Bear

Christmas is over and therefore it is Valentines day in every store in New York. Every CVS and Rite Aid have filled their windows with pink chocolate boxes and giant bears. I'm talking the size of a fat, short adult. Just lines of these gigantic teddys, gazing out at the passerby, holding hearts that say, "I love you"

I point out these bears every time my boyfriend and I pass them (...every other day) and I say, "You better buy me one of those." 

I'm mostly kidding. But a small part of me wants a ridiculously huge teddy bear on Valentines day, its unfathomable size a metaphor for my boyfriend's love for me. I think it would be fun for about a week. To have this huge love token, overflowing any room we try to put it in. I'll come back after a long day and smile at my new friend who's twice my size. I would look forward to tripping over it and losing about seven feet of valuable storage room. And because it'll still be February, it'll make sense. While everyone else is cold and lonely and sad over the weather and their failed Valentines days, I'll be sitting pretty with my obese bear of affection.

But come July, I don't think I would still giggle with amusement when I fall over it in the middle of the night. Once October rolls around, and our apartment should be decorated with spooky Halloween details, there my friend will sit, holding a pink heart, looking completely out of place, and taking up half the living room.

And years later, I will finally decide I need to get rid of this thing, but because it was a gift from my dazzling boyfriend, throwing it away will feel like throwing away his love, throwing away memories from what is bound to be a perfect, romantic Valentines day. And I could never do that. I have trouble donating clothes I bought during my first trip to New York, even though they are out of style and haven't fit for years. So no, I would literally never be able to get rid of that bear. I would have to take him with me wherever I moved, even start charging him rent and giving him his own room so he doesn't disturb me. I won't want anything to do with him, but I'd like to know he's still there. His presence will be comforting, as long as I'm not aware of it most of the time.

I think the only way I could ever get rid of this hypothetical bear that has been hypothetically burdening me for years would be if my boyfriend and I ever broke up (I think we'll all live on Mars sooner than that). One day I would just snap and decide the only logical way to get rid of this bear would be to split with the love of my life. That bear would bring me too much pain to look at/ trip over, so I would finally have to give it away. And I would be free. Free and miserable.

So I think I will stop pointing at those bears and telling my guy to buy them. I'm essentially asking him to doom our relationship. And if you love the person you're with, you better stick with a hand-written card and a reasonably-sized gift.

However, if you've been trying to break things off with your not-so-significant other...I think we both know what you need to do.

Godspeed. And may the bear be with you.


Dressing by Chance, Not by Design

In the middle of the desert, on the drive to Palm Springs, you will see two gigantic, looming dinosaurs in the middle of the freeways. The Cabazon dinosaurs. Originally built in the 1960s and later bought by creationists, the slogan accompanying them goes, "By Design, Not By Chance!" with the exclamation point and everything. 

Now we all know that concept is ridiculous, and even more ridiculous when paired with two giant roadside attraction dinosaurs, but I'm slowly getting to my point here. I hear of people who plan their outfits the night before. That's right. When I was younger, I had friends who would choose and lay their clothes out the night before school. Just waiting there, all night, ready to be thrown on without thought first thing in the morning. But where is the fun in that? How could you possibly know what you want to wear tomorrow when it isn't tomorrow yet?

I'm not sure that I have ever planned an outfit a day ahead of time...with the exception of Prom and formal events like that. Because I dress in the moment. I dress by chance. Based on the exact temperature outside at that moment, based on my mood in that second, I choose an outfit.

Maybe I feel pink today. Maybe my dreams were floral. Maybe I woke up yellow and the lighting in my room changed me to violet. All of these factors affect what I wear. Sometimes I dream an outfit. So I wear that outfit. Unexpected rain changes everything.

Plus! The only good part of any morning is searching through my closet of novelty prints to find something that speaks to me. Do I want to wear the puppy dog dress or the vegetable vest? Pig earrings, bike necklace, an entire garden of flower hair clips to choose from. How could I possibly take that away from myself? Alright, maybe your style isn't as quirky as mine, but hopefully you have SOME items that excite you! 

Every other morning action is so routine (brushing teeth, making coffee, putting on shoes) that it's nice to have some variety, some choice, some way of participating in life and waking up my brain. But don't get me wrong if you're one of those people who has planned your outfit the night before for your entire life! Chances are, you're probably a very well-organized, no-fuss kind of person who makes much more money than I do. So rest easy on that. When you aren't alphabetizing your bookshelf or getting approved for fancy credit cards (...someday I'll have a credit card) , just consider the idea of dressing in the moment. Just once. Go to sleep not knowing what you'll wear to work tomorrow. Wake up three minutes earlier. Look outside. Look within. And pick.

I'm guessing the clothes you decide on will reflect who you are in the moment...and be much more weather appropriate. 

Maybe you truly are a white-button-down-and-slacks every day kind of person. More power to ya. But maybe you're electric blue, and your ensemble doesn't show it. Our clothes reflect who we are to people who are too shy to talk to us! If you're a paisley person, LOOK like a paisley person! If you're orange and grey, BE orange and grey! If you're 12 different colors of the same v-neck, rock on!

Just try it. Right before you go out. Dress by chance, and not by design! Be an evolving, breathing person living in each moment instead of a stagnant, created being!!

And a shirt with a flamingo pattern never hurt anybody!



Show Us How You Love

In Times Square right now, there is a Revlon ad running on one of the giant television billboards. It films the random assortment of tourists standing in the middle of the square and it slowly zooms in on them until they fully realize what is going on. That their faces are appearing on a big screen in the center of the universe. The screen draws a little heart around the group, and the words "Show us how you love" appear. By this point, every person on the screen has their cell phone in front of their face, in an attempt to capture their 15 seconds of fame. Instead of embracing the loved one they traveled to New York City with or smooching their partners, kiss-cam-style, they are all just hiding each other's faces with their cell phones. It happens every single time. I know because I work in Times Square and pass this ad at least twice a day. 

I can't help but feel like it's a haunting metaphor for the way we all interact in today's society. We love with our phones in front of our faces. We love through a text, through a Facebook post, through a group message or a "like" on Instagram. We love by taking selfies and endlessly sharing them. We measure love by the amount of hearts and thumbs-ups we see after sharing. We don't put our phones down and look each other in the eye or fully see ourselves on the Times Square billboard. We are too busy trying to document it before experiencing  it for ourselves. Other people experience our lives and our vacations and our dinners before we even get a chance. I really wish I'd seen at least one couple jump at the chance to share a kiss on that screen, but they're sharing on their phone screens instead.

I'm writing this on my phone. I'm avoiding conversation with my fellow employees in order to sit by myself and compose this on my smart phone. I'm not saying I'm any different or that all of society should change and start writing elaborate letters with pens and quills. This is where society is headed. I just think it's sad to see the words "Show us how you love" accompanied by 30 people holding up their phones.

We are all just hiding and not fully living. It's amazing the things I discover when I put my phone down and ask about whoever is near me, or look around on the subway. People are pretty entertaining in person, especially when they don't know they're being watched. Whatever elaborate brag you're posting on Facebook is not as amusing as the subtle way you're picking your nose. You're convincing your friends your life is perfect, but I I saw that you wiped your boogers on your pants.

So look up and laugh at who's around you, and love them if you can. 100 Facebook likes will never feel as good as one hug.



Small Spoon

I prefer small spoons to big spoons. This could be because:

a) I have a small mouth.

b) I am almost always the small spoon in any spooning situation.

My mouth is so tiny that the dentist had to pull out four of my teeth before I could even get braces. Just because the normal amount of teeth that a person has was too many teeth for my little mouth. Overwhelming to him, I suppose. I also had my wisdom teeth pulled at the earliest opportunity. Some people's mouths are so large/ normally sized that they can keep their wisdom teeth AND all of their less wise teeth. I am missing at least six. It's only logical that I go with the smaller spoon when presented with two or more spoon sizes.

I have played the large spoon no more than three times in my life and it is always upsetting. If I play big spoon to a person bigger than myself, I'm like a mussel clamping onto a rock but the rock doesn't really know I'm there. And if the little spoon is actually littler than me, then I feel like a monster and question my femininity and ultimately...my existence.

So I think it's best if I just play small spoon and use small spoons. To avoid an existential crisis.


 

It’s Not Gross if You Don’t Think About It

    Food is very personal. I am a firm believer that everyone should have complete control over what they eat, and have a diet that corresponds to their culture, beliefs, income, and location in the world. I think people should know where their food comes from, and if the idea of said food doesn’t bother them, they should continue to eat it. But the thing is, most people aren’t educated about the journey of their meal before it arrives on their plate. Specifically, people don’t know how meat becomes meat. It’s just…meat. It’s not an animal, and it never was. 

    It’s just meat.

    Some people are completely informed as to how a cow lives its life before slaughter, and how it dies and becomes a burger. I’ve spoken to people who have done the slaughtering themselves and they feel no hesitation or nausea when eating beef. As much as I don’t understand it, I respect it. They know how their food is made and it doesn’t upset them. Most people, however, immediately cover their ears when I try to tell them that parts of their chicken salad used to be a real, breathing bird. In case you were thinking of asking me to lunch and then having second thoughts, don’t worry. I don’t say these things anymore. These terrible, disgusting details I refer to as “the truth.” I stopped talking about “the truth” in middle school, after a few memorable yet nasty incidents. 

    As we all know, you aren’t allowed to be different in middle school, or you will be mercilessly mocked by metal-toothed preteens who don’t know where else to channel their newly found angst. I have been vegetarian since I was six years old, because I didn’t want to eat animals. No other factors or people influenced my decision. I just didn’t want to eat dead animals. A group of girls I ate lunch with in seventh grade would constantly mock me for my vegetarianism and challenge my diet of choice. One night, I surfed the PETA website and printed out an article outlining how inhumanely KFC kills their chickens. Before smartphones, if you wanted a group of people to see an article, you had to print it out and show them! And I did just that. I showed them, during lunch. I read excerpts and flashed photos of bloody dying birds to these middle school girls. I was trying to make a point any way I knew how. I thought if these girls didn’t respond to logic or reason or emotion, maybe they’ll respond to fear. Maybe they’ll see it how I see it. Maybe they’ll understand.

    It doesn’t work like that. Do you know what one of the girls did? She threw a piece of Lunchables turkey at me. It sounds funny, to throw Lunchables turkey at someone. If it wasn’t against everything I believed in, if it hadn’t touched my skin, if it wasn’t the most disrespected I’ve ever felt, I might have laughed. All the other girls did. Who can blame them? I was attacking their diet, ruining their favorite foods, showing them gross pictures while they ate. I was deeply upsetting them with the truth.

    “Hey, did you know that the stuff in your taco used to be a huge, living cow? And then someone killed it. And now you’re eating its body in crumbled up, seasoned bits.”

    “Ew! Ohmygosh why would you say that?!? Ew, so gross, I’m not eating my last one.”

    I don’t expect middle-schoolers to know where their food comes from, or the affect it has on our planet. I don’t expect middle-schoolers to know anything. I do wish, though, that more grown, educated adults thought more about the amount of meat they consume every day. And what it is, and what it was, and where it came from. What kind of life the animal you’re eating lived, and who killed it and how it died. If you can’t stomach how meat is produced, maybe you shouldn’t stomach meat. 

    If the truth about anything you eat grosses you out, whether it be artificial flavors or dairy or sugar or shrimp…maybe you shouldn’t be putting it in your mouth.

    Sure, saying, “It’s not gross if you don’t think about it” is easy.

    But do you know what’s even better? “It’s not gross if you do think about it.”

    Think about it.


Cactus

"CACTUUUUUUUSS!!!!!!"

I would scream every time we drove by any amount of cacti. As a kid, for whatever reason, I loved cactus. I must have believed it was a rare thing of sorts in Southern California, but the truth is that our house sat at the bottom of a hill literally covered in cacti. You could not drive anywhere without passing this hill of cacti. And every single time, I pointed and screamed, "CACTUUUUS!!" like it was the first time I'd ever seen it. I think it made my mom laugh. That's probably half the reason I did it.

I'm still pretty obsessed with the stuff. I'm drawn to anything with a desert, cactus, or cowboy design. One of my biggest regrets in life is not buying that cowboy boot shot glass I saw in the antique store a few years ago. It was only a few dollars, I should have done it. Instead, I hid it, telling myself I'd come back for it soon. I couldn't stop thinking about it and once I went back, it was gone from its hiding spot. Purchased. By someone other than me. By someone who did not scream cactus every day of their childhood.

I tried to find one online, but they're all over 15 dollars each. As much as I want one, I'm not made of money. None of the ones online are good enough anyway. That one was perfect. Small, glass, shaped like a boot. Pointy toe. Under five dollars. I've searched every shot glass collection I've seen since. There's always at least one booth full of various shot glasses in every antique store. But never another cowboy boot.

So it goes. I'll just have to live with that mistake I made for the rest of my life and hope it doesn't destroy me.

I do know one thing. If, by chance or fate or coincidence or chaos, I do someday stumble upon that boot shot glass again, I will, without a doubt, scream, "CACTUUUUUUUSSS!!!!!!!" in celebration.



Cocktail Recipes

Helloo ladies and gents! Is the winter weather bringing you down? Are you hosting a cocktail party soon? Do you want to get smashed, but also experience the feeling of creating something first, since the children you made have failed you and Merlot just doesn't do it for you anymore? Then you've come to the right place!

I have for you a list of ORIGINAL cocktail recipes I've perfected over the past six months! Thought up by me, copyright ME. The best part!? They're kid tested, mother approved!!!! Just kidding, that's illegal (in most places). Let's get started!


The Citrus Splash

Did someone say citrus? YUMMY! To make this first drink, start with some fresh squeezed orange juice, a splash of vodka, add some grapefruit juice, and if you're feeling Italian, throw in a little limoncello! Now THAT'S refreshing!


The PB&J

Drink this next one in front of your friends and you're sure to wow them! They can make their own if they want to. Start by combining strawberry vodka with Welch's grape soda in a cocktail glass. Then coat the rim with a generous amount of chunky peanut butter. Sprinkle some sugar over the whole thing and voila! Just like how mom used to make it!


The Oil Spill

Irish coffee, with a twist! Add your favorite whiskey to some piping hot coffee and throw a Swedish Fish on top! You have yourself a little oil spill in a cup—without the massive sea creature casualties...and it tastes better too!


The Hipster

This next one is easy! Put literally anything in a mason jar. Anything! Your neighborhood bearded guys are sure to drink it up and brag about it to their friends. Score!


The "Get Well Soon!"

Feeling a little under the weather? Did your friends invite you out but that fever just won't go down? Try this. Heat up some chicken noodle soup, add your desired amount of bourbon, and you'll be feeling warm and healthy in no time! Pair this one with Dayquil and you'll be ready to par-tay!


The Sea Monkey Tank

Great for kids (...to look at. I'd like to emphasize that I do not give alcohol to children. That picture is photoshopped)! The way this next one is made might surprise you! Turns out, adding blue food coloring to extra pulp orange juice does NOT make green, but instead a murky grey color. Similar to the tank of unhealthy sea monkeys! Can you say YUM? Add the clear alcohol of your choice (I prefer vodka to most people and things) and stir it up good! The cloudier the better. Pretend the pulp in the orange juice is hundreds of tiny sea monkey friends and bottoms up!!


The Poopy Potty

Har har har, poopy potties are soooo funny, aren't they? Grow up! Poopy potties can be a beautiful thing of art and sophistication. Parents who are currently potty training, you feel me!!! This drink is for the parents and all the MATURE people reading this. Whip this one up at your next dinner party and your guests surely won't flush such a gourmet treat!!

You'll need...

Apple juice

Rum

3 or 4 raisins per drink

Combine and float those raisins on top! Serve in white mugs for that authentic cold ceramic feel.


The Literal Bloody Mary

I had to throw in this classic. My version has a few small differences and is a little bit of extra work, but trust me, SO WORTH IT.

Step 1: Turn into a blood-thirsty vampire.

Step 2: Roam the streets at night, searching for your victim. Be picky. Choose someone who looks like they have very healthy blood!

Step 3: Feast on your pray. Fill a few vials.

Step 4: Add vodka, Tabasco sauce, black pepper, a stick of celery and ta-da!! You have a homemade version of this timeless drink!


That's all for now! I hope you guys enjoy making these as much as I did! I'll be sure to have some new ones up soon, since I think I have a natural flair for this. Stay warm this season and DRINK UP!


New York

New York is cold.

New York is ugly.

Mean people live in New York.

Mean people flock to New York.

New York is bagels and pigeons and

Homeless people

Cold homeless people.

New York is snow and stress and

Get out of my way.

New York is not

“Hi, how are you?”

or

“Please”

or

“Thank you.”

New York is not a smile

But a scowl.

New York is seasons and squirrels

And accents I’m not used to.

It is leaves that turn

Canary yellow

And fire engine red

And jack-o-lantern orange

In the fall.

It is trees that die

From November to March

And stormy skies

Until you forget

Warmth.

It is crime and

Free fliers

It is traffic and smog

It is not sunsets but

A sudden darkness

New York is birds

New York is jazz

New York is every famous film

It is Ella and Louie and

Frank.

It is Woody Allen

And Meg Ryan.

It is a love song from

1923

It is inspiration

Hustle and

Bustle

It is Broadway and the

Great White Way

It is my childhood dream

It is the car horn

That wakes me at night

That calls to me.

It is Central Park,

My haven.

It is statues and dogs and

Castles and ponds.

It is couples and runners and

Artists and dreamers.

It is people who put up

With smog and the fog

And the cold and the food

For something bigger

Than they can imagine

It is people who live through it

To get to something better

New York is optimists

New York is dreamers

New York is the rainbow connection

In its truest form.

New York is change

And New York is hope

I am here

For a bit

With the rest of them.

Always searching

Always looking

Always hoping

Here in New York

The lovers, the dreamers,

And me.


California

California is sand

It is mountains and sea and

Deserts and country and

Fields of berries.

And yes, even snow.

It is, “How may I help you?”

And “How was your day?”

And “Thanks, come again!”

It is “Please”

And

“Thank you”

And

“It’s nice to meet you.”

It is “No, after you!”

And

“Please, take your time.”

It is film stars and

Sunshine

And 70 degrees

It is salad and fresh fruit

And avocado.

It is farmers markets and

Yoga and

Organic and

Hybrid

It is long hair and

Medical weed.

It is eternal summer

It is my family.

It is saying goodbye

Time and again

It is sunsets in

Laguna

And homemade cooking.

It is where all my

Heartaches lie.

It is high school and

Middle school and

Elementary school

It is the big red van and

Yellow bikes.

It is Paul and Eric and

Alex and Brad

It is pink walls and

Seven stairs

Seven members,

Seven chairs.

It is nineteen years

Of life

It is orange trees

And it is salt

It is cats and coyotes and

The circle.

It is Jessica and

It is antique

It is anti Obama

Stickers

It is soccer moms

And killing homeless

It is bars that close at two.

It is lizards and snakes and

Black widows

It is white widows

That live on our street.

It is comfort and

It is ease

It is settling

Down.

It is a sleepy porch

And a jewel sky

It is one season

And one color

It is warmth and

Love and

Food.

It is Darla and

It is home.


An excerpt from "Katherine"

She stared at the painting on the wall, feeling absolutely nothing, and wondering to herself how one would peel a potato with no potato peel. How did cavemen boil eggs? Did they boil eggs? Which came first, the caveman or the egg?

“What do you think?” he asked her.

“I love it.”

She was lying. She hated it. She couldn’t think of anything she hated more, not even those creepy troll dolls with the neon hair.

“It really sparks something in me, takes me to another dimension.”

A dimension where cavemen are boiling eggs and troll dolls are singing their troll song.

“I knew you’d like it. I thought the shading in the corner might be a little much, but when you step back and really take it all in as a whole, it helps it flow much nicer. And the orange, what do you think about the orange?”

The orange made her think of neon troll hair, but the orange kind. Or of this shirt she got at soccer camp 16 years ago, it was the same orange. She hated that shirt, it was so uncomfortable, and she hated that bitch Suzie for passing the ball to Jacquelyn when Jacquelyn wasn’t even open. Jacquelyn didn’t even know how to play soccer. She would have scored the winning goal if Jacquelyn didn’t go and kick it out of bounds. No, she hated this orange. This orange brought her nothing but negative energy and horrid, horrid memories.

“Yes yes, the orange is a perfect choice here, any other color would have ruined it. This is flawless, you are flawless, don’t stop,” she told him.

“Katherine,” another student said, “I’m almost done with this sculpture, but I’m not sure where to go with it. Do you have any advice?”

She studied the sculpture. It literally looked like a chicken had started morphing into an Oxford shoe, but changed its mind halfway, and instead morphed into apathy, if apathy could take a physical form. There were lumps where lumps shouldn’t exist. But who’s to say where a lump should and shouldn’t exist? Lumps are art, absence of lumps is art, if she were to criticize these lumps, she could no longer call herself a feminist. Society criticizes unseemly lumps on women, magazines perpetuate this notion, if she were to say, “That lump does not belong,” she would be no better than a lowly magazine. No better than The Man.

“Love the lumps, keep them. I think you’re headed in the right direction. Figure out what that direction is and follow it!” She patted the student on the back. She could easily apply this vague advice to any question or situation, and she usually did.

She passed a pile of paintbrushes and a stained rag lying on the floor. She thought for a second that someone had just left their supplies, but then realized the beauty of this piece, the raw-ness of it. It was so honest, so real, the most real thing she had seen all month. She gasped, remembering her childhood, her first set of paintbrushes that came in a wooden box on Christmas morning. Her very first art lesson with Miss Tripek, the woman who taught her to paint her imagination. The smell of the rag simultaneously filled her with joy and poison! She inhaled deeply.

She started a slow clap. Everyone in the room joined in, not knowing why. That is the nature of the slow clap. One person starts it and all others have no choice but to join in. If a slow clap happens, an underdog has just won the championship, a breakthrough has just happened. A miracle has occurred. You abstain from slow clapping and you show your support for the devil himself.

“AMAZING! MARVELOUS! I love it. Who did this one? Let me hug you!!” Katherine exclaimed.

She hadn’t felt this way about a piece of art— nonetheless STUDENT art— in so very long. It sparked something in her. Looking at this honest piece, she felt inspired to make something meaningful of her own, to make an important change in her life, of some kind, of any kind.

A female student came running in, “So sorry, I was in the bathroom, is my stuff in the way? I’ll move it!” Student proceeded to pick up the only thing that had brought Katherine happiness in the last year.

Katherine walked to the bathroom and cried for two hours.