ROOT BEER BREATH

       It was winter in Los Angeles. If you’ve never spent any part of a winter in Los Angeles, this story could just as well begin with ‘It was summer in ____’, the blank representing any number of other cities in America. The air was crisp yet warm and the smog induced sunsets were capable of making even the most hurried Hollywood hotshots stop and sigh. Most days, I was thankful to be living there. But by the end of the ninth day of January of that particular year, I was not very thankful to be living at all. 

 

      The dark green bruises on my face and neck were easily covered with makeup for the most part. To draw the attention of others away from the scratches and scars – to keep them from suspecting any trouble  - was a surprisingly simple task. I often thought jokingly to myself about making a series of YouTube tutorial videos: How To Cover Bruises On A Budget. They’d go viral because people would think they were a joke. The only time anyone came close to figuring it out was when a coworker asked me if I could go out for drinks with her, and I told her my boyfriend wouldn’t allow it. I knew immediately that I had made a mistake in telling her and should have bit my tongue. Maura had been a victim of domestic abuse years prior and knew the warning signs well. I told her I had a bleeding ulcer (which was actually true) and that my boyfriend would get mad if he found out I was drinking alcohol because it was very bad for said ulcer. Hiding the bruises was only the beginning of the lies I had signed myself up to tell, and I had never been a very good liar. We went out that night after work and I had a root beer and talked about my captor for hours as if he were the love of my life. I fooled Maura that night and for many nights to follow, but I could never manage to fool myself, not even for a goddamn second. 

 

       I came home from the bar on the night of January ninth, sober and completely terrified. It was around 2:54 AM. Now, I say “around”, because that’s what the clock on my phone said. I have no idea what his said, but I can tell you that it did not please him when I was late. When I walked in after toggling with the dated gold lock for a moment, he was sitting in the dark and smoky apartment we shared with a brand new, shiny Kershaw knife in his hand – the type of knife not made for cutting things but for stabbing people. I thought for certain he would kill me then. Sometimes, looking back, I still wish that he had. Things far worse than an abusive boyfriend threatening to kill me were yet to come my way. 

 

       That adoring boyfriend of mine whose name was Benson Randall stared me down for a few moments then, stroking that pretty black knife slowly so as not to mistakenly slice one of his own precious fingers. My movements were careful, as I knew that knife was not the only deadly weapon he had within reach. If I came home too late at night by his standards, he would typically have one of his guns hidden underneath the couch cushions, just to scare me if I happened to use the wrong tone of voice with him. I cleared my throat before speaking in an attempt to sound as collected and classy as possible. 

       “I’m sorry…” I began. I wasn’t. 

       “Oh you are?” Benson interrupted, standing up and coming towards me, leaving the knife on the wooden coffee table I had built with my own hands. 

       “Yes. I tried to come straight home after work, but Maura seemed suspicious, so I went out with her.”

        “Where did you go?” he asked, lighting a cigarette. I hated it when he smoked in our apartment.

        “That little bar up the street from here… The… Something room …I can’t remember the name. There was no one there and all I had was a —”

        He grabbed me roughly by my bare shoulders, exposed by my shirt. The thin material had betrayed me like a cheating lover. Bare skin transformed him into a wild animal, especially if it was mine. He put one hand over my mouth to silence me then and pulled me towards him with the other. If I wasn’t so scared for my life, I might’ve been turned on. 

         “Let me smell your breath.” he spoke in a mere whisper, but the demanding tone made me feel like I was being yelled at.

         I blew my root beer breath towards his perfectly chiseled face, but before he decided whether it was acceptable or not he had already begun ripping my pants off of me and grabbing at my stomach and ribs aggressively. I surrendered without much of a fight, not to the possibility of sexual satisfaction but to that of yet another slow and painful beating at the hands of the man who claimed to love me. I knew exactly what was coming, because it always started the same way. I did not believe in God, but as one of Benson’s strong hands began to tighten around my neck and the other slapped me across the face over and over again, I wished for one small moment that I did – just so I could beg him to let me die right then. 

TWO CUPS OF TEA

How delightful

it might be

to someday 

make two

cups of tea

instead of

just the one. 

 

How lovely

it would be

to be stirred

awake

just once

by someone else’s

breath

instead of 

my own. 

 

“Two” I could say

proudly

when the tall man 

at the ticket counter

would ask me

“How many?” 

It may be twice the cost

for two tickets

 

 

but

oh,

wouldn’t it be worth it?

PLASTIC DAISIES

PLASTIC DAISIES

the girls all wore crowns 
of white plastic daisies on 
their heads and high-waisted shorts
because someone they followed
on Instagram
convinced them to 
they painted their nails 
pastel hues
and the boys wore american flag
bandanas
and tank tops which accentuated
the biceps 
they had earned
in a cult called cross fit
they all drank too much but 
not because they had demons
- they didn’t
and none of them knew who
friedrich nietzsche was or how to spell
‘melancholy’
or what it might feel like 
they all said ‘literally’ too much and 
did whatever someone called beyonce told them to 
they re-posted listicles
over and over
about how to be happy or 
successful or 
great
but the only thing they were 
to me
was blasé 
fake optimism was spreading 
like disease
they took pictures of their green smoothies and
sometimes their own feet
if you can believe that and
none of them cared that they were all being
brainwashed 
or maybe 
didn’t even realize it
but I did

 

 

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.