Hey, Pay Me. Also, WHat if I had a Pet Store??

I guess last Saturday was bleak because I spent it devouring the rest of Nurse Jackie, sipping on a gin & juice with my mind on my money and my money on my mind. Now, I’m nowhere near broke, but what I am is emotionally spent. Socially taxed. Creatively kaput.

You know what’s cute? People think I make money off this blog. (It’s very flattering, and) I’m sort of silly for not making that a reality until now! It’s always been my ideal career to just get paid for thinking thoughts and because people like me. So, make my dreams come true? Hey, pay me.

paypal.me/sdsurvivalguide

I now have a donate link! I appreciate the support SO, SO MUCH if you are able to contribute <3 <3

Screenshot_2016-04-25-11-17-06

Maybe I could make money patenting juice deliver system for birbs!!

Anyway, speaking of money… My current fantasy is to stop telling programmers what to do (that is my Real Job) and instead open a pet shop with my Pa. I mean, it will never be as exciting as the Free Zoo but perhaps it could be more conveniently located? Trendier? San Diego pet shops (F’Zoo excluded) sort of run the range of What If Whole Foods Ran a Pet $tore? to Holy Fuck This is Just A Closet Full of Dog Toys. Neither of these extremes really meet my needs, so I either go to Pet Kingdom or convince my roommate to go there on her way home from jewelry class to pick up a mouse for snakesnake.

Consider this my first exploratory effort. What’s lacking from your pet shop experiences? Do you actually like going to the pet stores? Who else is grossed out by PetCo? Send me a picture of your cat? Are there any animals in here?

Anyway, love you my readers. Less disjointed blog posts coming soon when I’m not being such a weird lil’ stress ball. LIFE IS HARD THO. I CAN’T EVEN TALK ABOUT IT ON MY PUBLIC BLOG THO.

PS.

Pay me?

paypal.me/sdsurvivalguide

How to (Actually) Survive Your Own Overwhelming Laziness (pt.2)

This post contains actual solutions instead of fake sad ones! But, if you would prefer to remain lazy, I do have a list of excuses and coping mechanisms for you.

I’ve really only learned two things, but they ended up being important.

  • Identify bad habits that are destroying your productivity
  • Find a way to motivate yourself to decrease them

Everyone likes to talk about good habits. I thought that, since I lack discipline, I should focus on creating good habits and positivity and fluffy happy thoughts and I will be perfect and amazing. It turns out that is incredibly wrong. 1. I resist saccharine bullshit in all things and 2. Bad discipline = I don’t want to do any *thing* = I don’t want to do good things. “Just write 15 minutes a day!” I told myself. I blocked out time in my calendar, I downloaded habit apps, I rewarded myself with candy.

habit bull app android

This should have worked. After all, I’ve had great success with this 7 minute workout app that I have been forcing myself to complete no less than 5 times a week (using Habit Bull to track that). It turns out that discipline is easier when I have a robot voice commanding me to do workout things while my mind is free to think about fun things like cute animals, cute women, or arguing with dudes on the internet. It also turns out that discipline is impossible when you have to sit down for 15 minutes in silence and be artistically impressive.

I was not using my bad discipline to my advantage. I love not doing anything, therefore, I can learn to like not doing bad things! All I have to do is nothing! Yes, there was something bad I was doing & it would be better for me to spend that time doing absolutely nothing at all.

internet binge
/’In.tər.net binj/

noun

When, after checking your phone or computer for messages, you waste fucking eons of time looking at all of the internet.

Backstory; I am not friends with caffeine. At low doses, I am really uncomfortable; at high doses I cry, slur my words, and pass out on floors. Caffeine does not help my hangovers, by the way. Caffeine turns my hangovers into: “oh my god all of my blood is poison and I can feel all 1.2 gallons of it pulsing through me and why won’t my hands stop shaking??” Anyone who has a coffee with their hangover* is a masochist; hangovers are for sleeping.

Living life without wake-up drugs is difficult, and that’s why I schedule 9 hours of sleep on work nights and I *used to* use my phone to replace coffee. “Watermelon-watermelon-watermelon..” my alarm song** rings, I stare into a bright screen for 15 minutes 30 minutes 1 hour, feel bright and shiny capable of getting up, and do my stuff.

I’ve been using the phone-in-my-face method for about 3 years now. It turns out I have been wrong about life for 3 years. It is better for me to lay in bed and do nothing, rather than introduce my brain to the addictive reward cycle of sweet, empty internet calories first thing in the morning. Invariably, I will continue to snack on internets for the rest of the day and ACHIEVE NOTHING and hate myself and have to use Netflix to cope.

habitica avatar golden fox

To aide me on my quest to defeat the internet binge, I made an account with Habitica. Gamification totally works for me, as does the level of customization available in this free app/browser tool. I got to watch my little character level up, get cool outfits, and hatch a baby golden fox just cuz I did my chores. For the internet binge, I started by setting a bad habit (I lose points if I do it) for any binges before 6pm. Later on, I increased the damage that habit does to my character, and added a bad habit for internet binges at any time. One exception: internet binges while pooping are totally allowed.

habitica bad habits examples

Habitica is also helping me replace the need to poke at my phone. It is a real, physical need! I have to be able to touch my phone periodically through the day, feel its smooth, fancy glass, its weight in my hands… I mean, there’s Neko Atsume, or there’s an extended-reality app that gives me gold coins for vacuuming. Ok, I can do this; I can be a good sami. Just need to complete more tasks to find a few more food items to raise my dragon big enough to ride him…

Wow. Look at how long this blog post is. Method totally works.


 

*kind of a lie. So, from what I’ve read on the science, if you are addicted to caffeine, a small amount will help you with your hangover by reducing caffeine withdrawal (a symptom worsened by overall hangover suckage). Too much caffeine, however, is bad for any hangover.

**this is a truly fantastic way to wake up and is how I’ve been doing it since Burning Man.

 

14 Reasons San Diego is for Lovers

went-out-in-search-of-a-lover-i-found-san-diego

I will fall in love with you in San Diego.

1. My tongue will separate the vesicles of a lime, taken from its bed of ice, in the first drink I ever shared with you.

2. We will neglect the white and persistent sun, touching only interior glass, for another morning spent in your bedroom.

3. We will buy twin IPAs again in our favorite ramen house.

4. You will make me poor of money and rich of joy.

5. I will memorize the creases beside your smiling eyes.

the-distance-hides-the-ways-in-which-I've-run-from-you

6. My feet haven’t touched sand since last summer, but they will know the softness of your carpet.

7. We will stack pallets and douse them in butane. We will give away our fire, and go home to make our own heat.

8. We will plan vacations in places where oak trees grow.

9. You will spin a blade of grass between your fingertips, and tell me your secrets.

10. I will compare my feelings to the ocean.

duchesse-de-bourgogne-whistle-stop-bar-san-diego

11. My lungs didn’t hurt this much, the last time I held my breath under the water.

12. We never really do come up for air.

13. We are like a freeway and its frontage road.

14. You don’t hear the owl that flies across the beam of my headlights.

I will fall in love with you in San Diego.

 

But the good news is I have 3 fewer teeth

I forgot today (er.. 2+ hours ago) was blog day. Perhaps it’s because surgery stole my weekend (==FOMO). I had my wisdom teeth removed – all three of them (I was missing one.. the doctor really didn’t want to talk about it.. she probably was embarrassed that science can’t explain that I am actually an alien and my fourth wisdom tooth is in fact my detachable spaceship).

image

I’m seriously considering taking all of December off and resuming posting in January. My heart just isn’t in it, and I’d prefer to give you better content than forced obligation posts at the moment (historically, forced obligation posts seem to keep ya’ll interested.. But I still feel like I ate nothing but ice cream all day when I write them (these past few days have taught me that ice cream is a seriously overrated food)). If this breaks your heart, comment / email / use compliments to guilt trip me. I’m really hoping, however, you all are happy to just archive binge for a month…

image

(whereas I just spent three days binging on pudding* because the inside of my mouth is a nightmare)

Thank you for understanding I am a real human and not a content robot and I’m really just winging it, all the time. ❤

image

*well; pudding, the aforementioned ice cream, soup, and like a lot of sour cream. A lot.

PS I have discovered a new product and I estimate I have eaten 8oz of sour cream in just three days because of it.

image

Is NaNoWriMo Hard?

The answer is yes. Unbelievably, soul-crushingly hard.

I call this the "Write By Whatever Means..." strategy

I call this the “Write By Whatever Means…” strategy

Last year, I wrote my first complete book in about 10 months. A year later, I am certain the book needs extensive revision and does not make sense to publish now (my first book: a memoir? At age 25? Sami, you delusional, egotistical fool!). All the same, just 10 days ago, I still believed in my incredible abilities to write quickly and make it to the finish line.

That has hilariously all changed, due to the “borderline unsustainable”* schedule required to win National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. 1,667 words a day x 30 days = 50,000 words = screw my social life. I can write 750 words in 25 minutes! I reassured myself. Only if these 750 words are a stream-of-conscious diary entry! I strategically ignored myself.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.26.06 PM

Today I am supposed to write 2,905 words. Due to my poor discipline, I am 1,238 words behind my schedule. Therefore, I am procrastinating with this blog post. Even my blog post is difficult, because 10 days of NaNo has changed me.

My inner editor and my inner drafter used to have a fairly loving, symbiotic relationship. Drafter would drag her feet just enough (a.k.a. constantly) to inspire Editor to soften her voice and offer timely, helpful feedback, and the occasional cheerleading. Now, Drafter is forced by the whip of word-count demands to write alone, desperately, sometimes with spelling errors (!). Editor does not take kindly to being silenced, so she lives in the margins of the Google Doc I use to write, leaving behind increasingly abusive comments and rows of yellow highlight.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.24.12 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.25.30 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.25.03 PM

Inner Editor would like to point out the timestamps are completely inaccurate and Google Docs should be ashamed of itself.

Before NaNoWriMo, I liked my first “drafts” of scenes enough to often include them nearly verbatim in the final script. Now I hate them. I hate them all, I’m a terrible writer, and I should give up forever. Except…

Into week two, I feel myself approaching a membrane in my consciousness. Where, before, I saw the written word a narrow bridge for the tongueless voices of my thoughts to reach the ears of others, I now see a waterfall to burst a dam. Perhaps I will now, finally, immediately think in words (odd writer that I am, my natural state is to think in pictures and vague emotions, and the words only come after warming and thinning like syrup over flame). Perhaps I will short-circuit the connection between mind and keyboard.

A diorama I made for another writing project

Or, at least, I’ll train myself to draft like rabbits breeding and, at the end, my trigger-happy editor will have a maniacal slaughter.


*words of Kelly Lagor

Change is hard

He’s an old man now.

His feet are puffy and red. The skin on his face is thin. His feathers, however, are still vibrant green.

Three weeks ago, I walked into my small macaw’s room and flipped the light in the dark, looking for something or other. One of his eyes stayed shut. I wondered if I’d caught him half asleep. I turned off the light.

image

A day or so later, I took him outside on his perch and set him near the edge of the pool. I lowered myself into the water, making our faces level. I noticed the redness in his eye. An infection? Or did he just poke himself. I should really cut his nails..

It seemed to clear up on its own until, two weeks later, I found him with an eye glued shut again. “Oh no, Bird bird!” I put warm water on a paper towel and gently touched it to his eye. It opened.

I thought about cancelling my vacation. This vacation I have been preparing for since I bought my ticket in February (and probably even before). Bird bird has been with me since I was 4, and he was a year old. That makes him 22. That makes him old. Could I live with myself if the combination of this illness or infection and his loneliness from missing me combined to cause his death? Birds are known to die of heartbreak. And colds.

I took a shower with him. He gratefully leaned into the warm mist. He does not usually like to be touched with fingers (4-year-olds aren’t the greatest at teaching birds to enjoy petting) but he let me gently rub his face with one of mine, oh so carefully wipe away the gunk in his eye. He is finally starting to trust me, to really trust me.

image

Ultimately, I decided I couldn’t make a decision without more information. I scheduled a visit to the vet. I prepared a box lined with towels in the passenger seat next to me. He made sounds of fright, and so he rode the 20 minutes on my shoulder. He hasn’t been in a car since we moved to San Diego.

image

I don’t know how I know he’s grouchy. His noises change. He gets nippy. He doesn’t want to be moved. The car ride made him grouchy. But he’s a good bird and weighing him at the vet office was easy enough. 145 grams. (I am so desperately in love with a being that weighs just 145 grams.)

The vet said his feet are perhaps just puffy because they are “old man feet.” She trimmed his nails. She suggested a soft rope perch. And he probably has conjunctivitis. For her opinion and a tiny tube of ointment, I willingly pay $110. I go home with hope that I did the best I can. Not hope about his lifespan.

I know he will die someday. I didn’t realize, however, I would recognize him growing old. I thought that, like many birds, he would die suddenly after having hid a simple cold from me. By the time you find them on the bottom of their cages, it is often too late.

His feet are strong enough to cling to his perches. They are strong enough to climb on top of the shower rail. Yet, nails trimmed, he could not cling so strongly to my fingers. Not like when he was young.

Goo

I missed my post last week. As self-punishment, I will share a very personal essay I performed at a recent variety show. It is called…

Goo

I could define the moment when I started to leave the comfortable, safe nook of being Daddy’s Girl to enter ‘womanhood’ by my preoccupation with my scent. Previously, I was happy to believe my father when he told me antiperspirant is the devil and deodorant is unnecessary. Then I started to really stink. Maybe the first time Daddy was really wrong was when my B.O. betrayed me. Thanks for that.

Armpits, okay, that’s easy for me. I put on my Tom’s of Maine after showers and don’t think about it. I think, though, you might not be aware of this secret world of crotch stink. I, and other women who have been brave enough to tell me, live in fear that the whole world can smell our vaginas. Is there something wrong down there? Am I diseased? Am I a slut? Is my body communicating to me about ovulation? Am I emanating pheromones? Could my pheromones be a little more selective in who they attract? Finally, if I catch myself liking my own scent (and Fat Bastard reminds us everyone likes their own brand, don’t they) is it because I’m a perverted narcissist or am I just happy my juice smells healthy?

Then there is the matter of which Goo do I put on my hair and skin? Most of this Goo is scented (or promises not to be). Some of the Goo smells delicious and wonderful out of the bright green bottle, or when it is another woman’s hair. Then I put this same Garnier Fructigoo in my own hair, and over time it turns into odor of rancid apricot sunscreen. I repeat for many weeks until I swear off Garnier fucking Fructis for life; this Goo will never be the Goo for me.

Perfumes come in artfully shaped bottles and ethereal colors, like witch potions. The boxes are thrown out, stickers removed, and thus there are no ingredients listed, like hard liquor. That is how I see them on bathroom shelves and counters, crowded together like bar booze or wizard elixirs. There is no test I can take to see which lab-concocted smell won’t turn into rancid apricot sunscreen on my body. I go online and read reviews where women tell me their “chemistry” goes really well with one thing or another, and I wonder if she smells like me. So far I’ve figured out that my chemistry is decidedly opposed to being smothered in “fruity” Goo.
It gets worse. You find a Goo that isn’t awful and is maybe making your skin/hair moisturized. Over time, however, the Goo leaves “deposits” on you. That is the term accepted by Girl Experts: deposits. For optimum Goo satisfaction, you are supposed to switch products, so that your brand new Goo can wash away the deposits from your last Goo.

There’s more. You can’t put most Goo in your Vagoo. It will disrupt your “feminine balance.” Everything you have learned from lotions, soaps, etc. for your skin does not apply down there. Some of the things advertised as safe are a lie. So when I can smell my own crotch when I’m trying to have lunch with my dad, I am secretly panicking about the limited number of solutions at my disposal. Meanwhile, after a day playing frisbee, he smells like a salty animal and doesn’t really seem to mind.

Eye Exam

Hello. I am currently dictating my blog post to my parrot.* He is typing with his talons. I hope he is doing a good job. He probably is – he is basically human but very little and also green. His name is Birdbird.

parrot-with-laptop---macaw-birdbird

I thought my eye sensitivity would diminish at some point tonight (and I could more quickly write this post), but it has not. It turns out my eyes are dumb and one of them decided to be farsighted and the other decided to be nearsighted. So we had to put the extra dilating drops in them to figure out exactly how much. It’s funny — the doctors make you bleary blind and then you can’t even see the price stickers on the frames they try to sell you and then they give you film sunglasses in an envelope and say it’s perfectly safe to drive home.

The doctor put up the usual test — a chart on the far wall. I covered my left eye. I read all but the last row. I covered my right eye. Startled, I read the entire chart.  “I thought this was my bad eye.” Through a series of tests — flipping lenses, cards of letters, those stinging drops — I learned something about myself I had never known. My left eye is farsighted, and amblyopic.

Last night I sat in the hot tub in my parents’ backyard. They were out of town. I glimpsed my nude body below me — something I don’t see often. I am not familiar with my topography. I think we all find our own bodies strange to some degree. Yet, I am entirely comfortable in my strangeness. For 7 years of my life, I believed this body wasn’t mine, and so, I am used to my body feeling alien.

“This is why I tell parents to take their kids for eye exams,” my doctor said. “If we had caught this when you were 10 or 11, you could have had a chance.” Point blank, she told me, “You will never have normal vision in your left eye. It is what it is.” This eye had always been that way, the other compensated, and now that the dominant one is starting to change, I am noticing the discrepancy more and more. Luckily, for whatever reason, my brain continued to use partial information from this amblyopic, or lazy eye, and its vision is fairly ok. Just a little farsighted.

Younger, disinvested in my borrowed host body, I ignored inconsistencies. I took the eye tests and passed them robotically. I didn’t bother to explain that I often closed my “bad” eye so that I could see better. I didn’t mention my surprise at doing well for these simple readings of letters on flash cards. I was an alien, someday I would go home, and these things mattered little.

Now I’m here. I’m very much human. It might be nice to have better vision, yes? It might be comforting to recognize myself more often in the mirror. Oh, but the losses are small, in my case. I am glad to be learning my body like it is new. And glad to not have learned to suffer at its limitations, to assume ownership of flaws. So, now I’ll take these vision quirks, and the sense of wonder at still being able to find something new about my physical self, even at age 25. When my hair starts turning gray, I imagine I will feel the same.

It is what it is. At least now, I know.


*I love my bird. I got him when I was 4. For political reasons I have to say I don’t think it’s humane to own a pet parrot or exotic bird. They are wild animals and need to be able to fly, have friends all day, and eat a variety of foods. There are other pets more suited to domestic life. That said, he was born in captivity and has never been able to fly due to deformity. I think the life I give him is ok but could be better. Some parrots also have very little chance of being reconditioned to the wild and I support rescuing them. Please choose birds that could use a second or third or fourth home!

Consent: Beyond Words

Using speech to ask for consent is the entry point and the bare minimum. Absolutely, we much teach each other to ask and teach each other to listen for the answers. No means no. Confirm that the yes is enthusiastic. Words are what we have chosen as a species to transcend the skin and skulls that keep us separate, words and their offspring are as close as we can currently get to telepathy.

Yet this world did not teach me to say, “no,” and the greatest betrayals I have faced happened when men not only did not hear my timid refusals in my voice, but they also did not hear the timid refusals in my shoulders, in my breath, in my eyes. These nonverbal cues scream to me when I see them in other women because I, too, have raised tiny shields and tiny trumpets and gone to war in silence. I ask, “How can you not see this?”

Still, I empathize. When I was first coming out of the closet, first to myself and then to others, I felt many things but one that I sensed intensely was, as I called it, my lack of agency. I saw the way some men took of women and seemed to get what they wanted, and I did not know how to enter this dance of lust and love and get what I wanted. I was frustrated. I was angry. I felt robbed.

I think all men enter this private battle that I entered. Do we trust the story we are seeing play out in front of our eyes and teach ourselves to take what we desire? For me, such a thing was patently unacceptable. I learned my own other way and I learned to ask and the love I receive is abundant. I realized that feeling robbed was my first mistake — I am not entitled to sex or touch or love. You get those things when you are good, when you are sweet, when you are open, and honestly just when you are lucky. I realized I was angry with myself the most; for being too cowardly to even ask, let alone touch. My frustration was my own fault, and on top of that, it made me unattractive.

Yet it is not so easy to come to these realizations. It is far easier to believe that asking for consent is just not sexy, or that practicing consent is simply doing nothing at all for fear of harming anyone. It is easy to believe a false dichotomy; either I’m an asshole and I get laid, or I’m nice and I get nothing.

My first steps towards shattering these myths were to realize 1) There are a wealth of messages sent nonverbally between human beings and I can hear them, see them, feel them if I try and 2) It is better to realize quickly a woman is not interested in me and move on than to postpone the discomfort of understanding rejection. The truth is, it hurts far more to pine secretly after someone than to let go when, in the end, it turns out they don’t want you.

Consent beyond words is learning to actively listen with all of your senses. The first wall you will face is the overwhelming tsunami of “No” and disinterest that you had been willfully ignoring to protect your own pride.  There are other walls, too, that I can’t even begin to describe in one blog post.

Beyond this initial sting, you will find a peaceful clarity. You will be able to forge honest friendships, untainted with motive. You will be able to present your truer, more vulnerable, less needy self. This self is, if we’re going to be practical, a more attractive self. And beyond your new calm, you will begin to recognize warm rays of “yes” beaming onto you. One might, unsmiling, avoid your eyes with hers when you ask her flirtful questions (no) while another will soak up your interest and laugh and speak back to you (yes?). The latter may, of course, be only seeking friendship, but she will be kind to you when you ask for her kiss and she’s not interested, because she does care for you. Bolstered by this kindness, you will be less timid to ask another your heart’s next desire.

Listen and see, listen and see. Cast aside your motivations and expectations. Offer your desires as gifts of insight, not as trials of sadness v. pleasure. That is the only way I can happily live, and happily live I do.

P.S. I am going on vacation, so next time will be posting early, on Saturday.

It is Absolutely Unnecessary for Men to Touch the Small of My Back

To make these points, I am going to have to rein in my disgust and fury at the very thought of men grazing, slithering, or pawing their hands against the region of my back below my shoulder blades and above my behind. This is because I really do think most men (or at least the men I can bother to try educating) have no idea just how bad it is when they do this to me and other women.

The usual disclaimer applies — a behavior that is gross/scary when it is unwelcome can be comfortable or even exciting when it is welcome (e.g. touching each other’s bits!). And in frequent-enough cases, all that it takes for a behavior to be “welcome” to a woman is for her to think you’re hot. It’s still non-consensual to touch someone out of the blue and you still shouldn’t do it (’cause you can’t be certain she thinks you’re hot) but I’m sure you can come up with a handful of exceptions when a girl has been totally down for you to touch the small of her back (your girlfriend, your prom date, your mutual crush). I’m not talking about these exceptions — except to say, don’t assume you’re an exception, hot stuff.

If I’m being honest with myself, this is what probably actually goes through a guy’s mind when he touches the small of my back (as he passes by me at a party or the club):

blank-mind-dude-has-no-idea-he-is-being-super-creepy

He thinks nothing at all

Regardless of his intent, this is what goes through my mind:

Meanwhile my mind is like: SPIDERS

Meanwhile my mind is like: SPIDERS

Yes, spiders. All I feel are spiders.

  1. Men who do this never make eye contact first and often approach from an angle where I don’t see it coming. Therefore I tend to be caught by surprise and it’s startling. Like with spiders.
  2. Men who do this also tend to use a very light touch (except the occasional drunken paw-ers). I’ll get into why this may be so and why it’s upsetting, but the effect is also: spiders.
  3. I happen to not like being touched by men I don’t know well (‘cuz I’m pretty gay yo, and also rape culture), which reminds me of how sometimes there are freaky little intruders in my personal space, a.k.a spiders.
  4. A lot of men who do this linger like they just wish their hands could hang out on my back for as long as possible and it feels like that slow-mo moment of discovering something is crawling across your body oh holy f– IS THAT A SPIDER?

Look, while some guys are just plain creeps, I’m pretty sure even the most decent of guys (e.g. you) have done or still do this behavior. I think that guys, usually at a preteen or otherwise sexually-awakening age, witness other men doing this to women. They see that and think, gosh, I’d like to touch women, too (I mean, come on, touching women is awesome). So then they try it. And nothing bad happens to them. So they keep doing it.

i-wish-i-could-be-all-the-bad-that-happens-to-guys-that-do-this

I wish I could be all the bad that happens to guys that do this in order to deter them from inflicting back-spiders on myself or anyone else ever again, but there are a couple of things going on which prevent that.

1. It is usually difficult to react due to practical reasons. Guys tend to do this as they are passing by me in a crowded room. It may be too loud to effectively shout my dismay, I might need to focus on getting through a people bottleneck and not getting trampled, and/or I might be carrying a very full drink that would spill if I leapt away in horror.

2. I am not socialized to immediately react to this particular offense and neither are bystanders. If a strange man were to touch my butt it would be “understandable” for me to make a “big deal” out of this, hunt him down, scold him, slap him in the face, and/or sic a boyfriend or security on him, depending on the severity of the butt-touching. The back, however, is not as protected as a “sacred” place and I will neither get sympathy for or even fully understand why it so bothers me when dudes touch it like that.

Ok, but let’s break down why this is so screwy.  A man blatantly touching my butt knows he’s being a perv and knows I know he’s being a perv. A man ever-so-softly touching my back, whether or not he realizes this, is communicating to me that he knows he should not touch my butt (or even my back, really, hence the soft touch), yet wants to get as close as possible anyway. That is scary dude!! You know better but you’re still going to try to get away with something??

I am socialized to think the small of my back is not supposed to be a big deal, but I’m picking up on all these subtle undercurrents and I’m going to feel weird about it anyway. Violated, even.

This is key: whether or not you realize this, you are communicating certain things to me. Look, other men just don’t touch other men on the small of their back like this. Don’t pretend they do. They don’t. Maybe you’ve never thought of it like this, but it is totally a gendered behavior. By that, I mean gender difference is totally involved, and for this behavior, sexual intentions (conscious or not) are totally implied. Whether or not he realizes this, a man touching the small of my back is communicating to me that he has (even the fleeting-iest) sexualized energy for me as a woman, and he feels entitled to act it out in a small way by actually touching me.

Of course, some men don’t particularly have “sexualized energy” for me (or even any women; gay guys touch me inappropriately sometimes too) but what they do still have is that sense of entitlement. That’s even more terrifying, because it communicates uneven power: “I’ll do it anyway and you must accept it because ‘society’ says it is my right.”

The “don’t do this because it makes women uncomfortable” part is thus established, now let’s get back to the “Absolutely Unnecessary” aspect of this behavior. You don’t have to do it. Not ever. Not because you need to get past me in a crowded room. Not because you need to alert me to your presence when you think I can’t see you. Not because you’re worried I’m going to topple over in my high heels (this one makes me the most angry — dude, I am fine, I chose to wear these and I CAN walk in them but it’s kind of my problem to live with if I can’t… AND how is lightly touching my back even going to help me if I am actually falling???).

You don’t have to do it #1 because it’s not consensual and you should not, and #2 some acceptable alternatives do exist, in this order:

  1. Stop being in a hurry and just hover nearby until I notice you and get out of your way, like most folks do (jeez).
  2. Use your words. Speak up, shout if you have to. Hearing-abled people like me like this method the best ’cause it means you’re not doing the touching thing :)use-your-words-right-behind-you
  3. If I can’t hear you (due to environment, deafness, or otherwise)…? Just tap me on the shoulder. Tap tap. There’s a reason why the next thing that popped in your mind was a very polite, “Excuse me miss?” — because polite people put shoulder-tapping in the manners rulebook long ago and manners are really just about choosing actions which should make the most people as comfortable as possible.hand-tap-tap-on-the-shoulder-excuse-me-miss
  4. Didn’t react to your tap or there’s just no time for pleasantries? Use the back of your hand or forearm to respectfully push against the region around my shoulder or my arm above my elbow. Use your palm if you MUST but it’s better if you don’t imply that you are going to grab me. In a crowded room, this movement can be like pushing through a dense thicket. Ah yes, I am simply a branch in your path, not a girl you are going to sneakily touch in her sweet little back parts.touch-here-for-minimal-creepiness

In other words, think about how you would touch a dude if you had to and just stick with that. Oh wow, why did I write this whole blog post when I could have just written that last sentence?

TLDR; If you’re about to touch a woman you don’t know well, think about how you would touch a dude if you had to and just stick with that. (Or just, like, don’t touch her.)