Thursday, November 10, 2016


Let me start with some stories from my life.
This is long, but is close to my heart and has me vulnerable and raw.

I have always been lucky that school came easy for me. But I have also always had a sense of satisfaction in work and the desire to excel and not disappoint anyone (parents and teachers) so I put in huge effort too. So I learned a lot and grew in competence, enough that I was confident in any situation I found myself or pursued, even if that course was challenging or scary.

  I got into the university of my choice and through some of the more intense intellectual challenges of my life applied, was accepted into, and made it through the hard weed out classes of the electrical engineering program, the profession I had envisioned for myself from about age 17... all while working long hours to pay for school so I wouldn't have any debt.
But then I realized I wanted to go a different direction.
I wanted to change to be a construction manager.

So I met with the program's advisor, found I was abundantly qualified academically, but that the program required valuable applicable work experience to be admitted.
'No problem', I thought, 'I'll just get a summer job with a construction company'.
And so I tried.
Crickets. No response. Stonewalled.
Now this wasn't supposed to be hard experience to get. Older, already-in-the-industry me knows that construction laborers that meet the basic criteria of showing up regularly and actually doing work are hard to find. And I think this was in summer of 2004, fully in the swing of the crazy construction boom that had taken hold of the nation.
I finally was able to work with a small small outfit of firefighters who finished basements on the side, but the guy only 'took me on' as a favor to my mom (his friend) and it was for no pay.
Young me knew this was unfair, but I also knew I could change minds as far as my worth.
And I did. Within a day or two every single person there commented about how quickly I picked things up and how they were using me as a full member of their crew. But they still didn't pay me.
To my knowledge, no male member of the program had to accept no pay to get experience.

I got the experience needed, also working at a full time job that summer for, you know, money to pay for life and school. Got into the program. Worked hard. Excelled. Exhibited enough skill that one of the professors asked me to be a teaching assistant for one of the core classes. Completed a good summer internship (I'm skipping sharing similar difficulty in obtaining and working in this internship for the sake of brevity, but suffice it to say coworkers expressed surprise that a girl could do such competent work). Competed for the university on a national level. By any measure I can think of built a great set of skills and a great resume.

 Skip ahead to trying to find a job for after graduation.
Keep in mind that this is 2006, absolute height of the housing boom, the employment rate for the construction management program I was in was pretty much 100%, and I was a good student.
Crickets. No response. Stonewalled.
I would go into interviews and see immediate visible dismissal, I honestly think that I got a couple interviews by their mistake, that they read my name "Camren" instead of  Carmen and thought I was a guy.
Standard practice for women is to wear professional clothes and makeup to interviews, but by the end of this process I was totally minimizing makeup and slicking my hair back tight in a pony tail to minimize femininity because I found I was treated better.
I will forever love and be thankful for the company that finally did 'take a chance on me' {sarcasm in saying that phrase, not in the love I do feel for that company}.

I learned a lot and I know I made some valuable contributions, including exposing someone who had been consistently cheating the company, getting them fired, and picking up the additional work load to finish the project he had been assigned to. 
My bonus that year reflected the good job I had done, but some of the comments made in my year end review galled me, chilled me and will always be burned into my brain.
Owner of the company: 'I didn't think a woman could do this job', 'I was hesitant to let them hire you, but I'm glad we did', and completely out of the blue 'hey, we want you to know that if you are thinking of starting a family, we would miss you but we would totally understand'.

I want to leave you with that for a minute to absorb the inappropriateness.
This wasn't some backwater hick. He has a degree from an ivy league school. 
This was from a good person and a good company that actually hired me. What were the internal attitudes of those who dismissed my resume or dismissed me in an interview, whether or not those attitudes were acknowledged to their conscious thoughts? 

And on and on it goes. I'm getting tired of this, so I won't get into details about the job hardships I encountered when moving to Michigan for Curt's MBA. I'll summarize by saying that a small portion of it can be explained by the fact that Michigan has been in a decades long recession, but the base truth is that I was underemployed and underpaid primarily because of my gender.

Which brings me to my topic today.

This year an extremely intelligent, qualified, skilled, and educated woman with a very strong resume applied for a job. She was compared to a man who was severely less qualified in every way and the man was given the job.

To make it worse, the man did not try to hide his incompetence. He flaunted it and rejected the opportunity to gain education and knowledge about the job he was applying for during the very long evaluation process, showing up to interviews unprepared and spewing insults. He was disrespectful, arrogant, petty, and juvenile in his attitude. He was dismissive about women, treating them as something for his visual consumption and enjoyment or good for nothing. He lied big, obvious lies with the assumption that saying them loud enough and often enough would make them self evident truths. He promoted fear and anger and disgust for different thoughts. 

I'll tell you the worst part though.
It's not that he was reaching for the job, arrogant and narcissistic people frequently think they deserve power.

It's that those who hired him were my country.
They were the people in the beautiful state I live in.
They were my beloved home state that I want to live in again someday.
They were my guy friends that sincerely believe women don't get treated like this often because they personally aren't on the receiving end.
Or are among those who dish it out but don't think of themselves as sexist because it's hard to recognize within oneself.
They were my women friends who are not really in the workforce.**
Or my women friends who went into the few fields that are deemed 'acceptable' for women. 
They were the people I go to church with.
They were my extended family.
They were my close family.

And while I believe that most of the people I listed would never knowingly do anything to hold me back, they don't really care or think about this problem and so are complicit to my being treated and sometimes mistreated as a 'woman' instead of being allowed to be evaluated as an individual.

People will say, 'no, it wasn't because she was a woman, it was because of ...'.
But, given the experiences I shared and many others I have seen, I believe she was vilified so intensely in part because she was a woman working in the upper levels of politics, where women just don't go without being brutalized. Given how close it came, whatever the level of sexism, it was enough to be the deciding factor in the election.
And I feel bad for her.
Even though I don't agree on a lot of her plan, at least she had developed a plan.
Even if I didn't like some of her answers, she could at least answer coherently and in depth.
And the job was given to a man being obtuse.

And so I am bone tired sad. I'm sad enough that I'm brought to tears, and not many things do that to me. I'm sad that we've taken a huge visible step backwards and that I feel it likely my daughter will face much the same situation I have and not a better one. I hate that I will have to fight harder to keep the insidious tentacles of this nasty treatment of women out of my sons. I hate that so many people of this country now feel justified and emboldened in bad behavior. I'm shocked by the ferocity of my feelings, betrayal and hurt, and to be honest it's probably because in my heart of hearts I didn't really think it would come to this.

His speech accepting the job was ever so slightly consoling.
At least the hatred and fear mongering were conspicuously absent.
But that is such a low bar and the actual substance of the speech was so small.

I'll end on the acknowledgement that the things I feel probably don't even compare to the punch in the gut my friends who have been sexually assaulted feel, or my friends who have immigrated here, or whose parents immigrated here, or who are a different color than white.

P.S. I wrote this yesterday in the midst of grappling with the results of the election.
While I still feel that the things I wrote here are true, this morning I feel them at a lower intensity. Yesterday was also spent doing things that introverts do to deal with things, I read everything I could find...other people's personal experiences and feelings, news stories analyzing things, 'experts' from both ends of the political spectrum weighing in on anything and everything. (This was probably one of the better things I read) And I feel a little better. No more tears. I hope good things for the future. And I feel better about those I love that may have voted for Trump. Just because they voted for someone vile doesn't mean that they don't also think he's vile.

**all of these groupings are generalizations, I know there are many exceptions in each. Heck, I'm an exception in this particular one...I prioritize staying at home higher than having a career but I sincerely wish I could split in two and both kick butt in the work place and personally be here for these most beloved babies, I love working.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016


{view into our field from the driveway}

For Labor Day weekend Curt headed to Louisiana to help gut out houses that had been flooded by the intense rain storms there a few weeks before. About 5000 Latter Day Saints (Mormons) from surrounding states came in. 
Our stake was assigned to help in the Hammond area, and they turned the property around the LDS chapel there into a tent city. They were very organized and had port-a-potties set up around the perimeter and had shower stations set up outside (the women got to use the ones inside).
People in the community who needed help would call in and the volunteers manning the phone would create a work order and then a team would be sent out to the home.

This was one of the homes that Curt's team worked on. They had already emptied some of the home, but that big pile of stuff needed to be hauled down to the end of a very long driveway, and the rest of the stuff from the inside needed to be hauled out.

This is a picture Curt got from the owner of how high the water got on the same house.

{church gym turned into supply center}

{one of the work crews from our ward with a pair of homeowners they helped}

When he got back home I did the annual pressure washing of the driveway.
Always crazy to see what the climate here builds up on concrete.

 {cupcakes by the neighborhood pool}

{amazing entertainment, clothes getting washed}

We've had a glass topped table for our living room for most of our marriage.
It definitely wasn't the most kid friendly thing, but McKay had started climbing on top of it regularly, finally pushing it high enough on the priority list to replace.
So glad we did though, this new ottoman thing has been awesome so far. 

These two are buds and get to spend a lot more time as just the two of them since Des is in school now.

Our friend Ryan was in town briefly for work and Curt was able to grab lunch with him.

I organized a pine wood derby for the girls in our ward (ages 8-11).
It turned out great.

{Curt and his helpers, setting up the track}

{about half the cars that ended up racing}

Des attended a friends birthday party. Things like this make me realize he's getting so old. 

And he lost two teeth in September.

 {holding hands on the way to cub scout pack meeting, those boards are for the crossover bridge that was being used that night}

{McKay imitating Des. He follows his brother around everywhere}

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