Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sweater girl

The place: Boston, 1999.
The scene: The marketing department at one of my former jobs.

El Estúpido inappropriate male colleague: "Hey, Ginger, nice sweater."

Me: "Uh, thanks?" Unsure as to whether or not he was being suggestive, I initially gave him the benefit of the doubt, even though he had tried to massage my shoulders on more than one occasion. Maybe he just has good fashion sense? I thought weakly. After all, I was a vision that day in an absolutely adorable cap-sleeved, scoop-necked, plum colored angora pullover. I was itchy, but damn did I look cute.

El Estúpido: "Yeah, um, you fill it out... real niiice." I kid you not, he actually made a "wax on, wax off" motion with his hands as he said this. Eyes directly on my tits the whole time. Oh, hell no.

Me: "Eyes up here, tard."

El Estúpido: {eyes continue to linger}

Me: {snapping fingers} "HEY!" His head snapped up. "Believe it or not, I am aware that I have breasts. All women have them. We live with them every day. We don't need them pointed out to us. If you do that again, I will personally drag your ass to Human Resources, where you can relive the joy that is sexual harassment education."

El Estúpido: {shocked, flustered and defensive} "Well, god! It's just a compliment! Don't be so sensitive!"

Me: "It's not a compliment. Do I make note of how you fill out your pants? Cut the crap."

El Estúpido: {storms off angrily}

It gets better, dear readers. I did not, (as I certainly had the right to do) run to the department director to complain about this incident. I wasn't freaked out, I wasn't ashamed, I wasn't afraid that I wouldn't be believed. I just have a policy of handling such things on my own at first, then taking it further if the behavior doesn't change, or escalates.

Believe it or not, El Más Estúpido immediately ran to our whine that Yours Truly was being mean.

El Estúpido: "Waaaaaah! Ginger's a bitch! She won't put up with me commenting on her boobies! Make her! Make her!"

El Jéfe Gay Male Boss: {incredulous} "DUDE. Are you kidding me? You do not speak to anyone that way. It is a flagrant violation of company policy. What is wrong with you? Do it again and you're out of here."

El Estúpido: "But...but...bros before hos, right? Right??"

El Jéfe: "Consider this a warning."

El Estúpido: {whines}

El Jéfe: {scowls}

El Estúpido: {sulks}

Ginger: {yawns}

There you have it. I can't make this stuff up, poppets. I'll tell you what, a supervisor who "gets it" is worth his or her weight in gold. This kind of thing goes on all the damn time, and I have worse stories. Yes, things have improved in the last few decades, but anybody who proclaims that women have achieved equality in corporate America must be working in the darkest corner of the boiler room in an underground bunker, with his head up his ass.

Equality means Thou Shalt Not Reduce Thy Coworker To A Collection Of Body Parts. Here endeth the lesson.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

How to raise a freak

From the blog Overheard In New York:

Little boy, pointing to lacy panties: Daddy, I want some of those!
Dad: Son, when you're older, girls are gonna be throwing you their panties.

– overheard in a Victoria's Secret

Nice job, dad.

What are the chances that this kid will someday be featured in a blog like mine? I'll go with 100%.

We're here, we're nerds, get used to it!

Modern, Cool Nerd
65 % Nerd, 65% Geek, 30% Dork

For The Record:
A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd
Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had towear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pleasant dreams, weirdo.

I've always been taught that making random comments to total strangers is, if not outright rude, at least a tad presumptuous. Call me Prudie McPrudypants if you must, dear readers, but I've been at the receiving end of a ton of such comments. Sometimes they're funny, sometimes obnoxious, but they're always a bit - I don't know - jarring. Whether the comment is meant to be positive or negative, I always find myself wondering why I was its target.

The time: January 2006. The scene: the Beverly Center parking lot, West Hollywood. My friend Tabitha, whom I have mentioned several times in this fair blog, had flown down to LA from San Fransisco to partake in New Year's Eve festivities with me. We spent an absolutely scandalous evening sipping champagne and eating pastries while watching movies in our PJ's. Exciting, no?

Well, no. Cut us some slack, though - we hadn't seen each other in months, and decided we'd rather spend time catching up one on one than sucking face with total strangers in some random bar at midnight (we've done that as well, dear readers, but that's another story for another time).

Ahem. On New Year's Day, we decided to head to the Beverly Center to take advantage of the holiday sales. Predictably, the mall was completely packed. After driving around for a few minutes, we finally found a spot at the far end of the lot, and began walking towards the mall entrance.

As we neared the escalator, we caught the attention of a skinny, teenaged Asian boy who was loitering in the lot. He had his hands in his pockets and was shuffling back and forth. "Hello, beautiful ladies!" he called out across the lot. "I dream of you every night!"

Strange, that. We were just minding our own, dressed down, not making anything close to a scene. The kid wasn't dangerous; just dangerously clueless. But still - dude, how do you dream about me every night when you've never seen me before? Silly rabbit. I shouldn't ask those kinds of questions, or my head might explode!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Photos I love: Ireland

Above is a shot of Balinskelligs Bay in Waterville, Co. Kerry. This beautiful, unspoiled town is located in the gorgeous Ring of Kerry, and was once a favorite vacation spot of Charlie Chaplin. The unique climate keeps the water in the bay warm enough to enjoy year round.

Yea, forsooth! All freaks shall bow before my majesty!

NEWS FLASH: This woman looks nothing like me, even with red hair.

Time for a change of pace, dear readers! This is a rare, freak-free story, a warm and fuzzy anecdote. Last Sunday, after my fun little jewelry-making adventure in Venice, I headed back into Hollywood to volunteer with a homeless assistance organization that I've been involved with for almost three years. The group gives out food every Sunday, and helps motivate the homeless to transition back into society by raising their self-esteem through job training. I wish that I could volunteer more often (I try to do it at least once a month), because I feel that it's one of the most important things that I've ever done with my time. Being able to help people who are truly seeking help, and having the privilege to assist them as they reclaim their lives, gives me a feeling that I can't describe. It certainly makes this often ugly and brutal world suck a little bit less.

When you're a regular volunteer, you start to see the same faces in the food line again and again - and they recognize you too. One of the elderly men that we assist (I'll call him Mr. Flowers) is almost 110 years old, and he's a total sweetheart. No dirty old man syndrome here, dear readers. Mr. Flowers shows up to the food servings every week, always in a suit, hat and sunglasses, happily greeting all the volunteers. It goes without saying that he's a flirt; he laughingly says that the secret to his longevity is "money and beautiful ladies." When he goes through the line, he always gives me a compliment that cracks me up, like "Hey honey! If you ever want to get married, look me up! I love a younger woman!" "Hey beautiful lady, you shine brigter than the sun in the sky today! You know what, I can do 25 pushups, I'm a strong man for you!" (He really can do the pushups. I can't do 25 pushups now, in my 30s). Every once in a while, he'll even sing me a song. His constant cheerfulness helps me keep my priorities in order.

On Sunday, I was in charge of collecting tickets and controlling the flow of people through the line. Before the food serving started, I stood at the front of the line, chatting to the people in the first group, which consisted of the handicapped and elderly. Mr. Flowers sat on a metal folding chair at the front of the line. I asked him how he was doing, what he'd been up to, and lord, wasn't it hot today? - just small talk. Mr. Flowers lives alone, and at 110 years old, most of the people that he's loved in his life are gone. He relishes the opportunity to get out and have a chat.

Mr. Flowers didn't have a song for me that day, but he appreciated the time I'd taken to talk with him a while. "Thank you honey, you're a beautiful woman! You're prettier than Princess Diana!"

I laughed. "Mr. Flowers, that's very high praise, but I think you might need new glasses."

"Don't tell me what I know, honey!" He wagged his finger at me. "I know what I know. God bless you."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My new obsession

Okay, I'm aware that everybody and their mother has tried her hand at making jewelry, which is one of the reasons I've never gotten into it myself. Last weekend, however, my friend Sarah and I were walking along Abbott Kinney Blvd. in Venice when we stumbled into a shop called The Goddess. This place has a crazy selection of stones, gems, beads and pendants, and offers seminars on jewelry design. Sarah and I were so impressed with the quality of the jewelry in the store that we decided to try our hand at making something. We really enjoyed it! The whole process is incredibly relaxing and therapeutic.

Above is my very first piece! (Click for a larger view). The stones are rutilated quartz, accented with 18k gold spacers. The pendant is a real shell. I'm absolutely in love with it (It's on my neck as I type this), and I get compliments every time I wear it out. I'm in trouble now, dear readers. I do not need yet another hobby, but I can feel myself becoming obsessed!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Detective Ginger!

You Are 5: The Investigator

You're independent - and a logical analytical thinker.

You love learning and ideas... and know things no one else does.

Bored by small talk, you refuse to participate in boring conversations.

You are open minded. A visionary. You understand the world and may change it.

Photos I love: Ireland

This is a view through one of the arrow slits in a tower of Blarney Castle. The castle is located in Co. Cork, and is home to the famous "Stone of Eloquence," otherwise known as the Blarney Stone. I had expected the castle to be a tacky tourist trap, but it's really gorgeous. Blarney is a tiny town with a tremendous amount of lush, green open space. The Blarney Stone, on the other hand, is an underwhelming, dingy grey brick that's set low in a wall on one of the battlements. You have to be held upside down to kiss it, which isn't a good idea - one of the locals informed me that sometimes the boys from town sneak into the castle at night to pee on the famous stone. Maybe "blarney" is Gaelic for "teenage boy piss?" Tasty!

Gallery of the absurd

We all have our little passions; the gallery scene is definitely one of mine. I've been painting since I was about fourteen; I dabble in photography too, especially when I travel. I've had my work displayed in a couple of small galleries back east - nothing major, but it's fun to get feedback from people who don't know me, who bring their own perspectives to my work. It's a thrill when I sell something, too; it's cool to see a piece of myself become part of somebody else's life and home. I'm a restless chick, but something about being in a gallery slows my pulse a bit, makes me calmer, makes me breathe more deeply. Of course, I don't love every painting and photo that I sees. I think that there's a lot of crap in galleries today, you know? There are certain genres that I just don't appreciate, despite my art history nerd tendencies. Overall, though, I love to stare at a painting or photo and allow myself to be transported into the piece of the artist's mind that's framed on the wall.

Last year, when my friend Stephanie asked me to go to a charity photography auction with her, I jumped at the invitation. The gallery where the auction was being held was in Venice, home to the (in)famous Venice Beach. For those of you who've never visited Venice, this little beach town pulsates with the zany energy of a community that never quite left the '60s behind. The street performers and vendors that line the ocean front walk are a trip; whenever a friend visits from out of state, I always take them to Venice for the day, so they can personally experience the freak show, fun shops, and food.

I've forgotten the name of the gallery that we were going to, but it was only about a block from the beach. We headed down to Venice around 8pm, and parked in one of the open beachfront lots. It was late spring; the air was cool and slightly humid. The gallery had only been open since 7:30, and was still pretty empty. There were only about a dozen people around besides Stephanie and myself.

We each got a glass of wine from the open bar and started to mingle, checking out the photos that were up for auction. A good number of the shots were taken by celebrity photographers; there was a portrait of Jenna Jameson on the far wall, and a portrait of Selma Blair near the entrance. In the middle of the right side wall was a portrait of Viggo Mortensen in a scene from one of my favorite movies, The Indian Runner. Readers, I love me some Viggo. Those cheekbones...that this photo, he sat on a barstool with his back to the viewer, in character as Frank; cigarette curled in one hand, looking off into the distance with a thousand-mile stare. I would have loved to add that portrait to my personal collection (let's face it, it's the only way I'd ever be able to take El Mortensen home with me!), but bidding was already fast and furious. Sadly, Viggo wound up being too rich for my blood.

Stephanie, on the other hand, was determined to make a purchase. She had her eye on a gorgeous shot that was hanging on the gallery's back wall; it was a photo of an old car buried in the sand on a beach at sunset. We both paced the area, periodically checking the bids that were being placed on the piece.

As we sipped our wine and watched other scribbling bidders, we were approached by a classic Venice character. This dude was definitely a local, in his mid-50s, dressed in a black leather jacket and paisley silk shirt. He was a white haired white guy, but not in a cute Steve Martin way. He was mostly bald in front, with a ponytail almost halfway down his back. My bepenised readers, I ask you: why is it that some of you feel the need to sport ponytails after you lose your hair? Baldness is very "in" right now; embrace it. Chop that ponytail and give yourself a Patrick Stewart. Captain Picard is sexy; ponytailed half-bald mulletude is not.

Captain Ponytail made a beeline for us. "How are you ladies doin' tonight?" He was already a little crocked, with a drunken leer locked and loaded. Steph and I made nice, trying to have a polite conversation while keeping an eye on the car photo. Ponytail was persistent, and getting pervy.

"So," he drawled, "are you ladies with anybody?"

Stephanie decided to have a little fun with him. "Actually, we're together," she said, putting her right hand on my left shoulder. Captain Ponytail's eyes lit up. I smiled sweetly back at him as I slipped my arm around her tiny waist. The Lesbian Cock Block was just a ruse, of course; we were very obviously playing with him. Steph and I like each other, but not that much.

Captain Ponytail was willing to run with it, though. "Hey, I love lesbians!" he threw his arms up in exclamation, nearly spilling his beer. "Can I be a lesbian too?" Readers, I swooned from the smoothness. Not. Alas, Monsieur Obvious's threesome fantasy would not be taking place that night. Or ever. Bummer for him.

We escaped the Captain by going for drink refills. Coming back from the bar, we noticed Maggie Grace and Ian Somerhalder (former cast members of LOST) wandering around the gallery, placing bids. La Maggie is really quite gorgeous and tall; she was sporting slight bitchface, á la Shannon. Ian is skinny and extremely pretty. Those eyes of his are gigantic. He was hand-feeding little pastries to Maggie. Cute! This sighting was absolutely huge for devoted LOST fans like Stephanie and myself. We caught them being all snuggly before their PR people publicly acknowledged their couplehood. Go us!

Not long afterwards, Steph found herself in a bidding war with the boyfriend of the gallery director. The guy was obviously being a prick, placing bids in the final few minutes just to drive prices up. He could tell that Stephanie really wanted that photo, so everytime she placed a bid, he would too. She was getting exasperated, and the picture was going to wind up out of her price range. "Go stand on the other side of the gallery," I said. "Act like you've given up. I'll stand here and place the final bid right as the auction closes."

That's just what I did; as the gallery director announced the end of the auction, I quickly placed a new bid in Stephanie's name. She was thrilled, but not for long. Prick Boyfriend noticed what I had done, and outbid me after the bidding sheets had already been collected. I'm not Wonder Businesswoman, but I'm sure that can't be ethical. We put up a stink, getting in an argument with the gallery director, who snidely informed us that the auction hadn't been closed yet. Um, I heard you announce the closing yourself, beeyotch. It's not okay to take advantage of people who've gotten so attached to a piece that they're willing to part with their hard-earned cash to get it. I felt so bad for Stephanie, who was rightfully upset. Director Beeyotch finally decided to "allow" Steph to buy the photo if she was willing to pay an additional $200. I'm sure that was the scheme she was running with Prick Boyfriend all along. Assholes! Stephanie wound up paying more than she would have liked, but at that point, she was emotionally invested in the piece, which now looks really lovely in her dining room.

Anyhow. After the auction was finally over, the winning bidders had to fill out paperwork and pay for the artwork they had bought. It was going to take a while, so Steph and I hung out by the bar, finishing our drinks. A man came over and started to chat. He was tall, with shoulder-length black hair and a goatee, slightly Dalí-esque. He wore a long black coat. He said he was a painter, and gave us each a flyer that advertised one of his upcoming gallery shows.

Here's where it gets weird. Wannabe Dalí and Stephanie were engaged in conversation about his upcoming gallery show; I was not talking at all. I was tired and bored, and this dude had immediately given me the heebies; my freak radar was on full tilt. I just wanted him to go away, so I wasn't being very friendly. So Dalí kept talking to Steph, but wasn't making eye contact with her at all; he was eyeing me up and down the whole time. Now, I'm not hideous, dear readers, but Stephanie is just gorgeous. Picture Victoria Beckham if she were about 5'1", with more feminine features and hair halfway down her back. I've mentioned before that I think bi-racial people are stunning; Steph is half Pakistani, half white. Her boyfriend is half Irish, half Japanese; they make a ridiculously attractive couple, and my 100% Irishness looks positively boring by comparison. My point is that Stephanie was the hottie in the room; she was the one with a cute, form fitting outfit on; she was the one radiating energy. I wasn't unwashed, but I was yawning, bundled up and getting listless. What exactly did he find so interesting?

I digress. Wannabe Dalí was freaking us both out, his eyes burning a hole in my (covered) chest while he addressed Stephanie. I was standing between him, Stephanie and a wall - I had nowhere to go. I occasionally gave Dalí the stinkeye, and shot a few "help me" glances at Steph, who was completely thrown for a loop, gamely trying to handle this insanity without appearing rude. Finally, the paperwork line moved forward and we were able to get away from him.

"What the hell was that?" Steph laughed as we walked to the car afterwards. "It really looked like he wanted to rape you and was trying to figure out whether I would get in the way."

You know what, I'll give that a pass. "This only happens to you," said Steph. We threw Dalí's gallery show fliers in the trash before driving away.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Lack of posts

My internet connection at home is down. The Geek Squad is coming on Wednesday morning to fix the problem. I'll try to get another post up before then, if work isn't too crazy! In the meantime, I'm going to use this post to salute my hometown on this sad anniversary.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Not for sale by owner

Last Saturday, on the corner of Hollywood and Highland, around midnight:

Dude selling tourist trinkets: "Hey lady, if you need a sugah daddy, I'm available!"

Me: "Thanks, but I'm good."

Trinket dude: "Awww, come on, now."

Me: "I pay my own bills, but thanks anyway."

Trinket dude: "Well, if you change yo' mind, you know where to find me, girl."


Monday, September 04, 2006

Photos I love: Ireland

This is a photo of O'Brien's Tower, located at the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare. This is the area that my father's ancestors are from!

An example of how a comment from a total stranger can be cute and funny.

A random comment from The Peanut Gallery doesn't always raise a woman's hackles, dear readers. Human as we are, we're social animals that crave communication, recognition and appreciation. There's a big difference between talking at somebody and talking to them. A comment that's delivered in a truly friendly way isn't just a comment; it's an interaction. Sometimes, one stranger can make another stranger's day (or just make them laugh).

I was in Santa Monica today, walking down 4th Avenue on my way to meet my friend Sarah. Work has been incredibly busy these past few weeks, complete with long days, weekend hours and lots of eating at my desk. Readers, I have felt like an absolute sloth lately. I've spent a good part of this holiday weekend taking long walks, doing crunches and stretching. Anyway, I wanted to dress up a little bit today instead of donning my usual t-shirt and jeans uniform yet again. With that in mind, today's outfit consisted of an olive green belted mini, a plain black tank top and knee high black boots.

I was feeling pretty good and non slob-like for the first time in weeks. As I reached the corner of 4th and Santa Monica, I spotted a homeless man walking towards me, pushing a shopping cart that carried all of his worldly possessions. I think I've mentioned before that I sometimes volunteer with a homeless assistance organization. I understand how these people are marginalized and shunned, and how their treatment only exacerbates their problems. I try to make eye contact and smile, unless somebody seems cranked, hostile or nutty. Mr. Shopping Cart seemed pretty chill, so I smiled, and he lit up.

"Baby," he said, "you have damn pretty legs!" He smiled ear to ear - a genuine smile, not a lecherous one (by the time a woman reaches the age of 20, she's hardwired to make the distinction). It was a smile with maybe 10 teeth in it, but it was genuine and friendly.

I laughed. "Well thank you," I said. "Have a nice day." See? No flag, no foul. Context is indeed everything.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sex shout-out

"Hey girl! Girl! Girl!!"

Like most sane people, I don't appreciate being yelled at on the street by total strangers. About ten years ago, I was living in Boston (specifically, Allston). I had moved there in '95 with no job, knowing only one person - my longtime friend JoAnne. I was renting a small studio apartment on a side street off of Brighton Avenue. At the time, that area was a bit run-down, but fairly safe; it was mostly populated by college students, so it was very low crime. The neighborhood had a very active nightlife, and college students don't exactly follow a 9 to 5 schedule, so people were always out on the streets late into the night.

One weekend evening, I was going home after visiting JoAnne at her place on Commonwealth Avenue, which was only about a 5-minute walk from my place. Yes, I was walking alone at night. Dear readers, I won't take any flak about that; I was alert, but in no fear for my safety. If you know anything about violence against women, then you know that stranger on stranger attacks are extremely rare. The media would have you believe otherwise, but a woman is far more likely to be victimized by somebody she knows. The belief that women shouldn't be outdoors at night is harmful in that it a) keeps them in a constant state of fear that is unsupported by the facts; b) restricts their movements in ways not extended to men, which is sexist; c) places the blame for any stranger assaults that do happen on the victim, not the perpetrator (because she supposedly "should have known better" - I personally think that men should know better than to attack women); all of which d) distract attention from the very real problem of acquaintance and intimate partner violence, reinforcing sexism in our society. Not okay by me.

The soution, dear readers, is to be aware of your surroundings, and carry pepper spray in case of emergency. This advice would be well heeded by men, who are, in fact, twice as likely to be assaulted on the street as women. I was about two blocks from my apartment building when I noticed three guys standing on the corner talking loudly in a language that I didn't recognize. As I passed, a hush fell over them; then they started laughing and talking quickly, as if goading each other into doing something. I tightened my grip on my pepper spray, just in case.

"Hey girl! Girl! Girl!!" one of them shouted in a heavy accent. "Do you want to do it witt us?" His hairy little pals guffawed in approval. How gentlemanly.

I spun around. "No, I don't, so why don't you shut the fuck up," I spat. "I'm not a hooker just because I'm on a street corner, asshole." Amazingly, they all stopped laughing.

Somehow, I doubt that this dude would have shouted such things at me if Yours Truly had also been a dude. Readers, whenever I've complained to my male friends about street harrassment, too often I've heard that it's a "compliment", and that I should be happy to have been deemed worthy of male attention (even short, hairy and unwashed male attention, as in this case). "When you're older and your looks are gone, no one will say anything, and you'll miss it," I've been told.

That kind of logic springs from a black hole of lameness. Listen up, my bepenised readers; we women know that's total bullshit. Men don't make sexual suggestions to strange women to be complimentary; they do it to be intimidating. We know this because women don't do it to men - we'd be lambasted by our fellow citizens as crazed harpies if we did. This kind of "boys will be boys" behavior is a power play, one that I refuse to tolerate. That's why the Three Amigos shut their pieholes when I yelled back at them; they expected me to respond with fear, not anger.

It's called respect, people, and it should be extended to everybody. Let others, be they male or female, go about their business unhassled. Street shout-outs aimed at strangers is simply THOR (The Height of Rudeness).

Street Corner Dude hadn't deemed me worthy of respect. I was just "Girl" to him. To me, he was, and is, just "Asshole."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Photos I love: Ireland

A year ago at this time, I went to Ireland for a two-week vacation. I'd never been there before, and it was just breathtaking (not to mention a blast, with plenty of interesting moments). Over the next week, I'll be sharing my favorite photos from that trip.

This photo was taken in St. Stephen's Green in Dublin, at the tail end of my trip. Click for a larger view.


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