How To NOT Become Human Roadkill

“Look both ways before crossing the street.”

As someone who grew up with a love of Barney: The Dinosaur, this phrase was ingrained into my head from an early age. During preschool, kindergarten, and all of elementary school, we were taught to look both ways before crossing the street.

Growing up in a city where jaywalking is commonplace — if I’m being honest, I didn’t even know that jaywalking was a “crime” until I was in my early twenties and began traveling to other states — looking both ways when crossing the street is imperative for one’s survival. And, despite this, the local news app on my phone gives me notifications of “pedestrian struck” at least once per week.

Whoopsie-doopsies.

Taking a quick look at your surroundings before entering a roadway does not take much effort. Even the laziest of the lazy can swivel their head once to the left and then once to the right to check for oncoming traffic. If — through injury or disability — you are unable to swivel your head, then you probably should not be trying to cross a roadway without another person to assist you safely in your journey.

If — through pure laziness — you refuse to swivel your head before crossing the road, then a shiny new Darwin Award looms in your horizon, young grasshopper.

“Most victims are ages 41-to-64,” reports Rolf Eisinger, the Pedestrian and Bike Coordinator for the City of Louisville. “And the most common way that pedestrians cause the crash? Darting into the road.”

Growing up, when I would hear of accidents involving pedestrians, I was sad and horrified. How could such mean drivers mow down innocent pedestrians without a care? Surely, these pedestrians checked both ways before crossing the road!

Yes! Yes! Yes! Gimme that head swivel, you smart pedestrians!

Oh, how wrong and naïve young AngieChu was…

Whereas many of these accidents are simply that — accidents — , a high number are caused by pedestrians who just don’t care.

On a near-daily basis, I encounter numerous pedestrians who nearly meet their maker while crossing the road. I’ve learned to train myself to watch for them. Maybe that should be added to the Driver’s Test curriculum in Louisville. If anyone approaches a crosswalk, a roadway, or the end of the sidewalk, I anticipate that they are about to try to turn themselves into roadkill.

Rest in pepperoni, Johnny Appleseed. Better luck playing Frogger in your next incarnation.

Approximately eight out of ten times, my anticipations are correct.

Grown adults, whether in their early twenties, mid-fifties, or late seventies, are routinely crossing roads without checking for traffic. They don’t look in either direction. They just start walking. Middle-aged pedestrians seem to be the worst offenders, which goes right in hand with Eisinger’s report.

More maddening than having to skid to a stop to avoid running over someone is the fact that they then proceed to walk as slow as humanly possible across the road. Like, 0.5MPH slow. Sloth slow. In fact, I’m sure that sloths move faster than some of these pedestrians.

So, when all is said and done, let’s look at this scenario. Not only has this pedestrian in question nearly caused an accident and/or gotten themselves injured or killed, but they have then held up traffic in both directions as they cha-cha slide themselves across the road. This is not normal behaviour. These people would receive an F in Walking 101.

This is equally as bad. Do not do this either. This causes TRAFFIC.

Let’s take a look at how things should be done 🙂

When my friends and I need to cross the road, the first thing we do is WAIT. After oncoming traffic stops and allows us to cross, we hold up our hands and do that weird wave-peace thing that means “thank you”, and we swiftly walk across the road. If it is a busy intersection, then we run across the road. Either way, we are out of traffic’s hair swiftly and safely.

Let’s look back at the people failing their Walking Skills courses. How on earth an able-bodied individual could be so naïve and inconsiderate to those forced to allow them allowing them to cross is beyond me. I have seen squirrels with better crossing-the-road skills than grown adults, and that’s saying something for someone who has exited her vehicle to shoo confused squirrels out of the road more times than I can count on both hands.

According to the Department Of Transportation’s 2016 survey, Louisville is currently ranked 19th out of the Top 20 cities with pedestrian deaths in the United States. Call me cynical, but I’m not surprised. A study done by local news station WAVE 3 in 2013 validates my rambles as well as the Department Of Transportation’s findings:

“After just 30 minutes [parked] on Broadway, we quickly found out why we’re in the national spotlight,” reported WAVE 3’s Connie Leonard. “With four lanes of traffic flying by us, the sheer number of people ignoring traffic safety laws was eye-opening. We spotted around 20 people walking in the middle of the busy street. We found few people using the crosswalks, and they were not obeying traffic signs.”

Did your childhood teach you nothing about roadway safety? Frogger lead a poor life due to his crossing-the-road skills.

For best results when being the chicken that crossed the road, remember the following practices:

— Analyze whether you actually need to cross the road.

— Ask yourself if this location the safest place to cross the road.

— Check both ways before stepping onto the road.

 Hurry your way to the other side of the road.

— Wave courteously at the drivers that allowed you to cross the road.

— Go about your day without doing anything dumb and dying in the road.

“Listen here, you little twerp. Didn’t I teach you this already when you were still wetting your diapers? Clean up your act so I don’t have to clean up the road.”

Barney and his friends have not failed us completely. I have experienced numerous incidents where a parent is walking with one or two small children. The parent nearly steps out into oncoming traffic, but the kid(s) roots themselves into place and yanks their parent back onto the sidewalk, giving an apologetic gaze to me as I slam on my breaks.

You go, kids. Prevent those Darwin Awards.

The Art Of Learning New Languages

I have always been envious of people that have grown up bi-lingual and tri-lingual. Languages are such fascinating things, and it’s amazing to watch people go from speaking English, to effortlessly slipping into another language for someone who needs it, to slipping back into English without missing a beat.

Many other countries introduce students to a secondary language from the time they reach ages four or five, and as a result, these students enter the adult world with some form of fluency in at least one additional language than their native tongue.

Compared to most other Kentuckians I know, I’m one of the lucky ones. My college-prep high school provided me with 6 months of Latin and 2.5 years of basic French. In college, I took one year of Japanese. …that’s it. And it’s a lot more than many others got.

I primarily took Japanese in college because that was when I was at the peak of my “OMG KAWAII DESU NE I LOVE YAOIIIIII” days, and literally all of my friends decided to take Japanese with me so that we could understand anime subs better. I did well in the classes, but I have retained very little Japanese in the span of the past six years.

On the flip side, I have retained a lot of my French skills, despite it being twelve years since I’ve taken my last French class. I was always in love with French, and have created many characters in my prose that have French backgrounds. I even took a French placement test before entering college and earned 3 credit hours towards my degree from my score! That love of French (combined with the fact that it is far more similar to English than Japanese is to English) has likely helped me to retain my reading abilities, although my speaking abilities are almost non-existent.

Driven by a desire to relearn what I’ve lost and advance from there, I have been using the DuoLingo app for the past two months to study French once more. I was surprisingly cynical when I heard about the app. How could using a free app for ten minutes per day possibly help me to learn a language?

Well…it actually has been a great experience.

A lot of what I am doing with the app is centered around learning vocabulary, which I actually enjoy. If I am ever lost in France and can point to an object and form a basic sentence around it, I’ll (hopefully) survive my journey. A lot of the sentence structure comes from the speaking challenges in the app, which are helpful and fun! I have regained a lot of my old abilities in a relatively short period of time, and have started learning new terminology.

As an additional challenge, I have also downloaded the HelloChinese! app and have also started learning Chinese! This app works similarly to DuoLingo, since DuoLingo does not currently have a Chinese selection for their available languages. Why Chinese? I have no idea. It is probably a mix of my morning job (teaching ESL to Chinese students) and my insatiable love of Chinese art and food. But I genuinely love the language so far! Not as much as French. But enough to make me look forward to my nightly 10-minute lesson.

Chinese poses a completely different issue than French, however. They write in Chinese characters. Barring the accent marks (which are easy to pick up on during daily life anyway), the characters used in French are the same ones that I am accustomed to in English. If I don’t know a word in French, I can “sound it out” with French pronunciation and come pretty darn close to the correct term.

That is not possible with Chinese. Luckily, when learning words, the app shows you the English romanticization on the screen. But at least once a lesson, they will show you a Chinese character for a new term you have learned, and you then have to draw it on the screen.

I’m going to be honest. If the app didn’t eventually give up and show me the strokes to draw one-by-one and then let me move onto the next part of the lesson, I’d be screwed.

Right now, I’m more focused on learning to speak Chinese, and then I will begin learning to write it, but dear lord it’s going to be difficult! I’ve met many native Chinese people who speak fluent English but cannot write English. I now realize the likely reason why that is…the writing systems are starkly different!

For now, I look forward to my 20 minutes a day of learning French and Chinese! It’s exciting, and every day I am stronger at both languages!

What languages do you guys speak? Have you had any fun (or not-so-fun) experiences at learning new languages? 🙂

#MeToo

In the wake of the assault and rape allegations that have come to light against Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein, a simple hashtag has overtaken social media on October 15th, 2017 and October 16th, 2017.

#MeToo.

The requirements to post this hashtag are simple: if you have ever experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault, post #MeToo.

It was actress Alyssa Milano who inspired this hashtag, suggesting that if “all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me, too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” That problem, of course, is sexual harassment and assault, which often goes unreported or unpunished due to the nature of society and the prevalence of the acts.

Now, before I continue, I want to preface this by saying that this isn’t a man-hating, feminist blog piece. I have never labeled myself as a “feminist” (preferring “egalitarian” instead). I don’t care if someone catcalls me as I walk down the road, as this usually makes me feel good. So stop rolling your eyes at this being “just another whiny snowflake” thinkpiece, and open your eyes and your hearts instead.

Last night, as I saw more and more friends post the #MeToo hashtag, at first I was shocked. For me, my first thought went to “rape” or “molestation”, until I realized that harassment was also included. That made more sense. But then, I saw some people referring to the #MeToo posters as “Victims”. What?

I am not a victim of assault. And I am thankful for that. However, I have experienced harassment. Not often. But it’s happened. Not enough to make me a victim.

It took me over twenty-four hours to post the #MeToo hashtag on my Twitter page. And that was for many reasons.

  1. For me, harassment is not prevalent. Half the time, I roll my eyes and delete the comment, or I spit fire back at them. It doesn’t ruin my day. I don’t have to get a restraining order. I don’t fear for my safety. Do I qualify?
  2. Harassment is different than assault. Rape victims were posting #MeToo in swarms. Why should I also use that hashtag when my personal experience with harassment has equaled unwanted dick pics and inappropriate comments about my curves and lips?
  3. I am not a victim. Or at least, I don’t consider myself to be one. Again, nothing I have experienced has led to me turmoil and therapy. Most of the times, it equates to me sending screenshots to friends and saying, “Look at this loser.” Why should I be allowed to use this hashtag amongst those who have been degraded so much?

And in this thinking, I realized that I was doing what so many in society do. What most in society do. What even some rape and molestation victims do.

I was making excuses for bad behaviour. I am justifying people’s douchey actions as a result of my own behaviour. What should I expect?

I am the one choosing to wear makeup and tight clothes in my selfies. I am the one putting glitter on my arms and breasts. I am the one creating sexy cosplays to wear at cons. I am the one doing so many squats to keep my booty perky. I am the one who promotes my social media (which features all of these things) constantly, has nothing locked down or private, and encourages people to share my work and my photographs. I am doing all of these things.

But…

I am not asking people to send me pictures of their genitals in my inbox (which is why my Snapchat is still public, but can now only receive snaps from those I’ve friended). I am not asking people to slide in my DMs with “Hey, kitty, kitty…” and call me a cunt when I don’t respond in 30 seconds flat. I am not asking people to comment “I bet you’d taste good on my face” on a video about donating to communities. I am not asking for any of these things.

Whenever people ask why I don’t go to clubs, I tell them that it’s for two reasons: overpriced drinks and douchebags.

The last time I went to a club was 2014. I went with one of my best friends, and we made a pact to pretend to be lesbians for the night to avoid creepers. Yes. We had to make a pact to have a good time. Even so, I can’t count the number of men and women who grabbed my ass that night as they walked by, even though I was wearing jeans. Once my friend and I began to drink, I can’t tell you the number of people who began to approach us.

By the end of the night, we allowed two men to dance with us. My dance partner pretended he wanted to whisper sometime to me and LICKED MY FACE when I leaned in to hear better. My friend’s dance partner grabbed her hand and shoved it down his pants.

We spent the rest of the night hiding in a handicapped stall together until a male friend came to pick us up, drunkely ranting to each other and to various friends we called about how everyone at that club was such an asshole and that this is why we stick to concerts and restaurants. We were pissed, and repeated issues like this is why we gave up on clubs.

This is not okay.

We weren’t roofied. We weren’t raped. And I’m sure we could easily scream from the mountains what happened, only to be told by people of all genders that 1) that’s what happens in clubs, 2) we shouldn’t have been wearing crop tops and skinny jeans, and 3) that we shouldn’t have been drinking for half the night.

And this is for a face lick and some inappropriate touching. A story that I normally tell humourously as a testament of why clubs are dumb. Just think if we had been sexually assaulted, and needed medical attention instead of a drunken girls’ gossip session in a restroom stall. What would have happened?

If we’re being honest, we all know that the answer is not enough.

And that’s why this hashtag exists.

And that’s why this hashtag is important.

And that’s why I’ve learned to say…

#MeToo.