Friday, February 28, 2014

Day XXVI: Escalator

Well, shit.

Every Friday, it's coffee day. Around 9:30, or whenever the final employee arrives--and it's always Aaron--a group of three to seven of us clamor through the skyway in search of fancy espresso based beverages. Here's how it usually breaks down.

The Coffee Train

Colleen orders a skim mocha, no whip. No pastry.

Alex orders a tea with steamed soy milk, otherwise known as a "London Fog." No pastry.

I order a mint mocha with soy milk, no whip, less hot, half the flavor, only 8oz. Apple Fritter, when possible.

Aaron orders a white mocha, extra shot. Donut, when possible.

Jen orders a hazelnut latte, soy milk. No pastry.

Kelly orders a black coffee, always last, so she doesn't have to spend as much time waiting for the fancies. No pastry. No nonsense.

All aboard!

The baristas always look happy to see us, and I hope it's genuine! Coming from a coffeeshop background, I can safely and truthfully say that just because your barista is smiling, doesn't mean they're particularly happy to be helping you. (Unless you got tips, baby. Then I'm always happy to see you. Which makes me feel like a prostitute. Which I am okay with. Which makes me nervous that I am okay with being labeled a prostitute.) We cause an abnormal amount of ruckus in most of the cafes we frequent, but a larger group of people is going to do that anyway. What I don't understand, completely, is how we always loop to some terrifying topic of conversation.

Today: prime example!

Alex and I were leading the pack--I'm a very fast walker due to years of runway-ready training and Alex hates the cold hallways so she tends to scurry. As we were round the corner of the Gaviidae commons, mounting the downward-moving escalator, she recounted a terrifying tale. Apparently, a woman snagged her scarf in an escalator, strangling her in the process. Rather than get outta the scarf, she leaned into the fabric to rip it away, but instead got her hair ripped into the vanishing metal staircase. Caught by her hair and her accessory, she was killed.

Now, the story Alex relayed is insanely tragic. It's devastating. What a frightening and sad way to die! Now, Alex is terrified of escalators and what they're capable of. Poor little dear. Of course I laughed at her. There's no reason to be scared of escalators! That's a one-on-a-million event! No one ever get's caught in an escalator!

Wrong.

I decided to be nice and pick up some Reeses for the office during my lunch break by swinging over to Target. I was just trying to be helpful! I didn't even need to be there!

On my way off the escalator, I felt a tug on my right leg. I looked down in time to watch the bottom of my shoe unravel at the heel. A loose thread got stuck and the escalator tore at my footwear like a hungry, steel-forged demon.

Of course, the shoe thread was much weaker and cut away very quickly, leaving my nearly-mangled foot in a much better way.

When I returned to the office--I should have kept the damn candy for myself and my ego--I apologized for laughing at Alex and showed her my ripped shoe. As I started to recount my story, I was quickly reminded that all that really matters to anyone is whether or not the food made it safely:

"BUT DID YOU BRING BACK THE CHOCOLATE OR WHAT?"

Yes, you hyenas, here are your damn sweets.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Day XXV: Toys

Come April 1st, Scarletta will be in a new building. Being with a company during a move is sort of an exciting time to be around. There are new desks and chairs, new sound systems, new design spaces, and there is a whole lotta shit that needs get on outta here.

Isn't everyone's favorite part of moving purging your life of the crap bogging you down? I feel like every time that I have moved, it's a toss-half/keep-half sort of battle. I wonder if I've kept more than I've donated or thrown? Hard to say, but I think it's close call.

It's nice to be a part of a move that doesn't really require you to do a whole lot. Today, we all spent a lot of time cleaning and looting through our desk affects. Personally, I like the little green martian that sits on my computer. I like my stiletto turned tape dispenser. I like my supply of G2 pens. But everything else? It can go. I'm not tied to it or interested in keeping it for our new space. I like to think I'll find something equally worthless and perfectly charming when we're all settled in to the new location this spring.

Amidst the looting, however, my friend Colleen discovered a little gem.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day XXIV: RuPaul's Big Opening

Because the only thing better than one big opening is two big openings.

Let's just take a moment to admire dat episode title. "RuPaul's Big Opening."

God. This show is perfect.

Babies! Drag Race is back! And shit is getting gaggy already. I'm not planning on ever fully recapping any of the episodes. I'd rather just highlight some of my favorite sections, throw some shade, and make some unwarranted and uneducated predictions.

The first episode of each season features each of the contestants entering the workroom. So let's talk about those entrance looks.
Adore Delano
Adore had the privilege of being the first girl to enter this season. She reminded me a lot of Alaska with her entrance look. It's a big ol' jumble of pieces that don't necessarily go together, but, somehow, it works on her. She has so much personality and nerve, and maybe that's why this mermaid-caught-in-a-crab-net look actually makes a  whole lot of sense for her.

Ben DeLaCreme
"Hey, everybody! It's me! Ben DeLaCreme!" I love when camp goes so over the top that you cannot help but crack a grin. Ben's entrance was full of energy and spunk. She has so much pizzazz! I also loved that she was in her character one hundred percent of the time. Not one moment did I feel like she was a lesser version of herself.

Gia Gunn
Scott likes to say that Gia has roughly 3 neurons firing in her head. I think it might be closer to two. She comes across as this totally vapid, painfully air-headed flight attendant from 1980s California. There is this little glint behind her eyes, though, that I totally dig. I think she might even be in on the joke. Her look is actually a tearaway. Behind that zebra blanket lies a rhinestone-encrusted onesie. And behind those sunglasses? Eyes. For. Days. She is painted for the gods. Adore's thoughts on Gia's entrance: "She came in with a hula-hoop with a pocket! She was really living for herself, girl!"

Laganja Estranja
This little dancing diva! Split seconds before I took the above screen grab, Laganja was standing upright with both of her hands on her hips and loudly proclaiming: "C'mon season 6, let's get sickening!" And with that, she death-dropped to the floor, demanding the attention of the room. Well...she got mine! Laganja's outfit was my favorite of the first seven. The purple, green, and goldenrod look so great together, and the tendrils of feathers on her hat were everything! 

April Carrion
"April Carrion, reporting for duty!" I am definitely digging this boy scout eleganza. It doesn't hurt that April is such a sexy woman and a beautiful guy. For me, almost everything about this look was on point. I didn't care for the way her bottoms looked like a diaper, but it was otherwise flawless from head to toe. Favorite entrance comment on April came from Ben: "And here I thought gays weren't allowed in the scouts!" (It's funny 'cuz we're not.)

Kelly Mantle
(wakes up in confusion) 

Oh, sorry, I fell asleep trying to think of something to write here.

Vivacious
"Mother has arrived!" Vivacious is that old school club queen from NYC. She's 40 years old, but will always let you have it. This look is so fantastical, I don't even know where to begin. Those pants, that fan, that shimmery blue? And, sweet jesus, look at that headpiece! Vivacious really knows how to give you a moment. Later in the episode, when Ru is chatting with the girls, she asks Vivacious if the piece has a name. World: meet Ornacia. She has her own Twitter account already. And she's perfect.
 
After Vivacious' entrance, a familiar sound rang through the work room: "Ooooooo, girl! You got she-mail!"

But, wait! Isn't that the call we hear when RuPaul's ready to introduce the girls to the challenge for the week? Where are the rest of the girls? These can't be the only seven!

Mother Ru pulled a fast one right out the gate! For the first time in Drag Race history, season 6 isn't having one premiere, it's having two. For the first two weeks, the girls have been divided into to two groups of seven. And within each group, one girl will be going home. In week three, the remaining twelve will join together, and, I have a feeling, that's when the real race will fire away!

Some of my favorite quotes from the episode

Adore Delano: For all the girls saying I'm not polished enough, I just want them to know that I'm polish remover, bitch.

Gia Gunn (after hearing that there was only seven of them competing): What?! Is there no budget this time around?

Vivacious (referring to BenDeLaCreme out of drag): I could not clock the spook.

Adore Delano: I'm a fucking Libra.

RuPaul: Your runway look was a honey of a boo boo.


My Ranking Post-Episode 

7th  Kelly Mantle (eliminated)
6th  Vivacious (bottom two)
5th  April Carrion (top two)
4th  Gia Gunn (safe)
3rd  Laganja Estranja (safe)
2nd Adore Delano (bottom three)
1st  Ben DeLaCreme (winner)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day XXIII: Archie's Birthday

Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday, dear Archie!
Happy Birthday to you!

Let it be known that I am only wishing him a happy birthday because he HATES when people sing at him. We discovered this last year when Sibley, Kyle, and I sang our most heartfelt of "Happy Birthday" to his furry little face. He was on the kitchen tile. About 1.5 seconds in to the song, his eyes became the size of a large jack-o'-lantern and he made a mad dash for the living room. Naturally, we  doubled over with laughter at his intense fear of our song.

To this day: we can meet eyes, countdown from three, and know it's time to loudly sing the birthday song to this spoiled rotten kitten.

So, happy birthday, you little asshole. Here are some adorable pictures to commemorate your second year of life.






 Seriously. You're just a bundle of cat.







You are "ARE YOU KIDDING ME" adorable though.





 But also super gross. Look at that right hand, you guys..







Remember that time I was gonna glue that puzzle together...







Okay, why so much yelling though?








 Jesus, Archie, it was a just a question!





So you're either shouting at me or do something disgusting...








Or being so G.D. precious that I could fall over and die.











Happy birthday, Archie! You really are the worst.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Day XXII: Faggot

There are three moments in my life that I distinctly remember being called a faggot.

This was the first time.

Monica McAllister and I were waiting by the fire hydrant in the old WHA school yard where the buses lined up to take us all home. We had just ridden over from Akeley. For those unaware, we had a very strange bussing situation when I was in elementary and middle school. In first, second, and third grade, our classrooms were in Walker, the town I grew up in. Walker is the 'W' in WHA, an acronym for the three towns in our school district, Walker-Hackensack-and-Akeley.

The classrooms in our building seemed massive at the time. Plenty of desk space, enormous lockers, and enough cubby room for a lunch box, crayon case, a hat, and both your gloves. It was all so glamorous. The chalk was plentiful and hot lunch was always just around the corner.

4th Grade
In fourth grade, you started a new routine that would last for three years. In the mornings, instead of staying in Walker, you would be bussed the 10 miles to Akeley. The classrooms were smaller, the library was miserable, and thin, rolling dividers were all that stood between you and the hollering teacher in the space next to you. Cubbies were non-existent, there were 8 different colored pencils--in the entire school--and your lockers were actually just hooks in the central hallway with open shelving above. In many ways, the Akeley school was a reflection of the rundown, decrepit town in which it stood. And I use 'stood' loosely. The upper floors were condemned and, shortly after leaving for high school, the remainder of the building was barred from public access. In short, middle school was somehow made worse by a space that should never have been a second home for children.

So we'd returned from Akeley and were waiting to switch to the bus that would bring us home. Well, close to home. After school, Monica and I would go to her grandma's daycare center and help her watch the additional kids she accumulated after school. We'd stay from 3:30 to 5:30 and play games, build snowmen, and tromp through the woods. Every so often, we would sneak up to my house--the next door down from Little Oak--just for the thrill of doing something against the rules. Goody two shoes that we were, though, we always made it back in time to see the kids off and make our appearances.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Day XXI: Brunch

I don't know if it's possible to like a meal more than I like brunch. Dinner can be too late, breakfast is a waste of time, and lunch is the middle child that you just acknowledge as part of a routine. None of them are particularly fantastic, and they each suffer from flaws.

But brunch. Brunch is a gift. Brunch is bloody marys and sweaty hash browns. Brunch is mimosas and tofu scrambles. Brunch is beer and waffles. Brunch is...brunch is perfect.

It might have an unfair advantage though. See, breakfast-lunch-and-dinner all suffer from meal loneliness. It is not often that you get to enjoy breakfast with a loved one when you're 24, especially if you're in love with your snooze button. Lunch is for you and your desk and surfing the web. And dinner is a consistent afterthought for when your bottle of pinot noir has disappeared by what I can only assume is black magic.

But brunch.

Brunch is for friends and family. Brunch is for toasting the night before. Brunch is for waking up with glitter in your hair and stamps on top of your hands. Brunch is for remembering how much better food can taste when laughter surrounds your plate.  Brunch is for asking why your clothes were off. Brunch is for glamorous hats and ebullient conversation. Brunch is...brunch is heaven.

I had the pleasure of a lengthy brunch today with some of my very favorite people on this planet, and I believe it's exactly what my soul needed to kick off the week. There's this great line from an episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon says, "I believe all anyone wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich." I think I used to agree.

Tonight?


I think all anyone needs is brunch and a table of people you love



Saturday, February 22, 2014

Day XX: Reading

I read a lot. 

I don’t want to brag or assert that I’m better read than you or your mom or your best friend or your uncle who happens to be a librarian. It's just an observation. I probably read more than the average new adult. For anyone unaware, I was raised—more literally that you might think—amongst the shelves, racks, and displays of a bookstore. Over the ten or so years that my mom owned Fishing With Your Mind, I bet I spent at least half of my non-school, non-sleep hours lazing around the pages, spines, words, smells, and auras of fiction, nonfiction, and young adult literature. I may have spent even more than half—time flies when you’re lost in the world of another writer’s imagination. 

"And I know I can do this because I went to London on my own, and because I solved the mystery…and I was brave and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything." –The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, Mark Haddon

It’s hard to quantify the past when you spent most of your time flitting through worlds that do not exist. Sure, I wasn't reading all the time in the store. (Sometimes I was working, sometimes napping, and—on more than one occasion—holding an informal Magic Tournament with my friends.) Still, a great amount of my time involved my nose in a book. Even now, I wonder how many times people tried to get my attention while I was reading. When reading, I have this tendency to saturate myself in the book, to immerse myself in a flood of language and syntax and semantics and come up for air only when absolutely necessary. I like to call it “dolphin reading style”—dive down, come up, dive down and hold. Anyone who’s tried to get my attention while I’m reading has probably experienced a great deal of frustration in doing so.

Once, I was so distracted by my novel—still a favorite—that a fire alarm went off, people left, and I looked up from my pages to find myself in a very loud, rather empty room. Oh, Study Hall, you used to be so great.

“Animals that escape go from the known to the unknown—and if there is one thing an animal hates above all else, it is the unknown.” –Life of Pi, Yann Martel

I don’t think I ever slept in Fishing With Your Mind, but it’s always the first thing I wish I’d done when I remember the copious amount of time I spent inside the walls and windows of the little shop. “To sleep, perchance to dream” about books—it would have been nice.

Now that chapter of my life is closed and I think the building that once housed a childhood of words is currently a t-shirt shop that sells slogans like “GOT BEER?” and “Walleye Capital of The World…or at least any place around here!” I become ill when I think about what has become of that old building, what memories are trapped inside now covered in mass produced, poorly-made cotton clothing. I hope there are still crumbs of my muffins in the cracks of the floor and that hairs from the puppy version of Lucee still linger in the corners. I think it would be nice to go back in there someday and read a book in the middle of coat rack, to play pretend, to imagine that somewhere, there is a happiness from so long ago still floating in the now stale and sub-standard air.

"Once, in my father's bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return." –The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

My library is modest. It consists only of what I've most recently read. Five years? Six? This does not include the books I've loaned out nor the ones that have graced my presence. I could tell you my favorite quotes from all of them, but I think that you’ll be more inclined to take the book for yourself and find your own special moments within the words on the page.

Alas, dear reader, my guess is that you have about as much time to read these days as I do. Naturally, this leads me to a moment of vulnerability. 

I have a confession: I've only read three books since January and am only now trying to get through a fourth. That’s a book-point-five a month and I feel guilty, guilty, guilty. Of course, I am aware that many of my sexy, ferocious readers will not find this as big of an issue as I do. Many of you probably just see it as an expected consequence of life being, well, life. 

And that’s sad, right?

I want to read a book and not feel like it’s a waste, like something better could be done with my time.

Because, really, what could possibly be better than taking a journey that means more to you than it could ever mean to anyone else? What on this earth can make us feel like part of something special better than a book?

Nothing.  Nothing.  Nothing.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Day XIX: Stripped

In the past , I've discussed how some of my favorite picture book writing happens when authors strip their words to the cleanest, barest level. I think this leaves so much room for illustration and great book design to shape a manuscript into the best finished product it can be. Today, I have more to say on stripping submissions of...

Oh, I'm sorry! I just started writing on autopilot. When I wrote the title for this post, I immediately shifted into Acquisitions Editor Josh. For those looking for more picture book submission tips, you'll have to wait. This is an altogether different definition of stripping.

Every so often, there's a story in the book world that completely captivates me. I'm not talking about about the excellent manuscripts I read day in and day out, or the newest fiction that is hitting the shelves during the week. I am speaking to the stories that the world deems newsworthy, the moments that really keep us interested, engaged, and--at times--completely and utterly confused.

Today, I happened across one of those stories.

The New York Daily News reported yesterday that a group of booksellers and publishers in France bared it all in protest of one politician's efforts to ban a book titled Everybody Gets Naked. 

Ah, yes, a good ol' fashioned naked protest!

The picture book, Tous à Poil, is a delightful read that was published with intention to positively reinforce body image with children. Authors Claire Franek and Marc Daniau aimed to present bodies of human beings to children in a way that was representational of all sorts of different shapes and sizes. No two people are completely alike. And showing children that there's no reason to fear there own appearance is completely and beautifully admirable.

Unfortunately, the book has caused quite the uproar with France's UMP party, a conservatively aligned group. Party head, Jean-Francois Cope, read through the book on French television, proclaiming how ridiculous it is that anyone would want to show naked bodies to children.

In response to his cry to have the book banned, supporters of Everbody Gets Naked made it very clear how they felt about Cope's position. 


Yes, I think they have made their stance on banning this book perfectly and fantastically clear.


And that, dear readers, is how you fight for books.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day XVIII: Old Man Meth

Why is there always that one neighbor who's a royal pain in the ass?

The three of us live in a lovely area in uptown. For the most part, everyone around us is friendly and joyful. Our direct neighbors--one in a delightful Spanish-styled condo and the others in a massive, buttery, mid-century home--have been nothing but cordial and enjoyable with every interaction. Okay, we see them once a month, but, you know, they have nice smiles and great head nods. I'm convinced the ones on our right are very wealthy and have a second home in Edina. I heard one of their four hundred children complain very loudly last summer that she was tired of staying at "this dump" and wanted to go back to Edina.

God. Minnesota preteens are the worst.

meth lab chic
But, yeah, they're nice.

Across the street, however, is a different story altogether.

Directly across from us, in a shabby brick building with a looming chimney and gaping upper bedroom window, resides who we lovingly refer to as "Old Man Meth." We call him this because of the terrifying lighting that illuminates his living room every single day. It makes his whole home look like one big explosion waiting to happen. Having recently met him, I can officially say that he is the worst.

Really. The worst.

In Minnesota, there's this little thing called winter. During winter, it snows. In the snowiness of it all, vehicles can get stuck. Sometimes, this happens in your own driveway. On Tuesday night, Sibley happened to experience this in the alley behind our abode. Enlisting Kyle and I to shovel, the three of us tried our damned hardest to get her Scion out of a the bottomless well of snow and ice that had trapped her front tires. After 25 minutes of pushing and digging and pissing and moaning, a strange figure appeared in the alley.

Hooray! we thought. Someone has come to help!

Oh, Josh. You're so damn naive.

As the figure approached, we could see it was an older gentleman decked out in winter gear, ambling toward us with a trollish gait and general unpleasantness.

"I don't know what your deal is," he started in, "but your lights have been shining into my living room for the last 25 minutes and I have called the police." (This is when we all came to the realization that this was the one and only Old Man Meth.)

The three of us stood silent, bewildered by the odd joke the man just voiced. Surely he can see we are trying to get a car unstuck and that keeping the lights on is the only way to see what we're shoveling at.

"Well, my car's stuck." Sibley was the first one to come-to after the blackout rage had subsided. "We're just trying to get me unstuck."

"I don't know what you're doing, but if you don't turn your lights off I am going to call the police." (Also, he had a British accent and it's the first time I've heard one that wasn't completely charming.)

"Please do!" I said.

"Yeah, maybe they can help," Sibley added with hope.

But any rebuttal of ours was lost as Old Man Meth had turned and set off down the alley in a visible huff.

1. Really, guy? You marched over here to tell us you called the police about a bright light shining into your living room? Or did you call them? You changed your story half-way through our altercation.

2. She's clearly stuck and we're working on fixing the problem. Get a shovel, asshole, and help your neighbors out.

3. Did you forget how to operate your blinds? Really? You're a recluse who spends his entire day within the four walls of his home and you don't know how to work a set of fucking curtains?

Ugh. Even thinking about him now, days later, I'm getting fiery.

Someone will inevitably point out: poor old man, he's probably grumpy and sad and lonely.

And when that person points this out, I will gladly say: other than being old, he chooses to be those things. 

When I am his age--and have a lovely but fake accent--I will never treat people in a way that makes them feel belittled or futile. I don't do it now, and I will not do it then. Trust.

The lesson today: put your good human pants on every day you get ready. You never know when you'll be attacked on an insignificant blog for being a complete dill hole.

Tonight, I think I'll have a glass (that's a weird way to spell bottle) of wine and find myself a few floodlights to just, I don't know, leave on somewhere.

Hope you got those blinds figured out!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Day XVII: RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6 Preview

The wait is over, kittens!

It's totally sad that a television show could bring me so much happiness. I feel completely elevated this time of year solely thanks to my leading lady, RuPaul, and her exquisite television show. I am not trying to exaggerate here--so I wont--but RuPaul's Drag Race is the single best television program in the history of the world.

 #SorryNotSorry

Every Wednesday from here on out, I am dedicating my humble little space to Season 6. That's right, for the remainder of 100 Days of Josh, hump day is officially: Wig Wednesday.

And to kick things off, I'm going to present a breakdown of the cast before the actual premiere date next week! The show starts on Monday, but we'll be watching the episodes every Tuesday night at our humble abode...will you be joining us? We hope so!

Because the show has yet to premiere, I wont be recapping a thing. Instead, I'd like to present this season's 14 queens and my personal ranking of them based off my initial impressions. (Thanks, NewNowNext for these amazing photos of these sickening girls!) Without any further adieu, "Gentlemen, start your engines, and may the best woman win!"

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day XVI: CherylBeth

My grandpa had a great idea. After reading one of my earlier posts, he suggested that I solicit people to write about in exchange for some moolah. Personally, I think it's a fantastic idea, and I would gladly write about anyone if there was money in it for me. Hell, I'll slander someone's name or glorify your own for a little coin, baby! You just tell me the who-what-where-when-and-why.

Until that actually happens, I think I'll stick to the voyeuristic nature of how I like to write about people. Plus: this allows me to use the word 'voyeuristic' which both looks and sounds beautiful. It tastes like sweet chocolates or a soft pear.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Day XV: Salamander

I like to think I learn something new and worthwhile every day. Whether it's a holy grail of factual fun or  a little ditty that makes me laugh, I am always game for a new piece of information that is sure to come in handy on a gameshow someday. There are times, however, when you learn things that you can't unknow. When you read a phrase or sentence that you will never, ever forgive yourself for reading.

Eventually, you learn there are a lot of really gross ways to string words in the English language. And I'd like to share a particularly gross sentence with you here.

It started with a little research. Right now, I am in the middle of finishing up a children's book series on wacky animals. I've covered falcons and octopi and everything between. Today's to-do list consisted of researching the final animal on my list: the salamander.

*Jaws music plays*
Did you know there are over 650 different species of salamander, you guys? 

They're mostly known because they can regenerate their limbs and tail in a process called autotomy. But, believe me, there are some other things about salamanders that help them stand out in the animal kingdom. For instance: salamanders have permeable skin. It's thin and slimy and helps them escape predators and breathe in the water. Salamanders also have gills. Some will lose them as they mature, others retain them for the entirety of their adult lives.

Some can weigh up to 140 pounds! Some are as short 1-inch long. 

Some have lengthy tongues. Others have sharp, pointy teeth.

A note on teeth vs. tongues: some salamanders don't have spring-loaded crazy tongues to help them catch their meals. These are the salamanders with teeth. They bit their prey, submerge them in water, and slosh them around in their mouths while their terrifying little teeth rip everything to shreds. Basically, toothed-salamanders are miniature blenders.

YIKES.

Still, some use toxic spray to blind or frighten or even paralyze predators and prey. They can survive in the stomachs of snakes and birds for 30 minutes while they poison their offender from the inside out. 

"Oh you thought you were gonna eat me and call it a day? PSYCHE! I'm gonna rot your throat and belly and then crawl out of you like a newborn, bitch!"

These amphibians are not to be trifled with.

But. You've followed along because I promised you a gross sentence. 

While researching today, I came across a line in an article that read, "The genital cavity of female salamanders is called a vent."

:<  

No thanks, salamander. No thanks.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Day XIV: Taxes Redux

I was a little loony yesterday. A little all over the map. There were normal, calm moments in the morning and afternoon, but by three: I was a goner.

Saturday started as almost all my Saturdays do. Wake the mind, brush the teeth, wash the face, wet the hair, beat the mug, dress the body. And off to Bull Run for a cap and some reading. After a few chapters, back in bed and playing video games until lunch decides to rear its lovely head.

I think this is where I started to unravel.

Kyle and I were having a difficult time deciding what we were feeling for lunch. We do this thing where we present thousands of different options to one another and never choose a single one. Instead, we ask questions back and forth, back and forth about what the other wants to do because indecision is our way of life. Eventually, we narrowed our options to three and somehow opted for sandwiches and beer at Republic.

Maybe it was the beer! Maybe that's when my mind decided that it had had enough sanity for the day. A little alcohol can do a lot of damage when you're already a tad frenetic.

Basically: I spent that afternoon in haze of different cartoonish voices and varying levels of volume uncertainty. Yelling, spinning, accusing, dancing, laughing, fake crying, posing--always posing--inquiring, moving, staring, running. I guess you could say I was "'-ing-ing" all over the place.

Luckily, the mail had arrived by the time we returned from Republic and the all-too-necessary visit to Magers and Quinn. The mailbox was full. And though my cellphone case was still conspicuously absent from delivery, at least the last part of my tax return puzzle had finally arrived!

Hooray! I thought. It's finally here! I can finally get all that money back that big brother has been so graciously holding for me since the start of 2013! Yes, what a glorious day it would be to see that fat dollar amount on my laptop screen and then inside the barren dungeon of endless fear that is my bank account!

Can you guess where this heading? I certainly didn't!

Preparing your tax return is easy. Handling the devastation afterward is hardly a blast. Turns out, when you just nudge yourself into the next tax bracket--the one right above the first level which I assume is titled "how the hell are you even alive?"--you set yourself up for hour-long phone calls complaining to your dad and a hole in your soul that was once filled by the promise of a few financially stable months.
Would a headless Josh get a better tax return? 

I came this close to only filing one of my jobs. But then that damn moral compass kicked in.

Ish.

In these moments of temporary mind loss, I've come to the conclusion that being an adult is not for everyone. Much like firefighting or eating exotic foods or S&M, growing up isn't a suit that everyone can wear. I too often find myself wondering if maybe it's all just too much. That shirt and tie of responsibility and uncertainty just doesn't come in my size.

Of course, no one really gets a say in the matter. That's part of the ordeal. You're tested and spun through the ringer no matter what. If you come out standing on the other side, maybe you've done something right.

And then you die and, well, that's that.

I worry that this post might paint me as a money-hungry hobgoblin like so many of the terrible villains in our childhood stories. I'm not. But right now, it's getting me down. I'm human; sue me.

In too many ways, I am not ready to continue growing up. And this blog--a consistent countdown to the inescapable truth that you just have to--is helping me work through some of that anxiety. Inexorably, life keeps creeping on. Often, that's tough to cope with.

Somehow, you just do. Stubbornness? Drive? Fear? Whatever keeps the wheels of motivation in motion: I am thankful.

In. Out.

In. Out.

In. Out.

There. That's better.




Friday, February 14, 2014

Day XII: Valentines



“Then, hold your lips in readiness but do not kiss. Hold this position for as long as possible, the while you smile tantalizingly into the eyes…”

So everyone knows that I’m not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day, or, as we call it in my neck of the woods, “You’re Gonna Die Alone Day.” Now, I’m not one of those people who hate the commercialization of love and are morally opposed to cupid teddy bears and cards with terrible phrases like, “I ruff you” and “B Mine 4 Eva.” I don’t like that V Day is used by so many people as an anomalous time of year to tell someone they care, love, enjoy, desire, etc. Isn’t that something that should promoted all the time? Do we really need a day that demands chocolates and gifts and flowers and sex? I mean: all of those things are enjoyable and should be experienced frequently!

“Because kisses cost nothing.  So kiss on.  Keep on kissing.”

Pietro Ramirez Sr. wrote this amazing text in the 1930s and it was re-released in 2006. It’s a precious little gem called The Art of Kissing.  

It was given to me by a past coworker who thought I would really appreciate the humor and tenderness of some of the points. The language is pretty dated, and there’s a shit-ton of misogynist thought/theory (might be intentionally ironic), but the important, quotable moments are pretty fantastic.  

The cynic inside of me, the sarcastic, fuck-you-asshole, you-led-me-on, go-to-hell parts that sometimes creep about this time of year don’t even like to read such quotes. Those parts of me like to say: screw that, you’ll never be happy, nothing is ever going to lead you to love, and love will never find you. And though mean, gay, old, bitter, Uncle Josh sometimes rears his head, most of my being likes to cling to the magic notion of love. I just don’t like to admit it: I feel like I’m conceding. Strange, no? That by believing in something, that embracing some perfect notion, that having faith in some crazy feeling makes me feel like a quitter? I can’t be angry or spiteful enough to want to toss the whole thing aside, so I must be giving up somehow; perhaps I am just more optimistic than I want to admit…haha, that’s a strange one too. 

“I’m much more positive than I want to admit to because it’s embarrassing to think things will work out for the best.” What is the thought process there?! On paper, it looks like I might be a tad wacky.

“Breathe? Who wants to breathe, who even wants to think of breathing in the middle of an impassioned kiss? Breathe through your nose, if you have to breathe. But kiss, keep on kissing as long as there is one minim of breath in you!”

I guess that I don’t have as much against V-Day as I thought I did…But I want to!  Haha, funny how a little reflection makes you feel differently about something you’re usually so opposed to. Don’t get me wrong, still not the day’s biggest fan, but I think it’s a little less offensive than I’ve thought for the last few years of my life. Maybe, and that is a big ol' 'maybe,' it’s not all that bad.

For now, some advice:

 “A kiss is too rapturous a thing to be enjoyed for the moment and the moment only.  Forget time.  Forget everything but the kiss in which you are 
in the midst of.”

Happy Valentine’s Day, peeps. 

Here’s a to another 365 days of treating your special someone(s) with as much love as you do on February 14th


PS. Giving out this little ditty on my dinner date. Don't you totally wish you were getting it? 
Handmade valentine realness



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Day XI: Fish

Oh lawd, I am in a much better mood today. Exhaustion looks so good up on me. Somehow, going to bed at 2:30 AM before a work day put me in a much better mood than I have been over the last few days. Will someone please explain that to me? For a person who loves their sleep, I sure function at a happier level with less of it.

Life is weird.

Speaking of weird, I went to the Townhouse last night. For those not in the know, The Townhouse Bar is the oldest gay bar in St. Paul. It's basically a queer VFW. And if you've ever seen my eyes sparkle at VFW karaoke in uptown, you'll understand why I think the Townhouse might just be the happiest place on earth.

Every Wednesday, they host a spectacular event called Pumps & Pearls Revue. Basically, 6-8 drag queens perform three songs a piece for a mildly to excessively drunk audience. Dancing and lipsyncing and generally turning the party, these ladies are the true entertainters of the Twin Cities. It runs very late--clearly--but it's oh-so-worth the expense and exhaustion to watch some of the most high quality performance I've seen in the state.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day X: Melted

Here I thought Hump Day was supposed be the harbinger of all things good. You know: the end of the week is nigh? But, alas...

Oh, Josh, says Wednesday, you foolish little worm. Don't you know that 'Wednesday' is actually (insert foreign language here) for 'you will never leave your office on this most crawling-by of days?'

Ah, yes, thanks for the remind. How do I forget this from week to week?

I've been in a perpetually foul mood for the last three days and can't quite get to the root of whatever is nagging at my emotion center. I hate to be that person--you know, the whiny ass hat on Facebook and Twitter that ALWAYS has something to say about how terrible the Minnesota winter is even though every single other person in the state is feeling the same exact way but somehow they're entitled to expressing their distaste for snow and cold and general misery in way that will allow the terrible environmental conditions to finally make sense for the rest of us--but:

it's, like, really gross out.

And I have had it: #Officially.

Today, I unknowingly put the icing on my own cake of tears and disgruntledness.

It started with the (all too common) coffee run at 10:30.

What a great idea, I thought. Coffee is sure to pick me up! So I scrambled over to the Caribou on Nicollet for an americano pick-me-up.

1) DO NOT EVER EXPECT A WALK THROUGH THE SKYWAY TO CHEER YOU UP. 

2) DO NOT EVER EXPECT A WALK THROUGH THE SKYWAY TO CHEER YOU UP. 

I would repeat points 1 and 2 one thousand times over if only to help any of you reading this to understand that you should never ever expect a walk through the skyway to cheer you up. Because when you are a 24-year-old curmudgeon, everyone is the worst.

Anywhoozle! I get back to the office and grab a piece of the chocolate peppermint bark sitting on the sharing counter.

How delicious, I thought. What a great little treat!

Cut to: me responding to millions of emails and stopping dead in my tracks when I realize I've blacked out for 20 minutes and something terrible has happened.

Curse you, emails!
Placing the chocolate peppermint treat atop my americano was not a wise move. Did you know that when solids get hot enough, they melt? SCIENCE!

Rather than fix the issue at hand by getting rid of the chocolate-covered lid, I took glamour shots of my epic fail. And the above disaster slowly morphed its way into this:


At this point, I was relatively sure that it was going to come to life. First it would eat my lid, then the cup, then my desk and computer, and then turn to me, give thanks for bringing it into the world, worship me as a god, and then do my bidding as my eternal chocolatey, minty familiar. And while that didn't sound half bad--who wouldn't want to control a giant chocolate monster?--I decided to do what was best for humanity.


I gobbled it down.






Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day IX: Why?

Maybe I should have started with this.

I think I should probably explain to you, dear reader, how the 100 Days of Blogging came about. It sort of came out of the blue, no? One day you were sad and droll and dragging your feet. The next, you were rolling with laughter and grinning from ear to ear because everyone's favorite blogger is back with 100 guaranteed posts for the next one-hundred days. I know, I know: you're all so lucky.

In all seriousness, why blogging? Why now? Why for 100 days straight?

This year, I decided against making a New Year's Resolution. I never keep them and when I finally come to the realization that what I set out to do with a clean slate has fallen through the cracks, I end up in a dire pit of self-loathing and pizza-eating that doesn't break until my eyes are bloodshot and my blood has turned to sauce and crust. So why put myself through that shit? 

I think I'll pass.

Instead, I've opted to give myself a little birthday gift. February 3rd was exactly 100 days ahead of my birthday on May 14th. So, for the hundred days leading up to a moment I am positively dreading, I will be gifting myself a whole lot of writing. Additionally, I'm reading at least 20 pages of a book a day and exercising for a minimum of 20 minutes. Basically: I am trying to give myself the gift of esteem.

It's going to be tricky.

There are definitely moments I don't feel like writing or reading or working up a sweat. But this is going to be a stretch of time that I have promised to myself; this is some time to keep those negative voices at bay. We all have them: those stinky devils that sit on our shoulder and whisper how terrible you look in that shirt or how you're going nowhere with your life. I've had enough of them, and I am going to make an effort to get them the hell out. 

"the SHADE of it all"
It's going to be difficult. I know that.

But, god, I owe it to myself. I deserve to know where I can go and who I can be when I follow through with a goal I've set. 

In the words of Miss Latrice Royale:


"It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to fall down. 
GET UP. LOOK SICKENING. AND MAKE THEM EAT IT. "

Monday, February 10, 2014

Day VIII: Snooze

Well you were probably going to find out anyway.

They say it's better to hear from the person you love. Sucks to make the discovery on your own or through a gossipy friend of a friend of a friend.

So I guess the source is the best place to get your information.

You may want to sit down for this. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Okay.

For a while now, I've felt like we've been drifting apart. No, stop, just give me a second. Just let me finish. This is important, and I just want to get through all of it in one chunk. Just listen. Please. Okay, thank you. 

For a while now, I've felt like we haven't been on the same page. You're always hustling around, trying to get any scrap of energy out of me that you can. Well, I can't do it anymore. I can't pretend that I want to roll over and just let you take everything from me that I try so hard to preserve. Even now, sitting at my computer, I just feel so drained just thinking about all that this relationship has taken out of me. And I know that sounds dramatic and unfair and selfish. I know. But, and I really am sorry, it's just too much.

It's too much, the world. And I need to tell you something.

So, the world, listen to me. I've been trying to tell you this for months, but I just haven't found the energy or the courage. Enough is enough. 

The world, I've fallen for someone else. 

I've fallen for someone else and we are deeply in love.

He does things for me that I never thought possible. He knows how to shut out the world in ways that make it feel like it's just the two of us, together, alone and forever. He embraces my foul morning moods and doesn't bother me when I just want a quiet night in bed. His generosity is unparalleled. I can be myself completely and never feel judged or embarrassed. He's just so giving.

He just makes me feel...just so, so good! And he even let's me knock him around or slap him when I'm crabby or tired! Sometimes up to 7 times a day! And he likes it, too! And I am sooo into that.

And he's here, the world. I know this might be unconventional, but I'd like you to meet him. World, meet the love of my life, snooze button.

So. Damn. Sexy.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day VII: Lazy

WAKE UP, DAMMIT!
Have you ever tried typing when your right hand is asleep? It is surprisingly difficult. I mean, I could just wait the extra 90 seconds for my fingers to get back into shape or for my palm to stop feeling like thousands of tiny spears are attempting to get to the surface through the last layer of my skin. But if I had waited, then I couldn't possibly explain to you how trying it has been to write these few sentences. This picture probably does a much better job --->

Today has been a very lazy Sunday. Sibley's been recovering with Chipotle, Kyle's been playing Final Fantasy, and I've been reading Ernest Cline's Ready Player One. Oh, and we've all been watching Drag Race. Obviously. We're not neanderthals, for god's sake.

But a lazy day is, sometimes, very nice.

It's the type of day where the best sound in the world is ice cubes clanking in your water glass or the occasional soft sigh or laugh from a memorable cut-scene or powerful paragraph.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Day VI: Ni No Kuni

143 hours later...
This calls for celebration! 

Does anyone else even know what that icon is? Or what it stands for?!

That, my friends, is a platinum trophy. Such trophies are awarded for fully completing every objective set by publishers for any given video game. When you have completed each set objective, you are awarded the game's platinum trophy. And, at the risk of tooting my own horn (gross expression, by the way), such trophies are only awarded after immense patience, skill, and ability.

Today, I have accomplished this feat. I have obtained Platinum status for my favorite game of 2013, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. So, yeah, praise me.

The Wizard Wars 
Not everyone who reads this blog is likely aware of my love for video games. I find them to be exceptionally relaxing. They're rewarding and exciting, too. Plus, some make me cry. And ANYONE who knows Josh Plattner knows he loves a good sob fest. And while some games only contain some aspects of the things I love in a great game, I found this one to be particularly powerful.

Ni No Kuni chronicles the adventures of Oliver, a young boy who loses his mother after a frightening accident stops her heart. Led to another world by a powerful little creature named Mr. Drippy--ish, I know--Oliver finds himself in a hot bed of political unrest and on the losing side of the battle between good and evil. As the story progresses, Oliver learns to tame familiars, or powerful little creatures to help him in battle. He also meets three troubled allies in his quest to rescue the strange new world and bring his mother back to life.

Developed by Studio Ghibli, Ni No Kuni is one of those adventures that's just as much fun to play as it is to observe. The animation and visual direction are unparalleled. It's completely charming and devastatingly heartfelt. There wasn't a sliver of time that I felt I could be doing something better with my life. And, girl, 143 hours isn't a small chunk, okay?

Toward the end of my journey for 100% completion, Kyle asked what I was up to while playing. In full honesty, I responded, "I am searching for bubble pipes that you can only steal from Fuddy-Duddies just south of Jack Frost Island. I keep running into these goddamn Baatenders and Potties though."

Seriously. Those are all real parts of the game.

Japan is weird.



Friday, February 7, 2014

Day V: Bernard

#snapcat
When Sibley, Kyle, or I stay home for work, we snap each other pictures of the cats throughout the day. I think it's because Bernard and Archie are our favorite roommates. Well, Archie is their favorite and Bernard is mine. It's not that I don't LOVE Sibley and Kyle, but...

I mean...

How could you deny that face! Those ears! That charming button nose and cherub grin? The crossed paws and clever eyes! (Okay, maybe not clever eyes. Bernard is seriously one of the dumbest animals I've ever met. Loves cabinets, though. Stares at 'em lots.) Bernard is the gift that keeps on giving: he's so cuddly and cute and precious.

And as much as I positively adore him, he has his fair share of irritating habits. He's a little mischievous--as most cats are--and has a meow that mimics the sound of a dying stork while every individual feather is plucked from it's body by a small child with poor upper-body strength. So there's that. But, by far, the most frustrating of his traits is his incessant need to cuddle with the human face.

Legs? No thanks. Arms? Nah, not for him. The small of your back or into your bossom? LOLNICETRY. Bernard only finds cuddling suitable when he can be as embedded in your cheeks as possible. And while it's not necessarily uncomfortable that he demands to eskimo kiss throughout the night, it's his front claws that make him so unbearable. When he's nice and relaxed, finally found a great spot to smother you with his belly, he flexes his claws in and out, tenderizing your face for his eventual violent departure. The poor thing doesn't mean to. But because he sleeps with his four little scythes plunged into your face skin, he inadvertently takes strips of human countenance with every loud noise or sudden waking.

Halo and wings cropped out.






Ah, the joys of a silly little kitty. It's just so hard to stay mad when he sends you things like this from your roommate's phone.


Awwwwwww


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Day IV: Fatal

"Get a grip, get a life, and get over it."

#Nailography #HouseOfEdwardsFish

I know it's only been four days, but I haven't included nearly enough pictures of drag queens in this blog. Well don't you worry, folks, this will all be changing soon. I cannot wait to do my review of the RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6 Cast before the premiere on the 24th.

(Speaking of which, you're all invited to our humble abode every Tuesday during the season to experience the wonder and drama and light and perfection that is RuPaul's Drag Race. You will not regret it. So get into it.)

But enough about the upcoming season. I really just had a quick thought on Alyssa Edwards for the day because I found myself making one of her signature faces earlier this morning:

Back rolls?!





<--- This one.





This face is typically the result of something strange or shocking. Something unexpected and odd. Like when you see someone begging for change in a three piece suit or when a dog smiles and looks like a little old man with an icky little beard. Or when someone tells you you look like a sausage stuffed in to a two piece and that you had back rolls. (Yes, that's what happened to Alyssa.)

So I am at the post office picking up a package from my delightful brother and his fiance--who cares when Christmas gifts come, they're always welcome!--when I noticed something puzzling behind the postman assisting me. Back on the rack of packages, there was one box that stood out. Not because it wasn't boring and brown and semi-rectangular, but because of its label.

In giant black letters, sprawled across the out-facing side, was the word: FATAL.
And I was like, Se7en much?

Remember when Brad Pitt screams "What's in the Box?!" and it's his wife's head? 

Yeah, I think I'll stick to Christmas gifts.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Day III: Tarot

Is it a universal law that when you're the most financially strained, you are suddenly deemed capable of paying for everything on your own? Or is growing up just the worst?

I've been paying almost every bill of mine on my own for the last three years, but I managed to eek my phone out of my dad until today when my new bill arrived. And by 'eek' I most certainly mean: "Oh, sure, I'll send you a check every month, just tell me how much it is, and remind me, too, or I'll probably just forget." Believe me, I didn't forget the bill came. I just never, ahem, remembered to send a check along! I can be so silly like that. Alas, I finally arrived at that disgusting and sad stage of life where I can finally say I am financially independent. You would think that would be a glorious feeling.

It's not. It's rotten.

The upside is that sometimes I can't afford to eat so I am looking sickening. (It's sarcasm, Mother, I can afford food. It's meant to be a humorous poke at how poor I am.)

Back of my scary-ass Tarot deck
What I really wanted to talk about this afternoon, though, is this: even though you shouldn't be jealous of the monetary plight of your 24-year-old friends, you should be exceedingly envious of a certain weekly email thread I contribute to. Every week, Vaughn, Kelly, Annie, and I email each other our tarot readings and journal about them. We take the psychic's interpretation of the drawn card and then offer our own feelings about what we've been dealt. It's amazing. I suggest you do the same.

While you'll not find my most private entries up for the world to see, I did want to share my reading for today because it's just as spooky and magicky as you might expect tarot to be.

"The nine of pentacles symbolizes that you are no longer in a position to be dependent on others for your own financial or emotional security."

I actually said: OH SHIT when I read that opening line from the psychic. 

Cue the Twilight Zone music, I need to make that money.

The lesson of the night: "The nine of pentacles is urging you forward. It's time to embrace and rely on your own independence."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Day II: Vacation

Doesn't a vacation sound so nice?

My roommate, Kyle "Jenny Chrysanthemum" Jensen,  just returned to the United States after a week-long stay in Costa Rica. To say I was envious would be an understatement. A comical one. A massive one. He stayed at this beautiful, all-inclusive resort with endless mimosas and pools with bars. Like bars in the pool. IN THE POOL, YOU GUYS. I am sure there were turtles that swam up with plates of cheeses and crackers. Or maybe dolphins that transported you to different pools. Don't worry, I am sure there were seashell-lined pathways for those not comfortable riding one of the most playful--and sexually active!--animals on earth.

Ah, yes, it must have been rough.

I can only assume I would commit terrible, horrific acts to spend a week somewhere like that. If you value your life or your home or your family or your sanity, I'd rather not hear about your glorious trip to Guatemala or how stunning Sao Paulo is in the spring. Scout's Honor: I will steal that trip, your identity, and your soon-to-be-tanned skin just to experience a break from this frozen landscape. Gary Paulsen, eat your heart out.

Then I realized: you don't need to travel abroad or hop on a cruise to take a vacation. In fact, at any minute, even this very passing second, anyone can take a break from the monotony of computer screens and swiveling desk chairs. And it's all thanks to this guy:

Monday, February 3, 2014

Day I: Budger

I’m fortunate to have a job where I am afforded a little bit of time in the afternoon to recharge my batteries. Whether it’s a walk through a far-too-crowded skyway, a lazy jaunt to Caribou—the one with the cute staff, obviously, not that other shit show upstairs—or the anxious-cum-rewarding hunt for your stomach’s most private desires, the 1:00 timeslot is the single most relaxing portion of the workday. Yes, lunch is one of those sacred times: a rare moment when everything is right in the world.

And sometimes there's that one person who just has to ruin it for you.

Not pictured: crying children waiting in line

Hey, lady, yes you. I am talking to you. You in the lavender jacket and felted cap. You in your unassuming UGG knockoffs. You with the purse and the fake cold and just so much change jangling in your coat pockets!

You guys: this shady bitch.

So it's probably pretty frowned upon to make so much out of such a small event. But my lunch was irrevocably ruined by this little thing who thought age--and a little delirium--gave her the right to just barge on up to the counter. Listen, I undertand that she didn't really understand the concept of the massive queue patiently waiting their respective turns. But which part of Minneapolis are you usually in that you can just walk up to the bank counter at LUNCHTIME and expect to be the first one helped? 

I must have made quite the face behind this little lilac. The teller--didn't catch her name, but she's always so sharply dressed and bubbly--caught my glance, and her eyes sparked to life. She must have seen the rage coursing over my pupils because she assisted that little old toad as quickly as possible and ushered me forward with a nervous, "Sorry about that, what a little budger!"

'Budger!' 

Now there's a word I haven't heard since high school, standing in line for seconds on "Ham Patty on a Bun Day." 

Does anyone else miss hot lunch?!