Cut it out, dudes

I absolutely hate it when strangers hit on me. (I know guys, this is a shocking revelation! Girls don’t want to hear what you think of our asses when you pass us on the street, just like you probably don’t want to hear my comment on your dick size in relation to your giant effing pickup truck!)

As often as it happens, though, I never quite know what to do with myself when someone hits on me at work. It shouldn’t, but it almost always takes me by surprise.

I expect it to happen on the street, and when I’m walking by myself I’ve got my guard up. I’m ready to do things like laugh hysterically and then look the dude in the face and say something like, “Yeah, right.” Or flip him off. Or say, “You know you’re being an ass hat, right? Because you’re totally being an ass hat.”*

Invariably this embarrasses the jackass who cat called me or made some lewd comment, and then he goes into defensive mode. “I was just complimenting you!” is the most frequent response. Yeah dude, sure you were. Ass hat.

It’s different at work because I’m generally focusing on work, and on top of that, I have to maintain a professional demeanor. (Maintaining a professional demeanor does not mean I have to put up with the unwanted attention.)

For some reason, guys seem to think that the fact that I’m behind a desk in a building that’s free and open to the public means they can say whatever the hell they want with impunity. Here’s another surprise: They can’t!

My problem is not with telling them to stop, it’s my instinctual reaction to hold my tongue, because saying “fuck off” to a customer is equally inappropriate and will probably only escalate the situation. I hold my tongue, but I don’t replace the “fuck off” with “if you don’t stop, I’m going to ask you to leave.”

I usually manage to say, “that’s inappropriate,” but that hardly ever stops the behavior. I need to train myself to take that next step and metaphorically stomp on the dude’s foot.

(Now if the guy is hitting on one of my coworkers, it’s much easier to straight up say, “Hey. Cut it out.” Defending myself is always so much harder.)

*Even this is not always possible, because there is a danger factor, and I have to gauge every situation. When I feel physically threatened I just focus on getting myself out of danger as quickly as possible.

 

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Cycles and setbacks

I’m trying to learn how to relax. In other words, I am trying to learn how not to obsess over writing 100% of the time.

I’m trying to recognize the value in indulging in the occasional Netflix binge.

I am trying to recognize that sometimes Netflix binges are necessary to reset my brain, bring me back to myself.

Book binges can be dangerous because they get me thinking about writing. I have to read something outside my genre, or I’m right back in that same head space, running into the same wall, knowing that I need to let go and let the problem work itself out, but unable to do so.

I am slowly learning that I do not, in fact, have to do everything right now.

Sometimes I feel like a broken record, but change doesn’t happen in an instant. It happens in long, slow movements with plenty of jerks and starts and setbacks.

I’m learning to recognize that those setbacks are part of the process. They are necessary. They let you compare the before and after in a more immediate way. They confirm that yes, this is the right path.

Setbacks are frustrating, but they are another chance to practice patience and to cultivate mindfulness. (I’m not Buddhist, but awareness and mindfulness are an important part of my spiritual tradition, too).

I have to remember that everything cycles. Good days, bad days. Productive days, Netflix-binge days. It’s okay to accept that and enjoy it.

It’s okay to relax. It’s okay to take breaks from writing.

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Make room for the new

Every night I come home from work and think to myself, “I must write that post on X!” (where X is usually a book I’ve read that has blown my mind). But then I sit down to nurse my various aches and pains (left heel, lower back, head) and pick up a new book or put Bones on Netflix and zone out.

Before I blink, it’s way past my bedtime and I’m too tired to write anything.

Most of this has to do with the new position I started at a new library branch. Someone decided it was a good idea to put me in charge of things, so I’m using my brain a lot to get us moving toward our organization’s best practices.

Using my brain makes me tired.

But there’s more to my failure to write (fiction and blog posts) over the past two weeks. Something happened that made me think, “Oh damn, shit just got real,” and it has me terrified. I will decline to discuss the event in question, but I can sum it up like this: People are reading my stories and are responding to them in positive ways.

This makes me ecstatic, but it’s also terrifying. Writing, revising, and submitting my work alone in my house is easy. No one’s scrutinizing what I’m doing. There’s a sort of freedom in anonymity. But of course I write because I have stories to tell, and although I would write them anyway, I really want people to read and engage with my work.

And they are. And that’s wonderful, and it makes me so happy. But I suppose it’s a lot to adjust to while I’m also adjusting to a new job and new living arrangements.

So I’ve been doing what my therapist always tells me to do—I’m being kind to myself by not expecting too much right now. By letting myself read fantastic books and actually relax, for once.

TL;DR: I’m around, but not as much as I was before. I’m writing, but I’m not pressuring myself to meet specific goals right now. I’m giving myself time to adjust to the newness of things.

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