Finding Love on Dallas Area Rapid Transit: I Don’t Want Your Dirty Tennis Ball, But I Do Miss the DC Metro

My best friend and I were in Dallas for the first time ever (a weeklong vacation that would ultimately result in my permanent residence in the city), and being under 25, we decided to rely on public transit (this was before the days of Uber). When we asked the hotels we stayed at if they knew anything about DART, they acted like we were out of our minds. We didn’t listen to them…how bad could it be? Well. Our 3:00 pm stroll through West End Station was peppered with calls of “hey white ladies!” and “Hey you white girls, what are you doing here?” from men who came and stood too close to us. It was bizarrely aggressive behavior for the middle of the day, and something that could certainly have been stopped by ANYONE IN UNIFORM coming up and just saying hi to us. Neither of us were afraid, but we were definitely uncomfortable — largely because we both realized if anything were to escalate, there were no people readily identifiable as employees of the transit system or the city to come to our aid.

Flash forward to this past weekend, when I’m minding my own business on my  phone. I can’t even try to tell this as a story, so here it is in script form.

Guy: Are you taking my picture?
Me: Are you…talking to me? What? No.
Guy: Do you have a boyfriend?
Me: Yes.
Guy: really? What’s his name?
Me: Andrew.
Guy [reaches underneath the seat and grabs something from his friend sitting in front of him]: You play tennis, right? I got you this. [procures a dirty, used tennis ball.] You can have two boyfriends, you know.
Me: What? No, no thanks. I don’t play tennis, and I don’t think Andrew would like that.
Guy: You could. [gets off train]

While that story is just funny and bizarre and not scary, it goes to my point that every time I go on DART I’m asked on a date. Sometimes it’s weird and WTF like that, other times it’s creepy and while I’m being recorded and then while I’m being followed off the train. Those times are less humorous. They also take place earlier than 9 pm.

Despite the knee-jerk accusations of DART defenders, I’m not racist, classist, or sheltered from what public transit is like. Obviously I took Metro quite a bit when I lived in DC, and I still take Metro, MARC, and Baltimore’s Light Rail when I go back. I have even fully relied on the Detroit public bus system to get around town. I lived/gypsied all over the DC area, frequently in areas where I couldn’t even get a pizza delivered to my home, but I’d say living in Oxon Hill and using the PG side of the green line was really the highlight of my slumming it. Every place I’ve lived in Dallas has been cheaper, safer, and I can get any food brought right to my front door.

So why is it that when I take the light rail in Dallas, I long for the days of sitting on the green line, wondering if my car will still be at Branch Ave (spoiler alert: not always)? Even though DART has lower crime numbers than Metro (and we’ll get to that in a minute), the aggressive and harassing behavior of my fellow passengers is way more worrisome on DART.

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Perplexing, and yet I found it more welcoming under this sign than on DART

I have been wondering if there is just so little intermingling between classes and races that my being a single white female simply makes people more likely to same something to me. Indeed, most of the harassing behavior I deal with on DART comes from people who feel the need to point out the color of my skin. Even when I lived in areas of PG that were 1% white, less attention was drawn to my race.  I’m still trying to understand Texas racial and social norms, and I don’t know how to interpret this.

I’ve also felt, especially in the cases of going home in poorer areas of the District (specifically living in Landover once the train was passed Eastern Market, and living in Oxon Hill once the train passed the baseball stadium) and in being on the bus in Detroit, that there’s a little bit of a feeling like, “hey we all live here and we’re all on this train so let’s get along and keep to ourselves and roll our eyes at each other if someone acts a fool.” Not to say I always felt super safe on Metro or the Detroit bus, but when it was 8:00 at night and I was clearly coming from work, taking the Detroit bus down Jefferson or riding Metro through Addison Road, no one really ever said much to me other than, “Oh, do you live/work around here?” And these are locations that make the DART system’s criminal activities look like preschool.

At the end of the day, DART is super safe. Allegedly. As I am beginning to understand it, DART is responsible for hiring their own officers and, presumably, doing their own crime statistics.  WMATA does the courtesy of publishing per station crimes. I can’t find that for DART. It makes me feel like something sketchy is going on here…that little chart contains very little information.

I don’t like to call for more police presence, but I do wish that there were (some? any?) Dallas PD at the stations, or that DART employees other than the train drivers were visible (existent?). There also aren’t any huge, easily visible maps at most of the stations. Want to guarantee you look like you don’t belong and become an easy target? Look like you don’t know where you’re going. Easy to do on DART! They want to spend all of this money expanding their services when they can’t even get it right where it’s already set up, and that’s a shame — because traffic sucks out here.

 

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141 Years of Legislative Achievements in My Uterus: No One Protests the Fucking Vasectomy Clinic (Part 1)

Congratulations, SCOTUS on your decision in McCullen v. Coakley, and congratulations Massachusetts, for writing your buffer zone law in such a sloppy manner, simply to “make [the police’s] job so much easier.” You have both added to the list of times history has failed American women.

First, let’s be clear: SCOTUS did not rule all buffer zones around abortion clinics to be unconstitutional (I know it’s confusing given that when you Google “McCullen v. Coakley” all of the news articles imply otherwise); they struck down the actual law that Massachusetts had in place because of its “inadequate tailoring.” Oh, and because McCullen is an old lady and played up the idea of “sidewalk counseling” instead of the violent protests that also occur in front of abortion clinics. In reality, SCOTUS determined NOTHING.

As you read through my blog and other news sources, it’s important to start with some background information instead of just learning everything we know from misleading headlines like Abortion Rights Lose a Buffer (the implication being that buffer zones themselves are always banned) and Yet Another Unanimous Judgment in McCullen v. Coakley (yes, it was a unanimous overall decision, but far from a unanimous opinion).

  • 141 years ago the Comstock Act 1843 was passed, which banned the mailing or interstate transport of any device or medicine that would prevent conception or cause an unlawful abortion, as well as any pamphlet or literature that could lead to preventing conception or causing an abortion.
  • Thankfully, America acted fast in protecting the rights of people and repealed the Act immediately. Oh wait, just kidding! It’s largely still on the books, though for whatever reason bugging the hell out of people who might just be getting a Depo shot isn’t.
  • In 2000, SCOTUS heard Hill v. Colorado, a remarkably similar case to McCullen. that dealt with a law that created a 100 foot radius around the abortion clinics, in which people were prohibited from going within 8 feet of another person, without their consent, to distribute information, leaflets, counseling, etc. Guess what? The law was found to be A-Okay.

Since my initial intention was to write only about McCullen, I’m going to move on and try to give some information on the case and maybe even on the opinions, depending how much I rant. But have no fear, I’ll be doing a few more entries explaining the SCOTUS opinions, the differences between McCullen and the seemingly identical Hill case, and some more background information and often overlooked points on how this isn’t the only example of women getting screwed over.

But for now, here’s some information on McCullen:

– In 2007, Massachusetts revised its Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act to make it a criminal act to knowingly stand on a “public way or sidewalk” within 35 feet of an abortion clinic (excluding those inside hospitals), with some exceptions (obviously including anyone going inside the building or working there).

– Public property is traditionally where protesting (or “sidewalk counseling”) of all forms takes place, so it’s kind of a big deal for government to allow your First Amendment rights to be squashed there. In fact, it’s kind of a big deal to squash free speech in general.

– However, there are situations where you free speech can and will be limited in public spaces: “Regulation of the time, place, or manner of protected speech must be narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate, content-neutral interests but that it need not be the least restrictive or least intrusive means of doing so. Rather, the requirement of narrow tailoring is satisfied ‘so long as the…regulation promotes a substantial government interest that would be achieved less effectively absent the regulation.'”

– Blah, blah, blah, right? Basically, the point is that if the ban is content neutral (i.e., all opinions are suppressed in that location or timeframe), it isn’t really suppressing your free speech since no one is allowed to protest sidewalk counsel in that zone. The government can’t take away your right to tell people you think they’re murderers sidewalk counsel if it’s your only opportunity/outlet, and the government needs to attempt other measures or prove that other restrictions would be less effective than outright banning free speech in a public area.

So what went wrong (and right) in Massachusetts?

In the Opinion of the Court, SCOTUS disagreed with McCullen’s argument that the ban wasn’t content neutral. Banning human interaction in front of an abortion clinic, she argued, was really only affecting anti-abortion speech, making the ban automatically content based. They agreed that by nature of the arena, it disproportionately affected pro-abortion speech…but that didn’t matter. “Whether petitioners violated the Act ‘depends’ not ‘on what they say’ but simply on where they say it.”  Good, so let’s check that off. Next!

McCullen also argued that prior to the 2007 buffer zone, by simply not being allowed on the private property (including the parking lot) owned by the Planned Parenthood where she frequently harassed sidewalk counseled women, she already “appeared suspicious and untrustworthy.” This inconvenience of not being able to follow these women, known to many as “trespassing,” would force McCullen to do things like raise her voice, and the good Lord knows that it’s rude to yell at people as you convince them to raise their unwanted child. Thankfully, McCullen has convinced 80 (probably extremely happy) women to keep their unborn children since the buffer was enacted. But 80 isn’t enough!!

That whole trespassing, buffer zone thing isn’t the only obstacle. Sometimes it’s difficult for McCullen to even tell who is just a random pedestrian and who is in need of some serious saving!! And that doesn’t always leave her with enough time to “initiate a conversation” with these women before they are in the green buffer zone. The horror.

Since SCOTUS recognizes that in the case of brainwashing emotionally manipulating convincing someone to not have an abortion right in front of the clinic, one on one conversation is most effective, it’s really important that McCullen isn’t so restricted.

SCOTUS points out other states and cities have laws that kind of get to the point that Massachusetts was trying to get to, like NYC’s anti-harassment ordinance. This pretty much sums up how Massachussets really f’ed up:

According to respondents, this history shows that Massachusetts has tried less restrictive alternatives to the buffer zons, to no avail. We cannot accept that contention. Although respondents claim that Massachusetts ‘tried other laws already on the books,’ they identity not a single prosecution brought under those laws within at least the last 17 years….in short the Commonwealth has not shown that it seriously undertook to address the problem with less intrusive tools readily available to it….it is not enough for Massachusetts simply to say that other approaches have not worked.

So there you go. Apparently witnesses said it was just “easier” to do things this way and basically sounded super lazy. Um, hello? If you really want to get shit done, you follow the red tape procedure. I dropped out of college with no degree and I know this, what do these politicians and lobbyists do all day? Make an example out of a protestor, feebly try something else….don’t just sit around and go “derrr it’s all we could do!!” Surely, you had someone who wasn’t a grandmother like McCullen spit on a patient, push an employee – anything, anything that could have been prosecuted and then cited in court to discredit the grandma angle!!! This decision was largely linked to the idea of counseling and one on one conversations, so what happens when there’s a mass shooting or fight in front of a clinic and they wish to create a buffer zone? SCOTUS doesn’t say when that’s acceptable or how many feet a buffer can consist of.

It’s now almost 10:00 pm on a freaking Friday, so later this weekend I’ll wrap up with why I think the end of the majority opinion is wrong, the shitshow that is the dissenting opinion, and my thoughts on Hill v. Colorado.

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My Boobs Don’t Need Your Husband to See Them: Or, You Probably Think This Pic is About You

Last week one of my Facebook friends posted a link to a blog entry titled My Husband Doesn’t Need to See Your Boobs (post has since been deleted, find it here instead) I didn’t want to click on it, because I was sure it would piss me off — so of course I ended up reading it on my disaster flight and immediately became full of rage. The post is about the author’s husband having Facebook friends that post pictures of themselves in bikinis, and how it’s wrong. Yes, you read that right. Apparently any time any girl posts bikini pics on Facebook, it’s about this blogger and her husband. I bet all of their female friends sit around and just wait to take bikini photos so they can make this woman’s life and marriage miserable. Anyway, this bitch removed the ability to leave comments, so I have no choice but to write about her article here.

She starts off with some story about wearing slutty khakis in high school and then being a prude for the rest of her life. After the introduction to what it’s like to be insane, we get down to the nitty gritty.

I’m not writing to chastise you for posting your bikini pics from your lake outing. I suppose we all have enough criticism via blog spaces.

Um, what? What does that even mean? You are clearly writing an entire blog entry to chastise people for posting bikini pics, and a passive aggressive comment that “we all have enough criticism via blog spaces” only drives that home.

But I am writing to share the perspective of a woman who is fighting for her marriage. And for that reason, I want to tell you that I don’t need my husband to see your boobs.

I’m just writing from the perspective of a woman who is in a happy and committed long distance relationship. And for that reason, I want to tell you that I never tell my boyfriend who to look at, nor do I monitor his newsfeed. Because guess what? If a picture of some girl with bigger boobs than mine makes him lose interest in me, we have bigger problems than social media. Take some responsibility – happy people don’t cheat. I’m not blaming the victim, but a relationship is a two person deal, and a picture of a friend in a bikini isn’t going to make or break anything.

Anyways, what I’m saying is I don’t fault you. I don’t blame you for being confident enough to let the world see how good you look in front of the waves with your coozie and ballcap and barely anything else.

But I want to tell you that it’s a stumbling block in our marriage.

Is it, though? I know you’ve amended your blog to say you aren’t insecure, but you are a liar. Either you’re married to a 15 year old boy, or you are incredibly insecure — even if you don’t realize it. Do you know what is really unattractive? Telling your SO not to look at other women. Telling them it’s a stumbling block. If my boyfriend took my magazines and ripped out the pages of shirtless men before I was allowed to read them, we wouldn’t be together much longer. And why do you think any other woman cares? Here’s an example of something another woman should feel bad for doing: “I don’t blame you for being confident enough to let my husband see how good you look in front of our bed, with my inherited crystal wine glass in your hand and your thong on and nothing else. But I want to tell you that when you sneak into my house to seduce my husband, it’s a stumbling block in our marriage.”

When I scroll through my news feed, my thumb moves in a continuous circular motion until something catches my eye and I want to look closer. And then I tap on the picture and make that little swipe with my thumb and pointer finger so I can zoom in just as close as I can to capture all the details.

Thank you for explaining Facebook.

I’m especially bad about this when there is a line of bathing suits in the pic. AND I’M A GIRL.

Mostly I’m looking at your legs asking myself, How are there seriously people without cellulite????

Well, I used to have cellulite until Crossfit made me do a bunch of squats. But don’t worry…every squat I do, all I think about is the bikini pictures I will get to post that will hopefully ruin someone’s marriage. Virtual marriage ruining is what gets me through my work out. It’s completely about YOU.

I doubt my husband is so lucky. Actually, I know it’s next to impossible to take in images like those and erase them from his mind. Because our men are much less emotional and are much more visual. And as quickly as I can forget your picture, it is filed away in his mind, ready to be pulled back out whenever he so chooses.

Maybe this is the solution. Just write on every picture, “Thank you for posting! My hubby has it filed away in his spank bank for later on!” I guarantee these girls will unfriend the both of you, and problem solved!!!

Again, I am not faulting you. And by no means am I faulting him. This man of mine diverts his eyes from whatever questionable images flash on the screen before him. But sometimes the temptation is too much.

Really? Because every word of your post sounds like you are faulting all other women, ever. And I guess hubby can do no wrong, huh? But seriously. Do you not go to the pool or beach together? Does he keep his eyes shut? Do you poke them out? What happens? Do you only vacation at public beaches in Kuwait? Oh, the evil temptation of girls in swimsuits! I wish there were more countries where you still went to jail for wearing a bikini!!

After Memorial Day, I noticed so much skin on social media that I half-yelled a warning to him as I ran out the door one morning. It’s summertime, honey! Beware the beach pics and half nude girls on Instagram! And like that, he was in solitary confinement from all virtual community for the next two days.

……..You are a terrible, miserable controlling woman and I expect you will be cheated on in no time. I cannot even imagine how my SO would respond, but I know if I was told this, I’d be changing those locks before you got back.

Protecting his eyes, protecting his heart.

More like protecting his brain and potential migraine from hearing his Debbie Downer wife bitch at him for going on the internet. Do you know you can watch orgies with like 50 women fully nude on the internet? And you’re worried about FACEBOOK? Facebook who won’t let nips show in pics???

When your bare shoulders and stretchmark-less bellies and tanned legs pop up, I not only worry if my husband will linger over your picture. I worry how he will compare me to you.

Please, tell me more about how you aren’t insecure.

But would you, could you, keep your boobs out of my marriage? You can have your memories, and we can have our sacred hearts. And we can all get along in beautiful harmony.

I think the better option is for you to delete your accounts on all forms of social media. Better safe than sorry.

Anyone who feels the need to passively aggressively make a sad little blog entry about girls in bikinis instead of directly confronting girls or, you know, getting over it, seems like they are doomed from the start. No way this chick has a great marriage. I’d understand more if she wrote this directed to HBO or photoshopped women in Vogue or almost anything else. As it stands, all she has done is come across as a controlling and demanding wife, and as a self-centered bitch. Not all Facebook picture are about you, lady. I can basically give you my personal guarantee that none of the people posting anything are thinking about you — well, except now they probably are.

For your husband:

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Yes, I also support your right to wear leggings. Check me out on Facebook, Instagram (your best bet for more pool pics), and Twitter; subscribe to my blog here
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Screw You, DC Cabs — And Long Live Uber!

Looks like I dodged a bullet by leaving DC last week – the cab drivers in the city apparently had a terribly obnoxious protest against Uber and Lyft that resulted in completely stopped traffic. Good. Being obnoxious will definitely make people more sympathetic toward you, cabbies. The people who are good cab drivers will likely switch to Lyft or Uber, and the bad ones will be phased out. I’ve taken plenty of Uber rides, and I can assure you I find it much safer. In DC cabs, I have been touched (yup), forever lost my phone, been hit on, texted later on by my driver (and NOT about driving me around), been told credit was taken and then forced to go to an ATM, and I’ve been told to get out because the driver didn’t feel like going where I lived. Calling DC area cabs has consistently been a nightmare, with rude operators and cabs that sometimes never show up. Since the new services allow you to rate your driver, it’s a lot less likely the driver will be a complete ass, and since you use the app to call for a car, the operator is eliminated from the equation.

Here’s a little trip down memory lane for anyone who might be on the cab drivers’ side.

June, 2011: Desperately seeking a cab ride home after my birthday in downtown DC, I faced multiple rejections since I lived in Landover. Finally had to pay $100 cash for the ride from Josephines to near FedEx Field.  Fuck you, cab drivers.  Eventually I learned to take cabs to my mom’s house in Alexandria.

September 25, 2011:  After seeing Bassnectar at RFK, my friends and I wandered around aimlessly while we hoped and prayed a cab would respond to our calls. A couple of hours later, we finally got one.

October 2, 2011: After seeing Steve Angello at Fur, my at the time boyfriend, me, and his roommates had to pay a random guy with a crack pipe in his car like $100 to take us to their house. Why? No cabs would come to us. Oh, okay. TOTALLY safer than Lyft. I’m sure his insurance was top notch.

All of the Friday and Saturday nights in 2010-2012 that I lived in Alexandria: “Hi, we’re going to Alexandria.” “No. Get out of my cab. Too far.”

All of the Friday and Saturday nights in 2010-2012 that I lived in Oxon Hill or Landover: “Hi, I’m going to Oxon Hill/Landover.” “Too dangerous. Get out of my car.” Sounds like they are so upset over missing out on all the money…oh wait. Uber and Lyft drivers are willing to go to regions that these lazy ass cab drivers can’t be bothered to drive to.

Bonus story: When I was a small child, my family and I took a cab that had fleas in it and brought them into our home in Alexandria City.

For what it’s worth, I’ve only used Uber in DC, not lift — but I did take UberX to Franconia-Springfield metro recently, and the guy who drove me was awesome. I’ve had guys use Uber to pay for my ride home (to the exotic, far away suburbs of PG and Alexandria) when I’ve taken the train to them for dates (take note, men: it’s an awesome thing for you to do).

Anyone else have miserable DC cab stories?

Despite my best efforts, no one pays me to write so use my promo codes to sign up for Uber or Lyft and I’ll love you always.

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Maybe the TSA isn’t the worst part of flying

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Here is a lesson in traveling etiquette: the middle seat gets both armrests. At the very, very least you don’t LEAN OVER SOMEONE ELSE TO WATCH YOUR IPAD. I mean, the aisle is on the other side of you! Lean over toward that!! You, sir, are an asshole. At least the TSA only looks and (typically) doesn’t touch!!!

My plan of action, giving that pointed elbow jerks aren’t working, is to lift my arms above my head and rub my armpits on him while fiddling with my light. 

“Are we a town of bigotry?” Yes.

“Are we a town of bigotry?” Yes.

Applying to law school? Sending out your resume to midlevel jobs? Better purge your Facebook of all pictures of you out with your friends!

Looking to work for the city of Addison? Tom Hunse can tell you all about how you ought to beef up your LinkedIn with racist statements!

Better to be Christian and Have Dementia than to be Muslim and Qualified

Someone asked me the other day what’s wrong with Dallas — if it’s so cheap to live there, there must be some kind of catch. I didn’t know the answer then, but I sure do now. I should just forward him this article.

So the mayor of Addison (a Dallas suburb where yours truly lives) appoints this nut job, Tom Hunse, to the city’s planning and zoning committee. This is AFTER Hunse quit his job on a different school board because a Muslim was chosen to head the school (and published that info on his LinkedIn!!). Um, what?

Not only that, but Jo Lynn Haussmann, a member of the Keller school board, recently posted to Facebook: “SOUTHLAKE — Do you realize because SO FEW voters took the time and responsibility to VOTE in the municipal elections — YOU NOW HAVE A ‘MUSLIM’ on the City Council!!! What a SHAME!!!!!”

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If that isn’t enough to make you weep for humanity, the comments on the article certainly are. People don’t seem to support the removal of these public officials from their positions — and instead support them and their right to free speech/speak the truth. Sure, you can say whatever you want, but you should expect your bigoted statements to have consequences.

The school board held a meeting, but they couldn’t force her to resign. Here’s the contact information for the Keller ISD in case anyone feels like expressing their opinion. Let’s not forget that she has dementia…maybe she just isn’t qualified.

 

In DC, civilians rarely asked me why I studied Arabic (the general military response is a whole different issue); probably because everyone wants to work for the government and the area has the third highest percentage of Arab Americans in the country. In Texas, people act like they can’t fathom why I would do such a thing. It’s a shame Arabic isn’t offered in more Dallas area schools, since learning a new language forces you to learn about a new culture and helps combat being an ignorant prick. Because let’s be real…most people making these remarks can’t tell you where anything but Egypt is on the map and don’t know Arabic from Kurdish from Dari from Urdu, but they certainly can tell you all about why they hate those damn terrorists.

 

Oh, by the way — I’d love to share more news information on Tom Hunse, but that single article is the only one that comes up if you Google news.