Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Perfectly Good Bag

About a month ago, I was in Shanghai with my father. We met there on my way home from Australia. On one of our days in Shanghai, we ended up at a wild place known as the Fake Market. I never expected it to be what it actually was—an entire mini-mall full of stalls selling unbelievably high-quality knock-offs and faked goods. Names like Marc Jacobs, Burberry, and Chanel flew past us at high speed from the mouths of sellers advertising their stalls to us in very well practiced English. While I was uninterested in purchasing anything from a black market, my dad insisted that we leave with a “Chanel” purse as he’d scored an incredible deal and wanted proof of the ridiculous ordeal we had just been through to get to the room where the “real good stuff” was being held. I’m literally talking tiny doors, walkie talkies, and long dark hallways… a story for another time. So now this Chanel bag lives with me here in America, on my floor, or sometimes beneath a pile of laundry on my big chair

I feel bad for the bag. I feel guilty for supporting a rip-off industry (for many reasons) but now with the bag in my presence, I feel even worse for not using it. After all, it’s a perfectly good bag. Yet daily I leave the house with my canvas Amoeba Music tote swinging from my arm; a bag whose all-but-lost functionality depends entirely on a series of well positioned safety pins.

When it comes down to it, I simply cannot bring myself to wear the Chanel bag because I don’t see its point. I’ve never understood the purpose of high-quality fakes. All fashion is essentially knock-offs but at least there is some dignity maintained in being upfront about that rather than aspiring towards full fledged fake-dom. Why not just make a cute leather bag and leave the logo off? Or spend your money supporting an up-and-coming designer with equally inspiring stuff. While a real designer bag may run you upwards into the thousands, a good fake can actually still cost a couple hundred. Essentially what you are paying for is the brand. To get further down into the nitty gritty— you are paying for status. You are paying for the image that you have the money to afford a high caliber of luxury, when really you don’t. This to me is like people who spend all their money on a nice car but have no place to live! I just cannot wrap my head around the point.

Then again, this kind of mentality seems common with my generation right now. Movies like Project X and Spring Breakers celebrate excess, as do videos like the one for Miley Cyrus’ new single “We Can’t Stop.”

The whole video is a pointless in narrative but perfect as an omage to everything that looks cool. She’s there with a giant teddy bear bouncing on her back and gold caps over her teeth. It seems fun. The images on screen have nothing to do with the song, but admittedly I am transfixed. The video leaves me pumped, but with a twinge of something else—anxiety. Suddenly the chill Friday night I had planned with doesn’t seem like enough. I’m feeling like I should go to the mall, blow my money on a new outfit or a crazy colored lipstick, and then go somewhere to rage all night with my fakey Chanel hanging from my arm. I mean, YOLO, right bitches?

Now it would be a lie to say that I haven’t been to plenty of parties like the one in Miley’s video. But when you see a guy jump off of a roof into a pool screaming “I am a golden god” for the millionth time whilst thirty people capture it for Instagram, the whole thing starts to feel a bit jaded. We begin to lose ourselves when “YOLO” starts to mean less about living life for the moment and more about living life for the story and image later—and that is the difference, written in fine print. That is the difference between buying a fake Chanel bag because it works and because it looks good.

So I leave you with this. Lorde. I like Lorde for the same reasons I like my Amoeba bag. She is fresh, open, honest, and real. I appreciate Lorde singing to us in her plain white tee. Suddenly my heart is breathing easy as I begin to feel pumped again about my chill Friday night with friends. I don’t know why I was even fooled for a moment into thinking that I wanted anything more. The Chanel bag may have its moment eventually; after all it is a perfectly good bag. For now it sits on my floor, a beautiful menace, reminding me that life is a dichotomy between having actual substance and a well-calculated image. When we get the balance right, the result tends to be aspiration, and that is a good thing. So dress for success and fake it till you make it, my babes, but don’t ever forget how to keep it real.

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The Awkward Moment Where You Realize Your Candy Wrapper Is Stuck To Your Sweat Towel

I joined the gym! Sound the alarm, ring the bells, queue the confetti drop!

This is a pretty big deal considering I just spent the last year shoveling macarons into my mouth and eating half loaves of bread for dinner.

I’m really excited to be getting back in to some degree of shape, but of course in the process of joining a gym I’ve also had to face some of the things I hate about gym life.

First thing: The Joining Process; see also: Skeezy Guys

Every single gym I’ve ever belonged to has this lengthy joining process wherein they try to pitch to you every fitness related bargain or gimmick under the sun. The whole thing takes about an hour. Luckily, the guy who processed me was pretty nice and overall okay to talk to despite the fact that he was hitting on me. Plus I’d come in with my game face on, ready to deny any of the extra so-called deals that would end up as unwanted monthly payments on my credit card bill.

Harry: So we have a special deal today. The joining fee is normally $79, but today it will be $59. So you earn a $20 credit that you can put towards these amazing supplements that will help you burn fat and gain lean muscle! The pills are normally $33 but with the credit you only pay $13!

Me: Ok, so wait. Do I have to buy the pills? Because they look like the vitamins I already have. Will my joining fee still be $59 if I don’t get the pills?

Harry: Well, technically speaking, yes. You’re funny.

Me: Well, you are a good salesmen but it’s not my first time at the sales rodeo.

Harry: You’re funny, I like funny girls. What you doing Friday night?

Me: …hmmmm…

While I did not accept his invitation to hang out with Chris Brown’s booth at Supper Club that Friday, I did take the free personal training session. Leading to—

Second thing: Personal Training Sessions

I’ve only ever done personal training once before, and that experience was bittersweet. My trainer back then had started our first session by doing an analysis of my body. He poked, prodded, and measured me—finally assessing that at 5’8 135lbs I was terribly obese. His use of the word “obese” sent me into a self-esteem spiral. I dealt with his assessment by limiting my calories greatly and somewhat obsessively, and while I did lose weight, the emotional toll and long-term prognosis was not encouraging. I finally came to terms with the fact that his use of such strong language was simply a marketing scare-tactic gone wrong. While I was in deed out of shape, I was not obese. I forgave my trainer and continued to work with him since during our actual sessions he turned out to be a quality guy and never used the “O” word again.

I had hoped that that kind of treatment was a one-time thing, but here years later at a new gym, I walked into my free personal training session, unknowing that I was about to experience much, much worse.

First thing, the trainer, John, was extremely late. I walked in at 1:00 ready to go, but John didn’t arrive until 1:10. He told me that he was running late with another client, and that I should hop on the treadmill and he’d be with me in 5. Ok, I thought, no problem.

45 minutes later, John returned. I vocalized to John that I had assumed by that point that he wasn’t even coming back, but stayed on the machines only to finish the workout goal I had set for myself. He demanded that I get off the machine and follow him to the mats where I was to attempt a plank and several reps of pushups and ab crunches. I could hardly complete anything he asked of me, since I was a new return to exercise and worn out from 45 minutes of cardio.

At his desk, John turned on the computer to go through the dreaded poke-prod-measure-weigh process. At final evaluation, John told me that I was carrying too much body fat and was aging like a 37 year old. He illustrated this by pointing to a character on the screen who was supposed to represent me. This twirling animated character had cartoonishly huge hips, much bigger than mine. Nonetheless, the image on the screen made me feel insecure. Was this really what I looked like?

I suppose the stern look on my face was apparent, because a smiling guy came over to our table and interrupted. “John, come on now, fix her up just a little bit!” The guy clicked until the blimpy figure had my haircut and dark skin tone. She did look a little better after all. I thanked the man, laughing at his odd mini-rescue. John, however, was clearly irritated.

John continued to tell me of my declining health, and suggested that he could give me a special one-time rate for personal training: $1,500 for 20 sessions, paid upfront.

“That’s really a lot of money,” I told him, “and I’m not interested today.”

“Come on, I know you’re unemployed but don’t you have any money saved?”

“This is out of my budget right now.”

“You told me you eat out three times a week. Your health should be more important to you. If you just stop eating out with your friends and put the money towards training then you could look a lot better. Isn’t that more important in the long run?”

He continued to push me like this, his implication being that I was currently so unattractive that any and all money in my bank account should be going to personal training sessions. I was feeling both poor and ugly. Clearly this guy John was under the impression that he was a demi-god.

At last we reached a standoff. I was too dizzy from training to stand up and walk out, but it was clear that I was about to either burst into tears or use my last bit of strength to punch this guy in the face. John got up and walked away from me without saying even a forced goodbye. Thankfully, the manager of the gym came over and offered me another free training session with a different trainer. I told him how inappropriate John had been in his approach. I accepted the free training session but left wondering if I’d ever return to this gym.

I called back later to let them know that I was considering canceling. I got put on the phone with Harry who revealed to me that it was only John’s third day but behavior like that certainly wouldn’t be tolerated. “I got you girrrl.”

So, I’ve returned to the gym several times, unafraid now that my worst fears have been faced. I’m even more thankful for my time spent in Australia, where I hardly worried about my weight once. I’ve also resolved to myself that the next time someone calls me fat, I will punch him in the face and say clearly “You just got punched by a fat girl. These hands? Powered by candy.”

 

Have you ever had a crazy workout/gym experience?

 

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Yes, Man!

Remember the movie Yes Man with Jim Carey? Ok, the movie’s plot is slightly ridiculous, because really who wouldn’t say YES if Zooey Deschanel was asking. But other than that it’s got a great point. Life is out there offering us so many things and when it comes down to it, oftentimes all we really need to do is open our window to the breeze.

Given this idea, a few summers ago I decided to have my very own Yes Man experience. It was what I called “Yes Summer!”

 

The [loose] rules:

1) It cannot be wildly out of my expense range.

2) Nothing significantly physically or mentally dangerous

3) I’m not giving you a ride to the airport just because I have to say “yes.”

 

Even with these guidelines, I always did my best not to wiggle out of any potential yes moments, no matter how wild or simple. From here on Yes Summer took off. Examples:

Do you want to go to L.A. and come back before class tomorrow? Yes

Would you like a tattoo? Yes

It is 2am… shall we go rollerskating? Yes

That apartment building has cool numbers, I want one …… Ok pull the car over, yes!

 

Throughout Yes Summer I had a number of adventures and misadventures, but my favorite part about it was the fact that it actually led me to make some significant friendships at that time. Initially I met some dudes at bar. We got to talking and one of them half heartedly invited me to an art gallery opening, expecting me to say yes but then flake out on it like I probably would on any other plan made with strangers whilst drinking in a bar. The next day I texted Bill reminding him to send me the details for the art opening. He replied promptly, surprised that I was actually serious. The following weekend he picked me up and we went to the show where I met a number of other interesting people who later became my friends. This type of friendship making was a trend throughout Yes Summer.

I finally retired Yes Summer in August 2011 with a a worthwhile five hundred dollars in credit card debt and a smile on my face.  Now, given how honestly bored I’ve been recently, I’m thinking it might be time that I experience a Yes Summer again. 

I’m here and I’m waiting, Sydney. Show me what you’ve got. My answer is yes.

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When the hard times strike, what’s a girl to do?

When I was back in L.A., I was one of the many poor sufferers prone to panic attacks. Sometimes these were randomly onset, other times induced by some sort of Sunday morning regret. Either way, in these moments my best friend Russell would pop a Xany on my tongue, put me in the car and drive me up the road to the Walmart.

These Walmart excursions served a soothing purpose, kind of like the foil shock blankets they put on people after a car accident or a fire. Once there, Russell would buy me a large Diet Coke or an XXL McDonalds iced skinny vanilla late or any form of a drink carrying copious loads of Aspartame. He’d walk me several laps around store, and by the third or fourth I’d be feeling better that I was not toothless/sporting exposed an exposed ass-crack/or wearing my robe to go shopping at two in the afternoon. Life was okay.

Still, we could never part ways without some sort of indulgence, so usually we’d end up splurging on a $2.00 tube of face mask before leaving to spend the next 40 minutes trying to remember where we’d parked the car (a event which sometimes struck the need for us to go back into Walmart to calm down again).

But the problem now, being in Australia, is that none of these things exist.

The closest thing to a Walmart here is Ikea. Given that I once had to Phone-A-Friend to get out of Ikea, this will never be my choice for mental monastery.

The twenty Xanax I brought over with me lasted a while. At six months in I took the last one after an embarrassing run in at a chicken shop. After that I did what any normal L.A. girl would do: I went to the Doc to ask him for more.

After I got my other necessary prescriptions sorted out, I cleared my throat and began to explain my panic attacks… and could I please have some Xanax or something…?

He looked at me blankly then turned to his computer without saying a word for several long moments. I couldn’t see the what he was typing, but I could feel the judgement in his rapidly moving fingers. He was one of those one-finger typers too, which just made it that much worse. Uh oh.

He turned back to me and lowered his glasses.

“Well, you see, we don’t do that here. Why don’t you try some yoga or pilates or meditation. I think you’ll feel much better.”

Pilates? I left the doctors office and went out to grab the next best thing- a D.C. But due to Australia’s stringent preservative laws and their understanding that Aspartame actually does fuck you up (whateverrrr), you can’t find any diet products that are actually made with the ingredient.

I was starting to feel very homesick, so I reached into my purse and called the one person I knew could and would hook me up, ASAP.

Several weeks later, around Christmastime, the box arrived– unmarked and wrapped in plain brown paper. A box sent by the best smuggler I know, Public Enemy No. 1 and ultimate provider of non-Australian goods.

I ripped open the paper and read the note first. It was printed on Snoopy Christmas paper:

Didn’t have time to write much. Hope this is the right thing.

Love Mom.

Underneath the letter was just what I wanted. Obviously Diet Coke would be too heavy to send and let’s face it, the good Doc was right about the Xany. Nonetheless, everyone needs one indulgence and here was mine: Aspartame in the beautiful, compact form of powdered Crystal Light. Packets upon packets of it!

In general I’m proud to say that since I’ve come to Australia I’ve hardly had two panic attacks if any at all. Life really is good here. Nonetheless, it’s nice to know that I’ve got a lime Margarita in my pocket that I can drink anytime, and it’s only five calories.

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I Was Blessed to be Cursed

Being in Sydney has made me realize something profound about my diet. I’m not a vegetarian, I’m an American vegetarian. I haven’t eaten meat for 10 years, however my herbivorous life has been made easy by the fact that Americans are obsessed with mock meat. I’ve been raised with “chick’n” wings and fakenn bacon, however Australia’s preservative laws prevent such things from existing here. Because of this fact, I’ve been consuming a diet of mostly raw vegetables alongside an unfortunate amount of Reeces peanut butter cups for my source of fatty substance. Subsequently, due to my healthy appetite for cucumbers and capsicums, I am constantly going to the grocery store to get more produce. Oftentimes these trips end up being at night when I return to our apartment for an evening meal. The walk-everywhere culture of Sydney is interesting to me because back home in Los Angeles I hate walking alone, especially at night. Walking alone means car honks, catcalls, and druggies asking for money. The streets of Sydney are wildly safe, comparably. My rudest encounter for a while was a drunk guy shouting between swigs of Wild Turkey that he oughta give me a kiss. Overall, though, my experiences in the streets of Sydney have been majorly docile, until a few weeks ago when I was approached by a strangely tall asian man on my way to the market. He wore a long camel-brown robe, and looked like a kind enough person. I couldn’t tell the significance of the garment, but he appeared gentle like one of the hari-krishna people you see at the airport. I knew that he was going to try to talk to me, and due to my oath it would be wrong not to. See, I made an oath after being snubbed so much while working at the environmental organization– the promise being that I’d never be in too much of a rush to make a connection with another human being. Still, on this particular occasion I really didn’t want to stop and talk to anyone.

I was careful to avoid eye contact with the man, my gaze locked definitively into the distance, yet I could sense him targeting me as I approached his bit of sidewalk. Of course, right as I pass him he pounces out. I was expecting this, but not the gold coin that he’d thrust into my hand. I examine the coin which is made from cheap metal and has an image of some unfamiliar deity printed onto it. My assumption is that I will have to pay for whatever this thing is so I try to hand it back to him but he won’t take it. Instead he’s chanting some strange words at me. The tone in his voice isn’t soft or inviting as I had expected it would be, but is instead violent and overflowing with what feels like malicious intent.

“Changarido! Changarido!” he yells at me, five, ten times.

“I don’t want it! i don’t want it!” I yell back at him.

We literally tussle for a moment and finally I manage to get the coin back in his hand. He stops chanting and I use the moment to run away towards the safety of the sliding doors of the grocery store. As I take the escalator down to the produce section, I feel, throughout my whole body, as if I was just cursed by the man. “Goddamnit,” I’m thinking, “I think I was just cursed! Do I even believe in curses? If so, this is just the worst week for me to be cursed too since I’m about to start looking for a job!” Yet even through my haze of anger, I realize that I’m smirking a half smile. The odd encounter had reminded me of my beloved, wild Los Angeles. Part of me wanted to go back outside and nuzzle my face gently into the man’s robes and say

“Thank you sir, feels like home.” But he was gone.

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Pet Shop

Well you guys, it’s been a little while again. But like old friends we can just pick up where we left off, right?

So, as you know I quite my job at the environmental group. Guy tried to break my hand, quotas, yadda yadda yadda.

I ended up getting the job at the pet store. Yay! I guess drug free IS the way to be.

Only, I’ve come to realize that any job that requires you to do a drug test is a job that probably sucks.  Let me give you the highlights:

Week 1: I realize that this job requires loads of manual labor. Probably the reason for the drug test? Anyways, I spend most of my days lifting 50lb bags of dog food up and down a large ladder. The other portion of my time is spent helping crazy cat ladies find the right flavor of Friskies for their precious pussycats. “Mr. Nickles will only eat cat food if it’s got at least 78% moisture and NO salmon. Also his poop keeps coming out green but I’d like it to be more of a coconut brown. Thoughts?”

Week 2: With a few exceptions, most of my coworkers are incredibly boring. One night, while preparing for inventory, I actually manage to fall asleep standing up after listening to my coworkers talk about football plays for a full 90 minutes.

Also, one of the floor managers suffers from short man syndrome and insists on being a controlling dick to compensate for his lack of physical height. He barks out contradicting orders, and prohibits talking to one another even when no one else is in the store. “Kelsey, fill up those cat can racks.” “Kelsey, how on earth did those cat can racks get so full?” “McKinze, Kelsey– I heard you discussing Goateeyay and this is not appropriate work conversation!!!”

Week 2 and a half: One of my football loving co-workers somehow manages to catch my hand in the handle of a bucket of cat litter as we are rotating stock. This freak accident leaves my hand with a ghastly cut that is impressively deep and refuses to stop bleeding. Only, I don’t want to have to file a report about it and get my coworker and myself in trouble so I wrap it up in brown paper towels and pretend not to notice the fact that I probably need stitches.

Week 3: Dog people are a little less crazy then cat people, but still crazy in their own way. I get paged to the front of the store to help a customer and her golden retriever find some grain free, chicken/beef/salmon/bi-product free, high protein, low-cal dog food for shaggy-haired, arthritic senior dogs. Right as I get up to the front counter, her dog vomits all over the floor right at my feet. While I’m on the floor scrubbing up this dog’s vomit she’s still bugging me about this supposed product– which she expects me to find while keeping within a budget of $30. “Yes, I’ve got the perfect thing for you. It’s made from high-end unicorn shit, imported from the Swiss Alps and blessed by a rabbi.”

Needless to say, my time at the pet store was short-lived. I quit, giving my poor boss only a days notice. “You realize that this is entirely unprofessional. Industry standard is at least a week’s notice. You understand you will never be able to work here again right?”

R.I.P. Pet store job.

 

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Can’t I just pee?

It’s been a spell since I’ve written. My apologies. I quit my job last Thursday so I’ve been on the hunt again. I’ve already been lucky enough to have one interview to work at a pet supply store.

In the interview, my least favorite question came up: How much would you like to make? Ugh. I hate that question because what do they expect me to say? Obviously I would like to make more than minimum wage. I would like to make 100,000 dollars an hour with sick days paid as double overtime. So I look the store manager in the eye and tell him “Whatever you make should work for me.” Luckily, he laughed and told me that he usually starts people out at $8.50 with built in opportunities for pay raise. Eh, ok.

But then he got to a question I liked even less: Will I submit to a drug test? Urinalysis- oh no no. It’s a hair follicle sample they need. Oy vey. Now, I’m not Courtney Love, but any tests involving samples from my body always make me nervous. But I said yes and he seemed very happy. The drug tests aren’t his protocol, but corporate’s, he said. He gave me a packet and circled an address for me to head off to and that was the end of the interview.

So I’m feeling pretty good that the interview went well. But I’ve just got this drug test to get through. I arrive at the place I was told to go. 8762 E is a sketchy office space on the second floor of a building whose entryway is in an alley. Lovely. I go upstairs and the place doesn’t even look like any sort of legitimate testing center. It’s just an empty room with books and boxes all over the place. A fly keeps banging against the window, desperate and buzzy as if suicide is his only chance at leaving this abysmal place. I’m about to turn around and leave, but a large man pops up from behind one of the piles of boxes. He doesn’t even say hello, just looks at me for an explanation. “I’m here to get a drug test, for a potential employer?”

“Ok. Follow me.” His African accent, one I usually enjoy, does nothing to soften his general harshness. He leads me into a second room, cluttered and stuffy like the first. He takes out this decrepit looking yellow box filled with an asortment of metal hair clips and one devious looking pair of scissors. He uncaps a bottle of  rubbing alcohol and poors a bit onto a paper towel, which he haphazardly cleans the scissor blades and hair clips with. I keep hearing the fly banging on the wall, and I’m wondering if maybe he has the right idea. As I’m watching the man clean the blades, it occurs to me that this guy seems kind of like a serial killer and I’m thinking maybe I should run. But no, I need a damn job. It’s Saturday and no other testing centers will be open until Monday so I’ve got to do this. If they find my body here, stabbed to death by hair clips, at least they’ll know I tried.

“So what exactly does this test for?” I ask the guy, just to pierce the silence.

“Drugs,” he says. No kidding?!

I give up talking and instead look over at the sheet he is reading: directions for how to administer this test. Great, he’s apparently never done this before. The diagram shows a picture of a girl. A large chunk of her hair is missing. She and her drug test administrator are smiling in good spirits, but my eyes keep going back to the large chunk. It’s like the width of my fattest finger. Are they serious? My hair is already short. It’s been through hell in back in my lifetime: failed dye jobs, chemical burns, accidental mullets. Now I am expected to let this random dude have at it with a pair of dirty shears? For a moment I wonder if maybe I can speed dial my stylist. Maybe he can do it? But I snap myself out of it and remind myself I’ve got to man up if I ever want to get to Australia. I need this job.

So the man (whose name I still don’t know) comes around to stand behind my chair. It’s super awkward as he monkeys through my hair, looking for a place to administer the chop. Finally he starts. But instead of just cutting it feels like he’s scraping or something, and it takes him forever just to get one bit out. He does this two more times in different sections of my hair. I breathe deeply, resisting the urge to run, and finally he tells me it’s done. He fiddles with the sections of my hair, folding them up into a metal cylinder, and asks me to sign a few papers. I leave the building feeling incredibly violated, and wondering if I’m bald.

Alas, I survived my first drug test. Now just tune in for the results episode.

The Visa and the Beast

Travel Update:

So I have officially sold my Coachella 2012 pass. I passed it on to a really nice girl named Kat who almost cried when she got it. I used the money back to pay for my visa to Australia– which has been approved!! Suddenly things feel much more real. Passport – check. Visa – check. I can’t imagine how “real” things are going to feel when I buy my plane ticket! My tummy hurts in an excited sort of way :}.

Additionally I’ve got to figure out lodging for when I get to Sydney. That is a bit daunting. I’m already imagining my lovely hostel, crowded with drunken strangers from all over the world; making friends and simultaneously hoping none of them are thieves… But even more daunting is the task of deciding what I am going to do with my hair. I want to be able to jump into the ocean with no reservations, but that is a bit difficult when water turns my hair into a giant frizzball that takes 3 hours and loads of equipment to restyle. Ladies and gentlemen I present to you: My Afro

Yes, that really is me. Many many years ago, of course. My hair is significantly shorter now but nonetheless it can still be rather beastly. People tell me all the time that I should go natural and rock an afro. I think afros are beautiful on many women but my usual response is “Would you want that much hair on your head on a hot day?” Also, afros require care and styling as well. I prefer it short and sleek as I have it now.

Anyways I am getting a haircut today so I’ll ask my guy what he thinks. I refuse to get braids. I fear the answer may be wigs…

A More Glorious Dawn Awaits…

I keep this video in my bookmarks tab. Sometimes it is just what I need to humble myself. The ability to be humble is a natural pick me up. Plus Carl Sagan was such a magnificent human being. A true BAMF in my book.

“Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar”, every “supreme leader”, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

-Carl Sagan (Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space)