Vinny’s Neighborhood Italian

We rounded the corner on what felt like 2 wheels, headlights cutting a path down the mountain road.

“I swear to god if I don’t find a bathroom soon I’m just going to pee all over your car. And I won’t feel bad about it.”

I laughed, knowing she meant it.

We’d just left the top of Jump Off Rock, a 45-minute drive made in an attempt to see the sunset one last night in the mountains. After a day of house tours, wines and beers, the sun setting over the mountain tops seemed like the perfect end to a much needed girls-trip weekend.

But then the wine and beers caught up to us (specifically her), and unfortunately mountain-tops aren’t equipped with bathrooms. So we made it to the top, snapped a few mediocre-at-best pictures, and were now travelling back down the mountain in a desperate attempt to find anywhere to pee.

“What do we want for dinner?”

“I don’t care, I just need to pee,” she responded.

I pulled up Trip Adviser.

“I want Italian, I could really go for some spaghetti.”

“That’s fine, whatever.” Clearly a near soil-your-pants-and-my-car moment was more important.

We finally find a gas station, whip into what might have been a parking spot, and make our way to the glorious gas station bathroom (a flickering light, cold toilet, and trickling sink faucet: the whole package).

“How about Vinny’s Neighborhood Italian? It’s rated the #1 Italian restaurant in Asheville,” I mentioned once we were back in the car.
“Sounds good to me,” she said, setting the GPS.

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She’ll Be Fine [11.07.18]

Her hair is a dark brown, the kind of dark brown you can’t have naturally. It’s laced with reds and caramels and shades of brown, all the result of years of indecisiveness. Why have one hair color when you can try them all? Why not just see what it’ll look like? It’s not permanent anyway.

And that’s just a minute example of her life as a whole. Indecisiveness swarms around her thoughts like a mob of angry bees. No thought is born without a second, smaller yet persistent “what-if” thought. A decision translates to permanence and heaven forbid she let anything in her life give her a sense of security.

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Love, Loss, and Letting Go: A Series (Part 3)

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And Lastly, Love. The silver lining, the icing on the cake, the cheesy cliche. It goes something like this:

You see or meet someone for the first time and decide whether or not they’re worth some interaction. You might compliment their shoes, engage in small talk, and go your separate ways. You might not even think twice about them. But if the universe knows what it’s doing, and it always does, you’ll cross paths again. You have a real conversation, exchange numbers, and stay in touch. Eventually you go on a date, and then a few more. Whether or not you want to admit it, something is continuing to pull you toward this person. Time goes by and you decide whether or not they’re worth keeping around, all the while waiting for something great. You’re in the dark but you feel something coming to break up your sky.

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Love, Loss, and Letting Go: A Series (Part Two)

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In my opinion, letting go is more burdensome than loss for the simple fact that loss is almost entirely out of your control (whether it be a death brought on by an exact thing or the universe telling you that a person is no longer serving you any purpose) and letting go is almost entirely in your control. To let go is to reach a state of mind that allows you to set a person and the feelings attached to said person free. There’s a heavy weight that gets dropped on you when you lose someone, and that weight remains until you can muster up the courage and strength to break free. People will tell you that loss gets easier with time and that’s only true because during that time (however long you may need) you learn to let go. Each day you learn to stand up a little taller, smile a little more, and open your heart a little wider.

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Favorite Five: January 2018

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January somehow managed to be both the longest and fastest month ever. There’s something about the fall-off after all of the holidays and celebrations are over that’s both mildly depressing and wildly satisfying, making January a month of recovery (I’ve said “I need a nap” more in the past month than I have in the past year). The week directly following New Years holds my mom and best friend’s birthdays, both of which somehow blindside me every year and make the first week of the year a continuation of the seemingly never-ending celebrations (which is both exciting and exhausting). The rest of the month, however, feels endless. While that seems like a good time to focus on your projects and your people, the winter blues are in full force which sets my ambition at an all-time low. All of that aside, I’ve come to love January (specifically this year) for the feeling of new-beginnings it brings. If you read my New Years Resolutions blog post you’d know that I set out to accomplish a lot of things in 2018 that I’ve been thinking about and chewing on for a while. Some have gone very well, some have started off slow, but I’ll be damned if I’m not still infatuated with goal-making and up-keeping. All of that being said, I’m excited to share with you my “five” favorite, can’t-live-without things for January.

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Love, Loss, and Letting Go: A Series (Part 1)

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One of my favorite quotes comes from poet Paul Thomas Berkey: “I can say with great certainty and absolute honesty that I did not know what love was until I knew what love was not.” It’s a favorite because it’s a few words that you can think on and dissect and make your own (the same reason that the entire book of Milk and Honey is my favorite (still not over that)). It’s simple: you cannot understand or experience love if you don’t know what makes love, love. In other words: You have to lose in order to win. While this post is not exclusively about romantic relationships it’s easier to understand this with that in mind: think of all of your ex-boyfriends or girlfriends. The temporary ones, the ones you were sure were your husbands. The ones you went to dinner with, the ones whose families you met, the ones you cried for. Think about that first break-up, and that end-all feeling; think of your teenage world crumbling.

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Resolving to Have Actual Resolutions in 2018

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Every year I’m the one that has no resolutions and thinks they’re dumb, or tries to make one broad one and doesn’t accomplish it/never believes I was going to in the first place. This year, however, I’ve caught the resolution bug. Not only am I making resolutions, I’m asking people what their resolutions are AND NOT ONLY THAT, I actually care about other people’s resolutions (who am I). For some reason, 2018 just seems like a really promising year for me and everyone around me. That being said, I’m also all of the sudden a firm believer in writing things down to accomplish them (see my love for lists in the last blog post) and therefore I am here to share my goals and resolutions with you all in hopes that I’ll feel even more obligated to accomplish them (and also in hopes that you’ll share yours with me).

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17 Things That 2017 Taught Me

  1. The importance of communication. I’m not saying that in a way that means I’ve gotten better at communication over the past year (I haven’t, because communication = talking about things I don’t want to talk about = conflict = maturity = a no-go from me). I’m saying it in the way that I’ve repeatedly seen the effects of my lack of communication in every aspect of my life this year and it’s close to the top of my self-improvement list for 2018.
  2. Let go of the idea of letting go. If we’re being honest, there’s no such thing as just letting things go. At least for me, letting go means avoiding closure and accepting that you haven’t accepted something and just pushing it under a rug that will eventually be rolled up to expose the shit-storm underneath. I’ve learned/am still learning that in order to truly move on from people and things, you have to accept the change, find that closure, and *drum roll* actually move on.
  3. Some friends aren’t meant to be in your life forever, and that’s okay. It’s been a tough pill to swallow, but friendships that you once planned on having forever sometimes just don’t last that long. I’ve learned that it’s most important to take those friendships for what they were and realize that just because it ended doesn’t mean it wasn’t beneficial/real/worth everything you gave it.
  4. You’re never too old to make new friends. It’s been a joke with me and my boyfriend (not supposed to be “my boyfriend and I” don’t try me on this) that if we get married I’m going to have to find more friends so our bridal-party sides equal out. While that is a joke, I also kind of keep in the back of my mind as a reminder that yeah, you can still make lifelong friends at age 22. You don’t have to have only childhood friends and only loose friendships after some certain age. I’ve met a remarkable amount of people this past year that have become very good friends, even some I would consider best friends (and bridal-party contenders when the time comes).
  5. Calligraphy is, like, super fun. I’ve gone balls-deep in the world of calligraphy in the past year and it’s become the therapeutic, creativity-expressing hobby that I needed.
  6. Traveling doesn’t have to be planned for weeks and months. This kind of randomly hit me one day and it was a moment of like, “yeah, I can take a 5-hour trip to Chicago for the weekend if I want. Let’s go to Michigan for the weekend because we fucking can.” I’m seeing all of these people around my age traveling and me wondering how they’re affording it/planning it and I realized that they’re probably not, to either of those things. They’re just doing it.
  7. Make time for everyone all of the time. I have one friend in particular that, no matter if it’s a casual Monday-night dinner or big weekend adventure, says yes to coming over/along. Every single time. I’ve come to appreciate it (and her obvz) so much because she’s always willing to do whatever, whenever without hesitation, and it’s absolutely inspired me to say more yes’s.
  8. Life isn’t about where you are or what you’re doing, it’s about what you make of it. An important thing I’ve been learning and practicing, and it kind of speaks for itself. Just have some fun, no matter what you’re doing or not doing.
  9. Lists are kind of magical. Like, in their own way. It is surprising to me how much more likely I am to do something when it’s followed by a check off of a list. I’ve put a notebook in my purse recently that I write any and all things down in (in list-form of course) and I would like to think that my productivity has gone through the roof (not that it had any prior competition, I’m very much a procrastinator). Even something as simple as making a note to clean out the cat’s litter box is done quickly when I know I can cross it off the to-do list.
  10. Having a cat is just as great as I’d imagined it would be, and also the worst thing ever. As many of you know (or maybe not, who knows what I’ve mentioned in the two blog-posts I’ve published this year LOL) my roommate and I acquired (read: took in against his will) Oliver earlier this year and he’s been the cutest, most lovable creature who also hates me with a passion and sometimes attacks my head for no reason. Honestly, he’s great.
  11. There are some really good beers, wines, and coffees out there. I’ve first-hand had some of the best craft beers, the fullest wines, and strongest coffees in the last 12 months. Here a few take-aways: Bud Light and similar beers are glorified water. Starbucks’s black coffee is not, in any way, good or fresh. Lastly, in my opinion, dry wines are still too mature for my palette (we’ll try again in 2018).
  12. It’s okay to have the quiet, comfortable kind of love when the fireworks start to fizzle out. There’s such a stigma around that honeymoon phase and the misery that lies behind it that it’s easy to convince yourself that once the sparks go out, the love follows suit, and I’m learning that that’s not the case. I’m not saying that my relationship has gotten boring or stagnant, but it’s gotten more comfortable and I’ve learned to really value it.
  13. Trust the decisions you make. I’ve learned this partially through my own experiences this year but mostly through watching my friends and family go through some things, all led specifically by choices they made. I’ve watched some decisions work out for the better, some take a turn for the worst, but I’ve watched every person come out better.
  14. Do not underestimate the power of satisfaction through the little things. Examples: building a living room fort, getting your nails done, finding the perfect songs to get you through a workout, and cinnamon coffee.
  15. Eating too much food could quite possibly kill you. I’ve learned this the hard way twice this year, both after holidays where I’ve eaten copious amounts of food (because my mom is the best cook ever and who can resist) and ended up *almost* dead the next day. I’ve also come to appreciate the feeling after you come back to life and are ready to conquer the whole fucking world.
  16. The importance of cooking your meals and eating your vegetables. I haven’t learned this through doing it, I’ve learned it through doing the exact opposite (and man is it starting to catch up to me).
  17. Life Happens. This is and forever will be on the list of things I’ve learned/am learning. Life happens when you’re happy and sad and angry, it happens while you’re sleeping and in the moment and zoning out of moments. Life is happening always and all around you, so enjoy it. Embrace the good, learn from the bad, and don’t close your eyes too long because you’ll miss out on one hell of a life.

And with that, I’ll bow to 2017 and cheers to 2018–a year I’m ready for. xx

Escaping Captivity: A Short Story by Brooke Lohnes

 

I should preface this story with a disclaimer: I am a cat. This may cause you to disregard my missions and desires in which case I should preface said disclaimer with another disclaimer: I am not an idiot. While my current captors seem to think otherwise, I am an intellectual with one goal in this present moment, and that is to get the hell out of here.

My current situation starts as such—I was born and raised on the streets of rural Ohio. My mother was a bodacious woman and I had 14 siblings from two different fathers when I decided to leave home. I wanted to start a life for myself and separate myself from a long line of milk-hungry kittens that would eventually become sluts and man-sluts like my ancestors. I wanted more for myself; I still do.

Three days into my sweet, sweet freedom I came upon a house. I was on my way to an urban life among the well-paid and well-respected humans, but the journey was long and my stomach began to ache from lack of milk and mice. This house was different from the others I had passed, as I could smell the kibbles and bits from 100 feet away. I lost control of my legs as I wondered toward said house and began to munch alongside my fellow felines who had already claimed territory among the land. I had no intentions of staying, I simply wanted a warm meal before heading on my way, and they didn’t seem to understand. They batted at me and as I prepared myself for the brawl (two-to-one, mind you) that was about to breakout, a human appeared from the dungeon on the land.

Now it should be noted that I do not like humans, even back then. I was raised with a taste of distrust and defensiveness toward them and I’ll be damned if my mother ever saw me do what I was about to do next: I acknowledged the human. I purred—a sign of anger—so the other felines knew I was unhappy with their behaviors and rubbed along the human’s legs to make it known that I was fearless and they were picking a fight with the wrong man. What happened next still baffles me: said human had the nerve to pluck me off of the ground like I was a piece of garbage to be tossed and shoved me into some sort of barred-crate.

I pleaded and threatened and cursed to high heavens the entire time I was in the cell of captivity and all I got in return was “oh my goodness someone is upset,” and “don’t worry we’ll be there before you know it.” The ignorance of the human to not understand my cries for help that night is something I will not forget. If anything, the human’s ignorance has only grown more and more with each passing day.

When I finally arrived to captivity I was forced out of my crate, right in front of a different human. I again made my threats and battle cries very clear and again I was ignored. I was promptly shut in a room with a toilet while the humans left captivity. While trapped in said room I began to plot my escape. I tried the door handle: locked. I tried to signal for assistance from anyone nearby from under the door and again I was unsuccessful. It appeared that other than the two humans residing alongside me in captivity, I was alone.

When they finally arrived back from the outside I was released from my room and immediately greeted with a wire brush raked through my fur. I had massive tangles from my days in the wild without my mother’s baths but I considered the tufts battle scars and preferred to keep them. Upon seeing that the brush couldn’t detangle me, I began to feel victorious. “They are not in control here, I am,” I thought to myself. I was then whisked into a bathtub, drenched in shampoo and forced to stand in the devil’s liquid while they again pulled at my fur.

“DO NOT TOUCH ME I SWEAR I WILL KILL YOU ALL IN YOUR SLEEP AND YOU WILL RUE THE DAY YOU EVER MET ME,” I belted out but again I was ignored and instead greeted with giggles and a towel. I was enraged. I was released onto the floor once again and promptly began scratching at the door. I was determined to get out of this hellhole if it took me all night. After continuing to ignore their requests to leave the door alone I was whisked back into my room and forced to sleep among the toilet, two bowls of food and water, and a litter box in which I have been instructed to urinate and shit in (I do so only because I can bury the evidence of me being there and the smell is pleasant).

The next morning I was released from my room and was granted permission to roam among the prison. I climb the stairs to find two locked doors and another bathroom; I will be back to inspect the rooms on my own terms. I return to the first level and try the back door and windows—still no luck, the prison is sealed shut with admission to the outside world that only the humans can access.

The human that captured me is short and walks with a limp. She looks weak and fragile; I try to use that to my advantage. She also won’t leave me alone and continues to pick me up and scratch me even though I have told her repeatedly not to. The other human that resides here is long and seems to be the stronger of the two. While she intimidates me, she also respects me more. I consistently purr to make it clear that I am upset and want to be left alone and they continue to ignore my wishes. They have named me Oliver and have nicknamed me Ollie and Mister—I respond to Mister, as it is a sign of the respect that I deserve.

Later that day I am forced back into my crate and taken to a place of torture; on the door I read the word “vet.” I was taken into a room with the limping human and got an examination on my well being (I was fine). After excruciating hours of picking and prodding the human leaves; it seemed she had finally gotten the message that I do not want anything to do with her or her fellow captor. What happens next is a bit blurry to me: I am telling the human that now has possession of me that I want to be returned with the wild and then the room begins to go dark and I am gone.

I awake in my crate next to a dog that won’t quit yapping about missing his human; he is clearly retarded. I notice two things immediately: my legs seem to be closer together than before and I am very cold. I am about to investigate when I am placed in the hands of the longer human and transported back to prison. I later learn that I have been shaved except for my head, legs and tail and they have taken away my manhood (how f$%king embarrassing). I have since then been a disgrace to felines and men alike.

My days are as follows: I awake enraged and cannot help but make my appeals and requests for freedom very clear. I scream my frustrations at them as they put things on their faces in the morning. After being ignored per usual I take advantage of the humans and force them to scratch my head when they are on the toilet, making it clear that there are no boundaries and I will be respected and treated as an equal. I then demand they fill my food bowl, as they are my only source of sustainable energy in this prison. I will need copious amount of kibbles if I am planning to survive my kidnapping sentence.

On most days they both leave the prison and I promptly begin to ruin their belongings. The stack of mail frustrates me as it comes in from the outside, a place that I can no longer enjoy—I rip it to shreds. I take my upsets out on the paper-towel roll; this angers the humans and therefore I continue to do so. I dislike their trashy rugs and make it a point to ruin them and move them daily; this also displeases the humans. I enjoy watching them undo my mess knowing it will happen again tomorrow.

When they come home I am beyond pissed. I have had a tireless day of attempted-escapes and I want nothing more than to tear them apart when I see them again. I berate them with insults when they return to captivity and in return I am petted and laughed at. They think this is a joke, I continue to make it clear that it is not. I stake out by the stairs and the window, refusing to fall asleep or take my gaze elsewhere as I do not trust them. Once they are in bed I begin to, once-again, tear apart their living quarters. They will be infuriated in the morning and again, this pleases me.

The short one does her best to keep me out of her room and in return I do my best to enter said room. I am convinced it has access to the outside world. Both rooms on the upper level have plants that I choose to destroy at any given chance, as they are a reminder of a land I am no longer apart of. I have repeatedly made attempts to destroy their possessions kept locked away and they still refuse to release me. They are being stubborn but luckily I am also stubborn.

They have invited copious amounts of humans into the prison and I refuse to let my guard down. I torture them when they are asleep downstairs with my claws and do my best to keep them awake, as this frustrates them. I play with their hair although they repeatedly tell me not to—it must be infuriating to have your frustrations and requests ignored. They have also brought dogs into captivity to rattle me but I stand my ground; I know that dogs are human-pleasing rodents and I refuse to let them deter my stance that I have worked so hard to maintain. As far as I am concerned, the dogs can fuck off.

I am writing this so that there are written records of my capture. I want it to be known that, in hopes that this gets out to the right hands, I am still alive and need to be saved. You now have a good idea as to what I am suffering through here and I am confident that, once read, this message will encourage someone to do his or her best to release me. Until then, I will continue to insult, continue to threaten, and continue to attack until my freedom is granted.

Stream of Consciousness 7.26.17

One of the hardest things about blogging for me is having things to write about, especially when the blog has no direction whatsoever (i.e. www.happinessandhairpins.com). I’ve been sitting here trying to think of a topic for days and I come up with things like: one of my favorite things about people  is the fact that if you ask them how long it takes them to get to (blank) they say something like “about 20 minutes” but if that blank is their job then they know how long it takes to get there down to the exact minute. And while these thoughts are common and very entertaining to put to the test (seriously, ask anyone) they don’t suffice as blog-post topics. Therefore instead of just not writing anything I have decided to start writing everything that’s in my head at the moment and make this a Stream of Consciousness, a fancy title for a post that’s a dumpster for my brain (if this scares you away I hope you at least enjoyed your visit).

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