30 Days of Women: Cas Olejniczak
So, 6 months ago I went to the Iron Horse hotel in Milwaukee, I was at the bar trying to get a drink for what felt like forever. I tried flagging down as many people as possible but nothing seemed to work. Then out of nowhere comes this insanely beautiful lady. Confidence, poise and a big ass smile. She comes up to me, asks if I need anything and at that point I had honestly completely forgotten what I had even wanted.
I ask for a bourbon on the rocks and she gives to me. I remember very vividly thinking at how warm this person was. I thanked her happily and thought nothing of it.
Fast forward 6 months, this exact same woman is having a drink with me in my house telling me about her life.
Telling me of her trails, tribulations and her overall badassness.
I guess the point of all this is, to relate how incredible life can be. How opening up yourself to incredible new opportunities can lead to the most amazing things. I give you,
Cas How Old are you?
24 What gets you out of the bed? My desire to avoid feeling completely useless. Who was the last person you were in love with, are you still in contact?
I'm obviously not going to name the dude. We have to coexist in Milwaukee, so we politely disregard each other when we see each other out.
Are you from Milwaukee?
I'm not. I grew up in a rural community in Northeastern Wisconsin.
How often do you feel you have to dumb yourself down for a man, do you ever do it?
I never feel like I "have to" dumb myself down, because I would rather just stop fucking with someone who doesn't get it. However, I find myself having to make that choice pretty frequently.
Whats dating like for you in the city?
Ever been married or close to?
Nah. That's not for me. Whats been the most influential thing to happen to you thus far, either good or bad? Going to college. I sometimes discredit it because my degree doesn't mean shit (B.A. Psychology) and I could have just avoided a lifetime of student debt by not going to a private liberal arts school for a meaningless degree BUT... Retrospectively I can say that I grew up in an environment where everything was very okay all the time, and I never had to deal with anything real. I utilized my time in school to learn a lot about the world, figured out that it's not a great place for a lot of people, etc. I could have just grown up to become a sad racist housewife like the rest of the girls I went to high school with, but instead I learned some shit and got out to do something about the state of things. Who's been the most influential male in your life?
That's difficult to answer. I grew up in a sort of "Full House" environment with my mother, grandfather, and three uncles Wade, Shane, and Christopher.
My grandpa taught me my love and appreciation for nature. Wade empowered me to go to college and do better for myself than the rest of our family had done for themselves. Shane taught me to question social conventions and to never take myself too seriously. Christopher introduced me to my spirituality. I'm very lucky.
What's been your biggest struggle in life thus far?
Remember that student loan debt I mentioned a minute ago?
How do you respond to really rough situations?
I'd like to say I face difficulties head-on and with confidence, and I suppose sometimes I do.. But usually I smoke a lot of weed and cry or regress to childhood and play Zelda. I have the worst coping skills.
Who inspires you to persevere most?
My mother, without question. Classic story, broke single mom, worked her ass off my whole life, taught me independence, taught me strength. Any time I feel down on my life, I remember everything that she overcame and I'm like, "nope, I'll be alright."
What's your biggest daily struggle?
Wack dudes trying to holla when I'm trying to read, work, or exist in solitude. I think I do a good job of putting out the "don't try it" vibe when I'm not interested in receiving communications, but motherfuckers are inept. Also, catcalling. Woof.
Have you always been strong or did life force you this way?
I don't know if I've always been "strong," but I've always been stubborn and I've always known what's good and what's not, and I've always been assertive. So all the elements were there, but the crucial awareness came later.
What's a struggle you face everyday in the city?
What's a female struggle that you feel is unique to you?
I feel like I'm conceptualized a lot. I'm not sure if it's unique to me, but it's something I haven't heard many other women talk about. When you have a "thing," whether that's a specific look or commanding personality or whatever it is, people put you into a box or on a pedestal, then are disappointed when you're different than what they estimated you to be, whether it's more or less.
What do you do for a living?
I solve the population crisis (I am an administrative assistant at an abortion clinic). Do you like it? Did you always?
I haven't been at it very long, actually. I went to school for psychology, and for a long time I was the administrator of a group home for women with severe mental illnesses. Then I worked as an AODA Case Manager at a hospital. Working in healthcare- especially mental healthcare and AODA- you see a lot of really bad stuff, a lot of corruption and moneygrubbing in the system. I had this huge crisis this past spring where I couldn't stand getting up and going to work because I saw myself trying to help people, but I knew I was actually just perpetuating their problems and feeding money to the hospital and pharmaceutical companies. It was extra wack.
My first two years in Milwaukee, I volunteered at the clinic I now work for. I spent every Saturday morning outside in a vest escorting women into the clinic while they were berated and harassed by anti-choice protestors. When I left the hospital, I called the clinic coordinator and asked her for a job. I started the next day. I have never loved anything more than I love this. Every day, I hug women who are having the worst days of their lives. I coordinate funding to make procedures possible. I educate women AND men about reproductive health and safety. I also get to shout at the misogynist fucks standing outside holding signs. It's good.
Where's your favorite place you've traveled?
Costa Rica was pretty cool. When I was 19 I convinced my boyfriend to go in on an all-inclusive. We met sloths and ziplined on some super tourist shit. I'd like to go back as a not-so-silly being and actually experience it for what it is, because it was gorgeous.
Where the next location?
Saving for a trip to Sweden this winter.
What's difficult a both traveling alone as a woman?
I've never traveled alone but I want to. I don't like traveling with people, actually. I like to plan for myself and not worry about other people's intentions or impositions. That's what Sweden is for.