Category: Personal

  • Julep Mystery Polish Grab Bag September 2015 💅

    I feel pretty corny posting this but since I found other people’s posts about what they got in mystery boxes from Julep to be helpful, I’ll post one in return. This is about nail polish, so if that’s not your jam, you should probably pass.


  • Instinct

    Last night, as we took the train back from a friend’s birthday outing, a young man got on the train who instantly put me on alert. For a while, I tried to figure out what it was – his oddly clenched jaw, the sly look of his narrowed eyes (or were those just his eyes?), the constant readjusting of his over-large sweatpants, standing too close to others on a car that was only semi-crowded? I decided he was probably a pickpocket, and decided to keep my eye on him.

    At one point, I lost track of him in the larger shuffle at 42nd street. I eventually saw him again, sitting across the car from me with one hand on his knee and the other on the seat near his hip, almost underneath a sleeping woman’s behind. Then I knew I was right to be on guard, but he wasn’t a pickpocket: he was a creep.

    As I watched him slowly move his hand further over and her attempts to shrink away after his touch woke her, I got angrier and angrier. How come nobody else sees this? What is wrong with this guy?! I wanted so badly to say something and start a fight, and 10 years ago, I probably would have. Instead, I confirmed with my husband what was happening, and decided that it was the girl who was worth interacting with, not the guy.

    She looked exhausted, like the way you might look after a 12 hour shift, and horrified. So I got up and gave her my seat, between my husband and another woman. When we got off the train a few stops later, I asked another girl on the train to take my husband’s seat. The relief in the “thank you” as we left almost made me cry.

    As someone who lived in Manhattan as a kid, spent 2 months every year for 12 years after that back in Manhattan, and now lives in the NYC metro again, I have good urban instincts. They’re not all instincts though; it’s gut feelings as amplified by small things you’ve learned to notice through experiencing them over and over. When women talk about feeling “creeped out”, especially by an individual, we are frequently challenged to provide some kind of definitive proof. Even more than that one guy pissed me off, this enrages me. What is proof in these cases – waiting to take a picture of a guy after he’s managed to get his hand up somebody’s skirt instead of doing something about it before it gets to that point? What a horrific thing to believe in needing.

    I had an instinct and the chance to act on it in a small and safe way when all signs pointed to it being correct, so I took it. I hope that woman made it home safely. Since creeps aren’t going away, and their behavior frequently excused (somebody nearby finally noticed and said that the guy must have been high, like that makes it okay), I also hope that we can support erring on the side of caution, especially when it costs us so little to do so. Trust instincts that come from a lifetime of experience. Please.

  • I am angry.

    I am angry because I cannot be myself.

    I am angry because I will be told that my anger is not becoming for a girl.

    I am angry because I have allowed others to affect my life and bring me down.

    I am angry because I feel disappointed in myself when really I should be disappointed in you and YOU should be disappointed in you.

    I am angry because I spend every day frozen by fear, a fear that was not directly caused by any one thing or any one person, and yet it is all-consuming.

    I am angry because there are those who will say “yeah so I told a woman I’d murder her children over her statement of a fact, but that woman wasn’t you, so you’re just being oversensitive and stupid, ignore that what I did was neither an isolated incident nor socially acceptable.”

    I am angry because it doesn’t just stop at threats: people are murdered over these non-transgressions.

    I am angry that so many people are dead simply for having been born in a certain place or of a certain color.

    I am angry that we look for excuses when there is no excuse, that we allow ourselves to fall prey to the fallacy that logic can always be found.

    I am angry because my own freedom of speech is trumped by somebody else’s, logic be damned.

    I am angry because I fully believe in the mission of democratizing publishing and yet I have to accept that that means the software I make can be used by others to squash my own will to continue to participate freely on the internet.

    I am angry because in a comments section powered by that very software I give so much of myself to build, I am greeted with racial epithets directed at me.

    I am angry because my withdrawal will be seen as a “win”, and the ensuing losses ignored.

    I am angry because I collect inappropriate fan mail under the guise of laughter, but in reality I am collecting evidence.

    I am angry that so many people are jerks, posting somebody else’s personal information without permission, wishing that others would be raped or murdered.

    I am angry that other people are being cruel by way of attempting to deflect from those jerks, because they are too scared or brainwashed to simply denounce them.

    I am angry because I am giving jerks what they want, because I am not a jerk to my loved ones and I absolutely will not put them at risk.

    I am angry, and I am silenced.

  • No but really, all women.

    I’m not much of a hashtag participant or follower on Twitter. Sometimes I find myself being contrary and wanting to just outright ignore something because I think the hashtag seems kind of dumb. But over the last couple of days, the things being shared with #YesAllWomen caught my eye. I shared a couple of things myself, and then I became aware of something that felt straight up disgusting.

    I feel lucky because I don’t think I’ve been harassed much.

    Not only am I repulsed by this realization, but I’ve also realized I’m scared. I’m currently leading a round number release of the most popular publishing software on the internet. What’s going to happen when it comes out and somebody doesn’t like something? I’ve seen the vitriol of those who feel slighted by the software. I’ve seen the amount of abuse our forum moderators endure. I get the creepy emails personally. I’m really fucking scared of what might come my way as I become ever more visible. If it weren’t for knowing that I kick ass, having an incredible amount of support behind me from men and women alike, and generally being unwilling to yield to other people’s bullshit, I would probably have quit long ago.

    I’ve already been harassed plenty. The guy who kept trying to touch my hair and give me hugs, was told “no, I don’t like people touching me without permission, unexpected contact provokes involuntary reactions”, yet felt surprised enough to call me a bitch when he grabbed me from behind and got a stiletto through his shin as I kicked back. The guy who tried to play it like he was the gentleman walking me home from a grad student event, even after I stated I was perfectly happy being alone, and shoved his way into my apartment.  The emails I’ve been getting ever since my picture became a regular part of the WordPress credits screen. The catcalls that lead to me being called a “stuck up chink slut” when I don’t respond the way they want.

    Despite that, I’ve heard and witnessed enough to know that what I’ve experienced as a woman and in particular as a woman working in the world of technology pales in comparison to many, many of my friends and peers. I’ve become more certain every day that I will face much worse yet. I have a hard time coming to terms with the idea that not getting harassed *too* much has become my baseline of existence. And the constant not-frightening-yet-unwelcome attention? Doesn’t even factor in anymore. This sucks. This isn’t how anybody should be treated – not me, not other women, not men, not anybody anywhere. We are not objects that exist solely for others.

    I often feel conflicted when talking or thinking about what one might label as feminist issues. For many people, gender has influenced difficulties that have shaped who they are, and they often and understandably have a louder voice and a more thought-out viewpoint when it comes to issues stemming from gender. I have two specific tough things that I feel have shaped me, neither of which is being female. The primary one is growing up getting beaten by my parent on the regular. The secondary one is my race, or rather the racism associated with it. Largely fueled by the rage from the former, I got into a lot of altercations over things like being called a chink or a savage who needed to come to know the name of Jesus Christ (I’m not exaggerating: that actually happened, and hilariously on the same day my whole family got baptized in church).

    As I’ve kept allowing myself brief digs into the past, I’ve realized that it’s not really that cut and dried, as nothing ever is. There is a hint of sexism mixed into the racism here and there. Moments like the customer at a Chinese restaurant who handed me a two dollar bill, saying “I bet your sweet ass ain’t never seen one of these.” The many guys (well, and girls, in the interest of being thorough) who have commented on my exotic Asian hair and asked to touch it, or worse yet, just helped themselves to a stroke or two. The innumerable comments I have gotten about how surprised they are that I’m not a submissive Asian female, which usually follows an exclamation over how good my English is.

    If you’re here and thinking, “oh come on, not all men are treating you like crap” — well, no shit. But a majority of men treating me either wonderfully or not treating me like anything at all because we don’t interact doesn’t erase the fact that there will be some number of men who treat me like crap, and that small number is more than enough for me to put my safety and peace of mind first. It also doesn’t mean that all women treat me well, because “all” or “never” aren’t realistic statements. What we should be wondering is why and how so many women have had something to share, prompted by something as brief as a hashtag. Why haven’t we heard these stories before, how could it be so common, why is our first reaction to be defensive, how can we all find a way to be better? Why do we try to pretend that a small minority of harassers doesn’t actually have a disproportionately huge effect when they so clearly do?

    Here’s what I’m not doing: I’m not pretending there is some magical solution, or even a known goal where we could call things “fixed”. I’m not going to make distracting hypothetical comparisons between how X group experiences constant and systematic harassment and the way Y group does or doesn’t. Believing that direct comparisons can and should be drawn between diverse groups and diverse experiences is the height of arrogance. It’s also irresponsible to make statements like “well, X wouldn’t happen if this was about Y”. We can’t know that, and again, it tends to detract from otherwise valuable discussion.

    What I am going to do is keep listening to people who have things they need to share, find ways to show people they’re not alone, and continue to calmly and carefully talk through how a comment somebody might think they are lightly making about “not ALL men” is not just distracting, but actively destructive. More tellingly, though, I’m also going to keep being extra careful about how I present myself online and in person, because I still don’t feel safe.

  • To old friends

    Memories of grade school and even college and grad school have nearly all slipped away. Almost wish I could have held on to the good ones a little better a little longer, but it was my own choice to move ceaselessly onward. Some days, though, you’re forced to stop and search for signs of those old memories. Friendships fell away and there will never be another chance to find all of them again, but there’s a fondness, somewhere, still recognizable in there. May the fondness remain, and the pain of youth lost fade.

    To Patrick, Joey, Drew, and Sara: today I thought of you, and I will again tomorrow.