Like a lot of humans, I woke up wondering what kind of country this was.

Apparently, this a country that lets Brock Turner off with a slap on the wrist, while shooting Laquan McDonald walking away from police. This is a country where 12 year old Tamir Rice was shot within seconds for playing with a toy gun in Ohio, and a confederate flag-wielding nut job murdered two policemen in Iowa.

This is a country that has the highest per capital prison population, and profits off of virtual slave labor because the 13th amendment has been so distorted that capitalism always comes out on top.

This is a country that maces Native water protectors in the face for asking that people matter more than profits.

This is a country that has allowed Islamophobia and xenophobia to thrive to the point that we would shun refugees because we would rather slam the doors and build the walls than work for peace and inclusion.

This is a country who saw the most qualified female in American history run for president and lose to a man who brags about sexually assaulting women, mocked a disabled reporter, slurred minorities, and called for the monitoring of a religious group.

This is a country that condones shirts that say “Trump that Bitch” and “She’s a Cunt, Vote Trump”, while seething white men yell “lügenpresse” at the media, a nazi cry that so emboldens them to spew their hateful rhetoric.

I’m mad as hell. This is not the country I thought it was.

BUT this is a country in which some of our mothers, grandmothers, fathers, and grandfathers were raised and wanted us to thrive. They had us and our fucking rad siblings, and we’ve mostly got our heads on straight, and we love them fiercely for it.

This is a country that gave us Beyoncé and Bon Iver.

This is a country that abolished slavery and elected a black man with a wild name as president because of a little bit of hope. This is a country with jaw droppin’ sites, like the Black Hills, and the Grand Canyon, and Yosemite, and Joshua Tree.

This is a county with SNL, and Rupaul, and Mike Birbiglia, and the internet to watch baby and animal videos so we can laugh until we cry.

This is a county that allows me, a woman, the right to my own body and the right to my own voice. I’m done shutting up for the sake of appeasing people. Having been assaulted, I’m done keeping my head down when people on social media normalize and temper sexism, violence, bigotry, and assault. I’m done. This is a country that I will use my voice for.

Humans are so beautiful, and complicated, and divine. I choose to believe the best in people. Your opinions may differ and I respect that. We would be endlessly boring if we were all the same, but I will use the privilege I have to point out injustice. We’re all stuck on this gorgeous, mad planet together. Let’s do everything we can to make it a better place for humanity.

Get mad. Get angry as hell.
Get active.

And still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Did you know getting engaged is the leading cause of marriage in the U.S.? Know the facts. Get educated. The Fiancé Fever is sweeping the country, and my Facebook feed, more quickly than a Kardashian files for divorce. No one is safe. Love is literally everywhere.

February is full of white girls suffering from Acute Boyfriend Syndrome: the desperate act of trying to swoop up a man in time for V-day. As a precursor to the Fiancé Fever, symptoms of ABS range from a low-grade depression often resulting from meticulously amassing a secret wedding board on Pinterest, to a moderate or severe depression as a direct result of binging on romantic comedies, often featuring Ryan Gosling.

Tragically, this disorder affects more than 100 billion women each year: All the single ladies. ALL OF THEM.

I, on the other hand, have taken the proper precautions in the perpetual battle against Acute Boyfriend Syndrome, even if it means bringing my mum as my date to another of my peers’ weddings. I haven’t had a great track record with dating. My last breakup was pretty messy…

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[Yeah, I’m not proud of it either. My prom dress was so not quiche. “Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohooool!”]

I’d like to take a mulligan on the last few years of my dating life. Like Mariah Carey in Glitter, let’s just forget this ever happened. It doesn’t help that all of my girlfriends are bringing men home for the holidays… I brought home a cat, which is still a step up from the last guy I brought home: same amount of hair and quality of conversation, but prettier eyes.

The hype over Valentine’s Day is great… if you’re in a stable, committed relationship that’s never been featured on Teen Mom. I understand the desire to commit an entire holiday to love, but shouldn’t we be celebrating the love in our life every day? I’d be happier with a holiday dedicated to grabbing beers with your best friends: Beerentine’s Day. Then again, I celebrate that fictional holiday all year.

Admittedly, I’m nowhere near the authority on dating & relationships. The most steamy, committed relationship in my life to date has been with pizza… also the entire cast of SNL. But, if I could build my perfect mate, it would go something like this:

  • the face of Ryan Gosling
  • the body of Ryan Gosling
  • (I could end the list here, but…)
  • the hair & suits of Don Draper
  • the voice of Bon Iver
  • the church of Irish Catholic (for my mum, of course)
  • the personality of Michael Scott, regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin
  • the liver of Brett Michaels
  • (JK on that last one)

I like ‘em tall, dork & handsome. I just want to find a guy that will love me as much as Kanye West loves Kanye West. Why settle?

Unlike those tragically affected by ABS, or all of my peers in actual stable relationships outside the realm of reality TV, I’ll be enjoying a pretty satisfying Gal-entine’s Day on my own. Being single on Valentine’s Day means you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT. Also, you don’t have to disappoint anyone (beside your mum who wants you to get hitched & settle down before you’re 40 and have no more “viable eggs”, whatever that means). In any case, fear not, my Gal-entine’s Day will be filled with plenty of pizza, brews, and Bobby Moynihan impressions.

In the meantime, fellow single minglers, we’ll just have to grin & bear all of the schmoozy, gushy social media posts this holiday. A Valentine’s Day post is a lot like Enrique Iglesias’ mole: if you just ignore it long enough, it will go away.

Oh, and if you’re one of the 5 straight men (excluding my immediate family) that read this blog, and you’d like to take me out to celebrate Anti-Valentine’s Day, you can find me at the hardware store, Take Me Home Depot.

XOXO (sarcastically),

M.

Christmas is my jam and spending it anywhere but home is unconscionable… literally, I don’t want to be disinherited. My family is ripe with TRADITIOOON, TRADITION! (Yes, that is a Fiddler on the Roof reference; we’re a Broadway family, too… when we’re not yelling at sports on TV). We love tradition so much, my grandma gave me the same jewelry box two years in a row; I’m sure she was mocking the lack of an engagement ring I’d have to grace it with. Thanks a heap, G-baby.

When it comes to holiday décor, my mum and I have a habit of really making the Yuletide gay. Our home looks like Liberachi directed a Holidazzle episode of Toddlers & Tiaras: Sparkle, baby! Not surprisingly, this pageantry saturates her attitude around Christmas time. She preps for parties by unrolling her 1990’s curlers, giving her pageant hair a shake, a fresh shellacking of hairspray, and donning the sparkliest Christmas pin she can get her hands on. She acts like Legolas. Like, we get it: We know you’re pretty. That Christmas Diva has contagious holiday cheer. Thank God this woman raised us. Work it, Smoochie!

I was a faithful Santa-believer until the ripe old age of 4th grade, which I realize in this day and age of kindergarteners with more active Twitter and bank accounts than my own is biblically old in comparison. I uncovered the fallacy of St. Nick when I happened upon a doll I had been lusting after in my mum’s closet, buried beneath shoulder-padded turtlenecks, nestled among a bunch of ‘Biker Mice from Mars’ toys my brothers couldn’t shut up about. I was more shocked than I was heartbroken. I mean, I don’t think I was ever fully convinced that an aging Saint without a razor, who was convinced red was his color, could have instinctively known that an American Girl doll was my key to the popular crowd at school. I was even more shocked upon discovering it was ‘Molly’… arguably the nerdiest of the American Girl dolls. “Santa” was sabotaging my quest to be invited to Friday sleepovers.

Despite the Fat Man’s vendetta to foil my journey to the popular crowd, I did not immediately let my gaggle of little brothers in on my Santa-Gate discovery. I wanted to keep an educated upper hand on the general knowledge game, especially since they were quickly escalating in the height department. I needed something to hold over their curly heads. Letting them in on this secret would have been a bigger mistake than that time I wore jingle bell socks to play Heads Up 7UP at my 3rd grade holiday party. Here’s an insider tip: EVERYONE will know it was you who put their thumb down when your socks have bells on them. Thanks for dressing me like a sassy Laura Ingalls Wilder, mum.

No, telling my baby brothers of varying heights and educational pursuits that Santa Claus was faker than Kim Kardashian’s marriages would have been sinister. And, frankly, as a Catholic, I live in a perpetual fear of Purgatory. Surely, blowing the cover on their December Hero would have gotten me a first-class ticket to Purgatory: the New Jersey of Heaven.

That year, their Christmas carried on as a pageant of shiny toys delivered by their December Hero, and I successfully avoided a lump of coal and a trip to confession. In the future my American Girl doll would grant me VIP access to a Friday sleepover, but it wouldn’t be the power grip on popularity that cheerleading was. Eventually, my baby brothers of varying heights and educational pursuits discovered the fallacy of the Santa Claus. But that didn’t stop us from carrying on the tradition of waking up in the wee hours of the morning to peruse our presents.

We still hang onto tradition, even though we don’t get as cutthroat-competitive as we used to about finding where my dad hid his pickle on the Christmas tree… and now that I’m saying that out loud, it’s probably best we don’t fight about who finds his pickle. [His pickle is an ornament, people.]

Holidays at home are the very best. Missing Christmas with my family would be worse than that time Mandy Moore tried acting. This year is poised to bubble over with hilarity. After all, my mum refers to ‘head shots’ as ‘money shots’, so apologies in advance for our Christmas card photo.

Until next year,

M.

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Vlada loathed her name.  When she was up early, she felt her name sounded like an elderly woman, seasoned and wrinkling in some forgotten corner of some forgotten institute, surrounded by strangers who’d forgotten her birthday and her history entirely.  When she was up late, she felt like a dirty, boyish wanderer, discovering girls and figures and the unfortunate mishaps of doors without locks.  Vlada supposed she was all of these things at once, though she imagined herself something ethereal: some otherworldly being with no material ties.

Vlada was fifteen and friendless, except for Mabel.  Mabel was her friend because the two of them both knew what it was like to be involuntarily plopped into a new situation every seven months.  When Vlada was nine, her parents relocated from St. Petersburg to Moldova for “more promising opportunity”.  Mabel was twelve when she came to Moldova from Krakow.  The two tinybelles gravitated towards each other because neither knew how to properly conjugate verbs in English.  Every eight or eighteen days, Vlada felt the surging pressure to be more social towards her peers.  Mondays were absolutely solitary and hushed, but on Tuesdays, Vlada felt shooting hunger pangs to dig into the histories of more than three people.  By Wednesday, she had summoned up the fiery fancy to be surrounded by gaggles of delightfully charismatic classmates.  After several hours of misinterpreted, slack-jawed staring, Vlada would abandon her fancies and resign to her solidarity with Mabel before Tuesday’s desires began to writhe, and Wednesday’s howled. 

November 7th was crisp and endearingly sunny.  Vlada sat quietly in a hard chair at her school desk.  The underbelly of the desk in front of her was covered in chewing gum and engravings of students before her, proclaiming mischievous hatred or hurried love, or some amorphous variation of the two.  She could not remember being escorted to the headmaster’s office, but she found herself piled on a yellowing armchair, focused only on a palm-sized statuette positioned proudly on the headmaster’s desk.  The statuette was a greenish bronze; the sort of color Vlada imagined hugged the bottom of a ship.  Vlada imagined the figure being fingered reassuringly by the headmaster every nine or nineteen minutes, the figure smelling of pennies and stale copper.  Pennies, Vlada would remember, would mark this three-minute spread.  “Miss Obastrova, I regret to inform you I have some quite terrible news that could not wait. Miss Obastrova, Vlada, I’m quite sorry to be the one to deliver this but, Vlada, your father has passed away…” The headmaster’s words trailed off rather infinitely and all Vlada could see, and feel, and taste was copper.

 

 

 

*** I wrote this sometime in the muddy middle of 2012; here it is again, tiny people who followed me on Tumblr. Stay put for the following chapters, and more about my actual life, as I’m in the middle of a wild writing fit. 

 

Also, hi mum… yes, I’m doing fine & olive you, too.

Later, gater. 

You know that absolutely gut-bubbling feeling of uncensored thrill and excitement that makes you want to cry tears of joy? Perhaps you have not yet known such a feeling; keep living, it will come. I, on the other hand, chase that excitement like nobody’s business. It comes less often than I’d like (that’s what she said…or he said, depending on who you ask).

Cheeky jokes aside, there exists a very magical place where this gut-bubbling thrill visits me most frequently: that place is Camp. For personal and legal reasons, I will neither name, nor give you absolute specifics about this Camp, but if you know me well enough, you know about all about it because of the excited word vomit if spew upon my return each year. In fact, the purpose of my extended absence from this odd blog in recent weeks has been on account of the preparation, serving duty, and return/recovery from said Camp… also I had my very first root canal and have been feeling too wompy to write anything clever. I digress – you’re probably wondering why this Camp, among other “Good Old American” summer camps is more superior. Well, anonymous reader, I shall tell you: This Camp is full of the most wonderful people you will ever, ever meet, as well as the most wonderfully hilarious, charmingly spirited campers you will ever, ever meet. Without going into specifics about who exactly the camp caters to, I will leave it at telling you that these kids are the kind of people that make you 50 shades of thankful every day for every tiny little thing that your ‘normal’ human body is capable of. Perhaps I’m being a gushy romantic about it, but it is scientifically proven to be the greatest place in the history of the earth. I could write novels on it, but you’d never know until you were a part of it, sleepless nights and all.

Come to think of it, there’s a decent chance the lack of sleep thing has a helluva lot to do with how much I love it, and how absolutely gut-bubblingly funny that entire week is to me. That, coupled with the general attitude of everyone there, a handful of pants-wettingly funny incidents, and ironic 1:30 am fire alarms, sets off that happy-tears thrill that I chase.

For those of you who are absolutely clueless about this feeling, here are some other situations in which I have had a gut-bubblingly uncensored thrill:

  1. The very first time I realized I had made a real friend at college. I went to school out of state, so this was a very big deal to me
  2. Every time my cat makes direct eye contact with me.
  3. Days when I feel so confident in my hair that I semi-seriously consider running for Miss South Dakota USA.
  4. A reasonably tipsy front row experience for The Very Best with my very best friends at Pitchfork in 2009. The DJ brought us waterbottles…. Of vodka. And even though I third-wheeled harder than a tricycle at the bars later that evening, it’s one of my very favorite life experiences to date. (God, being 21 was so perfect and American.)
  5. That one time I lost my shit crying/laughing after my BFF & I went to ‘Kings of Summer’ in theaters. I started bawling/seizing with laughter as the credits started rolling. I could not keep my shit together, Carol. I can’t pinpoint exactly why I had a ‘Girl, Interrupted’ spasm: perhaps it was the epic weekend we had survived together, the weight of being newly twenty-five and unemployed/boyfriendless, or the fiery envy of being a woodsy teenage boy with very little real-world problems.

In any case, these tingly, gut-bubbling thrills keep me thirsty and poised to chase down adventure. They say you’re only young once, and I’m sure there’s an anagram for that somewhere, but I can’t imagine being in my eighties and feeling this thrill, so be it seven seconds or seven days, I hope you find and hold on to yours as well. 

(Pardon the boring video, homegirl hasn’t dropped anything official video-wise)

I may be a little late on the game, but this has been my running song for the last few weeks. I don’t dislike any of this little beam’s songs, vraiment ! The remixes are just as fantastic.

She’s only sixteen. SIXTEEN. She started writing music when she was twelve. TWELVE. Let me put that into perspective : I was playing with Skydancers whilst she was dropping mad beats. What a holy gem! Praise the Lorde, amen!

(And you probably are, too.)

I tell all of my sparkly-eyed, freshly minted collegiate girlfriends the one bit of advice that no one gave me upon entering into the world of university. (Mum, you probably gave it to me, but didn’t put it in the swanky, hip metaphorical terms I would understand. Sorry, babe.)

Don’t have a boyfriend in college. It’s like eating before you go to a buffet; Never a good idea.

Sure, some couples fair fantastically in the collegiate world. * clap, clap, clap * We’re all thrilled for your amorous bliss. If you’re going to plop yourself into a relationship in college, at least pick a dude with a car. You deserve to get something out of it (also make sure he has a real job: the lead singer of a mid-level, local band does not count. It does not matter how many MySpace friends they have). If you’re anything like the rest of us, why willingly volunteer to be tied down in a relationship during the famed “best years of your life”? Trust me, you’ll miss out on meeting a thousand great people, at least 3 super keggers, and no one will invite you and your boyfriend to that awesome 10 am tailgate party. If you eat before you hit the buffet, you won’t have much fun. You’ll miss out on all the dishes everyone else is sampling.

If you do opt for a boyfriend in college, let me tell you that the most fun ones are the gay ones. They’re down for anything (socially), they’ll always be honest about how you look, and they never complain about shopping. Bonus – you don’t ever have to fret about the awkward sexual tension! You and your gay boyfriend will meet a ton of guys, however, they might not all want to shake the peaches from your tree, if you catch my drift.

Let me stress that this is not an open invitation to be a loose woman, nobody likes a Sleep-Around Sally. Take this to heart, rather, as a tip to encourage you opening yourself up to the experiences you might otherwise miss. You don’t get those years back, so live it up, baby.

I am by no means the source on relationship advice. I womp at dating, mainly because I conduct myself very much like Date Mike (see clip below, please). I’m sorry, but what kind of world do we live in where guys wouldn’t go for that in a chick? Being “sexy” is a very weird concept to me, but nevertheless, I try very hard (i.e. I try to keep my nails painted and occasionally buy underwear that isn’t on sale). Ideally, I would enter a relationship at the three-month mark, where watching cat videos on YouTube in my not-on-sale underwears counts as a date and expressing our mutual love of gnocchi is steamy, hot foreplay. This is not to say that I’m not an adventurous person. I have plenty of adventure in me…

Example A: once my BFF & I signed up for match.com. I went on one date-ish and I kept my account active long after she bailed. So yeah, I’m a thrill-seeker.

Example B: once (not so very long ago) after a wedding, I slept in my car in a hotel parking lot, making sure I was extremely well hidden from would-be predators under a Finding Nemo blanket I made in the 9th grade. “Adventure” might as well be my middle name.

Lesson learned: While I am quite the adventurer, I’m not currently awesome at relationships, mainly because I spent the majority of my collegiate years tied to the same guy and missed out on the people-meeting, tailgate-going, university buffet. Now I’m playing catch up. Truthfully, I met some really fantastic people in school that I love dearly, and I didn’t miss out on all the parties, but if I would have obeyed the “Don’t have a flippin’ boyfriend!” rule from the get-go, I would have been able to experience a lot more. Thankfully, now I have a gig that affords me the opportunity to meet gaggles of wonderful people, visit some pretty superb local hotspots, and exercise mon français. Listen up, mes amis, don’t waste your fun collegiate buffet years, and never be afraid of a little adventure.

BRB, changing my Facebook relationship status to “HAH!”

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Hi, I’m Date Mike. Nice to meet me. How do you like your eggs in the morning? * ill-executed wink *

^^ My usual “sexy” dating persona.

[See above post, you’re likely confused]

Let’s ignore the fact that saying this band name aloud makes us sound like a malfunctioning robot. I’ve been jamming this beat to the point of driving my neighbors mad. Additionally, I wouldn’t mind running into these gentlemen in a dark alley — where are the American boys who can pull this off? Holler @ a player!

 

PS, pals – I’m working diligently on getting my next writing post out to you, but my BFFE (best-f*cking-friend-ever) is coming for the weekend, and undoubtedly I’ll have loads of “How to Not Meet Men” stories to add to the list. Hang tight & I’ll keep you posted.

^^ Currently spinning this album on loop in my apartment. It looks like Sarah Silverman’s baby sisters answered the Kings of Summer flick. In any case, their woman brains made some catchy summer music.