HALLOWEEN HORROR: TRUE CRIME EDITION 

HALLOWEEN HORROR: TRUE CRIME EDITION 

Content warning: this post discusses murder, sexual assault and other violent crimes that may be disturbing or triggering to some. 

Listen up, noobs! While you’re busy watching Night of the Living Nightmare of the Lambs again this Halloween, you’re missing out on the real scary shit. I’m talkin about the stuff that gives me horrible, realistic nightmares about being kidnapped and murdered on an almost nightly basis and the reason I’m paranoid about living alone….say it with me—TRUE CRIME.

That’s right. The subgenre of documentary film and tv dedicated to kidnappings, murders, cults, and all the other fucked up shit that humans are capable of. But wait! If this stuff gives me nightmares, then why do I love it? Well, first of all, the nightmares can’t be blamed on true crime entirely—I’m sure the massive dog piles of food I eat at 11pm every night have something to do with that. Aside from that, I’m not really sure! But I figure it can be attributed to a few factors:

-I love solving mysteries. I dig logic puzzles, riddles and other trickery that require me to put pieces together in a productive way to find a solution. This is also why I make a great leader in an office setting and deserve a raise.

-Violent criminals scare me and I like to see them get caught. I am not a violent person. The only time I’ve ever really hit someone was when I headbutted a friend in the face during a really bad acid trip/drinking binge combo five years ago and I wanted to kill myself afterward. People who hurt other people fucking suck and I like to see that shit handled. 

-Violent criminals fascinate me because they are so wildly irrational and in addition to being an armchair investigator and armchair forensic scientist, I am also an armchair psychiatrist. One of my favorite pastimes is watching crime documentaries and guessing which personality disorders the perp is afflicted by. I have so many skills and I’m fun to hang out with. 

-I find it cathartic to externalize my anxieties about death, injury, loneliness, the dark and other people in general by observing my worst nightmares. It also puts my stupid, nonsense worries in perspective by reminding me that I’m living in an ocean of psychopaths so it might not be the worst thing in the WORLD that no one laughed at my joke earlier. 

-The justice system can’t be trusted either and I want to stay woke. A lot of the time these are stories where initial investigation was handled poorly, tainted or deeply biased in some way. And that’s not even mentioning the docs that surround a case where a specific person was unfairly targeted or even framed with no honor of presumed innocence to begin with.

Yes, true crime is ethically slippery. Some argue that it makes a spectacle of the victim and what happened to them. I can’t completely disagree with that. I do think, for what it’s worth, that most true crime fans watch out of concern, fascination and the desire to be in-the-know, and not as just superficial entertainment. Does that make it ok? I don’t know man I just live here!

For those who do choose to watch, I encourage you to think critically about the biases not only in the storytelling but also in the case itself. I never take a documentary’s conclusion at face value, and I don’t think you should either. No one ever knows for sure what really happened, and no one is qualified to make that decision except the jury. And even they get it wrong sometimes. So I’m just saying, maybe don’t start a Burke Ramsey Did It blog or become BFFs with Amanda Knox just because you saw some TV show. That’s all I’m saying! 

But by all means, watch the hell out of that shit. 

Anyway, without further ado…

ALL THE BEST TRUE CRIME I CAN THINK OF IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER 

Forensic Files


Aka the longest running true crime series of all time! At least they used to say that. I don’t know if it’s still true. I have seen almost every episode of Forensic Files. Peter Thomas the God narrates as experts in ballistics, DNA, blood spatter, and pretty much anything you can think of track down an obviously STUPID person who committed a heinous crime and left evidence behind. Because of the science, I feel confident they usually catch the right person, and that helps me sleep at night. The reenactments can be really fuckin bad but who doesn’t love that?

Making a Murderer


Almost every millennial alive has to have seen this by now, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. The Netflix original series follows the case against Steven Avery for the murder of Teresa Halbach, all the holes in the prosecutors’ argument and the fucked up police work of the Manitowoc County cops, and how that may have led to one (or more!) wrongful convictions. This documentary sheds light on the rampant abuse of power in our justice system and how folks of low income and poor education are disadvantaged and manipulated. Side note: What happened to Steven Avery happens to people of color every day so maybe Netflix can make a doc about that next #blacklivesmatter

The Jinx


Robert Durst! Now there’s a character for ya. Basically this series is about a (possible mentally ill) super super rich dude who may have killed his wife and two other people (or was it 3?) in the wild ride that’s been his life. This series is the flip side of Making a Murderer: when you’re rich, no matter how guilty, your lawyers can work all KINDS of magic. This show is riveting as hell and also happens to have one of the greatest television endings of…all time, probably. 

Cropsey


Legend has it a child killer named CROPSEY lived in the woods somewhere in New York and would take kids who were bad….it was essentially just boogeyman lore, but these documentarians wanted to see if it held any truth in its origins. In their investigation, they come across the story of Andre Rand, a convicted kidnapper. There’s a lot of fucked up details in this doc, the worst of which in my opinion is the archival footage of the deplorable mental asylum at which Rand was a patient. You remember in American Horror Story season 2 when Sara Paulson’s character tries to film an exposĂŠ of the conditions at Briarcliff? This footage is so much like that I believe they based the AHS storyline on it. I actually recommend fast forwarding through that part.

Killer Legends


When you’re done with Cropsey you can hop on this one by the same director. It tells the true stories that inspired famous urban legends. “The Hookman,” “The Candy Man,” “The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs,” and “The Killer Clown.” Recognize any of these? This Halloween, the story of “The Candy Man” is especially relevant since, as you’ll find out, the urban legend of the poisoned Halloween candy went a little different IRL than we were told…

OJ Made in America


This colossal five-part 30 for 30 special has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And that’s because it’s got EVERYTHING. Not only is it chock full of the drama, gore and media frenzy the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman are infamous for, but it goes above and beyond to tell the story of OJ Before The Murders–a man my generation never really knew. It also explores in depth the social climate both nationally and in LA from when OJ was born all the way to the 90s, and how being black shaped, or didn’t shape, his identity as a celebrity. This context for the crimes is essential to put into perspective the divisive national reaction to the tragedies. I’m still in the middle of this one, but I can’t wait to finish it. (Note: This documentary contains disturbing crime scene photos and video footage of police brutality. All the docs on this list contain graphic images to a degree, but I felt the need to mention this one specifically because I was extra affected by it.)

30 for 30: The Price of Gold 


This one isn’t a murder, but it’s one of my favorite stories ever: Tonya Harding vs Nancy Kerrigan. This crime is pretty famous, so I think you know how it goes. But what I love about this documentary is its insight into Tonya’s childhood struggles, her abusive mom, the cycle of abuse that continued into her adult life, and the role it played in the crime itself. Y’all, I just love figure skating. The outfits are so good. And skaters are so god damn graceful. So you can imagine why the world couldn’t help but gawk when an ice princess basically turned into a mob boss before their eyes. Fascinating. Just fascinating. Oh, and just a reminder, this happened TWO WEEKS after the OJ murders. Which I’m pretty sure was the same month I fell and scraped my knee in the parking lot of my family’s town house. And I like, have a scar from that. The summer of ’94 was so crazy!

Team Foxcatcher


You tired of delusional athletes yet? No? Great! This one is about John du Pont, just your average kajillionnaire with a few mental illnesses. He was so obsessed with wrestling and other olympic sports that he decided to open a training center/compound dedicated to athletic training. Was he actually an athlete? Nope not really. He was just a rich guy with delusions of grandeur. Delusions that ended up driving him to…you guessed it…a murder. Of husband, father and actual athlete Dave Shultz. It’s a sad story that serves as a reminder that rich charming people are scary and can’t be trusted. At least that’s what I gathered from it. 

Crimes of the Century


The DC snipers, the Unabomber, Waco, Oklahoma City and more…this miniseries takes you back in time to the crimes that rocked the 20th Century. I was either not alive or in single digits when all of the occurred so it was good to get the details. These don’t follow the typical true crime model of the Sneaky Scary Mystery You’ve Never Heard Of. They’re more the Giant Crisis Covered Ceaselessly by the Media variety. Everyone should know about them, so worth a watch. 

Crazy Love


If you’re considering being in a relationship, this documentary will change your mind! It’s about a woman whose psycho boyfriend hired men to throw lye in her face when she least expected it, causing permanent scarring and blindness. Why would he do such a thing? Well, she didn’t want to be with him anymore. What was he supposed to do, just move on with his life like a normal person and not disfigure this poor woman? C’mon. The twist, of course, is that the two get back together. How, why, and the circumstances of which I will let you find out on your own. 

Amanda Knox


This documentary, released on Netflix last month, is more about the media sensationalism and unfair trial that led to Amanda Knox’s and Raffaele Sollicito’s stints in Italian prison than it is about about the murder of Meredith Kercher. Maybe you remember this case – I was a freshman in college at the time when Amanda and Meredith, also in college, were studying abroad in Perugia, Italy. When Meredith was murdered, all fingers pointed to Amanda as the killer. But why? Well, there were a lot of factors at play. An obsessed DA, shoddy police investigation, and some seriously irresponsible journalism…just to name a few. The documentary lets Amanda tell her story, from the time of the murder through her trial, jail time, acquittal, retrial and appeal, and shows just how terrifying and helpless it feels to be presumed guilty by the entire world. Was she completely innocent of any and all crimes relating to the murder of Meredith Kercher? I mean, who’s to say?! Like Making a Murderer, this documentary seems to be less about proving someone’s total innocence than it is about the fairness of the case, so don’t get too carried away. I will say, it sure is a lot scarier of a story if she didn’t do it. Because then it could happen to any of us.  

The Case of JonBenet Ramsey


The JonBenet case is one of the most famous cold cases certainly of my lifetime, but possibly of ALL time. You must remember her pretty face plastered on the cover of every National Enquirer in the late 90s and beyond, but if you don’t know what happened, 6 year old JonBenet was murdered under some seriously suspicious circumstances on the day after Christmas in 1996, and it really, really looked like the parents were involved. But they were never charged, and the case was never solved. By the end of Part 1 of this two-part CBS documentary, it’s clear who the producers believe is the murderer, and their argument is pretty convincing. Do I believe this documentary is the highest form of journalism? No. While it features no shortage of expert criminologists, it’s so heavily produced and often corny that at times I was embarrassed for the hosts. Aside from the wacky bullshit factor, this is still the best documentary I’ve seen on the case. This is one of the most interesting murders I know of, and I really want it to be solved. But after watching this, that feels like kind of a longshot. 

The Imposter


This is far and away one of my favorite true crime documentaries. The story is so crazy I don’t even want to tell you what happens. Without saying too much, a Texas family’s son goes missing, and years later he returns…but is it really him? This doc will give you chills at what people’s brains are capable of, and leave you speculating HARD on what really happened to poor Nicholas Barclay in 1994. I know I have a theory. Share yours with me when you’re done. 

If you’re not already too freaked out, you should have your Halloween weekend fully planned by now. Just add Chinese food, keep wikipedia open on your phone, and prepare to solve some freakin’ crimes. But beware, the true crime obsession is a slippery slope. And you may never sleep again. 

Fab Disaster – The Audio Version!

(Photo via Alexander Rose, taken while filming our web series IRL – one of the 11,000 projects I have going on rn bc I have no chill)

Happy hump day, losers! Oh c’mon, “losers” is one of my terms of endearment. Just ask the people who got a Christmas card from me in 2014.

I’m a huge fan of podcasts. I listen to tons of them, since I walk 6 or 7 miles a day on average and like to make the most of my time. One of these days I’ll make a list of my favorites so you can all check them out. 

For the past few years, I’ve had this dream of one day starting my own legit podcast, or in the meantime, just recording my stories so people can listen to them. As a start, I’ve recorded one of my old posts in a sort of “baby’s first pod” for ya’ll to listen to here! 

It’s a far cry from the “official” podcast I hope to develop someday, and there are lot of things I’ll do differently in the next recording (chill out, read more slowly, and edit some of the language of the post I’m reading…just to name a few). 

In any case, the story I recorded this week is from Fall 2012, an era full of memorable firsts like stripper auditions, body painting, absentee voting and eating deodorant. I think it turned out pretty good for my first shot. 

If you enjoy it, follow my brand new Soundcloud and look out for more in the near future. 

Enjoy the rest of your week! 

If you grew up in the ‘burbs, this Tumblr will speak to your soul

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Pic: McMansion Hell

People, I am beside myself.

As y’all know, I work in operations at a design studio. Usually the things my coworkers share on our #random Slack channel are technology related (and thus completely over my head) or super played out memes I’ve already seen during the 90% of my life that I spend on social media.

But when the glory that is McMansionHell.com hit the thread I was truly floored and given no choice but to share it with literally everyone I know. McMansions (n.) can best be described as the gaudy, humongous, oft cheaply constructed and illogically designed homes built around the turn of the millennium for the now defunct “Upper Middle Class” to feign opulence to their surrounding suburban neighbors. As the blog beautifully puts it, they are the “knockoff bags of architecture.”

When the bubble burst, many of these homes were either repossessed or put up for sale by their recession-hit owners. McMansion Hell is a blog that takes photos of the worst of these monstrosities from real estate websites like Zillow, and explains in perfect comedic tone the blatant architectural failures of each room in the home. The writer, Kate, is originally from North Carolina (right?) and really knows what she’s talking about, presumably in part because these thangs are ALL OVER THE FREAKIN’ PLACE in our home state.

As someone who lived in a McMansion for the whole of my teenage years–and returned for the holidays up until a few months ago when my combined family finally split up and flipped that thing to the highest bidder–this blog speaks to my deepest embarrassments and confusion about the world in which I came of age, and about the people who conceived of it.

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Pic: McMansion Hell

My mother and father divorced when I was 4, and if you count each of their respective residences, I lived in a total of 8 homes before graduating high school. Since each household was supported by a single-parent breadwinner, it’s safe to say that the first 7 of them were…comfortable. Even nice, in the way middle class subdivisions were in the 90s, before everything started dropping into foreclosure like flies. Not really boastful or flashy, but a nice, safe place for kids to grow up.

From ‘94 to ‘99, my mother, two of my brothers and I lived in a nice little neighborhood called Lake Moor in Garner, North Carolina. Garner wasn’t exactly a town known for its wealth per capita, but Lake Moor was one of the nicer spots in the area. It was the kind of place where, at least it seemed, you could let your kids roam around on bikes unsupervised, down the paved trails in the woods to throw rocks in Lake Benson, never giving it a second thought that they’d be kidnapped or hit by a truck. There was even a community pool with a vending machine that sold BRISK Iced Tea for $0.60 a can and playground that only left you with splinters 90% of the time. Luxury, indeed.  

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^See, fairly normal suburban whatever-house. There used to be a third tree in that patch but it fell during hurricane Fran. I remember because the next day when I was climbing on it a yellow jacket stung the back of my leg. But this isn’t about Fran this is about a house that I remember being much bigger than this! Turns out I was just smaller than I am now! Science is crazy.

My favorite thing as a child was to play pretend, specifically as a princess.  As many of you know, I still do this today and it can be very annoying. But as a kid, it was quite cute. I had a canopy bed and all white furniture with brass plated detailing typical of a 90s girl’s room. I’d tap around the foyer of our house in my shiny black Sunday shoes and polyester slips believing I was Cinderella or whomever I wanted to embody that day. My mother’s taste in furniture was grand and traditional, dark cherry woods that, when I slid the fingers of my white gloves across them, made me feel like Anastasia. Outside, I’d play with my dog in the overgrown cattails by the pond and talk to myself, like the tomboy alter ego of any fairy tale protagonist. But inside, I would put on a toy tiara and sneak into my mom’s china cabinet to play with her silver. We didn’t live in a McMansion just yet, but the details were there. The aspiration was there. To me, it always felt like pretend. And I guess it was supposed to. 

It’s normal for kids to idolize those who have more than they do. Adults, too. And to the untrained eye, bigger + crazier + vague references to lavishness of yore = wealth. On summer days, my brother Winston and I used to rollerblade down to the neighborhood’s one local McMansion, which at the time we just referred to as “The Mansion,” and we’d gawk at how official it looked. To us, it was basically the White House. Who lived there, we wondered? They must be famous! Remember, this house was in Garner, North Carolina. Probably not a half mile from our own. No…looking back, I don’t think anyone “famous” lived there. We were young.

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^McMansion AF, you guys! For some reason I remember there being a gate at the beginning of this driveway but that would be literally nuts, wouldn’t it? Also, please look at the mailbox. And that gigantic dormer. And the spacing of the windows. And the chimney! And the fact that there are TWO FUCKING FRONT DOORS! This is the house that I wanted to live in at age 7. As you can probably guess, there is nothing on either side of my family that qualifies as “old money.”

Not long after that, my mom remarried. Winston and I were sitting in the den of our between-houses rental home when our mom and stepfather-to-be showed us a mockup of the house they were having built. A house big enough for two of my mom’s kids and four of his and the two of them and the dog to all live together in the middle of Cary, North Carolina. It was…a certified McMansh. Or as I yelped excitedly upon seeing the drawings: “A MANSION???!” My mom shushed me, smirking. I mean it would be wrong to brag, of course. But clearly I was about the become the rich-bitch princess I had always deserved to be. I was ten years old.

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The house I lived in from age 10 to age 17

I can’t really sum up what it was like to live here because all my memories are biased due to a) the fact that the ages 10-17 are some of the most complicated and traumatizing years of your life EVEN when you have a traditional nuclear family and no mental illness and b) I most certainly did not have a traditional nuclear family or a sound emotional state. But we did have 6 bedrooms, a three-car garage, a trampoline in the back, a big deck, and a massive interior which was either full of strangers or completely empty, cold and echoing. My room was enormous by any standard, which was great for retreating from the world to journal and make collages and, in the later years, to do drugs. I didn’t drive until I was almost out of high school, and I spent up to that time annoyed I didn’t live downtown with the other cool kids in their smaller, historic bungalows that better fit my ~super indie hipster aesthetic~. Things were uneven here and there, and after a while, started falling apart.

But I do think it was beautiful, and my mom loved it. She adored it, honestly, at times as though it were one of her children. I think it was a symbol for her steadfast belief that we really could have the perfect life. That our family, even though it was a weirdo wonky mess most of the time, did all belong together under this big-ass roof. “If you build it, happiness will come,” you know? Or maybe it was a “the bigger the house, the closer to God,” sort of thing. I’m kidding.

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Some McMansion Hell-inspired art I made based on my own experience. Do u get it?

I do have some good memories of this place. The pantry, for one, which was roughly the size of my entire current apartment and always stocked with snacks; the way you could be on one end of the house hooking up with your teenage boyfriend and your parents couldn’t hear on account of being a half a mile away in their bedroom; the fact that my mom was queen of the castle, so when I was there, she was taking care of me. It was something comforting to return to when I was in college and living in houses that were quite literally falling to the ground. I hated the suburbs, sure, but I loved how you could see the stars in the sky, walk around in the middle of the night safely, jump a fence to a pool and the worst that would happen is a soccer mom would furrow her eyebrows at you through a glass-brick window.

And of course, once I moved to New York, our McMansion became my post-ironic luxury. Every time I would visit I’d take photos of myself in my mom’s spa-like bathroom, walk around in her terry cloth robe sipping champagne, bask in the sun in an adirondack chair and worry about absolutely nothing. That’s what the suburbs are good for – while they may not be an entirely accurate representation of your reality, if in fact you are in the market for a comfortable delusion, they are always there for you. At 23, living in a rat infested building and making $300 a week, I loved going home again to play pretend.

The house sold back in April when the Bradys came un-bunched. But I don’t miss it. It was too much, like a lot of things that were going on at the time. And now a new young family lives there and my mom lives in a lovely house not too far away. But looking at the photos of it, I have to say I am overwhelmed with nostalgia. On Google street view you can see our old cars in the driveway, and for a second it really got to me. I don’t miss the house really, or the neighborhood, or most of the family. I guess part of me just misses the safety of having a home base at all. Misses not knowing the truth: that you can’t go back to the past, that everything disappears eventually, that some things weren’t made to last in the first place.

ANYWAY, the blog is funny as shit, and I am basically in love with Kate and her taste level/depth of knowledge/dry-as-heck wit. Apparently we’re from the same place and all, so unless she’s like 75, we MUST have some mutual friends. If you know her, introduce me, so we can get married ironically on the steps of a McMansion.

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McMansionHell.com

 

 

 

Shout Out To Resilience —Just Some Thoughts From a Whiny New Yorker

It was a typical September night in New York, chilly-ish and humid as hell, and I was returning home around 11:30. I’d spent my evening making notes on a pilot, practicing improv and eating a large pile of greasy onion rings my body hardly even craved, let alone needed in the slightest. I was tired, and I had to get up in just a few hours for an early meeting at work.

I was already in NO MOOD to take bullshit from anyone. And then, not five feet from my doorway, a figure scurried quickly across my shoes and brushed against my bare ankles. That’s right. A rat. A rat touched my skin. Before I could realize what I was doing, I jumped in the air and yelped like a Looney Tune who’d be stuck with a hot poker. A parody of a Woman In New York.

Perhaps it was my exhaustion or the onion rings flaring up, but as I was washing the possible (likely) plague off my skin, all the drawbacks of the city started getting to me. For most of my time here, though it’s been stressful, I’ve shrugged off things like insane rents, rodent corpses and #commuterproblems as merely a price to pay for living in such an exciting place. I figured soon enough the stress would pay off and it would all be worth it. Typical transplant delusion.

Now I’m in year five, working a day job and several unpaid side hustles, sometimes wondering if the other shoe is ever going to drop. I know it will, I tell myself, if I just keep working hard and don’t quit. Eventually I’ll succeed, and get to be one of those happy New Yorkers (they exist, right?) who don’t have to run into a random man on their block holding a giant pet snake, or worry about getting crickets thrown on them on the D train. Maybe things like this and this will stop happening, and I won’t be so angry at this place and everyone in it. Maybe, in the meantime, I should stop reading Gothamist (but I can’t. I can’t stop.)

I know, I know. I complain about my life as a ~creative in NY~…but I’m aware I don’t have it that bad. I’m a white girl with a job, her own apartment, two cats and a few friends. I eat, like, 4 meals a day. And I have cable, for Christ’s sake! It’s not convenient, but no one is making me live here. I made a choice. Maybe it’ll pay off, maybe it won’t. The grass is always greener, ain’t it?

But I sure do love this place. I love the diversity, the skyline, the opportunity. The feeling that your life could change with the turn of a street corner. The people. Our spirit and resilience when we are targeted by terror and face that risk every day. The people.

I also love North Carolina, where I’m from. I love it in spite of Pat McCrory’s hateful ass and HB2 and the oh-so-many laws against queer rights and black rights and reproductive rights. In spite of the ignorance and anger and violence towards protestors in the wake of the murder of Keith Scott.

I have family there. I have friends there. I grew up there.

But injustice, well, that’s everywhere in this country. Even your so-called “blue state” is full of “blue lives” who will murder someone for being black. It’s really happening. And it’s happening over and over and over again. I count my privileges every day.

I stand in solidarity with black people in my home state and everywhere fighting for their right to live. I stand in solidarity with New York as we continue grinding in the face of the threat of violence toward our city.

I left North Carolina, and I may even leave New York someday. But both places are forever dear to my heart. I even think I love America, as hard as it is to do. It just has so much potential, you know? Like an absent father who keeps promising to show up. And I’ll keep coming out to the doorstep, hoping for things to turn around. It’s why I’m not writing in “BeyoncĂŠ” on the presidential ballot. That, and I’m not a fucking idiot.

I admire those who continue to show up, who aren’t just waiting but speaking out, sharing their influence, shouting in the streets and refusing to take shit from this broken system. I admire those who thrive on ambition, who will stop at nothing to achieve their dreams, even when it seems like the world is set up to make them fail. I also admire those who have failed, those who are tired, those who don’t know where they’re going or can’t take anymore. We are only human.

I respect you and I am here for you if you ever need.

To all my friends, everywhere, look out for one another and take care of yourselves.

FUCK POLITENESS. ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.

Allow me to interrupt our regular programming (me starting great posts and not finishing them) to make a good old fashioned rant. 

TRIGGER WARNING: sexual harassment and assault are discussed in this post.

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Everyone knows about catcalling. Street harassment is basically “old news” at this point, which is a shame because even though it had quite a moment in the press in 2015, it remains a huge fucking problem. Every woman has likely experienced it at least one time in her life, and those of us in cities with high pedestrian traffic, well, it basically rains on you daily. 

I am an adult woman living in New York working full time and doing comedy. I live alone. I walk around alone. I take the subway alone late at night. Sometimes I follow those “rules” about being extra safe (don’t wear your headphones late at night!) and sometimes I don’t. I prefer to have my earbuds in most of the time because men yell disgusting things at me consistently throughout my commute that I could simply do without. It happens all the time, no matter what I’m wearing. That’s just what happens to us.

At the beginning of this summer, a date asked me if I felt nervous walking around Brooklyn in my skimpy clothing, like I was somehow increasing my chances of harassment or sexual assault. Like I would somehow be responsible, even in part, for a humiliating or possibly violent act committed against me. This person is a fucking idiot, and not so coincidentally, a cis gendered male who has clearly enjoyed the privileges of our systemically sexist, victim blaming culture his entire life. If you’re a reader of my blog, I bet you can guess how I responded. If you’re new to this kind of discussion, Google slut shaming and victim blaming to find out why those things are bogus mechanisms of the patriarchy. If you flat out disagree with me, you can just go away. I value my mental state too much to engage every misogynist turd who has no reason to leave the comfortable doodoo pile that is his ideology. 

I have harassment stories of all varieties! Workplace, school, Internet, street — you name it. I could literally start an entire new blog just on this topic and never run out of material, but I won’t do that bc it wouldn’t be fun to write. But I will say that it doesn’t just happen in the dark, spooky alley ways when you’re not paying attention and wearing a dress and your hair in an easy-to-grab ponytail. FUCK that. One of the weirdest, scariest experiences I’ve had with street harassment was earlier this year in broad fucking daylight, after being caught in a rainstorm with a big jacket and no makeup on: I was chased down the sidewalk by a loud, possibly intoxicated or unstable individual, who proceeded to grab me and yank me toward him until I screamed and ran away. Just your typical Sunday after brunch!

What REALLY fucking pisses me off is the catch 22 where if we ~overreact~ in a situation where we feel pressured, we’re made to feel guilty for not being polite. So, is it “women are paranoid” or “women are bringing this on ourselves?” WHICH IS IT??

I bet we have all been in a situation where we didn’t feel safe, where our instincts were telling us something wasn’t right, but we were worried about speaking up for fear of being wrong, for seeming rude unnecessarily. 

BUT HERE’S THE THING

WE ARE LITERALLY BEING SCREAMED AT AND FOLLOWED HOME BY STRANGE MEN ON A DAILY BASIS.

MEN ARE LITERALLY ASSAULTING US, RAPING US, AND THEYRE NOT EVEN BEING PUNISHED.

IT IS NOT UNREASONABLE FOR US TO FEEL UNSAFE. EVER.

I felt this stronger than ever yesterday at 7PM on the A train. I got on and noticed a young man staring at me and grinning wide, almost laughing. He was looking me up at down. I gave him a furious glare and turned the other way. I felt violated and gross, but, I’m sad to say, I was used to it. The man got up from his seat like he was about to exit the train, but then he stayed on, and he walked toward me. He pointed to the seat next to me (one of those perpindicular orange seats closer to the wall, on the older trains. I was sitting on the aisle side). There were several other seats available on the train, many with no other passengers next to them, and this man was requesting to sit next to me. 

“Don’t sit there,” I said. I could feel the other passengers looking at me. Or maybe they weren’t. Maybe I was worried I looked like a jerk. Worried I was having a bad day, possibly imagining things. The narrative of the patriarchy had poisoned me.

That’s when the man proceeded to step over my legs and squeeze himself into the corner seat next to me. Remember, there were open seats EVERYWHERE on this train. Immediately, I got up and stood by the door. At the next stop, at the last possible second so I wouldn’t be followed, I ran out, then ducked into the next car.

And even though I knew in my gut I had a reason to be scared and upset and to react the way I did, a part of me still worried maybe I had overeacted. Maybe I’d been wrong. Maybe I looked dramatic and stupid.

BUT WHO FUCKING CARES?!

Tonight I was listening to the true crime podcast My Favorite Murder, and they were reading survivor stories sent in by the listeners. I’m new to the podcast, but I love hearing about mysteries and how crimes are solved, so I’m enjoying it so far. One listener wrote in and told a story from her teen years where she was riding in a car with some strange guys she had a bad feeling about. She knew she’d made a mistake by getting in the car with them and insisted they drop her off immediately before making it to the second location –thankfully for her, they did drop her off. Because the two guys ended up later sexually assaulting a female in a nearby field and beating her beyond recognition. The listener felt it had been a close call for her, and cited it as the moment where she learned to trust her instincts and to FUCK being polite. 

I am NOT saying that had she not been brave enough to speak up, to get out of that car and out of that situation that any resulting trauma would have been her fault at all.

IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OF HARRASSMENT OR ASSAULT IT IS NEVER YOUR FAULT.

What I am advocating for, though, is women trusting themselves. The narrative of rape culture hypnotizes us and tells us we’re wrong, turns our own testimony as victims against us so often that of course it affects us. Of course it makes us question ourselves. But fuck that shit! We are our own last line of self defense, so when it comes to preserving our safety and our RIGHT to live without being violated and threatened, FUCK being polite. FUCK feeling guilty. FUCK that sweet, non-boat-rocking disposition they want us to have and look out for YOU, no questions asked. 

I advocate #RADICALSELFTRUST

Rambling about Rambling

mariah overthinking

You know what I kinda miss, just a little? I miss 2010 when I first started this blog as a Tumblr, posting for my 3 consistent readers about the dumb shit I did that past weekend. I don’t think I even promoted the posts. It was mostly a cathartic experience for me, where, after having a run-in with the cops, or hooking up with some now has-been/possibly never-was DJ on a tour bus, I’d work through the anxiety of my hangover by turning all the stupid things I did into jokes. If I had embarrassed myself, I figured people would talk about it. So I wanted to be the first one to get the story out, in my own words.

Looking back, I must have known that no one was really going to talk shit about the time I drank so much I peed on Alex’s borrowed couch, or the time I got yelled at by my boss at the diner for showing up to work with whiskey breath. We were all garbage in college. Every person worth a damn, at least at my university, was deeply tormented during those years, making mistakes like it was their job and underachieving their potential. Probably had something to do with the cocktail of post-adolescent malaise plus a newfound freedom mixed with the giant QUESTION MARK a good liberal arts education will cause you to place on society. It was hard to believe in anything except how fabulous we’d be in the future, and how fun the next party would be.

So if I was making fun of myself to silence any critics, the only critic I can think of is me. Forget the collective critic of the Normal Majority–they didn’t know who I was to begin with. It was all in my head. “You fucked up again. You slept too late again. You’re hungover again. You acted a fool. You’re not taking care of your mental or physical health. But if you’re going to have fun, you might as well back yourself up.” So I did, and it always made me feel better. Plus, it was fun. And then a few people, just a few, started paying attention. So I kept doing it because I like entertaining people. But over time I started to think more about who was reading, which made me overthink what I would put out there. I wanted my stuff to be a little more polished, shareable, all the annoying things they tell you your content should be if you want to get people to notice you.

That mindset, of course, got me just the opposite. Now I’m overthinking it. I’m not just opening my computer and letting it flow like I did back then. Okay, part of that might have to do with the fact that I don’t really party anymore, that my laptop is as old as this blog, or that I have a full-time job and “several other projects.” But the biggest factor that keeps me from writing is pressure. Pressure to have 3,000 words every time I sit down. Or shit, even know what the fuck I’m going to say when I sit down. I have posts that I outlined and worked on over the course of weeks, only to end up publishing them well after the event they were referring to. Not a total waste of time, no, but if I’d chilled out a little bit I could have so much more fun.

I always say I don’t have enough time, and yeah, I work hard. I’m doing a lot of things. But I want to get back in that mindset of freely telling stories, not thinking about the outcome, just messing around. That’s what the writing was supposed to be for in the first place. I just need to get out of my own way.

I don’t miss being a hot-ass mess, but I do miss not giving a fuck.

100 Things White, Straight Men Can Do With Their Time Instead of Starting Ignorant Arguments

Spaghetti Man

Hey there white, straight male. Things are getting pretty crazy for you these days, huh? It seems like everywhere you turn people are mad at your kind for something. Sometimes it’s for raping women and getting away with it, sometimes it’s for killing innocent black people and getting away with it, sometimes it’s for upholding the system that allows for everyone but those like you to have their lives as they know it taken from them. I mean, where will it end?

I get it. You didn’t create the world we live in. Must be tough for you to just sit back and listen to all these people express their outrage at the Straight White Man for killing their black brothers and sisters, for putting guns in the hands of homophobes, for telling women what they can and can’t do with their bodies, raping them, and then doing nothing when they come forward. I mean, they’re talking about you, right? And they don’t even know you. That must be why you’re so upset.

Maybe you’re upset because you voted for Bernie and you hate that people don’t see you as “one of the good guys.” Maybe you want to learn more about inequality but instead of educating yourself you see that as the burden of the oppressed. Maybe you’re so blinded by your own privilege that you can’t help but give the benefit of the doubt to a system that is so far beyond it. Or maybe you really are, deep down, so rooted in your own weakness and hatred that you don’t even believe in the right for black people, queer people, women and those that intersect to be as free, as alive as you.

I don’t know. I don’t know what it is exactly that fuels you to be so loud, so indignant, such horrible listeners when shit hits the fan. I imagine one might be a devil’s advocate if they were the child of the devil himself. But I really don’t know. I tend to keep my distance from those of you who refuse to stop talking, refuse to stop inserting your feelings where they don’t belong. I block you from my social media and from my life. But sadly, I see people I care about having to engage with you every day. I feel for them, because we shouldn’t have to shield ourselves from your ignorance, your hatred, your entitlement, your ego that compels you to share your opinion like it’s some heroic act when literally no one even asked you. You should just know when to stop talking.

The thing that baffles me most about all of this is you are the most privileged group of people on the planet. If you don’t want to help our causes, there are so many other things you could do with your day besides clog up our timelines with bullshit. All I can deduce here is that you just can’t think of any. So, I’ve decided to help you.

100 Things White, Straight Men Can Do With Their Time Instead of Starting Ignorant Arguments

  1. Shave your face
  2. Play ultimate frisbee
  3. Watch an action movie! I think a new Independence Day just came out or something but I really…I really don’t know.  
  4. Take yourself out to a nice dinner for one, or bring a date. Or bring a friend. No homo!
  5. Go to a strip club
  6. Work on your physique. For all the time you spend criticizing women’s bodies, you should all be in perfect shape.
  7. Travel to another country. Literally any country. Even North Korea! Just don’t steal a poster.
  8. Sleep for 10 hours a night and show up late to work without getting fired
  9. In fact, go job hunting for any of the thousands of opportunities out there for you to work with other people just like you turning money into more money
  10. Go actual hunting
  11. Smoke marijuana in the comfort of your own home
  12. Smoke marijuana on the street where it isn’t legal and get a slap on the wrist
  13. Adopt a dog
  14. Go to the beach
  15. Enjoy a leisurely bike ride
  16. Enjoy a Coca Cola
  17. Have someone take a picture of you in hiking gear standing in front of a mountain
  18. Binge-watch something. I can recommend so many things. Have you ever seen House of Cards? Have you ever seen The Sopranos? Have you ever seen Mad Men? They’re all wonderfully written shows about white men abusing their power that I think you’d find very relatable.
  19. Get on ancestry.com and find out which European countries your great great grandparents are from!!!!!
  20. Buy a plant
  21. Call your mother
  22. Hydrate
  23. Take your vitamins
  24. Barbecue something
  25. Watch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (it actually is a great show)
  26. Get a journal. I find it really helps me when I’m feeling like an anxious entitled baby to write my thoughts somewhere no one will ever see them.
  27. Pumice your calluses
  28. Go condom shopping. There’s no excuse for running out of condoms.
  29. Skiing
  30. Water skiing
  31. Jet skiing
  32. Wakeboarding
  33. Surfing
  34. Fishing
  35. Sailing
  36. Powerboating
  37. Get really drunk and fight another annoying white guy
  38. Attempt to flirt with a girl without harassing her. This is a tough challenge for you but I just know you can do it.
  39. Shop for clothes. J. Crew is having a sale, probably. If that’s not your thing, try REI. Target always has great prices. And you can usually find old “No Fear” t-shirts in the bins at Goodwill.
  40. Walk around your neighborhood at night wearing a hoodie.
  41. Buy cigarettes
  42. Just get a hot tub for like, no reason
  43. Have children!
  44. Adopt children!
  45. Get a vasectomy!
  46. Get tested for STDs
  47. Shoplift something
  48. Stroll confidently down a dark alley
  49. Go to a brewery, or a beer hall, or a gastropub. I don’t know the difference between these things.
  50. Learn a new language
  51. Apply for a loan
  52. Have a house party
  53. Get an adult coloring book. No one has to know.
  54. Have a game night with your girlfriend and her best friend and her boyfriend and play Cards Against Humanity and giggle your hearts out at offensive things that people would otherwise find extremely problematic
  55. Clean out your closet
  56. Clip your fingernails
  57. Get a massage
  58. Enjoy different ethnic foods and over-congratulate yourself when you pronounce a menu item correctly
  59. Gentrify something
  60. Change your hair. The man-bun’s getting kind of old.
  61. Watch a historical film that takes place in an African country but stars people who look like you so you feel more comfortable
  62. Masturbate
  63. Have consensual sex
  64. Have a consensual threesome!
  65. Have a consensual orgy!!!
  66. Try some butt stuff, on your end this time. You know you’ve been wanting to do it and there are plenty of women out there who would love to touch your butthole. Really.
  67. Drive around with a broken taillight
  68. Change lanes without signaling
  69. Get wild and grab a cop’s gun. He’ll safely disarm you and you’ll spend a couple nights in jail but everyone will know you as a badass from then on.
  70. Get really into graffiti
  71. Hitchhike across the country
  72. Play that game where you try to name all the states and their capitals
  73. Hit up the 7/11 for a Coors tallboy and just spend the afternoon playin video games
  74. Golf
  75. Bowling
  76. Watch sports on the tube
  77. Play fantasy sports with your bros
  78. Obsess over male athlete’s physical characteristics without even noticing how homoerotic it is
  79. Learn to skateboard. If you already know how, skateboard.
  80. Swipe on Tinder for hours and hours and hours until you can’t remember what your standards are or why you thought you ever wanted to date in the first place
  81. Call a phone sex line
  82. Monster Truck Rally
  83. Look at old pictures and get really nostalgic for the Good Times aka Undergrad With The Bros
  84. Go be the weird lonely guy at a bar
  85. Get really into your dental hygiene. You really can never be too into dental hygiene.
  86. Hit up the aquarium
  87. Stare at a wall
  88. Check your horoscope
  89. Meditate
  90. If you pray, pray
  91. If you don’t pray, try praying. Hey, it’s worth a shot.
  92. Go for a run
  93. Cook a meal for someone you care about
  94. Sing a song
  95. Learn an instrument
  96. Read. Read the news. Read a novel. Read a memoir. Read a comic book. Read the white privilege knapsack.
  97. Call that one black friend or that gay cousin you keep bringing up and ask them how they’ve been feeling lately. Then just listen.
  98. Look inward. Dare to be critical of your role in the world. Dare to be critical of the hand that feeds.
  99. Be still.
  100. And if and when you’re ready to contribute something productive, speak up.