Thank you, Roxane Gay

Bad Feminist, a book of essays by Roxane Gay, appeared at my doorstep magically. Okay, not magically, but as a surprise gift from my friend Cristina. She told me about the book over email and asked me if I was interested in reading it, and having a two-person book club with her. I was. The book appeared a few days later, which I wasn’t expecting.

I didn’t know Roxane’s (if I may) work before finding the book in my hands. Cristina is good at that, introducing websites and authors and shows that are speeding by while I’m looking at hummingbirds out the window or old British crime dramas. I’d like to attribute this to her living in LA and me living in a small town, but even when I lived in LA this was the case. She’s up on it.

Bad Feminist is about as good as it gets for me. It’s one of those reading experiences that says all of the things you’ve been feeling for so long but had either begun to doubt or had given up on putting into words. It’s liberating, it’s comforting, it’s complex. It doesn’t try to solve, but instead, acknowledge. It’s powerful.

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A ten minute walk through the imaginary woods

Photo of new growth on redwood treeIf you walk through the woods in your mind, woods that you have walked through before, in reality, in real time, are you imagining those woods? Or are you simply remembering them?

What if I’m walking through those woods, the woods with towering redwoods and the sweet summer smell of dust and needles, as an itty bitty person? I’m still me, just a teeny tiny me. What would I see?

It’s the new growth I like the most. The bright green of new needles that could make for a gently curved bed. I could lie down on the little tree arm and take a nap. It would smell so sweet. So pine-y.

But I like the clover too. The clover that looks like a ground blanket to big people, to usually sized people, but that is a series of umbrellas to me, providing dappled shade at the height of the day. It’s true that the sun doesn’t often get through the canopy, which I can barely see since it’s never-ending. It nearly touches the moon, I think. But when a little light does come through, it makes the clover umbrellas seem like a resort on the shore of the sea in the South of France.

Instead, I am a tiny me in Big Sur, revisiting paths I have walked before, but from a new perspective.

Thanks, Daily Post + photo library.

Chick lit is for dudes, too

I know, I know, tracking your reviews isn’t healthy. Still. This afternoon I discovered a new review for my coming of age novel, If You Have to Ask. It brought me nutty delight. As in, so much delight that I’m going nuts. Don’t read it if you’re allergic. Do read it if you have nuts.
5.0 out of 5 stars Chick lit that even the dudeliest dude can enjoy
September 14, 2014
This review is from: If You Have to Ask (Paperback)

Let me preface this by saying–I am a dude.Not only that, but I am the sort of dude who normally never reads this genre. This is “chick lit” at its very chickiest. I am totally not the target audience for this. But that being said…I loved it!Kells is truly a skilled writer. The prose itself is beautiful, a treat to read on its own merit. The metanarrative of the story, as well, is finely crafted. A real master-planned story with a very nice arc to it, developing several themes with poise and dexterity. Very real, flesh-and-blood characters in here. Even for me–the most dudeliest of dudes–the main character was extremely relatable. I can easily see this story being made into a movie someday, and all I ask of Providence is that when the time comes, the lead role gets cast by someone hot, because there are some very sexy sexytimes in the novel.I feel I should add in a helpful comment for my fellow bros out there, as this book may come in handy for you all someday. Ladies, if you’re still reading, I’d kindly ask you to stop here.


Heads up, brochacho–this book will give you an eye-opening glimpse into the mind of a woman, like few books out there ever will.

Can you imagine if the U.S. had ever gotten hold of a military strategic manual from the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War? Or vice versa? That is exactly what reading the internal monologue of the main character is like for us bros. If you ever wondered what went on inside the inscrutable mind of the fairer sex–what she’s thinking on that first date, what she daydreams about between your phone calls, why she suddenly got all quiet after you took her out to a four-course dinner at KFC–this book is for you.

Seriously though, and I say this without any sarcasm, it really is a fascinating look into a female perspective. Any fellow dudes who are interesting in understanding their mates a bit better and maybe, just maybe, becoming slightly less dense as men, this book is for you.

Muchas Gracias, Señor Khui! Order now to eat with your fried chicken.

Peanut butter and cheese, please

First, something you must know about me: I will never give up dairy or gluten. Ever. I say this because there are a lot of food movements out there and I’d like to ward off any crazy ideas about what should be in my cupboard. These two food groups bring me such joy that without them, I simply do not feel I could be myself. I would be another, unhappier version of me. Genetically, I was made to run on bread and cheese, like my grandpa’s diesel Mercedes was made to run on, well, diesel.

It was a loud car, but it lasted for decades.

Maybe it’s something about being Danish?

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Curb your entitlement

Photo of sun coming through trees

What do you think about adding entitlement to the list, big guy?

Thou shalt not be entitled. Wait, I think I’m referencing ten commandments language for the seven deadly sins? I’m an atheist, please forgive me. Actually, it doesn’t have much to do with atheism, just ignorance.

That aside, based on yesterday’s t-shirt fiasco and ensuing existential breakdown, I’d like to suggest we all curb our entitlement. It’s getting gross.

Seriously, if we stop thinking about life in terms of what we deserve and start considering that we’re in this together, this would be a more peaceful place. Do you agree? United States, I’m looking at you.

Inspired by the Daily Post.

I had an existential breakdown and all I have to show for it is this stupid t-shirt

I surprised myself by totally getting into the World Cup earlier this summer. Upon reflection, I think it was mostly an extension of missing L.A. and the diversity that it offers. I felt a wave of excitement and relief when Univision would pan the fans in the stadium. Oh, look! IT’S THE WORLD.

I share that as an example of how team sports can unite us. I get it.

That aside, I’ve been struggling lately. I’m not going to sugar coat it. I’ve been having a hard time with our bucolic town, our oddly blonde campus.

Example #1 of 1

I’m walking by the track as a group of student athletes finishes practice. I notice a young man in a t-shirt. On the back, in all caps it says: EXPECT TO WIN.

I can’t overstate the despair I felt when reading this t-shirt. Anyone else? Does it gross you out a little bit? Or does it make perfect sense as a psychological imperative for athletes? Does my recoil speak to why team sports freaked me out when I was younger? Or at least explain why they weren’t a match for me? Or is it a reflection of more, of the entitlement some athletes feel? Of capitalism?

Seriously, this t-shirt got me down. I wonder, if our campus didn’t often feel so homogenous, so privileged, if it would have hit me the same way. It’s an honest question. I mean, would the t-shirt have any less impact in L.A.? I dunno. Do you?

I’m interested in your thoughts to any of these questions, or your own examples.