I am “Other”

I experience acts of racist stupidity on an infrequent basis enough to lull me into a false sense of security, but frequently enough to remind me that I belong in the Other category. The category where I have to defend my nationality and citizenship, despite being born in this country. The category that involves putting up with people who assume that I am a perpetual foreigner in my own home country.

Your English is so good. What’s your real name? How do you say this in Vietnamese? Have you ever been back? What are you? Where are you really from? I really love phở! You’re so exotic looking.

In the land of suburbia, people of color are outnumbered by White people. This leads to POC being some sort of weird novelty or “exotic” by stupid racist people’s terms. These questions are weirdly personal for someone to immediately ask upon meeting them. Regardless on how personal the questions are, they are ridiculous things to ask of someone. Do you ask these questions if the person is White?

Coming back to a question of “Have you ever gone back?” What are you trying to imply? There is no going back to. I was born in this country. I cannot physically go back into my mother’s womb. 

Of course, we all know what the question really means. It basically means, you are not of here and what spit of land did you crawl from?

I have gone to Vietnam and during the entire three weeks I spent there I felt mostly absolute misery. My body made for harsh East Coast winters and little sunshine was not built for the humid tropics. 

Being gawked at by my relatives like I was a zoo animal on display was not high on my list of things I want to do. I was pale and covered in mosquito bites. My twelve year old self towered over all of the grown women there. I spoke in terribly American accented Vietnamese.

The constant guilt of living in a developed nation things like like hot water and freedom of speech did not ease any anxiety I had. Food poisoning, skin reactions, and being eaten alive by mosquitoes added more to the DO NOT WANT list.

I felt mute in a country where the secret police still existed. My terrible Vietnamese limited any sort of communication I had with anyone. I felt isolated. My English speaking cousins did not understand my need to not be constantly stimulated by constant yelling. There was no such thing as quiet. I was on edge and ready to snap from the nonstop noise.

I may have been too young to appreciate the experience but I hated it. So yes, I have gone back and it was terrible.

I did not belong in Vietnam and I am reminded that I am not welcomed here either.

#YesAllWomen

Trigger warning: Abuse, violence against women, misogyny

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Your attempts at compliments and pick-up lines are lame (and gross)

Yes, this is yet another post on the depths of how disgusting misogyny is. The disregard these boys have towards women is abysmal. Real men have respect towards women and stop any behavior and comments that make them uncomfortable and unsafe. In all honesty, all people should learn to not be complete asshats to anyone. However, in the real world the boys shit on women the most and have the power in this patriarchal society. Women are human beings with thoughts and feelings, not these prizes to be won.

There is very little consideration as a result of male privilege that their behavior towards women makes them feel uncomfortable and/or unsafe. In a past summer class on race, class, and gender the professor did an informal poll on how everyone stayed safe at night when alone. All the women chimed in on their various methods of self-defense ranging from keeping keys between their knuckles, pepper spray, avoiding any place that isn’t well-lit, and so on. The few guys in the class (the program consisted of mostly women) were surprised on our need to use these methods to feel safe, because that is the unfortunate reality of being a woman. Or it never crossed their mind that this is what women feel like that have to do to feel safe. I realize this is not a good sample with mostly women and guys, but there is plenty of research that supports the notion that women are more vulnerable to physical and sexual assault

Men in general typically do not have to worry about sexual harassment on a regular basis. There are periods when a woman can feel safe and secure in herself, and then it all comes crashing down when she gets catcalled by someone with nothing better to do. This is a woman’s reality. I’m not saying it happens all the time on a schedule, but this is something women learned as a result of dealing with one too many brushes with gross boys. Unfortunately, results vary on how these asshole react when they are called out on their behavior, but the consensus is that they react poorly. Women are left with the choice of being forced to feel uncomfortable or risk being attacked for “provoking” their harasser. The safest option is usually to keep quiet and not engage, but it would feel SO satisfying to tell him off.

A recent incident I dealt with was with a fairly regular customer. I never thought of him to belong to the category of gross dickheads that hit on me at work, but he proved me wrong. He dropped off an order to be picked up in an hour. I asked for his phone number in case I needed to contact him about his order, and he let out this lovely bit:

“Oh, it’s usually me asking for the girl’s number not the other way around.”

One, that was lame but I brushed it off since the guy is pretty cheesy. Still inappropriate, but I’ve heard worse (an unfortunate fact in itself).

Upon pick-up and payment he goes on to say that he appreciates the good work the department does. I thank him for his genuinely kind words until he opens his mouth again with this zinger:

“Most of the time I come here to see you.”

Ew. There is no mistaking from his tone that he was not joking and that he does not see me as a human being, but as some kind of prize at the end.

Again, inappropriate when this is supposed to be a professional interaction. I’m fucking engaged and my ring is an obvious indication of that commitment. I’m paid to be nice to you and I’m not allowed to school you on how much of a despicable human being you are to me right now. Finally, I’m so damn disappointed that you had to be “that guy.”

Frogman does not approve of your nonsense

What’s in my bag

I have a weird guilty pleasure of the What’s in My Bag tag that is all over YouTube and tumblr. I don’t know why I like knowing this useless information and insight in that person’s life. Maybe it goes back to my love of bags and the endless quest to find the perfect one. But whatever, you’re just here because you’re as weird and nosy as me and want to see the goods. Fine!

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My new bag that I got on eBay. It is the Coach Legacy Chelsea Carryall in Port. This is my first designer bag that I actively use and I would not have bought it otherwise unless I had my tax refund.

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The insides.

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The contents of my bag (left to right): a grey bag that came with my Warby Parker glasses that I use for tampons, Coach Legacy zippy wallet, 2 pens, little pouch with a couple stones for luck, Middlesex (always carry a book with me at all times), moleskine journal, iPhone charger, travel pill box (vitamin D, ibuprofen, and benedryl), post-its, work schedule, L’Occitane cherry blossom hand cream, tissues, hand sanitizer, pouch from Clinique freebie (mints, band-aids, and bobby pins), make-up bag from Sephora freebie.

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The insides of the makeup bag: blotting papers, 3 lipsticks, compact mirror, Burt’s Bees chapstick, and Aquaphor for the days when your lips are super chapped and gross.

This thing called manipulation and abuse

Upon recent events concerning prominent YouTubers engaging in abuse and manipulative behaviors towards vulnerable teenagers (at times were still minors when these events took place), I was not entirely sure how to react nor what to say. I commend the support the Tumblr and YouTube community has given to the victims and continuing discussion concerning sexual assault, rape, emotional and sexual abuse, and consent. This is a conversation that is necessary.

THIS IS A SUPER LONG POST! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED:

Trigger warning: abuse, sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, manipulation.

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Black Friday is the bane of all retail employee’s existance

I hold an unhealthy grudge against those who choose to shop on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. In all honesty I only volunteered for the Thanksgiving overnight shift because I would then not have to wake up at some ungodly hour in the morning for Black Friday. The extra holiday pay is really not worth cutting my once guaranteed day off from the corporate. And by day off having the entire 24 hours not being required to go to work like a day off should be.

I’m going to let you in on a not so much a secret about most Black Friday deals you supposedly get for all of those coveted and discounted electronic items y’all are vying for.

  1. It’s glorified clearance because the newer models are soon to be released, so retailers need to clear out room for the new stock.
  2. The “new” items are actually made out of cheaper and/or poorer quality parts, so it’s more likely to fail sooner and therefore forcing you to spend more on repairs or a replacement.

Don’t bitch about all of the sale items being snatched up. That was the point to draw you into the store. It is not my fault that we were only given a small number of the doorbuster items. No, I cannot pull a laptop or tablet out of my bum.

In all honesty I don’t think risking violent trampling, stabbings, mentally unstable people wielding dangerous objects and whatnot are not worth it for an off-brand TV that may possibly explode in a couple weeks. And I would hope that you were at least nice to the retail zombies who were all exhausted from dealing with crazed greedy people. Don’t hold it against them if they were less than enthused. How cheerful would you be if you just worked from 8 PM to 2 AM Thanksgiving night and then 1 PM to 9 PM Black Friday? You would be damn exhausted too.

Meanwhile I’ll take my exhausted retail slave self and safely buy things online in my yoga pants. No need to put on real pants or fight for parking here. I do not fear that the delivery people will not stab me because I got a new shiny toy.

The value of terrible music

As of late I have been reliant on Pandora for my background music needs when I write and do homework.

I have been described by a good friend of mine as a hipster when it comes to my tastes in music and movies. Once I actually said, “Oh it’s a cover of ‘Moon Over Bourbon Street’ by this Korean indie band.” I said that as if it was the most natural and normal thing to say. He responded appropriately by telling me that was the most hipster sentence he’s ever heard. This friend is like my shoulder devil telling me to stop being a hipster and to keep me in check the next time I roll my eyes at someone’s terrible taste in entertainment. I recently told him this tidbit and he’s never felt so honored to be someone’s shoulder devil.

However when I know I need to get shit done I listen to 90’s pop music. I do love 90’s pop but in retrospect, I only really enjoy it for the catchy beat and nostalgia. Most of the lyrics are vapid and lack any sort of meaning, but damn I love me some Backstreet Boys and ‘NSYNC. The occasional bit of “good music” does pop up in my dedicated Backstreet Boys and ‘NSYNC Pandora stations, but most of the stuff that comes up is on a rotational loop. Sometimes you just need catchy, familiar music from childhood to get your bum into pumping out a 10 page paper reiterating information you just learned an hour ago.

Starting to hope again

Without going into too much detail, this year has been rough. I’ve had a string of very terrible things happen to me in succession as soon as  March started. The best way to really describe the whole ordeal is quoting John Green, “the marks humans leave are too often scars.”

On top of personal issues and being re-traumatized by past events, my job hunt was not going well. I knew I needed to get out of retail for the sake of my sanity. And after ze fiance quit the place, I knew there was hope that escaping that God forsaken store was possible. But weeks turned into months and any sort of hope and motivation was dwindling. My soul was being sucked away by the fluorescent lighting as I fought with uncooperative Xerox machines and customers who fail to understand the instructions left on the self-serve copiers. I was not being paid enough to put up with all of the corporate stupidity and customers with questionable intelligence. I stopped caring for myself. I stopped wearing make up and wearing cute clothes. I still showered and wore nail polish, but nearly everything else went to the wayside.

I stopped going to kickboxing because I was so exhausted from dealing with too much stupid people. I was just going through the motions between going to classes and work. Most weeks just blurred into each other.

As I was learning to accept what has happened during the shitstorm in March and letting go toxic people in my life; things started looking up.

I was no longer in academic limbo as a result of my incomplete. My best friend and love proposed to me as an anniversary surprise. I finally got an interview with a non-profit advocacy agency. Even though it was a phone interview, I wore a raspberry colored lipstick to boost my confidence and make me feel just the right amount of sass. This position will allow me to be able to move out of my parents’ house, pay off my student loans, and save up for the wedding my fiance and I dream of.

There is reason to hope again.

Parking garages scare the crap out of me

This past summer I was forced to use the parking garages downtown due to the scheduled time my class happened. I wanted to avoid having any more parking tickets and I don’t want the city to put a clamp on my tire. Thankfully there was a deal the school had with two of the parking garages to let us park at a discounted rate.

There was still the issue of finding a bloody damn spot in all of downtown. Now one of the parking garages was not actually all that bad. Instead of just being a cement block, the exterior walls were open, so there was less fear of being murdered in broad daylight. Additionally, all of the parking spaces (minus the roof) were angled, which makes for an easy turn into the spot and easy exit.

Unfortunately, there was the day when there was no parking to be had in my preferred, non-murdery garage. No street parking was to be had and I was forced to choose the other garage.

This one did not have the open exterior walls and the only source of light were from ancient and dim overhead lighting. All of the spots were not at an angle and they were all packed tight in what could possibly be the next set for CSI. This made for the most complicated 292817 point turn to exit out of my spot that I had to wiggle myself out of when exiting my car. Combine that with terrible lighting and I’m sure we can all empathize with the terribleness of the situation.

As I return from class into the dank darkness of the parking garage and I manage to find my car again, I notice something disturbing. Actually, I don’t think there are enough words to describe how messed up this left me. I wish I had photographic evidence to prove this, but alas my imagination was having a field day on what nightmares to give me that night.

I parked in front of a spot where on the walls looks like two smeared handprints on the whitewashed cement. The handprints were small and dark as if they had been there for quite some time. What the hell happened? Was someone murdered where my car was parked? WHY ARE THERE TINY HANDPRINTS ON THE WALL?!

I got the hell out of there and never used that parking garage since.

Creepy men, I don’t need your validation

As a young 20-something woman, I had my experiences of being harassed by men while out in public. Despite these experiences, I still have no clear idea of how to effectively react in these situations. My safety has been threatened and I am unsure of what to do that won’t put my personal safety more at risk. Despite the kickboxing and self-defense classes, there is still no way to know how I will react the next time this happens. This accurately describes what I want to tell these guys:

“But I was just trying to compliment you!”

There’s a fine line between a compliment and harassment. If you’re unsure, then it’s best to keep your mouth shut. A compliment is something like: You have really cute boots, you hair looks lovely today, or smile and wish me good morning. Mind you, your mileage will vary in terms of what reaction you will receive. Don’t take it personally if the reaction you get is less than positive. More likely than not, the woman you tried to talk to has had one too many negative experiences with men harassing her and you should let her be. A person’s sense of safety is more important than your hurt feelings.

Then what would constitute as harassment? Comments like: Damn girl, that ass is FINE! Hey, I’m just trying to compliment you and if you can’t take it then fuck you! Pair this along with blocking my path and you will make ANY woman angry and scared.

But, she’s so damn hot and I was just appreciating it!

I would like to assume that you have evolved enough to have self-control. You’re not a damn shark going after the kill when they smell the first hint of blood. You are a person capable of thought and reason, and this gives you no reason to act like an asshole. You’re making all guys look bad by enforcing this macho man stereotype. You make all men look dangerous and untrustworthy to all women, and you should be ashamed.

It also takes on the form of continuing to talk to the woman who just wants to go to the bank to deposit her check and refusing to leave her alone. Following her to her car is also harassment (and fucking terrifying). Just leave her alone if she does not show any signs of engaging in conversation. She has things to do and she will assume that you’re a lazy bum with nothing better to do than being a creeper.

I’ve been propositioned by guys when I was only accompanied by other ladies. I have been hit on by overly zealous, middle-aged male customers in all of my jobs. I was followed on my way back to my car. I was groped by a stranger at my best friend’s bachelorette party. This isn’t going to win you guys any points. In fact you just proved yourselves to be scumbags not worth my time. And in reality, just leave women alone when they are walking out at night. It’s scary enough when everyone has been conditioned to be nervous at night from a young age thanks every horror movie ever.

One particularly disturbing incident was when I was leaving the bank and a guy blocked my path out the door to give me the once over and then licked his lips. Yes, ew. I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I don’t like it when people look at me like I’m a fine cut of steak. Or maybe he’s a zombie and sizing me up as possible noms. Either situation does not bode well, although in the latter it would be more acceptable to fend for myself at all costs ’cause… zombies.

And not that it should matter, but it didn’t matter what the hell I wore whenever I was harassed. Ugly work polo shirt and khaki pants, jeans and t-shirt, dresses with various hemlines, cleavage, no cleavage, baggy or fitted. Day or night. IT DIDN’T FUCKING MATTER!

The fact that these men who cannot take a simple “no” to something as simple as a date or phone number this is a scary thought. What if they refuse to take “no” for an answer for other situations? At what point does “no” actually mean NO to these men?

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