Grls I Know - Tiffani
Describe yourself without mentioning work.
Stubborn, for sure. Tough, but it’s kind of a front. Loyal. Fiercely loyal. Hyper but sleepy. Creative but not confident in it yet. I guess that’s it. That’s me.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Texas and I was there until I was four. Then I moved to Wyoming, and moved back to Texas when I was ten. I grew up on a ranch by myself. Well, with my parents but basically by myself.
How long have you lived in New York City?
Three years. But I lived here before for a long time. So this is my second time around.
Tell me what it's like living in New York.
It’s hard. It’s great, but everything here is a thing. When I call my mom and I ask her, “What are you doing today?” Her answer a lot of the time is, “Going to the grocery store”. But that’s not a thing you do with your whole day, you know? Everything is harder here. You’re gone from your house so much. You go to work all day, then you go to the gym, then you go to a show or dinner with friends and by the time you get home it’s 11:00pm. You’re never in your house that much which I guess is why we can live in such small spaces. Our apartments are really just places to throw our shit and go off to the next thing. That’s why I like this apartment because I’m home. I like to be home. I want to have my friends come over here, so I guess I maybe I’m trying to change how New York works for me. I want to love my space and be in it all the time and fill it with things and people that I love.
In light of the recent election, how does it feel to be a woman in the United States right now?
It feels empowering. It’s scary, for sure, but it’s always been fucking scary for us. To be honest, I think we got a little complacent and we thought that we had licked this thing and could live in this world and it was going to be easy. Now we realize that not much has actually changed, and that we were just resting. Now it’s time to fight harder and work harder. If the most qualified candidate in history to ever run for office cannot get elected because she is a woman, then we have actually accomplished nothing. Now it’s more important than ever to be a fucking woman and talk about it and scream about it and make people uncomfortable. We’re not going anywhere, and in fact we’re stronger now. Every day is scary. There is this new sense of hatred brimming. It’s not even under the surface anymore. But I think that now is the time. As a kid I thought it would be so cool to be a woman in the 60s, fighting for my rights and my freedoms. I spent all this time wishing I could have been there when really, I’ve been here the whole time because not all that much has changed. It feels like we’re about to fucking fight, and I like to fight. I never want to stop talking about it. Even when people are uncomfortable, I want to keep talking about it. I’m pissed off and mad at everyone and mad at the 53% of women that voted for him. Like, what the fuck? Just go away and fuck off, you white women dinosaurs. We’re trying to make a better world for everyone and you just want it to stay the same. I don’t want to be quiet. I don’t want to be a little lady in the corner.
Does ‘being a woman’ feel like an active always-present part of your life, or is it not necessarily something that influences your day to day?
I’m always aware of it. I don’t know if it’s because I am aware of it or if it’s because everyone else makes you aware that you’re a woman. In interactions with men, I’m inherently aware that I’m a woman. Being gay has made me more in tune with being a woman. And honestly? I’m thankful. You should remind me every fucking day that I’m a woman. It’s a privilege. Especially in New York, you feel like you get pushed around a little bit or something. There’s always someone yelling or some man doing something to make you aware that you’re a woman.
What is your experience with female friendships? I HAVE SOME GIRLFRIENDS WHO COME FROM BIG GIRL GANGS AND OTHERS WHO HAVE SINGLE CLOSE FRIENDS ALL OVER THE PLACE.
I’m a combination. I have four girlfriends that I’ve had since I was 21. We all worked at the same bar in college, even though we went to different schools. We’re all very very different. If you saw a photo of us, nobody would think we were friends. Well, they kind of look alike. Maybe I’m the odd one? Anyways, we’re just so different. One has three kids, one has one kid, Sarah and I both live in New York and we’re out here doing our thing, but we’ve always been there for each other. I’ve had so many different lives and have tons of friends from each one of them. The four of us though, we’re consistent. We’ve been through marriages and abortions and kids and death. Three of us have lost our dads. Sarah lost her brother. That’s how we connected, we had this loss at a young age. It’s awesome. I feel loved.
Does it feel easier or harder to make female friendships as you get older?
It’s never been hard for me so it feels the same. I’ve always had lots of girlfriends, so I don’t think it’s hard. I don’t have a problem talking to people. When I was young, from the time I was five until I was in seventh grade, I went to eleven different schools. I was constantly having to put on a show and make people like me, so I don’t have a problem being the new person which is helpful now, starting new jobs and new parts of life. I don’t have a problem talking to people. I love making new female friends.
Is there anything you wish women would talk about more with each other?
I mean, I talk about everything. There’s nothing wrong with needing help or feeling lost or feeling confused or sad. You don’t have to impress anybody. I wish in general we didn’t have to feel like we always have to put on a show. You know? Who cares? Growing up in the South, I feel like nobody is honest. Nobody is themselves. They’re all putting on some kind of fucking show for whoever is in the room, and I’ve always been more like, “Nah, fuck you”. It’s gotten me into trouble, of course. Most people from my hometown don’t really talk to me or like me. But that’s fine. My mom is always like, “There are some things you shouldn’t talk about” but I feel like, that’s exactly why they all have the problems that they do, because the don’t talk about anything. I talk about things that make people uncomfortable all the time. People are too concerned with making each other comfortable.
What advice would you give to young women starting out in your field (or any field) - or maybe even to your younger self?
I’ve done so many different things and tried so many different things, which I don’t regret but I wish I had stuck something out a little bit longer. I have a large skill set that’s pretty strange because I’ve done so much. I wasted ten years of my life doing “what a woman is supposed to do”. I don’t think there are any rules any more. I don’t think you have to get married or have kids or cook dinner. You can cook dinner if you want to, but I don’t think those gender roles are important so don’t limit yourself to them. I don’t feel like that was ever told to me when I was young. It was more like, I’m a girl so these are the jobs that are available to me - a nurse, a court secretary. Like, what the fuck? If you want to do something, fucking do it.
Even my sister and my cousin say things like, “I’m not gonna party or get drunk until my bachelorette party” and meanwhile they’re not even dating anybody. Like, what the fuck are you talking about? Go get drunk. You don’t need a reason. Just have fun. That’s something you learn in New York. Everyone is out doing something cool. Go meet people and see things and learn things. Growing up in such a small town, everyone was like “I can only drink on Friday night” or “I can only do this if I have a date” but I’m like, go to fucking weddings by yourself. Go do things simply because you want to. All those strict gender roles don’t apply anymore. That’s what I would tell young girls: “Who the fuck cares?”
I know it’s easier said than done because as girls, we’re taught that we should care about everything and guys are taught to care about certain things. It’s unfair. We’re supposed to care about how everyone in the room feels, and care about ourselves last. That’s not the way we should be raising kids. To quote Ru Paul, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”
Did you have any strong female influences growing up?
When I was young, my mom was definitely a hero to me. My sister and I got two different moms. I got this empowering woman who left her asshole husband and worked 22 hours a day raising a kid, and my sister got a very different mom. My mom taught me that I could do anything on my own. I started taking care of myself when I was six. She would be at work all day so I’d come home from school and cook my dinner. She was an inspiration to me when I was young, but as I got older she became less of an inspiration for me because she fell back into her old habits. I got this little window into a woman who was super empowering. Other than my mom, Ani DiFranco was probably the single most empowering woman that I worshiped when I was in high school. Hope Sandoval was really important to me, from Mazzy Star. Kathleen Hanna, too. I also had this teacher when I was young - Miss Llanas - who was a bad bitch. She got run out of my town because she had us read this book that had cuss words and homosexuality and murder. People in the town basically crucified her. They took her to student council court and parents wanted her burned at the stake. Meanwhile she was like, “Y’all are nuts. Y’all are raising a bunch of really shitty kids”. I remember I made a sign and protested out front of the committee meeting because I thought it was insane. She went on to teach at another school in our district but ended up moving to Houston and being the director of the Holocaust Museum. She was a bad bitch and was just trying to make all of us bad bitches, but the parents in the town didn’t want that. She changed the way I thought about how women could be. She fought the system and lost, but ultimately I think she won.
Tell me about your first job.
I was a pool waitress at the country club in the summer time. I started when I was 15. I waited on all the rich ladies. It wasn’t super fancy. It was just this small town country club that I used to hang out at, so I figured if I was already hanging out there I might as well make money. I learned how to waitress which was interesting. I got chicken fingers which was pretty cool. All the guys we were into in high school would play golf at the country club and then come to the pool to hang out. It was fun.
What is your job now?
I’m a Producer, but I’m taking time off right now.
What motivates you to work hard?
I didn’t realize this until I tried not working for several years and being a ‘kept woman’, but I get my self-satisfaction and gratification from how hard I’m working. People say they have ‘love languages’ and I think mine is work. I feel worthless if I’m not working. I like working hard. I grew up on a ranch in Wyoming, and I kind of did everything. My dad was hardworking but so much of a dreamer. He’d work really hard on something, and then move on. I find that in myself which is actually why I think I’m not as successful as I could be. I reach what I consider the top of whatever I’m doing, and then I move on to something else. If I had just stuck things out, I would probably be the boss now. But instead I’m still figuring it out.
Who (or what) is your spirit animal?
Mary Tyler Moore, duh.
What song have you been playing on loop lately?
'Glass Ceiling' by Upset
Dinner with any celebrity (living or dead)?
Patty Duke, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Zelda Fitzgerald. All together. Wait! Nevermind. Ru Paul.
What was your first concert?
Alabama. My dad took me.
most recent concert?
Gummy candy. It makes me have the hiccups, but I love them.
I like to think of all my girlfriends as being part of a magical coven of strong, independent witches. As a witch, what would you say is your biggest power?