Posted in blog, General

Side Parts and Skinny Jeans: We Were Never Going to Be Cool to Gen Z

Because I’ve been in quarantine for a year and spend way too much time on the internet, I’ve seen a lot of posts about how Gen Z apparently thinks Millennials are terminally uncool because we wear skinny jeans and part our hair on the side. While part of me has “now listen here, you little shit,” energy, the rest of me finds it hilarious because as someone who grew up in the 90s, I have a lot of photos of me wearing baggy jeans while rocking a very unflattering center part, not to mention this gem:

Not pictured: my huge, round Harry Potter glasses I wore until 7th grade.

If Millennials are honest, Gen Z was always going to think we’re uncool. One, because everyone else hates us so why not Gen Z, and two, because younger generations generally view their elders as being outdated and a little embarrassing. I’ve gone through old family photo albums to see photos of my uncle in four color velvet bellbottoms and my aunt’s bridesmaids wore renaissance dresses because her theme was Romeo and Juliet. When I brought this up to my aunt once, she told me whatever the polite version of “shut your whore mouth” is.

Another reason I’m not entirely surprised that Gen Z thinks we’re uncool is because I spent my early twenties working as a nanny. I loved that job because the kid was (and still is) amazing, the family was wonderful, I got to travel internationally with them, and to date it is the only job I’ve ever had that provided me health insurance.

The service industry insurance plan is basically “I don’t care if you’re puking, work your shift or you’re fired.”

Once, I was traveling abroad with the family and in the morning, I got the kid ready before I got dressed for the day. On that particular day, they, age three, wanted a fancy hairstyle that involved multiple headbands and clips and at least four ponytails, and they picked out a really cute outfit to boot. As soon as I finished getting them ready, they were admiring themself in the mirror when they saw me standing behind them, still wearing my pajamas.

“Is that what you’re wearing?” they asked.

The whole incident was hilarious to me at the time (still is) and it set my standards low for how cool I’d be seen by younger generations (as if the aforementioned magician cape and hat hadn’t already done that).

My favorite thing about the whole Gen Z vs. Millennials in the war over side parts and skinny jeans is the volume of nostalgic photos that have been shared on social media as part of Millennials’ response to show the younger kids that we have already made those particular mistakes.

The fact that Google said “vintage girl” is a related search term when I found this photo makes me want to punch walls like a white dude.

Of all the things to come at Millennials for, I feel like side parts and skinny jeans are only scratching the surface. We legitimately thought inflatable furniture in the house was a great idea because the future is now or some shit, I don’t know. For god’s sake, my husband, Jon, had a chain wallet with blue flames on it until after we were married–in 2011.

I don’t have room to talk, though–part of me is still convinced I can make a dress with jeans work.

One recurring thing I’ve seen in a a lot of the photo responses Millennials have been posting to show Gen Z that we’ve always been weird is the celebrity photo collages on bedroom walls.

I was not exempt from this because I, too, tore pictures out of Tiger Beat and plastered them on my walls. In particular, I was a fan of the Got Milk? ads from the 90s and covered a wall with those. This was, of course, before I turned into a raging socialist and who wants to destroy capitalism, but I digress. In retrospect, I’m a little creeped out by the way we all collectively covered our walls in celebrity faces and it was seen as normal and not like aspiring stalkers. I was once friends with a girl who plastered her walls with celebrities to an almost obsessive degree–she memorized everything she could about them–and those guys were “hers” which at the time was whatever, but in retrospect is a little unsettling. There’s being a fan, and then there’s attempting to assassinate the president to impress Jodie Foster. I’m sure there’s a commentary in there about the way we fixate on celebrities in our culture, but I’m pretty sure Eminem already covered that in “Stan” (which by the way, Gen Z, is where the term “stan” comes from).

As far as I know, this girl grew into a functional human who is not collecting toenail clippings from Jake Gyllenhaal’s trash can, so overall it was harmless, if a little bit concerning in hindsight.

Millennials, Gen Z was never going to find us cool. We’ve gotten to the point where we’re the lame adults who are killing everyone’s good time just by being there. This was always going to be our lot in life with them and the sooner we accept it, the easier it’ll be on all of us. I know it’s tempting to lecture them, but keep in mind this is the generation that ate Tide pods–some things just sort themselves out. Besides, climate change is going to fuck us all, so maybe it’s not worth it to fight over where we’re parting our hair when we’re all eventually going to dress like this in our Mad Max post-apocalyptic wasteland:


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Posted in Entertainment, humor essay

How to Serve Wine in a Restaurant

  1. While the customer peruses the wine list, you are obligated to hover awkwardly and watch them read. If you attempt to excuse yourself to attend to your other tables, you will be stopped by whomever is holding the wine list and forced to stay where you are. However, now they will feel as if you are trying to hurry them, and they will secretly hate you. They do not care that you have eight other tables to serve.
  1. After staring at the wine list for about three hours, the customer will select a wine. They might ask you a few questions before making their final decision, but this is not done because they actually care about your answers. Instead, they want to impress the other people at their table with their knowledge of wines. “How floral is the bouquet? Does it have an oaky finish? What is the middle name of the vineyard owner’s fourth cousin?” “What do you mean you don’t know?” “You know, back when I waited tables, we knew our menu inside and out.”
  1. Be sure to tell the customer they’ve made an excellent choice, even if you’re lying through your teeth that you can’t afford to take to a dentist because you’re working as a server.
  1. Now it’s time to prepare the bottle. If it’s red, you can just carry out the bottle as is. Be sure to cradle it as if it were a newborn child so as to impress upon the table the elegance and seriousness of this moment. If it’s white, drop the bottle in a bucket of ice like you’re tailgating and bring it out to the table. When you bring out the bottle, be sure you bring out the appropriate number of wine glasses for the table. Additionally, try to keep in mind that wine glasses are top heavy and when you balance them on a tray, you are one sneeze away from total destruction.               
  1. When you arrive at the table, sprout a third arm so you can set a glass at each place setting while still cradling the wine bottle and avoid doing something gauche like setting down the tray. If you must set something down, put the wine bottle on the table while you pass out glasses–just know that you’re a disappointment to your family.
  1. Present the wine bottle to the person who ordered it so that they can examine the label and confirm that yes, that is their brilliantly chosen wine that is sure to impress their dining companions. They will nod with satisfaction and sit back, preparing to be amazed.
  1. Now it is time to open the bottle. Attempt to cut the foil smoothly from the top of the bottleneck. Instead, slice your finger. Will yourself to stop bleeding; you do not have time to be injured. Remove the foil and stuff it into your apron pocket while surreptitiously wiping the blood off your finger on the inside of the apron. Next, remove the cork. If you break the cork, immediately perform hari kari. If you manage to keep the cork in one piece, place it to the right of the person who ordered the bottle. This is so the customer can smell the cork, although no one ever does this unless they are a pretentious ass hat (i.e. they all do it).
  1. Pour a small amount of wine in the glass of the person who ordered the bottle. Keep your attention rapt as they swirl the wine in the glass, sniff deeply, and take an obnoxious sip, slurping the wine in a way that supposedly allows you to properly taste it, but is just annoying to everyone else. Hold your breath while you wait to find out if the wine is satisfactory or if you have to start this whole godforsaken process over again.
  1. When the customer nods approvingly (no one ever sends it back), begin to serve the rest of the table. Begin by pouring for the women, playing the horrible game of guessing who is older than whom so you can serve them from eldest to youngest. Serve the men in the same way before finally filling the glass of the person who ordered the bottle. If you drip any wine on the table, the customers are well within their rights to beat you to death.
  1. Place the bottle on the table and run away, leaving the customers to a “come and get it” kind of serving system from here on out.
  1. Realize you forgot to take their dinner order. Also realize your finger is still bleeding and your eight other tables are all starving and hate you. And they all want wine.

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Posted in nonfiction, poetry

Monsters and Whores

CW: sexual harassment/assault

Seventh Grade
I told you to take your hands off of me and you laughed
I had to physically fight you off and kick you in the groin to make you let go.
It worked, but not for long.

Eighth Grade
You’re at it again.
Of course you are.
I fight you off again until you’re bent over, clutching at your dick
This time the other boys call me a bitch and say I overreacted.
I didn’t.

Present Day
You’re a priest now and the very idea makes me sick.
But junior high was a long time ago,
Maybe you’ve changed.
But probably not.
Your Facebook page lauds a famous pussy grabber 
because you guys have to stick together, right?
Your posts are obsessed with whether or not those slutty teen girls keep their knees closed or not.
I guess not much has changed.

I’m a mother now, and it’s my job to ensure my son doesn’t behave like you
But because he’s a boy, I have to ensure he’s safe from your brethren behind the thin white line of the collars around your necks.

Your Facebook profile says you’re an exorcist.
Neat.
You’re more concerned about the hypothetical spiritual monsters than the actual human monsters at your side
The ones who leave battlefields of broken childhoods in their wake

We’re older now and it’s easier for you to hide
Hide behind your cherry-picked Bible verses and your black robes
But I still see you 
You, with your perverse piety
Obsessed with those slutty teen girls who apparently impregnate themselves
Demonic whores, waiting for you to lay on your hands (are you at it again?) and cast them out


A/N: I wrote this piece a couple of years ago after the person I reference in this poem reached out to friend me on Facebook. I’m not entirely sure what it is I want to say about this piece, but I still feel motivated to say something. Maybe it’s because I want to clarify that I don’t intrinsically dislike the Catholic church or the faith of its followers–I just dislike this one person who hurt me who grew up to be a representative of the church. Or, rather, I dislike–or at least am disappointed in–a few people who have become representatives of the church. Catholicism is so deeply entwined in my past and who I am as a person, that I don’t feel I could fully extricate it from myself, even if I wanted to. But, like most experiences, there are both good and bad parts. I’d like to write about some of the good ones, but in order to do that I feel like I have to process the bad ones first. If I simply left out the bad bits, I feel like that would be an inaccurate representation of my time with the church in which I’d be praying you didn’t look behind the curtain.

Pulling back the curtain feels especially important when it comes to the way girls and women are treated. Part of what helped the #MeToo and Times Up movements gain traction were people being brave enough to share the truth of what happened to them. The incidents I talk about in the piece above were not the first time I’d been harassed and they certainly weren’t the last, but I wanted to get them out. I wanted to do that because I am not the only person who was hurt by someone who has gone on in their life to end up in a respected position of authority, who has to listen to someone sing the praises of an abuser while bile stings the back of your throat. You might be saying, “But people change!” and sometimes that’s true. But I think it happens less often than we’d like and the rest of the time, they simply become better at what they do. In those cases, it becomes essential to pull back the curtain and hold them accountable for what they’ve done. Not because justice will be served; women know all too well that that’s rarely the result. But one brave voice might inspire another, and we’re stronger together than when we’re alone in our collective silence.

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Posted in General, nonfiction

HYT 777

“Get in.”

I’m fourteen years old and my Catholic school uniform doesn’t feel like a fantasy. I’m alone at the city bus stop near my house and there’s a chill in the air that has nothing to do with the weather.

“No, thanks,” I say, so polite despite the fear beating in my chest. “My bus is coming.”

“Get in,” he says again, leaning over to open the passenger door. His car is dirty with a stained beige interior, and I want nothing less than to sit in that car.

“My bus is here,” I say, and it is, cruising through the green light before slowing at the sight of me. The timing is too convenient to be believable in film, but an overwhelming relief in reality. He slams the passenger door shut and speeds off.

That was the first day.

He comes back again, and often. He circles his car through the parking lot behind my bus stop, circling me, closing in. The theme from Jaws might seem inappropriately funny in a film, nervous uncomfortable laughter tittering throughout the theater. Instead, I am left with the sounds of a busy road as commuters pass me by, oblivious to the child being stalked by the grown man each morning. The cars fly by, the drivers drinking their coffee, thinking of their upcoming day, listening to the radio. Would they notice me if they heard about me on the radio? 

“A high school freshman was abducted at a city bus stop at 44th Street and Camelback Road. Police are searching for her, but there are no leads yet.”

That’s terrible, they’d think as they drove by the last place I was seen. Maybe they’d discuss this news item around the water cooler. 

“Did you hear?” their coworker would ask. “Only fourteen, that’s so sad.”

“I drive by there every day,” they’d say, inserting themselves into the narrative. Suddenly the story would no longer be about me, but about their relation to me, their proximity to my tragedy.

“Did you see anything?” the coworker would asked.

“No, nothing,” they’d say, as if they’d ever noticed me sitting there in my uniform with my pink backpack. Maybe their thoughts would drift to me throughout their workday and they’d imagine what it might’ve been like if they’d seen me. They are the hero in this fantasy, the one who rescued me from a future of violence and death, from having my body discovered in tatters, if at all.

“I was just doing the right thing,” they’d say modestly. “Anyone else would’ve done the same.”

As the days go by, the car drives around my bus stop more slowly, and I try to adjust my schedule. I take an earlier bus. I take a later bus. The man in the car is always there, adapting to my adjustments. Finally, I tell my mother. She buys me a metal rod about six inches long and tells me to jab it in his eye if he comes close. But if he’s close enough for me to reach his eye, I know it’ll already be too late.

“Could you give me a ride to school?” I ask, but I already know the answer will be no. She has to go to work and doesn’t want to drive me all the way to school before having to double back. She likes her morning routine the way it is, doesn’t want to get up earlier than she has to, and this is my problem to solve. Besides, what else do I want from her? She already bought me the metal rod. Her involvement is over.

The next time I see him, I’m waiting with a pen in my hand. I study his license plate and scribble the letters and numbers into the margin of my book. Six letters and numbers I can never forget, even now when I’m decades away from that bus stop. This time the man drives away quickly, likely guessing what I’ve documented. Proof of his presence, evidence that he’s gotten too close to me. He continues to drive past me, but I only know because I carefully watch the cars as they speed past me. Maybe he would’ve grown brave again, maybe he would have started to ease up on the gas pedal again, letting his car coast and slow to turn into the parking lot and circle my stop. I never find out. I never find out because I befriend someone from school who picks me up from that busy road most mornings in their truck. We fly down the road, windows down with the wind in my hair and my pink backpack at my feet. Safe, with that license plate number scratched into the margin of my book.

Just in case.


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Posted in Challenges, General, Lifestyle

The 1950s Housewife Challenge: Day 14

My challenge is at an end and, surprisingly, Jon didn’t need to keep the nice people in white coats on speed dial while I undertook this challenge. While I partially expected myself to get obsessive and weird over this challenge, I was surprised to find it was actually more stabilizing for my mental health than not. The last couple weeks have been filled with receiving tough news, not the least of which was the news of my father’s health, and it was helpful to have something else to focus on. Completing the list of chores gave me small, manageable goals that I could control, which helped me to balance out the feelings of helplessness that otherwise plagued me.

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Fair.

Challenging Biases

Today, Jon, Kiddo, and I decided to have a Harry Potter movie marathon. I’ve loved Harry Potter since I was a kid, but I hate the shadow that has been cast over the franchise in recent years with J.K. Rowling’s transphobia, with a particular resurgence during this pride month. However, I do think this is one of those instances in which the art supersedes the creator and I refuse to let the hatred of J.K. Rowling define the fandom.

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Trans rights are human rights.
Also, click here to check out the piece Daniel Radcliffe wrote for The Trevor Project in support of trans youth.

Moving on, today I found myself thinking about Molly Weasley. Matriarch of the Weasley family, Molly is strong, brave, loving, and a boss ass witch capable of murdering the fuck out of Bellatrix Lestrange.

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Molly is an incredibly powerful witch who chooses to focus on her family and is willing to fight for what is right. She is also very welcoming and takes in Harry before she even realizes who he is; to her that first day at the train station, he’s a young boy who has been ostracized from his family just for being different and she immediately decides to accept him as one of her own, not because he’s the chosen one, but because he needs a family.

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You cannot convince me that Molly Weasley wouldn’t be one of these moms who gives out hugs to LGBTQ+ kids at pride marches.

While I’ve always supported other women choosing to be stay-at-home moms, I realized that I had a huge bias against being categorized as one myself because I was worried that I would no longer be seen as an individual person. But, when I took the time to reflect on that by blogging throughout this challenge, I’ve realized that the people who are going to pigeonhole me are going to do it regardless of what I do. Some people will label me as “just a mom” if I stay home, and others will shame me for working if I get a job. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t, so why the fuck do I care what these judgmental assholes think?

Having anxiety means my brains spends an inordinate amount of time mulling over every little thing that could go wrong and due to trauma from my childhood, I am constantly scrutinizing every little thing I do because I don’t know what seemingly innocuous action could bring on a punishment.

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Thanks, Mom!

But in doing this challenge, I feel like I’ve gained more confidence in myself and certainty in who I am. I can’t control how other people are going to categorize me, so I shouldn’t let myself be dictated by these categorizations, whether they are perceived or an actuality. Am I reading too much into a challenge that involved scrubbing the walls and baseboards of my house? Maybe. But this experiment also caused me to challenge my biases and self-demeaning thoughts that made me so resistant to fulfilling a typical gender role in my life, so it feels like a win.

What I’ve Learned

If I had to summarize my last two weeks in this challenge, this is what I’d say are my main takeaways:

  • Other people’s opinions don’t matter as long as my son is happy and healthy.
  • Chaos does not have to equal creativity.
  • Cleaning is a lot easier than I thought it was and takes minimal effort to maintain once I’m through the deep clean.

Oh, and:

  • Jon had no idea our oven had a window in it.

Not everything is an earth-shattering revelation; sometimes they’re just funny.

Now What?

I don’t know. As I said in yesterday’s post, I’m planning on keeping some of the cleaning list, namely the daily list plus a few extras. Blogging every day has also helped to kickstart my creativity because I enjoy the accomplishment I feel from doing it. I don’t think I’m going to continue blogging every day because I feel I don’t always have something interesting to say, but I think I would like to get back into writing every day, even if it’s only a sentence or two. I have a lot of projects on my plate, including multiple fanfic projects as well as a novel that I’ve had in my back pocket for a bit. I also had an idea for a collection of short pieces I’d like to do, and consistent writing has given me motivation to work on these projects despite all of the other stressors I have in my life right now.

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If I can’t laugh at myself, the terrorists win.

Overall, this feels like it was a positive experience for me. Exhausting, sure, but ultimately I feel better having done it.

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I know this is where I usually promote my Patreon, but…click here to learn more about The Trevor Project and find ways you can help support LGBTQ+ youth.

It’s what Molly Weasley would do.