Why I don’t want to go to your gender segregated baby shower.

I don’t want to go to your gender segregated baby shower not because of the silly games where I have to pretend I give a shit about the color of your baby room, or because I have to listen to everyone tell me 2014 will be the year I find a husband, or because everyone looks at me quixotically when I ask where the beer is, and it’s not even because if it’s a girl you insist everything be pink and you’ve already bought her her first barbie doll.

It’s because separating myself by gender has never been my choice, and now I can choose. I can say yes I will go to this strip club because I like the buffet, cheap drinks and I don’t mind a woman dancing if that’s what she wants to do. Where I can say, you know what? I would rather not wear heels to work anymore because heels shouldn’t be a part of my dress code for having a vagina. Where I can say most of my time goes to work instead of dating and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m happy.

It’s because woman stuff and man stuff don’t really mean anything to me anymore and so I wouldn’t even know what to do during woman time at your party.

It’s because when I was 18 and I told people I wanted to be a doctor, they said, “Maybe you should try something easier, Mija.” Because I was woman, because I was supposed to get married and have babies and have my own gender segregated baby shower. Because no one thought that maybe a life that didn’t include any of those things would still be really great for me. Because no one thought that I could possibly be different from all of the other little girls and their pink-clad barbie dolls.

But I don’t hate you and I don’t hate your unborn baby and maybe I wouldn’t hate your gender segregated baby shower. I guess I just want to give him or her a chance at a choice. And I don’t know that boycotting your baby shower can accomplish that. I don’t know that writing this will accomplish that.

I just wanted to tell you why I didn’t want to go.


I hate writing about love.

Every time I try, I just end up hating myself and shoving the doc away deep in my drive. But too much has happened to ignore it any longer.

When you start to feel love whether it’s for a significant other or a friend, you’ve basically just signed up for cancer.

It feels so good at the time, like you can’t fully breathe without it. When you’re not giving it or receiving it, you feel like you do right after you get off of a roller coaster–nauseated and bored.

Some people describe love as an addiction. A drug. And just like with any drug or addiction, your mind is melting right now but you’re in for an ungodly pain later. It’s just a matter of time.

So why do we keep doing it to ourselves? Are those of us who keep engaging in love just as bad as people who pay in nickels for the cheapest cigarettes they can find at the only open gas station at 1 a.m.? maybe.

Maybe we’re all just masochists for our desires. Maybe we’re just not meant to be alone?

But we all know, that no matter how much you love the person standing in front of you whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, child, mother, uncle, distant cousin you still keep in touch with, the best possible outcome is that you die together at the exact same time. Literally. Simuldeath is the best scenario here! Because you don’t want to suffer without them and you don’t want them to suffer without you. We can all predict that death will occur, eventually. And yet here we are, driving friends to the airport, letting them cry on your shoulder, falling in love and kissing in the rain.

It sounds so stupid sometimes.

Recently, I lost a friend and a couple of my best friends lost a parent.

The pain seemed neverending at times. Facing it was incredibly difficult. Everyone tells you it just takes time. That time will heal and make it easier. Well that’s fine. And it’s true. But everyone forgot to mention the gut-wrenching feeling of meeting a new person who wants to be in your life.

At this point you’ve thrown up your hands. You’re calling it. F this. Never again. Never again will I go down this road and throw my emotions callously into a vacuum that I imagined would last forever. Oh no. Time to gather my things, and live in the forest. Alone. That’s the only way to protect the heart.

Except, unlike cigarettes and booze, love has a way of feeding you. It’s less of a leach and more of a symbiotic relationship. Sure you can try to say no to love. Shun it, and call it names while you laugh and do some more crossword puzzles alone with your cube wine.

But unless you’re Richard Proenneke, you can’t escape other people. As a matter of fact it’s the only thing that gives your life meaning when you really think about it.

That triathlon medal can make you feel good but it can’t kiss you on the forehead. That fancy Ikea lamp can make the light in your Instagram selfies look esoteric but it can’t hold your hand when you’re nervous. Those new shoes can make your legs look longer but they can’t know you better than you know yourself.

We don’t think about what we’re doing when we start to love someone. We generally don’t think about them dying, or us dying and how sad everyone will be. We see adventures, unforgettable memories, laughing until someone almost pees, blurry nights, new first times, and more embarrassing stories you hope no one remembers.

And that’s why we do it. Time and time again.

Is it worth the ups and downs? Is it worth the deprivation, the destruction, the absolute wreckage of your being when the love is gone?

Go hug someone you care about for a full minute. That’s how you know.

People, Travel

I met a woman on a plane

She fumbled with her seat belt. Nervously mashing one piece of the buckle into the other, shaking so vigorously it could have been mistaken for a poor joke.

She finally clicked the metallic pieces in. Airline belts are like the dodo bird, unusual in nature and generally useless. Still shaking, she shifted in her tiny, long seat. Turning her head to look out the window but never really seeing. There was too much on her mind. Flustered she would appear to the man who hesitantly sat next to her.

Every few seconds she would clear her throat. Not too loudly but just enough for him to consider sly ways to change seats.

As she sat there feeling nothing, staring at nothing, she overheard women behind her talking about a teaching program.

“My son does that.

“Sorry to butt into your conversation, it’s just a select few who are chosen. You ladies have a nice flight.”

“No, please. Join us!”

“No really. You see, my father died today. At 11 am. He lived a great 91 years.

“But anyway, I’m not very cheerful right now.

“Thank you.”

She actually said this all incredibly cheerfully. Ironically even. But she didn’t notice. All she wanted to do was sleep. Sleep it all away.

Maybe some cold OJ would help. Not peanuts, no.

It’s disorienting when your mind is completely bare but your heart is heavy with pressure.

Is it still beating? Or is that pounding in my head?

The OJ didn’t help with her shaking.

He shut the air vent.

Is it cold? I can’t remember the feeling.

She touches her neck absentmindedly, surprising herself with the feeling of skin on skin. His hadn’t felt like any skin she had touched before. But it reminded her what cold was. Now she needed to hold herself from shaking too hard again.

She had frizzy, curly, dark, short hair. She wore glasses with a titanium rim. Round and wide like her. Jewelry that matched. Gold earrings, three rings, a gold bracelet, and a gold, half moon shaped necklace with diamonds in it. She was married but alone.

Big belly, boney knees, big ears, normal sized hands. She was wearing khaki shorts and a sky blue shirt with a white, patchy, brush print.

The experience of sitting by a window on a plane is completely dependent on the time of day and how close you are to the wing. When it’s utterly pitch black, sitting by a window can feel like being in space or having your eyes closed.

She remembered when she was a young girl she loved sitting in her closet in complete darkness and opening her eyes as wide as possible. And then closing them tightly. Reaching, straining to make the shapes she knew were there appear.

Whiffs of white, brushes of pink, lightning blue.

Thinking back it occurs to her that those colors and lights never existed. They were made up by her mind because she wanted to see something in the darkness so badly.

Now as she stares out the airplane window that yearning returns. She closes her eyes tightly, and clenches her fists, wanting to see something in the darkness. Wanting to feel something else in her heart.



To less improvident actions

I spent a lot of time thinking about the word improvident the other day. Ironically.

There are a number of things we collectively seem to do mindlessly. Drunk driving. Hitting the snooze button. Tying our shoes. Saying, “How are you?” when we don’t mean it. Having children.

So what are we thinking about?

According to the American Time Use Survey released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we’re not.

Naturally, we spend a good chunk of our time working. Employed persons work an average of 7.7 hours on the days they work, reports the BLS. They don’t cover sleep, but I’m guessing we’re all aware it’s generally the second longest thing we do all day.

For most people, that’s half the day. Gone.

But let’s try to stay positive and think of the glass being half full. And if you’re a realist then go ahead and say it’s half empty but at least pretend it’s vodka so there can be an up side.

The rest of the day is generally split among household activities, leisure activities and/or childcare.

The BLS lists leisure activities such as watching TV, socializing, and exercising. They report that on an average day, nearly everyone aged 15 and over engages in some sort of leisure activity. That’s 96 percent. So you can safely bet that pretty much everyone you know, either watches something, talks to someone, or engages in physical activity each day.

Well now that’s not so bad. I made it sound pretty mundane with work and sleep taking up half your day right? But now you have other fun stuff to look forward to.

Except, watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time, 2.8 hours per day, accounting for about half of leisure time, on average, for those age 15 and over, reports BLS.


And it hasn’t moved over the years. It’s been that way since 2003, with a slight drop in 2011 to 2.7 hours per day but raised again in 2012.

Now you’re probably nodding your head and saying something like, “That, and fried twinkies are what’s wrong with this country.”

That’s kind of what I thought too. But what if I were to tell you that a recent Gallop poll reports 55 percent of Americans turn to television as their main source of news?

In 2012 the United States saw a 17 point increase in voter turnout rate compared to the 2010 General Election Turnout Rates. I’ve been looking for stats on recorded protests in the U.S. in 2012 but haven’t managed to track any down.  I still have a feeling it’s higher than years past.

I will forever mourn the days when people read more and talked more about ideas with one another. But I’m going to be an idealist for a moment and actually suggest that maybe we are thinking more as a society. Yes, we’re staring at screens a lot, but we’re also more outspoken. Through voting and protesting and stirring up a ruckus on Twitter, it seems we’re at least starting to care more about the world around us and that means we’re thinking.

Here’s to less improvident actions.


An explanation of my first 5 seconds of consciousness

On the weekends I have more time to contemplate how much I hate being woken up in the wrong way.

To most people my ailment might bear the same characteristics of the minor discomfort they too feel each morning. But for me, it is much more than that.

It’s an irrational feeling of abandonment in my most vulnerable moment that catalyzes disdain, anger and vengeance . The emotions that feel like they’re erupting from my chest and seeping into my arms and head are so loud and bright I have to squeeze my eyes tightly just to get through it.

My body declares war against the transgressor. She convinces me this is treason, punishable by things I can’t even summon in my mind yet because I’m barely processing how to walk again.

If the body didn’t need it, I think I would rather not sleep. Maybe once a month.

When you’re a child, fairytales and magic are promised in dreams. That’s where they live and you can only visit. That’s why babies giggle so much and their cheeks are so rosy. Happy dreams are an elixir and children are drunk all the time.

But just like healthcare, it all gets taken away or changes when you’re around 25.

You’re dreams are more often nightmares, if you can remember them at all. I had an incredible imagination as a child and its evil sister reigns over my sleep-thoughts now. Lately she’s been incredibly stressful and if my dreams were really a person, I would have taken out a restraining order already.

Every morning is different. It’s like getting off of a plane and not knowing what awaits me at baggage claim. The suitcase could be full of sadness, of loss. Or it could just be discomfort. I really hate that one.

I know I can’t have it both ways. Mornings can either be mundane or exciting. At least this way it’s always different and I start the day with an acute self awareness.

Maybe that’s really why I’m so picky about how I’m woken up. Because those first moments of consciousness out from under duress are like rain on the skin or gasping for air. I want to have enough time to process what has just happened to me without getting swept up in where my other sock went or how late I am.

I think those close to me will still picture the head on the cave of wonders when they wake me up. But if anyone else exhibits these symptoms upon waking, you’re not alone.

People, Travel

The people and city of Los Angeles

This past weekend I was in Los Angeles cheering on a great man in the LA Marathon. To see blubbering photos of said man go here.

We  biked around a lot of  downtown Los Angeles. It made me miss home. There’s just something about a big city that makes me deeply happy.

cold pop man

hot dog vendor





food trucker



tree and birds

night art



The little things

Everybody knows about the little things. How you’re not supposed to worry about them but how it’s also all about them.

I’ve always found those references incredibly confusing and unhelpful. It’s something we really only address with someone we care about.

Or when you’re being given advice about what to do in a situation with someone you care about.

Does anyone else feel like this type of advice is a cop out? I don’t seek input expecting to have the person I’m unloading to embody Socrates. But hey, at least put a little thought into it instead of giving me clichés. I can look on a Pinterest inspiration wall for that. I need real life examples and constructive suggestions from you right now or else I would have emailed Dr. Phil and waited patiently like the rest of emo-America.

I think if the person giving you advice, your mother, your sister, brother, best friend, that one guy that went on that obnoxious last minute trip to that third world country riddled with violence and a bunch of people neither of you knew so now you have a special bond, offers the advice of, “don’t sweat the little things” or “it’s really the little things that matter,” they might as well be telling you to do drugs.

Don’t scoff at that comparison.

When people give you that sort of advice it’s a roundabout way of saying, just get over it or try not to think about it by focusing on other things that make you happy. It’s the emotion joint. It sounds good. It makes you feel good. You forget about what upset you and you even feel happy. But then that wears off and that thing that was bugging you happens again and you’re back to square one. It doesn’t make it go away. It doesn’t solve the problem. That advice isn’t a resolution it’s a concession.

And if you’re okay with that, more power to you but for the rest of us who over-think and process emotions just slightly better than rocks, it doesn’t cut it.

I don’t want to be the person that gives crappy advice when asked for it.

I’ve been debating whether this train of thought is worth a post or if I should just throw it  in my Google docs folder that I pretend isn’t a diary. So I did some research on the matters of advice and therapy.

Did you know that in April of last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study that 1 in 10 Americans report depression? Let’s face it, we’re all just bags of emotions running around, high on caffeine and slumping through an overdose of media consumption. We don’t have time to talk to one another because we’re so busy and there’s so much going on. Not to mention, we can barely keep up with our own lives, who has time to sit and listen to someone else’s if they’re not getting paid to do it. Partly because I love to write and partly because most people scare/bore/confuse me, I avoid talking to them. But lately, I’ve been trying to reach out more.

Because sometimes it just takes answering that torrent of texts from your friend who is in the qualms of a new relationship and really needed to write the problem out to relieve anxiety, or knowing what part of the extended silence you’re sitting through with your teary-eyed friend is the part where you embrace him or her.

And sometimes you’re walking through downtown Houston when a random guy offers you a towel because he saw you get drenched in water by that speeding vehicle but then he proceeds to telling you his life’s story leading up to his current depressed state and you just listen, hoping you made him feel a little better before he abruptly kicks you out of his apartment to go skipping in the street.

Whatever the situation. If we all took a moment from our self-absorption and offered some thoughtful time to a friend or stranger, it might make a difference. Who knows, maybe this year it will be 1 in 11. And for that, it’s worth it.

[Side note: That really did happen to me and my friend in Houston. It’s one of the things I love about the city. Here is a photo of the guy’s fridge which I feel is an accurate comparison of the waterfall of emotions he exhibited.]



Why nice people freak me out

You’ve seen it happen.

A couple buys the young parents at the table across from them dinner. The boss invites the young protege to lunch, pays and doesn’t even mention work once. That person on the metro who got the last seat let’s someone carrying bags take  it. It happens all around us. But it’s never for us. There are no “random acts of raises” in your department. It’s piñata day at work and everyone manages to get a gift card or something while you’re stuck with a scratch off ticket and a sweaty tootsie roll. You don’t win anything. But the guy next to you scores $50 dollars. Someone tries to be nice by giving you their free burger pass for the cafeteria but you just discovered chia seeds and have pledge to never eat red meat again. (We’ll see how long that lasts.)

But you want to be a nice person despite this.

Pay-It-Forward still guilts you into doing that one nice thing that maybe you don’t really feel like doing but you do it anyway and then you think about it later and feel like a good person for a moment.

And then one day, you’re just scrolling through Twitter, rubbing your feet on this really soft carpet waiting for your SO to finish gelling their hair or whatever they do when suddenly, it happens. You might not realize it at first. It’s a bit cryptic. Crouching tiger, hidden dragon shit. She or he will come over to you and ask you if you need something to drink. You say no thank you. They ask you if you like cream soda, you say yes and move on with your life.  That’s the end of the conversation. The next time you come over they have some waiting for you–just for you. You give them that look. What did I do? It’s like you’ve been living in the jungle fighting off wild beasts your whole life and someone just rescued you, took you home and gave you apple cinnamon Chobani. You would probably think they just poisoned you because nothing can be this delicious, fat-free and not evil so you throw it at the wall.

The point is, sometimes you run across a kind soul who just genuinely wants to help you. Identify these people and treat them well. Take their help. I don’t mean take advantage. Save that for sleazy car salesmen. Don’t try to put up this force field of pride. Everyone can use some help, especially when it’s from people who know things that you don’t. And return the favor when you can. Not just by being nice to them but helping others where you can.

Nice people freak me out at times. Some days I see them as this weird sub-species but I am thankful for them.


People watching on a Sunday

I went to church today. (To an enormous cathedral to be exact.)

I sat next to a man, and who I presumed to be his girlfriend. He seemed preoccupied. Down. He had his hands between his legs. His forearms resting on his thighs like an enormous weight was on him and this was all he could do to keep from falling over.

She wrapped her arm in his, putting her hand on his thigh. He didn’t budge. He didn’t acknowledge her at all. She caressed him. Trying. She was trying to make him feel better or something.

Maybe I misread it.

They both had on some uptown shoes. You know, those shoes you see in Anthropologie. Hers were black suede with round laces. Heels, but with holes in the side so you saw just enough of her feet to make a man’s heart beat if we were in 1934. His were an odd color. They looked like every men’s shoe I have ever seen at Urban Outfitters. If gold had a creme-colored cousin, that would be the color of his shoes. They had round laces too.

We stopped to shake hands and give peace. His eyes were empty. We sat down.

He started tracing out letters on his thigh with his finger. She responded back in the same fashion. I was fascinated but didn’t want to be more obvious. She seemed happy.

At the gym I looked out the second story window and saw a man. Tall with greyish hair, silver really. He wore a pin-stripped shirt, tucked in. It was some sort of melancholy blue color. Not what you imagine when you think blue.

He was waiting it seemed. A black man with a leather kangol hat was around, but not really next to him. He came from the side of the building and walked along the sidewalk. They signaled to each other. There was something happening beyond the sidewalk I could see. The man in the kangol hat went to investigate.

The tall man stood next to a trash can that appeared to be leaning against a large pillar. He was smoking. Everything outside the lobby is chrome. If you glance out the window it looks like even the leaves get greyer out of jealousy. Chrome is so shiny and generally pleasant to look at. But cold.

A red car pulled up. I didn’t see at first. All I saw was a slender looking woman with swift black hair hanging out of the driver side pointing a camera. At first I thought she was taking a picture of him.

Maybe she hasn’t seen this man in forever and he is the love of her life. He held his arms wide open as if to say come to me.

But then he crouches down and I see a little blonde boy in a green jumper walking awkwardly as fast as he can. I felt like I could hear his noise. Children that age have the ability to giggle and shriek at the same time. Even though I was three floors up, I knew that sound could pierce through steel.

The tall man picks him up and kisses him twice and then again but for longer. They are so happy they’ve forgotten the woman and the camera.

Without missing a beat she closes the door and drives off. He puts the child in the back seat of his silver car and the man in the hat gets in the passengers seat. They sit for a moment, then start the car and make a right turn like the woman did.

It was like watching 3/4 of the season finale to a show you have never seen. I miss the city.