Dead Birds and Trash Squirrels


I’m in Philadelphia. This has been a childhood dream since… my childhood. Actually, visiting Philli wasn’t really the dream, it was just to see the Liberty Bell and other historical sites. Now that I am here, I’m less than impressed, but I’ve only been here for three days. And I still haven’t seen the Bell! It is loud and dirty, crowded and colossal. I’m broke and no one will hire me. The air has that dingy quality to it that big cities do; the effect of too many cars in too little space and too few trees to digest the pollution. The worst part of Philadelphia has been the dead birds. They’re everywhere. Like water from a well, the birds are drawn to skyscraper windows, only to be knocked unconscious and splatter on the pavement; a Jackson Pollock painting gone wrong. What’s even worse is that no one picks them up. They rot on the pavement. Wings stretched, cracked, flattened, bystanders side-stepping the Samaritan. It’s quiet sad, really.

If birds are the Samaritans of Philli, squirrels are the Ninjas. As I walked out of the dorm complex yesterday, I was overcome by surprise at one of the best sites I have ever seen. A gray squirrel- frayed tail, apathetic eyes- leisurely made his way out of a campus trash can and onto his spot of lawn a few feet away. I stared at him, speechless, and the little punk stared back. His eyes said, “Ha, bet you wish you could do that.” Then he took another bite of his Trash Surprise. I told my husband about the incident later that day, only to discover that he had seen the same thing! Apparently, this is a common occurrence here.

Honestly, maybe the reason I don’t like it here is because I’ve never spent an extended period of time in New England. It’s probably just culture shock. Maybe I just need to explore more, but I’m scared. I’ve never explored on a large(er) scale on my own before. So I need to make a decision: Will I be a dead bird or a trash squirrel?


Nonsense From Last Night


11:00 pm- making anagrams


Vacuums clean

Incas build

Cards play

Tacos smell

Other talk

Rainbows float

In the end though

A guy named ___ is into you.


But you say

Radical thought

I like area 51

Not just like, but love

Not just love, but adore,

adore its everything.


no- we weren’t drunk





It is warm and

the grass slips between

your toes- silky, bladed ribbons in the dirt.

Shimmering rays

needle through the beams

above you

as you rock slowly back,

then forth,

then back again.

As a soft push with your stiff bare-feet brings a gentle momentum to the

swing; back and

forth, and back

and forth… You think,

“Where am I going?”

The Five Worst Customers: Lament of a Barista


To preface this, I must say- I love my job. I really enjoy the people I work with, the atmosphere of the shops I work at, the feels, smells, and tastes of coffee. However, there is one thing I find most disagreeable: the customers. Customer service is, overall, a fairly difficult job in regards to one’s personal temperament. It may not be the most mentally challenging job in the world, but if you can smile at the next person in line when you have a million dishes to do and ten thousand drinks piling up for your coworker to make, then you are awesome at your job! That being said- here are the five worst customers at a coffee shop.

Numero Uno: The Parrot

So, you’ve just finished making the sixth drink in a row. And you, as the good barista you are, call out the drink so the Patient Customer is able to pick up their drink at the end of the bar. However, the Parrot looks up from their phone (for the sixth time in a row) and quips, “IS THIS MINE?!” NO IT IS NOT YOURS. Do you not remember what you ordered? Do you need a cracker to satiate your anxious, basic white girl yearnings as I make your white chocolate mocha with extra whip cream??

Numero Dos: The Stuck-Up

“Good morning! How are…”

“Um, yeah, so like can I just get a small, double shot cappuccino with no foam, skim milk, extra hot, with caramel and chocolate drizzle. Oh and before you’re able to get my wrong order written down, can I please order another complicated frozen drink and like five different food items? Gratuity is included in the price right?” First of all, skinny soccer mom with bratty two year old in tow, you can’t get a cappuccino with NO FOAM because that’s what makes a cappuccino! I don’t know if you’re talking about some kind of gas-station drink- actually, I don’t care. Secondly, I am a person, not a robot-super-coffee-making-autonomous-gadget. So please say hello before you rush out the door and into your Nissan Quest.

Numero Tres: The Drain-Plug (line stopper)

It’s really busy today, and you’re trying to be as polite and patient with each customer while keeping a good flow so you don’t overwhelm your coworker. But this guy- THIS GUY- who has had about ten minutes to decide what he wants steps up to the plate and has no idea it’s his turn to swing. When “Hello, what can I get started for you?” is greeted with a blank stare and an open mouth, you know your entire rhythm has just jumped off a bridge. He then proceeds to stand there, silent. It isn’t until you’ve explained what’s in about five drinks- and offered to make then hot, iced, or blended- that he decides to get a drip coffee. And not tip you.

Numero Quatro: The Starbucks Lover

One of my least favorite things is when people come in and order using Starbucks jargon- because this is not Starbucks. This is actually a good coffee shop, and our sizes are small, medium, and large. If you prefer, 12 oz, 16 oz, and 20 oz works as well. Also, we do not serve the caramel macchiato. It’s not even a macchiato. Who are you. Get out.

Along those same lines, Cup-Grabbers are also the worst. I know the cups are within your reach, but please, let me do my job. If you don’t know what “this size” is, then maybe you shouldn’t be touching the cup.

Numero Cinco: The Assumer

I work for a licensed chain with four stores. I work at all four stores, but each employee has a store that they primarily work at. Sometimes, a customer will come in to one of our stores and expect that whomever is working will automatically know their drink because they “come in all the time”- to one of our stores. Dear person- we have 35 employees. Please do not assume that you are super-duper special and that we will know your drink by your face. Lots of people come in everyday. Lots of people order small vanilla lattes. You’re not as cool as you think.

After all of the above customers have come in, at the end of the day, there is always a shining beacon of hope. This person is super sweet, knows what they want, orders correctly, and leaves you a hefty two dollar tip. I pray that these customers will pave the way for all customers, and that someday, all customers will order equally.

Untitled Prose


I picked him up and we went to Coffee Tree. He seemed fairly normal at first, which is why I was confused by what he had said the day before. He had texted me an apology saying he was rather strange right now. I assumed he meant he was still in the state he was in when I saw him last. No, as the afternoon ticked by, it became increasingly obvious that Jacob had lost himself. His curly hair was gone. His head was shaved. He had three new tattoos and a labret piercing. The sprightly Jacob I knew had been replaced with a post-modern Brahman. He said conversation was “pretty hard” for him, which I said was okay, and then we continued to stare at the teas and espresso machine in front of us. The baristas at the shop were as friendly and talkative as ever, but I felt like I was with a child, so my guilt quickly pulled me back to his side.
It was beautiful outside. The snow was only a day or two old and it outlined the sidewalk with crayola white. His silence was unnerving, his pained waddle, always two steps behind me, was not the bouncy, angsty step I remembered.
After an awkward car ride back to his house, we hobbled inside, met his two cats, and sat crossed legged in the living room. Jacob laid out a sketch pad and colored pencils- the pad between us and the pencils fanned out to my left. We sat in utter silence, save the clock- ticks, while he slowly pulled himself into a trance-like state. I asked him if he usually focuses on an idea or a feeling. He didn’t answer, but instead starred at the blank page. A few seconds of silence passed.
“You said you drew me?”
He shook his head like a dog awaking from sleep.
“Huh? Uh, yeah.”
He turned back a page in the sketch-pad and revealed a beautiful drawing; it was the most intricate one out of all of them. It was utterly astonishing. It was a flower, made up to look fairly cerebral, planted in an antiquated looking vase made up of emerald gems. The Flower was perfectly created, each petal fluid and pear-shaped. There was an impression of a nose and mouth, but the rest of my face was invisible among the delicate details of the brain. Every curve was lined with many colors, lightly shaded to create an alluvial fan. I was speechless.
“Why did you draw me? Why not someone else?”
His eyes flicked up.
“You’ve always had good energy.”
He sounded slightly peppy.
As He began to lightly and slowly scribble across the page, I saw that his meditation was not just an attempt to make sense of the mush of his mind, but also to create something beautiful out of what he didn’t understand.
He said at this point, the damage is probably irreversible.
My comparatively quick movements along the other half of the page and back and forth between different pencils shocked him like a fish touched with a finger; he was so unaware, so sensitive.
He said his mom thinks he should socialize more. I asked him who his friends are; he didn’t really answer, he only looked down. I knew he meant Noah. The corner of his mouth twitched. I drew and drew, allowing the emotions of confusion, creativity and oddity to baptize me and channel onto the paper. I first sketch a blue flower from a trumpet vine. The vine connects to the outline of what becomes the world- but not quite the world, an eye, really- which is veined with rivers. Covering the globe is a scroll- or maybe it is woman’s hair. At the paring of the scroll is a delta. Drinking from the rivers is a fiery hummingbird. It’s body is blue, but it’s wings are red and orange. Tapping into the Eye with it’s golden tongue, it drinks the syrup of life into it’s own River.
I put the last colored pencil down. Jacob startles and hazily stares into my eyes.

“Come back.” I plead. “I see you beneath those brick eyes. Come back.”

But he didn’t see the words in my eyes. He squinted and his brow molded into a furrow. His hands shook, his shoulders hunched; He had shriveled. He is burning flash paper.
“I’ve never really studied your eyes.” He mumbled. Suddenly, he began burrowing- a rabbit seeking refuge in the earth of my soul. I retreated- shot up a wall. Of course, he was puzzled. As he tilted his head to the right I say,

“I’ve always had difficulty being vulnerable.” He nodded in understanding.

Silence. Minutes. He continues to observe, to journey deeper, to look for himself in me.

“What do you see?” I ask.

He began to search again. I relaxed, breathed, tried to let him into see me, see my soul. My heart is racing, my palms are clammy. The only comfort I had in that room was the plush cat weighing down my right leg. Some moments stick like the brutal sweat of a southern summer. I may live in that moment for an eternity. After moments, I broke. It was too much for me; he would not voice what he saw and I am cold from exposure. I blink- a veil.

“I can’t get over how content this cat is.” I smiled when I could’ve wept. Glancing up at the clock, I noticed the time. We had been seated in stillness for over fifteen minutes.

“Well, I had better be going.”

He startled again and as we stood, I could see the sadness on his face, in his bones as we stretched the stiffness out of our settled muscles. Putting on a coat is very different when one is grieving. I slipped it on anyway. Shoes, purse. I turned and he was there, very close, fragile as a child after a nightmare.

“Jacob,” I whisper, “I’ve just always wanted you to be happy.” I pause, but then say, “In order to find yourself, you must be yourself.”

We hugged goodbye and I again felt how small he was. He didn’t want to let go, but I moved back first and he reluctantly surrendered.

Outside the sun illuminates the neighborhood’s new snow. The glistening is beautiful, almost translucent in spots, but all things considered, my level of my appreciation is at an all time low.
When I was a child- I loved to play in the snow. I loved to sink my puggy kid-hands into the ice crystals and make snowballs, shove snow in my face, and make snow angels. But when my fingers turned purple and my mouth grew numb, the tears would start.
There is something every child must learn: Cold snow can burn.

After Dinner


Yesterday, after dinner, I hurriedly walked outside. I felt like I was going to suffocate. I began walking with my head down, staring at my shuffling feet as usual, and I quickly looked up to redirect my steps when the loveliest, most majestic thing captured my eye. The moon, a shimmering, white, solitary figure suspended in an atmospheric pool, surrounded by nothing but it’s own light, utterly alone. I stumbled for a moment and then leaned against the icy rail- and I stared. For moments. Ages, but not nearly so long as that poor celestial being has been in place. I began to wonder how many of Earth’s faces and faces on earth it has seen. How many horrors and sicknesses and tragedies and heart-stopping terrors it has seen, but been frozen- helpless to help- by it’s own fundamental being. And how ironic that the moon, which views all nightly tears, is meant to shed light upon the very things it wishes to stop.

Woe! For are we not as helpless in our own self-destructive illumination upon the very things in our lives which we wish to eradicate? Helpless by our very nature. Though we have strength it is only a shadow of the past day. T’would be happier to be overtaken by void than to be given a false hope from which springs only a viscous sludge of despair.

Despair, oh wandering faces. Despair.