Of course I had to start this off with a tasteless joke. It’s what I do best.

Sometime last week I decided that I’m going to make the most out of my time. I’m going to get up early work on personal projects, go to the gym, get energized, get to work early, and then have the night for myself. After finding it hard to wake up early, or even on time, I delayed this idea for about a week and a half. Then, after reading the wonderful words of Nevermore Collective, I decided it was time to stop making excuses and start making changes happen. So when my alarm clock rang at 6:45 AM this morning, I knew hitting the snooze wasn’t an option: hopping out of bed and getting my ass in gear was the only course of action.

Ok, so I still hit the snooze button once or twice and maybe laid in bed checking Instagram for a few minutes, but then I was up and at ’em. I reasoned that, as long as I get to the gym by 7:30 AM, I could still get up to a solid hour of gym time (though, realistically I usually cap out at 45 mins) and still have enough time to shower and get to work on time. So I finally get to my car at about 7:26 (the gym is only about a four minute drive away) and I’m ready to go… but my car isn’t. I have one of those nifty push-to-start FOB keys, and my car wasn’t detecting it. Dead battery? Weird Glitch? Who knows, but between debating whether I should forgo the gym altogether and instead walk around the neighborhood, make a stop off at my mom’s to grab my other FOB key and hope that it works, and then browsing through my driver’s manual and searching the internet until I FINALLY found an answer on a message board that informed me that apparently there’s a “charging station” for my key in the center console (thanks for the tip, KIA!) I was able to get my car up and running…10 minutes later. “Ok, so if I get to the gym at around 7:40, work out for 45 minutes, then it will be 8:25. If I take a quick 5 minute shower then it will be 8:30 which will still be enough time to get to work.” I rationalized with myself. I can do this. I’M GOING to do this.

I forgot that school bus traffic hell occurs every day at approximately 7:40 AM. Of course I forgot that, since I’ve been sleeping later every day I always miss it.

I finally got to the gym at 7:55. The parking lot was PACKED. Apparently, people get their gym time in at approximately 7:55 every day. After parking my car and getting out to get all of my stuff together, I glanced at the clock again/ 7:58. “If I get in there by 8:00 I can work out for 15-20 minutes and then…” I slammed the door and hopped back into the front seat. This morning was giving me every sign that gym wasn’t in the cards, so maybe just going to early and getting a head start on my projects would be for the best.

I got to work and got changed out of my gym clothes in the bathroom. I found a bag of earrings in my purse, with one missing a back. I managed to (miraculously) locate the back at the bottom of my bag. Then I dropped said-earring back onto the floor, where it vanished completely. ARG. I washed my hands and thought, “God, please don’t let this be one of those days.”

I got to my desk to find out we were nowhere near ready for our hard deadline that was approaching and I had more work piling up, making it difficult to finish the project I wanted to complete, nor get cracking on a personal project before the work day started. Double arg. I opened up my Facebook messenger to shoot my mom a quick “good morning” message, as per my usual morning routine, and let her know about the crap day I was having so far, when I noticed that she changed her profile picture to one of the American flag. “Oh, geez, what happened now?” I thought to myself, and then it finally hit me. It hadn’t even occurred to me what the date was since I was so in my own head. Then, I realized something else:

It was approximately 8:46 AM on September 11, and I was about to complain about what a terrible day I was having.

While I was busy pitying myself, I forgot about the fact that, for A LOT of people early in the morning of September 11th, it really was the worst— and for many, last— day of their lives.There’s nothing that snaps you back to reality more than realizing how much worse things could be. That day, for all those who lost and suffer thanks to the reminders every year, all of those who are still barely living, but suffer from health complications and PTSD from being there, for all those who have been targeted and hurt every day since because of the color of their skin— this day has a lot of different meanings to a lot of different people. But there’s one string that ties them all together: for everyone, the earth stood still the morning of September 11th. And every year when we have those moments of silence, the earth stands still again. And in that silence, we are one. And our problems— no matter what size— disappear, even for just a few moments.

I’m not going to recount where I was and what I was doing when it happened. I’ve already done that. But I want everyone instead to think about where they are now. What they’re doing. What they’re spending their time and exhausting their both physical and mental on. Think about the amount of time you spend worrying and stressing about things that, in the bigger picture, are insignificant. Budget your emotional time accordingly. Time is fleeting and can be taken from us in the blink of an eye. In a New York minute. Don’t waste it on beating yourself up over things that go wrong. Don’t waste them worrying about other people’s problems. Take a few moments of silence every now and then to focus on the good things out there. Because they are there, even if they’re hard to see.

Sure as time goes on we grow more bitter and cynical toward a lot of things: the meaning of patriotism, the actions of our government and law officials, the different questions that have arisen since, and sometimes we even channel the confusion and anger into humor, throwing around callous 9/11 jokes when we can (I’ll admit it, I’m guilty of it). But when the dust has settled but the fog is still overhead, don’t let it cloud your judgment. On this day, it’s always okay to stop and thank those who worked tirelessly and put their lives in harm’s way to help their fellow man. Not all of us can be that courageous, but there’s still things we can do. Be a little bit kinder to a stranger. Think of those around you. Get outside of your own head and just be one in the silence.


I  started this writing prompt a week ago but did not get the chance to finish it. Now, wrapped up like a burrito in a blanket fending off the freezing cold, I figured it’s time to get back at it.

I can tell you what I wasn’t thinking about Monday morning as I was sitting impatiently in my car, waiting for it to melt: writing. I can mention a few colorful words in between shivers that may have floated across my brain, but nothing I’d be comfortable putting down in writing. But now, safe and warm inside, I’m ready to write. Inspired by Marilyn Armstrong’s “Odd Ball Photo Challenge,” I’m going to take this cold, brutal winter and turn it into my muse. 

What is it about icicles that makes them so beautiful? It’s just frozen water–we don’t take the time to just stop and stare at or photograph ice cubes, but why are we inclined to do so with icicles? Is it the way they hang there, seemingly suspended in mid-air, dangling before us like naturally-occurring wind chimes? Or is it because they’re dangerous? Gaze long enough to appreciate their beauty, gaze too long and you’ll never gaze at anything again.

Winter isn’t beautiful because it’s picturesque, winter is beautiful because it’s deadly.

Time seems to stand still in the cold months. Stagnation settles in and there’s nothing but whistling wind to cut the eerie silence as the night creeps in early to take over the day. We grow tired, weary, exhausted from being tired and weary and hibernate from friends, family, obligations and life–awakened only by some form of tragedy. We rear our heads from our long winter’s nap only to say goodbye, never to start anew like the false promises of New Year’s bring. Funerals seem to happen more often in the cold months between fall and winter. Maybe it’s because black attracts the sun and no one wants to be sweating while they’re grieving–even God knows a thing or two about fashion faux-pas. We pile layer upon layer of black on ourselves and shiver through the tears. We impatiently wait for spring to bring with it the good news.

But why does that make winter beautiful?

Because of the temporal nature of the shortest season of the year, because it’s a constant reminder of how life is fleeting, because it’s the time of the year when you most often want to cry and give up, the stillness of the season is simultaneously frightening and comforting. To take the time to stop and survey the beauty around you can be the only calming thing the world has to offer–drink in those sheets of white covering every surface before they melt or deteriorate into gross mixes of earth and dirt and street debris. Appreciate everything as it’s frozen in time, because it won’t be for long.

Stare directly at those icicles hanging above you. They might kill you, but they’re reminding you that you’re still here, now.


February 16, 2015

Tonight the only TV event I care about aired–the 40th Anniversary Saturday Night Live Special. Overall it was a fun tribute to the series. There were a lot of missteps and things wrong with it, sure, and there are and have been a lot of things behind-the-scenes wrong with SNL throughout it’s history.

But it’s a huge part of MY history.

For as long as I can remember, Saturday Night Live has been a staple of my life, and a constant source of happiness. There are skits that I distinctly remember watching in the early ’90s when they first aired and laughing my ass off at them, and laughing at them the same way when I see them in syndication. There are skits and episodes I only ever saw in syndication because they were way before my time, but I shared laughter with my family because they remember watching them in real time and cracking up at them. It’s a show that brings my family together and one that’s always been a source of comfort for me and for that I’ll be forever grateful. I recall purchasing the Best of Eddie Murphy special on VHS and forcing my family members to watch it at least once a day—thankfully, they didn’t seem to mind too much.

When Comedy Central started airing reruns I’d build my schedule around that and the reruns of Kids in the Hall. I would quote Wayne’s World ad-nauseum to whoever would listen. I was inspired by “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy” and built joke websites with my friends based solely one series of funny and absurdist one-liners. I might not have been the most popular kid in school by any means—but I made my little group of friends laugh (or at least hoped I made my friends laugh)—and that was all that mattered to me.

At one point in my early teen years I got really into the history of the show and would carry around that huge, hardcover 25th anniversary book with me everywhere, reading passages from it like it was the Bible. I’d get weird looks from other students who thought the sight of anyone reading a book of that size not for school was weird, regardless of the subject matter. I devoured every bit of information about the show and the craft of sketch comedy and aspired to one day find myself in one of those SNL writers rooms—I even took a stand up class and entertained the idea of becoming a stand up comedienne. The show also taught me that women can be and most definitely are funny. From Gilda Radner to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jan Hooks, Julia Sweeney or Cheri Oteri, I found a woman I could relate to in some way that gave me hope that I could fill people’s lives with as much joy as they did to mine.

Sure, I’ve gotten cynical towards the show over the past few years. And, admittedly, I haven’t really watched it regularly for the better part of a decade, but the place it holds within my heart will always remain. Re-watching classic episodes non-stop this past week has been a blissful, cathartic affair. So many of those skits transport me back to my youth and not only make me laugh, but fill me with a sense of nostalgia and happiness. Watching again also make me realize that, deep down, being in that writers room is still a dream of mine. Maybe my dream is to get in a time machine and be a writer/cast member from the ’70s-’90s, but I’d settle for the former, too.

It might seem pathetic to babble on for this long about a TV show, but, I mean it, it’s truly more than just that to me. SNL and TV in general in many way has been both a best friend and therapist of sorts throughout my life—maybe that’s fucked up and wrong, but if it made me happy then who’s to say?

Thank you, Lorne Michaels. Thank you, Saturday Night Live, even if being a part of it is an unattainable dream, it’s given me a goal I never want to stop striving for—and that’s making people laugh and smile through my work. Here’s to 40 more years to come!

Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

This prompt was posted on Poets & Writers the 8th, but I only just saw it and would like to tackle it.

It’s been said that the difference between a master and a beginner is that, “the master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” Whether it’s brewing coffee exactly the way you like it, or earning your black belt in a martial art, learning something new takes focus and dedication. Think about something you have mastered and write about the process you underwent to add this new skill to your repertoire. 

Sometimes I feel as though my life is just a series of scattered non-events. Ideas that seemed great in theory but never even made it past the second or third attempt, let alone in practice. Hobbies and talents that never came to fruition–a messy room filled with collage materials, ukuleles, roller skates, unfilled notebooks and piles upon piles of unread books and comics. I get discouraged when I look at the mess, but it’s much easier to throw something else on top of it then to stab away at it, like a team of cleaning specialists on an episode of Hoarders. Like those, my mess of unfinished work means something to me, too, all hobbies and ideas I swear I’ll one day make a reality, before the mice settle in and the cats eat away at my bones.

I don’t like to consider myself someone who gives up easily. I’d rather not think of myself as lazy, but sometimes when our brains work in hyper-speed it’s hard for our bodies to catch up. I think of all the projects I’d like to begin, and my mind begins to race just looking forward to all the possibilities–then the anxiety and paranoia sets in, making the fantasies seem much more worthwhile than the actual projects. This isn’t to say I don’t care about these tasks I’ve laid before myself–perhaps it’s instead the extreme opposite.

When I stare at the wonderful array of greens, blues, pinks and purples of yarn, all tangled up around two needles that were angrily thrown to the floor after what seemed like my millionth attempt at learning a basic continental stitch, I find it hard to believe I’ve ever had the ability to teach myself a new skill. I was one of the last in my Kindergarten class to learn how to tie my shoes, I couldn’t go in a pool over two feet deep without swimmies until I was 9, I couldn’t blow a bubble or whistle until I was 10 years old. And, the one that still stings the most… I never learned how to ride a bike,

Sure, I could ride a bike with training wheels, but the minute I was left to balance on the lone two wheels the fear of tipping over was so crippling I wouldn’t dare move more than a few inches. After a few failed tries and the growing impatience of my mother and grandmother, I ditched the notion of ever mastering a two-wheeler and just prayed that none of my friends would ever invite me out on any bike riding play dates. Eventually, scooters became more popular and I was able to deftly tackle that new trend in hopes that the want or need for bikes would be long gone. While that was obviously not the case, I still managed to evade ever needing to sit atop the hard, uncomfortable seat of a bicycle for the next 15 years, save for gym equipment.

Between the ages of 16 and 25 I discovered myself falling victim again to those feelings of mobile inadequacy I faced in my younger years. While almost everyone around me got their licenses before college, I was still trailing behind, hitching rides whenever I could or waiting out in the damp, cold weather for the train or bus. “You need to get your license, it’s incredibly important for a woman to know how to drive,” well-meaning adults would tell me, making me feel incompetent not only in my driving abilities, but also as a member of the female sex. (Later, upon finding out that Tina Fey does not drive, conversations in media and society would shift, making the choice to not drive an empowering one instead of playing into a subservient role.) It wasn’t that I didn’t want to drive, I just was scared to. Not scared to drive or even to try, just scared to fail again.

My senior year of high school I took my first road test on a blistery, snowy day after the first large snowfall of the season–a few months after successfully completing school-provided Driver’s Ed. I failed, fairly miserably, and my mood was in conjunction with that miserableness for the rest of the day. Having to admit to everyone I knew–especially all my already-driving friends–about my failure was almost worse than not having a license. I took some time before starting up some more driving lessons (another round of payments from my mother), before embarking on my second road test a year later at the same driving test area. Again, a day just after a mighty snowfall. Again, a miserable failure. This time, I didn’t tell anyone and just let my inadequacy eat away at myself from within, being constantly reminded of how I couldn’t pass not once, but twice, every time someone would remind me of how hapless I was that I couldn’t drive or that I couldn’t afford to live away from my family (of whom I also tried to be an active member of in terms of helping out with things people outside our four walls wouldn’t know about). And so I continued the role of the fiercely co-dependent, incompetent damsel in distress that everyone assumed of me–though that wasn’t my ideal situation.

Finally, a few months after my 25th birthday, while working full time and feeling like too much of a burden on family and those close to me, I decided to face my demons and try–just once more–for that elusive laminated card. I sat through the excruciatingly painful 5+ hours of DMV hell to retake my permit exam, and later, on a spring day, signed myself up for driving lessons (all paid for on my own), and then, for the next 5+ months I went for weekly driving lessons. I never mentioned my past failures to my teacher and just hoped he’d never have to know (he never did), and endured his lessons which were extremely helpful and, without his tutelage, I would not have had the confidence to even think about taking the much-maligned road test again, but were also extremely uncomfortable and unsettling, as with every lesson his remarks would be come more and more intrusive and offensive and his hand would slide higher and higher up my thigh and I felt stuck as a woman who was treated as less than such for not driving, but also having to endure being made into an object of unwanted desire, a patriarchal wet dream of which I wanted to be no part.

And then–on a cool fall late afternoon, same spot as the two times before, I took my driver’s test for what I already deemed would be my final time.

I passed.

Part of it was confidence, part of it was fear of being stuck taking more classes with said teacher, afraid of what liberties he would take next. In embarking on this journey again I got what I had worked hard for, but also lost a sense of self in my inability to speak out about situation. Two months later I bought my own car (and months later another car after an unfortunate hit-and-run) and got my own insurance (without the help the teacher kept promising me, yet putting off in favor of more “lessons”) and just got out on my own. The freedom of having a car was twofold–the usual sense it brings and freedom from having a near panic attack on a weekly basis trying to prep myself for whatever disgusting thing the person who held the key to my freedom would try next.

But I did it. I mastered what I thought would be impossible for me and he–nor anyone with their sly comments or suggestions about my life–could take that away from me. Third time was a charm, and in succeeding it reminded me that just sticking with something until the end can be worth it–but it also taught me that keeping my mouth shut and just accepting typical authoritative structures is no way of life. And now I feel as though I have the ability to smash any of those ideals instead of being subservient to them–or mow them over with my car that I purchased on my own.

Now, looking back to those piles of unconquered dreams and ideas, I realize that if I could weather the storm of the dreaded road test and all of the unforeseen roadblocks that came with it, I can too conquer these–once I acknowledge that the biggest bump in the road is myself. Only I hold the key to my own destiny and, even if I fail, trying again is always an option. Who knows? Maybe now that I’ve conquered an automobile, maybe the ever-dreaded bicycle will be next.


Speaking of unfinished ideas, remember when I tried to update this blog often with these writing prompts? Maybe once a month will be a new goal for me…

Zen Writer Challenge: 9.16.14

September 16, 2014

I’ve just downloaded a neat PC program called ZenWriter. I recommend it for anyone who wants an app that will help them totally zone out and zero-in on their writing. It provides a full-screen notepad with calm music and scenic backgrounds that help you block out any background noise that might interfere with your work.  I was busy editing a piece I had been working on, and I needed to step away from it, take a little break and just go into zen-mode. I figured it would provide the perfect space to just do some stream-of-consciousness-style writing based on some ideas I’ve had floating around in my head. Sometimes I come up with lines I’d love to write, but no story to build around them. I think this will be a great way to capture those thoughts as they occur and share what I’ve come up with: unedit, unrefined, just pure from my own zen.  I’m going to try to do these sporadically, but without any sort of time constraints. I challenge anyone who has this program, or just anyone who likes this idea, to do the same. Here’s my first one of, hopefully, a series.


My notebooks are graveyards of words. Unfinished stories left to wither away and die in pages forgotten by time. Ideas that were once so fruitful and full of possibilities have stopped producing fruits of wisdom, instead just collecting dust and grammatical mistakes. Why is it so hard to return to a work that’s gone untouched for so long? Is it because even though new ideas form, you can never quite recapture the emotions and creative surges felt at the time, and therefore can never have any soul left to pour into those words? I’m afraid that all of my works will never be done, because my body fills with creative energy in small spurts of time. I become to enraptured in the ideas of creating that I forget to do just that. I get too excited and must put my pen down to take some time to think, but it’s so tough to pick it up again after that because, by then, the feeling’s already gone.

Is it possible to have creative ADD?

What would be the knee-jerk chemical solution for that? Maybe whiskey will flow through my veins, through my blood, into my fingers and they’ll keep moving and moving and moving and moving the words and thoughts and ideas and notions escaping before I even have time to notice and give up on them.

I fear I’ve noticed them already

I’ve taken the time to read this. Reading has become the enemy of my writing. The more I read the more I hate the words I wrote and the more I want to stop. Maybe I’ll stop reading now and go at this blindly. Put this out there for someone to read and hate but not me–someone else’s hatred of my words bears more fruit than my own. Because if someone hates what I write they’ll be compelled to challenge it with the written word and a new conception of words and a birth of ideas will be formed. But my own hatred will just stall me.

And so more pieces of verse will lie in their coffins. Abandoned, neglected, abused.

But I want you to abuse my words. Abuse them and reuse them and confuse them.

Because if you do, I’ll have to challenge it. And write and write and write and write and write.



….I’ve stopped.

In Remembrance: 9-11-01

September 12, 2014

I’ve been reading a lot of people’s beautiful accounts of where they were and what they were doing on this day, thirteen years ago (one of note is comix creator Dean Haspiel’s powerful and relatable depiction of his experience that morning.) I realized that I don’t think I’ve ever written down my story.

But that makes me think: why should my story matter? On that same note–why should the story of anyone who wasn’t actually there or didn’t lose anyone on that day matter? Who am I to write an account–I wasn’t in the city when it happened. But, I didn’t have to be there. I didn’t have to have that experience. Because while the nation-wide mourning on this day is a blanketed feeling we may have all experienced, everyone’s own pain, loss, suffering and memories of the day are unique. So, here is my story.

As a child, the one word I could use to describe myself was paranoid. I’m still a pretty paranoid adult, but I used to get *really* freaked out over everything back then. As I’ve mentioned before, I was obsessed with the Book of Revelation, often envisioning different ways the world could possibly end. These thoughts would cloud my mind and make it hard to focus on anything else. If I were having fun, they would interrupt my good time and force themselves into my mind so a day of fun turned into a day of fear. I remember one instance of going down to the city to attend the Ringling Brothers Circus with family. As I walked around and marveled at the big buildings, my awe turned quickly to horror, imagining a bomb going off right in the middle of everything, or the buildings toppling down and crushing everything in their wake. This happened only about a year or so before the events of 9/11 transpired.

I don’t remember much about my day on September 11, 2001. Just that it was remarkably… normal. Every school chose to handle how they told the students what happened differently. Mine opted to have the teachers not say anything at all.

So when the two planes crashed into the Twin Towers on the morning of September 11, 2001, I was completely unaware. Blissfully ignorant that the world was falling down around me—only 20 or so miles away from where I was sitting, in my 8th grade science class.

When I left school that day my grandma was nervously awaiting me. As soon as I got to her she told me the news. “A plane flew into that World Trade Center.” I really had no clue what that meant. I think I responded with something along the lines of, “Oh geez, is everyone ok?” She didn’t respond. She probably didn’t even know where to begin—but the news would tell me everything I needed to know—but never wanted to.

The news for the next few days was a constant stream of reminders of the horrific tragedy that took place. Seeing it happen for the first time—and every time after that—left a knot in my throat and an uneasy feeling in my stomach. I didn’t know what any of this meant, but it felt like a horrible nightmare—one that had plagued me for what felt like years—coming true in a way that I couldn’t control or understand.

My uncle worked on Wall Street when 9/11 happened. We didn’t hear from him for an entire day. It turned out he made it onto a ferry and into New Jersey, where he eventually reached some cousins-in-law who took him in for the night. That uncertainty of where he was or what happened to him didn’t settle until he finally made it home, two days later. When we heard he was ok it was a relief—but it was hard to be happy when so much awfulness was all around us.

It was hard to avoid the news. The only keywords being thrown around at the time were “terrorism,” and “war.” I wanted to shut off everything—including my brain—and pretend like nothing was wrong, but it was impossible. I had to finally face my fear, but it didn’t make it go away. Sleepless nights of hyperventilating and panic attacks that had ceased over the past year returned with a vengeance. I didn’t lose what others had lost. I wasn’t there to experience it firsthand. I didn’t even witness the events as they were unfolding on the news—but I still felt it. I felt everything. We all did.

The year anniversary took place a week after my first day in high school. We congregated in the gym to share our memories. I didn’t like remembering, but I had to. We also had occasional assemblies for “what to do if doomsday occurs” scenarios. I didn’t like having to think about those, but I had to.

Every year after it for a long time I dreaded September 11th, both for fear that it might happen again (my thoughts of that started to only really occur on that day) and simply because I hated remembering. I hated thinking of those images on the TV, recalling my feelings witnessing them and worrying about my uncle. I felt for all those who lost who had to remember each year.

I’ve started to hate remembering less. I still shudder when the news replays the events of that day, but I no longer live in fear of its anniversary each year. I don’t mind reading peoples’ accounts from that day. I’m now ok with sharing what I remember with others.

And that’s why we have to remember.

So now, thirteen years later, I’ve been able to recall my account of that day. Thirteen years—meaning infants who lost their mothers or fathers that morning are the age now that I was when it occurred. It’s surreal to think of. How far have we come since then? In some ways, tremendously, in others, frightfully not. But if there’s one day where we can all stop and just—remember, together—maybe we’ll someday have the ability to come together more than just once a year, and not just because of a tragedy. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, and I know that’s not thinking I often have, but if this day instills hope rather than fear, then we have come a long way.

Happy Bloomsday!

June 16, 2014

Happy Bloomsday!

To commemorate the day, here’s something I wrote a few months ago for a series on Tumblr called “…Is My Thing,”

The “…Is My Thing” series asks people to write guest posts about the book that was the starting point, or the source of their field of interest within literature.

For mine, I chose… you guessed it, Ulysses.

Hope you enjoy!

My Life In Pizza

June 29, 2013

I get hit with nostalgia often–like on a weekly, if not daily basis. Certain smells can transport me back to a specific place and time from my past. I have an absurd relationship with déjà vu–it doesn’t have to be something hyper-specific for me to feel like I’m experiencing an event all over again. And sometimes I feel as though I can command it–drive down a certain block, think an unrelated thought, and I’m back to this moment in time that just makes me feel… good.

I know, this is getting just a little too verbose yet still somehow very vague. I don’t need to explain what nostalgia or déjà vu is, I’m sure most people already know, and probably experience it often themselves. And I know, we kind of live in a culture of romanticized nostalgia that can get far too out of hand for its own good and even borderline dangerous. But, it’s not as though I smell a scent of rosewood and it reminds me of when I was four years old, rummaging through old luggage trunks in my grandfather’s attic and experiencing flight as I lived vicariously through the pictures of all the places he traveled in his youth as a traveling salesman.

Ok, maybe that never happened. Maybe I never spent early afternoons rummaging through old trunks gazing at souvenirs from across the globe. Maybe I don’t actually know what “rosewood” is and had to look it up to make sure I wasn’t confusing it with that Cher movie. And maybe my grandfather never traveled, or owned fancy luggage, or even an attic. Maybe both my grandparents have lived with me and my mom my entire life in cramped apartments. Maybe my grandfather’s longest “trip” was from Yonkers to Connecticut, where my mom cursed at him because he kept counting down all of the exits. Maybe my grandfather was never a traveling salesman, but instead a bartender. None of that really matters, that example was just for effect anyway. And, for the record, I’d rather take away awful puns and parlor jokes overheard from bar patrons than some dusty old luggage, anyway (though a nice old-fashioned trunk would look amazing at the foot of my bed.)

The point is, there are times when déjà vu and nostalgia are just expected–of course if you smell the exact same scent as you smelled 15 years ago it might remind you of some time or place or person. But, for me, I’m often reminded of small clips from very specific moments of my youth by random things that are in no way related to that certain time. And it’s often different things that remind me of that same moment, too–and I can almost command them, if I really, really want to.

“And what is that moment in time?” you may ask. It’s this: a gray October afternoon, Halloween to be exact. I’m sitting at home in my kitty cat costume watching Caddyshack.


That’s it. That’s literally fucking it.


“Did she seriously ramble on for four paragraphs about nostalgia and déjà vu and other cryptic things just to tell us that occasionally she remembers watching Caddyshack in a cat costume when she was a kid?”

Well, yea. I guess I did.

But I suppose what I was trying to get at was this: there are certain moments in life that “define” us. There are things that make us aware of who we are and what our purpose in life may or may not be. Maybe we listen to that song, that one perfect song that has those brilliant lyrics that just capture the essence of our being so well it was like it was written about us. Maybe we pick up that novel and feel as if we’re reading our own autobiography, just told through the lens of someone else as a fictionalized character. Maybe we can name three or four or five things that “describe” us. Maybe safety pins and kerosene and porcelain dolls and India ink are your thing. Put those four objects on a table and it tells your life story better than any author could. Maybe rosewood, old pictures, dusty luggage and stuffy attics are what defines you, and that one nostalgic moment in your life shaped you and, no matter what you do or where you go in life, returning to that moment in your mind is your where”home” truly is.

This might all be getting a little too far-fetched, maybe even nonsensical to many. But I’m sure others have experienced an intrinsic connection with inanimate object that just made sense to them and their views of life. Maybe.

Smells, thoughts, feelings, emotions aside, there’s one thing I’d like to explain my life in.

That thing is pizza.pizza copy

Let’s return to that moment of my childhood mentioned before: It’s not that I just remember watching TV on Halloween, it’s the vague details I can recall from the rest of that day that will better help me explain. I was about four years old, wearing my kitty costume, watching Caddyshack to pass the time. I didn’t go trick-or-treating. I lived in an apartment building full of older women who weren’t too keen on opening the door for people they didn’t know. (My family was no exception, we were the awful “grinches” of Halloween who would pretend we weren’t home and wait until the kids knocking on the door inquiring about candy left before we could continue chewing away at our stash of mini-Snickers bars.) I doubt my mom would have enjoyed carting me around to get candy from strangers, either. Instead, we waited until we had to leave to pick my grandma up from work, and then we’d just buy candy at the nearby CVS on our way there. It might not be “free,” but it would come without the high price of social interaction we so militantly dreaded. Seeing my grandma after work was the real “treat” that I looked forward to. I missed her when she was gone and couldn’t wait until she returned to play with her and talk to her.

And there was also the high probability that she would come out of work with a very special gift for me: a perfect slice of pizza.

My grandma worked in a pizza parlor from before I was born until I was about five years old. You know the old saying, “like a kid in a candy shop”–fuck that noise, being a little kid in a pizza parlor is where it’s at. Occasionally I’d get to go to work with her and watch her create her art. I’m not saying that to be facetious, either, making the perfect pizza is an unrecognized and vastly under-appreciated art form. A flawless slice from a local, family-owned pizza shop is a piece of fine art, while every Dominos and Pizza Hut’s mass-produced grease-filled slabs of under-cooked dough, fake cheese and “tomato” sauce are the maligned commercial art. My favorite part was not only watching her skillfully make pie after pie, but also getting to steal handfuls of shredded mozzarella cheese when no one was looking. My grandma made the best pizza around. She knew the ideal sauce-to-cheese ratio like the back of her hand, and could successfully reproduce the recipe over & over again. I always knew when the slice she’d bring home from work was hers compared to one of the other cook’s, and I’d be disappointed if it wasn’t one of her masterpieces. I’d settle for nothing less than the best.

I’m a harsh critic of pizza and a frequent searcher of the best slices around, but it doesn’t stop me from trying any and every kind. I get as kiddy as a child at the prospect of pizza and the phrase “pizza party” tickles me to no end. That said, I’m not of the belief that all free pizza is good pizza. In second grade I remember scoffing at the slices we ate at a pizza party we had in our classroom. “Grandma, I don’t know where they got that pizza from, but it tasted like… like… like ARTICHOKES! Not pizza!” (I loved artichokes dearly, don’t get me wrong, but pizza’s supposed to taste like pizza and nothing else!) I’ll order Dominos from time to time, but don’t call it “pizza,” call it “Dominos,” for it is most definitely a food item of its own category. And don’t even get me started on the tomato tortilla hybrid that they dare try to pass of as pizza at California Pizza Kitchen…

And I absolutely loathe anytime someone tries to inform me that Chicago deep-dish is better than a New York slice. Pizza is the perfect meal because it can be a sit-down dinner or an on-the-go snack. I don’t want to have to mentally prep to eat pizza, it should just be consumed.

I’m sure you’re dying to know, so I’ll walk you through my list of qualities a good slice of pizza needs:

  • An almost-paper, crispy wafer-ish type dough. Not burnt, but seasoned brown from years of wear from a good, old pizza oven.
  • The dough should also have some kind of flavor, not just a bread-y taste. And though it’s thin, it should still be durable.
  • A good heaping of tomato sauce. Not so much that it drips all over, but enough to properly coat the pizza and not make the dough soggy.
  • As crispy and non-soggy as the dough should be, it should also be able to be folded over without breaking or ripping in half.
  • CHEESE. Cheese-to-sauce ratio must be on par.
  • Grease. Most definitely NOT over-greased, but at least a little bit to get that nice, small drip.

I could go in-depth on toppings, too, but that will take far too long.

I’ve been fortunate enough to find a few places that make some really delicious pizza.  But I feel like I’m forever searching for the one place that makes the perfect pizza. The one that will send me back in time… the taste that will transport me instantaneously back to Halloween of ’92, my old living room, plopped down right in front of that TV.

Funny, isn’t it? To seek out a taste to remind me of a time when I wasn’t even eating? Isn’t it weird what triggers things in our minds? Isn’t it weird how finicky nostalgia can be?

I mean, the more I think about it, I didn’t even dress up as a cat when I was four. I think my cat costume was from when I was two (though I would wear it just for fun after that as well). I dressed up as Cinderella when I was four. And, thinking of it again, the CVS on my street didn’t even open until I was about six or seven…

Strange how the mind can mix up facts.

But I do remember being dressed up as Cinderella and sitting in my grandma’s pizza parlor, waiting for her to finish her shift. I remember the crinoline under my dress itching my tiny thighs. I remember being bored and wanting to go out and play in the park across the street, instead of sitting in a pizza shop waiting. I remember seeing a booger on the table I was seated at and it scarring me for a while after, not really wanting to eat there or even eat pizza at all for quite some time. I remember venturing to the back of the store and smelling the awful back-alley stench and seeing the broken down space behind the ovens.

I remember those moments quite vividly, actually.

And I remember all the times my grandmother quit that job, and the awful experiences she had working there.

But she did make a damn good pizza.

So, if I had to lay the inanimate objects out on a table that are characteristically “me,” what would they be? A cat costume, Halloween trinkets, a slice of pizza… ? Do these things define me? Does that one single moment I return to time and time again say anything about my personality and the person I am and wish to become?

No, I think it just means I like nostalgic vibes, I dig Halloween and I really enjoy eating pizza. It’s probably why I’ve spent a good portion of my day writing this, and maybe it’s why the person who I’m in a committed relationship with has a birthday on Halloween, and why I’ll never turn down a slice of free pizza, no matter where it’s from. These maybe facets of my personality, but not my life as a whole. What, did you think that my constant quest for the perfect slice is actually a symbol of my search to find my ideal “self”? That maybe I know the qualities about myself that I need to tap into to be the best me I can be, but I’m still working on creating the masterpiece that is my life by trying over and over again to harness all those qualities and apply them in a positive way. That maybe no matter who I encounter and what I try, I’m still searching for my true, perfect self, but that one moment in time I can return to at any point is my safe haven, my “home” to go back to when I feel lost in my searching…


Then you’re reading too much into this. I just really like pizza.


“Did she really ramble on for fifteen paragraphs and 2242 words just to tell us that she likes pizza?”

Well, yea. I guess I did.

  1. If you have to take your life cues from a list written by a snarky blogger, you’re doing it all wrong.

Think about your life in relation to the seasons. What is your favorite season and why? During which season were you born? How did you feel as a child about each season? Have significant events happened during one season over the others? How do you see the world around you change at the start of each season? Use these musings to fuel an essay about one or all of the seasons. 

As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m in a quaint park on a residential street. It’s close enough to the main, highly trafficked road to be distracting—but just enough to serve as a reminder that my time here is temporary. Not like my time on Earth or anything existential like that, just that I have about 45 minutes to write this before my lunch break is over and I have to return to the office.

But as for now, now I’m in this park—just close enough to reality to keep me grounded but far enough away to let me live in my own fantasy world, if only for a short while. I’m perched upon a stone stool, situated in front of a matching stone chess table, created for someone with all the time in the world to just sit, play, enjoy—not for people on borrowed time like myself. Not for many at all really, since no one ever seems to be in this park. The sun is beating down upon me, but there’s a breeze just cool enough to keep it comfortable. There’s a bed of vibrant pink tulips to my right. There’s a child singing in her front yard just across the street. Birds are chirp, chirp, chirping away… all of that good shit. Spring has arrived… and about two months too damn late.

Ok, maybe that’s a bit unfair. Technically spring equinox is on March 20th, which means that spring is really only just over a month late. And sure, the weather never really changes in accordance with the seasons on the first day of their supposed arrival. And yes, there’s also that pesky climate change to factor in—but screw that noise—I’m getting older and more and more impatient in my advancing years.

I don’t think of the seasons in terms of dates and meteorological facts and science—I think about seasons and weather in relation to years passed. Last year, spring “arrived” around the second or third week in March, and then stuck around for a while. The same goes for the spring the year before that. And, come to think of it, the year before that too. Right now it’s the first week of May and the month of renewal is only just barely, cautiously approaching—like a middle-aged woman slowly dipping her toes into a just-a-tad-too cool swimming pool. But for me, it should have been out there, past the kiddie pool, and wading around in the 4’2 foot section by now. (Are these pool references indicative enough of my yearning for summer?)

Sure, we were “due for” another snowy, long, “bad” winter, but that doesn’t mean I have to be cool with it (forgive the pun). I remember analyzing a piece of poetry in the first literature class I ever attended in college—I don’t remember the poem itself, but it prompted a discussion of the “rhythm” of the seasons. Spring is a time of rebirth while winter is a time of death. Death doesn’t have to be taken in the most literal sense—it could also mean a stoppage of creative thought and expression. To me, winter is a time of stagnancy. The cold air and obtrusive, dirty snow forces me to retreat, cowering under my fortress of blankets, cut off from any outside creative influence that might be trying to break in. A time of idleness.  A time of waiting… and my God, do I hate waiting. With each passing year, the “winter blahs,” as I affectionately call ‘em, get me badder than the year prior. The cold, the grey, and the wind hits me harder each time.

So the fact that it is May and it still feels as though winter hasn’t quite left the building, the fact that it’s bitter chill hasn’t yet been found keeled over on the toilet, means that I have a harsh pile of excuses to fall into and make lie-angels in instead of creating. The humid, bitter rain is only just approaching—even  the April showers are late to my pity party.  Summer seems so far off that it feels like the only option is to create my own “summer,” or even my own “spring” for that matter. Albert Camus once said “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” That absurd bastard. But I do suppose he has a point… imagination is my tool and my pen and paper is my broken toy that needs repair—it will just take envisioning the perfect season I want to experience and creating it myself, even if only in writing.

…Hey, that’s not a bad idea. Maybe I’ll start working on that when Mother Nature stops being such a bitch


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