Category Archives: Blogging

The Best Thing I Have Ever Written*


*This is how I felt immediately after writing this blog post. Upon reading it through a couple of times, I’m not so sure this is true. Nevertheless, the title remains.

You can feel it when you meet someone, when they let you in on their jokes or if you find they prefer to be the one making all the jokes or if they want you to entertain them, or if they expect something of you that you’re not going to give them.

Social interaction is a drug. It’s hard. It’s something most people have to do. It’s why humans are animals and animals are some of humans’ favorite things, because somewhere in there we’re laughing because what if we were the ones sniffing each other’s butts and isn’t that pretty much what’s happening at bars on Friday night anyways?

It can be wanting to be loved and cherished by everyone and wanting to get invited to their birthday parties, even the ones where you have to dress up and wear pearls and pretend that you like shaving your armpits because it’s better to have parties to refuse than no parties to go to at all.

It’s pretending to like people that you don’t like and pretending to hate people that you’re in love with and finding those people that you don’t have to pretend for, ever, and those are the best people of all. Because they’ll see you say something incredibly stupid in a crowd of people and know that that one statement isn’t who you are, because none of us are just one thing or just one sentence. And we have the lizard part of our brain and the dog part of our brain and the robot part of our brain and the iPhone and the troll and we’re all living together under one roof and sometimes it gets really crowded in here and a little smelly because – let’s be honest – we’re smelly people and the sheets have that human scent to them, but it’s kind of nice in the way that it’s a smell that reminds you where you are and signals to your body that it’s okay here, you can sleep with your mouth open.

And social interaction is everyone being the person that sleeps with their mouth open but only some people are allowed to know about that part of their lives even though if you took it one level beneath the surface you would see – and you would really see – that everyone has these embarrassing secrets that they only reveal to true friends and that we’re more alike than different even though we don’t know everyone’s names or their whole stories but that’s okay because sometimes words just get in the way of things and besides in 1,000-10,000 years all the words we use will be obsolete anyways and our Facebook pictures will have decomposed into virtual fossils that scientists will have to try to understand because our cultural customs – why are we always grinning at the camera – don’t make any sense anymore.

Photo credit: Subharnab, flickr

Photo credit: Subharnab, flickr

And the only thing that will be left after all is said and done is the feeling in the air and in the soul of every living thing that there were other living things here on this earth that felt things towards one another and created things together and despite their very thick skulls that kept them apart, managed to communicate something of who they were to another and were able to be heard. And it will be nothing more than an electromagnetic exhaust in the breeze, nothing more than a lurching in the belly of some kind of future-human with three heads and a heart bigger than the foot or in the aliens that have colonized us, but it will be there as sure as the sun is going to explode and as sure as the universe will continue expanding until all of us are asleep and no one can watch it anymore like a television left on after everyone’s gone to bed.

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Don’t Judge Me, But This Blog Post Is Literally About Feelings.

Photo credit: Doug88888

Photo credit: Doug88888

God I can’t believe I’m  actually writing about this but I’ll just come out and say it.

I have feelings.

Some of them have names like happy, sad, or hungry. But some don’t. So I wanted to name, share and possibly eventually sell them.

And what I’ve done is this: described a (fictional) situation in which one might feel said feeling, named it and described where it is most often felt in the body.

Cavernbowel – the feeling of being alone and realizing you need to poop, often felt in large, empty, unfamiliar/professional spaces; felt in the bowels

I walk into the Museum of Natural Sciences in Chicago. It’s 3 pm in the afternoon on a Saturday, so the place should be packed. Instead, I find it completely deserted, the lobby’s empty and there is no sound in the atrium at all except for the air conditioner. I don’t know this, but the rapture has just occurred and I am left behind, staring into the glassy eyes of a stuffed wooly mammoth. Suddenly, I realize I need to poop. I feel ______.

Networkunease – a sense of impending social contact through social media, telecommunications or email; felt in the stomach

I’m sitting in bed on a Tuesday night, writing a to-do list in my spiral notebook. But I feel like I’m waiting for something, like I’m expecting a Facebook notification, text, LinkedIn message, tweet or email from some person I’ve met at some point in my life. I check my social sites, email, and phone repeatedly, waiting for something to happen, unsure of what it could be or why I feel that way. I feel ________.

Forbiddenbowel – the feeling of being somewhere you’re not supposed to be; felt in the bowels

The door to the church was unlocked, so I let myself in. I know I’m not supposed to be here, but I did it anyways. Candles are still lit around the altars and I can smell frankincense. I walk down to the front and my footsteps seem incredibly loud. My stomach feels kind of like sandpaper and I don’t want to be caught, even though I don’t have any specific ideas for what would happen if I were. I realize all of the sudden that I need to poop. I feel _______.

Photo credit: Sweet One

Photo credit: Sweet One

Characterdoubt – the feeling of being suddenly and completely unsure of who you are; felt in the stomach/upper abdomen

I did something mean, and I’m not sure why I did. In hindsight, it was completely out of character. I told Shawn’s secret to Rob and she ended up finding out. I was trying to impress him with office gossip, but now Shawn is hurt and in the end, I don’t know why I did it at all. Who am I? Am I the kind of person that just uses other people for dramatic fodder? I kind of want to vomit and forget about everything. I feel _________.

Romancevomit – a feeling of dread while waiting to see an old flame; felt in the upper chest/hands

I haven’t seen him for a while but we’re going to coffee in 30 minutes. The last time we talked we were romantically involved. I broke it off, and he wanted to keep it going. I think he was the only man I’ve ever really loved, but I don’t feel anything towards him now and when I read what we wrote each other, I can’t relate to the person I was then. The past and future are melting together and my head feels a little light. I have the urge to drink a lot of caffeine. I feel _________.

Zephyrnostalgia – the feeling of being in several memories at once, often triggered by the senses; felt in the head and the sides of the body

I’m walking on Folsom street, heading back to work from the Embarcadero. I pass by the restaurants and office complexes and walk underneath some trees of the variety that are popular for sidewalk trees. A cool breeze comes down over the hill and strikes my face and somehow reminds me of every place I’ve ever been where I felt that kind of breeze before – Bunny Lane, CO; The Esplanade, MA; Squirrel Lane, OK; And it’s like I’m in all those places again at once. I feel _______.

Photo credit:  cbowns

Photo credit: cbowns

Wonderminded – the feeling of having your conception of reality shaken; experienced as a hollow feeling in the entire body

I’m walking to Powell BART station after class. It’s Monday night and I do this almost every week. 5th street can be kind of sketchy, but I usually walk this way alone anyways and it’s not too bad – it’s only one block after all. I reach Market street and am only 15 feet or so away from the BART station entrance and I hear three gunshots from across the street in front of the Forever 21.

I’m paralyzed. I think maybe I should drop to the ground, but instead I half jog to the entrance and start going down the stairs as quickly as I can. My heart is pounding and I feel like my insides are made of electricity. I’m about half-way through the hallway when three men sprint around the corner and come right at me. I’m against the wall, imagining them taking out a gun and just ending me right there. They pass by and sprint up the steps. I don’t think they even saw me. Three police officers chase after them, and I’m left alone in the hallway. Something I thought could never happen has just happened. I feel ______.

Joyexpansion – a feeling of utter joy that everything is right in the world and very beautiful; felt in the face and chest

I’m at Duboce park and it’s November 16th. The sky is perfectly clear, dogs are running around the park with their owners who are laughing and there are leaves on the ground. The air feels like an apple would feel if it were in air form. It seems that life truly is beautiful beyond description. I feel ________.

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Be Warned. This Blog Post is Unedited. Welcome to My Mind.


Below is an experiment of a risky nature. It’s a blog post I wrote while on my lunch break but still at my desk. I wrote it in an email to pretend like I was writing a “real” email, since blogging at work is discouraged.

I didn’t have a lot of time, so I thought to myself – why don’t I just leave it unedited, with my work showing and the less-than-perfect syntax and all of it, just to give you a taste of what things are really like before they’re published.

So here it is – it starts out as usual, me finding what I want to blog about, and then I find the thread and dive in. Welcome.


Okay, so here’s the deal. This is not what it looks like. I promise you, it’s not what it looks like. It might look like I’m writing a business email very quickly, but that’s not it at all, that’s not it at all. It might look like I’m typing up notes from a meeting, but that’s not it at all, either. That’s really not what’s going on here. What’s going on here, and what I’m trying to tell you is this.

That I’m blogging on my lunch break, that I’m trying squeeze a quickie in in the next 15 minutes because every second of my day has been sold to someone else for something, so I’m trying to get it back, just for one second. One quick second.

I wolfed down a slice of pizza for lunch today, and that was great. I often find I gravitate towards the lunchtime things, the things I crave the most, the things that make time slow down for me. Maybe I should unpack one minute of thought, one minute of conversation for you and then move from there.

There are short minutes, and there are long minutes. There are the minutes that never really existed and the ones that seem to never end. There are minutes that are silly and excruciating. There are minutes you don’t notice until later, until much later. Sometimes those minutes come to mean more than you ever thought they would, and you dissect them until they seem to take up hours and they do take up hours, hours of your entire day.

And you piece them and interpret them and replay them over and over again, wondering what you would have done differently, marveling at what you did, thinking about what he said and what it could mean and what did he mean, what did he really mean? And the way the wind was blowing through the air, and how incredible that spaghetti tasted. Had spaghetti ever tasted like that before, really.

But there are the empty minutes, the ones where you look up and a day is over and you go home and go to bed and try to remember even a single thing you did that day that was worthwhile. Did I do any good today at all? Even a little bit?

I read recently that people remember the most moments, or have the most memories from between the ages of 18-26. 8 years that are full of new experiences, first loves, deaths of loved ones, study abroad trips, first time living away from home, first thanksgiving with a significant other, first big break-up, first time realizing the world is big – bigger than you could ever know – first time looking at the moon, then at the stars, and then down at a cigarette butt on the sidewalk and realizing how very small we are, how much closer we are in size to a cigarette butt than we are to the moon and how entirely big the universe is, first time realizing I don’t know anything, not even a single thing. And that the thing I thought I knew – I was so incredibly wrong. First time really hurting someone else. First time being really hurt.

So those years are packed and we remember them. I read that and became terrified. OMG I thought – time is running out. A couple more years and I’ll only have the memories I’m making right now. There’s no time. There’s no time.

Just another paranoia for another day. And the minutes continue rolling away. When I’m having fun, time flies, when I’m bored, time flies. Time flies. The difference is what I feel when looking back. The box is the same size, but sometimes it’s full of mementos – trinkets I picked up in Istanbul or train tickets from Slovenia. And then I’ll see that even though the days go by so fast – faster and faster – they’re not empty and they never have to be. It’s a choice I make, right?

That’s Just Me Staring at Your Ear

Scowl_earI find myself staring at ears a lot nowadays, on the subway or when I’m standing behind people in line at Peet’s. I zone in on the ear, or the back of the neck, or the elbow of the jacket, where it’s pulled tight but I can still see some wrinkles in it from where it’d been crumpled up and left in the passenger’s seat.

I try to memorize every detail possible, or at least take them all in.

The staring started after I got interested in other people and wanted to swim into their lives and know all their stories and secrets. I’m pretty sure that makes me the opposite of a psychopath, so you don’t need to worry about my mental health, mom. Also, I’m taking vitamin B12 which improves mental function and tastes like candy.

The ear is a very personal part of the body. Only best friends and lovers know the ears of others intimately. I myself don’t know my ears very well. If you stared at one long enough, you might get to know it better than I do, and then in that one way, you would know me better than I know myself.

The same applies to certain parts of clothing – the back of a shirt or a coattail. I’m not aware, as I’m going about business as usual, how my clothing sits on me, how the wind is affecting it or what the pattern of raindrops is on my back or umbrella. Only someone else could know those things about me.

In digging into these minute observations, the boring pattern of ear hair, where a certain mole falls on the neck, or the mundane way the fabric appears to be worn at the knees and the jeans are feathering, I feel – and stay with me here – that I’m taking back control of time and adding detail to the blurs that other people can become around me.

earOften, during the past month or so, I’ve wished I could memorize every single face I see, the eyes and the nose and the skin tone and the blemishes, and that I could understand something of the story behind that face, where she had come from and where she was going, what he was thinking about and hoping, and everyone with a different story, all of them distinct but reassuring in their similarities, in the familiar concerns everyone has, the desire for good health and love, the dream of  taking time off to be with family or friends or travel the world, the fears of being alone or not living a life that’s worthwhile.

Jostling, rushing for a seat on the bus, walking past others on the streets – this is the way I have to live in a city. I’ve learned the ways to cope when there are so many people and so many heartbreaks and joys that could burst out and give me some perspective on my life. It’s self-defense, and it’s necessary.

But on the MUNI, when I’m staring at ears and dress pants, it becomes clear that there’s really nothing between me and this other human, that I could reach out and start a conversation with them and they would respond as they would respond. That’s the real fear – that there’s nothing there, no barrier, not a single thing.

We’re all in the same vehicle together with our burdens and curiosities and there’s nothing stopping us from sharing them with one another, except for everything.

And now I’ve overstepped the bounds of this article of talking about my new habit of ear-detail-gathering, and I know longing for intimate conversation on the MUNI is bizarre and would be psychotic except for those B12 vitamins I’m taking, but I guess I just want to remind myself that life is more interesting than the boundaries I create for myself.

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On the Two Year Anniversary of this Very Blog

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary Blog

Tonight, at my apartment while my roommates are out with their boy things and I just got back from improv practice with an awkward 30 minutes before I need to sleep so I can drone appropriately at the office tomorrow, I pick up my computer from my desk – the same computer I’ve had for nearly six years, the one that’s been with me to several continents and now makes disgusting whirring sounds if it’s left on for too long, and I sit down in bed, and I tell myself that I am going to do this, that I am going to face my bloggerly self, and I log into my WordPress account for the first time in 2 months.

I see a tiny trophy in the corner of the screen where WordPress tells me how much everyone loves me and wonder what I did to earn it this time. Turns out, it’s the 2-year anniversary of This Very Blog. All of the sudden it became clear, my blog had called me to itself for a purpose. It wanted me to remember its birthday.

Let me take you back, all the way to May 26th, 2011 and the birth of Snotting Black.

I had just graduated from Boston University and was another bleary-eyed, short-snouted, two-toned Boston Terrier entering what I hopefully and unimaginatively called the real world.

I was in the middle of a euphoric semi-relationship that seemed like the most exciting thing that had happened in the course of history, had spent a dreamy weekend with my family in Bar Harbor, Maine, a city so quaint even the squirrels have impeccable manners, and then had flown all the way to Cairo, Egypt, where I was entering a one-year Arabic program to finally become fluent in a language I had studied since I was a senior in high school.

I wrote my first blog post from the airport in Boston and was instantly hooked. Turns out, I loved exhibitionism and making even my most ridiculous thoughts available for the world.  I blogged almost every day for a year.

I blogged from the dusty couches and furniture of three different Cairo apartments and one balcony. I wrote about sandwiches and revolutions and expatriates and travel and unicorns and instant coffee as I dealt with the immensity of Cairo and its endless high rise apartments and highways filled with people and as I traveled here and there where I could – Italy, Ethiopia, Turkey. I got out of a relationship and into another one.

The year in Cairo ended. I wasn’t fluent in Arabic and in fact didn’t much care for studying the language anymore. I was ready to go home.

So home I went to Oklahoma, where I co-delivered a knock-out speech at my sister’s wedding, and then moved to San Francisco in order to follow my dreams, which were undefined. Something about writing and performing and being universally loved and known. As the days pass, my blogging dies down. There’s not enough time between relationship, hostessing, babysitting, and job-hunting to keep it going steady.

Then I get a “real job” and time speeds up. I’m busy almost every night, either with improv, which is now a huge part of my life, tech meet-ups, concerts, lectures, or friends. I find it almost impossible to stand still.

I rarely blog, even though I renewed the domain name under and changed the description a couple of times to try to refocus it. But I don’t know what it’s about, and when I think about blogging I think of sitting on the balcony in Cairo breathing the night air and watching the bats in the trees.

But life goes on: I’ve eaten at over 30 different breakfast places in the Bay Area, ended a relationship, have a hole in my work shoes, and brought my work computer home this past weekend even though I knew I wouldn’t use it.

Two years is not a very long time for a stone or a 30-year old. But it seems like long time for me. Rather, I’m surprised that all those experiences added up to be 2 years. It seemed shorter than that. Am I who I thought I would be two years ago? The older I get, the younger I feel, and the newer the world seems to me. I hope that lasts forever.

I do know that some of the Cairo dust that graced the crevasses of my keyboard in those first months of blogging passion is still jammed in there, and that’s comforting for some reason. Those parts of my life are still around and always will be.

I guess Walt Whitman said it best when he said, “I could talk about myself and my experiences forever.” And that’s why he created blogging.

Happy Anniversary.

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