The Animal Inside

So it seems it’s not that easy for two writers to ALWAYS be in sync…especially when life changes and growing pains are pulling in opposite directions. Gratefully, we adore each other (and this blog) enough, to make it work. This week, Melissa found herself feeling a bit out of her skin. Kelly, albeit hesitantly, obliged her request to write about her animagus alter ego and did a little soul searching in the process.

Melissa

Le chat bleu

I mustered the strength to shake off my incontestable attraction to the brilliant red orb of light glowing directly across from me.

Another message. I was growing tired of this game…But then I read his bio.

My breath caught in my chest as my eyes scanned the words, “Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.” He quoted Murakami. Every inch of my skin now fully alert. Each and every hair standing at attention as goose bumps decidedly made an unannounced appearance (as goose bumps often do). I continued reading, “Hates dogs…” interesting.

Quickly, I plopped down lower into my roller chair, begging my racing heart to get in check. In the monotony of everyday chaos, I caught an unexpected bit of warmth seeping through an icy computer screen, now elevated by an intense swoony heat growing inside me.

As I reach for the mouse, my brain and body beckon, “can I come in?” while I silently pray I didn’t actually say that out loud. I peek over my shoulder to ensure my co-workers haven’t noticed me scanning my dating profile in my cubicle, when my mind slips off to another place…

.::I watch my body as the mutation occurs, transforming one goose bump at a time. My fingertips and palms are replaced by little pads. My fingers shrink down to form fuzzy little paws, and I arch my back to free my long, slender, shiny tail from beneath me. From head-to-toe, my shape is enveloped with soft luxurious fur. Streeeettchhh::…

I begin the ritual by circling his feet and then hop onto his lap, continuing my concentric ceremony while kneading the tops of his thighs with my tiny claws. His hand reaches my back and I let out a long relieving purr. (Did I just purr?) I raise my head and press it under his scruffy chin. A wave of calm flows down my spine. ‘Maybe I’ll stay here for a while’ my mental kitten notes, and I put my head to rest on his knee.::.

Snap out of it Melissa!

I break free from the moment of feline serenity and once again begin to paw at my mouse, regaining my composure, preparing to settle back into the mundane…but there is that little glowing red ball again. Another message.  A few amazing borrowed words and a bit of sexy snark compose a cleverly playful note and I’ve traded in my human form to curl up on the world’s most flawless lap.

MEEE-YOW.

I’ve surrendered to my alter-ego, a purring love-hungry kitten with a proclivity for sarcasm and stubble.  I realize that I’ve launched my pin-balling brain into a lucid fantasy world, rendering my earthly body nearly useless but…

Click click click. Send. He calls, and suddenly I’m…weaving between his feet as he walks, my tail wrapping up his leg, marking the hem of his pants with little tufts of fur mementos. You’re welcome.

Click click click. Send. He’s sitting across from me whispering stories of wolves and nightwalkers… my ears knit his voice into colorful balls of yarn that playfully roll around in my head. Swat. Swat. Swat.

I wake the next morning to a glowing light on my phone. I’ve got a message. “Have I told you how much I enjoy your collection of books?”  My heart purrs, sending me into a cat-like-tailspin, where the only remedy is a good scratch behind the ears.

.::I just knew how it would feel too. I could tell by looking at his long spindly fingers that they would know exactly how to push my buttons…those fingers would slowly massage right behind my pointed little ears…

 

Kelly

Afternoon Tea No. 8, The Otter

Alright, I’m Skeptical, but I Gave It a Try Because I Love Melissa

When Melissa mentioned that she wanted to write about Spirit Animals, I couldn’t effing believe it.

She made this request only a day after my new roommate had told me a delightful story of how she read her Tinder date’s spirit animal. He was an otter or something.

Two spirit animal remarks in one week? It felt like a sign from…spirits.

I had never, EVER thought about spirit animals, but I’ve thought about spirits and animals, separately. I think of spirits quite frequently, mainly due to my irrational fear of ghosts. And I think it’s safe to say that animals are generally ubiquitous.

So I gave in on what felt like fate, and plopped on my roommates bed as she took out what looked like a card deck ordered out of a Highlights Magazine.

My live-in shrink beckoned me. “Pick a card.”

Now, before this somewhat canned experience, I did try to think of my spirit animal organically, reflecting on what resonated within me. I do love blue whales. But I wouldn’t say we have a spiritual resemblance. Well maybe a physical resemblance when I’m menstrual. I once dressed up as a cougar for Halloween, but that doesn’t say much other than the fact that I can really rock being a ‘confident’ older woman.. I could be one of those neurotic dogs with crazy eyes that look not in the same direction. You know, some sort of alert terrier mutt that can’t sit still and is mildly trained. Most days, that feels right.

But this was my chance to really go out on a limb and discover what fate thought my animal could be.

OTTER.

Turns out fate can be underwhelming.

Sigh. I turned to the handbook to see what otter meant. I had to glean something from it all.

“Surrender. Let go of control,” it began. The first few paragraphs were too vague for my topical-mindedness. But a few sentences did strike a chord: “Letting go of control doesn’t mean giving up…It means opening your hands and heart and accepting the direction of your Spirit.” It also associated the otter with the words Sensuality, Merging, Family, and Playfulness.

Alright folks, you’re probably as skeptical as I am. But really, like some parts of some religions, I like a few of the ideas despite their root in not much. Reading the word “Family” reminded me that I should call my folks, which I think they appreciated. And letting go of control makes sense in my life right now, as I’m learning that New York is as untamable as the waters of Montana De Oro. Was that a San Luis Obispo reference? Yes, yes it was. Also, otters hold hands when they nap. How effing cute is that.

I think my spirit animal is still out there, watching from afar, if only from one of its lazy eyes. To that notion, and to holding hands while napping, I surrender.

 

(cover image credit: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/189165846/print-8×10-the-baphomet-goat-animal?ref=market)

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Trading Coasts: NYC

Kelly

When I announced I was making the move from San Luis Obispo, California to New York City, I welcomed a mixed bag of reactions with a graceful smile and nod. It seems as though my peers value Oprah’s now semi-outdated opinion that San Luis Obispo is the happiest town in America more than my progressive life goals.

And I get it. San Luis Obispo is a kind and peaceful bubble where many are reluctant to leave and too few are lucky enough to afford to stay; where young women stroll around merrily on bicycles, and young men rite-of-passage themselves by drinking Rolling Rocks like spring water at frattastic frat parties. I’m gonna miss you and your sexist conversation tanks, frat bros. Especially when you wear your “MONEY AND BITCHES” tanks to women’s violence prevention fairs.

So while I’m going to miss my #1 dudes, and all of these other things, I’ve been trolling the web and finding things out about my new home, like how big subway rats are. Aside from the excruciating anxiety from trying to find a place to live by convincing strangers on the Internet that I’m not a crusty leech, I’ve been fist pumping about the thrill of starting a new chapter in the ol’ life book.

do_the_kelly_dance

Goodbye Big Sur! And thanks Brice for the best GIF ever.

Here’s my list of top excitement points. Have something that I should get excited for? Or shouldn’t? Let it be known in the comment section.

Yeast

Maybe it’s this Stella video, or maybe it’s this other weird video, but like…pizza.

pizza

PUT IT IN THE PIZZA

Adopting an occasional New York accent for certain key phrases like “IM WALKIN HEEEYYA” but slipping in California slurs when I talk about surfing.

Whenever I hang out with distinctly-accented people, I become a colloquial sponge. Sometimes I feel like I have an occasional Chicago accent for no apparent reason, which also makes me mean. And boy oh boy, I can’t wait to accidentally start talking like a New Yorker. Not in a cute way, like a grimy taxi driver kind of way, so that I’m only in accent when I yell.

But when it comes to surfing, and I talk about my 4/3, and my 7’2 single fin, and how I ride shin-high waves in the white water, every consonant is being stretched like a bungee cord. So that *maybe* some cute boy will think, hey, she can say four convincing things about surfing! I think I’ll buy her a basket of bagels.

surfer

“Are there bagels in here?”

 Not Running Into Ex Boyfriends Everywhere I Go

5 years in one town of 40,000 and a socially active Kelly means that sometimes Kelly dates people and sometimes they are in the same friend circles and sometimes we all eat dinner together and sometimes I am face punching myself in my head.

pacepalm

D’oh

Petting Other People’s Dogs

While your dirty mind might take this for a euphemism about peepees, it’s not. The last time I visited New York as a wee 16-year-old, my dear friend Courtney gave pets to cute dogs all around the city. We’re talking like, 15 dog pets per diem. When one bald man with a bulldog said no, she and I stopped petting dogs. Now…NOW…I have the chance to make up for pets lost because of that cruel, cruel man with an asthmatic overweight puppy.

Wearing Turtlenecks For Function

At some point in high school, I bought a Steve Jobs turtleneck at The Gap, and holy shit was it sexy. I’m hoping that my 2014 revisit will have me looking something like this:

kelly-turtleneck

Maybe my butt shape will look like that too.

In the spirit of limiting my extraneous thoughts, here’s a list of a few more things that make me feel giddy:

Haircut possibilities

Making strangers be my friends

Growing as a person

Getting into comedy

The heightened possibility of seeing a live person wear Sketchers Shapeups

Public transportation

Diversity

How my new and exciting life will be perceived via Instagram

 

Melissa

When I first learned that Kelly would be continent-hopping over to my former coast, my initial response was a dramatic, Long Island inspired, “WHHHYYYY?!?!” Living on the west coast is easy. You get to see the sun, every.day. The weather is perfect, every.day. You get to wear sandals, every.day. Amazing sushi, fish tacos, In-N-Out, Coffee Bean, surfers, real life Barbie dolls, free beach concerts, year-round tan… IN-N-OUT!

But then I remembered that New York is fucking awesome, and instantly became a bit jealous about all the amazing things she gets to discover for the first time. The list was not easy to narrow down (and knowing me will probably extend into the comments), but here are just a few things I hope she will get to experience, and love as much as I do.

 

Zoooooom!!! and it’s gone.

A New York Minute—it’s a thing. The most shocking thing about my move to the west was how SLOW everything is. A million things happen in a minute in New York City. Try not to blink. You’ll miss something.

I’m a Hustler—don’t be one. Adjust your hustle to keep up with the locals or you’ll get trampled during the morning and evening rush. New Yorkers can identify a tourist from a mile away just by observing the pace and swagger of their walk. You’ll learn to hate it too, in time.

Hug a Tree—don’t be surprised to see a one by one foot square fenced in with an official city park sign plastered to the front of it. It’s rare to see grass sprouting directly from the earth in the concrete jungle. When you do, you heart it. You heart it hard.

This is really the only time you’ll actually see this…but practice anyway. it’s a good party trick for your friends back home.

 

Public Transportation—sure, the subways smell, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a bus stop that doesn’t double as a toilet for the homeless, but you can go anywhere, quickly, at any time of day, for under $5. Not to mention there is a world of amazing content to be created and discovered on New Yorks’s public transportation system.

The Open Air—is something we take for granted on the west coast. There’s just so much of it. There are only a few precious months in NYC when the weather is absolutely delicious. Go rooftop bar hopping. Visit the highline. There’s nothing like it.

now THAT’s a food truck!

Foodtopia—forget In N Out and fish tacos. Say hello to Dunkin Donuts, street meat, real pizza, real bagels, and real dirty water hot dogs. Try everything…but just say no to Sbarro. That’s not pizza.

The World is at Your Fingertips—or rather the tips of your toes. NYC is the epitome of a melting pot, and you can walk the world’s countries as easily as you can in Epcot Center (or hop them on the train). China Town, Little Italy, Little Tokyo, Spanish Harlem, Astoria. There’s SOOOO much culture to experience.

 

Go find your Sam Malone!

Where Everybody Knows Your Name—I’ve been trying to recreate this since moving to LA. You can’t. There is a sense of community in NY that I have yet to experience anywhere else. Once you get in your groove, you’ll start to notice that you see the same people at your train station every day, or at the coffee shop—at your favorite happy hour bars, or in your secret corner of the park. You’ll find yourself easily talking to strangers, because you feel like you know them because you see them every day. You’ll have a “spot” that you feel really belongs to you and people that you know not from high school, and not from work, but just from being around. You’ll miss the train together. You’ll share a cab. You’ll help each other get home after one too many drinks.

And in spite of what everyone says, you’ll be surprised to find that New Yorkers are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet. I couldn’t be more excited for you.

Peacocking

In spite of a 10 year difference, we often find that our emotional calendars are ironically synced. Maybe it’s a Virgo thing. This week we both learn a valuable lesson in humility, feather preening, the power of accessories, and letting your freak flag fly.

Kelly

Even Peacocks Get the Blues

Some nights, your feathers are bright. Full of color. Shiny and metallic. Others, they’re falling out, trailing behind you like toilet paper stuck to your shoe.

You go out with the intention of attracting attention, then nothing happens. No winks, no gesticulations, no creeps rubbin’ their peepees on your butt (on second thought, not really a bad thing). The DJ won’t stop playing Li’l John, no matter how much you scold him and irritably recommend changing the music. Everyone’s body heat melts your eyeliner into droopy raccoon rings. You feel kinda fat. This might have been a better night spent watching Netflix documentaries, preening your feathers in the dark.

batman

Then, there are the nights when everything is working in your favor. You feel like Stevie Nicks as you graze your (thin, toned) arms in the dim dance floor lighting. Your hair looks voluminous and carefree from certain angles. Payday was three days ago, and that bra is giving your tits like, the perfect shape.

“Tonight’s my night,” I thought as I threw on my turquoise blouse that’s long enough to conceal my thigh sacks. I grabbed my phone and headed to the mirror to primp my eyelashes, checking my Women’s Log period tracker. Mid-cycle and three flower emoticons meant it was ovulation time. Skin aglow, the pheromones were practically spilling out of my pores. God dammit, tonight is my night.

fabulous

My friends and I hit the ‘club,’ and we danced like nobody was looking to get laid. Wearing sunglasses indoors, whipping out odd dance moves like we were at a Moby concert, we proudly owned the night.

“I am an American douchebag!” I thought, tilting my head back, cackling loudly.

There I was, pumping my fists, trotting around in my gold high heel sneakers like some sort of royal idiot, winking at strangers. After jiggling my way through some hot tracks, pop-locking like I was that little girl from the Missy Elliot music videos, two lovely petite blonde women notice my sexual prowess and magnetic confidence. “Bring on the compliments, ladies!” I thought as they politely tapped my shoulder.

austin-powers-peacocking

“Do you know who Lena Dunham is?” one asks.

“YA!” I yell.

“You look exactly like her!” they shout.

……..

“But we mean that in the best possible way.”

My beautiful feathers slowly plucked themselves out as I thanked them and hunched over to the wall.

I removed my fake neon Ray Bans, then looked out at the dance floor which now seemed so sweaty; so uninteresting. I felt disconnected from the moment that I was so deep inside of. I went from hot to homely in 10 seconds. Cheeky to chunky. Sexy to stout.

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 10.58.25 PM

What kind of a compliment was that, anyway? Were the women referencing episode 3 of season 2 where Hannah (Dunham’s character) does a bunch of cocaine and club-dances in a neon fishnet tanktop with no bra? Which could mean, “Wow, you’re as reckless a TV character on a bunch of coke, and you’re only two beers deep.” Was I being an episode 3 girl?

Or maybe it was a weight thing. I’d been hitting up the Women’s Gym like it was a booty call. For a moment I felt unsure about my appearance, which is something that only happens when I’m out-of-my-mind menstrual.

Don’t get me wrong – Lena Dunham is an incredible woman, a role model I’m inspired by and hope to meet, ideally on purpose rather than in a fangirl situation. Girls means a lot to me, and I know how much that makes me sound like a millennial, but it’s my truth.

After dissecting their remark, I realized that I’d created a backhanded compliment in my mind. The women were being sincere, and clearly I reminded them of someone they admired. And hey, if it’s an appearance thing, that just means more to love, right? RIGHT?

At that point, I made a b-line for the bar, drained a shot of tequila, and moonwalked back into the middle of the dance floor, acting like it was me in episode 3.

deal-with-it

***

Melissa

Sexy Scales and the Men who Love Them

I spent the weekend nursing my newly formed dragon scales. It seems that my Khal Drogo fantasies somehow got lost in translation—instead of Mother of Dragons I have become an actual Mother Effing Dragon. While I wish that was just a metaphor, the boys really seem to like it.

2012-03-30-Game_of_Thrones_The_Dragon

.::Flashback::..

Last Tuesday, after driving 4 hours to our West Coast headquarters, Kelly toted a half-panicked Me with a half-sweating body and a half-twitching face to urgent care. This was a stroke. It had to be a stroke. What else would cause this kind of hysteria across one side of my face?

It wasn’t a stroke (knock on wood), but it was Shingles. WTF is shingles you may ask?

It’s the trendy disease. Thanks to Netflix and DVR, I missed the slew of commercials warning the ELDERLY to get vaccinated for this common form of herpes (a gift from having the chickenpox)…which I, at 32, got on my FACE.

To be clear, this looks nothing like the little cute itchy red speckled chickenpox you may have experienced as a child. These bitches pick a corner of your body and populate it, along a nerve, with blisters that fill with fluid, then crust over, and fill with blood. What happens with blood blisters? Scabs. All over the right side of my face, and it hurts. Now I know how Quasimodo felt.

SANCTUARY! SANCTUARY!

But there was none to be found.

Convinced that this is some cruel punishment for my #selfie obsession, I hid my scaly face as best I could through the rest of the week and weekend:

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetBaseball cap….check!
Scarf….check!
Sun glasses….check!
Dark clothes….check!

SUCCESS! Taking my cues from Memoirs of an Invisible Man, I was virtually faceless, but the universe is cruel sometimes. It turns out an obscured face wandering the streets of Los Angeles elevates you to potential movie star status. Of course this is the weekend that every cute guy in my complex decides to speak to shady old me.
Are my gleaming glossy scales a siren call to single men everywhere?

I avoided eye-contact when a beachy blonde Australian stopped me to ask my opinion of living in my complex. I kept the brim of my cap pulled low when a fluffy white puppy belonging to a chiseled bronze demi-god started hopping around on my lounge chair. Shit shit shit. Oh, hello shirtless surfer guy clicking away at your computer. No. No. Don’t look up. Keep plugging away. FUCK!

Really, who needs peacock feathers when you can have scales! I am a woman of mystery with universal appeal. While these wretched pox were unavoidable, they were also intoxicating and irresistible. Maybe…maybe…this puppy wielding sweatpants wearing apartment-dweller is the Khal Drogo of my world and my prayers really have been answered!

DRACARYS!

.::Flashforward::..
The wretched things are nearly gone, and as they flake away, so does the (unwanted) attention. Sigh. Now I’m left here, freshly preened and alone, wondering what my next gruesome germ-filled adventure might be.

When I Hear the Song “Sexual Healing”…

Kelly

The floor falls out from under my sandals, which I actively chose to wear, and I land (thump!) on a soft, burgundy shag rug surrounded by dark wood walls.

Get up, get up, get up, get up. Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up.

Disoriented, I rub my eyes (Where are my Persols?) and snort-cough as I inhale a thick cloud of incense. Do I have an eye prescription anymore? Where are my sandals? Did a sphinx just run by? Are there snacks? I shake my head awake in confusion, but my dainty thin hair no longer wisps carelessly through the air as if it’s on the brink of falling out. I touch it in disbelief, as it, in afro, now spans for what seems like acres.

tim-meadows

I rise, no longer in cut off jorts, but in a velvet green bell-bottom jumpsuit. My drug dealer boyfriend (totally sober though) Tim Meadows beckons me to the couch. I soul train dance over to his side, resting my fake nails on his airy cloud of chest hair, grab his silk shirt collar, and beckon him to the dance floor. A group of people dance into the room. One guy even starts breakdancing, like, right away. I spot Will Smith across the room, who shoulder-shrug points at me with an approving smile. I wink dramatically.

Suddenly everything’s alright. Mainly because of my jumpsuit. I’m also terrific at dancing.

Click here for an extended party playlist!

***

Melissa

If I’m ever truly in the mood to barf, I’ll put on Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing.

Get up. Get up. Get up. Let’s make love tonight.

And then that synthy tempo comes on, odd unnatural pops and ticks, reminiscent of what I viewed as the coolest sound my Casio keyboard could make circa 1992. Suddenly I’m unwillingly whisked away to a time when I was just learning about love.

A twelve year old Melissa sits in the back seat of her mother’s car, bickering with her little sister, when Marvin comes on the stereo and the two of us get completely silent—giggling occasionally at the uninhibited use of the word “sexual” in a song.  My mom’s boyfriend starts crooning along, and reaches over affectionately to grab her hand. Their eyes meet briefly. My sister and I look at each other, our faces turn a pale shade of green at this open exhibition of lurve.

Becker-Car-Stereo

“CHANGE IT!” we shout, trapped in our seat belts as we cruise down the highway. It won’t go away. It won’t stop. And now, the song will forever remind me that my mother is a sexual being.

Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. It’s just a fact I would have to face some time, so it might as well be part of the soundtrack of my life.

20 years later it still burns. Sometimes one tiny memory can cause a life-long impact, especially when it is linked to a song. To combat the cringe I may have just induced, here is my playlist of feel good memories:

Happy Memories