Hilda Solis for Superhero

Our new Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, may be my new political superhero. I’m in the middle of fact-checking a story on her for the next issue of the magazine, and I’m reading the transcripts of her confirmation hearings and then her swearing in ceremony… and I just… started crying. I was so touched and so moved by her story and her passion and her unwavering dedication to fighting for the everyday worker… for working families.. for the right for all workers to unionize… for workers benefits. Everything she talks about – from feeling so privileged and blessed to having made it through college with federal loans and grants to her background growing up with working-class parents. She forced her dreams to come true – fought through the bureaucracy and the disadvantages of her socioeconomic class. I’m so excited to see what she’ll do for women, for people, in this position. I just… gah. I’ll stop blabbing and post part of the speech. These are excerpts from her speech after she took the oath:

Hilda Solis:

I could not have gone to college without the help of those who fought for our civil rights and the right for underrepresented people to attend the university.

And I want to underscore how important the financial aid – the federal financial aid – system was and is today.

And how important the Pell grant, the guaranteed student loans, work study programs, all those programs, that helped me get my education and I know those programs continue to help provide the support for so many million, million of Americans.

So many experiences have helped to shape my life to prepare me for this moment.

I have visited fields and factories.

I have even walked picket lines.

And I have talked to and listened to not just those who work in offices during the day, but also those who clean the offices at night.

Many people have educated me, mentored me, and inspired me: From Martin Luther King Jr., who sparked my deep commitment to civil and human rights, to Cesar Chavez, who inspired the world with simply saying: “Si Se Puede!”

I am a product – and I’m proud of this – of the women’s movement, the labor movement, the environmental movement and the social justice movement.


And the fact that I am standing before you today as a child of an immigrant family, a working family, is proof that in America, anything is possible.

Published in: on March 25, 2009 at 2:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Beverly Hellians are Third-Rate when it comes to Classism

I work. A lot. I don’t have a day off, and three or four days a week I go from one job directly to the next. (On a side note – I often find myself, as I’m lying in bed at night so exhausted that even reading blogs is too much energy, wondering how The Mom did it for so many years. And she didn’t just have blogs to come home to – she had two kids.)But yes, I work a lot. And I work hard. These ideas – of working often and hard – seemed commonplace and expected even to me until I started working in Beverly Hills. Now that I’ve been working at Islands for a month or so, alongside the magazine, I have this unique vantage point of one of the most famous and wealthy cities in the world: I am at once accepted and respected and looked down on and mistreated. I see class issues everytime I step into Islands, and it’s accentuated by every moment I spend at the mag. I’m at this weird cross section of life where I’m at once completely working class but for 30 hours a week or so get to be something slightly different by being at such a reputable, well-known, incredible publication – I tell it to myself too – I’m at Ms. Magazine – every day. And then I show up at Islands, where I get asked, “Do you know who I am? My husband produced The Sound of Music,” becuase, in this woman’s world, me knowing that is going to magically make the exact table she wants to become open. She expects the world to change as she walks through it to meet her expectations. I’ve never been around people as self-entitled as the ones I encounter at the restauarnt. To switch from the magazine world to the working class world… all in one day… is fascinating.

I’ve gotten incredibly off-track (how tired is Cyndi?). I raise all these points to introduce this video I came across on my new favorite blog. Chris Rock talks about what equality isn’t… and how to reach equality. I was so touched by this.

Best parts: the beginning, 3:05 and 4:55

The beginning of this video is where I was going with my own train of thought about what I’ve seen working out here. This is a city filled with incredibly self-entitled people… the thought to me that so many people have never worked a working class job a day in their life is probably as absurd as treating a working class server of theirs with respect is to them. I love that people like Chris Rock have worked, worked their asses off to get to where they are. It frustrates me that a disproportionate number of success stories who have come from lower socioeconomic classes are systematically disadvantaged minorities. By frustrates, I mean enrages. He’s a DENTIST. Living next to these cultural icons- that’s such a poignant, provocative illustration he makes. I just… want the world to be a prettier place, one where the people cleaning the streets are as important as the ones littering on them as they walk to their lunch meetings and penthouse offices. I want to feel as confident about myself and where I’m going when I step into Islands restaurant as I do when I step into Ms. because, at the end of the day, I know my goals are bigger than the boosters and high chairs I clean at the end of the night at the restaurant, but at both places… I work equally as hard, and while it’s audacious, I’d wager that it’s also veracious to say that the (disprorportionately) lower class minorities bussing tables are busting their asses far more than many of the white upper-class men running our major industries. One job is not categorically better than another, and one person is certainly not better than the other.

I think I want to live in Chris Rock’s version of our world.

Oh, and ps – to the woman asking me if I know who you are – You telling me about your Sound of Music producing husband is equivalent to me saying to a host, “Do you know who I am? My mother is an accountant for Hoshizaki America. They probably MADE the ice machine in this place.” Now where’s my window table?

Published in: on March 23, 2009 at 10:05 am  Comments (2)  

If you can’t “Beat It,” ….. join it?

I can’t believe I”m posting on this – with that title, nonetheless. But Simon Cowell is at my door… and tonight’s episode of American Idol was a thriller. bahahahahaha I LOSE.

Top of the pack:

Danny – the guy with all the heart, an amazing story and a great voice – ’nuff said

Adam – I liked this guy when I first saw him in Hollywood week, but it wans’t until tonight that he absolutely convinced me of his ridiculous range and talent. He’s a winner – maybe literally. I wouldn’t mind a shop down between him and the original top of my list…..

Lil Rounds – soulful, totally r&b and full of friendliness and tons of personality… I love this woman. She’s incredible.

Kris – he  is John Mayer meets Jason Mraz. Adorable, sexy… and did I mention adorable and sexy? He also plays guitar and has a great voice. What’s not to love?

Allison – the badass but totally sweet rocker grrl – Not my personal favorite, but there’sno doubt she can sing. I like the gritty, gravely tone to her voice.

Matt – the bluesy piano guy.  Could he be similar to a Michael Buble? I like him… and I could see him coming more and more into his own as the weeks go on.
The Will They Won’t They? Group

They could be amazing… have been amazing in other weeks… but what happened? Will they make it happen or … not so much?

Jorge – the lovable, adorable Puero Rican guy that will probably not win but go on to make albums with a sort of Elton John sound. I fell in love with this guy during the top 36 when they sang in groups of 12. I don’t know where he fits in now – he wasn’t great tonight, but I really hope he doesn’t go home

Megan – the one with the too indie sound – she might go home, but if she can WRITE songs… she might have a real career as a much more indie artist with a huge following. I don’t think she’s completely mainstream and pop.

Alexis – the naughty, sexy, someone described her as Pussycat Dolls material and it’s totally true girl. She’s somewhere here in the middle for me – I don’t think she’s going home this week.

Michael – the oil rig guy without a distinctive, individual sound yet. I like his voice, but he hasn’t set himself apart yet for me that I really know and love him, but he’s good, really good. If he can claim his own space and identity in this competition, he may stick around for a long time.

Scotty – the visually impaired, inspirational singer and pianist – he’s incredible, no doubts, but he wans’t that incredible or memorable tonight. I’ll be interested to see how this goes for him – I’d like to see him continue.

Going Home?

Anoop is going home 😦 I like him – his personality and even his voice… I was so one of his biggest fans, but even I will admit that he’s all personality… I don’t think he actually has the voice to make it happen.

As for the other person… I’m not sure – maybe Megan or Jorge.

For the Win?

Judging off tonight – this is Adam’s season. Judging from everything – it’s a showdown between Lil Rounds, Adam, Matt and Kris.

Great night of Idol – …… I just realized, again, that I’m actually blogging about American Idol. This should be the part where I own it and embrace it… no… no it’s still embarrassing and kind of shameful. haha It’s much easier to blog about trivial things than what’s actually happening in my life – that requires emotional and mental energy 🙂

Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 7:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Living la vida intern loca

It finally hit the other day – I’m living the intern life. I’m really living the post-graduate, entering the professional world as a lowly, very poor, bottom-of-the-totem-pole intern at an organization and for a profession that I absolutely am okay with living the poor, lowly, at the bottom-of-the-totem-pole life for! (I just ended that sentence in a preposition – as intern Noelle and I would say – copy edit that shit!). I am a fact-checker and a copy editor. I am one who does book write-ups and reads books and writes BookMarks. I am one who occasionally faxes permissions to college professors to reprint old articles for use in their classes. I am one who reads feminist news blogs and daily wires for Ms. worthy newswire updates. I am one who then writes newwires (much to my chagrin). (You can see these newswires here –> Ms. Magazine newswire). I am not just an unpaid intern – I’m doing the grunt work necessary to build a career in an insanely competitive field. That’s pretty cool.

It has taken me a while to get to this place where I finally get it. Throughout college I had internships, I had jobs, but I always tended to land things that were paid – maybe because it’s all I looked for and settled for; I didn’t have the luxury of choosing something else. For the past month I’ve been here, I’ve seen this internship more as an obstacle than a privilege and a right of passage – I’ve seen it as my demise, my financial ruin, my decidedly failed attempt at working my way into this business. And now I realize that I’ve had the wrong paradigm all along, so I’ve changed it. Now my perspective matches my reality – I am poor, I am putting myself into (more) financial ruin, but it’s not worthless, and it’s not (completely) irresponsible – it’s an investment in my future, one that I honestly believe and know will pay off in years to come.

I wanted to share this revelation and some of the cool stuff I’ve done so far – as in… cool people I’ve had the opportunity to meet.

First, we had a Washington, DC Senator come and do a speech, but I was out of the office that afternoon (very very unfortunately), so I can’t tell you much of anything about her. I heard the last bit of Q&A that they did, and I know she’s working on some very important women’s rights legislation and is backed by prominent women, but… that’s about it. Still very cool.

Then… I got to meet, on the same day no less – Amy Brenneman and Ellie Smeal!!!


Amy is an actress most known for her work on Judging Amy – she was Judge Amy. I know and love her from Private Practice -she plays Dr. Violet Turner. Her character is one of my favorites in all of tv (and as someone who has aspired to write for tv, I watch… way… too much of it…hahaha). She’s is a strong, independent, opinionated, powerful woman. That’s hard to find depicted on television. Apparently, in real life, she’s even more incredible. She does a lot of work with the Feminist Majority Foundation (who owns Ms. – incredible organization and astoundingly brilliant women I look up to in every way); she’s very involved in feminism and is just… wonderful. She spent an afternoon in our office one day this past week, and I was overwhelmed with excitement and awe at her talent and interest and action on issues that really matter.


And then… the great… the wonderful… the awe-inspiring, and respected Eleanor Smeal. She’s the one standing next to Hillary on the right – in the purplish/dark blue suit with white hair. Ellie Smeal is the current President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, the former President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), and all-around feminist rockstar. Intern Noelle, Intern Lindsey, and I were discussing her role in feminism compared to Gloria Steinem. Our best way to describe the difference in who they are now and their impacts in our individual lives is to say that Steinem is pure legend while Smeal is Queen (or King or Queing if we can find a non-gendered way to say “the one with the most power”). Ellie spent all this past week in our offices here in Beverly Hills, and it was unbelieavble to be near her, to see her work. For me, the only thing cooler would be meeting Gloria Steinem herself. I have daydreamed about such things happening…


Then, as if all this isn’t cool enough – Interns Noelle, Lindsey and I went to a Guerrilla Girls party! They won an award (Congrats!!) and had an after-party for it… to which they sent an invite to Ms. that ended up in our hands. The Guerrilla Girls have been around since 1985. They wear Guerrilla masks at everything they do – secrecy is a huge part of their work – nobody knows who the guerrilla girls actually are. They use the spelling “guerrilla” to imply a type of warfare – against gender stereotypes, gender norms, patriarchal agendas. They use artwork – mainly through like billboards, posters and a few books – to raise awareness of issues, ask important questions, etc. Meeting the Guerrilla Girls, for me, has been the pinnacle of living what I learned in college. In nearly any and every Women’s Studies course around this country – they talk about the Guerrilla Girls and their relative influence on feminism. Do they do good things for feminism? What do they do? Do the masks help or hurt their cause? There are discussions of identity, the narrative of artistic, if not audible, voice, etc. It was very, very, very cool. We do have pictures from it, but I haven’t gotten them on the computer yet.

That’s life so far here. I’m moving past being oh so depressed about being so poor and embracing it – this part of life only happens once, right? I hope so. I’m looking at applying for jobs – starting to ask those questions of what next, where next, when next. At first, I was overhwelmed and terrified, unsure of how people ever figure out their careers and get anywhere. Slowly (slowlyslowly) I’m understanding that it’s about baby steps. One step at a time. Eventually I’ll be where I want to be – wherever that is. For now, I’m enjoying the crazy intern life – livin’ la vida loca!

Published in: on March 1, 2009 at 1:01 pm  Comments (1)