Tag Archives: friends

An Open Letter to the Women in My Life

31 Jan

Dear Women in my Life,

Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are my sanity and my strength. You are why I get up in the morning. No, you are how I get up in the morning. You are my sounding board and my support; you are my protection and my reinforcement; you are in my corner pretty much always and when you aren’t, and for good reason at times, you explain why in the most compassionate ways to make me understand my mistake, but to still ensure I never feel abandoned. With all of you, I am never alone.

These past few months have been tough, for all of us. Every single time I open my eyes it feels like a brand new affront, a brand new injustice, another way our government is being taken from us, used against us; its intentions hidden under layers of lies, or alternate facts, or fake news, or whatever the fuck they are calling it today. And for a moment I feel like it is too much, like it is me against everything, like I am living in this world where up is down and injustice is being legislated and a plagiarist is running the Department of Education. (Because, actually, that is the world we are living in excuse me while I scream.) But then I remember the women I am lucky enough to call friends and family and I breath a sigh of relief knowing that you are all there, that we are all going through this, and that we will somehow get through it with the love and support of one another.

So let me say this again: thank you. Thank you for your support, for your ears, for your understanding, for your analysis, for your dismay and anger and sadness and disbelief about all that is happening around us. I feel that too. And I hope that I have been able to provide even a small percentage of all that you have provided me. Because here’s the deal, ladies, we have a long haul. And women do a lot of emotional labor.

A lot of emotional labor.

A fucking lot.

And that emotional labor is unpaid and, more often than not, expected but underappreciated. And so let me say that I appreciate that emotional labor, that work, that we are all doing for one another. I notice it and I would not be able to live without it. But let us all remember that in the midst of all of this work, and all of this struggle, and all of this pain and disbelief and heartache, to take care of ourselves. Let us not forget to ask for the support of those around us. There is nothing shameful in it. Believe me there is more than enough emotional work to go around. And it is okay, too, to take a step back and say

Hey, this is all too much, I need a minute.

Take that minute. You deserve it. We all deserve it and more than that, we all require it. I had a conversation with a few of my core women today about the importance of self care and the importance of remembering that we cannot put in the work, we cannot be the best us in these horrible times, if we don’t take care of ourselves, and of one another. If we don’t ask for an ear or extra support and love on an especially tough day. If we don’t say,

Hey, friends, I need you to just check in on me today. Today the hurt is too much.

Because sometimes it just is. Our strength comes from our ability to admit when it is all just too much to handle alone. That’s when the rest of us can come in and be reinforcements, that’s when the rest of us can give you what you need – be that an ear or a drink or a joke or the biggest most heartfelt hug we can muster or some shared tears.

So again, thank you. For everything you have done and for everything you will do going forward. Because as I said before, there is a lot to be done, a lot to be endured, and we will need one another more than ever. And let me also say this: I am here for you as best as I know how. And every day I try to be a little more here, a little more supportive. I am trying to be the friend you all have been to me. I am trying to recreate for you the support that you provide that I could not live without. And I am trying to remember to say thank you, and to say it louder and more often.

And so thank you from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul and the recesses of my brain. Thank you. I survived these past few weeks because of you and I will continue to learn and to fight and to be part of this amazing team of women for the next 4 years (chaos butterfly help us) and then beyond.

I love you. For all you are and all you do.

Forever grateful
And with open arms ready to give a giant hug,
Or a tissue to dry a tear,
Or some pointed words directed at the asshole that made you feel shitty,
Your friend,
Your Support,
Your Cheerleader,

Rebekah

Happy New Year to Me

26 Feb

Have you ever spent a minute thinking about New Year’s Eve? How we all make plans, go to house parties, get noise makers, make resolutions, wear stupid hats and stupider glasses? It’s a nice thing, I guess. A night when all the world comes together (albeit at different times) to celebrate the beginning of something new. We all enter the next calendar year with a (perhaps slightly hungover) pep to our step, with a commitment to a new and improved us, and of course  with a firm grasp on that clean slate we promised ourselves. We’ll go to the gym, we’ll find new jobs, we’ll spend more time with our family and friends, we’ll stop wiping our noses on our sleeves because goddamnit we are adults (that last one is my resolution every single year. I have yet to succeed). But this fresh start is, when you really think about it, entirely arbitrary. It is a random day that was chosen as the day the Earth begins its annual journey around the sun. But really, any day could be that day. So in the spirit of randomness, or I suppose more accurately, in the spirit of personal ownership of my place in time and space, I declare my New Year to have begun on February 23rd.

February 23rd. How random, right? Wrong. February 23rd of 2016 marked one year since the last horrible thing in a string of horrible things happened. It marked a year after an exclamation point of awful was dotted on my personal history. It marked a year since, at 2:30am, on February 22nd, 2015 some guy who thought he was tough threw a glass at my face. It marked a year since I woke up the next morning and, eye swollen almost entirely shut, cut above my eye that is now a scar, I made phone calls to family and close friends to let them know that I was okay, more or less. It marks a year since I left an hysterical message on my friend Ashlie’s voicemail that likely almost gave her a heart attack. It marks a year since she and I went to an urgent care in Bay Ridge, where we were met by our friend Katie, and where the doctor looked at me and said

“I am really curious about what happened to you.”

You and me both, Doc.

It marks a year since I tried to act strong and not afraid. It marks a year since the start of dealing with everything that followed being violently assaulted and then threatened. It marks a year since I thought I had it together and could handle whatever came my way – turns out I didn’t and I couldn’t. It marks the beginning of the end of me feeling as though this is a thing that happened to me recently because, at this point, it has been over a year and that’s not nothing. I feel as though I can finally go back out into the world with a positive outlook rather than being bogged down by all of the bullshit that happened, one after another after another, in 2014 and right on into 2015. It’s funny, actually. At the end of the disaster that was the entirety of 2014 – beginning with quitting my job under absurd circumstances, dealing with a break-up, continuing through turning down a new job in hopes of a dream job that didn’t only seem too good to be true but was because the man who offered it to me was a total fraud, and ending with a breakdown when I came to the conclusion that I would never be able to do anything other than bartend and UGH everything was terrible – I somehow had hope. And my friend Carrie, in keeping with our tendency to see the humor in everything, sent me this link to a Tumblr post that said,

The whole of 2014: Something went wrong.

And we laughed. And then I went into 2015 with this hope that somehow the randomness of the New Year would cleanse me of my shit luck and then <BAM> black eye. And I lost all hope for that year. It was over practically before it started. And I went into the year just thinking that this endless stream of setbacks was going to be my life. I accepted the fact that I was no longer the happy, driven person I had always thought of myself as but instead I was this person existing in a cloud, waiting for the next completely unpredictable and wild thing to happen. And those things did happen. But now, looking back, and acknowledging the fact that I believe in the power of outlook, I wonder how much I brought those things upon myself. Not that they were my fault, more like because I was expecting them I almost invited them. I started seeing them in places that maybe they wouldn’t have existed if I could have gotten out of my own head. I am thinking specifically about the day that I gave myself a full-blown panic attack – I’m talking shortness of breath, tingly legs, inability to regulate temperature – on my way into work one night, a night that ended in complete disaster which, months later, led to me having a follow-up argument with someone which resulted in me having a complete meltdown the following day and having to drive myself to my parents house. After I stopped crying long enough to drive, that is. Pathetic, I know. So in a way, maybe I had a hand in those things. I let myself feel like a victim of the world and thus I became one.

But no more! It’s only been 3 days but this new year has been going well. I had dinner with a dear friend of mine last night and the waiter gave us free dessert just, you know, because we are awesome. I have plans to go to the American Cup (it’s gymnastics, don’t judge me) with my friend Glen in a few weeks and then there’s a trip to Iceland on the books for March and in April I will be officiating a wedding between my friends Emily and James. Then there’s a half marathon in Poughkeepsie in June, a Frankation over the summer and then, who knows? Whatever it is, though, it’s going to be great because why? Because it’s got to be. Because I believe it will be. Because I say so.

 

 

Dear Blood Manor

5 Nov

To Whom it May Concern:

My name is Rebekah and last Thursday after work my friend Jessy and I visited your establishment. For Jessy, who loves all things scary and apparently was not afraid of a movie called The Babadook (which, admittedly, I have never heard of and will never be seeing) this was an outing to be excited about. But for me? Totally different story. I agreed to go because I am always down for an adventure but immediately after agreeing I thought to myself,

Self, that was maybe the stupidest decision you ever made.

You see, I startle quite easily. If there is a thunder storm I jump at every single clap. You could say to me,

Rebekah, I am going to hide out around the corner of this hallway and then when you come down the hall and get to that outlet over there I am going to jump out and scream BOO!

And I will walk down the hallway, completely aware of your plan, and still have a near heart attack. It’s awful. I haven’t watched a scary movie since the 7th grade when a few of my girlfriends and I watched Psycho in the basement of my friend’s house. I didn’t sleep through the night for weeks afterwards and I still have flashbacks of that scene where Norman Bates watched the car sink in the lake whenever I see a bag of Raisinets. There was this one time, over a Labor Day weekend, when my roommates and my then-boyfriend were all out of town and I was home by myself and decided to have a Law and Order: SVU marathon in my bedroom. That night I had a dream that I was the victim in the show and that when I went on the witness stand I realized that the judge in the case was actually my attacker and I had to sit there and continue to testify while he stared at me and then all of a sudden <flash forward> and I was running through some dark, damp house and he was chasing after me with a hammer. Only he wasn’t running. He was walking, calmly, and I knew that he would eventually catch me because I was headed for the roof even though I am fully aware that people in these shows always head for the roof and that is their demise because once you get to the top of whatever building there is nowhere else to go but down or dead. Anyway, I woke up at that point and nearly gave myself a stroke from fear when I thought that a sweatshirt hanging over an open closet door was actually a homicidal maniac watching me sleep, waiting for the perfect moment to bash my head in. As you can imagine I am not well suited for haunted houses.

The days leading up to our visit were a blur of anxiety for me. I am not someone who likes to flake and I had given my word so I knew that barring a freak fire that I would have no role in igniting (….) I would be walking through that haunted house. And then, the day came. All day long I hoped my friend Jessy would forget (there was no way) or just become tired and decide she didn’t want to go (she is the energizer bunny!). I thought maybe she would smell the fear radiating off my body and think, well, maybe this isn’t the best idea. But no. There was no escape. So we got on the train and made our way to your house of ghouls, stopping for some liquid bravery en route.

Before I knew it we were waiting on line to enter. As if the screams coming from inside the building weren’t enough to ratchet up the anxiety level, there were some scary people milling about outside, working the line. There was the woman dressed up sort of like a demented Big Bird, the guy on stilts in something that looked like a zombie costume with a tiny little zombie head on its shoulder and gross-looking gauze dangling all over the place, and a lady in a bustier with dollar bills attached to her body, walking around with a stapler trying to entice us to staple dollars to her skin with real staples. I think maybe that requires repeating. She wanted us to use a real staple gun with actual, real metal staples to puncture her skin. There was blood. It was horrible. I hope she got a tetanus shot. There were two guys ahead of us in line who were amused by my fear and I think maybe thought I was flirting with them a little? I don’t know. It was weird. I mean, they couldn’t know this but I would never flirt with someone in line for a haunted house. How could I think about anything other than maintaining a certain level of calmness in the face of sure doom? I mean, I am a multitasker by trade but that is too much. Even for me.

And then, we got into the House. Everything was dark. And loud. There were laser lights. There was this weird robotic thing that was remote-controlled that would lean into you and blow gross, scary air on you as you walked by. Everyone knew I was afraid. Maybe it was the sweat. Maybe it was the eyes darting frantically to and fro. Or perhaps it was the fact that I was holding onto Jessy’s backpack for dear life, audibly weighing the option of walking through the entire house with my eyes closed like I did at those catacombs in Lima. As we began our adventure, they all came straight for me. The rooms were all decorated with gruesome scenes of torture chambers, demented clowns, circuses gone wrong. And then there were people, always people, impeding your progress with their bodies, getting onto your personal space, breathing on you, whispering not-so-sweet somethings into your ears. We darted around them. I felt like we were in a post apocalyptic version of Frogger. One of the dudes leaned into me and said

I am going to follow you home. I will find out where you live. I will rip you apart.

And this is where it all went from fun to maybe not-so-fun. Just so you know, owner of Blood Manor, this is something that we out in the world call triggering. As someone who has had a weird-o do regular drive-bys of my house when I was in high school, who was followed home here in Brooklyn and who was stalked to a hotel in a mountain town in Guatemala, the fear causing me to lose all access to the Spanish-speaking part of my brain, this was not received as emptily as it had been intended. My stomach dropped. My brain swirled. And then we encountered the angry gorilla man. We entered his lair and he herded us into the corner of the room. We looked around – every single door had an exit sign on it. Which way do we go?! How do we get out?! There were people walking towards us from every direction, looking lost. I couldn’t tell whether they were visitors like us or zombies, walking undeterred towards their next victims. I looked around and said, in a semi-panic,

Where do we go? Which way do we go?!

At that moment I sort of felt like maybe we would be in the house forever. And I didn’t know whether or not we could trust the demented gorilla man. Would he send us in the right direction? Would he tell us to go through a door only to lead us back into the room with the clowns, or worse, the one that looked like a root canal gone wrong?! But he didn’t do either of those things. He hissed

You’re fucking the whole thing up!

And called security. We almost got kicked out of the haunted house. Seriously. Jessy and I almost got ejected by a huge dude in black pants and a black, Blood Manor polo for being afraid of a dude in a weird gorilla suit. I felt like I had left Blood Manor and walked straight into Crazy Town. I looked at the security guard in utter disbelief and simply said,

We’re lost. All the doors have exits on them. And it’s dark. How are we supposed to know where to go?

He pointed at one of the three “exits” which led us into a room we had been through before. We walked around, the shine taken off, the fear evaporated. I looked around the room and rather than seeing gruesome scenes I saw poorly designed sets for underfunded plays. And instead of jumping from monsters and the orchestrators of torture chambers, I saw actors in face paint and gauze, simply trying to pay their rent. They got in our faces, we stared back at them dead-pan. There was no more fear, no more fun. We just wanted out. The gorilla man was a total buzz kill.

We emerged from the house pissed off, trying to figure out what we had done to be nearly ejected. Did we make it through the house too quickly, fucking up the flow? Did we make a wrong turn? Or did we just encounter a ghoul at the end of a long, arduous night, his patience on zero after dealing with scores of assholes, who took his anger out on the wrong people? Lord knows as bartenders we have been on the other side of that equation more than once.

It was a weird ending to what was a fun, albeit anxiety inducing, night. It made me think a lot about perception, about what we bring to the table when we enter an interaction, about what it must have been like for the people acting in the house. My ears were ringing from the loud noises for the rest of the night and into the next day and my eyes took a bit to adjust to normal lighting after spending the better part of 1/2 hour being visually assaulted by flashing bulbs and lasers. I can’t imagine it is a comfortable work environment. Or maybe the guy was just an asshole, not well-suited for his role as an undead gorilla. Either way I sort of feel like you ripped us off, Blood Manor. We will not be back next year. Maybe you should look to hire a new gorilla. Oh, and lose the triggering threats.

Rebekah

Goodbye Forever, Box

30 Aug

At some point during the life span of this blog I wrote about how the state of my room (AKA a mess assessment….amessment? Yes? No?) was a clear reflection of how things in my life were going. And, actually, perhaps more to the point it was, is, a reflection of how things in my head are going. I don’t mean that in any big way, really. I am a relatively even keeled person. I would say that on a happy-to-sad spectrum I generally reside closer to the former than the latter, with some forays into sadness and a vacation home in anger and disbelief. I would categorize myself as my friend Ashlie described herself, a loud introvert. I had never really heard that term before but the second it came out of Ashlie’s mouth I thought to myself,

yes, that’s me.

Anyway, my room. Ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you: my room is always a little bit of a disaster. In college a pile of clothes would migrate from my bed to my desk chair and back again depending on which of those things I needed at the moment. As I’ve gotten older I’ve been better about putting my clothes away (although truth be told a bag of clean laundry sits outside the door of my bedroom because I haven’t felt like dealing with it) but still the clutter remains. Shoes litter the floor, piles of New Yorker magazines reside on my desk and coffee table, unopened mail with personal data lies unopened, awaiting an afternoon of shredding. For years my awesome ex-boyfriend kept my mess, and my mood, in check but since he moved away about a year and a half ago things have gotten progressively messier. Both in my head and in my room. I stopped doing the things I have always done by sheer force of will, desire and habit: writing and running. I started keeping to myself more, seeing friends less, allowing my room to become an embarrassing disaster. The worst of it all was The Box.

You see a few years ago me and my roommates, boyfriend included!, moved from the second floor to the third. My landlord was redoing the apartments and the girls upstairs had moved out so we took over the newly renovated space. We all sort of haphazardly packed up our things and carried them up the single flight of stairs to restart our lives in a slightly better version of the place we had been living in for years. At the end of the packing process, I threw a bunch of odds and ends into a big box, figuring I would unpack it and put the things away. That was years ago. The box has remained packed, if you can even call it that, since 2012. Every time I went to deal with it I would be overcome with anxiety. Where does all of this stuff go? What do I do with it? How do I organize it? I would inevitably throw everything back in the box and head out for a run in an attempt to refocus and have another go when I got back. I never had another go. The Box stayed. And then, last week, I had enough. I came into my room with the intention of going through the box, organizing things, putting things in rightful places, feeling accomplished and like having The Box take up this huge swathe of space in my room, and my brain, for the past forever actually had some purpose. Like it wasn’t all for naught. I stood in front of The Box, looked inside, and simply said

Fuck it. Fuck you, Box. I hate you.

I got the garbage can and simply threw everything away.* I threw away the old articles from grad school. The weird candle holders I never used. The picture frames I bought at Bed&Bath in 2002 (saved the photos, though). The broken jewelry. The notebooks. All of that shit that has been causing me anxiety for all this time just gone. I took the garbage out, went back to my room, changed into running clothes and went out for the first run I have wanted to go on for as long as I can remember. And I started thinking about my next blog and my next marathon.

It’s been a long and sad road this past year and a half. And it’s crazy how you don’t even realize you’re on it until one day, you just make a turn and all of a sudden the fog sort of lifts. One day you just go into your room and you tackle some seemingly small project that is somehow the physical manifestation of all of the shit that has beaten you down over the past 19 months and you look outside and the sun is shining and rather than forcing yourself to go out there you want to do it. It’s a crazy thing and I don’t know what did it but whatever it is, fuck am I grateful because this shit — the sadness, the anxiety, the overwhelming feeling that I have been letting everyone down, myself more than anyone else — was getting tired. And was starting to make me feel like I had made some turn away from my old bright self into someone far more muted, someone about ready to burst into tears without reason or warning at any moment. I thought I was the only one who noticed but apparently I was wrong.

A few weeks ago, after visiting my parents for the night, I received the following text message from my father:

Hi, glad you came out yesterday. I missed you. I have to say I am a little worried about you. Seeing you made it easier. I hope you can use this trip as a reassessment period to come back and just be happier. Anything I can do to help let me know. I love you.

And so to my dad and everyone else: I am back. The Box is gone. And now I am going to go out into the world because I want to. And see my friends who I love. And get ready for an awesome fucking adventure through Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. And then, who knows. But I think it will probably be great.

*To be fair I recycled some of it but I felt like that took away some of the drama.

My Shiny Quarter

22 Jun

I know this is probably the worst time to publish a blog post considering that the USA are playing Portugal in the World Cup as I type, but whatever, when you are inspired you are inspired and I never pretended to be smart about this whole blogging thing.  So it is not secret that my year has sucked.  I wrote about it here. Also, here.  Oh and then there was this thing that happened that I wrote about here.  And let us not forget about this.  So this isn’t a blog about me complaining about how I am having an off year, and how my life has sort of been like a line of dominoes, where one of them falls and knocks every other one down in rapid succession.  It is about something else.

So on Friday I was walking home from getting some juice when I stumbled upon a quarter.  I walked past it about 5 paces or so and then stopped, thinking about my friend Monica.  She has also had a rough couple of weeks ever since her dog went missing.  I thought about how Monica always picks up pennies.  It’s this really endearing compulsion that she has.  We would be running through the streets of New York and no matter what we were talking about, she would always see the pennies, always pick them up.  I turned back around and, with Monica and Lark on my mind, I picked up the quarter.  I took it in my fingers, turned it over, and decided that that very moment would be the moment that I would stop thinking about what a crappy year I have been having, I would stop dooming myself to more misfortune, and just change my mindset.  That quarter, I decided, was going to be my change in luck, that place in the domino line when you get them all wrong and the one falling somehow misses its neighbor and the rest of the pieces remain standing.  I know this might seem a lot to put into one small piece of currency, but in the face of thinking that you have somehow run into a string of unexplainable bad luck it really seems like the most logical next step.

(I just heard screaming from an adjacent building.  Somehow the US has overtaken Portugal?  How surprising.)This is going to sound really cheesy.  Perhaps even cheesier than the things I have already written in this post.  I was just watching an episode of Gossip Girl (I know, I know), and Rufus Humphrey said something to Dan over breakfast that really just got to me:”…success, people praising you, it goes away.  And when that day comes, if you don’t like who you are, you’re done.”I don’t know.  I have spent a good amount of time trying to figure out what has been happening recently.  I have spent a lot of brain power, shed a lot of tears (more than I really care to admit to) trying to understand what the fuck I ever did to have all this happen.  But then I realized I didn’t actually do anything.  It’s just life, it’s the world.  This is how shit goes.  And I can either feel sorry for myself, or laugh at myself.  I can either look backwards, or look forwards.  I can either wonder why there are so many assholes, or I can be happy that I like who I am and anyone who doesn’t, well, they simply aren’t worth my time.  From here on out I am choosing the latter in all three of those scenarios.As it turns out, a quarter really can be the harbinger of good things to come.  I mean, if I was going to somehow attribute all my good fortune to some weird universal bullshit, why not assign some of my good fortune to a quarter.  Right?  Right.So that is it.  That is the end of me thinking this is an off year, and wishing I had a bear-free cave to live in.  This is the beginning of me realizing I have an amazing support system all of whom I love and appreciate; I have a fantastic family; I have a warm house with great roommates and two annoying as hell but incredibly sweet cats; I have my health; I wake up most mornings feeling lucky that I am who I am; I have this shiny new quarter.  The rest, I think, will come in time.

Don’t You Wish You Were Cool Like Us?

22 Mar

I know that a while back I wrote a blog post about how much I love my friends.  Maybe some of you think that one post on such a topic would be enough but I disagree.  My friends are just really super awesome.  By the end of this post you are (a) going to think me and my friends are all incredibly weird and you’ll thank your lucky stars that you only read about our antics on the interweb, (b) you will want to come hang out with us all the time because we’re funny (c) you will oscillate between those two things, which is normal, but eventually will you come to the dark side AKA the side where you are friends with us or (d) you will be totally grossed out and never read my blog again.  Anyway, here is why my friends are awesome:

So yesterday I spent the day sort of rewriting an article for a magazine I occasionally contribute to.  (You can read my past article here!  It’s about consent!)  I had to rewrite it because my editor was, shall we say, displeased that the direction my article took was only (in my estimation) 70% related to the proposal I had sent her back in January.  Apparently when you write for other people you can’t just write about what you’re interested in at that exact moment, you have to somehow get back to what you were interested in months prior.  Live and learn, right?  Anyway, so I had to do some fine-tuning so that the article I wrote better reflected the approved topic.  I spent the better part of the morning/early afternoon working on that and then I decided to take a stroll to visit my friend Heather at work.  She is nice and fun and you should all love her.  Also, she is apparently gifted in the art of cleaning eyeglasses.  I digress.  On my walk to visit Heather I texted one of my friends to see how her second week of work at her new job went and I received the following reply:

“Things are getting busier and making more sense…. (smiley face)… best part of farting in my own office is that I can open my own window.”

I replied that having my own window that I could open at my leisure, but especially after farting, was my new goal in life.  Not in so many words but she got the point because she, like, gets me.  Anyway, no more than a half hour later, and out of nowhere, I received a g-chat from a different friend that led to the following conversation:

Friend: can you remind me tomorrow that I ate beets today?
Me: Yes.
Friend: Thank you! (You understand.)
Me: I had beets on Wednesday night and set myself a phone alarm for Thursday morning.

If you don’t understand why that last conversation was funny then you don’t pay even nearly enough attention to your bowel movements which, in my personal opinion, is ill-advised.  Also, you clearly don’t talk to your friends enough about poop which is unfortunate.  I have this sort of friend-o-meter whereby I know that I am really, truly friends with someone when we can talk about poop together.  And not just like, me telling stories about my own poop but us having a real and honest exchange about it.  I have a lot of poop stories.  I think talking about the embarrassing bathroom things that happen really sort of demystifies the whole thing.  Let me tell you a story about what happened to me recently (you might never look at me the same again or touch my left hand, FYI).

So recently I was in Peru for a trip with one of my friends.  And we were at this cafe and I had to use the bathroom because I pretty much always have to use the bathroom. I inherited my dad’s stomach, something I am not in the least bit thankful for.  Anyway, I went up into the little art/book/miscellany store above the cafe to use the bathroom and realized, too late as it turned out, that there was no toilet paper.  Not only was there no toilet paper, but there also were no paper towels.  Catastrophe!  So I did what any well-traveled individual would do:  I wiped my ass with my left hand.  So there I was, wet and clean butt, wet and unclean hand, pants down, standing in this teeny tiny little bathroom above a cafe on a random street in Lima.  What to do now?  Obviously, I had to wash my hands but here was the little trick: I somehow had to dry my ass without using any paper products because there weren’t any.  Luckily, I had managed to keep my right hand both clean AND dry and there was the leftover cardboard tube from the paper towels sitting to the right of the sink.  Oh, happy day.  So I, by turning the tube inside-out, managed to semi-dry my ass with that and my dry right hand (more absorbent than you might suspect!) and then use my right elbow to turn the water on as hot as it could go to wash my hands about 12 million times.  I then went downstairs, looked at my friend and said:

“You might want to bring napkins up there when you go.  There was an…incident.” I think looked meaningfully at my left hand.

She understood immediately.  And that is why my friends are awesome.  (And also why journalists really need to not complain about the fact that they had to, GASP!, throw their toilet paper away in a garbage can next to the toilet instead of in the toilet while covering the Sochi Olympics.  I think probably they have done worse and that there were more pressing social issues surrounding those games than plumbing that can’t handle an influx of paper.  Just sayin’.)  Oh! And this one other thing.  Sometimes my dad tells jokes and my one friend does this with them.  Don’t you wish you were cool like us?

Something About Me

16 Feb

You guys?  I like the opera.  It’s true!  I have gone to the opera twice in the last year or so and I liked it both times!  If I had told my 15-year-old self, or even my 25-year-old self, this bit of information both of those selves, and all the selves in between, probably would have laughed and said something along the lines of

“Why in the world would you want to sit in a room and listen to people yodel for 4 hours?”

Here’s the thing.  Opera singers, as it turns out, do not yodel.  To be fair, I don’t think I ever thought they actually yodeled, I think it was just my way of being a dismissive asshole.  Kids, you know?  (Also maybe 25-year-olds?)

Anyway so last night my friend Dee took me to see Rusalka at The Metropolitan Opera and it was really great.  Here are some facts:

–> Rusalka, by Antonin Dvorak,* is one of the most successful Czech operas.

–> The story-line was written by the poet Jaroslav Kvapil based on fairy tales by Karel Jaromir Erben and Bozena Nemcova.

–> As if we didn’t all know this already, fairy tales are deeply disturbing.

–>A ‘Rusalka,’ in Slavic mythology, is a water sprite who most often lives in a lake or a river.

As one might assume, the character Rusalka in Rusalka is a water nymph and a lot of the staging takes place in and around a neat little lake thing.  Set designers are really unbelievable.  I think maybe I will be a set designer in my next life.  The basic story is that Rusalka, stuck in the depths of the lake, falls in love with a human and goes to the witch Jezibaba to be turned into a human so that she can experience the love of her prince.  Jezibaba says that in return Rusalka must give up her voice.  Obviously I was having flashbacks to The Little Mermaid through the entire opera which kind of made me feel like a bad person and also very deeply American.  (I know it was written by Hans Christian Anderson [a Dutchman!] but all I can think of is Walt Disney.)  I kept imagining Jezibaba with 8 arms.  Sadly, or happily maybe, she only had two and that did not change at any point during the performance.  There was scandal!  There was cheating!  There was heartbreak!  There was serious repetition of the words ‘alas’ and ‘woe.’  I’m not going to give away the particularities of the ending just in case you want to see it, but if you want a clue just imagine what would have happened had The Little Mermaid taken an incredibly tragic turn and someone died.  It really had to happen that way because, as far as I can tell, a good opera has a very drawn-out death scene.  It’s not an opera unless someone lies crumpled on the ground, vocal cords exhausted, when the final curtain falls.

Unlike The Little Mermaid, Rusalka was 4 hours long with two intermissions.  Dee and I got “seats” in the Family Circle which basically meant we were relegated to standing at the tippy top of the theater leaning on carpeted platforms that had the little translation screens embedded in them.  (Note to anyone who decides to go see it: be careful that you don’t hit the button to the right of the screen with your elbow and spend the first 10 minutes of the performance trying to decipher the songs sung in Russian using German subtitles.  There are English subtitles.  I went through this so you don’t have to.)  You might think “ugh, how awful!  What a waste of money!”  Well, you would be wrong!  It is true, we couldn’t make out facial expressions or the details of the sets or costumes, but what we could do was hear the voices which, in opera, do not use any sort of amplification other than what is provided by the architecture of the theater itself.  We were standing SO HIGH and yet we could hear the performers’ voices over all the hundreds of people and seats and over all the instruments in the pit. And let me tell you there were a lot of instruments in there.  To think about it is really awe inspiring.

As a feminist there were parts of the story that I found problematic.  In modern parlance I would say that there was quite a bit of slut shaming throughout.  But the thing was written in the late 1890s so I really have to forgive it that.  It is interesting, though, to really think about how long the history of gender inequality is and how deeply our cultural understanding of the role of men and women really runs.  It makes people’s preconceived notions much more understandable, even though they are based in antiquated ideas and therefore should be challenged.  That particular problem aside, I thought the opera was lovely.  And I was impressed by the diversity of the crowd.  And I was very thankful that, at an institution as incredible and beautiful as The Met, I was able to go out for a magical and affordable night with one of my best girlfriends.  Let’s hope that great art always finds a way to be affordable for as many people as possible, even if it means 4 hours of standing.

So, yea, if you’re in New York, give the opera a whirl.  You won’t be disappointed.  Even if you find it’s not your thing, just bask in the incredible possibility of human talent and hard work.  It’ll take your breath away.

*I don’t know how to make all the appropriate accents and pronunciation marks over his name.  I am not good at technology.  Sorry, Dvorak.