Coping

He stepped forward into the nothing. I think I screamed but now all I can remember is that sudden sound of the emptiness. It seemed like the place that he was just standing in was quivering in his wake, ripping apart as time seemed to jump. How was it true? How did we get to this place? A month ago we had our anniversary dinner on this rooftop with candles and blankets and kisses all over. And now there is a violent absence: the deep rasp of his voice, the spicy bite of his cologne, his hair blowing in the soft breeze. And now what do I do? How do I honor his memory? I grocery shop and watch films and go to work and try to pretend it didn’t happen. Try to pretend he didn’t happen. My brain is still short-circuiting the loss.

“Can you come over? I think I need to clean out his things and I just don’t know how. I don’t know if the clothes should go to his family or to Goodwill..” I was rambling again. Olivia knew this and cut me off, “Of course, I’m free all afternoon so I’ll be right over. Can I bring anything? Never mind that, I’ll just bring some coffee.” She rarely lets me answer these days because she knows I’ll go on forever without actually getting anywhere. An hour later and she was at my doorstep, she’s always getting distracted by things and runs late because of this tendency. Our friendship works because I understand and am never actually ready when I ask her to come over anyways. She looks at me deeply, searching for an answer to a question not yet satisfied, “How are you?”

This question will never make sense to me. How am I? My husband decided that diving into slick asphalt from twenty stories up was a more appealing choice than spending another day in the life that we had built together. If you can go through and not be in a constantly shitty state of mind then please write a book or go on a speaking tour because I know lots of folks who would love to know your secret. “I’m fine, thanks.”

When the apartment looked sufficiently like we had to wade through boxes to get through the front door we decided to take a break for lunch. Olivia suggested a new cafe downtown and I didn’t have an opinion so that’s where we decided to go. With her mouth half full of sandwich she began in, “So are you thinking you’ll stay in the place or move? I’ve seen a bunch of cute studios in midtown for sale. Maybe that would be good for you Margs, a fresh start.”

“Maybe yeah. I don’t know Liv, it just seems so fast. His family hasn’t even been out to the place since everything, it might be too soon to just up and leave don’t you think? I would hate for them to come and try to settle things just to find it empty and you know as well as anyone how completely unhelpful the landlord is, he would never be able to direct them to their new place. What if…”

“Yeah I suppose that’s true logistically. I’m just thinking of you here. You have to deal with it in the best way for you Margo, you have just as much right to grieve over him as anyone else.” She sighed into her coffee cup.

“What?”

“I just worry about you that’s all – you seem to be internalizing a lot of this.”

“Well I don’t exactly have the luxury of laying in bed all day crying.”

“I know, I know, I’m not suggesting that. I don’t know…” Olivia trailed off as she absently traced the edge of the table with her finger, “You just don’t seem to be acting the way the most people do.”

“Oh is that what you think?”

“Don’t get mad Margs, I’m just worried.”

I got angry and my face grew hot. I was furious she would say such a thing and frustrated with myself because I knew she was right. Suddenly, my cheeks grew sticky with warm tears.

“Sometimes I wake up and reach across the bed still expecting to find him there. My fingers grab and pull at the sheets even after I remember. They look anyways in the hopes that my head is wrong, that I’m remembering wrong. Sometimes I watch tv and make a snarky comment and jump a little when it’s met with only silence. Then I shrug it off and try to pretend it didn’t happen and that I’m fine because you know what? Sometimes I get so mad at him that if he came knocking on my door I don’t even know if I would open it. I want to scream at him and throw things and make him hurt. I want him to realize how fucking selfish he was. I want him to realize that his leaving was only half of it, he left me here alone. He bought a ticket and went on a trip without telling me to pack my bags.” Olivia reached across the table and grabbed my hand. “And then the worst part is the guilt. I yell at the empty places and cry and pull at my hair and then it’s all out and then I feel so awful. I think I must be the worst person in the world to hate someone I love more than I miss them. And it’s true Liv, there are moments where I really do think I hate him. How is that okay? How do I live with that? If he hadn’t gone and done what he did then I had vowed to love him forever but instead he’s gone early and I hate him sometimes more than I love him. That isn’t how I’m supposed to feel. That isn’t how normal people feel in these situations.”

I collapsed into the wall and Olivia slid in next to me, placing her arm around my shoulders. She let me cry for a few minutes – the ugly kind where my nose ran and my chest heaved and I didn’t even try to fix my makeup. “I don’t know how people are supposed to feel in this situation but I think you’re going to be just fine. He took away the most important thing in the world to you and that was a shitty thing to do. One of my exes – Tommy, you remember him right?” I sniffled and nodded. “Well when we broke up he took my favorite candle just to spite me, I know he doesn’t even burn candles. I still hate his guts for it and I didn’t love him half as much as you love Richie so I can only imagine the level of passion there. Look what I’m trying to say is that I think that you shouldn’t worry about what’s ‘normal’. I’m sorry about what I said earlier, I didn’t mean it that way. You feel whatever you need to feel to get through this.”

I don’t know when I stopped reaching across the sheets or talking to ghosts in the soft light of the television. I don’t remember when the anger faded but I remember that it did. One day I was reaching for a box of cereal in the grocery store and realized I wasn’t angry anymore. I still don’t understand why he did what he did and I’m still working on being okay with that but I know that day will come too.

Tattoos and Body Image

Question:

What kind of bagel can fly?

Punchline:

A plain bagel.

As is with most people I have had an up and down relationship with body image over the years. There have been days where I loved how I look and days where I didn’t want to step outside. A few years ago I finally took a deep breath and applied the same aggressively optimistic approach that I adopt in most situations that are outside of my control and essentially said to myself, “this is the body you have so you might as well be happy with it.” Since then I have felt mostly indifferent towards my body – I neither actively loved nor actively hated it. This, however, changed last Spring when I got my first tattoo. I suddenly found myself loving the skin I was in and wanting to show it off.

I will always hold that the best compliments are those about tattoos because they are one of the only things that are both permanently on your body and also chosen by you. They can hold significance or beauty or both and they will (most likely) last forever. People can compliment your eyes or your legs all day long but the fact is that there was never a specific moment when you decided that you wanted them as a part of you. Tattoos are chosen and created and eventually it feels as though they’ve always been there. Whenever people ask me if I get tired of mine, I ask them if they ever get tired of their pinky finger because to me, the ever-presence is the same.

My tattoos have given me a new sense of ownership over my skin and my body. They remind me that is my life and I have to be an assertive force in it rather than just taking a back seat and watching it pass me by. I think they are beautiful and they make me feel beautiful and quite frankly it makes me feel a tiny bit badass when people ask if it hurt and I shrug and answer honestly “not really.”

Living in Gratitude

Question:

How much room is needed for fungi to grow?

Punchline:

As mushroom as possible.

 

In June I was working in a cubicle at an engineering company and felt endlessly unsatisfied. No matter how much I put in the hours at the gym before work, no matter what I bought with my paycheck or what my bank account said I felt like the days were simply passing me by. Then one day on my lunch break I went to the mall across the street and bought a new notebook. I had every intention of using it as a normal journal until I sat down that night to write in it. I realized that I never stay consistent with journals because it is simply too much work at the end of the day and I knew this notebook would be no different. It would get it maybe half filled and then it would join the other party completed bound pages on my bookshelf. So instead, I used my notebook for a new idea I had: three bullet points of things that went well that day. I have done this every night since then and I know the notebook will be filled long before next June.

It works because it’s easy. At most, it takes five minutes so there is never a worthy excuse to not do it. On really good days I write more than three things and that way it is kind of like a journal in the documentation aspect. Besides, who wants to read their old journals just to relive how upset you were? We should be remembering the good things about life. There have certainly been days when it was difficult to think of three good things that happened but I have never written down less than three. The important thing to realize that good things can be as small as eating your favorite cereal in the morning or as big as going on a road trip with your best friends. The whole point is to start looking for the good in everything, in every day.

I absolutely cannot recommend this exercise enough. I promise that after a month you will truly see the world at least a little differently.

Bad Days

Question:

What’s the difference between a dirty bus stop and a well-endowed lobster?

Punchline:

One is a crusty bus station and the other is a busty crustacean.

 

Less than perfect days or just plain old no good, very bad days. They happen to even the most “glass half full” of us, no matter how hard we try to avoid it. I have certainly have had my fair share and have developed somewhat of a “sad routine” to make it a little more bearable. Something my mom always used to say after a bad day is “the best part about today is that it’s over” so I circulate a lot of these things around bedtime.

A cry sad day:

Step 1-

Put on Good Music: acoustic love songs

Step 2-

Cry it Out: it’s bound to happen so just let those salt streams run down your ruddy cheeks.

Step 3-

Skincare: once you feel like your eyes have appropriately leaked, do an even more intensive version of your normal nighttime skincare routine. For me, this really helps by being a symbolic end to the day. This is a great time for a face mask.

Step 4-

Zone Out: watch some stupid sitcom or comedy that is dumb enough you don’t have to think about it but is just captivating enough to get you out of your head. A personal favorite is That 70’s Show.

Step 5-

Pass Out Like There’s No Tomorrow: sleep in your favorite pajamas, with your favorite blankets and really nestle in.

An angry sad day:

Step 1-

Put on Good Music: angry rap or metal

Step 2-

Lace Up Those Running Shoes: I’m not much of a runner so I prefer to go to the gym and do a cardio-heavy workout with a lot of stretching after. I love making this a leg day because the ache the next day feels so satisfying. 

Step 3-

Get Steamy: take a long hot shower and when I say hot I mean it should hurt a little.

Step 4-

Hydrate: drink a ton of water because it will help refuel your body and give you glowing skin the next morning.

Step 5-

Pass Out Like There’s No Tomorrow: sleep in your favorite pajamas, with your favorite blankets and really nestle in.

Travel Tips

Question:

Why did the rancher give the pony a glass of water?

Punchline:

Because he was a little horse.

I am blessed to be able to say that my family does a decent amount of traveling. Throughout all these experiences I have streamlined a couple of pieces of advice that I follow myself in order to get the best experience possible. Hopefully you can gain something from them. Enjoy!

 

  1. Make a reservation for a meal after you arrive.

Airport food is generally overpriced and lack-luster. The best way to see a new city is to walk around and share a meal amongst the locals. Making a reservation before you reach your destination helps you avoid airport food and gets you a head start on exploring the city. Go to the hotel, drop off the bags, freshen up a bit and then either cab or walk to the restaurant.

This tip works especially well if you are traveling in a group because, in my experience, hungry stomachs don’t make quick decisions. Or if the hungry people do decide on a place to eat quickly, it’s probably not going to be the best the city has to offer. So research before your trip to save time and ensure that you all know where your next meal is coming from.

    2. Pack “freshen up” items in a carry-on.

I’ve learned from unfortunate experience that you never know when the flight gods will decide a sacrifice is in order. It’s when you’ve watched the empty luggage carousel go around three times and everyone else from your flight has left that you wish you would’ve had the foresight to do this. You head over to the help desk and they assure you that they will get you your bag by the next morning. In the meantime though, your skin is dry, you smell like an airplane and your mascara is smudged – and if you followed the previous tip, you have a dinner reservation to catch. All you want is your tried and true (and travel sized) beauty products.

Having your go-to items in a less than great experience like this truly makes the difference in how you feel moving forward with the rest of your day.

   3. Buy any tickets ahead of time

In this modern age of websites and apple pay, there are very few museums and attractions that don’t have systems for purchasing tickets ahead of time. You wake up in a fluffy hotel bed and look at your traveling companion and say “what are we gonna do today?” This tip helps cut down the time spent making a game plan for the day and helps make sure you really make it to the places you want to. Instead of waiting in line at the box office, you can spend that twenty minutes appreciating and exploring the attraction.

   4. Always carry a camera, always.

With increasingly amazing cell phone cameras, this rule is easier to follow than ever but I still feel the need to say it. Walking around a new city you just never know what you will see. I cannot even begin to compile a list of the peculiar things that I captured in a photograph that inspire me to this day- a steamed up window, ironically placed graffiti, a kid looking in the window of a toy store.

Along with this tip comes the one to always pay attention to the small stuff. The way water pools at the bottom of a condensation coated glass, a crumbling brick facade, a man holding his girlfriend on the subway – inspiration and beauty is truly everywhere. Places that locals frequent tend to make it easier to see so I recommend checking out public transportation, marketplaces, and parks.

 

As a closing note, I just suggest to truly appreciate every moment while traveling. Don’t let egos, a missed train or bad weather spoil your mood because you never know when you’ll have the opportunity to be there again.

A Brightly Lit Stage

Question:

How does a train eat?

Punchline:

It goes chew chew.

 

 

A blue mustang with the top down parked in a driveway lined with flowers. A cold glass of lemonade dripping onto the asphalt. The glistening blue water filling the pool. A white French door opens from the kitchen a woman in a green dress steps onto the patio. She places a platter of teacups and finger sandwiches onto the wicker table and sits in the matching chair. The wooden gate opens to her left and she looks over her shoulder, expecting company. A man in a cream-colored suit and lavender shirt walks through with his coat over his shoulder. He smiles in the corner of his mouth at her and she stands and takes a step backward- cutting from the frame as she falls into the pool. The smile widens to his eyes and he runs to leap in after her. They tumble ever downward, impossibly deep for a common swimming pool.

An open marble doorway suddenly rushes up to meet them and they step onto the tile flooring, completely dry and presentable – the pool water and rushing wind seeming to have had no affect.

I know what you’re thinking, really, I do. When I was told to record this story I was skeptical. It seems so fantastical that it’s almost – unbelievable. However, dear reader, I can assure you that I am a reliable narrator and that this account is completely factual. My advice is to not worry so much and just sit back and as the cliche goes, “enjoy the ride”.

“Maya, Charlie – so glad you could join us this evening,” the voice comes from a tuxedoed man off to their right who presents them a silver plate supporting two champagne glasses. Charlie takes the two glasses and passes one to Maya at the same moment she takes his arm and they follow a rapidly unfurling green carpet in front of them. After many minutes of walking the two share a furtively loving glance and step out onto a vast, wooden stage from the right wing. An interlaced grid of faces look up at them- conversations halted, phones fallen to laps, babies cheeks dry. Have you ever seen an audience like that? An audience so completely enveloped by the scene unfolding in front of them that they become completely unaware of themselves self? No? Yeah, me neither. Charlie sits at the grand piano as Maya climbs a ladder to sit on a swinging bench, high off the stage.

Now this is where things get tricky, try to keep up. Oh here, this tip will help: try to imagine these character blurbs as if you’re watching through a camera lens – you know, the one that swings and pans around that they use for films. It’s like you’re tracking different characters who may be of great importance or maybe they are completely insignificant. Either way, it provides different viewpoints. Now pay attention.

Following the show, the couple is met by adoring audience members in the opulently decorated lobby. You are pushed to the back as fans more rabid than you elbow ever forward as if physical closeness to the pair is all that is required to share in their success. You watch Charlie throw back his head in laughter and Maya cover her mouth in mock surprise. Soft heel clicks on the marble flooring and the calling out of men’s voices to their wandering wives. You push out the double gold-gilded doors to the cobblestoned courtyard. Snow quickly coats your hair and shoulders as you hurry to unlock your small, brown flatbed truck.

You push towards Maya and Charlie, elbowing people who clearly don’t want it as much as you do. Your hands push open into the open space just in front of them, close enough to smell Charlie’s cologne and to hear the delicate swish of Maya’s silk dress. Someone tells a raunchy story and Charlie throws back his head in laughter and Maya covers her mouth in mock surprise. You shake their hands politely and compliment them on yet another incredible show. Feminine eyes glaze over to either side of you as Charlie begins to tell a story about their first performance together. You lose focus and are slowly cajoled into the back of the crowd by people who apparently want it more than you do. You push open the heavy door where the fresh snow rushes down to meet you and see a small, brown flatbed truck pulling away from the curb. Your heel slips into a crack between cobblestones causing you to fall onto your knees.

After the show, you head towards the concession stand where you purchase a large bouquet of pink candy floss. You pull webs off and eat while you watch the hordes surrounding the performers with amusement. What were their names again? You can’t remember. Too many shows in too few nights but the one thing that remains the same- candy floss. That and the crazed fans; always eager to observe, to please and to be viewed. A woman pushes past you to reach the stairs to your left, most likely hoping for a better view of the show-ponied duo. After a few more moments of watching, you push open the gold-plated door and see a woman fall to her knees- puncturing the white lace blanket of snow.

Well I hope that little segment wasn’t so bad for you dear reader, I really did try to make myself clear but critics have said that my ideas are too runny and messy to be held on a page. That’s why I’m providing this commentary, see? I’m trying to be generous and kind and to make sure that you get “it”.

Maya and Charlie make their exit through the wooden, backstage doors and stroll toward a gently bubbling fountain in the center of the cobblestoned street. They perch on the lip, resting their feet on a small mound of snow. “You were incredible tonight,” Maya says, leaning in towards Charlie. “The black and white keys are nothing without the painted rainbow of your voice, my love,” Charlie responds and places a soft kiss in Maya’s snowflake-laden hair.

“Charlie, I know you were hesitant but I am very glad we decided to do this show. I could see it in the audience’s eyes that they needed it.”

“I agree completely, I just worry about how much it takes out of you. You are stunningly talented and watching you question that… well, it just darkens the softest corners of my heart.”

“I know sweetie, I know. I am working on it.”

“I’m so glad to hear that. We just can’t lose you, Magnificent Maya, we just can’t – the last time was much too close for comfort.”

“I know, I know. I really am trying”

Charlie smiles and leans in to delicately kiss her cheek.

Maya’s dimples deepen and she asks, “Where to next?”

“Let’s go home.”

Maya smiles and nods, gripping Charlie’s hand tighter as the pair fall backward into the shallow base of the fountain. The two fall much deeper than the meager inches of the ceramic fountain, leaving the shining layer of copper undisturbed in their wake.

Sunlight cuts through the water of a surface they are rapidly falling towards. A surface quite far from the one they tackled minutes before. The world inverts and they walk out of the sea, hot grains of sand like a thousand tiny needles on their feet. The beach is devoid of beach towels and neon swimsuits and people altogether. Water drips from them like the shedding of a second skin. Warm sun licks their skin similar to a dog welcoming a much-beloved owner home after a long trip. They ascend the concrete steps to a waiting blue mustang with the top down. Yes, it’s the same Mustang that was in their driveway when they fell through their pool. “How’d it get to the beach?”, you might ask. At this point, I would like to remind you of what I suggested earlier- to worry less and “enjoy the ride”.

They drive along the coast on a highway seemingly deserted until they reach a small street past a white wooden fence. They turn into the flower-lined driveway of a small yellow house. Charlie shuts off the car and goes around to open the passenger side door. Maya takes his outstretched hand and the pair head up towards the bright red front door together.

Okay, so you know how I swore to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God? Oh wait, no that was at my court hearing last Wednesday. Well, either way, I said I was being factual. So maybe I wasn’t being completely honest with you, reader and I am truly sorry about that, truly I am. But maybe people can’t actually travel through water but the truth is that it’s not about the water. Maybe it’s about the travel and the weightlessness and the purity of it all. Or maybe it’s about nothing at all.

The Grand Budapest Hotel: a Grand and Great Film

Most every scene in this film could be paused, screenshotted, printed and hung up and your friends would question where you found such beautiful artwork. Wes Anderson’s creative style is best showcased in this film’s explosion of color, comedy and surprising action. 

The settings (especially the hotel) make you feel like you’re truly in a doll house, the camera panning around the room rather than cutting back and forth. This is Anderson’s signature filming style, showing the audience just how much set was actually built for the movie to be possible. The characters are magnetic in both attitude and dress and the audience is sure to become immediately entranced by their various plights. 
The comedy is quick and dry- if one talks at just the wrong moment, they are sure to miss a joke and never even know it had been said. The film moves quickly and you are sure to catch on to more and more with each viewing. 
This is my favorite Wes Anderson film and one where I feel his vision is the most clearly presented. I highly recommend this film to anyone willing to pay attention because the payoff is truly spectacular. This is the movie you’ll bug your friends to watch because they simply “won’t get it” until they’ve seen it for themselves. 

KaaBoo: The Jewel of Del Mar

If you haven’t been to San Diego’s newest music festival but have ever desired to see Logic, Muse and P!nk in the same day – this is the festival for you. Having gone to this festival for the second time of its three-year existence, I can truly say it is only getting bigger and better.

The festival focuses more on representing a festival lifestyle rather than just the bare bones of music. There are more than 50 gourmet food booths, personal massages, surf lessons, a Vegas Style day club and so many more luxurious amenities. This wide range of services pulls in a very diverse crowd ranging from toddlers to senior citizens who all migrate out to the coast for a three-day weekend of music, art exhibits, and quality booze.

There are three comedians performing each day in the Aces Comedy club including David Spade, Patton Oswalt and Norm Macdonald. This is the first year that KaaBoo has offered LaughPass distribution which equates to a Disneyland FastPass that can be acquired at either the 1:30 distribution or 3:30. They also have six renowned chefs doing live exhibitions at the Palate stage throughout the weekend for those looking to add a few more tricks to their cooking repertoire.

On the masculine side of luxuries, they offer over 40 varieties of cigars at a booth near the Pub n’ Play area. Keeping in the men’s luxuries,  Annie Lush of J. Hilburn Menswear is offering personal men’s style consultations and fittings. For the more feminine palate, they provide hair styling and makeup at the Paul Mitchell the School San Diego booth for ten dollars per service. The Cake and Punch booth makes personal flower crowns for twenty-five dollars with the option to add in LED lights for an extra ten dollars.

They have a wide variety of food options ranging from Acai Bowls to Greek cuisine to a Mac-n-cheese bar. There are many vegan and gluten free options and the booklet displays a color coded key to these booths. My personal favorite was The Big Cheese which sells a variety of sandwiches that give a back seat to the meat, letting the multiple kinds of cheese be the true star.

Overall, I would recommend KaaBoo music festival to most people in my life because it truly does offer something for everybody.

Closing Note:

The Red Hot Chili peppers, Logic and Muse all put on an amazing and visual live show so if you have the chance to see them, take it.

 

Greetings Internet-lings (click me to read post)

Question: 

What’s the same about tight pants and a cheaply built castle?

Punchline:

No ball room

 

I have wanted a long-term creative project for a long time now. Something that I would be able to continually work on, slave over, and could utilize to hone my writing chops. I am hoping that this space (aided by readers such as yourself) can become exactly that. 

 When you meet someone that you want to become intimate with, it is only polite to introduce yourself.

So here goes: I am a creative writing major and have (obviously) adored writing for as long as I can remember (cheesy but accurate). For me, writing has always helped center me when I am in the throes of extreme emotions. Whether I am throwing my pillows out of rage, wiping away dripping mascara due to heartbreak or even just grinning so wide that my cheeks begin to cramp – writing has always helped me organize those feelings into something dissect-able.

Perhaps this sounds like a jarringly sterile approach to life. If this is the case, it is only because I am such a passionate and impulsive person – I need something concrete to balance me out. Writing has always been this concrete thing. I love writing, I need writing and I admire those who do it eloquently and effortlessly. 

I hope you read on and decide to join me in my quest for clarity. This project is to become my child, my best friend and my therapist- my goal is to make that interesting for you. I will not waste your time or write things I do not believe to be true. My opinion will likely often differ from yous. In that case, I ask you to keep your heart and ears (I suppose in this case it’s technically eyes) open to my viewpoint of the world because that is how society is meant to act. We are not built to always agree, but to disagree – respectfully.

Thank you for your time, your attention and your support. 

Sincerely yours, 

Caitlin