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To Grow or Wilt

It’s around 6:00. It must be. Joanna’s signature high-pitched whine punctuates the dark bedroom as she rustles up through her crate blankets to greet another day.

Before my mind even registers the ungodly hour, my body, zombie-like, starts shaking off the night’s shallow slumber as I propel one leg off the bed followed by the duvet-snagged other – and then stoop down to the small blue crate nestled against an Eastlake vanity.

Predictably, Joanna feigns sleepiness in a halfhearted attempt to cajole me to scoop her up so that she, the exhausted one, can be rubbed and doted upon for approximately two minutes before she’s harnessed to visit her favorite garbage-dotted bushes along the sidewalk.

The front door’s loud thwack and my jingling keys do little to rouse Toby who, judging from snores and grunts, is still covered in his towel fort atop the living room’s sagging Victorian hexagonal chair.

Outside, typical characters are performing their morning scenes – the jogger clop clop clopping along the pavement; the flyer stapler bash bash bashing one more concert announcement into an already thickly layered telephone pole; the neighborhood druggies hack hack hacking up partial lungs while lighting up in alcoves where the faint morning light still hasn’t penetrated. Mini trash tornados circle and die in the street, and the sky threatens a morning shower. Joanna sniffs castoff food wrappers and smashed jalapenos outlining where the late-night hot dog vendor set up to entice drunken revelers to convalesce with compressed, meaty bliss.

Back inside, filtered light warms the apartment ever so slightly, and the dogs settle down with their post-breakfast treats while I indulge in a few cups of hot cocoa – my recent, somewhat successful attempt at limiting my coffee intake. The expected chocolatey skim forms on top, which once stirred vigorously, settles into the thickened mixture swirling around in the jadeite mug. I sip and gulp, and then rub my favorite geranium’s rough leaves – letting their peppery fragrance kick me in the nostrils.

It’s one of those mornings framed for reflection.

We’ve packed a lot into the last three years: we moved across the country; I started a new career; we moved out of our first CA perch, our tiny Koreatown studio, for our WeHo digs; we adopted Toby, then Pearl; Andy got another job; we got marriedPearl passed away; Andy got a promotion; we moved to Seattle; I finished my manuscript, and got a new job; we adopted Joanna; Joanna broke her leg; we decided to stay strong and lean in.

And now, in a few months, we’ll be moving again – but this time, only a stone’s throw to a larger place where we can let ourselves root in Seattle’s ever damp soil and save up for a house. We’re re-learning to focus on the good bits that sustain us – whether it’s overfilling our apartment with greenery, or enjoying the fact that Toby and Joanna have finally bonded.

A greenery-filled house is a happier house

They've bonded!

And acknowledging that life is a string of unscripted, unknown experiences, from which we can either choose to grow or wilt.

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Chill the F*ck Out

You can’t breathe these days without offending someone. Even if you’re not gobbling down a garlic-onion bagel slathered with three-day-old, clove-laden lox.

Our tech-centric lives have transformed us into sponges, absorbing absolutely everything that spills out of the television screen, off the sidewalks, through conversation – even from eavesdropping. There’s very little that we don’t soak in on a daily basis, about which we subsequently have a complete, utter meltdown that’d rival a one-month-old screaming about diaper rash. For instance, I’m sure anyone with kids probably just blew a gasket because I clearly don’t have kids, so how dare I even joke about such things. But there’s a fairly reasonable way of counteracting this overwhelming, omnipresent rage.

Take a hearty, deep gulp of chill-the-f*ck-out cocoa topped with a dollop of perspective.

Whether you’re getting ready to hit “Enter” on yet another reply to a thread from your high school chum who recently posted some racist, homophobic, classist, transphobic, misogynistic crap on Facebook, or your gaping maw is about to tell that hipster that their skinny jeans are too tight, just don’t – it’s not worth it.

I say this as a pretty high-strung person who, for most of the last decade, defaulted to anger and angst rather than letting the gross, trashy parts of life stay in the can where they belong. That junk can’t bother you if you leave it be. So don’t revert to being some silly dumpster-diving raccoon reaching for a deliciously old morsel to quench your momentary appetite for drama.

I don’t know about y’all, but my spongey self is saturated. Rather than continuing to bloat from all the stuff pouring into my consciousness, I’m starting to French-press the bejesus out of my life – letting only the good, strong, sustaining bits stay in; everything else can pass through my mental sieve and get poured into the garbage disposal.

This slurry of negativity has been swirling around in my mind long enough, completely inundating the things that I felt proud were parts of me. My artistic side has been eclipsed, my writerly bent completely blocked; but instead of doing something proactive about any of it, I’ve just channeled more negativity – attributing my gradual loss of grip on those things to the inevitability of aging.

I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet, though. I’m not 100. I have plenty of life left to resuscitate the right things – choose to clutter my mind with beauty and inspiration, not depressive minutiae, the flotsam and jetsam from my workdays.

Because life is a lot more enjoyable when you chill the f*ck out, and let the good in. Or so I’ve found.

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Dear Slighted Millennials

Dear Slighted Millennials,

Hi. I guess I could be considered one of you.

*Fist bump*

I couldn’t help but notice yet another one of your adjective-laden op-eds flooding my Facebook feed – although I guess it’s better than one of those BuzzFeed articles about the Top [insert numeric] Ways to [Enrich, Worsen, Waste…] Your Life. I applaud your political activism and how you thread it through your appropriately angsty social commentary – especially the parts about thanking your forebearers for the sociopolitical inroads they paved to your slightly less stressful life’s doorstep, right before you kindly tell them to fuck the fuck off.

I understand your rage at everything. For most of my twenties, I lived out of several motels whilst working my way through the Great Recession as a shovel bum, returning home to my mold-covered basement apartment long enough to tabulate another tragically paltry paycheck, pay for the rest of my Master’s degree, and buy canned soup. I did all that and then completely changed careers because there was nothing I wanted to do less than what I was doing, even if I had a Master’s in it.

The world often seems to be in shambles. And it doesn’t help that the lunchbox you carried around in 1987 is suddenly in a vintage shop window and you’re left alone bracing against the cold wind, staring into a puddle, wondering where your life went.

So when a presidential candidate full of amazing ideas and outlooks and ideologies starts inching into the limelight, espousing all of these life-changing notions that’ll transform America’s tattered, sweat-stained polyester-blend fabric into locally-sourced, free-range cotton as soft as a hamster’s belly, your awe is well placed.

*High five*

But I have to wonder how this politician is any different from the rest. I mean, sure, he’s supposedly the antithesis of everything we associate with a run-of-the-mill politician: a certain slimy, easily corruptible, fickle so-and-so. Who knows, maybe he’s none of those things. Or all of them deep down. All I know is that he seems like a nice enough guy trying to change America for the better. And I agree with 98.9% of what he’s all about. I, too, think our country needs a political face-lift.

*In sync booty shake*


IN SYNC. Not NSYNC. Jesus. Fucking Millennials.

Where was I?

OH, right.

All that to say I’m bunkin’ with The Hillz. For now.


(Oh, c’mon, you #feelthebern. I can come up with something equally as bizarre, sans sounding like I have indigestion or a problem down there.)

I could start defending myself to everyone on the street, each individual user of The Internets, spout off statistics about the feasibility of his plan on this or hers on that to the old high school friend I scrounged up on Facebook even though I’m sure they’re a racist, misogynistic, homophobic asshole. Because that seems to be what we’re supposed to do these days – bait and bite hard, unfriend, friend again, vow to leave the country and unfriend everyone.

I’d rather just laugh, really. And suggest that instead of all this silly infighting, we agree on one thing: Whether you #feelthebern or believe #thehillzhaveayes, let’s all circle up on November 8th, sing Kumbaya, and vow to never vote for a Republican. They cray, y’all.


A Disaffected, Slightly Amused Gen Yer/Millennial/Whatever I Am