By Sechavar

 

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Brittney showed me this, so I’m sharing it with whoever else reads this.

Black people have two voices, sometimes three. I’m half Black and half Mexican, so I have like, 3 or 4 voices.
White people have one voice, and then maybe a variation when they are intoxicated.

Dear White People,

We have several voices because if we interview for a job or answer the phone at work the same way we talk to our Moms, we would not get hired, and would def get fired. I’m not upset if you remark on this fact.
Case in point: I answered my mother’s call in front of some white friends (I’m in Grad school, so lots of new white friends). I spoke first to my moms, then to my Grammy (this is the black side of the family). After I hung up, my white friend to my right commented “You got so black right there.” And I was actually kind of proud of myself because being a creative writing student/living in SoCal hasn’t exposed me to many other black people so it’s nice to know I still go it. I explained that my Grammy doesn’t even understand me if I don’t talk like that. Seriously. She will make me repeat everything if I speak slowly and without rhythm.
My moms is a little different, she has different voices too since she’s a cashier at a suburban grocery store.

I also have a kind of Mexicana voice, and then I have classroom participation voice, and TA in the classroom voice, and job interview/telephone voice.

So, yeah. Black people are socially multilingual. It’s okay white people, if you listen hard enough, you’ll realize it’s English. Except when I’m speaking Spanish. You’ll just have to put up with that. But if it’s any consolation, I’m no where near fluent, I just sound like I am.

Sincerely,
Sechavar

Disclaimer: Some of the times given in this article are factually incorrect. That is because it is a memory from ten years ago. Also because the information that was available and disseminated on that day was not always consistent or accurate. So before you begin to conflate normal human forgetfulness with disrespect for what happened, sorry if it ruffled your feathers. But not really.

That is where I was on September 11, 2001. I was 15 years old, and I just started my 10th grade year at the Seed School of Washington, DC. Terrorism was not a word I knew. I used it, generally in regards to my little brother and my father, but I didn’t really know this word. We were not on personal terms. I had seen the word in the cafeteria or in the hall on my way to class. Maybe even sometimes in DuPont Circle on Sunday right before I went into the Ginza shop to dreamily adore overpriced Japanese imports that I still can’t afford. We’d even had pretty good elbow rubs at Oriole’s games waiting to get through the ticket takers and go to our seats. But we had never been formally introduced. That changed.

One of the best men I know is John Ciccone. You can not argue with this guy. Verbally, sure. But you can not look at this man and think “Oh, this guy’s a douche. No thanks.” He is short, a little round, and all kinds of cool. He’s one of those guys that made me more convinced in high school that I should have been a boy so I could wear pinstripe suits, silk ties, and have an incredibly intelligent, tall and beautiful wife. So we were very perplexed when Mr. Ciccone walked into Mrs. Starnes’ English classroom about the same color as a well done egg white. What could possibly shake the unflappable Mr. Ciccone.

Among the ten minutes or so of a very pale and calmly speaking Mr. Ciccone, who probably was pushing up his shoulders to repeat the same thing to another class, it was mentioned that “At approximately 9am this morning, two planes crashed into the twin towers in New York City…Another plane hit the Pentagon…” What was said after or in between that becomes a wash. I don’t have a memory or a time line for that day. I have a general feeling of emptiness. Something was wiped out of me that day. I’m sure Mr. C mentioned that we should stay calm, that news was forthcoming. That our parents were notified and on their way to get us. Or maybe we were told to stay at school because it was safer. I can’t remember. And I would feel foolish asking. Because isn’t that something I was supposed to remember? What I had for breakfast, what I was doing, who I was talking to. I can tell you what i was wearing; my school uniform. What I wore everyday.

Eventually I saw footage of one side of the Pentagon knocked over like the side of a sand fortress. One minute, people are making photocopies, signing forms, going up and down stairs, waiting for elevators, talking on the phone, all this mundane shit. And then maybe you’re walking to another office, or the bathroom, or to get some more staples, or to see if there are donuts in the break room and then suddenly there is a noise you can’t quite place, but you know it’s getting closer and before you can turn to that lady next to you , or that guy you just passed, before you can hopefully comically ask the nearest possible person, “Hey? Do you hear that?” Nothingness. Then fire. Then smoke. Then ash. Then smoldering rubble.

To my knowledge there isn’t footage of the third plane hitting the Pentagon. We knew it was there but it wasn’t exactly a highlight of our cityscape. D.C. doesn’t have tall buildings, so any movie that shows you otherwise is fucking lying. There are no skyscrapers. I don’t even think there’s anything over thirty stories, if that. We are a low building city. We have the Washington monument, the Capitol Building, and the Old Post building if you need to look down on someone. So losing five stories of a five sided building hurt, goddamnit.

There was footage of the towers. The same thirty minutes stuck on repeat. All of our heads became VCRs that day as it was rewound, slowed down, sped up, and replayed. Over and over and over. But I didn’t actually see it. Someone put a tape in my head. I was downloaded with it. But there were people who saw it with their eyes. People who know these images without glass screens or wire or audio. People who felt the whine, the rumble, and the reverberating boom of thousands and thousands of lives falling apart somewhere between their lungs and their hearts. Where I have emptiness in my memory, what do they have? For the people who evacuated in time. For the people who were just about to walk down that hall in the Pentagon but had to go back for a paper, or wanted to use a bathroom before that meeting. What is in your eyes when you close them that will never be on TV?

The worst worst thing about this…For me, the worst worst thing about this was the footage of those who were trapped. Those we could not reach. Those who suffocated and went blind before they were taken. Because for every person who jumped there were a few who couldn’t move, couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t call for help. The cameras are trained on the slender windows, and we are watching people forced to suicide. In the background are the low yet bright voices left on answering machines professing love. But what we can not see, what we can not hear right before the towers fall, before they implode into a wound in our brains, before we are all branded with this, are the people trapped inside. The ones we cannot see is the worst worst thing.

But the best thing. The best thing is coming. It’s not fucking Bush sitting with his thumb up his ass. It’s not the record media airtime and coverage. It’s United 93 telling evil men that they will not prevail this day if it takes every life on that plane. The best thing is us. It’s what we are capable of doing in the face of murder and trauma. It’s firemen and police officers pouring in from all over the country. It’s donations and volunteers. It’s the United States’ flag everywhere. EVERYWHERE. It’s erecting a flag on the rubble. A big red, white, and blue band-aid that said we are digging in our heels and we are pulling through this and leaving no one behind. That we are doing whatever it takes.

Sometimes I really hate this country, or at least vast parts of it. Certain groups of people. Certain religious beliefs. Certain cultural practices. I have a seething hatred for them. I will mock them. I will openly disrespect them. And when the appropriate opportunity presents itself, I will use logic to educate them and rub their faces in their own shit if they decide to be willfully ignorant of facts. But bringing physical harm and violence against these people is not a thing I will do. Not even a thing I consider when I am at my most enraged with their inability to treat people like people. Their inability to see truth instead of the mind numbing fiction they spin for themselves. I am not a soldier, nor do I think I am capable of being one. But I have one weapon in my arsenal that is stronger than my hatred, stronger than their hatred. And that is my belief that no matter who I am, and no matter who anyone else is, that we protect our own. If you were born in one of these fifty states. If you have sworn to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. If you take seriously “E Pluribus Unum”, “We the People”, and “Give me liberty or give me death”. If you believe in all that corny, cheezy, home of the brave and land of the free crap as much as I do, then we raise flags, we turn our faces into the wind, and we choke on the ash together.

By Jade

It was my second day of work.  I was trying to find my footing at a new job on the 24th floor of a Madison Avenue highrise, when out of nowhere everything started to shake.  My CEO came out of his office and insisted everyone evacuate, but also insisted that no one take the elevator.  So there we went, down 24 flights of stairs.  No one wanted to say it.  But everyone was thinking it.  This was New York City, after all.

Safely on the ground, we made enough phone calls and Google News searches to figure out that we’d just experienced the aftershock of a 5.8 earthquake; epicenter, Virginia.  A Southern California native, and thus no stranger to earthquakes, that should have been my first inclination when things started to shake.  But again, this was New York City–not California. 

One morning. Four planes. Two towers. Two hours. Three thousand lives.  Two numbers, burned into infamy.

Nine.  Eleven.

Ten years pass.  What we’re left with is something of a dusty halo, a fraught valence.  We are a “post-9/11” world, grappling with what that’s supposed to mean and how we’re supposed to feel.  We remember, have promised never to forget, how we felt that day.  And if memory failed, even for a moment, Osama bin Laden’s recent assassination sent waves of sensation over us, made sure we never could.

One of the unintended but inevitable consequences of a moment like the September 11th attacks is the deluge of story generation.  No matter where you were when the planes hit and the news hit, you’ve produced a narrative around the experience, one you’ve repeated in times of sober reflection.  A month after the attacks.  Six months.  Six years.  Today.

I watched the towers fall from the tiny TV on our kitchen counter, in the house where all my other important memories to date had been formed.  I was two weeks into high school, and we were on a condensed Tuesday schedule, with classes starting around 10am Pacific.

I stumbled from bed to the kitchen, with still sleep-set eyes, to find my mom sitting at the kitchen table.  Dazed.

“Jade, I think something really bad just happened.”

At school, the student government classroom that had been abuzz with talk of pep rallies and school dances only a day before became a locus for our tears.  None of us really knew what had happened, or what might happen in the future.  We just knew we were vulnerable.  And people were dying.  Our people.  On our soil.  In a city as American as apple pie and jazz.

If you had said to me that morning, “Jade, in ten years, you’re going to call that city home…you’re going to spend the weekend going for cocktails and shopping on 5th Avenue for your company’s star-studded product launch party,” I would have commended you for the vividness of your imagination and the depth of your faith in me, but I also would have thought you slightly delusional.  I didn’t know then that I’d feel more a part of the New York City community than the one where I was born and raised.

But here I am.  Spending 9/11 getting a pedicure and running errands as if it were any other Sunday.  And in a way, and with abundant respect to everyone who was directly or indirectly affected by the events of that day or its bellicose aftermath, I feel like treating this as any other Sunday is the best message we can send.

It’s a given that we’ll never forget.  And it’s a given that the memory will continue to inform our instincts and reactions to shaky situations.  But if we’re to have genuinely gained anything from the grave deeds of a decade past, it should be an awareness.  An awareness that we are vulnerable, but also that we are strong.  An awareness that the things that give us pause are also the things that propel us forward.  An awareness that even though everyday life looks vastly different for each of us decade-over-decade, the point is that we are living life in the context of our new normal every single day.

Ten years.  Three thousand miles.  One life.  One day at a time.  Always remember.  Remember to live.

By Brittney

On September 11, 2001, as would be the case with about 85% of the following decade’s major events, I was asleep. When the first tower was hit, I was a thirteen-year-old high school freshman in Aurora, IL, drooling on my desk in my darkened second-period World History class while my erstwhile teacher, Ms. Ferkenhoff, dutifully read her overhead projector notes, slurped her Diet Coke, and attempted (unsuccessfully) to scratch herself discreetly. I’d just gotten out of gym class at an ungodly early hour, our class’ swim unit well underway, and I was exhausted from doing laps.

When class ended and I wiped the drool from my face, preparing to go to my next class, the hallways were eerily silent. I entered my choir class and it was Mr. Degroot who told us that something terrible had happened. He explained that someone had bombed a building in New York City. He turned on the TV as the second airplane crashed. I remember that there was a girl whose father was in NYC for a business trip. She began sobbing hysterically, convinced that her father had died. The girls nearest her comforted her and urged her to call home. (I never found out if her father was okay or not.) The rest of us began quickly mentally running through our list of acquaintances and family friends, anxious to make sure that everyone was accounted for.

By the time third period had ended, everyone in the school knew what had happened. The hallways were abuzz with rumors and hearsay about what was going on. There were rumors that there were planes headed for LA and DC (we would later find out about the crashed plane at the Pentagon). Rumors that we were under attack, in a war, that Chicago was next on the list. Just all kinds of reckless rumors come up with partially by shell-shocked sensationalist journalists…and also by really stupid teenagers (No one could tell the difference in the chaos).

I honestly don’t remember much else about the day. The teachers were just as shocked as we were and no lessons were taught. We simply went from classroom to classroom on our schedule, to watch more news coverage. I remember watching people jumping from the towers to substitute a fiery death for one much more final.  We saw the blood-stained cement and couldn’t comprehend what could produce that much blood – until we realized that’s what probably happens when you jump from over 100 stories high. I remember seeing the footage of people struggling through the ashes of downtown New York. I remember feeling perpetually nauseous, light-headed and wishing that I could cry so that some of these feelings, many of which I couldn’t even begin to name, would go away.

One thing that I remember though, is a conversation I’d had with some of my classmates in 2000. We were in our classroom across the street from what would be our high school, ruminating on the possibility of a nuclear war. Our logic was this: We lived in a suburb of Chicago that was, at best, about 40 miles from the center of the city, which, we reasoned, was far enough away that we would have mild radiation poisoning but ultimately live. Though Chicago is a major city, our main export is local government corruption, therefore making it much less likely to be a target. We would be safe.

On September 11th, even knowing this information, facing the fact that our country, the United States of America, which hadn’t been attacked in almost 60 years, was vulnerable to acts of terrorism that would take thousands upon thousands of lives, made us wonder: Would we be next?

9/11 didn’t really hit home for me until 2003. We had just moved from our cramped apartment in Aurora to a cozy house in Plainfield, IL and I unwillingly transferred schools in the middle of the second semester of my sophomore year. My father, caught up in a whirlwind of financial straits and civic-minded duty, rejoined the Army and was deployed with his Reserves unit to report for duty in Georgia as a training post on their way to Iraq. For reasons that are as hilarious as they are sad (that both my father and Homeland Security would probably kill me for sharing), their mission was scrubbed six months after my dad left and he returned home, never having left American soil.

Saying that I was “one of the lucky ones” implies that I was ever in any danger, which is completely untrue, but on September 11th, underneath all the confusion and the anger and the fear and the sadness, I felt lucky. Lucky that I didn’t live in a major city. Lucky that I had never been collateral damage in the wrath of faceless, terrifying terrorists. Lucky that I was able to go home and all of my family was present and accounted for.

Lucky that when all was said and done, I could go to sleep at night. Or in World History class.

Lucky that I would wake up.

By Sechavar

Disclaimer: I will make fun of the Catholic church in this article. I also do not deny that portions of this article are motivated by my rebellion against my father. I do not give a fuck either way.

I recently read this article that informed me about some super dubious goings on in the Miami Archdiocese. I was pleased to learn that parishoners weren’t putting up with their shit, even though they were definitely the David to the Holy See’s Goliath. Except the original David wins. Blessed are the meek, bitches.

After a long long list of hypocritical behavior, I reached the comments section where I learned that in order to leave the church one simply cannot throw up a peace sign as they exit the premises and never return, just as one cannot simply walk into Mordor. You can’t just give up communion, participation and attendence. You have to formally resign yourself. Like a public figure or something. And I didn’t know this. I doubt my mom knew. It’s possible that my dad knew. Church workings are most definitely his thang.

I left the church when my father left us. Not to get into a “look how awful my parents’ divorce was” because I’ve heard worse than what I went through. Quite simply, my father was the main antagonist when it came to my family unit showing up for spiritual inspection every Sunday morning at 10 am. As well as every night during holy week. And numerous other church functions and feast days. He was a lectern and a sacristan (read scripture to half asleep people and helped to hand out holy Jesus wafers with watered down zinfandel). And with his “insistence” my younger brother and I were altar servers, underwent first holy communion, confirmation, and later I even started to read scripture to half asleep people and hand out Jesus wafers and discount wine. I was actually pretty complicit in it. I liked the sense of purpose it gave me and knowing I was participating in ancient rites being similarly enacted around the world. The dark side was that I certianly felt holier than thou in the face of other Christians because I thought being Catholic was the one true faith and everyone else was wrong, and I was important and special because I took an active role. Obviously, none of this was cancelled out by the fact that I’d made out with another altar server behind the altar during mass on more than one occaision. You see, as long as we didn’t actually have sex it wasn’t a sin!

It wasn’t until my mom kicked my dad out for being an overbearing, emotionallly terrorizing and abusive wanna-be patriarch, only to have him move back to California after a failed attempt at enrolling my half-brother (by the baby sitter he banged while my mother was pregnant with my aforementioned brother) at my high school and quitting his job so he wouldn’t have to pay child support, that I learned what it was like to wake up late on Sundays and not feel guilty about it. Without the presence of my father to make me hate myself at home instead of just in public like a normal developing teenager, I started to come to terms with who I really was and realized you only feel like being yourself is wrong when you’re surrounded by people constantly reminding you that it’s worng.

My mom still goes to church because she enjoys it and I think that’s a healthy spiritual outlet, attending a service you enjoy and feel that you benefit from it in some way. For my brother and I, it started out as “Fuck yeah, no more church!” and then slowly we came to realize it’s a good thing we weren’t going anymore because it fostered resentment and more cognitive disonance than a teenager should be made to swallow when they’re already feeling like the world is against them just because they have acne or still wear three year old sports bras. But my mom never “made” us go like our father had. She never threatened punishment or displayed violent disapproval. She certainly prodded us, though. I think “Jesus gave his life, the least you can give is one hour a week,” was one of her favorite quips. But her version of spiritual responsibility was mild and reasonable compared to my father’s, who hit my brother in the face once for not being ready for church when he came to collect us during the months between being kicked out and heading heading, back to cali cali.

One time, I was home in DC from Princeton and my mother wanted me to go with her to the Basilica for the Ash Wednesday mass. I went. I sat quietly. I smiled at the babies facing the back of the church while their mothers faced the altar, absentmindedly bouncing them over their shoulders to keep them quiet. I read through some of the literature. That’s probably what I miss the most. All that epic language. But I remained seated when it was time to receive ashes and again when it was time for communion. As a bisexual, pro-choice, pre-marrital sex havin’ heathen like myself, I felt it would be wrong of me to participate in this most sacred though ubiquitous of rites. That if I was going to be out and proud that I most certainly had to respect the church by leaving it alone and dismissing my self from its indulgences. My mother returned to the pew for a second time, peaceful and meditative, a smear of black ash on her chocolate brown forehead and knelt for her post communion prayer. Some people headed straight for the massive doors after their consumption of the transfigured flesh.

When the service was over we left and spoke amicably and I was doing my best to make my mother believe that I still very much had a personal relationship with my interpretation of god. She protested that I should have at least received ashes. I told her it wasn’t necessary and before I could object she’d swiped her thumb over her forehead and was rubbing the ash over my eyebrows. It was playful and silly and so we both laughed while I started to rub it off. But later, while I’m not in the least upset about this particular happenstance, it does remind me of the lengths others are willing to go to impose their faith on you. How in Catholic communities, your body is never your own, so of course they feel they should have say in regulating it.

This, in addition to abstinence only education, rejection of LGBTQ people, or any person, who has an active sex life not sanctioned by marrige for the purpose of pro-creation, and the aforementioned devastatingly ingrained history and culture of hypocrisy, moved me to leave the church. But apparently I never really left! Catholocism is the gift that keeps on giving. Like fruit cake.

You can’t just stop going. You need to sign an  ACTUS FORMALIS DEFECTIONIS AB ECCLESIA CATHOLICA. Until you do, you’re counted as a member of the Catholic Church. I read that and immediately thought “Oh, shit, I’m an unwilling and ignorant statistic!” So, now I need to get my name off that list for good. It’s a small victory, but I feel like it’s the right thing to do.

The process seems simple enough. It’s a form you can get from your local parish and you fill it out and –Voila!– you are an apostate. But here’s the kicker, the church that has my baptismal records is St. Mark’s of Venice, CA. The church where my sister and I were baptized and the church my father and grandfather still attend.

I’m asking for the form via email:

Hi!
My name is Sophia…, born…
I was baptized at St. Mark’s between 1986 and 1990. I can’t remember as I was very young.
I decided to discontinue Catholic practices around the age of 16, except on the behalf of family, but it wasn’t until today that I knew I had to actively terminate my membership with the church through formal means and learned that there is a form I must fill out and submit to the proper authorities.
Please let me know where I can find this form and to whom or where I must return it upon completion.
I am hoping you may have it available as a PDF or word document that you can attach in response to this email. If not, I can pay the offices a visit if necessary.
I am contacting you as opposed to another parish because I’m assuming you would still have access to my baptismal records and therefore it would be easiest for you to confirm my membership before it can be terminated. I apologize if this is incorrect.
Thank you for your time and help and pelase inform me if there’s anything you need me to do on my part!
-Sophia

I’m hoping it’s a PDF. But if I have to go up there, I will.

I’ll keep you posted?

And one more thing. Last time. I promise…Jesus wafers. Okay, I’m done.

 

 

 

 

By Sechavar

Deathly Hollows II is here. The fact that it’s coupled with Carmeggedon sucks for us West coasters, and that may affect it’s earnings out here for it’s opening week, but damn it, it’s a risk the economy is willing to take!

There are two parts to this premiere just like there are two parts to the Deathly Hallows. For anyone around my age, who grew up with HP & Co., our childhood is officially over. You will go into the theatre and sate yourself on the last dregs of your youth and emerge from the cold dark an adult. As a generation, perhaps we’ve been able to hold onto the magic just a little bit longer than those before us, but it’s time to give it up.

I remember going to the midnight release of the last book (omg, that was in like 2007 I am so old…lulz, not really but still…) and upon receiving my prepaid copy I tore into the text with ferocity, feeling my old high school book eating self emerge for a feast. But before I did, I took the time to write on the inside cover, “The end of an era. The end of a girlhood.” But that was just a precursor. But this time, right now, in a matter of hours? It’s really, actually, seriously, no kidding, over. We are there.

The other side of this is the meme-culture response to this long awaited event. It’s kind of hard to be sad faced when you’ve got all these great performances and crafts to celebrate what will certainly go down as one of the most intense, well received, and long lived franchises in our lifetimes. While HP will always have a special place in my heart, I admit I’m curious to see what our subsequent generations will come up with. If I have kids, what will their franchise be? I’m sure Pokemon will still be around (and yes, I’m guilty of having been into that), but it will probably never have the depth and richness of culture that one will find in Rowling’s well crafted world (which is why I left Pokemon). I mean, Pokemon doesn’t have a fictional book called “Pokemon: A History” or “Training Through The Ages”. But there are some similarities. So, basically, not to be the consumer whore that I am, but what’s next? What will fill the vacuum in the fanverse?

Until then, I’ve decided to compile some tidbits that we can share, a bit o’ fairy dust to blow about before it’s over, over, over…

A Harry Potter Parody of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” and EVERYTHING on this page…except Nyan Cat. Sorry, not much I can do about that.

What happens when you replace Beyonce’s “Halo” with “Hallows“?

HP Pick up lines vs. Dirty Harry.

Oh, Ron… But seriously, Loleia Rodriguez has a treasure trove of re-imagined HP-ness.

PopEater.com has a nice stack of videos.

Harry Potter FTW

And some historical context for us nerds:

International Parodies

J.K. Rowling and the Road to Hogwarts

HP Wiki

Harry Potter

1997-2011

Fourteen years later, and all was well.

By Sechavar

Another appropriate title would be, “Bitch, don’t touch my hair.”

For those of you who don’t know or can’t tell from looking, I’m mixed. I am half Black and half Mexican. My hair is also a mixture. It’s very curly, but it can have various modes of curly.

There’s the tightly wound, slightly distended and super shiny, “Hair is Still Wet”, which I wish it looked like all the time.

The slept on it while it was still wet “Matted Curl”, which makes my hair look six inches shorter.

The “I Actually Put Frizz-Ease In Curl” which is only a little frizzy. Mostly from putting the Frizz-Ease in…

The “Slept On It Dry Curl” which actually has some pretty good volume, and has this messy boudoir thing going on and makes me think if I was just twenty pounds lighter I could def be an Urban Outfitters model, but I’m supposed to be boycotting them, which isn’t so bad since they are needlessly expensive considering a lot of what they sell looks like you got it at a garage sale. Except the graphic Tees. F I love their Tees.

This kind of curl has one draw back. Some of the curl gets rubbed out during sleepy time and some hairs stick out at odd angles almost straight. A former Princeton roommate of mine ::cough::Brittney::cough:: has termed this as “My white is showing.”

But the best hair for me, in my honest opinion, is the “Just Washed Curl”, when it’s only slightly damp, and is keeping its structural definition since I didn’t attempt to put any product in it. That’s when I get the nice, tight ringlets that look like double helices or Roman knot designs. I give it a slight part to one side by literally flipping it back and forth (Willow Smith Style) and seeing how it settles and going with the side that looks best in the mirror.

One day I did this after waking up feeling really cramped and gross. I stayed in bed and home from work and sometime after 1pm I felt like I could hold some food down. Eventually I started to feel a lot better, but since I don’t have a car right now and my BF had already gone to work, I wasn’t going to work, but I didn’t want the day to be a bust. I wanted to accomplish something!

So I walked the mile and a quarter down to the shopping center to run some errands. I put on my short shorts, cause it was le hawt and grabbed my iPod. I still heard honks and cat calls over Silversun Pickups but my hair was particularly awesome, my gams were gettin’ toasty, and I look pretty good in those shorts. If I had straight hair I highly doubt I would get noticed as much in my new neighborhood of San Juan Capistrano. There are NO black people here. It’s very very strange for me. There are plenty of Mexicans, so I don’t feel completely swallowed by white SoCal, but I definitely feel like a lonely sister when I’m out walking by myself. So if you’re driving in your half white, half Mexican neighborhood and you see a dark puffy cloud making its way down the street you wouldn’t be too out of turn to slow down a little to see what it was, only to find out it is in fact the hair on a brown girl’s head. Then maybe start to think, “What is she?”, which was one of my favorite party games. Someone said Peruvian once. Are there curly headed Peruvians? Also, Brazilian, which made me feel sexy.

My first stop was the hardware store. Moving in with the boyfriend meant getting a key to the boyfriend’s place, so I went to have keys made. I also thought I’d pick up a new shower curtain (to class up the place) and a pepper grinder (which was too expensive there, as in $30, but I got one on Amazon later for $12, so suck it!).

Since it was the middle of the day there weren’t a lot of people in the store so the sales clerk lady was basically following me around waiting for me to ask if I needed help finding something, which I did since there were no signs, really, that stated what was where. But I was wrong. She was following me because of my hair. And at this point I’ve decided that I’m too patient with people.

What SHOULD Have Happened:

I was looking around and I saw the lady and I asked her where the shower curtains were and she pointed me to one side of the store and before I knew it her hand was coming very close to my face, very quickly, a look of wonder in her face, but right before her fingers could make their way into my locks I jumped back, took a deep breath and yelled, “And exactly what the fuck do you think you’re doing?! I want to talk to your manager. Your ass needs to be fired thinking you can just put your hands on somebody…” I walked off to find another clerk to complain.

“Oh! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean anything, I was just curious-”

“Curious? Curious?! My hair is not here for your curiosity. You get to suspend respect for personal curiosity? Bullshit. Now where the FUCK is your manager. Ya’ll need some cultural sensitivity classes, shyt…”

Eventually I would find whoever was acting manager that day, take the extra thirty minutes to write up a complaint, all the while the nice old white lady is standing with her co-workers explaining what happened and they comfort her, knowing she didn’t mean any harm, but one of them actually has a black female friend and she learned that wasn’t OK from the get go and wants to take a moment and play the “I Know More About Black People Than You Do Game”, but she’s going to wait until the accused isn’t in present company.

Then I buy my shower curtain, get my fucking keys made and get the fuck out of that cracka-ass store.

What Really Happened:

I was looking around and I saw the lady and I asked her where the shower curtains were and she pointed me to one side of the store and before I knew it her hand was coming very close to my face, very quickly, a look of wonder in her face, and then her fingers were in my hair.

THEN she says, “Can I touch it? Oh, it’s so beautiful. How do you get it to do that? It’s amazing!”

“Um, thanks. I don’t ‘do’ anything to it (nervous laughter). It really just grows out of my head that way. Heh.” I can feel a strangers’ fingers in my hair. My hair is being fingered! Ahh!

“So you don’t do anything? Oh my goodness it’s so soft.” She pulled one curl and let it go, delighting almost child like in it’s elasticity. “You wouldn’t think it was that soft just looking at it.”

“Well, I’m mixed. So. Nope. Just shampoo and conditioner like everybody else. Um, could you show me where the shower curtains are again? Please?”

“Oh, yes,” she started walking towards the back wall, “We don’t have a lot..” And…..Scene. Maybe later she tells her friends she got to touch a black girl’s hair today at work and they talk about hair for the next hour. One of them is secretly jealous? They decide who’s house they’ll meet at next week, one of them won’ be coming because her daughter is visiting with the grand kids ’cause school is out…Okay, maybe that’s too much speculation.

Luckily I had a chance to redeem myself. I’m not proud of it but it needed to be said.

I recently acquired three new co-workers. All dudes. There’s a quiet, super organized, nice guy dude. A mohawk, tattooed, fixie riding hipster dude. And a funny, talkative, extroverted but gets the job done dude. Granted I’ve only just met them, so these are my first impressions.

The funny talkative guy joined me and some other co-workers for an afternoon chat to keep ourselves from getting too bored and I can’t remember the topic of conversation, but while I was speaking, he, with his coffee cup still to his mouth and a hand out stretched, start to slowly lean in, reaching for my hair. I jumped back and said, “NO.”

“No?” He asked?

“Yes, ‘No’. Maybe if you had asked first, but since you thought you could just get a hand full for free then ‘No’.”

My co-worker Leslie, a white woman with black female friends, looked at him and said, “Yeah, you can’t do that.”

“I can’t?”

“How many black female friends do you have?” I asked.

“Ummm…”

“Yeah. Thought so.” I then began a short verbal history on the commodification of black people, i.e. slavery, and explained that I was cutting his white privilege off at the root. That he shouldn’t be touching anybody’s hair without their permission, least of all a Black woman’s. And while I forgive him and understand that this may be something he just didn’t know, now he knows and it’s not OK. Then I told him he should watch Chris Rock’s mockumentary Good Hair.

Later, I felt like I was maybe a little rough on him. I did my best to be playful in my tirade, to let him know I wasn’t going to call the NAACP or something. But I thought it was really important that this white guy have some, what I consider, necessary education. I mean, there are men who have sexual relations with some Black women and STILL can’t touch their hair.

I’m very lucky that I’ve been able to accept my hair, for the most part, and go natural. At times I really take to heart all the compliments my hair has garnered in super markets, restaurants, bus stops, and train stations. From little girls to older men, people seem to have positive reactions to my hair and that’s great for the curly haired everywhere! I always encourage women of color to go natural because the more we see natural hair the more normal it becomes. And for those who are offended for any reason, they haven’t spoken up so their opinion is being ignored in this post.

But none of that positive feedback gives people the right to touch me without my permission. I know some people might say I should never let anyone, no matter how nice and polite they are about it, touch my hair. But I feel like I’m spreading the good word and am doing some good and fostering some much needed positivity between the pales and the browns. But for those who assume they can just dive in, they better think twice. From now on, I’m going to chastise the SHYT out of you and publicly embarrass you to whosoever is present. Fair warning. No more freebies!

By Brittney

This literally JUST happened to me, so excuse any lack of cohesive narrative. I have to tell this story while it’s fresh in my mind and I’m still in a state of disbelief so as to get every genuine reaction that I’ve felt tonight.

I work at a video store. To those of you that are asking: “Those still exist?”, yes, they do and I work in one. Sit down, shut up and listen.

A lot of strange things happen in the video store. I’ve been working there on and off for about a year, and I’d thought I’d seen a lot of what goes on: stolen videos, mismatched movie cases, irate customers who lie about whether or not they turned in their movies on time (the computer does not lie, people. It simply does not lie.), damaged items with questionable rental histories, etc.

I was wrong. Tonight has to have been one of the most fucked up nights I’ve ever had.

Steph, Genna, and I were minding the store tonight at around 11pm, when Steph was putting out some movies and heard strange sounds coming from our “back room” (read as: porn area). She came back to tell Genna and I about what she’d heard and Genna went to investigate. She returned with a skinny black dude, holding a video and told us a tale that was as ridiculous as it was hilarious.

Apparently, she found this kid, who was now standing in front of us, nervous as hell, in the back biting the security pins out of our DVD cases to steal the porn. She found a bunch of busted up, empty cases and chewed on pins and caught the kid in the act of biting at the pin of the movie she took from him.

Found: A shit-ton of these, bitten and empty.

Now, every summer, it seems, we find a ton of broken, empty cases and stolen movies, but this was the first time we’d actually caught someone in the act, much less caught someone who came quietly up to the front of the store and had been biting the pins out. With his teeth. Steph, Genna and I looked at each other and gaped at our porn thief, who was still standing there, and informed him that we’d have to call the police. He stood quietly with a blank stare on his face, sweating profusely. As soon as Steph picked up the phone, however, homeboy took off running. Genna started to chase after him, but I yelled at her to let him go…obviously this guy was both crazy and desperate and there’s no telling what a pin-biting porn thief would do while being chased or detained by someone smaller and infinitely less stupid than he.

The cops showed up as we were calling our managers and the other nearby branches to let them know what had happened, and we got the dubious pleasure of showing Shorewood and Joliet’s finest what movies were missing, as well as the movie our thief had left behind.

This is where it gets even more hilariously awkward. The titles stolen included gems such as (and my memory’s not perfect on these titles, but you’ll get the gist):

  • Buttwoman Returns
  • Awesomely Anal
  • Top Heavy Sluts
  • Big Booty Bitches #7
  • Cum in 60 Seconds or Less

And the movie left behind (and this is the actual title) was:

  • Jon and Kate Fuck Eight…A Parody

We and the police got a real kick out of this while they were dusting for prints and taking DNA samples…because this idiot had to have been drooling all over the cases in order to get the security pins out. The cops got a ton of good fingerprints and I hope that they catch this kid. They did, however, give me full license to dive-tackle the kid if he’s ever stupid enough to come back to our store…I eagerly await the day. I’m gonna bring some nunchaku and pepper spray to store behind the counter.

I’m just waiting for your bitch-ass.

My mind is just boggled at the idiocy of this kid. If I ever got to talk to him again, after I dive-tackled him and maced the shit out of him, this is what I would say:

What the ever-loving hell? First of all, why the hell are you stealing porn from a video store? The interwebs is full of pr0n that is free for the taking! What is wrong with you?! And I’m sure your booty fetishist ass can find more than enough bodacious babes online…just Google “ass” with SafeSearch OFF.

Second of all, if you’re going to steal porn from our store, please, for the love of God and all that is sanitary, DON’T BITE THE CASES! Do you have any idea how much powdered semen is probably all over that stuff? Do you enjoy the taste of another man’s baby gravy? You nasty…just all KINDS of nasty. Nasty ass nasty. Just foul, yo. That is just disgusting. Use a goddamn screwdriver or something.

Third, Jon and Kate Fuck Eight? Really, though? Really? I will never look at TLC the same way again.

Fourth, why didn’t you run in the first place? Why’d you stand there and let us all get a really good look at you? If it came down to it, we could even pull the records of the people who rented from the store during that period of time and they could identify you.

Finally, you’re an idiot. And you kind of made my night. But really, don’t come back. Like, ever.

The moral of this story is: Don’t steal porn from video rental chain stores. Just go online. It’s cheap, easy and fast. For those of you in search of NSFW fun that doesn’t involve paying or stealing from your local video rental chain, here’s a few websites that you can go to for good, dirty fun:

And since this guy just really loves the booty, here’s a clip of a man who appreciates a fine derrière just as much as Bitey McPornFace:

P.S. If you live in the Plainfield/Shorewood/Joliet, IL area, this guy was black, about 5’10”, maybe about 150lbs, 16-18 years old and last seen in a red graphic tee and black baggy jeans. Last spotted sprinting like a thoroughbred horse (or possibly just a black man outrunning the cops…take your pick) south on Route 59. Ugly bastard, too.

By Jade

Middle-aged men.  Exactly nine of them.  The nine who comprise NKOTBSB.  They will don more sequins and rhinestones than you wore to junior prom.  Jordan Knight will look like a more handsome, fit version of your dad and sound like Frankie Valli after a hard day.  All nine will thrust their pelvises and sparks will fly. Not metaphorically.  I’m talking about actual pyrotechnics, synchronized with the motion of their taut, sexual hips.  The big screen will flash a tight shot of Donnie Wahlberg’s junk, it will be glorious, and you will screeeam.

Middle-aged women.  Thousands and thousands of them.  When they bought their first NKOTB cassettes, they wore braces and paint-splatter leggings.  Today they wear denim jackets over flowy tops, accented by wedding rings. They will squeal with delight when Joey McIntyre croons, “Girl, I’ll be your boyfriend.”  They will believe him.

Twenty-something women.  They will also wear flowy tops–but from Forever 21 and not Kohl’s–over short shorts and gladiator sandals.  They will get a little misty when Nick Carter takes the stage.  They’ll sing along to “As Long As You Love Me” and perform dramatic reenactments of the “I Want It That Way” music video.  They’ll update their Facebook status no less than three times during the concert and post a photo album the next day.

Girls who dress up.  They come in packs.  Some will wear hand-decorated T-shirts professing their love for Howie “Latin Lover” Dorough (who is mad creepy, btdubs).  Some will rock neon wigs in colors that clash with their tights and manicures–on purpose, of course.  They will be drunk.  They’ll ask you where their seats are when they’re standing right in front of them.  In a moment choreographed against the line “Am I sexual?”, they will all throw lacy thongs onto the stage.  Nick Carter will put one down the front of his white satin pants.  Yes, really.

Boyfriends.  Fourteen of them, total, in a crowd of 20,000.  They will have beers in both hands.  After the show, they will be treated to you’re-the-best-boyfriend-ever-for-coming-with-me sex.

Naughty by Nature.  Because, apparently, NKOTBSB is down with O.P.P. in New Jersey.  (No, seriously.)

Photo credit: Perez Hilton

By Sophia

You’ve got to read about the SlutWalks that have been happening across the country. Whether you like the moniker or not, it does make us, as a society, look at the ways we view women who dress and/or act provocatively and question what it really means to be a feminist and to be sexually liberated.

What I found most striking were the student dialogues in which “there’s always a but”, referring to the fact that while most people agree that no woman deserves to be raped, we should still look down on and askance at those women who dress provocatively because they are “asking for it”. The idea that there is an unspoken agreement on a line of what’s “sexy” and socially acceptable for a woman to wear and crossing that line into what’s “slutty” and garners “the wrong kind of attention”.

And the truth is I’m guilty of this too. I’ve totally looked at another female in a certain kind of dress, shoes, make up, breast exposure, ass exposure, tightness of clothing and thought to myself, “OMG, does she know what she’s doing?”  But regardless of how much of her body is exposed, how she flirts, or how drunk she gets, she still doesn’t deserve ANY of the “wrong kind of attention”. The truth is I, and plenty of other people, need to stop believing and perpetuating the idea that a woman is “inviting” bad behavior from men when she dresses or acts a certain way. Or from me. ( I need to stop whistling at the girls on their bicycles whose thongs ride up and become visible to the general population. Seriously.) I think there’s a quote in the article that aptly states “Stop telling me how to dress and start telling men not to rape.” It’s actually really that simple. The real issue at hand here, that men AND women are not addressing, is that by looking down on women who dress provocatively is perpetuating male privilege. And we’ve all heard that stuff.

  • Boys will be boys
  • He can’t help it
  • Guys think with their dicks
  • He was drunk
  • Of course a guy would do X, Y, or Z
  • He’s just saying that
  • He didn’t mean it
  • He’s a guy

This is bad! This is really bad! When we excuse this behavior we are saying two things that aren’t true and are detrimental to both the intellects of men and women:

1- Someone other than the man himself is responsible for his behavior.

2-No matter how educated or well raised a man is, his default nature is a predatory one.

And both of these things are bullshit. I think about the good men in my life and this is an insult to them. I think about the women I know and they are in no way responsible for when they’re male counter parts or significant others are assholes. An individual, regardless of their gender, orientation, or genitalia, unless psychologically impaired, is ALWAYS responsible for their own behavior. And demeaning that responsibility, or adding to it, based on the aforementioned criteria is not treating everyone as equals.

Now, I don’t want to write this and not address the the word “Slut”. Women have mixed feelings about this word. According to the article, younger women are more likely to embrace it and rework the force of the word into something to be reckoned with, and older women are not interested in reclaiming it for the purposes of activism because of its connotation. Valid points, both very respectable opinions. But let’s take the word at face value. (I can’t resist this cheeziest of essay moves…)

Dictionary.com reads:

slut-

-noun

1. a dirty, slovenly woman.
2. an immoral or dissolute woman; prostitute.
Even if a woman qualifies as all these things, if she says “No.” to someone’s sexual advances…It. Still. Means. No. And I don’t care what the failing-at-doing-your-damn-job-administrators or the frat boys at Yale think, touching a person against their will is illegal and straight up fucking wrong.
Let’s take the word in it’s more common usage, say, a person who tends to have sex with multiple people at different or simultaneous times for reasons ranging from simple enjoyment of sex to serious self esteem issues, and employs risque modes of dress and behavior with which to attract potential sexual partners. This person may be female or male. This person may or may not have strict standards for sexual partners, hell they may not have any all. They may not be practicing safe sex. They may expose themselves to dangerous people and environments, having questionable judgment. They may be a frumpily dressed English major with two student jobs in a long distance committed poly amorous relationship trying to get through her senior year at a challenging institution just looking for ways to unwind after a hard day’s work who always insists on condoms, proof of being clean from STDs, takes her birth control everyday, who asks random interesting and/or good looking guys at parties if they want to go back to her room on a regular basis on the condition that they submit to the above terms and are single or also in a sexually open relationship of some kind. For funsies. Any of these people, any combination of these people, is still allowed to tell you “No” and you better fucking listen.
Lastly, I want to address, well dress. Women have a LOT of fashion to choose from, not to mention that it’s more socially acceptable for women to don menswear than vice versa, leaving us ladies with, well, all the fashion (cue evil laugh). I can wear pants, skirts, vests, turtle necks, stockings, corsets, bow ties, neck ties, cuff links, chains, leather, lace, silk, satin, cotton, leggings, heels, slippers, oxfords, bikinis, or nothing at all in some places, and it’s all good, baby. And I can wear any of those things for any reason.
I feel gross, I haven’t showered today, jeans and sweatshirt and pull my hair back.
I feel good today, it’s sunny, it’s Friday, I’m going to wear a skirt and a v-neck tee and maybe some fun patterned Ray-bans.
I’m going out with my boyfriend, I’m going to wear a low-cut dress and strappy sandals, and line my eyes and put my lip gloss on in the car so he can watch me do seductive things with my mouth in the sun visor mirror.
I am going out with my girls tonight and we are going to be the center of attention, so I want to wear my tight short black dress, my platform pumps, gold eye shadow, the big gold hoops with my name on them, lots of mascara, and no bra.
It is laundry day and I have absolutely nothing clean to wear except this old prom dress. So I will dress it down with this grey blazer and hope people don’t think I’ve lost my marbles.
I would never deny that women, and men, are guilty of wearing things specifically because they want other people to notice them or because we’re trying to communicate things with our clothes, though sometimes what they’re trying to communicate alludes me (and I am so going to hell for that). Sometimes we do it with no intention at all. I wore short shorts the other day while I did some errands because it was really hot and I wanted some more color on my legs so I wouldn’t have to nair them again for a while. And then when I was outside walking, minding my own business I got some hollers and honking from men driving past in their cars and I was like Wha-? Oh. Right. Shorts. But regardless of what we wear and why we wear it, people can look, shout, and honk all they want, but they don’t have permission to touch your ass just because it’s in view. Besides, rapists don’t care what their victim is wearing. It doesn’t’ matter if it’s anal floss or a burqa. They care about opportunity. Even more creepy, women are most likely to be sexually assaulted by someone they know more so than by a stranger checking them out. Although “non-stranger” isn’t specifically defined. Just because I know your name, you bought me a drink, and we’re dancing together doesn’t make you a “non-stranger” to me…
The last thing I want to point out is that I, personally, sometimes want to dress very provocatively, just cause I want to. Cause I think it would be fun or cool. But I admit I’m afraid to because I’m afraid of the attention it could draw. I can deal with car horns and “Hey mama!”s. But I don’t want a guy standing abnormally close to me, breathing down my neck going “Ay, girl, you look good.” Cause that is, well, gross.
I was in Vegas for Memorial Day weekend, and, well, Vegas is actually the place I would dress like that because that style is so pervasive there that it’s ubiquitous. I consider it the place to go if I want to get my feet wet wearing a tiny dress and stilettos in public for the first time. However, I saw something that was difficult for me to watch and that was a large woman in a VERY short dress, short enough that, well, I would rather refer to the dress as a really nice shirt that she chose not to wear with pants. But even then, regardless of what I thought or felt about her choice of attire, it doesn’t make her any less of a person and it doesn’t give anyone the right to accost her or touch her. And going off that, I shouldn’t feel like I can’t wear a mini skirt unless I’m out in a group. No one should be afraid to wear what they like, makes them comfortable, or makes them feel nice about themselves because they think it will incite lascivious or derogatory proclamations from the general population.
So, if you’re still reading this what I want you to take away from this post is that no one deserves to be raped, regardless of what they’re wearing, how they’re acting, or who they’re with. Even if they are a slut.