Are You Bummed Or Stoked?

Having a car in Hawaii has changed my life. Not only because I am no longer wandering around on the side of the road with all the wild turkeys, or lugging a backpack full of groceries up a hill, but because I’ve now been able to discover Hawaii’s radio stations. One in particular which has a talk show called “Bummed or Stoked,” that airs every morning around seven. Each day the host picks a topic and asks listeners to call in and explain why they are either bummed or stoked on it. “Today we are talking about……online shoppinggggg!” The male voice says, “Call us now and tell us if you’re bummed or stoked!” This caught my attention because for some reason I thought the topic may be something like social media, or Michelle Obama. But online shopping? “I’m bummed!” A woman said. “It’s so expensive to ship to the island and it takes so long!” “She’s bummmmmed!” The host confirmed. The next day it was T.V. “Are you bummed or stoked on T.V.?” “I’m bummed! Cable has so many commercials!” I haven’t listened to enough of these morning shows but from what I’m hearing the only people who call in are women, and they are all bummed about everything.

No one is very creative or inquisitive either. Like, I had questions about such a broad topic. T.V. as in the invention of the television? If so I am stoked that there is television. The ability for people to create shows and air them, what amazing creativity and storytelling! Not to mention media in general, a way to control all of society- true power! If you are wondering if I’m stoked or bummed about what’s on TV right now, I would have no idea because I am in a comitted relationship with Netflix and I’m a faithful partner. If we are talking about genres of television programming, I am stoked on all reality television except for Cops. “Let’s take another caller!” the host exclaimed.  “I am bummed on commercials,” another lady listener agreed, and not in a firey, passionate way as if you were on the phone with your bank trying to fix an incorrect charge, or ordering a pizza. In a friendly, pleasant way, like you were returning a call from a potential employer who wants to set up an interview.

Oh come on, I thought as I crept along behind a truck going 15 miles per hour. I want more! What about commercials? Be specific. What about the Carl’s Jr commercials with a hot girl eating a hamburger in a silver bikini? Does that bum you out? Because it bums me out. Or what about Adam Levine’s Pro Active skin care commercials? Those are a real bummer too. Just calling and cheerily announcing “I’m bummed about commercials!” and then hanging up? You were on the air, you had people listening to you. You missed your chance to voice your true opinons and thoughts to a wide spread audience. That’s all I want, the ability to be on the air reading my opinionated, whiny and complainy blog posts to people forced to listen because they are waiting to hear Jennifer Lopez’s “If you had my love” that was going to play right after.

Another interesting thing about Hawaii’s radio stations is the songs they play. I have heard The Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta Feeling” on multiple radio stations almost everyday. I’m not bummed about this, but it raises more questions. I have also heard Britney Spear’s “Toxic,” Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” Fifth Harmony’s “Worth It,” R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts,” and a number of Taylor Swift and Phil Collins songs all on the same station. It’s basically my iPod, but being broadcasted. I’m stoked. Other things I’m stoked about:

I’m Stoked:

My jungle shanty. My new home is one of the most beautiful places I may ever live in my life. Complete with Koki frogs, beautiful sunsets, rainy nights and sunny mornings, I look forward to going home each night. Every moment spent there feels like a quiet escape from reality.

I’m Bummed:

Parking in my jungle shanty. My white mainland Mazda is zippy and small but not equipped for the jungle roads its now enduring everyday. It now lives in the middle of wet jungle grass underneath a tree that splatters juicy berry innards all over it. When dried, the berry juice looks exactly like blood and I drive around the island looking like the roadkill Queen. I will stare at it sitting there in the middle of an open jungle feild worrying the humid air is going to make the engine erode and waiting for the tires to fall off from constantly driving over uneven rocks, until I remember how for a year I parked it in a dirt alley behind an abandoned house in Hollywood that may have been a potential meth lab. It survived all the homeless squatting near it/sleeping under it so I’m sure it can handle it’s new exotic enviornment.

I’m Stoked:

Everywhere you look in Hawaii, there are magical couples. I always meet the best couples in Hawaii. First it was my beloved Alis and Jeremy, now I’ve met Leah and Roland, and Jolene and Dr. Head, all people who make an incredible team with their significant other, and who make me believe that, (along with my parents), we may be lucky enough to find a friend who you love and who you can create and live in your own special world with, a true partner to enjoy life with.

I’m Bummed:

I am literally on the highway to spinsterhood. Minus all the hope these couples are bestowing upon me, the cold reality may be that my life partner is my jungle shanty. Out of curiosity one night, I browsed Tinder- only to meet Koko, who in his picture is shirtless, has a tattoo of the Hawaiian islands across his chest and is wearing a crown of Hawaiian flowers around his bald head. The picture looks professional, like he got it done at a studio, because he is posed with his arms crossed in front of a muted backdrop. Maybe he dances on the beach with fire, I thought. When I mentioned this to my friend she said, “Maybe you are in Hawaii to just love yourself.” “But what about Koko?” I said, confused, and wanting to love Koko.

I’m Stoked:

My new cat Figs. I hate cats, and the night I moved into my jungle shanty a scrawny black and white one showed up on the porch, howling. I drew the curtains, turned off all the lights and hid until he went away. He showed up again the next morning and every night after. “He is your spirit animal,” my friend said once I told her. “He showed up in your time of self discovery.” This prompted me to open the curtains and take a closer look at this cat. His face was scowling, but in it, I saw myself. “You have resting bitch face too,” I said. He purred. I pet him. He let me pet him for awhile and then he left, disappearing into the darkness. When I realized he just wanted to hang out for a few minutes and then do his own thing, I named him Figauro. After I started to get to know him I shortened it to Figs. Figs is wryly and has a lot to say. When we sit together he meows constantly and I just let him let it all out. “You’ve seen some weird shit,” I tell him. From the sharp pitch and depth of his howl I can tell he’s pretty observant as well as opinionated. He climbs trees and chases chickens and enjoys shredded cheese and all these things endear me to him. Almost every night I come home he’s sitting on the porch waiting for me. There are nights when he’s off having adventures but that’s fine, his mystery is intruiging and I understand not wanting to get stuck in a routine. We hang out on the porch for awhile, sometimes he comes inside to meow and case the place and then he leaves. “Goodbye Figs, stay out of trouble,” I say as he swaggers off. I know he will get into trouble, mainly because he will show up in the morning with all sorts of shit in his whiskers. If Figs is my spirit animal, I’m ok with that. He’s kind of an ok cat.

I’m Bummed:

Figs is wild and now I’m attached. You can’t tame wild things and if he gets eaten by a jungle boar I will be bummed.

I’m Stoked:

Island life is great because when driving you can pull your car to the side of the road, jump out, and hack away at a coconut or banana tree with the machete you keep in your trunk. Drive around the island and keep your eyes open, you’ll see it everywhere.

I’m Bummed:

Apparently I stole a lady’s mangoes. The tree looked like it was up for grabs but it was not. She came out of nowhere as I was gleefully filling the trunk of my car with wild produce. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I kept saying as I unloaded it all, piling mangoes into her arms.

I’m Stoked:

Poke. So delicious.

I’m Bummed:

Spam. Even disguised as sushi and wrapped in seaweed and rice, it’s unidentified mixed meat that came from a can,

Throughout my day there are a million things that bum me out, but also that make me stoked. It’s a constant roller coaster of ups and downs. But sometimes it’s simple, you’re stoked to watch Cops, but bummed there’s a commercial. And the commercial will end and Cops will come back on. And that’s it. No big deal. Life doesnt have to be lived wading through the grey area all the time, it’s ok for it to be black and white. And always know that when you’re bummed, there’s usually always something coming up to be stoked about.

Riding The Bus

There is probably a semi-large staff of bus drivers on the Big Island, all assigned to different routes, but the one that drives the bus on my particular schedule is a real life Ogre. When I have, well, if I ever have children I won’t read them fairy tales, I will tell them tales of their real life mother who rode a broken down bus on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean which was driven by a lumpy, slightly grey, toothy Ogre. My children will be tough, they won’t yell at me to stop or have nightmares, they will be intrigued, just like I was, with this bus driving Ogre. “Mommy, what do you mean lumpy? Were her teeth sharp or just missing?” they will ask me, enchanted and fearless. “One was kind of jagged, pretty sharp, pointy,” I’ll say.

The first day I rode the bus, I was an hour early. My jungle shanty is a bit off the gird and to get to the bus stop requires a mile and a half journey through coffee fields. My job begins at 7:15 am, and the first bus into town is scheduled at 6 am, the next one arriving at 8 am, which would be too late meaning I would miss my job and be unable to live in my jungle shanty, so you can see how in preparation, I left my house at 5 in the morning. I can run a mile in around six and a half minutes so obviously if I am walking a mile and a half I must allot myself an hour. As I walked in the darkness down the path with roosters and chickens crowing and rustling in the bushes I kept feeling like someone was behind me. I used the feel this way when walking back to my Hollywood apartment from the grocery store at night. Only there, someone was usually behind me, and they were usually talking to themselves or pushing a shopping cart full of old bottles. Here, I realized I was being followed by a gang of weenie dogs. Now that I’ve worked with animals, I fancy myself some kind of female Francis of Assisi. “Hi weenies,” I called out to them, just as they began to show all of their teeth. “Weenies?” I asked as all four of them began to take off in a run- straight towards me. I stood there watching them charge towards me, just kind of preparing myself for the scenario of what was about to happen. “Vicious weeeeenies” I whispered creepily to myself as I took off down the road, turning to look behind me as they kept following me. They were kind of small, but they out numbered me. Can I kick them? I thought. No, just keep running. I can run a mile just shy of five minutes and fifty seconds when a pack of evil weenie dogs are chasing me.

I arrived at the bus stop drenched in sweat and an hour early. As I sat there watching everything around me begin to glow in the morning sun, I noticed a turkey that had wandered out into the middle of the road, trying to cross it- just as a huge lifted truck came barreling down the highway. Oh my Go- Turkey’s scream, it is one of the most ungodly and terrifying noises I have ever heard, but the cloud of feathers that burst into the air was strangely, and darkly beautiful as they floated around in the soft morning light. The whole thing haunted me all week long. As I sat at this beautiful bus stop in the middle of the jungle, turkey feathers and death hanging in the air, the bus finally arrived. As the doors opened I stood at the bottom of the steps peeing up at my driver. I realized I looked like I was wearing tie dye scrubs because some patches of sweat had dried leaving random sweat spots all over my top – I’m sure on my butt as well. Wearing scrubs always makes my butt so uncomfortably hot for some reason, it may be the material, or lack of air conditioning in my office, or island climate- swampy scrub butt is how I describe it to my boss, as he cringes in disgust. “Good morning!” I squeaked as I pulled dollar bills out of my pockets and shuffled myself up the steps of the bus. As I shoved my money into the money compartment I realized this woman was staring at me like the weenies had. Their faces just full of agitation that I was in their territory, intruder. I smiled at her, my dopey smile where I don’t show any teeth that instantly turns me into five year old me again. “Sit down..please,” she said and I realized I had lingered too long, staring at her and smiling. She said please, how polite, maybe she is kind and grandmotherly. I turned to look at the bus. There were three people on it- all hunched over, asleep, although I can’t really be sure. In retrospect, they may have been dead, I never witnessed any of them wake up or get off the bus while I was riding it. I took a seat in the front, right behind the Ogre- because I have absolutely no common sense.

As she drove she silently grunted. At first I found it comical, and then I was afraid. The grunts were not normal sounding. Not like an overweight person just shifting around, the grunts were of a different time, like the medieval ages where people jousted one another for sport. Her grunts were loud enough to be heard over the sounds of the bus, which sounded like at any minute the wheels would fly out from underneath the Ogre, me, and the three dead passengers, leaving us pummoling off the cliff and into the abyss of the jungle and joining the turkey in heaven.

My jungle shanty is approximately eight miles away from my work. By car it takes less than ten minutes with no traffic. By bus, it takes thirty minutes. Thirty minutes of stop, go, grunt, stop, grunt, stop, grunt, stop again. I was studying my bus driver in the rear view mirror. Her face looked hardened and cold. What kind of life has she had?  Suddenly she noticed me and our eyes locked in the rear view mirror and I dopily grinned at her again. She stared back, ice cold. Grunt. I looked outside and realized my stop was coming up. I was looking around for a line or button to push to let her know I needed to get off but I didn’t see one anywhere. It was still just me and the dead people, we hadn’t picked anyone up at a stop so I had no one to demonstrate how to get off the bus correctly. I grunted. In unison with the Ogre.

Left to my own devices, I have no street smarts. I seem to get by because no one really notices me, I’m not very threatening, so I can usually just bounce around under the radar and I survive. But when traveling on a bus and needing to get off, I have to be a presence, a presence on the bus that needs to ask for the bus to stop. This may seem like no big thing for most people, but to an awkward human being, this is a challenging and exhausting task. I stood up in the bus and the Ogre’s eyes turned sharply towards me in the rear view mirror. I inched into the aisle and the bus lurched, causing me to half fall over. “Can I get off here?” I asked from the floor. “Wait,” the ogre told me. “Ok,” I said watching as my work passed by the window. Now, I was standing next to the Ogre, holding onto the pole by her seat to balance myself. I wish I had a picture of the two of us, me standing by her wearing sweaty scrubs, we were so close that if we both smiled it would look like we were friends. But her scowl, and my wide, frightened eyes would reveal the truth- we were strangers.

“Um how long do I have to wait to get off the bus?” I asked timidly as we went flying down a hill, all I could see was the hill I would have to walk all the way back up to get to work. Suddenly the bus darted to the side of the road and stopped. I looked behind me at my fellow passengers who still were hunched over comatose in their seats. The doors flew open and I looked at the Ogre. “Thank you,” I said falling all over myself as I stumbled down the steps. “Have a nice day-” I whispered as the doors slammed shut and the bus took off. I stood there in the cloud of dirty bus exhaust looking up at the hill that lay before me. If I was younger, I would look at the hill and the Ogre the same way. I can climb this hill, and charm this monster, my younger self would have thought. But now, I know. You will always have to climb the hill and it’s always worth it because it feels damn good once you get to the top all by yourself, but don’t waste your charms on Ogres. There’s only so much energy you can give of yourself.

Instead, I reveled in my Ogre bus driver. I knew everyday when my bus arrived I could be unfriendly and silent, grunting to her as I shoved my two dollars into the money machine before taking my seat. I actually think she liked me better that way, I certainly did. It was almost as if we had merged into one soul, both risking our lives riding this broken down bus, both unsure of what we were doing, both upset and angry at the injustices of the world. Why must some have to take the bus and some never have to..and worse, why must some drive the bus, our serious faces told each other. Our grunts solidifying our sameness. I imagine myself telling my kids one day, “There are Ogres in the world, and you will encounter them, but you can’t believe they are against you, even if you feel they are. The minute you start believing everyone you encounter is against you is the moment you yourself will turn into an Ogre.”

When You Lose In Love

It really isn’t a surprise I guess, but Josh turned out to be untrue to me. The statement itself makes me sound like such a weepy ninneymuggins- I can’t say it out loud without the added drama of holding my fist to my heart in woe. But his mistake has cost him and myself any sort of stable or safe harbor to dock ourselves in as we navigate through this adventure we embarked on together. It is my fault of course, because I chose this, I chose him, carelessly, and recklessly. What he doesn’t realize is that when I look at him now, he appears to be the same. I don’t see him as smaller, or as a ninneymuggins himself. It’s myself that has changed to me. When I look in the mirror now, I see someone smaller and of less worth. Someone who is not enough. And this has turned out to be a dangerous feeling. It has overwhelmed me, and knocked me down into the trenches, and when no one is around, you can get left there, until you are able to pull yourself out- which can take some time.

When down in the trenches I often think of ninneymuggins things like how one of the most beautiful, rare and invaluable gifts of life, is this idea of love. Love reassures you that although you are capable of overcoming what may come your way on your own,  when you find yourself at your weakest, there is a person more courageous than you at the time, who will just be there. Humans are not perfect, and therefore nothing we do will ever be, but love highlights human beings and human nature at both our worst and our best. This courage that you can show someone else, is one of the most important and rewarding parts of love. But courage requires incredible risk, and this is why love is so fragile. If we fail in love, we ourselves risk breaking. Cowardice will leave you fully formed, unbroken and unscathed, and completely alone. But there is always hope, where there is weakness, there is always bravery.

Cowardice is loud. It screams, “I’m writing you off. Go away. You deserve worse and I deserve better.” It’s the Rihanna song “You look so dumb right now/ Standing outside my house/ Trying to apologize/ You’re so ugly when you cry/ Please.” Or the Beyonce song about packing up all the boxes to the left and “get gone.”  But courage is quiet and forgiving, it’s more of a soft and poetic James Taylor song or Stevie Nicks talking about how “rulers make bad lovers, so you better put your kingdom up for sale.” James Taylor and Stevie love and lose and learn and forgive and let go- they are ninnymuggins too. Celine Dion too, she’s the biggest ninneymuggins of them all- but my God how can you not realize the enormous capacity at which hearts can break and heal when Celine is wearing glittery gowns and declaring her heart will go on in a high falsetto while pounding her chest on stage in the middle of Vegas? Courage isn’t always dramatic or bold though. It can be as understated as not leaving when someone is upset, actively listening to someone else, reaching out to hold another’s hand, any small gesture that quietly tells another “you aren’t alone, I’m down here with you and I’m not leaving you here, because you are enough.”  I believe everyone is deserving of that feeling.

But sometimes you just won’t be enough or you will make someone else feel like they aren’t enough- and this is where you will get stuck. Either standing outside someone’s house trying to apologize while they call you dumb, or being inside the house packing everything they own in a box to the left and telling them to “get gone”- I’ve been on both sides. And both sides leave you completely dumbfounded, wondering what to do next and what to make of our relationships when we have lost in love. When you’ve made a mistake, do you put up your defenses, scatter eggshells around yourself so that anyone who tries to approach you has to tread so lightly that they will never be heard?  I have learned that defenses only build castle walls around yourself (and rulers make bad lovers), whereas admitting “I was wrong,” can be a very strong beginning.

Love can be many different conversations, but it is never silencing. It is not one person on a soap box, if anything it is two people down on the ground, and at an equal level, sharing and listening to one another. This is hard for people, we seem to live in a world full of alphas, and love is disappointing to us in so many ways because it is a blaring reminder that we are imperfect, at times dishonest and ugly, and at times regular human beings. We spend so much of our time trying to hide that from one another. But what’s the point? I’ve made mistakes, let me tell you about them, let me teach you what I have learned. We are each others greatest teachers, especially when it comes to love.

Maybe you can never lose in love for this reason, it is a constantly evolving and in flux dialogue that we will share with others (romantic or not) all of our lives- or as long as we are alive and part of the human race.

Maybe.

Wearing Scrubs In Hawaii

When I got to Hawaii, I had no idea what kind of job I would get. I, like usual, had no plan. If anyone asked I would tell them, “I plan on teaching….or working in hospitality.” The two are not related in any way, and all it really revealed to anyone was that I had no plan at all. I applied to almost every hotel on the Big Island and got absolutely no call backs, but I did however have a few interesting teaching interviews:

“And what did you do at David LaChapelle?”

“I worked on photoshoots. On set I would do all sorts of things. Run errands, cater to the talent. I worked with all sorts of people, like Amanda Lepore.  I also was responsible for making chains of life out of photographs of naked bodies.”

“Chains of nak-who is Amanda Lepour?”

“A transgender pop singer. One of her big hits is ‘I don’t know much about clothes but my hair looks fierce. Wait, I think it might just be called my hair looks fierce, but that’s the hook.”

“I am not familiar..so why do you want to work with…special needs children? Is that why you moved to Hawaii?”

I paused, because it had all become very unclear. One day, after another awkward and confusing teaching interview, I received a call from a veterinary hospital asking me to come in for an in person interview. My in person interview ended with a follow up working interview the next day. “Do you like animals?” My friend asked me once I got home and told her. “Of course! I like cats in theory but I would never actually want to care for one. Feral cats are cool, I think I like cats because they are so bitchy and to themselves, ya know? Although, I think everyone should be the kind of person their dog thinks they are. And I am very fond of sea turtles.” My friend was quiet, and we sat together in silence, but a blaring silence, one that screamed impending disaster, hopefully one that didn’t involve death or lawsuits.

I had never really given animals much thought before. I love to look at cute pictures of puppies wearing funny hats as much as the next person, but other than that I never really… reach out to them. If I see a dog in passing on the street, I never pet it, I just smile at it and keep my distance, because animals are unpredictable. That dog could sense my fear and weakness and just go for my jugular. I have no idea. They are wild and have really tamed them? These beasts we walk around on leashes and buy fake stuffed squirrels for?  I mean, who do we think we are?

When I was a child I was scarred by three incidents involving animals. The first was involving snails. When I first learned to walk I would toddle around my grandmother’s garden stomping on snails who were eating her plants. “Smash them!” My grammie would instruct, pointing at one, slowly trying to escape the pathway leaving a trail of shiny, fluorescent slime behind. I would toddle over to it, wobbly and unstable in a way that made it look like I was dancing over it’s body, smooshing their gooey guts all over the sidewalk while my grandmother cheered me on. Later in life, the guilt of this would lead to me becoming an advocate of shelled slugs. When I saw a group of kids at recess, all gathered around an overturned snail, slowly sprinkling salt all over its boneless body and squealing as it bubbled up in pain, I would go a-wall. Tattling on them and calling them killers. In retrospect, I probably scarred them more than they scarred me, but I had a debt to repay.

The second, was my friend rolling her hamster, who was trapped in it’s “hamster ball,” down a flight of stairs. The hamster lived, but I don’t know how. I also called her a killer, even though she didn’t kill her hamster, and I’m not sure what her intention was. Some sort of sick enjoyment, rolling a tiny rodent down a flight of stairs in a plastic neon pink ball. Senseless. The last was when my friend’s older brother shot a cat with a bb gun. The image has been burned into my memory forever. The cat was white, it’s fur stained with red blood, running away from my friend’s evil older brother who was chasing it with a gun. I ran home screaming to my mom about blood and dead cats and I wept for days. My so-called safe, suburban childhood was full of animal abuse. Before going into my working interview I contemplated whether or not I should share any of these stories with the veterinary technicians or even the doctor- perhaps they would make me memorable or set me apart from the other candidates. I decided it absolutely would. “Don’t just offer that stuff up,” my friend told me, adding, “no offense.” I was offended.

When I got to the hospital which was surrounded by banana trees and in a huge blue house  that has been converted into an animal hospital, making it seem cozy and safe instead of sterile and scary, I was met by a group of girls who all looked around twenty-five, and all wearing scrubs. I was given a pair of scrubs to wear and told to change in the bathroom. In the bathroom, I stood looking at myself in my new uniform. My scrub top fit ok, but my bottoms were a little too short, and too wide around the waist, resulting in them sagging down my butt, but still awkwardly hovering above my shoes. I did not look like a doctor, I looked like I was wearing an ill fitting last minute Halloween costume. I had also been instructed to wear my hair up, so I fashioned it in a bun. When my hair is in a bun on top of my head I look like a ballerina, but when worn with ill fitting blue scrubs I look like a lunch lady. I gathered up the waist of my pants to hold them up and went to join the others.

I was immediately put in front of a phone and told by a vet technician to “do the recall list.” In front of me was a long list with names and numbers. “These are pets that we need to check up on, some of them have had surgery, some of them had vaccines, and so on and so on. Look up their records here.” She started clicking boxes on the screen, pulling up medical records. “And ask them the basic questions, are they eating and drinking normally, are they vomiting or having diarrhea and what their bowel movements are like. Any questions?” She sat down next to me, “I’ll be here if you need anything.” I looked at the list and realized residents in Hawaii name their pets interesting things- “Elehu, Pounder, Bijox, Moo, and Spit” were all cats. There was a “Bo,” a “Beau,” and a “BoBo,” all dogs, five “Konas,” also all dogs, three “Coco’s” two of which were cats, and one was a dog, another dog named “Kevin,” and the last name on my list was Hitler- a male cat, not neutered.

The first name on my list was “Zaboomafoo Leons.” When I looked at Zaboomafoo’s record it stated that Zaboomafoo was a male cat, who had just gotten neutered. I looked at the tech sitting next to me, who smiled at me encouragingly. I picked up the phone. In Hawaii, when you are making calls you begin with “Aloha!” and you end with “Mahalo.” “Aloha!” I squeaked, “This is Jennifer, calling from the Kona Veterinary Hospital. I am just calling to check on Zaboomafoo and see-” “Oh I was just about to call you!” the voice on the other end of the line said. “We noticed Zaboomafoo has been having watery poop, is this normal after the surgery he had?” I started to sweat. “Watery…waste?” I repeated, I somehow couldn’t bring myself to say “poop.” “Yes, yesterday it was hard but today its much softer. He’s been eating a little more than yesterday, but why is his poop so watery? What does that mean? Also we are having a hard time giving him his pain meds, what do you suggest?” I could feel myself clench my butt, something I do when I’m nervous. “Um, you could try putting the pill in cheese,” I said, who am I? Does cheese kill cats? Put them on hold! “Cheese? Really?” I looked at the tech sitting next to me, who was nodding, like she could hear the whole conversation on the other end through the phone, and then gave me the thumbs up. “We also sell pill pockets in different flavors, cats like the salmon flavored ones,” she whispered to me. “Yes cheese, and maybe that would harden up his waste?” I said, half like a question. The tech frowned. “We also sell pill pockets that taste like salmon,” I added. “Has Zaboomafoo been drinking water?” I asked. “Oh yes, yes. You know what we will try the cheese and get back to you, we’ll keep you updated, but if you could ask the Doctor about the watery stool that would be great. Also if you could ask the doctor if we do a fecal test, does sunlight affect the stool sample?” I paused, “Like if it’s been sitting out in the sun?” I whispered. “Yes, would it mess up the results in any way?” I paused. “I will ask. And then…I will call you back about the runs I mean watery stool and sunlight..”I trailed off. “Ok great thank you!” “Um, mahalo,” I hung up. The tech smiled, “Great, now I’ll show you how to record what they just told you.” Inside, I was panicking.

Next was answering a phone call. “Aloha, Kona Veterinary Hospital, this is Jennifer how may I help you?” “My dog got hit by a car, his leg is bleeding, can I bring him in right now?” My butt clenched so hard. “Hold,” I said and pushed hold. In emergency situations, my natural reaction is to pass it on. Hold! Let me go find someone who can handle this, I yell as I run away my butt cheeks tightly pursed together. I repeated this info to the tech, who did not seem the least bit rattled, in fact she seemed calm, like aloha mucho calm, as she soothingly instructed me to get back on the phone and ask how far away they were, if they were a current client and if the dog was breathing. I tried to mimic her nurturing and soothing voice. “Alohahankyouforholding,” I said all in one monotone breath which made me sound like a sex phone operator. I could feel my ill fitting scrub bottoms drooping, and am pretty sure my neon colored underoos were on display as I hovered over the phone trying to scribble everything down on a piece of paper.

Whoever I was talking to was cutting in and out and I could barely hear him. “Eee-hoo is my dogs name, the last name is Kai. He’s breathing, we are about an hour away.” I typed Ehu Kai into the patient database and a client listing came up. “Ok we have your information, we will see you in an hour.” I said hanging up. I told the vet tech the information, and she told me to come with her while they alerted the other nurses and the doctor. “What kind of dog is Ehu?” she asked. I looked at the file. “It says a chihuahua,” I said reading off the computer screen.

Then it time for a prescription filling tutorial. “People will call with prescription request, just always look in the file,” she started clicking buttons on the computer as I stared into cupboards filled with animal drugs, needles and syringes. “This,” she said opening a cupboard below all the prescription drugs, “Is the dead binder. Anything that dies, the paperwork goes in here.” I cocked my head to the left, “Anything that…dies...” I repeated, trailing off. “Yes euthanasias mainly,” she explained. “Euthanasia…” I repeated. She then motioned to a large freezer, “And that is where the bodies go,” she said nonchalantly. “Next I’ll show you the exam rooms,” she said leaving as I stood staring at the large white freezer, half wishing she had opened it so I could stop imagining what lay frozen inside. As I followed her out into lobby we were interrupted by a large Hawaiian man who appeared on the lanai holding a sturdy drooling pit bull whose leg was covered in blood. He burst into the lobby a flurry of energy and chaos. “We are here, Ehu Kai is here!” he exclaimed, holding Ehu under one arm and fanning himself with his other hand. He was the first gay man I had ever encountered on the island of Hawaii, and he was holding… not a chihuahua. The vet tech looked at me. “That’s not,” I finished her sentence, “the right Ehu….”

Around 4 pm, I had experienced a work day so different than anything I had ever done, that I felt like I was on another planet. I had not shared any of my animal stories but I also imagined that “the girl who got the wrong Ehu,” surpassed memorable, and would create a legacy for others who would have working interviews. “Don’t worry, you are doing great. Let me tell you about this girl who got the wrong Ehu on her working interview,” vet techs would tell possible employees, laughing at how incompetent and confused I was. “Jenn,” the vet tech I had been with all day told me. “Our boss would like to talk to you in her office,” she said. I gathered my the waist of my scrub pants and walked slowly to the back office lurking creepily in front of my potential new bosses desk. “We’d like to hire you,” she said looking up. “Hiuh?” I said accidentily letting go of my pants and then gathering them back up as they sagged back down. “We really liked you,” she said. “Can you start tomorrow?” “Yes of course, thank you,” I said and started to wander out of her office. “Oh and Jenn?” she called after me. “Yeah?” I turned around. “We will order you some extra long scrubs in size small,” she said and smiled. These are kind, kind people who do good work here at the Kona Veterinary Hospital, I thought as I gathered up my pants again. And then, what did I just get myself into? 

If I have learned anything though, it is to go through doors that open for you. There’s always some reason and rhyme to why they do- if nothing you realize how much you can learn and do, how truly capable you are. I’ve gone through doors where I have been on set helping a transgendered pop star sit onto of a plastic life size unicorn, sending lunch meat via airmail to my boss in Utah for Sundance, posing as Katy Perry’s arm stand in on set, sitting behind John Legend as he played the piano for a commercial, made chains out of photographs of naked models, sat in a teepee at different music festivals gifting musicians tie dye tank tops and now taking fecal samples and handling animal emergency situations. Just, always say yes. Say yes and let life surprise you.

Boss Girl

I believe there’s a big difference between being a “boss” and a “leader.” You’ll hear people call themselves “the boss” but very rarely does anyone call themselves “the leader.” To me, declaring yourself “the boss” is similar to screaming “I’M IMPORTANT” out the window of your apartment to random passer-byers on the street. Someone who is capable and focused on climbing the ladder, someone who works hard, mainly for themselves and who believes that the people underneath them owe them their time and hard work. Leaders seem to possess a sense of keen self awareness that allows them to be a quieter type of person. Someone focused on a bigger goal which is bigger than themselves, and someone who views the people working for them as valuable assets, a team of dedicated individuals whom without, their dream or company would be unmanageable. The difference is one way of thinking is simple and easy and the other way is harder and much more work. And this is why: Leaders know their people. People are complex, they aren’t just what is listed on a resume, or recommended by a professional reference. People have dreams, passions, skills, talents, they grow, they change, they need, they want. Leaders not only understand this, but they take the time to really understand the people on their team- discover who they are, which is a lot of hard work. It involves a lot of asking, and a lot of listening.  Leaders know that taking the time to devote to understanding the other people they are working with is important because life is not just work.

Leaders see the “big picture.” The big picture always involves more than just a single person. The big picture is that life is not just your one self, or your own personal work. The big picture is life- which includes many many other people. Life is family, it’s relationships, friendships, love, it’s exploration, it’s experiences, it’s a roller coaster, and work is just a part of it. A leader understands that each person they are accountable for is living their own unique, complex life- full of their own unique struggles, passions, disappointments, successes and hopes. This is important because when you lose sight of the big picture you end up shrinking your world when in actuality you want to expand.

Leaders lead by example. Leading by example doesn’t mean that everyday at work you are flawless, it means that everyday you are at work you are honest, you try your best, you are sincere, and never give up. A good leader can have a bad day, but won’t let those bad days get them down in the long haul, they never lose hope. A good leader admits mistakes, takes accountability, honors their word, and respects others.

Respect is something that bosses seem to believe their employees owe them instantly, just based off some hierarchy put in place to create a sense of structure. But leaders know that respect is not only a two way street and something that every person is owed, but also something that is earned and can be lost. Leaders don’t talk down, or shut down people working with them- they don’t use their authority to belittle others to build themselves up. They don’t see value in silencing people they may disagree with. Because the rare, intelligent, and talented people won’t follow a leader who breaks them down or disrespects them forever. People of value won’t stick around and let you beat them down, they will leave. And true leaders know that no one can accomplish anything alone.

Leaders know how to communicate. They can do this because they know their people, they see the big picture, they respect others and therefore they can easily communicate their thoughts and feelings to others who are looking to them for answers or advice. They don’t manipulate. They can explain things clearly. They know how to actively listen, they can make tough decisions, they can handle problems or concerns with sensitivity and awareness. They are direct, they are positive, they are firm and they are never all-knowing. They are thoughtful and they are honest when speaking to others.

Leaders have imagination and can laugh.

Leaders have swept the floor, they aren’t above anything.

Leaders say thank you.

Leaders are FAIR.

Leaders reward hard work.

Leaders call bullshit.

Leaders take action.

Leaders appreciate.

Leaders observe and learn.

Leaders can be anyone and everyone.

My generation is an entrepreneurial generation. We have a lot at our fingertips and plenty of ideas but that’s not enough, we have to learn how to lead. It’s inevitable that if you aren’t working towards your own dream you will spend your time and energy tirelessly working to make someone else’s dream come true. I think no matter what, we all need to resolve to learn as much as we can from people in power, really put thought behind what we experience and see, so when the time comes, we can get it right.

How To Be Beautiful

My co-worker Chance is a Tinderella. He will sit on the porch of our store flipping through picture after picture of girls, assessing and rating them all. I will perch above him, bursting, full of questions. “How can you tell if someone is prettier than someone else?” “You just can,” he said. “I don’t know, can’t you tell if a guy is better looking than another guy?” I thought about all the men in the world. How does one compare Ryan Gosling to David Beckham? It’s like comparing a sunflower to a rose. They both are so beautiful. But then I have always been strangely attracted to Adrian Brody, he would be like a cactus, which is also beautiful in a unique and mystical way. “Yeah ok, but who has the better butt?” Chance said, in all seriousness. “I mean David Beckham is a pro athlete…can you google Ryan Gosling’s butt? I’m having a hard time picturing it.” After I said it, silence settled all around Chance and I, the kind of eerie, calm silence that happens in movies where natural disasters are about to strike. “No, just forget about i-” Chance said quickly but I cut him off. I had stood up and begun to pace back and forth in front of him..yammering away. “You know, if you exclude the fact that attraction is an important factor in mating-” “NO NO NO,” Chance looked pained as I carried on, “And you just think about the concept of beauty in general, I mean in such an image obsessed world, being beautiful seems to carry a lot of clout. But why? And women just seem so much more forgiving. A woman will look past a crooked tooth or wonky eye and go on and on about a man’s character, or how he bought her flowers, or their sense of humor. But men are so visual.” “I do have eyes,” Chance now seemed like he himself had aged forty years, agitated and crotchety and set in his old man ways. “Please stop, just forget about it.” I was going femme fatal on him. Shut up neanderthal MAN, listen to me, to prohibition sally-girl-boss-hilary-clinton-spice-girls-and-all-other-things-that-men-wince-at-girl-power-things. Chance was looking for exit routes, his eyes scanning all around before focusing on the horizon.

“Everyone wants to be beautiful, but in a strange obsessive way, a way that suggests we all suddenly drop dead at the age of 40, at the first sign of a forehead wrinkle or pound of weight gained, leaving behind nothing but an Instagram full of beautiful filtered selfies of us at our best angles and in our prime. But hey hi hello, life isn’t over, your twenties are ten years, that’s it! One day we will be sixty and our twenties will be a distant memory.” Chance groaned, but I had said something that made him pause and he was now staring at me, listening. “If we spend all our time trying to be beautiful on the outside, or being dazzled by physical beauty, what are we going to do when we all get saggy and old?” I could tell I had baited him but immediately lost him once I uttered the word ‘saggy.’ “I don’t like old people..or babies,” he said cringing at the thought of birth and death. I narrowed my eyes at him and he shrugged. “It’s a biological fact that you get saggy as you age, our bodies break down on us. But your soul never grows old and saggy, we should all be spending time developing that so we can emulate beauty all our lives.” Chance rolled his eyes, “Ok Thoreau. And how should we develop our souls?” After he asked it, he closed his eyes in immediate regret, similar to how people look after they take that final last shot of whiskey at a bar- the shot the takes you down.

In no particular order:

Sense of humor (especially regarding yourself). Nothing is more beautiful than a man or woman who can laugh at themselves. It’s a sign of confidence. Life is fragile yes, but it should be enjoyed, and that means you can’t spend it taking yourself so seriously that you never have a good laugh at yourself. Humor can save you, if you can laugh or see the humor in any situation, you can survive anything. Humor also attracts people to you, everyone wants to be around someone who can make a seemingly dull or challenging or even stimulating situation fun and interesting.

Sense of adventure. You want to be a person who can’t wait to trek up a mountain in Nepal to visit ancient temples and monkeys, or sail around the world, but you also want to be the person who can see the adventure in the everyday boring things, like going to the grocery store, or making a trip to the DMV. You wouldn’t think this is possible but I have had some wild times at the department of motor vehicles- you just need to be observant and have a wicked imagination.

Dope Style. This does not mean you are decked out in designer everything. This means you have developed your own sense of style and you rock it, with confidence, no matter what it is. Fashion and trends are bullshit, wear what you like, mix and match things, feel comfortable in developing your own personal style. I saw a Grammie the other day having brunch in Malibu wearing a neon red sweatsuit, flip flops, black rimmed glasses and drinking a mimosa on a Wednesday at eleven in the morning. And Grammie looked doooooope. She outshone all the young giltteraties who were all wearing different versions of big rimmed hats, drinking green juice and picking at egg whites.

Compassion. When you get old and saggy, shit hits the fan and compassion becomes a big asset. But compassion is a learned skill, it requires empathy and experience, it’s a higher level of thinking that most people sadly never really develop or reach. It’s a skill we all should be working on perfecting- constantly. Nothing is more beautiful or strong than someone who can extend kindness to everyone they encounter. Or someone who can see all sides to a story, or someone who is tolerant and open minded.

Sense of Wonder. I’m sure we have all been on a date where we sat in silence and listened to someone’s life story. These blabber-ers are not beautiful, they are annoying. Beautiful people do not think the world revolves around their own beautiful face, they are curious about others, about life, about everything they encounter on a daily basis. They wonder. The sense of wonder will keep you young forever.

Independence. We are all different. The ability to come to terms with yourself, to be self aware and  embrace your own being allows other people to embrace who they are. An independent person is someone who has blossomed, and therefore makes it easy for others to blossom around them as well. Independent people can celebrate others because they do not fear what is different than them. They can stand outside of a group as themselves happily.

Intelligence. To me, this means having the ability to challenge someone or something at an appropriate time. To think and then speak, to give voice to an opinion shows guts, and to be able to do it with grace shows incredible power. I mean, a nice pair of boobs will never be able to do that. Ever.

Going To Bars In Your Twenties

The Bungalow in Santa Monica is full of men. If you are a straight male who owns a blue pinstriped button down you are probably at the Bungalow drinking mojitos with your friends on Friday, Saturday or Sunday night. In LA on any given night bars are packed with people but for some reason, Santa Monica’s The Bungalow attracts more straight males in their twenties and early thirties than women. It’s designed to feel like you are at your richest friend’s house, a breezy Baja-style beach house surrounded by lushly landscaped gardens. There are various different rooms you can walk through, all with high soaring ceilings and wood rafters- a game room, a study, a great room with a wood burning fireplace, all of which lead out to outdoor patios covered in twinkling lights and comfy couches and tables.  I went there with my girlfriend Kristen one night after work and we were completely overwhelmed by….all of the men. I was more overwhelmed and slightly enchanted by all of the blue pinstriped button downs. “This place is packed with dudes,” Kristen whispered to me as we squirmed our way through the crowd. “Do you think they all get these shirts at the same store? They all look the same how do you pick one? Maybe I’ll ask each one how much they paid for their shirt, and whoever paid the least is the one I’ll talk to.” Kristen and I had made our way to the bar and instead of ordering mojitos we ordered shots of whiskey. In an outdoor space with hummingbird feeders hanging from the trees and full of primly groomed men holding drinks with lime wedges floating in them, I felt like a wench at a bocce ball party.

As I scoped out my surroundings I made eye contact with a pinstripe, who promptly made his way over to me. “I’m Conrad,” he said. “I’m Louisa,” I responded without even thinking. “That’s a pretty name.”  I nodded, “Louisa May Alcott.”  “Beautiful name,” he said and added, “And what do you do?” I sighed. The real Louisa May Alcott died in 1888 and is the author of Little Women. This is my favorite fake name to give to pinstripes because they one hundred percent never know that. If anything they just remark on what an old timey name you have. “Louisa? That’s like a grandma name.” I don’t know what I expect, for some boy to say, “Wait a minute, you just gave me the name of a dead feminist author!” More than half them men I meet don’t read books, or even know what feminism means, let alone support it. And why should they, they are men, they are strong, they have no feelings to express, they are just looking for a pretty, docile, quiet women to stand next to them. An empowered women with thoughts and ideas who is always yammering away is alarming, and not in the good way a long lean pair of legs with a nice butt is alarming to them.  “I’m a… hostess,” I told him. “At a restaurant?” he asked. “A restaurant on a golf course,” I smiled coyly. “I love to cook,” he told me, a half smile spilling across his face. He was very attractive. “I’m from L.A.,” he went on without me asking. “I love it here, I just moved from Downtown L.A. to Santa Monica, it is so much prettier by the beach let me tell you.” “Downtown LA has some charming places,” I commented positively. A flashback of a very scary looking homeless man I had seen the last time I was in Downtown LA filled my head. He had been wearing some sort of cloak with no shoes and was hobbling across the street to the public toilet at the corner of an intersection and I remember I couldn’t look away, I just kept watching him like he was in the zoo, it was such a haunting image. I realized that while I had drifted off, thinking all this, pinstripe had just been talking. “I’m a producer, it’s a really high stress job.”

“What is your favorite thing to cook?” I asked him. If I ever have a daughter I’m going to tell her that she should genuinely be interested in others. I’m going to encourage her to be engaged in other human beings on the planet. Get to know others you encounter through being empathetic and interested, ask them questions about themselves! But I’m also going to tell her that if she ever finds people who not only ask her questions about herself but who also listen to her responses sincerely, those are the people to keep around you. Like when you are walking down the beach and you stumble upon beautiful shells amongst all the grey rocks and seaweed. Collect those shells and put them in your pocket. My pinstriped chef was staring at me, he had gone quiet, thinking, and then finally said, “Salad.” My eyes lit up. “Salad!” I said excitedly. “Salad!” he repeated again but more enthusiastically. “I love salad!” I exclaimed. “What kind of salad do you make?” I asked. He paused again. “Lettuce and herbs.”

Even though he was handsome, this guy was clearly a Daryl who had me confused for a girl who would throw herself at him because he was tall and attractive. After awhile if you are boring, which lets face it, producers who make salads, and the way this conversation was going was not very promising- I stop caring about how dreamy your eyes are. Good looking people are everywhere in LA, if that’s the reason why you hold yourself in high esteem, good luck out there amongst all the glitter. I had begun to eat the olives out of the bar tender’s mason jar, the one next to all the cut up limes and lemons. The bar tender was busy and not paying attention and the olives were in perfect reach from where I was standing. As I popped two in my mouth, I was just at a loss at where to go with this. “Do you ever put olives in your salad?” I asked, holding one up to my face like I was in an infomercial. Kristen appeared with two old-fashioneds. “Kristen, this is Conrad, he enjoys making salads,” I introduced them, remembering my manners- introduce people using thoughtful and interesting details! Conrad shook Kristen’s hand, “I’m a producer,” he told her. As I nonchalantly reached across the bar to pluck another olive out of the jar my eyes met the bartenders. I coughed. The bartender stood across from me firmly, his eyes locked on mine as he took a lid out from under the bar and promptly screwed it onto the olive jar. I took Kristen’s arm and looked at Conrad. “It was a pleasure meeting you, good luck producing your lettuce dishes,” I said with genuine good will, and whisked Kristen off into the crowd.

After we finished the old-fashioneds, we went to use the bathroom. The girls restroom at any given nightclub or bar is full of your new found sistas. These are girls who, if you saw them on the street wouldn’t even smile at you, but once they are drunk and in a bathroom they only want to shower you with love. “You are SO pretty! I LUHVE your skirt! The lock doesn’t work in that stall let me hold the door for you!” I am reassured as a female with very few girlfriends, that the night before my wedding I will be able to round up bridesmaids by going and hanging around a women’s bathroom at a bar. I can only imagine- “You’re getting married! Oh my God! You want ME to be in the wedding! Oh my God, of course, I LUHVE you!” As we wandered back outside, Kristen’s phone began to ring. It was a cute boy who she had been out with and who was absolutely smitten with her. “Answer!” I reassured her. “I’ll be over there..” I said pointing to a nearby bush. As she was on the phone, I realized I had begun to feel slightly drunk. I looked around, the whole room stripes of blue with splashes of brown and blond swished back hair. “I like your hat,” a passing pinstripe said to me. “Thank you…it’s my adventure hat,” I whispered. These people are scary. I don’t want to meet them. Strangers. People I know, where are they? I know where! They live in my phone. I pulled out my phone from my motorcycle boot and began to fire off texts:

“Let’s raise a rabbit together!” I’m pretty sure the person I sent this to blocked my phone number the next day.

“Our love is forever and ever and ever.” That one got sent out to both an ex-boyfriend and a boy I went on exactly one date with.

“This tavern is full of city men. I wish I was at a saloon with sailors, or cowboys…wait who goes to saloons? Not Indians, they party in teepees. Eskimos party in Igloos.” This was sent to my best friend Breck. He responded, “Mam, don’t be weird. My good ho, get yourself an Uber and get the fuck out of that gambling den!” Breck is one of the shells I found on the beach.

“I can’t find pizza.” That was a mass text I sent to everyone I know, I think in hopes that someone would help me.

I pity Louisa May Alcott for being alive in a time period where you were unable to reach out, with ease, and in a drunken state, to people who were not physically with you. What did Louisa do when she was standing around in an idle moment in a ballroom waiting for some man who had asked her father months in advance if he could have the honor of a dance with his daughter, to approach and bow in front of her? If she was thinking about pizza she just had to keep that thought to herself. There was no way to alert anyone who wasn’t physically and geographically near her that she is craving piping hot cheese and dough. And what about the ability to pop into a past lovers life like a manic ghost they can’t get rid of unless they call their cell phone provider and blacklist your phone number? Louisa just had to let her lovers go and die on their own, she didn’t get to monitor their social media activity and lust after the good times. She didn’t have the ability to live in both the past and present simultaniously. No wonder she had the time to be an abolitionist.

Suddenly I felt my hat leave my head. I turned around and there it was, floating through the crowd. Who is holding it?  I squinted and saw that it was now being adorned by a tiny furry man. He was easy to spot not only because he was so short but also because he wasn’t wearing a pinstripe shirt. When I looked closer I noticed he had a beard and very fury arms, the kind of arms that were coated with a thick batch of dark hair, arms that suggested he also possessed hairy knuckles and probably a very hairy big toe. “Kristen!” I said, my eyes wild, “That hobbit took my,…me, I, the Louisa May Alcott’s hat!” Kristen hung up the phone and we went following the hobbit through the crowd. We cornered him by the outdoor bar and when I approached him I realized I towered over him. I plucked the hat off his head and he peered up at me. “Sorry,” he shrugged. “Lil buddy you can’t just-” I was ready to take out my life’s frustration on this small stranger when I noticed his T-shirt. It was a black crew neck with a graphic of a smiling taco underneath the words I love tacos.   “Your taco is so cute,” I said, admiring it’s tiny eyes and big grin. “I love tacos too,” I told him. “You do?” he asked meekly. “I love tacos too!” Kristen joined in. As we all shared a moment, I reveled in the fact that it is fun to go to bars in your twenties, not to meet your future husband or wife, or anyone who will be of great significance to your life really- they aren’t there, they are in a supermarket or library, mine is probably working hard as a character on a Disney cruise ship (we will meet off the coast of Florida after I have given up and decided to sell all of my belongings and float away at sea on a makeshift raft built out of various different Ikea furniture parts. He will see me, bony and exhausted from my journey and I will see him, wearing a teeny tiny hat with a tassel and dressed as Aladdin, and I will just know I finally found him, the struggle will be over and well worth the fight).  Anyways, it must just be fun to go out in your twenties because life can be so confusing and difficult that sometimes it’s nice to just blow off steam with your friends, or be in a space decorated to look like someone’s backyard, in an altered state of mind, where you can just love tacos with other people, strangers and friends, together, as one. I often reference this in troubled times- we may be at odds now, but we probably both love tacos, or salad. Let us let bygones be bygones like we do after a large bouncer named Boris cards us. Cheers!