I am not sure how much more we can all take, those of us that want and expect decency to prevail in this Upside-Down we are in right now. It’s all so gradual, right? I mean, everything that’s happening may not have really touched you or a person you love yet. You have health insurance from your employer. You are in good health. You are not an immigrant. You are not a Muslim. Or brown, for that matter. Or a woman.
But there’s going to be a time when a category rolls around that hits you. Because they are gunning for everyone that is not rich and white and male.
The Republicans of the House of Representatives, save 20, voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act today. They have passed the American Health Care Act, which will leave millions of people without access to medical insurance coverage. It also guts Medicaid. While this bill would still have to go to the Senate, to committee, back to the House, blah blah blah before it passes, the point is: Republicans cracked open a few cold ones to celebrate making dying for millions of people a more affordable option than paying for health care.
So I hope that goes down realllly smooth for ya, fuckers. Come on back home to your constituents. We are waiting for you. If you want a class war, you might just get it. The poor, the elderly, the women, the immigrants, we are all waiting for you. Come back and face us at town halls. Come back and hear more of the complaints that you’ve been hearing for months, except now they will be louder. More vehement. More desperate. If you didn’t like it when women cried at your town halls or children questioned you, prepare yourselves.
I mean, what difference does it make? You’re winning, right? That’s what matters.
For everyone who is empathetic out there – for those of us who know in a short time, we too will feel the long poking stick of GOP “justice” and “freedom” – man your battle stations. The sound in the distance is sirens. If you have just been thinking all of this is a bad dream, now is the time to wake the fuck up. There are elections for mayors and city council places happening right now. Get educated about the candidates. Vote. Write letters. Use Resistbot. Run for office. Do anything except think this is all going to go away. Do anything except wait for someone else to save this particular princess, that statuesque lady in the Harbor that other countries used to look toward in order to find safety.
It happens gradually. The Death Star wasn’t built in a day.
Oh hey, are you reading this? Then my guess is you, too, are no stranger to disappointment or depression. Are you human? Alright then. We’ve all been there – you got some less-than-good news, you had a bit of a soul-crushing defeat, someone you love has left you in one way or another – your friends see that you’ve put on a fucking smile anyway and then you know, you still gotta pay the stupid car insurance and go to work and buy toilet paper. How do we keep going? There are many answers to this complex question, and while I am a big fan in recent years of really feeling all the feels and figuring out why I feel the way I do and what, if any, action I can take, there are days when you just have to slap a motherfucking band-aid on that shit and say to life “WHAT ELSE.”
While you may really need that band-aid, I propose the theory that there is one thing that is that, but maybe more: Music.
Music can get you out of a mood, put you in a mood, cause you to explore that mood, or shut out everything in your life that is just not a thing you can deal with right the fuck now. As I blasted The Cult’s “Love Removal Machine” on the way to work this morning, I followed it with Deftones, Marilyn Manson, and Pantera just to get some fucking anger out of the way. We all have our own thing. There will be a moment in the next 48 hours in which I will probably sit bawling in my car to OH YOU FUCKING NAME IT, because my Spotify is filled with shit that will make you cry. (Of course, when the dance-able joy of New Order’s “1963” makes me get teary, it doesn’t take much. Lyrics can hit me in the breadbasket.)
What I am trying to say is that for me, music is a key that can unlock numerous doors, or lock them back up if need be. Sometimes you don’t know exactly what you need until that perfect song hits you. There are other times where you know that if you roll all the windows down and turn up the volume, you’ll be allowed, in that space, to feel exactly what you need to feel.
Turn up the volume. Either way, that guy next to you at the light totally wins.
There are, at last census in 2010, 157 million women in America.
There are 151 million men.
Now. Men who are reading, this, let this next bit sink in: Every third woman you know has been sexually harassed, assaulted or raped in her lifetime. Maybe all three.
Every. Third. Woman.
And believe it or not, there are women out there who don’t consider assault, assault. On NPR this morning, I heard a woman who is a Trump supporter say “well, if they do (grab you,etc), just punch them in the face.” You know. Like we do, ladies! Never fear, I am sure that will work out OK for you 100% of the time!
But just because you punch someone as a retort to their assault, THE ORIGINAL ACTION IS STILL ASSAULT. Your response to it doesn’t change what it technically is. It is sexual harassment. It is sexual assault. For every time a guy has slapped or groped our ass, or touched us without consent, brushed up too close to our breasts on purpose, or for fuck’s sake grabbed us by the pussy, it’s harassment or assault. And I want to be the 100,000th woman to chime in on the rant regarding what the Republican Presidential nominee has called “locker-room talk”: You are a fucking delusional asshole predator, Donald Drumph, and you and your entire tribe need to be denounced so loudly, so forcefully, that the entire world can hear and feel it.
I have worked in a male-dominated industry for over 20 years, and with that, have had my share of experiences ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault. I have had experiences outside of work as well – at the club, on public transportation, hell, walking down the street. I’ll put it to you in a somewhat self-deprecating manner – I am no extraordinary woman. I am, simply, a woman. Which leads many men to believe they have the right to do whatever the fuck they want, because they are stronger/superior/more powerful. And if you are not one of those men, then bravo for you.
If nothing else, this shitstorm of an election in this apocalyptic hellscape that is our American Politics has brought forth a discussion. A discussion that, right the fuck now, we cannot let men define. Just take a look at the numbers of responses writer Kelly Oxford received on Twitter when she asked women to tweet about their own experiences with sexual assault. She received over one million separate stories.
For here is what happens when we let men define what sexual assault is or is not:
“I don’t characterize [grabbing a woman by the genitals] as sexual assault. I think that’s a stretch.” – Jeff Sessions (R – AL)
“Rape is kinda like the weather. If it’s inevitable, relax and enjoy it.” – Clayton Williams (R – TX)
“If a woman has [the right to an abortion], why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.” – Lawrence Lockman (R – ME)
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that thing down.” – Todd Akin (R – MO)
“FARENTHOLD: I’m not here to defend Donald Trump. I don’t like what he said, but …
HAYES: If a tape came out with Donald Trump saying that – if a tape came out with Donald Trump saying that, saying “I really like to rape women,” you would continue to endorse him.
FARENTHOLD: Again, it would, I — that would be bad, and I would have to consider – I’d consider it. But again, we’re talking about what Donald Trump said 10 years ago as opposed to what Hillary Clinton has done in the past two or three years.” – Blake Farenthold (R-Texas).
So you know, just guys talking about “conquests“, haha, just banter, just words. And to the co-worker who strolls in my office and says “well, is what he said really any worse than what Hillary Clinton has done?” YES, MOTHERFUCKER, YES. Because even though I am no raving fan of the Clintons and their Underwoodian lifestyle, I will stop you right there and say YES. It is worse. All of the things Your Precious Donald has said – his insults of Mexicans, of Muslims, of disabled persons, of veterans or prisoners of war – they are all reprehensible, all despicable, all disgusting. But with this last tape, you’ve just managed to target the majority of wheelhouses in the country. And this is why we must take our power now, stand up and define what is sexual assault. Do not let this orange, ill-fitted-suit-wearing predator and his lackeys define it. Because it is, quite simply, #notokay.
Here’s the deal, y’all: We don’t need your fucking “words“. Your words – just like your actions – mean everything and nothing to us all at once.
Disclaimer: If you usually come here looking for laughs, you might find a few in this post, but you might find it more poignant. If you hate poignant, you might want to just roll out now. I can’t give you everything.
I decided that after years of neglect and basically just throwing all things I wanted to avoid into our garage, it would be a good idea to rethink that philosophy and try to get in there and clean it. I thought about this for 8 years. That’s right. EIGHT.
This was, undeniably, a task I did not want to tackle. It seemed insurmountable. I mean, I had successfully avoided the Garage Issue for a long time. Because honestly, as soon as we moved into this house we immediately turned the garage into The Land That Time Forgot. You could technically move around in there, but not well or without difficulty. It was filled with useless stuff. Oh, did you need a double vanity with a granite top? What about a power washer? Perhaps I can interest you in a smoke machine? It was a cornucopia of shit on which we could have made a fortune on Craigslist.
But as I said, this shit was daunting, and it wasn’t just a bunch of big weird stuff, there was plenty small stuff as well. SO MANY NUTS AND BOLTS. Just strewn everywhere. So messy and dust-laden and spider-filled. “Let me in there,” my spirit called out. “Fuck you,” answered my weary heart. Until one day. One beautiful day in a Texas July like no other July. We had a streak of cool weather (and I mean waaaaay cooler than normal) and I just bit the bullet, opened the garage door, and stared at things.
I think I stared at everything for 10 minutes. Then something in my brain said, well, nothing’s going to happen if you just keep staring at it. And thus, I began.
It really amounted to throwing almost all of it away. And by “away”, I mean I set all that shit out on the curb. I started, and then my husband joined me later that weekend in Project Free Prizes for Neighbors. We had people there looking through our stuff as soon as we set it out. And honestly, that made me happier than any amount of money Craigslist could have ever brought me. 1) It was gone RIGHT THEN and 2) someone wanted it, they got it. For free. That’s great for them, and all we had to do was walk down the driveway with it. I gathered and organized much of the nut-screw-bolt situation we had going on, placed it on shelves that made sense. I organized the boxes of Yule decorations I wanted to keep. Shit was clean-ish, y’all! I felt a huge sense of not just accomplishment, but a true sense of weight being lifted. I declared to anyone who would listen that it was perhaps the greatest thing I have ever done. It felt THAT GOOD.
I have been successfully parking in my garage ever since, and while there’s still work to be done, it’s leaps and bounds better than it was.
It’s not hard for any of you to read between the lines of metaphor. But for those of you who are musing to yourselves “ok your garage is clean, welcome to being an adult and not living like a fucking hoarder” I say: It’s bigger than that. Way. It’s taken 8 years for me to deal with the crippling obstacle that was my garage. That doesn’t seem like very long when you compare it with the lifetime of other shit I had successfully (or not) avoided in LIFE. I avoided it at an extremely functional level as far as your little eyes could perceive. The twisted beauty of a garage is that as long as you keep the door closed, no one really has any idea of what kind of mess is behind it. I treated my own person much like that garage: Just a void where I pushed away anything I thought didn’t matter. What a shocker when I realized that it actually mattered very much. I avoided by drinking. I numbed by taking meds because they helped me be “even.” I comforted myself with the all-encompassing fuzzy blanket sewn with the Love of Other People’s Problems. I CREATED A LIFE AROUND ALL OF THIS. And I woke up every day with my first utterances being angry, hate-filled, woe-is-me-isms. Good times, y’all. Good fucking times.
Fast forward, and skipping all the therapy and delving and soul-searching (because hey, that shit never ends, we can talk about that ANY time):
It has been over 6 months since I’ve had a drink.
It has been over 8 months since I’ve taken prescription medication.
I AM NOT LOOKING FOR YOUR PRAISE. This is what has worked for me. It is my experience. It is not everyone’s. And while I can be proud of myself, I’m not special. I am just like everyone else, with my own issues and ways of dealing with them. But that’s just it, isn’t it: I’m dealing with them. Not just pushing it into a hidden space.
I wish I could say they have been the BEST MONTHS OF MY LIFE EVER, and while they have been infinitely better than many times in my life, I’ve been raw, vulnerable, and without any door to fucking hide behind. It is uncomfortable. It is sometimes painful. It is, at all times, awkward and surprising and immobilizing and unfathomable, and a giant dichotomy inside my brain that I mostly don’t have any way to resolve. And that is why two words are the only ones that can make any sense to me most of the time:
Because hanging on is for suckers.
I guess now everyone gets to find out who I really am without that door hiding the mess. Including me.
Should be fun, and I’m really not saying that sarcastically at all. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. And, more than anything, I am completely cognizant that it took all the other experiences to get here. I am grateful for every single minute that has led me to where I am, for a garage that I’m not scared to be in, and a door that’s open for perhaps the first time.
So last night, a really disturbing scenario unfolded as I tried to enjoy delicious Indian food at a fine local establishment.
While already seated with my friend, a couple walked into the restaurant with a small dog. The small dog had a large tag on, and it had the appearance of a luggage tag. I’ve seen these before and recognized it as possibly a service animal. I could not tell from observing the couple what the dog was doing as far as service, but that doesn’t matter – I don’t go by outward appearances and I’m fine with a service animal anywhere and pretty much everywhere (maybe not in the wading pool at a spa, but also, if it’s necessary, I probably would not lose my shit. Dogs are awesome, especially service dogs.)
My friend and I continued to enjoy our delicious meal, chatting all the while, until suddenly there was quite a commotion at the table with the dog. I didn’t see exactly what happened, but from the angry way the man was speaking and the calm, rational tone the server was using, I ascertained that something was amiss with his meal. Upon further “discussion”, the man began yelling – I mean YELLING for the check, and the restaurant got very quiet. Apparently, the couple had put a CHINA PLATEFUL OF DELICIOUS INDIAN FOOD ON THE CARPETED FLOOR and proceeded to feed the dog with it. When the server asked the couple politely to not do that as it was a health violation, the guy got furious. He spoke to the server quite aggressively, and another patron of the restaurant came over to defend the servers and said that it was not necessary to treat the servers in the manner that the service-dog-man was treating them. The couple with the dog got the check and left angrily.
Later on, another table closer to us was getting ready to pay the check and leave. But before they left, they let the servers know that they had lost 3 more customers because they didn’t allow the dog to eat off the plate. In the restaurant. Where people eat. They were also pretty rude to these poor servers who had done nothing untoward and had never raised their voices (oh, and hey, it was their freaking restaurant.) This other table of people just insisted that they should have let the dog eat and then thrown their china away.
Do not get me wrong. Both me and my friend are avid dog lovers, rescuers, and advocates of animals in general. However. I draw the fucking line at so many things in this scenario. SO. MANY.
1) This restaurant did not refuse the couple and actually can’t by law refuse them if the dog is indeed a service dog. They also can’t ask, and didn’t, whether or not the dog is a service dog, which, alright. Understood. They CAN ask if the dog is needed for a disability and what type of work for which the dog is trained. These servers took the couple on good faith that the dog was a service dog.
2) According to Texas law, the dog must be controlled by the owner at all times. This dog did wander the restaurant on more than one occasion. The couple was not asked to leave. I also verified with several people I know who have extensive knowledge of service dogs that these dogs usually don’t eat OR wander while working. Service dogs usually sit quietly directly next to the owner and don’t really move at all.
3) Apart from the issue that feeding your dog Indian food might not be a logical choice for the dog’s digestion, there is nothing in the law that states whether you can or cannot feed the dog – however, the plate did not belong to the dog owner, and as far as I’m concerned if the servers asked for that action to cease politely and courteously, the couple could have either complied or paid and left. They did the latter, but angrily and not without insult to servers who were merely looking out for the other patrons and for their property.
3) What the fuck ever to the table of angry people who clearly go about their lives eating off the same plates as their dogs and throwing their Flora Danica in the trash like common refuse. First of all, they can feel however they want, but ultimately, this is not their circus, not their monkeys, and definitely not their restaurant. What level of apology does the server or restaurant owner owe to these people? We’re sorry your experience was unpleasant. Which is what these ladies did, and did it with class. Yet, the table of people would not let it go. It was just…a shitty way to treat others. And completely unnecessary. I realize everyone wants to shout their opinions from a mountaintop these days, but seriously folks, you could have just left. I’m glad I know you are batshit crazy now. So glad.
I know this post is without my usual humor so far, but here’s where I lose my logical, calm demeanor.
DOGS DON’T EAT IN FUCKING RESTAURANTS, YO. THEY ARE DOGS.
I don’t have a problem with your dog being here, sitting quietly, under a table. You know, under your control. I don’t have a problem with your dog eating leftovers out of a styrofoam container directly outside the restaurant. I DO have a problem with you being fucking disrespectful when a business owner asks you to stop an action they perceive as distracting or non-compliant. I also have a problem with your dog wandering about this classy joint. We’re not on a patio. And even if we were, how do you know if I do or do not have a fear of or allergy to dogs? It is just disrespectful to treat this establishment as you would, say, your living room.
I love dogs. I love people. I firmly side with the restaurant. They had every right to ask the couple to not feed the dog in the restaurant off of their plate. They had every right to act calmly and be assertive when it came to their business. This couple was completely out of line.
That being said, I will be taking everyone I know to this restaurant to make up for the customers they may have lost due to THIS INDIAN RESTAURANT NOT BEING YOUR HOUSE.
And now, one of my all-time favorite memes from the interwebs:
This will be brief. But first, enjoy your many flowers and chocolates on this most holy of fake days. I’M HIGH ON LIFE AND DON’T NEED GIFTS.
Now that we’ve established my superiority in the face of a table full of ridiculous confections, let’s talk about why you people feel the need to be on the same side of my desk as I am. I’d like to point out a few things:
I keep it dark in my office on purpose. It is not only much more soothing than giant-ass fluorescent lights, it is to KEEP YOU OUT.
I keep it approximately 85 degrees in my office on purpose. It is not only much more soothing than the 60 degrees the office normally is, it is also designed to KEEP YOU OUT.
The space heater is firmly planted in between me and your path to get to me. Why you feel the need to step directly over it and talk to me is beyond my comprehension. WHY HAVEN’T YOUR ANKLES CAUGHT FIRE YET??
Look, I like many of you. But today and every day, I’d like you to respect my area. There is about a 4 to 5-foot diameter in which people who are not my close friends or my husband should see and actually FEEL. I am trying to push you away with my mind. It’s not because I dislike you. It’s because no one has taught you not to be that person. Please consider this a lesson. You are most welcome.