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Two Hot Chocolates

We saw the body before anyone else did. It was stiff and cold, the last wisps of life lingering at the tips of its splayed remains. The face had been mangled, the nose ripped from its tissued place below the eyes, the eyeballs hanging from its sockets, the mouth drowning in blood and muffling any cry the victim possibly attempted to make. The stomach had been slit down the middle and the ribs were broken, the heart missing from its proper place. Yet I knew it was him. I stared at it in shock with my best friend silently at my side. The wind blew a chill breeze, causing our hair to blow over our eyes and shield the gory scene from our vision. The road beside us was silent, no cars to disturb the silence like a pebble would disrupt the calm of a pond, sending ripples through the wake. The trees swayed noiselessly as if to mourn the death of this being, gently, gently caressing the air with fragrances of pine and cedar.

Before seeing the body, we had been on our way back from the local diner, where we’ve always met up since we were 9. I had gotten there early as usual, buying two hot chocolates, and waited in one of the booths, mainly the back one by the restrooms where we have always sat in pastimes. I made sure she had extra whipped cream, just as she liked it. She came into the store wet, hair dripping with rain droplets falling from her face and onto the floor. She loved the rain almost as much as I hated it. She glided over to me, and sat down gracefully, unlike my clumsy stumble into the booth. It seemed as if she was everything I was not, in beauty, in agility, in personality, in thought. Her beauty overshadowed my plainness, yet she was unaware of our differences—or chose to ignore them. She took off the cap of her cup, and stuck her finger into the whipped cream, popping globs of it into her mouth. I grimaced and looked down at my cream-less hot chocolate.

“How was the dream?” She asked after a few seconds of unperturbed silence.

“How did you know about that?” I asked, shocked. She always seemed to know what I had to tell her. She shrugged and continued thrusting cream into her mouth. I sighed.

“It was different this time. I drew a picture of it.” I pulled out of my satchel a piece of paper in which I had drawn a heap of bright crimson, orange, yellow, and brown paint sprawled over a distorted face, a black film covering the identity.

She took it from my hands and inspected it, like she always did. Then, she put it down on the table, and finished off the whipped cream. “Is it him?” she asked matter-of-factly.

I defensively snatched the painting back and plunged it back into my bag. “No.” I said tersely. We finished our cocoa quietly, and then I watched her push her cup to the side. She finally looked at me with her piercing eyes.

‘When are you going to let him go?”

I lowered my eyes sheepishly, feeling the burn of my blushing face give notice to my growing anger. Just the thought of him sent my blood boiling, my mind spinning with thoughts, almost as mixed and jumbled as a schizophrenic’s writing. I began to sweat and shake. I felt my friend’s hand on mine and instantly I calmed down. The feelings surpassed and I looked up at her again. She was always the one to assuage my tempers, my anger. Yet she would never know what it felt like to feel for him, what it felt like to be unable to voice it accurately aloud. My dreams held the secrets, my mind a lock and chain around them; my pictures were the key.

“Let me see the rest of them,” she said and I obediently got them out and laid them in front of her. There were a total of six pictures. All of them were of the same, displaying a young man, a handsome young man at that, with an expression of wonder in his eyes as he looked off to the side. I admit, I had made him to look like a perfect god; and in my eyes, he was one. I felt as if I had already claimed him for my own, and he would be mine forever. His name was irrelevant because of the love that so greatly poured from my heart; he was my everything.

I had drawn all the pictures one at a time, waking up in the morning to put brush to canvas and capture my dreams through a painting. The boy was in all of my dreams, each night progressing into an even more detailed description of how he was. I never showed the pictures to anyone except for my friend, and the boy never knew of my boundless affection for him.

The bell above the diner’s door rang to announce a customer, and everyone instinctively turned to look. The diner rarely had more than five or six customers at a time, so I was surprised to see two police officers walk in and look around. They muttered a greeting to the cook and then proceeded over to an elderly couple nearest to them and began asking them a series of questions, but none I could hear. My friend, who had glanced to see who the new customers were, lost interest and turned back around. But oddly enough, my heart began to quicken in pace and I nervously drummed my fingers on the table. She stared at me, puzzled.

“Would you calm down,” she murmured in a tone that was not asking a question. I

listened to her, as I only sometimes did, and stopped the incessant rhythm of my fingers hitting the table.

She handed me the pictures back, and collected my nearly empty cup and hers. She got up to throw them in the trashcan and then strolled back to the booth.

“Come on, let’s go for a drive.” She smiled at me, and I could not help but smile back. Her smile was contagious; it lit up every corner of the diner with its radiance, and had secrets of innocence embedded in its curves. I followed her out to the car and we drove. We drove through the town, past my house, past Old Luther’s farm. We drove through trees quilted in oranges, browns, and yellows. We spoke of small things, laughed, and smiled. Thoughts of the boy were temporarily abandoned, the splendor of the moment replacing it.

We were on a long strip of road, forest on each side of it, when a fox scampered across the street a few feet ahead of the car, and I abruptly skidded to a stop, hearing the tires screech underneath. I watched it scuttle into the nearby bushes, causing golden leaves to fall delicately onto the grass. My friend giggled, excitedly. She loved animals; I despised them.

She leapt out of the car and ran to the bushes. I lowered the window.

“What are you doing?” I asked her.

She kneeled down to peer through the giant hole in which the fox disappeared. After a few minutes of her poking through the brambles, I grew impatient. “Let’s go,” I grumbled and parked the car off to the side of the road, just in case a car came dwindling up behind us. She lifted herself up and ran to my door, enthusiastically. “Let’s go follow it!” she breathed, her eyes boring into mine with intensity. She was always this excited when it came to animals. I sighed and she took my hand and ran over to the bush’s edge, where it began to taper off and make way for tall grass and small trees.

We trampled over the grass, making sure to stay right by the hedges, looking for any sign of red to indicate the fox. I felt stupid for giving in to my friend and instantly became frustrated.

I was not in the mood to chase little animals; I wanted to continue our drive. Yet, I let her hold tight to my hand and pull me deeper into the woods.

We eventually came to a clearing. The rain—which had stopped hours ago—had created a mist over it all, so dense that the sunlight could barely shine down through it.  She let go of my hand and we both stared, feeling a sense of intensity that rumbled through the air.

And that’s when we found the body.

I stumbled back when I saw it, my stomach twisting in disgust. I wanted to cast my eyes away from it, from the blood, the bones, the pain. Yet I could not peel them away; I gazed in awe at my love, the boy, lying prone on the forest ground in front of me. His beautiful, sculpted face was no longer evident. He stank of death and dirt. I felt my friend’s hand on my shoulder and I jumped, coming out of my state. I did not know if she knew it was him, too.

Interrupting the morbid silence, I heard her say, “Let’s get out of here.” The dim sunlight danced across her face and brightened her hazel eyes, made her short, dark bob glisten with heavenly rays.

We ran back to the car, closing the doors behind us and breathing out huge, white puffs of air. I felt lightheaded and disoriented. I turned to her, panic etched across my face.

“I-I-It was h-him,” I stuttered, tears suddenly falling down my face. Sympathy filled her eyes.

“I know,” she whispered. The tears ran faster down my cheeks. I wanted to go somewhere, anywhere. I found myself starting the engine, pulling back onto the road and driving back the way we came. We drove in silence, my friend always aware of when to keep quiet. I did not know where I was going, but as the trees gave way to houses and fences, I realized I was heading back to the diner. I needed familiarity; the recent events were scary, unchartered waters and I wanted to be far away from it. I parked the car haphazardly and staggered out of the car, grabbing my satchel on the way. My friend followed suit and we walked back to our booth. I ordered two more hot chocolates, needing something to clear my head.

We sat once more, across from each other. The elderly couple had left; the police were still there, questioning a mother and her young son. I contemplated telling the cops what we found, and shuddered at the thought.

“You should tell them,” my friend said. She stuck her finger in the whipped cream, absent-mindedly. I was too much in shock over the boy to realize that she knew yet again what I was thinking. I shook my head hard and sipped at my hot chocolate. The police finished with the mother and came closer to us, stopping at a man who looked as if he had just been released from the town’s penitentiary. My heart began to quicken again.

“You should tell them,” my friend said again and I glared at her, angrily. I began

twiddling my thumbs in my lap, in sync with my racing heartbeat.

“Why?”

“You know why.”

I stopped twiddling my thumbs and looked at her with confusion. What was she talking about? I voiced this aloud and she eyed my satchel which lay in my lap. I grabbed it and brought it closer to me.

It was at this point in which I heard thumping, a severe and fierce thumping from my bag. It pulsated and vibrated through to my hands, causing a chill to run down my spine. I dropped the satchel in shock and looked at my friend for an answer. She stared at me, sorrow in her eyes. I had never seen that from her before, ever in the seven years we knew each other. This time, she did not tell me to calm down, even as the police began to finish their interrogation with the man near us.

“You know what you did,” she spoke sadly. I recoiled from her response in utter puzzlement, ready to defend my innocence and yet…

What?” I cried. The thumping in my satchel continued to rumble, almost at the same pace as my beating heart. My friend sat still in front of me. I searched my mind for what she could possibly be talking about, yet I only came up with fleeting images, like pieces to a puzzle that I had no idea how to amalgamate.

Yesterday! It was him! I remember now. There he was! In the woods, where I so often went to paint the face of my love. He had finally walked past me and saw. Saw me like I had seen him every night in my dreams. He did not say hello when I reached for him like I wished him to, instead, recoiling from my outstretched fingers, staring at me as if I was crazy. His face was a series of angelic strokes of perfection, his hair a soft heap upon his head. He had loved me in the dream; surely, he was ready to love me now. I was beginning to announce my undying adulation for him, and just knew he would reciprocate, if not with a stronger passion. His eyes passed over me, but I grabbed his hand to keep him from walking away. Couldn’t he see? I was all for him! I was his heart’s desire! I was his beautiful love! Why couldn’t he know that?

I had forced him to look into my eyes, even as he tried to wring away from my clingy grab. I knew I was bothering him, and yet I could not let go. He had to know my love for him; he just had to. Smiling, I pulled out the pictures to show him how much I cared, how much I yearned for his love. He took them from my hands and gazed at them in disgust. He finally looked at me with purpose in his eyes.

“What is this?” he boomed, and my smile faded.

“Do you not like them?” I asked. In response, he shoved them back into my hand, pulling free of my other one.

“You don’t even know me, you freak,” he mumbled and began to walk off.

“No! Wait! I do know you! I do! Look!” I shouted and I pulled out more and more pictures, pictures I had stashed away in piles around my room, pictures of him in various poses, pictures of him I painted with me in them, of him giving me flowers, of him holding me, of him—

“Get away from me,” he said and backed away from me, cautiously, as if I was a dangerous rabid animal. My stomach cringed. I felt sick, confused. Why? WHY?! What’s going on?  He was supposed to love me. WHY DIDN’T HE LOVE ME?! Sweat fell from my brow. Tears fell from my eyes as I began to weep in despair. Then, the tears suddenly stopped, and I began to shake with rage.  A growl emitted from deep within my throat and I charged at him with animosity. He was taken aback by my adrenaline fueled strength. He had no time to defend himself before I had dug my fingers into his eyes, plunging them out of his sockets, using my nails to scrape at his face. If I could not have him for my own, then no one could. I left cuts and bloody marks on his angelic face, as he shrieked and writhed on the ground in pain. I remained

on top of him, my fingers searching for the painting knife I kept in my satchel. Grabbing it with a fury, I sliced it into his nose. His hand came up to stop me, but I knocked it away with a sharp blow. I then used the knife to tear open his chest, breaking his ribs with forceful punches. He screamed in pain, and I let the shrill sound ease my hurt feelings. I let it flow into my ears like music. I placed my hand gently on his heart, feeling it pump underneath me, warm and slippery. I closed my eyes, letting the rhythm become one with mine, like how I wished it to be from the beginning. Then, I opened them and brought my lips close to his ear. He had stopped screaming and I did not know if he had fainted or if death had clamped its slithery fingers around his soul. I did not care. I caressed the edge of his ear with my lips, my fingers still on the heart.

“Awwwwwwwwww,” I whispered. “I think I just broke your heart.”

I ripped the organ from its moor, feeling its warmth in my hands, and its beating gradually came to a stop between my fingers. I held it in my arms for a moment before putting the pictures back into my satchel and walked away, calmly, calmly…

I trembled and winced at the memory.

“No,” I cried quietly, not wanting to believe what I had done. My friend continued to stare, continued to remain quiet. I pulled out the picture, the one I had drawn last night. I eyed the colors, the reds and oranges I had spilled over the face, covered in black, the boy no longer familiar.

The police came closer to us. We were the last ones in the diner to be spoken to. They made their way over in a stoic manner, their faces rigid and serious. My heart felt like it was going to tear through my skin and plop onto the table. I grabbed my satchel to my chest, and my attention was brought back to the thumping within it. I lifted the flap, and carefully, carefully put my hand inside, my fingers clasping over something warm and slippery. A cry broke loose from my lips as I pulled out the heart of the boy. The police continued their walk over. I looked at my friend.

“I’m not crazy,” I whispered, more to myself than to her, reassuring myself that I could not possibly have done something so evil.

I heard a laugh, an almost guttural, demonic laugh, which escaped from her mouth.  Her eyes turned dark and she looked through me with unflinching concentration.

“Aren’t you?” she asked and suddenly she was gone and I was left by myself with two police officers, a heart, my cup, and one untouched hot chocolate with whipped cream on top.

 

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Swipe Left on Monogamy

Dating apps and the way they’ve changed how we treat relationships

I had a Tinder once. It was never a fruitful app to me—it was mainly used on boring Friday nights when my friends would swipe right on someone as a dare and I was forced to keep up a conversation with them until the next morning.

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It was messed up, it was childish. Yet, it wasn’t any different from the other conversations I had from other matches. Discarded. Forgotten. Abandoned or left on read.

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I sometimes ask my friends to this day why they still even have their Tinders, their Bumbles, their Grindrs. The names sound like they’re not even trying to be taken seriously. Bumble your way into this half-assed conversation. Ooooh, leave her on read when she’s not interested in anything other than a relationship…how Tinder. Because the word Grindr is a perfect word for a gay man’s dating app.

There’s the argument that these dating apps help us find our soulmates—and some have. A swipe of a thumb leads you to several dating prospects at your beck and call, validating your existence if only for a few messages back and forth. Maybe end up in a relationship, maybe ghosted.

It’s birthed new lingo we’ve come to know:

Ghosting: Disappearing without warning because you have no interest in the other person

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Breadcrumbing: constant bouts of flirtatious messages or “check ins” with absolutely zero interest, however you or the other person for whatever reason doesn’t want to break it off completely.

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Catfishing: Mmm. Why does this still happen? You know very well that is not Lance Bass you’re talking to.

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Cuffing Season: A specific time of the year for immature men and women to shack up for apparently the mere purpose of it being cold outside and they “need someone to keep them from the loneliness of the cold winter months?” Are we Neanderthals? This sounds so primitive and shallow, I cannot believe it’s actually a thing. Not to mention how upset I am that it’s deemed as African-American vernacular.

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Curved: REJECTED.

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Netflix and Chill: For some reason, apparently when you turn on Netflix, sex happens. I’m not sure where the Chill comes from because there is none in this definition.

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These are cute and funny when laughing about your friend’s stories of ignoring Scott the Juicehead who can’t understand that she doesn’t think going to the gym is considered a date, so maybe ignoring him will give him “a clue.” Or comforting your friend who was completely ghosted on a dinner date and didn’t realize until the food was eaten and Katie didn’t come back from the bathroom.

These types of stories are real—they’re made into funny little memes or tweets or Instagram posts for us to take even less seriously than we do relationships nowadays.

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The problem with dating apps now is that they’re making it too easy for us to bail, too numb to one another’s feelings. Instead of having to tell Alexis that you’re not really that interested in her, you can just stop answering her messages. Instead of having to see Aaron’s face when you tell him that you see no future with him, you can just string him along with vague responses until he “gets the point.”

It’s made us cowards and it’s made the bond that held relationships together plastic.

Because on top of using your phone or your messages (or lack thereof) to do the “dirty” work for you, it can also be used to enter several relationships or “situationships” at once. With a click of a button. My friend, Asia, puts it this way….

“I think now dating apps def cater to hookup culture and make it so much easier to find willing hookups. You literally can swipe on someone at 8 AM and screw them by 8 PM, especially because the apps themselves have connotations. I mean, we have all heard that Tinder is the hookup app, Bumble is basically “Greek Life Meets,” and Match is “I’m 30 and need love.” so on and so forth.”

And if one person isn’t willing to hook up, there’s others waiting right behind him or her to take their place. WITH A THUMB SWIPE. Before, you had to be bold enough to even insinuate that that’s the direction you’re going in. Now, your thumb does that for you.

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Why would you even consider being with one person when there’s so much more out there (insert sarcastic tone)? Why even bother with the emotional work you have to put in to make a monogamous relationship work when it’s so easy to throw it away and move on?

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A lot of people don’t want to work through monogamy. It’s hard, they say. Relationships aren’t butterflies and roses all the time. They get boring, they become routine, arguments happen. I see monogamy as being selfless. Why? Because you’re spending your time and/or life with someone else. It’s a partnership. You work together to make things work, through the good and the bad. But being selfless is a trait that our generation seems to have trouble dealing with.

Millennials. We live in the fast lane of selfishness, defined as the selfie loving, look at me look at me, let’s take a picture to prove we’re having fun, fashion snorting, social babes. Who are used to getting things the way they want quickly and without fuss.

Don’t know what I mean?

Download Postmates. Hungry at 1 am? Food delivered within the hour.

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Don’t have a car but need to go somewhere? Chris from Uber at your door in 5 minutes.

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Needing validation? Upload a picture on Insta, several likes and comments that yes, you are all that and a bag of chips.

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Horny and need your fix NOW? ….. You get the picture.

From the words of someone who uses dating apps:

“Dating apps are big because we are in a society that revolves around convenience. Dating apps are convenience.”

And another one.

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“I think they hurt society….they take away from basic conversation skills, they speed up the process of getting to know someone. Our society is already extremely fast paced, and an app can speed up finding if you like/dislike someone. It gives you the opportunity to pretty much have preliminary rounds to knock out those you might not be interested in.”

It can be so easy to scoff at the fact that technology has made our day-to-day lives easier in the form of food or transportation or movies, etc., etc. To see it as beneficial. But if we’re so used to getting things easily, what’s the point in trying harder at something that takes more work than using your fingers and some half-assed conversation?

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People say they want a relationship. They’ll proclaim to anyone who will listen their idea of #relationshipgoals –in the form of adorable pictures or intimate videos uploaded on social media.

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But we don’t seem to want to work for #relationshipgoals beyond the pictures. The nights where you can’t seem to come to an agreement on a big decision. The days where you’re disgusted with your significant other and want nothing to do with them. The effort into being there for one another when the other is down or not themselves or upset.

Nah, why would you? Brittany and Chelsea and Sydni are waiting for you to answer if you want to come over tonight.

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Interfaith, Intercultural, Interracial, Enter My World

A Catholic and a Muslim walk into a bar…

Sounds like the punchline for a joke, right?

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But this is how my boyfriend and I met two years ago.

This has always been a rather difficult topic to discuss, because there were/are so many outside elements and aspects of our world that have cast shadows of doubt on our love. They try to exploit the fragility of love and shine light on the most delicate parts of a bond. Every couple has external forces that could rip them apart at the seams, and I have seen (and dealt) with many of those forces before—cheating, disrespect, distance, loss of connection, unwillingness to grow together, falling out of love.

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Who would have thought that there would be so many other prevalent and demanding things to face?

We’ve faced some who loved us as individuals but couldn’t and didn’t want to see us together for their own personal reasons. Religion. Culture. Race. I’ve seen men openly sneer at us while we’re out and I’ve had to watch helplessly as these same men try to attack my boyfriend just for the mere fact of being with me. I’ve lost a best friend who exchanged her days of being my confidant and keeping my secrets close to covertly try to break us apart in lieu of her disapproval of our interfaith background. We’ve faced disapproving stares from strangers’ eyes and fear from both of our parents before they understood our love for each other and its infinite strength.

From what we’ve endured, you would think that the love and the honesty and the trust that encompasses our connection was as empty yet volatile as the disapproval that surrounded us in our early days.

I do not really like talking about myself—it bothers me in some way. I’m not sure why. I admire those that can easily talk about their latest adventure without prompting or share detailed facts about their personal life without qualms or words of encouragement. It’s never been an issue of low confidence or self-esteem for me. Perhaps it’s merely the fact that I enjoy hearing others’ stories more, see the light in their eyes sparkle as I hear their passions slip into our conversation.

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I wanted to share our story because I felt that this one should be heard. So that we could connect with others who have been through the same thing or are going through the same thing or who have never stepped foot in this world that is now my life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. We talk about this, my boyfriend and I, on long road trips, late night city walks, in the midst of daily, hour-long phone calls (long distance peeps, you get this). It’s mainly me who brings it up. Typical girl.

“You still want this, right?”

“I love you.” “I love you more.” “No matter what.”

Our conversations always end the same, in promises to be strong together in the face of adversity. That when it comes time to face more hardships, like every couple does, we’ll face it head on, because we’re us, and we’re built for the storm.

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It’s funny how three little words are used to solidify and define a union. I love you. Do they know the weight that they carry? Their meaning summing up days and nights of laughter in the summer air, brown eyed gazes, playful late night debates, comforting embraces, and faith in one another that transcends the contrast of our religious backgrounds? If they did, then they would know why we say it so often.

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We met in July of 2016.

I was out with one of my wildly lovely friends, catching up at a bar I had never been to.

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We were settling into our Mojito and Jack and Coke respectively, when I noticed across the bar a guy I had seen at my cousin’s wedding a few months past. He was a groomsmen alongside my brother, so I was confident that this was the guy I had seen in pictures. Filled with liquid courage and the assumption that he would recognize me even though we never talked at the wedding, I introduced myself and my friend.

We got to talking and I met the friend he was with, and later, he asked me what the rest of my night looked like. I glanced at my friend for a brief second, knowing we had different agendas. I do not usually go out without a purpose, and my purpose that night was to grab a few drinks then head home to my bed. But I knew with this friend of mine, that our night was not over. Gotta love those who drag you out of the house some nights:)

He mentioned his friend who was a bouncer at a nearby bar, and after a phone call, the friend was more than willing to let us into the bar for free that night. I said goodbye to Cousin’s Friend and I was headed off to Tin Roof.

“Are you Pakistani?”

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I’m currently gagging at how tone deaf and shallow I sounded when those words came out of my mouth. It was the vodka talking, the three shots I had in between dancing like crazy in the loud and modern scene. A major step up from the cute and quiet bar we had just left.

I still discuss various theories with my boyfriend on the exact moment when he and I met; we both cannot remember when exactly we ended up dancing together like we had known each other for years. Grabbing each other’s hands timidly in between dances and laughing. Him randomly stopping to text someone back with vigor to the point where I grew bored with the situation and began to wander off. Him taking my hand back and resuming our playful dancing.

His name was Zain. He had told me when we stopped to sit down for a while.

“Do you want to leave?”

I hesitated.

“We can just talk some more. I can’t really hear you in here.”

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The iconic line. The yeah-right line. The used-so-much line that it’s funny that it’s still used to this day when in fact, studies show –based on experiential reports from several sources—that talking barely, if rarely ends up becoming the action of the night with someone you barely know.

Later, I would realize that Zain meant nothing of the sort, that he was being genuine and actually wanted to talk to me. One of the many things I appreciate about him is the respect he’s always shown from the beginning, even without knowing me.

We ended up agreeing to walk around outside.

I found myself finding my friend, and giving her my keys. Telling her I’d see her later and to keep them safe for me, that I was leaving with this guy. *motions behind me*

The look of bewilderment sunk into her face, as her knowledge of me conflicted with what I just said.

She tells me to be careful. She tells him to take care of me. She watches us leave, both of us probably thinking the same thing. Alex, what are you doing?

It was a relief to get away from the loud music and the sweaty air that enveloped the bar we had just left. We walked, and walked. And as we walked, we began to talk. I’m a straight forward and blunt person sometimes, and that was how my questions came out. He didn’t seem to mind my assertiveness, nor did he seem to mind answering question after question I had of Pakistan and his life in America. One of my really good friends at the time was Pakistani, so I had heard many of the things that slipped from his lips already. Yet, I never got sick of hearing more. I had always felt a calling to the South East Asian, the Middle East, and the Indian cultures. All of my life. It was like a distant and vague home that I had never been to before, but was nostalgic all the same. A longing for a world I had never been a part of.

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Me at my first mehndi ceremony!

We were walking for several minutes, and I zoned out from his chatter to realize we were really far away from the bar. And I had no idea where we were.

“Do you know where we’re going?” was answered with a low chuckle.

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I started to inwardly panic. Where was he taking me and why did I even consider this?

Having my wits about me, I was acutely aware of us circling back around to the bar, Zain calmly reassuring me that he knew where we were going, that he thinks it was up the street and down two more blocks. It was a foreshadow to years later when he is still so bad at directions and I’m the one out of both of us who can always remember directions and how to get places. While he’s the one out of both of us who can pull up minute details from memory that most people don’t even seem to process and can spit out facts with a knowledge so succinct, it’s kind of scary.

The span of our conversation was boundless, discussing theories, and the latest news, to playfully joking and roasting each other, and finally ending on relationships. I told him how I wasn’t actively looking, but that I was not interested in anything less than. How frustrating it was to be in a world where many wanted the benefits of a relationship without actually being in one. We were entering deeply rooted territory, so I was relieved when I heard the noise from the bar as we inched closer and closer to the street we had started our journey.

I found my friend again, and Zain’s brother and friend dispersed from a crowd of people hanging outside the bar. He went to go say hi to them, and, I took the chance to talk to my friend and ask her if she was ready to leave. I felt that I had word vomited enough for the night to Zain. I probably wouldn’t see him again. I silently promised to never leave with someone I didn’t know again, as fun as it was to talk to someone new for hours down quiet streets. He could have been Ted Bundy reincarnated or something.

I looked at Zain one last time, and told him it was nice meeting him. He seemed to be too engaged with his brother and friend to notice or pay attention to me about to leave. I didn’t mind. I would find him on social media later and tell him it was fun. Maybe.

I did. Tell him it was fun. And he agreed. And he invited me out to dinner a few nights later to get to know each other better, promising that we would go back to each other’s own homes afterwards respectively.

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That date turned into two dates. Then three. Then a weekend of camping with my friend and her boyfriend. I welcomed this trip, partly so they could feel him out for me and reassure me that he wasn’t one of the men they warned me about that would play around with your feelings and string you along only to never be as serious as they vowed to be in the end. And partly because I knew we would all have fun together.

He asked me to be his girlfriend a month and four weekends together. A few days before I left for Mexico and a week before I would be leaving to go back to college two hours away.

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We were hesitant, of course. But if it was for the mere reason that it felt right, and nothing else, we both wanted to give long distance a try.

The hardest part of our bond wasn’t that we had arguments or heated disagreements that threatened our status. It wasn’t dishonesty or broken trust. It wasn’t superficiality nor the surface-level love people seem to lust after nowadays.

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He is Muslim. I am Catholic. He is Pakistani. I am Black. The values our parents both instilled in us were tilled from the same roots, but everything else cast dark shadows onto our reality.

We’ve juggled with this the entire relationship, and it grew more and more visible the more serious our relationship became. My parents had their own views on Muslims and the way they treated their women. His parents had their own views on Christians and the way they treated relationships. The same God that we were raised to follow was split in between two holy books, one prophet, and a Son. It was less about race, and more about the cultural aspect. Both sides tugged at our heartstrings. How do you turn away from family, the unit that you grew from, the life you’ve always known? How do you defy what has always been told to you and fight against a door that has always been shut?

It wasn’t easy. Yet, my parents came around. They love Zain like a son. He is family now. He was welcomed with warm, open arms despite their doubts, which melted once they saw him for who he was.

And his parents. They’ve seemed to come around. I met them, which is a very big deal in the Pakistani Muslim culture—which does not permit dating of any kind. They no longer tell him I shouldn’t be in the picture. I’ve exchanged gifts with his mother, and done my best to research the customs of dealing with the situation so as not to offend.

It is beautiful, really. The love that is shaped through our parents’ doubts. The change they cautiously eyed and examined, the focused want for their children to be happy and to follow the guidelines of a script they’ve lived themselves and others have before them. Who wants to see their child fail? To watch them destroy everything you built for them? To be blinded by a love that masks the dogmas of successful past times?

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It was hard to get through the disapproval. From family. From friends who didn’t see the point in trying so hard for something they saw as fragile from the elements that weighed it down. From strangers who didn’t understand the love that surpassed all else, even their narrow-minded views on what shouldn’t be mirrored back at them in the form of Zain and I.

It is also hard not to flip the coin and notice all of the support we’ve gotten from those who see us for who we really are. Two individuals who love one another and would go to the ends of the world to meet the wants and needs of the other. Who have appreciated what we’ve built and seen the chemistry that dances between us.

This post was NOT meant to throw shade to anyone, especially our parents. We not only have them to thank for the people we are today, but also the values we uphold to this day and instill in our relationship now. This post was not meant to throw shade at anyone in the past who doubted us or condemned our relationship.

It just feels good to finally have the story out, to share it with others. It’s been something that I have kept in from a lot of people, out of fear that they either wouldn’t understand or wouldn’t care. Our journey to where we are now is such a burden to carry around, because I didn’t want to share it with anyone except close friends. I didn’t want anything to taint what I see as beautiful and perfect in its own right.

I have absolutely no complaints with Zain. He is my soulmate. I have never felt this way with anyone else. What boxes people may try to put us in always come tumbling down. He is he and I am I. I love him for who he is and vice versa. Simplicity has never been so beautiful.

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I would love to hear from anyone who has experienced anything like this. I don’t really know anyone in my life who has. Even if your situation isn’t similar, it would be so wonderful to hear more about what others had to go through to find or keep love in their life. To fight for what they want. To believe in something others may have not believed in, but you still kept pushing through.

One thing I love about Zain and I is that I believe we are built for hardships. Together, we are so strong. We can and have conquered every storm. We have a relationship I had only imagined in dreams. An unspoken understanding of one another and who we are.

I would not trade it for the world.

Thank you for reading and for listening. For the amazing souls who have sent me kind words and advice along the way. For my family who have been so open with talking about it, regardless of their hesitations. For wanting the best for me. For his parents for raising such an amazing person, and caring so much about him. For welcoming me and trying to understand.

Follow me on Instagram for pictures of Zain and I! We would love to hear from you guys:)

Instagram: @alex_andrathegreat 

And as always, subscribe to my blog via email! Just look to your right and fill in your information so that you can get updates straight from your email on my most recent posts!

Love always,

Alex McKay

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Cyclical

It’s the same drink, the same laugh,

The same Thursday night.

Different crowd, Same vibe

I just want to leave, let’s get out of here

Go where? They ask.

Mind is already packed and ready to go.

Bank account is bills now

Happy Hour is leftover change.

Let’s just go.

Go where?

Escaping is fun until it becomes

The bottom of your empty glass.

Then it just sounds like talking.

Circles, circles

Circle of Life.

“Keep the tab open?”

401K. Savings. Student loans. Life.

Dreams.

Sure.”

Featured

MTV Cribs: Welcome to My Studio (Apartment)

Mi casa es su casa.

Hahaha.

Hi, babes.

I absolutely LOVE my studio apartment. I moved here about a few months ago after deciding it was time for me to have my own place. I never wanted to live alone; even though I don’t like being around people ALL the time, even my friends (love y’all, mean it), I could not imagine living alone and being okay with my very own presence.

 

It’s a lot different than having a roommate, let me tell you.

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For one, it has really helped me learn more about myself. I’ve learned small but fun facts about myself like, I can’t go to sleep unless my place is clean, and that I like to wash dishes right after I use them. I’ve learned that I can be a little OCD when it comes to decorating—I have a visual idea in my head and I carry it out with literally NO patience. My mom has always told me to look at several options before choosing furniture or decorations, because you may find a better option somewhere else.

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That’s not me.

 

If I find something I like or had something in mind, AND the price is decent, then I’m buying it.

NOTE: However, it’s good to shop at stores like TJ Maxx, Hobby Lobby, Rooms To Go, or Goodwill to find better deals. A lot of these places have the same items with different prices—which just means I return something if I find it for a better price somewhere else.

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I call this my Creative Box:) This is where I put all of my crafts and poem rough drafts and paper prints to put my poems on!

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This is my favorite journal, but I NEVER write in it. It’s too pretty to write in. Maybe one day, I’ll break it in. Aren’t those prints amazing, though?

Paper Prints: I get these from Hobby Lobby. It adds personality to my poems! Plus, they are SO cheap!

Sunflower Scrapbook Print, Hobby Lobby – $0.69

Here’s an example of one of the prints I’ve used with a poem: My Poem: Blooming

I’ve also found that I really really enjoy decorating and I’m actually really good at it. My friends love coming over to visit (probs because I feed them).

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Christine and I during a mini photoshoot! This was when I had the idea to put Ghiradelli Chocolate Caramels in every picture! You’ll see why, later:)

My studio feels like I live in the heart of Manhattan without the Manhattan prices. Plus, I’ve added my own personal touch of BoHo Modern to the place, so it’s super cozy.

 

Does anyone have like an idea for their future house/apartment that’s different than the idea you have for your place now? I love my room for me RIGHT NOW. It’s perfect for a young, thriving individual who has just been thrown into real life adulting. But when I’m living with my fiancé (he’s my boyfriend right now, that was not a subtle message that he’s proposed yet), I have a different idea for our place. Same thing for when I’m married with kids.

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Does anyone daydream about stuff like that? Or am I just weird?

 

Anyways, I wanted to show you some highlights of my place. I really don’t think pictures do this place any justice, but it will have to do.

 

Plus, I will let you know where I’ve gotten every one of the items I show to you!

 

Hello, babes, and welcome to my crib!!

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Let’s Start With My Bed! Featuring the book I’m currently reading.

I LOVE TIGERS!

This canvas is about 2 feet long. I tried to get it framed, but I went by JoAnn Fabrics, and they told me it was going to cost 300 DOLLARS to frame and put a no-glare glass casing over it (it was the same price without the glass casing, too!). So I just decided to tape it to the wall with clear tape:)

Tiger Eye Art Print, Fine Art America – $70

I mixed and matched my bed spread, pillows, and sheets from various places, because I wanted a specific look that was unique. I also wanted my World Pillow to be the accent piece. It’s a little darker than in the picture, but the sunlight from the windows makes it look lighter!

Vintage 1892 World Map Pillow, Society6 – $30

The candle holders are so pretty at night when I decide to light candles! They remind me of the lotus shaped baskets with lights they let loose into the sky in Thailand every year!

Bohemian Constellation Lanterns, At Home Furniture – $10 each

Dracaena Plant (Which Means Female Dragon – so I named her Khaleesi), Publix –  $8

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On the foot of my bed, I decided to use my dresser as the foot board to save room (it is a studio apartment).

On my dresser, I like to heat incense on top of my salt rock and also light this candle to give my room an earthy aroma.

Himalayan Salt Rock Lamp (My brother bought it for me, but I found a link to one!), Amazon – $30

Rain Lily Scented Candle, Village Candle – $9

My dad bought this gorgeous Tiger Vase inside this Chinese box from China (he works in China!) The woman who designed it used a HAIR FOLLICLE inside of the vase to draw the tiger design. TALENT.

3A7AB21C-79CC-492B-A2B1-B7563662DF0BOn the other side of the dresser are some old travel magazines and Vogue magazines given to me by one of my friends.

One of my friends also gave me this World Globe to match my room.

I just realized once again how awesome my friends are. 

World Globe (I found this link), World Market -$29

Also, I took that gold glitter ball on the right from a music festival because it matched my room:)

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My favorite corner:)

I love reading!!! Has anyone read any good books, lately?

Here are some that I’m reading now.

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I like hard copies of books. I don’t know how anyone uses a Kindle or reads eBooks!

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, Amazon – $13

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Barnes and Noble – $10

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its Life without Losing its Soul by Howard Schultz (I was actually AT Starbucks HQ the day he left Starbucks), Amazon – $12

The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt, Amazon – $11

Paris by Edward Rutherford, Amazon – $20

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So, when I mentioned the Ghiradelli Chocolate Caramels earlier…

These are my favorite chocolates ever, and I wanted them to be a staple in all of my pictures to give them character. But, I quickly ended that idea because I felt like it was conflicting with a lot of other creative ideas I had for my pictures.

Plus, my boyfriend said it was like I was advertising them too much in every picture.

Either way, I keep them in my apartment sometimes for my friends to eat whenever they want!

Ghiradelli Caramel Chocolate Squares, Ghiradelli -$29 for a bag

Gardenia Rose Candle, TJ Maxx – $5

The rose wallet was a birthday gift from a friend, and I love the way it looks on my TV stand!

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Polaroid Camera and a Betsey Johnson Phone Charger! Two Must Needs:)

My old roommate gave me this Tiffany and Co box with a wine glass for Christmas! So sweet!

HOW CUTE IS THAT BETSEY JOHNSON LIPSTICK PORTABLE CHARGER???

When you close the charger, it looks exactly like actual lipstick! OMG, I loveeeee it. And it has power for dayssssss.

Betsey Johnson Lipstick Portable Charger, Amazon – $45

Polaroid Camera (a gift from my boyfriend!), Urban Outfitters – $60

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I grew up with brothers, and the one thing I LOVED to play was video games. When I wasn’t playing by myself with my Barbies, I would join them in playing video games.

My boyfriend asked my brother what my favorite games were growing up and got them for me! Isn’t he the absolute greatest?

I have not had a throwback party with friends to play Mario Party 7 together, but it WILL happen.

You can find GameCube games for cheap on eBay, so I won’t put the prices I’m seeing on Amazon (100 dollars…really?)

Games: Harvest Moon, Pikmin 3, Chi-Bi Robo, Mario Kart, Mario Party 7 (basically all of the “cute” video games)

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My freshman year of college, I played basketball.

One of my amazing teammates drew this tiger for me AND framed it on my birthday! (She is such an amazing artist, I am so jealous!)

Unfortunately, I cracked the corner when I was unpacking from my most recent move:/

A for Alex (or any A name!) Coasters, At Home Furniture – $7

Love my window sills:) Here is my little cactus, Carlos (also from Publix), He was so small when I first got him! May need to re-pot him so he can grow!

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Peep babe and I in the picture frame:)

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Where I like to write in the mornings after work:)

Thick Cheetah Blanket (Stolen From My Parent’s Place), Amazon – $40

Time to move on to my kitchen area!

Where I made these YUMMY HOMEMADE CINNAMON ROLLS!

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That sign lights up above the oven!

Mini Cinema Light Box, Urban Outfitters – $29

Banana Hanger, Bed Bath and Beyond – $10

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These make my cabinets look so much more organized. One day, I want my ENTIRE cabinet to look like this, even my spices!

Large Food Storage Containers, Walmart – $9

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I love my Game of Thrones cup! 🙂 Sometimes, I drink coffee out of it, but most of the time, it’s smoothies or water (don’t worry, I have other cups for my coffee!)

I Drink and I Know Things GoT Tervis, Bed Bath and Beyond – $22

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My fridge looks full because I cook more than I go out to eat:) I just love cooking!

Now, on to my bathroom! (my closet has clothes all over the place, no sneak peek today!)

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I love to keep my bathroom clean, but it’s my least favorite area to decorate. So, I try to make it quick and simple with little decorations.

I got the shower curtains and rugs from Walmart. I thought it was bright and cheery and wanted something colorful but simple to wake me up for my daily morning showers.

Global Elephant Shower Curtain, Walmart – $18

Turquoise Memory Foam Bath Mats, Walmart

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Faux Potted Plant, At Home Furniture – $12

Bronze Double-Sided Handheld Mirror, Best Buy – $36

Turquoise Bathroom Hand Towel (came in a multi-size towel set), Walmart – $12

YES, BABES, I DO BRUSH MY TEETH EVERY DAY.

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My two Go-Tos every day. Rosewater on the face every morning for a dewy look (and it smells SO good!) and Dry Spray Deodorant after showering

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Like I said, I like simplicity. Also, say hello to Jesus.

My dad got this Christ the Redeemer replica when he was in Brazil (did you know I was almost raised there when I was younger?)

I took it and put it in my bathroom:)

 

Well, you’ve now seen all of the parts of my studio apartment worth showing:) Maybe some day, I’ll show you what’s in my closet;)

Thanks for reading, babes, and as always, don’t forget to subscribe!

Just head over to the right side of your screen and type in your email to get notifications emailed right to your inbox every time I post! 🙂

Be sure to follow me on Instagram for some pictures I may never upload on here:)

Instagram: @alex_andrathegreat

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Love always, Alex McKay<3

Featured

Get the Look: May the Fourth Be With You

Okay, I’m sorry.

That was super corny.

Happy 242nd Independence Day to America!!! How are you guys celebrating today?

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Did you know that some cities are actually replacing firework shows with….drones? That’s basically like watching television! Would y’all rather go to an old fashioned fireworks show or a drone show?

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I love this outfit because it’s simple, and along with my hair, it makes me look like a Black Marilyn Monroe.

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Channeling my inner Marilyn Monroe!

I also rarely wear white, because it tends to make my waist look bigger than it normally is. But I absolutely loved this dress! As you guys know, I am tall, so a lot of clothes have a lower waist line than where mine actually is. BUT, this dress was in line with what God gave me, so you can say it was a good day!

I paired it with a simple red lipstick from MAC (my favorite brand!).

My best friend and I went to an all-white mansion party, so I had to make sure I matched the theme.

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Getting ready for the day had to be paused to take some cute pics! Adventures with Jade and Saigon (our undercover names we say in public!)

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She’s literally like my big sister. Meaning we fight all the time. But I love her to death!

Details below!

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Dress: All White Affair Dress, Fashion Nova (They don’t sell this anymore, but I attached a link with a similar look! This is a website I get some of my Night Out outfits if I’m in a hurry!)  – $45

Shoes: Master of One Platforms, LolaShoetique – $32

Lipstick: Red Rock, MAC – $18.50

 

Follow me on Instagram for more looks at my outfits!!

Instagram: @alex_andrathegreat

 

And as always, subscribe to my blog via email! Just head over to the right side of your screen, plug in your email, and it will send you notifications every time I make a post!

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Love always,

 

Alex McKay

Featured

Blossoms

Let your offspring prosper under the cherry orchards.

When pastel pink rose petals flutter softly onto their gentle faces

And the wind and water and sun teach them the ways of life and growing.

Let them grow.

Fill their budding ears with the words of our ancestors

So pride will continue to remain alive and well

And they may know where they come from so that they can know where they are going.

Let them learn.

Kiss them on both cheeks and hug them tightly

To shield the scorn and shame from being called the Enemy

And tell them things will get better soon.

Let them listen.

Don’t look down on the friendship your daughter makes

With the white girl that exchanges a smile

Or when your son finds a pal in the brown boy down the block.

Let them love.

Allow America to weld its way into your home

And create branches in your young cherry orchards

And know that the roots will always grow down

Into the ground you first placed your feet on.

Let them adapt.

Promise love and affection and praise and discipline.

Keep watering your trees and support them.

Watch their branches reach high until they are high in the sky.

Let them live.

 

-Alex McKay

Featured

The Box Checked OTHER (Part 1)

 

The pain was unbearable after every hour she waited for her turn. Every time she glanced down at the incisions the black patent leather of her cheap heels had dug into the backs of her feet, red seemed to scream up at her. She was swimming in the pain of the entire week; ramen noodles Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, wine Friday morning, splurging on a brunch she couldn’t afford in a part of town she didn’t live in, to meet with friends that just didn’t get it.

The eggs at brunch weren’t like the ones she had perfected over the years, a hard pill to swallow after she signed the check. What was once a scary element of life, an uncertainty she didn’t care to learn more about, the kitchen slowly became her best friend as money stretched thinner through the weeks. Eggs over easy, or poached, sometimes with green onions sprinkled on top and a homemade sauce she concocted from leftover packets of sauce from various take outs. Sometimes scrambled, sometimes fried. Only on days where she could cry herself to sleep, when the call back never came through, when her agent texted her the bad news instead of called, so he could stash it away as a problem for later as he dealt with his fruitful clients. Eggs brought out her creativity. The kitchen was a place to bring meaning and art to her world when life failed to.

Her friends’ laughs next to her were too high and too loud, and even she knew they felt their contrast to the tranquil scene around them—cute, vapid couples glued to their phones, random loners who hadn’t touched their food in hours, mothers who had traded their baby bottles to waiting nannies in exchange for wine glasses in the mid-morning sun, escaping a world that was too tame for their liking. If the scene was a question off a job application, she and her friends would check the box: OTHER, because that was what they were. The off category that didn’t seem to fit in anywhere, the unfortunate who people question why they aren’t married with little babies to tote around, yet are secretly envied for not having them. The in-between ages that aren’t important for huge birthday parties and getting drunk during the week or even one night stands, yet that is exactly what still happens. It felt as lifeless as the world around them. But the laughs, it kept their energy from matching those inner thoughts.

She thought that maybe if she stared into the thick gloss of her pointed toes, she could swallow her thoughts of taking those damn shoes off and screwing it all to go back home and Moscato-ing herself to sleep. The paper they gave her when she arrived was gripped firmly in between manicured fingers. 1357, it said. The girl in front of her was 1359. 1358 left four hours ago, complaining on the phone about unneccesary bookings. Who would have thought that necessity had various perspectives, she thought as she stood in her reality.

The line moved slimily forward a few inches, and the sudden momentum after standing in place for several minutes sent electric zaps of energy up her legs. The pain of her throbbing heels suddenly became fuel, and she knew she wasn’t going anywhere else. She bought the heels last night at a dance hall down the street from her apartment, after learning she got the part. Dancing. It was what she did to old Frank Sinatra songs in her slippers at night. Robe on, face mask chipping away and forgotten on her cheeks. The city dying down around her as she slid across her floor. The cars below were her audience, honking horns and skirting tires taking place of the claps that politely bid farewell to a job well done. Spotify couldn’t capture the gritty crinkle of old times she could feel in her bones when she used her record player; it just wasn’t the same. Old winning over the new. The box checked OTHER seemed more and more perfect for her every day. She could listen to the dreamy, euphonious timbre of Sinatra’s voice until the end of time. It was what she heard in elevators when she had them to herself, what she smelled when she pulled out a new concoction from the oven, the distant sound that plays in the background of her life as she runs through puddles of rain to hail taxis, the hidden meanings behind Tinder date smiles that promise more than one night stands. Her dream world had a Frank Sinatra playlist.

She was told she was going to have to dance today. Say a few lines, then dance. The shoes were cheap and fit her budget. Her agent advised to spend as much or less than what the gig offered to prepare for it, which seemed like such ridiculous advice to someone struggling to pay bills. He told her fame was what she wanted, and that was what will pay in the long run. The gag was that this gig was unpaid, and the shoes were fourteen dollars. She hadn’t followed through with this one. The line creeped slowly forward, like the stubborn droplets of sweat running down hot legs in the summer time. She could hear the choppy velvetiness of the music behind the closed door ahead of the throng. One, two, three, four, one, two, three, four. Watch me, please. Yes, yes, okay. Look at me, what is your name again?  Thank you. Next.

Crisp no’s rang out into the hallway as the door opened and 1300, then 1301, then 1302, filed out, giving sneak peeks of the inevitable. She looked around. The casting call had called for a specific height, a specific level of athleticism, a “can-do attitude.” The hearty mix of colors and faces that filled the hallway was reminiscent and fitting of the city. She felt affinity for them all, as they stood there in pain and in anticipation, going over steps they hadn’t learned yet, sharing past gig stories with the girl in front of and behind their place in line. This was what she lived for.

Featured

Travel: Seattle, Washington

Hi, babes!

 

I am backkkkk from my trip to Seattle.

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Rattlesnake Ledge. Isn’t this GORGEOUS?? Hiked from that tiny little beach down by the water:)

This is my absolute favorite place to go, ESPECIALLY during the summer.

Has anyone ever been there?

My parents live there now, so I love that I have a place to stay while I’m there (otherwise, it would be SUPER expensive!) I live in Tennessee, so plane tickets from here to Seattle, Washington are around 500-700 dollars, unless you can manage to find some deals.

WHY ARE THEY SO EXPENSIVE…

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Visual Depiction of Me Escaping My Problems

Before I went there, I googled Seattle and what it was like to live there. A quick Google search will tell you that the weather sucks and you’ll see a LOT of what people call “The Seattle Freeze.”

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I’m here to debunk one, if not both of those.

The weather, for one, is different than any any other place I have been to. There are not four seasons in Washington like a lot of other states have. It is cloudy and drizzles a lot during the “winter” and “fall” seasons, which is about 75% of the year. But, in the “summer seasons”…it is the prettiest place I have ever seen. The sun doesn’t go down until 9 or 10 at night, the weather is around 70 – 80 degrees (which is SO MUCH better than a humid 90 degrees that feels like 110 in Tennessee and your hair turns into a lion’s mane minutes after you step outside). There is a coffee shop on every corner (because what is better than coffee and pastries on rainy days), it is home to Starbucks Headquarters, and it is so, so green and beautiful here because of the rain during the other seasons. You can see the mountains in the distance on sunny days FROM THE CITY. Mount Rainier is visible from my parents’ place in the city. I will NEVER get sick of that view.

Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier, from Google Images

As for “The Seattle Freeze,” this is ultimately defined as people basically being cold and unapproachable. That may be the case in the winter, when it’s rainy and all everyone wants to do is be inside and cozy up…but I have never experienced this. The people there are SO nice. I have talked to people that live there and they have told me that people here are extremely welcoming and nice to you on the surface, but they won’t ask you out to dinner or to hang out with them until you’ve gotten to know them…which sounds NORMAL. I think that is more authentic to actually make sure you like someone before you hang out with them. Here in Tennessee, I feel like people are very fake, in the sense that they will pretend to be best friends with you when they first meet you, but it is a very inauthentic approach, and they may not truly feel that way about you.

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Hanging Outside in one of the city’s parks!

It’s kind of like New York, where people think everyone there is rude and mean, when really, they are just extremely blunt. But everyone has their preferences!

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Look how cuteeee! While I was there, a Gay Pride Parade and Festival was going on, and this was one of the little floats in the parade! 🙂

To me, Seattle is such a perfect mix of city life and outdoor adventures. The night life is spread apart in different neighborhoods in the city, depending on what type of scene you are looking for. It is home to a lot of ELECTRONIC MUSIC, which is a plus in my book. And if you wanted a day of camping, hiking, skiing, whale watching, etc., that’s all available to you 45 minutes outside of the city.

Not to mention that a lot of the population is of Asian descent, so that means…there’s a lot of Asian restaurants and food! My favorite!

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Pike’s Place Market. If you haven’t been, GO. Best place ever.

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San Juan Islands, about 2 hours away from Seattle by boat. This is where we went whale watching!

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Such a cute town!

Ahhh, so much about this city I absolutely LOVE. I honestly didn’t want to come back to my life here in Tennessee. BUT, that’s what vacations are for, small indulgences to break up the repetition in life. That’s what makes them so much sweeter:)

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Mom and I before hiking up to the mountain!

Follow me on Instagram for more pictures from my trip! 🙂

Instagram: @alex_andrathegreat

And as always, subscribe to my blog via email or just follow me on here if you have your own blog!

Would love to get to know some more lovely faces! 🙂

 

Love always,

 

Alex McKay

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MOTHER

mom3

I remember, I remember.

When I used to want to be just like

You.

I thought you were

Pretty.

I thought you were

Perfect.

I remember, I remember.

When the monsters used to growl at me

Under my bed

In my closet

and the only place I wanted to be

was in your arms

pressed against your stomach

and you telling me it was

Okay.

I remember, I remember.

When that girl at school

gave me

hell

and you told me what to do

and I felt like a superhero

when I marched right up to her

and shut her up

at Recess.

I remember, I remember.

And it was time for bed that night

And i followed you to my room.

Your footsteps made

Imprints

in the

carpet

and I stepped into them

one at a

time

Feeling just like you

as I walked in each footstep.

And up ahead you called out

come on, sweetie

and I looked up and

smiled

and saw you.

I remember, I remember.

I thought you were

Beautiful.

I thought you were

Perfect.

And I looked down at my

small feet

in your

big footsteps

Following your path.

I looked up again

Then, I ran ahead

veering off the path of

Footsteps

and making

My Own.

mom1

mom2

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US

growth.

understanding.

honesty.

laughter.

I’m 12 o’clock at night and you’re 12 o’clock in the afternoon.

I speak in roman numerals. And you speak in binary.

you show me what it’s like to run the marathon so we’re not tired before we cross the line.

I show you how to pull the curtain back and look out the window and love what is there,

even if there is nothing to see.

we couldn’t be any more different.

we’re fate.

we’re late mornings and soft touches.

we’re promises and endless support.

we’re us.

and I love it.

 

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Instagram: @alex_andrathegreat

 

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Get To Know Me

Hi, babes!

Since I have grown a little bit more and am continuing to grow a following for this blog, I wanted to make a little post reintroducing myself:)

My name is Alexandra, but Alex for short:)

I started this blog because I missed writing every day. I absolutely love getting to read others’ posts on here and have them read mine as well. It’s such a loving and welcoming community of people on here, and I’m so glad that I decided to start this blog and have met some awesome people along the way!

So without further ado, here are some fun and interesting facts about yours truly!

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1. I am currently a television news producer and fill-in reporter.

This is what I do during the week. I currently work the morning shift from 12am (midnight) to 9am. My job is to produce our 5 AM and 6 AM morning shows and go report or chase any stories that may happen during my shift. I’ve been in this job for a little over a year.

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Me at the Anchor Desk!

2. I have a tattoo on my back in kanji, or Japanese writing.

For two years, I researched the perfect representation of my name. My name (Alexandra) is derived from the name Alexander. In Greek, it is defined as “defender of men, warrior.” I absolutely love my name and I think it speaks volumes that it should mean warrior. I am so proud of myself for being able to overcome any obstacle in my way; and I also wanted a reminder for the days when I don’t feel that way. I have ALWAYS been obsessed with Asian culture, so I researched for two years the perfect Japanese lettering for my back that meant Warrior. There are several definitions and ways to write Warrior in Kanji. The one I ended up liking is defined as Brave Warrior.

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Brave Warrior
www.orientaloutpost.com

3. I have been writing since I was 5 years old.

But seriously. I used to make poems for my parents and write stories and stories every day after school. I would put together screenplays for my cousins and I to act out in front of the family, and I would write love letters to celebrities and even boys in my class I happened to like. Yes, I was that kid. I was always my English teacher’s favorite student and was always told to read my papers to the class as examples to the rest of the students on how their papers should be written. I took a Travel Writing class in Italy, and my professor would always tell me after class that I should consider writing as my profession. I’ve received awards and have had my work published in online magazines, campus magazines, and in community contests as a child.

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7th Grade. God Bless Dr. Keown!

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Travel Writing in Italy 2015

Someday, I hope to publish a novel and become a NY Times Best Seller:)

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Me in My Studio Apartment. I LOVE tigers, so that painting above my bed is EVERYTHING to me.

 

4. My family calls me Lexi. My friends call me Alex.

Interesting story here. I used to go by Lexi and still do with my family. The reason why is because I have a cousin with THE EXACT same first and last name as me, and she goes by Alex, as well. Because I was born first, my parents went through picking nicknames for me. They loved Alexandra, but it is a fairly long name, so it definitely needed a nickname. They started off calling me Alexa, but that felt unfinished, so they went with Lexi instead. I later decided to go by Alex because Lexi seemed to young for me the older I got. But I will always be Lexi to them:)

5. Most people do not know that I am terrified of caterpillars and horses.

These fears always seem to blossom from childhood memories. I used to LOVE caterpillars; I would let them crawl all over me when I was younger, and my brother and I would catch a bunch of them and keep them in a box on our outdoor adventures after school. This seems irrational as I write it, but the reason I stopped liking them was because one day (WARNING: THIS IS GROSS), I was at the playground, climbing the stairs to the slide. And a big, fat, green caterpillar was inching its way up the stairs. It was sooooo big, and my eight year old self got the thought in my head to step on it for that one reason. I did, and I had never heard a louder pop. Guts were ALL over my shoe, and I screamed and ran away from the area. Ever since then, no caterpillars for me.

As for horses, I think that they are the most majestic animals on this planet. They are BEAUTIFUL. I grew up around horses. My grandfather owned a few and his neighbor also had horses that he allowed us to feed when we came to visit. I remember when I was five and my dad put some carrots into my hand to feed the horse. I remember him telling me to keep my hand flat and open so that the horse could just grab the carrots off of my tiny palm. I also remember not listening. The horse bit my hand trying to grab the carrots and I started crying and the horse got spooked. Another irrational fear, I know. I still force myself to ride them and pet them, because I do want to get over this fear.

Get To Know Me
Me in Tuscany, Italy riding in the countryside. This was after my roommate got bucked off of her horse and broke her finger, and I damn near got off my horse right after. But this view was beautiful, and my horse was SO sweet:)

6. I cannot live without coffee or tea.

I have at least two cups of coffee a day, and Lemon Lift or Green Tea packets can always be found in my purse or in my kitchen:)

7. I am obsessed with Zodiacs, Myers Briggs, Numerology, etc.

Do not get me started on this. I love asking my friends to take these tests; I’ve made so many people tell me their zodiac signs (including my boyfriend, who doesn’t believe in them whatsoever and refuses to talk about any of it haha), and I LOVE sifting through meme after meme of Zodiac Signs and Myers Briggs Jokes. My favorite one to look at on Instagram is @notallgeminis . Reading about this stuff is SO much fun to me! 🙂

8. I love all music, but my absolute favorite is Trap, EDM, House. All the above.

I don’t really have any favorite artists; I go off of the beat of the song. If I like it, it’s going on my playlist. EDM music makes me so excited and it really helps me stay energized throughout the day. I could listen to any type of music, really. Music really moves me, and it definitely unites a group of people. My dad introduced me to House Music when I was little, so maybe that is why I love this genre so much!

Below is a little video I did of me, my boyfriend, and two friends at Hangout Music Festival:)

 

9. I listen to podcasts when I am in the car.

I do not like driving! Another fact about me. The only time driving is ever fun for me is when my friends and I are bored and we decide to just drive around and have deep conversations (this is actually a really fun thing to do with friends!) at night.

When I’m driving, ESPECIALLY in traffic or on long road trips, I love to listen to podcasts to help the time go away. My favorites are Hidden Brain by NPR and Ted Radio Hour by NPR.

Hidden Brain is so intriguing. This podcast reveals “the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.”

It has definitely kept me distracted from long drives. And I learn A LOT.

hidden brain

And TED Radio Hour is “a journey through fascinating ideas: astonishing inventions, fresh approaches to old problems, new ways to think and create.”

If you ever need some brain power to get through the day or refresh your mind on a few topics, this podcast is for you!

TED Radio Hour

10. I cry at sad commercials and movies.

If you haven’t seen me tear up yet, it’s either because I am gritting my teeth to stop myself from crying when literally no one else is, or I’ve already wiped my tears away.

I am a SUCKER for sweet and sad videos, commercials, writing, books, etc. But at the same time, I LOVE getting in my feels, so I don’t mind it too much:)

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Thanks so much for reading!

And please, share your answers with me:) I would love to hear them! I will be doing more of these the more followers I get so it would be awesome if I could get to know you guys in the process as well!

Instagram: @alex_andrathegreat 

AND AS ALWAYS, SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG VIA EMAIL! JUST LOOK TO YOUR RIGHT AND FILL IN YOUR INFORMATION SO THAT YOU CAN GET UPDATES STRAIGHT FROM YOUR EMAIL ON MY MOST RECENT POSTS!

 

Love always,

Alex McKay

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Accidentally went Grocery Shopping on an Empty Stomach

Summer means….

Strawberry Season!!!!

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And though I always make it a point to get fruit on my grocery shopping adventures, I do not really stop to grab ingredients for a dessert.

But, let’s be honest with ourselves here, babes.

Sometimes, you just need dessert. Would you have rather have looked back in life and thought, dang….I could have eaten that?

I normally have enough self control to just walk past my indulgences, but this recipe….

IS TOO DARN EASY.

Not to mention that I was at Hobby Lobby right before the grocery store, and happened to waltz my way into the baking section. I found a really really REALLY pretty flower mold for ice cubes, cakes, whatever you want to put in there.

My creative juices were flowing, so I decided…WHY NOT!

Flower Mold, Hobby Lobby: $9.99

flower mold
Link Listed Below!

This recipe literally only requires 3 things:

  1. Strawberries, Strawberries, Strawberries
  2. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  3. Flower Mold from Hobby Lobby, or any other tray to hold your concoctions.
  4. EXTRA INGREDIENT: 60 minutes of patience while you wait for them to harden

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Ask Me If It Was This Presentable When I Started Making Them

You need to be careful with melting the chocolate. It melts pretty quickly, but it also hardens just as quickly. I would microwave it for 30 – 45 seconds and then take it out to stir, then put it back in for another 30- – 45 seconds until it was melted justttt enough.

Be sure to chop your strawberries into tiny pieces, as well!

Only if you are using a mold. The huge strawberries I bought did not fit into the mold, and I wanted to make sure that they looked pretty!

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WAIT! Read Below! 🙂

I did make one mistake, however.

After chopping the strawberries into tiny pieces to fit the mold, I placed them into the mold without putting the chocolate in first.

I was not able to take a picture of me fixing my mistake, but I DEFINITELY recommend you place a layer of chocolate in the mold FIRST.

You want the chocolate to spread out to take the pattern of the GORGEOUS flower mold. It definitely makes a difference. So, I laid out a thin layer of melted chocolate into each mold, then placed chopped strawberries on top, with one last thick layer of chocolate on the top!

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Be sure to use a spatula or the bottom of a spoon to even out the top of your chocolate covered strawberries! They will sit better on a plate when you take them out to eat!

I placed mine into the freezer for about an hour!

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SO. GOOD.

Yum, yum, yum!

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They were cold, sweet, and chocolate-y!

PERFECT for Date Night (which was why I made them!) or for a late night summer treat:)

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I love easy and delicious recipes, because I do not have time to slave in the kitchen with my busy schedule. I also like inexpensive because I am on a budget. So I am forcing myself to find easy ways to eat some of my favorite things!

And this recipe definitely beats going to my local bakery to pay $12 for a six pack of chocolate covered strawberries! Plus….

These are cuter:)

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Do you guys have any easy dessert recipes that you like to make? I would love to hear them.

Thanks for reading!

Instagram: @alex_andrathegreat 

AND AS ALWAYS, SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG VIA EMAIL! JUST LOOK TO YOUR RIGHT AND FILL IN YOUR INFORMATION SO THAT YOU CAN GET UPDATES STRAIGHT FROM YOUR EMAIL ON MY MOST RECENT POSTS!

Love always,

Alex McKay

Featured

Mystery Blogger Award

Mystery Blogger Award

First off, I just want to say thank you so much Manessah for not only nominating me for the Mystery Blogger Award, but also for being such a kind and genuine soul! You have been so dedicated to my blog ever since we started following each other, and I really appreciate that you continue to read and enjoy my content:)

Everyone should go follow Manessah B! She does such a good job with engaging with her followers, and her blog, Couch Talks, Wisdom, and a Cup of Joe is so interesting to read! The name is perfect!

The Rules:

  • Put the award logo/image on your blog
  • List the rules.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  • Answer the questions you are asked
  • Nominate other bloggers
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice
  • Share a link to your best post(s)

My Best Blog Posts

Interfaith, Intercultural, Interracial, Enter My World

Bougie Penny Pincher: 6 Steps To Planning An Inexpensive Trip

I Solemnly Swear That This Ish is Good

My Love for You is Blue

Manessah’s Questions for Me

1. Which would you rather do if you were bored: Bond with nature, or stay in and binge on old movies?

It definitely depends on the weather! If it was raining, there is nothing more I love to do than stay in and stay warm while watching movies, MAINLY Disney:) But if it’s sunny and warm outside, I love to go hiking and be one with nature. It’s nice to put everything down and just be present in the moment.

2. What is your favorite season?

My favorite season does not have a name! It’s the season right between summer and fall when it’s not too hot and the days are still a little long, but you can feel a pinch of autumn in the air. The trees are starting to turn from green to orange and brown and red, but only slightly. I love THAT season.

3.If you could leave one piece of advice for the future generations, what would it be?

TAKE CARE OF THE PLANET. You may not see how what you are doing right now can make a big impact years later, but please make a conscious effort to do your part!

4. If your neighborhood was under attack by zombies, would you try to be a hero and save the people who have not been infected, or would you hide in a secret bunker that no one knows about, except you, and let someone else do the dirty work?

As bad as this sounds, I would make sure my loved ones are safe and with me, and then we’re all hiding in that secret bunker!

5. What is a life lesson you are thankful you learned?

To be okay with yourself. No matter what! You are you, and if you don’t love yourself, then don’t expect others to, either.

My Nominations

My Valiant Soul

The Godly Chic Diaries

Milly Schmidt

Nicculent

Crystals and Curls

My Questions for the Nominees

  1. Do you have a writing routine? Do you have to do one specific thing or be in one specific place to be able to write?
  2. How long have you had your blog and how did you grow your following?
  3. If you could tell your followers one thing that they did not know about you, what would it be?
  4. What inspires you to write?
  5. Would you rather have to say everything that comes to your mind or never be able to say anything again?
  6. $20,000 to do nothing, or you could get $200,000 if you can pick a number to guess 1 through 5?
  7. If a close friend murdered someone for a good reason, but they told you not to go to the police, how would you help them dispose of the body? Or would you turn them in?
  8. If you only had one more blog post to write, what would be your last words?

Thank you so much, Manessah B, and I look forward to reading more of your posts!

And as always, subscribe to my blog via email! Just look to your right and fill in your information so that you can get updates straight from your email on my most recent posts!

Instagram: @alex_andrathegreat and @patchworkvibes

Love,

Alex McKay

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angry

it’s the sound of your eyes

searching for mine

in the darkness

our fingers finding their way

to intertwine

my head fits perfectly

in the nook of your shoulder

w   a   r   m   t   h

and we’re dancing

and it’s late

and we were angry

but love has a way of

making you laugh when

you

didn’t want to

real love

the kind that has you dancing

in the kitchen late at night

to the sound of music

we made together

with our lips

 

 

 

-Alex McKay

 

Instagram: @patchworkvibes

 

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imperfection

Promise me one thing, my darling

That you’ll only see beauty when you look within.

In the calm wake of puddles

Staring back at you in windows

Promise me you’ll love her for who she is

And not what will never be.

Don’t laugh at yourself when the puddle erupts in rippled deceit

Or thirst after the faded shadows of the reflection.

She is no more beautiful than the lies you tell yourself.

She is not better than.

She does not exist

So do not give birth to her.

 

-Alex McKay

 

 

 

 

 

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tongues

heartbreak is my mother tongue

& you are the land that calmly ran

through my veins

They told me it would always be with me

The motherland lives within

they say

 

sewn into veins

threaded into time

 

we must never forget

this barren place

what happened here

you taught me

so well

we had lessons every day

didn’t we

us, we

i and u

a language so powerful

i could feel it

when your lips were

closed

the silence was louder than the

cries that seeped from my throat

I can understand

But ask me to speak it

and my throat will come up

dry

 

-Alex McKay

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Get the Look: Casual Summer Evening

Ahhh, nothing like a weekend to decide to dress, as my friends and I like to say…

Comfy cute.

This outfit was a step up from comfy cute, because I decided to actually go spend money at a rooftop party instead of having cheap wine night at my place (friends to share with optional, but wine always).

I absolutely LOVE rompers and jumpsuits.

When I find ones that are made for tall girls.

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Me and most of mah fraaaans. Except I’m not this awkward
Most of the ones I find are SO cute on the rack, but when I try it on, eagerly ready to spend some bills to feed my “trendy” wardrobe, I find that

A) my butt cheeks are revealed.

AND/OR

B) I’ve exploited my crotch in the form of a triangular indentation produced by tight fabric and made worse with selfies and ESPECIALLY front camera pictures (believe me, I’ve tested this out for fun. It was not. Fun, that is).

AND/OR

C) I have to choose where my waist will be for the day, because let me tell you…the waistband on some of these rompers ain’t where my waist actually is.

Average sized and petite girls, you are lucky. Because most clothes are made for you.

Body, height: I still love you:)

This outfit was not planned at all –the picture was, however. Does that look fake candid or actual candid to you?

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I knew I wanted to go for a subtle yet fashionable look that would also keep me cool during the 90 degree weather we’ve been having every day.

The shoes are my absolute FAVORITE part of this ensemble, because I have been looking ALL over the web for some of these gladiator sandals. When I finally decided to join the trendy bandwagon of owning some of these babies, they were few and far between. Or cheaply made.

I found these on Etsy, from a company in Greece who makes them by hand.

Most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. Not only are they durable, but they also are so easy to take on and off. Not to mention that they’re real leather. Add an affordable price, and I’d say this is a STEAL.

I’d also like to add that I’m not normally a designer shopper or have a go-to brand, although I will say that Michael Kors is one of my favorites to LOOK AT. I am a strong believer in quality, but also wearing things that enhance my own personality, instead of advertising the status of a brand.

But, I have been blessed with an amazing boyfriend and sweet, amazing, and outrageously stylish friends who have gifted me a few staple pieces as birthday presents or friendship gifts.

Click below for the details on this outfit!

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Get The Look: Summer

Romper: Nude Bardot Double Layer Romper, Missguided –  $42

Shoes: Spartan Sandals, LeatherStrata or Etsy – $60 with shipping (They were a bit more expensive when I bought them!)

Clutch: Oscar de La Renta or Nordstrom Rack (price varies, but let’s be honest, Nordstrom Rack will be heavily discounted, so go there)

Sunglasses: Piper Sunglasses, Michael Kors – $140

Accessories: Rings, Forever 21 – ranging from $5 to $15

Lipstick: Persistence ( described as a peachy cinnamon), MAC – $18.50 plus tax

 

TIP:

Shopping at stores like Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx (in very affluent areas), Ross, thrift stores, and even Goodwill (again, in wealthy areas) are great places to find designer or high quality clothing and accessories for a way cheaper price. It’s all about how patient you are sifting through piles and piles of “STUFF.”

 

And to end this post, I’d like to share with you babes my favorite scene from The Devil Wears Prada. For those of you who do not think you are fashionable or if you know very little of the fashion world, hear these words from my favorite GIRL BOSS, Miranda Priestly, editor-in-chief of Runway magazine (believed to be based on the real life Anna Wintour) as she spits some knowledge on what “stuff” really is.

 

Follow me on Instagram for pictures of some of my daily outfits:)

Instagram: @alex_andrathegreat and @patchworkvibes

 

And as always, subscribe to my blog via email! Just look to your right and fill in your information so that you can get updates straight from your email on my most recent posts!

 

Love,

 

Alex McKay

 

 

 

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Travel: Firenze

The bronze figurine shimmered in the setting sunlight as I made my way through the bobbing waves of tourists that made up the Piazza della Signoria. It was the way he—the mighty Perseus is whom I speak of—raised the foreboding head of the ravishing Gorgon, Medusa, in victorious pride. I stood in front of the sculpture, capturing pictures in my mind, as if a movie played before me, and I could see the battle between human and monster, defeat and victory, life and death. Blood seems to drip from the slithering, oozing tendrils of her severed head, the last wisps of life flickering at the end of her snake-like fronds of hair. Other statues seemed to stare over at Perseus in awe, the bright emerald bronze standing out from the opaque drab of the rest of the statues.

Standing in a form of contrapposto, he looks down on her body with vengeful disgust, wings on his sandals proving his superiority over her monstrous form. She had once driven men to every corner of the earth, shading their eyes from her piercing gaze.

I braved the legends, the fables, the tales, and found my eyes wandering into her line of vision. To my relief, they were just lifeless marbles, washed away with her menacing lifestyle. Her victims lay at the feet of Perseus, on an ivory pedestal of death, life breathed into them with detailed faces of anguish Cellini sculpted beautifully. Medusa’s body lay at the feet of Perseus, contorted in defeat, a pile of fear and darkness. It seemed to angle away from Perseus’ sword, the sheath of pain that brought her to her defeat.

I gazed at her face one last time, confident that she was no longer a threat. Her face was frozen with her last emotion, a look of content, of confidence. I could hear her cocky laugh ringing in the air as she felt invincible and carefree, completely oblivious to her abrupt death, forever a sculpture to gaze upon.

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Get The Look: Fun in the Sun

Let me tell you, it was HOT today. And this is coming from the person who doesn’t use AC unless I have friends over and keeps my seat warmers on even during the summer.

God Bless bodies of water and sandals that are easy to take off.

I got this overall top when I happened to be leaving the mall for one specific thing. My subconscious must have sniffed out the sale going on in Forever 21 and slowly guided me to this lovely lemon top on the first rack I saw (if you’ve ever been in Forever 21, you know it’s easier getting Rahn to actually Stahhhhhp than it is only purchasing from one rack of clothing).

If you didn’t get my Jersey Shore reference, then good. Probably shouldn’t be watching trash television anyway.

This overall top was probably supposed to be a dress–actually it definitely was.

I’m 5’10 with long legs which means sometimes, I have to be creative with what I wear, or spend a longer time than normal finding things that fit my long and slightly curvy frame.

I wore shorts underneath this “top.” I also decided to pair it with a green V Neck I got from H&M, and these super comfortable, super convenient hunter green sandals that I found online. And on my wrist? A hunter green watch I got from a boutique in Nashville.

I fell in love with this “top” because it automatically screamed SUMMER to me. The bright yellow of the lemons on top of a bright white backdrop of the top. The hint of green in the lemon leaves. In summer, we wear bright things. And this was just the right amount of bright, trendy, and casual for this chill day out with a friend!

AND,

The grand total for this entire outfit is only….

$75! My watch was the most expensive part of this outfit, so if you took that away, your pockets will only have to spare about $45! I told you I was a bougie penny pincher😉

Click below to get the look for your closet!

Top/Dress: Lemon Print Overall Dress, Forever 21

Shirt: V-Necks (always on sale!), H&M

Shoes: SandalUp Elastic Sandals, Amazon

 

Follow me on Instagram for pictures of some of my daily outfits:)

Instagram: @alex_andrathegreat and @patchworkvibes

 

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Love,

 

Alex McKay

 

 

Featured

To My Daughter

Search my face for the wolf within

I will tell my daughter

See her staring back at you in my eyes

Feel her heart breathe fire

hear the power of a thousand moons

from one stroke of her essence

She was borne from me

& born from you

believe in her

I will say as I

stare into her eyes

I cannot let the world scare her

cannot let her believe in the moon

when she is the brightest thing that

Shines

I’ve seen what life can do to

souls

seen it strip the color from

our heroes

Does she know that I am

scared

does she feel it beat against my chest

to the sound of the hope I

feed her

Save yourself, my darling

keep your

w   i   l   d

don’t let the village throw you to the

pack

Become it.

 

-Poems by Alex McKay

 

Instagrams: @patchworkvibes & @alex_andrathegreat

 

 

Featured

a present for you, I said.

mother says giving is better than receiving.

isn’t that lovely,

when I gave you everything I could and still I received nothing.

pretending isn’t fun anymore when reality creeps into every crevice,

opens every door and window.

look at me, look at me.

this was our fairytale,

except you were the dragon and I saved myself

-alex mckay

Featured

Bougie Penny Pincher: 6 STEPS TO PLANNING AN INEXPENSIVE INTERNATIONAL TRIP

Booked a flight to Amsterdam after only a few hours of deliberating?

Are you okay? Are you having an early life crisis? Did you actually do research? Do you have the money for it?

 

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I can’t tell if those were questions I was asking myself or imagining those are the questions that pop up in people’s heads when I tell them I booked a flight to another country with my boyfriend at 11 at night on a Monday.

 

The countdown begins until we leave for the Netherlands, to the city of 24 hour parties, Seattle-esque weather, beautiful Venice-like canals and a few other crazy things if you don’t mind doing a quick Google search.

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I have an entry level job as a news producer and fill-in reporter, and my boyfriend starts his job as a strategy business analyst in a few months. In other words, we aren’t exactly in positions to BLOW cash.

 

And who is, when you’re young and just starting out in life! Gone are the days where I relied on the spoils my parents have provided for me my entire life; the bubble has been popped. We have nestled ourselves gently into the small cocoon of providing for ourselves and for our future.

 

So, I’m sure you’re wondering…how can you afford to just jet off on an international flight and gallivant about the Netherlands for a week?

 

Lean in, a little bit. A little bit closer. There you go.

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I SHOP FOR DEALS.

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Yes, yes, it’s not rocket science.

 

I am what can be defined as a BOUGIE PENNY PINCHER.

 

For those who have no idea what that means or have never heard of it, I have pulled the definition out from the Oxford Dictionary: Alex Edition.

 

Bougie Penny Pincher   

[noun, boo–jee  pen–nee pin–chur]

-an individual from a class of people who prefers, enjoys, and was raised on the finer things in life, yet whom, for life’s circumstances or an improved level of maturity, has learned the act of finding and pursuing quality indulgences with inexpensive consequences and lives accordingly to these new life rules

 

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In other words…I know how to find a NASTY sale.

 

It also doesn’t help that I have a boyfriend who puts everyone to shame when it comes to finding good deals and ignoring screaming prices. I cannot tell you how many times he has talked me out of, shown me evidence, or bought me something that was not only what I was looking for or wanted, but was also heavily discounted or cheaper than where I happened to be looking for it. He is the KING of deal finding, a discount connoisseur, the first of his name. And I love him for it.

 

We have always had the travel bug and are constantly sending each other places to visit in the future or screenshots of distances we’ve looked up for weekend adventures. When you’re long distance, life has to be fun when you get to see each other, so we’re pretty good at making sure we always have new plans for adventure.

 

An international trip has always been a goal for us to complete, and we just had to find the right time to put all of our hard work searching and sifting through the internet to put the plans together.

 

So…how did we do it?

 

What do you get when you add 1 bougie penny pincher + 1 golden deal finder and a sprinkle of the travel bug?

 

For you, babes, it means you get a full rundown of our experience so that maybe you can book your very own vacation within your means!

 

6 STEPS TO PLANNING AN INEXPENSIVE INTERNATIONAL TRIP

  1. Cheap Flight Deals. Look for them.

Spend enough time searching the web to find your favorite source of information for cheap flights. There are several out there. This, babes, is where MOST of your money goes, especially if you’re only planning on staying a few days or a week somewhere. For international trips, the ticket prices from some airlines could be so expensive that it may not even seem worth it to book. And it isn’t worth it when there are SO many great deals out there. You want to be spending most of your money on the experience once you get there, not being cramped on a 12+ hour flight between snoring Susan and wailing baby Cody and his sleep deprived mother, Margaret.

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Some of the deals I have done research on include search engines like Momondo, which is specifically a travel fare metasearch engine that you can spend hours on searching for inexpensive flights. With Momondo, a graph is provided for you to look at prices and how they vary on different days once you’ve picked a destination. The great thing about Momondo is that it will search thousands and thousands of airlines, even low-carrier airlines. It will not only show you the cheapest flight, but also the quickest flight as well as the flight the search engine believes to be the best option.

momondo

There is also Skyscanner, a flight comparison website that also has an app!

skyscanner app

It will search thousands of airlines of your choice based on the dates and times you put in, and once you have found one you like, it then transfers you over to the airline to do your own booking. Seamless, almost effortless! The app will also send you price alerts every 24 hours for any flights you’re watching. If you’re like me and didn’t know what dates or times you wanted to go and only had a specific month you wanted to travel, not to worry. Skyscanner will show you the cheapest month, day, time, or week to travel to your destination. Don’t know where to go? Also not to worry. Not only is a map of popular areas to visit provided, but the ‘Everywhere’ feature will tell you cheap flights coming out of whatever point of origin you choose (This is when you realize it’s a great time to be living near a major airport!).

skyscanner

Google also has a search engine specifically for searching for flights! It’s called Google Flights.

google flights

Google Flights makes it a little easier to search for the cheapest dates and times to fly to your destination, mainly because there are less options to choose from. It is more of a streamlined experience, with the same benefit as Skyscanner. In this search engine, you can also check for Economy, Business and First Class seating in your search as well!

google flights1

Other options to choose from are Hopper, an app like Skyscanner that helps you “watch” flights and alerts you when the prices will go down, increase, or remain the same. I liked this app for the incentives it would send me in the form of push notifications urging me to purchase a ticket soon or risk missing out on a deal. But as far as deals go, Hopper didn’t really provide the cheapest ones out of all of these options listed.

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You could also search Kayak or the actual airlines themselves.

But, my PERSONAL favorite option—and the one I used to book this flight—is…

 

Wait for it…

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SCOTT’S CHEAP FLIGHTS.

An email service that sends you daily flight deals it has found from the search engines I have listed above.

Scotts Cheap Flights1

Who wouldn’t want this email? It may look like spam when you receive these twice or sometimes three times a day, but I am proof that the deals are real, just like your dreams of jetting off somewhere for a nice getaway.

And the great thing about this email is that…the work is done FOR you! I applaud you if you want to do your own searches for cheap flights, or believe that an email doesn’t cover ALL of the cheap deals out there. And it probably doesn’t. But the emails are sent daily, and it’s pretty much done a lot of the grunt work for you, even providing you with a link to book the flights immediately.

 

What I also love about Scott’s Cheap Flights is that the emails will tell you what airports you can fly out of, what airlines are providing the deal, how long the deal will last, what months the deals are for, and how much the tickets normally are, so that you can see how great of a deal you’re getting.

 

Scotts Cheap Flights4

 

Subscribing to the email is entirely free, as well. There is a paid premium option—which we ended up paying for—which was about 39 dollars that sends us extra deals that non-premium members do not get. The extra deals are GREAT, but I should say that our times as a non-premium member were great as well. The deals were all still very tempting!

 

  1. Be flexible.

This is one thing I am not good at. When I say be flexible, I mean this; these deals are not for business class or even first class seats. Most of them are for basic economy seating. If you’re okay with that—as you should be after seeing the deal—then, good. It’s an expectation most don’t know and probably should expect before they book.

Second, don’t be too set on a specific day, week, or month. Just don’t. You have to be open minded when it comes to this. There are so many great deals out there for specific dates and times, mainly for non-touristy times to visit the destinations. Yes, you can search for times or dates on the search engines yourself, but it saves a lot of headache when you come into it knowing that you can get more bang for your buck if you sift for the BEST deal.

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  1. Check your destination’s weather and seasons.

I cannot tell you how many times my friend and I found so many great deals to fly to Thailand at the end of August. Had we jumped the gun and bought a ticket, we would quickly realize that August is during Thailand’s rainy season. Not only would it be humid, but we would risk having our entire vacation filled with rainy days and nights. Not so worth it. So, yes, some of these deals may look amazing, but make sure you are researching your destination and the optimal time to go as well.

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4. Budget.

If it were up to me, a trip to Paris would mean daily brunches atop fresh white sheets, with a direct view of the Eiffel Tower to wake up to. It would mean cozy candlelit dinners with the best wine the city has to offer on rooftops where award winning orchestras serenade my night out in the city of love with the love of my life.

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I have a huge imagination.

But these things cost money, something you won’t have if you spend it all. Make sure that you are enriching yourself in a full experience within your destination. And sometimes that means gorging yourself on a free breakfast at a cheap hostel so that you can spend less money on expensive cuisine and more on tours or traveling to neighboring cities or visiting museums. The two things about your trip that essentially shouldn’t matter are a) where you sleep (because who flew 12+ hours to go sleep somewhere cute) and b) food.

I’m not saying don’t indulge every now and then on staple food items or beer or wine selections. But what I am saying is you don’t need an Aperol Spritz with every meal. Learn where to penny pinch and where to go hard. It goes without saying that experiences are so much better than coming back from your trip and realizing that you spent more on a pillow and mattress and second helpings of Cacio e Pepe.

5. Plan.

To my boyfriend and I, this is the best part:) one of our favorite things to do is to create an excel sheet and take turns typing in attractions to visit, the websites, pricing info, top places to eat, historical information on our destination, and more. It sounds like madness, but we have a science to it. It helps us map out what we want to do when we touch down and hit the ground running. One thing we both hate is time wasted and you don’t want that when it comes to vacation.

NYC Spreadsheet

NYC Spreadsheet1

Spreadsheet

Make sure that you have at least an idea of what exactly you want to do or visit. Some people create a day to day itinerary, which you can use a free template from Travefy.com to make it easier. If you like apps, TripIt helps you keep organized with all of the documents you need, all of the scheduling, and your hotel/Airbnb information as well. Others just like to create Word documents, which is what me and my best friend are doing for our trip to Bali and Thailand next year. Excel Sheets are great, as well, as you can see. Whatever floats your boat, as long as ya stay floating. Planning is so important to help you get the best out of your trip. It also trains you into searching for the best deals based on your budget!

Vacation

  1. Have fun!

The most important part of this journey is that you have fun. Make sure you’re going with amazing, open minded people who are down to immerse themselves in a brand new world of adventure. You want to look back on this and know you made the best choice. After all of the research. The sifting. The bargaining. The deal finding. The late nights of sending screenshots of places to visit. The angst of x amount of days before takeoff. The excitement. Traveling is one the greatest gifts you can give yourself. So make sure it’s done right.

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I cannot wait to keep you guys updated with my trip to Amsterdam with babe. If you know of any places to visit while I’m there, please let me know!

 

And as always, subscribe to my blog so that you can get updates sent to your email every time I post something!

 

 

Love,

 

 

Alexandra McKay

Featured

I Solemnly Swear That This Ish is Good

Ish, you ask?

What ish?

Let me tell you. I just made—FOR THE FIRST TIME, MIGHT I ADD—my very own fluffy, ooey, gooey homemade cinnamon rolls with homemade cream cheese icing. And just in case homemade didn’t sell it for you—I made these from scratch. At 7 in the morning. On a Saturday.

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On Saturdays, we wear lipstick. Or at least when friends are in town

It has been my lifelong DREAM to make my very own cinnamon rolls.

It brings me back to the times where I used to live in Pittsburgh and I had a best friend in 2nd grade. Every time I slept over, her mother always woke up hours earlier, before we even had thoughts of opening up our little eyes, and make homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast.

 

They were amazing. Shout out to Molly’s mom.

 

But, back to me. That was when the idea was born in my head, that one day, I would learn how to make my very own cinnamon rolls.

Eight year old me loved to imagine –something I did about 96% of the time—older me living life and inviting friends over to enjoy the sweet medley of my creations. Sometimes, the imagination revolved around my future brood of children—six to be exact (Yes, I’ve grown older. No, I no longer wild out like that with my imaginations)—and I vowed I would do the exact same thing Molly’s mom did for them every morning.

 

Needless to say, I stuck with Imagination A, and invited one of my best friends over to share them with me.

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One of my besties enjoying my masterpiece. Isn’t she adorable?

Let me introduce myself as the QUEEN of loving to cook/bake for people. I absolutely love feeding people. My absolute favorite person to cook for is my boyfriend, because he pretty much loves everything I cook and I’m happiest making him anything he asks. If I was rich (and not just with Daddy’s credit card), I would have weekly brunches over at my place for all of my friends to come over and eat and drink wine and dish about the latest news. Watching people eat my creations is more satisfying than finishing a book on a rainy day. More satisfying than acing an interview. More satisfying than beating my boyfriend in our daily debates or discovering a new online sale.

If I haven’t cooked for you yet, the invitation is out there. Message me for the address.

 

The first thing I was determined to master with baking these rolls was making sure the dough rose perfectly. Something I’ve only seen my grandma do when we used to bake together.

I read online about shortcuts for rising dough for baking purposes, because let’s be honest, who doesn’t like shortcuts?

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Amiright?

 

Also, my friend wanted to go to Bath and Body Works for a sale bright and early in the morning, so cinnamon rolls had to be ready to go, because we livin’ the fast life out here.

 

After sifting through all of the noise, I finally decided to just go with one tip. Failure is better than not trying, right? So, here’s my piece of advice:

Advice from Alex:

Heat the oven to about 200 – 250 degrees. Let it warm up, then turn it off. Place the dough into a bowl (oven safe for you amateurs), and let it sit in the oven for about an hour.

 

Saved me SO much time—although also, I wouldn’t know how much time it saved me because this is also my first time.

Just know, we made that Bath and Body Works sale.

Another personal tidbit of advice: Do not be afraid to go heavy on the cinnamon, brown sugar filling. You want your cinnamon rolls to taste like cinnamon rolls, not just dough. Pack. In. That. Flavor.

 

Alright, babes, this is where I leave you. The recipe is down below. And, of course, comment below if you decide to make these. Feel free to add your own variations to the mix and email them to me!

 

Alex’s Amateur Cinnamon Rolls

Serves 8 friends, several coworkers, or one open-minded stomach

What You’ll Need:

For the Dough

  • 2 cups of warm milk
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup melted butter (you know this is about to be HEAVY in calories. But WORTH IT.)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons yeast
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 ½ to 5 cups flour

 

For the Best Part—the Filling

  • 5 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 ¾ cup brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
  • ½ cup softened butter

 

For the Second Best Part, the Frosting

  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1 package of cream cheese (8 ounces)
  • 5 ½ cups powdered sugar

 

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Say hi to my Tiger Feet Slippers:)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

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    I preheated it to 205 degrees because what is life if not breaking the rules a little
  2. Place your warm milk (and when I say warm, I mean decently warm. Not hot. Not lukewarm. But warm) in a bowl. Add yeast and stir.
  3. Do not get confused by this! Place 1 cup of sugar in a measuring cup. Then, take two tablespoons of the sugar from that measuring cup and put in in your decently warm milk and yeast mixture. Stir and let it sit for about 5 – 10 minutes. This allows the yeast to activate, or proof. If the mixture doesn’t become foamy or bubbly, then your yeast is bad, and you need to get some more.

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    This is what my yeast mixture looked like before I let it sit.

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    This is what the yeast looks like after sitting for 10 minutes. This is what it should look like! Bubbly and foamy
  4. While that concoction is proofing, take a large mixing bowl and add the rest of the sugar in the cup, the 4 eggs, melted butter, and salt and stir a little bit.
  5. Once the yeast is done proofing, add that mixture to the mixing bowl and stir.
  6. Start stirring in your flour to the mixture, 2 cups at a time.IMG_5743
  7. Once the oven has preheated, turn it off.
  8. Place the dough in an oven safe bowl, then put it in the oven, covered in a slightly wet towel (do not say moist). Let it rise for one hour.

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    After rising in the oven for an hour!
  9. Take the dough out of the oven and roll it out onto a floured surface (I see you slaving in the kitchen!).
  10. Time for your filling! Spread the softened butter all over the dough.

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    If I told you I used a total of six sticks of butter in this recipe, would you believe me?

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    Yum, the BEST part! Penzey’s Spices are in Wisconsin. Has anyone ever been there?
  11. Mix your brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl, then throw it all over the buttery dough. YUM.
  12. Roll up the dough and then slice it into little rolls.
  13. Put them on a greased sheet and cover with a towel or saran wrap. Let it rise for one more hour!
  14. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  15. Bake cinnamon rolls for 9 – 12 minutes.

    IMG_5753
    Before these babies rose for an hour, they were half this size!
  16. Make frosting while the rolls are in the oven! Mix the butter and cream cheese together. Then add powdered sugar and vanilla.

    IMG_5761 (1)
    Next time, I’m going to add another packet of cream cheese!
  17. Take out the cinnamon rolls, and let them cool for a little bit.
  18. Spread the frosting alllllll over your warm rolls.
  19. EAT!

 

 

Yum, yum, yum.

 

And while you’re here, please subscribe to my blog. Just type in your email address below, and you will receive my weekly blog posts right in your inbox!

 

 

Love,

Alex McKay

 

Featured

#TakingAKnee

We’re going to discuss the recent issue of hashtag TAKING A KNEE.

 

A brief synopsis: former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick (played for the 49ers, had to fact check this, I only watch football to be social), started this last year by taking a knee during the national anthem before the game.

 

When asked why, he stated that it was in protest of what he deems are wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States of America.

 

 

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag or country that oppresses black people and people of color…To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

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Freedom of speech. Simple as that.

 

And yet, all hell broke loose.

 

            But, what’s new?

 

People from both sides coming out of the woodworks to spit out their opinions on what he should and should not have done.

 

Some said, more or less, to just shut up and play football.

Some attacked his rough and patchy career in the NFL—Trump-style, irrelevant and tone deaf.

And others supported his opinion on taking a knee, while others supported his right to do so.

 

 

 

1.One year,

2. more NFL players refusing to stand at an Alabama political rally (we’ll get to this),

3. an entire violent and fatal rally in Charlottesville,

4. and a month later, and here we are, with a comment from NBA point guard Stephen Curry, a withdrawn yet unwanted invitation to the White House, and a conversation to be started.

 

It’s so incredibly mind-boggling that a leader of a country, the United States of America to be more transparent, to become irate at a comment made against him.

Turning to social media to condemn any form of democratic opposition, or slight against one’s behavior or actions is for the people who enjoy trolling the internet, or stirring conflict, not for the president of the United States.

One of the many definitions of a president is to preside over an organized body of persons.

 

This action is not only beneath the person who holds this position, but also what should be (and I say should be because it is a choice, not a rule) the principle for someone who holds this much power.

For someone who is the people’s leader.

Who speaks and represents all.

 

 

We are in the midst of global epidemics—multiple hurricanes and tropical storms, earthquakes.

(Donate to UNICEF to help out in any way you can!)

 

Trump did do his part in traveling to specific regions to provide a helping hand.

DISCLAIMER: credit and acknowledgement was JUST given as stated above, reread if necessary, I give credit where credit is due.

          During his time spent there and dealing with the problems in general, he not only used his position to abase Obama and amplify what he believes to be his very own positive qualities (https://youtu.be/lSK3Ew1AocA), he also took the time to send irate tweets (or maybe he had one of his staff members write them, who knows, we’ll give credit where it’s due, remember) to NFL players he deemed “sons of bitches” and do what he does best—Twitter finger his anger out to those who oppose him.

 

            “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag to say, Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired! You know…some owner is going to do that, He’s going to say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag, he’s fired. And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in the country.”

TRUMP
Said By This Man

TRUMP

TR

Let this marinate.

marinate

POTUS condemning those peacefully protesting, with a right they freely have, to show solidarity in their rally for equality and literally just basic human rights for all—it’s really not hard to break down–in exchange for 25 to 30 seconds of cheering approval is the epitome of the tone deaf, topical dilution many try to apply to serious matters like this.

The president refuses to condemn those he should condemn—and by this, I mean, the violent, bigoted, chauvinistic, I’m-backed-by-Trump-therefore-everyone-is-wrong citizens who use aggression and violence to instill their opinions they believe should be sculpted into fact.

Violence
White Nationalists Using Violence To Protest Their Opinion Against A Minority, Ya, Know, Just in Case He Didn’t Understand

^^The superiority complex we have begun to see so incredibly exposed now that it’s okay to come out into the light.

Trump can take a vacation on Twitter when one of these people defined above can kill someone “out of pride for their country,” (Trump did not say this, I put it in quotes because this is the basis of many conversations around James Alex Fields and why supporters say he did what he did) and can only say that there was violence on “many sides,” that the group defined above is a group of “very fine people.”

POTUS can then turn around and comment on a statement made by athlete Stephen Curry, saying he did not want to go visit the White House with the rest of the Golden State Warriors after winning the NBA championship.

source (1)

POTUS’ twitter fingers, rapidly sending out a 7:45 am tweet, work hard play hard, we-don’t-vacation-when-opposers-are-speaking:

source (2)

“Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating therefore invitation is withdrawn!” -POTUS

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Trump has introduced the conversation that needs to be had (credit again).

The juxtaposition of his role as president and his support and condemnation of specific groups of people has made way for us to discuss matters like this.

Why many are so quick to condemn a peaceful action and criticize their use of their power and platform to promote—here it is again—peaceful protesting, when our president uses his power and platform to degrade the very people he presides over and encourages violence toward them, as if they are enemies of the state?

This has always been a touchy subject, the one no one wants to have, because either they are too afraid to be politically incorrect—a phrase that pretty much no longer exists, and I am happy that it doesn’t, it made conversations so surface-level, so fragile—or they are too afraid of people knowing what they truly think.

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If you are one of those who is in full support of Trump’s divisive rhetoric on those who decide to partake in taking a knee…

If you are one of those who believes that these athletes, also known as “sons of bitches” by a man we call our president, should be fired, kicked out, suspended, etc…

If you are one of those who believes that these “sons of bitches” are disrespecting those who fought for our flag, those who died on the front line to make America what it is today…

 

            Ask yourself WHY.

But after I break this down for you.

 

Since when did #TakingAKnee to protest become more “disrespectful” and “troublesome” than fatally running someone over with a car and injuring 19 others to protest against your right?

Since when did #TakingAKnee because a group of people do not feel safe in a country that they, too, live in, whose president refuses to protect or convict any unnecessary violence or action against them, who are not respected in many parts of society, whose lives are just conversations that dance in circles, that fade into hashtags, because we can’t stand in unity or speak up for those who died only for being a minority, a citizen in the United States…when did that become more of an issue, more substantial of a reason to “kick someone out” rather than the “very fine people” who would use violence to showcase their “patriotism?”

Footnote: furthermore, if this is what patriotism means to you, or if this is what you want to see, I have an idea of who should really be kicked out of the country.

Since when did #TakingAKnee equate to shunning and disregarding all of the hard work veterans and those still in the line of service have done?

Footnote: those fighting for this country and have done so in the past deserve the utmost respect, this is not an argument. It is an incredible feat to preserve and protect your country, and we all are in agreement on that.

Footnote: These people knew their mission, and that was to protect the security of this country and its inhabitants (https://www.defense.gov/About/, for reference). Our president cherry picks from this doctrine.

 

If you have an argument for any of those, then sweetheart…YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT.

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You are so incredibly missing the point.

 

This is not an issue of the flag.

This cannot be boiled down to a simple story of the bad child who just didn’t want to put his hand on his heart for the pledge of allegiance.

This is not about the National Anthem.

 

These are people who are being paid millions of dollars, could care less if they really wanted to on matters that generally may not affect them, and could lose their jobs, yet are doing what they can to provide unity and a solid platform for a new conversation: we will not STAND for the unfair treatment of some Americans and the bigotry that continues to plague our nation.

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How can you sit there and tell these player to stand up and shut up, to revoke and redeem their rights as American citizens to STAND for what they believe in, to continue playing their sports, because that is all they should be concerned with?

 

Must we always voice the same conversation, the same plea, the same statement that rights are NOT privileges given out or taken away, yet free for all to partake in?

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These Americans who fight for our country, these soldiers and veterans you claim athletes are disrespecting…they are comprised of all American citizens, white, black, brown, yellow (if I didn’t use your color, I’m sorry, I was not discriminating, you’re included, too).

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They all fight for the freedom and rights that are in our constitution.

(A dogma becoming so transparent that it does not include everyone.)

 

If there is anyone to criticize, it’s the members of society and the president who do not uphold the values of what true patriotism is, who condemn anyone protesting against minority violence and racism.

Who condemn anyone using their voice or their silence instead of their guns or their cars to broadcast their opinions.

Visual and Historical Depiction:

Whoa

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I know the NFL and NBA was fun when everything was light-hearted, when it was just a game instead of a political war zone, when it was entertainment to watch.

I know it makes you uncomfortable to see how powerful silence can be, when it forces you to look at what is going on in this world, when our president is a reality that you refuse to acknowledge, because you just want players to “shut up and play some ball.”

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The problem here is not the silence these players choose to use to bring notice to an issue we have yet to solve.

It is the loud, collective voice we hear from you who tell them they should disregard basic rights of humanity and ignore, just like you, the plight of those not heard because in your eyes, they do not matter.

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That is what you are saying when you agree with Trump, that these players are wrong for what they are doing.

That is what you are saying when you bring up the argument of the flag and the belief that they are disrespecting what it stands for.

Because on the other side of that coin is what you say, disrespecting what the flag stands for.

Liberty, and justice for all.

Red stripes for the hard “courage of separating from what we once knew, courage of starting over, courage of fighting for our freedom.”

Blue for justice, the basis of our country.

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By continuing your irrelevant chatter of insolence and how one should be proud of this nation and one’s “right” to live in it, you turn your head away from one’s right to live peacefully in this nation, to protest against the treatment of certain groups. Because it’s just as simple as the three definitions above—freedom for all, the courage to fight for freedom and separate from the past, to move forward in solidarity, for justice.

 

Before kickoffs today, Sunday, September 24th, 2017, players stood or kneeled in solidarity, in unity, to fight the discordant rhetoric spewed from the man who is in charge of protecting them and their rights. The man who is capable of acknowledging who he believes to be “very fine people,” who is more than willing to allow freedom of speech turn to freedom to attack and kill, if it means that his version of solidarity is being executed.

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These players are fighting for those whose voices are only heard as an afterthought, who are considered afterthoughts, because their movement to be equal isn’t in sync or in rhythm with the structure and standard of what society has established.

 

Their silence has brought more noise and criticism than the “front line” at the rally who pillaged and vandalized the streets of Charlottesville in the name of patriotism.

 

It seems to me that the problem is not the definition of the flag.

We may need to redefine patriotism.

Featured

In the name of Patriarchy, Consumerism, and Holy Yeezus

Ok now ladiessss.

(Let’s assume you said yeahh!)

What if I told you that we could use misogyny, trendy fashion, and none other than the individual god complex we have come to know and maybe love about Kanye, the self-proclaimed Yeezus for our own personal benefit?

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What if that doesn’t make any sense?

Keep reading, babe.

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The year is 2017. We have social media, our very own marketable platforms to advertise our lifestyles and the glamorous corners of our inner cores. With a click of a like button, we have the start of a following. Disciples, to worship and glorify us. You can show what you want, cut out what you don’t want, and leave a carbon copy of that YOU that you designed for your own stage.

The goddess of this skill would be none other than Yeezus’ wife herself, Kim Kardashian West.

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Kim is the face of sexuality today that we see for women on all platforms, and has become one of the wealthiest women in business because of it.

But, let’s pause for a second: sexuality. Actually, more specifically FEMALE sexuality.

What we see today on television, music videos, INSTAGRAM (I can definitely say at least ¼ of my Instagram photos have played into this role, no shame), is this vast interplay of a level of female empowerment that not only slaps feminism and its ideals in its face, but also flirts with misogyny that we’ve allowed men to adopt and fuck into normalcy.

Ya know what I’m talking about.

The revealing posts, the arched backs and the side boob poses, booty poked to perfection.

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Without getting into who started what and how this pattern arose, we can still stick Kim’s face on the front of the package.

She represents all that we as a society have come to view for female sexuality.

From the 16th century all the way until the 19th, sexuality was seen as the forbidden fruit, the thing who must not be named, and sex was a God-given practice that should only be used behind closed doors to lead up to procreation.

Follow the recipe, vanilla, straight to the point.

We see the role of a woman shift slightly to a way more repressed position where she is a good woman—one with values and morals that uphold the “virginal” perspective. Where sex is not wanted, and sexuality does not “exist”. It’s either that or you’re a whore, wearing a bright red W on your breast, because sexuality is immoral and abasing the woman of her entire being.

The female becomes a housewife later on in the years, filled with dutiful inspiration to uphold the household in daily house chores and a good attitude.

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The start of the splicing we begin to see between sex and sexuality was in the 60s when birth control pills allowed women to separate the idea of sex from its definition—to procreate.

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Oh, wow.

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Can sex just be enjoyable? What a thought.

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Fast forward to the year twenty seventeen and here we are. Up 88% from 2013 with the amount of butt augmentations, with requests like “one like Nicki Minaj” or  more commonly, “Kim K.”

 

Where women take a rib cage out (a procedure done mostly in Brazil, most American doctors refuse to do it) or wear waist trainers or get surgery to receive the sexualized hourglass body. Where sex is exchanged like dollar bills, and the female body IS currency.

 

But what exactly is the price?

 

There’s a lot that ties into this so buckle up.

 

Welcome to the world of masculinity, a society we live in where patriarchy still rules.

(Proud of the women who fight this and are changing the status quo we have all been born and raised into. Y’all da truth.)

For those who are not familiar with this term, let me define it simply: it has shaped the ideologies for men and women for centuries. It leads women to believe that their ideas, thoughts, and life roles are of subservience to men.

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What men think, feel, and produce, is considered to be more important than what women produce, feel, and think.

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We have seen this in so many different elements in daily life.

Sexuality seems to be one of the main places that has still adopted this patriarchal view regardless of time and generational viewpoints.

Nowadays, women are considered objects, their bodies prized and put on display for show. Where their bodies are pretty much THE product that’s selling and the actual product just an accessory.

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*NUDITY*

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Magazine photos of female models being sexually ogled, like fuck-able packages of meat.

 

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Music videos, where scantily clad women are the background, surrounding men in a worshiping manner.

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Next stop: consumerism.

 

Millennials’ favorite past time.

 

What used to be cherished by the wealthy and well off is now cherished by all in an era of cheap, fast, stylish clothing afforded by all in a series of what I call trickle down fashion.

To keep faith in my argument, we will use the example of Ye’s clothing line.

A raggedy “distressed” look he has adopted that I could probably achieve by leaving a sweater on the ground and letting my cats destroy with their claws for about ten minutes is now on famous displays like New York Fashion Week  (SIDE NOTE–Season 5 has shown growth in his style, with some outfits looking less unkempt and bummy. )

Running on caffeinated prices of $1,500+ dolla bills.

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Because the average person cannot reasonably afford those prices as well as other designer prices, we see it copied in stores they can afford.

Forever 21. Charlotte Russe. H&M.

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Fashion has gone from a coveted and elite commodity to a one size fits all bandwagon.

And ties into the interplay of sexuality.

Recent fashion trends not only enhance the essence of sexuality in what we see today but is also amplified in the realm of social media.

Consumerism sells just as “sex” sells on this platform.

If your page has ANY type of traffic, companies will contact you (mainly women) with free apparel or free body enhancements and lose-weight-fast schemes to model and post on your social pages.

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KYLIE JENNER, for example

And it’s not just distressed sweaters that sell. It’s the revealing clothing. The clothes that want you to show them off, want you to gain attention, want you to advertise your platform.

“Models” are grown from the roots of smart social media advertising with one simple recipe: trendy, sexualized, and an aura of narcissism that intrigues viewership.

Narcissism?

Yeah, I know, haven’t talked about the last ingredient to this recipe.

                KANYE. WEST.

You have to admit—this guy has the ultimate self-belief.

It’s so contagious, that others have faith in his vision, in his goals to sell overly priced simple fashion, and his objective of being the god that walks among men.

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The robinhood that saves us all from low self-esteem and ignorance of iconic style trends.

He calls himself Yeezus, but the people have spoken; scratch what I said earlier. The people have proclaimed him Yeezus.

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How does this all add up?

 

 

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How do you go from being sexually objectified through your own body and consumer inclinations and adding in extreme confidence?

It’s simple.

OWN who you are.

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Nahhh, but forreal.

This post may have seemed like it was deflecting the terms and issues addressed, but it was only speaking on what is prominent in today’s material matters.

We do live in a society where the three topics listed above can be toxic if used separately.

But the recipe has been given to you.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are undoubtedly one of the most controversial couples in our era.

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Everything else aside, I believe in taking what is good and squeezing out the great from everything.

Believe in yourself. Believe in your brand. Believe in your persona.

There are those of us out there who slut shame. And I say us because females can be dirty sometimes.

This hate and judgement is where misogyny lives and breathes. Where patriarchal devotees have access to the weakness of femaledom.

Our inability to accept and honor what we have and see it as beautiful.

Support one another.

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We are not objects or empty vessels to be judged on what we do or do not do.

We are not models of what is or is not acceptable.

Our bodies, our decisions, our choices.

Sexuality is not consent for our male counterparts to deem us as immoral or as less than.

It is not the consent to let our fellow females to deem us as immoral or less than.

It is also not consent to tell anyone who does not partake in what is considered “sexual” or objectifying that they’re wrong.

I don’t know how many other ways I can say this: Let us all prosper.

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We are all Yeezuses.

We should all believe in the vision we see for ourselves.

And most importantly, we should all have the choice to do whatever the hell we want.

In the name of Patriarchy, Consumerism, and Holy Yeezus.

A(wo)men!

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Self Care

Sometimes, silence means more than words.

And sometimes, loving yourself more is better.

Sometimes, saying goodbye also means saying hello.

To being happy.

To knowing that you’re enough.

To accepting you cannot fix everything.

Sometimes, tears mean more than actions.

When the feeling in your stomach

Becomes reality

And you know it’s time to let go.

They tell you to work hard for what you want

But what happens when you work yourself

To death

Over something that’s killing you

That shatters your hopes and dreams,

And forces you to swallow them

Chalking them up to foolishness.

They told me the pain would heal

The memories would fade

but they didn’t tell me

what would happen

to my heart

how long it would take

to fall in love again

with me.

Choose you. Always choose you.

It’s the one thing you have left when the storm is over.

It’s the one person who will always pick you back up

From the pieces they left you to deal with

On your own.

They fell in love with a puzzle,

But didn’t care to complete you.

Fall in love with your complexity

Your abstract.

Your essence.

You do not need another half

If it does not make you whole.

Ineffable

It’s the absence of counting the months, knowing they will turn into years. It’s the film that falls from her eyes, the veil pulled aside. It’s trust and finally believing, wings that no longer want to fly away, even when they know they are free. Forever.

It’s sugar that tastes like sugar, because there are no secrets, no poison masked in the form of her wildest dreams. It’s honesty. It’s swimming deep within her, so she no longer fishes for promises. It’s the love of setting skies and watching the stars all wrapped into the way she looks at him. It’s the time that never runs out, the infinite orbit. He is her galaxy.

It’s the day she wanted a fireplace and not a wild fire. Its seeing the ceiling and seeing the sky, all wrapped into one soul. It’s being okay with silences because they were empty and his presence was filling enough. It’s hearing the word love and seeing his face, it’s writing until the words come alive, until they capture the soul of him. Love.

The Edge Effect

defined as –

-The point at which two ecosystems meet and according to ecology, is where the most new life forms are created

You and I are Edges

Of two Worlds

Colliding and Combining

Melding and Meshing

You and I are beauty

From the unborn

Knowledge

From nothing

Blooming without guilt

Flourishing without shame

To know not the many shades of

Brown and black

Until it paints roots within my womb

To kiss it alive

To bring two worlds

Out

Into

One

My love, look at us.

we are beautiful.

Poem by Alex McKay✨