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Yeah, I went to a plant sale. It was for the conservatory!

Bye, Bye to Heartbreak City

How I turned down a dream job because I'm worth more.

I said no to a dream role last Monday. I was in the candidate process, and a job requirement crossed a hard boundary: it wasn't remote and required relocation somewhere I don't want to live.

My 8-year-old self screams at me. Like in the corner throwing a full-on body tantrum with tears streaming down their cheeks and pointing at the posters on their walls as if to explain to me what a fool I am.

My 23-year-old self glares at me from their daily commute up and down I-5 from Tacoma to Renton and back again. Reminding me how our job requires us to photoshop in "sexy" white or Asian women on email marketing and banner ads.

My 30-year-old self loves our job and team, but this would be the one opportunity they think we should snag. A breakthrough into an industry we aren't part of and something we have loved our entire lives. Passion means you'll never have to work a day in your life, right? (Wrong.)

But here we are. I wished the recruiter good luck, and she asked if she could pass along my resume to other remote teams hiring for similar roles.

Why did I say no? Because previously, I never allowed myself to have boundaries and hard nos at work. I didn't know some of those boundaries existed, and some were just the things capitalism and growing up in the United States trains us to accept as absolute truth.

Hard work, particularly the kind you did with your hands and that you did proudly, meant a lot to the people who raised me. I followed my grandpa around on construction sites with my tiny hammer as a child, and I went to work with my grandma and got to play on the office computer. I learned to fill out deposit slips, account for bills, and help with payroll while also learning algebra in middle school. My mom and I shoveled so much animal manure, I cannot even.

Of course, I applied this hard work to my marketing and community work. Especially easy within the tech industry that believes in meritocracy or that they're remaking work. A few extra hours, meetings, self-assigned roles, team building after-hours events, networking events, more swag items to wear, new programs that make your company look perfect.

Then I couldn't anymore.

When I realized, when I looked around and went — "This is the Bad Place" — after things outside of my control happened and a light shined on my situation. My 30-year-old self saw a career regression. My 23-year-old self wanted to burn it all down and everyone involved. And my 8-year-old self threw a complete tantrum.

With privilege, I've taken time to sort out my boundaries with work. To figure out what I want. To figure out what I need and what actually gives me life. This is why I could say no on Monday instead of, oh my god, I will do anything and everything for you.

Ultimately, this wasn't a dream role because it hit against a rigid boundary. There's no reason for this role not to be remote. Except for whatever team environment the hiring manager imagines in their head. It's currently remote due to the ongoing pandemic, and the corporation can easily afford to allow for in-person gatherings when they're needed.

Perhaps, in one of my favorite songs, "The Promised Land," the Boss said it best:

Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted

Bookworm corner 📚

To keep things simple: my last five reads. (Follow me on Goodreads for all the reading updates.)

Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir by Susie Bright  3/5 stars

Honestly, I don't know anyone survived the 1970s. Susie's a talented writer, and her conversational style makes this an easy read, even if not all the subjects are breezy fun.

I would've loved more self-reflection on her adult life. There are good parts about her parents (her mom had passed when this was published), but everything else only recounts the moment. How does she feel about the adults she had sex with while still a teen or the number of sex workers she was friends/lovers with who committed suicide? Or what about her relationship with Jon and the stability at the height of chaos in the rest of her life?

But I understand the protectiveness any of us on the margins of society have for each other and the work from being degraded by our critics finding out what messy humans we are (because we're human). It's hard to critique your comrades.

Die, Vol. 4: Bleed by Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans, and Clayton Cowles  4/5 stars

Solid ending to this series. Issue #19 was my favorite and made me cry a lot. "I'm more than a little jealous of the kids." Damn the kids, indeed. (If you've read it, and you know, then you know. Don't worry, it's not a state secret.)

The Old Guard: Tales Through Time, Vol. 1 by Greg Rucka, Ayala Vita, Brian Michael Bendis, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Leandro Fernández, Valentine De Landro, Justin Greenwood, Rafael Albuquerque, Mike Henderson, and Jason Aaron  4/5 stars

A generous four stars as a few of these stories carry the rest. I perhaps wish not as many stories leaned into the warrior nature of this crew. I could've used a bit more softness and variety.

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars #2) by Leigh Bardugo  3/5 stars

Billed as the Grishaverse duology about Nikolai, this book is messy with many cameos and plots that need a good trimming. This is certainly not the set of books to start with, if you're interested in this YA magical world after watching Shadow and Bone on Netflix. I wish Nikolai, Zoya, Nina, and Hanne were given more breathing room.

The Tangleroot Palace: Stories by Marjorie M. Liu  4/5 stars

Liu always writes lush fantasy, whether in a forest or urban setting, and she delivers that here with a small side of romance in many of these short stories.

Things I wrote recently


Film Podcast! 🎥

Do you know that I have a film podcast called Erica and Friends Talk Movies, where a friend joins me, and we watch and then talk about a film together?!

So far, there are over 30 episodes, and we dig into everything from superhero films to Oscar-bait to indie gems to things I missed due to age. It's been a journey.

How can you listen? Via my Patreon. For $2/month, you get all the previous episodes and new ones.

Some of my favorite episodes (some great and some not-so-great movies): First Cow, Adam's Rib, The 40-Year-Old Version, Happiest Season, My Octopus Teacher, and House of Games.

Other things

[COMEDY] Dave Chappelle’s Betrayal by Saeed Jones — Chappelle's comedy was a fixture in my life and a bond with a partner in the early 00s, and I cannot imagine what queer Black fans are going through.

[COMMUNITY] How to Make Cool Communities and Discord Servers: Literally Just Ban Bigots by The Tax Collector Man — This is what I've been saying for years. Ban them. Don't wait.

[CULTURE] Online Trolls Actually Just Assholes All the Time, Study Finds by Tom McKay — If someone (non-bot) attacks you on the internet, they're likely to do it face-to-face.

[CULTURE] Joe Rogan’s Victim Grift by Emily Pothast — "Rogan’s audience is large enough that they transform the world if they wanted to. His rhetoric of 'straight white male' victimhood seems aimed at making sure they don’t." Fuck, Joe Rogan.

[FILM] Against ‘Good’ Bisexual Representation, Towards Bisexual Cinematic Pleasure by Jacob Engelberg — If we're going to get anywhere, we need messy bisexuals.

[LITERATURE] Once Upon A Time… at Bennington College by C13Originals and Lili Anolik — I'm obsessed with this dive into these literati (Bret Easton Ellis, Jonathan Lethem, and Donna Tartt) and their decadent lives and secrets as they rose up together in the 1980s. Tartt is threatening a lawsuit over it.

[MUSIC] My Time with Kurt Cobain by Michael Azerrad — The beauty and the tragedy of Kurt Cobain and a story about the grief we carry for our friends who died too young.

[PLANTS] Would you pay $18,888 for a plant? Some of these collectors would. A tour through the secret world of Seattle’s plant hunters by Erica Browne Grivas — I'm begging you, do not spend five figures on a plant. It's not worth it. Also, the Seattle Plant Shop is the best store quoted in this article. (Do not trust the collector stores. Cough.) Text or call me first if you're looking for a plant or need assistance finding one.

[QUEERNESS] Language Has Failed to Describe the Complexities of Sexuality by Zachary Zane — Monosexual labels depend too much on the gender of a person and their love interests. 

[QUEERNESS] “Bisexual Men Are The Best In Bed” Is Fetishistic Biphobia by J.R. Yussuf — "Whether you have flesh dick, plasdick, or no dick at all, one’s sexual orientation is not enough to determine how one performs in bed. Some of us have trash dick, some of us have dick that can’t get hard, some have decent dick, some of us have dick that’s A1. And perhaps most importantly, good sex doesn’t have to center or involve dick at all, even if your partner has one."

[QUEERNESS] Cops Don’t Belong at Pride by Roxane Gay — ACAB. 

[SEX] 14 Anal Sex Essentials For Any Gender by Fran Tirado — Fran's lube recommendation (Maude) is an A+ game changer, no matter what body part you're using it with. (Always use lube, friends!) And the b-Vibe butt plugs are also a ton of fun. Take care of your butthole!

[SEX] This Man Does Not Make Poppers by David Mack — The incredible story about who makes poppers and how all of them are the exact same formula.

[TV] Commodifying Bi Validation: Loki vs Russell T Davies by Verity Ritchie — I still haven't finished watching Loki, but this is a great look at bisexual identities on TV and Davies' work.

Keep wearing your masks. Get vaccinated if you haven't. And WA friends, vote.


Erica McGillivray

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