

By 2023, $1 trillion will have been cut thanks to the sequester and that’s on top of the projected $1.5 trillion cuts that were passed in 2011. Overall, projections place total cuts for the next decade at $4 trillion.

A couple of years ago, during the debt-ceiling fiasco that resulted in a downgrade of our national credit rating, Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011. The sequester was a part of the law and was designed to force a deal.

I say “force” because, by its nature, sequestration is something lawmakers actively avoid. It is designed to be so painfully unpleasant that they will do anything to avert it.

These cuts are so devastating that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that about 750,000 jobs will be lost and that’s just from the current $85 billion in cuts that took effect Friday.

It will also be devastating to the poorest and most vulnerable in our country.

Congress would do anything to prevent the loss of so many jobs in a weak economy, right? They wouldn’t take action that hurt those who are already suffering the most in this economy, would they? A deal – that didn’t happen.

While most economists agree that a mixture of spending cuts and increased revenue (higher taxes on the wealthy) is the best solution, Republicans on the Hill have refused to budge.

The president proposed the mixed approach. Republicans then demanded deep cuts with no tax raises. End of story.

Remember the recent “fiscal cliff?” A deal wasn’t reached on setting new tax rates until the last second, where the Bush-era tax cuts were made permanent for all annual incomes below $400,000 (the best approach would have been extending them for annual incomes below $250,000).

That projected $700 billion in new revenue was narrowly achieved.

Rachel Maddow, host of the MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” first characterized the sequester as part of a storm in a larger, more turbulent political climate on her show Friday.

She described the current stormy political season as the “Crap Storm Calendar,” a timeline that began when Tea Party Republicans took over the House in January 2011.

She chronicled the mess: In 2011 alone, the House threatened to shut the government down twice and its aversion to raising the noncontroversial, self-imposed debt ceiling until the last second resulted in a downgrade of the nation’s credit rating.

In December, there was the fiscal-cliff fiasco. Now it’s the sequester. In March, we’re up for another debt ceiling fight. Hooray.

The Republican National Committee called the cuts “devastating.” Yes, the same party that has called for across-the-board cuts, measuring in the trillions of dollars, is now calling the cuts “devastating” after the president signed the sequester into law.

Never mind the fact that, according to a New York Times report, the House is happy with how things turned out.

The good of the country be damned – the GOP has leverage against the president! This is exactly what the House wanted. Let us all hope that the House is shaken up in 2014. This stormy season is wreaking havoc on America.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner – leader of the Tea Party pack…