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That Time a Lady Told me to Smile

7 Apr

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

Wow, Rebekah, you’ve changed!

but then at the same time

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

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

Part One: The Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hell-loooooooo.

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

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

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

Part Two: I’ve Changed!

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

Eh. Whatever. I’m sitting here.

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

Alright cool what’s next.

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

Part Three: Teammates? No?

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

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

Or

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

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

You? Jesus. I think you should smile less.

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

***

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

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

New Orleans Diary: Weeks 13 and 14

7 Mar

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

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

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

Wow. That guy does not give a fuck.

I also thought to myself

That guy is on a whole lot of drugs.

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

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

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

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

I need a guitar

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

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

Or

I need to go out to Pesch for dinner

Or

I need a new computer.

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

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

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

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

Yup. Everyone hates us.

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

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

New Orleans Diary: Week 12

21 Feb

Goal: I have totally fallen off the goal. The idea was to write weekly, which I have largely been doing save for the week of SCROTUS’ inauguration when I decided to take the week off. Then I decided to move my posts to Monday because I work on Friday so it made it hard. But now here it is Tuesday. But whatever it’s cool. At least I am writing it at some point, right? Right.

Haircuts: So as it turns out, getting my hair cut is just as dangerous here as it is in New York. People always want to hack my fucking hair off. Every time. I tell them I want a trim and VOILA all of a sudden I have gotten a foot cut off my hair. This is how it happens.

Stylist: Wow, you have such beautiful long hair!
Me: Thanks. I just need a trim though I think the ends are dead.
Stylist: Yeah, probably like the bottom three inches need to go. But wow, it is so long and healthy!
Me: Thanks. So yeah, just if you could maybe cut like 4-5 inches off? I still want long hair. I like my hair long.
Stylist: Of course. So let me see. So you want it like, here? (Demonstrates exactly what I asked for.)
Me: Yeah that would be perfect.
Stylist: Okay great. So to be clear: you want it long enough that it covers your bust, is that right?
Me: Yeah, that’s as short as I would go. But maybe I’d like it even a few inches longer than that.
Stylist: Okay great

HACK HACK HACK HACK HACK

Stylist: So, what do you think? It’s just how you wanted it!
Me: Um…it’s like 3 inches below my shoulders.
Stylist: Doesn’t it look great?
Me: It’s not long.
Stylist: Well, I curled it so it looks a little shorter than it actually is. Once you wash it and the curl comes out it will be exactly where you want it to be!
Me: (Stretches a lock of hair as straight as it can go. It is about 3/4 an inch longer without the curl.) Yeah, it’s short. Thanks a lot.

And this is what always confuses me. This certain stylist that I have come into contact with multiple times always goes on and on and one about how long and beautiful and thick my hair is and how great it is that I can grow my hair and it can still be so thick and healthy and then HACK they cut it all off. Like, why? Why did you say that it was so beautiful if you were going to then kill it with your scissors? Why waste your breath? Why not be like

Listen, bitch, I know better than you because I am a hair cutter and you are a lowly hair grower so imma cut this shit all off.

And then I would at least have the opportunity to run. Don’t stand there and talk all about your love life and your hair stylist experience and subsequently do exactly the thing I asked you not to do like 15 million times. Imagine if I did something like this at work.

Me: What can I get for you?
Customer: A gin and tonic please.
Me: Any specific kind of gin?
Customer: Just the well is fine.
Me: Great! So just to be clear, you want our well gin here right in front of me and then some tonic water from the soda gun?
Customer: That’s right. Yes.

MIX MIX SHAKE STIR MIX ADD MIX

Me: Here it is! Just what you wanted! A Ramos Gin Fizz with Hendricks! That will be $15 please.

That would never happen first of all because it would be rude and presumptive of me to make a drink someone expressly didn’t want because I thought I knew better and secondly because Ramos Gin Fizz’s are super annoying to make and whenever anyone orders one from me I always sneaky pass it along to one of my coworkers and make them do it. But you get the point. My hair is short and it looks sporty and stupid and I hate it. So if you need me sometime over the next 6-12 months, leave me a message. I will be busy trying to grow my hair back.

The world is so small!: I have been working at this one restaurant in New Orleans for all of a month. That is not very long. But in the month that I have been there I have seen 5 different people that I knew from New York! Granted two of them were in couples so it was only 3 instances of seeing people but still! That’s crazy! Yesterday I saw my friend Jason and his wife Colleen. I was so surprised to see them because I was just popping in for my check but there they were sitting at the bar having drinks I snacks.  I think maybe I was weird because I was so surprised. Sorry, Jason! Sorry Colleen!

It’s just that it really catches you off guard when you are wearing a silly uniform behind a bar in a city where you don’t know very many people and all of a sudden someone you knew from what feels like a different life walks in and you’re all like

Woah.

Super trippy. Because there are a lot of bars and restaurants in New Orleans. A LOT. But people keep walking into mine. And now one actually knows where I work so it’s just super extra weird but also awesome. Is this a sign that I should go back to New York? Maybe? Maybe New York is like

Hey! Hey! Remember me? You lived here for your entire adult life? I am going to just send a few people that you like down there to just randomly walk into your place of employment so you can remember just how much you like it here, kay? Kay.

Well played NYC. You so sneaky.

Men: UGH. (I actually almost feel as though I could just finish the section right there but I will elaborate.) Yesterday was one of those days where maybe I should have just not left the house. Okay okay, that’s not entirely true. Last Wednesday was a day when I should have just not left the house. That was The Day of the Horrible Haircut, The Day that I Lost One of My Favorite Earrings and also The Day my WhatsApp Got Hacked and I Had a Panic Attack. All in all last Wednesday was not my best day. Yesterday was fine until I had to walk to work to pick up my check because something totally weird happened with it and it didn’t get direct deposited. I am not going to go into all that but suffice it to say it was annoying and confusing and I am pretty sure that I am being harassed by an ill-intentioned spirit or internet person. ANYWAY, moving along. Yesterday my walk to work was going just fine until I passed by this dude on a bike and he looks at me and goes

Let me get a taste. Excuse me, I said let me get a taste of you.

Like as if I hadn’t heard him the first time. As if I hadn’t intentionally ignored him (while resisting the urge to vomit). Nope, he assumed I just hadn’t heard him and that if he said it again a little louder and included the oh-so-polite “excuse me” as a precursor I would be like

SURE THING! Let me just drop my pants right now. Get your tongue ready, boy! This shit tastes gooooooood.

Ew gross I can’t believe I even just typed that. Excuse me while I shower.

Fifteen minutes later…

I’m back now. In real life I didn’t actually say that gross thing I just typed up there that I will not type again or even reread. No siree. Instead I chose the more tactful route and yelled

The fuck is wrong with you, you disgusting piece of shit. Get the fuck outta here. Get a taste? I’ll give you a fucking taste of something you piece of garbage. How about this? I hope your fucking dick falls off. How does that taste?

I looked around to see if anyone had witnessed the interaction but no one seemed to notice one way or the other. Of course there were some people walking around in storm trooper outfits on the other end of the block so maybe they were distracted? Anyway I kept walking. And the very next dude I saw, the very next goddamn one, was wearing a shirt that said “Bitch Give Me Head” and he was holding some stupid goldfish tank full of liquor and walking down the street with a lady. A LADY! I’ll tell you what, if I met to hang out with some dude, friend or otherwise, and he was wearing a shirt that said “Bitch Give Me Head” I would throw paint on him and kick him in the nuts. Or maybe I would kick him in the nuts first and then throw the paint because I wouldn’t want to get paint on my clothes. I am not about to ruin my outfit because some asshole thinks he’s funny. And truth be told since I don’t normally walk around with paint I would have to come up with some other solution. Maybe I would take his goldfish bowl of booze and pour it over his stupid head and then make him wear one of those ridiculous novelty shirts that says “I POOPED” on it for the rest of his time in New Orleans. Bitch give me head. Please. I also hope his dick falls off.

Conclusion: I don’t know, I think that’s about it for now. I wish I had more New Orleans specific things to report on but I had to miss the Krewe of Barkus because that entitled coworker I bitched about last week was a no call/no show and got himself fired so we all had to pick up the slack. I had to pick up the part of the slack that conflicted with seeing a bunch of dogs wearing costumes. But! This week should be fun. Muses is happening on Thursday and my friend Tiffini is coming to visit and is staying with me. Also, Victoria is here not staying with me and so is Austin and his family! Fun times ahead. Stay tuned!

New Orleans Diary: Week Eleven

13 Feb

Goal: To write a weekly blog post about the nonsense that I notice as I go about my life here in the Crescent City. I have decided to move my weekly posting to Monday since I work all weekend. So in case you were wondering, I post on Mondays now.

A New Word: This past Tuesday there were tornadic activities! And through these activities I discovered that tornadic is, in fact, a word (although one that is not identified as such by my WordPress spell checker since every time I type it out I get one of those bright red squiggly “you spelled this wrong” lines underneath it). Who knows, maybe with the environment being all fucked up there will be more tornadic actitivities and it will become the American Dialect Society Word of the Year (WotY) for the United States. Let us take a trip down memory lane and explore some past WotY’s, shall we? (Oh my god I am looking down the list and it is hard to just choose a few because they are ALL SO STUPID and also oftentimes not just words but phrases. I will try though. And I will include some phrases.)

1991: “mother of all” (as in Saddam Hussein’s “mother of all battles”)
1992: “not!” (meaning just kidding) <—- this is not a joke
2006: “plutoed” (demoted or devalued, as in what happened to the former planet Pluto) Although I think Pluto might be a planet again? Or maybe it was a planet again and then it got redemoted to dwarf planet. It’s really hard to keep track.
2013: because introducing a noun, adjective, or other part of speech (e.g., “because reasons,” “because awesome”) <—- This is really dumb.
2016: dumpster fire (an exceedingly disastrous or chaotic situation)

Apparently in 2012 the WotY was almost YOLO which would have made me spit my coffee angrily all over the kitchen because never has a stupider thing existed. YOLO. So dumb. Drake and I are in a serious fight about that one.

Since I am down this particular rabbit hole, did you folks know that in 2009 PETA attempted to rebrand fish as sea kittens? I didn’t. Clearly that effort failed. But! I can add it to my list of reasons as to why PETA sucks. Also, the American Dialect Society decided that the 2015 “most outrageous” word was “fuckboy” or, alternatively, “fuckboi.” I would like to respectfully disagree with this categorization, especially as seeing it is in the company of other words/phrases such as 2010’s “gate-rape” which is a pejorative term referring to the invasive airport pat-down procedure and 2014’s “second amendment” as a verb. I’m sorry but anyone who uses the word “rape” pejoratively needs to have a conversation with me and also I wish people would stop verbing things all the time (see what I did there?). Alternatively, I find the term fuckboy(i) to be incredibly useful and I would ordinarily trade it with the actual WotY for 2015 except that the word for that year is, amazingly, a good one:

2015: Singular they (as a gender-neutral pronoun, especially for non-binary gender identities)

Good on ya, American Dialect Society.

Just one more thing though before I move on. I decided to double-check my spelling of tornadic just to make sure that the red squiggly lines were in fact due to WordPress not recognizing the word and not me being unable to spell it. While I was doing my research I discovered the Urban Dictionary definition of tornadic. It is as follows:

when your titties start bouncing so hard in a tornado circular motion you are jet propelled off of the ground, often landing in unfamiliar areas.

You’re welcome.

Speaking of the Weather: There were actually tornadoes here (thanks to all those who checked in!). It was weird. Here’s the thing: in the northeast we don’t really have weather events, by and large, which is one of the big appeals of living there if you ask me. There is an occasional super storm or frankenstorm or snow-pocalypse or arctic freeze (is that what they called it or is that some sort of delicious frozen beverage from DQ?) but for the most part we never get the real deals. Not many hurricanes, very infrequent tornados, the blizzards can be intense but not like how they are in the midwest, no creeping lakes of ice that appear at your back door. So getting alerts on my phone that said

Tornado warning in effect. Do not go outside. Take cover.

was alarming to say the least. And you better believe I took cover. I do not fuck around with weather events, especially ones I know fuck all about. Luckily for me and my friends we were all safe in the end but it was really scary. A lot of people in the area lost their homes and businesses, had properties that experienced severe damage or sustained injuries. It’s really fucking awful and my heart goes out to all of the people impacted. Orleans and Livingston Parish were both seriously effected by the storm which was categorized as an EF-3 tornado. For those of us not all that familiar with tornadoes (such as myself), let me fill you in on some information that I gathered.

  1. The EF scale is short for the Enhanced Fujita Scale and it is used to rate the intensity of a tornado based off the damage they cause. As an EF-3, this was the strongest tornado recorded since record keeping began in 1950.
  2. The winds from an EF3 tornado reach between 136 and 165 miles per hour. Wow, that’s fast. The strongest tornado, rated as an EF-5, have 3 second wind gusts reaching over 200 miles per hour. Jesus fucking Christ. Stay away from us please EF-5 tornadoes!
  3. Even though tornadoes happen in different countries around the world, they are most devastating here in the United States and specifically in Tornado Alley which includes Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and, you guessed, good old Louisiana. This area is impacted due to the effects on the atmosphere of the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. Basically, and I don’t actually understand this fully so I am going to quote from this tornado guy from the University of Oklahoma, “a strong westerly jet stream across the Alley creates instability and a trough of low pressure that draws in warm, moist air from the Gulf. Conditions for the supercells [large, powerful thunderstorms] that spawn tornadoes require strong vertical wind shear [changes in wind speed and direction with height] and lots of instability — as happens in Tornado Alley.

I did some more research and it all basically led me to the following conclusion: tornadoes are scary as fuck. And they usually don’t come until the spring! But we got one this past Tuesday, February 7th which is decidedly not the spring time and supports the fact that global warming is actually a thing and the weather is going all bonkers now. Did you hear that SCROTUS? Scott Pruitt? Are you assholes listening? Watching the weather channel? Visiting Tornado Alley? Anything at all?!

White Dudes Gonna White Dude: (I cannot take credit for that statement. It came from my friend Beth but I pretty much use it all the time now.) As it turns out, stupid, young white dudes are the same everywhere. When I was in Brooklyn I worked with this kid who drove me bananas because (a) he sucked at his job but still thought he should make all the money and be promoted; (b) he was insanely lazy and spent more time on the phone, smoking and bullshitting with people than actually doing what needed to be done; and (c) he would not take instruction from women, under any circumstances, ever. One time I yelled at him for disappearing for over and hour and he asked me if I was on my period. Because, you know, that’s relevant, his business and not sexist at all. I was so pleased when I stopped working there and never had to deal with his stupid face ever again. Until now. Because I have a new coworker who is basically exactly the same. Lazy, know-it-all, loves to benefit from a tip pool because he can make half the money and do less than half the work, and he will not take instruction from women, under any circumstances, ever. So, in conclusion, this particular brand of white dudes are the same in Brooklyn and New Orleans. Raise your hand if you’re surprised. What, no hands? Shocking.

Actually Not Done with the Tornado: While I was watching the weather channel, one of the things that the meteorologists kept talking about was how the weather was going to effect those living in FEMA trailers. Where they have been living since Hurricane Katrina. Which happened in the year 2005. This summer will be 12 years since the storm and some people are still living in FEMA trailers. This is something I already was aware of but the thing that is shocking to me here is that it was just mentioned so nonchalantly on The Weather Channel. That particular population is obviously a serious concern when it comes to such powerful storms because there is nothing really keeping those trailers on the ground except their sheer weight. And as I learned through my research, when a serious storm touches down nothing above ground is safe.

Nothing above ground is safe.

I don’t really have the space in this post to go through how incredibly fucked up it is that in this country we have people living for over a decade in disaster-relief housing. You would think that there would be room in the national budge to help these Americans, these people, who have been treated as subhuman for the past going on 12 years, after they were entirely overlooked in the time leading up to, during and directly after Katrina hit. It’s really sickening. But yeah, sure, keep the Muslims out. Build a goddamn wall. Make abortion illegal. Make America White Again.

Oh, and also, FEMA is pledging aid following the most recent tornadoes. That is until SCROTUS further defunds it. Kaaaaaay.

Conclusion: This was an intense one. I learned a lot about words of the year and tornadoes and I got mad about white dudes and the fact that our country doesn’t give a fuck that people have been living in FEMA trailers for over a decade. Maybe next week I will return to plastic bags and nutria rats. Either way let me say this: there are a lot of ways in which this world impresses and amazes me, and a lot of ways in which this world, the one we all inhabit day in and day out, makes me absolutely sick. That the earth is capable of creating such intense weather events seemingly out of nothing is scary but incredible. And that we are able to forget the suffering of others and decide, through either our action or inaction, which people are valuable and which are not, is really disheartening. But here we are, folks. Living in this world for better or for worse.

New Orleans Diary: Week Ten

4 Feb

Goal: The original goal was to write about my New Orleans-specific observations. As the weeks have gone on, however, this whole thing has sort of morphed (some might say devolved) into a documentation of my misadventures. So there are less posts about plastic bags and bad drivers and way more posts about nutria rats. I don’t know whether that is better or worse. You tell me.

My Ears are Fucked: That mostly sums it up. I have been having some ear problems for awhile now whereby every time I wash my hair my left ear gets all clogged up with water and I can’t really hear all that well for a few hours. Well, in the past few weeks it has gotten way worse. Initially I decided to take matters into my own hands and try to sort the problem out myself. (Note: This is never wise.) This involved putting a whole load of drops into my ears in hopes that they would just magically become unclogged. Much to my surprise, dismay and searing pain, this did not help solve the problem but instead made it worse. I went to the Urgent Care Clinic to try and see what was what. The verdict? Double ear infection. (Way less awesome than that double rainbow video.) The doctor took one look in my ear and was like

Woah.

When the doctor says “woah” you know you’re in trouble. So anyway now I am on some medication and I have to go back into the Urgent Care to get my ears flushed out. I am very concerned about what all is going to come out of there and so, depending on the outcome and how disgusted I am by the capabilities of my own body, I either will or will not fill you in.

Nutria: So in related somewhat related news (and you’ll see why soon) there was a nutria rat in my backyard. Please refer back to last week’s post about nutria or else look at the picture that I posted in here for your viewing (dis)pleasure. Or you can do you very own internet research! It’s fun. And also horrifying.

nutria2_502672_7

Gross, right? Anyway, a couple of nights ago I was eating popcorn in the backyard and I got popcorn everywhere. It looked as though I had a popcorn fight with myself but I think maybe I was just having some issues with hand-mouth coordination. I blame my ear infection. I just figured, whatever, it’s the out-of-doors, I will just leave the popcorn there and let nature take its course! When I said that I thought that perhaps the wind would blow it away but no. Instead, a giant, disgusting, orange-toothed nutria waltzed through a hole in my fence, into my yard, and ate up all the popcorn with its gross little mouth. Then it turned around and left. Now there are nutria germs all over my backyard. So then I thought to myself,

Self, what else would the nutria eat? Would the nutria eat one one of these ginormous amoxicillin tablets I have to take to clear up this double ear infection? Would the nutria eat that giant waterbug that was tormenting me a few weeks back? Or, if given the chance, would the nutria eat me?!

This sort of devolved into an imagination game I like to call Rebekah vs. Nutria. It’s a fun game. I highly recommend.

The Mysterious Appearance of the Magnet: I think someone broke into my apartment! Okay so here’s what happened. I was covering a shift at Mimi’s on a Sunday. Eric was visiting and he spent the entire day, as he loves to do, mopping the floors. He says he doesn’t like to mop but he does. He came to meet me at work at like 3ish, I got off at 5, and then we had a drink and walked back to the apartment. We probably got back there around 6pm. Upon entering we immediately went into the kitchen so I could open and close the refrigerator like 6 times in hopes that something delicious would magically appear inside there. (It never does but I remain hopeful.) As I went to open the fridge I noticed this kind of weird, kind of cute, little cat-sheep hybrid magnet thing stuck to the door. It was fuzzy and stuck out a good 1.5 inches off the front of the fridge. This is not something I would miss. Because let’s be honest folks, if there is anything that I know for certain, it is what the door of my fridge looks like. I looked at Eric with excitement.

NEW MAGNET YAY!

He was confused. It turns out he didn’t buy the magnet (shocker). It had just…appeared there. Randomly. While we were gone. So there are two competing theories here:

Theory 1: Spirit action. Which makes me laugh because I have this image in my head of this funny little magnet sort of like floating and bopping through the air before landing on the door to the fridge sort of like what happens in cheesy ghost movies. I know this isn’t how it happens with spirits IRL but I’m all about the giggle.

Theory 2: Some previous tenant, or a vengeful ex of some previous tenant, entered the apartment using their key that still works and left the magnet on the fridge as a way of saying

I’m here. And I am watching.

Or alternatively

Hai girl haaaiiii.

So I don’t know. Obviously since we watch too much crime shows we bagged the magnet (because finger prints!) and put it somewhere for safe keeping that I now think of as the Evidence Cabinet. I am hoping there will be no more updates to this story.

CheeWees: Those of you who know me well know about my love of cheese balls, cheese puffs and cheese doodles. I always invite cheese balls to my birthday party and when I get stressed out about life the only solution is to eat cheese balls or throw them at things. Here in New Orleans they have a delicious local version of cheese doodles called Chee Wees and obviously I love them and want to eat them all the time for every meal until I turn orange and die. And then you guys, I had an epiphany. Maybe our current presi…presi…..president (sorry I couldn’t stop dry heaving every time I typed that) also has an affinity for cheeseballs. So then I asked the following questions:

Does Donald Tr*mp also love cheeseballs? Does he also eat them when things go wrong but also sometimes when things go right? Does he invite them to his birthday party in place of actual friends? (For the record I invite friends and cheeseballs. And cheeseballs for my friends. Everyone eats them. It’s what the kids call a community building exercise.) Do Donald Tr*mp and I actually have something in common?!

…………..

I had to lie down for a minute. But I’m back. While I was lying down, though, I did some serious soul searching. Not to make light of this situation but SCROTUS has taken quite a bit from us since he entered the White House. But I will not allow him to take away my love of cheese balls, or cheewees, or whatever. So whatever. I still love them and I will continue to eat them and SCROTUS be damned. No, but really. Be damned. You’re a fucking scourge.

But also, would nutria eat cheewees? And even better, would the nutria eat Donald Tr*mp?!

Conclusion: In conclusion it has been an eventful week full of spirits or people or animals breaking into my house and my backyard. Also, ear infections. Two of them. But I’m on the mend, folks! Stay tuned for next week’s post. Same bat time, same bat station.

New Orleans Diary: Weeks Eight and Nine

27 Jan

Goal: To write a weekly post documenting my time here in the Crescent City. I didn’t post last week because it was the inauguration AKA the end of the Free World and I thought that my self-indulgent posting was inappropriate and no one would read it anyways. Also I was probably crying. If you want to know all about me crying, you can read my post about that here. Otherwise, here we go. Combined Weeks 8 and 9 start NOW.

Safety: I have been receiving very different reports on the safety levels in this city depending on who I ask. For example, at work the other day there were a whole bunch of sirens and police cars racing all over the place and my coworker goes

Someone done got themselves shot. Happens all the time.

So I thought to myself,

Okay, not safe.

And then a few minutes later I said something about being nervous walking alone at night and the exact same coworker says

Nah, you’ll be fine. Ain’t nothing to worry about.

So then I thought,

Okay maybe safe?

So you can see my confusion, right? My manager told me it would be better to take a cab home when I work the night shift (not safe), but a different co-worker told me not to bother, I would be totally fine walking (safe). Of course at the same time my friend Katie was in town visiting and we took a Lyft home and the driver was a woman and she had a baseball bat in the front seat for protection. So I was like,

Oh, okay, totally not safe.

But then I was on the phone with my brother telling him about the lady with the baseball bat and explaining this whole safe vs. not safe conundrum and he told me how he was one time walking through NYC and there was some sort of an altercation and one dude went to his car, opened the trunk, and pulled out a baseball bat at which time the other guy went to his trunk and pulled out a baseball bat. The two guys menaced each other for a little while and then, realizing that they were matched equally, they put their bats away and continued going where ever they were going. So maybe bats are actually a thing that everyone should have in their cars as a baseline, sort of like ice chippers in the north. Because goddess forbid you end up in a bat altercation without a bat. I am a firm believer in the deterrent power of mutually assured destruction so I think maybe this afternoon I will head over to Modell’s and buy myself a Slugger.

Anyway, the jury is still out on the safety thing. Maybe some people can weigh in. But in the mean time, I am just using the strength of my gut, honed over years of navigating this world as a female. #blessed *

Fireball: My friend Rob (Hi Rob!) was training me behind the bar at the fantastic spot he works at yesterday and I learned a new thing: people like their Fireball cold here. We always kept our Fireball out of the fridge in Brooklyn. Sometimes I would chill it for people when they did shots, and sometimes I would put it over ice, but a lot of times people just wanted a regular room temperature shot. But not here! It is kept in the fridge along with the Jager and Rumplemintz, if you are in the unfortunate situation of even having Rumplemintz. One thing that is the same: every bar at some point ends up with a bottle of Rumplemintz that likely gets thrown in for free by the poor liquor rep who is tasked with the Rumplemintz account. That bottle then sits there for fucking ever because no one drinks that shit. Eventually the bar either just dumps it to make space for something else gross but at least marketable (ie Jager) or turns it into some sort of special wherein shots cost $1. Then when that doesn’t work they throw it into some sort of a mixed drink that is nasty and no one orders it so you just end up giving it away for free AKA dumping it down the drain.

So in summation: Fireball is kept warm in Brooklyn and cold here in New Orleans. Rumplemintz is pretty much reviled the country over.

Nutria Rats: I learned about nutria rats the other day. Um….these things are fucking huge and they have these massive teeth that basically look like when you take baby carrots and shove them under your upper lip and pretend to be a walrus only in the case of nutria rats they aren’t baby carrots they are actual teeth. Actual huge, orange teeth. Google them. Seriously. Tell me they don’t look like baby carrot teeth.

But seriously, nutria rats. They have been described as a cross between a beaver (hence the teeth) and New York sewer rats (hence the disgusting) and they are a real problem! So admittedly I didn’t do all that much research on them because they make me sort of queasy, but I will tell you what I learned. Nutria rats came here in the 1930s when some asshole named E. A. McIlhenny brought 13 of them to Avery Island for their pelts. Then there was a hurricane, as there are here, and some of them escaped and since they have no natural predators they just had baby after disgusting orange-toothed baby. (Think possums in New Zealand. Although I think New Zealand also might have nutria rats. Poor New Zealand.) The extra big problem is that they love to munch away on the plants that are indigenous to swamp lands, the very same plants that help protect from coastal erosion. So guess what happens when nutria rats run-a-muck and eat all the plants that stop coastal erosion? You guessed it: the coast erodes! So now there are like 5 million of them living on Louisiana’s southern coast and it has been estimated that they are contributing to a rate of soil erosion pegged at 40 square miles per year. Wow! That’s a lot of miles! And a lot of squares!

So what is to be done? Some people are trying to put nutria on menus, but the thing is a lot of people aren’t super keen on eating swamp rats. I get it. I wouldn’t want to eat any rats, swamp or otherwise. And not just because I don’t eat meat but because, ew, I have seen what rats eat, I lived in New York for 12 years. Rats will eat other rats if given the chance. Or they will eat your face. Nope, no thank you. The other approach has been to try and sell their fur, which was the original reason for them being brought over here anyways so it is sort of like making the whole thing go full circle. I mean, they have to kill the things anyway to protect the marshland, so might as well sell their skins I guess? I don’t know. And you guys, you will never believe where these furs have become popular. In the center of hipsterdom itself: Brooklyn. I wonder whether I could make a living selling their teeth as necklaces and shit. There has to be a market for that, right? Weird orange carrot teeth rings? Etsy, here I come!

Job: I got a job. I have to wear suspenders and a tie which makes me feel sort of dopey. Also, I had to buy some black pants but I didn’t want to have them hemmed so I bought pants for tall people that are I think supposed to be capris but since I’m not all that tall they hit just above my feet. So they’re sort of short, especially when they are constantly being hiked up by the suspenders. The result of which is that I look even dopier than I would have otherwise. Sigh. I can, however, make a damn good Sazerac now if I do say so myself. And I do. If you’re into that sort of thing. I refuse, however, to employ any sort of “flair” into my bartending. I shake with a normal shake, I stir with a normal stir, I don’t light things on fire and I do not throw things into the air unless someone scares me or I trip or something. I am committed to this position.

Politics: It is like a minefield. A minefield, I tell ya! I spend a lot of my time getting all outraged about the state of the world by visiting The Internet and my only real expression of this is through talking on the phone, mostly with my Mom, and sending outraged text messages to my friends, specifically a few of them (love you gals). Most of you readers know me personally and know that I am rather outspoken on issues of equality and justice and opportunity and all that. So you might be surprised to know that here I more or less keep my mouth shut. The result of this is that I cry more because I am so frustrated and also there is the constant repetition of

FUUUUUUUUUUUCK

running through my head at basically every single moment. This is made especially annoying by the fact that my ears are clogged and so I am living in a weird world where everything is muffled except for my own voice which is REALLY LOUD. So if I return home 75% less sane than when I left, you all will know why. It’s basically FUUUUUUCK and my loud, screaming voice all the time. Help.

Conclusion: I have to go because I am taking up a table at a cafe and it is getting a little rude at this point. I don’t want to be rude. So I have to cut this post short. Hope you enjoyed! Stay tuned! Xx

*That hashtag was sarcastic.

How I’m Dealing

26 Jan

This has been a really rough few days, friends. Hellish, I would venture to say. And I am going to be completely and totally honest with you, as I normally am, and tell you how I have been handling it. Not well. Not well at all. Here’s a recap:

Thursday: Trained at a new job from 9am to 4:30pm. I tried to gage where all my coworkers stood on the issues by asking them some questions that I will not divulge here because I am actually afraid that some agents for the government might arrive at my door and whisk me away under the cover of night. That’s where we live now, folks. After work I headed off to a bar that my friend works at and had a few very necessary drinks in preparation for the end of the free world.

Friday: Trained again at the job. This time for 12 glorious hours. The benefit was that this allowed me to entirely miss all the fracas surrounding the inauguration of Tr*mp or, as my friend Ben suggested we call him, SCROTUS. My friends Emily and James came into town so that was great, but there was still just a very heavy gloom that hung over everything. When I got home that night I turned on The Internet, read a few things and cried myself to sleep.

Saturday: Women’s March day. I went to the march with Emily, James and Emma. I wore my “unpresidented” shirt (thanks Beth!) and we all carried signs. I would like to acknowledge here that there were some problems with the marches in general (underrepresentation of POC being high on that list and something I will get into in another post because it is way too important to be just a talking point in an overview) but overall it was nice for me to be in the company of friends and surrounded by a bunch of badass women and men who disagreed with the inauguration of SCROTUS and were just as apprehensive of what the future would likely hold. This was especially important for me seeing as how I just moved to a new city and lack the sort of support system I had in New York. Also, the South is different.

Sunday: Had to be at work to train at 8am.  At a restaurant. I know, I know. But the people must have brunch, after all. It was a really hard day. I hadn’t slept enough, but I had certainly read a lot about what all has been going on. I had the time to have conversations with a lot of good friends who feel similarly to me and it was all just crashing down. The reality of it all. Like a giant, horrible wave teeming with dead sea creatures who could no longer survive in the increasing temperature of the oceans. The shift was awful. Not because of my coworkers or the managers, who are all lovely, but because everyone is politically charged these days, and down here a lot of people voted for Tr*mp. It isn’t like in New York where those people are few and far between. They are everywhere here. Especially when you work in a restaurant that is in a highly touristed area and has a lot of domestic tourists from cities and towns that are significantly less progressive than New Orleans. There were some things said. Like the young white women who insisted that women (read: them and the white women they know) already have equal rights and what the fuck were all those idiots marching for. (I summarized.) I had to keep my mouth shut. It felt like my soul was just melting. Luckily Emily and James were still in town so I was able to run to them after work and decompress. I also called my dad and started crying on Canal Street amongst all the normal New Orleans revelers. No big deal.

Monday: I woke up crying and basically didn’t stop all day. I tried to quit my job because I felt like everything was horrible and I wanted to just hide in my house forever. My managers would’t let me quit, though. Apparently I’m okay at my job. Who knew. But in the process of trying to quit I entirely lost my shit in front of not one but TWO managers at work and, if my estimates are correct, about a third of my coworkers and now I feel sort of like a crazy person. Lots of tears, lots of eyeliner running down my face. Great first impression, Rebekah. Luckily my friend Carie is awesome and I called her and we spent the day doing fun things interspersed with me crying. By the end of the day it dawned on me: there was a good chance that, for the next four years, whenever I wasn’t otherwise occupied (or even sometimes even when I was) I would likely be crying. That seemed to me rather unsustainable.

Tuesday: Woke up still feeling like everything was totally fucked. Kept reading The Internet and panicking (but at least I wasn’t crying?). Carie and I ran some errands which helped to take my mind of our impending collective doom. I was supposed to go to running group but didn’t because I am pretty sure I had cried out the entire salt content of my body and was exhausted. I went to bed early.

So, I mean, needless to say if you are wondering how I have been handling all this the answer is, as I said before, not well. I have sat down to write about 5 different blogs in the past few days and nothing comes out how I want it to. I think that is partially because I am so overwhelmed with the onslaught of information and, honestly, an intense feeling of loss. It is like I am in mourning. And, you know what, I am. I am in mourning for the world I thought that I lived in now that I live in one that operates under a completely different set of rules, if we can even call them that. Here’s what I realized (with a lot of help from friends) and how I am going to operate going forward.

I cannot longer assume that I live in the same reality that I always have. Our government operates largely through precedent and the moral foundation of those who work within it. Regardless of whether we agree with the politics and whether we feel the person him or herself is of good moral character, there was a general area in which people operated, and that area was largely predictable and normalized. We might not agree with it, we might find the actions themselves morally bankrupt, but there was still, for lack of a better phrase, a general code of conduct within which people operated.

That is no longer the case. The code is gone.

We have been shown, throughout the campaign itself and now during these first few terrifying days, that Donald J. Tr*mp does not abide by any code outside of whatever one is guiding him in that particular moment. And for those of us, myself included, who believed that there was something codified in law that required a certain level of behavior, there is not. So all those times we scream

But how can he do this? Can he really do this?

The answer, it seems, is that he can. The rules of the game have changed. He can remove information from government websites regarding climate change and LGBTQ issues as if they no longer even exist. He can demand that the National Park Services stop tweeting from their official handles, but he cannot stop them from making a new one that is not associated with the government, and he cannot stop the 1.8 million followers and counting from supporting that action. He can appoint cabinet members with little to no relevant experience and they can somehow get questioned and confirmed regardless of the fact that many of them have not yet passed ethics screenings. He can become President of the United States of America without releasing his tax documents and he can repeatedly say that the only people who care about that information are reporters, which is patently untrue. I am not a reporter and I would like access to those documents. He can shut down the media and send us all into a tizzy with these fucking “alternative facts” which makes us doubt every single bit of information that we read. If this administration is known for one thing, it will be known for the number of synonyms for the word “lie” it uses on a regular basis to justify the man that they, and Russia, and James Comey, and all those fucking white people, empowered.

Our President, is a man who has never heard the word “no.” People have said it to him I’m certain, but he has never heard it. “No” is simply not a word that applies to Donald J. Tr*mp. And when you have a man for whom the word “no” doesn’t apply, you have a man who can not compromise, you have a man with a huge temper, you have a man with the social mentality and awareness of a 5-year-old. That is who we are living under. We are living under a 6’3″, 240-pound toddler who pouts and stamps his feet at the mere smell of any sort of negative feelings cast in his direction. And yet he is quite possibly the biggest bully to ever darken the doors of the Oval Office.

So no, this is not normal. But it is even less normal than we previously thought. There are no rules, there are no precedents, there are, it seems, no laws that can touch Donald Tr*mp. And so then the question becomes:

What do we do now?

We cannot use the normal routes, we cannot take the same actions, we cannot think this will change or our displeasure can be registered in the same ways they have always been because this is not the same reality. This country will never be the same. We will never be the same. It’s as if we have been living in a world with a ground that is made of rubber, only before we thought that it was made of steel. And he is pushing that ground, stretching it, and we are all off balance and we have to walk differently. Because you cannot walk the same way on something that moves and changes and thins out as you can on something strong and flat and secure. So again I ask,

What do we do now?

And honestly, I don’t really know. I wish I fucking knew. But for me just wrapping my head around the fact that everything is different, and that I mean that word everything to be all encompassing, is helpful. Because it means I have to open my mind and stretch it and challenge it to respond to all the changes that are coming at me, at all of us. Because we, friends, have brought knives to an unregulated gun fight. So we have to be smarter and quicker and we have to use our bodies to keep coming at them again and again and again. And honestly, as much as I loved to hear Michelle Obama say “when they go low we go high,” there is no low or high anymore. There are those with morals and those without morals and those are two completely unrelatable realities. There are those who care about the future of the world and those who care only about the immediate future of themselves.

So, what do we do? Seriously, what do we do?