Don’t be Internet Creepy

21 Nov

Here is a weird thing that happened this morning. (By the way it is only 9:30am and I am already having a little bit of a stress attack due to The Internet. It is TOO EARLY for such nonsense.) So I woke up this morning to a bunch of alerts on my phone. This is normal. The following fit squarely into the “normal” category:

1. Really late text messages from people wondering if I am working or out, or from people wanting to send me hilarious gifs and messages because, I have come to realize, I am the person for a lot of people where when something funny or weird happens and they think to themselves “who would appreciate this?” the answer is Rebekah. Rebekah would appreciate it. So I get a lot of funny texts which makes me exceedingly happy. Especially when I read them first thing in the morning. Great way to start the day. For real. I am not being sarcastic. Please keep sending them. Please.

2. A bunch of emails but mostly they are bullshit, like investment advice and crap from The Central Park Conservancy, a mailing list that I never signed up for and have unsubscribed from about a dozen times, not that anyone is counting.

3. A notification of all the apps on my phone that need updates which I mostly ignore because most the apps came with my phone and they are stupid.

4. A New York Times rundown that I peruse because it is good to know the happs, even the very limited happs from the perspective of one news source.

Those things are all normal. Sometimes, though, things that are abnormal happen. Or at least slightly out of the ordinary. Those sorts of things are exciting. Here is a list of some of the things that happen overnight that when I wake up I’m like “woah! What could this be about?!”:

1. Comments on this blog. The thing about that though is that when I receive comments on this blog during the night they are usually either spam (recently a lot of the spam that has been getting through is from a junk account called “testosterone pills” and I can’t for the life of me figure out why this account won’t stop hounding me via nonsensical crap) or from the psycho lawyer who sends me mean messages from throw away email accounts when he’s wasted at like 3am on a Wednesday.

2. New blog followers and blog likes. That makes me feel good! It has been a slow-growth process but one of these days shit will get real. I believe it.

3. Twitter activity! I am not good at Twitter. I have been trying to get better at it by posting things more often and that seems to be working out okay for example the other day I made a new Twitter friend and I felt pretty good about it. We Tweeted back and forth for a few minutes. About Anonymous. It was invigorating.

4. Facebook friend requests. Okay, this is a mixed bag. I am not excited about this so much as slightly nervous. It’s like, when I click on the thing to see who is trying to be my “friend,” I kind of cringe and halfway look away, as if whoever it is is going to somehow jump out of the phone and do, well, I don’t know what they would do. Depends on the person I guess. If it was this one kid I went to middle school with he would tell me I had boogers on my nose. He always used to tell me that whether I had boogers or not. I blame him for my rather unladylike habit of wiping my nose on my sleeve.

5. Instagram things. I have been really liking Instagram. I follow NatGeo and that is really awesome. The other day they posted this video of a parasitic wasp larva that eats a spider and then takes over the spider’s web and it was totally awesome. Gross, but awesome. Also my friends do cool shit. And The Fat Jewish is on there and that cracks me up. That account put on a really fucked up joke about Anne Frank that I shouldn’t have laughed at but I did. Really hard. It made me feel bad about myself as both a Jew and a human being.

6. LinkedIn notifications. Did I even spell the site right? I don’t know and honestly, I don’t really care. And that is because I am less excited about these than any of the other things because, meh, professional networking site. What a snooze.

Anyway, so whenever any of these abnormal things happen I think to myself, “self, today is going to be a bizarre and interesting day.” And today is one such day. So this is what happened:

  • I woke up this morning and realized that I had a request on LinkedIn.
  • I went onto LinkedIn and looked at the profile and realized that I had no clue who this person was but that we do have some ‘interests’ in common, at least as far as LinkedIn is concerned, and we had two shared contacts who, as far as I know, don’t know one another. Okay! Seems legit!
  • I approved the LinkedIn contact because, really, what do I care. I don’t really use LinkedIn. Too stuffy. My photo is of me drinking a cup of coffee in Guatemala. Decidedly unprofessional.
  • I got a new endorsement from my new LinkedIn contact who somehow magically knows what I am good at? LinkedIn is so silly.
  • A few moments later I had a notification from Twitter that I had gotten a new follower. How fun! Then I realized that my new follower was none other than my new LinkedIn connection. What a strange coincidence!
  • More notifications from Twitter! A new retweet! And a favorite! Wow! What a day! Wait? Is that who I think it is? It is! My new Twitter follower who also happens to be my new LinkedIn connection.
  • I felt weird so I went on the GChatz and immediately chatted my friend and told her about all the events and she was like “cool? but maybe mostly creepy?” and then….

Me: oh my god and now he found me on Facebook! WHAT THE FUCK?!
CJ Rene: who is he?
Me: I DON’T KNOW! (I was stuck in caps. It happens more often than I care to admit.)

So then I looked at his LinkedIn page and I realized that people on LinkedIn can see when you look them up on there which is part of the reason I never use it and then I had a freak out. Because I don’t want him to know I am looking! But my friend told me that he is being creepy so obviously I would look at his page but he probably doesn’t think he is being creepy. Maybe this is normal for him? Like, a normal day like one of my normal days during which I do not connect with strangers on every social media platform I can think of. So then I thought maybe I would message him on Twitter and be like,

“Um, hey, I’m sure you’re nice and all but what you’re doing right now with the rapid-fire connecting on The Internet is really bugging me out.”

But you can’t message someone on Twitter unless you are following one another and I wasn’t following him so that avenue was closed to me. So I did the only reasonable thing, I rejected the friend request. I did that because, well, I don’t know this person and also because I don’t want to encourage him to then try and find me on Instagram. And then I felt really happy that I upped my Instagram security settings because, as my friend Emily said, “no one needs their Instagram being public.” So true. And then I started writing this blog.

There are a few points to this story. One of the points is that even when you are well-intentioned, which this person might very well be, going on a connection spree with someone you don’t know, especially someone of the opposite gender, can be seen as a little, um, weird? And also scary? Especially when that person happens to be sort of afraid of The Internet even though all her shit is on here and easily searchable, as was reenforced this morning by the aforementioned story. I guess I already really explained the other point which is that I am scared of The Internet. Like, actually terrified of it. And it is maybe good to be reminded every now and again that the things that are out there don’t just go into the abyss, they are findable and readable by all sorts of people, well-meaning or otherwise.

So that’s today. I am going to go for a run now and contemplate The Internet and my presence on it. And also wonder whether my new LinkedIn connection, Twitter follower and rejected Facebook friend is reading this blog. And if after reading it he unconnects and unfollows. Only time will tell. Stay tuned.

A Call to Arms

16 Nov

I have a topic in mind that I want to write about (which I likely will not actually get to) but first I would like to share with you all a little snippet of an email I received from my student loan provider, an organization that I not-so-lovingly call Numbnut (actual name, Nelnet). And, honestly, you should read that thing I linked to because it’s a letter I wrote to Numbnut awhile back and I just reread it and it was good, actually. Probably better than this post is going to be to be entirely honest with you. Maybe just skip this one and read the other one, unless of course you want to know what the real topic is that I plan on writing about (hint: the topic is The Duggars and I am totally not ever going to get to it). Anyway, so let me say the thing about Numbnut so we can move on (we will never move on). So recently I have been in a financial, how should I put it, bind. I mean, it’s not so bad but I could really use a new pair of running shoes and I have to take my cats to the vet and neither of those things seem likely to occur in the immediate future. And you know who I am blaming for this? You got it, Numbnut and the entire fucking student loan racket. Also, the US Government. Seriously you guys, I know that having a piece of paper saying I can do things is awesome, but going back to school was probably the worst financial decision I have ever made in my entire life. Invest in your future, they said. There will be jobs when you’re finished. Well here’s what I have to say to this all-knowing group of anonymous soothsayers:

Go fuck yourselves.

Seriously. I mean, hey, you know what’s a good fucking idea? Let’s take a whole bunch of people out of the workforce now to try and cushion our employment numbers and then dump them back a few years from now once all this nonsense is over and then, and then, we will take everything they have in the form of unethically-high interest rates on government bought, owned and then sold loans. A bunch of thieves, I tell you. I will happily pay my goddamn loans back when the interest on my savings account gets anywhere in the neighborhood of 6.8%. I’m not asking for much. A clean 3% would be nice. Off-topic again. Sorry.

Anyway, so I got this email from Numbnut that, among other little bits of wisdom, contained the following sentence:

“If you’re in repayment, we’ll do everything we can to help your loan payment fit comfortably into your budget and make repayment as easy as possible.”

Um, you’re lying. You will not do everything you can, Numbnut. So this is what pisses me off. I had this conversation with my dad a few weeks ago (have you noticed that I am basically always having conversations with my dad? He is like FranklyRebekah famous, if that is even a thing.)  And in the conversation which my dad instigated because he became focused on my student loans (he focuses on things, it’s great), we determined that because so many people can’t find jobs and therefore cannot afford to pay their loans back people like me who bust their balls to uphold their end of the bargain end up being chumps. (Yes, my father actually called me a chump. And he was SO right.) Like, when this whole thing blows up and the country faces yet another financial catastrophe, am I going to get a medal that says

“Wow, Rebekah, you’re really swell! Sorry you just flushed all that money you didn’t actually have down the toilet!”

No, no I am not. I am going to get nothing but the feeling that I was taken for an extremely expensive ride. And all because I am a total stressball when it comes to money and like obsessively need to pay things back regardless of the amount of pressure it puts on my life. So here’s the thing. I do autodebit for my loans. Why? Because every time I look at my loans, and the dollar equivalent of 6.8%, I fly into a rage. So I find it best to just let the money go quietly out of my account without me really having to actually face it. Avoidance is the only way forward. But the thing is that Numbnut will not allow me to autopay anything other than the monthly payment, despite the fact that my anxiety means that I am more than a year ahead of my loans. I don’t actually owe anything until this time next year. So can I pay less monthly, just to keep the interest from mounting? Nope, sure can’t! I have to go onto the Numbnut site and transfer the money from my bank which, as I mentioned before, throws me into a blind rage.

Breath, Rebekah.

You know what the thing is? With the interest rate where it is, and potentially going up (thanks Republicans! You cats are AWESOME!), there is actually no way for this shit to “fit comfortably into my (or most other people’s) budget.” You know what I do for a living? I serve drinks. And spend a lot of time writing for free on the internet.

I guess here’s the thing. I went back to school to feel like I was more qualified to do things. And to be honest, I think I am way more qualified to write for free on the internet than I was before. I might even be qualified to write for money if any of you know anyone who would like to pay me. The thing that going back to school did not give me that I was fairly certain it would was options. Because here is the thing. Sometimes we go through things to teach us what we want to do but also what we don’t want to do. I do not want to work in an office. I do not want to have to deal with nonsense office politics and type-A competitive people and organizations with questionable funding, histories and policies. Those are some of the things that I learned. And I find value in those things. I also learned how to be more self-critical, how to engage more in what is going on around me, how important my values and ethics are and who I want to surround myself with. Those things matter. They make me a better part of my community. All of those things don’t, however, help me pay back my student loans.

But here is the other thing. I am valuable. I, along with a lot of my peers who are also struggling under the weight of their student loans, deserve to get the chance we were told we would get. I know that we took the loans out, but we took the loans out with certain banks and then got cycled through the government and farmed out to other companies without being asked our permission. And meanwhile so many of these large financial organizations are being exposed for the lying cheats that they are. They have been stealing from people for fucking YEARS and now here we are, many of us working in non-profit or the same goddamn jobs we were forced to keep through school in order to make ends meet and we are suffering. We are a resource! We have so much to offer but so many people are taking jobs with companies they don’t believe in so they can pay their loans off. Give us a break. Let us do the good things we went to school for. Let us get out there and make things better.

Or are you too scared? Come on, United States Government, be honest, do we make you nervous?

Photography, Random Run-ins, and Cousin Cookie

6 Nov

Back in 2003, I, along with 22 other intrepid students, went on a year long expedition around the world, learning about politics, economics, ecology, feminism, and all sorts of other things. More than anything, though, I would say that we learned how to be proper human beings. We learned what it meant to go into other people’s countries, other peoples homes, and understand that we were guests there. We had to learn to suspend our own cultural norms in an effort to try and fit, as best we could, into our new and extremely different surroundings. This proved easier in some situations – Cambridge, England, for example, where our biggest concern was remembering that in England the word “pants” is actually synonymous to the American “underwear” – than in, say, Zanzibar, Tanzania, where in incredibly hot temperatures we kept our heads, shoulders and knees covered in an attempt to be respectful towards the majority Muslim population there.* I’m sure that as a group of 22 American, and one super awesome Bulgarian, students traveling through England, Tanzania, India, New Zealand and Mexico we unintentionally offended some people but the point is that we tried. We asked questions of our hosts and attempted to understand local norms and customs as best we could so as to represent ourselves, and our countries, to the best of our abilities. Overall I think we did a pretty good job.

One of the things that we learned about, and something that I have kept with me ever since, involved photography. We were taught that in certain cultures, people believe that when their photograph is taken, a piece of their soul is taken with it. Whether or not we believe this to be the case, it is important to respect the beliefs of those around you and so we were taught to always, always ask permission before photographing anyone. Consent is key. It might mean that sometimes you don’t quite get the photo that you hoped, but who the hell cares, really. There is something sort of fucked up about taking photographs of people without asking them first, especially when we are surrounded by those who have lived incredibly different lives than us. To me, it reeks of voyeurism. I know that when I have been traveling and have caught people taking photographs of me I have felt somewhat dehumanized. These people don’t know me, don’t know my name, where I am from, what I am about, and yet they want to capture this image of me and what? Show their friends? It’s this idea that an image of me could be in someone else’s home and I could have no idea that always makes me think twice about snapping a photo of someone I don’t know, someone who didn’t consent to it. The idea that a part of our soul is taken every time that flash goes off starts hitting a little closer to home.

Let’s maybe take this down a notch in seriousness, largely because I haven’t had enough coffee yet and this is making my brain hurt. So in New York City you come to find that the longer you live here, the smaller and smaller this town becomes. Partially that is because as we live here longer, our personal map of the city changes. There are certain parts of the city that we know nothing about  - for me it’s just about everything above 34th street and most of North Brooklyn – and then other parts where we can practically dictate the store fronts in order. The city just becomes smaller and the more we circulate within the territory of our truncated maps, the more people we end up seeing until the point when you go to the grocery store and run into about 12 people on the way home, all the while Toffuti Cuties are melting in your environmentally conscious shopping bag. In your own neighborhood, and especially when you are a neighborhood bartender, this is pretty normal. But it is always super fun and exciting when you run into people randomly in other parts of the city that you rarely frequent. Like that time I ran into some girls I went to high school with on the 6 platform in Manhattan, or the time my mom came to visit and we saw her massage therapist, who works in New Jersey, on University Place. I mean, really, what are the odds?! And every time this happens I think to myself

“Self, mere seconds in either direction, one different decision, one missed or caught light, and I never would have run into that person.”

And then I start thinking about all the people that I probably just barely miss. And then I think about how if my life were a sitcom, which I sometimes like to think it is, the audience would be like

“No! Turn on that street! That guy that you made out with in college is walking this way and it might be a love connection!!!”

And then would come the sad, prerecorded

“Awwwwwww….”

when I proceeded on course and missed what could have been the love of my life. Or some other bullshit. Anyway, back to photographs. So on a similar theme, have you ever thought about how many times you might be in other people’s photos? Like, just walking along and you get in the background of some group picture or something? Now, this is something I think about a lot, like, how weird would it be to go to someone’s house and look at an awesome family photograph on their mantel and then see yourself casually walking through the background? Mind blown, right? I mean, you could be on someone’s mantel right now! And not even know it! And they might notice you one day and be like,

“Huh, I wonder where that person was going on this day that is forever remembered as the day that Cousin Cookie drank too many pickle back shots and hasn’t been able to look at cucumbers the same way since.”

I don’t know, it’s just a thing I think about it. There was a This American Life on it a few years back but I was thinking about this long before I heard that episode. It just made me realize that other people think about it too and maybe, just maybe, some of you, dear readers, also think about it.

So this post totally just went on a really weird adventure from the ethics of photography to random run-ins and Cousin Cookie. Funny thing is that I was going to write about this weird thing that happened at work the other day and see what you guys all thought about it but now I have already written over a thousand words so it doesn’t seem the best time to ask you to read much more. So, that’s a post for next time. I guess just remember this: ask permission to take other people’s photos otherwise you might end up on the mantel of some family in the midwest that gives each other nicknames based off their favorite snack foods.

* I know that’s not that difficult but I haven’t had enough coffee yet so it’s all I could think of. Also, there were some people on vacation there wearing short shorts and tube tops and it was really, really inappropriate. Like, wildly.

Woman from Street Harassment Video Receives Rape Threats, No One is Surprised

30 Oct

Over the past few days a video documenting the degree to which women experience street harassment in New York City has been making the rounds on the internet. As of this moment, 11:49am on Thursday, October 30, 2014, the video has been viewed 15,831,699 times and that is only the official link from Hollaback!. The Hollaback! video was a small excerpt from a 10 hour long silent walk that Shoshana B. Roberts did, all the while being videotaped by Rob Bliss who walked in front of her, a camera hidden in his backpack. If you haven’t watched it, you should. This will either bring back memories of your own experience of street harassment, or give you a little taste of what it is like to be a woman walking the streets of New York, and, really, any other city.

Watch it. Because while there are some problems – as pointed out in this Slate article although the video claims that she was harassed by people of every background, the vast majority of the men featured in this video are either black or Latino – it makes a really great point of what it means to be female in public. Just yesterday, for example, on my walk home from the super market, a man in a truck honked at me, and then proceeded to park in the crosswalk I was about to enter in order to comment on my outfit and my legs. The only response when you’re on a relatively desolate street right near Hamilton Avenue? Keep your eyes straight ahead and walk on lest you are dealing with a person with anger management problems. And the thing about it, the thing that is so incredibly fucked up, is that that shit didn’t even phase me. I had already experienced 3 other men commenting on my legs, been “god blessed” about half a dozen times, been leered at, honked at, had cars slow down as they passed me, been wished a good day, and had someone tip his fucking hat at me. And it was only 4:30 pm. I had left the house at 1. This shit is so goddamn normal that I completely forgot about it until I came across an incredibly upsetting article.

Since the release of the video, Shoshana B. Roberts has been receiving rape threats on the internet. I would love to say that I am shocked by this but the reality? Not so much. This is completely and totally unsurprising. And I am not the only one to feel this way. Kelsey McKinney over at vox put it really well in her article on the subject, emphasis mine:

“Let’s lay this out in plain terms. Women are forced to feel uncomfortable and scared for walking down the damn street. Then, when one woman takes the time to show just how uncomfortable those interactions are, people threaten to physically assault her. If the video reminded us that women are constantly made to feel unsafe when they leave the house, the response is a reminder that women are constantly made to feel unsafe when they simply turn on their computer.”

And it is so true. I don’t know if you guys remember a few months back when I decided to poke the bear that is the Men’s Rights Movement. I wrote three different articles on the subject and I have to say I don’t think I have ever received so many comments, all of them negative. None of the comments were scary or violent in nature. They were just, well, stupid. They were written by angry people who have created for themselves some incredibly bizarre alternate reality within which they, American white men and their brain-washed white female supporters, are somehow the oppressed class. There is no reasoning with them. They live in a land where logic simply does not exist and all events can somehow be changed and manipulated in order to feed into their myth of the misandry of American culture spear-headed, of course, by the “feminist agenda.” They have been in the mix of people claiming that if Roberts were to have worn something less revealing then maybe she wouldn’t have been harassed so much. As David Futrelle from We Hunted the Mammoth said,

“Today I learned that wearing clothes that cover up most of your body is the same as going outside practically naked.”

Sadly I am reminded of this fact daily, whether I am wearing running clothes, a dress or a puffy fucking winter jacket. Back to the point. So after Day 3 of me fucking with a bunch of MRAs, my dad called me up and said, and I am paraphrasing here,

“I know this is going to make you mad but hear me out. I need you to lay off this stuff you’ve been writing about.”

And you know what? It did make me mad. Because I should be able to say whatever the fuck I want. I mean, everyone else does, right? I should be able to call people on their bullshit and tell people that there is nothing complimentary about having a man whisper in your ear as you walk down the street on your way to mail your cable bill, or have some assholes in a pick up truck comment on your clothing while they drive past, only to then run into them 20 minutes later in the super market. But my dad also had a point. The reality of the situation is that while the internet appears to be a safe place for the anonymous rape and death threats that men seem to feel entitled to hurl at women who speak their minds, the internet is very much not a safe place for those of us doing the speaking. Under our real names. Because we are responsible people who stand by our beliefs. I didn’t really see it at the time, probably because I am stubborn as shit and don’t like to be told what I should and should not discuss on my own personal website. And I also believe that I have a responsibility to myself, and to women in general, to say these things. We should be able to speak our minds, to design video games, to call out bullshit, to believe that we are deserving of respect and safety. And you know what? We shouldn’t have to fear our information being made public. We shouldn’t be bombarded with threats of violence. We shouldn’t be going into hiding. This is fucking ridiculous.

And the thing that makes it even more ridiculous is that all this shit does is prove the point that women, and our allies, are trying to make. That we are not safe. Anywhere. That we are not valued. That our opinions don’t matter. But guess what? We aren’t going anywhere. So bring it, mother fuckers.

Also, that video has now been viewed 16,451,646 times and counting. Let’s keep the conversation going and let Shoshana and the Hollaback! team know that they are supported and, hopefully, safe..

This is Me, Trying not to Give a Fuck About Assholes

21 Oct

I originally learned to bartend from a guy I used to date. He had just opened his own bar and had been in the game for awhile. I had done pretty much everything Front of House but bartend, save for pouring a few beers here and there. So there I was one night, having a glass of wine at his bar after coming back from a shift of my own in the West Village, when all of a sudden he got busy. I hopped back behind the bar to keep him ahead of the quickly mounting piles of dirty glasses and, while I was at it, I poured a few pints, giving him time to make all the carefully crafted cocktails he was known for. I decided right then and there that if I was going to continue in the service industry, I didn’t want to be anywhere but behind the bar. It felt safer, more in control and, dare I say it, a little bit cooler. So he started teaching me. He set me up with a speed-pourer equipped liquor bottle full of water, a jigger and a rocks glass and set me to work pouring out glass after glass of perfectly counted neat waters. He gave me a book of drink recipes and went through, X-ing out all the drinks he didn’t think I would ever have to know, and telling me to memorize the rest. He also gave me a piece of advice that I held on to, tightly, until, well, now. He said, and I am paraphrasing here, that bartenders are like a community, and it is each of our responsibilities to educate people how to behave, and how to tip, so that other bartenders don’t have to deal with the crap. But today, October 21, 2014, something like 7 years after I was initially given that advice, I am calling bullshit. Not on the community thing, or the fact that in some way or another many of us are in this together — we warn other neighborhood drink slingers about dickheads and problem customers, call each other when there’s an incident, send our friends good customers when they decide to drink in another bar. I am calling bullshit on the idea that a lot of people are open to learn how to be, well, human.

Here is the thing. I have a super strict standard of behavior for myself. When I deviate from the standard, I am sent into an incredibly intense moral hangover that involves long walks, sulking, ill-fantasies, maybe some tears, apologies and, on more than one occasion, the purchasing of small (admittedly unnecessary) gifts. I really don’t like to act like an asshole. It doesn’t agree with me. And I operate under this misconceived notion that other people also don’t like acting like assholes. Or, perhaps more specifically, that they shouldn’t like acting like assholes or, even more specifically, that they actually don’t think they are acting like assholes at all. They are just being themselves. But realistically sometimes “themselves” actually just means “assholes.” Did that make sense? The point is that some people are just dicks. They are dicks and they don’t care. Well, you know what? As of today, October 21, 2014, I no longer give a fuck.

So here’s the deal. My dad once told me, and this is one of my favorite pieces of advice, that we can only have expectations of people that are in keeping with what they have previously demonstrated is possible for them. Like, if someone is a liar all the time, we can’t expect them to just randomly start telling the truth and we can’t really be that mad at them when they behave the way that they have always behaved. They are doing what they always do, I am just placing my unreasonable, in context, expectations on them. So I get to make a choice. I can either be cool with the fact that they are a liar and deal with it to whatever extent is necessary, or I can get myself all bent out of shape about it. But then who’s the chump? Me. I’m the chump all bent out of shape about an entirely predictable situation. And I don’t like being a chump just about as much as I don’t like being an asshole. So now let’s put this in conversation with bartending.

I like to think that when I go into a bar and order a drink I am pretty polite. I sit in my stool, I take out my $20 and place it on the bar (especially if I don’t know the bartender), I know what I want to drink, I wait my turn, and then I ask for my drink, book ended with pleases and thank yous. I love please and thank you. I might make friendly conversation, I might just read a magazine. I rarely, if ever, tell people I bartend unless they ask (sometimes the 20 gives it away) because to me that just reeks of asking for buybacks which is something that polite people just do not do. In the process of drinking my drink, I do not rip up my coaster or stir up shit, and when I leave I tip. Plain and simple. I like to think that I am a good bar customer more often than not. I even think that if I were serving me a drink I would like me and I might even say to myself,

“Self, that girl drinking the Powers sure is polite.”

And there are plenty of people who drink in bars that are polite. Or at least well-behaved. Or maybe they just don’t offend me in any way. But then there are lots of people who just down right suck. They also seem to travel in packs. They are rude, demanding, condescending, sexist, messy and all sorts of other things. Bartenders can smell them when they walk in the door. I don’t know what it is about these people but you just know, from first sight, or first order, that they are assholes. And in the past, I would want to let them know they were assholes, to educate them, or to prove a point, but not any more. Because you know what? That is not my job. It is not my job, or really my right, to force my own moral compass, my own standards of behavior, on other people. They want to be dicks, to a point, then fine, let them be dicks. That’s cool. They want their drink strong? “Okay,” I’ll say with a smile, and I will make it the same way I always make it. They want less ice? That’s cool, they can just get more mixer. They want to wave their glass at me, snap their fingers, flash their cell phone screen? I won’t tell them they did anything wrong, I will just send them to the back of the line. They might think I’m a bitch. They are welcome to their own opinions. Because here is the thing:  I am doing this for the foreseeable future. Maybe not forever, but for now. And the name of the game is self-preservation. And you know what makes it easier? Not letting it in. (Also, the fact that the new bar I am working at comes staffed with security. At a certain point, shitty behavior actually stops being my problem and that is a luxury I am happy to accept.)

So all you people who are awesome? Come see me! It’ll be fun. And all you people who suck? I will gladly take your money. And I’ll turn all the negative energy into creative motivation for my book. Because, yea, I’m doing that.

The Luckiest Girl in the World?

16 Oct

You know how people sometimes ask each other what their super hero power would be if they had one? And then people come up with all sorts of awesome answers? Like being invisible, or flying, or context clues, or mind reading, or being able to speak all the languages? I have thought long and hard about what my super hero power would be. I mean, what would be the best possible power to have with the least possible number of moral issues? Being able to see through things — like walls — would be awesome but then, you know, privacy concerns and also being a total creeper. Reading minds might be neat but then you might find out things that you really don’t want to know about people you like — for example, their obsession with ferrets (gross!) — which might then make you not like them so much and, also, make you a total mind creeper. Basically, I would ideally have a super hero power that would give me the ability to do something awesome, without making me any kind of creeper at all. I pride myself on being as close to 0% creeper as possible. After lots of thinking, and really not very much progress, the world stepped in, probably because my ridiculous ethical concerns in the midst of imagination games are incredibly annoying, and told me not what my super hero power would be if I had one, but what my super hero power actually is. Ready for it? Drum roll please.

My super hero power is getting shit on by birds and also other animals that spend time in trees.

Yea, yea, yea I know. It might not seem like a super hero power but bear with me here. I was talking to my friend Asher* over drinks the other night and he said he never, not in his entire life, has been shit on. I have been shit on three times in 2014 alone! And the year isn’t even over yet! There are plenty more opportunities for me to be walking around under trees, minding my own business, and then feeling (and let’s be honest hearing) that familiar <splat> and just knowing, deep in my bones, exactly what that was. Let’s take a little walk down memory lane, shall we? (Experiences recounted in no particular order.)

(1) There was that one time I was sitting on a bench in Union Square doing some reading for grad school when all of a sudden <SPLAT>, squirrel shit all over an article about malaria. And it like rolled into the binding too and I tried to shake the book to get the shit out of it, but I am fairly certain it left a nice little schmear in there.

(2) I was running, proudly, in my brand new bright pink Adidas running top, having a wonderful time when, you guessed it, <SPLAT>, bird shit on my shoulder that then somehow oozed all down my arm and also splashed onto my right boob.

(3) I was in India with two of my friends and we were heading back to the hotel after a very eventful, yet ultimately unsuccessful, journey to visit a temple with some animatronics (we made it to the temple but, surprise surprise, the animatronics were not working). As we approached the final stretch I looked up and noticed a rather disturbing thing: there were hundreds, and I mean hundreds, of birds perched on all sorts of surfaces. Some people might have thought this was a foreboding of some future misfortune but I, knowing the realities of my life, turned to my friends and said “see all those birds? One of us is most definitely going to be shat on.” And sure enough, no sooner did the words leave my mouth than <SPLAT!!!>. All over my shirt. It was as if a fucking pterodactyl had taken a dump on me. I have never seen so much shit in my life.

I could continue but I really think the India shit story takes the cake. Anyway, so the other day I was on an adventure with my friend Ben when we decided to sit on a bench under a tree. You would think that by this point in time I would decide that sitting on benches under trees, or doing anything under trees really, would be something I would avoid at all costs but no. I sat there. And no sooner did I sit than I felt the smallest little <splat>. Obviously I freaked out because it really doesn’t matter how many times you get shit on, it is always jarring and very upsetting. Ben, being the good team player that he is, cleaned the cleanable shit out of my hair with his bare hands and then remained friends with me when, after arriving at a place with a bathroom, I totally left him standing at the bar while I retreated to the bathroom first like a complete and total asshole. In my defense, I panicked and also, even after washing my hands and the portion of my head that had been crapped on, I still had poop on my person whereas he had no poop left after washing his hands but whatever, I’m making excuses. This event is from here on out, in our friendship, known as #PoopGate. It was not my finest moment.

So here is the thing about being pooped on. Whenever I tell people I got pooped on (which happens incredibly often, relatively speaking) they always say “that’s good luck!” I am calling bullshit. The only reason that people tell you it is good luck is to make you feel better about the fact that you have shit on your head. Or your shirt. Or where ever. It is just a way to put a silver lining on a rather shitty (hehe) situation. Also, as I mentioned, I have been shat on 3 times so far this year and this has been my unluckiest year ever! All the stupid things have happened. Until the other day because, the other day, I was at work, minding my own business when, who should arrive and sit down at my bar on a Tuesday afternoon? Little Pete from Pete and Pete! And let me tell you, he looks exactly like he did when he was 11, only older. I know that sounds weird but it is uncanny. And, while internally I was exploding from sheer excitement, externally I pretended he was a normal, every day non-child actor dude because that seemed like the right thing to do. I didn’t even ask him about Petunia. This was exceedingly difficult for me. The only thing that might have been better than Little Pete from Pete and Pete showing up at my bar would have been if Alex Mack showed up. I loved that show. And in fact, to this day about once a month I daydream about how awesome it would be to have the ability to morph myself into a puddle and escape all sorts of awkward and potentially dangerous situations. Or, like, get home faster when you get caught in a freak rainstorm as I did last night. I try not to think about the long-term side effects of having been involved, at a young age, in some weird chemical accident because that might take the shine off things. Anyway, I digress.

So there he was, Young Pete from Pete and Pete and I realized, hey! Maybe this is the luck. Maybe this is the moment that all the shit was leading up to! The moment where I got to complain to Young Pete from Pete and Pete about how aggressive some people are about the sports that we have on television and how you never hear me bitching about how bars won’t play gymnastics with the sound for me when ever it’s on (which isn’t often). He thought that was funny. Anyway, so when he left we had a little convo:

Little Pete from Pete and Pete (LPfP&P): I never got your name. I’m Danny, it was nice talking with you.
Me: Rebekah, likewise. Hopefully I’ll see ya in here again! I’ll be here Mondays.
LPfP&P: Cool. I’m in a band and do some sketch comedy. Look me up.
Me: Great! Will do!

I was like a volcano. I wanted to be like “I know who you are and I also know that you recently performed at The Bell House, maybe with Big Pete from Pete and Pete, because I was secretly texting with my friend Kris about you and she told me and we freaked out a little!” But I didn’t say any of those things. I stayed strong. But Pete, if you’re reading this, you might have been the answer to all the bird shit. So, that’s a thing.

*I know, our blogs use the same design theme! Total coincidence and totally weird! Meant to be friends!

A Letter to my Cat, Clark

2 Oct

Dear Clark,

I know that it has been hard for you recently, what with me working so many late nights and your feeding schedule being somewhat unpredictable. I also know that you have a lot of needs like head scratches, games of fetch, and the like. But right now your person is attempting to finish up an article on human rights and the water shutoff in Detroit and your constant meowing and knocking things off counter tops is proving rather distracting indeed. I understand that you like the sounds things make when they fall, but you must understand that sweeping up broken glass and picking up trash bag ties all over the house is not exactly my idea of fun. Also, I would very much appreciate it if you would stop chewing on things, such as the wicker basket on the kitchen table and my computer power cord. In fact, if you could stop going on the kitchen table entirely that would be greatly appreciated. I understand this is a lot to ask, but your sister does not seem to be having one bit of trouble with my requests as she has been sleeping contentedly on the sofa for the past 2 hours. You might argue that it is because of her ability to sleep for extended periods of time that she is a total fat ass, and you would have a point there, but I do not believe one day of catnaps would have any significant impact on your svelte physique. Any adherence to these requests would be greatly appreciated and subsequently rewarded with a catnip mouse.

Your frustrated person,

Rebekah

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