Yesterday, two local Trouble makers / baristas / fashionistas joined forces. Julia, the mother of Bluehart, handmade clothing crafted in the Outer Sunset of San Francisco, and me, the mother of #WordyLaundry
Waiting for the Train? . . . Protesting
It seems like every shift I’ve worked since the Don of our new administration, I miss another major local protest. Women’s March. SFO. #NoBanNoWall, and countless other ones, no doubt.
Meanwhile, I’m behind the counter caffeinating protesters on their way to actually participate. I see their signs, their painted faces, and the fire in their eyes (I mean this metaphorically, not all protesters are arsonists). I like to credit myself in part for fueling that (metaphorical, not real) fire, via coffee, cappuccinos, heated conversations with my customers.
We’ve all forgotten how to small talk. We all abandoned it for real talk the morning of Wednesday, November 9, 2016.
I’ll never forget because I witnessed a miracle that day. I opened that morning with Julia—her on register and me on the bar. Customers trickled in solemnly in a state of collective shock, Julia consoling them all, like soldiers returning home from a battle they’d fought so confidently, and lost so big-ly.
Nobody small-talks with soldiers after battle. It wouldn’t be appropriate. You don’t ask a bleeding, wounded, battered soldier if they caught the game last night. Neither did Julia. She already knew that everybody caught the game. She knew we suffered a collective loss. Nevertheless, she reassured us that, although we’re all scared—we’re terrified—that said, we’re all here in this together, and we will still continue to be here for each other, now more than ever. And in the midst of all of this, Melinda forgets her wallet.
She orders, dips back out to grab her cash out of her car, and Lani, who’s behind her, buys Melinda’s latte. Melinda returns with her five bucks and Julia tells her that her drink has already been paid for. Melinda thanks Lani and leaves her five there on the counter anyway, “For the next one.” And just like that, every customer for the next hour, which consisted of one long, continuous line, had their coffee bought for them by the person before them, and each one paid it forward to the next.
In my six years behind the counter, I’ve never seen anything like that. It wasn’t the kind of thing you ever could have planned. It was just a spontaneous, communal random act of kindness, and credit to Julia for up-selling that love to every customer who came, not letting anyone forget the circumstances of that kindness, or the collective trauma we were all there healing, together.
That was the day that small talk died, and I don’t miss it.
In any case, as much as I fancy myself a fueler of the cause, by caffeinating protesters on their way to go march, I can’t deny that I am not actually there, physically standing with them, assembling with people, yelling, holding signs, representing myself in person.
But that said, protesting is becoming as routine as toast, at least here in the bay, and if there is a protest every day, realistically, I can’t attend them all. And if we can’t uproot our lives and leave our jobs to go be full-time activists, why not bring our protests with us to work, and everywhere we go? Why can’t we wear what we believe loudly and proudly on our sleeves? Literally? Why not take our protest to-go? Force that message upon every soul we pass throughout the day… wouldn’t that be more efficient anyway? Would our words not reach a wider audience?
Not to say you should stop attending protests. Of course you should, by all means, attend when you can. So I can troll instagram and buzzfeed later for my favorite signs to steal and smack onto all my clothes to wear and sell. I’ve always been the most creative plagiarist. All art is a collaborative effort, after all. And as a member of “the Left”, I just adore “arts and crafts disguised as a social justice moment.”
The Left will use any excuse to make a cardboard sign and scream. They love arts & crafts disguised as a social justice moment.
— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) January 29, 2017
So naturally, I’ve taken up the fine craft, for the cause, of fabric-painting my favorite protest signs onto old used clothes I thrift. And you should too. But if you don’t have time, or don’t have fabric paint, or don’t have the sexiest handwriting, by all means, my protest clothes are yours for the taking, if you’re interested in buying. Attached below (not yet, but coming soon! Stay tuned) will be a menu of phrases, images and words of wisdom you can choose from, whether you want to make your own or custom order from myself. Willing to negotiate prices, as all items are one-of-a-kind. Come and get em while they’re hot! Hit me up, firstname.lastname@example.org.
And stay tuned for more new Wordy Laundry every week!
Dear Tomi Lahren,
You don’t know me, and I won’t claim to know you either, but I do know and watch your show. I follow your twitter and instagram. A lot of people do. I’m sure this doesn’t come as news to you. I’m sure the fame you’ve built has been no accident, so I don’t have to tell you.
I’m not famous, so I don’t know, but I imagine the most taxing part of it would be this: That a person can approach you, a person you do not know and have never met, but who knows and recognizes you. A stranger, to you. Who knows your angles and perspectives and beliefs, but you don’t even know their name. My name is Dakota, by the way.
They may be a fan. They may agree with many of your beliefs, and be grateful to you for voicing them.
Or they may not. They may be haters. They may be sloppy and tasteless. Or they may take careful notes and come prepared. They may have watched your show in opposition, seeking to confirm all their existing biases about you, attacking and dismissing every point as you deliver it. They may have already composed a mental list of comebacks to your major punchlines, prepared to pick your politics apart. Condemning you for your beliefs, and despising you speaking them.
I imagine the majority of your mail, and strangers who approach you, fall loosely into one of these two groups. But I like to think a third group reaches you, too, who may not take so strictly to these two apparent sides.
I would also like to think I’m in that group.
In any case, I know that you reach millions of people, and you reach them through primarily two mutually exclusive lenses: Left or right. Blue or Red. Liberal / Conservative. Two sides.
I’m not a rocket scientist, but I did take astronomy in college, and this us-and-them mentality reminds me of the factor of uncertainty that exists in physics:
I won’t go too deeply into the uncertainty factor because I’ll probably butcher it, but from what I took away, “uncertainty” was discovered in terms of the atom, in which, the speed of an electron can be tested and determined without knowing its location, or its location can be tested and determined while you’re blinded to its speed. Ultimately, you can determine one, or the other, but never both at the same time.
The same thing could be said about your show:
A person may watch your show, but depending whether they identify as right or left, or red or blue, that is the only lens through which they’ll view. Meaning a person watching through one lens can never know what the same thing would have looked like through the other.
Except, whereas uncertainty in the case of the atom is a law of physics, and absolute, the uncertainty through which we see the media is a social construct, I believe, that we have built. Or at least I like to think so, because that means we could likewise dismantle it.
Like the movies, which were only ever shown in two dimensions, until they came out with those shitty 3D glasses with the paper rims and red and blue floppy lenses. What ever happened to those glasses?
Like the unassuming innocence through which we watched the world as kids, those glasses are a thing of the past. We need to teach ourselves to look through both lenses, right and left, red and blue, in three dimensions. Maybe the world won’t be so violent if we learn to see in shades of violet. (Get it? Because red and blue make violet?… Like nothing is black and white… See, this is why I’ll never be famous.)
So, Miss Lahren, all of this is just to say: Although I strongly disagree with much of what you say, I respect and admire what you do. And although we take two mostly clashing sides, we’re not that different. We’re both blonde, 20-something, sassy, white American women. We both love dogs. We’re both passionate and driven to starting a discussion with as wide an audience as we can reach. The audience you’ve reached happens to be wider. Not that it’s a competition, but you’re winning. Ultimately, we’re both working to deliver (different) messages.
And I can’t deny, you’ve done a better job of it.
We both seek to establish ourselves in the world as intelligent, fearless, independent women, who speak for ourselves and speak the truth (as we perceive it). Only, you’ve already achieved this. You’ve already danced with that success. You host your own show. You’ve been the only woman speaking on a panel with five older men. You went on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah, who is incidentally the love of my life, and I can’t even call you a lucky bitch about it because you more than earned your place there at his desk. You met and faced a man, not to mention a room full of booing fans, who strongly oppose you on almost every point, and you met him with courage, civility and respect. You’ve extended yourself to people with different perspectives from your own, and you don’t shy away from saying what you have to say.
Meanwhile, I’m a barista. And as much as I fancy myself the host of my own liberal-snowflake, behind-the-counter talk show — slinging espresso drinks and heated conversations on current social affairs — I can’t deny that you reach as many people in one minute after posting as I probably have in the six years that I’ve been here behind the counter, touching the minds and the hearts of customers, one cup of coffee at a time. Other than that, I have this blog that I’ve abandoned, and a bunch of clothes that I’ve repurposed into protest signs, and nothing else to show for myself, or my efforts to reach the world.
I disagree deeply with you on many issues: immigration, BlackLivesMatter, racial injustice, guns, to name a few. But I disagree with some liberals, too.
I disagree with the individuals at UC Berkeley who fought to silence a conservative speaker. I do believe that all perspectives should be represented and included, no matter how unpopular, and I agree with you that this was contradictory and hypocritical to the liberal cause.
I disagree with the decision to exclude pro-life women marching from the women’s march. They were women marching, after all. I’m sure some liberals would disagree with me on that one.
I agree with you, that the kidnapping, torture and abuse of an innocent teen in Chicago was wrong and disgusting, and I bet I’m not the only “snowflake” who agrees it was an act of hate. I do not endorse the actions of the individuals who beat that boy, nor the individual who shot down officers in Dallas. I disagree with individuals and haters who dismiss you as stupid or heartless, or the things you have to say as totally invalid. I agree with you, that I wish we could all disagree without presuming those on the “other side” to be ill-intentioned.
Ultimately, I think all perspectives should be represented, whether or not they’re “useful” to my cause. And I want to give you credit where it’s due, for being a young woman speaking up, louder than I am, having the talk that we all need to have. A talk which I think many of us fail to acknowledge is one that can’t be had without hearing the other side, and actually listening.
I aspire to be as much of a catalyst and voice of my cause, one day, as you are of yours. And lastly, regardless of where you stand on the wall, I just want to thank you for building those bridges, and starting those conversations, and reaching so many people, myself included.
Finally! An app for men to track my period! What a fun and not-at-all invasive way for men I work with to stay the fuck away from me when I’m a raging, fire-breathing, bleeding bitch!
If you’re a man with a smart phone, I highly recommend this totally handy and appropriate app, uPMS, to track my period! If you’re a woman with a vagina that bleeds, tell your guy friends and male coworkers about this app! It’s easy to use, just like women, and sends you fun, friendly alerts to stay the fuck away from me, dismiss anything I say or do as irrational estrogen-charged temporary insanity, and for sure not try to fuck me for at least the next few days, unless you’re freaky and like it like that.
This app can really ease the tension in cases where men are put in the unfortunate position of having to coexist with women. Go ahead and do the whole office a favor and report upcoming women to avoid in weekly memos. Integrate your tracking calendar into the weekly schedule. Auction days off to the highest bidder when you know the boss lady is bleeding. The advantages of uPMS are almost as vast as your intrusion of her privacy!
Track my menstrual cycle now! Download the app today! It’s free! And fun and easy, just like me… unless I’m on my period!
If I had to guess how I’ll die, it will probably be at the hands of a jealous ex-lover, or a man who I’ve denied. A man who will not take no for an answer.
I wouldn’t be the first to go this way.
Which is why I’m writing this now (July 2016), while I’m still safely overseas, oceans away from my ex-lovers and their vindictive impulses. Just in case.
Why do I suppose? Because, already twice in eighteen months, two different men have shown up uninvited at my door, intoxicated and distraught, because I told them that I didn’t want to see them.
But they still needed to see me.
Which is why twice, in the last eighteen months, I’ve locked and blocked my door with furniture and fortified myself (and my roommate) inside, stayed up all night, wide-eyed and silent… watching, listening and waiting… wondering if my intruder might return, if so, for what… forming escape plans, just in case the door I’ve fortified should fail… or prevail, therefore, trapping me inside, should he decide to start a fire, forcing me to find an alternate way out, say, through my only window… casing the place for any object that could double as a weapon if need be, or a shield, and which shield could deflect a bullet, should he exercise his right to bear a firearm. Knowing all too well what he is capable of, sweating bullets wondering of what he’s willing.
Twice in the last year and a half, I’ve felt unsafe in my own home. Feared for my life. (And my roommate’s. I’m honestly surprised she’s stuck around.)
But surely it’s my own fault. I brought these men into my life. I brought this fate upon myself. I was asking for it, I guess you could say. I went out fishing for a beast to take the bait, cast my line into a sea of hungry fish and caught myself a few too many, with appetites too great for me to satisfy. I did that.
But the truth is, these men aren’t monsters, just guys. And I didn’t bait them; I just dated them. And when I meet them, they’re respectful, reasonable men. People change. The sense they speak when we first meet, the respect they show me as they get to know me, the trust they earn from me, the love I learn to give them—go away. And in that order.
In my limited experience so far “playing the field,” I’ve seen these same patterns repeat in many men (not all, but most), to varying degrees (not typically to this extreme). The same patterns that could potentially result in my defeat, if they had played out any further.
Insecurity. Obsession. Possessiveness. Entitlement.
I’ve been web searched, phone stalked, and physically followed. Sometimes by men that I’m still seeing. Sometimes long after I’m through seeing them, but they’re not finished seeing me.
One threatened me with suicide if I left him. Men beg me and blame me. They tell me they need me, they cannot go on without me, that their well being, happiness, security, sobriety—depend on me.
Grown fucking men.
I’ve had to reassess my expectations of what is “normal” conduct for these men. The men I date. The men I don’t. The men I work with. Men that I serve coffee to. And, frankly, men in general. So if I seem “too slow to trust” you, fucking sue me. I am not withholding anything from you that I am due to give. And just in case you’re still not clear, I’ve composed this handy, comprehensive list of all the things I owe you:
I’ve also composed a list of things that you might think I owe you, but I definitely don’t, to avoid any further confusion, including but not limited to:
I think the average man probably knows I don’t owe him these things, going in. I think it all becomes unclear once I’ve dared to share these things with him, because it’s not until I “fail to deliver” them when they’re demanded of me that their “rightful owner” then comes into question. So let me clarify, again:
Just because I gave it to you once—or any number of times—doesn’t mean it’s yours to keep. I am not taking anything away from you, as it was never yours. I was, still am, and always will be the only rightful owner of my privacy, time, space, attention, body and consent. My love is only ever mine to give. Just because I was willing to give it to you then doesn’t mean that I am now, or will be tomorrow. I, the barista, the woman, reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. At any time. For any reason.
And, again, I’m not the only one who’s fallen victim to this ugly pattern. The same is true of many of my friends, who I won’t name. Same story, different target. Boy meets girl. Boy thinks God or some other higher power put her here, on this earth, to cross his path, for him to love. That she was fated to be loved by him. Belong to him. Be saved by him. Her purity preserved, by him. To be his, and only his. The angel Heaven sent him. At his command. “Yes, Master, as you wish.”
But we are not your angels. We were never “meant to be” with you. We were not put here on this earth to serve you. We’re not damsels, or dogs, for you to rescue. We’re not instruments of your agenda. We’re not property for you to own. We’re not trophies for you to win.
And for the record, this way of thinking is by no means confined to the male mind. Anyone, of any sex or gender, can act possessively of anyone, of any sex or any gender. My experience only reflects one tiny slice of a vast and intricately layered cake.
I myself have had my feet in either shoe. I’ve been on both sides of this story.
I’ve been the beggar. I’ve been the desperate, possessive one. I’ve been the one who wanted someone more than someone wanted me. I’ve been the one not willing to let go when my first love wanted to leave. I’ve been the one who thought my life could not go on without him in it. I’ve been the one who threatened him that I would die if he would leave me. Which I didn’t.
If I had, it would have been at my own hands. Not his. Just like the man who threatened me with suicide is still alive and kicking eighteen long months later. Which I know because he texts me, to this day.
Anyway, I’ve been there. That’s how I know, that isn’t love.
The thing I was trying to hold so tight was already long gone. If I would rather have him stay with me whether or not he wanted to, against his will, that wasn’t love. Keeping someone somewhere they don’t want to be—that isn’t love. That’s just captivity.
Love isn’t something you convince someone to give. Love isn’t something that you can extract by force, if you just squeeze a person hard enough. Humans are not tubes of toothpaste. Love can only be given if—and only as long as—a person is willing to give it. It’s theirs to share with you, if and when they want to, and you to accept, if and when you want it.
Nobody is obligated to take your love just because you’re willing to offer it. That’s why love is such a risk. That’s why it’s scary. It’s not always reciprocated. And even if it is, right now, it might not be forever. You have to know that going in.
I had to find that out the hard way. So do you.
And sure, when Romeo shows up uninvited at Juliet’s balcony, it’s “romantic.” Just like Alladin swooping Jasmine off of hers to ride his magic carpet to a whole new world. But when my ex or current shows up at my door, unwanted at that time and uninvited, it’s just threatening and scary. Because Shakespeare and Disney failed to make a critical distinction: that their men were only so “romantic” under the particular condition that the women who received them actually wanted and trusted them to be there. I did not.
The same two suitors that Shakespeare and Disney deem “romantic” could have shown up at the same two balconies, and with the same, most romantic intentions, but if it had been my balcony, the story would have ended differently. Because in a thing called #reallife, the woman decides if the man on her balcony is a harmless romantic or, more likely, a total creep. But despite my calculated lack of balcony, Romeo still won’t leave me alone. Just bust right in through my door like they own the place, to claim the happily ever after I denied them.
Cause Disney said so.
But it’s no wonder we’ve all fostered this possessive sense of love. Just look at Valentine’s Day… “Be my Valentine.”
The love they’re selling you is selfish love. Just listen to any love song. “I Won’t Share You” by The Smiths. “All of Me“ by Billie Holiday. “Gimme All Your Love” by Alabama Shakes. Some of my favorite songs, and written with love, no doubt. But the notion that anyone should give you ALL their love is fucking ludicrous. Nobody owes you all their love. Nobody owes you any, for that matter.
So to the men who wanted All of Me,
You want too much. I only have exactly what I have to give. If I can’t give you every moment of my life, if I don’t want to be your wife, that doesn’t mean that I don’t love you. Let me love, but let me live. If you dignify me my freedom, my space, my time, my privacy—maybe I’ll be more willing to share them with you, and trust you with them.
Next time you open the door to your heart to let somebody in, don’t slam it shut and deadbolt it behind them. Never lock your lover in. Love is an ever open door. If you love someone enough to let them in, love them enough to let them go.
And when you tell me you’ll give me everything I need, don’t tell me what I need. Because all I really need is you to let me be the one to make that call.
To me, the truest way for me to love is knowing you’re not mine, but showing you I love you anyway. Unconditional love is undemanding. It’s selfless. It’s not a stamp of ownership. It’s not a binding contract. It’s not a ball and chain. It’s not an anchor. It’s not a claim for you to stake. Unconditional love remains there, just the same, whether or not it is returned.
I had to learn to love selfishly before I could learn to love sincerely. Maybe you disagree. So let’s agree to disagree. If selfish love is what you have to sell me, I’m not buying.
Not Yours, Truly,
Sometimes, even I, the “writer” cannot find the words to tell you what I want to say, or where the hell I’ve been. Which is why I’m borrowing these words from other people. Because if I can’t find the words to say it, chances are somebody already wrote a song about it. And they did. Or something like it, anyway. If one of the following songs sounds like it has nothing to do with you, it probably doesn’t. And if it sounds like it was meant specifically for you, it probably was. Have fun interpreting which of these cryptic lyrical messages are for you, and which are not.
And to my extended family at Summit Coffee, who I left without saying goodbye, just know I love you. I love the family I worked for, the customers I served, the friends I made, the team I worked with, and I’m right here guys, only one click away. I won’t stray too far, don’t worry.
But now that I’m gone fishing and all that’s left for you to do is stalk me and wish I was the one who made your coffee, here’s a bunch of stuff I bet you didn’t know about me: I don’t just make coffee. I also sing. And I do magic. Well, I do one trick, and that’s it. Here it is:
We all bleed. All of us. But only women bleed from our vaginas. Naturally. As we’re the only ones who have them. And whereas men bleed to death, women bleed for life.
Our [women’s] lives are punctuated by a roughly-every-monthly period, a week of hiding. The customary lengths we go to conceal any and all evidence of this completely natural cycle—risking ruining the plumbing just to flush our bloody tampons somewhere safely out of sight, wrapping our pads in toilet paper so the men who share that bathroom can maintain the very false illusion that blood is not currently gushing from our nether regions. Because, somebody else’s eyes might see our blood as shameful and disgusting.
But all Allison Felt (known here as Allie-G) sees in her blood is ink to paint with. A new medium to create with. Art. And while I’m here hiding my vagina acting like it doesn’t bleed, Allison is painting and publicizing dozens of vaginas, with her own menstrual blood. Because fuck hiding who you are. We should be proud to be living, breathing, bleeding women with working bodies. Allie fearlessly shows a woman’s cycle for what it really is, which is something beautiful, something to be admired, something to be proud of. Period.
Behold, the vagina, universal and unique to every woman, painted below by Allie-G, in her own blood.
“I created this vagina compilation by collecting my menstrual blood in a diva cup and using it to paint a series of vaginas, each entirely unique. I photographed them and arranged them into one composition, on Photoshop. To each their own interpretation, but to me it’s about reclaiming the vagina as a symbol of pride and strength.
By using menstrual blood, the medium becomes part of the message, expressing that women’s blood should not be a source of shame or embarrassment, but rather a celebration of its life-giving power.
Vaginas are natural, beautiful, and complex beings, just like the women they belong to. They are not simply sexual objects or delicate flowers. Through this piece I aim to show vaginas in a raw bold light, displaying their unique beauty and individuality in a way that is quirky and simple, yet has an underlying important message. This design is about encouraging women to love their vagina just the way it is and acknowledge the power and control that it gives them. Vaginas are ours to own.”
I want to start by thanking you for flooding my Facebook news feed with ads asking me if my car qualifies for Uber. It doesn’t. Nor does my cell phone, being as it is an ancient relic from a time when GPS and Uber apps didn’t exist. So no, I won’t be making thousands of dollars a month driving for you any time soon. But even if my car did qualify, and even if I did have GPS, I still wouldn’t apply.
You’re probably wondering why.
A friend of mine started driving for Uber. The first few rides were everything a nervous new driver could hope for—polite passengers, friendly conversation, respect from total strangers. But her third ride is precisely why women nationwide are not driving for you.
My friend, a fine-looking young woman, accepted ride number three. The man sat in the back of her car. She started driving. He started playing with her hair. She told him to stop, which he ignored. He told her he was drunk and on drugs. He whispered in her ear, “Show me your tits. Give me your pussy.” He kissed her neck. She told him to stop. He didn’t. When they arrived at his destination, he did not exit the car. She opened her door, hoping he would do the same. He did. When he got out, she slipped back in, locked all her doors and fuckin dipped.
He gave her a zero-star rating. She reported the incident in an email, since you have no phone number to call, and asked to have the man’s rating removed, which you refused. This lowered her rating from five stars to three, due to her denying a strange, intoxicated man her tits and pussy. But her job isn’t to give her tits and pussy. That’s not the service you provide. Unless maybe I’ve been misinterpreting your use of the word “rides.”
So no, I won’t be signing up to confine myself alone in a vehicle with a stranger any time soon. My safety is not for sale, and no monthly sum of money is enough to justify that constant risk. Although an article on fastcompany.com points out that, “App-based services allow drivers to carry a lot less money, diminishing the potential for theft,” (Greenfield), the potential for assault remains all too real. Women are targeted regardless of the cash they carry. Women’s bodies are a currency of their own, and pursued as such.
In my friend’s case, it could have been much worse. What if he had been armed? Weapons aren’t always used to kill. Weapons force victims to submit to someone’s will, against their own. Most people would choose “Give me your money” or “Give me your pussy” over “Give me your life.” And, voila, another sexual assault. It’s that easy, guys! All you need is a gun.
Uber, I’m not blaming you for the society you were born into. Women have been sexually targeted by (some, not all) men since the dawn of civilization. It’s not your fault women face a disproportionate risk, but it is your responsibility to accommodate for it. The service you provide puts women in a more unsafe position, and you owe it to those women to take any measure you can to prevent such an assault. Perhaps you could install audio recorders, video cameras, and/or some kind of Life-Alert device in vehicles to notify somebody when a driver is at risk, and track their location. If you want more women, offer them an equal opportunity as men, to safely earn an income without having to wonder if their next passenger will be their next attacker. Until then, do me a favor and don’t ask me to drive for you again.