How to Get Rid of People

1. How to get rid of people I want to hang out with

Depression!

2. How to get rid of people I don’t want to hang out withfrazzled post burning man

A friend I’ve been close to since the fourth grade (and want to hang out with 5ever) moved back to San Diego recently (because you can neverrrr leave this place! told you!) and, as we mused over our life events in the duration of her separation from our finest city, she observed that she’d, surprisingly, not yet been to Burning Man.

“Well, why don’t you go to the San Diego regional?” I said.

Tickets sold out the next day, hers among them. (I’m so excited she’s coming!) She’s now been asking prudent questions in preparation for her first “burn,” including this adorable inquiry:

“How do I get rid of people I don’t want to hang out with?”

Um, well, you…

  1. have to pee
    Or
  2. insist “wait here,” leave them, and never come back!

Well, we discussed the obvious “have to pee” trick first. Then, my friend pointed out that the kind of person who involves you in an unwanted conversation will often be the same kind of person who will follow you to the port-o. Wanting to avoid a potty entourage is precisely why I ghosted out of conversation circles in middle school. Good practice for my later life, I’ll say.

shark-costume-sami-burning-manIn a prolonged “camping vegas” experience that is a burn, often you may enthusiastically promise your new “friend” that you will return, and you absolutely positively must have them wait in place. Whereupon, they will be swiftly distracted by some magical adventure such as discovering a space-time fracture in a dilapidated tent, or meeting a giraffe. And if they, perchance, wonder whereabouts you wander, they will assume you also found camp art or introduced yourself to a furry.

Or…

“I’ll come with you!” they might shout. Oh no, oh no it’s time for serious survival tactics.

  • Use your superior local knowledge of Poison Oak to dart quickly through the bordering chaparral until they are so dissuaded by the many leaves of three that they just let it be
  • Sit down on the ground and lock your face in your arms until they quit prodding you and go for help
  • Stop saying anything except for, “Charmander”

Or, and this is merely a hypothesis, you might say, “I’m so sorry, I’m not enjoying myself right now. I need to go. Take care!”

Of course, I can’t confirm the efficacy of this theory because no one on the history of the planet has ever done this; it’s too terrifying.

Wait!

I’ll be back, I promise.

;)

 

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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.)

How to Throw a Passive Aggressive Notes Party

10153710_10203537055131676_771742438_nIt’s nearing the second anniversary of the Passive Aggressive Notes Party (actually, it’s almost exactly two months late for that but it turns out no one cares) and boy am I excited. Last year, my ma and pop were out of town and I wanted to use their sweet digs to throw a rager. They didn’t exactly say I couldn’t, but they didn’t say I could, either. I recalled the helpful notes around the warm and welcoming home of the Pu’uhonua family during one of their Splash Up events, and I wanted to the theme I chose to incorporate instructive notes on how to not trash my parents’ house. With an evil chortle, I went over to www.passiveaggressivenotes.com for inspiration.

1173803_10203537246096450_1083177518_nThis theme is not only a delightful excuse to encourage your friends to be mean to each other, but it is also convenient to organize. For supplies, you will only need sticky notes and/or construction paper with tape (painter’s, as to not take off the house paint — your guests are going to leave cheerful little messages in the strangest places, which you will not discover for many days), and markers/pens. I also got a lot of joy out of a stack of self-stick name-tags. My friends gave out charming monickers such as “Jizz Wizard,” and “Unwitting Hipster.”

I enjoyed posting notes on the proper use of the stereo, such as reminders that household pets might not appreciate loud music the way we do (It’s ok, the birds don’t mind if you increase the volume to INHUMANE levels <3) or not to play music that I hate (You know what this party NEEDS? Some top 40s bullshit!!). My guests delighted me with a note on the mirror that read, “That used to look so good on you!” and a thank you note written on a card stolen from my mom’s stationary set: “Thank you for sending your parents out of town, but instilling so many rules it feels like they never left anyway…”

thank-you-passive-aggressive-note

Many of my friends, however, struggled with the concept. Adorably, these kind kids could not grasp how to mimic passive aggression. We discussed formulas to generate notes. One consistent combo is to tell someone to do something you obviously don’t want to them do, and add “please,” hearts, or both. “Please throw your trash all over the floor, thank you.”  Another pattern is to explain a simple concept as you would to a three-year-old. “GUESS WHAT? It turns out if you tap on the glass it stresses out this pet snake and she doesn’t want you to do that. Let’s be nice to the snake, ok? :)” You may also just rely on the passive aggression inherent in leaving a note rather than confronting someone about a problem. Extra points for anonymizing yourself or your target. For example, we kept a ledger on the fridge of money owed by friends to others.

10003451_10203537047091475_458141519_n

If you didn’t get an invite, don’t worry. You don’t have to miss out on the fun. Simply leave me a passive aggressive message in the comments!

(P.S. Ok, jokes aside, if you didn’t get an invite, it’s because I hit the population limit. Out of respect to the people I live with, I’m going to have to wait for some more “no” RSVPs to come through before inviting additional people. For some reason, people think it’s hilarious to say “maybe” instead of “yes” so it is making it a bit difficult to do my party math this time around…)

Facebook: a Foggy Intersection of the Personal vs Political

I don't really know how to choose a picture for a post like this, so here's a selfie.

I don’t really know how to choose a picture for a post like this, so here’s a selfie. Like an author byline pic or something.

On Facebook you might make a personal statement to discuss as friends often do. You may not expect the vitriol, the name-calling, the war of opposing linked articles. Some people take themselves way too seriously.

On Facebook you might publish an important political or philosophical thought. You may not expect the sophomoric joking, the name-calling, or even disappointing silence. Some people just seem to stumble into fires without realizing how much their ignorance hurts others.

Facebook is a paradoxical scrapbook bulletin. Is it a self-help message board, or a public debate forum? Friends and strangers eavesdrop on conversations which only seem private. Yes, there is a difference between a personal and a political statement, but to “post” either makes it visible to an ever-more difficult to filter list of viewers.

The mixed-message, or even missing, interface metaphors don’t help either. In this serious debate we can “like” with a cheeky thumb. In this string of jokes no one can hear the timbre of our laugh, our indecipherable (are you being sarcastic??) “LOL.” This flexibility can lead to gibberish.

What I see is a stream of consciousness. What I see is a reflection of my own thought process, the way ideas snag each other, the way I flit from a picture memory of wearing Charmander pajamas at last night’s party to the Atlantic article on protesting in Baltimore.

But it is so political to “share.” Leveraging your private thoughts onto others is a political act:  a decision by the few (or one) on which content should be consumed by the many. “But I was just thinking out loud.” If you don’t want to be held to your word, then why say it at all? I could try to end the argument there, but I’d be a hypocrite. Sure, my personal Facebook philosophy is “make it interesting or funny, or else don’t bother.” But I’m an out-loud thinker in life. And I have so many avenues to be heard, which others might not.

Oh Facebook “friends.” We are apparently not all chums who know each other. We have different backgrounds and needs. You let me glance your wedding photos, and that is perhaps how I mistake our intimacy. But I can only keep your name with your face because everything is so efficiently indexed and hyperlinked.

As with most things, I return to the analogy of a party. There are strangers here just as there are best friends. Not all of us are interested in drinking. Not all of us are interested in sex. Not all of us are interested in laughing. Some may debate our constitutional rights. Some may cry over ex girlfriends. Some may write what they see in tiny notebooks. We all seem to want something. In this wild collage, this rowdy jumble, this grasp at boredom’s death, we might find it.

Or just avoid getting any work done ;)

How to Judge a Facebook Event Invite by the Numbers

I’ve been using a very basic set of formulas to figure out how big a Facebook party is going to be, based on these numbers:

facebook-invite-party-numbers-attendance-example

# Going, # Maybe, and # Invited, that’s all I care about.

Here’s the math. It’s simple because I may have a pre-party whiskey in my hand when I need to use it:

Going × 80% + Maybe × 50 % = estimated attendance

and

Invited ÷ Going = desperation index

1 = they only invited their good friends….or their only friends. 3 = approaching desperate, or they might just be popular. 5 = this is the only big party they have ever thrown, plz come!!! 10 = goddamnit promoters.

Some of you smarty pants types may have already crunched the numbers from my initial example, and found very promising figures. Indeed, I would say those numbers just about represent ideal. While it was a great party, there are a few factors I’ve left out.

RSVP Inflation

RSVP Inflation occurs when people feel some sort of obligation to go…or at least say yes. I haven’t figured out an exact number to subtract in these cases, but I do know people are lying liars and will say yes and hope the host doesn’t notice they didn’t make it. (Ummmm…so sometimes I say yes because I want show my support, since maybe just seems disappointing.)  Here are common causes:

  • Housewarming party  <– this is our example
  • Going away party
  • Birthdays
  • Anniversary party (an event that happens every year)
  • Inconvenient but exciting party
  • Ridiculously well-themed party

Ultimately, I don’t think this factored heavily in the attendance of my example. I do think attendance was near or exactly 57.5 people. (Half person = child?? or..) Yet the practical attendance (a.k.a how the party feels to me during the actually-relevant-to-my-life hours of 10pm-3am) was about 15 people lower. Which brings me to my next point…

Time Dilution

Time dilution occurs when the event spans additional, unconventional party hours, such as starting in the afternoon. This happens with:

  • Ambitious housewarming parties (<–)
  • Parties that start as a BBQ
  • Parties thrown by lonely people
  • Parties thrown by people with kids, or who have a lot of friends who have kids
  • Summer parties (I know it is summer year-round here in San Diego, but June-August months are just treated differently, you know?)
  • People who are really into day drinking

You’re just not going to see the people who leave early. It’s ok. They’re not your type of people, anyway.

Making An Appearance

The making an appearance factor has the same basic effect as time dilution, and of course occurs when the event or the attendance-base lends itself to briefer party visits. Either people are making their obligatory stopover before leaving to sleep/take care of kids/return to their lairs of introversion, or they are popular kids doing what popular kids do: party hop.

For example, take a look at this:

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.22.32 AM

What is this? More maybes than going?? What is the meaning of this anomaly?

The desperation index seems high, but actually what is going on here is that a popular person has invited his very popular friends and, oh, wow, they’ll make it if they can, they really hope so. Looks delightful, I so want to be there, xoxo.

Umm, eff yes I’m going. No, not to brush against popularity and hope it rubs off on me, but because attending an event where dynamic, gregarious people are coming and going as they make their Saturday-night rounds is a revolving door of delight for me.

Many of those 97 weren’t sure they could commit to even a maybe, or swiped yet another Facebook invite out of their mobile notifications, but still found the event when they were buzzing around town on party night looking for the next bit of excitement. And many of those 30 did, in fact, make their appearances.

My Weird Friends

This is why I’m writing this. I am all mixed up. When I throw parties with my best friends, at my house, the math just doesn’t work. Here’s what I see:

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.25.07 AM

Desperation index makes sense. I’ve invited only my best friends. But actual attendance was somewhere around 30.

It seems like all goings go, and most maybes make it, and the rest of my weirdo friends who totally ignore their Facebooks somehow get the memo that there’s something happening tonight, come over.

Love you kids <3

Cases I haven’t Examined

Here are party-types I haven’t examined because I don’t friggin go to them:

  • Baby showers
  • Weddings
  • Fundraisers that are really fundraiser-y
  • Most board game nights
  • Movie nights
  • Video game nights
  • Gender-themed parties (such as “battle of the sexes” or pearl/tie parties) that aren’t awesomely queer and/or subversive

Don’t Say Sorry, Say “Wait”

(Sorry I missed last week. I took a sick day. I should have made it up, but whoops it’s Tuesday again already.)

“Sorry,” he’ll say, “Did it bother you when I _____?”

This little formula seems fairly good between casual friends and strangers, but I noticed a little hiccup between romantic partners.

“You’re not sorry,” she says.

It’s true, he’s not yet sorry. He initially wanted to ______, which is why he did it in the first place. He’s only conditionally sorry. His apology is weakened by his unanswered question.

It would be better, I think, to say, “Wait.”

wait-callout-speech-bubble-sketch

“Wait, was it bad that I did _____?”

If she says yes, he could then say sorry, and truly mean it. And if she says no… Well, crisis averted!

Too often, I see people wielding “Sorry” like a catchall disclaimer. They prematurely apologize “just in case” they are in trouble. What this seems to communicate, to me, is that they’re going to go ahead and make mistakes, and simply blanket-apologize to clear themselves. Like a Catholic confession.

Better, I think, to give the agency back to the person who may be affronted. Let them judge your actions. By saying “Wait,” you put more emphasis on checking-in rather than jumping to your own conclusions. Wait, let’s really find out what my partner thinks here, before I go ahead and say what is bad and what is good. And it lends itself to the next step…

“Wait, did you really like that?”

And she can even say, “Hell yes I did.”

(We should be asking, “wait,” for the good things too.)

A sorry jumps down your throat. A sorry prescribes how you are supposed to feel, supposed to react. And a premature or misplaced sorry demands soothing. “Oh, it’s ok. It’s fine. It’s no big deal.”

“Wait” is a friendly pause. Wait is considerate. Wait is teamwork, is improv, is communication. Wait is constructively neutral. And we can say “Wait” beyond where a simple sorry will do.

Related: another blog post where I complain about apologies.

Writing about your friends on the internet

I bite into this apple of creative energy and there’s a worm in it; another project eats away at the time and thought I normally put into my Thursday update. I’m working on a thing that my collaborator and I avoid putting the b-word on like that’s some sort of curse, but yeah, it wants to be a Book.

(We’re basically writing about our sexy times and our sad times, framed as a series of letters between lovers.)

I’ve been somewhat hush about this writing project because I know sharing too much too soon can crush my enthusiasm. Once someone’s read it, it’s lived its purpose and I lose interest. However... The thing is upwards of 50k words by now (raw, disorganized words at times but still words) so I feel a little braver. I can almost see the finish line, and this time instead of tripping over a false sense of confidence, I’m eagerly putting one foot in front of the other to draw the conclusion closer to me.

I’m not just sharing this information as an excuse of a blog post, and I’m really not sharing this to create hype out of my writing project & 50 friends bugging me to finish it already && when can they read it? — though that may be a fun side effect. Truthfully, I just want to say it occurs to me that I’m struggling with the same thing in my writing project as this blog project, and that is, writing about my friends.

I navigate thornier ground with the b-word thing, because I’m writing about friends I’ve seen naked. Wait, who am I kidding? At some of the parties I go to I see y’all naked too. Anyway, at what point am I crossing the line between enumerating the details of my personal experience to exposing too much about people I care about, even if the law of memoirs means truth is fair game?

I think we can all agree that killing a rattlesnake, cleaning, baking, and eating it at dawn* is an occasion worth commemorating. By contrast (though proudly displaying the burn marks to all) the guy who opted to get branded with a potato masher may not want me to publish any of his identifying details. Yeah, you didn’t go to that party, you don’t get to know.

Remember, though, the “list 10 friends” fad back in Myspace days? It probably started with guidelines like:

  1. Say something to the person you wish you could talk to but can’t
  2. Say something to your BFF
  3. Say something to your crush
  4. etc….

I think by the end of the meme’s lifespan, the rules disintegrated/purified to their true motivations: let’s write 10 anonymous things about each other so we can splash around in puddles of narcissism.

It was glorious to recognize myself. Perhaps I’m really fucking arrogant to believe this, but I think it’d be pretty fun to find yourself in this blog, too. Unless, of course, you said something sexist to me. And while sexists are assholes that deserve to be defamed, anyone reading this should realize my perception of reality has its limits.

FOR FUCKING EXAMPLE: I described a guy in a cookie monster onesie in a less-than-flattering context, only to realize later that I know this guy and he was chummy with me for good reasons. My bad. Guys with brown hair all look the same to me. We all have a lot of people to keep track of in this day and age — and for some reason I prioritize learning the faces of lady people…

Anyway, my dear readers, my baby birds I want to feed and feed, what’s going on here? Do you prefer reading about other people? Are you yearning for your own cameo? Are you just glad I manage to update every Thursday, like a goddamn consistent person? Like, you read me the same as you’d watch a dying TV show past its prime but you might as well since it’s still going every week, did you hear they’re making a season 6 why don’t you kill me already…

The truth is, for me, I’m just obsessed with all of you sometimes. I want to know if it’s okay to write about you. Picasso’s girlfriend probably didn’t tell him to hide away the portraits he made of her saying, ‘baby, what? I look so ugly, do you really think my nose is that big? My eyes are that..awkwardly placed in relationship to the rest of my face parts, seriously they aren’t even pointing in the same direction…??’ But I’m not Picasso and these sentences are search-indexable. I owe you your privacy, perhaps.

P.S. If you’ve been waiting for your cameo, here it is: Yes I did write this because at your party you said, “Careful around her, you might end up on the internet.”


*This occurred the night I contracted strep, but I didn’t write about it because I missed most of the rattler feast when I conked out early on a bottle of Jameson. Didn’t feel like my story to tell, which is the rubric I’ve used thus far in choosing what to put to words.