Dating Iron Man

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Iron Man would be a terrible boyfriend. We all know Iron Man. Self-described genius billionaire playboy philanthropist Tony Stark made a suit of armor out of spare parts in an Afghan desert while being held hostage by vague terrorist group whose name I forgot. He then spend the next three movies causing a bunch of property damage putting people in jail causing more property damage and generally treating his love interest/personal assistant Pepper Potts terribly.

It’s not really that Iron Man is a bad person. He’s a great hero, in the avengers he flew a nuclear missile into outer space and then sort of fell to his death until Hulk yelled him. He’d be super fun to hang out with, he has amazing parties, will let you borrow one of his super suits and would probably pay for your hospital bills after you crashed into a building. Frankly I would want to be bros with Tony Stark rather than I would want to be his girlfriend. If we take his relationship with pepper Potts as a reasonable example he is the type of guy who wants a mother he can have sex with. He wants a woman who is always available to him always willing to put up with his bullshit and forgive him for any wrongdoing he might commit. And he commits a lot of wrongdoing, namely multiple affairs with women that he throws a side and does not remember years later and the aforementioned property damage. Maybe Pepper Potts can put up with that but I can’t.

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Dating Hulk

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This is a tricky one. Bruce Banner would be a great boyfriend. He’s compassionate, he’s considerate, he’s a nuclear physicist, he’s played by Mark Ruffalo.  He is a cutie patootie! I would feel totally comfortable introducing him to my parents, holding hands on a long walk around the park what we talked about our dreams, just sitting at home watching TV on the Internet. Bruce Banner would cook dinner and do the dishes without being asked. Bruce Banner wouldn’t send you flowers he would send you a delivered lunch because you seem sad and he knows you’re stressed. I don’t want a regular boyfriend and I want to date Bruce Banner.
But Bruce Banner has a problem with his emotions. I’m not talking about anger here, though we’ll get to that. He’s understandably upset when he turns into the hulk for the first time. It’s a traumatic event to turn into a giant green rage monster and destroy cities. His shin solution when faced with the military trying to destroy him and the fact that he turns into a giant green rage monster and destroy cities is to move to Rio de Janeiro and work in bottling factory because nothing stressful ever happens in Rio de Janeiro or factories. That’s in the 2008 Hulk movie where he is played by Edward Norton who is less adorable than Mark Ruffalo but still undeniably hot. By the time he becomes Mark Ruffalo in the avengers, Bruce is hiding out in Kolkata because again nothing stressful could possibly happen in A city of 4 million. Bruce, my adorable genius, weren’t you previously upset about destroying large cities and hurting a bunch of people when you turned into a giant green rage monster? Because you seem to be gravitating to a lot of really big cities where you could potentially turn into a giant green rage monster and hurt a bunch of people. I’m really trying not to point out that these cities are not in America and are full of brown people but you are making it difficult.  I’m saying is you seem to be let’s cut up about hurting a certain type of person and it’s making you less appealing get on an emotional level.
Maybe Bruce Banner wouldn’t be a good boyfriend.
But ignoring what appears to be pretty racist thinking there is still the giant green rage monster to consider. Sure, you can’t conflate Bruce Banner with the Hulk but you can’t really separate them either. After all Bruce Banner isn’t quite an avenger. He’s super useful yeah you know nuclear physicists tend to be super useful but with aliens are invading what you really need is the giant green rage monster. Physicist is great to have the giant green rage monster is the one that can beat a demigod into the ground like he’s a rag doll and make the entire audience cheer.  I like the hulk. I like the way he smashes. I like the way he speaks in third person. he’s just fun…  In a Movie.
Hulk is not boyfriend material. Some mind argue that he’d be a good boyfriend if he could use his smashing rage to protect you from alien invaders and other giant rage monsters. Here’s the thing though would I be under threat from alien invaders and other giant rage monster specifically if I weren’t dating the Hulk? They seem like the kind of thing he attracts. It’s not his fault but it’s also not something I want to deal with. Second are we sure Hulk can focus his rage? I mean he did in the battle of New York buddy also destroyed the hellicarrier before that and kind of almost killed a Black Widow. Again not his fault but worst case scenario if he gets pissed off and I die really violently. Best case scenario if he gets pissed off and he ruins the town I live in including my apartment. I like my apartment, hulk. I just bought a bed. I might be getting a cat. I do not need you screwing this up for me because somebody cut you off in traffic. Do all the Yoga you want, buddy, some day someone will make you mad and you’ll turn into a giant rage monster and destroy a city because this franchise is not over. You made too much money, honey. They ain’t gonna let you go.
I love you, Hulk. I really do but it seems like you have a lot going on. Are you even stable enough for relationship right now? I’ve got problems too I can’t be taking on the government and the military and dealing with you turning into a giant green rage monster destroying Los Angeles. Also yeah you have to move to Los Angeles. My Dreams are here and it’s not all about you, Hulk. Maybe you should examine why you’re more comfortable destroying cities in other countries  before you enter into a committed relationship. I think you need to take some time and I think you need to work on yourself.
Good luck with your sad hitch hiking.

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Dating Hawkeye

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Oh my gosh hi Hawkeye! I totally remember you when I think about The Avengers. You played a really important role in that movie that was super important outside of being motivation for Black Widow and a tool used by Loki.
I’m not a Hawkeye fan. I’m sorry. I know on paper that he’s really cool and he likes dogs and he’s hard of hearing and he was raised by circus folk and all of that makes him sound like a pretty good boyfriend. I don’t know him though. He’s had like 12 lines in the entire franchise. I didn’t even know he was in the first Thor movie untill I watched it the third time. Did they ever show his face? Like he showed up in avengers and everyone was like “oh cool Hawkeye! He’s important! Care about him, audience!” And I was like “yeah… Hawkeye cool… where is Black Widow?”

I mean I guess out of all The Avengers Hawkeye is the one who could give you the most normal relationship. He seems like a pretty chill dude. He’s not a national hero or a genius playboy philanthropist superhero man or giant green rage monster or a God are a sexy super spy. He’s a dude who is really really good at archery. A dude who, as I consult Wikipedia, was apparently raised by Carnies, and has a farm for some reason.
Yeah sure Hawkeye would be a fine boyfriend. It’s possible I would be a bad girlfriend to Hawkewy but he seems chill and I’m sure he has a personality once you get to know him. The only downside is he appears to be good friends with the Black Widow and I feel like constantly checking out his best friend is not a good thing for most boyfriends.
But hey maybe he’s chill with it. Maybe we could check out Black Widow together? Is that what people with boyfriends do? Check out sexy ladies together? Yes hopefully?

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Dating Captain America

The Following Contains Spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Captain America, played by Chris Evans, seems like he would be an ideal boyfriend. He’s kind, respectful and passionate about doing what’s right. Sure, it’s a little weird that he’s over 90 years old but thanks to super soldier serum and a well placed Iceberg, age ain’t nothin’ but a number! Plus, he’s only been living in the 21st century for like five years. You could use so many movie lines on him and he would think you were super deep and original. You would never run out of things to talk about it! He could tell you about fighting Nazis and you could tell him about dial up internet.

Yet, I don’t see Captain America as a viable long term option for me. Captain America has a lot of history with some pretty impressive exes. I don’t think I could live up to the memory of Peggy Carter on my best day. Of course, Cap wouldn’t expect me to. He’s a genuinely good person and I’m sure he would like me for who I am. Deep down though, I would know I didn’t measure up and it would probably poison our relationship.

Then there’s Bucky Barnes, AKA The Winter Soldier, who was incredibly hot and Steve’s best friend before becoming a brainwashed HYDRA assassin. Not only am I incapable of competing with that, The Winter Soldier would literally murder me.  I’m not one to “fight for my man”, especially when my competition is a master sniper with a bionic arm. Assuming he didn’t murder me, I would have to end it with Cap anyway because LOOK AT HOW BUCKY LOOKS AT HIM!

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What kind of Nazi Metaphor Monster separates those two? Seriously, though, Steve Rogers is bisexual and I will broke no argument!

Beyond impressive and deadly exes, Captain America would be an exhausting boy friend. It’s not his fault but he is a national treasure and that’s never going to go away. I can’t deal with everybody dissecting me to see if I’m good enough for the dorito shaped symbol of freedom. I don’t know if he could ever stop being Captain America and just hang out like a normal boyfriend. I support Cap in all his endeavors and I’ll always be his friend but I’m just not ready for that kind of intensity.

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Dating The Black Widow

The Following Contains Spoilers for Movies in The Avengers Franchiese

As we all know, The Avengers: Age of Ultron will be premiering on May 1st, 2015 and I am super excited. Now, due to my issues with Spider-Man, I was a little late to the Marvel fandom but I loved The Avengers Franchise. I love the characters, I love the plots, I love how everything was set up so each movie could stand alone but also tied into the main story line. I have fun with Superheroes in general because I tend to enjoy traditionally masculine media in the most feminine ways possible. Yeah, it’s cool that The Avengers fight aliens and crime and whatever but how is Iron Man going to deal with his PTSD? Is Captain America finally going to come out as Bisexual? Is Bruce Banner going to stop living in self imposed exile just because  he occasionally turns into a giant green rage monster?  Why didn’t Thor call his girl friend, Jane Foster played by Natalie Portman, during the first Avengers movie? She’s an astrophysicist, Thor! She would probably be useful with a space army invading! Iron Man called his girl friend!

Anyway, in honor of the movie coming out, I will be analyzing each member of The Avengers (excluding Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver because I can still only associate them with the X-Men) in terms of how good of a significant other they would be. This is not a ranking of attractiveness. They’re all ridiculously attractive. That’s not up for debate. But which Avenger do you want to build a life with? Which Avenger can you build a life with? Going Alphabetically through the roster, let’s examine:

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Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is a former soviet spy turned Agent of SHIELD with red hair that makes me weep and thighs that can crush a man’s head if she felt like it. In what is possibly the most ridiculous decision in superhero history, The Black Widow doesn’t have her own movie. Because apparently a woman trained in the twin arts of death and deception from her earliest age trying to redeem her violent past by doing as much good as possible isn’t as compelling as a billionaire causing excessive property damage for three movies. Also, no one would come out to see Scarlett Johansson in a skin tight cat suit, shooting twin pistols and crushing heads with her thighs to save the world. That doesn’t have a guaranteed audience.

Anyway, enough with that particular rant, we all know Natasha Romanoff is awesome. A human with no super powers or mechanized armor who is able to keep up with Captain America in not one but two movies, and go toe to toe with The Hulk and Bruce Banner in Avengers is unequivocally badass, but would she be a good girlfriend?

Yes.

Natasha is more than just a master spy and cunning assassin. She is also a kind person and a dedicated friend. Her motivation in the first Avengers movie is more about saving her friend, Clint Barton, AKA Hawkeye, from the clutches of the evil Loki. In fact, she only agrees to come in on the mission when she learns that he is in danger. Likewise, when she appears in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, she is willing to stand against the corrupted SHIELD for her friend, Steve Rogers AKA Captain America. They are friends too, with a lot of work banter before and during the unpleasantness with the eponymous Winter Soldier. Natasha seems to have spent the time between The Avengers and CA:TWS trying to get Steve Rogers to adjust to life in the 21st century, encouraging him to go on dates, experience new media and technology and generally being there for him.

Yet, Natasha is clearly not friends with everyone. Her first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in Iron Man 2, where she infiltrates Stark Industries to keep an eye on Iron Man who publicly admitted he was Tony Stark at the end of his first movie. When she’s not pretending to be an average personal assistant wowed by Tony’s persona, Natasha makes it clear that she’s not impressed with the billionaire, play boy philanthropist, superhero. In The Avengers, she states that “Stark doesn’t trust me as far as he could throw me,” indicating that their relationship has not improved. She was no where to be seen in Iron Man 3, though the Incredible Hulk did make an appearance.

So, we’ve established that Natasha Romonoff is a good friend, if you are lucky enough to count her as one of your friends. Now, I am a big believer that being a good friend is a prerequisite to being a good girlfriend. For me, friendship is the beta relationship before all other social relationships and Black Widow passes the friendship test. Yet, she’s kind of married to her job. Granted the job is amazing but she will always pick some super spy mission over a Netflix binge with you. There is also the concern created by her moniker. Sure, you’d assume that your girlfriend, The Black Widow, probably wouldn’t kill you, but in the back of her mind, you know she could. Technically though, pretty much all of The Avengers can kill you. Most of the people who can kill you don’t even have super powers or super spy training. If I have to get murdered, I’d rather be knocked off by Natasha Romanoff than some random dude I rejected from the club.

Of course, no one is concerned with rejecting The Black Widow. Natasha has never spoken of a romantic relationship on screen. She told the villain, Loki, that love was for children . How honest she was being is up for debate but I honestly enjoy the idea of an aromantic and/or asexual Natasha Romanoff. As of yet, we have no evidence of her experiencing romantic or sexual attraction in the movies so if could possible happen. I think I speak for everyone when I say that Natasha Romanoff doesn’t have to have sex with me. I am fine with just hanging out.

So, to sum up, Natasha Romanoff is better than all of us in every conceivable way but on the off chance she actually likes us and wants a romantic or sexual relationship with us, she would be a fine girl friend. Sure, she’s got a demandinig job and she’s incredibly intimidating but she’d encourage you to be better. After all, a girl friend or boy friend shouldn’t be a person’s entire world. I’ve got my writing and my volunteer work and my dogs, Natasha can have fighting aliens and stealing international secrets.

We’ll work it out.

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Subway Secrets

Since moving to Los Angeles, I have taken to riding the subway when ever possible. Sure, it saves me money on gas which is always welcome and it’s less corrosive on the environment but that’s not why I do it. It’s less stress full than driving and it gives me the opportunity to write on my iPhone but that’s not why I do it.

I am a woman who likes secrets. As a girl, i was constantly searching for hidden passages behind closets, portals in the space between trees, underground cities in sewer drains. I wanted the lights in the sky to be more than planes to signal more than advertisements. I don’t know if this desire was born out of my love of fantasy fiction or if my love of fantasy fiction was born from this desire. Now that I am an adult, I take my wonder where I can get it, usually in the wandering of my own mind.

The subways of Los Angeles are not secret but they are hidden. As I whiz through the tunnels, I know that the people above me are totally unaware of my prescence, even as I pass them by. Tunnels strech out for miles and I imagine what might be hidden inside. A family of crime fighting reptiles? An enormous worm that swallows lost trains?  Maybe someone would have noticed it by now but so much hides in plain sight. Every rider has a thousand hopes and dreams and woes hidden from me and from themselves. A thousand brilliant actors and artists labor in obscurity in this city, their work unseen except for a privileged few. Why couldn’t a giant worm be hidden here as well?

I don’t make attempts to speak to other people on the subway, any more than I search the tunnels for giant train eating worms. People like to bemoan our lack of human interaction, forgetting that human interaction is not always positive. I am content to offer help where I can, if a tourist asks for directions, but beyond that I keep quiet. Every human being is a world unto themselves, with their own secrets. I am a woman who likes secrets but I hope I am a woman who respects secrets as well.

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This Is Why I Don’t Have Friends

I don’t like making friends. I like having friends. I’ve known my best friends for nearly 20 years and I cannot imagine life without them. I find when I meet new people, especially with the express purpose of becoming friends with them, I instantly start fantasizing about life without them. People are like books. If I stumble across one randomly I will probably love it. If it’s assigned to me and I have to write an essay about it, we’re done here.

Yet friends are imperative to making a new place livable. In spite or perhaps because of my awesomeness, I get lonely. So when I come to a new place I must put myself out of my comfort zone and try to make friends specifically with people.

One of these social endeavors recently minded me why loneliness is sometimes okay. Sometimes loneliness is even preferable.

My roommate is more gregarious than I am. To say that he is more gregarious than I am is similar to saying that a three toed sloth and is more active than a rock. Technically true but it is not a high bar to leap. He managed to make friends with his coworkers and find a boyfriend within a few months of our move. I don’t want to boyfriend and I’m frankly ecstatic that I don’t have coworkers but I am slightly jealous of his friends. He makes a wonderful effort to include me, even inviting me to an outing to the beach with said boyfriend and boyfriend’s co workers.

As with every social interaction, I agree with dark forebodings.

We arrived at the beach approximately two hours before the others did. My forebodings were not assuaged by the phone conversations had while driving between the boyfriend and his coworkers, principally concerning where we were to meet and the repeated phrase “whatever works best for you”.

I don’t like the phrase “Whatever works best for you,” especially when I have to say. I want whatever works best for me even though that is usually staying at home alone with my laptop.

Still we had a good time at the beach. I let the boys have their alone time while I listened to my iPhone and pretended I was in a rap music video and could control Seagulls. Controlling seagulls is easy you just hold your hand in the air and wave your fingers.

Eventually though my phone began to die. People mock my generation for our attachment to our phones but a phone is a difference between a tolerable time and a nightmare of boredom and social interaction. More importantly,  my phone it’s a tiny handheld computer capable of mapping out directions, finding places to eat and calling my mom. A dying phone could well be a  death sentence.

The roommates boyfriend is a charming fellow. I like him. He is not however equipped with an in the car charger that can adapt to my phone. It is his worst quality. You’ll be happy to know that I now carry around in a car adapter in my purse as well as my own car for just such an emergency. This time however I was unprepared and our parking spot had just expired.

“Do you guys want to go to target and kill some time?” I suggested, “maybe buy a phone charger?”

“Okay,” they said and we drove to Target.

We never made it to Target. The boyfriends coworkers called and said they had arrived. We turned around and went back to the beach.

“So,” I said focusing on my next problem and ignoring the 20% battery sign on my poor struggling phone, “what do you guys want to eat? Because I feel like if we present a united front on what we want to eat it will be easier to pick a place.”

Much like my phone, I am only capable of a limited amount of activity before I must recharge.

“What do you want?” They said confirming my worst fear.

“I want to know where I’m going to eat,” I said, “I want to avoid everyone standing around in a circle discussing where we want to eat and no one picking up place.”

They nodded. Such discussions with the bane of my social existence in the college. A group of people always three or more who have decided that they are hungry but not what they will do to end the torment. “We should eat,” they say in unison, “but where?” They answer also in unison.

“How about Taco Bell?” Someone suggests.

“No” they answer, “not Taco Bell.”

“Chinese?” They try again.

“I don’t feel like Chinese,” they say.

“Well what do you want?” They say. “I’m fine with whatever,” they answer.

“I’m fine with whatever too”.

People have died in the course of these conversations.  Died of starvation. I exaggerate but only a little.

“Are we good with hamburgers?” My valiant roommate suggested.

“Yes,” I agreed immediately along with the roommate’s boyfriend. Thus was our front united.

We returned to the beach and made our way toward the pier. The streets were packed. For a woman as uncomfortable in crowds as I am, I make terrible choices about where I live and travel. At best I am just uncomfortable in crowds. At worst I put my head down cover up my neck like a badger and speed through them breathing heavily. This was a mixed bag.

“They said they are by the volleyball courts,” boyfriend said. My stomach metaphorically dropped.

As we approached the courts my fears were confirmed. These people, The strangers but I had to come to befriend, they were playing volleyball.

I don’t understand sports. Often I literally don’t know how the game is played or scored or whatever, but I also don’t understand the appeal of sports. I’ve known many athletic people. They are good people, but they are people I do not understand. I try to. I asked them why they like whatever they like and they smile. “it’s fun,” they say in reference to whatever ball throwing or kicking or running or skating or rock climbing activity they are trying to make me engage in and I understand the meaning of the words but cannot relate to them in the context. Sports, at their best seem a good way to ruin being outside.

“Come play volleyball with us,” called a short woman with a long ponytail.  She didn’t introduce herself or any of the men and women surrounding her. She gave no option of refusal, only a command,  a friendly squeaky command but a command none the less.

I leaned over and hissed to my roommate, “this is my hell.”

My roommate nodded.

This is the problem with making friends. I imagine this is the problem with dating people to but I don’t do that because I’m in love with myself. When you meet a new person or group of people, you want to pretend you are cooler than you are.

“But Kate,” I hear you cry across the Internet, “You are already the coolest person in the known universe who is not Beyoncé, Rihanna or Nicki Minaj.”

I know that. I also know that some people find it uncool when you introduce yourself as the fourth coolest person on the planet after Beyoncé, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. Some people think it’s cool if you play volleyball with them on command. In retrospect these people are not the people I want to be friends with, I had come to the beach that day with the express purpose of making friends. So I put aside my principle of not doing sports unless someone makes me, and walked toward the volleyball net.

Sports are, in my opinion, the worst way to make friends.  I might think differently if I were good at sports but I am not so I don’t.  The best way to make friends is to eat food with them. Food is easy to eat and it provides an automatic topic of conversation.

“This food is good,” One person will say.

“Yes,” the other will agree.

“Have you ever had this other type of food before?” The first asks. ”

No,” says the second, “is it good?”

“Very good,” laughs the first and they tell an anecdote about the time they had the other type of food.

“We should have that type of food sometime,” says the second and boom the friendship has been formed.

The second best way to make friends is to watch TV or a movie together because you will have a good excuse not to talk to them for at least half an hour and an automatic topic of conversation if you decide there are words you want to share.

Sports also provide a topic of conversation I suppose but for me the conversation centers around how I don’t like or understand sports, which I’m told is off putting by people who would like or understand sports.

I do not know how volleyball is supposed to be played. I know how I play it. I play volleyball by standing as far away from the ball as I possibly can, teeth gritted, praying that it never comes toward me. If the ball never comes toward me through the entire game, I consider it a win. I have won a number of volleyball games via this method, often by running away or ditching gym class. I am a champion at never actually touching the ball volleyball.

I did not win this game. People maliciously threw the ball at me, spiked it or bumped it or whatever. It was terrifying but I hit the ball with my hands one time, and due to flee ran to get it when it went past me several times.

Finally someone suggested food. “Yeah, food,” I said immediately and transparently walking towards them. “Let’s do that! Food! Yay!”

My relief evaporated almost as quickly as it appeared. We walked away from the volleyball court and someone asked where we wanted to eat. Like a naturally blonde British children the strangers seemed to answer in unison “I don’t know. where do you want to eat?”

It was like watching a car crash in slow motion. I knew what was happening I had foreseen this exact situation and yet I was powerless to stop it.

“How about burgers?” I Said in a desperate attempt at a united front with my roommate and his boyfriend. I was ignored.

“I know where we should eat,” said one of the strangers.

“Where?” Someone else asked.

“You’ll see when we get there,” he said. I felt like I was sinking into quicksand. The stranger let us down the boardwalk.

My iPhone was at 15%.

I tried to be social. I tried to make conversation even though there was nothing to talk about except for how I hate making conversation when there is nothing to talk about. I Asked questions about their lives over the din of the crowd. I received one word answers and blank stares. I asked what kind of food there was at the mysterious restaurant. I was met with vague laughter. I do not trust people who do not tell you where or what you will be eating.

We passed a McDonald’s and my roommate said “Do we want to eat here?”

“Yes,” I whispered like a hungry snake.

“No,” said the stranger like a tool. “it’s just this way.”

I try to make a habit of venturing outside my comfort zone. Sometimes, like when I studied abroad or tried dim sum, it works out. Sometimes, like when I agreed to live with a woman who used to the U instead of the word you and said her favorite band it was the Jonas Brothers at the age of 19, it’s terrible. Mostly, like the time I tried pho or rock climbing  or watching Transformers, it is terrible. (for those playing at home: too much cilantro, I’m afraid of heights and Michael Bay is terrible). As I write this I wonder why we step out of our comfort zone. It is literally a comfortable zone, implying that the other zones are uncomfortable. Are we, Americans, suddenly anti-comfort? I’m not saying this is the road to fascism but I am also not not saying that.

Despite the lessons of cilantro and the roommate my mother refers to even now as “Hannah Montana gone wild”, I followed this stranger in hopes of finding his mythical restaurant.

Santa Monica is a beautiful city. Nearly every city is a beautiful city but Santa Monica has an ocean,  with a swing set and a roller coaster nearby and sculptures of dinosaurs in pedestrian mall. Someday I will return there and appreciate it with a full stomach. On an empty stomach every city is ugly and stupid and has too many people in it.

The stranger lettuce past the dinosaurs, several break dancers and buskers playing music from a variety of cultures and most importantly several restaurants. He let us to a sign with a map of the surrounding area.

“So there are some burger places back there,” he said, “and some ice cream places up ahead and that noodle place over there. Where do you guys want to eat?”

Like a mandatory time travel cliche, it is not where I want to eat but when, stranger. And when I wanted to eat was half an hour ago.

“You don’t have a place in mind,” I accused. He shrugged. I wish I had had a pair of leather gloves so I could have slept him across the face.

“Where do you want to eat?” Said The boyfriend in an effort to quell my rage.

“I just wanted to eat,” I said, rage unquelled, “I just wanted to avoid this exact scenario.”

I refer to my roommate as my roommate but really, we are in a sexless marriage. I love him as much as I am capable of loving anyone and he keeps me as happy as it’s possible for a man to do so. Basically, he does his best to make sure I am fed and for that I don’t hate him. He nodded, tacitly agreeing with my rage, and said “I’ll check the prices in the noodle place.” He also appreciates my love for not spending money.

“Whatever,” I said, in gratitude. “I’m going to the Apple Store and see if they’ve got a car charger.”

They probably had a car charger. I’ll never know because they were closed. Everything was closing or full, including the noodle shop and the Johnny Rocket’s the strangers’ suggested after it became apparent they had less of a plan than a graduating english major. My phone was dead. My stomach was empty. The people I was with, except for my roommate and his boyfriend, would forever be strangers.

Eventually, I went to McDonald’s. I went because I made the decision to go. Maybe I didn’t make friends with that group of lying, Volleyball playing strangers but I did learn something about myself. Whatever group I am in, I will not have the “whatever you want to do conversation.” I will decide. I am the decider.

I may be lonely at times, but I will not be hungry.

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The Beastmaster

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A good writer finds inspiration anywhere. This is an experiment with the fantasy alter ego I was perscribed by this meme. I am a Beastmaster with an ebony dagger and a dashing  rogue. I’m down with the dagger and the mastery of beasts but a rogue seems like more trouble than he’s worth.

 

Each table at The Silver Dragon Cafe filled up approximately four minutes after twelve o’clock. The line stretched out the door with several untrustworthy characters leaning too far over shoulders and meandering passed their designated place in line. No one tried to cut in front of her though. She would have been close to six feet, if she had stood up straight. Her matted brown hair stuck around huge black headphones. The dulet screams of Rage Against The Machine could be heard within four feet of the big black circles. A raven sat on her shoulder, staining her coat with black feathers and unfortunate splots of white. The Dire Wolf at her side, it’s proud grey white cheek rested against her thigh. It watched the other patrons with bored ice blue eyes.

The Barista took her in with a blink of black lined eyes and said, “You can’t bring the bird in here.”

“I did, like fifteen minutes ago,” she said, and reached into her purse. “Can I get a dirty chai latte please?”

“We allow for service dogs,”

“Dire wolf,” she said and glared down at the growling animal. “I told her. Calm down, dum dum.”

“but you can’t bring the raven in here. It’s unsanitary.”

“Look,” she said, pulling a shining black dagger out of her pocket. The Barista put her hands in the air as the woman tossed a plastic ID card on the counter. “I’m a licensed Beastmaster, alright? Bird isn’t gonna do anything unless I tell them to do something.”

“You named your raven Bird?” The Barista said, her pierced eyebrows raised, as she examined the id card with a photo of the women in front of her, only slightly better dressed.

The Beastmaster closed her eyes and opened them again. “They’re not my bird, I’m just looking after them. Every Bird calls themselves Bird. They are not smart.”

The Barista shrugged. “Okay, but you need to sit outside. Dirty Chai, you said?”

“Yes, please,” The Beastmaster said wearily. “A large, please.”

They exchanged currency and The Beastmaster returned her ID and dagger into her pocket.  She rested her hand on the Dire Wolf’s head when a familiar voice called her name. “The Beastmaster Canter, as I live and breathe!”

The Beastmaster groaned and pulled her dagger again, brandishing it at the rogue. “Where the hell is my rent check, Achilles?”

Achilles Schwartz scowled momentarily before reverting back to his tooth filled grin. “I told you, The Beastmaster, it’s A Chill es… because I’m cool, you know?”

The Beastmaster rolled her eyes. “It’s Achilles because I know you’re a goddamn heel!” She sniggered briefly at her own joke, never taking her eyes off the rogue or loosening her grip on the dagger. “Where’s my rent check?”

He shrugged his spike covered shoulders. “It’s in the mail.”

“Liar.” She growled with The Dire Wolf.

“Dirty Chai,” The Barista called. She caught sight of Achilles and leaned up against the counter. “Can I help you sir?” She asked in a dark, smooth voice, utterly changed from the monotone she used with the Beast Master.

“Oh, I had a hot chocolate expresso,” he said, waggling snow white eyebrows. “She’s paying.”

The Barista glanced at The Beastmaster, the tips of her pointed ears turning red. “Are you… together?”

“No.” The Beastmaster growled. “And I’m not paying for him.”

“On the house then.” The Barista said with a wink. As she turned around Achilles pulled a dollar from her tip jar.

“Put it back.” The Beastmaster snapped, brandishing the dagger.

Achilles rolled his powder blue eyes and stuffed the bill back into the jar. The Beastmaster growled. “Oh come on,” he said, “it’s not like she’d care.”

“She makes less than minimum wage. She’ll care once your stupid rogue glamour wears off.”

“By which point, I’ll be long gone.” Achilles grinned. The Barista returned with his drink and a wide winning smile. He followed The Beastmaster as she turned away. “So…” he said, dragging out the O as he always did when he wanted something. “How’s things?”

“About six hundred dollars short?” She said and told her raven to fly off and poop of Achilles’s motorcycle, She stepped out the door. He followed her out into the cold where the Dire Wolf immediately began to poop on the sidewalk.  Achilles wrinkled his nose.

“You’re just gonna let him poop on the street?”

“He’s gotta poop somewhere,” The Beastmaster said with a shrug.

“Kind of unsanitary,” Achilles said.

“Hey,” she said, as a pigeon dropped a plastic bag into her hand, “Do I tell you how to rip people off, rogue?”

She bent over and scooped the cooling poop into the bag and handed it back to the bird. “Thanks, Bird,” she said as it flew away, sinking under the weight of the Dire Wolf Doodie. “Look, Chilly, or whatever you call yourself.”

“A Chill Es,” He said, very slowly.

“Whatever,” The Beastmaster shoved her hands in her pockets. “The Council assigned us as partners over a year ago. Now, I’ve helped you  with that squirrel infestation at your mom’s house, I got the ants to leave your lunches alone, I loaned you money-”

“Yeah, speaking of loans-”

“And you haven’t done anything except leave stolen goods in my house. I hate to say it but I’m gonna apply for a new partner.”

“What?! No,” Achilles blew a loud raspberry. “Boo! No! You love having a rogue as a partner! I make your life exciting.”

“No, dude, you make my life hard.” The Beastmaster sighed, pulling her head phones back over her ears. “Causing trouble isn’t the same as being interesting. Honestly, it’s kind of predictable.”

She couldn’t hear his outraged reply as she turned up Rage Against The Machine. She left his screeching in the snow as the raven returned to alight on her shoulder.

If you liked this and want to help continue my writing career, please download a free copy of To Move On! Every download gets me closer to cash prizes which I will use on my student loans and therefore have more time to devote to writing! Thanks so much to everyone who has downloaded, liked or shared so far! I’d really like to get to sixth place!

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Dogs 101

When I was a child, my father took the family for hikes in the mountains. I spent 50% of the time enjoying nature and the other half complaining, either internally or vocally, about the altitude, the cold, getting up early in the morning, walking, or the antics of my family. My Dad’s thing was to walk up to people with dogs on the trail and thank them for having their dog on a leash or lecture them for not having their dog on a leash. The rest of us would groan, or cover our faces with our hands or walk further down the trail to contemplate how illegal it would be to just live in the forest for the rest of our lives.

Now that I am older, I understand my Dad’s frustration. More than that, I condone his methodology. I have made the decision to follow in his example. I am going to start telling strangers on the street to put their dogs on a leash.

I live in Hollywood. I am literally two blocks from the walk of fame, four blocks from The Chinese Theatre where I learned that my hands are the same size as 11 year old Daniel Radcliffe’s hands. We frequently see police cars, drug addicts and any number of near fatal hit and runs from tourists too overwhelmed by our country’s entertainment mecca to stay on the sidewalks. Also, despite the laws against it, I have seen way too many dogs off leash in our neighborhood.  I see at least five on a daily basis but for future reference, any is too many.

I cannot fathom why you would allow your dog off leash on a city street. Literally, I can’t think of any scenario that I wouldn’t repeat back to you in a high pitched baby voice.

“Oh my dog doesn’t like leashes!”

It’s a dog. It doesn’t matter what a dog likes, at least not nearly as much as what it needs. A dog needs to be on a leash, especially when there are people who don’t like dogs, dogs who don’t like other dogs, cars, and broken glass around.

“Oh don’t worry, she’s friendly.”

Neat. I’m not friendly. At this point, I am openly hostile. A lot of the dogs I walk are openly hostile to other dogs. It takes nearly all of my effort to pull them away when you’re able to help. I do not feel like getting in between my psychotic dog of the hour and your idiot who just wants to say hi and can’t take snapping jaws for an answer.

I’ve never understood how people can think their dogs’ friendliness is reassuring. Even assuming my dog is friendly, you don’t know if they’ve had their shots, you don’t know if they’re spayed or neutered, you don’t know how I will react to having a strange dog run up to me. A lot of people need their dog’s full attention to help them in day to day activities. Not just seeing eye dogs, there are dogs that sense allergic reactions, dogs that comfort those suffering from ptsd, hearing dogs… any number of important jobs that don’t need Princess Puffkins interfering.

I live right on the edge of The Hills. Sometimes I will take dogs on hikes at Griffith Park or by the Hollywood sign and I see dogs off leash there as well. You know what else is in Griffith Park besides the Hollywood sign, a lovely bird sanctuary,  and the Observatory where they filmed the final scenes of Rebel Without A Cause? Coyotes. Coyotes live in Griffith Park.  Bears have been sighted in certain areas of LA and not just the kind that I live with. We’ve built our city next to and often in the habitats of wild animals and they do not think Ser Squishface of Cutesterly Rock is adorable. They think he is lunch. This is not hyperbole. Dogs have been eaten in front of people. I have enough reasons to go to therapy just based on brain chemistry without witnessing that nonsense, thank you very much.

If you are concerned about your dog being socialized, I must remind you that this is Los Angeles. The Dogs here live better than most of the people. There are dozens of dog parks, dog cafes, and over priced pet boutiques for La Loba Diabla to make friends with other like minded lumps of fluff. Everywhere else, put your dogs on a leash.

While we’re on the subject of things you are legally required to do, pick up your dog’s poop. There is no reason to leave a steaming pile of shit on the sidewalk or the grass in front of someone’s house. The city leaves free biodegradable bags tied to street signs advertising the bag’s presence for the express purpose of picking up dog shit. It’s so disgusting to see or smell or walk through as I have done many times trying to get to my car in time to leave for work. When I’m feeling charitable, I imagine that the owner of the dog who made the poop suddenly got called away to fight crime or deliver a baby and couldn’t spare the fifteen seconds it takes to pick up their animal’s feces in a plastic bag and toss it in the garbage. The thing is, I don’t often feel charitable in these situations so I usually just imagine they’re an asshole. It does not take much of a stretch.

This is Dog 101, people. This is not new information. You have to have your dog on a leash and you have to pick up your dog’s poop, which is another thing no one in my neighborhood seems to do. That is the price you pay for having a tiny fluffy creature that will love you for its entire life. A dog’s love has no condition but this is the social contract you enter into will all of your neighbors, to keep the streets clean and safe for people and dogs.

The worst part of this is that I can’t wish for you to feel the consequences of your actions because that would mean some innocent dog gets snatched up by a coyote or placed in a shelter and probably euthanized. Dogs are generally the best thing about their owners so I can’t hope you get a first hand lesson about why you are the most inconsiderate person in the city because it’s your dog that suffers when you don’t keep it on a leash.

I do however hope it shits in your house and you don’t find it for several days because you are awful.

If you enjoyed this rant and want to help me continue writing, please download my %100 free, original story: To Move On. It’s about coping with loss and fighting evil, respectively. The story with the most downloads wins fabulous cash prizes which I would really really enjoy! Thank you to everyone who has downloaded, liked or shared so far. 

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Injuries I’ve Had So Far (7/?)

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What happened to you?

I believed in myself… I was wrong.

When I was in college- hell when I was in middle school, I used to pull all nighters all the time. First out of a childish desire to prove myself then later because things were due The next morning and worth 40% of my grade. Either way I’d stay up until the sun rose over the horizon and then go about my day as if I had slept at all.

I am 24 now and I think I have pulled my last all nighter. This one didn’t even count because I went to bed at four am like an old lady. I’ve been trying to pull all nighters since I got out to LA out of some misplaced urge to make it in show business … overnight. I’m not sorry for the pun. Yet my love for myself and my mattress always one out over my love for the craft of writing. My love of a paycheck put up a grand fight, but I did manage to get my work finished by four in the morning.

I caught 2 and a 1/2 hours of sleep before I had to wake up and walk my first dog. Dog walking was meant to be a “chill job”. Most of the dogs are chill. My regulars include an elderly Yorkshire who I referred to by his surname, A golden retriever puppy, and his adopted brother a three-year-old Australian Shepherd mix. I walked the Yorkshire in Griffith Park near the Hollywood sign and then I had to go to my “real” job.

I am a personal assistant and it gets personal pretty quick. I won’t go into detail soon so I still technically work there but my boss is eccentric. They usually give me about a days notice before they need me to come in and rarely if ever tell me what I’m supposed to be doing until I get there. Today I had stayed up working on one of their projects which frankly bored me to tears but needed to be done today. They asked me to come in and go over the work as well as deliver a package to their lawyer in Beverly Hills. When I arrived there was nothing wrong with my work. there never is. I don’t enjoy my job but I am good at it. There were two packages though one for Beverly Hills and one for Sherman Oaks, both half an hour from my house and half an hour from each other.

Yet what could I do? The code of the personal assistant is to ask how high when one’s employer says jump. My personal code has always run along the lines of I never jumped in gym class, why would I jumped for you? We are all slaves to the rent check. I took the packages and the implicit contract that they would be delivered was struck.

Now understand all this you must understand how the dog walking gig works. I get my schedule about a week in advance with time frames  when I should pick up and drop off the dogs. When I took the packages I had roughly 2 hours before my next walk.

It should have been simple. I should have said now.

Sherman Oaks was easy enough in the quick early morning traffic but Beverly Hills is a labyrinth of attention and exorbitant parking fees. But the time I arrived I had half an hour get back and walk the dogs. I figured I could go in drop off the package and go out in less than five minutes and be back in time for my little furry friends. I got stuck in a staircase.

Wealth is a beautiful thing I’ve heard, but there is something to be said for having nothing worth the effort of stealing. The most valuable thing in my apartment is a $300 laptop refurbished. The thing I would miss the most my mattress would be too much effort to drag it down the flight of stairs especially since I bled on it three months ago. The people in Beverly Hills have a lot.  They could buy and sell my college degree probably for what they spend on lattes in a month. There is security.

When I entered at the offices there was a sign saying that I should inform security of my presents. I am not going to let a piece of paper on a stick tell me how to live my life. I went straight to the elevator and press my button.

“They have to key in,” said a well-dressed young man.

I grunted classily and got off on the floor above mine figuring I would take the stairs. After all who have security on stairs? stairs are necessary for escaping fire.

You could not remake die hard in this building. John McClain would’ve immediately been shot by Alan Rickman because every time you open the door in this building apparently an alarm goes off. I did my best to escape without setting off the alarm but there wasn’t really a system for alerting people to being trapped in a staircase without setting off an alarm. My time Grew short. I bit the bullet and went out the door resolving to come back when I had more time.  I didn’t hear an alarm but I’m sorry if I alarmed anyone. Maybe dump trap people in staircases  if you don’t want to be alarmed.

I came back to Hollywood. I walked the dog. It was the Australian Shepherd mix. There are a good dog and they live in a house that makes me want to work harder than I do. Or marry rich.

Then came the third dog of the day aptly named Godzilla. (The Dog Names have been changed to protect the dogs) Godzilla is enormous.  I would not be surprised if he outweighed me. He’s a sweet boy like Lenny from of mice and men. He lives in an apartment that makes me sad to look at.

Godzilla is a sweet boy but he does not like other dogs. He freaks out any time he sees another dog. Do you know where you can find a lot of dogs in LA? Outside walking a giant dog who is afraid of other dogs.

Now, I have dealt with big dogs and I have dealt with skittish dogs. I have never dealt with a dog quite as skittish or quite as big as Godzilla on terrain quite as uneven as Los Angeles. A sidewalk in LA is not often flat. Earthquakes, or tree roots, create little pavement mountains you need to traverse. I was walking on one such street, next to a lovely house with a white picket fence when Godzilla stopped at sudden attention and town german shepherds came bounding out of the house barking their heads off. Godzilla lunged. I pulled him back, shouting “NO!” And “heel” and “Zilla!”. That did nothing. Godzilla circled around behind me trying to get to the other dogs. The leash tangled around my legs as I attempted to pull him away and I came crashing to the ground.

A lady came running from the house. Her accent was either british or australian or something I couldn’t analyze because I was on the ground clutching my bloody knee and trying to keep a 200 pound pit bull from busting through her yard. I was also swearing. “Are you alright?” She asked in that charming accent before telling her dogs to go inside as an after thought. They kept barking.

“I’m fine,” it was obvious that I was not fine but sometimes “are you alright” means “can you walk” and I had made the decision that I could do that. There wasn’t really another option.

“Oh, you’ve hurt your knee,” she said. It was a lovely accent.

I did not say “whaaat?” Or “jesus fuck ow” or “get your fucking dogs in the house!” I said, “i’m fine” and stood up.

This is adulthood in a nutshell. There are moments, days and weeks where you don’t want to get up and walk a dog. Knees get busted but staying down isn’t an option. A child could call their parent and get a bandaid. Even a college kid could feasibly take the day off.

Not an adult. An adult powers through because there are no other options, or the other options that they have are inconvenient. I could have gone home but that would have meant three dogs wouldn’t get their walks that day, my boss would not have her package delivered and I probably would have lost my job dog walking, not to mention the extra income.

So I got up. I powered through. I limped down Hollywood boulevard with a bloody knee, a bruised elbow and tears streaming down my face, mumbling cuss words as I sobbed. Adulthood means doing what needs to be done, but never delude yourself into believing it will be done with dignity.

I returned to Godzilla’s apartment without much further trouble and went immediately to the bathroom for a band aid and possibly some pain killers. I figured that she owed me for not training her dog. She still owes me for not training her dog because I found absolutely nothing useful in that apartment. It offended me on a cultural level. Who doesn’t keep Aspirin or Ibuprofen in their house? Who doesn’t even have a midol in case their cramps get bad? All she had was vitamins and I refused to believe that fish oil is any use on menstrual cramps. She didn’t even have bandaids. The closest I could find was a box of gauze. I took two pieces and I taped them around my knee. Essentially, the looked like paper towels? Who doesn’t have bandaids in their medicine cabinet? Dirty hippies, that’s who. Dirty hippies with infected wounds that they just leave rotting open in the air.

Once I got Godzilla back home, I went back to my route. There were still two other dogs to walk, cats to watch and a package to delivery to Beverly Hills. The fast paced life of a personal assistant/ dog walker waits for no busted knee.

I went back to Beverly Hills. This time I obeyed the signs, like a sell out. My boss said this package was for her lawyer but I think it might have been filled with drug money for all of the security I had to go through. After showing my ID, waiting for security to call the office I had to go to because I wasn’t on their super special can deliver packages list, and actually delivering said package which, upon further thought, could probably have just gone through the mail for like five dollars instead of the 15 I charge for an hours work, I got back onto the elevator. There was a very pretty professionally dressed woman. For further understanding, I was wearing cut off jean shorts, a dirty t-shirt and bleeding from my knee.

“That looks painful,” she said with a sympathetic smile. She probably meant my knee but it could also apply to my life

“It is,” I said with a shrug because I am super cool James Dean with a vagina rebel girl. “Dogs… you know.”

She looked a little horrified. “You got bit?”

“No,” I chuckled, “No I just tripped. I would not be here if I got bit.”

“Oh.” She said. She walked away very quickly when the elevator stopped.

I walked the other dogs and looked after the cats. None of the other houses had a band aide. I wonder what kind of city I have decided to live my life in.

When I return home I bandaged it. It looked super gross. I haven’t looked at it since but I assume it is super gross still. It doesn’t hurt to walk on though so I keep on keeping on.

This is part seven of my bodily injuries series. I don’t know how many parts there will be. Probably a lot more, given my propensity for adventure and mayhem. For scars are stories written across the body and a life without stories is no life at all.

I’m sorry. I have taken a fair amount of Ibuprofen.

If you liked this injury and want to help pay for the eventual physical therapy I’m sure I’ll need again at some point, please download my %100 FREE %100 ORIGINAL short story To Move On! We’re currently in 7th place with 218 downloads! If To Move On gets the most downloads, I get the most money! Thank you to everyone who has downloaded, sent the story as a gift, liked or shared!

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