Closed doors and dead ends

Today was one of those days when I really wish I had just stayed in bed. However, given how loud my apartment has become most mornings, there really was no point. This morning, an irate (I assume homeless but could not be bothered to leave my bed burrito to find out for sure) man could be heard yelling at the top of his lungs on the street 4 floors below, through my earplugs and mostly closed windows. *closes eyes harder and groans, gives up and looks at phone* Yup, 5am.

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I haven’t been sleeping well in recent weeks, though I don’t know why. Stress? Yeah. In the audit world, my job world, I’ve been going through a restatement. It’s a dirty word, which means the client’s financial statements had an error in them, deemed significant enough to be material, which warrants restating the previously issued financial statements. The restated financials went out today, and like Frodo throwing the ring into Mount Doom to be lost forever, I’m relieved and exhausted to have that weight off my chest. I also had other financial statements go out the door today for an unexpected piece of work that took over my August and September. I’ve driven 25 miles to Google in Sunnyvale multiple times in the last two weeks, to my non-profit client in Novato multiple times per week, and all over the bay area in between this month. I’ve sat in more traffic than I ever want to admit. Once I get out of traffic, I open up my laptop at home and keep working.

 photo stars.gifI’ve taken a lot of unnecessary crap from people lately, while I remain quiet. It’s exhausting. Why does everyone else get to be thoughtless and insensitive, not me? I think I’d get ripped a new one if I put one toe out of line. Or I’m so hard on myself, because of things like standards and being a good person, it’s not an option. I know what I look like; I can’t afford to be a bitch because I’m not good looking enough to get away with it. It hardly seems fair. I’d love to a be a member of the non-self-aware club, demanding the extremely impossible yesterday, like Miranda Priestly in Devil Wears Prada. But I am not, unfortunately.

I haven’t been eating much either. Partly because I’ve been on a diet, but partly because that diet is a direct result of a massively decreased appetite. I’ve also been putting cleaner fuel (translation: food) into my body, as it makes me feel better. I’ve been very diligent about going to the gym ever since I got back from Iceland in June. That’s a whole fiscal quarter of trying. I’m doing what I can to tire out my body, but alas, sleep evades me. Part of a daily regimen of mental health is adequate sleep. I delve into the benefits of sleep in this blog post. In an ideal world, I’d have no reason to not be sleeping well right now.

There is construction happening on the building next to mine, which has been vacant and derelict for years. Because San Francisco is trying to increase supply of housing to meet demand (check out my blog post on what venture capital funding is doing to San Francisco living), construction is happening on every other block now. It affects not only noise levels, but traffic flow, sidewalk traffic, and even lines at local eateries where workers take their breaks.

The crew begins every morning, arriving at the site at 6:30am, slamming doors, moving heavy equipment loudly, backing up trucks that beep loudly when in reverse, and then the crews begin grinding metal or power washing in an echo chamber promptly at 7am. I feel for them having to be there that early, I really do, but they are getting paid. I’m not getting paid, and worse, no one checked with me or any of the other tenants of my building when construction on that empty building was approved. If I had known when I signed my lease that construction would begin shortly after I moved in with an indefinite end time, I’d have thought twice about my chosen location.

San Francisco is more abrasive than ever, and it’s wearing me down again. I need a vacation. I need to move. I got an email from HR last week that I have so much vacation time accrued that I actually just lost some hours because I didn’t take them. Well, I didn’t know they were there! I have never been a person to waste one single hour of vacation! In Australia, I’d let HR garnish my paycheck to purchase additional annual leave so I could take extra vacations while I was in that part of the world. In recent weeks, I’ve thought of Egypt, Petra, Canada, Africa, and all the other places I’d love to be rather than where I am. I need to find some time to have a break because my work schedule is looking pretty bleak from here on out. Sigh.

When you get split ends in your hair, it’s usually time for a haircut. It renews the hair and allows it to grow again. I recently got a haircut and it felt great. Nothing fancy, just cleaning up around the ears and neck.

Sometimes life has a seemingly never ending series of dead ends. That person wasn’t meant for you; that job wasn’t meant for you either. All the doors are closed. That opportunity didn’t work out. That friendship faded away. No. Not yours.

When life hands you dead ends, to move forward, sometimes you need to cut away those dead ends. They’re doing nothing for you. So, get a haircut. Select all and archive. That’s what I’d like to do with the last 3 months, possibly further back in time. Archive. Never to be opened again.

It can be a full time job, to keep your fragile flame from the wind and driving rain. I chose not to sit idly by, when I returned from my sabbatical, as the life I wanted passed me by. I knocked on metaphorical doors and took chance after chance. I made myself vulnerable, and hurt because of it. Stupid girl.

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I’m actively searching, which means I’ve been running into one dead end after another. So much rejection can leave one feeling worthless and unappreciated for being just who they are. Going door to metaphorical door, silently asking, “Are you my missing puzzle piece?” with a hopeful look and finding out time and again she was not leaves one feeling too tired to keep trying. Being brave in interviews and putting oneself out there, only to hear you’re overqualified, or just don’t have the right skill set, leaves one feeling trapped in their current job. Trapped in their current life they’re actively trying to make better.

I’ve written a post before about the concept of being malleable. I must be malleable, because I’m still here. But it certainly doesn’t look like a pretty picture from where I am standing.

To an outsider, it would appear I have a stable job, a place to live, and a Facebook full of friends. That’s not enough for me, though. People ask how I’m doing or what’s new, and I’m fine or nothing much. However, the absence of activity is not the measure of success. I don’t just want the status quo. I want real change. But all the doors I’m trying are closed, locked, and not meant for me. When will it be time for the door that’s right for me to open? I feel like I’ve been waiting forever. I’m in the prime of my life, and I want it now. Life is too short to have to wait for it. I’m chasing it, and it just keeps losing me. Any day, now. Please? Am I reaching for the stars here?

Yeah yeah yeah. The sun’ll come out tomorrow, so I gotta hang on til tomorrow. Come what may…

What’s coming better involve the second season of How to Get Away with Murder on Netflix stat (even though the first season just came out), and a pizza. That’s all I’m saying…

Venture capital funding and its impact on rent in San Francisco

Yesterday, a former colleague posted an article that piqued my interest and, like its opening line, provoked debate in my brain. So much so, that I was still up writing this at midnight and am slightly out of it today for that reason.

A study performed by Zumper, described in the article as a start-up itself, claims San Francisco’s exorbitant rent is attributable, in part, to VC (venture capital) funding. Here’s the link to the article, and I recommend you read that article before going any further into my blog post here: Zumper: One-Third Of San Francisco’s Rent Is Attributable To VC Funding

My day job exposes me to these very venture capital and private equity funds Zumper calls out as the bad guys. I’m not supposed to have an opinion. Cash injection in any economy is meant to be seen as a good thing – it stimulates an economy and keeps it active and moving and fresh. The economy is attractive enough and can sustain life. We’re supposed to be honored?

But after I saw this research, I knew in my little heart that what they’re claiming is true. Now there is data to support it. It is the venture capital funding which increases the rent. Think about it.

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Venture capital and private equity funds service a particular niche in the market. Everyday investors do not usually venture to that area of park. Venture capitalists are truly unique – this niche is truly inhabited by the crazy and brilliant.

Venture capitalists have a couple distinct schools of thought. There are those venture capitalists who believe in real innovation and change. They seek solutions for real problems, who develop technology, or chemical compounds later developed into pharmaceutical retail drugs, or whatever the next big thing is – artificial intelligence. Transportation. One such example is Founders Funds (check out the Founders Funds manifesto), based in the Presidio in San Francisco. No, no kickbacks were provided, I just happen to find their point of view aligned with my own personal perspective.

Then, there are those in the second school. They have an idea; anybody can have one. They are not out to truly change the world; they are out to make a buck. They may seek to develop the idea only to sell it to the next predator in the food/supply chain. That predator may annihilate it, or actually develop it further.

In either case, the typical investor, with money in retirement funds or pensions, has no business in such risky investments as venture capital funds. Typical investors are not sophisticated enough to take on the risk these far left field ideas pose to develop. Venture capital funds take huge risks, with large sums of money. So most unsophisticated investors buy Certificates of Deposit (CD’s) through their banks, keep money in a savings account earning a tiny nominal interest rate, maybe dabble in stocks/equities or bonds, or maybe they own shares in a mutual fund or two. The wealthy with money to blow invest in these riskier funds.

The laws of entropy and anarchy tell me the bubble accumulating in San Francisco’s housing market is on the verge of popping. And when it does, I can only imagine the repercussions.

Maybe, if the bubble pops, San Francisco will stop being the on the front lines of the wave of innovation. Inhabitants of SF will become too miserable, paying ridiculous rents, due to the money pumped into the local economy in the form of jobs. Maybe venture capitalists will find a new place in which to inject their shit-tons of capital.

Residents of San Francisco focus hatred on the likes of companies like Yahoo!, Genentech, Google, and the other massive (now) blue chip companies, who build new offices just outside of the city, chuck full of new human capital who need places to live. We blame their giant white commuter buses for providing transport for the yuppie scum, congesting roadways and making getting around impossible. They edge out the hippie scum when it comes to housing because they can afford to pay more with higher salaries offered by these start-ups to attract talent. Those companies all started out as bay area start-ups in the dot-com boom. Everyone is looking for the next big thing. For awhile, it was Uber. What it will be next, I cannot say.

How San Franciscans do graffiti (US mint in SF in background):
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These new employees of start-ups, successful ones like those companies above, or the ones that don’t make it, have also edged out local non-profit organizations who simply cannot exist in the bay area any more. Non-profit organizations can’t pay market rent in the city. They may not want to, but they have. Unfortunate side effects of mass migration of human capital to where jobs are.

Artists, senior citizens, lesbians, who built the very foundations of the city, who made San Francisco what it is, are all now virtually extinct within city limits. A second article, an open letter to one of these said employees relocating to San Francisco for a tech job, articulates this same idea nearly verbatim to what I already had in my head, but they *may* have said it better. Judge for yourself:  An open letter to anyone moving to San Francisco for a tech job

Just like the global financial crisis that came to a head in 2008, built on unstable subprime mortgages being securitized and sold in pools to unsophisticated investors, an unsustainable bubble formed. People could get car loans for $0 down, with low monthly interest rates. Banks were practically giving money away for free.

The San Francisco rent bubble is blowing up and has been for the last few years, especially. Venture capitalists are giving away money practically for free, to those with business plans, which further inflates prices.

In economics, I learned people will not supply until there is a sufficient demand, driving up prices. Sellers want to sell high, while consumers want to buy low. Here’s a simple example.

Oil can be extracted from the Middle East at a fraction of the monetary and environmental cost, than if you wanted real California coastline oil extracted from offshore drilling operations. Think about it – if you want California oil, you’ll need to line the pockets of all kinds of government agencies, and pay the higher costs of extracting from a California economy vs that of a small nation, like say, Qatar. The oil from Qatar is likely much cheaper than the oil extracted off California. Rather, Qatar will supply oil at lower prices, whereas California will supply oil only if the price per barrel gets high enough to be profitable in someone’s eyes.

People in San Francisco need these jobs. People already flock here for its cultural competency and social scene. Being an urban location, and with population increasing at current trends, the urban areas with jobs will only get more populous, and demand will only increase with time. The ever-growing population and where that population will live are one of the macroeconomic trends playing out now, and the outlook is not good.

Start-ups come and go, but they all get funded. Good ideas get funded. Employees who work for them face failure at an alarming rate, and seek out new jobs sometimes months after making a move into a new company. Employee stock options often expire, out of the money, and worthless. That’s what venture capital does though – it funds operations for these start-ups, pays salaries, even if only for 3 weeks. These start-ups burn through cash to cover operating expenses.

But if someone moves from start-up to start-up every 3 weeks, they can still afford the average $3,252 rent for a 1-bedroom highlighted in the research. Someone is willing to pay for labor at higher rates because the perceived higher risk might yield, maybe once out of ten times, another Google. Another Uber. Another Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Youtube, Apple, whatever.

To a venture capital fund, the economics of their financial statements for investors mean value is created. These funds do not make money on every investment. Not in the way most people think of making money, revenue. In fact, many private equity and venture capital funds carry unrealized losses on 9/10 of their investments in portfolio companies. The 10th portfolio company investment in the fund might be something like Skype, or Lyft, or something that investors perceive with a lot of value. They may have one secret weapon money-maker.

Thus, in their income statement, their real income isn’t true revenue. It’s a mark-to-market adjustment; it’s unrealized gains, written up or down due to investor sentiment and carrying value of these companies. They can’t afford to pay dividends, and most aren’t using debt financing because sometimes that can make them cash flow poor. Funds, whose entire value is tied up in assets and not liquid cannot survive without deep pockets of venture funding.

The fund looks like it is making money because that 1 investment might be paying off despite 9 other losing investments, driven by the valuation. Discounted cash flows and valuation models say that company has value. So more people invest in the fund. The fund provides capital to another start-up, which can then hire employees. Rent goes up even more. It’s a vicious cycle. (Note: check out another blog post I wrote on estimating value which permeates further than the financial world into my personal world.)

I hope the bubble in San Francisco housing pops. I hope when it pops, it’s messy, like a red zit on a teenager’s face. I hope everything is exposed.

While the economics actually make sense to me, the reality hardly seems fair.

I see it from the point of view of the San Francisco resident. I pay ridiculous rent. I’m below the $3,252 average, but not by much, honestly. I should not have to dodge piles of shit made by the homeless people sleeping on my street, a little further down from my latest almost-shoe-disaster. My rent is too damn high to have only 419 square feet in my apartment. I do not have a washing machine and dryer in my home. I do not have a dishwasher. I don’t even have a bathtub. Nor do I have heating or AC. I don’t have luxuries. I’m not saving nearly enough for retirement as I should be. Yet, somehow, I make more money than a lot of people I know. I pay more rent than anybody I know.

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I’m not bragging. I make nowhere near the salaries available to those who work at these start-up companies funded by venture capital.

However, I’m also not one of the idiot schmucks out there paying $1800 per month for a bunk bed, hostel style. Yes, there are people living in Silicon Valley actually paying that.

Funny enough, my home from 2011 to 2014 was also in a bit of a housing bubble, too. Sydney, Australia, receives cash injections from parents of international students (many from Asia), and now most of Sydney’s suburbs are owned by the families of these students. They receive extra perks that some Australians might argue are from taking advantage of tax loopholes extended to parents of students abroad.

Australians hold real auctions, in person, when buying and selling a home. It’s not really like the process of buying a home in the US and how the agents interact. Once the auction is over, that’s it. No drama. No counter offers. No roller coaster.

Often, the person with the cash in hand on auction day, no financing contingencies, well above starting bid, secures the home. The international student can now live in said home and house 30 other close friends and relatives. I toured apartments occupied like this while looking for my apartment in Sydney and can attest to this. There were mattresses where you didn’t even think were possible in there.

But the Sydney bubble has not yet burst, either. Neither has San Francisco’s. All we can do is think back to the tech bubble that burst and the sub-prime mortgage fallout which brought about the financial collapse of this country in 2008, were it not a Federal bailout. We can watch with horror as we see leading indicators, sniffing out their ominous base and top notes of a history doomed to repeat itself in this San Francisco housing bubble.

But could venture capital funding really ever leave San Francisco? Some might say venture capital is inextricably tied to Silicon Valley, and the money won’t stop flowing here as long as it remains the 8th largest economy of the world, above many countries, including Qatar.

One of the comments on the post of the study claims this to be from the “Department of Duh”. I could not agree more.

What kills me is the tech crunch article about the study seeks a solution from how to make money off the current state of the venture capital industry. Governments want power to pull levers to increase some taxes while reducing them in some areas, change key drivers of tax revenue, and shifting the infrastructure to keep up with the trends we’re seeing.

How about instead changing the structure entirely to encourage good behavior that benefits the masses, rather than allowing a select few to profit? No, that’s financial and capitalist blasphemy. Blasphemer!

Take Martin Shkreli, in the news yesterday, who changed the price of a drug from roughly $13.50/pill to $750/pill virtually overnight. “This cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication and unsustainable for the health care system,” health care providers claim in the article.

Who is this guy who allowed his company to raise the cost of medication by over 5000%? Why, he’s a former hedge fund manager. Of course he is. He’s not even a doctor. Brilliant.

That is what’s wrong with this whole scenario. A former hedge fund manager has the power to save millions of lives by keeping it available on the market at a reasonable price, and instead chooses his freedom of capitalism.

Venture capital funds, hedge funds, private equity funds, have nowhere near the same amount of regulation as those with public financial statements. There is not an official watch dog, like the SEC. They have virtually free reign to do as they please. And when we’re talking about such huge sums of money, that money speaks. It says whatever you want it to. People will do whatever they can to get a piece of it. Even if it defies ethics and what is right.

I’ve always maintained just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

Yes, I audit these funds. My job is to attest to lack of material mistatement in financial statements (those lovely, big accounting terms) or in other words, that what these funds are presenting are right. Often, yes, they’re right. But what they’re doing may not be right.

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But like my girl Whitney Houston sang, “It’s not right, but it’s ok. I’m gonna make it anyway.” Well, I’ll make my rent this month. But I know when I can finally hand in my notice to vacate the premises, I will do the dance of joy to finally be rid of the irrational exuberance of the San Francisco housing market.

Thestrals

In two previous blog posts, I’ve mentioned the film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (The art of getting by and One sigma).

There is a particular quote from that film that, unfortunately, has made its way back across my path again tonight, and I’m not pleased to see it so soon. “We seem to have reached the age where life stops giving us things and starts taking them away.”

Tonight, I tried my best but managed to awkwardly comfort an old friend who had been on the phone with his father in South Africa, while he remained helpless in New York City. His father did not make it past that telephone call. Life has taken away again. No matter how prepared one might be for that call, one is never prepared for Life After It Happens.

Tonight, I was Luna Lovegood soothing Harry Potter upon seeing, for the very first time with disbelief in his eyes, the thestral he never knew was there. I tried my best to not say the wrong thing to my friend as he, too, was introduced to the thestral he didn’t know was there. Thestrals are fictional winged horses with skeletal bodies, with faces like reptiles, and are a bad omen according to the Ministry of Magic. These beasts were used mainly to pull the carriages that take experienced Hogwarts students from the train stop at Hogsmeade to the Hogwarts grounds/castle. More importantly, thestrals can only be seen by people who’ve witnessed death at least once. Harry had never seen them before that moment until he did, due to one thing or another upon arriving to Hogwarts.

I don’t want to be the one who sees the thestrals, too. Ignorance can be bliss. I’ve had the grave task of welcoming a friend to this horrible club no one tells you about when you hit your 30’s. True, people lose parents at all ages, but it begins happening with much more frequency in this stage of our lives, but with no less impact. I’m not the only one of my friends who has lost a parent in the last 3 years. I know friends who lost both parents before that, too. It’s not a competition. The hurt is massive. The emptiness, confronting. I don’t take comfort that my friends have lost parents, too. But it helps to know that others sort of know, in their own way, what it feels like. It’s not wished on anyone. But it’s somehow comforting when someone else has been through it, too.

Don’t panic. I see them, too. They won’t hurt you. It’s a little frightening, now that we know they exist. Yeah, this means we’ve seen some shit.

To my friend and newest member, may your heart ride with winged horses, above the deep, low valleys of sadness that exist between you now, and you years from now, when it hurts a little less. I love you.

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Memories of dad

My dad passed away on June 13, 2013. It’s been 2 years, 3 months, and 6 days. Time has proven an ally in reducing the pain, but there is still a dad-sized hole in my life nothing fills. And dad was a wide, short man. It’s not a small hole.

I went home for the funeral, and while I was there, my mother gave me some of his old shirts that I still have with me today. They hang in my closet, amongst my clothes, but they don’t get worn often, if at all. They’re not on display. They still smell like his closet. They’re just there.

Last night, I wore an old flannel of his to a professional mixer. It was big on me, but comfortable. It would suffice as a “Friday shirt” in a swanky environment. I swear, when I put it on, any social anxiety and awkwardness disappeared. I started conversations and navigated LGBT professionals who got too drunk too fast with ease. I made people laugh. I laughed, too – despite the inner turmoil I’ve been struggling through on a daily basis, especially of late.

I have a memory of him, in that particular flannel, one year when we went to chop down a Christmas tree. We drove along in his truck in silence, listening to a Pink Floyd cassette tape, watching the scenery go by.

I’ve missed him lately. In Sydney, I used to go up on our roof deck, play a Pink Floyd album on my iPhone, and have some champagne or a glass of red. There were 4 chairs in our outdoor furniture set, so I could easily imagine him with me on any one of those chairs. We’d listen to Pink Floyd together and enjoy the silence and the view.

My version of that back in my tiny apartment with no roof access in San Francisco is putting documentaries on Netflix, ones he’d like, being the big National Geographic and public television buff he was. America’s Secrets, Wildest Africa, Antarctica, whatever is available. There’s room on my couch next to me. So when I miss him, he comes here to visit.

I don’t have much to say, I guess it’s just the presence he had in my life. I always knew he was there. He never elbowed for room in my life. He was content to be in the shadows, much like the wind beneath my wings.

He and my mom would have celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary tomorrow, September 20. They married in upstate New York in 1975, and I came along almost 6 years later.

It’s something you don’t notice til it’s gone – the invisible love and trust your parents have in you (or in the case of my mother, the much too visible love evidenced by shrines to you all over her home.) When one of those foundational legs is kicked out from underneath you, when there is no more wind beneath your wings, your flight is cancelled. You cannot stand for long on one leg. You try to fill the parent-sized hole in your life, but nothing fits.

If you’re lucky, you have a new family of your own. The pain subsides, knowing you’ve carried on the family name or bloodline with a new generation of which your parent would have been proud.

I am not lucky enough to have that. That hole can make you feel so empty that sometimes you think nothing can ever fill you up again.

No one loves you like your parents. And no one ever will.

Mulligans

In golf, when one takes a shot that goes awry, sportsmanly conduct might include offering up a mulligan. One would get a second chance after a poor shot, which wouldn’t be counted on the scorecard. Sometimes it’s because of lack of skill; sometimes it’s just bad luck.

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Sometimes, I wish there were mulligans available not just in golf… like for all of life. When you make a massive mistake, or say or do something that doesn’t quite work out the way you want it, can’t people just look the other way and give you a do-over? I guess it would only be helpful if you do a little better with that second shot. In some scenarios, even with a do-over, things don’t necessarily improve. So there are no mulligans. Even so, there is no rewind button, no pause. Time keeps marching on, and you can’t always go back and fix things.

I’m not a perfect person by any means. I make mistakes. All. The. Freaking. Time. But I wish I had a particular mulligan that involves my friendship with someone. That relationship is on the verge of extinction. However, I don’t think all the do-overs in the world of do-overs would change a single thing. I don’t think there is anything I can do.

The other night, I finally watched a movie I’ve been wanting to see for a long time: Far from the Madding Crowd, starring the talented Carey Mulligan. She is a great mulligan. Unfortunately, as great as she is, she is not the Mulligan I’m looking for. **insert Jedi hand wave**

In the absence of mulligans, what can be done? I default to the author of one of my favorite books in response to this, “When you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward.” (Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist)

I don’t know what that may entail right now. All I can do is take things one day at a time, one breath at a time, really.

Deep breath. Exhale. Repeat.

Other sheep

In an effort to say yes a little bit more to friends who invite me out to do things, when I’d rather be in pajamas in my apartment alone, I agreed to go to a screening of Out & Around at the Castro Theater in San Francisco with a friend last night.

The film is a documentary spanning several countries, where two lesbians seek to speak to and interview LGBT advocates and community members in places including New Zealand, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, China, Nepal, east Africa, and South America. It compared and contrasted societal views of LGBT people.

One of the lesbians in the couple worked at eBay, and the company was really behind her for this project. It was preceded by a VIP reception (where a girl could get her fill of cans of Coors Light with only a “suggested donation” charge), and then a discussion with the CEO of eBay. After the screening, there was a mini-panel with people from the It Gets Better Project, Shanghai Pride, and the producers of the film itself.

There was one particular part of the film, when the ladies were in Kenya, which struck me and resonated a truth so loudly, I nearly covered my ears. The Kenyan volunteer minister interviewed quoted the Bible when it came to his obligation to provide ministries and teachings of faith to LGBT people in Kenya, a less-than-progressive country with harsh views against LGBT people. The minister quoted John 10:16, but I’m including verses 14 and 15 for context as well.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep.
I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

John 10:14-16

There were LGBT sheep in his flock, and as a shepherd, he is to care for the whole of the flock. If someone is without a family, he brings them into the fold and welcomes them to the flock as one of his own. He will not turn away the stray sheep who wants to join his flock.

I thought that was amazingly beautiful and summed up perfectly the concept of inclusion of LGBT people, or anybody in the outskirts or the fray seeking acceptance and love. There are black sheep, rainbow sheep, and all kinds of other sheep; and all matter.

If you want to read more about Other Sheep, a non-profit Christian ministry, take a look at their website: http://othersheep.org/

I’m not a religious person, nor am I plugging any one religion over another. If you know me, I have next to no capability to quote the Bible, so please don’t throw Bible verses at me in response. I simply found a beautiful idea that happens to have manifested itself to me through religion. And lesbians.

Love to all the Other Sheep out there.

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Words to share

I’ve been in a mental state of late, where I find myself receptive to blurbs and tidbits with wisdom and advice on life. I’ve accumulated some over the time I’ve not written and posted anything on this blog. “I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I can do…” Please accept these as some of the words I can muster now. I share with you a bouquet of clumsy words…

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“I love the closeness. I like when someone purposely grabs my hand to feel closer. I like that when something exciting happens during the day, I’m the first person you want to tell. I like coming back to an “I miss you” text message. I like that random call at one in the morning just because you wanted to hear my voice. I like little gestures that show I’m important, and you enjoy having me in your life.” – Unknown

“Girls are like apples on trees. The best ones are at the top of the tree. The boys don’t want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they just get the rotten apples from the ground that aren’t as good, but easy. So the apples at the top think something is wrong with them, when in reality, they’re amazing. They just have to wait for the right boy to come along, the one who’s brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.” – Pete Wentz

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.” – Harold Whitman

“An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you.” – Goi Nasu

“Sometimes you don’t feel the weight of something you’ve been carrying until you feel the weight of its release.” – Unknown

“Anything that annoys you is teaching you patience. Anyone who abandons you is teaching you how to stand up on your own two feet. Anything that angers you is teaching you forgiveness and compassion. Anything that has power over you is teaching you how to take your power back. Anything you hate is teaching you unconditional love. Anything you fear is teaching you courage to overcome your fear. Anything you can’t control is teaching you how to let go.” – Jackson Kiddard

“I love that this morning’s sunrise does not define itself by last night’s sunset.” – Steve Maraboli

“Sometimes you just have to turn the page to realize there is more to your book of life than the page you’re stuck on. Stop being afraid to move on. Close this chapter of hurt, and never re-read it again. It’s time to get what your life deserves, and move on from the things that don’t deserve you. Don’t spend your days trying to correct your past, instead, let go and let God create something better for your future.” – Trent Shelton

“If you don’t leave your past in the past, it will destroy your future. Live for what today has to offer, not for what yesterday has taken away.” – Unknown

“Kill the part of you that believes it can’t survive without someone else.” – Sade Andria Zabala

“She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul. She is beautiful.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Truth is, you’ll meet hundreds of thousands of people, but you’re only going to lie awake thinking of one.” – Unknown

“For you, I was a chapter. For me, you were the book.” – Unknown

And finally, from a poet I’ve just discovered who has some great work, Lang Leav:
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