Monthly Archives: July 2016

Magically Imperfect

Everybody thinks they’re right.

One of the best lessons I was ever taught was to remember that “people have a real hard time accepting that they’re not perfect.” That’s not to say that every single person is sauntering around the planet believing that they are true and unique perfection (there are some, but not all). What I took away from this lesson is: people have spent their entire, individual, respective lives, having to justify their actions to themselves and to others. 


I am a huge fan of Brian Kesinger. I love his work. I think these Star Wars/ Calvin & Hobbes mash-up reimaginings are wickedly clever and adorable.

This particular sketch struck me on a deeper level, though.

“Good” VS “Evil”.

Who is correct? Which one is the traitor?

Is it Rey, because she’s rebelling against a widely accepted form of government? Or is it Kylo Ren, because he’s forgotten his humanity and turned to less-than-ethical behaviors to assert his dominance?

It depends on whose history book you read.

Everybody thinks they’re the good guy.

I watched this incredible interview with a former United States CIA agent and she spoke of this same phenomenon. She urges people to talk to one another and reminds us that we’re more alike than we might be comfortable admitting.
Within this past week, Kat Von D and Jeffree Star have made a very public display of their “disassociation” from each other. I watched Kat’s explanation video first, and then watched Jeffree’s response video after.

Both videos are full of emotions and justifications. They are both SO sure that they’re the “real” side of the argument.

I have met both these celebrities. I’ve had one short interaction with each of them, separately.

I met Jeffree at IMATs in 2014:


And I met Kat at the Renaissance Faire in 2015:


It would be unfair of me to judge these experiences against each other. Both of them were friendly and pleasant. Obviously, they each took a moment out of their day to snap a selfie with me.

It’s difficult for their fans in this situation because with the volume of social media that washes over us everyday, we feel like we know both of them. I, personally, have spent a considerable amount of money on Kat’s makeup line. There’s a certain level of trust and loyalty that comes with trusting a makeup line with your face. While I have not invested in Jeffree’s makeup line, I enjoy his social media presence and makeup tutorials thoroughly.

But now this weird line has been drawn in the proverbial sand and their followers/ fans/ customers are left to make their own decision.

They both seem so sure. 

They are both very convincing. 

They are both talking to YouTube and not to each other.

Have you ever been involved with this kind of a catastrophe? 

I have. It’s hideous. 100% do not recommend.

I can’t imagine having my life vomited up on the internet for public viewing and commentary. 

Another factor that irritates me like a twisted bra strap is the fact that two professional, grown-ass adults are fanning an internet flame war during all the chaos and actual horror that is surrounding us on the daily.

Why the absolute fuck is this important?

(Spoiler alert: IT’S NOT.)

Did you read about the man who strangled his sister to death as an “honor killing“? Another person who thought he was right. He genuinely believes he was doing the right thing, because he thought his sister’s behavior on social media was beyond inappropriate.

I think the world needs to take a pill of the CHILL variety. Calm all the tits. TALK. TO. EACH. OTHER. Stop all your judgements and assumptions. 

Just stop it.

STAHP.

Learn from mistakes, patterns, and repetitive behaviors, sure. But don’t assume you know what’s going on in anybody else’s life or mind.

If you are willing to take a firm stance on one side of the line in the sand, I suggest and encourage that you do your research, compose yourself, and be ready to defend your stance, in case you find yourself painted into a corner.

The mindset these days is to just block and ignore anybody who confronts you. I don’t think that’s the solution. Questions are not answered. Concerns are not addressed. Conflict is not neutralized. 

Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. It’ll grow like a cancer and become something much uglier than it had been, initially. You don’t have to shoulder the responsibility for other peoples’ feelings, but just hitting “block” won’t necessarily solve the issues, either. And think real hard on calling people out, publicly. 


Nobody’s perfect. We are magically imperfect. Accept that nobody will ever agree with you on everything, always, forever. Learn, instead, how to listen, communicate, and coexist.

S.

Round 1: Miss Frizzle and the Roasted Bean

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Character: a Preschool Teacher

Subject: Going Off the Grid

Challenge: 2,500 words in 7 days

Late afternoon sunlight streamed through the windows stained with finger paint. Alice carefully placed her supplies in one of the many boxes stacked around the room. She hadn’t ever been paid very well as a public high school art teacher. Most of the supplies her students used were paid for out of her pocket. She always told herself it was a labor of love. A heavy sigh escaped her lungs as she paused for a moment to survey the room. Years had been invested into this room; into these students.

Her phone buzzed in the pocket of her vintage, thrifted cardigan (which still smelled vaguely of some unknown grandma). Alice finished filling the box with markers, craft paper, colored pencils, and various other odds and ends she had collected over the years. The packing tape dispenser let out a harassed groan as she swiftly pulled the tape from one end of the box to the other. She checked her phone.

It was Nick.

A flush rushed to her cheeks and tiny little butterflies erupted in her stomach. Alice hadn’t felt this giddy about a man since long before her divorce. She covered her mouth with her left hand as she scrolled through her text message thread with her right, as if Nick could see her embarrassment through the keypad.

“Hey. Just checking in. How you holding up?” his text glowed.

With one thumb she tapped back “Almost done.”

“You sure you don’t want help? I can be there right after work.”

“There really isn’t that much. Nothing heavy enough to justify you taking the 101 at rush hour.”

“Ok. If you’re sure. Are we still on for tonight?”

“Yes :)”

“Great. See you then. <3”

She shook her head at how elated she was when he sent emojis. Alice was in her early 30’s with a master’s degree and one divorce under her upcycled belt. She felt silly at the bursts of what her students called “all the feels” that Nick pulled out of her.

“Hey, girl!” a cheery voice rang out.

Startled, Alice whirled around to face her classroom door. Sauntering in was her beautiful coworker, Anna. Anna was a counselor and had the word “COMPASSION” tattooed on her somewhere that couldn’t be shown in public, though Alice was the only one at the school who knew that.

“Hey!” Alice responded with a tired smile, sliding her phone back into her pocket.

“You about wrapped up in here? I’m here to help. Look: more tape!” Anna lifted a bag above her perfectly coiffed head.  

“I’m actually done, I think.” Alice said, surveying the room once again. She had already taken down all the decorations that had wallpapered the bulletin boards and windows. All her drawers and bookshelves had been emptied and dusted. The desks had been wiped down of any residual paint, ink, paste, and “artistic expression” her students may have left behind.

“Were you able to get the tagging off that back one?” Anna walked to the previously heavily graffitied desk. “Teenagers express their art so aggressively these days.”

“Yeah, actually. I just re-primered it and painted faux wood grain to match the rest of them. The sealer coat is matte, too, so it should blend right in. If Admin doesn’t like it, they can spend the money to buy a new desk themselves.” 

“Ha. You said ‘just.’ You just did all that. Like it was the normal thing to do,” Anna winked at Alice.

“Whaaat? It’s totally easy. You saw the tutorial on my blog. I know you did, because you ‘liked’ it. It comes in really handy if you live in an apartment or something,” Alice laughingly justified.

“Yes, yes. Miss Queen of the Life Hacks.”

“I do what I can,” Alice curtsied.

“Although, today you look like Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. Did you ever read those books?”

“I did! I do?” Alice looked down at her outfit.

Her fit-and-flare dress was navy blue with tiny orange foxes printed on it. Her grandma cardigan sparkled with an antique broach she had inherited from her Nana. She wore wine colored tights and a pair of cream and chocolate oxfords that she bought because they reminded her of cookies. Alice had attempted to tame her naturally wild, curly, red hair into an up-do she hoped looked romantic yet effortless. Curls sprayed out from the back of her head and framed her face in a way that made her look at least 10 years younger than she really was. Her earrings were studs that were also owls carved out of rose quartz.

“Miss Frizzle? Really?” Alice laughed.

“If you drove away in a school bus that farted rainbows, I would only be a little bit surprised,” Anna teased.

“Well sucks to your assmar, I only have my jeep.”

The ease of their friendship had always come naturally. There was a hint of sadness behind their laughter today, though. Alice and Anna had been sorority sisters in college and had worked together ever since they graduated. This would be their first time not seeing each other practically every day in almost 10 years.

“Are you seeing Nick tonight?” Anna knew all of Alice’s secrets. She also knew how to lighten a mood when sadness or darkness threatened – one of the many reasons she was good at her job.

“Yeah,” Alice flushed again and attempted to suddenly be extremely interested in a drawer in the desk behind her.

“Are you blushing?!” Anna caught her.

“Come on! Don’t tease! It’s embarrassing,” Alice laughed.

“No way! Don’t be embarrassed! You’re adorable!”  

Anna pulled Alice back around to face her. “So this is a thing, now?”

“We’re just friends!” Alice insisted.

Anna’s chin tucked back into her neck, her head tilted to the side, and she looked at Alice over the top of her glasses.

“PUH-LEASE,” Anna stated.

“We are. He was a huge support for me through the divorce.”

“Weren’t you two friends in high school?”

“Yeah. We’ve known each other since we were kids. We’ve watched each other grow up and make lots and loooots of mistakes.”

“He’s divorced too, yeah?”

Alice nodded.

“Well that’s perfect. After all these years of knowing each other, you’re finally in the right place at the right time together.”

Alice thought about it. She knew she had always harbored a school girl crush on Nick. There was something about his energy that resonated with her. He made her feel calm and on fire simultaneously. But one or both of them always had a significant other. They were never single at the same time, so they had both accepted the idea that they were supposed to be “just friends.”  

Until now.

The idea of their friendship growing into something romantic made her skin tingle. Of course she was nervous. What if things didn’t work out? Would she lose her friend forever? Was it worth the risk? What if they got married and then got divorced? Then they would have two divorces each.

“WHOOOA. Earth to Miss Frizzle. Drive that rainbow fart bus back to reality.”

Alice cleared her throat nervously.

“Do we need to meditate tonight?” Anna asked.

“No. No, I’m ok. Really. There’s just a lot on my plate right now. This is all such a huge step.” Alice gestured to her empty classroom and all her boxes.  

“I know. But it’s the right choice. You were suffocating here. You need to spread your wings, girl. Spread your antique lace, vintage, hand-crocheted wings and fly!”

“I feel like you should be the one teaching baby yoga!” Alice laughed.

“No way. I only want responsibility for other peoples’ children when they’re surly teenagers. I have a way with them. I speak their language. Tiny kiddos make me nervous. That’s your niche.”

“I do love the little ‘uns.”

“What is this class again? Officially?” Anna asked.

“It’s called ‘Art, Movement, and Yoga’ at the new preschool across town. It’s a private school, and it has a brand new board of directors who loved the curriculum I wrote. They’re going to let me have my freedom with how I teach art. I don’t have to grade art work anymore. That made me feel like such a fraud of an artist. I hate it. Grading art means I’m teaching these kids that the way they see the world, the way they express themselves, is somehow incorrect. That’s not what art is about and it made me hate this job. This job that was supposed to be my life-long career.”

“You look like a preschool teacher, anyway,” Anna said, scanning Alice’s shabby-chiq outfit.

“And what is that supposed to mean?” Alice laughed with feigned indignance.

“Girl, it means you’re 30 and you own and wear overalls.”

“I love my overalls,” Alice pouted.

“Get out,” Anna stated with a vehement point at the door.

They fell into that comfortable whirl of laughter again. When the room fell silent, Alice let out a deep sigh that threatened to bring tears with it.

“Come on.” Anna said. “I’ll help you load your car. You have a hot date and you don’t need to have that sad, dreamy face on all night.”

Alice crossed her eyes and screwed her face up in Anna’s direction.

“Ah. Yes. Lovely. Much better.”

Alice parked in her usual spot by the Roasted Bean. She and Nick had found this place while he was helping her move out of the house she had shared with her, now ex, husband. He was already inside and she watched him quietly through the window for a moment.

He had an unassuming handsomeness about him. He was confident but not rude, slender and gentle but not weak. His glasses made him look like a book worm, but they framed his turquoise blue eyes in a way that made her stomach butterflies flap a little faster.

She checked her eyeliner in the mirror. She never even wore makeup but it felt appropriate for the occasion. New job. New life. Maybe a new relationship.

She slapped the mirror shut and flipped the visor back up. She took a deep breath and exhaled an effortless “ommmm” to bring her back to center.

The evening was chilly. It had rained on her drive over, so the black asphalt parking lot reflected the street lights and everything looked like it was covered in fairy lights. Her oxfords clacked as she walked up to the quaint, little coffee shop.

Nick was engrossed in a magazine about local and upcoming musicians. He didn’t seem to hear her walk up until she was close enough to touch him.

Before she could say hi, he spoke.

“Were you aware that the predominant influences for these kids today are all from the 90’s? Seriously, the 90’s music scene is considered ‘old school’ now. If that doesn’t make you feel old, I don’t know what will.”

“Well buy me a chai, grandpa and we can discuss these whipper snappers with further disgruntled old person-ness.”

They stood in line together. She leaned on him, slightly, but they didn’t embrace or hold hands. The timbre of his voice always sounded excited but still grounded – he was eager to discuss things he found interesting, but never preached or tried talking about things he didn’t know. He listened, too. Nick could talk for hours, but he always wanted feedback or other viewpoints that maybe he hadn’t considered yet. As a teacher, his openness to asking questions and learning new things satisfied her on a level that few others had reached. 

While they waited for their drink orders to slide across the counter, they quietly made fun of the various teenagers lounging about, draped over most of the seating.

“They’re like a plague,” she whispered.

“Do not allow yourself to come into contact with that chaise, my dear, should that young man vacate it, for you will most certainly contract his osteo-gelatino-sis,” he spoke in a fake, posh, English accent. 

They were able to tuck themselves onto a small couch that might have actually been an oversized chair.  

“Are we a safe distance from the melty-bones people?” Alice asked him.

“Quite so, indubitably.”

She smiled over her tea cup, then sipped gingerly.

“So! Today was it! You’re done. You’re going off the grid,” he said, encouragingly.

“I’m going off the grid!” she validated.

“I’m proud of you. That school didn’t let you work your magic.”

“Yeah,” she said. “I’m scared. I’m terrified actually. That was the big, grown-up girl job that you’re supposed to get after you finish graduate school, you know?”

“For sure. My grown-up girl job defines me as a person!” he teased.

“You have a very hairy face for a girl!” She reached over and gently scratched at his scruffy beard.

“Seriously, Alice. I’m proud of you. This is a huge step and only the bravest people let themselves take these kinds of risks. What’s that quote about bravery?” He disappeared into his phone for a moment.

“Ah-hah!” he announced after a few tip-tap-tip-taps. “The quote is ‘I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.’ Nelson Mandela,” Nick read proudly.

“So you’re a grown-up girl, and I’m a brave man?” Alice asked.

“It would appear so,” he shrugged dramatically.  

“Well, then we’re perfect together,” she said, without thinking before she spoke. She realized the depth of her words as they tumbled out over the mouth of her tea cup. She gulped at her too-hot tea. Her eyes watered a little at the sting of the spices in her drink.

“It would appear so,” he said.

He could only see her giant green eyes as she tried to hide behind her cup.

His voice was softer. His eyes were brighter. He leaned in a little closer.

She put her tea cup down. She waited. She had no idea what to say.

“I’ve been thinking a lot, Alice. We’ve been through so much together. You’re going on this new adventure, you inspire me every day, and you have been the embodiment of my dream woman since high school.”

She gulped at the air as if she was swallowing his statement whole. Maybe if she could swallow it; digest it; let it creep into her blood stream, then it would feel real. But she couldn’t, so it didn’t. It felt like a dream.

“Let’s be together, Alice. I want you to move in with me. You know it will work. I know this is a ton to throw on your plate right now, you have so much going on—“

She cut him off with the kiss she had been waiting to give him since she was seventeen years old. She poured all her love and feelings into that one kiss. She pulled away and their eyes locked.

“We’re going off the grid,” Nick said happily.

The Inspirational Couple

Alice was inspired by my amazing friend, Alicia, whose work and art and all-around creative amazingness can be followed @pigpigmentation or via her own website:

 www.pigpigmentation.com“Affirm Your Colorful Life.”

Nick was inspired by Alicia’s real-life husband, Art, whose real-life musical genius can be followed @arthurwebb.

P.S. 

I will never not find it hilarious that an art teacher married a man named Art. ❤️

You Matter.

What. The. Actual. Fuck.

What is happening in this world? Do we not have enough terror in the universe? Is there not enough heartbreak? 

All my social media feeds are flooded with hashtags telling me which lives matter most. Nobody can seem to agree. I hate watching the divide. I empathize with all sides. 

I am a single, white female. I understand why other white people get upset when they are accused of being racists and privileged. But I also grew up in Southern California, and have been raised in a melting pot of people of varying shades and cultures.

I never saw a difference between us.

It never occurred to me to classify anybody by their color because it didn’t matter to me. What do I care what shade of porcelain / olive/ suntan/ mocha/ chocolate your epidermis is? 

Are you nice? Are you gentle? Do you possess a heart of gold and excellent character? Can you make a mean cup of coffee? Spectacular. We’re friends.

I hear the resounding rage coming from the Black Lives Matter movement. I know I don’t understand the complexity and depth of that pain, but I stand with you because you are a person


The confusion occurs when people who feel excluded from the Black Lives Matter movement say “well I didn’t hurt you.”

No. Maybe you didn’t. But how else will things change unless their collective voice is heard? Accept that maybe you don’t understand life from their point of view. Maybe have a conversation.

Now the shooting in Dallas has occurred, and police officers have lost their lives. 

Now what happens? 

Where does it stop? 

We are in an election year with two people who remind me more of Hunger Games characters than actual politicians. We have to fix this problem amongst ourselves because my faith that they will take a real stand feels more like heartburn than confidence.

YOUR LIFE MATTERS.

I don’t give a good god damn what color you are, where you were born, how much education you have, who you choose to have consensual sex with, or which invisible sky god(s) you worship… 

You matter.

Everybody has been oppressed at some point in their life. Everybody knows the feeling of being invalidated, ignored, disrespected. Literally everybody. 

Focus on that feeling. Embrace it. Remember it and all the weird little twinges of pain it caused you.

You know that involuntary, knee-jerk feeling you get when somebody insults your mother? 

THAT.

Now listen to the people who are shouting.

Black lives matter. Police lives matter. Gay lives matter.

LIFE matters.

We are all of us confused, rotting, organic organisms spinning on a shriveling blue planet in a universe so large it gives me anxiety to contemplate.

Listen to each other. 

Love each other.

Give respect first. Lend your support when it is requested. Be tolerant. That means NOT blocking people from your life because they have different politics or values than you do.

Listen when somebody tries to educate you.

Pay attention. Be mindful. And above all:


I love you.

Yes, you.

Love is Love.

Last night, my sister and I attended a “BIG, GAY WITNESSING” for two of the most incredible humans I have ever met in my life.

Josh and Isaac (or #josaac2016, as we are hashtagging them) have been in my life since 2005, if my old lady brain serves me correctly. Isaac and I met singing Opera together. He’s tall, slender, elegant, and his golden heart radiates his entire being. You can feel his beautiful, graceful energy a mile away. 

I have only known him as a couple. Josh had already stolen his heart in a chance meeting at Starbucks. What a perfect, modern-day love story.

3 years ago, amidst the foolishness of California taking an embarrassingly long time to stubbornly decide to be on the right side of history, #josaac2016 seized an opportunity to get married in a brief window of repeals. It was small and simple – just immediate family. No party. No honeymoon. No flower girl. Just a cake and two simple rings, gifted to them. 

Last night was their 3-year anniversary, and they were finally able to have the fancy wedding they had always dreamed of. My sister and I were lucky enough to be in attendance. We were at a table that Josh aptly named “Drama Queens,” along side our Opera cohorts from all those years ago. The table included our director, Mark, who brought us all together; a man who has affected my life for the better, since I stepped into his voice class when I was 15 years old.

During the reception, the grooms gave a breathtaking tribute to the victims from the Pulse Nightclub Massacre in Florida. 

The wedding party scattered from the stage and randomly handed out tags with a name of each victim. 

Just like that. 

In less than 60 seconds. 

My sister and I sat next to each other and we each received a tag. 49 tags in a party of 120. 

No order. No choice. No plan. 

Just random selection. 

I was handed Brenda McCool, a mother of 11 and a cancer survivor. My epically beautiful sister was handed Antonio Brown, an Army Captain. 

Their deaths make NO SENSE. 

Josh somehow managed to give an incredible speech without collapsing in a heap of messy tears, like I would have, and honored each victim. I would like to believe they joined us for the party. It was a beautiful, heartbreaking, gut wrenching tribute. THAT is magic at its finest.

Last night was a perfect example of pure love, acceptance, understanding, family, and magic…

…and don’t forget music…

Josh surprised Isaac by coordinating the cast of the production of R.E.N.T. with whom Isaac just performed. They filed out from behind a curtain lighted in fushia and sang “Seasons of Love.” And we sang and we cried.

No matter what you do with your life, don’t forget to love. Even if you don’t believe in marriage or “traditional love,” (whatever that means) just share goodness and love and light. You, and the world, will be better for it.

In memoreum. 

To the left. To the left.

Heartbreak is a strange phenomenon.

People experience heartbreak is so many ways. Some cry. Some scream. Some eat. Some sleep. Or a combination of all of the above and more.

My life felt like it was turned upside down at the beginning of the year, right when I was actually letting myself feel the joy and hope of the New Year. I was ready to leave 2015 behind and move forward.

But then a proverbial Molotov cocktail flew into my heart. It shattered me and took everything I thought was “mine forever” away.

Despite having a beautiful, supportive, healthy childhood, I have learned to cope with pain, loss, suffering, and heartbreak in all its facets. You have to learn to cope so the pain doesn’t take you down with it.

So I packed up my life, and moved far away. I was scared, confused, and so, SO hurt. 

Most of the hurt was because I knew I was being lied to. I always know when I’m being lied to. What drives me craziest is when I know I’m being lied to, and I call the liar out, somehow I am the one being called names like “crazy,” “paranoid,” or “dramatic.”

Fuck no.

I listen to my heart, my head, and my gut. And when they all band together and sing in harmony, I know that I’m right. 

I hate being right. Sometimes I wish I really was just making it all up in my head, like a story. Blame it on my writer brain.

But I’m right. 

Today I finally say farewell to any hope I still humored. Any ounce of me that still hoped you might one day realize what you’ve done has evaporated, like tea left over night.

I refuse to believe people are inherently evil. I will always believe people are good, deep down. I will forgive mistakes because no matter what, people are imperfect. 

But once I’ve pegged you for a liar; once you’ve broken all your promises; once you’ve proven me right, please exit stage left.

If I loved you once, I love you still…

…stay the fuck away from me, though.

S