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LOOK HERE PEOPLE - SUMMER IS NOT OVER.

LOOK HERE PEOPLE - SUMMER IS NOT OVER.

Ya’ll need to stop trying to take away my last couple of weeks of summer happiness. You do this to me every year. Summer ends SEPTEMBER 22, not September 1, not the first day of school, not Labor Day, not during the year’s first college football game!

And…I intend to savor every last minute of it. I will wear sundresses and flip flops, I will go to the beach, I will spend happy hours outside drinking frozen drinks, I will keep my 1980s era tan going.  So don’t you dare talk about it being FALL until AFTER the 22nd!

 

And while we’re at it:

Winter starts December 21, not Thanksgiving weekend.

Spring starts March 20, not on Easter.

Summer starts June 22, not Memorial Day.

Here’s some stuff you can quote to make you sound wicked smart:

The official starts of the seasons are astrologically marked by solstices and equinoxes.

Solstice is when the sun reaches the peak of its northern and southern decline. The shortest day of the year marks the winter solstice. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year

Equinoxes are the days when the sun crosses the celestial equator, making day and night the exact same time. The vernal equinox occurs is the start of spring. The autumnal equinox marks the start of fall.

Anyway…

Put away the pumpkin spice, the candy corn, the wool sweaters, the closed toe shoes with socks and stop trying to steal my joy. It’ll be cold soon enough and you’ll all be pining for these balmy days of summer bliss.

Let’s make a stand! Let’s make back the September weeks of summer!  

Public Service Announcement for the Fashionable Ladies of Brooklyn

    We see you girl. Looking like a winter dream on Fulton Street.  Looking fly in your wool coat, gorgeous scarf, leggings and super cute ankle boots. Your hair is on point, your sunglasses are groovy and you look EXPENSIVE. (And we mean that in a good way.) You’ve got Brooklyn style and flair. You walk past, and wait, what IS THAT? Is there something stuck to your shoe? It’s white. It’s on both shoes. Oh no girl. No, no, no. You did not leave the clearance rack sticker on the soles of your shoes. Why? Why did you go to all that trouble to put together that beautiful ensemble just to broadcast that you got it all 75% off at a discount store?   We know you don’t have to spend a lot of money to look amazing. We really don’t care how much you make or the designer brand of any of the pieces you wear. But if you purchase your shoes at the likes of Marshalls, TJ Maxx, DSW or Nordstrom Rack, do yourself a favor, pay attention to the details. And if you think we can’t see the sticker because it’s on the bottom of your shoe, think again. Every step you take, we’ll be sussing you.   by Stephanie Bok  

 

 

We see you girl. Looking like a winter dream on Fulton Street.  Looking fly in your wool coat, gorgeous scarf, leggings and super cute ankle boots. Your hair is on point, your sunglasses are groovy and you look EXPENSIVE. (And we mean that in a good way.) You’ve got Brooklyn style and flair. You walk past, and wait, what IS THAT? Is there something stuck to your shoe? It’s white. It’s on both shoes. Oh no girl. No, no, no. You did not leave the clearance rack sticker on the soles of your shoes. Why? Why did you go to all that trouble to put together that beautiful ensemble just to broadcast that you got it all 75% off at a discount store?

 

We know you don’t have to spend a lot of money to look amazing. We really don’t care how much you make or the designer brand of any of the pieces you wear. But if you purchase your shoes at the likes of Marshalls, TJ Maxx, DSW or Nordstrom Rack, do yourself a favor, pay attention to the details. And if you think we can’t see the sticker because it’s on the bottom of your shoe, think again. Every step you take, we’ll be sussing you.

 

by Stephanie Bok

 

Plenty

When you were a kid, what did you daydream about? Are you where you thought you’d be when you grew up? Oddly, I fantasized about both extreme wealth and extreme poverty. Neither look like my life today.

Every little girl dreams of be rich and fabulous, right? Wearing fancy clothes and living in a castle or a modern penthouse in New York City. You’ll be served dinner on one of those extra long tables with your distinguished husband sitting 20 feet away from you wearing a smoking jacket. You’ll be chauffeured in your Bentley and run a huge international company bringing in a million dollars a day. Or maybe a European prince or movie star will come into your life, you’ll fall madly in love and get married.  All your needs, desires and whims will be catered to.  Doesn’t every little girl dream of these things?

Or maybe these perfectly nice adults you’ve been living with all of your very young life will finally introduce you to your REAL parents who are gorgeous, sophisticated and extremely wealthy.  They don’t fart at the dinner table and then ask who sat on a duck.  They don’t think it’s too extravagant to go through the two dollar car wash when there’s a perfectly good hose and bucket at home or think it costs too much to get the extra scoop at Baskin Robbins. Your REAL parents will whisk you away to their villa in France on their private jet where you can have all the ice cream you want. And of course they’ll take you shopping for a whole new wardrobe.  Because Toughskins, Fonzie t-shirts and ProKeds just don’t cut it with the jet set. You’ll thank your sweet provincial adoptive parents as you leave and promise to visit during summer breaks and send them lots of expensive gifts. You knew you were meant for bigger things than your subdivision in Dover, Delaware where all the mysteries of the neighborhood were discovered and rendered ho hum within two years of living there.

Yes, every little girl living in middle class America fantasizes and dreams up these scenarios, right? It’s only normal. 

However, another make pretend world I set up for my younger siblings and myself played quite differently. Imagine if you will, a frosty February morning in the Mid-Atlantic. There are a few patches of snow in the backyard of an early 1970s model split level.  A weathered wooden picnic table leans to one side, with an NFL team logo bed sheet draped over it to create a makeshift shelter.  You hear young voices from under the sheet. Three children in threadbare pajamas, wearing snow boots and covered in wooly shawls and blankets huddle together for warmth. They must scavenge for their next meal, beg and steal coins from strangers to make their way in the world. They know which berries are ok to eat and will even survive on tree bark in the leaner days. They rely on the goodness of certain townspeople to take them in from time to time, give them a hot meal and a bath and then send them out again into the cold.  They’re a trio of orphans, trying to stay under the radar so the government won’t separate them and send them to evil foster homes or the brutal conditions of the city orphanage.  They take care of each other. They’re scrappy and resourceful. Yeah, this is the second ridiculous kind of fantasy I had as a young girl. I actually dreamed about being destitute.

Maybe it was a response to the banal existence of living in the subdivision where every 5th house looked like mine. Maybe it was the always having plenty. I had plenty to eat, plenty of toys, a plenty comfortable house. It was never too little, it was never too much, it was sufficient. No mystery, no surprise, no financial struggle.  No adventure, no danger.  So we had to create it. Pretend we were poor starving orphans lost in the forest as we walked through the trees behind my neighbors’ houses.  Pretend the weird house next door with the overgrown grass had sinister unspeakable things going on behind their closed up curtains.

Yes, I thought being poor was a romantic notion. I suppose my literary and television influences helped that idea foster in my young brain.  Little House on the Prairie, The Little Princess, and Heidi, to name a few.  The Apple Dumpling Gang? They made poverty look like an adventure.  They never seemed hungry, or in pain. It was fun! But I do kind of feel bad that so many of my fantasies involved being an orphan. My parents were actually pretty cool. Not sure where that came from, maybe Diff’rent Strokes?

Of course, as an adult, I know that the realities of poverty are not romantic at all. Once I got past the shock of the first job out of college and living paycheck to paycheck, I’ve lived well within my means and don’t carry debt.  And while I’ve always been able to acquire the same kind of plenty on my own as an adult that I was given as a kid, I really don’t need or want much more. I can’t imagine ever owning a house. I don’t care for the latest electronic gadgets.  I feel guilty already having as much as I do when there are so many people in the world with nothing.  And anyway, when you have lots and lots of money, people always want something from you. It just doesn’t seem worth it.  I think I’ll save my money and skip buying that Powerball ticket this week.

You know that old saying, “It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as it is with a poor one?” It’s not true. I’ve never fallen for a rich guy. Maybe it’s a need to have equality in a relationship?  So I won’t be looking for that prince to come sweep me away anytime soon.

So it’s funny that as a kid I had both dreams of wealth and fantasies about poverty, but I never pictured being middle class and perfectly satisfied.  It’s not my parents’ middle class, it’s my own.  I’m a grown woman living in an apartment (with a roommate) in New York City, working for a non-profit, creating comedy and enjoying my life.  It’s plenty and it’s perfect.

 

by Stephanie Bok

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rudeness is the New Black

I was walking down the street today, when I saw a man on a scooter coming
towards me. I made the concession of moving slightly to the right, thinking that
surely he would do the same and we would both continue on our way unscathed.
But NO. He kept his course in the center of the block and forced me into a game of
“Chicken”. At the last second I had to jump out of the way , the only place for me to
go being a pile of dirt with a tree in it.

Now , there a few things wrong with this.
First of all, I should NEVER have to say the phrase “man on a scooter”. If you are
older than 14, this is not acceptable. (Yes, that means you too 16 year olds! You
should be home worrying about how and when you’ll get laid.) Also, manners no
longer exist. And oh yeah, chivalry is dead.

I’m a child of the late 60’s and early 70’s. I actually remember when people stepped
aside to let you by and thanked you if you held the door for them. Believe it or not,
there once was a time long ago, when people let you off the train before they got on.
I KNOW! CRAZY,right? But since then, I’ve been pushed so far back in a train while
trying to exit that it almost would have been easier to just wait until I got to the
Bronx to get out. (I live in Manhattan). I’ve also been pushed off of a train that I was
already on my way out of (in the back; by a man three times my size; with both of
his hands and all of his strength), because he saw his connecting train pulling in
across the platform. By the way, I was also running for this train. However, unlike
him, I was waiting for the door to open before I attempted to take off.

It’s not that I’m a pussy. In both of these last two cases, I retaliated. In the first
instance, I managed to get passed the woman who was pushing her way onto the
train, and in a ninja warrior move that should only work in a movie, I swung my arm
behind me without even looking, grabbed the woman’s long shiny hair, pulled her
toward me, and then sent her flailing head first into the mob on the train. I never
looked back as I stepped onto the platform, but I can only imagine her crying to her
mother that night that she had been assaulted on the subway. Her mother telling her
to leave New York and move back home to Iowa immediately, where she would be
safe. With the bully that pushed me, I started screaming and cursing at him at the
top of my lungs as we both ran to catch the other train. I didn’t stop until we were
both inside the same car. Of course, no one had seen him push me, so I just looked
like a lunatic yelling profanities at an older man. Did I mention that he also had a
young child with him? Yes, I cursed him out in front of his kid. So what? He was
teaching this kid how to be a bully too. That child probably grew up to be the
asshole that ran me off the street today.

All I’m saying, is that it’s exhausting to always be the courteous, polite, spatially
aware one.

I don’t want to have to pull a Jessica Jones every time I leave my house.
Or eventually end up in a mental institution because I’m found yelling incoherently
and lobbing the contents of my purse at someone’s head at a Starbuck’s because I
held the door for them and they didn’t acknowledge me.

But it's everywhere.

Rudeness is the New Black

 

by Nina Ashe

Resting Bitch Face

JUST BECAUSE I MIGHT HAVE RESTING BITCH FACE DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN ORDER ME TO SMILE

“Smile! Hey girl, let me see that smile. Why don’t you smile? What’s wrong? Smile! Smile! Smile! Smile! SMILE!!!”

Shut up! Stop it. Nothing’s wrong. Seriously, I’m fine! I’m happy!

Do I have to walk around wearing a big insincere grin to avoid random strangers ORDERING me to change my facial expression? I mean, for real, walking down the street, people I’ve never seen before think it’s perfectly okay to actually demand that I smile for them like a trained monkey. I mean I’m a grown woman, forty, ahem -ish years old, for chrissakes!

It’s plagued me all my life. When I was very young, adults would come up to me constantly and say, “Smile little girl!” I would always say “I AM smiling!” I was genuinely surprised that they couldn’t see it.  Perhaps I’m cursed with a naturally frowning look on my face, aka “resting bitch face,” maybe my mouth turns down in its neutral state. Whatever the explanation, I CAN”T HELP IT! I’m a pretty happy and relaxed person. It’s not my fault my face doesn’t convey that without making a big phony effort.

Oh, and try working in the service industry without that natural easy smile. Torture. For over ten years I dealt with it. The more the drunken bar customers demanded a smile without giving me a good reason for it, the more I wanted to give them the iciest, piercing glare and stomp off. But, I either had to eat it and give a weak little smirk, or try the childhood retort, “I AM smiling!” and make a hasty retreat. My bottom line was at stake.  I may have been the most efficient, quickest, most needs anticipating, knowledgeable server in the business, but had to work harder for my tips than the ditzy, forgetful, lazy, and dishonest SMILERS who bumbled their way through their shifts.

I realize most of the men who’ve ordered me to smile over the years were making a lame and annoying attempt at flirting. They just weren’t clever enough to elicit real laughter or smiles with their witty conversation, so they’d try taking a shortcut. And if I didn’t immediately deliver, I was the bitch. It was like a passive aggressive dare. Prove you’re a sweet girl by playing along with my sad and pathetic attempt to break the ice. Don’t play along and it’s your fault.

Am I being whiny? Maybe a little. It’s ok. Life really is good. But -

What I want to know, is do men have the same expectation of perpetual cheeriness women do? Do people routinely walk up to a man with a serious expression on his face and give an abrupt and forceful order to smile!?  Or do women, having a tradition of being the one who must please, be pleasant, cheerful, upbeat...HAPPY all the time, carry the burden and suffer that annoyance alone? While it seems insulting for a store customer to demand mirth from the male clerk behind the counter, they think they’re being charming by doing the same thing to a female. And can you imagine a businessman coming home on the subway at night being asked to see his pretty smile from across the C Train? Not bloody likely.

I admit I am a little jealous of all those smiley, transparently cheerful people out there. Those people with an easy laugh right there just below the surface ready to bubble out, making everyone in the room feel instantly at ease and wanting to know them. You know, those Kelly Ripa types. Making us reserved, laughter coming out like, “Hmm, that’s funny” types; smiles coming out like bemused smirks types look like bitter party poopers. Damn you for your unfair advantage you easy smilers!Your likeability, your memorable-ness, your acing job interviews for which you’re way underqualified, your being asked out in the elevator by the cute guy who works on the 15th floor! 

You know, half of my best friends thought I hated them when we first met.  I scared them. “So serious,” they thought. But when they realized I truly was smiling on the inside, whether or not the outside betrayed it, they didn’t notice the absence of smiles. They knew a fun and caring friend. The ones closest to me can read my face. And that’s pretty cool. And they would NEVER command me to “smile!” And I know that by my age, without the help of psychotropic drugs, the unnaturally serious expression I carry around isn’t going anywhere soon, I’m okay with it.

So, if you ask, “How you doin’?” the answer is usually going to be, “I’m doing pretty damn great.” Can’t you tell?

by Stephanie Bok