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A Daytime Murder

Yesterday, while sitting on the couch, my toes tucked under Roz, I heard a series of loud pops slice through the sleepy afternoon air. “Did you hear that?” I called to Sam in the office.

“Yeah,” he casually replied, “Sounds like the construction across the street.”

“I think it was gunshots,” I said. Growing up in the doughy, liberal Midwestern suburbs didn’t make me an expert on what gunshots sound like, but being the daughter of a jeweler did. My dad and his employees were always packing heat, practicing at the shooting range and (occasionally) in our small backyards. I know guns…not well, but we’re familiar with each other.

Minutes later I got the Citizen alert on my phone: “Man Shot.” Sam came out of the office staring at his phone, “You were right.” The sirens came next, followed by the hovering helicopters. The shooting happened in the same spot Sam and I discussed pie crust recipes while walking Roz a few hours earlier.

We watched the live streams from down the street, then switched over to KTLA to see the helicopter footage. Our neighborhood looking sprawling and unexceptional from above. We watched the stream where a white sheet went down and a tent went up. The guy was 25.

After Sam went back into the office, I watched more news footage, hoping to feel something; Horror. Fear. Anxiety. Anything. But I felt nothing.

What an odd society we’ve created, huh? Where a neighborhood kid gets shot in the head and instead of doing something about it, we watch from a small electronic box a few hundred feet away. What can I say? I’m so used to nightmares being projected into my eyeballs from my phone, that it’s my instinctual method of ingesting horrific information. What’s the point of going outside to see the devastation when I can freebase it from the comfort of home?

Later that night, Sam walked into a room I’ve labeled my “studio” only to catch me staring off into the distance. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“A man was murdered and I don’t feel anything,” I told him. “It’s like my anxiety is a finite resource and I’ve used it all up.”

“You know, my dissertation was about that,” he told me. I nodded as if I’d actually understood a word of his dissertation, a paper that I’d read four to five times before confirming my suspicions that I am a Grade A dummy.

Sam went on to explain that when your body is exposed to too much stress, your hormones stop working properly. In other words, your body stops responding to fight or flight triggers as you become acclimatized to trauma. Putting a scientific justification to my lack of emotional response made me feel a little better. Maybe I’m not a soulless monster wearing the human skin of a grumpy thirty year old girl*.

Even though I couldn’t muster up any appropriate emotions to the murder down the street, I was able to find some organizations that are fighting the good fight. Ones that focus on de-weaponizing our streets and battling the gun violence epidemic in this country. I donated what I could to two of them and while I still didn’t feel anything, I grew hopeful that one day I would.

Everytown For Gun Safety a coalition that lobbies for gun control legislation on a local and federal level. They also provide a support network for gun violence survivors. I first heard of Everytown after the Parkland shooting and have been impressed ever since. (I also follow Everytown on social media to keep up with ways I can help.) Donate here.

Violence Policy Center VPC has worked on campaigns taking a stand against concealed carry permitting and has challenged the NRA head-on. I donated because apparently the NRA is very scared of the VPC and likes to smear their hard work in the press. Donate here.

*But maybe I am? HISSSSSS.


Late in the day on Wednesday, a loud pop distracted me from the job application I was trudging through. Sam and I were both in the living room squeezing the last moments of productivity from our respective days. Sam’s version of productivity involves numbers, schedules, research, and calls. My version of productivity involves writing, rewriting, procrastisnacking (a term I made up for when you choose to make elaborate snacks instead of doing a simple task), and staving off existential crises fueled by a crushing sense of failure.

At the window, I peeked out over the intersection in front of our house. It’s a popular spot for drug deals, loud u-turns, half-empty takeout containers, and loose dogs squatting in parking strips. But this time, there was none of that, instead I saw brightly colored, seemingly weightless strips of evenly cut paper spiraling through the air; Confetti. The evening winds caused the confetti to curlicue across the pavement. It looked like a piñata had been blown up.

I gasped with delight, so unaccustomed to seeing whimsy at the intersection. My gasp was immediately followed by a frown. It’s still trash, I thought, vivid, uniform, fanciful trash. I knew it was bound to blow into our yard and become snacking fodder for the stubborn puppy currently sleeping on the cool tile of our bathroom. I sighed.

A truck with balloons shaped like numbers and a hand-drawn birthday sign drove off. Sam saw it pass as he, too, got up to look out window. “One of those birthday parades, huh,” he said as the car disappeared down the street. Then he shifted his attention to the intersection.

“Hey! Confetti!” he exclaimed. “Ugh, what a mess.”

It was the same cycle I’d just silently gone through. We’d been circling through these types of emotions a lot lately. I laughed at our synchronicity.

“Feels symbolic,” I told him, “Like America is confetti; beautiful and fun in theory, but mostly chaotic and bad for the environment.”

“Ha, maybe,” he responded.

Sam watched the fluttering paper for a moment before getting back to his work. I returned my attention to the half-written cover letter on my screen. “In terms of what I could provide to you…” I typed and then stalled. The cursor impatiently blinked at me. “I am a skilled writer and editor who excels in concise messaging—” Blah. I deleted the sentence, shut my computer and walked over to the fridge.

“You want a snack?” I asked Sam.

“Always,” Sam replied.

I smiled and proceeded to delicately assemble a charcuterie plate made with an odd assortment of leftovers. It wasn’t the best, but it certainly felt like an accomplishment.

Feed Me

I was outside cooling off in the 100-degree heat when I realized I forgot to feed Roz. I tilted my head back and groaned, the sun assaulting my exposed face. “Rozzy, I’m SO sorry.” The five-month-old puppy chewing dried bougainvillea petals at my feet did not seem to understand.

Back in our un-air conditioned home, the walls held onto the heat like a grudge. I plunged my hand into an enormous plastic kibble container, blindly feeling around for the measuring cup buried inside. Roz sat studying my every move. As her dark eyes followed me to the fridge, where her precious cottage cheese was kept, my body vibrated with guilt. They (they being Google) say that puppies thrive on routine, and therefore it’s imperative to keep a rigid schedule—my negligence had broken the sanctity of The Schedule.

Had I been doing something useful like reading any of the books weighing down my nightstand, or researching Lebanese Relief Organizations to donate to, or applying to jobs so I could have more money to donate to Lebanese Relief Organizations, I would’ve felt less guilty. But instead, I was waist-deep in the comments section of a conservative YouTube video.

The video was sent to me by a family member, the subject reading, “Nancy Pelosi does not want you to see this.” I didn’t even use my time to feign moral productivity by picking futile fights with strangers, or my own family, I simply sat at my kitchen bar and soaked it all in; the idea that Nancy Pelosi was solely responsible for California’s homelessness crisis, the excessive b-roll of people living in encampments, the reporter’s forced expressions of alarm, the masked interviews, the despair, the fake sympathy, the sweeping generalizations, the pulsating graphs, the conclusion that all blue states were going to hell.

I searched the comments section for a voice of reason explaining the complexity of the crisis. Someone who could eloquently convey that this was not one person’s (or one party’s) fault but the fault of those who gleefully operate within a system of unchecked capitalism, the fault of those not paying attention, not holding accountable, not helping. No matter how much I scrolled, there was nothing aside from anger, threats, and digital fingers pointed at the other side. The outrage was never ending and I was insatiable…pools of sweat formed around my elbows as I clicked, searched, and scrolled for something to fill the internal hole. My chest grew tight, I held my breath, and then…Roz rang the bell to be let outside, breaking the spell. In my driveway, I inhaled sweltering air into my lungs.

Earlier in the year, when I was in the hospital after a car attempted to use my body as a speed bump, a nurse with short hair and stature, told me that my lungs were collapsing. I hadn’t even realized it. It seemed like something I’d feel, or at the very least, I’d find out about when a team of attractive doctors were screaming “HER LUNGS ARE COLLAPSING” to each other while trying to save my life. “Are you sure?” I asked the nurse, surprised I hadn’t noticed.

“This sometimes happens after major surgery,” she responded. Ah, makes sense, I thought, realizing that I now had a new, more distant, relationship with my reconstructed body and its mysterious inner workings. “You have to exercise your lungs so they don’t fully collapse,” she explained while holding a plastic toy-like contraption. She pretended to blow into the blue tube attached to the contraption, “You blow like this, to keep this,” she pointed to the yellow ball, “floating between here and here,” she said showing off an empty space between two lines. “Now you try,” she handed me the toy. I briefly considered screaming into the tube just to, you know, shake things up a bit, give her a story to tell her family when she was done with her shift. “I had the strangest patient today,” she’d say while pulling a $5 tub of spinach from the fridge. Instead, I blew into the tube, because I am forever and always obedient.

The ball barely made it into the chamber before crashing to the bottom of the contraption. A jolt of pain exploded in my chest, bringing with it a vision of my sad lungs limply hanging from my trachea like deflated birthday balloons. (I wanted to write “like an empty scrotum” but it seemed weird and inappropriate to compare the two. Still, I think that’s a more apt visual.) “Keep practicing, ten to fifteen times an hour,” the short nurse said before disappearing.

Sometimes, when I’m on the internet for too long. My lungs begin to feel like deflated balloons again, like they’re collapsing. I’ll be slumped at my computer, gulping in air, none of which seems to make it to my diaphragm. It’s only when something breaks me out of the trance, like a hungry puppy asking to go outside, that I remember to breathe properly, to keep the ball in the air.

I gave Roz her lunch an hour and twenty-four minutes late. She scarfed down the meal in a manner that implied, “This is the first time I’ve ever eaten in my whole life!” I will be better about what I consume and what consumes me, I promised her little back. After gently recommending that she slow down, I headed over to my nightstand and grabbed The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes.

I plopped onto the couch and cracked the book’s spine, the sound a comforting harbinger of peace. Moments later a cold, wet nose pressed into the bottom of my calf reminding me that not everything is always so hot and unbearable.

If you like what you just read, please consider donating to a shelter in your area or any of these fine organizations below:


“Hi.” is the third title I settled on. First, I wrote “Hello?” but then couldn’t get Adele’s “Hello?” out of my head. Remember when everyone was titling things “Hello from the other side?” I miss that internet. You know the one where trolls just ate away at your soul and not the soul of society?

My second title was “Hey!” but that’s too casual and upbeat. I’ve never been a casual and upbeat person, though that’s certainly the personality I work hardest to project. So here it is, option number three: Hi. For the sake of blowing the dust off the mantel that is this blog, I’ll just keep it to that.

There’s so much I want to follow up with, so many stories and things that have happened in the four years since I’ve written. If I think too hard about what to tell you first, I’ll never say anything.

So for now, let me just touch base and say Hi. I’m not even sure if anyone will see this, but if you do I want you to know I’m thinking about you out there. There’s a lot going on and I hope that you’re okay. Also, how absurd is it to blog in your 30s?! Who cares about the heady ramblings of a sweaty chick in Los Angeles? Probably no one. But that’s the beauty of blogging, no one needs to care for you to do it.

Are you okay?

People who grew up with me know that I was an enormous fan of Michael Jackson. I built a shrine to him in my bedroom and sat humming his lyrics at it each night. One time, I climbed onto the table of my shrine to hang a new photo and fell through. The top was made of glass, you see, and I was a very heavy child. Not bright either. I wasn’t injured because there was a Michael Jackson table cloth covering the top which prevented me from bleeding to death. I genuinely believed that the spirit of Michael Jackson, who was still very much alive at that point, protected me from my own stupidity. Read the rest of this entry »

Barbie Girl. Barbie World.

“Nope. I’ll never come to LA.” My computer barks at me. On the screen is a friend who Skyped in to catch up. Her see-through, blonde hair is neatly braided to the side of her head. It falls across her porcelain shoulder, resting on her porcelain chest. When I ask her why she has such a distaste for Los Angeles she says, “It’s all barbie dolls and fake people.” Read the rest of this entry »

Good Writers Are In Danger of Becoming Extinct

Sylvia Plath would’ve killed herself sooner if the internet were around when she was writing her poetry. Can you imagine if her editor said she needed to have a larger online presence? So, being the passionate, aspiring writer that she was, she posted “Daddy” on her Tumblr only to receive a message which read: “u r a fat bitch, entitled cunt who should kill URSELF.” It’s enough to make anyone recoil from the internet, let alone an emotionally unstable writer months away from suicide.

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Note to self.

I found this note I wrote to myself: Read the rest of this entry »

6 Months Ago

I didn’t publish this in January because I felt like it was too narcissistic. Now I’ve learned to be proud of the little things.

A 2011 annual report for this blog – by WordPress.
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The 7-Day Plan

The thing is, Julia Roberts has way more time and money than I have. So when I decided to go find myself; I couldn’t take three months off, visit three countries or do whatever-else it is she did in Eat, Pray Love. But I did have seven days to get my emotional shit in order, so I put together a plan.

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Leaving On A Jet Plane

The last thing my Mom said to me before I got off the phone was, “Well, that’s really stupid Marina.” And it was really stupid.

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Rent+Utilities for your walk-in closet of an apartment: $900 a month

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Secrets, Secrets

The word secret should have a negative connotation, but for some reason it comes off as sexy.
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In a New York State of Mind

Dear Olga and Vladimir,

Hi, it’s Marina from the past. By past, I mean I wrote this post a few hours ago in small bagel place that doesn’t have internet (similar to my apartment). Dad, you will be happy to know that I had the lox, cream cheese, onion, cucumber and tomato bagel keeping my Jewish roots intact.

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