Angela Davis quote

To Have Or Have Not?

I was working out in McKeesport yesterday for Planned Parenthood/Wolf For Governor, and realized a few things as I was talking to residents:

1. McKeesport is not Pittsburgh.
2. Half of the neighborhood consisted of abandoned structures.
3. I am privileged.

Wait. I, a 24 year old that has to regularly hustle (and hustle hard) just to make a living, am privileged? I take public transportation everywhere, I budget shop at Aldi, and I’m privileged? My bank account is so anemic that it requires iron pills to survive, and I am privileged?

Yes. This story will prove it.

I was speaking with a resident for the campaign yesterday evening about issues of import – business as usual. She said to me that she was surprised that I came “all the way” up to her house to speak with her. She wasn’t used to people caring about her opinions enough to make the long trek to see her. As a result of my persistence in climbing a steep flight of steps in McKeesport just to speak to this woman, she asked for more information on the Wolf campaign (as you can imagine, I was overjoyed!). When I left, I felt pleased at her kind words, grateful that my work was paying off, and thoughtful as to why she felt the way that she did. Then it hit me.

In our supposedly democratic system, we are governed by the assumption that everyone’s vote holds equal importance (in other words, one vote = one vote). That’s a logically sound assumption, by all accounts – but that’s not typically how the process plays out. For Planned Parenthood & the Wolf For Governor campaign, we generally make an effort to travel to many different types of neighborhoods, regardless of the socioeconomic background of the residents. However, it is readily apparent that neighborhoods like Ross Township and Shaler Township tell a different tale than, say, Homewood or McKeesport. For one, residents in these wealthier neighborhoods are used to being asked for their opinions and their money because, well, money. They are used to feeling included and like they’re important in the grand scheme of our democratic process. It is always fascinating for me, coming from a blue-collar background,  to walk around these wealthier neighborhoods and look at the nice houses/cars that surround me for the four hours that I am communicating with residents.

It is equally fascinating for me to walk around less wealthy neighborhoods because it gives me pause. What actually causes this disparity in lifestyles? Is it a lack of pride by residents? Or, does that pride exist, but it is masked by a strong veneer of apathy due to the fact that residents feel consistently ignored by their elected officials and major media outlets? One thing that I’ve come to learn is that what you do is irrelevant; how people feel & how they perceive your actions is everything. And through my various positions of employment the past couple of years, I’ve come to see that residents of less wealthy areas feel slighted, and for good reason.

All I tend to know about places like Homewood & McKeesport is what most everyone else does: crime and tragedy. For this reason, I typically have a personal bias against working in certain neighborhoods; this bias is usually dissipated once I get to have conversations with residents. I’ve noticed that residents in neighborhoods of lower socioeconomic status are just like everyone else: they work hard to support their families, they want their kids to be successful in life, and they eat dinner together as a family unit. But most importantly, they want to be seen as equals by the rest of society, and that’s something that society is failing miserably at doing.

In a sense, I am admitting my own guilt in “believing the hype” that the news media puts out on a regular basis. I live in Highland Park, one of the wealthier neighborhoods in Pittsburgh (though I am nowhere close to being wealthy yet 😁😁 ). I am less than a stone’s throw away from Starbucks, Whole Foods, Target, and beautiful green spaces. Most of my friends live on this side of town; I absolutely love living on Pittsburgh’s East End. Sometimes I wish that I could curl up in my beautiful enclave and pretend that these societal imbalances do not exist. It’d be really easy for me to do so. You know, go to a nice coffee shop with WiFi or a nice brunch spot and drink orange juice from a wine glass (they do this at E2 in Highland Park).

But I can’t.

After two years of doing AmeriCorps programs and working my current campaign position, I can no longer be blissfully ignorant to the ills that exist within the broader community. I can no longer “not pay attention” just because something doesn’t affect me. One can’t unsee what one has seen, try as (s)he might. I may not come from a wealthy background, but I am privileged beyond measure for a number of reasons. The main reason is this:

I carry with me the privilege of being able to choose whether or not to pay attention to the existence of inequality.

Talk Soon,
Liberty ❤

Sunset - Life Is Good

That Dido Song Is Life!

Today, my day has consisted of:

Job interviews (one for a full-time day job, one for a promo model position).

Missed the bus from Brentwood that would’ve gotten me back to Highland Park to go to work today.

Missed work.

Called my rental agent to discuss my rent payment for the month. Didn’t get a call back.

Finally said “Fuck it” in frustration, and came to Starbucks to chill, because everyone knows that this is my happy place.

Currently writing my daily blog post.

Headed to the community dinner in Highland Park, hosted every Monday by my friends/neighbors Lindsay, Julia, Alyssa, & Blake, in about 1.5 hours.

My day clearly hasn’t turned out as expected. I mean, I did get to attend two job interviews today, which was awesome. My current position for Planned Parenthood, done on behalf of the Tom Wolf for Governor campaign, ends on 11/1/2014 because the Pennsylvania governor’s election is just around the corner (if anyone has job leads, throw them at me!). I missed a day of making money, though, and I missed a day of campaign work at a time when it is crucial to have as many boots on the ground as possible speaking to PA residents about the candidates up for election. For someone that loves politics as much as I do, this is painful. It made the absence of a vehicle in my life all the more visible because I depend on public transportation to manuever these baffling Pittsburgh streets. Public transportation in Pittsburgh isn’t the most reliable thing in the world……

I can actually feel the stress oozing from that previous paragraph. This is typical me, being a ball of stress over what are essentially “first world problems”. It almost reminds me of that Dido song, “Thank You“:

My tea’s gone cold, I’m wondering why I got out of bed at all
The morning rain clouds up my window, and I can’t see at all
And even if I could it’d all be grey, but your picture on my wall
It reminds me that it’s not so bad, it’s not so bad

I drank too much last night, got bills to pay, my head just feels in pain
I missed the bus and there’ll be hell today, I’m late for work again
And even if I’m there, they’ll all imply that I might not last the day
And then you call me and it’s not so bad, it’s not so bad

Dido basically has this really bad day full of shitty “first world problems”, and then finds one thing (or, in this case, person) to be thankful for at the end of the day that makes everything worth it. She forgets about all of the negativity that she had endured because she gets on this ‘gratitude kick’, thinking about some of the best days of her life. I’ve thought about this song from time to time, mostly in relation to love, but today it strikes a particularly deep chord inside of me for another reason.

We all need to begin being more thankful in our lives. There are always going to be things in our life that have the potential to bring us down, but they can only screw with us if we allow them to. Instead of concentrating on the many unsavory events that have happened to us over the course of our day/week/month/year(s), we need to try looking at the happy events that have transpired. These things don’t even have to be astronomically large; they can be small things, because it’s often those little tidbits that add up to create some of the ‘best days of our lives’. We don’t realize this, though, until we look back in hindsight and see that we have spent many of our days lamenting bad things that have gone on. I, for one, still have a few fleeting tinges of regret when I think of certain situations because I realize how great of a time that I was actually having, but am only now starting to appreciate the vast importance that those times have played for me these 24 years of my life.

Today, for instance, I did two interviews, got to go back home for a bit, came to Starbucks (which I love to pieces) to drink coffee & write, and will now go to have dinner with friends in Highland Park (my neighborhood, which I love dearly).

Today was a good day. Life is good 🙂

Talk soon,

Liberty ❤

Fun People

There Was This Party, And…..

It’s a pretty chilly morning here in the ‘Burgh, and cold weather makes me think. This morning, it’s making me think about “partying” (Partying on a Sunday? **Screeches to a halt**). Sounds random, but it’s not.

See, I get emails from an advice site called “A New Mode“. This particular email talked about how we sometimes make the wrong impression on people with our digital footprint. Facebook profiles/pics, Twitter thoughts, etc…can be the kiss of death for both jobs and relationships because let’s face it, we all research people online to get to know them better. If you say that you don’t, then A) you’re not telling the truth, or B) you have no access to the Internet.

Back to the original topic: wrong online impressions. Sabrina Alexis (she’s awesome, by the way) talked at one point about unflattering party pics and how that can lose you jobs and dates. Cue “my mind flashing to my past year of life”. I think that I partied enough in one year to last me for the rest of my life. I partied enough to make me hate partying and drinking. Having your friends escort you out of the bar to their house b/c you’re too done to go home alone will do that to you. Now, granted, I had a rough year (as anyone that knows me would attest to) and really just wanted to let off some steam, but I slowly began to realize that I was completely misrepresenting myself to everyone that knew me. The great part of this is that I was smart enough to not post any of my exploits on social media, but to both my acquaintances and my close friends that I hung out with I’d imagine that I was a ‘big ball of messiness’.

Cool story, bro, but where is this going? “

I’m a person that likes to have control of my life, and by partying/drinking as much as I did, I lost control at a time when I desperately needed it. But that whole experience was valuable, in a sense. I think that everyone should hit bottom at least once in their lives because it causes a lot of soul-searching and self reevaluation. I, for one, realized that I don’t even like crazy parties/drinking. I really like the social value of going out & being with my friends, though, and I’ve rediscovered many ways of doing that without having to go overboard with drinking and doing stupid shit like unknowingly hurting people that I really care about.

Example: going to community dinners in Highland Park with friends/neighbors. Another example: going to a restaurant for the dessert & tea w/ a friend, & not even looking at the drink menu. Yet another example: randomly having a ‘sing-off’ w/ a friend at the park & not caring if onlookers think we’re crazy. I could go on, but you catch my drift.

And it took me realizing how much I’d hurt others to want to change myself. I was hurting, so I didn’t realize that I was inadvertently hurting people. At first, I was just amazed that people cared enough about me to actually be hurt by me/angry at me. It then made me think, “If you have friends that care about you, you’ve got a responsibility to not be an asshole to them. If you are an asshole, just apologize. If you’re sincere, they’ll usually forgive you. It might take some a bit longer than others (a lot longer, really), but it’ll happen. Oftentimes, your relationships will emerge stronger from having been stretched to the limit.”

And if, by chance, you’re ever hurting, just remember this: it (whatever “It” is) might seem hopeless. It might seem never-ending. It will be excruciating at times. But it gets better. And those friends that you hurt along the way? Apologize, and keep them close. You’ll need them. Trust me.

Talk soon,
Liberty ❤

Blonde Liberty

“Blog People”

Never thought I'd be one of those "blog people". You know, the ones that pretentiously sit in coffee shops and write for hours on end while taking the smallest sips of their latte (which probably went cold hours ago, but I digress). The ones that have long, drawn-out conversations that usually begin with "I have a blog, and you should check it out!" Then they proceed to list all the reasons (literally, All. Of. The. Reasons.) why their blog is so great – why it's so much better than any of the other millions of blogs on the Internet. I never thought I'd be one of those people – until I decided to become one.

I generally have a lot of interesting things to say. My social media posts can get tiresomely long because I write too much in my posts. So I decided….ain't nobody got time for dat. That's what blogs are for. You write out your obviously intelligent thoughts in a clearly eloquent fashion, and people can read them at their leisure. Because, in all honesty, I don't even like long social media posts myself; I will usually scroll past them on my way to shorter posts & Buzzfeed quizzes like "Who are you, actually?"

So, who am I, actually? I am a 24-year-old female stuck in the neo-Rust Belt city of Pittsburgh, PA. I aspire to be in the political sector, eventually, but for the meantime, fashion will do nicely. I like chai lattes, Spotify, and saying/doing whatever the hell I want. I like my friends, because I somehow have a talent for hanging out with the chillest of people. I like meeting new people, and I love traveling (which I haven't gotten to do enough of, but that will change in short order). I'm a sucker for love, but I'm slowly getting better at that game. I couldn't stand the heat of that game, however, so I have exited the kitchen for a while. I'm looking to re-enter the kitchen soon, but I'm also having a good time getting to know the other rooms of the house 😉

My blog will be about anything and everything that interests me (which is pretty much everything), so check back frequently! Also, I'd love you forever if you'd follow me on the following social media sites:

https://twitter.com/87_imarockstar

https://www.linkedin.com/in/libertygaither

http://instagram.com/libertygaither_

http://www.pinterest.com/libbygt10/

Cheers!

Talk soon,

Liberty ❤