Rules of a Russian Birthday Party (so far):

 

  • No Disposable Cutlery.

    In spite of the (really cute and quite respectable-looking) plastic cutlery I bought (for my own damn birthday party), I’ve been told, quite forcefully that it’s tacky. And that it will bring shame upon our family. Apparently, it is a far better thing to have a crap ton of dish washing to do (on top of a likely hangover) than to use shameful disposables.

  • No Cupcakes.

    These, too, bring shame upon our family. It is absolutely vital that we have a thick, pretentious, multi-layer cake with apricot crème and layers soaked in rum with some sort of decorative glaze. Cupcakes are cheap, I am told. No one will eat them and I will end up eating them by myself and crying for weeks after. I hate rum. Or at least, I hate cake soaked in it. I prefer to drink my alcohol, thank you very much. Why can’t cake just be cake?

    Apparently, cupcakes are the devil. I didn’t tell her that I’d already bought really cute cupcake toppers.

    She said that since I didn’t like the cake she’d picked out, she wouldn’t get it. That I can pick whatever cake I want (so long as it is from a fancy-ass Russian bakery) and she’ll get that one. Here’s the thing – I don’t want a fancy-ass Russian cake. I don’t want something with five different layers and two different kinds of cake inside and two different kinds of cream with a weird fruity-gelatinous glaze on top.

    Why can’t I just have a cake? Why is that so much to ask for?

  • Said parties are not to be held anywhere other than a Fancy Russian Restaurant.

    The one exception to this rule is, apparently, brunch. It is acceptable to have a birthday party at a fancy brunch place, usually attached to a nice hotel, if one wishes. Otherwise, no exceptions. You must have your party at a Fancy Russian Restaurant, where you will have no one to talk to, and you will feel horribly awkward the whole time. This may be because you are an extremely awkward person (as I am), but that’s a different conversation altogether.

    You will sit on uncomfortable chairs, in a small place setting, uncomfortably squished between the few relatives you can actually hold a conversation with. You will eat course after course of (admittedly good) Russian food, half-cringing and trying to pretend that you don’t exist, Harry-Potter-style, because you don’t want some horrible aunt or other to come over and drill you about your boyfriend-less, job-less, loser life.

    Then the music will come on. It will be awful Russian music. Either seventies-era Russian pop music that sounds like it should be on Dance Dance Revolution, or strange covers of American pop songs inevitably sung by the restaurant’s creepy bald proprietor. You will watch the old(er) people gravitate to the dance floor and dance happily (in this case, shuffling feet side to side qualifies as dancing) to the horrible music.

    You will sit there wishing you’d brought a book. Or if, in fact, you did bring a book, as I usually do, you’ll wish you could pull it out without looking weird.

  • No Party Games.

    Apparently these are beneath the dignity of elderly Russian folk and they cannot be expected to lower themselves to such childish silliness.

    (I’m going to the half-price bookstore to pick up some games tomorrow)

  • No Theme Parties.

    Ditto. Apparently, it is simply too large an imposition to put one one’s guests to ask them to dress up. How dare I?

    (My party’s masquerade/Harry Potter themed. It’s going to be awesome… I think)

  • No Pizza. Or food from any ‘non-acceptable’ establishment.

    I suggested, early on in this process, that perhaps we should consider catering from Naf Naf, since I really like their food…. The heat of my mother’s angry gaze would’ve melted frozen tundra.

You would think she would at least somewhat understand by now. I don’t want a stuffy, boring, formal Russian party. I don’t want to shuffle my feet side-to-side to awful music in a dark ‘dancing area’ while the proprietor of the restaurant looks on creepily. I don’t want a fancy fruit-jelly-and-cream cake. I don’t want stuffy, boring food or stuffy, boring people.

I want a fun, bright, whimsical party. I want to have fun. I want to dance and look silly and get sweaty and eat junk food and talk and laugh. I want to get drunk and stay up way too late and end up partying on the stone patio outside of the clubhouse. I want to stay up into the wee hours of the night, talking and drinking with my friends, until the conversation gets silly and serious and things seem to mean nothing and everything all at once.

I want fun. And light. And happiness.

I guess I want from my party the same thing I want from life. And maybe it’s too much to ask for. But maybe it isn’t.

My Very First Day

Today is the first day in a very, very long time that I have not eaten meat.

It’s possibly the first day that I’ve ever voluntarily gone without eating meat, unless you count Yom Kippur fast days, when I ate nothing.

And it’s certainly the first time that not eating meat has been a purposeful choice on my part.

What has inspired this sudden change, you ask?

Well… you probably don’t ask, because you don’t know me, but I’ll tell you anyway. I started reading the kind diet, by Alicia Silverstone. Some part of me feels like I’m jumping onto a bandwagon about a decade after it has left the station… but that’s not why I’m doing it.

I started collecting healthy eating/diet books after someone close to me began having heart problems about a month ago.

“Things are gonna change!” I declared to myself. “We’re going to start a whole new way of life!”

Those are the kinds of things you say when you don’t have a plan.

I still don’t have a plan.

But I wasn’t genuinely motivated to change anything – didn’t know how I should change anything – until I started reading the kind diet. I’m only halfway through, so no spoilers… but I’m pretty sure I know how it ends.

It’s not the first diet book I’ve ever read. It probably won’t be the last. And it’s certainly not the best written.

I vaguely remember when it came out – circa 2009. I worked at a bookstore at the time. And, while I don’t remember ringing up this particular treasure, it’s most certainly an inner-eye-roll item – the kind of book I’d smile and ring up and listen patiently while the customer chattered on about how ‘healthy’ the diet was and how much it was gonna change their lives and blah, blah, blah.

I’d roll my eyes on the inside. That book would end up in a pile to be donating to Goodwill in a month, and they’d be marching back into the store to buy whatever new diet book Dr. Oz had just written.

But I’d smile anyway, and wish them a nice day.

Just another silly actress trying to popularize another silly diet.

This is definitively that kind of book.

And, quite frankly, I’ve never read a book quite like this one – a book in which I so dislike the writing and the writing style and yet couldn’t be more affected by the message.

This is quite possibly the effect of bad editing. I’m sure she has many fine qualities, but Ms. Silverstone is not a writer. Or at least, not a very good one. I don’t suppose I should blame her all that much – her writing style is an attempt at conversational, but lands squarely in the realm of juvenile and annoying.

She lost me on page 16, where she tells the reader that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States (Not – shock and awe – mascara poisoning!) and states “Clogged arteries lead to high blood pressure or – even worse – a stroke or a nice, juicy heart attack.”

To be honest, she really lost me on ‘nice, juicy heart attack.’ For someone so ‘kind,’ it shows a surprising lack of empathy for other people’s health problems. And worse, it seems to blame people for their medical issues, as though they deserved that heart attack, simply because they’re not as ‘enlightened’ as she is.

It irritated me.

And the rest of her book is replete with girlish teenage-speak – unless I’m mistaken and ‘yummy’, ‘yucky’ and ‘stinky’ are all official medical terms.

I can’t help it – everything sounds like Cher from Clueless, even in my head. And the chipper, valley-girl tone in which the book is written certainly doesn’t help the situation.

But, in spite of the immature language and the not-particularly-funny jokes, she has a point.

It’s not that I have a problem with eating meat in general.

I am (was?) the kind of person who would eat bacon whenever possible. Who believes that cheese is a gift from the heavens. Who firmly believes that there is nothing that is not improved by cheese, especially when it’s melted.

When eating out, my preference is a bacon cheeseburger and fries. I love pizza. I have, more often than I would like to admit, been guilty of eating Hot Pockets (Well… Lean Pockets, technically, although I don’t think there’s a damn bit of difference between the two).

So why did I go out of my way to avoid meat today?

Why did I spend time chopping and grating carrots and trying to figure out how to make corn on the cob for the first time in my life?

For a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I cannot, in all good conscience, know the way that these meat products are made and continue to eat them. I’m not opposed to eating meat – far be it from me to ever allow such a phrase to pass through my lips. And if I were assured that the animals I was eating had lived happy, comfortable lives – that they had been treated well and ethically – I might not have problems eating them.

But I cannot justify eating animals that have lived their lives in torture. Cows who live in their own excrement, in stalls too small to turn around in. Who are kept constantly pregnant and lactating, pumped full of hormones and constantly having their calves ripped away from them. The boy calves spend the remainder of their lives chained up, on chains that are so short that they cannot stand. Not that this lasts very long – quite quickly, they are fattened up and slaughtered for veal. The girls face the same fate as their mothers. I cannot justify eating a chicken that lived in a too-small cage, spending its poor little life with its beak cut off (that particular image made me shudder… I can’t explain why that was so much more affecting to me than the rest).

The cheeseburger isn’t worth it to me. Not anymore.

The other reason, quite frankly, is that I’m tired of feeling like crap. I’m tired of being tired. And gassy. I’m tired of just plain never feeling good. I’ve had enough lattes and eaten enough cheese in my life to know that dairy doesn’t make me feel good – however much I love it, I always end up bloated and gassy and… I’m tired of pretending that’s not the reality. I’m done pretending that my love of junk food outweighs the problem of feeling like crap after I’ve eaten it. I don’t want to feel heavy and bloaty after I’ve eaten too much, lying blimp-like on the couch.

I want to, finally, treat myself like I matter. And, by extension, how I feed myself and how I take care of myself matter as well.

There’s a heaviness that comes with eating meat, Ms. Silverstone tells me. It weighs you down. Quite frankly, I’m weighed down enough by my life and my problems without also being weighted down by my diet.

I resolved to try this for a week.

By this, of course, I mean Veganism…. Sigh. I sincerely thought I’d never say that.

Being vegan was always for super-special hipster snowflakes. The kind of people who walk around wearing knit hats in June. The kinds of people who wear glasses without any prescription in them, just for ‘the aesthetic.’ The kinds of people who ask if the restaurant has ‘soy butter’ when you go out to eat with them and give you dirty looks over your chicken sandwich.

I know not all vegans are like this. Not all vegans brag about being vegan. But most do. And it’s annoying as hell.

I am not one of those people.

But I’m trying, anyhow. I’ve decided, for this week, at least, to cut out meat (beef, pork, chicken and fish), try to eliminate my consumption of dairy and cut out wheat.

Is it hard?

Not yet. Today’s the first day. I know I’ll slip up at some point – I love cheese too much not to. And that’s ok. But today I stuck to my guns. Tomorrow, hopefully, I will too.

I might even learn what the hell I’m supposed to do with okra.

I’m not going to be one of those nutters who rambles on about my ‘magical journey’ and invites you to come with me – this is not the magic school bus, or the Tardis, or even Santa’s bloody sleigh.

This is my choice, for now, and I’m going to see where it leads me.

I don’t agree with everything in the book. I still have no idea what the hell a macrobiotic diet is. And I really, really, don’t want to know.

I’ll never ramble on about how amazing ‘organic’ products are and I’ll never be too snobby to eat something out of a can. And I’ll eat a goddamned tomato if I want one (and if you catch me rambling about Belladonna and acidity, just slap me and hand me some French fries, will you?)

Is it possible I’ll have dreams of cheeseburgers and mozzarella sticks and wake up the night calling desperately for a gyros sandwich?

Possible. Not likely, but possible.

Is it possible I’ll end up chasing local pizza delivery men around the neighborhood like a lost puppy?

Yes.

(At least I’d get a little more exercise that way)

I’m not promising myself anything. Or at least, I don’t think I’m promising myself too much.

I’m going to keep reading. I’m going to try to eat a plant-based diet, avoiding anything that contains cows or little piggies.

And I’m going to try my best.

But seriously, guys, no spoilers – if that book has a twist ending, I want to find it all by myself.

Love & Betrayal

I gave you all of my love. And you ran from me.

For months, you were the first thing I thought of in the morning, and the last thing I thought of at night. What are you thinking? I don’t know how many times I wondered that in our time together, as I looked into your big brown eyes. Invariably, you would kiss my nose and the thoughts melted away into a smile. You could always do that for me. You were the one who could always make me smile.

When I’d been sobbing and my nose was bright red, and my eyes were smeared with mascara and I probably looked like a deranged panda, you didn’t care. You lay down next to me, your warm body comforting against mine, and smiled up at me, as if to say, ‘Everything will be ok. You’ll see.’

You never complained, even when things were at their worst. Your smile never changed, even when I was laid off. You were as warm and comforting as you’d always been. I’d come home from an interview gone wrong and collapse on the couch, wanting to close my eyes and never open them again. You’d just come and sit on the floor at my feet, leaning up against me, comforting me with your warmth. As if you knew things were going to get better. You’d look up at me, trust in those deep brown eyes. You knew everything was going to be ok because you had faith in me. Because you trusted me more than I trusted myself.

You were always up for a walk, even if it was dark and raining. You splashed in those mud puddles like a little kid. And I suppose, in many ways, you were a little kid. Cleaning up was never fun when we got home, but it was worth it to see you happy.

I gave you all of my love. I wouldn’t leave before saying goodbye to you. And I wouldn’t come home without giving you a kiss. When I cooked, I’d separate out some of whatever I was making, and save it for you, cooking it in the way you liked.

“It’s just chicken,” I’d say, smiling, watching as you wolfed it down like it was the most delicious thing in the world.

I loved you. And I thought you loved me back. I thought I could trust you. Maybe I was wrong.

Today, I let go. I didn’t mean to. One second, I was in control and everything was fine – and then the next second, it wasn’t. In one moment, everything changed. In one moment, you slipped away.

One second, you were walking by my side. I thought we were happy together.

The next second, you’d slipped out of your little jacket and you were running, running away from me. I held an untethered leash.

I could only watch in shock as you abandoned me, running circles around me in the dirt, as I cried by myself. You ran and you ran. You dug in the dirt. You rolled in the grass, smiling all the while as I looked on, terrified. You wouldn’t come back to me, no matter how many times I called your name, no matter how much I begged and pleaded and, ultimately, cursed, shouted and threatened.

You wouldn’t come back to me.

I thought we had something special.

I thought you loved me as much as I love you.

Bad girl, Nellie.

You are a bad dog.

This I believe

This I believe:

Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you have to stop reading children’s books.

Peanut butter and jelly is always an acceptable meal.

Choose comfort over cuteness. Take both when you can get them.

Being an adult is no reason to stop giving/receiving birthday gifts. On the contrary, when people grow older is the most important time to show them how much you love them/appreciate them. Show your friends that they matter to you.

Nothing should be pickled other than pickles.

Being an adult doesn’t mean you’re any better at anything than you were before. It just means you’re better at pretending you have your shit together in front of other people.

Never ask someone when they’re getting engaged. Or when they’re getting married. Or when they’re going to have a kid…. Just don’t.

If the waiter tells you to enjoy your meal, and you accidentally say “You too!” it’s ok…. They know what you meant.

Women’s clothes should have pockets. The fact that they usually don’t is a travesty and overwhelming evidence of the power of patriarchy.

If you don’t get mad at your pet when they do something, you don’t have any right to get mad at your family members for doing the same thing.

There is nothing that is not improved by cheese.

That is all, for now.

Thank you.

The Reasons Why

“Don’t be a dick.”

Those words echo in my head pretty often. They pop up whenever I think something negative or mean-spirited about someone, whenever I forget to hold the door for someone walking in behind me, whenever I say something rude I hadn’t meant to.

Although I hate to admit it, it’s generally the philosophy I live my life by. Don’t be a dick. You don’t have to be nice to everyone all the time, but generally speaking, the least you can do is try. Try to be nice. Try not to be rude. Try to help other people. Try your best not to hurt them. Try not to be a dick.

I don’t understand a lot of things.

I don’t know what it’s like to walk into a store and have the employees follow me around because they think I might steal something. I don’t know how it feels to have someone give me a dirty look or shout a slur at me just because I’m wearing something that expresses my religion. If I am pulled over by a police officer, I’m not scared, because I know that, at worst, I am likely to get a ticket, and maybe waste a few minutes of my time. I’m not frightened that he’ll harass me, or hurt me, or threaten me just because of the color of my skin.

I am lucky.

If I am hurt, or injured, or sick, I can see a doctor. I don’t have to be scared that the bills will bankrupt me, or that they will be so expensive that I’ll be forced out of my home because I can’t afford to pay the rent and the medical bills at the same time. If I need birth control, I can go to a doctor and get a prescription, with the reasonable expectation that I can afford it.

I can walk around my neighborhood by myself at night and feel safe, without the fear that someone will shoot me or rob me or rape me.

I know where my next meal is coming from. I don’t have to worry if I have enough money to buy groceries and pay the rent and put gas in my car this week. And I don’t have to think about which one of those I will sacrifice if I don’t have the money for all of them.

I don’t have to worry about how I’ll get to work – I am lucky enough to have a car that gets me there. I don’t have to worry about taking the bus or finding a friend to give me a ride or whether or not I’ll be able to make it to work tomorrow, if the bus breaks down, or that route stops running, or my friend doesn’t feel like driving me.

I don’t have children to worry about, but if I did, I live in a relatively safe neighborhood. I wouldn’t have to worry if they would get to school safely, or if they would be safe while they’re there.

These things are all privileges. And they are privileges that I enjoy without much thought. I don’t think about how grateful I am to have my car every time I get in it. Or how thrilled I am to see a doctor whenever I make an appointment.

But I know that I am lucky. And that many women – many people – in this country are not so lucky.

These things are privileges. And they should not be.

And that is why I attended the march this past Saturday, January 21st, 2017.

Not for me. Not because this incoming administration is going to hurt me or impinge on my rights. But because I know that many people are not as lucky as I am. And that, under this incoming administration of uncaring, selfish men, many people who are not-so-lucky will suffer all the more. That they will lose rights, lose jobs, lose healthcare. And that some will even lose their lives as a result of losing that healthcare.

I didn’t join the march on Saturday because I’m a good person, or because I’m a special little snowflake. I did it because I care about people outside of myself.

And it’s not particularly noble or brave to care about people other than you…. It’s really the baseline of what you, as a human being, who exists in a world of other human beings, should do.

I didn’t do it because I’m brave or wonderful or any particular positive adjective you could put here.

I did it because I’m not a dick.

 

In Defense of Darkness

The world is filled with tragedy.

So much so that the above line feels entirely like a cliché. Terrible things happen with every moment that passes, every breath taken.

I don’t say that to depress you. Or maybe I do.

Yesterday, four people – three young, twenty-something women and one young man – were killed in Jerusalem when a truck plowed into a group of soldiers on a busy street.

Yesterday, five people were killed when a gunman opened fire in a baggage claim at Fort Lauderdale’s airport.

But a casual look at just about any news site wouldn’t tell you this. Just now, they’re full of side-by-side ‘who wore it better’ comparisons from the Golden Globes, brimming with speeches and dresses and ‘Which Ryan is Hotter.’

And maybe that’s as it should be, on the night of a major award show.

But that doesn’t change one simple fact: when I saw those two tragic stories pop up in my news feed, I didn’t want to click on either of them.

I didn’t want to know.

I chose, for a while, anyway, to click on cute kittens, and the most popular products on amazon. To look at pretty dresses and dieting tips, rather than face the tragedy taking place far away from me.

But I was wrong.

And it’s easy, isn’t it?

It’s very easy for me to say – ‘that’s so depressing… I’ll look at it later.’ And maybe later never comes. It’s easy for me to say that I need a ‘pick-me-up’ – that I need to fill my mind with lightness and joy, rather than tragedy and pain.

It’s easy for me to say that I don’t have room in my heart for other people’s tragedy – that I’ve had enough of my own. That’s the excuse I’ve been using for some time now.

Because, while we live in a world where more information is at our fingertips than ever has been in the past – where news spreads across continents in the beat of a heart – we also live in a world where it is easier than ever to ignore it.

To say that it’s not our tragedy. Not our pain. To say that we can’t handle it right now. Or to say that we simply don’t want to.

It’s easy not to read something depressing. In a world full of such darkness, darkness can be incredibly easy to avoid.

Just click on the next story. Look at a pretty dress. Read the sports statistics. Learn how to french braid your hair. Peruse cute animal photos. Do whatever you have to do to keep yourself going, right?

I’m not writing about the darkness and pain of this world – you already know enough about it. So do I…. enough so that I haven’t wanted to face it.

Because ignoring tragedy gives us the luxury of avoiding pain. But it also gives us the luxury of not doing anything about it.

And in a time when we’ve elected a ‘presidential’ candidate who lies as easily as he breathes, who has no respect for anyone outside of himself, nor any respect for knowledge or kindness or any of the noble traditions of this country, truth is going to become a valuable commodity, and we have to cling to it with all of our strength.

In a world where terrorists thrive on uneducated and misinformed populations, we can’t afford to look away from tragedy. Or to look away from truth.

Because it’s easy not to – and it will become easier.

Because, now, more than ever, in this precarious moment, we need an educated public – one that advocates for truth and will accept nothing less.

We need people who read. We need people who listen. People who know. And people who care enough to do something about it.

And in a world where it’s so much easier not pay attention – and not care – we no longer have the luxury of letting it go.

It’s easier not to read the article. It’s easier to look away. It’s easier to say that I’ve got too much pain in my own life, or not enough time, or not enough energy. It’s incredibly easy to say I don’t have room for the depression or the sadness.

But that’s not a choice I can make anymore.

And neither should you.

It is our responsibility, as a public that supports freedom – that supports the values our nation was built on – to support our truth-tellers. To fight for investigative journalism, while we still have the chance.

 

November 11th

I’m glad I had Wednesday off… I hadn’t planned to take it off. But I’m glad I had that day to mourn for the loss of my country, and my world as I know it.

Thanks to our new president, we as a country (and really, as a world, if you consider how much America’s actions ripple out internationally) are about to enter into a new era of hatred, unkindness, cruelty and indignity.

We are about to become a country where no one who is black, Muslim, Hispanic, gay or female will feel safe. Not for the next four years, anyhow. Because we have elected a man who does nothing but spew hatred. A man who no respect for anyone or anything outside of himself – certainly no respect for the country he is about to govern, or the people within it. No respect for women, his wife included. No respect for marriage. No respect for others. Or for our constitution.

We have elected a malevolent, bigoted, rapist-in-chief and I’m sorrowful that our country has come to this.

I had Wednesday to drink and cry – to mourn the loss of the freedoms we enjoy and the loss of what could have been. Not because Hillary was a fantastic candidate or because I’m under the illusion that she was flawless – but because, underneath whatever flaws she had, she is a reasonable human being, who I feel has always tried her best to govern thoughtfully.

Because President Trump certainly won’t do what is best for the people. Or even for the GOP.  He will do what is best for himself. Because someone so juvenile and selfish cannot do otherwise.

I will continue to mourn as I watch our freedoms corroded away by this poisonous man.

I will watch as we lose our reproductive rights.

As we lose the freedom of speech.

And the freedom of the press.

He has threatened to sue anyone who publishes anything negative about him – not anything untrue – just anything negative. And you’d be foolish to think that anyone so shallow and vain, given the power of the presidency, wouldn’t follow through on those threats.

I will look on in sorrow as the innocent are harassed and threatened and hurt – and, in many cases, I’m sure, killed. I will watch the inevitable and exponential rise in hate crimes, most of which will go unpunished … Because when you elect a man who does nothing but hate, how can you successfully prosecute hate crimes?

Any environmental agreements and nuclear non-proliferation agreements we’ve signed over the past several years will be thrown out.

Any hope we’ve had for the future of this country is gone. Or, indeed, for the future of the world. We’ve just handed power to a cruel, childish, juvenile man – one who thinks of nothing but himself and his own self-interest. One to whom lying comes as easily as breathing.

I will watch the freedom of the press evaporate. I will watch my friends live in fear as their rights are taken away from them. I will watch the rise of a rape-culture where anything is yours if you have the ability to take it.

I will watch all of this in fear.

And to those of you who voted for him – Congratulations. You’ve just successfully handed the nuclear codes to a childish megalomaniac with a hair trigger. You’ve handed power to a man who has never been denied anything he wanted in his life – a person who has never heard the word ‘no.’ A dangerous, thoughtless, selfish man.

Perhaps stating that this is the end of the world is a bit much… It may not be the end of the world. But it’s pretty damn close. It’s certainly going to be the end of life as we have known it.

Today is the day I mourn for my country – for what it was and what it will never become.

Today is the day I grieve for my hopes and the possibility of a bright future for our country.

Today is a dark day for America. And for the world.

Do I know the future? I don’t. I just have a knowledge of who this person is – of his past behavior and his character. I know enough to be scared. And I have a really bad feeling about our future.

I’m sure no one will read this – I’m sure my opinion matters about as much as a feather in the wind. But I will end by saying this – the only way that we can combat the hatred that will spew from the white house in the near future is with kindness.

It won’t be enough to undo the damage, but we owe it to ourselves, and to each other, to do our best. So be kind to each other. Take care of each other. Protect each other. Because it is only through kindness that we can defeat hatred.

Thank you.

Please share these crisis hotline numbers:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
The Trevor Project (LBGTQ+ youth): 1-866-488-7386
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

To report a hate crime: 1-800-VICTIMS