Olivia #1: Political Pancakes*

As I write this, I’m trying to decide what to have for dinner. Will it be Cool Ranch Doritos again, or should I splurge on a number one with cheese from Carl’s Jr.? Yeah, you read that right, I used “splurge” and “Carl’s Jr.” in the same sentence. After years of working on behalf of underserved communities throughout the Bay Area, I am now broke.

My parents are hippie-turned-born-agains who raised me to not only recite but to actually practice that scripture in Luke, “to much is given, much is required.” So for more than a decade, as a result of Jesus guilt, my professional career was dedicated to supporting nonprofit organizations that developed after-school programs for kids, organized community resource fairs, and lead voter registration drives. When the economy went to pooh a few years ago, so did my career, checking account, and dinner options.

It’s mostly because of my dad that I’m living in the capital of Face-Twitt-App-ville with job skills that read, “adequate packer of groceries for community giveaways” instead of “computer engineering developer genius.” His commitment to social justice has been life-long and began when he was a kid growing up in the segregated South. After college, he and my mom moved to the Bay Area, found Jesus, and popped out a bunch of kids. My three siblings and I were raised to fear God, vote Democrat, and pay it forward.

In addition to convincing me that a life of service is better than a life at Saks, my dad instilled in me a passion for politics. I can remember feeling deeply invested in the presidential election of 1988 and running for office (and winning handedly!) in elementary school. While growing up I always knew that my political nerdiness was a bit rare. Kids at school never wanted to discuss NAFTA or the Three Strikes Law with me, but luckily I had my dad to argue the same side of an issue with.

These discussions continue today, and, considering that we agree about pretty much everything (except the effectiveness of dropping the f-word in an argument every now and then), they can get rather rowdy. Our weekly breakdown of what’s happening politically in the Bay Area, California, and across the country act as a welcome distraction from my poor state of being. And they keep me feeling like my old, gainfully employed, maybe-I-can-save-the-world-one-day self.

*Originally written in January of 2013.

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