America taught me what racism and bigotry is.

America taught me what racism and bigotry is.

When I was seven years old, my family and I were flying from Saudi Arabia to New York for the holidays. The flight attendant asked if I was Christian for some reason that I can’t recall and I said yes. My father, who was sitting next to me waited till the flight attendant left,

“Sophie, you’re not Christian,” he said gently.

I remember feeling confused and frantic. All my friends were Christians, we did the same things they did for the most part.

“Are you a Christian daddy?” I asked,

“No, I am Jewish,” he said “you have to promise to keep that to yourself when we get back home. (Saudi Arabia) You can’t tell any of your friends.”

In Saudi Arabia there is no freedom of religion or protection for Non- Muslim faiths. According to the U.S State department, citizens and foreigners were being harassed, discriminated against, and assaulted for religious affiliation, beliefs and practice by conservative vigilantes.

I was shocked to hear of the dangers that came with this religion. Squirming in my seat I asked my father,

“So, am I Jewish?”

My dad turned towards me, while hunching his shoulders,

“No Sophie, you’re not Jewish, or Christian, you can be whatever you want to be,” he said.

Still confused, I asked him,

“So, I can become Jewish?”

My father responded,

“As long as you understand and agree with the religion, you can be a part of whichever religion you want or not follow one at all.”

When we returned from the states, I was eager to learn about every religion there was, with my focus primarily on Judaism. I took my dad’s advice and thought carefully about it and decided to follow my father’s faith.

During my time in Saudi, not once did I ever hear someone speak ill of Jews. A lot of people were supportive towards the Palestinians, students expressing their outrage on what was going on a few countries over, but as far as I knew, Jews were not being used as a scapegoat in those discussions. I had not encountered any type of racism or bigotry until I moved to the U.S.A.

When we moved to Boise, ID. My grandmother gave me a silver necklace with a pendant of the star of David, that I constantly wore. Walking down the hallways of Fairmont Junior High, some kids would stop and ask me if I worshiped Satan. I would hear boys using the word Jew as if it was an insult. It was exasperating, but the first blow I took was when the my best friend’s older brother called me a kike. He was about 16 at the time, and I was 14.

As he was staring at me, his eyes felt like razors beaming through my face, he was waiting for me to react. I did my best to not let him know that his words had cut me as deeply as they did.  I remained silent, Chris, realizing that I was not going to give in, tired to save himself by saying,

“You know I’m just kidding.”

It was difficult growing up in a predominantly white city.  The 2016-2017 census for Boise, ID states that 88% of the population is white, 1% Black and for people like me who identify as other race, we ranked below 1%.

One night I had invited my friends over. We wanted to smoke without my mother knowing, so we went to my backyard and climbed up the apple tree that held my tree house. Sometime during that night a boy named Kieran thought it would be funny to spray paint a swastika on the wall of the tree house, with the word Reich and a number encircling the symbol. Seeing that swastika crudely painted on my tree house by someone I considered to be my friend, in my parents’ backyard was one of the scariest moments in my life.

You just freeze, you forget how to breath, you have a million thoughts going on and yet you feel hallow at the same time. C.J, who lived down the street saw I was upset and came up to see why. As soon as he saw the graffiti he instructed me to get down and get him some supplies so he could clean it up. To this day, I still have never gone back up to that tree house

A few months later, we had a half day from school. I was hanging out with my best friend Mary and a few others when another “friend” called to tell me how much he hated me because I was a chink and how excited he was for me to get home to see the surprise he had left for me. Mary and I rushed to my house.

When we arrived, my mother was crouched over picking up the shattered egg shells, trying to wipe up the egg yolks with the Kleenex she always had in her hand. My entire garage door had been egged and a Chinese take away box was thrown onto my car with food spilling out of it.

Enraged I tried calling everyone I could think of to find out what was going on. Finally, Torren answered, he was laughing. Torren was another person that I had considered a friend.  We had classes together, he was dating my best friend at the time, we shared “deep” conversations over AOL messenger. He proudly took credit for the mess that my mother was cleaning up. I was choking on my tears asking why he did this? Why would he egg my house and what did Chinese food being thrown on my car have anything to do with me? It’s been 11 years and I will never forget how and what he said to me,

“It’s because you’re a stupid fucking Jew. I am going to shove rice down your throat and slit it,” he said with such triumph in his voice.

Only 2 years living in America, and I had experienced my first racial slurs, harassment, and later in my teens and early 20’s I would experience assault and discrimination.

I could not understand why people were so hateful. At 15 I didn’t know how to cope, I was heartbroken. Luckily the punk scene at the time was a supportive group that was against racist and bigots, and I thank god for it. I was friends with teddy rude boys, street punks, and ska kids, who stood up for people like me. I learned about racism hard and quick, but I also learned about solidarity with just as much impact.

That’s what we need now more than ever in America. I hope you don’t ever have to endure what I, and so many other’s in our nation have and are dealing with. This is not news, it’s been going on for at least 400 years in the U.S.  I am speaking to those that are privileged to never have had a cop kick your calf so hard that it bruised right away, simply because they didn’t believe you, when you were telling the truth (I was 17 at that time). Fortunate are the individuals who are unfamiliar with the fear that rushes up your body into your ears, because you see bald headed guys with red braces and laces walking your way. Stand up with those who are being oppressed. Strength is measured in numbers. Even if you stand up against one injustice, whether it feels like it or not, you are making a difference.

This article has be corrected from it’s previous version.

 

Sources cited:
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S. (n.d.). Current Boise, Idaho Population, Demographics and stats in 2016, 2017. Retrieved September 01, 2017, from https://suburbanstats.org/population/idaho/how-many-people-live-in-boise

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Setting up dreams

I have finally put my big girl pants on and am now dedicated to making my dreams come true on my own. At least I am trying.

Applying to jobs in the field of communications have been a bust. After two long years I finally got the hint. If I want in, I have to dig my own tunnel and create my own door.

I have been successful in getting a few works published but the amount printed and the queries rejected cannot be compared.

I am still pitching, that will never stop. Though I got to say, being rejected as much as I have takes a toll on the high spirits. My new approach is to network.

Through Instagram, LinkedIn, trying to figure out Facebook, networking is key.

I have decided to sign myself up with Upwork. I find joy in feeling validated when responding yes, to the question, “are you a writer?”

That is the plan for now. Keep writing, connecting and putting my work out on the web.

You want something done right, you got to do it yourself.

Do what you love

I lost my job two months ago. Currently I am selling my used underwear to guys with creepy Asian fetishes because, despite my efforts I am still unemployed. Not at all what I envisioned for myself when I graduated university two years ago. 

For the past two years I was dedicated to finding an entry level position within the field of journalism, communications or marketing. I applied to over 600 jobs on Indeed alone. This is not an over-exaggeration, unfortunately. 

When I wasn’t applying to entry level positions, I was working as a fill in bartender. A job that I had when I was in school, which I kept to pay the bills. 

I am somewhat of a work-a-holic. All my time and energy was divided between finding a job, so I could have consistency and keeping the other so I could eat. My train of thought went something like this,

Get a 9-5 job in your field. This way you can pay the bills on time. When you aren’t working, focus on blogging and pitching. Slowly I could gain experience doing the day job and pursuing my passion. 

I realized today that I should have been focusing all my time and energy into building up my portfolio. Picking up freelance gigs, constantly pitching and focusing on improving my writing during these past two years.

Now that I am left with fear and desperation, it is clear what I need to do. Go full time into making my dream happen. My grandmother always said,

If you do what you love, success will follow.

So I suppose in the end me losing my job may have been just what I needed. It opened my eyes and redirected my focus on to my passion, which is writing.

There is no security in insecurity

 

Young girls often have insecurities. It is something, young, old, tall, short, thin or fat have in common; how much we don’t like something about ourselves. Unfortunate for me and the vices that have taken my mind captivate; the two has resulted in unchangeable consequences, of which at this point of my life I am willing to accept.

The point of this post is to tell all you girls and guys out there that, even though you feel like you don’t matter, you do! Whenever you think your self-esteem does not deserve recognition, stop. Try to step in front of a mirror and remind yourself that you are deserving of the things you want.

When things are not going your way, job hunting, relationships, work, or family. Try to not allow your emotions to invite your vices to help “correct or ease” the problem. It will only make things worse. We need companions, internally and externally. If your internal companions are the ones encouraging self-loathing and destruction, then close the door on that. Focus on the external factors and things that will help show you how great of a person you could become.

If you stay friends with the little voice in the back of your mind that says,
“screw it, no one likes us, hell you don’t even like you!”
Don’t take that drink, swallow that pill or puff that joint. If you do, you will find that the feeling of your life being ruined or going nowhere will become a reality. From experience, trust me on that.

I was and currently am dealing with the consequences of listening to that voice in my head, telling me I am no good. That I can’t accomplish anything and that I am total fuck up.

I have had a harsh reality punch me in the gut. I do not cry. No, instead I mourn for the slight bit of intelligence I may have had. I harbor resentment to the stupidity that reigns in my mind for the past years. The only thing that I can do at this point is move on. Accept responsibility and try to remember that I may not be worth much right now, but I will be. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

 

 

Don’t wonder how, wanderlust

How I manage to afford my adventures

Commonly people ask “how is it that I can financially afford to venture to so many countries?” It is all about research and planning. Typically prior to booking a trip, I look at the prevailing currency exchange rates, to see where my dollar can take me the furthest. Where the dollar stands usually will determine the region and duration of my next adventure. Once I have narrowed my options to two or three countries, I look to see if there are any employment opportunities. I would recommend finding a job teaching English, when you are in a country where that is not the first language. It would help to become TEFL or TESOL certified. Teaching English as Foreign Language certification does require a chunk of change but is a good investment to have, if you plan on trekking the globe. Institutions recognize the TEFL/TESOL certification, and the programs aids in finding employment with institutions that accept the certification.

If you would rather not teach English, there are other jobs, primarily manual labor jobs that you can get. Generally these jobs are off the books, (paid in cash) but they can help with your expenses as you travel from country to country. A lot of hostels offer free room and board for volunteering in their establishments, which eliminates a large part of your cost. I also use social sites when I am in need of advice, a guide and places to stay. Couch surfers is a great community website that connects travelers from all over the world. The website connects with hosts who are offering a place to stay, or natives who can offer suggestions or meet up with you when in their home town. I have used it during my travels, and have met welcoming, friendly locals, experiencing a trip off the beaten path.

Overall, no matter where in the world you go, be sure to research and plan ahead for any possible circumstances. Be sure to always look up the nearest embassy/consulate of your nation and keep loads of copies of your passport on you, and with family.

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Residents of Bkk

Bangkok has an estimated population of 8.5 million people. A fraction of these people are living on the streets, becoming apart of the backdrop for the locals, expats, and tourist.It is thought that the homeless that fill the streets and slums of Bangkok were born into their circumstances. May Methinee, a native of Bangkok, said that some of the beggars on the streets were kidnapped as children by “pimps,” at times being burnt enough to cause deformation, and or having their limbs amputated. All done to be given to the beggars who are under the pimp’s control to be used as a prop, to get more money when begging. There is no proof that this theory is true, but the sight of disfigured men, women and children that line the streets, have resulted in agreement of this theory with majority of the locals.

Kelsie Black, an American who had lived in Thailand for a few months recalled feeling sick when she first saw homeless people all over the city. Black felt overwhelmed with emotions and confusion, trying to understand why and how these people ended up on the street.

“Many of our homeless people are people who lost their business and gone crazy,” Methinee said.

A few years back, I was recounting a night out, when I walked past a young girl, no older than 30, asleep on a sky bridge. Under her arm was an infant, smaller than a football, wrapped up in a thin cloth. Though I had been conditioned not to pay attention to the beggars, emotions guided my hand to reach in my clutch and place a 100 Baht in the pocket of the fatigued mother. My colleague had advised that I do not repeat such actions. She believed that if anyone wanted to help, buying food is the best option. That way, despite the possible beating the beggar may receive from their pimps for not getting enough revenue, they at least would not be hungry for that day.

Local, Joy Phusrijan believes that despite the fact that some of the beggars do not get their money, it is not her concern. Instead, she believes that “if you wish to give them money then do it.”

Banga, Bangkok, Thailand

Banga, Bangkok, Thailand

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 Exploring the prom

Driving over the cattle grates, slamming our feet on the floor as a homage to the surfer gods, vibrant colors of fuchsia, lime green, turquoise oceans, and clear skies, overwhelmed my senses. A few minutes later as I turned the corner, I had to pull over. As far as the eye could see, there were tall mountains, wrapped in lush green bushes. Just below were white sand beaches, and the ocean. I was ecstatic, grateful for the strong encouragement to visit this national park.

Wilsons Promontory National Park, known to the locals as the prom, is located in Victoria state. The closest well known city is Melbourne. The park is great for day and overnight trips, though some travelers have said that the park’s camping fees are a bit pricey. If you were to free camp, I would recommend driving out of the park and going to the local gas station or pub and asking the locals where there are free camping locations. Australia has an abundance of free camping, typically along or on the beaches.

Wilsons promontory is a peninsula. If surfing is something you wish to do, I would recommend going out early in the morning to ensure you get the best waves. There are sites to inform surfer’s of the conditions at each beach in the promontory.

While at the park, kayaking down the tidal river is a must. The river is formed from the Bass strait, that cuts in and out of the park, which is a great way to tour the promontory. If you want to see wild kangaroos, emus, wombats, and kookaburras, drive away from the ocean towards the desert and park your car. If you happen to get lost in the “outback” simply immerse yourself into the Savannah, and forget your troubles. You are just on a walk about. That is how the locals define walk about, getting lost in the outback, another authentic Australian tradition you can mark off your list. [Be sure not to get close to any of the native animals, as they are still wild and can severely harm or kill you, if they feel threaten.]

In cases of emergencies or questions while attending the park, there are various locations for information and shops that can accommodate most needs. Australia’s emergency line is 000, if that number does not work you can call 112.

Tidal river______________________________________________________________________________________

Thailand in Al-Khobar

As the bus stops in front of our villa, I look at my mother in anticipation, as she slowly puts on her abaya. An abaya is a black robe, women are encouraged to wear in the Saudi Arabia, whenever they are leaving their house and going into public. The robe goes past the ankles and wrist, with a neckline that sits above the clavicles. As I step off the bus, the comfort of the air conditioning is no longer present, instead I am greeted with a stale heat. I wonder how my mother is able to endure the heat under her robe. Being a child with no signs of puberty just yet, I am safe from having to wear the garment.

We walk past vendors, who are eyeing my mother and I as we enter a small shop,where we were greeted by an older gentlemen, who always seemed happy to see my mother. Later in reflection, I realized why. He was a gem shop owner and my mother loved to buy gems. In fact, most of the merchants in Al-Khobar loved my mom, she, along with my aunts were their best customers. Buying cosmetics, perfumes, gems and most importantly gold. It was not a wonder why they would receive discounts and welcoming embraces.

After a hard day of shopping and bargaining, we would go to Bangkok Thai or Thai house to eat and bring home food for my dad. These two restaurants were operated by Thai men who were living and working in Saudi to send money back home to their families. These restaurants were the only place my mother and her friends could take off their robes, and sit and talk with fellow Thai’s in a nation, where social interaction between men and women was frowned upon.

I did not understand why, until I started going through puberty and realized the garment my mother wore was not to oppress her, but to protect her. The Thai restaurants that I would tire of, were not just restaurants but a little piece of home for my mother and aunts.

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Life of a post grad millennial

I graduated from Boise State University on December 19, 2015. Like most motivated individuals, I started applying to 5-20 jobs daily. I am determined to become a great writer. Perhaps I could become a journalist. After all I did primarily study journalism while I was in school. Any job, any position, just to get my foot in the door is the goal.

It’s been a year now, over 400 applications and not one call back. So, I decided to write a blog about what it is like for a post grad millennial in the good ole’ U.S.A.

For future employers, if I should be so lucky, I have different tabs that have my resume, cover letter, samples of my photography and writing examples.