As Promised… a night on the town.

As promised, here is my best recollection of last night. We were all stone cold sober, and still had the time of our lives.

 

So we’re sitting in this fancy modern French restaurant in Buffalo on Main St. and I’m feeling super weird. I don’t do fancy restaurants. I don’t know how to act in them. My idea of a good meal is Mighty Taco where the sour cream and meat grease don’t run too much down my hands while eating in the car. But, since it was Casey’s last night at Coco, Siobhan, our friend Crystal, and I all went to her restaurant where she is a sous chef, and she cooked our amazing meals. Even gave me extra Lamb Lollies 😉

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So we’re trying to get comfortable at this place and are enjoying our food tremendously and we’re chatting, and the topic of men comes up. Watch out, it’s about to get sillyyy.

 

This woman’s we know looks like a lesbian but only has sexual relationships with women and dates men.

I said I wanted to have the opposite. I want to date women without having sex with them.

Siobhan goes, you mean friendships?!

Uh… yeah. Haha, didn’t even cross my mind.

 

After we ate our fabulous meal that Casey slaved over, she wanted to go home and change and get cute. Siobhan went with her, and our other friends weren’t ready to come out yet, so I had some time to myself. And after eating that scrumptious food, I really needed to use the bathroom. So I called my good friend Charlotte, who lives by the club, and went to poop there. After hanging with her for a bit, the guys were ready, and off we went in Matt’s new Mercedes Benz. He got a new car and ditched his girlfriend. We have yet to talk about how fucked up that might be. But, for the night, I let it go, and just rode in style. He was obviously not ready for going out, and he ended up leaving and going for a ride to clear his head.

 

Meanwhile, we were having a grand ole time, twerking, shaking, moving and grooving. We walked in right as the sexy underwear contest was going on. The drag queen ruling the stage had great big, blonde hair, and the tits to match (except they were brown). She told the men (and one actual girl) to shake what their momma gave them, pulling their undies down in the back so the audience could all see exactly who’s momma had the better genes. I watched in marvel as the skinniest guy up there had the most charisma and confidence. He ended up winning, by round of applause – the crowd actually loved him. That goes to show, it’s not what you’re working with, it’s how you work it!

 

Which leads me to the highlight/low-light of the night. It was both, I can assure you. Warning: video is embarrassing for all involved.

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No Filter.

This blog is one part silly, one part professional, one part concerned citizen of the globe, and 7 parts my best friend and I being complete loons because you only go around this blue dot once, my friends!

To kick it off, I’d like to introduce you to our hang session last night.

But first, some context.

I am a 27-year-old, reasonably attractive white female that grew up in “the hoods” of Buffalo, NY. My friend Siobhan (pronounced See-oh-bun). Actually, she’s super Irish, gingered to the max (literally Kiss My Ass, I’m Irish tattoo on her a$$), so it’s Shove on. She’s a gorgeous, know-it-all (but really, she knows how to do everything, but is humble as shit about everything) nut from the great, strange state of Florida. We’ve both lived some very interesting lives. We find humor in the dreadful. Enjoy.

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This bitch is leaving me after I only just found her. She fell in straight up tinder love. Her match made in Wi-Fi heaven is moving to North Carolina in a few days. She’s packing up her brood of incredibly sweet, smart, well-behaved (because they have no other choice, mom’s a hard-ass) funny, strange, beautiful children with her. (I also hate her for this.)

She is doing the whole lesbian thing. Rented the Uhaul before the second date was even over, had amazing 4-hours of lamp-breaking sex, told mom about said sex. Okay, I might have made up one of those (hint: Siobhan is getting a tattoo of a broken lamp on her sometime soon), but they are surely moving down to NC together, so I HAD to meet this fantastical mystery tinder lover, and now you can too.

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Que last night: I meet her, I hug her, I ask her how old she is and how the armed robbery she witnessed the night before was. Siobhan said she already warned her about me. That I am her, without a filter.

Before her girlfriend, Casey, came over, we were chatting about my sex life, and how I have taken a hiatus from the male species for one year since my last break up. It’s been about 6 months, and I was telling Siobhan how difficult it can be. Not because I’m lonely, gawd no! Because I’m horny! 😉 Here’s a tidbit of our convo:

Siobhan: So, this guy downstairs, what’s been going on?
Rebecca: Well, he’s living with his mom, he’s vegetarian, andd I’m not dating right now.
Siobhan: I don’t think that’s in the correct order. Anyway, what have you been doing as a substitute?
Rebecca: (full of excitement) I’m masturbating!!
Siobhan: hahahaha, I meant spiritually!

Hilarity continues to ensue when we are together. That’s our blog.

 

Wrongfully Employed

I started a brand new job “in my field.” The most under-talked about profession in America, it seems. Editing. Even in college, I went for a few years before even being able to find a major that was close to what I actually wanted to do with my life, my passion. I found the Writing degree when it was first being established at Buffalo State College, and thank god I did. I was able to study abroad in Australia through that and finally, actually take my first ever Editing and Proofreading class.

I had arrived. I learned a lot and felt accomplished and ready to dive into my profession.

Then I came back to America to complete my silly degree that was a whole lot of writing, which did not help me in my profession in the least, except maybe to meet one professor who had actually been in the industry.

To try to find proofreaders in Buffalo is like trying to find ghosts in your apartment buildings parking lot. You might hear about them, and think you see them, but they are nowhere to be found.

You’d think with that much of an open market, I’d be able to find jobs, just like that. Not so. I was going through a hard time in my personal life (my mom was passing away), so I took a hiatus from the job search to care for her and grieve. When I was finally somewhat ready to go back to work, a perfect part-time position found me and I began coordinating an after school program. There was a lot of stress and mind-boggling amounts of work to be done, but I completed the year, very close to not being able to. What kept me going, crisis after dramatic employee-induced crisis, was the children. They adored me, and I them.

Still, I wanted to continue to pursue my passion of editing. I did not believe there was one solid, open job for an editor in Buffalo. Everyone I spoke with said, “Go to New York (city),” or, “Chicago is where it’s at for the publishing industry,” and finally, “L.A. is where you need to be to find jobs.”

I had just lost my mother and had come back from Australia purely for family. I was not about to leave Buffalo now.

I determined to find a proofreading/editing job in Buffalo, and now.

I found the closest match instead – a media sales company.

This is a job editing obituaries, that is how it was marketed (Proofread/Notice Specialist to be sure). In actuality, we were called Sales Representatives. We sold and placed advertisements. This is not my forte. This is not even something I ever thought of doing. But so goes the search for your dream job, with bumps along the way, right?

Well, I figured I would give it my best shot. I was “working” for a great paper, Canada’s largest, and at least was doing some proofreading, right?

Wrong. I once read a book called “Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot” by Max Lucado. It established something that really resonated with me, and I believe it to this day after reading this many years ago.

The premise was that the universe (God) gave us tools when we were born; special talents and skills no one else quite has. Once we figure out what these are, and use them properly, we will be in the sweet spot of life, where nothing can touch you or harm you (career wise) because you have found where you are supposed to be and are doing what you are supposed to be doing.

I knew this to be true, but I figured this job would be a good stepping stone to getting there. It would give me the experience, tools and know-how to help me in my future career. I intuitively knew this. And three months after being hired, I was fired.

You’d think I would be upset. You’d think I would be boo-hoo-ing and woe-is-me-ing. I did none of those things (after I cried profusely in the HR’s office.) No, (pretty much) immediately, I knew there was a greater purpose for me. I knew I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole in that position. They knew it too. God knew it before I even started there.

Boy, am I grateful for my time there. It did give me experience, it did give me confidence, it did give me the tools I needed to see how a business operates.

So that I can start my own business!

I introduce to you: Rebecca’s Proofreading!

I am now my own boss and have total creative freedom, and otherwise, in my dream job. I will help you look like a rock star in writing! I specialize in e-books, but can handle and will take on any manuscript, blog post, poem, novel, novella, or love letter you have!

Please contact me for timetables and rates at Rebecca.D.Words@gmail.com.

Peace, love and lights,
Rebecca

The Opposite Of Gentrification

Everyone has heard of gentrification and how awful it is for every city in America. If you haven’t, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes it as: “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.”

While you might think that sounds like a great way for a city to prosper, people have been up in arms about gentrification because it is making it too difficult for people who have been living in a certain community to continue to afford to live there.

But, what about the opposite of gentrification? While there is no antonym for gentrification because it means to improve, I found a man using the term communizing or communization. I agree, as it could mean, and does to him, to depreciate the importance of or make ordinary. I will use this term in talking about the deteriorating conditions in Buffalo, because they are plentiful.

Specifically, my grandmother lives in Black Rock. It is a small town on the north side of Buffalo by the Niagara River. She told me when she was growing up and going to school there, it was a quaint Polish village. She grew up with the same six girls. They called themselves “The Sexy Six” and never had to worry about unwanted attention, or even had to lock their doors.

Everyone knew everyone and everyone protected each other.

Now, my 85-year-old grandmother has to live in fear of bullets coming through her windows.

Shady people continue to move in and bring more people in to do their shady dealings with, and every night, there are at least 10 grown men playing dice in the streets. I can remember when I rode my tricycle around that neighborhood and waved to everyone I saw. When I get out of my car now, I try not to make eye contact and walk with fear of being catcalled, or worse.

Last summer, my Babci (grandmother in Polish) had all four of her tires slashed because one drug dealer thought she was talking to the cops about him when she was really answering their questions about another drug dealer. This is not something my grandfather, who was a World War II veteran, would have tolerated. But, he was born in that house and died in that house in Black Rock, and now that he has passed, my grandmother would never think of moving. So, what is there to do?

I don’t want the same fate for my darling grandmother as Juan Rodriquez. He is an 11-year-old boy who was just shot in the head in Buffalo while trying to protect his younger brothers and sisters. This was two days before his 12th birthday. The media outlets are trying to suggest the shooting may have been gang-related. I suggest, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

I know, at least for my grandmother’s recent street shooting, the gunfire was over a girl. The target was an 18-year-old young man I watched grow up. The innocence in this person is gone. He has let his environment influence him more than is safe. Especially for my Babci, who lives next door. That is the problem with communization, it takes over well before anything can be done about it.

Fat Shaming — For Whose Benefit?

Women’s insecurities are a multi-trillion dollar business that is continued and compounded by fat shaming. Most of the time, people doing the fat shaming think we are trying to help. We tell fat people, lose the weight and you will be happy. Lose the weight and you will be healthy. What we are really telling them is, lose the weight and you will be normal.

Lindy West came up with a radical idea to confront this perspective: Maybe all body types can be normal and correct. She is the author of Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, and she was recently a guest on “This American Life,” a well-known podcast with Ira Glass. She spoke of her own experience with being publicly fat-shamed by her boss, Dan Savage. He never attacked her personally, but she said it sure felt like it. She viewed his stance, through his books, online blogs and magazines, on obese people was that they are in the way, they are awful to look at, and they are costing our health care system too much money.

This has been the narrative in this country for decades. There is always a new fad or diet to consume your life. Lindy spoke to this. She said she always felt as a person who was fat that as long as you are trying not to be fat, it is acceptable. She lived her whole life that way. Trying to be something she was not, and waiting for the miraculous day when it wouldn’t be so anymore. And then, she had a break through. What if, instead of spending her life wishing away a problem that was so clearly there, (she mentioned how she was constantly in fear of knocking things down or breaking a chair in public) she decided to embrace and accept the body she was in?

This is so empowering and necessary. And something I try to implement in my life on a daily basis. While I am not “classically fat,” nor obese by any stretch of the imagination, I do have fat. I don’t know many people that don’t. This article is for everyone who is ashamed of the body they walk around in each day. I’m here to tell you to stop it! Begin to stop letting your fears about what other people think of you destroy your happiness. Most people could not care less if you are fat or not. We are the ones, each individually, who are allowing the beauty and diet industries to continue to disempower us.

My sister Sarah, who lost over 120 pounds —with actual diet and exercise— is a testament to the reality of the fat situation. Ever since we were kids, I marveled at her confidence, especially as a fat person. It was something I never had, even when I was sickly underweight. She proves to me every day that the two are not necessarily mutually inclusive.

Sarah was always the bigger-boned sister. She weighed over 200 pounds most of her adolescent and teenage life. She was not proud of it, but she never shrank at an opportunity to socialize, and never let the fact that she was bigger stop her from having a multitude of friends and feeling comfortable in her own skin.

Then, in 2008, she was dating a guy who was big and sloppy and a mess of a human being. He would emotionally abuse her and teared her down into a person I did not recognize, both physically and internally. She began eating more and staying in more to block out the pain. She stopped being the social butterfly we all knew and loved. This went on for years.

Naturally, when I thought of writing this article, she came to the forefront of my mind, and luckily, she was more than happy to talk about her experience. The first question I asked was, “Have you ever been fat shamed?”

No; was her immediate reply. This week, I am, again proud of my city of good neighbors. While I am sure it happens, bullying and hate crimes are relatively unheard of in Buffalo. She was always the literal big sister, and it never bothered her. Until one day, it did. Here she is; my amazing older sister.

Sarah: “Once I fit the 24 size pants, I was thinking, ‘they don’t make bigger sized pants than this in the store!’

That was a big wake-up call to me. I don’t want to have someone to make my pants.

It scared me to think of how my life would turn out if I continued to eat, like I would eat half a package of macaroni and cheese as often as possible.

That’s the thing. I didn’t realize those little things could cause so much weight gain. I had no idea about the effects of it. I loved candy, chocolate, cake… haha… ice cream; anything I could get my hands on.

You know, after I lost the weight, I still look at myself as that same huge person. Like I know I’m not, but I do.

I had my friend Michelle interview me about the same topic. It doesn’t scare me. I don’t mind looking at my old pictures. Some people don’t want to look at them ever again. But it shows me that I’m not the same. It reminds me I’m not the same person. It shows me the amount of progress I’ve made.”

I recalled us, her family, being the only ones really saying anything to her when she was gaining a lot of weight. It definitely came from a concerned place, but the words did not always come out in the most polite way, even when said with love. I asked her about that experience.

Sarah: “When Babci (our grandmother) would grab my stomach and tell me ‘You gotta lose this.’ That really bothered me.”

“It really did stick in my head, like will I ever be able to? Will I be fat forever?

But I thought that I would just always be fat and it was in my genetics and that stuck in my mind. But, it was just that I never tried.”

That was the beginning of her weight loss journey. It has been nothing short of a remarkable transformation. I watched her skip the cookies and carbs on every holiday. I saw her meal prep and eat salmon with vegetables and be content. I am so proud of my sister’s efforts at the gym and the change in her outlook on life and herself. She is back to being the outgoing, helpful, giving person she always wanted to be.

For her, it had to be something she took on for herself. But that is just for her because of the events that led up to becoming severely overweight. Everyone has their own story, body type and genetics they have no control over. Also, now that she is smaller than she was before she gained the weight, she is more self-conscious than ever before. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It is a daily struggle for her to continue on this different lifestyle, as well as coming to terms with her body now that it has undergone such a transformation. She was not ashamed of an inch of her body in the past. She would always point out how sexy she looked in each outfit she wore. Now, she is worried about her sagging skin, and what people can see in each outfit.

Sarah is currently looking into an abdominoplasty (a tummy tuck) and is trying to scrape together the money for arm skin surgery as well. Her body’s skin is the very last thing she needs to be worrying about right now. Our mother has stage 4 breast cancer, she is moving into my mother’s house to fix it up for the future, she is engaged to be married, and is going through school while working a full-time job. And all I want to say to her is, why isn’t the amazing feat you accomplished enough?

And I could say that to all the people reading this as well. When will your efforts be good enough? And whose standards are you holding yourself to? Self-improvement is a vital part of life. It gives us hope and something to look forward to. But when it is all we are focusing on and putting our money into, can we stop? Can we realize that beauty most definitely comes from within? Our bodies will not be remembered at our funerals, (unless we are so big we break the coffin, and let’s definitely hope against that) but our souls and our hearts will. When we are content with ourselves, people do not look to our cellulite or our sagging skin, they look into our eyes and are warmed by our spirit. No cream or shake or workout plan can give that to you.

Prayer Vigil Turned Political Rally

As a new Buddhist, I attended Buffalo’s prayer vigil for Orlando on Monday in high hopes of actual prayer happening. What I got was an “official non-political rally” turned political.

The shooting that happened Sunday in Orlando, FL by a homophobic, confused homosexual was horrific. We’ve all seen the texts of a young man’s last words to his mother, the photos of the victims, and the tragic news that this is the worst criminal mass shooting by a single person in U.S. history. There needs to be prayer and action after this happens. And yet, I saw neither at Buffalo’s Prayer Vigil held by the Pride Center of WNY. I walked up to a huge crowd of people covering our William McKinley memorial and the entire Niagara Square. I could not have been more proud of Buffalo showing up to support the victims that will not ever know we congregated. It was a spirit of togetherness and solidarity I have come to appreciate about “The City of Good Neighbors.” Rainbow and transgender flags flew high, candles were in hand, and people braved the cold to pay their respects to the lives lost. It could have been a beautiful moment for our city. But it was more about having the who’s who speaking and showing our elected officials what they mean to our city than showing love to the fallen.

I will not bash the entire gathering. It is always heart-warming to hear that the people you hold accountable in your government cares about the same issues you do. There were a few mentions of how joyous the kick off of Pride Week was only two weeks earlier, in the same spot as the prayer vigil; and how upsetting it was to have to live in a time where those joys had been wiped out by a madman with a gun. There was an opening prayer and a closing moment of silence, followed by The Buffalo Gay Men’s Chorus singing a song.

It was needed. It was necessary. But I felt like it could have been so much more.

It was a gay rights rally rather than a human lives loss mourning. It was a gun control speech, rather than a time to pray for the victims and their families. It was a time for government officials and politicians to show their community they meant business, rather than a time for people actually invested in this to speak of their sorrows.

I am proud to be in a city where hate crime is rather unheard of, and we celebrate diversity in wonderful ways. We recently just had the first transgender surgery in Buffalo. But they did not ask her to say a few words. They asked one leader in the LGBTQ community to speak, and a few pastors who were gay to say a few words. But it was not enough. We cannot say a massacre like this will not happen again, even though they tried to. All we can do at this point is pray. Pray for the legislators to pass the bill stopping people on the FBI’s watch list from legally obtaining a firearm. We can pray for the city of Orlando as they deal with loss and the struggle to mourn their friends, co-workers, and family members. We can pray for the victims, who were completely helpless in those few moments before their death. And we can pray for our collective conscious to learn from this and finally do better.

Regressive Xenophobia

For most of my life I was afraid of a very peculiar thing. It was a visceral reaction I had no control over. A lot of people thought I was racist, or just being mean or unfunny. Some people thought I was trying to gain attention. Whatever the reason, I had a very strange phobia, and it came out of a traumatic experience I had when I was a child (what crazy subconscious phobia doesn’t?). My abnormal, unexplainable, unheard of, but really very real, phobia was of Asians.

The way they talked, the way they looked, the sound of their voices, their mannerisms —even the food they made— it all gave me an awful, fearful feeling. I wanted nothing to do with it. And I really did not know why. It seemed foolish, and the more I talked about it, the stranger it became. People thought I was joking, I thought I was joking, but it did not go away; it only progressed.

For my eighth grade moving up day all my friends decided we should get our nails done for the first time. This was more of a problem for me than I realized or knew of.

We all went to the nail shop and I am immediately began trembling with fear. The anxiety built up inside me as I walked into this small building full of people of Asian descent. I let a few of my friends go first as I tried to obtain the courage. Finally, it was my turn. I told myself this is ridiculous; that they are only people, that they are probably nice people, and that I should get over it. I sat down but my hands became shaky and I began to hyperventilate. I let the woman do my nails, but inside my mind was racing and my body was tense. I left there and decided to swear off fake nails forever.

A few years later my friends and I were walking downtown by the train tracks and an Asian man was walking behind us. (This is going to sound crazy, but if you have already read this far, you know it was not a healthy fear.) I noticed the man, but do not let it interrupt our conversation. We continue walking and I notice another Asian, this time a woman, walking with him. I decided to cross the street and bring my friends along with me (they all know about my fear at this point). As we are crossing, the Asian people start crossing as well. I decided we did not really want to be across the street, so we go back to the other side. As we are walking, they are following us, and more and more Asians appear, walking alongside the first two. To me, it seemed like the Asian people in Buffalo knew of my fear and were going to straighten me out by stalking and following me. I was sure they were going to start doing martial arts and attack us. From this experience, my fear only grew.

One day in summer my boyfriend wanted Chinese food. I, embarrassingly enough, recall hiding under my computer desk for fear that the delivery man would know I was there. I told my friend this story and she said I must be racist. By this time, I knew I could never go to University of Buffalo if I wanted to because it has an extremely high Asian student population and I obviously could not eat Chinese food, and now people were thinking I am a racist. This phobia was affecting my life. I was more determined than ever —being generally open-minded as an LGBTQ ally and recovering Catholic, quasi Buddhist— to overcome this crazy problem I had. Now, this may seem a little racist in and of itself, but I knew exactly where to place myself for my immersion therapy; I went to a nail shop.

I decided to get my eyebrows done at a place in the mall. It was a small shop with not many people around so I figured this would be a good spot for me to face my fears and get on with my life. I went in, and again the tension rose as soon as I stepped foot out of the mall and over the threshold. A friend I was with gave them my name because I could not even do that. They called my name, so I lay back in the chair and hoped for the best. My heart beat out of my chest as her hands got closer and closer to my face. I was so close to running out of there screaming, and I still could not even figure out why. I began hyperventilating but kept my cool as best I could. When she was done I thanked her and sped out of there like Road Runner escaping Wile E. Coyote’s dastardly plans.

And that was the end of my rope. I gave up figuring this out on my own and I just accepted it as a part of my life. I went to Erie Community College, where the Asian population was minimal and I just stayed away from them if they were around. I worked at a grocery store in the hood so I did not have to deal with many Asians there, and if I did I was tense the whole time. But I saw no way out and just continued living my life, making light of it every now and then when someone would ask me to get Chinese food with them.

A few years went by and I went through a spiritual process that involves self-inventory, reflection and meditation. I put this fear on there, just in case it would work. I was able to write this phobia out and look at it in a new way, with a lot of help from God. I wrote out why I had this fear, how and why I could not change it on my own, and how God could help me with this. I then shared this with someone else and forgot about it.

Slowly but surely, I realized I was not afraid of Asians anymore. And the memory of how the phobia started even came back to me. When I was a child I lived in a diverse neighborhood, but it was mostly Caucasian, African-American, and Hispanic, until an Asian family moved in right across the street from me. I befriended the daughter of the family, who was my age, and she also had an older brother. Their mother would chase them around the outside of the tall, pink house with butcher knives. I do not know if this was simply a threat but I believe the police were called a few times. As if that was not terrifying enough, they had a toddler living next door to them who had a small baby pool in the summer. The daughter of the family poured bleach in his pool and he accidentally drank it. His organs moved around and his lungs almost exploded. He needed to go to the hospital and almost died. They were the only Asians I had known, so all of my fears were based on how they lived their lives.

Going back to this story sounds like a nightmare, or maybe a Godzilla thriller, so I decided to check with my brother and sister and see how they remembered the Laotian family from across the street. They both recanted the same story —butcher knives, bleach and all.

Once I figured out where my trauma came from and that it is not a correct interpretation of all Asians, it was a lot easier to see why I was so afraid, and more importantly, why I did not need to be any longer. All of a sudden I could walk into a restaurant and order Chinese food, no matter who was working behind the counter. I began to get pedicures with friends and saw Asians in everyday situations without any kind of reaction on my part. It was glorious! I even began helping a woman who was Asian, and did not even realize I should have and would have been scared of her in the past. I just talked to her like a human being, just as God wants me to. But how could this be? I had not really done anything differently, and yet, it was removed from me. This process changed my life, all because I allowed it to. Now if only I could use it on my fear of bees and roller-coasters. Well, maybe next time.