I was raised in a pretty liberal house. My dad is a union man (IBEW) and my mom was always active in community theater and many other such creative endevors. Mom was a puppetteer for a time with her friend Theresa. Mom and dad struggled to make ends meet, but we never knew it as kids.
My older sister became a feminine/homeless/save-the-tuna kind of activist in college. She even spent a weekend sleeping on the street to promote homeless awareness. After graduation, she spent 2 years on an island near the Phillienes teaching American education at a Catholic school (the island is a US territory). When she returned to the US and working temp office jobs, she decided she’d die before she worked in a cubicle and moved to Albuquerque to become a writer and teacher.
I went away to college and got credit cards. And credit card debt. A little bit of book learning and a whole lot of life learning. I became a Health Education major (with a PE minor – emphasis in coaching). I was part of a small campus organization called “Peer Educators” where we went to classrooms to teach and promote safe sex. I was an AIDS activist and volunteered at the YMCA (in addition to being a paid employee).
I decided that while my sister and I were very similar humanitarians, we were drastically different in an important way:
My sister wanted to save the world.
I wanted to teach the world how to save itself.
I was very proud of my convictions. After graduation, I planned on finding a job with a community health program. I wanted to work with AIDS patients, teach sex education, and possibly teach some basic nutrition and health programs. I would have been satisfied working as a program director at a YMCA.
And then I graduated and moved back from the beautiful wilderness bliss (up north Michigan) to suburban wildlife hell (souteast Michigan). After sending out at least a hundred resumes and going on several disasterous interviews, I decided to take a full-time position that was offered to me at the software developement company I’d been working part-time for.
I paid off all of my credit card debt and my one small tuition loan (apparently, my mom’s paycheck was split between my tuition and my sisters – luckily, mine was way cheaper and most was covered by mom’s paycheck – my sister had some bigtime loans after graduation). I moved out of my mom’s house and into an apartment. I lived pretty frugally for quite awhile. Even after I bought my pickup truck and got a cell phone, I wasn’t extravagent.
But, one thing lead to another and a few years later, I was married with stepkids and a dog. I was workign in a cube farm making a very good salary. We’d bought a house and had a nice TV, stereo, Tivo, DVD, etc.. Nice trucks for us both – a 4×4 pickup and a Jeep SUV.
Somewhere along the line, I’d become strangely conservative and defensive of materialism. I was attached to my things. I had little sympathy when small local businesses would shut their doors due to big box competition. Ninety percent of the restaurants we at in were national chains. And, we ate out a LOT.
Eventually, I was diagnosed with depression. I spent a couple of years figuring out what drugs to take to fix me. Eventually, I was also diagnosed with ADD. A combination of anti-depressants and Ritalin was enough to get me out off the couch and out of the house. It wasn’t long before we started mountain biking. Mountain biking helped me find some additional drugs to help my depression – fresh air, scenery, endorphins, challenge, friends.
I think I started taking anti-depressants in 2002. Its been a rollercoaster ever since. I started mountain biking in 2003. These past 4 or 5 years have had me searching to find myself. The real me has been hiding inside of me for a long time (as I’m a sucker to other people’s influences) and is finally clawing her way out.
So, here’s where I’m at:
I coined the title ‘corporate hippy’ because it best represents the hypocritical mental struggle that plagues me. I still work in a cube farm – but its much easier to swallow being a non-profit Catholic health care/hospital system. I still drive a 4×4 that gets terrible gas mileage, and its got 160,000+ miles on it. We still love our gadgets, but have scaled back significantly on buying for the sake of buying.
We’re working on a plan to move up north in 5 years or so. The youngest stepson will be graduating HS by then. We’ve got very little debt (who said bad credit is always a bad thing? ). We’ve got 5 years to fix our house so that someone else will want to buy it, and to learn to live on seriously smaller salaries. I think we’re making progress. Slow, but sure.
So here’s me. 32 years old. Piercings in both eyebrows. Dreadlocks. Loves music, mountain biking, and technology. I can’t wait to buy an iPhone. My favorite bike has one gear. I can’t wait to join a CSA farm next season. I want to can organic vegetables while listening to podcasts.