On Being a Girl in Automotive School

I’m two weeks into automotive school. Well, technically 6 school days in, since I started on May 22nd and got vacation for Memorial Day and the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, cutting the four-school-day week down considerably. But still, 6 days is half of a course in my program, since every 12 days we’ll have a final and move up to the next class.

I am the only girl in my current intro class. There are a handful of other girls in the school and I’ve seen a few at lunch, but none are in my class. This in itself wasn’t something that I considered remotely problematic; I don’t mind standing out, and being a girl makes me memorable, and you want to be memorable in a field like this. Far more nervewracking was the fact that everyone in my class had experience working with cars whereas I was a complete newbie.

That’s still an issue that I’m dealing with, even though I’ve quickly risen to the top of the class with my book-smarts and grades on all the written quizzes and assignments. I am slower with tools because of a) having never used them before and b) needing to use my entire body weight to operate something that my shop partner can use with one hand.

I know that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself for not being the fastest with, say, a 3/8 drive ratchet or a torque wrench, seeing as I’d never even heard of those tools and certainly never used them until a few days ago, but I am used to excelling, and I know that as a girl, I need to excel in this in order for anyone to take me seriously. If I were a guy, the raw strength would make up for some of the doubts employers might have when looking at me, seeing that I could be useful in other ways, for lifting and grunt work. But I don’t have raw strength; I’m barely 5’ 2”; I’m thin and I was told by one of the guys at lunch that he thought I was 19.

Babyfaaaaaaaaaace.

Which leads me into the other gender issue that I obviously knew I’d have to deal with — numerous personal interactions with guys, generally without any women around to back me up. Me against the world, dun dun dunnnn. And that makes it sound antagonistic, which it’s not, because everyone I’ve met has been nice to me. There has been no outright hostility from anyone. (When I told that to a friend, she responded, “that’s good!” before adding, “Our standards are really low, aren’t they.”) And plenty of people have been really friendly.

For instance, I remember being somewhat freaked out at lunch on my first day, after sitting in class all morning and feeling overwhelmed by all the new material I knew nothing about, and a Haitian guy in some other class sat down at my table and haltingly told me not to worry: “You gonna make it. Look at me — I barely speak English and I doing okay.” And that was exactly what I needed to hear.

And I’ve also somehow befriended the guy in the class with the most car experience and he’s been enormously helpful, giving me tips and offering me advice and information on all sorts of things without me asking for any of it.

And the guys in the lunchroom have a domino tournament every day and they were happy to deal me in. I actually won one game, though the exact rules of scoring that they play by are kind of a mystery to me.

But it’s not that simple. It never is.

Basically.

So far there’s only been one super creepy incident — when I went to refill my water bottle at the water fountain on the first day, a smallish guy was already there and he insisted on letting me fill it before taking his turn. That was unnecessary but nice, but then he had to go ruin it by staring at me unblinkingly the whole time and speaking in this weird monotone that some guys use when they’re trying to be slick or suave but don’t know how. He told me his name, and I told him mine (it was on my ID tag anyway) with my brightest chipper voice and smile so that he wouldn’t know how creeped out I was, and then when I finished and turned to go, he said, in that slow, deep, deliberate monotone, “Sarah. I hope we stay friends.”

Dude. You let me fill my water bottle. That does not make us friends. Especially not with the bonus leering.

 

And then there’s the condescending and sometimes downright weird sexism that I encountered from some of the administrative staff. The very first time I visited campus, my admissions representative kept saying to me what a “nice girl” I am: “You’re a nice girl, aren’t you? Just a nice girl. I can just tell. You’re a nice girl. A nice girl.” He did this in the midst of selling the school to me as hard as he could, but I seriously can’t figure out what kind of sales pitch that is supposed to be. I am, however, 99.9% certain he didn’t say the same thing to the prospective male students who came to tour the school. (And he did it again once I enrolled a few months later: “We’re gonna take good care of you, because you’re a nice girl. A nice girl.” I can’t even.)

Suuuuuuure.

A different male administrator didn’t say anything nearly that weird to me throughout my enrollment process, but on my first day he passed me in the hallway the first time I wore my oversized uniform shirt, and he went, “Aw, you look so cute.” Which is, well, wildly inappropriate, but I just smiled instead of saying anything, because a) he’s in a position of authority and I do not want a fight, and b) I’m still trying to find the balance between how much to use my cuteness to get students and faculty to like me and be more patient with me than they would if I were a guy, and how much I should really draw the line and say no, that’s not okay.

It’s complicated. More on this later.

Mostly, what I’ve had to deal with, and anticipate having to deal with most, are very well-meaning, friendly guys saying stuff that they mean to be complimentary, that they don’t realize are in fact sexist.

Like I mentioned befriending the guy who turned out to be the most knowledgeable one in the class. I had no clue about that when I met B. at orientation; he was just friendly and easy to talk to, so we talked, and talked again while waiting for class to start on the first day, and sat at adjacent desks, and so out of anyone in class, we’re probably the best friends in that room. It’s been a bonus that he’s got experience and from Day 1, B. basically took me under his wing and doled out all sorts of practical tips and reassured me that there was once a time when he knew nothing about cars and that I’d catch up.

That was all really great stuff to hear on my first day, and I could see how serious B. is about his career and about school (he wants to get 100s on everything and get all the iron-on patches they give you for your uniform to signify the A’s you’ve gotten), and I was glad to have made a friend, or at least an acquaintance, who was as dedicated to school as I was and who was fun and could easily carry a conversation.

But then, after a whole day of just being friendly and helpful and professional, B. had to go and say, “You know, it’s really pretty sexy that you’re doing this.”

Sigh. I just wanted to facepalm everywhere. But I just shrugged it off.

Because it’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t already get why a comment like that is demeaning. Because there are situations in which I would not mind a guy finding out what I’m learning to do for a living and saying that it’s sexy. A woman doing blue collar work is a inevitably a symbol of strength and self-sufficiency, so I’d hope for their sake that guys have the good sense to find that attractive. And plenty of people find it attractive when a guy can fix a car, and I’ve got no problems with that.

But not in school. In school, we’re supposed to be peers. We’re supposed to be equals. You’re doing the same work I’m doing, and I doubt you consider it sexy when you do it — it’s just work. Being called sexy from within the industry diminishes my professional standing. It makes my work somehow different from yours; it “others” me. If an outsider looks at me and my work and thinks it’s sexy, that’s different. I’m already “othered” in that situation, by virtue of working in a different job with all the exoticism that entails. But if you’re in the business, find other ways to compliment me.

Trust me, it’s not hard.

Look, I could tell B. liked me. I’m not one of those people that can’t see someone’s interest unless they declare their intentions with flashing neon signs and smoke signals. He clearly thought I was smart and funny and interesting, and I also happen to be a cute girl. So I knew, and I also knew that I was unequivocally not interested back and did my best to communicate that to him without outright telling him to forget about it. I mentioned in one of our very first conversations that I only date Jewish guys (which B. is not), and also that this is a very stressful time for me and I’m not really interested in dating anyone at all at the moment. He didn’t seem to grasp the significance of the Jew thing until a couple days later when the topic of kosher food came up somehow and I started explaining just the bare bones of kashrut rules, and he was astonished by how complicated it is and said, “No wonder you prefer to only date guys who are your religion.” YES.

 

I thought that was that, and even smugly congratulated myself on finding an ingenious method of scaring off non-Jews without hurting their feelings, but the next day this happened:

B.: “I’m gonna take you out someday.”

Me: “Oh really. Why?”

B.: “Because you’re beautiful.”

Me: “So?”

B.: “And I want you to know that I know that you’re beautiful.”

Me: “I know you know I’m beautiful. You have eyes, don’t you?”

I feel like these were lines that must have worked for B. in the past and that’s why he said them, but just no. Compliments on my beauty are not gonna get you a date. Like I said up there, find something else to compliment.

Be creative. I’ve known a lot of smart and articulate guys who’ve given me excellent compliments, so I have high standards.

Not that good compliments would have made any difference in B.’s case, since I had already made it clear that he wasn’t what I’m looking for. In case my response came off as more flirtation than rejection, I clarified to make things crystal clear:

Me: “Look, I think you’re a great guy and I enjoy your company, and don’t be offended, but like I said, I don’t date guys who aren’t Jewish, and besides, I don’t think you’re my type.”

At which point B. backtracked and said he only meant “take me out” as a friend and that I was reading too much into things, and I probably should have let him save face with that but I couldn’t help myself:

Me: “Then what does me being beautiful have to do with it? You’re not friends with ugly people?”

B.: “No, I’m – I’m friends with all kinds of people.”

Me: “Uh-huh.”

I don’t usually give guys such a hard time, but I really needed B. to get it. I don’t think B. is the type who gets rejected much — he’s tall, strong, has a symmetrical face with dark skin and very white teeth that give him a great smile, and he’s intelligent and friendly without giving off any creepy vibes — but he handled it okay.

But being rejected didn’t stop him from giving me compliments on how sexy I am or other very gendered compliments. What do I mean by gendered here? Basically, if you can easily imagine a straight guy saying it to another straight guy, it’s probably not a gendered compliment. Like, “Good job!” or “Impressive” or “Nice!” Gender-neutral, non-sexual, can be directed at anyone, male and female alike. B.’s compliments to me were things like, “I’m proud of you,” or “you’re fascinating,” or “you make it hard not to like you.” Things that I really can’t picture him saying to another same-aged, same-sized dude, which (spoiler alert) I am not.

I’m the one with the cape.

I finally asked him not to call me sexy or describe my work as sexy, and this exchange happened:

B.: “But I just mean it like validation, to let you know that you’re doing a good job.”

Me: “Then just say I’m doing a good job. You wouldn’t say that a guy, would you?”

Him: “No, he’d think I’m homosexual! He’d think I’m hitting on him!”

Me: “And are you hitting on me?”

Him: “No!”

Me: “Then don’t say it!”

Him: “Does it make you uncomfortable?”

Me: “It doesn’t make me uncomfortable; it’s just not necessary.

And he seemed okay with that. Then I tried to push my luck the next day asking him not to say certain other things he said and he wound up asking me why I hate men.

Sigh.

And it’s frustrating, because I don’t want to misrepresent myself as being more uptight than I am. There are tons of jokes made in class about “lubing things up” and “not putting them in dry” and it’s hilarious and I love it. I joked with B. that he lets me do a lot of the work on the engine because he likes watching me, and the instructor overheard and said, “Is that so?” and I said, “Well, who wouldn’t?”

And maybe saying things like that is a mistake and makes people think other remarks are acceptable when they’re not. I don’t want to act like I don’t want anyone to talk about anything remotely sexual around me, I don’t want to call “inappropriate!” on every little thing, I don’t want to burn potential bridges. I definitely don’t want to seem ungrateful for everything B.’s done to help me so far, but at the same time, his help does not earn him the right to say certain things to me, any more than it earns him the right to touch me, which he does a bit more than I am honestly 100% comfortable with. But I haven’t stopped him yet, or any of the other guys who’ve casually touched me, because I worry about male entitlement and whether they will be insulted if I tell them not to. Which is absurd, to be concerned about other people’s feelings more than my own right to personal space and comfort, but like I said, I’m only six days into this and I’m worried about starting things off by burning bridges. I hope I haven’t burned any with B.

This = Bad idea.

The weird and contradictory truth is that in a male-dominated setting, invoking my sexuality myself makes me feel empowered, but having it invoked by the men around me feels demeaning. It’s the only thing I have that they don’t and when I control it, it gives me back some of my power. But when other people use it, I lose that control and consequently that power. I’m at such a disadvantage here for not being male; my instinct is to try to recoup some of that with whatever nebulous power comes with being female.

What I’m asking is this: If I don’t have the advantages I can get from maleness and physical strength, isn’t it only fair that I use some of the advantages I can get from being female and cute? (I’m not talking about sleeping with people here. I’m just talking about being a cute, feminine presence. Using my girlness to gain likeability, since, as I am fond of saying, true power comes from likability, because if people like you, they’ll willingly try to do anything you ask.) But at what point do those things cease to be at all advantageous and just invite people to think they can treat you condescendingly and make inappropriate remarks at you? Where is the tradeoff between likeability and respect? Can you have a sufficient amount of both? Is this a harder balance to achieve as a woman than it is for a man? Is it better to just draw the lines from the start and almost certainly get a reputation for being a bitch, just so that everyone’ll leave you alone and respect you? Is that even real respect? Where’s the middle ground and why is gray area so hard to navigate??

 

So yeah, when people ask me how automotive school is going, all of these things come rushing to my head and I can’t figure out how to distill all of them into digestible, conversational chunks. All I can think to do is write ‘em all out.

Here. HERE ARE ALL MY LADY FEELINGS ABOUT AUTOMOTIVE SCHOOL.

This is the seventh page of this post in Microsoft Word. So if you ask me how school is going and I say, “…Interesting. Complicated,” and you don’t get why I’m not exploding with details or jumping for joy or whatever it is you’re expecting that I’m not doing — this is why.

 

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Why Cars?

 

Ah, the question everybody’s been asking ever since I, of all people, announced my intention to become an automotive technician/mechanic.

 

I could give you a lovely, oversimplified answer in the words of Roald Dahl:

 

“A gasoline engine is sheer magic,” he said to me once. “Just imagine being able to take a thousand different bits of metal — and if you fit them all together in a certain way — and then you feed them a little oil and gasoline — and if you press a little switch — suddenly those bits of metal will all come to life — and they will purr and hum and roar — they will make the wheels of a motor car go whizzing around at fantastic speeds . . .”

~ Danny the Champion of the World

 

But let’s be real; that’s not really why I’m doing it.

 

My reasons are far more nefarious, of course.

 

There were two major legs of this journey thus far: (1) deciding that I didn’t want a white collar job, and (2) deciding that out of the various blue collar trades I could choose, I wanted to try auto mechanics.

 

Why not white collar?

 

For years, literally years, possibly a decade or more, when people asked me what I was going to do when I grew up, I’d say, “Well, I write, but that’s not very lucrative, so at some point I’ll have to get a real job.”

 

Same answer from the time I was 14 until now. I probably even used the word “lucrative” in my answer back then too. People interpreted it jokingly (a 14-year-old with that much foresight about the ways of the world is always amusing), and I may have even meant it jokingly at first because I was young and surrounded by people who had no knowledge of what writing for a living actually entailed and so always told me that I could do it because I was talented. As if talent alone buys health insurance.

 

Yup.

 

As the years unfolded, my statement about having to get a real job that did not involve writing stayed the same, and people heard it the same way, as a joke, but I started to mean it more and more seriously. By the time I was in college, even though I had no qualms about majoring in Creative Writing, I knew that I did not want to write for a living, that I did not want to have to write book after book or article after article knowing that if I didn’t, I’d have no money and no food. I wanted writing to be something that I did because I wanted to, not because I had to. And the common supplemental jobs that even successful writers tended to have so that they wouldn’t have to depend solely on their writing for income were things that I had little interest in, like office work and teaching.

 

[I have had enjoyable office work experience, for the record, and if I like my coworkers and I like the atmosphere, I’m sure I could be quite content with it. But it feels like a backup, not a Plan A. As for teaching, being the daughter of two teachers has taught me that it is largely the most thankless job you can have, aside from perhaps umpires and referees, and I respect everyone who goes into the profession, but if I’d had a list of possible jobs, “teaching” would have been the very first one I crossed off.]

 

Early on in college, I also realized that I had zero interest in going to grad school. There was nothing I liked enough to study exclusively for two or three or four or five additional years while paying tons of money for the privilege. Medicine, law, business, philosophy, psychology, education, social work, math, engineering — I’d never even wanted an undergraduate degree in any of those; why would I suddenly want a Masters or a PhD? As for an MFA in Creative Writing . . . I knew I didn’t want to write for a living, or get a Masters degree in order to teach, so spending all that money and all that time held little appeal. It seemed like an obvious, conventional path that didn’t really lead anywhere that I personally wanted to go. (No disrespect meant to anyone who does get an MFA or two — you guys rock!)

 

Jesus approves.

 

I concluded in those early years of college that if I was in fact going to get “a real job,” it would be something that did not center on writing, or editing, or sitting in front of a computer screen, or even words at all. I didn’t want my job to tap into those particular creative juices and sap them, using them for the benefit of some company or corporation or publication, and not for my own.

 

And I also did not feel that doing something like that would be satisfying enough for me to do day in and day out. To sit at a desk, type on a computer, fill out paperwork, or work in a lab. Perfectly worthwhile and necessary occupations, and something I could probably be content with, but again, not something that felt like Plan A. And I didn’t want to do something that required me to be in constant contact with people, either, like a therapist or a social worker or an activist or anything like that. It’s not that I don’t think I have people skills, but I’d rather not have a job where that is 80% of the job description. That’s too emotionally exhausting. My emotional energy, like my word-related creative energy, is something I’d rather reserve for myself.

 

I wanted something totally separate, and very tangible. Something that would be gratifying because the accomplishments were visible and measurable and involved getting my hands dirty. I like working with my hands and fixing things, especially when other people can’t. And to me, that all added up to blue collar.

 

 

Why cars?

 

If you’d asked me two or three years ago, I’d have told you that when I finished with college, I was planning to go to trade school to become an electrician. It was an option arrived at mostly by process of elimination because being a plumber would involve poop and being a construction worker would probably require a lot more heavy lifting than my temperamental back can handle and there weren’t many options for carpentry training. Plus, I like wires, and electricity is pretty exciting.

 

I did a lot of research on electrician training in the New York City area, had a lot of tabs open and a lot of webpages bookmarked, and even decided on a school that I wanted to check out. I even called to find out their tuition and enrollment dates. This was back in the summer of 2013, after my graduation from college in June earlier that year.

 

But then I stalled. I was warned that it takes 8 years to get an electrician license in New York. I was warned that there was a lot of heavy lifting involved in being an electrician, too. But mostly I felt that the lack of specificity of “electrician” didn’t make me feel excited about all the possibilities therein, but rather, frustrated by how broad and unfocused and open-ended it all seemed. I started thinking back to other options I’d considered, like in my Hollywood hostel room on my January 2013 trip to do research for my book, when I’d curled up in bed with my laptop and spent a few hours looking into Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning programs and curriculums. HVAC didn’t really hold much interest for me, and the only local program I could find wouldn’t accept students with above-high-school-level education, but still, I felt a pull to invest in something more specialized.

 

this showed up when I google-image searched for “specific” and who am I to argue with google

 

I decided to put things on hold for a little while. Give myself time to mull it over a bit more. And so I decided to work on my novel for three months, see if I could finish it, see how far I’d get, and put trade school on the back burner.

 

This didn’t go 100% as planned. I kept getting distracted by the constant pressure my mother started putting on me to get a job or decide on trade school, and I spent more time surfing the internet doing research and looking at all my options and bookmarking more sites about electricians, HVAC, plumbers helpers, etc, than I spent writing.

 

My mother had also spoken to our appliance repairman, and he’d suggested looking into the field of home automation because the cables were thinner and lighter and would be less taxing on me physically. So I looked into that, but not with the utmost enthusiasm, because it felt to me like the kind of people who are automating their homes — installing security cameras, motion sensors, remote locking/unlocking systems that can be accessed from your phone — are a very particular niche, and of a fairly high socio-economic class, and I didn’t want my services to be SO specific, limited only to moderately wealthy people who want to protect their stuff. I totally support them wanting to protect said stuff; I’d just rather let someone else do it. I wanted to be specialized, but not that specialized.

 

I can’t really remember at what point in the process did it first hit me that, “You know what’s really cool? AIRPLANES.” I’d always thought airplanes were pretty awesome, but I’d never really considered them a possibility, careerwise. Why? No real reason, honestly. Just that the idea seemed so huge and out there and absurd, even more so than working in other trades, especially for a woman, that my brain didn’t really acknowledge the concept.

 

But apparently I’d reached a point where I said to myself, “Self, just let the ideas run wild. No idea is too stupid, too crazy, too impossible. Don’t dismiss something offhand just because it’s huge or you don’t know anyone else who does it or because everyone’s going to tell you that it’s no place for a tiny little girl. There’s never going to be a better time to try something. Life is only going to get more complicated from here on out, so the time is now.”

 

“The way I figure it, we are all entitled to one really big, incredibly stupid screw-up in our lives. Maybe this is one of those. We’ll see.” ~Michael Garibaldi

 

So I arrived at: “Airplanes are coooooooool.”

 

Then came: “You know what’s cooler than airplanes? FIXING airplanes.”

 

And I looked into training options for that and couldn’t really find anything in my area, although there were a number of posts on job sites for “entry-level mechanics” at the local airports, JFK, Laguardia, and Newark. But they required knowledge of tools and other basic experience, not to mention a driver’s license, so while I considered applying, it didn’t seem like the best idea.

 

Then: “What makes airplanes so cool?”

 

“It’s this big giant machine with a bajillion moving parts that all add up to basically magic.” (This is where that Danny the Champion of the World quote comes back around.)

 

“You know what else are big giant machines with a bajillion moving parts that all add up to basically magic?”

 

“CARS.”

 

So I started looking into that, and lo and behold there were trade schools for it within commuting distance from my house. I researched them online, requested information, talked with them on the phone, arranged campus tours, got free swag, waffled some more (I plan to write a future post about how I chose between the two programs I was looking at), spoke to graduates of the programs (male and female), decided that I wanted to enroll in May, and finally did it, student loan and payment plan and all.
 

*

 

People have told me that they find it inspiring that I’m following my dream. That’s kind of awkward to hear, because I don’t know if cars, and potentially ultimately airplanes, are my dream. I don’t always know why I’m doing this. Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing it for the same reasons a lot of people go to law school — they don’t what else to do.

 

But I know it’s certainly not anyone else’s dream for me, given the number of people who’ve told me outright or implied that they’re disappointed that I’m not pursuing writing, or radio, or whatever else brilliant college-educated young women are supposed to do. And if it’s not anyone else’s dream, it must be mine, right?

 

All I really know is that 1) it’s the first stage of my education that I have had control over from start to finish, because no one else would ever have chosen this for me, and 2) today I assisted with an oil change and checked a car’s hoses and belts and fluids and got my hands covered with grease and I feel fantastic.

 

I’ll keep you posted.

 

____

 

Like my thinky thoughts? Want more of them? Consider donating and commissioning more, via my GoFundMe campaign — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive — and thanks for reading! And you can keep up with me on Twitter @FloatingSpirals and never miss a post 🙂

 

Just designed the coolest free business card. Because I CAN.

I mean look at it. Aside from the pixelation of this image, it is perfection.

FIIIIIIIIRE.
___
Think this card is the bomb? Like my posts? Consider donating and commissioning more of them, via my GoFundMe campaign — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive — and thanks for reading!

Project “Help SM Keep Writing While She Becomes an Automotive Technician”

(honk if you turned your head sideways to see this pic better)

As you may or may not be able to see from the picture, I am a petite 24-year-old Jewish girl with a degree in Creative Writing, who wants to pursue a very different sort of career. I considered many options and decided that I want to work with cars and/or airplanes. Not designing them or engineering them, but actually working on them with my actual hands. And my research to this point leads me to believe that my best option for getting started building those skills is to enroll in one of the Certified Automotive Technician programs in my area. Since I know basically nothing about cars except for some socio-cultural connotations of certain brands (humanities major ftw!), this will be an adventure.

The thing is, once they stop laughing, most people who know me and hear about this plan are concerned, some for my sanity, some for my safety, but overwhelmingly they are concerned about my writing. “How can you not pursue writing as a career? You have such a gift!” and “Please promise me you won’t ever stop writing” are fairly common reactions. (For context, here’s my Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/smrosenberg, my blog: www.smrosenbergblog.wordpress.com, and various  other posts of mine around the interwebs.)

So to accommodate that concern, I’ve set up this campaign: http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive and this email address: smautomotive00@gmail.com. The idea is that if you donate, you are eligible to send me a topic to write about, which I will post on my wordpress blog. This way, I will have an influx of ideas and inspiration AND a reason to write. (Only nonfiction requests; I want to keep my fiction juices geared toward the novel I’ve been working on.) You are free to donate as much or as little as you want, although of course those who donate more will get priority. If you do donate and make a request, PLEASE use the email address and not facebook or any alternate method of communication; it will be so much easier for me to keep track of things if they are all in one place and not scattered across communication platforms.

This is the program I’ve selected: http://www.nyadi.com/portfolio/certified-automotive-technician/  The tuition and fees come to about $16,000 ($50 registration fee, $14,800 tuition, $1000 for tools, $75 for books, $46 for uniforms, $3 ID tag) not including transportation and living expenses, so rest assured, I can use any donations you can spare. Be aware that GoFundMe takes 7.9% of the total + 30 cents per donation, so I’m not getting everything you give.

RULES:

You can pick any topic you want! You can ask me to write about why I decided to do this, my top ten TV shows, or about how I do my hair — I don’t care! I am the final arbiter of what I am and am not comfortable with and if you email me a topic that I won’t write about, I’ll ask you to pick another. I can’t guarantee length or word count (except in specific instances of $15 donations and $150 donations – see reward levels on the GoFundMe page) or time frame, but I will try to write at least 100 words on whatever topics you choose, no matter how ridiculous. I will notify you by email when your topic has been posted. ALSO: Let me know in your email if you want to be credited in the post by name or by a username as the donor of the topic, or if you want to be completely anonymous.

You can ask me to watch and review an episode of television if you donate $25 or more! (I’ll let you know if I think your requested episode is too spoilery for me to watch and let you pick an alternative.)

You can ask me to review a movie if you donate $50 or more ($65 if the movie is currently playing in theaters, because theaters are expensive)!

You can ask me to read and review a book if you donate $75 or more! Be nice, though; try to make it something I might like. And around 300 pages or less? I can be flexible! But I am gonna be in school, you know.

If you donate $100 or more. . .*drumroll please*. . . you can pick a song that I have to sing at least one minute of (if it’s not too filthy) and upload to my SoundCloud account: www.soundcloud.com/floatingspirals. Seriously. I really hope nobody does this.

At $150, I will write you 1000 words on whatever topic you pick (provided that it’s something I’m okay with writing about)! Some of those words may wind up being nonsense words, but still, they will be words!

At $500, you get whatever you want, basically.

The first topic request costs as little as $1, but if you’re going to request multiple topics (which you totally can; go for it!), I ask that you donate more than that. $5 – $10 per topic? Use your best judgment.

If you have any further questions, email me at smautomotive00@gmail.com or tweet at me @FloatingSpirals on twitter.

And if you can’t think of anything to request, donate anyway! I will accept your money! ALL YOUR MONEY. You can always request a topic later. Every dollar counts! If you never got me a birthday present — this is it.

Look at the cute little widget I set up! How cool is that?

Links to the writing samples I linked above, in case you’re curious:

http://boylanblog.tumblr.com/post/34574365681/currently-eating

https://www.facebook.com/notes/sm-rosenberg/on-no/10151777996233186

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/10/teen-fiction-knowing_n_1870971.html

http://yankees.lhblogs.com/2014/01/27/pinch-hitting-sm-rosenberg/

https://www.facebook.com/notes/sm-rosenberg/heavy/10150827187218186

http://boylanblog.tumblr.com/post/49763062122/intern-magic-hat

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE TO ALL: Donations are a gift. As such, I absolutely do not expect donations from any of you, so I don’t want you to feel guilty if you can’t give or don’t want to. Guilt is a powerful motivator, but if it means people start feeling awkward around me because they haven’t donated, or if they start feeling resentful of me for putting them on the spot, that’s obviously really really bad. I’d rather have your friendship and your respect than your money. (Of course I’d love both, but if all you can/want to give me is words of encouragement or support, or sharing it around to others who might be interested instead, I will be touched nonetheless.) I will try not to be a jerk about this, and if I do ask you, “Hey, did you see the GoFundMe I started???” please understand that I’m not trying to pressure you into donating; that’s just me being really excited about this whole project, the automotive school and the writing. Because I am PSYCHED. Also terrified. But psyched.

Hugs to all of you.