HGTV Presents: Kevin Hates Chandeliers

The episode of House Hunters that I happened to catch tonight was so perfect; I couldn’t wait to talk about it. It had everything: A young couple with high expectations, a low budget, and a passive-aggressive way of speaking to each other. A realtor who keeps making “STFU” faces. Outrageous wish list. Ridiculous demands. No desire to fix anything cosmetic.

Basic Facts:
Names: Kevin and Carrie (early 30s)
City: Chicago
Budget: $150-$200K
Must-haves: Light counters, dark floors, outdoor space, a room for Carrie to use as a dressing room, a room for Kevin to use as a darkroom. Open concept, duh.
Big no-no: CHANDELIERS. KEVIN DOES NOT LIKE CHANDELIERS OR HANGING LIGHT FIXTURES. They do not want an on suite bathroom, because Carrie has been told that she is “loud.” Also, Kevin is quick to point out that he hates painting. He seems like a treat, huh?

House 1, $199,000:
Kevin immediately sucks air through his teeth and says, “Ooh, that’s REALLY pushing our budget.” I hate when people do this. If $199K is pushing your budget, then your budget should top out at lower than that. These people berate their realtors for bringing them to these expensive homes, so maybe lower the budget? If your budget was $400K, and your realtor showed you a couple of dumps going for $90K, you’d be all, “show me something nicer!” I don’t understand.

Anyways, house 1 is small and boring, and there’s a light fixture that offends Kevin right away, even though it’s not an actual chandelier. Carrie is already so annoyed and you can tell she’s apologizing to the realtor under her breath every time the camera’s not on her. At one point, Kevin even finds a small, modern hanging light over the kitchen island and, trying to be the funny guy we know he is, says, “Oh, I like this one…because I can just take some scissors and cut it off!” Kevin. You’re really dumb, Kevin. Also, Carrie hates the countertops, and the master has an on suite, so Carrie knows Kevin will never let her poop in there.

House 2, $200,000
You just know walking up to this house that the realtor already has a sassy response waiting for when Kevin bitches about it being “at the top of their budget.” (BUT STILL IN YOUR BUDGET, RIGHT?) Thankfully, Kevin gets distracted because there are NO chandeliers, the countertops are perfectly light, the floors richly dark, and the floor plan is “open concept, like we wanted.” But the bedrooms are small, so Kevin is pissy again. He and Carrie bicker about the size vs price and location for the cameras, but we know these entitled whores will never settle for a small condo.

House 3, $170,000
Ok, you know going in that they’re picking this joint. Cheap idiots love a deal, even if it is in the shit part of town. “An up-and-coming neighborhood” means you’d better get some wee-wee pads for your dog to pee on, because you are not going outside after dark – and Carrie, if you think Kevin is going to protect you from anything so much as a spider, you’re dumber than I thought. Though you did say you wanted a “dressing room,” so, moot.

House 3 is massive, of course, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths. One is an on suite, but at least Carrie has options. Once they walk in, it’s the absolute opposite of open concept. The counters are black as night. There’s a dark basement with old carpets. Chandeliers and ceiling fans fucking everywhere. House is covered in them. Kevin is basically breaking out in hives. No one, at any point, says to him, “you know you can take a chandelier down, right man?” Like, not his wife, not the realtor, not the goddamned cameraman.

There are a few closet doors that stick a little. Carrie keeps grimacing at their too-nice realtor as if these things might be dealbreakers. Kevin wanders down a long hallway to the kitchen and sees a lazy-Susan that is slightly off kilter in the corner of the cupboards. Well, that’s it for Kevin. He starts going off about how all of these “little repairs are starting to add up,” like we all forgot that this house is $30,000 under budget. Hey Kev, if you can’t afford a couple of floor lamps and some WD-40, do not buy a house. Just do not.

So this house is basically the very opposite of what they wanted. Which house did they pick? I already told you. House 3, of course. And guess what those cheap bastards did? They got the place for $156,000. Spoiled shits.

And in the end? Kevin agreed to keep the dining room chandelier. I feel like the last half hour of my life has all been a lie. The only thing keeping me going is that you just know he bitches about that thing every damn day. Carrie will eventually divorce him over it. Then she can have TWO dressing rooms. She deserves that, bless her heart.


Kevin’s sweet parting thoughts, re: the en suite:
Carrie: “It’s kind of nice. I love being able to just brush my teeth and go to bed.”
Kevin. “And I hate being able to hear her brush her teeth.”

I hope she hangs a chandelier in there.

28 August 2014 ·

All my love to you, Poppet.

I was 11 years old when Mrs. Doubtfire was released. My parents had been divorced for almost 5 years at that point, and I had a 3 year old brother whom I adored. I had a decent relationship with my father- I was so young, there was still the standard “every-other-weekend” arrangement in place, although ours was a more of a “one day a month” type of thing. When I saw Mrs. Doubtfire for the first time, it awakened something in me that had previously been subconsciously tucked away- there were men out there who wanted to see their kids. There were men out there who would do anything, even dress up as a plump older British woman, to be around their children all the time. It made me angry, sad, and confused. Why couldn’t my dad be like Mrs. Doubtfire? Why didn’t my dad love his family so much that he would risk everything to be able to tuck me into bed every night? Was I a bad child? Unwanted? Unloved? As I wore out my VCR with repeated viewings of this movie that I so badly wanted to be my real life, I began to realize that I wasn’t hoping my parents would suddenly reconcile. I didn’t want or need my dad to help me with my homework every night. I wanted Robin Williams to help me with my homework every night. I wanted him to come to my house, in costume or not, and read me a book. I wanted him to scoop me up in those iconic furry arms and look at me with that trademark twinkle in his eye. I wanted him to be my father.

Years later, rewatching Mrs. Doubtfire on some random cable channel, I can see it for what it is. I can see the flaws- the immaturity of Daniel Hillard, the frustration in his ex-wife’s eyes, the kids who needed more of a parental figure than a playmate. But no matter what knowledge maturity brings, I can’t help but get misty eyed at the love Daniel had for his children. It gives me a feeling of childlike yearning like nothing else I can think of.

I would never call myself a major Robin Williams fan. He is nowhere near the level of my Tom Hanks obsession. But I truly enjoyed his movies and the special, often frenetic energy he brought to his roles. And in the quiet moments, during Awakenings and Good Will Hunting and Hook, I enjoyed the level of comfort he brought to me as a viewer. There was just something so warm about him, even in his oddest roles, that drew me in. Maybe it was those eyes; those gentle, mischievous eyes that always held a tinge of sadness. Those eyes that made you want to laugh, but also ask, “Are you doing ok?”

The news of Robin Williams’ sudden death yesterday had me reeling. I’ll be honest, and I’m sure most of you will agree, here- I hadn’t given much thought to Mr. Williams in a long while. Apart from a guest role on Louie, I never found myself wondering what had become of him. I knew he had battled addictions in the past. I knew there was a scandal or two with ex-wives and knocked up nannies. But he always flew under the radar, delighting me when he made a cameo, but disappearing from my mind once he left my television screen.

How awful, then, to hear about his depression. His relapses. His loneliness and desperation. I’m not here to tell you that I understand what he went through or even that I could begin to try, but I’ve been diagnosed with depression and an anxiety disorder. During weeks where I was in a black hole, turning to alcohol and men and staying in bed all day, I saw it. The despair, the helplessness. But I always came out of it. Knowing that he felt those feelings for many of his 63 years on this Earth makes my heart ache. Here is a man with all of the resources money can buy at his disposal. Here is a man who is beloved by millions, cherished by his family, who cannot see a way out. Here is a man who turned to self medication many times over the years, only get clean and repeat the cycle. I have never been suicidal. But I can see how, after months and years of feeling so utterly hopeless and sad, one would tell themselves that there is no other option.

The only advice I can give, as someone who has experienced moments of the disease that this man lived a lifetime with, is this: When someone is anxious, don’t tell them to calm down. When someone is sad, don’t tell them they should smile more. We don’t know what is going on behind a person’s smiling eyes, and we should never claim to. Be kind to each other. Be understanding. Love one another fiercely and wholly. Don’t take depression lightly. There is never an easy fix, but there is love and support and help out there. No matter how you are feeling, you are loved. Someone loves you and cares about you. Find them. Talk to them. While there are many people out there who are suffering physically, there are even more suffering mentally. And while taking your own life should never be the answer, sometimes people’s brains tell them it is. This is not selfish, this is not cowardice: this is the end for them. There is no more help, no more therapy, no more pills. And this is why depression needs to be more recognized as a true illness. Robin had everything and more to live for – and yet his beautiful mind told him he needed to leave us.

It is horrible that the world has lost this funny, smart, generous man. I know that none of us knew him personally, but his performances were such that we feel like we did. I know that he was a celebrity with millions of dollars and the respect of everyone he met- but at the end of the day, Robin Williams was a human being with a horrible, isolating disease- made worse by a horrible, isolating addiction. I know that there are more pressing matters in the world. I know that there are awful things going on in far away countries that I couldn’t even begin to fathom. But for an hour yesterday, after hearing of his suicide, I sat in bed and cried. Cried for the loss of my childhood favorite, whom I’ve always associated with those feelings of love and comfort. Who I always remember as my favorite Hollywood dad, who came to me in my dreams and read me bedtime stories in a British accent, eyes sparkling and arms holding me tight.

12 August 2014 ·

"Too Soon"

Today, another tragedy of unfathomable proportions took place: A commercial airliner carrying 295 people was allegedly shot out of the sky, killing everyone on board and likely creating a years-long debate over who was responsible.

Unfortunately for Malaysian Airlines, this is the second deadly incident in which one of their airplanes has been involved during the past few months. In March, one of their planes dropped out of contact in the middle of a flight. As we are all aware, this plane has never been recovered; nor have any of the 239 souls on board. This makes over 500 lives lost while on board a Malaysian flight in the last 6 months. If I owned stock in their company, I might decide to sell it right about now.

I would never go so far as to blame Malaysian Airlines for either of these incidents. The public does not have any answers when it comes to either flight, whether it was pilot error, weather conditions, equipment malfunction, or missiles that brought the planes down. They are both, for lack of a better word, “sketchy” crashes, with many more questions than answers. If I may be selfish for a moment, these incidents do nothing in the way of curing my intense fear of flying. My heart aches for the loved ones of everyone killed.

As the world began to process the news, a celebrity made headlines for his seemingly insensitive remarks. Jason Biggs, of American Pie and Orange is The New Black fame, took to his twitter account to make a joke.

His tweet read: “Anyone wanna buy my Malaysian Airlines frequent flier miles?”

This feeble, obviously sad joke made headlines across the internet. Everyone from Us Weekly to MSNBC wrote about it, with journalists and commenters all over the globe calling the actor insensitive, gross, and using the oft-overused phrase “too soon.” People vilified Biggs, calling him out for doing what he does (which is “comedic actor,” lest we forget) and saying what everyone else was thinking, but didn’t have the nerve to say.

Did he say anything derogatory towards any of the victims? No. Did he call out Russia or the Ukraine, both “suspects” in the crash of MH17? No. He simply made a joke in the time of tragedy, which, in our desensitized society, is commonplace and, frankly, appreciated. Watching the news unfold, checking out twitter accounts who were posting pictures of dead bodies strewn through a field, seeing black smoke billowing from the crash site…all of these things should be in the forefront of our minds. Not an actor’s jab at the airline, which has been involved in multiple crashes in a few months.

Again, SOMEONE had to say it. You weren’t thinking it? You didn’t look at your coworker and say, “Ugh, again?” You didn’t mumble to yourself, “Yeesh, Malaysian Airlines needs to get their shit together, huh?” I myself did the old Rodney Dangerfield, tugging at my invisible shirt collar when I looked at my dogs and said, “Glad I’m not flying Malaysian any time soon.” Would you like to call the Associated Press? Tweet me that you “hope my family is on board when the next flight that crashes?” Because that’s what Biggs’ followers did. And, as he is a new father, this is disgusting.

When did we become people who can’t take a joke? Who can’t smile through our tears? This is what comedy is FOR. To make us laugh, tickle our funny bones, chuckle when we’re sad. Jason Biggs said nothing wrong. He has been much more controversial on his twitter feed in the past – hell, follow his Bachelor live tweets on any given Monday night, and you’ll see him pick these contestants apart like you wouldn’t believe. That’s what he does. He’s honest, he’s himself, and he’s in the public eye. I hate to be this person, but in this case, I’ll say it: If you don’t like it, don’t follow him.

I defy anyone to tell me that some variation of what he said didn’t cross his or her minds when the news broke. We need to focus on more important things, instead of lambasting a celebrity for speaking their mind on a personal social media page. Immediately after he wrote the tweet in question, he got serious and lamented the loss of lives, but this wasn’t good enough for his followers. They wanted his head on a platter. They wanted to humiliate him, to make him national news – while someone just pushed a button thousands of miles away and ended almost 300 lives.

Where are our priorities? What are we angry at? Jason Biggs? Time to take a step back, friends. Let’s save our anger for the real bad guys. Not the celebrity who took one for the team by saying what we couldn’t say, and who is now taking heat from every media outlet for it. Let’s let this one go and focus on what is important.

And let’s also stop screaming from the rooftops about how bad we have it and how awful our President is while we’re at it. Because while you may not love your current health care, at least we don’t have a government that shoots innocent people out of the sky because they don’t’ want them in our airspace for whatever reason. At least we don’t have foreign troops invading our backyards because they want our cities. Let’s all take a breath, be thankful for once, and loosen up a bit. As I sit here in my lovely house with my gorgeous dogs, drinking a beer and listening to the television in the background, I can’t help but think that we’ve got it pretty good.

18 July 2014 ·

That time I incited a mob, or the time I almost got punched by a 55 year old woman

We were really busy at the shop on Saturday night. It was one of those nights where we barely had time to exhale in between customers. The hot summer day turned into somewhat muggy night. At around 9:40pm, I finally had a chance to step out from behind the counter to clean up the lobby. As I walked outside to wipe down the small tables we have in front of our store, I took in my surroundings. The street traffic was finally dying down.

Inches away from the center outside table sat a car at the curb. I remembered subconsciously clocking this car earlier – I had thought one of our umbrellas was leaning against it. The car was a very odd shade of blue. It was just one of those moments where you make a mental note to yourself. “This car has been here for a bit.” I finished wiping the table and straightened one of the wicker chairs. At the scraping noise, a dog began to bark. From inside the blue car. My head snapped up. There was a small white dog sitting in the front seat. The driver’s and passenger’s windows were rolled down about 2 inches. I murmured some soothing words to the dog as I looked around frantically. Surely, I was mistaken about how long the car had been there for. Surely this person would be back within moments.

I walked back inside, shaken. When I told my employees, they seemed nonplussed. “I’m sure the car hasn’t been there for long,” said one. “Just keep an eye on it. They’ll be back in a minute.”

I pulled out my phone and opened the Weather Channel app. 82 degrees. I did a quick Google search, as I honestly don’t know if “freaking out about a dog in a car after the sun has gone down” was a thing. I found a site that said that, even at night, temperatures such as 80 degrees can climb to 120 degrees in a matter of 20 minutes. I began to panic.

Time passed. It was now 10:00. The restaurant next door closed. I stood outside, staring at everyone who passed, waiting for someone to pull out car keys. No one did. At one point, I heard different barking. There were two dogs, not one. I must have exclaimed something in my shock, because two young girls sitting outside asked me what was wrong. I explained the situation somewhat sheepishly, thinking they would roll their eyes like typical Valley teens and go back to their gelato. Instead, they sprung out of their chairs and over to the car window. I walked over with them. To my dismay, upon getting a closer look, there was more bad news. A third dog. Three dogs, locked in a car outside of my shop, for well over 30 minutes now. The sun may have been down, but it was a hot, sticky night. I turned to the girls.

“I’m calling the police.”

I walked back inside, ignoring the line my employees had, shouting a half-assed explanation at them as I went out the back door. I found the non-emergency line and called it. The woman who answered put me through to Animal Control. I explained the situation to the gentleman on the phone. He said, unfortunately, there wasn’t anything they could do unless the dogs “appeared to be in physical distress.” He said if they were barking, they were ok, but to call back if another half an hour passed. Dejected, I thanked him and hung up.

I walked back out to the Teens and told them what happened. They were hovering near the car, almost in tears at this point. “What do we do?” they asked me frantically. “We wait,” I said. “If they start panting, you come get me.” They nodded solemnly and I headed back inside to help close the store.

10:30 came and went. I kept going outside to check on the dogs. At this point, the small local theatre production that had been going on had let out. Again, I frantically searched everyone’s faces, wondering who this horrible dog owner could be. No one stopped, except for one couple. The Girlfriend asked us what was going on, as the Teens and I had been gesticulating wildly next to the car as we weighed our options. When we told Girlfriend, it was on.

She whipped out her phone and demanded the number for animal control. When she asked me how long the animals had been out there, I told her at least an hour, but I was pretty positive the car had been there much longer. The Boyfriend asked me to go get some water – he would stick his hand in the window to give it to the dogs. I almost cried. As I came back with the full glass, two Regulars had joined the growing crowd. I briefly filled them in, and they joined our little group immediately. Boyfriend stuck his hand in the window but was only met with frightened barks. Girlfriend was on the phone, giving her name and our address, demanding they send someone. It all escalated very quickly.

At 10:50, I remembered we had a stash of organic dog treats in the shop. I ran to get some. By the time I came out, Boyfriend had the passenger door open and was gently coaxing the dogs to have some water. Girlfriend saw me and quickly explained that animal control had told her it is within our legal rights to enter the car and remove the dogs. They had gotten Horrible Dog Owner’s phone number off of the dogs’ tags and called her repeatedly, only to be greeted with a voicemail. They left pleading messages for her and got no response. Girlfriend didn’t want to take the dogs to a shelter, and I agreed with her. But what would we do?

Our store closes at 11. The Teens, Regulars, and Couple all told me they weren’t going anywhere, and to go finish up. We’d wait for hours if we had to. The sense of togetherness was powerful and touching.

At 11:15, I was counting the register when one of the Regulars came running in. “Brittne,” he said breathlessly, “she’s back.”

I dropped what I was doing and ran out front. There stood a small blonde woman in her late 50s. And she was screaming.

Obviously more than a little tipsy, Horrible Dog Owner ranted and raved about how she was only gone for 20 minutes, how dare we accuse her and lie. I shouted out that I work here, and she’d been gone for at least an hour and a half that we know of – and unless she had literally just walked away from her car when I discovered the dogs, she had most likely been gone a lot longer. She screamed that ok, maybe 30 minutes. Then she changed it to 45. I yelled that 45 minutes is 40 minutes too long. She came closer, swinging her keys and calling me a liar. She said she had witnesses back at the restaurant across the street, where she had been having dinner (and drinks, obviously) with friends, that she was gone less than an hour. I laughed at her. She turned around and ran across the street to get them. I turned to Regulars.

“This is going to get ugly.”

HDO came running back with 3 well dressed males. My stomach dropped. The Couple tried to explain to them what we were doing, when Drunk Male #1 began shouting at them. He got right up in Boyfriend’s face, nose to nose, chest to chest. He screamed that she was only in there an hour. Shouts of, “LIAR,” were exchanged. HDO carried on in the background, shouting and pointing her finger at me, accusing me of exaggerating. I told her again, quietly, that I wasn’t lying, that she had been gone at least 2 hours. Girlfriend shouted, “I heard you were gone 3 hours!” This was the worst game of telephone, but the point remains, she was gone too long. HDO seized on the number 3 and went at us even harder.

“THREE HOURS,” she shrieked, sweat beading her face. “I WAS NOT GONE FOR THREE HOURS.”

Girlfriend then informed her that the police had been called and they had her license plate number and phone number. HDO screamed that we’d ruined her life. I told her that her life would have been a lot more ruined if she had come back to her dogs being gone. Or dead. She screamed that they were fine, she was just across the street. Then why did she not come out and check on them once? If she had, she might have seen the angry mob crowded around her vehicle.

At one point, Drunk Male #1 tried to use the excuse that “it’s a nice night, the car windows are open, they’re fine.” I told him it had been 82 degrees out when I found him. He turned to me and roared, “THAT’S A FUCKING LIE.”

At that point, I just stayed quiet. It was then that I realized the Regulars were videotaping the whole thing. HDO continued to accuse me of lying (as if “three hours” was too much, but the 90 minutes that I watched her dogs was an acceptable amount of time).

As we finally decided we weren’t getting through to her, we began to walk away in disgust. As she got into her car, Regular #1 shouted, “hey honey, you ok to drive?” I dissolved into adrenaline-fueled giggles, and we all hugged and thanked each other.

I don’t have much else to say about this situation that you wouldn’t already surmise from my long blog. I’m just grateful for good, decent people in this town. I pray that those dogs are safe. And I pray for HDO that she doesn’t ever try that shit near my store again.

8 July 2014 ·

Why #YesAllWomen is So Important

A few months ago, I saw a job listing through a mutual Facebook friend of mine. The ad was for an assistant to a Hollywood financier. I felt under qualified, but the mutual friend insisted that I would be a perfect fit. I applied, thinking I’d never even get a call back. I was wrong.

The next day, a Sunday, I received a text telling me that Mr Finance would be calling me within minutes, and to be prepared. I was nervous. I answered the phone to hear the man himself, ready to interview me. I tried to sound cheerful, willing, ready, and able. Right away, he asked me what I’d be willing to do for the job. I chirped excitedly about how many hours I was willing to put in, how I would be available 24/7, what a quick learner I am.

Mr Finance chuckled condescendingly and said, “No. WHAT. WOULD. YOU. DO. FOR. THIS. JOB.”

As I had only seen things like this in the movies I was trying to help him finance, I paused. I paused for a long time. And then I said- all the while positive that I was blowing it- that if he meant what I thought he did, the answer was no.

He meant what I thought he did. He proceeded to keep me on the phone for another 20 minutes, vaguely outlining sexual acts he would expect me to perform as his assistant but never explicitly saying them. I mostly listened while intermittently crying as quietly as I could. I never felt like I could just hang up. This was powerful Mr Finance, after all. I had to endure it.

Later that night, various people advised me not to write about this experience. That he could and would blackball me. After all, this is the man who told me that there were plenty of people who had turned him down in the past, only to come begging on their knees two years later. I assumed that the “on their knees” was not a figurative statement. I stayed quiet. I told the mutual friend who had set up the interview that “I wasn’t a right fit.” Until now. No more silence. No more protection.

*********************************************************************************

Two days ago, a young college student went on a shooting spree an hour away from my home. He targeted women, due to their continued “rejection” of him. I don’t want to give this person more time than he deserves, so let me just say that this tragedy has brought me to a place that I had never really, truly considered before. And I’m angry, ashamed, and scared. I’m really fucking scared.

The situation in Santa Barbara has begun a movement on social media with the hashtag “YesAllWomen.” The point is to show what a life of fear women lead- taught from childhood how to act, dress, or prepare for inevitable male attackers. Rapists, robbers, home invaders, predators, even boyfriends can hurt or kill you at a moment’s notice. Don’t get too drunk on your date. Don’t tell the cab driver your real address. Don’t walk to your car alone. Take self-defense classes. Carry pepper spray. Stay in groups. Let that guy at the bar down gently – maybe lie and tell him that you have a boyfriend. Don’t embarrass him. Don’t wear a low-cut top. Don’t dance provocatively. Don’t be mean. Be sweet. Be ladylike. Be kind and generous and gracious.

This is all complete and utter bullshit. I don’t think I’ve ever realized what bullshit it is before now. I’ve just gone through life, trying to be kind, be sweet(ish), be funny. Don’t want to hurt a stranger’s feelings. Bullshit.

Why is it alright that, when I was 19 and working at Sam Goody, I was basically fired for being a “trouble-maker” after reporting my ongoing sexual harassment at the hands of my married assistant manager?

Why should I be afraid in my home after reporting an Uber driver who basically held me captive and tried to molest me? Why should I be afraid to call the police on him because he knows where I live?

Why was my first question to my new male roommate, “are you going to rape or murder us?” It was followed by a nervous chuckle, but I was completely serious. This is also why I refuse to date online. Which one of you is handsome? Which one is funny? Which one will tie my roommate and me up and rob us, then murder us in our living room? (Maybe the blonde guy. I’ve never trusted blonde guys.)

Why was I told that I’ll never find a husband if I’m not more ladylike?

Why would I not tell everyone who would listen about Mr Finance (who is also Mr Married) and what he said to me? People wouldn’t want to hire me to write for them because I tattled on the guy who wanted me to blow him for a job? I am many things- passive aggressive, funny, generous, and maybe even nasty at times- but I am not meek. As much as I am ashamed of keeping quiet about this all of these months, it was the natural thing to do. When people advised me not to say anything, I accepted it as quickly as I accept that littering is bad – you don’t throw trash on the ground, and you don’t tell on powerful, misogynistic pigs. Or they will destroy you.

Why, when a guy approaches me at a bar, is “no thank you” not enough? Why do I have to endure moments, hours even, of persistence, annoyance, and insistence? “No thank you” should be ENOUGH. “No, I don’t want your number. No, you can’t have mine. No thanks! No, I don’t have a boyfriend. No, that doesn’t mean I want you to be my boyfriend. Do you even know my name? Nice to meet you, Fred. Still a no. Just trying to have fun with my girlfriends. Oh. I’m a bitch? I’m a cold bitch? You have a good night, too!!”

If a girl isn’t interested, she’s cold, stuck up, a bitch, a tease, a prude. If a guy isn’t interested, a girl should probably go on a crash diet until he is. Right? If a guy shows interest in a girl, she should gratefully accept his attention and beg him to come home with her; if a girl shows interest in a guy, she is desperate, annoying, and emotional. Is this what I’m supposed to think? That if I drink too much, I’m asking for harassment? And if a guy does, he’s just having fun with his buds?

Utter bullshit.

I’m almost 32 years old, and I still jump at late night noises. I still check my closet every night. I still walk my dogs after dark with my keys strategically sticking out of my clenched fist. I carry pepper spray. I keep my phone in my hand during cab rides. I never, ever, go have a cigarette at a bar if I have some beer left in my glass. I am careful- because I was raised, as all women were, to be afraid and wary of men. #YesAllWomen. I guess I just didn’t realize it until now. And none of it is ok.

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” - Margaret Atwood

25 May 2014 ·

LA Women: Part 4

The Over Involved Fan

I head into a convenience store after a long shift at work to pick up a few essentials. Cigarettes, People magazine, some saltines for snacking - the makings of another raucous Friday night at home.

As I place my purchases on the counter, I am lost my own thoughts; mostly wondering what the subject matter will be on the Dateline NBC I have waiting for me on my DVR. A quiet voice interrupts me.

"So, what do you think?"

I realize that the woman at the cash register has asked me a question. I smile. “I’m sorry?”

She points at the People magazine on the counter. A headline blares, “Justin Bieber: Out of Control! Can Anyone Stop Him?”

I am momentarily confused. “I’m sorry, what do I think about…?”

She stares at me intently. “About him.” She gestures at the cover again. “Do you think anyone can stop him?”

I start to giggle, thinking she must be asking sarcastically, perhaps mocking me for wasting money on such drivel. My laughter dies when I see how serious she really is.

"Oh," I stammer, trying to keep a straight face. "Umm…I don’t really know. Maybe?" I take my credit card out, already back to wondering if Keith Morrison will be the narrator of Dateline tonight. I stop when I realize that the woman is still staring at me.

"They say he’s on drugs, you know," she continues. "That his parents are giving him drugs. Can you believe that?"

I pause for a moment, only now hearing the strange acoustic version of Radioactive playing on the speakers. The man in line behind me shuffles his case of beer to his other hand and sighs.

"No, I can’t believe it," I finally say. "It’s very disturbing. Can I also get a pack of Marb Lights?"

The woman turns around to grab the cigarettes, continuing to talk about the tragedy that is unfolding in front of our nation’s eyes. “He’s just so young,” she laments, “and so, so lost. All that money and no one to help him.”

"Yes," I say to her quickly, turning to give the man behind me an exasperated look. "I think he’ll be ok, though."

"I really hope so," the woman says almost sadly. "I truly do."

I slide my credit card, quickly signing the screen. The woman gives the magazine one last longing look before putting it into a bag. “So handsome,” she murmurs.

I take my bag and mumble a quick thank you, shooting one last apologetic look at the man behind me. He ignores me.

As I step out into the chilly night air, I can’t help but hope that Justin Bieber does get the help that he needs - if for no one else than the woman running the register at the convenience store in North Hollywood.

1 February 2014 ·

LA Women: Part 3

"The Entitled Girlfriend*"

*This story is a verbatim account of an exchange that actually happened to me today.  I will not include any physical attributes or details about these people, but know that this REALLY HAPPENED.*

A couple walks in to the gelato shop.  The man walks right up to the case and, without hesitation, announces that he wants a large cup.

"But I only want a tiny bit in it," he explains.  "Really, I just want small scoops."

The cashier looks at him silently for a moment, knowing that the large cup is $7.00 and he should just order a smaller size.  She eventually shrugs and smiles.  ”Sure, what flavors would you like?”

He points to the Stracciatella (sweet cream and chocolate chips).  ”That one.  And reach in there and get me one of those big chips on top.”

The cashier looks at the brand new pan of gelato and grimaces.  There are large chunks of chocolate peppered through the top of the pan, none of which are near the area she is about to scoop from.  ”I’m sorry, I can’t give you a chip, sir,” she says.  ”The top of the gelato is for decoration.”

His girlfriend, silent thus far, perks up.  ”Are you kidding?” she asks.

"No," the cashier replies.  "It’s our policy, and it’s because the top is for decoration.  But anything you see on top is mixed throughout the gelato.  There are chocolate chips all throughout."

The girlfriend just stares at the cashier.  ”You’re not serious?  You can’t just reach in and grab one?”

The cashier sets her mouth in a line.  ”No, I’m sorry,” she says through tight lips.  ”As you can see, all of the gelato looks very nice on top.  It’s for aesthetic reasons.  It’s our policy.”

"I want to speak to your manager," the girlfriend barks.

"I am the manager," the cashier smiles.

The girlfriend smirks.  ”Of COURSE you are,” she sneers.

The cashier turns her attention back to the man.  ”Which other flavors would you like, sir?”  He chooses two more flavors, and repeatedly reminds the cashier that he only wants a small amount.

"Are you sure you don’t want this filled up?" the cashier asks.

"No, we want a big chocolate chip," the girlfriend mutters.

The cashier ignores the woman and hands the cup to the man.  ”Here ya go!” she says cheerfully.  The employee next to her looks at the girlfriend and asks her if she would like anything.

"Not anymore," she replies huffily.  "I won’t give you my business."

The cashier knows that if she remains at the gelato case, she will get into an argument that will cause her to say things she cannot take back.  Before she leaves, she tells the other employee to only charge the man for a small size, since he didn’t really get a lot of gelato and perhaps a small discount would diffuse the situation.  She walks to the back room and takes a few deep breaths.  Seconds later, she hears a raised voice from the cafe.  She rounds the corner to see the girlfriend berating the other employee.

"I will NEVER come here again," she is saying loudly, for the full cafe to hear.  "And I will tell EVERYONE I KNOW to never come here.  And you can tell HER that, too!"

The cashier walks out to the register to see what the commotion is.  She looks at the employee and says, loud enough for the girlfriend to hear, “is she really saying this over a CHOCOLATE CHIP?”  He nods meekly.

The girlfriend turns on her heel and storms out, complaining the whole way.  As the door slams behind her, all of the employees start to laugh.

****************************************************************

I don’t usually comment on these posts, but I feel the need to say something here.  I truly thought this was a joke today.  I could not believe that this woman, not too much older than myself, was throwing an all-out adult tantrum in public because I wouldn’t kowtow to her demands.  

How difficult is this to understand?  A pan of gelato is made so that it sits in the case for a few days and the employees scoop from the back, so that the part that faces the customers always remains beautiful and swirly and decorated.  So that they want to purchase and eat it.  This woman wanted me to dig my fingers into a brand new pan of gelato for her boyfriend to be able to eat a slightly larger piece of chocolate than was already mixed in.  Does this make ANY sense?  I have worked at this place for over 3 years.  I have had many difficult, rude, entitled customers.  I have never, before today, encountered anything as ridiculous and uncalled for as the exchange I had with this woman.

Why would you ever enter an establishment and expect special treatment?  And why would you, upon being told the policies, fight said policies and cause a scene?  Did I ruin this woman’s day?  Because I refused to let her win and her boyfriend only ate the chocolate chips that were swirled into the gelato?  How dare she treat me like that.  How dare anyone treat another human being like that.

This is the problem that I continue to run into in Los Angeles:  People are not used to being told “no.”  It’s pathetic, really.  I allowed this gross human being to ruin my day.  Over a chocolate chip.  Does she feel good about herself?  Is she going to go tell all of her friends what happened?  Because I hope they laugh at her.  She’ll probably tell them I was rude to her.  I wasn’t.  What I wrote above was exactly what happened.  I actually wanted to exaggerate - to include a few things that I wish I’d said.  But I didn’t.  So what will she tell people?  Her peers?  Other grown adults?  ”They won’t give you the stuff on top of the pans - don’t go there!  Meanies!  I want what I want, and I want it NOW, or I’m not going back!  And neither are you!”  Just utterly, pathetically ridiculous.  Her family is probably embarrassed to be seen with her in public if this is how she acts.

Some things I wish I had said to this overgrown 5 year old:

-“You want me to pick up the chocolate chip with my fingers?  Gross.”

-“You want me to ruin a $75 pan of gelato for you?  How nice!”

-“It seems that you’re not very happy here, so I think it’s best if you just leave.”

-“I’m sorry I ruined your day.  I’ll pray for you and your obvious hardships.”

-“I think 7-11 sells chocolate bars, if you have a craving.”

-“You are a disgusting human being, and I hope you’re proud of yourself that you just yelled at a bunch of underpaid ice cream scoopers because we didn’t let you have your way.”

-“Hey, man - I know you’ve been standing there silently, and I would never condone this phrase for any other human on the planet - but I think you’d better CHECK YO BITCH.”

But I’m the manager.  (“Of COURSE you are.”)  So I walked away.  And this woman will walk around, telling people how awful we are and writing yelp reviews and getting us into trouble with our owners.  Over a chocolate chip.  Time to reevaluate, folks.  If this is the biggest problem in your life, you’ve got it pretty great.  The biggest problem in my life is that my roommates don’t do the dishes, and I still manage to make it though the week without yelling at food service workers.  Perspective is key.  Maybe next time, I’ll give her the gelato for free instead of discounted (bet you forgot that part, huh?) and tell her to take her money and go grab a pint of ice cream from Ralph’s.  I recommend the Extra Chocolate Chip.  

4 December 2013 ·

Independent Woman

Hey ladies! Us single gals have to stick together, am I right, or am I right?? Occasionally, something will happen to reaffirm that I’m loving my single-gal status. (Besides cosmos and girl talk, right ladies?!)

For example, I know us single-superstars enjoy an occasional “midnight snack.” (Wink wink, girls!!) Some of us even keep a supply next to our beds. For some women, it’s a collection of “toys.” For others, a racy novel. For me, it’s chips and salsa.

See, if I had a boyfriend, I could never stay up super late scrolling through the Twitter feeds of all of MTV’s Teen Moms in the dark. I could never decide, at 2am, to roll over and grab the chips and salsa I had purchased earlier from Poquito Mas.

Ladies, I know you’re with me when I say I’m glad I don’t have a grumpy guy trying to sleep next to me on nights like tonight, so I don’t have to worry about how loud my chewing is! I can even move around on the bed, trying to position my iPad to better read what utter nonsense Jenelle Evans is tweeting about!! And then when I get so enthralled with Twitter and accidentally knock the lid to the salsa on the floor, I can keep reading without fearing I’ve woken my man from his slumber!!

And then I can dip a chip into the salsa with such force that the salsa begins spilling down my arm.

And then I can use said chip to try to sop up the salsa running down my arm.

And then, when that doesn’t work, I can shrug to myself and continue eating as thick salsa falls on to my sheets.

And then, once satisfied, I can stand up to clean myself off and knock the bag of chips to the floor, spilling them everywhere.

And then, I can drop the plastic container holding the last dregs of salsa on the floor while trying to stop my frantic dog from eating his weight in tortilla chips.

And then I can turn on the light to survey the damage and forget all about the salsa until my eyes fall on the large spot on my sheets.

And then I can go into my bathroom to grab a towel while my dog licks salsa off the wall.

And then, once I wash my arms- surgeon-style- wet a towel, finish cleaning up the chips, and start scrubbing at the stain on my bed, I realize that I have to be up for work in 4 hours.

So I can just lay the towel down over the stain and climb into bed.

I could never do any of that with a boyfriend!!

I had to wash my sheets anyways. You never know who could come along when you’re a sexy single gal, right ladies??

9 July 2013 ·

"He was deep into hip hop."

This is something that has been discussed and picked apart ad nauseum whenever some wack-a-doo kills someone.  What was their motivation?  Did they play video games?  Were they violent video games?  That must be why so-and-so shot up that elementary school!  He played Call of Duty!  

This is especially bothering me when it comes to the Boston bombers.  TMZ (I know, it’s not exactly the New Yorker) has been posting stories about the bombers’ pasts, trying to do their part to educate the public on these men’s lives before they became the most hated people in America.  This was a story they posted today:

—————————

—-Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a big fan of “Breaking Bad" … praising the show for teaching him how to dispose of corpses. 

Since his capture Friday … a lot of information is surfacing about the 19-year-old Chechan college student who helped mastermind a deadly attack on the Boston Marathon and led police on a massive manhunt. 

Turns out Dzhokhar was a fan of violent TV shows  … in particular “Game of Thrones" and "Breaking Bad.”

He tweeted earlier this year … “Breaking Bad taught me how to dispose of a corpse.” 

As TMZ previously reported, his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan — who was killed by cops during the manhunt — was deep into hip hop. 

Dzhokhar remains in police custody, in serious condition and unable to speak.—-

———————————-

Ok.  Let’s discuss this, shall we?  Breaking Bad is an amazing show, probably one of the best shows in the history of television.  It is not a show that I would consider to be overly violent, but we are a desensitized culture, so others may disagree with me.  On a scale of Full House to The Wire in terms of violence and gore, I’d rate Breaking Bad at around a Lost.  Did that make a lick of sense?  Anyways, Breaking Bad has had a few iconic scenes - SPOILER ALERT - in one of the series’ first episodes (and again, in an episode last season), two of the main characters dispose of a dead body by dissolving it in acid.  This was supposed to be a nod to the main character’s knowledge of chemistry and to show the audience that he was in over his head - and yes, it was gory, but it wasn’t done in a sensationalistic way.  It fit with the storyline of the show.

My issue is this: What does this have to do with the Boston bombers?  It seems to me that TMZ is searching for something, anything to blame for these men’s actions.  I don’t think this one fits.  Dzhokhar had a twitter page that TMZ must have combed through to find this tweet - and I say that because, as I said, the “body disposal” plot happened 5 years ago…and then again last July.  So it wasn’t as if this guy was typing this last week.  

Also, these guys are/were fucking maniacs, that much is obvious - but they didn’t “dispose of any bodies,” so what does this have to do with ANYTHING?  He tweeted that to be a creep, probably over a year ago.  (I do not know this for a fact, because I have no desire to look at this psycho’s tweets, but that’s what I assume based on when the show aired.)

TMZ also asserts that the older brother was “deep into hip hop.”  So is Gwyneth Paltrow, and I don’t think she’s murdered anything but a few of her Goop-reader’s braincells.  

I know that people want answers.  I get that people want to wrap everything up with a neat little bow and crucify the entertainment industry for influencing normal people to do awful things.  But that just isn’t the case.  My roommate watches Game of Thrones, and she has never tried to murder me with a medieval sword (that I know of).  I personally love horror movies and reading anything and everything about serial killers- but I also ran over a cat once and pulled over to cry for 15 minutes.  Maybe if I listen to more rap music, my inner psychopath will finally come out and I can go on a murderous rampage.

While I don’t have articles and scientific facts to back me up, I have read enough to believe that evil is not made; it is born.  There are, of course, isolated incidents where there may be brainwashing or torture involved until someone breaks.  But I do believe that most people are inherently good.  Others are born with something missing.  This is why you hear about children killing animals at a young age as being a warning sign.  There is something wired incorrectly in their brains.  I am, in no way, making excuses for them or saying they have an “illness.”  They ARE sick, but there is help out there and not everyone who has sociopathic tendencies goes out and shoots up a movie theater.  If every person who played Call of Duty, or watched The Dark Knight, went on a killing spree, we’d have a much larger problem on our hands.

There are so many variables and factors that can lend to an outcome such as the Boston bombing.  Environment, upbringing, religious beliefs (yes, I went there) - but even before their shitty childhoods or their associations with well known terrorist groups, there is something missing.  There is enough to digest here without bringing musical taste and favorite television shows into it.  This is not a myspace profile.  And I do not believe that anything would have been different if one bomber had watched less Game of Thrones, or the other one had listened to less Eminem, so let’s stop with all that.



22 April 2013 ·

Look For The Helpers

The Boston Marathon bombing earlier this week has been weighing heavily on my mind, as I’m sure it has been for most people.  I find myself going to watch a tv show or check a website, and instead, getting sucked in to videos and news coverage about the victims for hours.  I’m scared, you guys.  I’m scared and angry and sad.  So very sad.  

I remember sitting in history class as a child, reading about past wars and bombings.  It all seemed so intangible and foreign:  the photos of children having bomb drills in classrooms, the shelters people set up, the fear in their faces.  I felt safe.  I was too young to grasp what was happening in the Gulf War.  I don’t really remember the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.  I saw images of the Oklahoma City bombing, but it was so far away and I was only 13 at the time.  I never quite understood the horrors of the world.  I felt safe.

Now, I don’t feel safe anymore.  The world is a different place now, and it’s horrifying.  There is so much evil in this world, and it’s not only coming from one group anymore.  People can’t feel safe at the movies anymore.  Parents can’t be sure their children will come home from school unscathed.  Going to work can be dangerous.  And now even running a marathon on a gorgeous day in the company of thousands of people can be a death sentence.  

I know that I am afraid, but I also know that I cannot live in fear.  My fear has been outweighed by heart-swelling pride as I watch footage of the aftermath of this most recent tragedy.  That scene looked horrifically traumatizing for even those who were uninjured.  Blood and limbs strewn everywhere, people screaming and dazed  - like the front lines in a war over seas, not a sunny street in historic Boston.  Those civilians and first responders who leaped into action within seconds of the blast are heroes, and it truly is a beautiful thing to behold in the midst of all that horror.  Regular folks putting themselves in danger to help complete strangers, most likely saving people’s lives through their swift actions.    

I only wish that this kind of togetherness, support, and love would be prevalent every day, and not just when tragedies occur.  Maybe if people were a little nicer and reached out to other human beings rather than judging and bullying, we would have less horror in the world.  

There are many relief funds set up for the people affected by the marathon bombings, but I have selected a few that spoke to me.  I will post them here.  Please give a few dollars - you can buy that new outfit or new iPhone in a few weeks.  These people’s lives will never be the same, and most of them will have to deal with extremely expensive prosthetics once they get through surgeries and rehabilitation.  It’s a small way of helping, but sometimes it’s the only way when you can’t physically be there.  All of these people’s stories are on their pages - click to read about them.  

-Support Jeff Baumen: http://www.gofundme.com/Support-Jeff-Bauman

-Support Martin Richard’s family: http://richardfamilyfund.org/

-Support Celeste and Sydney:  http://www.gofundme.com/CelesteandSydney

-Support Patrick and Jessica Downes:  http://www.gofundme.com/2mj2i8

-Fund set up by Massachusetts Governor and Boston Mayor for those who need it most:  http://onefundboston.org/

-Fund set up by Boston’s first responders:  https://www.bosfirecu.com/page.php?page=246

—As I wrote this, I had the news on.  In the midst of updates about bombing suspects and the horrific situation in Texas, a breaking news report cut in.  Hollywood Boulevard has been shut down for blocks because a man has walked into a restaurant screaming that he has an explosive device strapped to his chest.  Fucking STOP IT.  Stop it, you insane lunatics.  Someone else called in a bomb threat to Cal State earlier today.  Knock it off.  This has never been funny, and is certainly not funny right now.  People are losing their lives, their limbs, and their loved ones.  STOP IT.

18 April 2013 ·

Hey There

You'll remember me as your favorite drinking buddy who knows ridiculously specific information about A-Z list celebrities.