One Day…

27 May

A few weeks ago, over some post-run sushi in the park, my lunch companion asked me what my dream job was. I thought about it for a moment.

You mean like, for real for real? Like if I could have any job in the world what would it be?

Yeah.

He said it so nonchalant. Should I admit that I had spent the better part of my adult life agonizing over this very question and felt no closer to an answer? Probably not. Lucky for me, and for him I supposed because an angsty Rebekah is not the best Rebekah, I had recently come up with something that seemed like a thing I would like to do. Without going into the long, drawn-out backstory that involves my Master’s thesis I told him about how I had always been interested in post-disaster reconstruction work. I feel somehow drawn to being one of those people who goes to places after horrible things happen and then sticks around long after many of the first responders leave. I want to be there to help communities rebuild, after the international aid ends and our global conscience moves on to the next thing because there is always a next thing. I want to be there to shame the disaster tourists. Of course I have absolutely no medical knowledge and, truth be told, get queasy rather easily. Recently at work I had to take a 5 minute sit-down because a piece of glass protruding from my thumb made me so nauseous I turned green.

Back to the drawing board, perhaps.

But, of course, my thinking about it didn’t end there. It never does. The hamster that occupies the wheel in my brain has a never-ending supply of energy, that little bastard. And in the time I spent thinking I realized that, sure, I have all sorts of lofty goals. I would like to have something I write published somewhere that people have actually heard of and be paid for it; I would like to be on the Ellen Show (don’t ask); I would like to perform at The Moth and maybe one day, one wonderful day, be featured on The Moth Radio Hour on NPR that plays on Saturdays from 7-8pm and hear myself on the radio and just be in the car all alone and be like, wow, there I am and just smile to myself; I would like to travel so much that I need new pages for my passport; I would like to be part of a group of women (and some men) who make feminism an inclusive part of the conversation rather than something talked about as its own issue. It effects us all. All those things, though, sort of exist on this other plane separate from where I am right now and so let’s bring it back down to reality, back to the present. And so now I will ask myself:

Rebekah, what is your dream job?

And here is my answer, in list form.

  • I want a job where I am respected.
  • I want a job where people aren’t constantly telling me what I am doing wrong and how to do it better even though they have never done what I do a day in their lives.
  • I want a job where people don’t throw objects or insults at me on a regular basis.
  • I want a job where people don’t whistle at me, clap at me, hiss at me, snap at me or flash their cellphone flashlights at me to get my attention.
  • I want a job where no one ever calls me “ma” or “beautiful” or “sweetie” or “baby.”
  • I want a job where I can go to the bathroom and there isn’t piss all over the seats that I have to clean up because people are animals.
  • I want a job where people don’t ask me, while I am working at my job, what else I do because I can’t possibly just be a bartender.
  • I want a job where photographs of me taken without my consent do not end up on Yelp. Or better yet…
  • I want a job where people don’t take photographs of me without my consent. At all. Ever. End of story.
  • I want a job where people don’t hit on me or ask me out and then refuse to tip me when I say no.
  • I want a job where my awesome male coworker doesn’t have to step in and deal with people who treat me like garbage because I am a woman.
  • I want a job where I am not treated like garbage.
  • I want a job where I don’t have to keep my relationship status secret, when there is a status to keep secret, because it will likely effect the amount of money I make.
  • I want a job where I am respected. Wait, did I say that already?

Here’s the thing: my job could be all those things if people would just learn how to act because, if you noticed, nothing on that list had anything to do with my job, really. There was nothing about the weird schedule and late nights (though that isn’t my favorite), nothing about being on my feet for hours and eating the majority of meals standing up, nothing about looking up and seeing eyes upon eyes upon eyes on me all needing and wanting something when I only have two hands, nothing about coming home smelling of the liquor that I didn’t drink but has saturated my clothes and my skin over the course of a busy night. Those are all parts of the job and they are okay. They are how it is. And there are a lot of really cool things. I have met some amazing people, both customers and coworkers; I have learned a lot about myself and others; I think I have become a better, more understanding person. I think that my job, although it isn’t responding to a disaster and helping those having the absolute worst days of their lives, has some amount of value and, to be honest, I think I am pretty good at it. I don’t know. It’s all relative I guess. And maybe the job I want, the job described in that list above, doesn’t actually exist. Maybe it isn’t out there. Maybe my realistic dreams are just as lofty as one day being on the Ellen Show or normalizing feminism. Maybe this is another project my hamster needs to spin her wheel about. And so, until then….

Hi, what can I get for you?

Are You Married?

17 May

No.

But sometimes I say yes.

Right now my entire neighborhood is under construction. There are actually two construction projects currently under way on my block. One of them is particularly annoying to me. So much so that I wrote an open letter to the developer of the site and posted it on this blog. I also call 311 on them at least once a week. You know me: always putting too much energy into things that yield absolutely no results. So here is the thing about this construction site. They start work at 7 on the dot every morning except Sunday. It is like clockwork. And I know that city regulation allows them to do that (because I did my research) but it doesn’t mean that I can’t be mad about it. Especially because them starting work actually means that one asshole climbs up onto the second floor of whatever personality-less piece of crap building they are erecting and bangs a mallet against a metal stud for like 1/2 hour. No joke. He gets up there and he bangs metal on metal. And then once I have been awake for long enough that the overall quality of my sleep diminishes ten-fold he says

Yeah, that’s enough mallet banging for today.

And he stops. I hate him. He might be a perfectly nice guy in real life, but by design his job makes him an asshole.

The reason I am going into this is that every time I walk by the construction site – which is like 10 times a day because it is two doors up from my house – I get mad. I glare at the site. I shake my head disapprovingly. I have ill-fantasies about drawing pictures of penises all over the shoddily-built scaffolding. Sometimes I snarl. I try to give nasty looks to the man I know to be the guy in charge of it for single-handedly ruining my quality of life. He knows I’m coming for him. I have even called him on the phone on more than one occasion although I am not sure he has put two-and-two together. I have become that person on the block. (Although to be fair I have spoken with a lot of other people on the block who have also reported the site to 311, snarled and reached out to the developer guy  who by the way calls himself Ryan although I don’t think that is his real name. None of us do.) So just this afternoon I was walking by the construction site, glaring, when I noticed there was a meeting of construction workers right there in my path. Uh oh. This is never an ideal situation. I have been yelled at by so many construction workers in this city over the years it’s absurd. Construction workers whistle at women so much that there was a site on 4th Avenue above a laundromat and the laundromat had parrots and the parrots learned how to catcall. Not kidding. I would be running down 4th and get catcalled at the construction site and begin to descend into a blind rage when I would realize I was being harassed by a pair of mother fucking birds.

BIRDS!

As I was saying, there was a construction-worker meeting happening directly in my path. I knew something was going to be said. I concentrated very hard on drinking my iced coffee and staring at my feet. I hate that I do this but I did it. I thought maybe if I pretended not to see them they wouldn’t see me. That approach failed, obviously.

Construction worker: Hey.
Me: Grunt.
Construction worker: How are you today?
Me: I’d be better if you guys didn’t wake me up at 7 in the morning every day. (ZAMBO!)
Construction worker: Are you married?

Okay, what?! I am so confused as to how this happened. So let’s recap and see if maybe I missed something. I clearly did not want to speak to him, hence the grunt. Then I basically told him that he was ruining my life. And then he asked me if I was married? And what if I said no? Was he going to ask me out on a date? Was he going to see if I wanted to meet him at the site at 6:57am, climb onto the second floor and, at exactly 7 on the dot, take a mallet and bang it as hard as I could against a piece of metal? You know, just to fuck with the neighbors?

I told him I was in fact married by calling out a sing-songy

Sure am

and continued on my way. I pretend to be married at least once a week.

So what I have noticed is that as I have gotten older, the line of questioning from random strangers on the street or assholes in bars and at parties has changed. They used to ask me if I had a boyfriend and when I said yes they would respond, like clockwork (I totally accidentally typed cockwork and it made me laugh…had to share),

Don’t worry, he doesn’t have to know.

And that always made me mad because it was like, what the fuck? I don’t want anything to do with you and your statement completely takes me out of the equation. There is that assumption that I absolutely want to suck your dick in the bathroom but the only thing that is stopping me is that fact that my boyfriend might find out and then who will I be? I will go from being a somebody with a boyfriend to a single nobody, sad and alone who probably picked up some nasty disease from putting your cock in my mouth. Now that I am in my 30s and clearly cannot just have a boyfriend, I must either be married or single (AKA sad and alone and diseased from aforementioned interaction). So the line of questioning has changed. Now people always ask me if I am married. If I say no, all hell breaks lose. If I lie and say yes, just to get them to leave me the fuck alone, they then follow it up with

No you’re not. You’re not wearing a ring.

And it’s like

I wasn’t wearing a ring when you asked me in the first place, dipshit, so if you’re so goddamn observant why didn’t you notice that before?!

But then do you know what happens next, when I don’t actually audibly call the person a dipshit?

Don’t worry, he doesn’t have to know.

AAAAAH!

But I mean, really, what is the expected response to this? Or, I suppose more accurately, the hoped-for response? I came up with a few possibilities:

  1. You’re right! I know a motel you can pay for by the hour down on 3rd. You down?
  2. You’re right! I’m not wearing a ring but I’d like to be and I know a guy who can perform weddings!
  3. You’re right! I live two doors down and my imaginary husband won’t be home for hours!
  4. You’re right! (Swift kick to the genitals.)

My money is on number 4 for sure.

Anyway, I never claimed to have all the answers. But I’m gonna go for a run and think on this. I’ll let you know if any moments of clarity follow.

I really, really hate Yelp

14 May

I know that I have already blogged about Yelp on here and that maybe one blog about Yelp is enough but whatever. Fuck that. I am angry at Yelp. In fact, I despise Yelp. If I was really good at computers and could hack into Yelp and just make the entire thing fold in on itself I totally would. And if Yelp were a person, He (and Yelp is for sure a he because he makes space for entitled fucktards to air their oftentimes bullshit grievances without any fear of retribution) would be my arch nemesis.

Anyway so you know how people say you shouldn’t read the comments? Well as it turns out that rule also applies to reading Yelp reviews about the place you bartend at. Friends, I have amassed quite a number of negative Yelp reviews. And generally speaking I would say that maybe, given that knowledge, I should look inward and analyze my behavior and think to myself,

Self, perhaps you are in the wrong business. Perhaps all of these negative Yelp reviews are actually realistic and this entire time when you thought you were good at your job and nice to people and a positive influence in the world you were actually a horrible, horrible asshole who deserves to move into a cave and die there, cold and alone.

Ordinarily I would think that. But the thing about it is that the Yelp reviews about me are so asinine and so not even true that it’s like,

No! I should not die in a cave cold and alone! Unless that cave is the only place in the world without Yelp in which case, where do I sign up?

Okay so let’s get down to this. Is it true that I am starting to think that perhaps I should move on to another career that is not so unkind to my body, not so shitty for my sleep schedule and social life, and not so full of Liar McLiar faces? Yes. But moving into a cave? Absolutely off the table. For now. (Unless, as aforementioned, there is no Yelp.) So what has gotten me all in a tizzy on this beautiful Saturday morning? Well, I will tell you.

Last weekend before going to meet with friends I thought that I should just scoot around The Internet for a little and for some reason that scooting involved me looking at Yelp reviews of a bar I work at on the weekends. Stupid, I know. It’s like walking around in a dog park blindfolded and wondering why you stepped in shit. Anyway so obviously I came across a bad Yelp review about myself because people just loooooooooove to write bad Yelp reviews about me apparently. And what made this Yelp review different from all other Yelp reviews? The fact that along with the review there was a picture of me, from behind. And why did she take a picture of me? Was it because I was rude? No. Was it because I had ignored her? No. Was it because she didn’t like her drink? No. Was it because I was so super nice and also she really liked my outfit and wanted everyone to know? Also no. It was because I was changing the beers listed on our chalkboard and in order to do so I had to stand on the back bar. There were two alternatives to me doing that.

  1. Bring a rickety-ass ladder behind the bar at like 11pm on a Friday night and somehow not kill myself while my coworker tried to squeeze around the ladder in order to serve drinks and in the meantime someone would take a photo of me doing that and post it on Yelp.
  2. Not change the beer board which would have meant that my entire evening would have consisted of every single person at the bar ordering the only beer we no longer had and me having to explain that no, we don’t have that beer any more but we have this one instead and I just couldn’t change the beer board because changing the beer board could result in a picture of my ass ending up on Yelp

I wasn’t into either of those alternatives. (Truth be told my ass ending up on Yelp never would have occurred to me prior to this incident but now I will worry about it all the time. Thank you, Christina T.) So I changed the beer board. I got up on the back bar, I erased the writing on the board, I rewrote something else, and then I got down off the back bar and went back to doing the other parts of my job. And all the meanwhile someone, in her infinite wisdom and because her life is so hard and her observations so massively important, took a photo of me and then took time out of her night to go on The Internet and post it. Along with a review asking why I was standing on the back bar. And I want to be like

Bitch, I have chalk in my hand. I was clearly in the act of actually writing when you took that photo. Are you so daft that you cannot use your powers of deductive fucking reasoning to figure out that I was clearly changing the beer board you stupid, stupid asshole?!

But I couldn’t say those things. Nope. Because on Yelp customers get to go online and post bullshit about us in hopes of, what?, getting us fired? and we have essentially no recourse. All we can do is ignore Yelp, go about our business, and hope that people don’t write reviews of us doing such horrible things as putting a lime on a glass with our bare hands (ugh! ew!), or asking them to present ID with their credit cards (what a fucking cunt!), or cutting them off when they become aggressive or look like maybe they might vomit on themselves or someone else (what is she,allergic to fun?!). We have to go to our jobs fully aware that we might wake up to text messages from our bosses asking what happened with the dude who has taken to The Internet to claim that we stole his change when it is clearly shown on video that his change was returned, and with a smile no less. And we have to then read long diatribes by that “wronged” person calling us unprofessional and rude and racist for something that didn’t even happen. And it’s like, fuck! You guys! Seriously!

So in summation, I hate Yelp. I think Yelp is a horrible website and the people who write drunken bullshit on there are dicks who should have their Internet privileges revoked. Maybe they should be the ones to go spend some time in a cave, cold and lonely. I’m not saying that I am perfect. But don’t you have something better to do than feel a certain way about an experience and then make up flat out lies about a person you don’t even know who did nothing other than pour you a beer, charge you for it and then return your change? And also, please don’t post photos of me online. That’s rude. Oh, and also, don’t bring your own booze into my bar and then write a bad review about me when I kick you out. This isn’t self serve! Stay home! I hate you!

Yelp. I am coming for you. And when I find you it will not be pretty.

 

The Complexities of Shame

28 Apr

I learned something about myself this week: I am ashamed of my body. Now this isn’t a fishing expedition. This isn’t to get people to come out of the woodwork with all kinds of positive reinforcements. That isn’t what this is about. And, honestly, it has nothing to do with how I look in a lot of ways. It is, I think, largely about the fact that in my never-ending intellectual quest to understand my role in this world as a female, I have neglected to take care of myself…or, I guess more specifically, to engage in self-care…by which I mean to place importance on my own sense of empowerment, my own autonomy over my sexuality, and, perhaps most importantly, my own definition of it. Let me explain.

Earlier this week I was at a store buying a bra. As you ladies know, buying a bra is no easy task  – especially when it involves procuring support for a pair of boobs that have not been sized in years in advance of wearing a backless dress. Wearing a bra in the right size for you is a life-changer. Believe me. I feel like a brand new woman today. That’s not the point. So there I was at this fancy lingerie store with my good friend. I have never been to a fancy lingerie store as the main event; I’ve always been the sidekick. I have never thought that fancy lingerie was really “my thing,” whatever that means. We were in the changing room and the lovely woman who was helping me kept bringing me in all these different bras to try on. I kept putting on bra after bra and while my friend kept looking and telling me how good this one looked, or how pretty that one was, or how sexy I looked I just stood there, staring, feeling like I was wearing a costume. I felt like a little kid dressing up in her mom’s high heels and lipstick, prancing around the house like an absolute diva. (I never actually did this but I feel like it’s a thing that happens?) I just kept standing, staring at myself in these beautiful things, understanding that if I saw someone else in them I would think how incredibly beautiful and sexy she looked. How in control of her sexuality. But when I looked at myself I just felt…silly. I felt like I was trying to be someone who I am not. It was like, if there was a touch of cleavage showing then I had undone all the hard work I had put in over the years. All the effort of getting people to see me as a human and not a sex object. But part of being human, I think, is sometimes feeling sexy. And understanding that it doesn’t always have a negative connotation.

So obviously I got to thinking about it.

And thinking.

And thinking.

And it dawned on me. All of the years of the wrong people calling me sexy for all the wrong reasons, in all the wrong places, with all the wrong intentions had eroded my ability to understand that being sexy can, in theory, be empowering. I see that other women can do it, and I don’t look at them and think that somehow they are doing something wrong, that they are abandoning the cause, or whatever. I just don’t get how they do it. But this isn’t about women at large. This is about me. This is about me and the ways that I have internalized all the years of being a woman, or, I suppose more accurately, all of the years I’ve spent feeling like a sex object. And this is not to say that I feel like that all the time. That is by no means the case. A lot of times I just feel like a person. But often, not always but often, when my being female is made apparent to me, it is made apparent in a disempowering and hyper-sexualized manner. To the point that sometimes I just want to throw down everything I have, grab a bullhorn, and scream, for everyone to hear,

I AM NOT HERE FOR YOU! I DID NOT WAKE UP FOR YOU! I DID NOT GET DRESSED FOR YOU! AND I AM CERTAINLY NOT WALKING DOWN THIS STREET FOR YOU!

I would love it if my experience, and I can only speak for myself although I imagine there are plenty of other women out there who feel similarly if not the same way, was less like this. I wish I could brush off some of the bullshit and find my sexuality empowering. But I think the thing is that my sexuality has for so long been used as a weapon against me, been used as a way to make me feel small and less whole, that I don’t even know how to trust it. It’s like a separate part of me, almost. Like a lot of times when my sexuality is pointed out, I become less Rebekah the  Woman and more Rebekah the Object. And surprise surprise, I don’t like to be Rebekah the Object.

I mean, okay, so get this. Just now, I decided to look up the word “sexuality” on the Internet to make sure that I was using exactly the word I wanted and this is the definition I was given:

a capacity for sexual feelings

And its use in a sentence:

she began to understand the power of her sexuality

The power of it.

That is what I am talking about. Sexuality as a weapon. Or as something that is not easy to control by its posessor. Something that can, if not properly tended to, control her. Either use it to your advantage or it gets used against you but there is no opting out of the game. You can’t just say

Nah, I’m cool with just being in the world, going through my day and then unleashing my sexuality for the person, or people, I wish to share it with.

And, as I am sure you have all guessed, the significance of the “she” in that sentence was not lost on me. Of course she began to understand. And you know how she figured it out? Probably because someone showed her by using her sexuality to disempower her in some way. She realized the usefulness of it. What she could do with it. And that’s where I get a little bit lost. Somewhere in here, in all of this, to me, reads something of a manipulation. I try to go through life as something of a straight-shooter. People more or less know where they stand with me. I don’t keep my feelings quiet, and when I do manage to keep my mouth shut my facial expressions and body language always out me. So my issue is that there is something slick, something calculating, something unsavory about the way we talk about sexuality.  I know it doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t always have to be a con. But sometimes it feels like that’s the way we talk about it to such a degree that it just becomes what it is in practice. And it’s like, sexuality is its own separate being as opposed to a part, with so many other parts, of a complex human.

But back to the dressing room. There I was, in that dressing room, trying to find a bra that wouldn’t draw more attention to my chest. A bra that wouldn’t give me more cleavage. A bra that wouldn’t undo all the hard work I’ve done to prove that I am well rounded. Hard work that has made me everything but. And, it’s like, I know that now we say that

strong is sexy

and

smart is sexy

and somehow sexy is supposed to be empowering, and meanwhile everything about high school dress codes and cat callers on the street and rape victim blaming and sexist comments and rape as a fucking war crime tells us that our sexuality, our sexiness, is something to be hidden and contained and something we should be shamed for, or hurt because of. Except for sometimes. Mostly in private. And how do we balance that? How is it our best friend and our mortal enemy all at the same time and how do we, on so many occasions, not have ownership of it? It’s like this weird, fucked up commodity that we can trade in, but only on occasion and with permission, and people may or may not try to make us feel badly about it. And sometimes that just seeps in. And some of us feel like maybe it’s best to try not to trade in it at all. But we’re not allowed to do that, either. It’s almost like we can’t do anything right.

So I don’t know. Maybe shame is the wrong word. Maybe feeling shame just plays into the whole damn thing. I guess what it is more than anything is that I just want to feel whole and autonomous and in a world where we have control over very little, I would like to be the only one – barring tragedy – with control over my body. And of course, it isn’t that I don’t want people to find me sexy. It’s just that I want the idea of being sexy to feel less unbalanced, less like something I use to get something, I want it to be more holistic. I want the idea of sexy, from the jump, to extend beyond just the physical rather than that having to be an add-on. And I know some of you are saying that it can be, and maybe you have found a way, but I don’t know. I just think it is too complicated, and so many of those complications  don’t stem from us. Rather they are learned behaviors given to us by society at large.

Clearly I’m still working this out.

I remember someone, after watching me do something kind, told me how sexy he thought that was. And for the first time in a while, since my ex was around probably, I felt good about being sexy. I felt like it was because of who I am rather than what I look like. And that’s something I can get behind. It’s about sexiness as a whole being, rather than sexiness as an entity apart. And I guess I wish it was always like that. Because I think my friends are sexy and, while they are all beautiful and handsome in their own ways, it is more because they are caring and smart and giving and funny and complicated and team players and all those other things that make them incredible humans.

I guess, in short, I like it when it feels well-rounded, all-inclusive. Because what I find sexy is someone who is smart, with a big laugh and a bigger heart, who is engaged in the world around them and also in a constant state of self-improvement. Because the physical stuff fades, eventually. Gravity does its work. But the rest of it, that takes longer to erode if you put the work in.

But for me, and as it concerns me, when it is just the physicality of it – that just doesn’t feel like mine anymore. I don’t feel like I own that. It’s been taken from me too many times. And maybe that’s why the shame sneaks in.

(And please, don’t anyone send me text messages saying you think I’m sexy. That’s not the point. And then I’ll feel like a shitty writer and that would ruin my day. Don’t ruin my day. It’s nice out.)

Living that Hive Life

20 Apr

It has been a rough go in Rebekah-land recenly, friends. Why? Well, the title of this blog is a dead giveaway. That’s right, I keep breaking out in hives and oh my god it is terrible. It all started on Monday, March 21st in a small place in Iceland called Geysir. Yes, Gey-sir. (Chuckle, chuckle, snort.) My constant travel companion Carrie and I had just finished walking around this super prehistoric-seeming landscape, oohing and aahing with other tourists as the earth shot a buttload of water like a hundred feet into the air every 6-8 minutes. It was a sight to behold and a smell to experience. Iceland, in case you were wondering, has a nasty case of the sulphurs.  Anyway, so there we were in Gey-Sir, (chuckle, chuckle, snort) walking through the gift store when all of a sudden my knees started itching something fierce. They were the itchiest knees I have ever had. And then my hands were itching. And I looked at my hands and I had these little red bumps all around my knuckles. I wrote a whole thing about it here that you should read if you really want all the background information. But to make a long story short, basically I broke out in hives over my entire body and Carrie and I had to race across the Icelandic tundra to this random pharmacy that was about to close and the lady there asked me if I had tried to wash the hives off. I mean, I had washed my hands a few times but obviously the hives had not gone anywhere because they were attached to my skin. Hives aren’t something akin to dirt. You can’t just wash them off. And if I’m being completely honest it did give me a little bit of pause that the only lady available to me in my moment of need was someone who thought I could wash the hives off my hands with sulphur water but whatever, I was desperate. Anyway I took some Icelandic antihistamine and they cleared up. Hooray!

But the relief was short lived. Dun dun DUUUUUUN.

Over the past 4 weeks I have broken out in hives at least a dozen times. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. I can’t seem to identify any common factors. (Except for the fact that I am certain I am dying a slow and itchy death.) I haven’t changed my diet, detergent or lotion. I am beginning to think that perhaps breaking out in hives, as opposed to always getting shat on by animals in trees, is my real superhero power. Wouldn’t that be a gas? But of course as I was formulating that hypothesis I realized that I had put my cell phone down in a fresh pile of bird shit so, you know. That theory is still up for debate. It’s almost as if my other superhero power, my actual proven power, was feeling the pressure of being ousted from its position in my life and was like

Nah, I gotchu. Just put your cell phone down right…..there. That’s right, girl. See? We’re good.

I am not certain when I determined that my superhero power was actually an independent being with its own voice, personality and motives but I am just going to go with it.

So here is the thing: breaking out in hives really sucks. Like really, really. First off, they are super uncomfortable. They like morph my hands into a giant mosquito bite. Second, they look really gross. Third, they make me feel like I am this freak of a person because itchy red bumps just sprout up all over my hands and knees at random. Who wants to be friends with the girl with random itchy red bumps? No one, that’s who. And four, they are like a total mind fuck! It’s like, I know I am poisoning my body with something because my body is all,

Wait? What is that? WHAT IS IT?! SOS! SOS! TELL HER! TELL HER THERE IS SOMETHING WEIRD! MAKE HER SO ITCHY SHE WANTS TO SAW OFF HER OWN HANDS AND THROW THEM INTO THE OCEAN!

And then I’m all like

Yeah, but how am I supposed to know what it is if you don’t use your words, body? Use. Your. Words.

But my body has no words. It only has horribly itchy red bumps.

So my favorite hive experience was this past Saturday when I was out for lunch with my friends Katie and Shannon. Katie, it just so happens, is a nurse. So when I met up with her I did a very similar thing as when I encountered the Icelandic pharmacist: I put my hands in front of her face and looked meaningfully between her and them. Katie looked a little worried and proclaimed

Oh! Hives!

because she knows shit. I told her I had taken some Claritin so I was pretty sure it was going to be better any minute. She looked doubtful and concerned. Over the next 45 minutes or so, my hands got progressively itchier. So itchy, in fact, that I kept sticking them in my armpits in hopes that somehow doing an imitation of Mary Katherine Gallagher would fix everything. It did not. This was the first time this approach has ever failed me. As we were sitting down to brunch it only got worse. I looked at my hands. What had started as small, itchy bumps on my knuckles had spread to the palms of my hands and the insides of my wrists. I have learned in my month of living the hive life that when the wrists go, certain doom follows. I panicked. I jumped off my seat and said, as dramatically as I could,

Order me a coffee! I need topical cream!

and rushed to the local pharmacy where the pharmacist did not ask me whether I had washed my hands but instead said that a trip to an allergist and perhaps some Benadryl was in order. This, of course, was in response to me practically breaking out in tears in front of her because I was so itchy and also freaking about randomly having horrible allergic reactions to an unknown source when all I was trying to do was have a Bloody Mary with my girlfriends on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I couldn’t buy Benadryl because I had to bartend that night and it makes me super sleepy so instead I got this crazy topical cream which I now carry with me at all times like a weirdo. A hive producing weirdo.

So, anyway, I haven’t gotten any hives since Monday night so I am feeling pretty positive about things in general. And I have an appointment with a doctor today who helped me with my stomach problems in college by doing some shit with magnets. I feel like life is looking up, friends. I feel like although hives might be winning right now, I am going to make a late-in-the-game comeback. I am going to show them who is boss! I am going to say

Fuck you hives! You are not my superhero power!

and hopefully get shat on by a bird. Just to prove the point.

Smiley Face, Smiley Face, Kiss-y Face

12 Apr

Okay so just as a disclaimer, I am not someone who goes on dates and then totally talks shit about the person I went out with on the internet. For example, I went on this really awful date years ago after some guy essentially stalked me on Facebook and then spent an entire dinner staring at my chest and also thought it was funny that he went home with some girl who spelled her name the same way as me who was so plastered that she could hardly walk and I didn’t write about that. Could have but didn’t. Mostly because that guy scared me. But still. This one is funny though because it involves too many emojis and some good, old fashioned in person body-shaming. Every date needs a good dose of body-shaming, right? Wrong.

Anyway, I went on a date. That’s right. I did it. And it wasn’t even really my idea. I blame Jessy. (I don’t blame you Jessy, I swear! I love you!) So here’s the thing. I do not give my number out at work. Work for me is a professional place and not a place to get a date. Okay fine, fine, that’s not entirely accurate. So in the interest of full disclosure let me tell you this: my last boyfriend was a customer turned friend turned boyfriend and my boyfriend before him was my bartender. But he asked me out and I wasn’t working so I feel like maybe that one doesn’t even count. Right? Right. Anyway so now I have decided that work is a professional place and not a place to get a date. So now that we have that all sorted, it’s story time.

So there I was, at work. As an aside, I feel like I am basically always at work. In fact I am just getting dressed right now and my bra smells like the bar. Not like booze, but like whatever the bar is cleaned with and so now I am sitting at home at my desk smelling bar. So not only do I feel like I am always at work but now I take work home with me! It is in my clothes! Shit is insidious. As I was saying, there I was, at work. It was busy. I was running around, mixing things, giving people drinks and food, making the occasional wise crack. There were two dudes sitting at the end of the bar. One of them had been there drinking for hours. His friend had come only recently but that means nothing – unless someone tells me otherwise I generally figure they are coming from somewhere else. Hard and fast rule: never assume sobriety. Time passed and then as the two dudes were getting ready to leave the newer one – who oddly looked like the Hispanic version of an ex-boyfriend of mine from below the eyes and also had very well-kempt eyebrows which is a total red flag for me because my hair maintenance is, shall we say, lacking – looked over at me

Eyebrows: Can I have your number?
Me: I don’t give out my number at work.
Eyebrows: Well, what if I come back on your shift in two weeks and ask you again?
Me: I will tell you that I don’t give my number out at work.

I then smiled and walked away. Okay so here is the thing every once in a while I make the mistake of giving my number to someone when I am at work and it always ends up being a stupid decision. Seriously, no one has my number. I mean, some people do obviously but only people who need to have it. I don’t like having my number out there in the hands of The Public. Plus the dudes that ask for the bartender’s number are dudes I generally want nothing to do with. I made the mistake of giving my number to some guy in the fall because he was polite and sort of shocked me into it and I regretted it immediately. We went out one time. He tried to get me to take him home with me an hour into our date. I mean he was cute but not that cute and, obviously, was seriously lacking in charm. I not-so-nicely declined. (Sort of wrote about it here but only sort of. Shameless plug.)

When I came back to their area to check and see if they needed anything he had written his name, his number and a little smiley face (the first sign of things to come!) on a napkin and told me I should call. I shoved it into my pocket and forgot about it until the next day when I was sitting at my desk and felt this weird balled up thing poking me in the ass. I pulled it out. Phone number. I was chatting with my girl Jessy at the time and told her about it. She said something along the lines of

Text him! You need to get out there. Seriously. Stop being a hermit.

I don’t think she actually called me a hermit. I called myself a hermit. I told her I would think about it. And I did for long enough to put it somewhere where I wouldn’t throw it away and where my cats wouldn’t turn it into their newest toy. That somewhere was in the pocket of my backpack where I keep my favorite rock.

Fast forward a few eventful and not-so-sleep-filled nights. I worked a Friday night shift, woke up early the next morning to drive to Connecticut for a Bachelorette party, woke up the following morning for the bridal shower and a drive to Boston where I met my sister to give her my car, Jose, and then took a Lyft to Logan Airport for my flight to Iceland. I was sitting at the airport bar, drinking an overpriced glass of red wine and eating a veggie burger. It was not delicious. I went through my backpack in search of my journal and my rock. I came out with the phone number and decided that 25 minutes before boarding an international flight was the perfect time to send a text message to some dude I don’t know. We texted. It was stupid. I got on my plane.

ICELAND WAS AWESOME! We saw horses…I mean ponies…I mean horses; we walked behind one waterfall and climbed above another; we took a photo with a rainbow; we almost got washed to sea by an incredibly aggressive wave; we got caught in all the rain ever; we almost burned someone’s house down.Then we left.

I arrived back in Boston and was staying with my friend Emily. I decided that unless I heard from dude I was just going to let sleeping dogs lie. (I am not entirely sure that is the idiom that I was going for but whatever, I’m committing.) No sooner did I make this decision then I received the following text from Eyebrows:

Smiley face, smiley face, kiss-y face.

Obviously these were emojis and not words but I find it funnier to dictate them. So let’s just recap: I don’t know anything about this dude, we have never hung out and pretty much never really spoken, I wouldn’t have been able to pick him out in a line up if he hadn’t sent me a weird headshot and yet he sent me

Smiley face, smiley face, kiss-y face.

I didn’t know how to respond to that so I sent a question mark. Words are a thing I like. Words, the pile of poop emoji and that random salsa dancing lady. The occasional smiley face is okay but not until you know someone or if you say something you think might sound sort of dick and you feel the need to be clear about that fact that it wasn’t dick, it was actually smiley. Then you send a smiley. That way everyone is on the same page. Anyway this went on for a few days. Him sending me things I didn’t really understand, me asking him to elaborate, him thinking I was being funny, me being very frustrated and confused. My favorite part of it all was this following interaction (keep in mind that I know I was being an asshole and I felt really bad about it until I actually went on the date and then I didn’t feel bad at all so please hold on and you’ll understand):

Eyebrows (this said completely randomly): The sun is nice
Me: I’ve been in the car all day.
Me (upon realizing that I was probably being a dick for no reason at all): But it’s strong, that’s for sure
Eyebrows: Like me (strong arm emoji thing)

I just….yeah. I mean, he is a personal trainer so I had already used my powers of deductive reasoning to assume that he was strong before he sent me the strong arm emoji. But, you know, I guess some people don’t like to leave things to chance. Instead, they leave things to emojis. That is their prerogative. I decided right then and there that I was done. There were far too many emojis! But I am a pushover and a girl and am incapable of saying no to people and so when, like a week later, he texted to say he was going to be in my neighborhood and would I like to meet for a drink I said fine. I picked a spot I never go to that was in walking distance of my house. I walked over there, got a beer and sat down to read my magazine while I waited. He eventually showed up. And this is when shit got awesome.

Eyebrows: You know, sometimes when girls go out with personal trainers they think that they need to get in shape. (Meaningful eye contact.) But, you know, that’s not necessary. I mean, if you want to that’s cool but whatever. I don’t mind.

So keep in mind I had come from work. I was wearing disgustingly dirty shoes, a pair of jeans that are in a long, drawn-out process of disintegration and a sweatshirt. I could have had the most slamming body ever under my sweatshirt. I mean, I don’t, but I could. But he couldn’t know that. Unless he has x-ray vision which is unlikely but now the thought of it is making me rethink the entire interaction. I stared at him blankly. Basically the in-person look of what I had been doing over text message for the better part of the last week or so. But he wasn’t done! No! He had more!

Eyebrows: I want to get married. Do you want to get married?
Me: I mean, that’s kind of a weighty question but, I don’t know. It’s not really a priority of mine but I guess if it makes itself necessary I’m not opposed to it. Or if it is important to the person I end up with. So I guess I’m really neither here nor there on it.
Eyebrows: No, you want to get married. I can read you. I know your type.

Okay, so I have been told over and over again for my entire life that I am hard to read. I have also been told that I am in my head a lot. Both of these things are true. I over think everything. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. So obviously I have given all kinds of deep thought about marriage, what it means, what it represents, how it can empower and disempower, and how a lot of times getting married is more about fitting within a socially accepted construct than anything else. That sometimes we don’t actually think through the things that we do because they are just the things that we do. We were raised to think they fit within a definition of success. No, the definition of success. Marriage represents the success of a relationship. No questions asked. That isn’t to say there is anything wrong with getting married. I am so excited for my friends who do it! Some of them are doing it in a few weeks and I get to officiate it and I cannot wait! The point is just that when I answer a question like that it isn’t just like some bullshit answer because I am in my 30s and not married so obviously I have to trick myself into not feeling like a failure at life in general by pretending it is a personal choice. I don’t have to pretend anything. I feel weird and complicated things about myself + marriage. But apparently he knew my type. I laughed. He asked what I was laughing about. I wanted to send him a pile of shit emoji with my eyes but I haven’t mastered that skill quite yet so instead I said

It’s just that you seem to know a lot about me for someone who doesn’t know me. And who claims to be listening but hasn’t heard a word I said.

More or less pleasant conversation followed. And then! Before we left he asked me to open my YouTube and search for this video he made. I felt nervous and was hoping it wasn’t porn-y but I obliged and looked for the video. It was an ab workout video.

Eyebrows: You should try out that video. (Looks me up and down.) I think it will really help you.
Me: Wow, dude! You know how to make a girl feel gooooooooood!

And I laughed and laughed and laughed my entire walk home. And then I cried myself to sleep. No just kidding I didn’t. I actually laughed. And felt really good that I have a positive body image (most of the time). And it’s true, I don’t have the best abs but whatever. You know what doesn’t make me want to hang out with a person again? Him telling me that he knows my type, can read me like a book, and PS has x-ray vision and therefore can totally tell I haven’t been doing my planks and is going to point it out rather than be cool and realize that having x-ray vision, even fake x-ray vision, is a thing only characters in comic books should have. I thought I had seen the last of him but then, the next morning:

Smiley face, smiley face, kiss-y face.

I didn’t respond.

The end.

When Persistence is Rude

4 Apr

I heard a scuffle and realized there was a fight. Again. It’s almost as if a weekend night cannot pass by without some sort of absurd and unnecessary shake-up. The warm weather only makes it worse. That reality causes my life to be sort of at odds with itself. I’m a summer baby so I spend pretty much all my time either being appreciative of the heat or counting down the days until it returns. You’ll almost never hear me complain about being too hot. But when a spring or summer weekend rolls around, my love for the heat morphs into an acute sense of foreboding. Hot days lead to hot tempers. Mix those tempers with close quarters and lots of alcohol and you’ve got yourself a party.

It was about 1:30, maybe 2 in the morning. Apparently some guy tried to go into the bathroom with his girlfriend because he “didn’t want anyone seeing her in there.” I’m not entirely certain what that even means, to be honest. I don’t know whether he has some sort of disbelief in these things we call locks or he thinks people somehow develop laser vision when they get within two feet of a bathroom when his girlfriend is inside. Whatever the reason it turned into a whole big fiasco. (By the way, I am fully aware that he wanted to go into the bathroom with his girl for some sexy time, but I refuse to truly engage with that thought because the bathrooms at my bar, especially late on a warm weekend night, are straight out of a horror film. I have to pee in there on the regular and it has changed me. No joke.)

Upon hearing all the noise I obviously made the poor choice to walk out from behind the bar to go investigate. I did this under the guise of trying to usher those not involved in the fight to safety. You never know when an elbow, or a glass, might go flying. So I gathered intel while I let a few dudes out through a second exit. As I turned to go back behind the bar some guy grabbed my hand and got in my space. If you know me at all you know that I hardly like to be touched by people I love, let alone some asshole at the bar I work in. At first I thought he was going to say something about how I should stay behind the bar where it’s safe and not get too close to all the yelling, especially considering that just moments before the guy who was trying to join his girl in the bathroom violently grabbed her by the neck for “running her mouth.” (Have I mentioned recently how much I hate everything?) Dude probably would have been right but I still would have been miffed about some guy essentially scolding me for not staying behind the bar. But no. He didn’t say anything about my safety or the fight or share in my horror about the way a man so casually grabbed a woman by the neck in a public place, under the watch of cameras, without any pause or remorse whatsoever. Made me nervous about how he behaves in private. Instead, while holding onto my left hand, he whispered in my ear

Why you gotta be like that with me?

Anger shot through my entire body. Why was this person touching me? Why was he in my space? Why the fuck was he whispering in my ear? And where the fuck did he get the idea that he was at all entitled to my time or an explanation as to why I wouldn’t give him any of it? I’d love to say that this was the first time such a question had been hurled at me but that would be a lie. People regularly ask me why I am “like that,” whatever “that” means. From what I can gather, they think I am pretty but I don’t flirt with them. Because guess what, I don’t flirt. Not my jam. Not that there is anything wrong with being a flirty bartender, it totally works for some people. But I hate when people ask me for my phone number at work and I hate how some people get possessive over a girl who they think is interested, even if all that girl is interested in at that moment is an inflated tip. My dream is to be the efficient half of a bartending team. Making drinks and putting them over the bar quickly, the conversation limited to an economic transaction. Let my partner be the personality. I’ll be support staff. But I couldn’t respond with all that so instead I said,

Be like what? You come in here for beer. I sell it to you. That is my job.

He held my hand a little tighter. I shook it free.

I told you before I liked your vibes.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to be like

Oh! You like my vibes?! Well why didn’t you say so??? Please! Grab my hand again! Please! Whisper into my ear like a total fucking creep! Because now that I know you like my vibes I am totally down for whatever you’re down for. I hear they have some really clean bathrooms up in this joint. With locks that work, even.

But I didn’t say any of those things. Instead I turned and looked him in the face and said

Don’t you ever put your hand on me again.

My night continued. But then the next morning I got to thinking, once again, about entitlement. About how men feel entitled to touch women and how we as women are not even entitled to autonomy over our own physical presence. I cannot walk through a space, even a space I work in, with the assumption that I will not be touched in either a sexual or aggressive manner. And, when that happens – not if but when – there is virtually nothing I can do. Sure, I can make a smart remark, assuming I feel safe doing so, but there is nothing intimidating about me. I cannot, by sheer force of size or movement, make someone back off. I can shoot them down, but that does not necessarily result in a change of behavior. This is something like the 4th time this same guy has tried to, I don’t even know, get me to pay him more attention than pouring him a Smuttynose and taking his money. It’s as if he thinks persistence is key and let me tell you something, I find his persistence insulting. His persistence completely ignores a very important part of the equation: my interest, or lack thereof.

To me, when someone isn’t interested, they aren’t interested. Back the fuck off. Life isn’t like the movies where the guy likes the girl and she isn’t interested but by his sheer will to get what he wants, what he deserves, he is able to convince her to be his. He is able to, for lack of a better term, break her. This dude can tell me every single fucking day for the rest of time that he “likes my vibes” and I will still tell him to go take a walk in the ocean. Because the thing is, he isn’t listening to me because what I say, and what I feel, does not matter to him. In his journey to get what he wants, I am incidental. What I want is incidental. My feelings are incidental. What matters is him, what he wants. And he doesn’t think there is anything wrong with his persistence. Maybe he thinks I should be flattered. More than likely, he doesn’t think about how I should feel, or do feel, at all. That can be overcome. I can be broken.

Being female can be a real mind fuck.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 175 other followers