New York, Have You Become Respectful?

12 Oct

There was a time, not that long ago, when I would get harassed on the streets on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day. I got hissed at, winked at, snapped at, clapped at; I had people tell me I was beautiful, demand that I smile, whisper in my ear, ask me out to dinner or to marry them; I had men follow me down streets and try to come with me on my run; I got touched and I got grabbed; one man tried to push his way into my apartment. In all the hundreds of times that this happened, I never once felt flattered or happy, I never once left the interaction feeling more attractive. Sometimes when I complained about it, people – men, to be more specific – would tell me I should take it as a compliment, that when it stopped happening I would miss it. I assured them that I would not.

Over the past few years I have noticed that the amount that I get harassed has been slowly creeping downward. It hasn’t stopped entirely but it is way less common than it used to be. Maybe the city has changed or maybe I have become less attractive or desirable now that I am safely into my thirties. Maybe it’s some combination of the two. The reality of the situation is that I don’t give a shit what it is that is causing this significant downturn. All I can tell you is that I fucking love it. Let me tell you a quick story.

This morning I went to a spin class with my friend CJ. Afterwards, red faced and sweaty, I headed out into the bustle of Downtown Brooklyn to run a few errands. I was wearing the modern-day workout uniform of 3/4 length stretchy pants and a tank top, with a small sweatshirt and a vest thrown over to keep me warm. And you know what? No one gave a shit. No one asked me where I was going or if they could come with me. No one honked at me or yelled at me from the window of their car. No one whispered a hushed “god bless” into my ear as I hustled through my tasks. And it wasn’t until all my  errands were completed and I hopped on the train that I realized it. And do you know what? I smiled. I fucking smiled.

I smiled and I realized to myself that there was never a moment, there has never been a moment, where the downtick in harassment has somehow made me feel bad about myself. I don’t need that to feel attractive or worthwhile. Being harassed wasn’t something that added value to me or my day, it detracted from it. It made me feel cheap and dehumanized and as if because I am a woman I only matter in how I look, and how my looks make other people (read: men) feel. And do you know what else made me feel cheap and dehumanized? Having people tell me I would miss it when it went away. Because that meant that they believed that somewhere in me, somewhere I wasn’t willing to acknowledge existed, I was somehow flattered by the passing lewd comments. And even as I told them I wouldn’t miss it, there were times when I worried that maybe the norm of the hyper-sexualization of women had snuck in there a little and that maybe I did thrive off it, just a little bit. That even though I hated it, it still made me feel desirable. But do you want to know something? I feel more desirable, more empowered, more human and complex and amazing in the absence of it. Because it took a lot of work to build myself back up after being verbally objectified day after day. And now that I don’t have to put that work in as often, now that I don’t have to be defensive and angry and sometimes have outbursts at a passing car or man in the middle of a busy avenue at 3 in the afternoon, I start every single day a little bit ahead. And I have more mental energy to put into the things that matter to me. Like this blog, and my friends, and trying to figure out what the fuck is happening in our country right now.

So, thank you New York City for either getting more respectful or simply not wanting to fuck me. Keep it up – it’s been amazing.

When You’re a Star They Let You Do It

9 Oct

So remember the other day when I wrote that post about how I thought that maybe Donald Trump, as many (conspiracy) theorized, wasn’t a Democratic plant to guarantee a Hillary presidency but was rather a Republican plant to get Mike Pence on the ticket? Whelp, guys, looks like maybe my cockamamie idea was more accurate than even I thought. Because here we are, mere weeks before the election, and a video is released that shows Trump saying some pretty vile shit about women (I would like a show of hands of who was in the least bit surprised about this development), and now Republican politicians are fleeing Camp Trump as if all its water sources are infested with guinea worms.*

Maybe I’m like some sort of savant for the ridiculous.

So, we’re here. We are here in maybe one of the most awful of places. We are here in a place where, at least for a significant period of time, Mike Pence cancelled all of his campaign events leading up to the Town Hall tonight and there has been murmuring – louder than usual – that Trump should withdraw and Pence should take over the top of the ticket. As previously mentioned, this would be scary as fuck. Seriously, you guys, take a moment and look into Pence if you haven’t already. When it comes to social conservatism, he is the worst of the worst. The likelihood of him winning at this point is relatively low but still. He’d be out there. Spreading his hate around. And I think we have all had enough hate for one campaign season, am I right?

But perhaps more importantly, and more upsetting, than even a Mike Pence campaign is what Trump said in that video. Basically, and correct me if I am wrong, Trump admitted, in his own words, to multiple counts of forceable touching. That is sexual assault, friends. And I don’t think I would be that irresponsible to say that if he bragged about grabbing women by their pussies, it is very likely that he did other things to their pussies that they did not consent to. That’s rape. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in the coming weeks some more specific information starts coming out from women who were the recipients of some of Trump’s unwelcome attention. I imagine they have already started. I imagine that, keeping in mind the complexities and insidiousness of rape culture, we are just awaiting the perfect victim. (Think Bill Cosby.)

And so, as much as it is something to see some high up members of the GOP finally come to their senses and denounce this racist, misogynist, sorry excuse for a human being, it isn’t enough. Here is what I want. I want one of these men or women to get in front of a microphone, or sit in front of a computer, and truly denounce this behavior and the entire culture that made it possible. I want someone to say something like this:

We live in a Democracy, one in which the people speak and we listen. At the beginning of this campaign season, we had a large and fractured field of potential Presidential candidates and we watched as one after another of our traditional representatives backed out of the race. When it came down to it, the people spoke and we did what we had to do, what Democracy tells us to do: we listened. We threw ourselves behind a man who we didn’t believe was fit for the job because that is who our constituents wanted to see on the ticket. It was a wake-up call, one we sorely needed, that told us that we were not speaking accurately for a number of people within our own party. It told us, all of us, Republican and Democrat, that the system desperately needs fixing. People were feeling left behind and left out, and they fought back. They fought back and they made us, at least for a time, the party of Trump, the country, of Trump. But now that must end. It is not enough to say that the video of Trump that was released earlier this week was disgusting, what it communicates and represents absolutely vile. We are not just dealing with a person with bad manners and questionable ethics. We are dealing with a violent offender. Someone who continues to make women feel degraded and uncomfortable not only through his choice of words but through his choice of actions. We are dealing with a man who thinks he is entitled to take from women something that he is not given permission to take. We are dealing with someone who does not believe consent is something that he needs.

This is a scary place we are in. A place where our chosen representative is, by his own admittance, a criminal. But what is scarier is that we are so used to this behavior by men in positions of power, and let’s be honest those who are not, that we are not calling it what it is: it is illegal, plain and simple. What Trump described in that video was sexual assault, and he was proud of it. He bragged to Billy Bush about it. I would hate to find out how many women were victimized in this way and then just used as conversational fodder for him and some equally misogynist buddy.

And so now we are listening. We listened to the country but now we are listening to Trump and what Trump is telling us is that sexual violence, sexual assault and rape are much more acceptable actions than we ever allowed ourselves to admit. They are things that people brag openly about with their friends with absolutely no regard for this victims. And the victims are innumerable. And that needs to stop.

I mean, I guess they don’t have to go that deep into it (although it would be nice) but I suppose I wish someone would come out and really just call a spade a spade. This was not just harmless locker room chatter. This was admittance of a crime. And if nothing else, this horrible video should be used as evidence of just how wide spread and out-in-the-open sexual assault really is. This is a Presidential candidate. And, sadly, we can all agree that he was not the first one to use his position of power to take advantage of women. (And, if history is any indication, he will not be the last.) He was just the only one stupid enough to brag about it on camera. In his taped speech, Donald said, among other things,

And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

But the thing is that you can’t do anything. And it’s about time more people realized that. It’s about time more people realized that and actually said something about it. This is the moment. Come on GOP bigwigs. Get with it.

*This is actually a more accurate comparison that I initially thought! Tread lightly on looking too far into guinea worms because they are nasty but here’s a little bit of info: basically you get infected (internally infested?) by drinking from a contaminated water source but you think you’re okay. And then, about a year later, you develop a burning feeling and a blister on your leg and *BAM* worm! SO in this analogy Trump’s campaign was the water and Trump? He’s the worm. And then I guess that makes all the GOP participants who got in his corner the leg.

Joe Biden 4Ever

5 Oct

As I said last night during the Vice Presidential debates, my overall feelings remain as follows: I would very much like Joe Biden to be VP forever. Where is science when what this country really needs is the ability to make Joe Biden live on for the rest of time? Behind. That’s where. But seeing as an immortal Biden is probably not in the offing at the moment, perhaps we should discuss what we do have: a Democratic VP candidate who came off overbearing, condescending and elitist against a cool as a cucumber Republican who is horrifyingly socially conservative, but who managed to essentially dodge every single barb lodged his way to come across the clear winner. Not good folks, not good.

So I know we all have lots of very valid feelings about how incredibly unqualified Donald Trump is to be President. Watching him and reading about him and coming to terms, over and over again, that yes, this is in fact happening right now to us here in the United States in the year 2016, is a harrowing experience. Even more harrowing? Thinking about what our future might be if the unthinkable happens. I have been largely incapable of actually engaging with what the reality of a Donald Trump presidency would be. All my brain calls up is nuclear winter. Seriously. I think about where we will be like 2 years in and all I can really envision is myself emerging from some shack that has replaced my previously comfortable and lovely apartment and looking around, seeing only the remains of what once was, with people walking around in drab, worn out clothing searching for food for their children, emerging occasionally with a somehow preserved piece of organic rainbow chard from the co-op. I know that is probably a little bit extreme. Of course we will still have chard. There will always be chard. But things will not be good. That man is going to be in charge of appointing at least one Supreme Court Justice along with all the different Secretaries of different things. He knows no one in the political world. Where would he even find these people? Under his bed? In his pantry? I don’t know. And then there’s the speeches to the country and, worse, the world; the trips overseas to speak with foreign leaders; his presence in towns as a voice of empathy and resolve when, inevitably, another shooting occurs; him sitting in the Situation Room, beating his chest and declaring that he alone knows about war, even though the only thing he really knows about war is how to avoid being drafted to fight in one. And also…and also…he is going to be a man at the helm during the formative years for so many young people. How do you tell boys to respect girls, tell girls they are worthwhile and smart and equal, with that man as President? I just don’t know.

It’s all very scary. Scarier? Mike Pence. Over the past few weeks people have said to me in voices both hushed and not-too-hushed that they either think someone should or someone will kill Donald Trump if he wins the Presidency. Now I don’t think that will happen and, honestly, I hope it doesn’t. I dislike Trump as much, maybe more than, the next gal and wish he would just sort of decide that he is just too great to share his tremendous greatness with an undeserving populace made up of losers and dogs and just sort of fade away. Saying I want him dead though, that makes me feel like garbage. Also a dead Trump means that we have a Pence presidency and that proposition is scary as fuck.

Pence is currently the Governor of Indiana. As the Governor, he signed the most restrictive abortion regulations in the country. House Bill 1337 requires women to view an ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat hours before an abortion; it criminalizes fetal tissue collection or transferring, a practice that has been useful in trying to understand Zika, among other things; it bans women who wish to abort a child based off the race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus*; it defunded Planned Parenthood which led to an outbreak of HIV in one county because it cut off access to the only HIV testing center available to many residents**; by criminalizing many abortions it opens up the possibility that abortion providers can be sued for wrongful death; the list goes on and on and on. That shit is no joke. Pence even said on the campaign trail that under a Trump/Pence ticket “(w)e’ll see Roe v. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.” My non-child-wanting womb is screaming for mercy just thinking about it. And this man, in the event of Trump’s demise, could become president and therefore appoint a Supreme Court Justice who could be the swing vote on so many things. So, so many. What other things? Ill tell you.

In 2015, Pence helped to pass one of the harshest “religious freedom” laws in the country. It would have protected businesses who wished to refuse service to LGBT people if they cited religious objections. Does Mike Pence remember segregation? Does he remember how incredibly unethical, inhumane, immoral and illegal that was? How would Mike Pence feel if people decided to not serve him because he is a bigoted asshole? Probably not too good, if I had to guess. Furthermore, when he was a congressman he supported legislation that refused to fund treatment for people suffering from HIV or AIDS, and instead wanted to invest that money in programs that would discourage people from engaging in same-sex relationships.

Following the attacks in Paris he tried, unsuccessfully thanks to the sometimes-functioning court system, to block Syrian immigrants from entering Indiana. Back in 2004 Pence supported a bill that would have potentially deported undocumented people from local hospitals. If passed, the Undocumented Alien Emergency Medical Assistance Amendments Bill, HR 3722, would have required hospitals to report information on undocumented patients before they could be reimbursed for any care given, basically giving ICE unfettered access to people in their most vulnerable moments. In 2006, he introduced a plan that he called a “no amnesty immigration reform.” In Pence’s summary of the plan he wrote,

“The Border Integrity and Immigration Reform Act is a bill that is tough on border security and tough on employers who hire illegal aliens, but recognizes the need for a guest worker program that operates without amnesty and without growing into a huge new government bureaucracy”

Dude has an A rating from the NRA. An A fucking rating. I mean I know there are a lot of responsible gun users out there but it sort of feels like there is a shooting in a school or a nightclub or a movie theater every other day. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “firearms were used to kill more than two-thirds of spouse and ex-spouse homicide victims between 1990 and 2005.” And that is only in the realm of DV. That doesn’t include unintended homicide or injury, suicide, etc. Shit is bad. But more guns are the answer, right? Mike? You think so? Obviously you do.

He also is skeptical of climate change. Which I mean, I know that earlier in this post I was disappointed in science’s inability to make Biden immortal, but I trust it on climate change. Maybe we should send him to chat with a polar bear. Maybe he’ll get eaten. Moving on, he believes in the privatization of education. Back in 1990 he used campaign donations to pay for his mortgage and his credit card bills.

And if you saw the debates last night you saw how Mike Pence managed to win without ever really saying he agreed with Donald Trump. Because clearly he doesn’t. Mike Pence is not stupid. Mike Pence is gearing up for his own run at the Oval Office, assuming his career can withstand such a close relationship with the biggest dunce of a candidate we have ever seen. Christie’s certainly couldn’t. But Christie did give us the circus that is BridgeGate so there’s that.

So now, because I am hungry and need to lleave this be in order to eat some food, here is my new theory: you know how back when no one thought Trump would actually be the Republican candidate people kept saying that he was really a plant by the Democratic party to insure a Republican win? What if in reality Pence is the plant. Get Trump elected. Trump gets to brag about what a winner he is. And then he says

Nah, I’m good. It was all about the tremendous chase.

And then he introduces President Pence. And the entire world shudders.

* I know the idea of sexual, racial, etc selection sounds awful, but what this effectively does is turn abortion into a he(she)-said she(he)-said. How do you prove that this was the reason behind someone attaining an abortion? Do you record every session? Or does this open the door for anti-choice activists to target women who have obtained an abortion regardless of the reason?

** This is what pro-choice activists have been saying about the increasingly restrictive regulations surrounding abortions for decades. There are many unintended consequences to the defunding of Planned Parenthood seeing as how a significant percentage of those who rely on PP for annual check-ups and the like are low income and therefore cannot simply hop in a car and drive, where? Two counties over?




Turn Down the Microphone

27 Sep

I was driving down Hamilton Avenue listening to NPR when I heard it, the thing I’d been anticipating since I woke up this morning: The Excuse. And it wasn’t The Excuse I had been mentally predicting since the middle of the debate last night, that Lester Holt had asked him unfair questions, although that was certainly on the list of ways that Donald Trump believed he was the victim of a biased moderator. (Never mind the fact that Lester Holt was simply fact checking Trump’s responses and trying to hold him accountable for any of the countless inflammatory and incorrect statements he has made through his campaign and before. His deep participation in the birther movement, comes to mind, but also the fact that Trump has not yet released his taxes – something that presidential candidates have done for decades.) The Excuse was actually much more absurd. On Fox & Friends this morning, the day after the debate in which, I would say, he got trounced, Trump complained that his microphone was defective, that it wasn’t as loud as Hillary Clinton’s.


Let us just reflect on this for a moment. Many of us watched the debate last night and I am going to go out on a limb and say that none of us had a hard time hearing Donald Trump. Did we have a hard time understanding him, what with his reliance on incomplete sentences and his incredible overuse of the word tremendous? Certainly. But could we hear him? Loud and clear. We heard his arrythmic breathing – he sniffled 37 times during the debate. We also heard him when he interrupted Clinton – 51 times by some estimates. We heard him when he said that not paying taxes makes him smart. And again we heard him when, in response to Clinton bringing up his long history of misogyny, he said that this well-documented history simply was not true. Except for in one particular instance.

“Somebody who’s been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell, I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it, and nobody feels sorry for her.”

The supposedly justified “tough things” that he said? He called her a “loser,” a “fat pig,” a “mental midget, a low life,” a “degenerate” and a “slob.” She deserved all of these insults, though, because she had the gall to opine that his bankruptcy and extra-marital affair perhaps made him unfit to be a moral arbiter for a potentially wayward Miss USA. Rosie O’Donnell made that statement in 2006. And here we are, 10 years later, on the main stage of American politics, in a debate thats purpose is to help the American electorate decide who is best fit to have the fucking nuclear codes, and one of the candidates is so butthurt about a more-or-less harmless comment made by a daytime talkshow host that he brings it up. And, in an effort to not sound like the misogynist playground bully that he is, he blamed the victim.

But while Trump makes the rounds talking about how unfair everyone is in the face of his tremendous ability to make money and respect women, I just want to discuss one simple thing. I want to discuss the fact that last night myself and millions of other people tuned in to watch as one of the most qualified presidential candidates in history patiently waited her turn as an uninformed, unqualified man yelled over her time and time again. And that, friends, is what it is to be a woman. Hillary Clinton had so many opportunities to deliver the kill shot in last night’s debate. There was the issue of misogyny, the taxes, national security, among others but she resisted. She was measured and restrained. It was frustrating as hell but it was smart. It was the only way for her to play it. We live in a society that normalizes sexism. Where women make less than men for equal work, where we have to work harder and be more qualified, where a group of young female athletes win the Olympic gold medal in gymnastics and their excitement is likened to girls hanging out in a mall. We are underestimated and infantilized. And god forbid we succeed. Because success means giving up our only intrinsically valued trait: our femininity. But don’t get it twisted: that trait is valued in that it makes us controllable and unthreatening. And even when we reach the pinnacle of success, when one of us is at the brink of becoming the first female president of the United States of America, still she must demure. Still she must wait while her opponent rattles off a series of untruths, knowing full well that if the roles were reversed, if he was the prepared policy wonk and she the temperamental dunce, she never would have gotten this far. She never would have gotten anywhere. She would have been thrown into the pit along with Sarah Palin, Carly Fiorina and Michelle Bachman, resurrected only when her specific brand of stylized politics and nifty glasses were deemed useful to the man she was helping to support. Hilary is smart. She knows what world she lives in.

And now today we have to listen to Trump talk about how his mic was bad. And how that was probably intentional. But how he won anyway. And we have to listen to political commentators say that he came ahead in the first 25 minutes despite the fact that he barely said anything and that what he did say was sprinkled with questionable grammar and overused qualifiers. And we have to remember that she stood there, calmly, hoping that he would self-destruct on his own because it would be unladylike for her to take him down, and being ladylike still matters. Playing by the biased rules of the game has gotten her this far and she is too close, too goddamn close, to let it all go.

So I guess what I am saying is just remember this moment. Remember this moment when the most qualified went up against the biggest blowhard and she had to play it cool in the face of his mansplaining, his insults, and his inaccuracies. Because that is what we as women do. That is what we do every single fucking day. And I honestly hope that if Hillary wins, no, when Hillary wins, that younger generations will see a woman as the leader of the free world and realize that women, all women, regardless of their religion, color, class, job, sexual orientation, physical abilities or whatever else, deserve the same respect, the same opportunities, as men. Because what Hillary endured last night was absurd. It was the patriarchy rearing its ugly head. And mark my word it will continue to do so throughout the next 6 weeks up until election day, there is no getting around it. It’s the patriarchy that makes Trump a viable candidate, and the patriarchy that makes Hillary not a shoe in.

So, no, your mic was working. It’s your privilege that needs to be checked.



Ramajestic, The Trilogy

18 Sep

Disclaimer: This is sort of a long story with three separate parts. Chapters, if you will. But they all culminate in the awkward events of the other afternoon so stay tuned. There is a prize for your patience at the end.

Chapter 1 – Look at this Steak

It was a beautiful spring day and I was, as I often times am, at work serving food and drinks to people who are usually pretty nice. The place I work during the week is pretty big, with a long bar, lots of tables and some outside seating. During lunch time, when I am alone, I provide bar and table service to the indoor tables but tell the outdoor people they need to order in at the bar. It is just too much ground to cover and if I get busy AT ALL I physically cannot get to everyone. Usually people are pretty chill about it but sometimes, some very annoying times, people get pissed about it and give me all kinds of attitude and then move inside because they cannot understand why I won’t walk outside and provide table service, but at the same time they can’t get their heads around the idea of walking into the bar and placing their order and then returning to their tables where their food will be delivered. If you saw my bar you would see that the route from the bar to the outside tables is way farther than from the outside tables to the bar because I have to walk all the way around the extremely long bar where as they just have to approach the closest point. It’s like 15 steps once versus a 150 steps 25 times. I digress.

This group was one of those groups who got irritated that I wouldn’t do table service and so came in and proceeded to sit tucked away in the most inaccessible corner in the entire bar. Whatever. They then took about 25 minutes to order during which time I kept approaching their table to ask them if they were ready. They never were. I politely told them that when they were ready with their order to just let me know and I would be right over. Two minutes later I heard the extremely impatient

Excuse me MISS

as if I hadn’t been over there like a gazillion times already. Whatever again. I went and took their order, part of which was a portion of steak nachos. The gentleman at the table, named Ramajestic, no really that is his name, handed me his card to pay the bill. When I came back over to hand him his check and see how the food was he spit his steak into his napkin, shoved it towards me and said,

My steak is chewy.

I mean, what do you even do with that? He didn’t want a new order of steak nachos. He just wanted me to see his somewhat masticated beef. I just stared  at him, his ABC steak in a napkin in his outstretched hand, and decided I would just leave them to their own devices. They already paid (and didn’t tip, mind you) and I had reached my quota of chewed up food for the quarter so I decided I would just do a pass by to grab dirty dishes but otherwise just sort of go about my day and focus on the people who weren’t participating in some gross version of show-and-tell. But no. They weren’t done. They wanted more drinks. And so they ordered a round and Ramajestic, for his part, got a Long Island Ice Tea. Oh, happy day! He then, upon taking a sip, decided to tell me about all 4 ingredients that go into a Long Island — never mind that there are 5 liquors in the drink alone not to mention the mixer and also ignoring the fact that at my other job I make no less than 15 Long Islands every single Friday and Saturday so I am pretty sure I know what I am doing. And he was rude about it, also. Thought he was some sort of Long Island Ice Tea connoisseur, the saddest most pathetic sort of connoisseur out there. He paid again. Didn’t tip. I just gave up on them as a group. Eventually they, who I now refer to as The Ramajestics, left. Never to be seen again. Or so I thought….


Chapter 2 – Are you that Bitch Behind the Bar?!

Fast forward about a month. It was a Thursday, I was working, nothing was really happening except that I was having one of the weirdest shifts on record. It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon and the following two things had already happened:

  1. A woman had come in with a cardboard box, put the box on the bar and ordered a shot of Maker’s Mark which she drank with a very audible, put-upon sounding sigh. She kept looking meaningfully at the box. She left me no choice, I had to inquire.
    Apparently, there was a mouse in the box that she had to take home  and feed to her boyfriend’s snake even though her boyfriend was going to be home at like 7pm that night and I am pretty sure snakes can go like weeks without eating. (I learned that on the Discovery Channel.) And it was a live mouse, mind you. Not one of those frozen ones. It was a live mouse in a box on a bar where people were, at that very moment, eating their lunch. I gave her, and the box, some room.
  2. I had to call 911 because some woman had passed out from heat stroke on the bench outside the bar caddy-corner to mine and her friends, who were walking around in circles purposefully, were doing nothing to help her. I am pretty certain they were on drugs.

So you can forgive me if during all of this I didn’t notice that there were people sitting at the tables outside. Maybe you can but the people couldn’t. I guess at some point while I was worriedly watching an unconscious woman being loaded onto a stretcher they had sat outside and expected prompt service. My bad. They walked inside.

Oh hey, guys. What can I do for you?

I noticed it was none other than 3 members of The Ramajestics. The Man himself was not present. One of the other ones responded

We’re outside waiting for you to serve us.


Sigh. I told her that I didn’t see her and if in the future she could just do me a favor and let me know that she is outside it would be helpful. She got mad. There was yelling. One of my customers got involved and made it so much worse (pro tip: never get involved you always only make it worse) so I went downstairs and hid. I could hear her yelling from down there. They left. I came back upstairs and checked with some other, trusted customers who didn’t get involved whether I was crazy or whether she was super rude and they said, no, she was super rude. Phew. I look mad sometimes when I’m not so I worry that maybe my blank and somewhat pissed-off seeming facial expression escalates things. Even still I felt weird about things. I don’t really like conflict. About 15 minutes later in walked this really annoying guy who lives (I use that word loosely) in the neighborhood. Apparently he is this woman’s “uncle.” (He used air quotes so I have no idea what the fuck he meant. Was he her “uncle” because he knew her since she was small and it became a term of endearment or was it something far more nefarious?) Anyway he proceeded to tell me how to do my job. I told him where he could shove his advice. He left. The phone rang

Hello, name of bar.

Are you that fucking bitch behind the bar?

I hung up. It rang again.

Name of bar.

Listen bitch!

I unplugged the phone, but not before I looked at the caller ID. Ramajestic.

Chapter 3 – Team Ramajestic

It was this past Thursday afternoon. I was by myself and therefore there was no outside table service. In walked an older woman, a younger woman and a child. They asked if they could sit outside and I told them that yes, they could, but they would have to order from me at the bar. They said okay and then took the farthest away inside table. Okie dokie! I went over and took their order. They were nice! About 5 minutes later a man and his elderly mother arrived outside the bar and took their seats at an outside table. I was en route to tell them the same thing I had told the others – that there was no outside service and they would have to order in at the bar – when I realized that the mother was in a wheelchair. Listen, I’m a stickler but I like to think I’m a stickler with a heart. I took their order hoping that the people sitting inside, the people whom I had just told their was no outdoor service, noticed the wheelchair and understood why I made the exception. Maybe they noticed, maybe they didn’t, but they didn’t seem to mind either way. At that moment they were joined by a 4th person and I realized – gasp! – it was one of The Ramajestics! And she had been present for both the steak incident and the mouse day yelling incident! Damnit. Minutes passed. She gave me basically every single version of stink eye she could muster. Another table arrived outside. Once again, wheelchair.

Okay so let me just say as an aside that I have never had a customer in a wheelchair in the 2 years that I have worked there. And I never would have even taken note of that if it weren’t for the fact that my only two wheelchair customers ever arrived, and sat outside, on a day when the very people who I warred with about outside seating were sitting in my bar. And then, right when I was standing on the sidewalk taking an order at a table outside in walked Ramajestic and the girl who yelled at me who I think maybe is his girlfriend. It was like the universe was like

Hey, Rebekah, fuck you. You suck. I am… TEAM RAMAJESTIC.

I couldn’t have scripted it better. Also I’m fairly certain that one of The Ramjestics video-ed me taking the outside order on her cellphone. I fully expect it to end up on Yelp.

The End.

Or is it…..


Once a Runner

10 Sep

I started running in the spring of 2002. Like, really running. Like miles and miles running. It was the second semester of my freshman year in college and to say I was absolutely miserable would be a complete understatement.

I had always been liked, never had a problem making friends, and college was no different. I bonded with a group of women who lived in my freshman year dorm immediately. We went to meals together, went out to parties together, joked around together, watched The Crocodile Hunter together (RIP Steve Irwin). But then, just like that, everything changed. I could go into what happened but, really, what’s the point. And, honestly, it was all about a boy. A boy who I wasn’t even interested in.

My high school friends were never petty like that. But of course, I grew up with them, we knew each other. We trusted each other. The women I became friends with at the beginning of college weren’t bad people, although I didn’t see it that way at the time. We just didn’t know each other, didn’t trust each other. And insecurity and hormones are strong, strong motivators. So I got cast out. It was the first time in my life that I felt like I didn’t have a community of friends. It still remains the only time I felt that alone. My mom told me that at that time, that spring semester of 2002, she would get anxious when the phone rang. Afraid it was me, crying so hard she couldn’t understand a thing I was saying, afraid that all she could do was try to comfort me over the phone, knowing she couldn’t fix it.

So I started running.

I started running because it was the only thing that made me feel strong. The only thing that made me feel independent. It was a thing I could do, alone, for myself and no one could stop me. It got me through that semester and the years that followed. It was part of what motivated me to return to the same school rather than transfer, part of what convinced me to actively make my own choice, to not give up on something, to find my own happiness. It kept me sane and grounded through the deaths of my grandfather and my grandmother; through heart break; through graduate school; through the past few years of complete and total uncertainty. It has made me feel powerful and like I could do something incredible. I could traverse large swaths of this great city with only the power of my muscles and my mind moving me forwards. I ran marathons, half marathons, 10k’s. I did sprints and hills. I ran with groups and I ran alone.

And then one day I stopped.

I just…. stopped.

It has been a really jarring thing to see this activity, this part of me that has become such a core piece of who I am, just slip through my fingers. I have had to adjust to the limitations of my body, to the trouble I’ve had sleeping, to the problems I have had getting through hard days, to the fact that half the time my mind feels like this restrictive box that I simply can’t escape from. Running has always been my escape. And every time someone asks me if I am still running I say I am. Because I am A Runner. But then again maybe I’m not anymore. I certainly don’t see one staring back at me when I look into the mirror. And every day that goes by I just feel less and less like the Rebekah I have grown into.

But then yesterday I went for a run. A short one. A run that a year ago I would have found utterly pointless, like nothing had been accomplished. And the second I started I just felt right. My body feels right in motion. It settles into the stride so easily. And my mind resumed its old habits. I started thinking about my day, thinking about my run; dreaming about getting faster, going farther; about finally beating that half marathon time that has been sitting there, seemingly untouchable, for years. Man, I killed it that day. And then I thought about this blog. Thought about finally being honest with myself.

Rebekah, are you still running?

People ask. They ask all the time. It’s as if they know, they can see it. And I feel ashamed and so I say that yes, I am always running. But I’m not. The true answer is that I’m sort of running. A few times a week maybe. But not very far or for very long. And I feel weird. My body feels weird. It doesn’t feel like home anymore.

And that’s the truth. I feel weird inside and out. And I think it’s a little bit because I know that there is nothing stopping me from going forward but myself, that I have to get out of my own way, motivate myself out the door. I have to realize that, no, it isn’t going to feel like it used to. It isn’t going to feel freeing and easy and empowering, at least not at first. But I’ve been here before. I started running once, many, many years ago. And I worked hard over years to build up the strength – mental and physical – to get through those miles. And I have come back from injury before. Injuries that took me out of the game for months at a time. Injuries that I had to work myself back from. I did it then and I can do it now. One step, one mile, one day at a time.

Once a runner always a runner, right?

Tip #20 on Being a Good Bar Customer

31 Aug

So most of my bartender tips are of the negative variety. You know, don’t walk out of the bar and into your car and then drive away all the while holding an open beer that you just purchased from said bar. Or if you get 86ed from a bar probably just don’t ever go back into that bar again. And also don’t flag down your bartender unless you are choking and are trying to act out the images on those choking signs in order to instruct the bartender, or another patron, how to save you from certain death. There are so many more tips, though. Nineteen so far! You can scroll all around through my blog and read the tips and also some other stuff where I overshare about my period, write about bad dates and talk about that time I bought a bra and everything changed.

Anyway as I was saying most of my bartender tips are negative. People do shitty things in the place where I work and then I write about them, in hopes of amusing my readers and also maybe, just maybe, teaching people a thing or two about what it is like to work in the service industry. Because let’s be honest, there are a lot of people who are legitimately assholes. But most people aren’t assholes; just don’t get it. They aren’t doing things in order to make the person serving them drinks feel like garbage, they are doing things in order to get their drinks more quickly. The result, though, is that it makes the people serving them drinks feel like garbage. And seeing as how I am one of the people serving drinks and I don’t much enjoy feeling like garbage, I figured why not use my experiences as a way to educate! To say

Hey! I know you’re not an asshole but you sure are acting like one! Let’s fix it! We can all work together and be a team. A respectful, patient, understanding team. Doesn’t that sound great? Obviously it does.

And so in an effort to put a positive spin on things, I am going to write a bartender tip that celebrates the people that get it right. That do things that make my night so very much better. And it’s not like normal human things like being polite, having your money and order ready or saying please and thank you, although those things certainly help. It’s that extra step. And the extra step is so very small. It will take you five seconds and it involves your credit card slip and a pen. Can you guess it?

(Hint: it isn’t tipping although obviously I love me some tips.)

No? You guys. This might sound super cheesy but maybe when you have a nice experience at a bar or restaurant write a little note at the bottom of the receipt.

I know, I know, so silly. But just stick with me for a minute because I have a story for you. This past Friday I worked a 12 hour shift. It was really tiring and there were some people who sucked. Most the people, though, were nice! Even still standing on your feet and serving drinks for 12 hours straight can really wear a girl down. There is so much being polite, so much being efficient, so much giving people things. It can just all seem so very pointless. So at the end of the night when I was spending like 30 minutes adjusting credit card tips (tedious but necessary!) my heart was warmed when I received not one but two nice notes. The first one read

A+ Bartender!!!

And the second one said

You’re awesome! Thanks for being great at your job!

And you know what? That made the entire night worth it. Because people came in and had a good time and in the midst of their own experience took a second out to say thank you to the people that are in the background lubricating the whole thing. And they didn’t do it in that weird way where you kind of feel like they are expecting something in return. The transaction is complete. The night is over. They have already left. And they just wanted us to know that we are appreciated and noticed and good at what we do. And as it turns out, that goes a long way.