Tag Archives: safety

New Orleans Diary: Week Two

9 Dec

Goal: To write a blog post every week that I spend here in New Orleans, talking about the things that happen and the things that I hope happen but sometimes don’t. But sometimes do! But also sometimes don’t. I will try to keep my discussion of plastic bags to a minimum. Read my week one post here.

Driving: So I’m still on about the drivers mostly because I grew up in New Jersey and we always got such a bad rap for our driving (and signage) but the driving (and signage) here are way worse. For example, the other night I was driving around with my friend Carie and I drove near two people in like a 5 block span who were not using their headlights. And it wasn’t like it was 6pm and the sun had recently gone down and these people had just not turned their lights on. It was 11 at night. It was full on darkness. And all of a sudden I look in my rearview and see this thing speeding up behind me that looks like a UFO or something but then I realize that, no, it isn’t a UFO at all (imagine my surprise), it is a matte black car without headlights. I nearly had a heart attack and died right there. Thankfully I didn’t. But seriously, driving here is not for the weak. Shit is lawless as fuck.

The Loudest Lady Ever: As previously stated I have been staying with my friend Carie on the West Bank while I look for a spot. The area that we’re staying at is really historic and also quiet. Except for this one lady who is quite possibly the loudest person to walk the face of the earth. The other day I was doing some writing on the balcony and I heard her talking, no yelling, to her poor little dachshund. She goes “OH MY FEET HURT SOMETHING FIERCE” and then she goes “WELL IF EVERYONE WASN’T AWAKE BEFORE THEY’RE AWAKE NOW.” (You were meant to yell those things I wrote in all caps, btw.) So it’s like, she knows she is the loudest person ever. The good thing is that because she is so loud you can hear her approaching from 5 blocks away and quickly retreat to your home which, I suspect, everyone in the neighborhood does because there is magically no one out on the block when she goes for her walk. Maybe this is all part of her plan. Maybe she likes to imagine that the world belongs to her and her alone and by scream-talking all the time she can make this dream a reality, at least in the block-by-block sense. She is the Queen of Ghost Town!

Foster Campbell: There’s a pretty big deal run-off for a Senate seat here in Louisiana between Foster Campbell (D) and John Neely Kennedy (R). It’s sort of the last chance for the Dems to flip a senate seat in advance of our upcoming fall into tyranny, I mean…wait…no, that’s what I meant. Campbell is over here campaigning all by himself, meanwhile Trump is taking some time off from his “National Thank You for Ruining the Future of this Country and Maybe Even the World by Electing Me” tour to give some speeches on behalf of Kennedy. So, yeah, we all know how 2016 goes. Anyway, the reason I am writing about this is that I am from up North. I am from a place where most democrats campaign on a platform of some degree of gun control and are not often photographed or videotaped holding any sort of weapon. It’s like, our thing. Not so down here in Louisiana. Foster Campbell, known, by the way, to be socially conservative, ends his campaign ads by shooting a rifle. Could you imagine a democratic senate nominee in the North shooting off a rifle as like a pivotal part of his or her campaign ad? I sure can’t. So, I don’t know, no judgement or anything. You do you, Foster. That was just a thing that I noticed and thought to myself “you know what self? I think maybe your readers would find that interesting. Or if not interesting, at least notable.” I hope I was right. If not, then kindly disregard the previous paragraph.

Running group: This week we did hill repeats. This is actually kind of funny. If you didn’t already know this, New Orleans is incredibly flat. So, via our Facebook group, I was sent the address for the meet-up point. Carie and I were hanging around in the Quarter so when it got time for me to head over, I left her at a spot where our friend Brian was working and I drove to the starting point for the running group which turned out to be the side of the road of some busy avenue. I sat there in my car for a few minutes, looking around. I called my mom. There was no foot traffic. I didn’t see anyone else from the group. To be honest, I was a little bit nervous. New Orleans is not exactly the safest city in the country. Did I get the address wrong? Did I somehow end up in a neighborhood that I shouldn’t be in? What was a girl to do?! But then, as if sent from above, I saw another person in running clothes! I kept my mom on the phone (for safety!) and walked over to him. It was his first time meeting the group but, having lived in New Orleans for longer than me – which admittedly is not hard – he said that this meet-up spot made sense. You see, there was an overpass that crossed above route 10. And that was to be our “hill.” I chuckled to myself, thinking back on the hill in Prospect Park that I have run up countless times. This one was more like a little hump. Until you sprint up it a dozen times and your legs turn into noodles.

Bags: I know I said I was going to keep the discussion of bags to a minimum and I fully intend to keep my word. I just wanted to say that the other day I went to the store with a giant canvas tote like an elitist fuck and the dude at the store packed it totally full of things. But then I had some left over items that wouldn’t fit and so he put each one of those things in its very own plastic bag home. So I think that my previous theory about a deeply intrenched distrust for bags is actually the correct conclusion. More research pending.

In Conclusion: That is it for week two. I have some visitors coming. Also a few friends and I are going to see the AcroKitties perform on Sunday (HOORAY!) so I bet next week’s entry will be exciting. Hold on to your seats, kids. This is gonna get wild.

Tip #19 on Being a Good Bar Customer

22 Jul

Just before I get into this I need to say the following thing: I cannot believe I am actually writing the tip that I am writing. It really just blows my mind. Okay, are you ready? Here we go.

Tip: Do not walk into a bar, order a beer for you and your friend and then turn around without leaving money, walk out of the bar with the two open beers and then get into your car – one of you behind the wheel –  and drive away. Don’t do that. And especially don’t do that and then walk back into the bar approximately 45 minutes later and expect to not take the biggest fucking verbal lashing of your entire adult life. Story time? Well, I guess I pretty much just told the story but I am going to elaborate.

So there I was, at work as usual. I was expecting a slow day but it got pretty busy which was good because hooray for money! At the same time it was bad because I was in the middle of The Reckoning (Rebekah speak for the worst period I’ve had in a long time) and I was leaking iron faster than my body could produce it. I just wanted to do my job and not have to deal with any sort of shenanigans. But there are always, always shenanigans. So, anyway, in walks this dude with his buddy and he walks up to the bar and orders a beer for himself and one for his friend. I popped them both and handed them across the bar and then, right before my very eyes, the two of them walked through the bar, out the door, through the outside patio area and into their car and then they drove off down a busy avenue in the middle of the afternoon. I was dumbfounded. But then I stopped being dumbfounded and got really mad. I swear there was so much anger-pressure built up in my head right in that moment that if my head were to explode the sheer power of the explosion would have catapulted brain matter all over the ceiling which, by the way, is extremely high.

I spent the next 45 minutes oscillating between doing my job and being angry. I was working very hard on not doing both those things at once. It went something like this:

  • Stand behind the bar thinking about what a fucked up thing just happened
  • Notice that someone needs a beer
  • Take a deep breath, smile, walk towards the person to inquire as to what they might need
  • Say “Hi, how are you? What can I get for ya?” Listen intently for response.
  • Get the thing, deliver it and take payment
  • Immediately begin thinking about the fucked up thing and get mad again
  • Repeat

But then the 45 minutes of intense mood regulation came to an end because the mother fucker walked back into the bar again and was all

Hey, what’s up?

I scowled, shook my head and waved my hand in his general direction in a way that I was hoping communicated something along the lines of

Get the fuck out of here before I rip you a new one.

It didn’t work because he ordered a beer.

And then the floodgates opened. The floodgates of rage. I was sweating. I was shaking. I think I got goosebumps. I unloaded perhaps the biggest barrage of righteous anger that has come out of my in years. It actually included the phrase “who the fuck do you think you are” which is something you aren’t supposed to say until you have children and those children decide to go joyriding around the neighborhood with open bottles of beer.

O_o

Anyway, through the whole verbal onslaught this man (rightfully) endured, he just stood there and stared at me in utter disbelief. Much like how I stared at his car as it traveled down 5th avenue a mere three quarters of an hour earlier. And then he made a fake phone call and got back into his car, where he sat for the following 1/2 hour thinking about what he had done. (No, probably not but a girl can dream.)

So yea, don’t do that. Don’t buy beers and then leave a bar with the beers. This is not New Orleans. And even there you need to have Go Cups. You can’t just go parading around the neighborhood with open glass bottles of shit. But especially don’t buy beers, leave the bar with the beers, and then go get behind the wheel of your car. So many things could happen.

  1. You could get arrested
  2. The bar could lose its liquor license
  3. I could get a massive fine and, likely, lose my job
  4. You could kill yourself or someone else
  5. None of those things happen but instead you have to deal with my rage and it might not be as bad as the rest of the things, but you won’t forget it. I am really good with words when I am angry. And nothing makes me more angry than the complete and utter disregard that some people have for the safety and livelihoods of those they share this world with.

And while we’re on this topic, please don’t order a Long Island Ice Tea from me ever, but especially when you are holding your fucking car keys. Do you think I cannot see them? Do you think I am stupid? Do you think I lack the powers of deductive reasoning? Because I can, I’m not and I don’t. Not by a long shot.

Enjoy your weekend, friends. And be safe out there. Some dick head might be driving around while boozing it up at 5pm. You never know.

When Persistence is Rude

4 Apr

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

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

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

Why you gotta be like that with me?

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

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

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

I told you before I liked your vibes.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to be like

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

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

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

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

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

Being female can be a real mind fuck.

 

Men are from Mars

15 Mar

Almost a month ago now I wrote a post called “I Thought We Were Friends.” It was something that had been knocking around in my head for quite some time. In publishing it I felt somewhat relieved but also, and perhaps more powerfully, exposed and anxious. I was afraid that some people who read it would, rightfully, feel implicated in my words. I was concerned about shedding light on something that I had been hiding for a very long time, something that I tried to act as though I was somehow above. Let me explain.

I am a feminist. I wear that badge proudly. And as a feminist, albeit one that understands her feminism more off of a general engagement with the world around her and the ever-important conversations with peers as opposed to a deep understanding of the theories of various feminist waves, I go through the world with a certain understanding of myself in it. That feeling is, in part, one of a want for safety and equality, with a deep understanding that I cannot, currently, expect either of those things. It is also a feeling, self-imposed perhaps, that I ought to be strong. That I should be beyond all of the trappings of being raised female in this culture. That I should somehow be a finished product, beyond it all. How absurd. But even in the knowledge that I expect miracles from myself, I cannot help but feel like something of a failure when I fall into old habits. Old habits that are examined and discussed ad nauseam but that I never feel entirely capable of kicking.

I remember back in high school and on into college, having conversations with girl friends about boys. I remember so many conversations, more than I could ever count, about guys being so persistent that we just went along with things. We went along with things because it seemed easier to say okay than to stand up for ourselves not because it would necessarily be horrible in the moment  – although we all know it could have been – but because maybe those boys, those boys that were pressuring us into things, even things as harmless as a kiss, might not like us anymore.

They might not like me.

And who am I kidding? I still have these conversations. Regularly. And what’s crazy about it is that no matter how many times I have these conversations, it still takes us a while to get to the inevitable part, the part where we went along with something we weren’t into. And it’s like, a lightbulb goes off every single time. That feeling of

Oh, shit, you too?!

And it’s surprising but it shouldn’t be. And it’s embarrassing but it shouldn’t be. The idea that all these years later we are still doing what we used to do as teenagers. The idea that we haven’t learned anything, gotten stronger, gotten to the point where it isn’t about what is easy in the moment, but what we can live with tomorrow and the next day and the next day. The belief that we should be immune to the social forces that swirl around us from birth. That we should, in our feminism and in our knowledge about power dynamics and the patriarchy and the support from our friends and (if we’re lucky) our families, be above it all is so overwhelming but can also be disempowering. Every failure feels so much more monumental because it’s like,

Fuck, I should have known better. I’ve been here before. I know how this goes.

It’s like a regression. I woke up a strong, self-reliant, intelligent woman and somehow, through the course of the day, became someone unwilling to rock the boat. I somehow became someone who went from speaking her mind to sparing someone else’s feelings at the expense of her own. And for what? So he can wake up with his ego in tact and I can beat myself up about an unwanted encounter, and my weakness in the moment, for months? Because, in all honesty, my anger and disappointment with myself goes on for months. But at least he still likes me, right? Give me a break.

I guess I am writing this because this experience is somewhat universal. I am not even close to the only one. And I am not saying that this is solely a female experience, either. Just that the forces that surround us daily mean that our experiences as women, as a “minority,” are tied into social and institutionalized forces, forces that keep us from separating ourselves as individuals, as people deserving of respect, from the learned feeling that we should accommodate others, especially males. That we should protect their feelings and their egos and then we should keep quiet because this is not a conversation we have out loud. Because we are taught, on the other end, that it is shameful. Don’t rock the boat, but don’t be a slut. If you find yourself there, you have no one to blame but yourself. You gave him the idea, you should go along with it. Don’t be a tease.

And what’s crazy is that a lot of times it isn’t his fault either. We are masterful at keeping quiet in the moment and licking our wounds alone. He might never even know. He might never even know that he read the moment wrong because we will never tell him. And for so many people if we were to say what we say to our friends, that we did it because it seemed easier and less awkward and less hurtful than saying no, he also would have wished it never happened. He also would feel some amount of shame. But we are selfish and we keep all the shame for ourselves.

I wrote this because, following my last post, I got two responses. One response was from women and one response was from men. Overwhelmingly, the women in my life were like

Holy shit yes! This! I have been there!

And the men, all well-intentioned people that I love, were like

I am worried about you. I don’t want you to become bitter. It’s because of the career you are in, the bar that you work at, the people you surround yourself with.

But it isn’t any of those things. It is because we – men and women – occupy such different worlds. So much more different than I knew previous to the publication of that post. My experience is not unique, not by a long shot. It is universal. But the fact that men overwhelmingly had no idea that it happened, that it was real, spoke volumes to me. That because I wrote it it became about me rather than about us was huge. I felt some sort of comfort in the fact that I am not alone. But the chasm is so overwhelmingly huge! Because the men I spoke with were people who I love and who were willing to have an open conversation, people who entered the conversation ready to listen and absorb. They weren’t trying to teach me, they were trying to learn. And people, not just men, but people in general, aren’t all like that. Which makes this even crazier. I can’t imagine what people unwilling to listen thought, how wide the gap is between us and them. Sometimes I feel like we have been quiet for so long that no one can hear us anymore. And I honestly don’t know how to begin to fix that.

Roosh Lives in His Mom’s Basement

6 Feb

People. This is just so good. SO GOOD.

So have you been reading about that guy Roosh? The self-proclaimed pick-up artist who organized all those pro-rape rallies and then cancelled them because he could no longer protect attendees from “unattractive women and their enablers?” Obviously he is a total scumbag. Anyway, so you know how we are all always joking about those anonymous male internet posters who actually live in their mother’s basements and have no friends? Well guess what?

ROOSH LIVES IN HIS MOTHER’S BASEMENT! IN REAL LIFE!

No really.

To be fair I’m not sure whether or not he has friends but I am going to guess no. Or, if he does have friends (and the word “friend” does not include people who just blindly follow all of his hate-filled misogynist rhetoric), that they also live in their mom’s basements and they all video conference and breath really heavy through their noses. People do that, right?

So the Daily Mail staked out Roosh’s mom’s house in Silver Spring, Maryland and took a few pictures of him answering the door to some cops who he had summoned there to complain about all the threats he was getting as a result of his publication of a supposedly satirical article (so not satirical at all) advocating for the legalization of rape on private property. Because if it is legal, then it isn’t rape, right? Semantics, after all. And now Anonymous has launched a doxxing campaign of Roosh and his followers.

Okay so there is some fucked up shit here. People shouldn’t stake out other people’s mom’s houses. Even if those people are complete and total dick heads who should have their Internet privileges taken away. (Could you imagine if we took people’s internet privileges away?) And people also shouldn’t dox other people, even if the proposed doxxees have initiated their own doxxing campaigns against people they don’t like. There is a lot to be said for taking the high road. And as much as I sort of love Anonymous for operating in the grey oftentimes on behalf of victims of rape, sexual assault and online sexual harassment, a lot of their tactics are, well, problematic. But of course so is the sexism and victim-blaming that is rooted in our society as well as in our legal system – from law enforcement on up. It all makes me crazy.

But – regardless of our feelings about the tactics used to uncover this information – we now have rock solid confirmation that Roosh actually is the total loser we all thought.

Roosh lives in his mom’s basement. So in theory when he “picks up” a woman (which I want to say I bet never happens but sadly I think that is probably untrue) using his methods of degradation and negging and whatever the fuck else those idiots are doing these days, he has to spring for a hotel, get her to take his sorry ass back to her place, or bring her to his mom’s basement where I guarantee you he has a single bed and a Transformer’s comforter. (No intended offense to the Transformers. They are, in fact, more than meets the eye.)

So to all you pick-up artists in training: your guru clearly uses his right hand a lot more than he is letting on. Or else he has soundproofed his mom’s basement. Or maybe he waits until his mom goes out with her friends or to run errands before he watches porn on his 12 computer screens or sneaks someone in through his window. It doesn’t matter. He lives in his mom’s basement. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

 

 

 

Another Day, Another Mass Shooting

3 Dec

The other day I was telling this kid about a dream that I have. The dream is to have access to a room with an exposed brick wall, a safety suit (including, but not limited to, safety goggles and heavy duty boots) and shelves full of different types of glass. Nothing too pretty. Bottles, mainly. Oh, and a cleaning crew on call that I would pay very handsomely.* The idea is that when I get really, really angry I can go to this room, put on my safety suit and throw glass forcefully against the wall. I imagine this would be very therapeutic. And then I would call the cleaning crew to clean up. Now, even in my dreams I am aware of the expense of having such a room, and so when I am not using the room (which would be often I hope) I would rent it out to other people. I think I would have to charge them a flat fee for the space itself but also a certain amount of money for each glass broken. Otherwise some asshole with a real rage problem could go in there, run his hand along a shelf and just knock all the glass to the floor, shattering it! And some more conscientious rage-a-holic would throw one or two glasses only more thoughtfully and end up paying the same amount. That would not be fair. And besides, it would not be a good business model to piss off people who get angry enough to hurl things against a wall and watch them shatter. I know. I am one. Anyway I told him this story and instead of getting the giggles that I anticipated (come on, it’s absurd!) I got the following question:

You get angry enough that you want to throw glass against the wall?

I was quiet for a second because, yea, I totally do.  But also,

Yea. You don’t? Do you read the news?

And that brings us here. To today. The day after yet another massacre in the United States, this time at the Inland Regional Center, a state-run facility for individuals with developmental disabilities. Many of us might, with disgust, realize that this is the second such massacre this week, the first one being in Colorado at a Planned Parenthood clinic. That, however, is incorrect. According to the New York Times, on average there is more than one mass shooting every single day.

On average there is more than one mass shooting every day in America.

So far this year, 462 people have died and 1,314 people have been wounded in attacks like the two that were publicized this week alone, attacks that oftentimes take place on streets and in public gathering places and universities. If we look at the number of deaths used by congressional researchers to categorize these events – 4 or more dead – the number of mass shootings does go down. But of course, the killing in Colorado would be left out of that measure because Robert Dear only managed to murder three people. Even without those shootings with less fatalities, the numbers are still harrowing. According to two databases that track all shootings with 4 or more fatalities — shootingtracker.com and gunviolencearchive.org, both unofficial — there have been 354 such shootings in 220 cities in 47 different states since January. According to the Times article,

“In November, six people were killed, five of them shot to death at a campsite in East Texas; 17 were wounded in a shootout as a crowd watched the filming of a music video in New Orleans; and four died, including twin five-month-olds, in an episode of domestic violence in Jacksonville, Fla. So far this week, five people were wounded Sunday morning in a shooting in Kankakee, Ill., and a shooting Wednesday, before the San Bernardino attack, left one woman dead and three men wounded in Savannah, Ga.”

Get ready for it though: it actually gets worse. According to Ted Alcorn who is the research director for Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit that advocates for gun control, we have a much bigger problem. It is, he acknowledges, a horrible tragedy that 14 people were killed in one day in California,

“But likely 88 other people died today from gun violence in the United States.”

Alcorn’s organization has studied shootings occurring between 2009 and mid-2015 that left four or more people dead and found certain patterns.

“In only 11 percent of cases did medical, school or legal authorities note signs of mental illness in the gunmen before the attack… Domestic violence figured strongly: In 57 percent of the cases, the victims included a current or former intimate partner or family member of the attacker. Half of all victims were women. More than two-thirds of the shootings took place in private residences; about 28 percent occurred in public spaces… More than 60 percent of the attackers were not prohibited from possessing guns because of prior felonies or other reasons.”

Looking at that information, this whole thing got a hell of a lot scarier. These mass shootings that are covered extensively by the news, are fucking horrifying and exhausting. But that isn’t even the half of it. If we treated domestic violence with the same disbelief that we react with every time there is one of these seemingly random shootings on a street corner somewhere — no, scratch that, if we acknowledged domestic violence as a huge problem at all — it would probably be hard to even leave the house. Just like date rape and intimate partner rape is not treated with the same seriousness as stranger rape, murder at the hands of an intimate partner or family member is not categorized as a public health crisis, or a violence problem, or as symptomatic of the patriarchy but as a private issue. That the victims are mostly women only makes that case stronger. But that’s not the point. A shooting is a shooting is a shooting, a murder is a murder is a murder. Which brings us to something interesting. Something we should perhaps remind those around us, mostly conservative, who pitch a fit every time we think about increasing gun control measures.

Your hero, the man you herald as the Conservative of all Conservatives, was a supporter of gun control. That’s right. The one and only Ronald Reagan, in an op-ed for the New York Times in 1991, said,

“Every year, an average of 9,200 Americans are murdered by handguns. This level of violence must be stopped.”

This, of course, was because Ronald Reagan, along with his press secretary Jim Brady, Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty and Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy, was the victim of a shooting. Reagan was convinced that this event — a mentally unstable young man opening fire with a .22 calibre that he obtained at a pawn shop — never would have happened had the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (AKA the Brady Bill), named for Jim Brady, been law back in 1981 when the shooting occurred. The Brady Bill, signed into law by Bill Clinton on November 30, 1993, mandated federal background checks on gun purchasers in the United States and imposed a 5-day waiting period on purchases until the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was started in 1998.

Obviously, the Brady Bill and NICS falls extremely short of actually limiting access of fire arms to people just in general. The proof, unfortunately, is in the pudding. And it doesn’t help that the National Rifle Association is run by money grubbing nutjobs who somehow manage to convince people they are fighting for the Second Amendment when in reality they are a lobby run by extremists who block safety measures in order to continue to line their own pockets with all the blood money that rockets in their direction. (It is worth noting, by the way, that the NRA was not always so fucking insane. It supported the first major federal gun law back in 1934 and backed the 1968 Gun Control Act. Oh, how far they’ve fallen.) But like, the fuck? When does it end? When do we take the power back? When do we say enough is enough? And when did Ronald Reagan seem like the only reasonable Republican out there?

So, yea, I am mad enough I could throw shit. Often. The question is: why aren’t you? And what the fuck are we going to do about it?

*This word is spelled so weird! It goes from hansom to handsomely! Two extra letters. Both silent!

A Letter to the Guy Who Threw a Glass at My Face

7 Mar

Dear ______,

It has been two weeks since the night that you decided to throw a glass at my head because I, rightfully it now seems, refused to serve you a drink because of your aggressive behavior. I am quite certain you won’t ever read this but on the off-chance that you stumble upon it one day, I figured I would let you know what my past two weeks have looked like.

I woke up the Sunday following the incident unable to fully see through my left eye because the lid was swollen enough that it was obstructing my vision. I picked up the phone and called my parents. My father answered. I started off the conversation by asking him whether he was sitting down, telling him that I was fine, and then told him that some guy had thrown a glass at my face and that I had a black eye. During the first moments of the conversation he must have motioned for my mother to pick up a receiver because at some point her voice appeared, a soothing balance to my father’s worry turned anger turned worry. I understood both of their approaches. I can’t imagine what it must be like to receive a phone call from your daughter on a Sunday morning with the news that she was physically assaulted at her job.  I spent the rest of the day on the phone with my parents and my boss, I cancelled plans with friends, got shifts covered at work, I cried. Occasionally I passed in front of the mirror, shocked every single time by the face that looked back at me.

That evening was taken up by a visit to urgent care to assess any potential permanent or temporary damage. Thankfully you hit me in the “right” place, a centimeter above my eye socket. Had the glass struck me just slightly lower, I could have lost my vision or the entire eye. But of course you weren’t thinking about that. You were so infuriated by my refusal to serve you the alcohol you clearly did not need that you almost caused me serious, permanent damage. It’s a strange feeling to consider yourself lucky in the aftermath of such an attack but I do. It could have been much worse. And honestly, you are almost as lucky as me that it wasn’t.

And the phone calls continued. To friends and family concerned about my well-being and ready to offer me advice about what I should do next. I would be stupid to go back to work at that bar, they said. I was like a sitting duck. I wouldn’t be safe. On top of the pain I was feeling in my head I was also looking at a potential loss of my livelihood, at least for the immediate future. But you didn’t think about that, either. You didn’t think about me being concerned about the short 2 block walk from the subway to my job, about the distance between the bar entrance and the taxi I will always have waiting for me now, about my anxiety that a new security guard who doesn’t know you will let you walk in the door and there I’ll be again, face-to-face with you, refusing you service because you will never get anything off me again, hoping that you don’t grab a bottle this time.

And then, of course, there is the physical reality. I have been making my way through the world for the past two weeks with a black eye. Do you know what it’s like to be a girl walking around with a black eye? No, of course you don’t, but I’ll tell you. It fucking sucks. People either stare or they avoid looking at your face, directing all questions and comments conspicuously over your left shoulder. Those that stare do so with a look of concern and pity. You can see the narrative forming in their heads about the late night argument, the angry boyfriend or husband, the accusations, the promises that it won’t happen again. Most people don’t ask what happened because they already know, or think they do. Those that comment say things along the lines of what a customer said to me last night: I hate seeing that shit. He refused to allow me to tell him the actual story about what happened, to assure him — even though, to be honest, I am not sure — of my safety. He already knew the story, or so he thought. He threw me a $20 tip.

I know you don’t care but my face is almost entirely back to normal. There is just a small discoloration under my left eye that can, in some light, pass for a birthmark. So when I head behind the bar tonight, behind the same bar that two weeks ago was the scene of the attack, I will look almost like I did then, almost like I did when you lost your shit and threw a double rocks glass at me without a thought to my safety or your freedom. But I guess rash behavior is sort of your deal, or so I’ve been told.

So I guess now we wait and see, let the chips fall where they may. I will continue to question every decision I have made up until this point. Were they right? Were they smart? Were they the best choices for me? My safety? Never once did I think about how these decisions might impact you. You are meaningless to me. Whatever happens to you now is on you, you did it. And as the time passes you will become less frightening to me. I will start to feel sorry for you, for whatever is wrong in your head that makes you behave the way you do, again and again, and somehow justify it to yourself. I will feel sorry for your family who constantly has to clean up your mess. One day they will stop. And it will just be you, and your anger, and your violence, all alone. I may or may not be the straw that puts you there but it will happen. And by that point I will barely even remember that you exist.

Good luck.

Rebekah