The Rumba buzzes over the wood floor, well actually the tile painted to resemble “weathered gray #3” wood. The dog sleeps on his memory foam bed. The clock in the kitchen sits stagnate at 5:43, AM or PM, no one really remembers anymore, but a few like to claim they saw it stop. And who would ever be up at 5:43 am?

The family sits in the living room. The mom in one corner with her hair wrapped up in a towel, she has just gotten out of the shower. The two brothers sit across from each other and both place their feet on the coffee table covered with unopened New Yorkers that the oldest brother claims he will read one day. The dad reclines so much into the couch that his chin falls into his chest. Black plastic glasses, a little smudged; rest on his rather prominent nose. The daughter sits in the corner of the sectional couch nesting herself between bright orange and turquoise blue geometrically patterned pillows. She picks at her once cerulean now grayish nail polish.


The oldest boy responds, “Yes attorney”

“Attorney general?”

The mom as she fiddles with her towel adds, “Should I refer to you as attorney?”


Giving up she removes the towel completely and drops from her hair fling onto the varnished credenza, “I will refer to you as attorney from this day forward”

“You can call me whatever you want”


“Like asswipe”


The dad blinks his eyes open and asks, “Can I call you AL”

Out of tune and probably pitch, the younger of the two boys and his father chime, “You can call me Al”

The daughter finally peels of one long strip from her left pointer finger, “Oh my God. You really screwed up that song”

The eldest boy now flips through the March 24th edition of the New Yorker and looks and pretends to read, “That’s the worst singing in the history of singing.”

The girl lest out a cackle, “You didn’t think it could get any worse but”

“But it did”

“What’s the opposite of a platinum record?”

“Poop record.”

“Shit record.”

The dog chomps on a ratty looking bunny toy. Squeak. Squeak.

The mom has now decided to put her hair in a bun, and in doing so splatters the painting behind her with small droplets, “So Nog has a boyfriend, Maile”

The eldest son stops pretend reading (the light in the living room at night is not condusive to reading) as the Rumba docks itself, “Docking, docking, docked”

The girl now going at her right pinky finger responds, “Uh huh. She was texting him while she was here”

The younger of the two brothers corrects, “All day. All day”

The eldest son starts cracking his knuckles, “She was?” The New Yorker laying flat on his lap.

Squeak. Squeak.

The younger brother looks down at his feet, “All day.”

The mom looks over at the dog that has given up his toy for his tail, “Where does he live?”

The dad now fully alert after yet another catnap, “Who is this guy?”

The daughter reaches for another pillow and puts it on top of her feet, “Something with a C.”

The younger son starts running his hands through his hair as he is often wont to do, “Charlie.”

“He’s going to move to Seattle”

The girl worries the hard as plastic coating on her right middle finger now, “He was a philosophy major”

The dog’s bone shaped nametag, complete with and address and phone number, clanks around in his modern gray ceramic water bowl.

“I think the dog needs water.”

“I just filled his….water thing.” Mumbles the dad as he awakens yet again.

The older son bites his thumbnail, “Is he working in Seattle?”

“He wants more food he’s drinking water now.”

“He’s doing something.”

Another nail needs stripping, “Yeah he’s graduating.”

“He’s licking his food bowl.”

The mom picks at her pajama pant, “Oh he’s a year older?”

“Yeah he’s a year older”

With a chuckle the eldest says, “Philosophy major Princeton, surprised he’s not working on Wall Street.”

The younger brother furls his brow, “That’s a joke?”

“Good Old Boy’s Club. Adam Cohen, haven’t you read it?”

She removes the piece of Boton rice that fell on her lap during dinner, “What’s he going to do in Seattle”

“Don’t know”

The jets from the Costco Jacuzzi the family bought 4 years ago runs soothingly in the backyard, “Philosophize.”

“What do you do with a philosophy major?”

The oldest son rolls his eyes, “You do whatever.”

She collects the nail polish dust and brushes it onto the carpet, “Just ponder existence.”

The younger brother corrects his posture; “Well what do you with a film major?”

“Well at least with a film major you can make films. With a philosophy major you can’t ahhhh make philosophy. You can do something with film, you can’t do much with philosophy.”

While staring at the dog those stares back, “He can probably talk to dogs and stuff”

“You’re better off making a time machine and going back to…”


“Your butt.” And at that all the nail polish has been stripped from her fingers.


Bang Bang

Everyday it seems I hear about another mass shooting, another disturbed teenager wielding a firearm at innocent people before killing himself. I am not being sexist – it is almost always a him. I hear about them, I discuss the horror of the situation with friends and family, I, maybe, sign a card to the victims while at school enjoying my lunch. Then I go on with my day only to repeat the same chain events later in the week when the next shooter strikes.

Network television broadcasts these mass murders with small disclaimers about graphic violence. Movies romanticize the events with heartstring stories about the victims and horrible circumstances giving rise to the killers. Video games give pale seven years olds and middle-aged men the chance to commit heinous, meaningless acts of violence over and over again.

I am bothered by these events just enough to not think of myself as a bad person. I never shed a tear, I never think about it as I wait for sleep to encompass me, I never fall into my mother’s arms and feel like I can’t go anywhere without her. I never knew what it felt to be truly bothered by violence until I saw it right in front of me.  I saw a man get shot four times and I saw him collapse to the ground and I saw his blood pumping out onto the asphalt and I saw the look of terror on peoples faces and I saw the mass mob run and I saw the town I grew up in flooded with lights of red and blue. I heard one gun fire, four times, and injure one person and to me, no trauma could compare. That event changed me. I now look for the quickest exit whenever I enter a public space. I think ‘survival of the fittest’ in crowds and wait on edge for someone’s primal instincts to surface. I wonder will my photo appear in People Magazine next to a small blurb about a life taken too young. Hearing the sound of the gun, smelling blood, smelling fear, running for my life has left me feeling small and inconsequential.

Now the news stories of people ducking behind objects as dozens of their classmates fall to the ground, or a prayer in church being interrupted by the terrible sound of death, leave me thinking, hoping for a better future. I talk about them, I think about them whenever I am alone, I empathize with the victims and hate festers for the perpetrator. With horrific violence thrown at me from every direction, it took one small pistol and four tiny bullets to wake me up, and to see death not as a number of victims, or a list during the Oscars, or a moment of silence, it made death into something real, tangible.

For an act of gun violence to be considered a mass shooting, four or more people have to be shot at roughly the same time in roughly the same location. According to ABC News, the U.S., in 2018, experienced 323 mass shootings – almost 1 a day. These shootings resulted in the death of 387 men, women and children and left 1,274 people injured. This does not take into account the thousands of victims with psychological issues. People got shot at school, church, the local deli, holiday parties, yoga studios, even hospitals. Obviously we have a huge issue, yet those who have the ability to write law and limit gun usage refuse to do so.

They refuse, or hesitate or skirt around gun control because of a strong well funded group of individuals and corporations which scream “2nd Amendment” when even the smallest limitation, such as a chip which enables a gun to be fired only by the registered owner, is mentioned. Let’s talk about the 2nd Amendment. The 2nd Amendment was added to the constitution in 1791. In 1791 women had no rights, blacks were enslaved, and old white men ran America. If we find the values and morals of the 1790’s to be preposterous, why then do we keep the right to bear arms? In fact, the amendment gives people the right to bear arms to form a regulated militia to protect the state. Not the right to walk into a Wal-Mart and open fire because you are having a bad day. What was once necessary does not make it always necessary.

To the people who say, “guns don’t kill, humans do,” I point them in the direction of Australia, a country founded by criminals, that banned guns. Since they banned guns, there have been no mass shootings. No unwarranted deaths. Look at New Zealand, a country with a ‘right to own gun’ sentiment similar to our own. Two horrific shootings at two mosques by one crazy individual left the country reeling. Before the government could even discuss changing law citizens voluntarily came forward and forfeited their firearms.

When will it be too many children dead on their playground, when will it be too many lunchbox notes never read, when will it be too many families lives destroyed, when will it be too many ‘safe spaces’ tainted with blood, when it will it be too many cries for help?

How many dead will be enough?


Not Her Again

My school offers AP Art History. My brothers took the class. They didn’t want to but my mother made them. The summer before my stint in the class I argued my case, I got bored in museums, I hated (a strong word I know) the movies Big Eyes and Monument Men, I didn’t even like the Degas picture book I had as a four-year old! My mother would not give in and in her words, “a well-rounded person must have, at the least, a basic understanding of art history.” I would argue that the same goes for classical music though we got through high school without touching an instrument. Needless to say I started AP Art History in August of 10th grade.

I became obsessed with the subject matter and the Snapple-like facts I could blurt out at any moment about a piece, period, or medium. I fell in love with the vibrant brush strokes of Van Gogh, the intricate reliefs adorning the temples of India, the power of Ai Wei Wei, the masterful chiaroscuro of Caravaggio.

Just one work, out of the 262 pieces I studied, did not resonate with me. Arguably one of the most recognized works of art in the world, this particular piece draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to gaze upon its muted earth tones and its supposedly alluring smile – the Mona Lisa. My response, ‘Meh’.

If you were a dedicated reader of my blog, you would know that I travelled to Paris in the spring. While there I went to the Louvre (who doesn’t) and spent a solid 5 hours, and 10 miles, walking the historical halls of the palace and seeing dozens of pieces that left me in awe. Near the end of my visit, my mom suggested we find the renaissance paintings. Even though both of us have never been big Renaissance fans, we thought since we had the opportunity to see them in person we might as well.

We found the Renaissance wing on an extremely confusing map. After multiple attempts, in bad French, to enlist the help of the museum floor staff, we entered the glass-ceilinged hall swarming with people. IMG_1596The patrons came at us in droves, pushed us from behind, sidled up in front of The Oath of the Horatii (one of my all-time favorite paintings) as I marveled at its magnificence, tickled our heads with baby socks hanging from Asian tour group leader pointer sticks. My mom and I linked arms, not because we felt a surge of love for one another, not because we worried we would become separated, but rather so we could form a sort of battering ram and try to push through the crowd in the direction we chose. Alas, we lost the battle and the pulsing mass of tourists moved us toward a large ballroom. It felt like the I-5 in LA on a Friday afternoon, no lane changing, no getting off at an exit, nothing but a slow shuffle forward. No one stopped to look at the hundreds of other pieces adorning the walls. My mom and I tried to stop now and then when a piece really caught our eye, or made us feel something. The mob began to slow and the chatter began to grow. We found ourselves looking over and through the heads of a thousand plus people to see a relatively tiny picture encased in some protective plexi glass. The Mona Lisa.

Cameras snapped, and contrary to the signs everywhere, flashes burst with blinding white light. A sea of hands held phones aloft in hopes of grabbing an image that the eyes could not see. In this horde of jabbering, smelly, hot, bright humans I experienced a moment of clarity and thought “the most photographed barn in America”. “What?” you might ask.

Prior to getting to this exact place in the space and time continuum I had immersed myself, unwillingly, in the theory of post-modern art and literature. I had read Don DeLillo’s White Noise and dismissed many of the main character Jack’s actions as superfluous and dull. In particular, his visit to the ‘most photographed barn’. Jack, and others take pictures of it, buy post cards of its image in the gift shop but never really see the barn. Its wood planks and hay lofts hold no relevance for them, rather their meaning exists solely in showing that they too had visited the most photographed barn. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more it is photographed the less of a barn it becomes.

Back to the present, and the sweaty hall of glossy dark heads and staccato vowels. As I stand on tippy toe and crane my head to the right I catch a glimpse of the bottom left corner of the painting. The others around me can surely see no more and yet they tap away on phones and cameras – purely to post on Instagram or bore friends at dinner with an image of an image of the most photographed painting in the world. DeLillo had nailed this human phenomenon long before cell phones and social media, he had recognized this need to be acknowledged and slipped it in casually to a work I had not wanted to read. This book White Noise, has in fact, become the Mona Lisa a post-modern literature and is read because it is the ‘most read post-modern book’. Wow, life and school collide.

A good day.


The 12 Days of Senior Year

I attend a small private school in La Jolla, CA. My two older brothers graduated from this same small school and during my oldest brother’s second semester of senior year, my mother received an email from the school. The email informed her that he had exceeded the number of missed days and should his teachers find it necessary he could, possibly, not graduate. My other brother received this same notice his junior year. By the time I became a senior I knew exactly how many days – 12– I could miss before getting the notice. After Christmas break (I forgot I am supposed to say ‘Winter Break’), the second-semester-senior mentality kicks in and most students skip a few classes here and there just because, you know, they’re, “Just not feeling it.” I, on the other hand, planned out my days with a precision I have not recently applied to my school work.


Missed Day 1- Maui

IMG_1103Taking full advantage of the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, I head to the airport at o’dark thirty on Friday morning. A friend picks me up at the Kahului airport and we head straight to the west side of the island. I put my bikini on while we drive so I won’t miss a minute of ocean time. We pull into a parking spot and make our way across a jagged expanse of a’a lava – the extra sharp kind that shreds my Haole bare feet. I try to walk lightly, but the serrated rock slices through my skin. With a small grimace I trudge on and find myself on a beautiful point surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. My friend walks to the very edge then vanishes. I follow her path until I see her bobbing in the crystal clear ocean 40+ feet below me. My knees wobble, I take a deep breath, I count to three, I jump, my stomach drops, I scream. I hit the warm water and pop up with a smile on my face and my heart pounding. I climb up the algae covered rock and do it again. Every time my knees wobble, my heart beats fast, and I climb right back up the rock. Better than school? Uh yeah.

Missed Day 2- Maui

The swell comes from the Northwest, and the boat lunges over waves and bounces up and down, over and over again. I sit on the bow holding onto the railing I catch air every time the boat hits a roller. Schools of flying fish skip across the water next to me, and as one island gets smaller another gets larger. A whale breaches about 100 yards away, off the port side, and we quickly swing the boat in the direction of the splash. We full throttle about seventy-five percent of the way there, then cut the engine and drift. Two backs come gracefully to the surface of the water, only a few feet away. A mom and her baby swim alongside the boat then dive deep showing their tails. They disappear and we continue on to a secret snorkeling spot on Molokai. The world is my classroom – too cliché?


Missed Day 3- Big Sur

IMG_1371IMG_1470My father, my mother and myself motor through Los Angeles and then Santa Barbara, we need to outrun the storm. We make it to San Simeon and the elephant seal rookery before the forecasted deluge. As always we marvel at their size and their loudness and their stench. It begins to rain and we run to the car. Our planned hike seems unlikely as the rain and wind smack the car. We move through the forest of tall pines avoiding falling rocks and streams of mud. The weight of the car and my father’s driving stand between us and the angry ocean 300 feet below. My dad, a Hallmark type of guy, cannot stop looking at the water. He poetically comments on the beauty of the California coastline as my mom in a panicked voice says, “Brian look at the road, don’t look at the ocean. We can stop; Wanna look at the view?” We reach the Fernwood Resort shaken and wet and somehow bloody (my mom has cut her hand). My mom and I sit in the lodge – she reads a book and I write a blog for English class. (see Bubbles always Pop) Why would we make this trip, knowing the atmospheric river had decided to become an actual river? Because we are getting a puppy of course!


Plan to Miss Days 4 thru 7- Paris

I participate, often unwillingly, in the National Charity League (NCL). The six-year experience culminates with a ‘presentation’ of the seniors. The girls must wear pre-approved white wedding dresses and parade in front of a thousand or so people while a cheesy voiceover recounts their special moments in NCL. I said ‘no thank you’ so my mom said for the same price we can go to Paris. I went to Paris once, 11 years ago. I remember climbing the Eifel Tower with my family, my dad, nervous of heights, had to stop to have a beer halfway up. My eldest brother, not at all anxious, had a ham and butter sandwich and to this day he still talks about the excellence of that particular meal. I plan on practicing my French and going to see the art I studied in my AP Art History class. I will eat at bistros and walk the Luxemburg Gardens with a baguette under my arm. I will go to a jazz club and the tiny Italian restaurant my parents went to before I was born. I will not wear my first wedding dress until the day I get married. Now my second wedding dress, that’s a different story.


Plan to Miss Day 8- Coachella

Screen Shot 2019-03-06 at 6.32.15 PMIMG_1553As a senior at my school, Coachella represents a rite of passage. To be honest I don’t really like concerts, I had a traumatic experience at an Ice Cube concert at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and swore I would never go to a big concert venue. Fast forward to December when my dad and I had two computers logged onto the Coachella ticket site. His computer got to the purchase point first, and caught up in the moment he bought not one, but two tickets. By the time my computer got to the end of the queue the tickets had sold out – no matter I was going to Coachella! Or at least I had a ticket, I still had to convince my mom that going would be an amazing idea. After much planning, and wheedling, and promising, my mom said I could go – SICK! The lineup came out. My friends messaged me with sentiments of absolute stoke. I, on the other hand, recognized only a few names –‘Meh’ pretty much summed up my feelings about the music portion of the weekend. A weekend with friends, an excuse to dress outlandishly, who needs music?


Plan to Miss Day 9- Surfing State Championships

Who wouldn’t want to skip a Monday and surf in the Scholastic Surfing Association State Championships, even if it is the Monday after your first Coachella experience? I have competed in this contest for the last two years; I know how it goes. I will wake up in the dark, the sand will feel like snow, I will paddle out into a mushy blown out mess with five other very competitive girls. I will catch a wave or two. This year I hope to make it out of my first heat, but really hoping and doing are two entirely different things. I will get a burrito for lunch on the way home and I will consider it a day well spent no matter the outcome.


Plan to Miss Day 10- Senior Skip Day

Ahh, just another school tradition, the senior class skips a random school day and goes to the beach. Not everyone makes it because they haven’t planned as carefully as I, and they have already used up their twelve days. Well I just found out that this ‘skip day’ isn’t actually random, it always happens after AP exams (see below) so the joke’s on me.


Begrudgingly Plan to Miss Days 11-14 AP tests

Yup, my school considers taking AP Exams, at school, in my uniform, as an absence. So I could stay at home and binge watch Handmaid’s Tale or go take a 3-hour exam. Kinda ridiculous if you ask me. I show up for these tests. I show up and I bring a number two pencil and sometimes a calculator but I never study beforehand. I sit in the gym, or the church across the street, or the cafeteria and I do my best but I always leave thinking I have failed. In July when I have completely forgotten the whole experience I get an email telling me I actually did quite well.


It seems I have exceeded my allotment of days. Maybe I can use all the worldly experience I have gained to convince the graduation committee that I truly am qualified to receive a diploma.

Bubbles always Pop

Bishop’s is a bubble, a bubble in which I have no fear of gun violence or personal harm. A bubble in which I feel free, and often compelled, to question sources, peers, and authority. A bubble where I can develop my own ideas and work through them with instructors and classmates. Efforts to push Bishop’s into the ‘regular’ world by creating artificial inputs and inorganic circumstances, just doesn’t work. And though it does not work, the powers that be, in an effort to incorporate educational buzz words, continue to foist these same words and ideas upon the school in the hope that some prospective donor or parent will notice.



In the eighth grade, Bishop’s required all students to buy an $800 iPad. We needed to integrate technology into our curriculum to better prepare us for the technologically dependent world ahead, at least that’s what they said. I brought my iPad for the first few weeks in an attempt to comply with the requirement. I soon gave that up: it remained heavy on my shoulder and never left the dark cave of my backpack. My notebook, however, grew thick with notes. I graphed on innovative paper instead of using Desmos, and I conversed with my classmates at lunch rather than playing Clash of Clans. I sat in the library and watched group after group of prospective parents drool as the tour guide expounded on the glory of technology at Bishop’s. The school’s de facto poster child, or rather the female that had jumped on the STEM bandwagon, came to me often for help in conceptual – referred to in our family as “baby”– physics. This same teenage girl started in my math class before dropping down to core – again “baby” (aren’t we mature) – math. But lo, her picture appeared on the Bishop’s website, Instagram and promotional brochures. Bishop’s needed to promote the newest craze – Females in STEM. They failed to notice, or more likely ignored, the fact that she was nothing more than a talkative faux. Technology in the absence of intelligence means nothing.



How ‘diverse’ can we really be if we are required to buy an $800 dollar iPad and spend $37,000 on tuition? Recently we had a Black woman come to chapel to talk to us about race’s influence on language. Before the lecture, my friend and I discussed our upcoming Stat test. I talked to my friend, my classmate, my common lover of Disney movies, my advisory buddy, my fellow hater of sour cream and mayo. Right before the speaker took the stage, the school’s head of Diversity pulled my friend aside and made her sit right in front of the podium, with a different group of kids – all the Black kids in high school. She looked at me and laughed, “I guess I have to sit over there since you know, I’m Black.” It never crossed my mind that she was Black because to me she was so much more than the color of her skin. But apparently to Bishop’s she was not. The school’s inorganic attempt to acknowledge Blackness created a physical distance between her and myself – dare I say segregated her. By doing so, the school forced both of us to recognize our differences, our otherness. Instead of creating a diverse community, the school, which strives so hard and falls all too short, created the opposite, an us-v-them mentality, the spectator and the spectacle. It was so disturbing that I called my mother immediately after the event.

A Different Kind Of Cool

Bishop’s – obviously before reading my informative and well-argued blog post – produced and distributed an ad with the focus on “a different kind of cool”. Instead of displaying the school I attend every day, the board and administrators seemed to have found another school. A school, eerily similar to Bishop’s, also located in La Jolla, with the same uniforms…weird. At this new-and-improved Bishop’s they created in their large, dimly lit boardroom (aren’t all boardrooms dimly lit), a seemingly diverse student body. How ever did they find that many students of that many racial, ethnic, economic, political, and geographical backgrounds!? The students appear, although I cannot say for certain, happy and genuine, unconcerned with getting into the best colleges to appease teachers and parents and – most importantly – to do better than their “best friend”. These perfect students “care about what’s happening in the world” while real Bishop’s students care if Ariana Grande drops a new single, or a tenth grader posts a rap about “shit in the hood”. And I would like to add that if La Jolla is a hood, it’s the hood on the cape a celebrity wears down the red carpet whilst Johnny Weir gushes at its beauty and extravagance! These different kind of cool kids, who always seem to look off-screen at a cue card, claim to ‘hangout’ with authors and Condalezza Rice. I got within 50 feet of Caroline Kennedy last year, the distance from her podium to my seat in the bleachers. If that’s ‘hanging out’ I’d hate to see what their parties are like. I guess it makes sense though; if the board and administrators wanted to the show the real Bishop’s experience, the real school and maybe scare away a few potential students whose fathers or mothers or both may, or may not, own multinational corporations, they would’ve filmed it at the Bishop’s I know. Instead, they created their own school, a mirror of all the ideals and buzzwords they have tried not-so-subtly to stuff into it. The biggest, and most annoying, difference between these two schools is in the images of the new-and-improved Bishop’s, its always sunny! What’s up with that?


I know I sound like I hate Bishop’s, but I do love it. I usually keep my uniform on well after school, because I am proud and honestly its pretty comfortable. I am extremely fortunate to go to Bishop’s and I appreciate the opportunity to learn from engaged teachers. It has been a great place and I would not want to go anywhere else. And really who else can say they went to the same school as a Versace’s murderer?



Built on a Bluff, and Run on the Same Principle

My dad grew up in the hot San Fernando Valley. His stucco house looked like every other one on his street. And from his bedroom window, which was identical to his friend Jimmy’s window, he looked out at a weird plant that seemed to have eyes. It took over an hour for my father to get to the beach, and he loved the ocean. As soon as he could, he left the valley to go to UCSD. He subbed his one hour plus for a two-minute walk to the sea and never looked back. He worked his ass off so he did not have to live in the valley ever again. Today he lives in a unique house with his three kids and wife, he looks up from his desk in the living room and sees the glistening water. He can walk to the beach in less than a minute.

My dad had it all, until a large corporation (Zephyr) bought a plot of land on top of a sandstone bluff prone to collapses. The developers, in their infinite wisdom and insatiable greed, decided this unstable cliff, with its sweeping ocean views and proximity to the Del Mar Racetrack offered the perfect location to build a mega 5-star resort. The land currently zoned for 13 two story residences would require rezoning so that this four story (not counting HVAC and electrical) 286 room hotel with convention center, limited parking and a huge weighty swimming pool could come to fruition. Should this monstrosity transpire it would completely block the view my father has spent the last 25 years working so hard to attain.IMG_3043

Obviously, my father was not going to sit back and take this, instead he started a resistance. He became the guy in the Del Mar City Hall who made the elected officials cringe, and who always seemed on the verge of getting kicked out. In fact, twenty-three years earlier he did get kicked out, but that’s a different story. He made anti-developer T-shirts, and stickers, and a website, and an Instagram. He created multiple petitions. He spoke with local councilmen and helped campaign for candidates against the resort and against rezoning. He held endless meetings with neighbors and lawyers and the water board. He reached out to local news channels and appeared on television more than once with an image of his current view. He contacted national and international outlets. He and his fellow resistance members believed that you either stood with them or you stood against them. They saw no middle ground. It became a heated ‘us vs. them’ situation quite quickly.

I felt cheated that my father spent so much time on this. I dreaded seeing a resistance member’s name flash across his cell phone. I resented his constant meetings, I only had this year left before I went to college – didn’t he want to spend time with me? I had heard since birth that every story has two sides, a compromise would obviously offer the best solution. Couldn’t he just let it be?

Finally, fed up with my absentee father, I decided to go to a meeting at City Hall with him. We brought a table and tablecloth (I am my mother’s daughter after all) and my job was to hand out bright-red T-shirts emblazoned with “Save Our Bluff” and explain the shocking images displayed behind me of the project’s impact. I smiled at familiar faces or people who approached me wearing casual clothing and slippers, a sign of a chill local. I handed them a shirt and a brochure and asked if they wanted to know any information – I liked them. When someone approached in business attire I knew they must work for the developer and I would sneer at them. I did not even know these people, but I felt a hatred toward them.IMG_1550

The actual meeting began and everyone had three minutes to voice their opinions about the resort. I laughed along when the locals joked about how great of an idea it is to jack-hammer into an unstable cliff. I felt a lump in my throat when a woman shared her wedding photo from the top of the bluff and expressed her desire to show that same bluff to her children someday. I felt pride when my dad stood at the lectern and spoke passionately about preserving open space for the generations to come. When some red-faced man in designer jeans and an expensive button down spoke I stood stoically while my stomach twisted and tightened.

I took part in, and committed, the logical fallacy of a false dilemma. In a false dilemma fallacy only binary options exist, it becomes an either/or situation. I got so caught up in the moment that I could only see black and white, Save our Bluff (SOB) or Zephyr, with me or against me. I didn’t even talk to the pro-resort people and hear them out, they just had to say they wanted the development and I disliked them. Everyone on both sides probably feels some good and bad will come out of the building of the resort. IMG_1552This issue is too complex to just choose one side. I wish I could talk some sense into the people involved, but then again I am a person involved. Two days ago, months after this meeting, I slapped a huge sticker onto the back of my car. I am all over the Instagram and I campaign for the resistance. I know it is a logical fallacy, but I can’t help it, “SOB, SAY NO TO REZONING, SAVE OUR BLUFF.”



The Four High Men

I am a proud atheist, and a student of a biblical literature. I attend a small Episcopalian school – we have chapel every sixth school day. Aside from my devotional time at school I have stepped into a church exactly 7 other times – 6 when my grandmother randomly feels religious on Christmas eve and once for a funeral, but that is another story entirely. I kinda like the music, but mostly I busy myself counting old people or creating back stories for the single men with children. I never got the whole ‘please may I have a cracker’ bit, but once crossed my arms and walked to the altar with grandma – my mom made me.

In addition to my sincere atheism, I am a sincere lover of stupid movies. My family watches them religiously, pun 100% intended. I saw Year One starring Jack Black and Michael Sera when I was 12. I cried laughing. My brothers and I watch it at least twice a year and it never ceases to leave me shaking.220px-Year_one Unbeknownst to my illiterate Bible self, every joke has a religious reference. I found the potty humor and the absurdity of the story on a whole, wildly entertaining. I had, no joke, no idea that the plot had a basis in anything and now the belly laughs of yesterday have turned into full blown cackles. Still not sure if I am laughing with the movie, or at it.

The other day in class, our teacher told us to turn to the beginning of the Bible, the part where it says, “In the beginning…” We read the section aloud. Wow, pretty friggin weird. It began with some molecules in the primordial soup, right? Adam gets drugged. An organ gets cut out of him and instead of waking up in an ice bath in Mexico, he wakes in the Garden of Eden with a mate, Eve. They eat an apple because a salamander tells them to, and then they get thrown out of the lush garden into the desert with some fig leaves as coverage. They give birth to some psychopathic kids who kill each other. Hmm…

Now I know where we come from.

I call Bullshit!

Basically four old dudes, (Mark, Mathew, Luke, and John) got pretty high on who knows what, pondered existence, and came up with some story to explain the origin of humankind (well it says mankind but its 2018). They created the best protagonist of all time, Jesus. He epitomizes the hero archetype and many can’t find a fault with him. To me I just can’t wrap my head around how everyone bought into the pulp fiction of the time.

My brothers watched Game of Thrones, my mom said I couldn’t – too pornographic. This summer she finally said go ahead. Binge does not begin to describe the rate I devoured the series. UnknownWhen I started my BibLit class, I couldn’t help but make the comparison between Jesus and John Snow, both act selflessly, both have beards and both are fictional characters. Why not WWJSD or Cersie is my co-pilot or John Take the Wheel bumper stickers? I don’t see much difference between those and the ones on the car with the Trump/Pence sticker and My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter.

I have tried for years to understand other people’s point of views and have been successful on every count but on the matter of our existence.

In the same class we discussed different cultures’ varying origin stories. A girl asked, “With so many different religions and with so many different creation stories, I wonder which one is real? I wonder how we came to be?”

I sat there with my mouth open wide and my eyebrows up in utter disbelief. Here I might mention that when I laugh, a for real laugh, my whole body shakes and I suck air as if I have whooping cough. Holding back a laugh, a laugh that would have been rude, mean and super satisfying, all I could think was, WTF ever heard of evolution.


The never-ending story


When given the assignment to write about the life of my grandmother, I had the option between one living and one dead, one I come in contact with almost every week and one I have never met, one who I can picture perfectly and one who has become a caricature in my mind.

I chose the one whose stories I’ve heard time and time again without ever losing interest.

IMG_0937Grandma Lisa’s wig or bedazzled baseball cap extended her diminutive-self up to 5’2 on a good day. She was pear shaped and proud–never fully clothed. She didn’t ‘color in the lines’ while applying lipstick, took the ‘all eye’ eye-shadow to new limits as she applied the florescent blue powder from her lid to her eyebrow. A big fan of cold cream, she applied it religiously so her face had a permanent slick quality to it. She wore huge square, peach colored glasses that sat high on her very prominent nose. She sang in the temple choir every Saturday because she loved to sing and went to midnight mass on Christmas Eve just to hear the songs. She had served compulsory service in the Israeli army but got out of breath walking up stairs. She spoke with a thick accent, just imagine Charo with a smidge of Israeli thrown in. (In case you are unfamiliar with Charo this link should help you out.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaWi5iWsysg)


We talk about Grandma Lisa often. My mom and/or dad have her accent down and the glimpse of a rhinestone encrusted anything or the sight of an AMC Pacer, or an electric carving knife will set them off on a narrative journey that captivates my brothers and I. I have chosen but a few of those moments to share…


Cheese Sandwiches:

This one begins with my 6 year-old father in 1stgrade and his 4 year-old sister in Kindergarten, heading to school. They walked, he in front with his metal Fabulous Thunderbirds lunch box and she behind with her own Scooby Doo version, through the busy streets of LA. The containers clanked against their short legs as they wandered in the scorching sun. My father, tiring of the walk, led them into the covered parking structure of an office building. They sat down on a curb stop and waited. My dad, not unlike most 1stgraders, did not have a strong grasp of the passage of time and he decided it must be lunchtime. So like good students, they pulled out their identical sandwiches – white Wonder Bread smeared with bright orange Cheez Whiz – and ate them. After lunch they played a bit, chasing each other between the parked cars and figured school had ended. They picked up their empty lunch boxes and found their way back to the two story apartment complex they called home. Grandma Lisa, with my dad’s youngest sister on her hip, yelled down to them from the second floor as they entered the courtyard, “So how was school?” (don’t forget to think of Charo in Israel here) Not a drip of sarcasm or anger, she had no idea when school ended. The clock on the wall read 10:05 AM.

Muhammad Ali:

In the suffocating heat of a San Fernando Valley neighborhood Grandma Lisa walks her beloved dog Butchi (Boo-chi) rocking her bikini top and terrycloth shorts pulled high above her protruding hips. She walked everyday past the beige stucco houses with terra cotta tile roofs, each one nearly identical to the one before it. She saw the same people, also somewhat indistinguishable from one another, each day. On this particular day she passed a large, fit, black man pushing a stroller. They both stopped in the sea of blandness that surrounded them. She, because she found him handsome, not as handsome as Tom Jones of course but a pretty close second. And I can only imagine, he stopped because she was, after all, Grandma Lisa. They exchanged pleasantries and commented on how nice of a “valley night” (think very hot and stagnant) it was shaping up to be. The black man after a few minutes asked somewhat proudly, “So, do you know who I am?” She replied, in the same tone, “So, do you who I am?” The man smiled, “I am Muhammad Ali.” She responded, “I am Lisa Feingold.”

Buying a Hot Tub:

My dad moved many times as a child and teenager. Once they got to the San Fernando Valley they lived in the flats in a typical California ranch house with a kidney shaped pool in the backyard. Eventually my grandfather, ‘after a big score’ – his words not mine, bought them a brand new two story house in the hills of Canoga Park. This house though bigger and newer did not have a pool.  Grandma Lisa, who spent all of her time with the children, thought a pool was a necessity. With no money to spare, my grandfather said no. They argued but he prevailed. He travelled a lot so on a particularly hot summer day while he was away she got in her car went somewhere and bought a hot tub on credit. It arrived a few days later and my mother, my father and his sisters marveled at its beauty. When my grandfather returned in his maroon Pierre Cardin velour sweat suit he was furious and in his ‘Brooklyn projects’ accent said, “Ehhh Lise we can’t afford this hot tub, we don’t need a hot tub, why would we need a hot tub.” Not getting the reaction she had hoped for, she said, “No, I will get a job, we will keep it.”c91394814b7a14a5296c163b54b9f4de So what did she do? She went to the local McDonald’s and traded in her bikini and terrycloth shorts for a polyester smock with striped sleeves and the golden M on her chest. This annoyed my grandfather even more, he didn’t want his wife working at a McDonalds so he gave in. Lisa quit her job and the hot tub remained in the backyard on the small bit of cement slab that came with the house. She possibly went in the hot tub two or three times, but my grandfather wallowed in there almost everyday.


Look Natalia, that’s what a baby looks like:

IMG_0935My grandma loved my eldest brother Noah from the moment he was born. It probably didn’t hurt that he belonged to her most favorite son. She loved Noah’s golden blond hair that made him look bald, and the rolls of fat that appeared when he sat down, but most of all she loved to watch him eat. She would feed him banana after banana, bottle after bottle, until more often than not he would throw up. She commented frequently on his size and his growth and his obvious intelligence, at only six months she saw something amazing in each action or lack thereof. She took every opportunity to remind Natalie (my dad’s class cutting Cheese-Whiz eating partner) who had had a girl, Shalynne (shay-lin), 11 months prior to Noah’s birth, of Noah’s superiority. Grandma Lisa (don’t forget Charo) would lecture, “Look, look, look Natalia how much he eats, how he sits, how he smiles. This is what a baby should look like. Look Natalia, look how much he eats. He eats so much and is becoming so big. This is what a baby should look like. Why does Shalynne never eat, why can’t she be like Noah.”


I see a lot of Grandma Lisa in my dad. I will always be grateful to her for raising him to be caring, compassionate, and sensitive. I wish I had had the chance to meet her and have some stories for myself. She made such a large impact on so many lives and even without meeting her in person I have come to know her through the experiences of others. And just as my grandma did, I hope to live my life and leave an impression forever in the minds of the people I have touched.




you do you, i’ll do ME

I just finished the House of Mirth and initially found the main character Miss Bart annoying and vapid. She spends money she does not have to ‘fit in’, she hangs out with people she does not enjoy. In general, she acts so others will accept her. I enjoy reading but I found her unrelatable. I tried to think of purposeful things I do to belong to a particular group and have come up empty. I try, and have always done so, to be true to myself.

As a child, I never wore light up shoes. I never had any piece of clothing with a Disney design on it. I never got a feather in my hair. I never had a Barbie. I was never a princess for Halloween instead a polar bear, a pumpkin,

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an orange wedge,


a taco,

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a mushroom.


I danced ballet, and surfed, and built worlds out of Playmobil with my brothers, and played Mine Craft and Legos and Nerf Wars with the boys in my grade. Nothing I did made me fit in, yet I always had friends.

As I grew older nothing changed.  I’ve shopped at Urban Outfitters exactly once. My first Instagram post was of my cat, I post now to get discounts on bikinis and surf sponsor interest.

IMG_0922 3I have four Snapchat streaks and they happened accidently. I never read The Fault in Our Stars or The Hunger Games. I read nonfiction books about great white sharks, tuberculous in Haiti, rouge waves, slums in India, and North Korean prison camps. IMG_1162 I never got my ears pierced. I wore penny loafers on dress day in 8thgrade. I know the movie Mulan by heart. I don’t hide my freckles under a thick layer of foundation.




I don’t highlight my hair or apply fake tanner. I don’t spend my money on Gucci belts, rather I use it for bean, cheese, and rice burritos. IMG_1681I wear a hot pink rubber, digital watch every day that tells me the tide at my favorite break. IMG_0921 3My mom is my biggest confidant. I spend more time with my family than anyone else. IMG_0373I never went through a ‘ho’ phase. I had my first kiss because I wanted to, not because it would give me more clout. The “popular” kids Juul, the “weird” kids Juul. I do not.

Now you might be thinking, wow this girl is a weirdo, and you’re not wrong. I am weird. We are all weird on the inside, but the people that choose to embrace who they are and do what they want instead of completing the desires of others are rare.

At school I hang out with the “popular” kids. I go to parties almost every weekend because the “cool” kids want to hang out with me. I am friends with these people because I think that they are intelligent, funny, and more interesting than anyone else in my grade. I go to these parties because I want to have fun. I do what I do and hang out with the people I do because I want to and not because I have changed myself to be just like them.

I am one of the “popular” kids because I am weird, because I am different, because I never had light up shoes, because I wear a highlighter pink watch, because I surf, because my ears are in one piece, because I am me.



“Dumb Blonde”

My two older brothers had a dusting of platinum blond hair at birth. I, on the other hand, emerged from the womb with a disheveled mop of dark brown hair.

My mom likes to joke about looking in my basinet to see if my dark hair had begun to fall out, she was convinced it was just a phase. Don’t get me wrong, she loved me. She stood vigil beside my pediatric hospital bed when an army of doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me. She administered medication through a long-term IV line for months after that. She gave up all dairy and soy for over a year because of a severe allergy I had which led to a ‘failure to thrive’. She joked about the dark hair but I know it did not matter.


At thirteen months of age I no longer ‘failed to thrive’ and lo my hair, as I can discern from photos, had begun to lighten. By three my hair fell below my shoulders in a cascade of blond straightness.


Even now, in the heart of winter, when my hair loses the super blonde streaks caused from exposure to the sun and the ocean, my mom likes to joke that my hair is turning brown. I could not take any more offense.

There are an estimated 7.7 billion people on earth, only 2% of those people have naturally blond hair. So a true blond is a rare thing. Me, my mom, my two brothers, my grandpa, and my Viking ancestors have/had blonde hair. It is part of my identity, part of my culture.

Though proud of my blondness, I do find it difficult to identify positive blond female depictions in film and television. The blond characters usually play the part of the mean girl who loses in the end (Clueless, House Bunny, Baywatch to name but a few) or the idiot who can’t puzzle through the simplest of problems (Family Guy, Mean Girls, Glee, Three’s Company). The list of blond screw-ups is way too long for this post. Luckily I did not watch much television as a child so I grew up believing I was a bad ass.

I have had my share of encounters, good and bad, related to the color of my hair. In 10th grade I walked into the peer-tutor learning center at school, and one of my classmates asked, “Oh, what subject do you need tutoring in?” He assumed, based solely on the color of my hair, that I needed help when in fact I came to tutor others. Tourists have snapped my picture at the beach because they think I am the quintessential California girl. One of the notes I received at senior retreat, from a brown-haired classmate, apologized for not realizing how smart I was and how passionate I felt about the environment. Basically they said sorry for assuming I was an idiot. I can only think my blondness caused this as well. No one ever looks at me and thinks ‘smart’, I blame the media.

Every Halloween assembly at school makes it very clear that the student body must tread carefully and not offend any culture or ethnicity with their costume of choice – no afros, no feathered head dress, no kimono, no sombrero or serape unless these items represent your personal background. I agree with this I would not want to make light of someone’s beliefs or identity. But why do we accept the 75% of woman who dye their hair blond? I could argue that this offends my Scandinavian roots (no pun intended).

All this begs the question, why does my hair color matter to me?  It matters for a myriad of reasons. It ties me to my Nordic ancestors, it links me to the beach and the ocean, it makes me look like my brothers, and sometimes it gives me the upper hand. I can fly under the radar if I choose, because people who don’t know me don’t expect much. When I wow them with an on- point comment or get the highest grade on a test I feel special. And special, and a sister, and a daughter, and a surfer, and a friend, and a good student is what I am. All that and blond too.