Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Only in California





I went to this failing "beauty boutique" on Melrose the other day that sells high-priced beauty products. You know, the kind of place where you'll pay $48 for a tiny, one ounce jar of under-eye firming gel made from seaweed (er, sorry, pacific kelp) and "exotic argan oil" 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Marriage is an unsustainable arrangement.


These are some of the things my husband, Yuri, has said to me in the six months since we've been together. I should mention that he is Peruvian and English is not his native language, on top of that, he likes to get drunk.  Not just a little tipsy, or slightly inebriated, but completely and totally hammered.  When I recount dialogue between the two of us, I'll indicate who's speaking with a Y for Yuri and an E for Esme (me!).


Y: "That's why you are good with black people, because they are stupid."
(My ex-boyfriend is black and Yuri is insanely and irrationally jealous of him.  So when he gets drunk his favorite thing to do is accuse me of cheating on him with my "buh-lack buh-oyfriend".)

Y: "The reason you are having an abortion is because you are worried the baby is going to be buh-lack." (I told him when I found out that I was pregnant that the only way i would consider having his baby if he a.) did some kind of work during the week that generated enough income for him to pay half of the household bills and b.) quit drinking and started enrolled in counseling or treatment program to help him stay sober.  He managed to not drink for two weeks after I told him I was pregnant. He did not work but he did stay sober, in the beginning.  But after two weeks, he went on a five day bender. Every day he would come home and terrorize me, break up furniture in the house, call me old, ugly, and accuse me of being a prostitute. I decided to abort the baby, which was devastating to me, to say the least, as I am 43 years old and probably unlikely to get pregnant again. It would have been my first child.)

Y:  "I am not racist!  I am brown. I cannot be racist. You are racist!"
(When I tell him to stop saying racist shit in front of me and that if he continues to say such offensive, racist garbage that I am going to have him arrested and lock him out of the apartment, permanently, he responds by saying:)
Y: You are a gringa. All gringas are sluts. I hate gringos.

Y: "Everyone at the paddle tennis courts thinks you are a dyke. That you and Syndney are both dykes. The only thing that you and Syndney were missing when you were walking down the boardwalk was you weren't holding hands.  I could understand if she was new to this country, if she was from another country and that's why she didn't have friends.  But not someone who's lived here their whole lives."

Y: Can you go to bed? I don't want to see your wrinkles.

Y: I know you are talking about me, well I'm going to talk about you. Why did you text Gaston? Why are you making problems with Paula? Now Gaston thinks something happened between me and Paula. (beat) I wish!

Y: I wish you were Paula.
(Said, apropos of nothing, one night, while in bed)

I dyed my hair a completely different color today. He didn't even notice. When he got home, he said, "Hello baby!  Who is my baby?"  I looked over at him, surprised.  He was talking to the cat.

Y: This is is Mexico.  You are Mexican, you live in Mexico. What is this city called? Los Han-gell-ess. That is Spanish because this is Mexico. I must take the power back!

(after hearing me belch unbecomingly)
Y: I know you didn't learn that at home. Maybe you learned it from your first marriage.
E: Nope, I replied, in college.
Y: Yeah, maybe.  Because the girls there are dykes!

Y: Thank you for making me lose today and look like a fool.  Thanks for ruining what i have built over four and a half years. Ruined, by you, today.(After we played together in a paddle tennis tournament and did not do well.  He has been playing his whole life while I have only been playing competitively for a year and I played in the A Division, even though I am still a B player.)

Y: I know what you are doing, I know what you are going to do--because i am tired about you.  And I know that you are tired about me. I think that you need an old guy.  What, you are 45, 46? (He knows I'm 44.) I think you need someone 60, 65.  Because you are a cool girl.  Because I know how to survive. It's not a problem for me, I am a man. (??)

Y: You look better with your eyes brown...what is that make up?  Eyes brown... (a propos of nothing)

Y: I met a gorgeous 24 year old today...she was very nice. I may ask her to visit me.
E: Please. By all means. You do you.

Y: I think you were born a guy. I think your sister, she was the twin girl and you were supposed to be the boy twin, but something got fucked up.  I'm sure your parents were very upset about it.

Y: I think you are very bad. And that's why your father killed himself.

Y: Esme you are getting fat.  It is not cool for your age.

(After i belched loudly.)
Y: That is very sexy.
E: Good, I hope it repulsed you, because you're never having sex with me anyway.
Y: Oh, that is like nothing. It's better for me with my hand.

Yuri hasn't paid rent this month and owes me for all the bills including the cable, the cell phone, etc.  He eats twice as much as me and hasn't paid for a single grocery item in more than four months.

Y: You should blog somewhere that people will read the blog. Not on your blog but on somewhere like Yo!Venice. Then maybe someone will read your story.

The other day he went to the paddle tennis courts and assaulted three people. The first person he assaulted was Richard Riordan's grandson, Mikie Riordan who is the nicest, sweetest, most harmless 27 year old kid in the whole world.  He attacked him because, according to him; "No one can call my wife at 12 o'clock at night.

Y: Girls of paddle tennis! What an idiot! (I'm writing an article about the women who play paddle tennis for a local newspaper, and he thinks it is a dumb idea.)

Y: You think you are going to write an article about the women of paddle tennis.  I know you are writing, but i know that it's going to suck.  100 dollars bet that it won't be printed, I know I will win this bet. Or, if it is printed, it won't be the feature.  I bet you 100 dollars on that.

(By the way my article was published in the Argonaut on October 9th, 2014.  It was the feature.  he never apologized for what he said or paid on his "bet".

Y: I play for free with pretty girls. Ugly girls have to pay with a twelve pack.  (When Yuri and I were first hanging out, in order to play with him, he would say, if i win, you have to buy me a twelve pack,.  Of course, since I am a b player and he is an open player, i lost every time.)

Y: You know, as soon as you were playing with me, you started playing with good people.  Before that, you were playing with idiots. Because...anyways, you suck, Esme. That's the truth.  That's the only thing that you need to realize, that you suck.  I've played more years than you and i will still be playing when I'm done with you.

Y: We need new ladies on the paddle tennis court. Like young...not dead.

Y: Stupid, one stupid guy. (?)  You are retarded,. You are stupid! You dropped the fucking cranberry juice in the store today.

Y: I saw you playing with poor Randy today, and it was painful.  You served three times into the net, Because you are a robot and I think that your brain is fucked up and it goes into your arm and that's why you can't play..

Y: Esme, it's not going to work...but if you make that and it brings more girls, I will thank you. But no one who is more than 25. Because girls over 25, they are dead.
E: Just because a girl is repulsed by you doesn't mean she's dead.

Y: And nobody is going to want to hear about old ladies, you, Sonia, whatever.  we need new, new, new girls.  maybe Gino likes that....

Y: Girls aren't going over there because there are alot of sharks..(?)

Y: You are fucking an idiot, your brain is bipolar,..that is why you are fucked up, and you think that I am fucked up and that is not cool. That was gonna be my, is my fault. It's my fault. Be a girl! Be a fucking lady! You know, like what the fuck, three days, like, you are fucking 46-47?! You lie about your age and it's no...(I was 44 at the time. I have never lied about my age, to him, or anyone.)

Y: You call your mother and talk shit about your sister, you call your sister and talk shit about your mother, you are like fucking bipolar for real. You cannot do that.   i tried to be nice to you.

Y: You are old. You are ugly. I deserve a nice girl, a pretty girl. Not you, old lady....I'm fucking wrong?

Yuri was arrested for domestic violence and has been in jail since the 6th of September. His court date is tomorrow, which is the 23td of September.  Even though i filed a restraining order he has called me every single day and telling me to put money on his books and pay for his phone calls.

 I wrote this letter to an attorney (whom I hadn't yet retained) when I was finally ready to divorce him:

I got married in January to a man I had known for less than six months. He is a Peruvian national (who has overstayed his visa by approximately six years) whom I met while playing paddle tennis, an obsession we both share.  Anyway, after dating only a few weeks he told me--whilst weeping, copiously and vociferously--that his father was dying and he needed to get his green card so that he could go back home to help "take care of the family business", or else "all, every thing" in his father's estate would be stolen by his "thieving cousins." He said (tears still welling in his eyes), "I need to ask for you to marry me, I mean, you must marry me right away, or, as soon as possible, because otherwise my father is going to die and my mother and sisters will have nothing. Instead of rejecting the absurd  proposal, I felt awkwardly ambivalent. I did not love him, I barely knew him.  But, I felt very badly for him, maybe I could love him, I liked him very very much and who am I to deny a man the noble endeavor to honor his dying father's estate from treacherous interlopers. So, I said yes.  That was back in November. We got married in January.  I have made a grave, grave error.  He is an pathological liar and a violent and abusive alcoholic, he's a total racist  who denigrates me compulsively, relentlessly and DAILY, calling me a "gringa slut" and accusing me of cheating on him with my "black boyfriend."  I am absolutely at my wits end. I do not have a lot of money, because he has not worked or paid a single bill since February. I hope you can help me. I apologize for the Iliad-esque message, I just would rather save time by writing everything down so you don't have to.  thanks

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I Tried, I Failed. I Posted.

  • Conversation started today
  • Esme Gregson
    Esme Gregson

    Thembisa,
    Against my better judgment I'm going to say something that has been increasingly bothering me over the (fairly brief, a year I think?) time that we have been "facebook friends" and, rather than just defriend you and move on with my life, out of respect, I'm choosing to send this message to you and perhaps foster an honest dialogue about it. What galvanized me to sit down and write this (rather long) message to you was a (now deleted) "news" item you posted this afternoon which (falsely) claims to have a copy of a "hunting license"
    Here goes: Thembisa, at what point in your life will you see yourself simply as a person, as opposed to a "person of color?" Because until you do so, you actively promote and reinforce the racism, racial profiling and institutionalized bigotry which so (understandably) outrages and offends you. How, you might ask? Allow me to explain.
    I would not be writing this message to you had I-even once-observed you post an article or news item expressing moral indignation at the unspeakable violence, and reprehensible human rights violations experienced by a single "non-black" minority group around the world on a daily basis. If you had posted a lone, solitary statement of condemnation, regret or disgust for crimes like those against Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education or for any number of the dozens (hundreds?) of "honor killings" (that take place anywhere Islam is practiced and only where Islam is the dominant faith), or any of the countless hate crimes suffered by gays and transgender people like the one against Randy Gener, Gay NYC Journalist who had to undergo brain surgery after being beaten nearly to death near Times Square. But you are curiously unmoved by these deplorable acts. Why? Because the victim doesn't look like you and the agent of the crime doesn't share your faith.
    Thembisa, I have no doubt that you have, in your lifetime, suffered from overt, latent and surreptitious racism which I, as a white person have been spared. However, you are well aware of the unrelentingly cruel treatment I suffered, personally, during much of my middle and high school years--where you may have been one of the few black girls, you were by no means as unpopular or bullied as aggressively and brutally as I was at Westridge. And although the bullying I experienced was (I suspect) the unfortunate by-product of my own unfortunate behavior (my hyperactivity, my obvious desire to be liked, my obvious intellect and aggressive need to demonstrate that intellect), the effects of it are still with me today, lingering like phantom odors of corpses long since dead and buried. However, over the years I have come to see myself as part of the universe as a whole and separate from no group or minority, I feel true empathy and compassion for the suffering of any person (and animal, actually) and won't tolerate mistreatment of any person (or animal) in my presence or community. I feel strongly that, in the future, your posts detailing the social injustices suffered by people with whom you identify with would have greater impact if they were preceded or followed by crimes against people who you identify with as victims in spite of the fact that they don't look like you. Because, Thembisa, you are not the only person who has been a victim, and once you realize that, you'll stop feeling like one.
    Respectfully,
  • Thembisa Mshaka
    Thembisa Mshaka

    Wow, Esme...A couple things.
  • Esme Gregson
    Esme Gregson

    no rush, I'm sure you need to process this.
  • Thembisa Mshaka
    Thembisa Mshaka

    1. You must only catch my posts some of the time. I have poosted about the Sari Gang fighting domestic abusers; about the gang rapes in India, about the beheading of the soldier in the UK by the so-called Muslim who was actually a terrorist. So know that I post primarily about things that concern people of color in the African diaspora (mainly in the US), but that's not all I care about--or post about. Your presumptiveness is unfortunate.
  • Esme Gregson
    Esme Gregson

    I missed your sari gang post, however, it is not denouncing a specific act of violence towards a specific (non-black) woman, it's more the acknowledgement of the courageous actions of some very brave Indian women.
    the second item in your list obviously is an attempt to engage in Islamic apologetics, by making sure everyone knows that the person who commited this crime was not Muslim, but who had been reported as such
    which is, again, self-serving.
  • Thembisa Mshaka
    Thembisa Mshaka

    I also want you to know that I will never think of myself as just a person. I am human but I define my identity, and for you to suggest that I do otherwise is a strain of the entitlement that people if the dominant group typically have in their blind spot: that somehow just being "human" would make it all better for all of us. I love and embrace my Blackness, and when I see it being infringed upon or see injustices perpetrated against it, it makes me vocal, not a victim. It makes me an activist, not a passive bystander in my life's journey. You also make lots of assumptions about my Westridge experience. Yes, I was the only Af-Am in our class, but whatever "bullying" happened I got over. I learned to process it as a problem with the bullies, not with me. An intolerance for difference, and an insecurity on their part, not an issue for me to agonize over. I learned, through my studies of International Relations and Ethnic Studies at Mills, that all isms can be unlearned--and I have a responsibility to call them out when I see them--to act against them, for the generations coming behind us. If you choose not to join this effort in the way I do, I do not judge me for it. I only ask the same. Now, if my post was inaccurate, show me the Snopes link and I'm good. I can admit it's innacurate. But the lynching photo above it certainly is not--and that is what you should focus on. That's the reality of "humanity" in America, remixed for 2014 in the form of the blatant racist mistreatment of our POTUS, the killing of innocent Black boys out of unfounded white fear, enforced by laws like Stand Your Ground. Feel free to unfriend me if you so choose. I won't take it personally. I wish you well. Best always, Thembisa
  • Esme Gregson
    Esme Gregson

    While I cannot imagine ever saying to another person (or myself--especially myself!) that I "love and embrace my" whiteness. Why? Because it's an utterly arbitrary and meaningless distinction to me, and utterly unworthy of my love or misdirected pride. I had no choice in the matter and I do not feel that it is what defines me. I feel equally repulsed and dismayed when I observe the aggressive bigotry directed at our President, I find it utterly despicable. But not because he's black, but because he's our president and has earned our respect and the respect of all Americans. But, if i'm to be completely honest, I postiively LOATHED, HATED President Bush and would openly disrespect him every chance I could get while he was in office, including to his face, had i had the chance. Therefore, I should not be so shocked when people who don't share my political views do so towards Obama; it's not necessarily evidence of bigotry or racism, it's merely evidence of conservativism. Thank you for your (as always) articulate and gracious response, like I said, I wish you the best.xx

  • Esme Gregson
    Esme Gregson

    Thembisa, also, I wanted to respond to your comment regarding your experience at Westridge. You missed my point, which was an effort to point out that, considering the fact that you were the only black person (I'm using the descriptor "black" rather than "af am." Because not all black Americans are from Africa, as you surely are aware, but I digress) but you were Inarguably more well-liked and more popular than I, despite that fact. Which suggests that although you may have experienced racism, I don't believe it was during your years at Westridge. I could be wrong of course...
  • Thembisa Mshaka
    Thembisa Mshaka

    Respectfully, I say this: we can never fully know the journey of others. So compassion and inquiry are the best tools. I absolutely experienced racism at Westridge--the statistical makeup of our class is one instance. I was one pebble on the path to diversity for the school, which did its best not be racist, but racism is in the *ether*, it is woven into the fabric of our country. What you witnessed, in part was my response as relatively well actualized young person, thanks to my family's upbringing and support. It was my response to the racism I experienced, which looked any number of ways beyond not having ONE Black (and I like both terms, because I am of African descent but I also identify as Black from an American cultural POV) teacher for 5 years; having to continually push against Eurocentrism is education during and after class with my peers; to having to represent an entire race of people for those who had not, until meeting me, even been in regular proximity to a Black girl (and yes, in Pasadena, that happened). So you were in the presence of a person not allowing herself to be victimized, not in the absence of racism in the Westridge environment. It's part of why I give to the school, why I have a brick in the wall with my name on it, why I come back and speak to the girls. Because in many ways,I am bigger than the constraints of racism.
  • Esme Gregson
    Esme Gregson

    I do not and cannot see how you constitute the "statistical makeup" of your graduating class as an act of racism. That is, to say the least, about the most patently absurd thing I have ever heard. Are you aware that no one else at the school (or any school I have attended) was named Esme? Does that mean that I should have a exaggerated sense of accomplishment for no longer worrying about the mistreatment I suffered there and congratulate myself for having overcome the oppressive lack of originality in the parents of my fellow students to name their girl daughters Esme (or any Salinger female character name even, Franny, Bunny, etc.) I am glad that you donate to Westrdige, how nice it must be to know that people see your name on a brick there, congratulations. I just don't see what that has to do with the fact that you were far less of an outsider than I was, and who's lone evidence of racism suffered while there is due more to the lack of diversity which can be attributed to its small size, homogeneous student base and, the apparent lack of interest in the school by sufficiently qualified black students. Does it not seem the slightest bit ridiculous to cite as your sole instance of (perceived) racism as "statistical makeup", and then congratulating yourself for being "bigger than the constraints of racism"? How interested were you in maintaining a "healthy" balance of non-blacks on your production of "Throwing Shade?" Were there any Asians? Hispanics? I certainly wouldn't want anyone to have suffered as you did at Westridge from the unspeakable torture that comes with "statistical imbalance." Congratulations on being bigger than the constraints of racism--if only you could be smaller than the constraints of your martyr complex, which is impressive. Good luck to you, I wish you the best in the future.
  • Today
  • Thembisa Mshaka
    Thembisa Mshaka

    I really can't with you, Esme. You have missed the point entirely. I do not have the energy to place what is in your blind spot about institutional racism before you. Throwing Shade is about Black and Latino men, hence, no Asians, no white men. Take care.
  • Esme GregsonEsme Gregson
  • I'm talking about the people who worked on the show, in the production office, not the subjects of the video. Was the balance of blacks, whites, asians and latinos appropriate to ensure no one suffered from feeling the effects of "workplace statistical racism"? Because I would hate for you to have OSHA fine you or something.
  • Esme Gregson
    Esme Gregson
    I don't mean to be sarcastic, but I just don't know how you can honestly defend your obvious racial bias and apparent bigotry while at the same time complaining bitterly anytime you come across an article in which you detect a whiff of racism against blacks. It's so intellectually dishonest and does not help to eradicate racism. you know what eradicates racism? Allowing people to focus on shit that matters, instead of race, and they won't be racist. If you insist on telling yourself (and your children, I've no doubt) that your race is the most important thing about you, and that it's something to place pride and "love" in, then you are, sadly, devaluing all other races and implying that you are separate from other races which is truly an unkind thing to do to your kids. I realize you think that because I am white, that this is why I have this argument--but you are wrong. I am not telling you to tell your kids that being black is bad, or that being white is good, or that they should not be made to feel good about who they are and where they come from. I'm just saying that you are totally lying to yourself if you think that it is healthy to instill in your kids the idea that they should have pride in their "blackness". Because what you are saying is that there is something inherently valuable and superior to people who have darker pigmented skin, which means, also that it's important to identify someone's race which is not black as being inferior. I am not saying that you should not talk to your kids about race--but that you are harming them when you plant the idea in their minds that race has value. it does not. It is meaningless. It is arbitrary.

Evidence 4 Enchiladas with Hotttpocket

I recently appeared as a guest on "Meat Mutant," (a NSFW atheism/comedy offshoot of the wildly popular, historic and hilarious  "Irreligiosophy" podcast).  The shows' stars, "JoEmma," are witty, smart and unrelentingly perverse, which makes for some of the most darkly funny conversation tangents I've ever personally been involved in in my (limited) comedy "career."

Before you click on the link I'm providing to the show below, please make sure you are not within earshot of anyone who:

1. is a religious fundamental or fundamentally religious
2. lacks a sense of humor
3. is uptight
4. isn't amused by abortion jokes
5. is offended by "colorful" language, used gratuitously and without apology
6. has high standards (in general, but specifically with respect to the audio quality of the podcasts they listen to)
7. is Peruvian*

*Not that there's anything wrong with being Peruvian!

Okay, so I hope you will at least check out a few minutes of the show--which, if you can only spare 10 minutes of your time, then listen to the last 10 minutes of the show, which were, in my opinion, fuckin' heee-la-rious.  Click on the link below to be taken to the episode page, where you'll be able to either download the show or listen to it online, without having to download or install any software.  Thanks!!

Evidence 4 Enchiladas

FYI: Here's a photo of me with bangs, which Joe, the host of the show refers to, at the opening of the show: