Category Archives: Rants

On mansplaining and other annoying matters

Three things happened recently.

The sun released a flare.

My computer decided it was time to retire.

And a couple of men I know thought it was their duty to offer me their unsolicited opinions on some facets of my life they have zero experience with.

Needless to say, I felt exactly the same way as this cat towards the three:

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Then I decided to ignore the sun because, well, it’s the sun and frankly, there is nothing I can do about it (except, catch a few rays of it to maintain my Vitamin D).

I also forgave my computer because, really, six years is a very good age to call it quits.

But with men who think that expressing their opinion means telling me that I am “wrong” or, worse, shushing me when I am in the process of speaking, well

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 12.44.14 PMBecause unless their opinion deals with a proven fact of science that I happen to be denying, telling me I am “wrong” sounds at best dickish and at worst mansplain-y.

And, honestly, it’s the easiest thing in the world to ask someone if they want your opinion on their life and their decisions. Try it. I guarantee it doesn’t hurt.

But, if it happens and you (1) forget to ask and, gasp, (2) tell someone they are “wrong” in their choices, step back and listen. Because chances are they’ll tell you that your patronizing attitude isn’t quite the thing they wanted to hear. And for God’s sake, don’t argue back with all that crap that it’s your opinion and you are entitled to it.

Sure you are. But you know what you are not entitled to?

Expressing that opinion when not asked and when it deals with someone else’s life that they certainly have more knowledge and experience with. Especially if you are out to tell them they are “wrong” about it. It being their life.

Because no. Just no. You don’t have that right. Not anymore (in all the previous centuries, maybe).

Okay, rant over.

Back to staring at the wall, waiting for the new computer to arrive.

A theory on assholes

The other day an asshole in a blue BMW couldn’t wait at the round about and zipped past us with his middle finger stuck out of his window. Not to be outdone, we responded with our middle fingers too. He then slowed down to a crawl, you know, to teach us a lesson. To show us the agony he must have experienced when he was behind us. To demonstrate the full extent of his assholishness. (If that’s not a word, I don’t care. You know what I mean).

I guess he forgot he was in a hurry.

My first thought was to follow him, find out where he lives, and test my death glare on him. But then I decided that stalking isn’t really my thing. Plus my death glare doesn’t guarantee death—at least not yet. Which is unfortunate in this case.

My second thought was – WTF is wrong with people? Why are there so many assholes running around? Assholes that shoot beautiful animals because they can pay someone to allow it; assholes that call immigrants rapists because they can pay someone to broadcast it; assholes that drive blue BMWs because… well, because they can pay to drive a BMW.

And then it dawned on me that there is a connection between the amount of money a douchecanoe has, the amount of power he* holds, and the level of assholishness he possesses. That isn’t to say that all rich people are assholes — but it is to say that the majority of assholes are definitely rich. Or, as in the case of ISIS, horny and drunk on power.

So now that you know what makes an asshole – watch out when you win that lottery. You don’t want to add to the ever-expanding pool of assholes.

* Yes, I am aware that women can be assholes too. But it’s my blog and I’ll use a he if I want to.

Don’t read the comments. Ever. I mean it. Really.

The other day I made a mistake and Googled ‘Rebecca Strong’. Not the first time I’d done it of course – in fact, since my novel came out I’d been Googling myself and the name of the novel regularly. Sometimes even between 74 and 137 times a day. In case I made the New York Times bestseller list, you know?

This time though – instead of coming up with nothing – the search pulled up a few results.

Unfortunately none of those results were from the New York Times. Or from the Publisher’s Weekly. Or even from the Kirkus Review.

Instead they were unlicensed translations into Russian of the article I penned for Quartz about why I wrote my novel under a pseudonym. Followed by hundreds of comments.

Angry comments.

Insulting comments.

Abusive comments.

Hateful comments.

Comments that made me go like this:

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Lesson learned.

DO. NOT. READ. THE. COMMENTS.

What-America-can-teach-others series: Part I

If you are expecting a highbrow narrative about freedom and democracy, you are reading the wrong blog (plus I’m not certain America’s earned the right to teach that***).

If you are expecting some wholesome land-of-entrepreneurs-and-visionaries bragging – again, wrong blog.

But if you are looking for a petty but brutal deconstruction of what drives me completely aghast while living abroad – welcome. You are in the right place.

(1) We start with double dipping. Really, Europe? You haven’t yet learned that ingesting someone else’s saliva with hummus doesn’t a good middle-eastern dip make?

(2) The planning. Not uniquely American thing for sure, but people? Don’t you think informing a presenter of what’s required of them earlier rather than later would make for a better presentation? R-e-s-p-o-n-d to my email with at least a few details. Soon. Now preferably. I cannot read your mind, you know.

(3) Please wash your hands after going to the bathroom. Just. Please.

(4) Those swimming caps have to go.

Part II is coming up sometime in the future.

If you need me, I’ll be at my desk obsessively refreshing e-mail in hopes that I am wrong about the above-mentioned #2.

*** Fox News aficionados: you now definitely know you are reading the wrong blog.

While I am waiting: lessons of the-not-so-patient kind

I’ve been waiting to see the cover of my book for 39 days, 4 hours, 15 minutes, and 37 seconds by the time this sentence is done. I’ve bitten all my nails off, rehearsed my dance of joy about five hundred thirty times, and refreshed my e-mail every two-and-a-half minutes while awake.

I am still waiting.

They say good things come to those who wait so I’ve decided to adopt a zen attitude. I now refresh my e-mail every five minutes and I’ve resisted adding extra steps to my dance. And instead of doing a cover reveal in this blog post, I’ll be doing a painting reveal. Which, incidentally, I’ve been painting while waiting. Can you guess why I called it ‘Imagine’? You cannot see it but she is holding a book.

Imagine

You are required to like it. Why?

Because it’s my blog and I am cranky from all the waiting.

People-that-can-fuck-off series: Flakes

This will have the first-world-problem stamp all over so if you are feeling especially righteous this morning, stop reading. Then go take a bath and chill the fuck out.

The rest of you may proceed.

Long ago I’d thought I’d become immune to flaky people. You know, the kind that promise you the world, volunteer to help you get it with the enthusiasm of a puppy dog off the leash, and then either disappear off the face of the earth or forget you exist. I spent years training myself to spot those people and to either stay the fuck away from them or to ignore every single syllable that came out of their mouths.

But, alas, even the best professionals make mistakes.

So in the interest of public service, I’d like to alert you to the exact trajectory of how you too can get caught in the web of lies, manipulation, and human turdiness that is flaky people.

(1) You’ve been struggling with something for a very long time:

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(2) You’ve almost lost hope:

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 (3) Then you meet this guy:

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(4) Your hope does this:

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(5) And then this:

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(6) Until days, weeks, and months pass and it goes back to this:

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(7) And then some new-age wisdom asshole tells you this:

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Like you didn’t know.

Be careful, people.

And you are welcome.

My 2014 in a nutshell

It’s a popular thing nowadays to go over your accomplishments before the end of the year so that you can be proud, pat yourself on the back, and celebrate with a gift no one else bothered to give you. I have my share of pride-inducing moments like the time I ate a 150-gram — about 5 oz for those still in denial about the metric system — container of raspberries by myself. Or the time I managed to sleep for eight hours without waking up. Or the moment I signed with my publisher, sold an essay to a major publication, or held a solo art show.

But by far, my most pride-worthy achievement this year has been the realization that it’s time to give up any and all hope that at some point my husband will actually have a similar to mine thought pattern. That his thinking one day will, in fact, make sense. And that I will no longer have to explain the basics, point out the facts, or exercise my eyeballs with an excessive rolling routine every time he says something. I give you three examples that helped me achieve this breakthrough realization:

Our conversation about dog poop bags:

Mr. Me: Why doesn’t anyone except for me ever pick up doggie bags?

Me: What are you talking about? There are like 143 bags in a drawer next to the door.

Mr. Me: Yes, I know, but why am I the only one always getting them?

Me: Huh?

You see what I mean? Why would anyone care who gets the bags if we have the bags – a whole 100+ of them?

Our conversation about designer shoes

Me: These Valentinos are 40% off.

Mr. Me: Do you need another pair of shoes?

Me: Did I say need? I am saying they are 40% off.

Mr. Me: Why do you need them?

Me: Never mind. *cue in cash register sound*

How can anyone seriously not know that when you see Valentino shoes at 40% sale you buy them whether or not you need them?

Early morning in our house

His alarm goes off.

Mr. Me presses snooze button. Goes back to sleep.

Me — Wide awake. Begin attempts to get back to sleep.

Snooze goes off.

Mr. Me presses snooze button again. Goes back to sleep.

Me — Rage growing. More awake. Not a chance of going back to sleep.

Rinse and repeat the above process 5 times.

The guy has known me for 25+ years. Has slept next to me for about the same time. Knows that I am a light sleeper. Also knows I have trouble falling asleep. Whyyyyyyyy cannot he learn that snooze is a dirty word in my vocabulary? On the plus side I’ve known how to get in touch with my anger ever since I started sleeping next to him.

Just in time for Thanksgiving: pet peeves and snide gratitude

In the spirit of Thanksgiving – the holiday where many American families get together to devour a carcass of a dead bird and sneer behind the backs of relatives they didn’t want to see – I’d like to offer some snide gratitude. What is snide gratitude, you ask? And how can the words snide and gratitude even go together in the first place?

Glad you were wondering.

I am defining snide gratitude™ (note: trademarked as of today) as the gratitude you feel for learning about things you actually never wanted to learn. But since you’ve learned about them, you now know to stay the hell away from them and, thus, in the spirit of our times of personal growth and Tony Robbins, you are expressing gratitude.

Now that we got that tricky definition out of the way, I’d like to share the three things I am “grateful” to have encountered in my life:

Going to a club to interact with people. Unless it’s the kind of club where most patrons are out on the dance floor, you’ll probably find yourself trying to converse with your friends while sustaining both eardrum and vocal cords damage simultaneously. If you cannot hear the words leaving your own mouth, what makes you think you can maintain a conversation? And how much fun can you actually have sipping a drink worth two pairs of shoes, wistfully looking at people who – unlike you – have summoned enough courage to dance, and occasionally exchanging grunt-like sounds with your companions? Seriously. Take me to a Starbucks anytime. Even if I cannot tolerate their coffee, I can at least tell you about it.

People who think their opinion matters to you even though it totally doesn’t. Because you either barely know them or you don’t know them at all and only occasionally interacted with them on social media. Still they believe they are well within their rights to ask you questions about your choices and then express their opinion about those choices in a manner worthy of Simon Cowell, Dr. Phil, and Deepak Chopra combined.

“I am sorry you feel this way” apology. This is just some first class passive-aggressive bullshit right there. Anyone who delivers this kind of apology even once deserves to have their Thanksgiving flight diverted to Russia where they can spend the holiday – and the rest of their life — dancing to the new, famous tune “Go hard like Vladimir Putin”. Yes. It’s real.

Enjoy:

The inventions-that-can-just-fuck-off series: sculpt yoga

It always mystifies me how often people decide to take a good thing and ruin it. Consider pizza, for instance. A food item that’s beloved by many and eaten in quite a few countries around the world. Sure the quality varies and what you get in a small town in Italy isn’t the same as what you get in a Chuck E. Cheese’s in the US (are they still actually calling that pizza?). But this isn’t about the quality. It’s about cheese-stuffed-crust pizza. And hot-dog-stuffed-crust pizza (yes, it exists). And bacon-stuffed-crust pizza (because we want bacon on everything, right?).

I know. Disgusting. And absolutely unnecessary. Because, really, if you know how to make good pizza, why would you stuff the crust?

Another example are high-heel sneakers. A shoe that looks like a sneaker yet features a high-heel platform. In case you are at a party and suddenly need to run a marathon, right?

But the latest – at least for me – is sculpt yoga. I tried it a few days ago and I walked away convinced than an uglier baby hasn’t yet been born (despite what that Seinfeld episode may have convinced you of). Sculpt yoga seems to be a mutant spawn of aerobics, weight training, and yoga when the three became intimate with each other either while high on meth or on Game of Thrones.

This is how I usually feel when I am doing yoga:

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And this is how I felt while doing sculpt yoga:

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But that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst started two days later when sitting down became as painful as eating a hot-dog-stuffed-crust pizza. Why would anyone, a-n-y-o-n-eeeeeeee I ask you, want to feel like this after exercising:

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I just cannot with it.

The douchebaggery series: how to screw a friend without really trying

It’s really a warning post. From me to you. Because the next time you decide to reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in a decade, for goodness sake, don’t act like a doormat.

Which isn’t to say that I usually act like a doormat. In fact I haven’t acted like one since I wore braces and, believe me, that was a very long time ago. So I am not really sure what happened. Maybe it was too much sangria.

Or too much humidity. Summer heat in Boston could do that to anyone.

But anyway, here is what happened. I paid $70 for two salads – one for me and one for my daughter – and a couple of glasses of sangria. Sure the salads were great, all locally grown, sourced, and whispered-to but there were no truffles involved and I wasn’t eating at the Mandarin Oriental. The sangria too, although deliciouzzz and made with berries, didn’t come with gold dust.

So why did I pay what would be the equivalent of several movie tickets for two salads? Because my friend Anna* and her daughter Emily* asked the waiter to split the check. And because they had an oyster starter, a main dish, and a dessert. Each. And because even though I suggested that we split it more along the lines of what we all ate, I must have suggested it very quietly. Or else they pretended they didn’t hear me.

And I didn’t protest. Which honestly ticks me off a lot more than subsidizing other people’s dead mollusks. Because it was wimpy of me and I hate being wimpy. Also I hate being screwed.

Sure, what happened wasn’t that unusual. People split checks all the time and sometimes you go out with douchebags that like to take advantage. Even sitcoms have been made on the subject and I am pretty sure George Costanza complained about it on Seinfeld. And maybe I didn’t speak up because I didn’t want to be George. Because, let’s face it, no one wants to be George. Jerry – maybe. Elaine – definitely. Kramer – nah. But George? Definitely not.

I digress though. Once the damage to my wallet and to my faith in both this friendship and my guts was done I wanted to punch so many things. But mostly I wanted to punch my own face. For being stupid. For keeping quiet. For allowing an asshole to be an asshole.

 Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 9.59.41 PM

 Nothing like a douche for a friend to remind you of having a voice. It’s a good system, totes recommend.

* Names changed. Most likely.