I’m Still on About Nazis! AKA Our President.

16 Aug

I might be stupid for putting this out on the Internet but whatever, if the National Security Agency is really reading our communications then it has seen me say way worse than what I am about to share here. So here it is: every single time a New York Times alert goes off on my phone there is a small (and ever growing) part of my brain that is hoping it is alerting me to the death of Donald J. Trump.

There, I said it.

I am not saying that I want someone to kill him, necessarily. Or that I want him to die in a car crash, or a fire, or of some extremely slow-moving but massively painful terminal illness. I haven’t really thought about it in that amount of depth. I just want him, as I have said over many easily monitored modes of communication, to take a long walk off a short pier and leave us to get along with the business of actually making this country great because these last few months, and specifically these last few days? They have not been great at all. At least not for any of us who believe that racism is a scourge and that all those horrible men (and the few women) who marched this past Friday with their tiki torches were inherently violent. Because here’s the thing: you don’t need to physically assault another person to be violent. Marching through a city carrying the flags of the oppressors, the enslavers, the genocidal and chanting, among other things, “Jews will not replace us” is in itself an act of violence. A permit for that sort of abhorrent behavior simply should not exist. Not on paper, and not in the words of the President of the United States of America. Because that is what Trump did yesterday. He gave a nod to the white supremacists and said, without equivocation,

Yes, this is okay on my watch.

And they fucking celebrated. Of course they did. They can finally rip off their hoods of shame and wear their racism proudly on their sleeves. They can mow down counter protestors,* beat an unarmed black man in a parking garage, vandalize the Holocaust Memorial in Boston for the second time this summer and plan to blow up a building in Oklahoma City. They can finally show us all how fucking oppressed they really are. It feels like open season here in the United States and Trump just threw his support solidly on the side of evil. And his propaganda machine simply continues churning out articles to be sure that they can control the narrative and keep people thinking that those pedaling hate and those protesting that hate are one in the same. And this is what I have to say to them:

Open your goddamn eyes, white people. OPEN THEM.

We are the fucking norm. WE ARE THE NORM.**

Turn on the TV and who do you see?
Walk into almost any board room, who do you see?
Look at any list of millionaires and billionaires, who do you mostly see?
Look at the photographs of our 45 presidents and, barring one single person in that entire list, who do you see?
Look at our Senate and House, who do you mostly see?

I could keep on going but I think I made my point alright and if I didn’t, then whatever, I am not going to waste my time. Because here’s the thing: loss of privilege is not synonymous with oppression no matter how you slice it. What is happening in America is simply an attempt, one moving at a glacial pace it feels like, to even the playing field and afford others the same opportunities that white people luck into at birth. Because that’s what it is: luck. God didn’t smile down on you and bless you with the ability to have a boss that looks like you, a name that doesn’t get your application thrown in the garbage can or the ability to leave an interaction with a police officer alive and uninjured. You happened to be born into a system that values something as inconsequential as the color of your skin and then just hands you things. And you have the fucking nerve to harken back to a time when you were guaranteed that privilege because people that looked like you and thought like you literally owned the competition. They bought them and sold them and bred them and worked them to fucking death and we are still entirely incapable as a nation to engage with that history in a way that gives it due credit for the fucked up systems we continue to recreate and reinforce. Well, fuck you. Seriously. Fuck you.

And fuck Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is a farce. He is a sorry excuse for a human being who only cares about you as long as you remain blindly faithful to him and when you lose the faith? Well, then he will use his applauded “straight talk” to eviscerate you on Twitter in much the same vein as a bully on the playground. And if you think for even a second that Donald Trump is seeing any sort of loss of privilege, that he is being oppressed in any way, think again. Because the only thing more protective than being a white man is being a filthy rich white man with absolutely no concern for the well being of any body else.

So, yeah, I wish Donald Trump would go the fuck away. If that means he dies, so be it. If it means he somehow gets stranded on an island somewhere with no access to Twitter or the presidential lectern, that’s okay too. Because as much as I have heard people mumbling that maybe it’s better that these bigots are out in the open because at least we know who they are, I have to disagree. They are using this as a way to fanaticize more people, to normalize their beliefs and to come at  us bigger next time. There is nothing good about that. There is nothing good about violently bigoted people, some of whom are armed to the gills with all manner of weaponry, feeling safe en masse in public spaces. This isn’t about free speech, because this version of free speech that keeps getting touted around values the rights of the oppressors over the rights of the oppressed. And the oppressors are doing just fine as far as rights go, in my opinion anyway.

So I say chase them back to where the fuck they came from. Identify them, humiliate them, let them cower in their basements. Kick their websites off servers and report them to social media. And then when social media does nothing about it, take social media to task. It’s enough already. These people don’t deserve access. They are disgusting. And so is the man that currently emboldens them.

So yeah, Trump can go. I don’t care where and I don’t care how, but I hope it isn’t pleasant.

*One of the recommended advanced searches when I looked for an article to link to regarding the death of Heather Heyer was for video of the attack put to music. This is America.

**As a Jewish person who sometimes passes as white and sometimes does not, I will include myself in this because I also benefit from white privilege. That being said, this is a particularly uncomfortable time to be a Jew, to say the very least.

Nazis, Am I Right?!

13 Aug

Did you guys know that after World War II Germany outlawed both Holocaust denial and the Nazi salute? It’s true. It’s almost as if Germany looked at those things and said to themselves,

Hey, maybe if we police semantics and denial of actual history we can stop the rise of dangerous ethnocentrism!

But what does Germany know about the rise of that sort of stuff, you know? It’s not like one of their former leaders stirred some percentage of the German population into a hateful frenzy that resulted in the deaths of 11 million people in concentration camps alone. Or wait, were those called Holocaust Centers? I can’t remember anymore. So much dangerous rewriting of history has happened recently that it’s almost difficult to keep track.

But really. This shit is bonkers. So as many of you know I am a Jew. Did you hear that, Nazis? A Jew. My first and middle name both come from the Old Testament, I got Bat Mitvah’d and my dad even used to work in the stock market. You know, so he could steal money from goys and advance the Jewish agenda to take over the financial system, the media and then…. THE WORLD. And you know how we can do this? Because there are just so damn many of us! I mean, go anywhere and you’re practically tripping over Jews. Here’s some information for you about how many Jews there are!

In 1939, just before World War II – which happened, by the way – the global Jewish population peaked at about 16.6 million which is twice the population of New York City. And there are lots of people in New York City. Also lots of Jews. Which is why some people call it Jew York City for laughs. Of course then the Holocaust happened (because it totally happened, there are books and photographs and everything) during which approximately 7 million Jews were killed. So let’s do some math.

16,600,000 – 7,000,000 = …? (Maybe this will be easier if I take the zeroes out.)

16.6 – 7 = 9.6 (Don’t forget to add the zeros back in now!)

That left 9,600,000 or (9.6 million of you prefer letters to numbers) Jews at the end of World War II! Still bigger than the population of modern day New York City! That’s \ a lot of Jews, friends. Plus some of us have so many babies so we should be able to rebound just in time to take over the financial system, the media and then…. THE WORLD! Hooray Jews! J-E-W-S Jews, Jews, JEWS!!!!!

Because think about it. World War II ended in 1945 and now here we are in 2017. That gave us Jews…. ugh more math… 72 whole years to regain the lost 7 million Jews plus some in order to return to our previous state of leaders of the entire world but especially all the money. According to a study published in 2015, the Jews finally reached our pre-Holocaust numbers. Phew! But wait, that study was maybe not entirely accurate! Traditionally speaking, Jewish law is actually pretty strict about who is really considered Jewish. I mean, what with all the money laundering and slum lording we can’t let any rats in our ranks, ya know what I’m saying?? Basically, your mom has to be Jewish or, if she isn’t, she has to go through a formal conversion process. Some Jews think that is too limiting a definition. Israel’s Law of Return – the legislation that allows Jews to immigrate to Israel – was amended in 1970 to include the “child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew” to enter the country and even live there. Wow, that’s really nice! But also, woah, clearly us Jews are just trying to pad our numbers so we can take over the financial system, the media and then… THE WORLD more quickly. Sneaky, right??

Here’s the thing though: the study that cited a return to pre-Holocaust numbers included the people considered Jewish under the updated Law of Return which is totally cool with me. I mean, the more the merrier. But the thing is that back in 1945 after the Holocaust – which happened big league – the people now allowed to live in Israel under the 1970 version of the Law of Return probably weren’t considered Jewish under Jewish Law. I mean, maybe the Nazis didn’t care about all that. I’d have to get some confirmation on that. Luckily for us there are lots of photos of modern day Nazis with their names, phone numbers and addresses floating around the internet. Maybe I will send one of them an inquiry. They clearly know all about Jews seeing as how they hate us so much.

Rebekah, focus!

Sorry, I just find Nazis so damn distracting!

Anyway. This professor named Sergio DellaPergola – by the way he is the most well-known expert in the world when it comes to Jewish Demographics – came up with his own number. He argues that if “we add persons who state they are partly Jewish and non-Jews who have Jewish parents, an extended global aggregate population estimate of 17,236,850 is obtained.” And in case you got confused, that is actually more than the pre-Holocaust population. The only thing, though, is that DellaPergola doesn’t think that is a very good way of measuring demographics and he says as much!  He even drew a parallel to PhDs since he is a PhD and therefore is very full of himself. I mean, that’s always the case, right? Academics are arrogant and elitist? And they silence people of differing opinions, but especially those who spew hate? How dare they. As I was saying, he said the following:

“If the United States had 6.7 million holders of a doctorate, and 1 million of these hold a doctorate partly, how many Ph.D.s are there in America?”

I don’t feel like doing the math right now because my brain is tired from all the numbers but it seems like you could measure that population in two distinctly different ways and come up with very different answers, one of them larger than the other. And that’s just what happened with Jews! If you measure only those who self-identify as Jewish you end up with 14.2 million Jews worldwide. That number is way smaller. Not only is it smaller than the 17+ million Jews that some people quote, but it is also smaller than the number of Jews worldwide before the Holocaust. Not only that, but a recent study by Pew predicts that the world’s Jewish population will rise by about 15% over the next 2.5 decades as compared to 35% for the overall population. If those estimates are correct, that means the Jewish population won’t reach pre-Holocaust numbers until 2050 when the global population is vastly higher than it was in 1945. So that means that even though there will be the same number of Jews, we will make up a smaller percentage of the population relative to overall growth.

Woah. That’s heavy. And it almost makes you wonder what all the fuss is about. I mean, we should almost be flattered by the outsize power and influence that these people think we have. Or maybe it’s just fun to beat up on the little guys (with the big noses and the penchant for being shysters – that’s Yiddish, a language spoken by Jews!). Come to think of it though, threats of genocide and actual genocide are not really very flattering at all so never mind.

For those of us who work better with pictures and stuff, it was suggested that maybe I put Jews as percentage of world population into a chart to draw some useful parallels but I didn’t feel like wrestling with Excel. Also I’m a Jew and I was taught to steal things from other people and then hoard them so instead I found this nice pie chart on the Internet. As you can see, as of 2007 the world had a lot of people but not a lot of Jews. Way less than all the other religions measured here besides the Bahai faith which is an Abrahamic religion that teaches the essential worth of all religions and the unity and equality of all people. That sounds really nice, actually. I wonder why more people aren’t Baha’is (hint: because people are fucking assholes).

Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 2.54.24 PM.png

So, yeah. In all seriousness, I don’t give a shit what measure you use or whether we are talking about Jews, members of the LGBTQ community, people of color or anybody else. People are people are people. (And Nazis are Nazis are Nazis.) What is going on in this country, and around the world, is fucking disgusting. And the fact that our current president took the Oval Office riding a wave of hate that empowered the worst among us is something we should all fear and be ashamed of. This has been brewing for a long time. Trump just has no goddamn soul and doesn’t care how he gets to call himself a winner as long as he can do it. He’s a King amongst the soulless and that’s good enough for him. But it’s not good enough for the rest of us. So I don’t know. Let’s keep resisting and keep arming ourselves with information in the face of their claims of “fake news.” We know what’s real so let’s shout it from the rooftops.

And in the meantime, go out and punch a Nazi. I hear it’s good for the soul.

Ending Radio Silence

25 Jul

I know I have been largely absent (or, actually, entirely absent) since my last post on April 20th about Bill O’Reilly but I am back because honestly, this shit is fucked.

Back when Donald J. Trump (heretofore referred to as SCROTUS), was elected President of the United States of America there was one thing I simply couldn’t wrap my head around. It wasn’t, as you might have guessed, the Access Hollywood tapes. I have been a woman for far too long to ever think that a recording of white men degrading women would be the thing that brought SCROTUS down. Let us not forget that Bill Clinton was impeached and it wasn’t because of statutory rape or sexual harassment. It also wasn’t for that time SCROTUS told an audience at a campaign rally in Sioux Falls that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and (he) wouldn’t lose voters.” This country, it seems, doesn’t care too much about threats of violence when they come out of the mouth of a white man. No, it wasn’t either of those things. It was, instead, SCROTUS’ dismissive comments about John McCain’s status as a war hero. It was back in July, 2015 when, still on the campaign trail, candidate Trump said,

“He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Say what you want about John McCain. About his politics, about his run in 2008, about his temper, about his sense of humor that is oftentimes wildly inappropriate and not in the least bit funny. All of those things are up for conversation and debate. His status as a war hero, however, is not. And so when then-candidate Donald Trump, who by the way was granted 5 deferments during the Vietnam draft, essentially called McCain a loser I figured he was finished. This country is fucked up in a lot of ways but it respects its war heroes. Not enough to provide them physical and mental health care or job training, mind you, but when it comes to verbal respect, we’ve got that shit on lock. Especially the Republicans. It’s sort of a calling card for them. So when a man campaigning for the Republican nomination talked shit about a war hero, and one who had served in the senate for decades no less, I figured his days were numbered. But then he went on to get the nomination from the GOP and that’s when I knew this country was fucked. I still didn’t think he would win the goddamn election (fuck you #FailingElectoralCollege) but it was at this moment when I realized the divisions in this country run a lot deeper than I ever thought possible.

All of this is to say that despite my disagreement with John McCain on a lot of policies – for example that time he ran a successful filibuster to stop the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy or that time he voted in support of Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court – I always respected the guy. I, perhaps naively, thought that compared to other Republican politicians he was at least reasonable, at least willing to work with people on the other side of the aisle. He did, after all, say that the Citizens United decision was “arrogant, uninformed, naive.” But today whatever I thought about him perviously, about his desire to do what was in the best interest of the citizens of the United States, went forcefully out the window. This man who has served this country for the majority of his life today voted against its future. He voted against the future of every single American and so I have this to say:

Senator John McCain you can fuck right off. 

Seriously though, fuck off. You went in for surgery on your eye and came out with a diagnosis of glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of brain tumor. People rallied around you. Spoke about your reputation and everything you have done for this country. And then, to a standing ovation from both sides of the aisle, you returned to the senate floor and voted to open a debate to try and pass a bill that would strip millions of Americans of health care. And after that, after you basically said that the care that you have received should be a privilege for the rich and not the right of everyone, you delivered a speech. No, not even a speech. It was a condescending admonition of your colleagues. And honestly in that moment, I lost every bit of respect I ever had for you as a senator, as a war hero, as a human being.

You stood up there and you talked about how partisan the government has become, and you admitted to the role you played in that. And then you said that at times you had “let your passion rule your reason” and to that I have to say, no. In this case you certainly didn’t choose based off your passion because what human with a soul could ever be passionate about so unjust a bill. And so where’s the reason, John? What was your reason? Because I, for the life of me, outside of partisanship and greed cannot come up with a reason why you would support this. And why you would think that your chastisement would be appreciated. Because as far as I am concerned, you’re worse than the rest of them. You traveled to Washington from your sick bed to vote for something that would bar millions of people from getting the same level of care that you have received over the past week. And so again I say this:

Fuck right off.

I’m sorry but you don’t get my sympathy anymore. You talked today about the price of winning. That so much of the poor decisions and the governmental gridlock and the backroom moves and dishonesty are all with the goal of a short term win and that that attitude won’t help us and I agree on that. But today? Today we lost. We all lost. And you were incidental in that. So get the fuck off your high horse. This time your status as a war hero cannot save you. Not in my mind.

Bye Bill, Bye.

20 Apr

Yesterday afternoon at work a message from The New York Times appeared on my phone. It read:

Bill O’Reilly Out at Fox After Harassment Allegations

I threw my hands up in the air and hissed a quiet “yes!” to myself. Then I looked around the bar to see who I could share this moment of sheer glory with. The only other person behind the bar was a dude who I have not been overly impressed by. But, I thought to myself, perhaps I have been a little judgmental. If you know me it will come as no surprise that I have a tendency to be slow to forgive the poor behavior of new men that I meet. I am even slower to forgive the poor behavior of new white men. It’s my belief that they more often than not get the benefit of the doubt by default and are therefore allowed to get away with bullshit other people cannot. Not only can they get away with it, but they oftentimes benefit from it. However in this particular moment I decided, selfishly if I’m being honest, to set my pre-conceived notions aside and invite him to join in my celebration of the demise of one of cable news’ biggest pieces of shit. (And that’s saying something.)

So I walked over, still grinning from ear to ear, and told him about the news.

Bill O’Reilly got fired by Fox!

He looked at me, cocking his head slightly to the side.

Oh? For what?

I let out a slight exhale of annoyance. But I calmed myself. It’s okay, I thought, not everyone is up on the news. Not even HUGE news that is being written about almost constantly. Some people just like to live their lives and surround themselves by the things that matter to them and that’s totally cool. I surround myself by gymnastics, current affairs and institutional sexism and racism. That’s not everyone’s thang though.

Allegations of sexual harassment. Fox has settled for like $13 million with 5 different women and I imagine that is only the tip of the iceberg. Dude is a piece of shit.

He smiled.

Well, that’s good. Although I thought it would be something bad.

He thought it would be something bad. I stared at him, realizing that my suspension of previous judgements was clearly a mistake. The times he talked down to me and snapped at me for no reason. The time he scolded me for stirring rather than shaking a vodka martini by sneering

You’re stirring vodka? Shake vodka; stir gin.

And then walked away and joked with one of the male bartenders, leaving me stewing and feeling tiny in the corner. Because that’s what happens sometimes. Sometimes you end up working in a boys club. Where (white) dude after (white) dude talks down to you and scolds you meanwhile your male coworkers do the exact same things as you and they get a slap on the back. And so of course he wouldn’t think that sexual assault allegations dating back decades against the highest grossing cable news anchor in history is that bad. Of course not. Because treating women poorly is just part of life. It’s just the way things are.

Sometimes I want to look at someone like him, some doughy faced boy, and just tell him about himself. I want him to know I am smarter than him, better informed, kinder and more responsible. But that doesn’t really matter because he can go out and get hammered and not worry about getting raped on his way home and he can routinely show up to work 2 hours late, still drunk from the night before, and be up for a promotion. Meanwhile Bill O’Reilly has gotten far, really far, my mistreating women and the only thing that actually got him ousted was Fox’s bottom line. And no, not the $13 million, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what O’Reilly brings in. It was because of the loss of advertisement dollars. It was because O’Reilly had to start doing 8 more minutes of show daily to make up for the shortening of commercial segments. And everyone can say that this is a win for the idea of corporate social responsibility, that this is capitalism at work, that large companies do in fact care but the fact of the matter is they care about where the money is. Meanwhile the true heroes are the women who are strong enough to take on one of the biggest men who works for perhaps the most misogynistic company in media today. That shit takes ovaries. Big fucking ovaries. Because you better believe that the die-hard O’Reilly fans are taking to the internet to harass, shame and threaten these women for bringing their idol crashing down. No matter that he did it to himself. And no matter that, although he won’t be returning to Fox News, he will be fine. These men are always fine. Look no further than Tucker Carlson who just took O’Reilly’s spot. He might not have racked up sexual harassment allegations but he is no stranger to treating women like garbage.

I had that moment of happiness, and although I am still happy about it I no longer see this as a win. Sure, O’Reilly is gone (for now) but what will replace him? Will the culture change? Will Fox, and the people who watch Fox, start asking themselves the tough questions about their behavior and their privilege and their opinions that are founded in ignorance rather than fact? Or will they just turn an angry eye to the accusers and the liberal scum who support them and retreat deeper into their hole? Because the truth is that O’Reilly might have lost advertisers but he did not lose many fans. And that is a problem. And it’s a problem that runs super deep because as offensive as my co-worker’s statement was, it was an accurate reflection of a normalized viewpoint. Sexual harassment against women isn’t that bad. Misogyny isn’t that bad. Rape isn’t that bad. The patriarchy isn’t that bad. And for those of us who believe the opposite, it is like living in an alternate universe. And it makes it hard to even celebrate the demise of one of the most hated men. It is hard to relish in his downfall. Because this is all a distraction from the bigger conversation. Bill O’Reilly’s ouster does not change the culture; he is just another scape goat for it. He will find himself another microphone. We have not seen the last of him. And in ways it feels as though we are no better off today than we were yesterday.

That Time a Lady Told me to Smile

7 Apr

I had a weird moment last night at work. It was this response to an interaction with this woman where I was like

Wow, Rebekah, you’ve changed!

but then at the same time

Ew, lady, aren’t we supposed to be on the same team here?

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to recount the story and then I am going to go ahead and address these two simultaneous reactions that I had to it. Ready? Break!

Part One: The Story

It is French Quarter Fest here in New Orleans. Anyone who has been here for any sort of fest at all knows that shit is cray. There are people everywhere. There is confusion. Costumes. Glitter. Music. Tourists. More zombies* than normal. It’s a whole thing. Not a bad thing, but a thing. To add to the drama let me inform you that I work in the French Quarter which, if your powers of deductive reasoning are on point, means that I work in the exact area where the French Quarter Fest is occurring. That means that my bar is busy busy busy.

I walked in last night at 5pm to a busier-than-average Thursday night. And the thing about a busier-than-average night in my place is that we have “steps of service.” The steps of service at the spot I worked at in Brooklyn basically involved getting drinks out as quickly as possible while avoiding the limes and clipboards that miffed customers could potentially hurl at your head. No joke. At this place the steps are more involved and less potentially dangerous. I am telling you all this just so that you know that getting people food and drinks at the spot I work at now is something of a process.

Alright so now imagine this. There we are during dinner on a busier-than-average Thursday night and all of a sudden me and one of my coworkers realize

Hey, why hasn’t any of the food we ordered come out? It’s been a minute.

And by a minute we meant like 45. We then come to find out that the printer in the kitchen has stopped working and they didn’t get any of the tickets. So this might lead one to ask ones self

Self, there is a full restaurant out there and yet there are no tickets coming through the printer. Has this city declared a moratorium on food or is something amiss?

But I don’t think anyone asked themselves that. Or maybe they did, I don’t know. But either way they didn’t keep the bar in the loop and we had two ladies on a 45 minute wait for a salad and some shrimp. Anyway, I was in the midst of discussing this fiasco with my manager when I heard from the other side of the bar a very curt and impatient

Hell-loooooooo.

I looked over to see a blonde lady staring at me with what I can only describe as crazy eyes. You know the eyes.

Me: Hi.
Lady: Gesticulates wildly to the space in front of her.
Me: What can I do for you?
Lady: Well, we just got here and….. (gives me a meaningful look that invited me to read her mind but really just made her look even crazier.)
Me: Here’s a drink menu. Would you like food also?
The lady looks at her husband and they share a communal huff and make moves to get up. I shrug my shoulders and take the menu back and go back to the conversation about the broken ticket printer in the kitchen which I was in the middle of having when she sassed me in the first place.
Lady: Smile.
Me: I’m sorry, what?
Lady: Smiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiile. You would make a lot more money if you smiled. Mo-ney. Smiiii-llleee. (All the while she is using her hands to demonstrate what a smile the size of Texas might look like and staring at me as if I had somehow committed the largest offense ever.)

They then left. But not after telling me that they live in the city and would never be back to this restaurant ever again if their life depended on it. I shed a silent tear. And then I went back to doing my job. Meanwhile, all the people around this couple were shocked and could not understand what had just happened. I told them I also couldn’t understand it. They said they thought I was nice. I agreed. One guy said he thought they came in with a bad attitude. I said he was probably right. We all laughed and laughed. And then we carried on with our evenings, largely unaffected by the bad attitude cloud that had momentarily descended on the bar.

Part Two: I’ve Changed!

Have you ever had some big experience and then afterwards noticed a large change in yourself? This is totally stupid but when I came back from my year abroad I noticed that, as a result of the countless hours spent in various modes of transportation, sometimes for hours and hours longer than expected, I was completely unfazed by being stuck in traffic or being on long car rides. This is still the case all these years later. I used to get a little impatient but now I’m like

Eh. Whatever. I’m sitting here.

In the grand scheme of things that isn’t such a big thing but it certainly does make the amount of traveling I do significantly easier. AND I think it makes me a better car partner. So anyway, in the past if I had an experience like the one with the lady, I would have gone down this whole rabbit hole of emotion. I would have analyzed every single second of our interaction and tried to figure out what exactly I had done to cause her to behave like such an asshole. But sometimes, people are just assholes. Or, they behave like assholes in a specific moment for no real reason. And sometimes there is nothing you do to cause it and nothing you can do to prevent it and so your only solution is to shrug your shoulders and be like

Alright cool what’s next.

And that’s just what I did. I sort of figured if they wanted to be Bad Attitude Bears all around town that was on them and I certainly didn’t need to let it effect the rest of my night or the service I provided to other people. So, fuck ’em. I hope they went home and stewed in their own unhappiness rather than raining it down upon the rest of us people just out trying to have a good time or make a buck.

Part Three: Teammates? No?

I should have learned this already following the presidential election but a lot of white women suck. And beyond that, all us women are not on the same team. Okay, fine. But here’s the thing. Men tell me to smile a lot. A LOT. I’ll be walking down the street and hear some dude be all

C’mon, honey, it’s not that bad. Smile.

Or

You’d look a lot better if you’d smile.

I find that super offensive. It very well might be that bad. And maybe I don’t feel like smiling. But either way shut the fuck up my face is not your concern. Basically every woman I have ever spoken to about it also finds it offensive. The thing about it is I know a lot of women and none of them, not a single one, goes about life with a smile plastered on her face at all times. And I get it, work is different, especially when you work in service. You have to smile more. It makes people feel welcome and people who feel welcome have a better time and tip better. Yadda yadda yadda. The funny thing about it is that I smile at work a lot. I smile so much that some of the dudes in the kitchen call me sunshine. I smile so much that when the barback heard that some lady told me to smile he looked at me and said,

You? Jesus. I think you should smile less.

And so, yeah, I know we all don’t see life the same way but, come on lady! Get a clue! It’s like, I expect men to be condescending assholes and tell me how to live my life down to my every facial expression. I don’t like it but I expect it. I do not, however, expect it to come from a woman who has most likely had a similar experience and felt disempowered or spoken down to or whatever. It’s like, way to drink the koolaid, bitch. Way to just swallow, full stop, normalized sexism and misogyny and throw it in the face of someone 15 years younger than you because you didn’t get a menu and a glowing smile the very second your ass hit the barstool. And I’m sorry that I wasn’t willing to ignore your impatience and rudeness and discern exactly what you needed at that exact moment. I’m pretty good at my job but I am not a magician.

***

And with that, I must away. another 3 days of French Quarter Fest await and I have to do my facial exercises, you know, so I can smile more.

* Zombies, New Orleans style (n): zom-bie
(1) a. a will-less and speechless human (as in West Indian voodoo belief and in fictional stories) held to have drank too much on Bourbon Street and been supernaturally reanimated
b. the supernatural power of the Hurricane or Hand Grenade that according to voodoo belief may enter into and reanimate a dead body

My Name is Rebekah and I Exhaust Myself

22 Mar

This past May while wandering through the streets of New Orleans I decided I was going to move for a while. It was a weird sort of calm and assuredness that I had about the decision, something that is not normal for me. I constantly second-guess my choices, paralyzing myself through the fear that maybe the plan I have hatched for myself isn’t right, that I will miss out on some opportunity. Every once in awhile though something just comes into my mind that seems so right, so perfect, that I just dive in and hope for the best. Moving to New Orleans, even temporarily, was one of those plans.

***

I remember a few years back a friend of mine decided to leave Brooklyn. We ended up talking one night about whatever came into our heads and I remember just looking over at him and saying

You know that even if you move somewhere else, you’re still going to be there, right? You’re still going to be you? So just make sure it’s here you don’t want to be, and not that it’s you that you don’t want to be.

He looked at me for a while, nodded his head, and we continued on to something else less heavy. I’ve thought about that conversation a lot over the past few years; I think about it almost daily now. And I wonder, why did I run away from my life? And what did I think would happen, would change? Who did I think I would become?

***

I’ve spent a great deal of time by myself here. That was sort of the point. I needed to just, I don’t know, be with myself. To try and get a sense of what I want and, perhaps more importantly, what sort of thing I want to put out into the world. What sort of person I want to be. But perhaps it’s more complicated than that – I am still trying to work this bit out honestly. It’s not that I don’t know who I am, it’s that sometimes who I am is just too much because who I am is tied up so much in being the best me that I can be and for me that means being the most supportive, most giving, most there person I can possibly manage. And when I can’t be those things to the degree that I think I should be capable of, I experience this crippling guilt and sadness and feeling that I should have done more, should have been more, should have given more. But sometimes, there is just not any more to give. I feel like by the time I left Brooklyn I had hit the bottom of my well. I had depleted myself emotionally and physically. I was exhausted. I was breaking out in hives daily. My hair was falling out. I honestly had nothing left. And I had no one to blame but myself. So I got in my car and went.

***

The thing about leaving your life behind, as I said to my friend a few years earlier, is that your life follows you. Or, more accurately, you follow you. The essence of me, for lack of a better term, didn’t stay in Brooklyn when I came to New Orleans. It got into my small Honda Civic with me and took the 2 week long winding journey through the eastern United States and landed in this awesome shot gun apartment in the Marigny. And now it makes itself cozy in my bedroom and hangs out with me in my backyard. It comes with me to work and does speed repeats with me on the track. It’s just me…and it’s exhausting. I am exhausting. I fucking exhaust myself.

So that’s what I’ve learned so far on this journey. Something I sort of already knew but didn’t actually apply to myself. Which is basically that we can be different versions of ourselves in different locations and with different people and in different contexts, but we are, at our core, still ourselves, for better or for worse. We bring all of our habits, all of our tendencies, our strengths and our weaknesses with us and it’s just a matter of figuring out how to manage it all and, for me, it’s a matter of figuring out how to be the best me for myself, not for everyone else, and trusting in the fact that being good to me oftentimes results in being a better me to others, which is what I ultimately always strive for.

Also, it means less hives. And let me assure you, when it comes to hives, less is always more.

New Orleans Diary: Weeks 13 and 14

7 Mar

Goal: Fuck the goal. I missed another week (I blame Mardi Gras) and now rather than writing on Fridays and also Mondays I am randomly posting on a Tuesday. Things are all out of whack. Also I don’t think anyone really reads these posts anyways so it’s become sort of like that thing about the tree. You know the thing: if a tree falls in the forrest and no one hears it does it make a sound? If my blog gets published and no one reads it do the words in fact form sentences? (I need to work on that but you get the picture.) So in summation I am just going to write when I want and not hold myself to any sort of schedule which is counter to the original purpose of this series (to force myself into a publishing schedule) but whatever. Fuck it.

Face Tattoos: There are a lot of face and head tattoos here. A lot. In April of 2004 I made out with a dude in Mexico who had a face tattoo. And one time when I was in the Poconos visiting The Aunties the craziest thing happened. We were walking through the parking lot towards the We-Is (local supermarket actually spelled Weis) when we found ourselves walking behind this guy who had his own face tattooed on the back of his head. But really. I know it was his own face because I ran around the front of him (by way of ducking behind cars because I figured someone with his own face tattooed on the back of his very own head was maybe scary) and confirmed. There he was in the front and the back. Very weird.  I’ve never really been the same.

As I was saying, there are a lot of face and head tattoos here. And I’ve been thinking about it and it seems like a face tattoo is a larger commitment than tattoos other places. Your face is the first thing people see. And usually the thing people remember you by. I mean, do you for sure, but it’s a commitment is all. Anyway. There are so many face and head tattoos that I almost don’t even notice them anymore. Back in Brooklyn there was one guy with face tattoos. He had some sort of tribal something or other that covered his whole face and whenever I saw him I thought to myself

Wow. That guy does not give a fuck.

I also thought to myself

That guy is on a whole lot of drugs.

Which had more to do with his style of walking and his glassy eyes than the face tattoos.

I got distracted. The point is that there are a lot of people with face tattoos here. I don’t know exactly where I was going with all this so I guess I will sum it up thusly: I have never seen more face tattoos in one place ever in my life.

White People Dreadlocks: There are so many White People Dreadlocks here it’s unbelievable. So many. I have to say that I try to stay away from their congregation areas as best I can. That might make me an asshole but it’s the truth. They all have pitbulls which normally would be like whatever but I think they have the pitbulls for protection so I don’t really want to fuck with them. Also I am pretty sure they are armed. Not the pitbulls, the people. As far as I can tell they spend a lot of time (all of their time maybe?) on the streets and the streets here are not safe and so I am certain that they have knives and things. I want nothing to do with knives unless they are being used to cook me food so if I believe someone has knives for reasons other than cooking me food I stay away.

Let me be more specific. Because this is what it really is. Yesterday as I was walking from one job to another I saw a White Boy Dreadlocks sitting on the street and he was holding a cardboard sign that said

I need a guitar

and I literally almost lost my shit. Like no, mother fucker, you need to chop off your culturally appropriative haircut, get a goddamn job, get out of my fucking way and buy your own guitar! Or call your fucking parents. I don’t know but give me a fucking break. Give me a break! You are white. You are male. You are able bodied. The system is built for you. If you need food that’s one thing but a guitar? You are on the street with a cardboard sign begging for a luxury item? Like, what, should I sit down next to you and hold up a sign that says

I need a plane ticket to India so I can fuck off for awhile

Or

I need to go out to Pesch for dinner

Or

I need a new computer.

No, asshole. What you need to go is get a fucking clue. Ugh that shit makes me so mad. It’s like, you can’t be all “woe is me I have no money” but also look at me I am so privileged and I am owed this thing that I want. I don’t only want it I need it and therefore I will have it and you will help me to buy it. The privilege is what gets me. And now I will stop being that old white lady yelling “get off my lawn!” at the neighbor’s kids.

Antisemitism: It is real and there is a lot of it here. I hear casual antisemitism at work on the regular. I am not going to really go into it because it is the same bullshit. You know, Jews are cheap, Jews run the government and the media, Jews are basically trying to take over the world. Nothing ground breaking there really. My favorite though is when one person makes an antisemitic comment like “oh you’re so cheap…you’re such a Jew” and the person next to them then starts discussing the first time she met a Jew and how the Jew was actually a lot nicer than she had expected! Little do they all know that their drinks were made by a Jew in person right then and there! That’s right, folks, that Sazerac was stirred by the horned devil herself! The Jewess! You sure you still want to drink that? I used the cheap whisky, you know, like a Jew would.

I don’t know, it’s crazy. It’s crazy in part because there has been such an uptick in open and unabashed antisemitism since SCROTUS took office. A friend of mine actually texted her dad to see whether the cemetery in which her grandparents were buried was one of the ones vandalized (it wasn’t). But that’s a real concern right now. Shit is fucked. It’s also crazy because I grew up in a very Jewish area. I am used to being around Jews all the time. I am used to feeling normal. But down here, and in this current political climate, I feel everything but. I have never been more aware of my Jewishness in my entire life. For the first time ever it actually feels like a liability. Which I suppose it always has been. That’s part of the fun of being a minority.

The other day a dude came into my bar. He was down from Philly, originally from Newark. We identified one another right away. It was the accent (or the lack of accent as he assured me), the look and just, I don’t know, the way. It took us about 30 seconds to get into what has been happening. I mentioned to him the antisemitism I have been experiencing since being down here and he just looked at me and said

Yup. Everyone hates us.

Just matter-of-fact. Just like that. And I was like, yeah, it’s true. He said what I have been thinking, what a friend of mine and I have been talking about for months. The fact that everyone hates us. It’s a quiet hatred, made louder recently, but it is always there. We thought we were safe. We’re not. And people make sure to make it known. Especially down here. And what can I do?

Conclusion: I should have posted about Mardi Gras and all that because it was really fun. Maybe I will save that for another week. This one took a somber turn and after all that it just doesn’t feel appropriate. I did, however, put on a lot of glitter. I think it probably entered my blood stream through my pores. I hope it did. We could all use a little more glitter these days.