Friday, July 13, 2018

This Did Not Seem Particularly Ingenious and Yet it Kinda Was

Scene: Extremely crowded but deliciously air conditioned Apple Store in Downtown Philadelphia, where I'm about to attend a three-day work conference.

Me: Hey, so I lost this little piece of the plug to my MacBook Air in transit somehow, and I'm wondering if you sell it?

Apple Guy: Well, we sell the whole adapter here on the wall for $79.99 [Points to adapter on wall] What you're looking for is a little piece called a duck-head, which is only like, $8 or $9.

Me: Okay, well that sounds about 70x better than the rest of the thingie which I don't actually need, so can I buy like, just that little part I need?

Apple Guy: Well, yeah, but we actually don't sell it on the floor. You have to make an appointment at the Genius Bar to get it. [Gestures to said Genius Bar literally two feet away]

Me: M'kaaay . . . well . . .  can I do that?

Apple Guy: Sure, but it'll be a fifteen minute wait. 

Me: Seems worth it to me, I'll wait, thanks. [Waits less than four minutes, gets called over to Genius Bar]

Tattooed Genius Bar Tender: Hello, Elizabeth! I see you're looking for a duck head. It's coming right down.

Me: Wait. Wut? Down from where?

Tattooed Genius Bar Tender: [Taps a few things into iPad; produces envelope containing product out of thin air] Here you go! That'll be $10.00 with tax.

Me: I am seriously so confused. Why did I have to make a special appointment for five minutes from now at a desk three feet away from the display of plugs just to get this plug accessory from a secret stash of accessories instead of being able to just walk in here and buy it in under ten minutes which I actually just did anyway? Am I in a real-life Kafka novel? That was a rhetorical question by the way, cuz I'm not really interested in the answer but also I kind of am, but also I need to go back to my hotel room and eat this spicy tuna roll here that I bought from Walgreens and check email hence why I'm here. Anyway I just saved like $70 and your service was amazing so . . . I guess this is why Steve Jobs died a multi-billionaire and I'll be lucky if I die with $87 in my checking account?

Tattooed Genius Bar Tender: [Shrugs and smiles]

End Scene.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

America is Straight Trash RN But Bald Eagles Still Be Fucking Like Crazy

America is probably the least fuckable country in the world right now (cf: Canada). No one wants to get in our metaphorical pants. Like NO ONE. And really, can you blame them? I mean look at us. We’re a goddamned mess. 

We have babies (human ones) in cages. We spend 24/7 ragefully jamming our thumbs into our phones, pounding out screeds about how much we hate each other. Our President is a division-sowing, treasonous global embarrassment who has plunged his citizenry into a propaganda-fueled race war while generating policy with all the skill of a toddler making purple spaghetti in a Play Doh Fun Factory. 

Like this is actually something the man said at one of his white supremacy fundraising rallies this month:
I have broken more Elton John records, he seems to have a lot of records. And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ. Elton has an organ. And lots of other people helping. No we’ve broken a lot of records. We’ve broken virtually every record. Because you know, look, I only need this space. They need much more room. For basketball, for hockey and all of the sports, they need a lot of room. We don’t need it. We have people in that space. So we break all of these records. Really we do it without like, the musical instruments. This is the only musical: the mouth. And hopefully the brain attached to the mouth. Right? The brain, more important than the mouth, is the brain. The brain is much more important.
I mean. WUT?! No one is making babies with this, even though three different women actually did make five babies with this. But you take my point.

Anyhoo: Trump’s involuntary civil-commitment level psychotic ramblings won’t stop ‘Merica’s official avian mascot—the bald eagle—from fucking and reproducing like crazy, a fact to which I can personally attest having recently seen about three dozen eagle teens drying their feathers along the light poles of the main highway here in Juneau. 

The bald eagle's supposed regal bearing is the delight of millions of Juneau cruise ship passengers each year, but to locals, they are giant, dirty, carnivorous pigeons who will eat small dogs and occasionally take out our power by dropping a deer head or salmon carcass on a piece of fiber-optic cable strung across a mountain somewhere between here and Ketchikan. 

And now they’re multiplying like bunnies. Or birds. Cuz they’re birds. Birds who lurk in close proximity to the fish hatchery and the garbage dump for easy pickings. They’re survivors, those eagles. And lucky AF too. I’m sure the Spectacled Eider is out here in these skies wondering why *it* couldn’t be the symbol for America’s big, strong, giant, 12-inch civic peen and thus granted federal protection from bulldozers? 

The bald eagle has no idea how lucky it is. To paraphrase Neil Young, keep on fuckin’, eagles. Keep on fuckin’ in the free world.

Photo Credit: Heather Hardcastle

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Bot/Incel Said I Look Like a Dude and I Have Never Been More Flattered in My Life!

Most of us know that Internetting While Female™ involves a certain degree of well-documented trolling abuse. But after I wrote this tweet about how I wished there had been more votes than Wikipedia clicks, I got one of the biggest compliments of my life. A bot and/or involuntary celibate with no profile picture and five followers, and going by the very original presumable pseudonym "Mike Jones," wrote a post-script to me that I "look[ed] like a dude."

Now I've been called fat, a cunt, and a fat cunt. I've been told that my face can't be saved by makeup, and also that it needs more makeup. But I've never been told that I look like a DUDE. 

And frankly I could not be more flattered. 

It seems this incel-bot was trying to insult me by using a tried-and-true tactic to make women run away and cry, which is to burn their looks. I'm not sure why Russia and/or incels would assume this would be effective at shutting women up. After all, society only drills into our brains from the minute we're born that our main value added to the world is our fuckability, and all endeavors we undertake must be in service of increasing our fuckability, and the second a man calls our fuckability into question—even if he's a complete stranger or a robot with no face—we must curl up into a ball and weep in mourning for the spinsters we're destined to be.

But dudebot’s play backfired, because little does HE/IT know that I WANT to look like a dude!

I want to look like someone who doesn't earn 13% less income just because of what's in my pants. I want to look like someone who wouldn't be human trafficked, or assaulted in a staircase or in a parking structure or in college or at work or or or orororororor. I want to look like someone who would easily default into positions of power like Congressional seats and judgeships and C-suite gigs instead of being the rare exception to the norm. I want to look like someone who wouldn't get kicked out of a public place for feeding their kid. 

As Larry David might say, all of that sounds pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, PRETTY good to me. I'll take the dude look any day. 

Thanks, “Mike Jones!"

Sunday, July 8, 2018

I Am a Mosquito and I Am Not Fucking Around!

That’s right, you little homo sapien bitches. I was here long before you came along, and I’ll be here long after you’re gone. I’ve sunk my teeth into DINOSAURS. As in T-fucking REX! All you’ve sunk your teeth into is the five dollar footling at Subway.

Because I am the mosquito, and I am not fucking around.

I’m the standard vector for one of the deadliest diseases known to man, and how do I spread malaria? Or if you’re lucky just irrritate you a bunch instead of kill you? I’ll tell you without even looking at Wikipedia, because I’m a fucking mosquito, m’kay? 

It all starts with my status as the biggest player in the animal kingdom.

See first, I make twenty zillion babies all at once in a warm puddle. My reproduction game is Wayne Gretzky level. In the time it takes you to smack and kill one of me, I’ve already reproduced myself 12 times over. I’m basically like the bug-fucking version of those brooms in Disney’s Fantasia, but more pestilent.

Next, I’m ready for a blood meal, if I’m a WOMAN, which I am. And I have this very sharp, straw-sucking protuberance thing and I land my six tiny weightless legs on the warm, supple flesh of my prey, pierce it with my straw, and engorge my entire body with as much of their blood as my abdomen will hold before leaving behind an oozing, scabrous welt that itches for days.

Do you even understand that? Do you get how successful I am? From an evolutionary standpoint? I’m an endlessly reproducing, weightless, real life FLYING VAMPIRE and I LITERALLY ATE YOU FOR BREAKFAST. 

And what are you? You’re a self-destructive blob of hair and donuts who’s gonna be gone before my 7,000th generation of great-grandbabies comes along. You can keep your glass skyscrapers and drive-through espresso stands and theme parks. Party while you can pal, cuz I’m playing the long game here. 

And if you don’t believe me, I’ve got some Charlie Darwin you should read.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Truck Nutz is the Most Accurate Embodiment of Independence Day

I was thinking about this yesterday. Halloween has the pumpkin, Christmas has the tree, Valentine’s Day has the heart, and July 4 has the American flag Truck Nutz.

That’s really what Independence Day is all about, folks. Giant, plastic, made-in-China, novelty testicles hanging from the rear bumper of an enormous, gas-guzzling, shipped-with-pride-from-Guangdong-Province-to-America tricked-out Ford pickup.

That says it all, in one perfect metaphor.

Because let’s talk some Real Talk: Those of us who routinely try to define patriotism in more academic and subtle terms like “dissent is patriotic,” and “actually the Constitution doesn’t let Trump say 'no more due process' or 'you have to stand up for a song,'” and “maybe taco trucks on every corner would be an excellent development, in fact,” have lost the marketing battle over what it means to be a proud American. 

Because judging by the tone of July 4 this year (and every year, really), there’s no such thing as patriotism without balls.

Balls, balls, dick and balls. Preferably snowy white, hairy-ass balls, jizzing out red, white, and blue fireworks in a cacophonous, explosive, money-shot of FREEDOM. That’s what America is really all about, folks. One big, giant, loud, exploding dick n’ balls. As a woman this might be a little hard to swallow (pun intended), since “Prius Ovaries” did poorly in focus groups.

But the time has come to accept that aggressive, loud, in-your-face performative masculinity is what July 4 is really all about. It owns the holiday.


Oh and also, the Truck Nutz website offers “hot chicks,” “bad-ass rides” and “free stuff.” But hang on. Wait just one cotton-pickin’minute. I thought “free stuff” was for socialist welfare queens. In America we don’t get “free stuff” from anyone! We work for every last penny we have! We don’t need no gubbmint HANDOUTS! Except for Medicaid. And public assistance. And the PFD. And roads without potholes. Or giant snow berms. And and and and and and and.

But anyway, July 4 is the one day a year we can pretend none of that matters, and that each and every God-fearing, white Christian American man is in charge of his own destiny (and everyone else’s), just like we were always taught in school. And we will express that with a phallic manifestation of loud aggression and Truck Nutz.

‘Til next year (or tomorrow), Nutz-Havers!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Jumping on the #SecondCivilWarLetters Meme Bandwagon With This Dispatch from the Trenches

Dearest Mother and Father:

It has been some time since I was able to text you, but I trust you are well. The free in-flight WiFi was spotty, my noise-canceling Bose headphones were failing to live up to their good name, and all my messages were green. So Divine Providence only knows if you are in receipt of my latest dispatch of 9 July.

When our regiment finally reached Starbucks, my iPhone was at a meager three percent and my MacBook Pro at zero. Fortunately, the barista did not summon law enforcement even though I waited 45 minutes to purchase with bitcoin a fair trade pumpkin spice macchiatto, because Whiteness.

MacKenzie suffered a torn sandal at Coachella, and we have used all our provisions. We’ve had no coconut water nor so much as a stick of Burt’s Bees grapefruit lip balm with SPF30 for a fortnight yet. I do have one 12 oz. bottle of Brooklyn Lager, a rasher of grass-fed non-GMO Applewood smoked bacon, and a small wedge of unpasteurized Asiago to sustain me before the Battle of Hobby Lobby in three weeks’ time.

At first light, our command will mount a stable of Citibikes and ride at top speed to the nearest WalMart, for there is destined to be staged a fierce battle for the Soul of This Great Nation. On offer there, we are made to understand, are “Impeach 45” tee shirts but also MAGA hats, and so truly we may know the Union army not by its jingoistic raiments but by its distinctive mullets and poor grammar.

I fear the Union soldiers will have us out-gunned with their sizable arsenal of background-check-free, open-carry semi-automatic rifles; and evade detection with their fashion camouflage. But a Rebel spy at the deli counter has sent word that a full chafing dish of potato salad with extra mayonnaise and free samples has drawn at least one platoon and so we may have them cornered.

The truth is, when my Instagram notifications are blowing up, the consuming passion is to distract myself briefly via a pics-or-it-didn’t-happen with Clarendon filter #revolution #resist #BattleOfWalmart #bestlife #journey #besties. But for now I fear the pings and pangs and dings and dongs of psychological information warfare will reveal to the enemy my most secreted location behind this pallet of cherry Jell-O.

Many of our company has been wounded; felled at Panera by a suspect quinoa and goat cheese salad. I might as yet be resigned to great solitude on the front lines, trying in vain to procure last minute tickets to Shakespeare in the Park as sweat beads upon my brow.

This from Your Loving Daughter,

E.M. Bakalar

Monday, July 2, 2018

Is This Really Worth Losing Friends Over? Yes, Absolutely.

When is it “worth it” to lose a friend over “politics?” This is a question that’s arisen, again and again, since Trump was elected. It’s a question that many of us—especially those of us in white skin—haven't really had to confront until recently (a privilege and a blInd spot unto itself).

This is by no means an original thought, of course. The strain and divisions in the American zeitgeist under Trump’s “leadership” have been the subject of one take after the other, with each day seemingly bringing a new test to the limits of our collective empathy and civic conscience.

On a microcosmic level, these divisions are playing out in our most intimate relationships. One argument goes that it’s just politics, and a stupid thing to feud about. The other argument, and the one I endorse, is that this is more than “politics,” or at least it’s more than “politics” as many of us have complacently defined it for ourselves until now.

This time is a test of character and values, and if character and values do not form the basis of human relationships, what does?

Everyone has a different definition of what makes a good friend, but there are some common qualities most of us can agree on: true friends love and support you for who you are; they listen with empathy; they “hold space” for you; they are dependable; they do not betray you; they are loyal and trustworthy; they don’t judge you; they share your values; they give and accept tough love. 

In short, friends have character.

Do not forget: the moment we are in is not a political moment but a test of character. It’s a rare moment in which the true nature of people’s characters is revealed. Are we lizard-brained animals who will strive at all costs to hoard resources and justify our dominance over each other? Or are we able to appeal to and meet the demands of our better natures, finding the empathy needed to actively defend our ideals when called upon to do so? And if we have people in our lives who insist on regressing to the former while we want to do the latter, is it okay to let those relationships go?

In my opinion, it is.

If your friends don’t understand why you are afraid; if they cannot listen without judgment; if they cannot cultivate empathy for you as a woman, a person of color, an immigrant, an LGBTQ person; if they refuse to listen and learn; if they betray you by voting against your life and liberty (yes, that is a betrayal); if they dismiss your concerns as petty when none of those concerns affect them personally; if they cannot be depended on to fight for your autonomy and needs when needed, then how are they a friend? How are they worth it?

The answer is they’re not. Let them go.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

I Put the Yak in Kayak

Don’t I look so happy here? Well let me tell you, that’s a fucking LIE. Because I have never—and I mean NEVER—paddled a kayak ANYWHERE ON EARTH and NOT vomited within 30 minutes of leaving shore. 

Was it the Outer Coast, you ask? No. Was it even the ocean? No, no it was not. It was a lake. And not a very big one, either. You see, no matter the body of water or the weather—and Mendenhall Lake was choppy today, the glacier smaller than ever, THANKS TRUMP—you can count on me like 1-2-3 to toss my cookies over the edge of our cumbersome, zillion-pound, precariously-bungeed-to-a-ski-rack beater Fulbot “canoeyak” within the hour.

Like hunting and fishing, kayaking is one of those Alaska things that I WANT to like. I WANT to be good at it, which I guess is why I keep trying it. Fresh glacial air, green mountains jutting up out of the water like a postcard, icebergs, nesting Arctic terns, yada yada yada.

Welp, all I can say is thankfully there’s hiking and skiing (although I’ve also been known to puke off the chairlift in windy white-out conditions). Otherwise, I’d just go back home to the Bronx where I belong, move back in with my parents like I’ve secretly fantasized about doing ever since I came to Alaska 13 years ago, and work for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or something. 

Problem is of course, I don’t belong in the Bronx anymore either, if I ever did.  Now that I’ve been living in Alaska for so long, my NYC game is rusty AF too!

I’m in a Catch-22 of geographic helplessness; a future weak-link for anyone’s Zombie Apocalypse team, unless cursing and self-hatred turn out to be necessary survival skills. But God help me if the Zombies have personal flotation devices, because they will outpaddle me and try to eat my brains, and literally my only defense will be to barf a turkey and avocado sandwich in their melting faces. 

It will be fun, they said. We have out of town guests, they said. Every ding-dong off a cruise ship does this tenderfoot nothing of a paddle, they said. And by “they” I mean “Geoff,” who loves kayaking and has never seen me in a kayak without barfing, because that has never happened even once. Indeed, we still talk about some of my most legendary performances, e.g., Maui 2007.

When Geoff got us back to Skater’s Cabin (I was slumped down in the front of the canoeyak at this point), there were about three dozen or so of the aforementioned ding-dongs and their guides getting ready to raft around in this giant glacial bathtub from which I was sure I’d never emerge.

“Do you want some water?” one of the 20-something boy guides asked me, trying to be helpful and kind. “Nope,” I demurred. “Just gotta grab my usual after-kayak reverse lunch by this stand of spruce trees over here.”

Poor Isaac. 

Ever the empath, he was picking up on the signal of his mother’s dire straits and offered to take over her paddling duties on the return voyage; but he was too small, and truth be told, only a half hour earlier he’d whined for someone to “leave [him] off on this iceberg to die” because he “might as well get it over with.” 

At least there are no sea lions in here. Those fuckers will chase you the fuck DOWN, I’m told.

Anyway, it was all a moot point now, because we were finally ashore where Geoff could re-rack the canoeyak and Isaac could whine some more about being cold. And I could sit in the passenger seat of our car and boot every few miles until we got home and I crawled into bed with disbelief that I’d made it back to my favorite place on earth, doing my favorite thing on earth besides sleeping, which is to go off on what an unmitigated fucking disaster I am.

I still have my winning streak of not having to be rescued by a professional though, so there’s that.