|Who is this Jolian person?|
|A short autobiography|
|I was born during the Reagan years into what could (generously) be called "modest" circumstances. My mother worked as a waitress, and my father was a night janitor at the same restaurant. A disabled veteran of the Vietnam era, he was fortunate enough to still have the physical capacity to perform manual labor, in addition to building our house from the foundation up. Growing up in a household where money was always tight, I quickly learned the merit of perseverance and determination.
The harsh climate of New Hampshire wreaked havoc on my respiratory system from an early age. As a family, we lacked health coverage, meaning visits to the doctor could only come during particularly serious bouts of illness. I took to stuffing my pockets full of facial tissue before school each morning, so I could clear my nose and be able to breathe throughout the day.
(It wasn't until years later, when I arrived in California as an adult, that the condition noticeably cleared. Having access to medical cannabis has helped to reduce my congestion and alleviate the nausea it caused, something for which I am infinitely grateful.)
As a youngster, I quickly became interested in a number of political causes, from making health care more affordable for all, to allowing guest workers to contribute to our national economy without fear of harassment. Going against the grain in an arguably conservative political climate, defeat became an expectation, and indeed, even a badge of honor. For as enviable as it may have at times seemed to be on the winning side, I then, as now, refused to compromise on my convictions.
We tried to abolish the death penalty; the then-democratic governor vetoed the legislation. We tried to replace the regressive local property tax system with a more equitable and viable income tax; our efforts seemingly pushed the state even further towards the political right. Yet there were high points as well. It took many years of letter-writing and activism, participating in marches and demonstrations, but we finally got New Hampshire to recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. Day-- the last state in the union to do so.
After intensive involvement with a state senate campaign during my senior year of high school, I thought I knew my calling in life: political management. Being a behind-the-scenes organizer was appealing from an intellectual angle, as it would have given me the opportunity to work with a number of candidates and causes. So at the age of 18, I headed to Washington, DC to attend the George Washington University.
It seemed so glamourous at first: there I was, living and learning in the capital of the most powerful country on Earth. But the University was surrounded by poverty. The Eastern half of the city was devoid of grocery stores, let alone hospitals. Homeless citizens were freezing to death on the streets surrounding the campus. I saw them: huddled over steam grates, struggling to stay warm, trying to get a few hours of rest, and being stepped over by my classmates.
As the semesters wore on, I realized that it was all a lie. I was trying to become a part of a corrupt system, one that preached progress and development, while quietly encouraging greed and indifference on behalf of the ruling elites. I became a nervous wreck. I couldn't eat, or sleep, or live with myself, taking out loans to cover the $40,000 cost of attendance, writing papers that were required regurgitations of neoconservative principles and being forever at odds with the rest of the student population.
After my third semester, I couldn't take it anymore. The classes were easy on an academic level, but completely at odds with my sense of compassion and equality. I returned to New Hampshire, tail between my legs, feeling my failure like never before. It seemed so hopeless: my attempts at finding employment were fruitless, my credit card debts began to pile up, and to top it all off, my apartment was burglarized. As another 6-month winter descended upon the land, I was at a loss as to what to do with myself.
Then I had a spiritual awakening of sorts. People speak of such advents in various religious terms. For me, it wasn't a revelation of any specific faith. It was far more simple than that, more plain and direct; I saw the Sun. For the first time ever, it appeared to me not only as the light that guides us through our days, but as the giver of all life on Earth. And concurrently, I realized there was one dream from my childhood that remained very much alive and vibrant, and that was the dream of living in California, where the Sun always shines.
Luckily I knew two friends who lived in Oakland at the time, and with their moral support I packed up my battered Ford Taurus and drove westward until I reached San Francisco.
In the years since, I have accomplished things that during my darkest hour I never thought possible. I found a job with a dynamic retail company that allows me a great deal of autonomy and constantly solicits my input. I've been able to start repaying debts incurred through years of living expenses. I enrolled at classes at Humboldt State University, one of the finest institutions in the CSU system, where I will soon be completing my bachelor's degree. And I've even been able to rent a two bedroom house in the beautiful city of Blue Lake.
With all the blessings California has bestowed upon me, it has become evident that our wonderful state is faced with a serious lack of leadership. Our government has descended into a tit-for-tat series of arguments and disputes between corporate-controlled interests. It's the same problem that I lived through in New Hampshire, caused by the same element of greed and corruption that I met in Washington, DC. Identifying the problem is the easy part; positing a solution requires time and devotion, a challenge to which I am ready to rise.
I may be young, but I feel that it's time to give something back. That's why I'm running for governor.