ADVICE TO MY YOUNGER SELF

Do not date men who constantly talk about their ex-girlfriends.

Don’t constantly talk about your ex-boyfriend. 

If you’re still thinking that much about your ex-boyfriend, you shouldn’t be dating anyone anyway. 

Go ahead and buy that dress you can’t afford. It looks great on you.

Fuck anyone you want to fuck. 

If you don’t want to fuck someone, DO NOT FUCK THEM. 

Don’t work too much. I know you like having money, but your dog is much more important to you, and he misses you when you’re at work. 

If everybody likes you and you aren’t offending anyone, you’re doing something wrong. 

Be nice to your body. But still eat strawberry shortcake sometimes, because you love it. 

Learn another language. 

Don’t go out just because it’s Friday night, or because all of your friends want you to. Don’t go out if you don’t want to. Who cares if they call you anti-social. Maybe you are. And that’s ok. Stay in and read a book instead. 

Don’t EVER drive drunk. Pay $50 for a cab, even if it’s the last $50 in your bank account. 

The men who talk about how big their dicks are do not have big dicks. They’re usually pretty lousy in bed too. Also, anyone who says theirs is small probably isn’t lying. The ones with the real big dicks never talk about their dicks at all. 

Same goes for brains. The smart ones never have to tell you how smart they are. And those are the ones you want. 

Never pretend to like something you don’t just to impress someone else. Actually, never do anything just to impress someone else. 

When somebody tells you to shut up, don’t.  

Believing in science and reason does not make you a cynic. 

Don’t change your sense of humor because some people are too dense to get your jokes.

Sometimes the men who are the best in bed have the worst personalities. 

Call your parents at least once a week. They miss you. 

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. In fact, don’t believe most of it. 

Don’t get a boob job. The type of man you want to end up with probably prefers small tits anyway. 

Be selfish sometimes; but not always. 

For the price of a ticket to Coachella, you could get three new tattoos. Just sayin’.

Don’t apologize for anything you aren’t sorry for. Don’t be sorry for anything you shouldn’t be sorry for. Also, never, ever say “sorry not sorry”, and stay far away from anybody who does. 

Buy yourself flowers sometimes. They’ll mean much more than when someone else gets them for you. And yes, someone will get you flowers someday. 

Never let a man sleep in your bed who doesn’t like dogs. 

Never let a man sleep in your bed who your dog doesn’t like. 

Spellcheck. Everything. 

Never say “nice to meet you” unless it really is nice to meet that person. 

Tell the truth, even if it gets you in trouble. 

Learn how to wink. It’s sexy. 

Don’t do yoga. You hate it. It’s ok. There are other ways to be healthy. 

Don’t take pictures of your food. No one cares what you eat. 

I know you read a lot. Read more. 

Take your birth control religiously. 

Quit plucking your eyebrows. 

Invest in a good mattress.

Drink cranberry juice even though you think it’s gross. UTIs suck. 

Only call in sick to work when you’re actually sick.  

Real frowns are always better than fake smiles.

 

 

DUMPED

I broke up with myself 

because I wasn’t treating me right

I started petty fights and

left passive-agressive notes 

on the kitchen counter

I beat me down and

made me feel worthless

I wouldn’t let me go out 

with my friends

we didn’t have the same taste in music and

I cared too much about sports but

not enough about global warming

I just didn’t look at me the way I used to and

worst of all

I was selfish in bed

we had a good run 

I just didn’t see a future with myself

now I would be free to do whatever or 

whoever I wanted

of course there was the issue 

of who would take the flat screen TV

I let myself have it but 

I took all of the first edition books and 

of course - 

the antique copper tea kettle

FALLING OUT

          Why do we only ever talk about how beautiful it is to fall in love? Falling out of love can be just as beautiful. People forget that. Sometimes, falling in love is what’s ugly. Falling in love can make you lose yourself. It can make you go crazy and do things completely against your better judgment. Falling in love can change you. It can make you hate yourself. It can make you hate everyone else. It can make you hate love.

       Falling out of love is like waking up. It’s like the first sip of a hot cup of black coffee at 6 o’clock in the morning with a light breeze blowing through the kitchen window. You’re still a little groggy. A little unsure of what lies ahead. You don’t really feel like talking to anyone. But you begin to feel refreshed. New, different, calm. Ready. Falling in love never makes you feel ready for anything. It confuses you, jumbles your thoughts. It makes you question your morals. Falling in love is terrifying. 

       Falling in love is making compromises, but there are some things you should never have to compromise. Falling in love is doing what society told you to do. Falling in love is expensive. Falling in love is easy. Falling in love is forgetting everything you’ve ever learned, all because of one kiss, a few glances, or a thousand embraces. A few dozen meaningful conversations and all of a sudden, you feel funny inside whenever you see this person. You don’t care if it makes you late to work. You don’t mind if it makes you drink too much, or causes your grades to plummet. You don’t care if it makes you spend less time with your best friends. You don’t even mind when it begins to eat into your very important “you” time, because it’s love. It’s love, and it’s so beautiful. 

       Falling out of love is hard. It’s weighing options. It’s writing endless lists of pros and cons. It’s growing up. It’s letting go. It’s being sure. Falling out of love might mean hurting someone else. It  might mean hurting yourself. It’s raw. It has consequences.  It’s the part the movies don’t show you. It’s the chapter your favorite novelist left out. It’s scary, but all of the best things are. Falling out of love means not having to answer to anyone anymore. It means not having to ask anyone but yourself for permission – or forgiveness. 

       Falling in love means sharing your bed and your precious bathroom cabinet space. It means arguing about thread count and brands of soy milk. It means putting someone else’s needs before your own. It means saving the last bite of the cheesecake. And holy shit, you love cheesecake. 

 

       Falling out of love is returning to the person you once were, or becoming yourself for the very first time. It’s realizing when something is not right for you, and walking away from it. Oh, it will leave scars. But scars are interesting. Scars are stories. Scars are what will make someone else fall in love with you someday. Falling out of love is the beginning of something, not the end. And sometimes, it’s the beginning of something really fucking great. 

 

 

 

THE BIRDS DID NOT CARE

I pleaded
with the sun
to stay down
so that I might
finally
have a shot
at sleep
they told me
to take it
one day
at a time
sometimes
I had
trouble
taking it
one moment
at a time
trembling
I begged
with the blankets
to keep me warm
but not
make me sweat
my window began
to let light in
the birds
did not care
that I had not
dreamt
in days
it was then
that I realized
we are not
important -
but we are not
alone

RULES OF SOCIAL MEDIA I WISH EVERYONE WOULD FOLLOW

1. If you post an Oscar Wilde quote, you absolutely must spell his name correctly. You should also probably have some vague idea of who he was.

 

2. Even if you just ate the world’s most delicious salad/salmon/steak/vegan-gluten-free-soy-free-dairy-free-whatever-that-thing-is, no one wants to see a blurry photo of it. Not even your best friends. Probably not even your mother. Also, we have all seen a pint of beer before.

 

3. This is going to sound crazy, but check it out. You CAN actually exercise without telling everyone every detail of your workout. You can also sit in traffic on the freeway without telling the entire internet about your experience. It is 100% possible to be really angry at someone without making passive aggressive status updates which none of us understand, about this person who none of us know. The person these things are meant for probably isn’t even reading them, but if they are, they’re laughing at your expense.

 

4. You have great tits. You want the world to know. Totally OK to post a picture of your great tits, which are arguably the greatest thing about you. Totally NOT OK to make the caption have NOTHING to do with your great tits. No one cares that it’s a nice day, that you got a promotion, or that you are on day 67 of “100 days of happy”, and again, no one cares that you’re stuck in traffic. So from now on, post a picture of whatever the hell you want, but make your caption relevant. Underneath that picture of your great tits, say “Here’s a picture of my great tits. Hope you like them!” And please, please stop shaming Albert Camus and Friedrich Nietzsche by misquoting them in the captions of your shitty selfies. They would hate that. I promise.

 

5. Constantly bragging about your vacation home, trips to Europe, or new car doesn’t make us jealous. It makes us think you’re pretentious. Nothing wrong with sharing a photo or a beautiful moment that really made you happy every so often, but if every single post you make is about the amazing view you have or every country you’ve been to all because you were born into an affluent family, we are going to begin to get annoyed of your braggy sense of entitlement. No one thinks you’re cultured. You know who you are.

 

Oh, and we all know what a pool looks like. Seriously. They all look the same. Kind of like beer.

 

6. Your baby is the most adorable baby I have ever seen. Honest. It’s really cute. I’m not just saying that. But it would be a lot fucking cuter if you only posted a photo of it every few days instead of 10 per day. Just sayin’. Same goes for puppies. And trust me, I love puppies.

 

7. STOP PROPOGATING BULLSHIT. This is one of the most important rules, because if you break it, it’s not just irritating, it can cause much bigger problems. If someone posts an article and the headline seems like outlandish bullshit, it most likely is. Do your research. Just because something is labeled as “science” doesn’t mean it is. Never repost something without reading it in its entirety and looking into the source it originated from. Snopes.com is your friend. And quit the dumbing down of society with all of these goddamn listicles about how to be successful or happy. “Reading” those things is definitely not going to help make your dreams come true.

 

8. Spellcheck. If you are going to say something moronic, don’t make yourself look even more stupid by misspelling every other word.

 

9. Being fake positive all the time isn’t fooling anyone. We all know you’re not THAT happy.

 

10. What I am really trying to say here is stop overusing the word literally. It’s literally bugging the shit out of me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

OFFSPRING

My poems
are like
my children
I want them
to go out there
and do well
in the world
I want them
to be able 
to support
themselves
without me
standing
behind them
I do not want them
to call me
at 3 AM 
and beg me 
to transfer money
into 
their bank accounts
I want people
to like them
but not too much
I want them to
learn
and I want them to
teach 
I want them to
be themselves
stick up for
their beliefs
and not drink too much
like their mother did
they give my life 
a little meaning
but they drive me 
fucking
crazy

FAKE BRICKS

    As I sat on the brick steps smoking my third cigarette, I carefully went over all of my possible options in my head. I could knock. He might answer. He might not. If he didn’t, I would think he was at home and just avoiding me. His dog would bark if I knocked a second time. If he was asleep, the bark would wake him. I could text or call him to let him know I was outside his place. That might make me look desperate. I was beginning to think that I was. What if he had another woman over? Or worse, what if he didn’t  – what if he was alone and just didn’t want to see me? I could hear footsteps inside. For a moment I decided that this meant he was definitely home. It didn’t though. It could just be his large dog, Chuck. My stomach was suddenly in knots. I really loved Chuck. 

       I had always let Nick get away with much more than he deserved to, simply because I couldn’t bear the possibility of tainting our relationship to the point where I could no longer see Chuck. Chuck liked me, too. More than all of the other girls who stayed over at Nick’s place on a regular basis, I was sure. He didn’t bark whenever he saw me approaching through the permanently foggy front windows. He never failed to lick my face. It was kind of disgusting. I didn’t care. Nick loved Chuck as much as I did. He respected Chuck’s opinion. Maybe if he saw how much his beloved dog adored me, he would begin to adore me too. I knew that wasn’t true. But it was a lovely thought. 

       On my fourth cigarette, I walked around the back to where Nick usually parked his black BMW 3 series to see if it was there. Even if it was, that didn’t necessarily mean that he was home. But there it was. That shiny black car which I tried so hard not to be attracted to. It was an inanimate object. But it was pretty. It didn’t have feelings. It was incapable of hating me or thinking I was nuts. I knew I probably would never sit in its leather passenger seat again. I stroked it. Oh my god. It was after midnight, I had sweat dripping in between my breasts, and I was stroking a car that didn’t even belong to me.

        I was on the side of his house now. I could hear that the TV in his bedroom was on. He was home. I wondered for a moment how things had gotten to that point. Instead of lying beside him in his California King, I had been behaving like a stalker outside of his place for forty-five minutes. I began pacing. I needed to get out of there before he heard me. If I had only left then, he’d never have known I had been there at all. He would never truly know the level of crazy I was capable of. The sensible thing for me to do was to leave right then. 

       But true to my character, I didn’t do the sensible thing. I never did. I lit a fifth cigarette and sat back down on the brick front steps. They were so fucking clean. He must have gotten them cleaned professionally. He would, I thought. Old brick should never be quite so red and scuff-free. It didn’t look right. Fake, almost. The bricks of his front steps looked fake. Fake brick. Who would choose to have fake brick? Real brick is cheap, it’s sturdy. What were they, plastic? Jesus. It was 12:33 am. 

        I knew Nick’s routine well. He typically came outside sometime between 12:15 and 12:45 to have one last cigarette and let Chuck out before heading to bed. I knew he would be coming out soon. He would find me sitting there like a desperate and crazy ex-girlfriend. Except I wasn’t an ex-girlfriend. I was just a slightly buzzed ex-something who was beginning to lose her senses. He would nearly trip over me, probably. Fuck. My heart started racing. It was my last chance to leave, to run away. To not be found out. I could go on and pretend like this had never happened. But I stayed. I consciously chose to stay on those plastic-looking brick front steps for a little bit longer. I knew then that I was out of my god damned mind. At least I knew it. 

 

 

THE AIRPORT

      Takeoffs and landings. Arrivals and departures. Escaping from one thing only to find another thing to need or want escaping from. Always leaving one place, one mood, only to inevitably arrive at yet another. Often I found myself not wanting to leave where I was, not because I liked it, but because I didn’t want to have to arrive anywhere else. Geographically, emotionally, metaphorically. It was the leaving and the arriving that were exhausting. The staying was easy. Tormenting, but easy. 

        The airport was a lot like life. Surrounded by selfish jerks and beautifully insane people. Frantic people, lost people, angry people, hungover people. People in sweatpants and Birkenstocks. People wearing inflatable pillows around their necks which they probably spent thirty dollars on. Everyone was in transit. Airports were the pauses. The spaces between one place and another. My life felt like one big in-between. The trouble was, I never knew what exactly it was that I was stuck between. I only knew that my flight definitely did not depart when I had planned for it to. That’s alright though. No one was expecting me. 

         Being inside of a city’s airport does not mean you have been to that city. No one ever goes to the airport who isn’t coming from some place or leaving to go someplace else. Or waiting. Some just wait. Some are irritated and tired and want nothing more than to be back home. Some are excited, going away from home, leaving the place they hate the most. Escaping their mundane existence to live a fantasy for a week, or maybe forever. There are too many rules. Too many staring contests. Too much sleep. Not enough rest. Some are traveling to places they don’t want to go to see people they don’t want to see. Business meetings. Funerals. Weddings. Honeymoons. Family emergencies. Family vacations. Surgeries. Wanderlust. Everybody has a story. And everybody thinks they’re more important than everybody else. Some stories aren’t worth telling. Mine certainly wasn’t.

         Some people wait patiently for the late flights carrying the ones they like to think are the loves of their lives. Precious cargo. The women fix their makeup in the airport bathrooms, trying way too hard to look their idea of perfect for the one they’re waiting for. He doesn’t even care what she looks like. He’s just happy to be off that plane and in her arms, and is looking forward to sleeping in his own bed. He doesn’t say anything to her about it, but really, really hopes that he is coming home to clean sheets. 

        Some search desperately for for an iPhone 5 charger, asking each person they pass by. Even if I had mine on me, I would always shake my head “no” when someone asked. Taking in the real world is so much better than staring at a screen, even if the only world you can see is the inside of an airport. Maybe if I didn’t loan them my charger, they would figure that out. Probably not. Some needed to get drunk or take more than the recommended dose of sleeping pills in order to fly. Admittedly, sometimes I was one of those. 

         He opted for the ‘pat-down’ at the airport because he believed the scanning machines would cause cancer. I think he read that on the internet somewhere. Everything causes cancer these days. I’d rather take the risks than be touched by a middle aged and overweight white man with crooked glasses and neck acne. If I avoided everything in the world that somebody told me causes cancer, I wouldn’t do anything ever. Someday, they’re going to try and tell us that sex causes cancer. Everyone who has sex sometime in their lives will eventually get cancer, if they live long enough. Will everyone stop having sex then? No. Confirmation bias. Well, he could go ahead and avoid all cancer-causing things, but I would enjoy my microwaved food, my cigarettes, my beer, my life without pat-downs at the airport. 

         I began to think that it didn’t matter who I was spending my time with – I would become sick of them more easily and more rapidly than is considered ‘normal’. He thought I was walking away, but I wasn’t. I was running away, as quickly as I could. I was running like hell. I was running like hell through the airport, and it looked suspicious.

A GUIDE TO FALLING IN LOVE WITH ME

I do not expect you to fall in love with me. In fact, I’d rather you don’t. Save yourself the trouble. Save yourself the time. Your future self will thank you for avoiding the inevitable misery that comes with loving one like me. But I know how you think. You want to fall in love with the women who don’t want your love, don’t need it, get along just fine without it. You want the broken ones. The difficult ones. You want the ones most likely to ruin your life. Well, congratulations. You’ve hit the jackpot. But one day, sooner than you’d like to think, you will tire of my flaws. If you really love me, you’ll have to love the ugly parts. It won’t be fun or glamorous. It won’t be easy. I cannot promise you much else, but I promise you this.

If you insist on falling in love with me, fall in love with how fucked up my head is. Don’t fall in love with my moles which are scattered so perfectly around my body they almost make you think they were placed there intentionally. Don’t fall in love with my bold red lipstick. One day, my small hands will be too shaky to apply it. Do not love me for my small breasts or the crooked curvature of my spine. In fact, don’t fall in love with my body at all. Instead, fall in love with my mind. I assure you darling, my mind will only get more lovely with time. If you do fall in love with my body, fall in love with my love handles. Those aren’t going anywhere.

Fall in love with the dirty looks you know very well I am capable of giving, but never give to you. If you have to fall in love with me, fall in love with the long hours I work despite the small paychecks I receive. Fall in love with my sore feet. My migraines. Fall in love with my skepticism, or my loss of hope. Fall in love with my lack of faith, and my loud mouth. Fall in love with the way I can never quite take the sweet compliments you so genuinely give to me. Give me those sweet compliments anyway.

Fall in love with the way my life has turned out exactly the way I did not intend for it to, and fall in love with how alright I am with that. Fall in love with my changed plans. Do not fall in love with the bold black lines in my tattoos, for if you fall in love with my love for the sun, you must know that those lines will fade. Fall in love with every tangle in my hair, the shade of which reminds you of dirty dishwater. Remember that someday it will turn grey. Love it when it does. Fall in love with the grotesque amounts of caffeine I consume each day, despite your gentle warnings not to.

Fall in love with my real frowns, not my fake smiles. Fall in love with how bad I am at math, and all of the reasons why – even if I haven’t told them to you yet. Trust that I will when I am ready. Fall in love with how mad I am able to make you. Fall in love with the way my dog hogs the bed, forcing you closer to me. Also fall in love with the dog hair you’ll find on your clothes after a night spent at my apartment. If you don’t, that dog hair could be the very thing to tear us apart. Fall in love with the chaos that surrounds me. For if you choose to be near to me, it will surround you too.

Fall in love with my fear of failure, but first fall in love with each of my failures. Fall in love with my sex drive, but don’t expect it to last forever. Fall in love with the way I never forget to take my birth control because I am terrified of passing on my genes. Know that this may mean we will never have children. Fall in love with the massages I give to you, but know that one day I will be too brittle and frail to rub your shoulders any longer. Fall in love with the way I always blame myself, or the way I never place the blame on you. Fall in love with how bad I am at lying. But please, never fall in love with telling me lies.

Fall in love with the way my hair won’t hold a curl. Fall in love with my sloppy handwriting, or the words I must to write down to keep myself from total insanity. Fall in love with the insanity that sometimes shows through anyway, and fall in love with how hard I try to hide it from you. Fall in love with my laughter – even when I snort. Fall in love with my nut allergies. Fall in love with the books I love, or the reality television I cannot stand. Fall in love with my fire, even when it threatens to burn you.

Fall in love with my quick wit, but know that someday it will slow way down. Don’t fall in love with my savings account or my resume. Those things don’t matter. I know that somebody told you they do. Don’t listen to that somebody. Do not fall in love with the food that I cook, or the photos I take. Don’t fall in love with my teeny-tiny black bikini. One day it won’t fit me. That day will come up on us more quickly than we imagine. Fall in love with my messiness. Fall in love with the paint I will get all over the floor of the house we will share someday. Fall in love with my godlessness. Don’t fall in love with my college degree. One day my brain will lose its sharpness and I will forget most of the things I learned in school. But I will never forget how to love you, and loving you is the most important thing I will ever learn to do.

It will be hard for me to fall in love with a you who wishes he’d never fallen in love with me in the first place. So please, fall in love with the bits of me most challenging to fall in love with, or don’t fall in love with me at all.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE OF SOMETHING

     I did not take compliments well. He learned that before he learned what year I was born, even before he ever heard me say the names of my dogs. I was almost certain I had lipstick on my teeth the night I met him, although he insisted I didn’t. I held a grudge against him over the next three months for not letting me know there was lipstick on my teeth that night. How could I ever trust him? I needed more people in my life who weren’t afraid to tell me when I had lipstick on my teeth or cilantro stuck between them. But he told me I was pretty, and as unappreciative of that simple compliment as I must have seemed, it made me feel something. 

      He got his hair cut much too often. Every other week or something stupid like that. I know why men get their hair cut so often, and it is not because it grows quickly. They like getting head massages and faux-attention from the big-titted ‘alternative’ looking bimbos who haven’t finished a book before. These ‘hair stylists’ never go by their real names. The only other profession I know of where a girl with a name like ‘Jessica’ or ‘Ashley’ is called a slightly less common name such as ‘Brooke’ or ‘Lana’  – is stripping. 

     I was looking at his thick brown hair which always naturally did this swoopy thing in front, admiring how sexy it looked, when he said “I need a haircut.”

     “You just got one last week. It looks good. Don’t cut it yet.”

      “I already made an appointment.”

      I sighed. I knew he didn’t really care what I thought. I didn’t even care what I thought. Hair doesn’t matter anyway. It’s all about eyes. At least he can’t change those, I thought. His were striking blue. Besides, God forbid he should have to ruin Brooke’s week by canceling on her. The poor girl had no skill set whatsoever. She wasn’t even good at cutting hair. But her tits were up to her chin, and honestly looked amazing. He should get his hair cut more often, I decided. Brooke needed the tips. She had no other way to make a living, and she probably had a couple of hungry and adorable little purebred Yorkies at home to feed. 

 

      When he got home from work that night, I was waiting for him on his brick front steps. The air was warm and clear. I wondered what the weather was like in Seattle then. I decided it was raining. It always rained in Seattle. That was why I left. 

      Standing in his living room, he touched my wrist lightly. The room was much too hot. I leaned against the wall, risking chips of old blue paint getting onto my polka-dotted blouse. I needed to support my thin and weary frame. His couch looked too expensive to sit on. I felt that I wasn’t worth the luxury fine leather had to offer. I didn’t understand why he had a fire roaring. It was August in Los Angeles. I didn’t ask. I didn’t complain, even though the sweat dripping down my face was beginning to ruin my perfect makeup and make me feel more self conscious than ever. We chain-smoked cigarettes until 4:00 AM, having only small snippets of meaningless conversation in between glasses of room-temperature Jameson. I preferred my whiskey on the rocks, but I didn’t tell him that. He did not need to know. Going to bed seemed childish. I didn’t want to sleep next to him in his California king with the oversized and fluffy hospital-white comforter, but I didn’t want to leave and go to sleep alone either. Maybe I just didn’t want to sleep at all. 

      My favorite color was red then. It was the boldest, loudest color I knew of. There is a fundamental difference between women who keep their nails and lips painted hot pink, and those who keep theirs red. He noticed that my nails were always red. 

      “Don’t you get bored of always keeping them the same color?” He asked, smirking. The sun was beginning to rise. 

      “No.”

      “If I was a chick, I would change my nail color every week, to match my outfits, or my mood, or some shit like that.”

      “No  you wouldn’t.” I smiled, “Besides, red does match my mood.” 

 

      Two weeks of over thinking later, he called me. I didn’t answer, because like many twenty-somethings who grew up with their iPhones glued to their hands, I was terrified of having a real phone conversation. I ignored the call and immediately texted him ‘What’s up?’ right afterward. ‘I have one of your earrings.’ he texted back. One of my clip-on earrings must have been left behind in his bed when I had slept over. I only wondered why it took him two weeks to find it. Did he not wash his sheets? Did he lend it to another girl he was seeing? I didn’t want to know, but I did want my earring back. That particular pair was a delightful vintage find from the 50s. I liked to wear them and imagine all of the places they had been before they had ended up on my ears. It was strange to think that my earrings had likely been through more than me. After all, they were more than twice my age. I preferred to wear clip-on earrings so that if I ever got really pissed off I could rip them off very dramatically, without causing myself to bleed. 

      I met him at the coffee place on the corner near my house to get the earring from him, but we ended up getting into a debate about whether or not objective morality exists, and he forgot to give me the earring back. I suddenly didn’t mind. 

      “Let’s grab a beer later”, he suggested. 

      I had been trying to quit drinking but was afraid of what he might think if I told him. 

      “Sure.” 

       Apparently to have dark roots looking stark against the rest of your bleach-blonde hair is quite the faux-pa in Los Angeles. I liked my dark roots, though, whenever I saw them, which admittedly was only when I used a public restroom, so not often. They had gotten pretty bad. I noticed them when I saw my reflection in the window as I entered the bar that night. 

       I have never kept mirrors in my house. I prefer to remain naive to the realness of my own physical flaws and to therefore leave my home feeling fresh, pretty, and confident each day. I once found a really beautiful, oversized mirror at an antique shop in Seattle. What I really liked about it was the ornate gold frame. I broke the mirror into a thousand pieces with a hammer and used the pieces to make a mosaic stepping stone which my mother probably still has in her garden. I replaced the frame with a big painting of my dog. If you have never broken a mirror purposefully with a hammer or some other tool, I really suggest you try it at least once. It was liberating.       

      He noticed my roots right away. We always noticed the same things. 

      “You should let it grow out”, he said. “I bet you’d look great with your natural hair color.”

       I wasn’t even quite sure what my natural hair color was. I’m still not. I have been dying it since I was eleven. I didn’t really want to see my natural color. Judging by the 2-inches of grow out he had just commented on, my hair color was a putrid shade of light brown. Almost grey. Growing up I had always wished I’d had dark features like my Italian mother, or light features like my Swedish father. Instead I was always directly in the middle with my hazel eyes and not-tan-but-not-pale white skin. I bleached my roots the following day. 

 

       Some of the girls I cocktailed with at the bar invited me to a ‘girls night’ that Thursday. I had never been to a ‘girls night’ before, and was not even positive what it would entail. I was honored to have been invited, though, and decided to stop by to find out what women do. I already knew what men did. 

       Samantha’s place was way too cute for a single woman’s abode, I remember thinking as I walked in. Every inch of her small apartment was homey and smelled like coffee cake. It seemed that she was quite the homemaker. For a moment I felt shame because my own apartment was disheveled with books and papers strewn everywhere and probably smelled like dog.  I lived in it, though. I really lived there. It didn’t appear that anyone lived in this apartment. There were seven girls including myself. I knew five of them from work. Melanie called me over to the kitchen where she was pouring cheap red wine into expensive champagne flutes.

       “See that girl over on the chair – Her name’s Liz.” she whispered. 

       “I just met her. Samantha introduced me.”

       “That’s Jake’s girlfriend. This is the first time I’ve met her. I don’t think she knows.” 

       I laughed uncomfortably. “Oh my god”, I whispered. “This should be interesting.”

       Melanie had slept with Jake a couple of times. Jake worked at the same bar we did. We knew he had a girlfriend but had never met her. She was friends with Samantha. In the service industry, it is very common to be hooking up with coworkers, or even to date one another. We are on different schedules than most other people and we spend many hours together each week, often getting off very late at night or in the early hours of the morning. We also drink together a lot. 

       Liz had short dark hair and very pronounced thick eyebrows. I was obsessed with women’s eyebrows. Hers were good. She was nice to look at. After observing her banter with the other girls for a few moments, I decided she was very different from the crude and loud Jake that I knew. When Liz got up to use the restroom, I told Melanie I couldn’t see them being a good fit. She said she felt guilty and wanted to leave. 

       I was feeling overwhelmed myself, and hell, I didn’t fuck any of these women’s boyfriends. In the bright yellow room full of women talking about things I didn’t care about at all, I suddenly felt ill. I had so often heard women speak about having a ‘girls night’ and had always wondered what I was missing out on. Here I was, thirty minutes into my first ‘girls night’ and all I could think about was how I would never get those thirty minutes back. 

       Two champagne flutes filled with red wine and one bottle of much-too-sweet hard apple cider later, Melanie and I were sitting on the couch next to one another, texting back and forth about how we wanted to leave Samantha’s apartment. Suddenly our texting conversation was cut short by Liz standing up and saying “So…I have something to tell you girls.”

       Melanie looked at me, a bit puzzled. 

       “Jake proposed last night!” Liz exclaimed, standing and holding her glass in the air, ripe and ready to be toasted. 

       Melanie’s face turned bright red. I felt sick from the sugary cider.  As the other girls started jumping up and squealing as I could have predicted they would, Melanie and I snuck out the back door of the chic apartment. We made sure to lock it behind us. 

 

        An hour later, we were sitting at the bar top in our favorite dark and hidden dive bar. We were the only ones in the hazy room aside from an extremely intoxicated woman unzipping her blouse at the other end of the bar and the bartender. 

        “What should I do?” Melanie asked.

        “What do you mean? You shouldn’t do anything.”

        “What would you do? Would you tell her?”

        “Fuck no, I wouldn’t tell her,” I said with certainty. 

        “I just don’t feel right knowing that she is going to marry a man whom she has no idea cheated on her.”

         ”Well, that’s her problem.”

         “But wouldn’t you want someone to tell you?”

         “I wouldn’t agree to marry anyone in the first place, so this situation wouldn’t happen to me.” I sucked lightly on the olive from the bottom of my martini. 

         The drunk woman from the other side of the bar hit her head on the door on her way out. Mike, the bartender, went after her because she had forgotten to pay her tab. She gave him a wad of dirty cash, took her heels off, and left. Out the window, I saw her getting into a large black SUV, but hoped that there was someone else in the drivers seat. Upon realizing there wasn’t, I ran outside. I knocked on the dark tinted window of the driver’s side door, my heart beating quickly. The woman slowly rolled it down. I could hear her sobbing. 

        “Hi there.” I said in the friendliest stern voice I could. 

        “I’m wasted.” she wept. “Are you going to call the cops on me??”

        “No, I’m not going to call the cops, but you can not drive. Please get out of the car. I’ll call you a cab.”

        “I don’t have any money”, she said. “I can drive. I swear. I’m not going very far.” The woman gagged. The thought crossed my mind that she would probably puke in the cab I was about to pay for. 

        “Come on, I have gotten a DUI before. Trust me, it isn’t worth it. Please get out of the car.” 

         She stared at me. I looked straight into her eyes. Though we had eye contact, I knew she was looking right through me. She was pretty, or at least she was at some point in her life. I felt bad for her. I had been her before. 

         “Why are you crying?”

         “I don’t know.” she said, with traces of shame in her raspy voice. 

         The woman reluctantly stepped down from her SUV, almost falling on the pavement. I grabbed her keys so that she wouldn’t lock them in the car, but it became obvious that she had no intention of locking her doors, so I did so for her. I double checked the parking signs on the street before calling her an Uber from my phone. She would need to move her car by 10 AM the next morning to avoid a parking ticket, but a $50 parking ticket was far better than a $2,000 DUI or worse – killing someone. 

          After sending her on her way in a black Prius Uber, I felt relief. She was the most drunk person I have ever seen try to drive a car. This was the closest I would likely ever come to saving a life. I looked at the digital clock on my phone. It was 12:01 AM. There was another martini and a chocolate cupcake with a candle in it waiting for me when I walked back into the dark bar. 

         “Happy Birthday, lady.” Melanie grinned. I had forgotten that the following day was my birthday. My early twenties were officially over. Somehow I felt that I was the one someone should have been calling a cab for. I didn’t even like chocolate. I just wanted my god damned earring back.