26

Should You Be Posting That On Facebook?

I haven’t been in too much of a rant-y mood in a while, and while there is way too much anger in the world, I just have to get this off my chest. Call it a cross between a rant and a Staying-In-And-Getting-Real night, even though I’ve actually only been home for only about an hour.

I’ve made several posts in the past about my pet peeve with social media.

But now, I think that it’s just gone too far.

Not that it had too much farther to go.

In my opinion, once you’re at a certain age or place in life, you shouldn’t be posting stupid stuff. I’m not talking about pictures of dogs with their heads stuck in lawn chairs, I’m talking about statements that demonize human beings, whether individual or an entire population. It used to be that only politicians did it; now everyone’s got their own soapbox and megaphone, and most of what they yell is complete and utter garbage. And most of the time, it’s not like they stand by any of it or believe in it or do anything to take action about it; they just want to attract attention to themselves. A “friend” of mine recently posted a photo of two people walking in a parade in Native American headdresses, with the caption, “name what’s wrong with this picture.” What wrong with the picture is that no one cares, and leave them alone to deal with anything themselves because it’s none of your business.

The worst part of it was that this person was another graduate student, just like me. Not trying to get too judgmental here, but when you’re an undergrad, or a kid, or are a professional parodist, you can get away with posting stuff like that. But if you have a reputation to uphold, or you want one, you just can’t post stuff like that on Facebook. I learned that the hard way. I posted a few things that raised some eyebrows among people I knew both online and in real life, and I faced a certain amount of consequences for being stupid. It wasn’t anything political, and some of what I wrote did reflect how I felt at the time, but in hindsight, it wasn’t something that needed to be shared. And even some times when I do write something that I don’t see a problem with, someone else might, and then it’s up to me to judge how I feel about it. Even if you don’t think anyone is going to read it, the person you least want to will probably end up seeing it.

I could post about how “inappropriate” post X is, but instead, I chose to “hide news feed” from those friends who post things that are ad hominem, ad feminem, antagonistic, hateful, or just plain stupid, while still remaining friends with them. Suddenly, I felt so much better. At this point, I’d rather see pictures of cute babies or animals.

Oh, and I got my 36,000th revolver map visitor today, from London.

5

That’s Not My Face

Warning: rant ahead.

So I have this one friend, who happens to not be white (okay that sounds weird, kind of like I only have one non-white friend, which is actually not the case), and every time there is a young white male in the news, he always goes “you look like you could be [person in the news]’s twin/older brother/cousin.”

I have told him time and time again, I know that yes, it’s a stereotype that all Asians look the same, but I do not look like all or any of these people. Seriously. He’s compared me to everyone from Josh Duggar to some guy he met on the bus, and yesterday, he told me that I could be Brock Turner’s older brother. Despite the fact that we look absolutely. Nothing. Alike. If it’s a joke, it’s gotten way too annoying, but still, no.

That’s probably one of the least flattering things anyone’s ever said to me.

5

A Tough TA Day

Oy, what a day.

Am I a terrible TA?

1. Student, to me at beginning of class: “I have a mid-term next class, can I leave early to get ready?”

Um, no. You’re here for all of 50 minutes. If you want to leave, I can’t stop you, but if you ask me, I’m going to suggest that you stay in class because poor planning on your part does not constitute you skipping out on class with me.

2. Student, to me in email: “I have a mid-term next class, can I skip today’s discussion to get ready?”

You can skip, it’ll count as an absence, like it says in the syllabus. Three allowed absences, no reason required. But ultimately, see above.

3. Student: “Someone died, can I skip class?”

Again, see above regarding absences. But please, don’t kill your loved ones to get out of class; just tell me something came up. Sometimes I say “so sorry” or “deepest sympathies” but really…am I supposed to treat it differently? And asking me? I mean, “sure, yeah, I’ll skip class too!”

4. Student: “I was sick, so I didn’t do the reading.”

Props for honesty, but no reading = no participation for the day.

5. Student: “Thank you for being so accomodating!”

It’s no big. I do kinda like that you think it is, so we’ll go with your thing. Glad to help.

 

11

On Giving Others a Reality Check When They Deserve It (or Why It’s Hard For Me to Help Myself)

Today, I had a 10 AM appointment with University Health Services, so I bundled myself up with all my supplies for the day – books, papers, notebooks, laptop, projector (that didn’t work), coffee cup (which I forgot to fill with coffee), and lunch (which I forgot to include utensils) – and headed out in the freezing cold. I got there a few minutes late, mostly because of the slow elevator ride to the 7th floor because it’s Madison and elevators are slow here.

I walked in to see a younger, Asian-looking man, and a slightly older redheaded lady at the desk. The man waves me over to check me in. I give him my name and ID number, and he types it in and then has a funny look on his face. So then this happens:

ME (to the guy): You look confused.

REDHEADED LADY (to me): You look late.

ME (to Redhead): You look like you’re about to get a bad performance evaluation in patient care quality.

Ouch, a little harsh, but that was the best I could come up with. Either that or “mind’ya business, okay honey?”

Anyway.

I have a seat, and a few minutes later, the lady I’m coming to see comes out to get me and walks me back to her office. When I get back to her office and we sit down, the lady goes, “Yeah, so she [Redhead] just came back here and told me that she screwed up and she’s really sorry she said that. I told her that we all make mistakes but need to keep our personalities in check and out of the office.”

That’s just about the first time in my whole entire life that I’ve ever been told that someone was sorry for how they acted towards me.

Oddly enough, depression is one of the things that I struggle with, but I felt great. Life’s like that, I guess.

I’ve been getting better about getting to places on time, especially stricter things like meetings, appointments, and classes, but in my opposite-side-of-the-table life, I really don’t care that much if people come late to my classes (don’t tell my students that though please, thank you!). People’s lives are people’s lives, and if they’re human, they probably either a) have a reason, and feel bad about it, or b) don’t have a reason, and feel bad about it, so adding a wisecrack or a criticism doesn’t really add anything. .I don’t see it as an issue of respect or whatever; if you’re late, you’re late, and it’s on you, and whatever-the-hell because we’re all on this earth and doing the best we can and experiencing the passing of time in the same damn way every single day.

So, whatever side of the table you’re on, just don’t be a dick about it. Things happen and they don’t always involve you…and yes, I’m talking to you too, redheaded receptionist lady. You’ve got a case of the Wednesdays.

10

Jacob What?

No, this is not a post about my crazy brain that’s going to make your head spin.

Nor is this a post that’s about an undiscovered temple in the Cambodian rainforest.

Nope, it’s just your everyday, average rant about something I don’t like.

You know when you start a conversation with someone new, or you get introduced to someone new? The conversation normally goes something like this.

YOU PERSON: Hi there.

ME: Hi, nice to meet you!

YOU PERSON: Nice to meet you too. I’m [You], what’s your name?

ME: I’m Jacob.

YOU PERSON: Jacob…what?

Bitch, WHAT? Michelle Tanner style

::explosion of rage in my head::

I know this is super weird and really, really petty, but why in the world do you need to know my last name, before we continue with the niceties like “how are you?” or “where are you from?”

First of all, let’s start with You. Nine times out of ten, you introduce yourself as You. Not as You Person, not Mr./Mrs. You Q. Person, but You. And then you expect me to tell you my last name?

If I want you to know my last name right off the bat, I’ll tell you, no big deal. But when you hold that expectant pause, it’s like you can’t go on in life without knowing my last name, despite me not knowing yours. It puts me in a super-awkward spot then, because, what if I don’t want you to know my last name right now? What if I don’t feel like introducing myself beyond the “Hi-I’m-Jacob-nice-to-meet-you-bye” today? What if it just plain doesn’t matter because we’re never going to see each other again, and by the time we do, we’ll have forgotten each other’s first names?

I’ve caught myself saying it to people a few times, especially when I know I’ve met them before but can’t quite place them, but unless I’m flirting (and actually, this is probably a very unsexy way to start a conversation; maybe this is why I don’t date), there’s no need to demand information from anyone when you first meet them.

Most people I’ve met in life do not do this. The demographic of people who ask this question is usually 40s-70s, male, and Jewish. Quite possibly a rabbi, who then wants to know your hometown, your parents’ names, your Hebrew name, what shul you go to, and if you’ve put on tefillin this morning (if you’re a male). But in general, it’s just nosy people who want to add another possible notch to their Jewish geography standings. Now, don’t get me wrong, Jewish Geography is the Game of Champions – seriously, if it were an Olympic sport, I would try out for the team – but I generally don’t break out into full-on JG until the second or third time we meet, or if it’s a situation neither of us can get out of, like waiting for a bus, stuck in a really long line, or in the trenches of the wintry French countryside in World War I. Unfortunately, to the above demographic, if you choose not to engage with their question, you kinda look like an asshole, and even more so if you lie.

Then this happens:

“Jacob Bergenpretzel. Bergenpretzel? Of the New York Bergenpretzels or the Miami Bergenpretzels? You’re from Germany, right…which part? Are you related to Milton Ber-no, wait-Melvin Bergenpretzel? No? How about Gertrude Bergenpretzel? I knew a Gertrude Bergenpretzel, she used to play mahj with my mother-in-law…was she your grandmother, or cousin, or maybe a great-aunt? Is Bergenpretzel short for something? What’s your mother’s maiden name?”

And then they get into health insurance form territory and it’s just a downward spiral from there. Especially because you know that all the answers will be no, because you just plucked Bergenpretzel out of the back of your brain.

So here’s a solution: get to know me a little better. Ask me where I’m from, or how my day was, or what’s on my mind. Then ask for the rest of the details. Or just don’t ask me that question at all because I don’t owe you a thing, it’s that simple.

Unless you’re from the IRS.

In which case, you probably already know my last name.

Word.

Holla for a six-continent day; what up, USA, Chile, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, France, India, Sudan, Australia?

 

11

Terrible People, Part 1: The Person Who Smokes Their E-Cig Like It’s Nobody’s Business

I actually had a pretty nice day today, but something’s been bothering me for awhile, so here’s a new series to commemorate that fact. It’s called Terrible People. You all know some of them, and I sure hope you’re not one of them. I’ve written before about bad people, bad habits, bad parenting, and other things I don’t like, but terrible people just deserve their own special place in [fill in the blank]. If you’re that type of person that likes everyone, good for you, and here’s an anchor because you’re probably a pushover.

Now that that’s settled, ladies and gentleman, here’s today’s featured Terrible Person. This would be the person who smokes his/her e-cigarette like it’s nobody’s business. Anytime, anywhere, always. Indoors, outdoors, and in between doors. I get it, you’re trying to quit smoking – that’s great – or that you’re trying to save money – understandable – but please, take it elsewhere. Just because it’s not strictly a cancer stick doesn’t mean it doesn’t smell like one and bother the heck out of everyone else in the room.

At another school, I had a class with some girl who had the chutzpah to light up during class, not even joking. Like a Christmas tree. If Christmas trees smoked e-cigs. Right in the middle of discussion. It was disgusting. First of all, isn’t it illegal to smoke inside university buildings? And if not, it should be. Second of all, just because it’s fancy does not give you the right to pretend that we’re in a hospital in the 1950s. This includes sauntering down the hallways too. Again, no matter what the cigarette, the smell is bothersome so take it outside, if you must smoke at school.

You, sir, are a chimney and a terrible person.

Okay, mostly I’m just sick of smokers. There, I’ve said it. Health reasons aside, it’s terrible for the environment, for teeth, and for getting out of clothes. Seriously, some garments take at least two washes to get the smell fully gone. And no, it’s not the same as a “pleasant, woodsy smell,” even if you are smoking pine needles or a Glade plug-in. The past few days, I feel I’ve been ambushed by them, everywhere I go. It could be someone walking a half block ahead of me, or just through a wayward wind gust. I was out on the Terrace yesterday trying to read and do homework, and had to move tables twice because some idiot’s addiction of choiced started making me light-headed. I don’t mind the smell of cheese curds, or brats, or beer (actually, some beers smell sweet and homey) but one person with one cigarette can just ruin the air quality for everyone.

I am sure there are good reasons for a person to smoke, but do it in your own home, or somewhere that’s not where people are reading/eating/congregating for extended periods of time. But when you do it in a public place, full of people, you’re basically saying, “I don’t give a crap about any of y’all because my nicotine level is too low and I can’t be bothered to excuse myself, in more ways than one.”

So there.

Now, I feel the need to write a more positive post to counterpoint this one, so stick around.

12

Go See A Play, Damn You

I’ve been saying “no, no, no, God, God, God, no, no, no,” a lot these days. No, it’s not a new form of morse code or something, but it’s a reaction to the asinine nature of some people. And by some, I mean most, and by most, I mean people I’ve been in contact with.

So there’s this play that I’ve been working on that’s coming up soon. As in, we open on Friday. I’m really proud of everyone, it’s a great show; great script, great cast, everything. So I’ve been recommending it. While I haven’t been ambushing people with tickets, I haven’t shied away from asking if/when people are coming.

And from so many people, I just get the same insipid remarks.

“Will it be on tape?”

“Can I watch it online?”

“Is somebody going to tape it?”

No, no, no, and NO. The answer is NO, damn you. Get out of your house and go see a play. Any goddamn play, it doesn’t have to be mine, just go see any play at all, and then ask me that question again. This is why I love theatre, damn it. It’s live, it’s exciting, and you can’t fast forward through it, you have to be in the moment, there’s that group bonding thing and that whole being social thing and getting out of your comfort zone and into a comfortable seats (and these seats are really plushy and nice and all that). The world does not cater to you, and if it was on tape, it would not be theatre, it would be television, which it is not.

Go see the damn play. Have a fucking amazing time. You’ll thank me later.

Oh, and by the way, who uses tape anymore?

Thanks for reading this rant. I’ve had several five-continent days over the last few, so I’m going to post who visited today in hopes that Africa shows up tomorrow. So, welcome to North America (Canada, USA, and Jamaica), South America (Chile), Europe (UK, Serbia and Ukraine), Asia (Israel, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan) and Oceania (Australia and Papua New Guinea).

15

Money, Honey

I’ve had my mind on my money and money on my mind recently, due to some surprising new developments in my life (only good things, don’t worry). But that did remind me of something.

The other night, Alec and I went to the Steepery Tea Bar on State Street after a particularly taxing Latin dance class. I was in the mood for some green tea with honey. I could almost taste it.

And then, when I got to the counter, and perused the list of flavors.

Almond…

Apple…

Blackberry…

and then…

next to the word Honey, a sticker: $.25 extra.

I don’t know the ins and outs of economics like I know the ins and outs of Fiddler on the Roof, but why, honey, why? Was there some sort of honey shortage? A worldwide bee strike? Why, whenever it is that I want you, or anything else, the price automatically goes up?

Or the product gets discontinued (India Hicks Island Night body lotion)?

Or becomes unavailable for consumers (Altoona Hills Red Wine)?

Or is only sold in Puerto Rico (Luna di Luna Moscato)?

Or is dropped completely (Whole Foods Vitamin Club punch cards, AKA the prime example of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it)?

Why, why, why does this always happen to me?

I don’t know where it ends, but I know where it started: Bibelot.

Once upon a time, when I was young and still begging my parents for contact lenses, was a Baltimore-based bookstore chain by the name of Bibelot. They started out with a small store on Reisterstown Road in Pikesville, which ended up getting bigger, then expanded to three more locations: one in Timonium, one in Cross Keys, and one on Boston Street, Canton in downtown Baltimore. They each had a unique look, a funky vibe that was cool for kids, teens, and adults, and a quaint cafe at each location. Most of all, they had an eclectic selection of books. Rather than featuring the latest movie tie-ins, the storefront was usually shelves of local authors, from Baltimore and the rest of Maryland. They also hosted cultural events like open mic nights; now that I think about it, I remember singing there with my choir one afternoon with shoppers browsing around us.

As my bar mitzvah came around, so did the gifts. A safe bet was a gift certificate to Bibelot; they had all the best books and music for the best prices. It was always exciting to open the Bibelot envelope, and see which store the person had been to by the pastel marble background of the gift certificate. Pikesville, the most common, issued them in light pink, Timonium did so in yellow, Cross Keys’ were a pale seafoam green, and the Boston Street store had them in a bright blue. When all was said and done, after my bar mitzvah, I had a rainbow of gift certificates, with enough money to buy whatever I wanted from the store for a good long while.

And then, one day, it happened.

Not long after my bar mitzvah, I was sitting on the toilet one Sunday morning (I am not making this up) when my mom knocked on the door.

“I’m in here,” I responded.

“Jacob, did you hear the news?”

“What?”

“Bibelot is closing. All of its stores.”

The sound that came out of my mouth was akin to a dying vacuum cleaner. “Nuuuuuuhooooooooooo.”

It was true, and all over the news. The company was folding. Rumors were flying everywhere, and the biggest one was that all those lovely gift certificates would soon be worthless pieces of colored paper, since some stores were no longer accepting them, cash or credit only. It happened really suddenly, and all four stores went under simultaneously. I was resigned to the fact that I would probably never get to spend them, until my nosy cousin called, telling us something that was actually beneficial to the situation: the store in Cross Keys was going to stay open all night tonight, and would honor gift certificates.

So, armed with more gift certificates than Deutschmarks at an East German flea market, my dad and I headed over to Cross Keys as soon as we could. However, the rumor, which turned out to be true, spread (I blame my cousin) and the parking lot was full of cars, stuffed with parents, teens, and kids. Quite a number of them had also recently had bar/bat mitzvahs, all of them speeding towards the door.

Inside, it was insane.

Books were flying off of shelves. CD racks were being emptied.

And, for the first time in my life, I had no idea what I wanted to buy at the bookstore.

It was a very scary feeling.

I don’t even remember most of what I bought that night, I just knew that I had to pick out several hundred dollars’ worth of stuff, and fast. I bought a completely random selection of books whose titles I have long forgot. I bought CDs for about 12 different musicals that I could download today for free. I bought some magazines, and a cool poster that’s still in my parents’ kitchen. I bought a cookbook, for reasons I do not know. And after much struggle with different cashiers who kept saying different things like “we can’t give change for partially-unused certificates,” “we’re only accepting green Cross Keys certificates,” and “all sales are final.”

It was probably the worst shopping spree ever.

Hours earlier, I had several hundred dollars’ worth of gift certificates. Now, I had a bunch of random shit and no money left.

Eventually, the store in Pikesville became a Barnes and Noble (of course), and the one in Cross Keys became offices, but Donna’s, the cafe, remained open. I’m not sure what happened to the ones in Canton and Timonium, but suffice it to say, they were all victims of corporate America, and the “as soon as you’re into it, let’s take it away from you” consumer conspiracy.

Anyway.

Opted for a green apple slushy instead.

And now, exhausted me is going to attempt to sneak into bed. I didn’t get the kitchen completely clean, but I vacuumed the living room and also had my first six-continent day in a while, so hello to North America (Canada and USA), South America (Brazil), Europe (UK, Liechtenstein, Ukraine, Spain and Georgia), Africa (Zambia), Asia (Pakistan and Philippines) and Oceania (Australia). Yay!

7

LOUD PEOPLE IN RESTAURANTS

So, tonight, my dad and I went out to Great Dane at Hilldale for dinner, and ended up sitting in the corner of the small side-room.

Next to us was a table of nine people: four guys and five girls.

They were very chatty, mostly in normal voices, but one guy had

THE LOUDEST VOICE EVER.

It just boomed and reverberated, even more so due to the small space of the room. And he had the loudest, worst laugh ever. It sounded like a whole unit of army cadets going “HUT. HUT. HUT.”

Basically, whenever he opened his mouth, whichever one of us was talking at my table had to either yell or stop talking altogether.

Whatever happened to “inside voice?”

Don’t people hear themselves talk?

And now, someone in another apartment on my floor must be snoring REALLY LOUDLY because I can hear it with my door closed.

Maybe I should check to see if anyone is sleeping in the hallway.

Oh, and today I welcomed my 21,000th visitor since I’ve had RevolverMaps, so here’s lookin’ at you, Simi Valley, California.

4

Too Much Tuesday

First, there was Black Friday.

Then, there was African-American Friday.

Then, there was Cyber Monday.

This year took it to a whole new level: Giving Tuesday.

What is this?

First of all, stop it with the naming of the days. They already have arbitrary names that I sometimes don’t remember as it is. Second of all, the only thing that’s being given is a headache, to me and the rest of the world. Soliciting for a donation is normally not a problem, but when I wake up to 47 emails asking for money from everything from American Cancer Society to Maryland Book Bank, it makes me want to not donate. Which is the opposite of the point of the day, I think. Also, you’re giving Internet servers worldwide even more spam. Finally, oddly enough, I’m still getting emails, over a week later.

Giving Tuesday? Give me a break.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, happy Tuesday, everyone. My day consisted of a presentation, followed by too much running around, baking sufganiyot, and rehearsing in the dance studio. Can it be the weekend already? I am exhausted.

So yeah, seriously. Give me a break.