Nov 16

This is my America

Rotten Apple

I don’t even know what to say.

Tuesday morning I was hopeful. Excited. At six a.m., the line already snaked around the block at my local YMCA. People were annoyed at the small room and Rube Goldberg-like process (stand in this line, now that line, now this line), but still hopeful. Still excited.

That night I went to bed early. Exhausted from a cold and my brother’s wonderful wedding in Las Vegas, I turned off the light at eight o’clock. I thought about staying up to watch the election results, but decided it would be too nerve-racking. Besides, I was fairly sure it would be Hillary, although it would be close, because that man absolutely, positively could not become president.

At 4:30 the next morning, I found out I was wrong.


In the primaries I voted for Bernie. I wanted the more progressive candidate, the one without the sketchy backroom dealings. But Hillary would do. Girls and women could look up to her. They could believe that with hard work and perseverance, they could be president one day too.

Then, as Trump revealed layer after rotten layer of horribleness, like a bruised apple you discover is actually decayed to the core, she would more than do. She’d have to do.

Because just when I thought he couldn’t get any worse he did.

Build a wall? Can’t get worse.

Ban Muslims? Can’t get worse.

Make fun of disabled people? Can’t get worse.

Disparage a fallen veteran and his parents? Can’t get worse.

Brag about assaulting women? Can’t get worse.

Actually assault women? Can’t get worse.

It got worse. And it’s going to get worse.

One of my favorite podcasters, Charles W. “Chuck” Bryant, posted a thoughtful and moving message. Like him, I hope the Donald’s insane propositions will never come to light. I hope the woman on my bus is right that repealing Obamacare will be extremely difficult since the House needs the supermajority, which they don’t have.

Like Chuck, I’m financially stable. I have a good job. I have health insurance. So I’ll probably be okay.

But it’s not me I’m worried about.

I’m worried about the kids of color being blocked from their lockers in Michigan.

I’m worried about the NYU Muslim students targeted with hostile graffiti.

I’m worried about the students called racial slurs “because Trump is president now.”

I’m worried about the black students at the University of Pennsylvania who received messages with “racial slurs and images of lynchings.”

I’m worried about every single person of color.

I’m worried about every single Muslim.

I’m worried about those brave enough to continue wear their hijabs.

I’m worried that gays will lose the right to marry.

I’m worried that Planned Parenthood will be defunded.

I’m worried about any woman or girl unlucky enough to run across someone like this piece of garbage of a man.

Because now with Trump in the White House, it’s okay to be a horrible human being.

It’s okay to grab a woman by any body part without her permission.

It’s okay to call women pigs, slobs, and dogs.

It’s okay to ban people from a country based on their race or religion.

It’s okay to make fun of the disabled.

It’s okay to not pay your taxes.

It’s okay to have absolutely no idea what you’re doing.

It’s okay to do all those things. In fact it’s more than okay.

Do all those things, and you could be president one day.


“Daddy’s over it now.”

My conservative Chinese immigrant parents hate Trump. They think he’s ridiculous and indecent. Not a good representative for the rest of the world. They don’t like Hillary either, but at least she seems like a president. Taiwan has a woman president. Why not America?

Even under Trump, they’ll be okay. They have savings, a house, health insurance (at least for now). Then I reminded my mother of everything Trump has done, how now people will think it’s okay to do those things too.

“Ohhh,” my mother said, realization hitting her. “Ohhh.”

Perhaps she was remembering the bullies in our neighborhood, the ones who called my brother and me “chink” and “ching chong” every day. Who made us afraid, who made us cry. Perhaps she was realizing a bully like that is now our president.

Congratulations, America, you’ve elected the class bully.

You remember the class bully, don’t you? Red-faced, angry, disruptive. Picking fights for no reason. Picking on the most vulnerable.

This is the man who’s leading the country. This is the man who’s supposed to lead and protect.





The closest feeling I had to Tuesday was on 9/11. Of course that Tuesday was infinitely worse, but the feeling at least was in the same family. Shock, sadness, hopelessness. Helplessness. The feeling of watching disaster fall like a giant wave over the country and knowing there’s nothing you can do.

First we had 9/11, someone tweeted, and now we have 11/9.

But with all of that, there was something else. Love.

As I gazed on the tired faces of my fellow commuters. As I spoke with my friends and coworkers. As my “I Voted” sticker flew out of my wallet, and the lunchroom cashier caught it.

“My sticker,” I said.

She bowed her head.

The same I felt that terrible day when the normally stoic security guard called me “Honey.” When everyone outside New York called, saying, “I love you.”

I was worried then too. About our own safety but also about the Muslim family who owned the convenience store down the block. The teenage boy, normally surly, who literally draped himself in an American flag, telling people who came in to yell at him, “I’m American! I’m American!”

Are you okay? I asked him and his father. Are you all okay?

Will we be okay?


Of course the only thing to do about is bullies is to stand up to them. Even if it’s little things, like when my mother stared daggers out the window at the racist kids at our bus stop, when she went up to one one day, grabbed him by the arm, and said, “You leave my kids alone!” Like when brother said, “Fuck you” in school to our worst bully as he passed her in the hallway. Out of her element and without her cronies, she looked afraid, he said.

So now I say fuck you.

Fuck you bullies.

Fuck you racists.

Fuck you anti-Semites.

Fuck you misogynists.

Fuck you homophobes.

Fuck you xenophobes.

Fuck you people in my parents’ town with your pro-Trump and “Hillary for Prison” yard signs. (For real, do you have it so bad? With your big house and manicured lawn, living in an expensive, mostly white New Jersey town? Do you honestly want it to be better for you?)

Fuck you for taking away hope. Fuck you for setting us back. Fuck you for voting on hate.


Like that other Tuesday, I’m filled with sadness but again, also love. Love for my friends and family. Love for my fellow New Yorkers. I look on every face I pass and think, I love you. The Latino father speaking Spanish to his two kids. The older Latino couple watching, fascinated, as the half-Asian young man ties up his hair in an elaborate man bun. The young woman in the head scarf working the counter at Le Pain Quotidian. The trio of young white men on the corner, trying to figure out what to do with their Friday night, until one of them says, “Let’s go to Chinatown!”

I can’t leave this place.

I can’t live anywhere else.

This is my America.


Like Leslie Knope, I refuse to accept this. He is not my president. This is not my government.

But I’ll carry on. I’ll go to work and pay my bills (and pay my taxes, unlike some people). I’ll look after my parents and reach out to my friends. I’ll run and hike and walk 10 miles on a beautiful fall day in the city. I’ll watch movies and too much TV. I’ll travel.

But I’ll also say something when I see something. I won’t stand by silent. I won’t do nothing. I might learn to punch and kick again since, apparently, as a woman of color living in these here United States, I might need it.

I’ll keep punching and kicking. I’ll keep writing.

I’ll keep having my say.

Jun 13

My inner monologue during the ‘Red Wedding’ of Game of Thrones

Spoilers follow. (Duh.)

Okay, something bad is supposed to happen in this episode. Someone or someones die. Which important character will it be? Those Green People? Osha maybe? That would be sad. I like her.

Everything okay so far. Is it Jon? Maybe he loses an eye from the eagle? No, he’s okay. Oh, and he’s running away. Hmm, nice.

Is that the caretaker guy from Harry Potter? I think it is. Wow, what a dick. Maybe Robb will kill him? No. So which girl will Robb’s uncle have to marry?

Oh, he hasn’t even met her yet. Well, luckily she’s pretty. God forbid she were ugly.

That sucks they’re not letting in the Hound and Arya. Oh good, Arya ran inside.

Hmm, Catelyn seems nervous they’re closing the doors. I wonder why. And the music is more somber. Hmm, is something happening? Why is she staring down at that guy’s arm? Wait, is that chainmail?

Oh no. Oh no! OH NO!!!

[Silence. Hands over mouth.]

Oh no, Arya don’t go in there. Why does this keep happening to her?

Okay, Robb is still alive. His wife and baby are dead but at least Robb is still alive, and Catelyn. Jesus, that’s that guy’s wife? Cold-hearted.

Oh no!!! Holy shit!!! NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!



Apr 13

An Open Letter to UPS

I admit: the first mistake was mine.

Like an idiot, I left off the street address. A week later I finally checked the status of my package and saw it was Oakland. What the fuck?!

I saw that I could Change Delivery Options online and I tried. God knows I tried. Learn More, the pop-up window said. I clicked Learn More. Sign Up, the next window said. I signed up. I clicked Change Delivery Options again. Learn More! the pop-up window said. For God’s sake, I learned more already. Fine: Sign Up! For Christ’s sake I signed up already.

Already a member? Yes! Track a package? Sigh, yes sure. Change Delivery Options. Click – AGAIN. Learn More! Are you fucking kidding me? Sign Up! Track Your Package! Change Delivery Options! Learn More! Sign Up!

I am not exaggerating. An infinite loop of fucked-up-ness.

Finally, I called. Got a real person. She said that it was in Oakland and being held in Oakland, but that the sender would have to change the address. I called Zappos (for I would only go to so much trouble for new shoes). The very kind woman at Zappos said now the package was being held in South San Francisco. South San Francisco is not the same as Oakland. She also could not Change Delivery Options. She gave up much more quickly than I did and called UPS. I gave her the correct address. She gave UPS the correct address. The next day TWO UPS people called me to confirm this address. I said it to them; they said yes that was it.

The package did not go to that address.

By the end of today, I still hadn’t received said package. I checked the status: left at front door. What?! I called. It had gone to some other address, an address (at least in the same town) that perhaps another Angela Tung lived at because surely in the Bay Area there is just one Angela Tung.

Luckily for me these kind people, having received my package for the second time, held it for me, and now I have it.

No thanks to you, UPS.

And you know what? I don’t even like the fucking shoes.

Jan 13

Imitation as Flattery, and Other Plagiarism Myths


[Photo: “Crackers,” CC BY 2.0 by elhombredenegro]

I’m going to write about something that happened a while ago but which I’ve kept quiet about.

Someone plagiarized me.

It wasn’t a 100% word for word plagiarism, but this person’s piece imitated mine in style and structure, line by line. The opening in fact was almost exactly the same – except for a couple of words swapped out – and with one sentence copied verbatim. This person also tried to imitate my voice but failed, in my opinion.

I was very upset and didn’t know what to do. Call this person out on it? Alert the editor (who had also published my piece but sees hundreds, if not thousands, pieces of writing and had probably forgotten)? Make a snotty comment on the plagiarizer’s piece?

I was told that perhaps this person didn’t realize what they were doing, that I should play nice, make a joke of it. “They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but this is ridiculous.” WINK. Wink cuz, you know, it’s no big deal. In the end, I did nothing except hold a silent grudge, which I hold to this day, vowing never to help this person or promote any of their work.

Now someone I know is experiencing something similar, and their “supporters” are also responding with “be nice” comments. “The thief didn’t mean it!” “They probably didn’t even realize they were doing it!” Hearing about this person’s experience made me relive my own, and I decided I couldn’t keep quiet about it anymore.

Here are some plagiarism myths that need to be put to rest.

Copying structure and syntax isn’t plagiarism. First, the basics: the definition of plagiarism. Plagiarism.org gives an excellent one:

  • turning in someone else’s work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on “fair use” rules)

How hard is it to put quotes around something and say “according to So-and-So” and give a link. Are plagiarizers so insecure that they can’t admit that they get ideas from elsewhere? They have to claim every idea as their own? Some stuff I write is almost all quotes and attributions, and people still read and enjoy it.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattering.” BULL-FUCKING-SHIT. Imitation with proper attribution and credit may be a great form of flattery. Otherwise, it’s outright fucking stealing.

I love Austin Kleon‘s distinctions between “good theft” and “bad theft.” I’ll let his image speak for me:


See? Study is good; skim – as in skim an article and not read it carefully enough to give proper attribution – is bad. Stealing from one is bad. Credit good, plagiarism bad. Transform good, imitate bad. Speaking of which. . .

Imitation does not equal inspiration. My essay, I’m Glad My Husband Cheated, was inspired by this essay, I Slept With Your Husband. Here’s Why. My piece, in the form of a letter from a wife to her husband’s mistress, was a response to the latter, a letter from the mistress to the cheating husband’s wife. I didn’t go and play Mad Libs with that essay, swapping out details. It was an original response. A transformation.

Still, I went out of my way to tell the editor my essay was a direct response to I Slept With Your Husband, and if she thought the style was too similar, I would change it. However, she didn’t, and in fact both essays ended up the website’s favorite articles of the year.

“Err on the side of the generosity.” Fuck that shit. If this happens again, I’m confronting the thief directly. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll give them a chance to take their stuff down, but if they don’t, watch the fuck out.

Be nice. Again, FUCK IT. And I don’t mean “don’t be kind.” Being kind and being nice are two different things. People who care about being nice care about how they appear. People who care about being kind care about others’ feelings.

Like Wil Wheaton says, don’t be a dick, which includes don’t steal my stuff because I will cut you. . .with my words. (And in other ways if need be.)

Writers need other writers. For advice, feedback, promotion. A writer screwing over another writer is about the dumbest thing they can do for their career.

Oct 12

The story that could have been: Radio Lab’s “Yellow Rain”

I didn’t want to listen to the Radiolab “Yellow Rain” podcast.

People were upset about. I saw this story from Hyphen magazine being tweeted a lot. I didn’t read the story. I knew that if I read the story and listened to the podcast, I was going to get upset too.

I was right.

I listened with an open mind. I usually like public radio shows, and wanted to walk away thinking, People are being defensive. The show starts out innocently and interestingly enough. Basically, it’s about the controversy around Yellow Rain, a supposed chemical weapon that was dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War and caused death and destruction among the Hmong people. President Reagan claimed the Yellow Rain was developed by the Soviet Union.

A Harvard scientist has claimed that the yellow droppings were nothing but bee poop.

Then how do you explain all the death? Coincidence. People were dying from dysentery and other diseases at the same time these bees pooped.

Nothing but bee poop! Can you believe it?

And then the scientist laughed.

Right after all the description about what the Hmong people went through, they presented this theory about the bee poop, and the scientist laughed.

Dear Radio Lab, do you know what tone is? It’s if I’m telling a heartbreaking story, I don’t suddenly start joking and laughing about fucking bee poop.

The truly upsetting part of the show was when the hosts basically ambush their guests, Hmong refugee Eng Yang and his niece, award-winning author and activist, Kao Kalia Yang. They had gone in thinking they would have a chance to tell their story, but instead they got grilled about whether or not the Yellow Rain was truly a chemical weapon. Yang gives an impassioned response and says that the interview was over. There’s silence, and then the host saying, “But it wasn’t. They kept talking.”

Those annoying people just kept yakking!

I can easily imagine another story. You start with the idea, “Yellow Rain is only bee poop,” but then there’s this other, more important story: the Hmong people. One of the hosts, Robert Krulwich, went on about how “the woman” didn’t care that President Reagan accused the Soviet Union of using chemical weapons.

If I had to choose between caring about the death of my people or a pissing contest between two governments, I’ll pick the death of my people.

The story could have been, “Yes, Yellow Rain may not have been poison. The Cold War might have been started over bee poop, but does any of that matter? What about the Hmong?” That would have been an interesting, well-rounded story.

Sep 12

Stereotypes are awesome if I get prezzies!

So there was Jenny An’s article about how she won’t date Asian men (or so she says) because she’s racist. As I said earlier, while I didn’t think An’s article was genius and I found her follow-up “Just kidding!” extremely lame, I didn’t really have a problem with the piece. At least she’s aware of her issues. Now there’s a new article at xoJane entitled “I am an Asian Woman and I Think Asian Boyfriends Are Superior (Well, Mine Is Anyway).”

Here we go again.

This new piece seems to have little self-awareness and is full of contradictions. For instance, in her second paragraph, the author writes:

According to the 2010 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Asian men make the most money –- making $901 in median weekly earnings. Hard-working, humble, unwavering loyal to the family? Sounds like a recipe for success. Why the hell would you say no to that?

Then in the VERY NEXT PARAGRAPH, she says:

I was sick of the conservative attitudes that seemingly plagued my predominantly Asian community in southern California. Everyone seemed to be set on being a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or getting placed in some prestigious business school. Seriously, my parents literally cried when they learned I gave up a scholarship for pharmacy school to pursue journalism as a career.

So an upside to Asian men is that they make more money, but the author hates the “conservative attitudes” that pressure Asians into becoming doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc., ie. money-makers? She goes on:

I was hesitant to date someone of my own race — and not to mention that Asian men in my community seemed boring and had a tendency to be socially awkward.

But then I dated one — and have never looked back. He’s the epitome of an Asian man stereotype and proud: pre-med, good at math, Ivy League hopeful, obedient towards parents, grade-centric and not much of a partier.

At first I didn’t want to Asian guys because of one stereotype, not I want to date them because of another stereotype! And again, while the author hates feeling pressure HERSELF to become a pharmacist or whatever, it’s super-awesome that her boyfriend wants to be a doctor and fits all the stereotypes she herself hates??? While she rebels against her parents, she wants a boyfriend who’s “obedient toward parents”? Huh, what?

Next the author breaks down the reasons why dating an Asian guy is awesome:

  • he’s good at math
  • he’s a hard worker
  • he’ll be rich
  • he’s loyal (“divorce still carries a huge stigma in the Asian culture”)
  • “He’s not an arrogant douchebag”
  • “He bombards me with gifts and food”
  • “He keeps me fit.”

Okay. These are not bad things. They sound like great things. But then she substantiates each with the claim that these are inherently Asian qualities.


I’ve known plenty arrogant douchebags who were Asian. I’ve known people who are not Asian who were, guess what, good at math, hard-working, loyal, and fit.

And what’s with the focus on material stuff? Again, it seems the author wants to be able to rebel and be a low-paying journalist AND have boyfriend who is a rich professional who will give her lots of prezzies? And how is divorce still having a huge stigma in Asian culture a good thing? To me, it meant an extra year of a miserable marriage.

This article pissed me off a million times more than the An article (which actually didn’t piss me off at all), and it’s not because I think Asian guys are the worst or something. I’m a race doesn’t matter kind of gal. But to equate these positive qualities with being Asian, and to not even be aware that the qualities the author despises for herself are the VERY ONES SHE THINKS ARE AWESOME IN A BOYFRIEND is what drives me up the fucking wall.

Sep 12

I’m Racist!. . .Or Am I?

I’m not sure it’s even worth giving this article any additional virtual ink, but I’ve been thinking about it, so I guess it is.

First off, I don’t really see anything wrong with the piece. The author, Jenny An, says she won’t date Asian men and is fully aware of the reason: because she’s racist toward other Asians. In a nutshell:

I date white men because the term “model minority” grosses me out. I date white men because it feels like I’m not ostracizing myself into an Asian ghetto and antiquated ideas of Asian unity. I still see myself as a minority. And with that, pretty soon comes connotations of “outsider.” And I don’t like that.

I see where An is coming from. When I was growing up in my Italian-Jewish hometown, I felt the same way. There were so few Asians in my school, and I hated when anyone assumed that I was dating the one Chinese guy, or that I was related to the one Korean girl. I hated being pigeon-holed. I hated when people assumed I was a good, quiet girl who got good grades simply because I was Asian. I wanted to break out of that stereotype, and I did so by deciding to be a writer and proclaiming that I didn’t like Asian boys, that they were too much like cousins or other relatives.

In college, I went in the opposite direction. I became an Asian American activist and proclaimed that I’d only date Asian or other men of color. I wasn’t going to be one of those Asian woman-white man couples. I didn’t want people to think I was being fetishized or that I was giving into the idea that white was better. In the end I married an Asian American man, not because he was Asian, but because sometimes that’s how love goes.

But I did fall in love with a specific kind of Asian man. He was very Americanized like me, and even more so in some ways: he had few Asian friends, and sort of hated that whole Asian American activist thing. In a way, it made perfect sense that we’d end up together. We were two bananas from the suburbs who liked to curse and watch action and SF movies. (Well, more than that, but you know what I mean.) Eventually we divorced. I could say part of the reason was that he was Asian, with very strict Asian parents and a lot of Asian guilt, and that his parents and my parents, with their Korean and Chinese cultures, respectively, were at odds with each other. But all of that was just part of it. It was, as all marriages are, much more complicated.

After my divorce I dated four different men, all white. I didn’t plan on it. My dating profiles were always “race doesn’t matter.” But while I was open to dating Asian guys, it seemed that Asian guys weren’t into dating me. In the two and a half years between my divorce and meeting my current boyfriend, exactly one Asian guy contacted me. (And he wasn’t, as An describes as an Asian stereotype, “geeky, scrawny and without muscles.” He was in fact kind of a meathead and not the sharpest knife in the drawer.) I don’t know why Asian guys didn’t contact me. Maybe the site I was on had fewer of them. Maybe I wasn’t conservative enough for some, and too conservative for others. Who knows? I’m just speculating here. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I did contact a handful of guys, of all races, and none resulted in a date.

In the end, I fell in love with a white man, and five years later, we’re together still, because sometimes that’s how love goes.

Then yesterday, An posted a follow-up to her piece, and I got confused.

Because let me blow your mind here: I’ve dated an Asian guy before. I know! Shocker! Writers create characters. Call it first-person character, a writerly persona, performance art, whatever. Stir in some strong statements to make it more bloggable, call it a troll if you will. Or call it saying: I’d never, ever, ever do this, but it’s just, yeah, I don’t do it all that often.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

So what she wrote in her other piece wasn’t true? She was exaggerating to be controversial? Or is she just backpedaling now because of all the haters? She also writes, “The character embodies thoughts of self-race annihilation I’ve considered, especially when I was younger.” When she was younger, but not now?

A lot of people are pissed off at her, at least it seems that way from the comments. They’re pissed because of the race thing, or because of the “performance art” thing. I’ve no right to judge her either way. I’ve been racist to other Asians. I’ve based my dating preferences on political ideology (how romantic!). And I know that when writing non-fiction first person, a gap exists between the writer in real life and the writer as character on the page.

In that way, An is right: first-person essayists create a character of sorts, but like all characters, fictional or not, it should be well-rounded, not a cardboard cut-out or a caricature, which means including all pertinent pieces of the story. And if the writer initially had no intention of sharing said pieces, she shouldn’t reveal them later, especially if they undermine what she was trying to say.

I said I wouldn’t judge, but there, I did.

Maybe An’s intention was to write a rant from an angry Asian girl perspective, and thought including, “Well, I dated Asian guys too,” would weaken her argument. But witnessing her journey (presuming there was one) from racist angry Asian girl, to self-aware, to accepting might have been a more interesting, and truthful, read.

Jan 12

Don’t be a dick

While I’ve never worked in the food service industry, I feel like I know a thing or two about good customer service. Years ago I worked for a nonprofit healthcare education company for whom customer service was a huge deal. We held these conferences where we bent over backwards to make speakers and participants happy. This meant anticipating needs. It meant saying, “Let me find out” instead of “How should I know?” and “Let me see what I can do” instead of “No, I can’t help you with your stupid high-maintenance request.” It meant saving our bitching for “off the floor.” Sure, this was a pain in the ass sometimes, but with nice people, it was a pleasure.

Our waiter over the weekend didn’t do any of these things.

I guess he wasn’t so much a waiter as a bartender since we were sitting at the bar of one of our favorite restaurants. Let me first say that the service, when we’re at a table, is very good. It’s usually okay at the bar, except for one bartender who got my order wrong, then blamed it on me. And secondly, the bar offers full service.

At first I thought our guy was okay. “I’ll be with you guys in a minute,” he told us, which I love. You can keep me waiting, as long you acknowledge my existence. Because we had been to this place so many times, we knew exactly what we wanted. So when he asked me, “What can I get you?” I said, “The corned beef hash.”

He stared me. “You’re going to drink that?” he said.


“I said, you’re doing to drink that corned beef hash?”

“Oh.” I blushed. “Water then.”

At first, I was terribly embarrassed. I guessed I didn’t hear “properly” over the din that he hadn’t asked what we were going to eat but if he could get us anything to drink (though the MB claims that the guy did ask, “What can I get you?” not “What can I get you to drink?”). But then I started to get pissed off. So what if I had heard incorrectly? Adjust, dude, and more importantly, don’t be sarcastic and embarrass me. Yeah, I guess I’m an idiot because I didn’t hear you over the din of the restaurant. Sorry I didn’t follow your “rules” for how to order.

It didn’t end there. He started bitching to the couple sitting next to us about some other customers. Yup, bitching about customers to customers. He went on and on about what a pain in the ass the woman was, how she kept asking him instead of her waiter for stuff, how she got in the way. True, all of those things sound annoying, but you don’t complain about it to other customers. Hell, when I got my hair cut, my stylist very tentatively asked the receptionist about some weirdo who had come in – “Who was that?” with a careful glance at me. But since I feel like my stylist and I are pretty friendly, I didn’t mind that, and in fact I had noticed the weird guy too.

“He was just excited about his appointment,” the receptionist said diplomatically.

See, obnoxious waiter/bartender guy? That’s the way to do it.

Anyway, I thought MB hadn’t noticed the guy’s behavior, but he had. “I left him a 90 cent tip,” he said, on a $30 bill.

That’s what you get for being a dick: ninety fucking cents.

Nov 11

Invasion of the drunk CalTrain people

Three days a week I ride the CalTrain to my job. Usually it’s lovely. The train is clean and comfortable, and my ride is long enough to get a bit of reading or writing done, but not too long to be boring. In the mornings it’s very quiet, and not too noisy in the evenings (except when there’s a baseball game, and then it’s douche central).

One day after work last week the trains had major delays. Signal problems, I guess? Whatever the reason, all the trains were backed up by 20 or 30 minutes. We were waiting and waiting, and I ended up chatting with a couple of people. Nearby was a drunk guy, but he was far enough away that we could ignore him. Then suddenly he was talking to us.


As he was drunk, he didn’t make much sense. “This place is filthy!” he kept saying. “I wear flip-flops and my feet are black!”

Then maybe you shouldn’t wear flip-flops.

“I have to get pedicures and facials every week!”

Uhhh. . .

“In Miami I don’t have this problem.”

Then  maybe you should go back to Miami.

“I’m a real man. I could kick anyone’s ass.”

Before or after your facial and pedicure?

“We grew up poor! We had a cardboard box for a table.”

No one asked but okay.

While he ranted, I tweeted about him.

Eventually he went away, much to our relief, and that was the end of him.

Or so I thought.

Yesterday I was walking back from the gym in the rain. I had neglected to bring my umbrella, and was holding the hood of my rain jacket tight around my neck. I was waiting to cross the street when this guy next to me said, “Keeping it closed like that’s not gonna keep you dry. Just leave it open.”

And it was the drunk guy from the CalTrain.


He was wearing the same exact outfit: black sweater, jeans, and (yes) flip-flops. And he was drunk again. Or still. Who knows.

Keep in mind I saw this guy in the town where I work, and then again three days later a block from my apartment.

“Did he follow you?” MB asked, all concerned.

Highly doubt it. I’m surprised the guy was lucid enough to make it into San Francisco. Plus he obviously didn’t recognize me, and immediately after his comment, ran off to try and steal this woman’s cab.

Let’s hope he’s on his way back to Miami.

Jun 11

This just in: People are jerks

*Sigh.*  What is it about people and their sense of entitlement?

Yesterday, a beautiful sunny Sunday, MB and I were hanging out in Union Square.  It was pretty crowded so we shared a shaded table with an older British couple.  The altercation wasn’t with them.  We largely ignored each other.  They relaxed with their ice cream cones, I wrote and read stuff on my iPhone, and MB, as is his fashion, played his guitar with headphones on.

When he plays, he stands.  Helps his back.  It so happens he was standing in front of me, but what the fuck do I care?  I could see around him, and was writing, and it wasn’t like we were at the movies.

So we were hanging out peacefully, minding our own business, when suddenly I heard the horrible scrape of a metal chair, and that chair bumping into mine.  No, not just bumping.  Basically crashing into and past.  I turned around and this old guy stared at me without apologizing.  Okay, whatever dude.  He gave me a creepy vibe so I scooted my chair up.  Creepy turned into annoying when he REALLY made himself at home at the table, already shared, please note, by four people.  He took out a plastic bag and some other junk and proceeded to noisily, lip-smackingly eat his smelly, onion lunch.  I tried my best to ignore him, though I felt uncomfortable with him at my back.

Then, all of a sudden, he got up, walked by me – almost bumping into me again – sidled up to MB, and stood right next to him.  I was sitting there thinking, What the fuck? The guy was old and grizzled, and didn’t look homeless, but had an odd pink shirt, green pants get-up.  He just kept  standing there RIGHT NEXT to MB, not saying anything.  Finally, MB removed his headphones and said, “Can I help you?”

The guy still didn’t say anything.  He inexplicably handed MB some change.

Finally, after much effort, we got the idea that the guy wanted MB to move a little, that he was apparently right in his line of sight, although, um, we were there first and for a good forty minutes before old guy whack job decided to move his chair DIRECTLY behind where MB was standing.  Needless to say, some words were exchanged.

“Oh, so you want me to fucking move?” MB said.

“You could move a little,” the guy said in a Russian accent.  “You have your back to your girlfriend.  It’s not good.”

Don’t make this about me, asshole!

“So instead of asking me politely,” MB said, “you come up and stand right next to me, and hand me change.”

“You didn’t move when I asked you to move.”

“No, you never asked me to move. You stood next to me and handed me change.”

“Please move,” the guy said sarcastically.

“NO,” MB responded, put his headphones back on, and started playing again.

At one point, MB turned around to take a sip of his coffee, and saw the old guy shaking his head.  “Don’t you shake your head at me,” MB said, and more words were exchanged.  The old guy went on and on about how MB was in the way, how he shouldn’t have his back to me.  I said, “You moved your chair right behind us!”  But he didn’t listen.

“You have your ass to your girlfriend,” he kept saying. “It’s not nice.”

“I don’t care!” I cried.

“She likes my ass,” MB said.

After that, we couldn’t really enjoy our time, so after a few minutes, we left.

And get this, the security guard followed US out.  What the fuck?   A guy vying for biggest asshole on the planet gives us a hard time when we’re just hanging out, and WE get followed out by security?  Why, because we stood up for ourselves and refused to let the asshole get away with being an asshole?

*Sigh” again.

I don’t understand these people who demand respect.  I don’t owe you respect.  Sure, I owe you common courtesy, and vice versa, but you EARN respect.

Let’s take another example.  Last week, the CalTrain, before a Giants game.  The train was crowded of course, but there’s almost always a seat on the upper level in the last car.  I got on and a skanky girl BLOCKED the stairway.  She stood on the last step like that was a perfectly reasonable place to stand.  I came up on her, and she didn’t move.  I said, “Excuse me, could I please get by?”  She still didn’t move.  I raised my hand like I was going to – gently – push her aside and said again, “Excuse me,” and finally, reluctantly, she moved, BARELY giving me enough space.

After I passed – note: AFTER – she said, “Don’t think I’m going to move again when you can’t find a seat.”

Why?  Did I DISPRESPECT you somehow by asking you to move out of the way?  Did I call you out on being wrong, and no, you are not wrong, you’re NEVER wrong?  It must be fun to be your boyfriend.  And you know if I had returned to her said, “What did you say?” and confronted her, I would have labeled the crazy bitch, not her.

Anyway, of course I found a seat.

AND, this morning on the bus (it just doesn’t end).  Crackhead-ish lady with several missing teeth missed her stop.  She pulled the cord right after we left.  “Can you please stop?” she called. “Please?”  Of course the driver didn’t.  As we got nearer to the next stop, she kept yanking the cord, and pushing the back doors like they were going to open by her sheer will.  She finally, angrily, got off the bus, but then ran to the front and banged on the door.

“My purse!” she yelled.  Crazy crack-head forgot her wicker purse that was, for some unknown reason, wrapped up in a garbage bag.  The driver stopped and let her back on.  She dashed on, grabbed her purse, dashed off, and as she did, whacked the driver with her purse.

Yup, it’s TOTALLY his fault you fell asleep in a crack-laden stupor, missed your stop, and forgot your garbage bag purse.

The driver was unfazed as we drove away.  “I got it all on camera,”  he said, pointing up.

Think I need to stay away from the general public for a while.