Monthly Archives: July 2016

Merch Girl Rant #3: Airport Etiquette for Dummies

Everyone suddenly turns into an asshole when at the airport.  Even people who seem to be able to function as an acceptable human being normally, turn into a god damn spaz when traveling.  They seem to lose all common sense, spatial awareness and cognitive abilities.  It’s incredible.  I travel a lot, so please learn from this and don’t be one of those people.

Let’s start at the beginning.  Just pulling up to the drop-off area at airports, and it suddenly looks like a traffic jam in India.  There is no regard for lane lines, there are whistles and people walking in front of cars and the same person who kindly let you over while you were merging onto the highway to get to the airport, is suddenly blaring his horn in your face and cutting you off because he is worried that he won’t make it to the curb in time.  Chill out you motherfucker!  I am not afraid of walking twenty extra yards, so I’ll move for you.  I swear that people don’t understand that the airport is one big building.  Surprise!  You can get to any part of the airport from inside the airport!  When pulling up to the drop-off/pick-up area, people seem to forget that just because you’re flying Delta, doesn’t mean that you can only be dropped off immediately in front of the Delta sign.  Don’t worry, this isn’t platform 9 3/4, it’s not going to magically disappear.  Drop people off wherever there is an opening, and hopefully they can manage to walk a few meters to the Delta check-in, you freaks.

Before arriving to the airport, have your damn ID in your pocket.  Duh!  In your purse does not count because as we all know, women’s purses are all like Mary Poppin’s purse; endless.  If I have to wait for you to dig around in your bag because you seem to be dumbfounded when security or the airline agents asks for your ID, then you are a fool and deserve the ugly stares that you’re going to get from me.  Oh, and I will probably cut you in line.

The touch screen at the check-in counters seem to be a problem for people and this also blows my mind because it’s people who are drowning their lives in various technological touch screen devices, so how is it that you suddenly can’t figure out how to use a touch screen when it asks you for your friggen name?

Then, we move onto one of my worst pet-peeves.  Escalators/moving sidewalks.  These machines were developed to get you from point A to point B faster.  They are not there to enable all you lazy assholes who apparently find walking to be a hassle.  I cannot wrap my mind around how unaware everyone is.  Do you not realize that a lot of people are in a damn hurry at the airport?!  Essentially, everything you do at the airport needs to be done in the quickest, most efficient way as possible because people are waiting.  Paying for something?  Grab your change and move to the side so someone else can pay while you fumble around with your wallet.  Have plenty of time to get to your gate?  Then move over to the mother fucking right, and let me pass you on the left on the escalator.  Common damn sense.

Pack light and tight.  When we get to the security point, I always avoid people with kids, old people and people with headphones on.  That’s all obvious, but you also got to watch out for the people who have a bunch of shit hanging off of them.  I’m sure you can picture it.  There are those who travel and they look like a damn mobile closet.  There are pillows wrapped around their necks, lanyards hanging out of pockets, straps just everywhere, blankets protruding from overstuffed bags and they are always trying to get away with having two carry-on’s.  It’s such a shitshow.  I should never have to wait for you to pull everything from crinkled up cash to loose Tylenol tablets from your pocket when we approach the x-ray machine.  Be prepared!  Do that BEFORE the last second.  Fucking, duh!  And you never need a neck pillow.  Unless it is over a five hour flight, then I might have some sympathy, but on those flights, the airline has pillows, just ask.  You are not going to be comfortable on a plane no matter what, so just suck it up and get out of my way.

The only person who is allowed to have a neck pillow is the wrestler because he has the kind that fold into a little case that he shoves into his suitcase.  He’s a pro traveler due to the whole being a pro wrestler thing.  Him and I recently discussed the art of traveling, and decided that we hate 90% of people at airports.

I think that the older you get, the more comfortable you are with yourself and the less you’re concerned with what other people might think of you.  This notion simply disappears when people get on planes.  I watch all these middle aged people suddenly turn into those anxious adolescence with pimply faces and awkward haircuts.  People get so fucking nervous about putting their stupid carry-on bag in the overhead compartments.  Jesus Christ, chill out.  The only reason why we’re all staring at you is because you suddenly started talking to yourself, you’re blushing and you’re being frantic over a damn suitcase.

Also concerning the overhead compartments, don’t be that asshole who puts your jacket or fucking beach tote bag up there until everyone is settled.  Wait until everyone has their REAL carry-on’s stowed away, and then if there is room, you can shove your floppy shit on top.

The worst people on planes are the ones with headphones on who have no regard for how loud their music is.  I’m sorry, I know you’re enjoying your tunes, but I should not be subjected to your shitty Pandora’s top 40 playlists.  If the person is sitting next to me, I absolutely ask them to turn their music down.  If the person is sitting more than a row away, I ask the flight attendant to ask them to turn it down.  And I don’t feel bad about it even a little bit.  NOT using headphones at all while watching videos is a recent practice that I’ve noticed people participating in since wifi on planes has become a thing.  Hell no.  I won’t even waste my linguistic energy on why that is 100% unacceptable.

I recently went to Costa Rica with my sister, mom and a family friend.  I’m typing in the living room and my sister is in the dining room wearing an oversized Tupac shirt and playing with her toenails.  I just yelled to her, “what were some of the dumb things that people were doing at the airport?” and without hesitation she just yelled back, “they were just not fucking walking!”  It made me laugh out loud.  This sort of falls into the the category of being spatially aware, and even if you’re not in a hurry, act like you are.  I cannot get over the amount of people who just stop walking in the middle of the damn walkways to look at their phone.  Would you do that in the middle of the highway?  No.  There is absolutely the same traffic flow in the airport, and you are fucking it up and causing a traffic jam.  Just as you would if you were on the highway, if you need to stop, veer over to the right.

I hope this helps you.  I’m considering printing this out into pamphlet form, and distributing them at my local airport.

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It Sucks When Your Favorite Songwriter is Your Ex.

I never thought that I would write about Tommy, but here we are.  I’m not going to talk about our relationship.  Too much happened and didn’t happen to tell that tale coherently.  Maybe one day, if I’m feeling particularly masochistic, I’ll open a bottle of whiskey and that Pandora’s box, but this is not that day.  Today, what I will talk about is that Tommy Simms was the best singer/songwriter that I have ever known.

Tommy turns his Alvarez into his bitch.  I am a junkie for a heartfelt melody, and he was my supplier.  That may have been one of the reasons why I stuck in that relationship for longer than I should have.  For a time, I think I may have been his muse, so that’s probably one of the reasons why he stuck with me for longer than he should have.  I am addicted to stripped down songwriting and  I’ve never seen someone do what he can do with an acoustic guitar.  He can make it sound like there are two guitars playing, while simultaneously setting your soul aflame with his vulnerable voice and charismatic ways that seems to pull at everyones heart strings.

I always knew how special his music was, and the fact that I still thought so, even after being heartbroken, confirms that I wasn’t just a fan because he was my boyfriend.  I was his number one fan because I saw him at his best.  Tommy alone with an acoustic guitar is where the magic happens.  I’m one of the lucky ones who got to witness the behind the scenes footage of him sitting on a dilapidated couch with heavy eyes that always had some secret behind them, strumming through minor chords and humming new melodies under the pale moonlight.  And those songs would fill the room and find their way into your bloodstream.

I don’t think he ever liked his songs as much as I did.  He always seemed pretty nonchalant about his talent, and never used it as much as I felt that he should have.  Years later, and I think only now do I kind of understand that it wasn’t so much that he was apathetic, but maybe he was just tired.  I knew him after he had already put everything he had into music.  I’m not sure, but I think that he had got his ass kicked by trying to “make it” and that tends to deteriorate your soul.  It happened to me.  It’s like a cancer.  It spreads.  In less than a year, I went from 100% identifying as being an artist, to 0% thinking like an artist.  I once saw artistic inspiration in everything, and in a matter of months, I lost it all.  When your dreams keep getting shut down by the rat race, it’s very discouraging, and I think that may have been where Tommy was at while I knew him.  However, even without his whole heart in it, Tommy had more talent in an EP, than I probably do in my complete portfolio.

One of the reasons I say that is because he can write a song for every style.  If you ask Tommy to write you a pop song, a rap beat, a doo-wap, a country tune… he will do it in a few minutes.  That was always one of the more impressive things about him.  So it’s a real shame that he never quite figured out how to wholly utilize his natural abilities.  Society is just not conducive to artists.

Tommy’s recordings are fine, but they absolutely do not do him justice.  He is best live because half of the experience is him.  He’s got this allure on stage and it’s like a sudden spell that cloaks the room.  No one knows exactly why they’re suddenly entranced, but they are.  However, he only has half of the qualities required to be known.  He has the talent and the charisma, which is the recipe for greatness.  Unfortunately though, he has a tendency to burn bridges.  That may be the main reason why he’s not in a recording studio with Steve Albini at this very moment.

What inspired this random musing, is a video I just watched of him.  I have been cleaning out and organizing my digital closet over the last few days, and I came across this old video that I had forgotten about.  I recorded this years ago when he was playing a small show in Savannah, Georgia.  We were living together at the time and I remember that he hadn’t done a show in a while.  This is all worth seeing and hearing.

He was surrounded by close friends, so in the beginning, you can tell that he is kind of nervous.  But a little over a minute in, you can hear those nerves dissipate and he becomes more comfortable.  This is why I believe that live music is the most powerful form of art.  It’s a direct interpretation of someone’s soul in real time.

I never asked him about song lyrics.  As long as I live, I will never ask a songwriter the meaning behind the lyrics they write.  I think it’s far too personal.  Yes, he was my boyfriend, but there are still privacy lines that shouldn’t be tread.  I can guess what some of the lyrics are about, but I never confirmed any of these speculations.  I know that mingled within these songs that he wrote while I was around, are words that other girls would know the meaning to, and that’s where being in a relationship with a musician gets ugly.  I was similar though, so I’m sure it wasn’t easy being with someone like me either.

14:30- Timmer!  The boy who is in that shot, I have very fond memories of.  One of my favorite times with Tommy was the winter of 2009.  I think it was 2009 anyway.  He was living with me in Savannah, Georgia and most of our friends went home for the holidays but me, Tommy and Tim stuck around.  It’s one of those slices of life where everyone involved probably remembers it differently.  Tommy and Tim’s memories of that time are most likely different from how I remember it.  When I think about it, I feel this odd little temporary family built between three early twenty-something year-olds.  Tim never left his house, so Tommy and I would walk down the road to his place and we would all drink NOS energy drinks together in the morning, then switch over to beer at night, and talk and laugh and dream up ideas that we knew deep down we would never create.  In hindsight, it felt like our own little secret world.  None of us really keep in touch anymore, but we had December of 2009 together and it was something to be cherished.

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe Tommy and I just align in some fucked up telepathic, artistic way.  I always said that if Tommy and I used the same medium, we would create the same art.  My true art was dance.  Dance and choreography was the only thing that I was ever really good at.  If he was a dancer, I think he would choreograph like me.  I choreographed movement and he choreographed notes.  And if I was a songwriter, I think that I would write like him.

Here is another beautiful live performance of one of my favorite songs if you are interested.

Tommy, I always thought that How It Feels would be great solo live if you can figure out how to make it work.

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I Pretended to be Muslim for a Second. Sort of.

Ramadan just ended.  Happy Eid!  I’ve always thought that religion is a very strange concept.  I cannot at all relate to the need to believe in something above ourselves.  I am 100% comfortable in believing that all I am is science and cells reacting.  With that being said, I have no problem with you or your religion.  I might think it’s silly… but in the same, harmless way that I think middle/lower class Republicans are silly.

I know a fair amount of Muslims who I have worked with for years, and developed friendships with.  So this whole hating and/or fearing Islam mentality that people have is really starting to irritate me.  I believe that intolerance and hate ultimately stems from a lack of education.  People tend to judge what they don’t understand.  It’s no coincidence that the most famous humanitarians in history were well educated.  I believe in being the change you want to see in the world, so I took it upon myself to not be a hypocrite, and to further educate myself in the field of Islam.  When I say educate… I mean that I read one book and a few scholarly articles.  But hey, that’s probably one more book than most non-Muslims.  And I’ve been a bit more exposed to it.  Like I said, I work with a huge ass Muslim family and I also went to Istanbul last year, where the majority of the population is Muslim.  I found the people and the place to be beautiful and peaceful.

After learning a little bit more about the Qur’an, to my NOT surprise, it seemed similar to the Bible in a lot of ways.  They are definitely both violent at times, but underneath all of the stories, they are basically all about spreading love, staying humble, helping each other out and blah blah.  Oh, and worshipping God of course, but that’s where it loses me.  I don’t need a book or a God telling me to do good.  I do good because it’s the fucking right thing to do.  No doctrine necessary.

Despite how baffling I find religion, I decided to participate in Ramadan this year.  My Islamic friends have conformed to our culture, and are not only a minority here, but a minority that has been at the center of such negativity over the years.  I was curious about their practice of Ramadan, and I also wanted to show my respect to them, and also because why not?  I celebrate Christmas even though I’m not Christian so what’s the difference?  For me, Christmas is about giving, not Jesus’ birthday.  And now for me, Ramadan has become a time to appreciate what I have and recognize what others do not.

I didn’t fast for thirty days.  I’m not that hardcore.  I fasted for the first four days of Ramadan, and then again on the very last day.  I was just going to do the first three days, but I got a fairly large tattoo on the third day, and knew that it wouldn’t be a good idea to go in for that without eating a granola bar and a glass of water.  If you break the fast, you just practice for one extra day.  A fair amount of American Muslims only fast for the first three days and the last day as well.

For those of you who don’t know, the “rules” are: no food or water from sunrise to sunset.  Traditionally, the household arises before the sun (in my case this was 5:30am, but obviously it differs depending on what latitudinal line you’re on) and have breakfast.  At no point do you gorge yourself.  This would completely defeat the purpose of the practice.  Then the fast is broken when the sunsets (which was around 8:30pm for me) and you eat a fig and drink a cup of water.  Then, dinner is served and you celebrate with your friends and family by eating and drinking tea.  This goes on for thirty days.  During the entire duration (not just when the sun is up) one is not allowed to participate in sex, smoking or drinking alcohol.  Of course, strict Muslims also pray five times a day, but I didn’t do all that.  Obviously.  I just did my own type of mental checks of all the things the be grateful for.  I suppose that’s my form of prayer.

During the first day of the fast, I was surprised at how NOT tempted I was to break the fast.  I discovered that when one fully devotes themselves to something, that it is relatively easy to just do it.  (The Nike slogan has a whole new meaning).  Like smoking cigarettes.  I think if one wants to badly enough, it is a lot easier to overcome.  Truly wanting to quit is the hard part.  Truly devoting a month to fasting is the hard part.

The second day what I was surprised to discover was that the hunger and thirst was not the hardest part.  For me, the inability to focus was the hardest part.  I thought that the hunger pains would become unbearable, but those subside.  The true battle is making your brain function.  I suppose if you’re a devout Muslim in a Muslim state, you don’t do much during Ramadan other than pray, and you don’t need many brain cells for that.  But I had to work!  I was attempting to bartend, but finding it difficult to remember orders and difficult to communicate in a way that didn’t make people question if I was a zombie.

I was also worried that I would get snappy.  Logan calls me sassy, and according to him I need to “take it down with the sass” when I’m hungry.  I think he takes advantage of that however because when he says something like “there are monkeys in the Everglades,” and I call him a retard, he will say, “do we need to get you some food?”  No Logan, we just need you to not think that there are monkeys in the Everglades!  Anyway, I acknowledge that I can start to suck if I haven’t eaten in a while, so I did have my concerns about such.  However, it didn’t happen at all.  I was actually happy.  I was absolutely hungry and thirsty and lightheaded, but I still somehow was not sassy because I felt good about what I was doing.

The thirst is really rough.  But I just kept thinking to myself, there are so many people in the world who HAVE to do this.  It is not a choice for them.  So now when I’m hungry or thirsty, I just think about that.  I am lucky that I have the luxury of eating and drinking essentially whenever I want to.

On the third day, I was working with the two other people who were also fasting.  We had this lovely moment when the sunset.  The woman walked out to the front of house with a fig for me and a cup of water, and made me stop what I was doing to break my fast.  The man had cooked the three of us up some food.  We sat together at the side of the restaurant away from everyone, and enjoyed a meal together.  It felt good, like we had done something together.  It was pretty.  Ramadan also seemed beautiful to me because it is about the passing down of values, and also about simply being among friends and family.  The latter is a practice a lot of us have lost track of or don’t devote enough time to.  Ramadan is a good time to slow down and enjoy the here and now.

I was passion vomiting at Logan about all this shit, and had a sort of epiphany.  It seems as though those who have less, are those who are the most gracious and giving.  Within the four days that I was fasting, I even found myself to be more wanting and willing to help a brother out, in a truly altruistic way.  It was this feeling that we are all one, all in this shitshow together and if we can all help make each other happy then… well, then we will all be happy and boom!  World peace!  People who have less, those who aren’t all caught up in the rat race seem to have this notion already imbedded in them.  Logan brought up that geography plays a huge role in this, and that topic will be one of my next discussions.

Overall, I learned that fasting is a practice that I believe everyone can take something from.  It’s humbling.  I wasn’t doing it for God, so it doesn’t really matter what month I was doing it, but by doing it during Ramadan, it unified me and a couple of my friends, and it gave me a greater understanding of what is at the heart of not just Islam, but people.  Ultimately, I believe that people are good, but so many seem to lose track of what is good and just along this journey.

So stop thinking of ISIS and other similar groups as Islamic.  They’re not.  Think of them as more of a gang.  I bet that most of them haven’t even read the Qur’an from front to back.  It would be interesting to see what the literacy rate is among the members.  I would be willing to bet that it is low, which further proves my point that intolerance stems from a lack of exposure and education.  Education is the solution.  Now go read a book about a culture or religion that you don’t understand and try fasting.  It will be good for you.

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