Part 1 Episode Notes

I owe so much to this woman ❤️. She's the one who got me off of the sidelines during the primary, and I haven't looked back since. You'd never know the difficulties she encountered growing up the older child of recent immigrants, if you were to meet her today. But she's reclaimed her story and herself, and is building community for the long haul.

Part 2 Episode Notes

My part 2 discussion with Kat, where I finally understand why some first generation immigrants supported Trump, among (many) other things.

If you're interested in checking out the charitable giving project she mentioned starting with her husband, you can go to:

Part 1 Transcript

Janelle Jolley  0:05  
And we're back. Welcome to What's Left To Do. I'm your host, Janelle. Happy New Year everybody. Thank you for bearing with me during the little holiday break we took here at What's Left To Do. But don't worry, we should be pretty regular from here on out. Today's episode was recorded at the end of 2020 with my dearest, darling friend Kat, who is the person arguably most responsible for me even having a podcast. So let's take a listen as Kat pulls back the curtain on her early life. Well, who do we have here for this week's episode? Well, I'll tell you. Or, I will describe it, rather. "Put me in the game coach," the coach that I'm referring to is Kat. The queen of community, the queen of communal care. She is the one who's probably most responsible for me doing this right now. She- coach got me off the sidelines for the 2020 primary and was able to help me shift things into the gear of praxis. I don't know what I'm saying right now and that's because the alcohol is still leaving my body. That's fine. None other than the most peaceful butterfly you will ever meet, Coach Kat, Coach Care, Coach Community, Coach Communal Ethic. How are you doing, Kat?

Kat  1:40  
Oh my god. This is like a spiritual experience, listening to you talk to me, talking about me.  

Janelle Jolley  1:43  
You're so ridiculous! Kat also, by the way, is way too complimentary to everybody in her life, including yours truly. But that's mostly why we keep her around.

Kat  2:01  
I like to watch Janelle squirm. Quite a bit.

Janelle Jolley  2:06  
Oh my God, you're so wild. How are you doing, honey?

Kat  2:11  
I'm pretty great now. I have- I was just sharing with you, I'd had kind of a stressful morning. And now I'm just nicely downregulating into the vibe of Janelle Jolley and her home. Very grounding. So I'm feeling great.

Janelle Jolley  2:33  
Well, Kat, everyone- I mean, in all seriousness, like, I think I want to air this episode, the last one of the year, because you are responsible for, you know, this- I don't know if it's too dramatic to say but I'm a pretty dramatic hoe, so that's fine. But you are primarily responsible for this and the transformation that took place, like that got me here. So I think it would only be fitting that I close out the year talking to you because you were the one who, very gently in the way that you do things, you were the one who very gently got me off the sidelines. It just was one email like, "Hey guys, you know, I'm gonna start phone banking. And in a month or so-" or it was at the time, you know, like "I'm gonna start phone banking in a couple weeks. I think it would be fun if we could all do this together. And, you know, it's not a big time commitment. And, you know, I'm really excited and I know you are too, so let's do it together," and the rest is history. So, thank you is what I'm saying, is thank you.

Kat  3:47  
I will receive that, Janelle. But, I mean, to be fair, it's not like it occurred to you when you got my email. You were, like... in on, you've been on this journey for a while.

Janelle Jolley  3:58  
Yeah, but I was- again, you're being too kind, because that's the way yo ass is. But you're being too kind because what it- I mean, for me, it was, like, individually, intellectual and aesthetic up until the point where I actually put my politic into some sort of praxis. So it would- had you not done that, I don't know if I would have ever taken- gone from, you know, talking shit with my friends and getting upset with my friends and, you know, just talking about things to actually going out to act out that which I claim to believe and claim to want. So, I mean, so for me it was, you know, it was it- I think for me- what I'm trying to say is- I've gotta stop drinking. What I'm trying to say is, it took- you helped me shift from...this just- you helped me shift into an embodiment and a praxis, which I'm not sure would have happened- maybe it would have, I don't know- but I'm not sure would have happened, absent your very gentle nudge, or your very gentle call to action, which should have occurred to me before. It should have occurred to me before, but it did not. And because, you know, I don't know, I just thought that people who get involved with politics, even as volunteers, you know, have special skills or a special understanding that I don't have, this is something I can't do. And lo and behold, I was, you know, the bitch at the office every day just...just letting things take over my life. But you were a big- you were the impetus for that. So, I will always be grateful.

Kat  5:34  
It's so interesting to hear all of this because, in my mind, you are who I look to when I'm like, "Okay, I need to volunteer for, you know, Georgia or whatever." Like, okay, and you show up in my mind as like a super volunteer, right?

Janelle Jolley  5:52  
But that's because you begat that! You were like- you were the sourdough starter for this loaf of political bread.

Kat  6:00  
I love that!

Janelle Jolley  6:02  
Oh, Janelle, everything doesn't have to be about food. But, no- and that's a very big compliment.

Kat  6:11  
Well, I will receive that. Thank you. And thank you for just running with it.

Janelle Jolley  6:16  
Yeah, no. I mean, I, you know, once you awaken that in someone it's hard to put it back in a drawer- a box?

Kat  6:27  
It is very hard to go backwards or like...yeah, it' know, the word transformation gets thrown around a lot around these SF parts. And it's a very lofty sounding word, but all it means is irreversible change. And I feel like that's what we experienced together working on the Bernie 2020 campaign. Yeah, irreversible change. I just don't see how we I could go back.

Janelle Jolley  6:57  
That's right.

Kat  6:57  
I mean, obviously, I took a break about all this. I'm not, you know, out there with a bullhorn or anything. That's not really my style. But...yeah, politically, getting politically activated. That happened for me.

Janelle Jolley  7:13  

Kat  7:14  
Thanks to, I mean, I have to shout out Adam because-

Janelle Jolley  7:17  
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.  

Kat  7:18  
My husband and partner Adam is extremely politically active.

Janelle Jolley  7:22  
That's right. That's right. Yeah. You know what's funny? I had- I was reflecting on a funny memory this morning as I was trying to shake off my hangover before you got here. I can't remember what it was, but you guys were having some get together at the house. And this was this is before- this is when I was still getting to know you and Adam, so I didn't- I wasn't sure, you know, living in San Francisco, you don't know don't know, you know, what people's political, sort of, sensibilities are, who they're into, blah, blah, blah. But I did-

Kat  7:22  
Raging neoliberals.

Janelle Jolley  7:22  
That's right. That's right, because there are plenty of those. But I wasn't...I wasn't sure. And I was trying to- okay, you know there's a circus in my brain, so this is a very inappropriate way to-

Kat  8:03  
Great. I am enjoying hungover Janelle.

Janelle Jolley  8:09  
This is a very inappropriate tope to draw, but this is how I remember this memory, is that, this was...we were getting together, it was was a Friday or Saturday or something at your house, and I just kind of remember, like, sheepishly looking around like, "Okay, Janelle test the waters. Let's just...let's see what kind of people these are." And so- and then that weekend was Bernie's rally at Fort Mason. So I was like, "Oh, hey," and it reminds me of those, like, that terrible trope from old movies a long time ago. Like, closeted gay guys trying to, you know, smoke out somebody, you know, like, "Oh, any all male bathhouses around here, anybody ever recommend," you know what I mean? But I was like, "Oh...yeah. What are you guys doing this weekend? I think I might be going to a Bernie Sanders rally. Do you guys- would anyone maybe want to...maybe want to come with?" And you and Adam, were just like, "Oh, yeah! Holy shit, there's a- oh yeah, we were just talking about that!" And I was like, "Oh, okay. All right. Okay."

Kat  9:19  
Yeah, it is an interesting thing, right? I mean, so, I'm a native Californian and generally speaking, we Californians don't talk about politics. We don't talk about money that much. Like, just anything that might upset anybody, you just don't talk about it. So, yeah, there is like this, "Okay, trying to feel out where the other person's at."

Janelle Jolley  9:42  
Yeah, yeah. That's right.

Kat  9:45  
I'm like that too. I mean, I'm getting a little more...courageous and-

Janelle Jolley  9:52  
You're very courageous! You had your birthday at the office, and I thought that was badass. I was like, "That's smart." Like, duh. Like, that's a- like, why wouldn't that- because that would never have occurred to me, but I was like, "Of course Kat was able to pull this off." And like, you know, not everybody who came were, you know, were, you know, progressive or leftist or, you know, supporters of Bernie and-

Kat  10:11  
I had some Republican friends who came.

Janelle Jolley  10:12  
Yeah, that's right. And it was all good! You know, like nobody was being yelled at, you know.

Kat  10:16  
Safe space!

Janelle Jolley  10:17  
It was a very safe space but you also were able to nudge the people who came who maybe were interested in helping out with the campaign. Like, you had set up the tables, like, "If you're interested in volunteering, you know, you can go to tables, one, two, and three. And, you know, there are different events going on. And I encourage you, if you're interested to get involved." And you were incredibly vulnerable telling, you know, kind of, the origin story that we're going to get into, about why know, have such a passionate support for things like Medicare for All. And I remember standing in that circle, and I was like, "Holy shit," like this is- that's not easy to, you know what I mean, like, kind of just, like, bare your soul like that, even to friends, you know, in such a very public and open way. But I was like, "Yeah, I mean, of course Kat was able to do this and pull this off." Yeah.

Kat  11:11  
You know, my birthday was January 5, and the primary- California Super Tuesday was in March. It's like, "Well, you know, this is a way to organize." And, you know, if you want to eat a potsticker, you need to look this person in the eye who's gonna tell you about registering to vote. And maybe if you haven't registered to vote, this is the time to do it.

Janelle Jolley  11:33  
Yeah, yeah.

Kat  11:34  

Janelle Jolley  11:36  
But that is what it's about. I mean, Holly- so I was, I interviewed Holly on Friday. And part of what she was saying is like, when we...when we think about long term, kind of, durable organizing efforts, it is about just regular people connecting with people and talking to friends and getting them to get them involved in, you know, a certain cause, or, you know, a particular push or whatever. And not in a pushy way, not in a, you know, not in a presumptive or judgmental way. It's just like, "Hey, we're together, you know, I care about you, you care about me, this is something I care about, let's talk let's talk about it," or, "Or let's think about it together," or, you know, blah. Or let's engage in it together like the phone banks you and Adam were hosting at your house when the office was closed. Why was the office closed that time? It was a couple of times. But anyway, you were just like, "Oh, the office is closed that night? Just come on over and we'll have dinner, we'll phone bank together. You don't have to do this alone." You know what I mean? Like, you're a very good example of a communal ethic of care and...and... care and- what is the word that I'm looking for? Not canvasing. Care, collective action. Yeah. I mean, that's not the word I was looking for, but that's the best I could do.

Kat  12:58  
Thanks so much. I mean, I am becoming a puddle. Like, this is like-

Janelle Jolley  13:08  
Oh, sure.

Kat  13:10  
You're very flattering.

Janelle Jolley  13:13  
I want to go back to understanding- and I know part of your story but let's pretend I don't. What- how did you become the most wonderful person in the world? Like, talk to me about little Kat and how you grew up and your family life and all that.

Kat  13:28  
Little Kat? So, I was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Janelle Jolley  13:36  
I don't know that.

Kat  13:37  

Janelle Jolley  13:38  
No, I had no idea.

Kat  13:38  
Yeah, my dad was serving in the army.

Janelle Jolley  13:42  

Kat  13:42  
He was there for 12 years, and then I was born. And then he was like, "I don't think I want my kids to be army brats, you know, getting shuttled everywhere." So he left the army. So, when I was a kid, grew up in LA, close to Koreatown. Actually, in Downey, California, near Burbank area. And we were poor. Like, my dad had a good sense of like, "Okay, we need to go where there are other Korean Americans," because that's how Koreans support each other, right? So, LA being the obvious choice. And he had friends there. But I did not know this at the time, of course. It's amazing when you're a child, you just have no idea about socio economics, right? But now looking at old photos, there's like black mold on the on the walls of our apartment. Like, my parents either didn't know what it was or just didn't have the bandwidth to do anything about it. So breathing that in, and we didn't have health care. My dad was supposed to get, like, really good veteran's health care, but-

Janelle Jolley  14:52  
Yeah. I thought that's how it worked.

Kat  14:52  
He was, like- I think...he was kind of proud, kind of didn't want to go through the administrative effort, or something? So he just didn't have health care for the longest time.

Janelle Jolley  15:02  
Wow. And an apartment with black mold?

Kat  15:05  

Janelle Jolley  15:06  

Kat  15:06  
And my- which meant my mom didn't either. And I think we kids were covered under the kids, you know, health care there is in California, or whatever. I don't remember the name of that. But...yeah, I remember one time, rifling through my dad's things, as you do sometimes when they're not home, and I just saw food stamp vouchers. So we were on food stamps for a while. Like, just struggling to make some money.

Janelle Jolley  15:39  
As a child, did you understand your parents financial struggles, or not at all? It's just like-

Kat  15:48  
No, to me, we were fine. Like, I got to go to McDonald's every week and get a Happy Meal toy. Like, we're great. But- and also, my parents don't believe in talking to their kids about money. Like, they're like, "Everything's fine. Don't worry about money. That's not your job," right? So, yeah, they would buy us what we needed. Like, I don't feel like I ever wanted for anything. I didn't want complex things. But like, yeah, I had no idea until- I mean, I think I saw that photo when I was in my early 20s and I was like, "That is definitely black mold."

Janelle Jolley  16:28  

Kat  16:29  

Janelle Jolley  16:30  
Whoa. What were your parents doing for work during, when you guys moved to LA? Cuz I also didn't know that you lived in LA. I thought you grew up in the Bay your whole life. So, I had no idea.

Kat  16:41  
Well, it's interesting because we were in LA during a very historically significant time, which is the LA riots.

Janelle Jolley  16:46  

Kat  16:47  
And my parents left after the LA riots happened. They were one of the Koreans that had to leave because Koreatown was burnt down to the ground. There was like, no commerce really flowing.

Janelle Jolley  16:59  
Wow, wow, wow.

Kat  17:00  
So my dad, he was just trying to get little gigs here and there. I think he was a paralegal at his friend's law firm for a little bit. And then my...he found this sandwich shop outside of downtown LA, so he rented that and they started a sandwich shop, kind of like a Togo's or like a Subway or something.  

Janelle Jolley  17:23  
Your parents started a sandwich shop?

Kat  17:24  
Yeah, like a mom and pop one. So they worked in a sandwich shop. At the time of the LA riots going down, they were safely outside of downtown LA, thank goodness. My mom was working at the sandwich shop by herself. Which, like, to this day, I think about that and I'm like, "Holy shit." Like, if she, imagine if they were like, "Oh, let's set up a sandwich shop in K-Town." That would have been terrible for them, right? And my dad was trying to, like- it was my sister's 100 days or her first birthday? 100 Day celebration is a big one in Korean culture and my dad was trying to get into K-Town to pick up food for the feast and could not, so just had to exit and go home, thankfully. And then the aftermath of that was just like, "Okay." People- like, Koreans, I think, left LA in droves. A lot of them went to Texas. A lot of them went to different parts of the US.

Janelle Jolley  18:26  
If you're comfortable saying, how does your parents talk about everything that was happening with the riots? Because, from my understanding- I'm not from LA but when I- and, obviously, I was little when this happened. And some of the things that I've watched covering that period shows extreme racial tension over, not just the Rodney King incident, but there was an incident that happened before that where a black, a young black girl was shot by a Korean store owner for...I mean, there's no good reason to shoot a child, obviously. But I think maybe she was steal-

Kat  19:05  
For, like, she thought she was stealing orange juice, or something.  

Janelle Jolley  19:06  
Yeah, or something like that. But, like, how- so, do you- can you describe for me your understanding of things? Or, like, kind of, how community members were talking about things during that time? Like, how- what was their understanding or perception of everything at that point?

Kat  19:22  
I just have snatches of mem- like, I just remember that day being very tense? Like, the adults seemed like they just didn't know what was going on. Like, some were watching the news, others were just trying to make food, you know. But my parents never really spoke about it. They were just like- well, first of all, we were lucky right? My dad didn't have any friends who were killed in the LA riots, or got hurt in the LA rights. So...but he thought, "Okay, this is not- this is bad. Maybe this is gonna last a while. Maybe Koreans are gonna be, you know, suffering for a while here." So my dad was like, "Okay, well, let's go on a road trip and shop for a new city," basically. Starting with visiting my uncle in upstate New York- Buffalo, where he was at at that-

Janelle Jolley  20:17  
You drove from California to Buffalo?

Kat  20:18  

Janelle Jolley  20:19  

Kat  20:19  
I know.

Janelle Jolley  20:20  

Kat  20:21  
My dad really likes driving.

Janelle Jolley  20:23  
Okay. I mean, well, go off dad, I guess. Good grief.

Kat  20:26  
Like, total dad move. "I'll just drive across the country." So upon George Floyd's murder, you know, a lot of these things have resurfaced again in the general society, and also, the Black community, the Korean American community. And there's been so much that my parents missed because we moved- we ended up moving to the Bay Area. And in LA, there have been lots of very concerted efforts to improve the relationship between the Black community and the Korean American community.

Janelle Jolley  20:56  
Mm-hm, mm-hm.

Kat  20:57  
But they missed all of that. And so, they just remember, you know, the trauma of it. And when you're traumatized by something, it's very hard to be even handed about it, right?

Janelle Jolley  21:07  

Kat  21:07  
You're like, "Oh, well, let me put my, you know, put myself in those people's shoes."

Janelle Jolley  21:12  

Kat  21:12  
Like, my parents could not do it. Still cannot really do it. So when, you know, when George Floyd was murdered in particular- I mean, this happens all the time. But in particular, because his was captured on video and we were able to see it and reckon with it in a huge way. There's a lot of just misunderstanding. Not- my parents don't know American history, you know? They don't know that much about slavery and the Civil War and all this stuff. All they know is their experience of feeling whatever they felt. So, I think they're healing from it slowly? But it's- it was, you know, a very, very hard thing for most Korean Americans immigrants their age, which is, like, 60s, 70s. Yeah.

Janelle Jolley  22:08  
Interesting. Growing up, because you were the child of recent immigrants, did you- maybe this is a silly question, but did you feel American? Or did you feel like a Korean in America? Do you understanding what I'm saying?

Kat  22:23  
I do understand what you're saying. I will do you one better. I think I felt like- you know, how people say temporarily embarrassed millionaire to refer to how all of us are like, kind of have this idea that like, "Oh, maybe one day I'll be a millionaire."

Janelle Jolley  22:40  

Kat  22:41  
So we just kind of identify with the 1%, versus the 99% of us?

Janelle Jolley  22:46  
Yeah. Yeah.

Kat  22:47  
I operated most of my life as a temporarily Asian- or, sorry, a temporarily Korean white girl. Like-

Janelle Jolley  22:55  
Ooh, tell me what that- I think I know what you're saying, but tell me what you mean.

Kat  23:00  
So, for some context, I'm the oldest daughter and my sister is six years younger than I am. And my mom can't speak English very well.

Janelle Jolley  23:09  

Kat  23:09  
She can understand very well.

Janelle Jolley  23:10  

Kat  23:10  
But she can't speak very well. So...I- like, at the age of six or seven, I would call PG&E for her because my verbal was good. And I would dispute bills and all this stuff that a kid should not have to do, you know?

Janelle Jolley  23:26  
Sure, sure.  

Kat  23:27  
But we did it. You know, a lot of immigrant kids have to do that. Or, children of immigrants have to do that. And...I figured out very quickly that I couldn't rely on my parents to guide me through how to be successful in this country. I had to just rely on myself and other people, basically white people.

Janelle Jolley  23:49  
Yeah, yeah. Huh.

Kat  23:51  
And so, like, yeah, we would go to church, a Korean American Catholic Church sometimes. And so I just made a calculation. I was like, "Okay, if I spend all my time hanging out with like," for example, "Asian kids who speak in their own traditional language at home and do that, like, that's not gonna set me up the way that I need to be set up." I feel a lot of internal responsibility, but also my parents put a lot of pressure on me to make sure my sister was okay and everything.

Janelle Jolley  24:26  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kat  24:27  
So, I think I was just like, "Oh, yeah, obviously, I need to be as white as possible." I think just took in a lot of media and I imitated, just like a lot of, you know, kids...first you start by imitating diction and certain ways of speaking. I could pick up on like, "Oh, this is how you're supposed to talk." I think that was my understanding: "This is how you're supposed to talk and if you can't talk this way it's really bad because people will not give you opportunities."

Janelle Jolley  25:01  
Mm...interesting. What was kind of your worldview or understanding of the world, as a child growing up? You said part, you know, part of it just now you were talking about, which is like, "I have an understanding or a schematic of what it means to be successful. In my child mind, I think that I have to imitate being white or whiteness," or, I don't know if that's accurate. So that was part of your worldview. What are what were some other parts of how you understood the world as a child?

Kat  25:32  
I mean, I was so young, and they put so much responsibility on me as such a young person. And you don't know any better. But I did feel resentful because that's what happens when expectations are put on you that you did not say yes to, right? Like, you feel resentful after a while. I just felt- I just resented them a lot. And-

Janelle Jolley  25:59  
Is it because you felt that it was-  because you felt like you were not getting to be a carefree child? Like, you had to-

Kat  26:05  
For sure. And I had models for this, right? On television. I would watch Clarissa Explains It All on Nickelodeon and she-

Janelle Jolley  26:12  
And she wasn't on the phone with PG&E.

Kat  26:13  
No, she was not doing anything of that sort. She was sashaying around in her cool outfits and just writing in her diary, which I also did. But, you know, just having a coming of age that was normal. And...

Janelle Jolley  26:30  
Quote, normal.

Kat  26:31  
Quote, normal. I didn't know what normal was.

Janelle Jolley  26:33  
Sure, sure.

Kat  26:34  
I just thought it was- normal was what white people did.

Janelle Jolley  26:36  
Ah, ah. That was the- that's the default.

Kat  26:38  
Yeah. I didn't have the tools to...I mean, also, like, I mean, my childhood was kind of rough. Like, it was not- it didn't feel safe in our house all the time. And so I was just like- I wasn't ready, I think, to have compassion for my parents. I was like, "I just need to get through this,"

Janelle Jolley  27:00  

Kat  27:00  
"And go to college and get away from these people."

Janelle Jolley  27:03  
That's right. And build my own life.

Kat  27:04  
Yeah, and just live a- like, get a fucking life, basically. You know? And this is what I feel really sad about is, looking back, is all of my parents' toil and turmoil and just sacrifice and all of that, like, I ended up having to discount a lot of it and not even acknowledge it just to operate in the society that we live in.

Janelle Jolley  27:31  
Tell me more. Tell me what you mean.  

Kat  27:32  
Yeah, if I actually let myself think about all of their pain and struggle, I would not be able to operate. You know? I would just be a puddle all the time.

Janelle Jolley  27:43  
I've heard you say that, but I mean you don't- you can tell me fuck off and this- because it's not my business. But I've heard you say that before, I've never- and I...and I don't ask because it feels inappropriate and feels inappropriate now, but I'm gonna ask and you can say no. But what do you mean, when you say that you didn't feel safe in your house growing up? But I'm always shocked when I say that. But what do you mean by that? If you feel comfortable. And if you don't, that's fine.

Kat  28:02  
Sure, sure. I think- so, I'm in a very good place with it now.

Janelle Jolley  28:07  

Kat  28:08  
My...I mean, my dad was under an intense amount of pressure to put a roof over our head, feed us, send us to school, right? And nobody was helping him out. Nobody- like, he didn't have health insurance, right? So he couldn't go to the doctor when he felt like something was a little off, or whatever. And also, like, my dad has his own trauma. Like, there's beaucoup, like hella, you know, intergenerational trauma, just in the Korean community in general, just because the Korean War was just in the 1950s.

Janelle Jolley  28:50  
It wasn't that long ago, and it was fucking terrible.

Kat  28:53  
It was horrible. And it's still going on!

Janelle Jolley  28:55  
That's right.

Kat  28:55  
There's an armistice. It's not over, right?

Janelle Jolley  28:59  
Yeah, that's right.

Kat  28:59  
And, so he was raised by his parents who were occupied by the Japanese. You know,

Janelle Jolley  29:07  
And they were not nice.

Kat  29:08  
No, they were very paternalistic. And like, not nice- no.

Janelle Jolley  29:13  
They were violent.

Kat  29:13  
They had to- violent from raping the women and making everyone have a Japanese name and trying to erase a lot of Korean culture, maybe even. So there's that. And then there was the Korean War, which my grandfather fought in. Both of my grandfathers fought in. And so my dad was raised by those people. And he has his own stuff, right? Because he left his family when he was young. And so he- I mean, lots of mental health conditions, probabaly.

Janelle Jolley  29:48  
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kat  29:50  
That did not go addressed.

Janelle Jolley  29:52  

Kat  29:52  
Nobody was like, "Listen, you've been through a lot, but you can get help."

Janelle Jolley  29:56  
That's right.

Kat  29:56  
Nobody was showing that. America doesn't do that.

Janelle Jolley  29:59  
Yeah. And particularly men in America, be they, you know, several generations here or newly here. That's not a construction of manhood that is...that's not a part of the construction of manhood, to address things that could be affecting you adversely, because to be a man in America is to be perfect and without problem or flaw. And if you do have a problem or flaw, that is not your responsibility, and people will just deal with it as a default. So that's not your- yeah.

Kat  30:35  
Yeah. I mean, it was rough. And he came home, you know, this is a classic, kind of, domestic violence thing. But like, when men feel disempowered in the world, they come home and they wield power in ways that-

Janelle Jolley  30:52  
That's absolutely it.  

Kat  30:54  
Hurt people sometimes.

Janelle Jolley  30:55  

Kat  30:55  
And that's what happened in my family for a long time.

Janelle Jolley  30:58  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kat  30:59  
My dad is kind of a teddy bear now, but-

Janelle Jolley  31:02  
They all soften up ?

Kat  31:03  

Janelle Jolley  31:03  
I understand what you're saying.

Kat  31:05  
It was very, very bad at times. And, yeah, so most of my life I have been on this mental health journey, trying to heal from-

Janelle Jolley  31:18  
Oh, yeah.

Kat  31:19  
Like, almost relentlessly. Like, I don't even want to spend time on mental health so much, but I feel like I need to because...yeah, it just, it's...I think it's a journey all of us are on.

Janelle Jolley  31:32  
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kat  31:33  
Yeah, for me, in particular, it's very much front and center.

Janelle Jolley  31:37  
Was part of your desire to be white or embody whiteness because you internalized what was going on in the home with your not-white family as devious and deficient and white people, as a rule, do not go through this? And then- and that kind of fueled more of your desire for this other thing that is a perfect default that you were not able to experience?

Kat  32:09  
I love this question. And it's really interesting, because...I mean, so there's a lot of conversation right now about whiteness and white supremacy, right? And how we're all...we've all been indoctrinated with it to some degree. In my, I didn't feel safe in my own house, right?

Janelle Jolley  32:29  
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kat  32:31  
With people who look like me, sound like me.

Janelle Jolley  32:34  
Who gave you life.

Kat  32:35  
Yeah, who gave me life. Where I did feel safe was at school with my kindly white school teachers. Right? Like Mrs. Burns, my fourth grade teacher who was so loving and just, you know, I...that's who I felt safe with.

Janelle Jolley  32:51  

Kat  32:52  
So for me, like...though, obviously, the whiteness thing is, you know, it-

Janelle Jolley  32:59  
It's pervasive.

Kat  32:59  
It's pervasive. And, for me, there was this very, like, "Okay. I don't really know about this culture. Like, if this is how people are in Korean culture, I don't know if I want that much part of it," you know?

Janelle Jolley  33:19  

Kat  33:20  
Although I can speak Korean fluently and I'm very culturally, you know, conversant and all of that, like, I- yeah, I just...I wasn't- I was very conflicted and ambivalent about it. But on the other hand, I would go to school and my teachers were nice.

Janelle Jolley  33:37  
And you liked school. That was a safe environment for you, so you enjoyed it.

Kat  33:39  
Yeah, I was like, "I can actually chill out and do well here."

Janelle Jolley  33:45  
Were the communities that your parents raised you in, were they part- as, you know, throughout your childhood, were they particularly political or ideological or not- your understanding of them now as an adult?

Kat  34:05  
Well, so...most Korean people, the mainstay of their community life is the church. And my dad- my dad's really funny. He chose Catholicism because he said, "Catholics don't judge you for smoking or drinking." In fact, they do it more than anyone. So he's like, "Alright, that's what we're gonna do." And, you know, you go there for the community. It's basically like high school for adults.

Janelle Jolley  34:28  
Yeah, yeah.

Kat  34:32  
Trade notes, you try to, like, get a band together, I don't know. So, it didn't feel political. My parents- my dad was, is an avid reader of the Korean news. Like, he has always kept up with what's going on in Korea sine he has been here. And because he was born in 55, so was my mom, that was right after the Korean War ended.

Janelle Jolley  34:58  

Kat  34:59  
They- in school they had to, they had like a "paint anti-communist poster hour."

Janelle Jolley  35:06  

Kat  35:06  

Janelle Jolley  35:07  

Kat  35:07  
So, the Reds, like, commies, like- you know, my dad still says things like this because he's been indoctrinated from a small child to, like, fear of communism.

Janelle Jolley  35:16  
Huh. Even though- he wouldn't describe Korea as a socialist society?

Kat  35:22  
This is where it gets really confusing because my dad- and a lot of Korean American first generation immigrants who are the first to get here, right?

Janelle Jolley  35:33  
Yeah, yeah.

Kat  35:33  
They are kind of time capsules from whatever year they left.

Janelle Jolley  35:37  

Kat  35:37  
So he- yeah, he still has these kind of views- political views that he came here with.

Janelle Jolley  35:45  
Uh-huh, uh-huh.

Kat  35:46, I didn't really know how to describe his politic. I don't really even know how to describe it now because it's very interesting with immigrants who come over here. Like, I've met a lot of old Korean men through my Bernie community organizing who...who, because they were also indoctrinated with all the anti-communist, like, you know, rightly so, propaganda, anything that smacks of slightly communitarian- like, you know-

Janelle Jolley  36:22  
More egalitarian.

Kat  36:23  
Yeah. They...they kind of balk at it.

Janelle Jolley  36:27  

Kat  36:27  

Janelle Jolley  36:28  
Just as a knee jerk.

Kat  36:29  
To support Trump. Obviously, it is not voting in your own interest to vote for Trump if you're an immigrant in this country, but it happens, right?

Janelle Jolley  36:43  
No, it happens a lot. I mean, that was one of-

Kat  36:43  
The numbers have gone up!

Janelle Jolley  36:44  
That's right.

Kat  36:44  

Janelle Jolley  36:45  
Especially- and I mean, this is the fault of the consultant class, but it's like, well, if you kind of peel back the layers a little bit and talk to these people, hello, and not just, you know, kind of put these ascriptive identities that over determine their ideas and their attitudes, blah, blah, you know, they would have caught that like, "Hey, you can't take the-" Democrats, "Hey, you can't take this for granted because, you know, a lot of people, even if they are here fairly recently, you know, their view of immigration is a good bit more complicated than what you may think." And it shouldn't be shocking that, you know, immigrant groups are- can't just be taken for granted.

Kat  37:26  
And they're not one unit. They don't vote as a bloc. Like, my parents have been American citizens for decades.

Janelle Jolley  37:32  

Kat  37:32  
They are now in the kind of mindset of like, "We immigrated here at the right time, we worked our asses off, like, we're American, we did it the right way." Yeah. And then I don't know how much like sympathy or compassion they might have for people trying to immigrate to the US now.

Janelle Jolley  37:53  
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Which happens a lot. Like, I have a friend whose family is from Belize. So that's, you know, in Central America, English speaking country. And, you know, they immigrated...I think they immigrated here in the 70s. They were undocumented when they got here, but they got amnesty in the 80s under Reagan. And like...I remember a conversation with her a long time ago, and she was saying, you know, like her mother, her parents, are very anti-immigration and really have really punitive things to say about, particularly people who immigrate here, documented or undocumented, who don't speak English. And they do not, you know, it's like, "I got my amnesty, but, you know, I spoke English when I came here. I was able to-"

Kat  38:48  
Kind of means testing, a little bit.

Janelle Jolley  38:49  
Yeah, a little bit.

Kat  38:50  
Their own people. Yeah.

Janelle Jolley  38:51  
That's right.

Kat  38:51  
Yeah, that happens very commonly.

Janelle Jolley  38:53  
That's right.

Kat  38:54  
And this is what happened- I mean, to bring us kind of to Medicare for All. Like, this is what happens when you don't give everyone in this country a basic level of security net and health care, because you keep people in a scarcity mindset and they-

Janelle Jolley  39:08  
And fighting over artificial-

Kat  39:10  

Janelle Jolley  39:11  
The artificial rationing and under rationing of resources. That's right.

Kat  39:16  

Janelle Jolley  39:17  
Speaking of Medicare for All, I remember you telling this story at your birthday at the office about why you are passionate about Medicare for All based on how you grew up and your understanding of, or your belief, that Korean people were...cursed was the word you used.

Kat  39:34  

Janelle Jolley  39:35  
Tell me about that. Again. Cuz I know the story but, yeah.

Kat  39:38  
Yeah. Well, so I think it's safe to say I don't think anyone listening to this podcast is going to be upset to hear me say that Koreans are kind of a dramatic people. Like you watch Korean dramas, you listen to kpop, you're like, "Whoa, there's a lot of emotion going on here." Right?

Janelle Jolley  39:56  
That's right. That's right.

Kat  39:57  
And that's part of what makes Koreans really cool. And so I would grow up watching these Korean dramas with my mom and there would always be some terminally ill kid, or, you know, it's like that kind of thing. I was like, "Oh, maybe Koreans-" And then my dad and my mom, their actual friends, I think there have been quite a few of them who died in their late 40s, early 50s? Leaving kids in grade school and middle school behind and stuff. And, you know, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer. I thought that Koreans were just cursed because these relatively young adults were dying early and leaving behind their families and stuff. And then I, you know, grew up and learned a little bit more about-

Janelle Jolley  40:52  
Social determinants of health.

Kat  40:53  
Exactly. And I was like, "Oh, no, we're not cursed. They just didn't have health care."

Janelle Jolley  40:59  

Kat  41:00  
They just couldn't go to the doctor.

Janelle Jolley  41:01  
Yeah, yeah.

Kat  41:02  
Yeah. And this is the difference between going to the doctor when you start to feel a little off-

Janelle Jolley  41:08  

Kat  41:08  
And not hesitating, and just going. And maybe them catching stage one cancer.

Janelle Jolley  41:13  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kat  41:13  
Versus stage three.

Janelle Jolley  41:15  

Kat  41:15  
Which is...or four. And just, you know, only having three or three to six months left to live.

Janelle Jolley  41:21  
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kat  41:25  
Yeah,'s just so funny, like, as a young person, as you start to get a sense of the world. You know, basically, everything you believe is probably not true. You have to re-examine, constantly all the time.

Janelle Jolley  41:38  
That's right.

Kat  41:38  
And...and yeah, I was embarrassed by that. I was like, "Gosh, why can't we just be like these happy, well dressed white people that I see everywhere?"

Janelle Jolley  41:51  
Happy, healthy, calm, not angry, white people. Right.

Kat  41:54  
Yeah, just really relaxed. They have, like, Eames chairs in their houses and they're just like, you know, pondering where to go on international vacation. My mom, her first time going anywhere outside of Korea, like, once in the past, was because my sister took her on a Europe trip with her points. And like, this was last year, or something. Like, my mom's 65, you know. So our parents- our family has never taken an international trip together really, outside of Korea. Because my dad always had to work.

Janelle Jolley  42:32  
Yeah. Okay, so when it was time for you to go to college, where did you end up going?

Kat  42:39  
I went to UC San Diego.

Janelle Jolley  42:41  
Okay. Why did you want to go there?

Kat  42:43  
It was the furthest away from my parents.

Janelle Jolley  42:47  
And you wanted- did you- did your parents-

Kat  42:50  
And the best, quote unquote.

Janelle Jolley  42:51  
In the state?

Kat  42:53  
Well, no. I think I could have gone to Berkeley but it was too close.

Janelle Jolley  42:58  
Too close. Gotcha. Gotcha. Gotcha. And you were like, "Let's go."

Kat  43:01  
Yeah, and I didn't get into UCLA. My parents told me I could only go in state to a UC. So, yeah.

Janelle Jolley  43:07  
Did they pay for school?

Kat  43:10  
No. They, I mean, I took out student loans. And I'm still paying. Well, no, undergrad is paid for.

Janelle Jolley  43:17  
Okay, nice. What did you think at that point you wanted to do in your life, or with your life when you when you pursued undergrad? Like, what did you think you wanted to be after college, at that point? Or did you have an idea, a clear idea?

Kat  43:34  
I, well, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. Which, to my parents' credit, was completely my own idea. But, you know, lawyer, doctor, engineer, these are kind of the-

Janelle Jolley  43:51  
The big three.

Kat  43:53  
Yeah, the big three that Asian Americans get pushed into them, into their faces. So, and then I went and I majored in poli sci and I just really didn't...I didn't actually have that much interest in learning about political science.

Janelle Jolley  44:08  
At that point.  

Kat  44:09  
It was very upsetting. I mean, I'll be honest with you, I know it's like kind of a snowflakey millennial thing to say, but I was very upset by learning about the apartheid and everything.

Janelle Jolley  44:20  
In South Africa?

Kat  44:21  
Yeah, yeah. We, I mean, we learned about war zones and, you know, different areas of foundational politics. But I was like- and then I took an art history class, and I loved it.

Janelle Jolley  44:32  

Kat  44:33  
And so I changed majors. And I think I thought I wanted to- I would go on to do this, but I wanted to be a museum curator.

Janelle Jolley  44:42  
Ah, okay. What- were your parents- did they approve of the switch from poly sci to art history?

Kat  44:48  
Well, I didn't tell them about it for a very long time.

Janelle Jolley  44:51  
Ah, because you were concerned about their disapproval?

Kat  44:54  
Yeah. Well, they freaked out because they were like, "How are you gonna make any money doing that?" Valid question, by the way. Very valid question. But I was like, "Oh, it's okay. Like, most poly sci maj- most people who apply to law school are poly sci majors. Being an art history major will be different and instersting."

Janelle Jolley  45:11  
Oh, that's how you sold it to them.

Kat  45:14  
I spun it like crazy to them and they were like, "Okay." Because they, for whatever reason, they trusted me even though I lied to them left and right for everything. So I didn't tell them, I just did it. That's how I've gone through my whole life, really. I just like do things that I want to do.

Janelle Jolley  45:31  
That's it, be a boss! Coach Kat.

Kat  45:37  
So, yeah. And then after college, I mean, I was really depressed my senior year. I did not get it together. Like, while everyone else was applying to grad school or trying to get a job, I was just depressed.

Janelle Jolley  45:50  
Was there- did you- was there any particular trigger, or just your, like your body chemistry, your brain chemistry was just such that you were depressed at that point?

Kat  46:01  
Yeah, basically. I mean, for me, it's partly just my biology. I'm on the bipolar spectrum. And I think so is my dad, definitely his mom is. So, I just have high highs, low lows.

Janelle Jolley  46:15  
Ah, uh-huh, uh-huh.

Kat  46:16  
My ceiling is higher than most people, my floor is lower than most people.

Janelle Jolley  46:20  
Oh wow. I would never- I mean, had you not told me that, I would never guess that about you.

Kat  46:27  
Well, that's the thing, Janelle, when I'm depressed, I just don't see people. So everyone thinks it's all good.

Janelle Jolley  46:35  
But you- you're under your anti-capitalism blanket, that she does have at home. Where she raises against all the ills of capitalism. It's actually very adorable to see her do this. But now that I know that it's linked to a mental health thing, I will not think it's so adorable. And I will check more often, just to see how Kat is doing, whether it's a capitalism blanket.

Kat  46:58  
It's not going well for any of us.

Janelle Jolley  47:00  
Oh, god.

Kat  47:01  
Spoiler alert.

Janelle Jolley  47:03  
You're so silly. Did were you barely able to get across the line of graduation because of the depression your senior year?

Kat  47:16  
My grades were fine. But yeah, I was really depressed. And I told my parents like, "You know, don't even come for the graduation it's not a big deal."

Janelle Jolley  47:25  
Seriously? Whoa.

Kat  47:26  
They were- they thought I had messed something up and wasn't graduating.

Janelle Jolley  47:30  
Oh, uh-huh.

Kat  47:31  
And they, kind of, lost their minds.

Janelle Jolley  47:33  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kat  47:34  
And I was like, "Okay, nevermind, nevermind. Just come."

Janelle Jolley  47:36  
Yeah, "It's all good." Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sure.

Kat  47:38  
I was like, "I don't feel like going on stage. I'm pretending to be happy that I'm done with college." But, yeah. And then I moved back home for a bit and worked at the Samsung R&D Center in San Jose for two years, which was kind of like studying abroad in South Korea. Like, it was very interesting and strange. And that's when I really...I don't know, got my dose of professional Korean culture. Because otherwise it was just pop culture.

Janelle Jolley  48:17  
What is professional- how would you describe professional Korean culture?

Kat  48:21  
Well, Korean culture, in many ways, is diametrically opposed to American culture.

Janelle Jolley  48:27  
Tell me how.

Kat  48:28  
Like, for example, I would want to just, in my hoity toity self, want to read the New Yorker by myself while I ate lunch by myself. They would not allow it. They would not let me. Like, my team. My eonnis, as they were, which means older sisters. Like, they were all older than me and they were like, "No, you're coming with us to eat lunch. Don't eat alone."

Janelle Jolley  48:54  

Kat  48:54  
And this is like a very sweet thing, actually, in communitarian cultures, collectivist cultures, like Korea is. It's like, it's almost like if one pixel in the hologram is spazzing out, the whole hologram is hurt. So we can't have that. Like, "What's wrong with you? I feel like something is wrong with me now that something's wrong with you, so you have to come here so I feel like everything is fine."

Janelle Jolley  49:21  
That's beautiful. That's the way it should be, actually.

Kat  49:24  
It is, yeah.

Janelle Jolley  49:25  
If one pixel ain't right, none of it's right. Sorry, go ahead. She goes, she goes, "Okay, Janellle."

Kat  49:33  
No, I'm into it! If all of us aren't thriving, none of us are thriving.

Janelle Jolley  49:40  
So, there's a term for that...out of...there's one of the Bantu languages of South Africa there's this concept of ubuntu.  

Kat  49:54  

Janelle Jolley  49:55  
Which is, you know, like, "I'm-" you know, "I'm only as good-" essentially, "I'm only as good as my neighbor, my brother, my sister. So if you're not okay, I'm not okay. So let's make sure you're okay."

Kat  50:06  
Totally. Totally.

Janelle Jolley  50:09  
Were you- at this point when you were doing your study abroad in South Korea, which is actually San Jose, were you at all- how would you describe yourself politically? Or would you describe yourself politically at that point?

Kat  50:24  
I was not political.

Janelle Jolley  50:25  
Completely apolitical?

Kat  50:26  
What year was that? Tt was 2008 and nine.

Janelle Jolley  50:30  
Oo, yeah.

Kat  50:31  
Economic crisis.

Janelle Jolley  50:32  
Yeah, that's right

Kat  50:32  
For us millennials. Elder millenials, right?

Janelle Jolley  50:35  
That's right.

Kat  50:37  
I was too busy trying to make some money. And I was living with my parents, which was extremely stressful, on account of what I already mentioned about my dad. So, yeah, I wasn't- I- on the way to work, I was definitely listening to, you know, NPR and I was aware of what was going on, but I mostly was just very overwhelmed. "I gotta handle my own shit," like...

Janelle Jolley  51:06  
Yeah, yeah. Have enough to worry about.

Kat  51:07  

Janelle Jolley  51:09  
What...what were your- I feel like for people, you know, elder millennials like you and I, like, our 20s- because so much of our coming of age, or young adulthood, was shaped by just the calamitous world changing, just wreckage, of the Great Recession, like, it's kind of's almost kind of a little bit of a fever dream. Just kind of like, "We're just kind of walking through this totally new world that it feels like emerged, like, on a dime overnight." And, like, through many of us, myself, included, into just kind of, just disarray for a bit because nothing- everything we had been taught about what to expect, you know, as, you know, to...everything we had been taught to expect would occur as a young adult, and kind of the progression of your life as an adult, like, was completely up ended in that world in many ways. Not in many ways, that world doesn't exist anymore. So, how- what were- how would you describe your journey through your 20s navigating a world that we were not taught or socialized to believe would be ours?

Kat  52:43  

Janelle Jolley  52:43  
Oo, I like they way I said that. "Come on, Janelle. That alcohol is making its way out of your system, girl."

Kat  52:53  
Well, it's so interesting to take a historical view on your own life, as this is kind of an opportunity to do, but I did what a lot of people our age did in 2008-2009, which was go to grad school because the economy was shit.

Janelle Jolley  53:14  
That's what I did.

Kat  53:16  

Janelle Jolley  53:16  
Yeah, that's right.

Kat  53:19  
No, I mean, I'm glad I went and...I'm in, like, $130,000 worth of graduate school debt still, but-

Janelle Jolley  53:27  
Where did you go?

Kat  53:28  
I went to NYU Institute of Fine Arts for an art history masters.

Janelle Jolley  53:34  
Wow, wow, wow, expensive.

Kat  53:35  
Then I was- I went on to do the Ph. D. program, but I dropped out of it.

Janelle Jolley  53:39  
Did you- so did you have to take out loans for the masters and part of the PhD, or just the masters?

Kat  53:44  
Well, also, living in New York City. So, yeah, loans for both.

Janelle Jolley  53:48  
Wow. Good grief. That is...that makes me angry every time I hear anyone's student loan story- because it's so unnecessary.

Kat  53:57  

Janelle Jolley  53:57  
It's completely unnecessary.

Kat  53:58  
I will own my part of it, though. I didn't make a prudent financial choice at all.

Janelle Jolley  54:03  
Yeah, but also what were you- I mean, but also, I'm gonna ask you to double click on that, because that doesn't seem like a fair- that doesn't seem like a fair self reflection. Like, no, it was- maybe, I mean, on balance,, maybe you have that idea. But think back to where you were at 22, 23, 24, or however old you were. It's like, "I can go back to school, kind of buy some time, maybe, you know, get this additional credentialing, which should help me navigate everything, or hopefully which will help me navigate things better, so that I can establish some earning power in my career. Or I can like, what, stay at the R&D Center, or- and maybe-" you know what I mean? Like, your choices weren't...your choices were very much over determined, so I don't think that's fair for you to be so hard on yourself. Like, of course, you went back to school. And of course, you know, I'm sure, you know, three out of every five of your friends from that period made that choice. Because I can think of people off the top my head and just like, "Yeah, I went back to school, she went back, he went back." Because that was...

Kat  55:08  
That's what we know how to do.

Janelle Jolley  55:10  
Yeah, that's what we know how to do. So don't talk- no negative self talk about that time.

Kat  55:16  
That's true. Thank you for advocating on behalf of my younger self.

Janelle Jolley  55:20  
No, I'm just saying! Yeah, that makes me- like, don't beat up on yourself. Like, you did the- that was, that probably was the best choice to make. Now, was that best in terms of a sheer, you know, debt burden financial lens? Maybe not. But that's what...that was probably the best choice you had at the time. So give yourself a break, woman! Don't be talking about my friend like that. Shout out to all the elder millennials still working on forgiving themselves for decisions they made during the Great Recession. As we now sit in a greater recession. Sweet, awesome. So what happened during and after grad school for our dear Kat? Tune in for part two, also known as a banger. Don't forget to like and subscribe. You know the routine. See you tomorrow.

Part 2 Transcript

Janelle Jolley  0:07  
Hey there, welcome back to What's Left To Do. I'm your host, Janelle. Let's pick back up with Kat on part two of her story. So, you were attending NYU for a couple- how many- did you stay in New York, even after school?

Kat  0:28  
2009, and then I dropped out of the Ph. D program. And when Hurricane Sandy, or Superstorm Sandy, happened, which was 2012?

Janelle Jolley  0:38  
What was it like living in New York during that time, being in school?

Kat  0:41  
Oh my gosh...amazing. Just- I'm really glad I lived in New York City in my mid 20s. I highly recommend it to most people- I mean, and just being on the bipolar spectrum, New York's a very bipolar city! So I was like, "This is my reality. Like, everyone here is like, on my page, on my vibe."

Janelle Jolley  1:02  
You're so wild. Oh my gosh.

Kat  1:04  
Everyone's so intense and super into what they're doing, trying to make something happen, and then eating amazing food, and then getting drunk and going here. Like, it's's just's just an endless, sensory stimulating fever dream, in many ways. But there's a lot of status, or whatever, with working in a museum, working at a art gallery. Like, wearing black and black glasses and just standing around talking about art, right? I mean...I hope I'm not offending anyone right now. But, there's status to it.

Janelle Jolley  1:44  
Sure, sure.  

Kat  1:44  
And so, because it doesn't pay very well, but it's kind of high status, the people who end up going far or doing well in it often are people who come from money.

Janelle Jolley  1:56  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kat  1:57  
And who have connections. Their parents collect art. Like, I'm not talking about collecting, you know- I'm talking about Van Gogh paintings. Yeah. Yeah. Million dollar, whatever, like, you know, have art collection, and such. So I, became immersed in that world. That was the world that I...I didn't know I had chosen it, but that's what I became aware of. And...again, it was like, "Oh, I'm not a good enough person.' Like, "These people have better circumstances." Because I think I still believed in a meritocracy at that time.

Janelle Jolley  2:40  
Ah, mm-hm.

Kat  2:43  
Completely not even realizing, "Oh...her great, great grandfather owned slaves and had a plantation in the south. And that money kept getting passed down and property, such that her parents didn't even have to work."

Janelle Jolley  3:02  
That's right.

Kat  3:03  
And she definitely doesn't either.

Janelle Jolley  3:04  
That's right, that's right. Wow. But you didn't contextualize it that way at the time. You just internalized the negative...the decontextualized disparity, negatively upon yourself, or to yourself?

Kat  3:20  
I did, yeah. I made everything mean that something was wrong with me.

Janelle Jolley  3:24  
How long did it take you to unlearn or untangle all of these messages that you, again, you internalized in a decontextualized manner? Like, how long did that take?

Kat  3:37  
Oh my god. I mean, I think it's still happening. But, I mean, there were definitely big breakthrough moments. But, I mean, 35 has been great. This is my most DGAF year, like, don't give a fuck. Like, this is just how I am! I'm like, basically fully cooked at this point, right? Like, how much better can I get at this point? Like, so just try to accept myself as I am, instead of constantly striving to be a better version of myself, or whatever. Like, I mean, women, a lot of women and female identifying people have this story running in their head, right? It's like...but, yeah, it's incredibly sad to me that I saw people with so much privilege who basically, even if they fucked up 76 times in a row in a royal way, even if they murdered somebody, they would be fine. You know what I mean?

Janelle Jolley  4:33  
Right, right, right, right.

Kat  4:35  
And then I- and I was like, "Oh, I must not be working hard enough. I must not be focused. I must not be studying enough."

Janelle Jolley  4:41  
I must not be rising and grinding enough.

Kat  4:44  

Janelle Jolley  4:45  
Uh-huh, uh-huh. But it's just like, "Actually, I'm just not rich."

Kat  4:48  

Janelle Jolley  4:48  
That's really what it all comes down to.

Kat  4:50  

Janelle Jolley  4:51  
When you left...when you left New York to come back here, weren't you working at a museum for a bit?

Kat  4:59  

Janelle Jolley  5:00  
Was that the first job he took when he got back?

Kat  5:03  
Yeah, I interned there for a while. And then they offered me a job.

Janelle Jolley  5:06  
Oh, right on. And what was that job? And how did you enjoy it?

Kat  5:09  
It was at the San Jose Museum of Art, so my hometown contemporary art museum. And they- it was a curatorial assistant position, which is like the entry level curator role. So I, well, you know, I...I got all this training, like, definitely way too educated on art history, right? Like, nobody should spend so much time studying it. But, so I... yeah, I wanted to be a curator. And my vision of being a curator was more like, I want to find artists who are making really important work for society, like in a public sense, and help the public, understand it, interact with it, benefit from it somehow. I learned very quickly, I mean, I learned this over time working at museums for like, 10 years, but...that's not really how it goes. There's politics to everything, there's bureaucracy to everything, right? And museums are no exception. And the part that I loved, which was sitting down like this, like one, one on one with an artist, or designer, or choreographer, or whoever we were working with for an exhibition, and helping them clarify their creative process, and like, contribute something they feel really great about, and that the museum felt really great about? That was my favorite thing. I did that 10% of my time. The other 90% of my time, I was like, "I don't care for this very much at all." And so I stayed for two and a half years. And I finally just had to, like...I...well, first I went to Burning Man, and then I came back and then I was in a bike accident the day that I got back from Burning Man. Yeah, so I was on a bike biking back home from yoga and a car hit me at 35 miles an hour.

Janelle Jolley  7:11  
Ah ah!

Kat  7:12  

Janelle Jolley  7:12  
I didn't know you were in a biking accident. Were you crazy hurt?

Kat  7:17  
No, that's the thing. I mean, eye witnesses said that the car hit me and I flipped a few times, hit the hood of the car, then hit the ground. But I was- I think, because I was so relaxed from yoga, and also from being at Burning Man, maybe? I, I didn't tense up. So that makes it really bad. You get more pain that way. I was just kinda like a sack of potatoes. So I kind of like, I hurt my left hip a bit because I landed there. But otherwise, I was totally fine.

Janelle Jolley  7:52  
Whoa. Those events kind of get your attention and...I'm not saying that you deserve to get hit by a car. But what I am saying is sometimes things happen to get your attention and like, or prompt you to shift or change something or blah, blah blah. Like, is that- was that you're, at the time, interpretation of those events?

Kat  8:16  
Oh, for sure. It was a wake up call.

Janelle Jolley  8:19  
Like a- yes, that's the word for it.

Kat  8:20  
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that accident totally woke me up to not only like- I mean, you know, people always say like, "Life is short! Life is short!" That's actually not true. If you are very present to every moment in your life, it can feel like a very luxuriously long, amazing thing. It's that your life can be taken away from you at any time.

Janelle Jolley  8:43  

Kat  8:44  
You have no say. And we all walk around in fear of that. So we act like, "Okay, let's make plans. I'm gonna live, I'm gonna keep living." But in reality, I mean, you just don't know.

Janelle Jolley  8:58  
Talk to me about your political evolution, or your evolution...the evolution of your...of your ideology, your politic, I don't know how to...however you want to put that. How did you get to that point where we were phone banking in your living room and listing your cats as comrades as we were smiling and dialing?

Kat  9:24  
My politic has mostly been shaped by Rising. Like, Krystal and Saagar on Rising.

Janelle Jolley  9:31  
Love that show. Every morning it's like, "So, Krystal said da da da," like, please run it down for me.

Kat  9:39  
I just love both of them, actually. Because, yeah.

Janelle Jolley  9:43  
You gotta be a gotta be careful with Saagar, though.

Kat  9:46  
Saagar is, you know, he's not as 100%. I mean, I'm just a Krystal fan. But, the thing is that you- I've learned so much from hearing them speak. Also, it took me a really long time to figure out that he is on the right, like, or, quote unquote.

Janelle Jolley  10:02  
In a big way. Oh yeah.  

Kat  10:05  
Yeah. But, the thing is, that I really feel is very true, Left-Right is not very interesting or useful as a cut for me right now.

Janelle Jolley  10:19  
Okay. Tell me why and tell me what you mean by that.

Kat  10:21  
I think people think Left, blue, Obama Biden, Bill Clinton. I think people think Right, red Trump, you know, Republicans, talk radio, whatever.

Janelle Jolley  10:39  
What do you think- let's- cuz I want to park here for a second- what do you think are the attributes that people assign the Left-Right, kind of, spectrum or binary? Popularly, not what you think. But what do you think people think when they...outside of the characters, like what does it mean?

Kat  10:59  
Yeah, what does it mean to be liberal? And what does it mean to be conservative?

Janelle Jolley  11:02  
Yeah, how do you think people think about that? And also, do you think- sorry, I'm bulling you over right now.

Kat  11:07  
No, it's good.

Janelle Jolley  11:08  
Do you think that people conflate liberal and left, popular?

Kat  11:11  

Janelle Jolley  11:12  

Kat  11:12  

Janelle Jolley  11:12  
And is that a false conflation? Or, not in your head?

Kat  11:17  
I think it's not as helpful. Because, like, case in point, Obama. Right? Obama is liberal.

Janelle Jolley  11:26  
He is liberal, but he is not a leftist.

Kat  11:28  
He is not a leftist, no.  

Janelle Jolley  11:30  
That's right. And why? But, like, what are the attributes in your mind that make- that are- that categorize liberal versus left? How do you think about that?

Kat  11:41  
I find it very much more helpful to think in terms of establishment versus anti establishment, which I would fully identify as the latter, anti-establishment.

Janelle Jolley  11:52  
Ah, ah, ah.  

Kat  11:52  
So, populist. I don't know if that's a dirty word on the show or anywhere else. But, yeah. I, like, above the 99% of this country, and what would be- what would make a categorical material change in people's lives, so that they could live better lives. Like, the way capitalism- oh, my god, I'm gonna make an ass of myself trying to talk about capitalism right now. But the way capitalism works's extractive, right?

Janelle Jolley  12:27  

Kat  12:28  
Public companies are beholden to their shareholders above all else.

Janelle Jolley  12:33  
To do what?

Kat  12:36 make a profit for-

Janelle Jolley  12:38  
One time or all the time?

Kat  12:39  
No, every fucking time.

Janelle Jolley  12:41  
Right, all the time.

Kat  12:42  
Yeah, all the time. So how can that be the Northstar metric? How, right?

Janelle Jolley  12:51  

Kat  12:52  
It's dehumanizing.

Janelle Jolley  12:53  
That's right.

Kat  12:54  

Janelle Jolley  12:54  
Right. There are...I think what I hear you saying, and I believe this, too, is that the left prioritizes the needs of working people, whether or not that's good for any particular market force, whereas liberals, they try to clumsily negotiate, kind of, balancing the needs of some people, so long as it is good for markets. So long that market forces are not negatively impacted. That's what I think of in terms of the differences. Like, people need to go to the doctor and we're going to make sure that they get to the doctor to get the care that they need, quickly, efficiently, and, you know, at no cost? That is orthogonal to the interests of the healthcare industry, so this market, and the market forces that dictate it. Therefore...fuck it. Like, fuck this. Like, that is not the priority. So we are deprioritizing that. Whereas liberals, it's like, "Well, yeah, people should be able to go to the doctor." It's like, "Okay...but, you know, but we have to worry about companies being able to, you know, companies being able to, you know," and, you know, a lot of the time they hide behind this idea of innovation, so, you know, we'll-

Kat  13:16  
Competition breeds innovation.

Janelle Jolley  13:43  
That's right. "And so we'll, you know, we'll- the poorest people, you know, we'll help them go to the doctor sometimes, but everyone else should be able to, you know, if we make it affordable, everyone else should, you know, be able to still get care." And it's just like, then, you know, you kind of stretch that out, and it's like the idea of affordable gets shifted and defiled over time because that's just their way to sell it. It's under this guise of just kind of like paternal care, but what they really cared about is this market's still working and extracting profits- enormous profits, by the way. You know, regularly and as efficiently as possible, and trying to balance that with what I think a lot of liberals do believe, in terms of, you know, people should have, quote, access- we need to abolish that word, by the way- access to care, but balancing that with the need for these markets to operate, you know, fairly unencumbered and efficiently. So it's like, to me, that's what the difference is.

Kat  15:28  
Yeah. Yeah, that's very clarifying. And it helps me get to this next point, which I feel very deeply right at this moment, which is, most people I know who are on the left, know true suffering or have seen it. And...

Janelle Jolley  15:49  
Can I clarify that?

Kat  15:50  

Janelle Jolley  15:51  
I think you're right. Before people that I've met that I...that, you know, self ID as le- and I believe that are leftist, even if they haven't experienced suffering personally, I think they have an understanding of what it means to suffer?

Kat  16:07  

Janelle Jolley  16:07  
And that it is, that is a political choice. And it's unnecessary.

Kat  16:10  
Yeah. And it's unacceptable on a- not to be moralistic, but on a moral level. Like, we should not be allowing people to suffer.

Janelle Jolley  16:19  
That's right.

Kat  16:20  
Like, is generally what I feel.

Janelle Jolley  16:22  
Yeah. I mean, there, you know, there will always be some- a level of personal suffering that I think human beings encounter. But a lot of what we understand-

Kat  16:29  
Avoidable suffering, as Adam said.

Janelle Jolley  16:31  
That's right, There's a lot of avoidable suffering that is a result of material deprivation, that we can absolutely address and absolutely should. And I think that is the driving impetus behind a lot of people's, like, arrived leftist politic.

Kat  16:46  
I mean, I wonder about the neuroscience of wealth, seems to me, there's this very weird, interesting thing that happens when you are wealthy, or have always been wealthy, or becoming wealthy. Kind of like a, "I worked hard to get here." Right? "I worked really hard to get here. I want a PPO where I have choice and I don't want to have to wait, and da da da da da," right?

Janelle Jolley  17:15  
Yeah. Very Karen attitude that's embodied in a lot of people's view on health care.

Kat  17:20  
Yeah. And it's hard because America's a...started off as a very individualist place and still is. I am trying to make it as collectivist as possible. But it's hard for people because it's like, "Every man for himself," quote unquote, "Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps." Like, meritocracy, these mythologies that- okay, maybe they made some sense pre-neoliberalism. But neoliberalism has gone on for, what, 40, almost 50 years? Yeah. Just relentless extraction from the bottom to give to the top.

Janelle Jolley  18:04  

Kat  18:04  
That shit doesn't apply anymore. We can't- none of that makes sense in our world.

Janelle Jolley  18:10  
At what point would you say were you able to develop the for the language you have now to like, discuss the things that we're talking about? How, like, when did that happen? How did that happen?

Kat  18:23  
Yeah. I think- I am endlessly grateful that my parents- we were poor.

Janelle Jolley  18:28  
Yeah, yeah.

Kat  18:29  
We were actually on the poverty line and my dad worked to get us, like, three economic- like, middle class. To middle class, right? Whatever the levels are. In terms of, he was able to buy a house. So was a dizzying amount- just like South Korea's ascent. Like, he just brought us through three socio economic levels in 20 years. So I know what it's like to not have stuff. I know what it's like to worry about how I'm spending even, like, five minutes of my time. That immigrant anxiety is in my body because my parents have it and they raised us with it. I also, between coaching and my curatorial career, I actually was an after school teacher in the Tenderloin for two years. I taught after school there and I had students who were homeless and lived in bands with their families, and didn't get a shower, so they would come to school, you know, smelling. And kids are so mean, right, about that. And they ate all their meals at school because there wasn't a lot of food at home. Like behavioral problems. It's like, can we stop calling it- they're traumatized and living in poverty because this country can't get it's shit together. Like, let's just say it.

Janelle Jolley  20:04  
Yeah, let's be honest about what's happening here.

Kat  20:06  
And that woke me up so much to the inequity, and how gross it is that- and I-

Janelle Jolley  20:15  
That same city where, you know, people, you know, just have-

Kat  20:20  
Billionaires making it rain.

Janelle Jolley  20:22  
Just, a disgusting amount-

Kat  20:24  
Holiday parties that are, like, $750,000 to-

Janelle Jolley  20:29  
That's a cheap holiday party.

Kat  20:30  
Yeah. Like it''s just wrong.

Janelle Jolley  20:34  
Yeah. And that was laid bare for you during this time.

Kat  20:38  
Oh, for sure.

Janelle Jolley  20:39  
Are there- was there any particular kind of experience during your time volunteering there that sticks with you, and maybe haunts you?

Kat  20:50  
I mean, I was stressful was a stressful job, you know? You have to keep the kids engaged and you had to get them from break to studying to whatever. But- so I didn't have that- but now, in retrospect...yeah, the kids I remember the most are the ones who were the most down and out. Like, yeah, homeless, living in a van. And my heart just, like- and it's so fucked up because you feel so helpless. Like, you want to help. And I have some money in my bank account. Is it on me to try and do this right now? Like, you know, it puts...good, regular people in this really painful place., I'll be the first to admit it. Like, feeling that much pain and empathy for the human existence and suffering and the human existence? Like, I just...I just max out on it. And I'm not much good. Like, I can't...I'm not like my husband. He's like, "Okay, we got to do this, we got to do this, we got to get these kids food, you know, or whatever. Like, his brain still works. My brain totally shuts down.

Janelle Jolley  22:09  

Kat  22:09  
And that's what happens with a lot of us.

Janelle Jolley  22:11  
Yeah, that's right.

Kat  22:11  
Because we just don't know what to do.

Janelle Jolley  22:13  
What did- you know I have to ask you this question. And I forgot to ask Holly this question.

Kat  22:17  
Oh, scary. Scary.

Janelle Jolley  22:19  
Did you...were you ever, like- before you became... before you came into this understanding of a leftist politic. A, you know, a universal material leftist politic. Did you- were you ever an insufferable liberal? Like when you were in New York in the art world?

Kat  22:36  

Janelle Jolley  22:36  
Like what are some- give me an embarrassing story, because Liz will hate me if I don't ask you.

Kat  22:45  
Ugh. So embarrassing.

Janelle Jolley  22:47  
No, it's okay, we're all ?

Kat  22:47  
Well...I mean...there's this quote I love, which is, "Your mind is like a temple. Do not leave the door clumsily ajar," right? So what you take in matters because it shapes you. And yeah, I was just taking in hardcore neoliberal propaganda, nonsense, whatever, you know? And I think my most embarrassing thing- I don't have like one particular story necessarily, but I think it was like, "Oh..." I think I just tried to be part of that. I mean, in the art world is very shishi and full of people with money and, not only money but taste, which is a dangerous thing. And so I can still talk about art and talk about, like, high minded, high brow, like high brow ivory tower, you know, like, high academia, like this kind of stuff. I can put it on if I have to. But...yeah, it was just so inauthentic to my history, my parenting my childhood. And I was- I really thought for a long time that that was how I was gonna find happiness. Was, like, fitting in with people who have a lot of money and have power and...being thought of as- being liked by them.

Janelle Jolley  23:55  
But how did- give me an example of how this showed up and what you did. Can you think of one?

Kat  24:32  
Probably. Like- oh, you mean some outrageous behavior that I displayed, to that end?

Janelle Jolley  24:38  
Yeah. Or thoughts you had or, you know?

Kat  24:45  
Well, I think I erased myself.

Janelle Jolley  24:48  

Kat  24:49  
I was, like...I made myself as white and upper class, upper middle class conversant as humanly possible.

Janelle Jolley  24:59  
Ah. Give me an example.

Kat  25:04  
Yeah, just, you know, we'd go to- we wouldn't even just go to museum exhibitions, you know? In grad school, we would go to lectures. Like, watching people lecture about art. Which is, you know, it's great. It's very edifying. But also, it's like, you got to be of a certain comfort to do shit like that, right? And I would go and play the game of, you know, having some high minded-ass conversation about this work and how it cuts through class, and how class was being perceived at in, like, 20th century Paris. And just- I was like, you know, spewing, like-

Janelle Jolley  25:49  
You were like a ? art hoe.

Kat  25:51  
Yeah. I was like, "Oh, Marx would say this about it, and blah, blah, blah." And meanwhile, like..."Girl, your parents still worry about money, are in debt," like...putting on airs, you know? As if I was born into money, or something.

Janelle Jolley  26:13  
Ah, you had to- you decided to play the part for a while.

Kat  26:16  
Oh, yeah. I mean, you kind of have to, to, gotta talk the talk.

Janelle Jolley  26:21  
What annoyed you the most, or got under your skin the most, in terms of...a liberal misunderstanding, or a liberal, kind of- the hegemonic liberal coverage of Trump's term as a leftist? Like what about- what- pick one thing that annoys you the most, or just piss you off. Or has you screaming at the TV like, "You don't get it!" Or, "You got this all wrong! Like that, or blah blah, blah.

Kat  26:50  
Well, just in general, I rage against the liberal media machine for the choices they make. Right?

Janelle Jolley  26:56  
Yes! Yes.

Kat  26:57  
You're like, "Why are you giving this man more power, ever more power every day?" That's what- he's playing you! He's playing you like a fiddle. He knows- he's not an intellectual man. But he-

Janelle Jolley  27:03  
He's not dumb.

Kat  27:15  
He, like, in his being- somewhere in his dark belly, he understands the human monkey mind, monkey brain, right?

Janelle Jolley  27:25  
Yeah, yeah.

Kat  27:25  
And he just hooks, hooks, hooks and you fall for it every fucking time. Because why? Greed. Because you do not serve the American people, you serve your fucking stakeholders of your...whatever media company. Yeah, you serve advertisers. So, yeah, just that, generally speaking. And whenever I read stories in the New York Times where their like, "Oh," well, you don't even really read this, but you just care about, "Oh, such and such Ford factory jobs got shipped to China." I didn't really have an opinion about it. I was just like, "I guess those people are out of jobs." But...I guess I just didn't know what to think of that. And...yeah, we just keep shipping jobs, we just keep shipping jobs. And these people...what are they doing?

Janelle Jolley  28:23  
Yeah. What are they-

Kat  28:24  

Janelle Jolley  28:24  
Yeah. Are these jobs getting replaced?

Kat  28:26  

Janelle Jolley  28:26  
If so, with what kind of jobs? How is their standard of living?

Kat  28:30  

Janelle Jolley  28:31  

Kat  28:31  
They had union jobs and now they don't.

Janelle Jolley  28:36  
Yeah, that's right.

Kat  28:37  
And now America doesn't know how to make anything.

Janelle Jolley  28:40  
Not a fucking- masks too-

Kat  28:42  
No masks!

Janelle Jolley  28:43  
A pandemic, we do not have the capacity to make shit except-

Kat  28:46  
We have the old ladies in Wisconsin sewing masks and sending them to people. Like, this is-

Janelle Jolley  28:52  
Public health policy.

Kat  28:53  
It's very cute, but we should be able to make some fucking access and make a vaccine.

Janelle Jolley  28:57  

Kat  28:58  

Janelle Jolley  28:59  
What was the understanding you were able to arrive at about why he won? Even in this bubble.

Kat  29:05  
My first impulse was to make my feed purple. So I started subscribing to Fox News. And that was my first instinct. I was like, "I need to understand this. I don't understand." And, then, you know, the liberals got really obsessed with like, "Well, Hillary did this wrong. And Hillary did that wrong." And I got all into that. He- I didn't even know how to think about him.

Janelle Jolley  29:29  

Kat  29:31  
But now, you know, having developed a little bit more of a politic, I'm like, "We were not paying attention to so many Americans and the reality of their lives."

Janelle Jolley  29:45  
That's it.

Kat  29:46  
And, actually, the things that he was saying and promising? Why wouldn't you vote for that if your job got shipped to China?

Janelle Jolley  29:53  
Hello? Hello? It's that simple.

Kat  29:54  
Right? If he had actually stuck to his guns, as an outsider in Washington and delivered on that stuff?

Janelle Jolley  30:03  

Kat  30:03  
I wouldn't have a huge problem with Trump.

Janelle Jolley  30:05  
Is that where you're where your, kind of, understanding or analysis of Trump being elected ended? Or did it continue to evolve or incorporate other ideas?

Kat  30:15  
Oh, it continues. It continues. Mostly because, I mean, my dad voted for Trump in 2016. And my know, it's very common, even if you jump socio economic classes, you still identify with where- your roots. And my dad identifies with being working. I mean, he paints hou- he painted houses for a long time. He owned a body shop. You know, these are all blue collar jobs that my dad had and still has. He paints houses now.

Janelle Jolley  30:42  

Kat  30:42  
And talking to him about what- and my mom- about what- some of, like, their leanings towards Trump? Has really illuminated a lot for me.

Janelle Jolley  30:54  
What were the- what are- what were driving their leanings?

Kat  30:57  
So my dad is... my dad's very- this might be what the Russians kind of feel with Putin? But, my parents seem to think he can stand up against China.

Janelle Jolley  31:09  

Kat  31:09  
Like he could go to a meeting with-

Janelle Jolley  31:11  
They think he's tough.

Kat  31:11  

Janelle Jolley  31:12  
And will stand his ground if it ends up being ?

Kat  31:14  
He's got business savvy, and he can go and he's not gonna just let China, you know, push them around. Yeah, exactly. And my parents are very concerned with China's rise, because they gave up everything to come to the United States, which was supposed to be the best, most powerful country in the world. And now that is in question. And so my parents are Team USA, you know?

Janelle Jolley  31:40  
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sure.

Kat  31:40  
They gave up so much. My mom was like- my mom could have had a very happy, chill life in South Korea, probably. Like, she knew the language. She knew the language really well, she had friends. Like, she came here, uprooted herself and just suffered for decades. People want to know that that was not for nothing.

Janelle Jolley  31:58  
I see.

Kat  31:59  

Janelle Jolley  31:59  
That makes sense.

Kat  32:00  
And so it's like, "Oh, he seems like he could stand up for us and we would be strong-

Janelle Jolley  32:04  
And defend-

Kat  32:05  

Janelle Jolley  32:05  
The reasons that I came here.

Kat  32:06  

Janelle Jolley  32:07  
Or, the country I understood this to be and why I came here.

Kat  32:10  

Janelle Jolley  32:10  
Uh-huh, I see, I see. That makes sense.  

Kat  32:11  
Yeah. And I'm just speaking for them, like, based on conversations I've had with them. That was- I was like, "Oh, okay."

Janelle Jolley  32:20  
That makes sense.

Kat  32:21  
Yeah. I have a lot of privilege because I think about how racist, how sexist he is.

Janelle Jolley  32:28  
Yeah, yeah.  

Kat  32:28  
My parents are like, "But the economy's good."

Janelle Jolley  32:31  
Hmm. And it was, up until-  

Kat  32:32  
And it was. He was handed it by Obama and stuff. But like, yeah, it was good, if you just look at the numbers.

Janelle Jolley  32:39  
Yeah, yeah.

Kat  32:41  
And...diabolically he, you know, the stimulus checks? Right? He signed them.

Janelle Jolley  32:46  
That's right.

Kat  32:46  
Not the IRS, head of the IRS. He made sure he signed them. My mom got-

Janelle Jolley  32:51  
? said like, "Don't spend it all in one place."

Kat  32:53  
President Donald Trump helped my mom make more money than she's ever made.

Janelle Jolley  32:59  
That's, and that's honest. An honest to god truth. How do you think about the work we need to do moving forward as leftists, as, you know, progressives, as people who want to live in a better world? How do you think about the work that needs to be done in order to produce a better future? How do you- what are some of your thoughts on that? I'm not...I know that that's a big question because it's like, so the fuck much needs to be done.

Kat  33:33  

Janelle Jolley  33:34  
But, like, how do you think about it? Where are you in your analysis regarding that question? And where do you plug in? Where do you think about plugging in? What emails are you going to send me tso I can join you?

Kat  33:49  
Well, yes, action is very good. And I think it starts with some reflection.

Janelle Jolley  33:55  

Kat  33:58  
Joe Biden was elected president.

Janelle Jolley  34:00  
Which is an absurd thing to even have to say out loud in the year 2020, year of our Lord, but-

Kat  34:05  
Mm-hmm. And this is not...let us all learn from how we behaved when Obama was elected and not repeat that.

Janelle Jolley  34:18  
Hashtag never again.

Kat  34:20  
Yeah, never again. I think actually, it's great that Biden is not so captivating, and such an orator and such like a leader. Because people are like, "Okay, so we did a step, but we still gotta like, you know." And I really hope that stands.

Janelle Jolley  34:41  

Kat  34:43  
I mean, I'm kind of- I'm only half joking here, but I think everyone should some psychedelics. And like-

Janelle Jolley  34:54  
I would 100% do shrooms with you.

Kat  34:56  
Do shrooms, do MDMA, trip some acid, like, plug your brain tendrils into the fact that we are all connected.

Janelle Jolley  35:05  

Kat  35:05  
You are not unto yourself, you are a part of a lineage of, not only your ancestors, but animals and plants and water and-

Janelle Jolley  35:15  
Ahh. Help us.

Kat  35:20  
So, you know, yeah, maybe get into psychadelics in 2021. And then from there- like, because it needs to start in the heart, I think. Our hearts are very-

Janelle Jolley  35:31  
You have to feel that.  

Kat  35:31  
We have had to callus over our hearts just to live. Like just to be- we walk down the street, homeless- I mean, San Francisco, right? Like, so much suffering just out in your face.

Janelle Jolley  35:33  
Yeah, on your sidewalk. Yeah.  

Kat  35:34  
And always- and, because of COVID, we don't really walk around on the street anymore, either. So,, allowing ourselves to feel it, I think is an essential step. The work to do is, I think, inner work. And...and also, like, Pareto's Principle is, what are 20% of the things that I can do that make 80% of the difference, right?

Janelle Jolley  36:18  
Mm-hm, mm-hm.

Kat  36:19  
So instead of policing your own and other people's, like-

Janelle Jolley  36:24  
Individual choices.

Kat  36:25  
Individual choices, how can we come together as a collective and, yeah, become a forcing function on systems and leaders and people with power who are not wielding it effectively, to say the least.

Janelle Jolley  36:41  

Kat  36:41  
If not being flat out corrupt. We are the only ones who can...make America great again, quote, unquote. We are the ones that will do that by connecting to each other. Like, if there's an elderly person in your neighborhood, and it's a really hot day, check in, see if they're okay, right? Yeah, do they have what they need? It just starts with small stuff like that. And you can do whatever it is that you, that's in your wheelhouse. Like, what you like to do, right? Like this podcast, for example. Obviously, you're gifted with the word. Like, yes, do it, amplify it! There's just so many gifts that we all have and we can all, I think, use them to just make sure, like- and I think what I'm leading up to is, I would love to see a radical re-envisioning of your vote, quote, unquote, as not a vote for what you want and what's important to you personally, but let it be a vote for the poorest person in your city.

Janelle Jolley  37:59

Kat  37:59  
Like, what do they need? Cuz you're kind of fine, right? Like, if you're listening to this podcast on your iPhone 10 or whatever, you're fucking doing fine. Yeah, and so, like...make your vote count, like, your vote, your vote. I want to- it needs to be rebranded or something to like, "Our vote," like, "How can we vote?" And I know that that's probably not a very popular thing to say. Like, I actually also- I mean, I'm not of one mind about that. I also believe it's your vote, right? It's totally yours. And politics is pheromonal. Like, you like whoever you like and you don't like what we don't like, and that's fine. But there are people out there who are trying to make a difference for the people who are suffering the most among us. And that says something about someone's character, rather than trying to make rich people more rich. Like that's a very uncreative uninteresting-

Janelle Jolley  39:09  

Kat  39:09  
Platform. Yeah, project. Exactly.

Janelle Jolley  39:11  
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. What are the good parts of it?

Kat  39:17  
The parts of it that work are, I's kind of, in a resigned way, like it is the system that we're in, right?

Janelle Jolley  39:26  

Kat  39:27  
I don't want to....there are many moments where I want to just be like, "Fuck capitalism." And I do, I really feel that way, but-

Janelle Jolley  39:36  
Yeah. You do have a blanket.

Kat  39:37  
But also I'm an entrepreneur. And so I benefit from capitalism. That's how I make my money. Kind of.

Janelle Jolley  39:43  
But here- this is an unnecessary, kind of like, wonky clarification. It's not- I think are able to benefit from having- being able to have more favorable terms under which you sell your labor, like, for your own, you know, for your own, you know, business, your own entrepreneurial enterprise. But that in and of itself, I don't think, is indicative of a part of capitalism working for you. Like you are- you benefit from preferential or favorable terms...favorable conditions under which you exert and sell your labor, but that doesn't...I don't know that that's...I don't know that that's the same as saying that, like, capitalism is working for you. Do you understand what I'm saying? I think it's a component.

Kat  40:38  
Yeah, it's not working for me either on a big sense, right?

Janelle Jolley  40:42  
Sure, sure, sure.

Kat  40:42  
But like, I mean, if we just take supply and demand, I supply something that there's a demand for, basically.

Janelle Jolley  40:48  
Sure, sure.

Kat  40:50  
And I try to think about the reality of that, and how I can basically subvert it to help people who, for whom, they cannot supply.

Janelle Jolley  41:02  

Kat  41:03  
Because they don't have a supply or an education.

Janelle Jolley  41:07  
Then have any purchase in the market.

Kat  41:08  
Yeah, exactly.

Janelle Jolley  41:09  
Or, very much purchase.

Kat  41:10  
And that should not mean that you are a subs- like, a second class or third class citizen.

Janelle Jolley  41:17  
Right, right, right.  

Kat  41:17  
Just because...Google doesn't love you, or whatever, like, whatever, you know...however people make money. I don't know how people make money these days. I don't know how I make money sometimes. But...yeah, I guess the reason I said that has more to do with...I'm no longer interested in just being like, "Fuck capitalism," and just kind of being, you know, like, leaning back? I'm kind of curious about how can we make capitalism find its weakness and make it eat itself? Or something, you know? And I have no answers about that. And it connects really well with what I was saying, in terms of this- the thing to do next is actually a heart centered exercise. And when you go out there and work shoulder to shoulder, or social distance, with other people who are...who want to put in energy and effort towards a vision of the future that you share?

Janelle Jolley  42:09  

Kat  42:10  
It changes you.

Janelle Jolley  42:36  

Kat  42:36  
It changes you incredibly.

Janelle Jolley  42:37  
That's right.

Kat  42:40  
You know, which is why, like, you know, for people who are feeling like really overwhelmed and burnt out on the news, for sure. You know, like the doom scrolling we've all been doing this year, it's like, insane. And a lot of that stuff is like...I mean, politics for a lot of us is a way to kind of cut our teeth on intellect and stuff. You know, it's like, "Yeah, cool." It's really fun to kind do that and-

Janelle Jolley  43:11  
Demonstrate your intellect through how you consume politics.

Kat  43:13  
Yeah. Cuz it's a really interesting intellectual arena.

Janelle Jolley  43:16  

Kat  43:17  
And I don't know how much I'm transformed by those conversations versus phone banking for even 20 minutes.

Janelle Jolley  43:27  
Yeah, that's right.

Kat  43:27  
And talking to someone in Kentucky, like a volunteer for Charles Booker's campaign who was running against Mitch McConnell.

Janelle Jolley  43:34  

Kat  43:34  
And Kentuckians are amazing! They're so nice! And even the ones who did not want to talk to me, were so polite.

Janelle Jolley  43:43  
Yeah, that's right.

Kat  43:43  
And that...that just makes me feel like, you know, I am more American, because I speak to other Americans that are not like me. They don't talk like me, they don't sound like me, and-

Janelle Jolley  43:59  
We may disagree.

Kat  44:00  
Yeah, they disagree with me. And it...and that's where I feel like...that has so much capacity for change.

Janelle Jolley  44:12  
Is getting to know people that may or may not feel like you?

Kat  44:14  
Heart to hearts. Yeah.

Janelle Jolley  44:16  
And just connecting as human beings.

Kat  44:18  
Yeah. They...the circumstances of their material lives differ from yours. That's why they disagree with you politically.

Janelle Jolley  44:27  
That's right. That's right.

Kat  44:28  
They are-

Janelle Jolley  44:29  
Their reality is shaped differently by the material forces that that are acting upon them.

Kat  44:36  
Yeah. And we learned this campaigning for Bernie because initially, you know, we've all been on a call with somebody who initially was anti-Bernie. And then we talk to them and they're like, "Oh, yeah, that matters to me too. My aunt has a chronic illness, and she spends $8,000 a month on health care bills." And it's like, "Yeah, we are- like, this is the 99% of us, right?" And remembering that is not as effective as maybe just stepping out a little bit and actually experience- like, direct somatic body experience of doing that. Cuz, yeah, we went in, made physical calls, we went and walked and knocked on actual doors and talked to people. Like, that is so transformative. It's really hard for me to even describe how exactly.

Janelle Jolley  45:29  

Kat  45:31  
But...yeah, I know what you mean. That leaves a big kernel of hope in me, because we looked people in the eye and we heard their stories.

Janelle Jolley  45:40  
That's right. And now we have to figure out a way to do that- I think what's so difficult right now for me when I think about like, "Okay, what the fuck do I do now?" Like, there's no turning back, you know, I'm just fuckin'...the campaign turned me out. Like, let's be a freak for liberation. But I think that there are so many things that are emerging and coming- trying to come to life and break through, that it's like, "Okay, where do I plug in?" And I think for right now because I'm everybody's bitch out here, you know, like with the A&M thing, it's like- to me, even though that feels insignificant and not like it's going to matter, it's like, "Okay, well just do it. You were asked to throw your name in the hat. So do that. And it see how you can affect things in that arena."

Kat  45:57  

Janelle Jolley  46:01  
But, you know, additionally, it's like, "Okay, is that enough?" And to me, it doesn't feel like enough. So it's like, "Okay, how do, how and where do I plug in?" And I think that there are things that are emerging, like, maybe- what is it? A People's Party. Like, maybe there's a new party forming that, you know, I kind of help out an organize with. Maybe there, with the upcoming, I don't know, efforts that I'm sure will be emerging soon because I just know that they're going to try and nationalize this Prop 22 bullshit. Like, how can I, you know, how can I help out in terms of, you know, being a part of lending some capacity to organizing against things like that, or blah, blah, blah. But it's just seems so much easier under the auspices of a campaign because it's just, it's centralized, it's organized, it's blah, blah, blah. But- and so, I try not to drive myself crazy trying to plug in, but I am, you know, I am plugged in, certainly to a lot of the lefty orgs out here.

Kat  47:38  

Janelle Jolley  47:38  
And maybe that's- and maybe I need to calm my tits and not been such a frenzy of just like, trying to do everything and be everything all the time.

Kat  47:50  
Yeah, I mean, that's another way...yeah, that's another function of capitalism, right? It's like, "Be the best. Optimize the shit out of something." And actually, what happens is like, "Oh, it's okay. Like, just do the 50% optimal thing, but do it and then you have information." And you're like, "Oh, do I want to keep doing this? Or maybe explore something else?" And there are so many orgs out there, and that can get overwhelming, too. So I think it's really important to do this in community.

Janelle Jolley  48:20  
Yeah. Absolutely.

Kat  48:21  
Because we can support each other with different organizations we know about and-

Janelle Jolley  48:26  
Lending capacities.

Kat  48:27  
Yeah. And help you see, you know, talents that maybe you don't see because, you know, we're all kind of like fish swimming in water. Fish don't know, they're swimming in water, right? Unless they jump out and fall back in. They're like, "Whoa, this was where I was swimming the whole time?" You know? So, yeah, I think, like, let's not be individual about this, let's be truly a collective about it in the sense that, like, let's have conversations with each other about how we can do this. Like, my initial thought, like first thought, it might not be the best thought, is I love writing letters and I feel this urge to write to Kamala. I'm like, "Is there something underneath? I totally get it like, you had to make all those choices, or you thought you had to make all those choices, to play the game or whatever. But now that you have this seat of power, can we help wake up the little Kamala who might have been more about justice before-"

Janelle Jolley  49:34  
Okay, we force her hand. If she's like ?-

Kat  49:36  

Janelle Jolley  49:37  
Then, I mean, there are- we just have to get organized and do it. But there's absolutely- there are absolutely ways to do that.

Kat  49:42  
Yeah. So, yeah, just, yeah, just thinking about like, what do you enjoy?

Janelle Jolley  49:48  
Dark as fuck in this bitch. Imma get up for a second and turn the lights on.  

Kat  49:51  
It is! We're like...we're closing out the day. Yeah. Oh, nice. No, not at all. I'm really excited to see what gets...what stays in and what gets cut out.

Janelle Jolley  50:08  
Oh, my producer's about to have the time. Sorry, go ahead, continue.

Kat  50:18  
Yeah. Like, you know, I'm a coach. Small sweet steps.

Janelle Jolley  50:24  

Kat  50:24  

Janelle Jolley  50:24  

Kat  50:24  
Small. We're not gonna, you know, we're not going to like-

Janelle Jolley  50:33  
So, where are the places you're plugging in? And what are- or, what are you thinking about plugging into and why? And, just to give people an idea of some concrete things that you do or are thinking about doing, in addition to just fucking surviving a pandemic?

Kat  50:49  
Yeah. Well, I, you know, I don't have children, so I feel like I have a lot more time than people who do have children. And so I'm, for lots of reasons that I've revealed, you know, today, I'm really passionate about good mental health services for the public, like in terms of public health. And I heard a story, one of my friends' friends, long story short, they were eating outdoors in San Francisco one day and my friend had her baby and a mentally ill homeless woman came over and tried to touch her baby. Or, like, made moves to take her out of the carriage, or whatever. And all of them freaked out.

Janelle Jolley  51:38  
Yeah, yeah.

Kat  51:39  
And one of them called the cops on her. She was a mentally ill homeless black woman. And I was like, aside from being a very Kareny thing to do, I was like, "This is the problem. We only know one number to call."

Janelle Jolley  51:58  

Kat  51:59  
The people who are on the other side of that line are not trained in mental health stuff, generally. There are better numbers to call. And so I looked it up, and San Francisco has, like many cities, has a behavioral health commission, or like a mental health board. And there are 17 total seats, seven of them are just empty, because people are just not...I mean, I don't blame people. I'm barely interested. I'm like, "Ugh, how much fucking bureaucracy am I gonna have to swim through to do a good thing?" But I think at this point, it's more important to me to actually be a citizen of this city and see what is going on. Because all I do is walk down the street and see homeless people and feel horrible.

Janelle Jolley  52:44  
Yeah, that's right.

Kat  52:45  
That I can't do more. So...

Janelle Jolley  52:50  
Are you gonna join this board?

Kat  52:51  
I'm gonna...I'm gonna go to a meeting and see how dysfunctional it might be. And if it's just marginally dysfunctional, I'll try to join it.

Janelle Jolley  53:01  
Nice. I didn't even know that was a thing, so, I mean, thank you.  

Kat  53:03  
There's lots of commissions in San Francisco, like environmental, also labor, you know-

Janelle Jolley  53:09  
Targeted issues that, like they are especially trained or germane to certain issues. So it's like, not everything goes in the catch all of 911.

Kat  53:21  
Yeah, yeah. And also, so this is- you get a seat as a commissioner, or whatever seat as- it sounds way more fancy than it is. It's just like a- it's a citizens commission. And you you meet with, like, different organizations in the city. Like, there are different seats for consumers of mental health. There's different seats for family members, and also mental health practitioners. So anyway, all this to say that probably in your city, there are empty seats, because, millennials, we generally are not interested in-

Janelle Jolley  53:57  
We're also poor and not-

Kat  53:57  
Boring bureaucratic- yeah, we're always working, we're always poor. So, but...I really think our energy is necessary on these boards, because it's a lot of retired people.

Janelle Jolley  54:10  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kat  54:10  
And wastes, like, time.

Janelle Jolley  54:15  
And their understandings of things might be a little-

Kat  54:15  

Janelle Jolley  54:18  
Yeah, different. A little dated. I mean, I'm not- not to- I don't do the generational shit talking thing. But we do, you're right, we do need to be...I think it would help us and help society at large if we become more active and integrated and not just leave things for, either retirees, or fuckin', you know, pussy-ass moderates.

Kat  54:37  
Yeah. Or people who are just holding these seats to gain political power and run for something like city council later.

Janelle Jolley  54:45  
They don't care about the issues.

Kat  54:46  
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And as Adam rightly, like, I mean, I cite him a lot here because he's a big influence.

Janelle Jolley  54:53  
Will be on this podcast.

Kat  54:54  
Yes, he will. You will love it. Hold on to your butts. But, you know who has power? People who are willing to do boring stuff and attend boring meetings.

Janelle Jolley  55:07  
That's absolutely right.

Kat  55:08  
That's where it happens. All kinds of shit gets decided because we're just too bored to go. We're like, "No, we're not going to go."

Janelle Jolley  55:15  

Kat  55:15  
"I'd rather be on Instagram."

Janelle Jolley  55:16  
That's right.

Kat  55:17  
For sure.

Janelle Jolley  55:17  
I would rather be sexting right now.

Kat  55:19  
Yeah. Way more interesting. But, yeah, so that's one thing. I gotta give a shout out to Sunrise Movement. Like, Sunrise Movement is one of the best organized climate justice movements. It's also a political movement, because they do people power and political power. So part of what they do is put pressure- they, like, bird dog politicians, like put them on the spot.

Janelle Jolley  55:47  

Kat  55:47  
And try to make the video go viral. And it's worked really well.

Janelle Jolley  55:51  
Right on.  

Kat  55:51  
And in terms of, yeah, like, I mean, even on a small level, I do want to write a letter to Kamala and just see how that goes. And maybe if I could organize other people to write to her as well? I don't know who reads mail these days, you know? It's like, are these emails? Is this snail mail? I don't know. But it does feel like the most empowering to be like, "Dear Kamala, I am talking to you about this. I am talking and you are not talking. So I can say this to you." You know? And, like, what's left to do? So much! And so literally, like anything..any- I think any issue in your community that has an emotional charge for you? Like, maybe follow that, you know? Like, pull yourself along that rope and see where you end up because we- like, civic participation in our society is at an all time low.

Janelle Jolley  56:53  
Yeah, yeah.

Kat  56:54  
And that's how stuff like this happens with Trump getting elected. Trump is a symptom, not the rot problem, core rot problem, as they say on Rising very often. So.

Janelle Jolley  57:05  
Right on. Thank you for that. Because I don't know why, but I just never even considered like, "Oh, yeah, there's probably, especially in a city with such a high population of homeless people, many of whom have mental illness, there probably is a, you know, a body to help with that or address that-"

Kat  57:13  
There's a 24 hour, I think, like, not well funded enough, clinic, where like, ostensibly, if you saw a homeless person and they asked you for money and they were really down and out, you could put them in a Lyft, send them there, so that they could have a warm bed to sleep on and detox from whatever drugs they're on, you know? Like, that exists.

Janelle Jolley  57:53  

Kat  57:53  
And nobody talks about that, right? Because we just...we just get so frozen and overwhelmed by the plight, that we don't know what to do.

Janelle Jolley  58:00  

Kat  58:00  
But there are numbers, there are organizations, there's public health money. Also-

Janelle Jolley  58:04  
Still underfunded, but-

Kat  58:07  
A little bird told me that the city of San Francisco has defunded the police by the tune of about $150 million dollars.

Janelle Jolley  58:18  
They just got a raise.

Kat  58:18  
Oh, they did, I saw that. But also-

Janelle Jolley  58:19  
You mean the general-

Kat  58:21  
The general, yeah. And that money is supposed to get allocated to the community. So like, basically, how can we get people arrested less? Or whatever, like, helping them, give them actual services?

Janelle Jolley  58:38  
Hmm, thank you. Thank you, Comrade Kat! She knows everything. That's why she's on here.

Kat  58:43  
I really don't. I know less than nothing, but I'm just willing to fake it.

Janelle Jolley  58:52  
Is there any...are there any parting words that you would like to share with our community of listeners?

Kat  58:59  
You know, the people who are listening to this probably enjoy the podcast, because who wouldn't enjoy this podcast? I'm like, totally obsessed. And, you know, we value knowledge. But I think what want to say is, you know enough. You know more than enough to take an action. And during this holiday season when a lot of us are sheltering in place, you can still do something, right? And I think everyone- I think a lot of people want to. And there are very creative ways to figure out what that might be, and to go on a journey with that. So I encourage that. Also, it's a great time to give if you don't have a lot of time, which a lot of us don't because hashtag neoliberalism. My husband Adam, and I started- oh, it's a way easier, way better, we think, way to give to charity, which is called The Foundation For Indexed Giving. It's like index funds but for charities. We've done a lot of research, many, many hours of research, so you don't have to, into the climate crisis, women, mothers, and girls, and also Black Lives Matter. So we're at

Janelle Jolley  1:00:33  
Talking to Kat was really helpful for my understanding of how or why some first generation immigrants supported Trump. Which makes a ton more- she mentioned starting with her husband. You can check it out at I'll put that in the show notes. Okay, see you next week.

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