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One of my favorite things about living with my partner is listening to him sing in the shower. Oh, the perks of an opera singer boyfriend.

I’m enjoying the stage my friends and I are in right now, as many of us are living with partners/significant others for the first time. There’s something very sweet about how our conversations meander to the silly/charming things our partner does that only we get to see. Granted, some things are more personal and that privacy should be honored; however, I find it so endearing to see a friend look lovingly at his partner and describe that he thinks it’s adorable that she likes weighing all the ingredients when she’s cooking.

I’m learning that it’s so intimate to share a physical space with another human being. It can make for frustration and bewilderment — why the hell do you find it necessary to not put dirty dishes in the sink? — but when I’m willing to check my ego at the door and ask, honestly, why my partner acts the way he acts, there’s usually a good and fascinating reason. In the meantime, I’m choosing to regularly notice when I’m charmed by the closeness of a shared space, and the privilege to see the small, very personal, details of the life of one whom I love very much.

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It’s time for some feminist action, brought to you courtesy of the migraine that today gifted me.

All the background you need to know: I work retail. I think, objectively, most people perceive me as a young attractive straight female, regardless of how I see myself or attempt to present myself. I work in a retail environment that heavily emphasizes customer service. I mean, these days, if you’re working independent retail in particular you really need to step up your customer service, because it’s about the only advantage you have over corporate. I encounter a lot of people in the course of my day, many of whom treat me just fine. Now that that’s out of the way…

On a pretty regular basis, I interact with people who do not treat me well. These run the gamut from people who talk on their cell phones while I am helping them, because apparently I am a machine, to people who are rude and weird. These people get me in a twitch, and I move on. What I am unable to get over, however, is dudes who feel like they can make a pass at me while I’m working. This goes beyond mere irritation, and here’s why:

From my understanding, it is only possible to think it’s appropriate to hit on someone when they’re working because you’re operating in a system of privilege where you don’t have to consider your actions. To whit: the people who hit on me are a male, and straight males, which means they unilaterally benefit from the heteropatriachy. Add to that the fact that they are socially and economically privileged enough to be hitting up a bookstore and probably white because of the demographic in the place I live. In most, if not every, aspect of their lives, they are the beneficiary of multiple systems of privilege, which means their way of being is constantly affirmed, they rarely feel unsafe or disempowered, and I imagine there’s a sense of entitlement that comes along with these things. This is probably why they feel that it’s ok to sidle up to me when I’m doing my job and assert their interest in me.

Now, granted, I’m benefitting from the intersection of many systems of privilege as well: I’ve got enough money to get by and the upper-middle-class background to fake my way along, I’m attractive, for all intents and purposes I am assumed to be straight, I’m white, I am intelligent, et cetera. I try to be as conscientious as possible about the ways in which I benefit from being on the affirmed end of these systems of privilege; I find it important to own up to them. In this situation, however, I am disempowered in two very important ways: I am female, and I am working.

I’m finding that customer service work intersects with gender in interesting ways, and that as a female in customer service there are expectations of the ways in which I will be accommodating: smile politely when older men flirt with me a little bit or tell vaguely sexist jokes, put up with customers thinking I don’t know what I’m talking about because I’m a young female, not call a customer out on your heteronormative sexist bullshit when they decide I’m a convenient object for ranting about ladies not dressing like ladies, or complement me on my appearance.

It’s a long list, and while I know my male coworkers have to deal with a lot of bullshit at work too, I find myself resentful that they rarely — if ever — find themselves interpellated as romantic or sexual objects. It is infuriating to feel unsafe when I’m doing my job because a creepy dude may or may not be staring at me, and furthermore feel that I’m not entitled to call him out on it until it gets really unsafe because I need to provide stellar customer service. It drives me crazy that some dude can waltz into the store and assume that, because I’m doing “nothing” (oh, wait, I’m putting merchandise away, but that’s okay, I can make small talk with you) it’s okay to make a pass at me.

Because here’s the deal: when I’m working, I’m not free to respond to you as I like. If you feel like you’re entitled to invade my personal space and touch my shoulder, I have to tactfully evade it instead of telling you to get the hell away from me. If you get flirty, or ask for my number, or tell me I’m pretty, guess what? We’re not on equal ground right now, because you’re the customer, and my polite response does not mean that I’m “shy.” It means that I’m working. And not being able to respond in a way that affirms my personhood and refuses who you want me to be for you? That’s the shit that sends me home with a migraine, because I’m waffling between defending myself and making sure that our store makes enough money, and I end up clenching my jaw and avoiding you — in my place of work! — until you leave. And I am lucky enough to work somewhere that places the safety of its employees first.

I am only starting to become aware of the kinds of privilege and disempowerment that are at work in customer service situations, and how blatantly ignorant most people are to them. I would love input on this, because it drives me up a fucking wall and I can’t be the only one. In fact, I know I’m not the only one. Because it’s not just me, and it’s not just one dude. It’s a system.

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In honor of two of my favorite people moving in together and to the City, I made a little Golden Gate Bridge for their going-away party.

golden-gate-bridge-paper

Fog not sold separately.

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Get Your Crochet On

Just joined this:
crochet-potholder-swap-button

Who can resist making and then swapping crocheted potholders? I’m so excited! Click on the picture for details if you’re interested.

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saturday-night

Just hanging out, drinking a Stella left over from a Gilmore Girls fest last night with a new friend. Making a chapbook. Oh yeah, and there were Girl Scout cookies, too.

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I propose that you all embark with me on a mission: McCarthy March.

No, we’re not going to accuse everyone we know of being a dirty commie for the month of March.

Instead! I plan to read as many books by Cormac McCarthy in the month of March as I can. What do you all think? Fun? Crazy? A little of both?

This won’t include The Road, because I’ve already read it, and so has almost everyone else.

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Our House

Can’t get that song out of my head!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been slowly moving in with my boyfriend and his roommate. Between work and living my life, I haven’t had time to settle in and nest as much as I’d like to. I feel frustrated at not feeling like I have my own space so far — because I haven’t had time to make it — and that makes me feel restless. In an effort to take that negative energy and make something from it, I decided to document some things in the house I like, and share them with you all. Stay on the sunny side…

Thing 1: The silhouettes from our bedroom window.

redwood-trees

Part of why I moved back here was to live somewhere where there are actually, you know, trees and stuff. Voila. Redwood forest, everywhere. Lovely.

Thing 2: The new bathroom

bathroom-fix-redecorate

I love showers. I mean, I really, really love a good long hot shower. Before I moved in, I was afraid to use the shower in this apartment. The shower head was responsible for a spray that made me feel like I had a bunch of kittens climbing on me — and not in a good way. There was a lot of mildew, and frequently a draft, and white shower curtains that really disoriented me. Also, a bathmat that never dried. My amazing, fabulous boyfriend, along with my amazing, fabulous roommate/friend, cleaned the tub/shower and got rid of the sketchy things. The boy and I went to Bed Bath & Beyond (for all my hatred of corporations this one feels ok to me) and found these lovely curtains with a coordinating bathmat. I’m not one for uppity matchy-matchy, but man, seeing these makes me happy every time, with the coordinating colors but the circles and squares playing off each other. AND the boy replaced the old shower head with my low-flow, chlorine-filtering shower head. Now the bathroom is pretty, has shower curtains I can see through a bit so I don’t feel trapped in a white vinyl bubble, a lovely flow of water, happy clean space, and a bathmat that is dry. Add that to the fact that our water heater is heat-as-you-go — which means unlimited hot water — and you have a happy girl. I think I started drooling the first time I showered in the new shower. I was that happy.

(Wow, I didn’t expect to have that much to say about a bathroom! I guess it’s the combination of feeling more comfortable in the space, and making it more comfortable, plus knowing my boy put in the time to fix it because he knew it was important to me.)

Thing 3: Dinosaurs in the kitchen

kitchen-dinosaurs

This apartment has passed down through many boy generations. That means a lot of random boy stuff. Like dinosaur cards strung up in the kitchen. They make me really, really happy. Also, the bird in the corner. How long has that been there? God only knows. Honestly, no sarcasm, these make me really happy.

Thing 4: Nerdy boy stuff abounds

star-wars-poster

This is in the hallway, near our bedroom. Add to that at least three different video game systems, three or four different kinds of Nerf guns, a big Guinness sign, long lists of drunken quotations, and, up until recently, a cardboard cutout of Will Smith from I Am Legend, and you have yourself a genuine boy house. It’s new territory for this girl, and I’m enjoying things like finding random packs of cigars in the pantry, that we have at least two open bottles of Jameson at all times, and the number of nerdy movies in the house. But, lest you get the wrong idea, these are also classy boys. They are charming, and I love them dearly.

So, that’s my house. I’m looking forward to the adventures that will be had…

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