serious journalism things i’ve written recently (that you may have missed)

fbudlight14 at 10.23 PM #2

When I’m not drinking Bud Light Lime-A-Ritas and/or wearing a Croatian sailor cap, I’m typically writing. Of late, I’ve been writing articles and article-like lists for the website Bustle (which now has an audience of 11 million, yowza!)

Here are some important journalism things I’ve written in the past few months, all of which has kept me from blogging diligently on Snax and Sex.

  1. 31 Things Seinfeld Got Exactly Right About Living in New York. (Some of the things: 95% of the population is undateable. Anything can happen on the bus. Arbitrary delivery zones are the worst.)
  2. Game of Thrones Season 4 Did Not Give Us Enough Sex. (I honestly felt cheated by this season. WE DESERVED to see Daenerys Targaryen and Daario Naharis get it on.)
  3. 5 Tips to Flirting at a Summer Music Festival. (I am shameless, now and forever.)
  4. Ghost Sex Is a Real Phenomenon. (Just ask Kesha.)
  5. 6 Saucy Sex Tips from French GQ’s Sex Columnist. (She gets me. My favorite quote from her: “We would think it is extremely weird to have just a blow job. Why would I do that? I don’t have pleasure in my mouth. It’s very mysterious to me, why an American woman would do that.”)
  6. Heavenly Sinful: I Tried This New Dating App, and It’s the Worst. (This is one of the more mortifying experiences I’ve ever written about.)
  7. Why Do Women Fake Orgasms and Make Noises During Sex? The Science Is More Complex than You Think.
  8. Rolling Stone’s “Millenials and Sex” Article Finally Offers a Nuanced Portrait of Our Generation’s Sex Lives. (At long last.)
  9. A Drunk Girl’s Guide to Late Night Texting (Based on Lots of Personal Experience.) (This one was fun to write. I suppose mortifying, as well. Got picked up on HuffPo Women!)
  10. One Sex Writer Uses a Vibrator for the First Time. (Helllll yesssssssss.)

 

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That time I joined Tinder to find a friend with AC benefits

A year ago today, to the hour, I was on a farm in the Benevento region of Italy, reading Zadie Smith, tucked snuggly under the covers to shield me from the ruthless, buzzing zanzare. I was warm, but there was a breeze, a pleasant dryness. And there was the wonderful simplicity of only needing protection from mosquitoes.

Here I am last year in Italy, keepin' my English fresh with some Zadie Smith. It was hot, and the mosquitoes were maniacal. Still miss it like crazy.

Here I am last year in Italy, keepin’ my English fresh with some Zadie Smith. It was hot, and the mosquitoes were maniacal…but I still miss it like crazy.

Now, I’m under the covers, too, though under very different circumstances.

Two weeks ago, I installed AC in my room, after an unreasonably long delay, and now I am freezing, the way I like it. I’d initially thought I was going to be a champion (/martyr, in true Catholic form) and sweat it out; if I survived last summer in Italy without AC, I thought, I can survive this one. Plus, the idea of buying and installing an AC seemed so incredibly daunting; I’d have to schlep myself to Target, choose a thing (so many choices, things), buy it (the most daunting part), schlep it to my apartment, figure out how it works, etc. It seemed like an unreasonable  undertaking, especially for someone who still struggles to do the basics, like tie her shoelaces or brush her hair.

The process of acquiring an AC actually felt so daunting that I re-joined Tinder — which I’d sworn off months earlier for being a massive waste of time — with the express goal of “befriending” a guy who had AC and who might let me sleep on his floor or elsewhere, in the coolness of his bed chambers.

I kept my profile sweet and simple: “looking for someone who has AC.”

The next day, I felt dirty about it, so I also added “and someone who respects sandwiches as the greatest genre of food.” I didn’t want my Tinder exchanges to be, well, so exchange-of-services-y, and this profile addition broadened the scope of why I was feasibly on the app. Maybe I was just looking for a sandwich connection, someone whose sandwich tastes vibed with mine.

I received an enormous amount of messages, from an array of young gentleman who were truly concerned for my well-being. I mean, you do always hear about people dying in the summer because of the heat. It was only June and the heat, still bearable, was making me do crazy things. I’d wake up, sweating, and fetch ice cubes to drop on my naked body. I’d sway in front of the fan. Then, I’d frantically swipe through Tinder, acquiring matches/potential AC owners, as though I had reached a breaking point, even though the real breaking point would be to just be an adult human and go buy a fucking AC.

In June, I was so hot and restless I gave myself a cheese grater tattoo.

In June, I was so hot and restless I gave myself a cheese grater tattoo.

Guys would message me things like, “I have central air, lol, you probably hear that a lot,” and, “I have my AC on now, it is soooo cold in my room, but you probably hear that a lot, haha” and, “I actually don’t have AC, so I guess this won’t work out, but I do have a huge amount of respect for sandwiches.”

I hadn’t quite decided what my deal was. How far out of my way I would go to avoid doing a pretty straightforward thing? Bear in mind that this is a classic Maria maneuver. Example: I violently tear through cereal boxes (and am never able to properly close them again), while if I’d just opened it where the kind people at Kellogg’s had indicated, my Lucky Charms would stay fresh forever.

During those feverish June nights, I’d ask myself: Would I actually get involved with someone simply for his AC? Was this really about AC? Maybe I can survive the summer without AC. What happened in my childhood that made me this dramatic?

June was hot, sort of. Not like it was hot in Italy last summer. It was a special New York brand of hot that makes you feel like you’re suffocating in a Costco bag that someone peed in. A hot with smells and grime and perspiration.

I met up with a few guys from Tinder, guys with whom I was able to maintain actual conversation. I guess that means I did, in fact, have some standards (and maybe desires), even for a guy I was presumably only using for his in-room cooling unit.

Two weeks ago I quit Tinder, this time for good (…is what I say now.) I decided to replace the app with Chekhov’s short stories; every time the urge to Tinder comes over me, I pick up a book, or a piece of trash from the floor of my disgusting room. I’m trying to re-invigorate my downtime and re-invest my mental and emotional resources back into myself, my mind, my space. I haven’t blogged in a while, but I’ve been reading more than ever. I journal. I make a point of taking out the trash when the time comes, of putting laundry in the laundry bag, of only eating Thai food in bed on special occasions.

Right now, I’m blissfully chilled. Because guess what — two weeks ago, I decided to be an adult human. I bought myself an AC, at long last. It was a schlep, but I fucking did it.

Praise.

Important Lessons:

  • Sandwiches are, in fact, the greatest genre of food.
  • Don’t join Tinder when you’re really overheated; your mind isn’t right.
  • Maybe don’t join Tinder ever.
  • OK maybe join Tinder if you want to practice a language.
  • AC is everything.
I invited Frank (this pug) over for the weekend, and he absolutely could not get enough of the AC

I invited Frank (this pug) over for the weekend, and he absolutely could not get enough of the AC

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pro-sitting manifesto / my sitting education

Hi friends / but actually just my family: I hope you are all very well. I am about to embark on a very exciting project that is centered around a very exciting pastime: sitting. Not convinced sitting is so great? Check out my most recent musings on sitting, and why it is worth your thought, consideration, love, and butt.

Sitting is sacred. Sitting is beautiful. Sitting is so simple, so seemingly obvious that we fail to appreciate or even recognize it on a day-to-day basis. In America, we associate sitting with waste, laziness, and poor health. Businesspeople invest in stand-up desks, or worse, treadmill desks. Health scientists publish studies on the ill effects of too much sitting. Michelle Obama and other very bright, well-intentioned public figures encourage us to move, upright and often. This is very reasonable; Americans sit too much. The fundamental problem, though, isn’t the act of sitting; it’s that we aren’t sitting properly.

Having traveled through Italy, from Bergamo to Palermo, I’ve found that my most treasured memories transpired as I sat: eating a luscious bowl of spaghetti alle vongole, discussing Berlusconi with an old man on a bench, sipping aperitivos perfectly alone in a café for hours. When we gather to sit together, we enter a special realm where sharing is the ruling principle. Seated, we share meals, memories, stories, beers, secrets, and cheese, really all of the best things. But when we sit alone, we experience something equally magical — the ability to deeply observe the beauty and complexity of our surroundings.

Italians know how to sit.

piazza bellini in naples

piazza bellini in naples

The literal translation of Dolce fare niente is “sweet doing nothing.” The phrase reads awkwardly in English, in part because we can be pretty squeamish about “doing nothing.” And when we are doing nothing — stalking ourselves on Instagram, toiling at the gym, deciding on the appropriate emoji for a particular text — we are numb. At best, we’re vaguely interested. At worst, we’re lonely, alienated by our screens, made anxious by our inability to set aside daily space to sit and inhale and experience peace, with others or alone.

Peace, however, is not always silent. There is a loud peace, a sort of hectic order to the narrow streets of Naples, for example, where old men and women sit for the vast majority of the day. It was sitting on benches and stoops in the piazzas of Naples when I first truly understood the meaning of the sacred tradition of dolce fare niente. I couldn’t have arrived at this understanding alone. Italy’s elders enlightened me: It was how they sat.

***

Parked on stoops or plastic chairs outside their homes, dolling out ‘ciaos’ to people passing by, the old people of Naples unequivocally run the streets. Typically, they assemble in packs. Visit any piazza in the Campania region and you’ll find clusters of them, on benches or stairs, playing cards and gossiping with the same friend groups they’ve had since grade school. These older folks, men and women, offered me an invaluable (and unsolicited) sitting education.

One afternoon, as I lugged groceries up the narrow street to my apartment, I noticed I had a spectator: a short, fleshy old woman named Maria, sitting outside her home on a pink beach chair.

Now I’d grown accustomed to being watched, particularly by people over 60, ever since I’d moved to Naples. From balconies, windows, and motorcycles, my retired neighbors would both watch and openly discuss me. Once, an old man in a pinstripe suit approached me at the bar. “I saw you buying groceries yesterday. Gatorade and cookies and chips. Why?”

This particular old woman, Maria, looked kind; her inspection of me was not malicious, but gentle, almost thoughtful. I sat down on the chair next to hers.

In a matter of minutes, she became an old friend. Maria was an eighty-three-year-old, born-and-raised napolitana, currently living with her youngest (and unmarried) grandson, Antonio, a wild-eyed, perpetually shirtless man in his early forties, who ran outside to offer me a beer the moment I sat down. I sipped my Peroni as Maria told me about her eight children, reminding me, again, that Antonio was not married. She’d periodically interrupt her anecdotes to grab my hand and insist I drink faster. “With this sun, the beer will get hot.”

The beer was still cold, and Antonio, still shirtless, clutched his stomach and stuck his head outside. “Quick, quick!”

The faux urgency rolled over me, as intended, and I sat with Maria, for hours. And Maria would continue sitting for hours after I left. All the while, there was noise. Screaming and vrooming and meowing and sizzling and taunting and singing. If you sit for long enough, the noise seeps in through your pores and becomes you. Your insides are Naples, and Naples’ insides are you.

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Though reluctant to exaggerate, I’m very comfortable with the following declaration: there is no silence in Naples. Not in churches, not in alleys, and especially not at six in the morning, when garbage trucks make their rounds and dogs settle their scores. The first night I attempted sleep in my apartment, an array of noises wafted through my window: shrieking cats, shrieking vespas, a pack of middle-aged men singing “Summer of 69,” a family washing dishes, and at least four distinct heated arguments, all concerning food.

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I stepped onto my tiny balcony, resisting the urge to scream “BASTA!” and throw clothespins at the sound offenders. Instead, I made an important decision: I chose to sit. Just as I had with my old friend Maria earlier in the day.

The streets are so narrow in the quartieri spagnoli that from my balcony, I could see into six different homes spanning three floors. Due of the ruthless Neapolitan heat, residents keep their windows and balconies open, so not only can you see other people’s business, you hear and smell it, too. (And on unlucky days, you step in it.)

You will find no notions of outside or inside. Here, the concept of privacy falls somewhere on the spectrum between nonexistent and joke. Napolitani bring their living rooms to the streets. They assemble tables and chairs outside of their homes, where they’ll sit amidst swarms of swerving Vespas and agitated children. When you walk through the cobblestone streets, you weave in and out of dogs, babies, chairs, motorcycles. When you sit in the cobblestone streets, you both see and are everything. Clothespins will fall on your head, from high, high above you. Strangers will offer you sfogliatelle. A dog will eat the sfogliatelle out of your hand.

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I sat with Maria the next day, and then the next, and for weeks after that. I explored the city through stoops, lawn chairs, benches; I made my friends, and I sat with them, for hours, because the day is hot and long, and I had nowhere to be but everywhere.

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it’s not going away

Zadar is a small town on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. It was in this town — on my back in a bed in a hostel — that I read the news that my college dean Leslie Woodard had passed away. I still have the notes I wrote in my journal that October evening: “No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no.”

Grief is many things: imprecision, confusion, belligerence, pain, depression. Grief is heavy. Grief is existential. Grief invites you to make dumb claims about what grief is and isn’t, always in retrospect, as you broach the daunting intellectual task of making your grief coherent. Why humans are programmed like this, I do not know. I do know this: grief undulates. It comes in waves of varying strength, from below and above, when you least expect it and when you do expect it. Grief is a friend who punches you when you hug him, and you are a friend who punches Grief when he hugs you. The timing is never right.

I’m personifying Grief here because it’s easy, and because I’m looking at the water bottle next to my bed, thinking about Leslie Woodard and how she is responsible for my graduation two years ago.

My junior year — just like my freshman, sophomore, and senior years — I was having problems of the emotional/mental variety. Dean Woodard, who was truly all-knowing and all-seeing in the way many people conceive of God, came to this conclusion even before I did, so she invited me in for a meeting. This was nothing new — us meeting, coming up with creative plans for getting me to graduation, for surviving unfathomable cruelty such as the math requirement. “It’s not going away,” she would tell me. “It’s always going to be there.”

As soon as I entered her office, I began to cry. I remember the remainder of our meeting as if it were a snow globe, the moment after it’s been shaken up. The falling snow, here, is some kind of metaphor…perhaps for my tears and anxiety? (I don’t know, I already told you Grief is imprecision). The point is: I was out of control frantic until I wasn’t, until it all had settled down. Dean Woodard had these wondrous problem-solving powers. She worked silently and fiercely, like the powers that slow down snow-globe snow until it rests peacefully at the bottom and reveals the beautiful scene for what it is.

For reasons I can’t understand, I wasn’t taking my medication, and this has to do with everything. If you’re not someone who takes medication on a daily basis for depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, this is going to sound, well, mentally ill. How do you just stop taking your medication? How is it so hard to take pills you need to take?

I urge you to direct those questions to someone who isn’t me. I have such a minimal understanding of the forces at work that sometimes make small things, like tying my shoes or turning in a form or taking pretty essential pills, seem painful and impossible to me.

Dean Woodard always respected my problems, even when — especially when — I didn’t. Because let’s be honest: she could have very easily shipped me off to Yale Mental Health, or given me a pamphlet, or even scolded me. Her approach to my mental health and well-being was not only unique for a bureaucratic university setting, but it was unique for the planet.

“Why aren’t you taking your medication?” she asked me, pushing her candy bowl towards me.

“Oh, I don’t know, there are so many things. You have to get up, you have to get the water….”

“Get a six pack of water bottles and keep them by your bed.”

“What?”

“I’m going to buy you a six pack of water bottles, and you’re going to keep them by your bed.”

The next day Dean Woodard handed me a six-pack of water bottles in the dining hall. “Here.” She looked me in the eye; her face managed to be both friendly and no-nonsense — I’ll never know how she pulled that off. I kept the water bottles by my bed, and for some silly but magnificent reason, this was exactly what I needed to take care of myself. I took my pills.

A year later, she screamed, “Maria Yagoda, FRENCCCCHHH” and I took my diploma, against quite a few odds.

Dean Woodard, I’m thinking of you now because it’s been two years since I graduated, and I still keep water bottles by my bed.

You taught me something so fundamental, which I’m going to call the Water Bottle Principle. Setting aside everything else you did for me — like believing in me as a writer and a student and a human when I made it exceedingly difficult — the most wonderful lesson you taught me is this: do the goddamn work. This is the Water Bottle Principle. Fucking sit down with your problems and do the goddamn hard work. You need stupid water bottles to take your stupid pills? Fucking get yourself some water bottles. And get water bottles for others who might need them, too.

So here I am, sitting down with my Grief. Talking to him, listening to him, letting him punch me in the gut, trying to give him a hug. Waiting for the snow to settle.

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New Lunch Spot on UWS

communal-exterior

This particular stretch of block needed a reliable, sit-down lunch spot, and Communal, the new restaurant on 72nd between Amsterdam and Broadway, will be that.

The lunch and dinner offerings include salads, sandwiches, pastries, amateur empanadas, and a selection of hearty flatbreads, best eaten on site — when warm and crispy. The meal-sized salads, for $9, make pretty satisfying lunches, which is shocking to me, because salads usually just make me hungrier. My favorite is a light toss of mixed greens, black sesame, seeds, edamame, avocado, and a truffle-scented vinaigrette; it shouldn’t work (hey, let’s throw all the trending ingredients into a bowl), but it does. The empanadas are less impressive. If you’re going to make a point of serving an item that off-theme, you have to do it right. The Parmesan and provolone empanada is alarmingly empty, and the crust on all of them is far too chewy and thick.

communal-salad

Communal may, in fact, be overly ambitious in scope, offering strange health indulgences (?) like Chia chocolate pudding and befuddling snacks like their empanadas. But the setting is lovely and the service is even lovelier; the attentive waitstaff is always happy to recommend the day’s best pastries. On one recent visit, my waitress told me, “I’ve been smelling them all day. You have to try the whole wheat pain au chocolat.” I did, and it was delicious, defying pretty much every whole wheat pastry stereotype.

The wine list is comprised of organic, sustainable, and biodynamic wines and a decent selection of mostly local New York beers, as well as their own “Communal” lager, unspectacular but a good buy at $4.

communal-flatbread

For dinner, exhausted UWS mothers and fathers can order the “Mombie” or the “Zombdy” specials, for 19 and 20 dollars respectively. The Mombie, for “an exhausted mother that feeds on coffee and survives on wine,” includes any salad, glass of wine, and a cup of coffee. The zombdy, “for an overwhelmed Dad that Feeds on Coffee and survives on beer,” comes with any flatbread, a beer, and a cup of coffee. The idea is cute, but the implicit gender norms are irritating: why the mamas gotta be eating salad and wine? Alas.

communal-pastries

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My Favorite Eats At New Orleans’ French Quarter Fest

Shrimp and White Beans (Café Reconcile)

In New Orleans, red beans typically hog all the legume-related attention, as they star in the creole classic, red beans and rice. Here, starchy white beans melt with shrimp in a lightly creamy sauce, all served over rice. And it’s a revelation.

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Crawfish Boil (Rouse’s)

I cannot think of a more inconvenient festival food than a big Styrofoam plate of crawfish boil, which includes a sizeable hunk of Andouille, two boiled potatoes, half a cob of corn, and an overwhelming red mound of sea crustaceans, ready for the cracking. But the struggle is worth it; it’s a labor of love. The seasoning is perfect, and besides, I needed a break from fried food.

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Fried Alligator Corn Dog (Café Reconcile)

The humble corn dog, a staple at any self-respecting festival, gets an upgrade with succulent alligator meat, which is deep fried in a sweet corn batter. Served with a spicy mayo sauce, of course. This alligator corn dog is about as dumb good as it gets.

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Crawfish Sausage Po Boy (Vaucresson Sausage Co.)

For those of you who crave crawfish but don’t want antennae in your fingernails, this is the dish for you. The crisp pork sausage, filled with succulent crawfish meat, is served on fluffy French bread, with just a flurry of shredded lettuce (yay vegetablessss.)

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BBQ Bourbon Shrimp Stuffed Po Boy (Dickie Brennan’s)

Here’s another noteworthy po boy. This one was so scrumptious I didn’t have the time or will to take a picture because I was so devoted to stuffing it in my face. BBQ in New Orleans is not the sweet and tangy reddish brown sauce you might imagine, but rather a zesty sauté with garlic, white wine, and lots of butter. These shrimp get a hit of bourbon and are crammed into hallowed-out French bread, then my mouth.

Rice Pudding (Rib House)

While the white chocolate banana bed pudding by House of Blues had me convulsing with pleasure, the Rib House’s understated bowl of ride pudding is everything it should be: creamy, dense, gently sweet, and topped with a dollop of strawberry jam.

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Naples’ Garbage Problem Problem

(Here’s another old journal entry, from when I was living in Naples last August.)

Naples has a garbage problem problem.

That is, Neopolitans are not addressing their garbage problem, and that is a problem.

Any tourist guide, travel magazine, or native Neapolitan will tell you that Naples is filled with trash. Indeed, there is garbage everywhere: overflowing from rusty dumpsters in plastic bags, spread on the narrow cobblestone streets, floating in the Mediterranean, and piling up on the side of the highway. Yet Neapolitans always make a point of telling me that the trash situation was worse ten years ago, and that it’s not so bad now.

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“Here’s the thing about Naples and garbage,” my friend and Naples-native Biagio told me. “It’s not that we’re inherently dirty. It’s just that if you lived in a city where people put their trash out and no one picked it up, your city would be filled with trash, too! No one’s just throwing trash around.”

But people are just throwing trash around. While the Neapolitan garbage system is clearly flawed, individuals are responsible, too. Perhaps because they’ve lost faith in the mafia-run trash system, or perhaps because everywhere they look there’s garbage and what’s one more pizza box? I, for one, know that I’m complicit.

Every other morning, I leave my Naples apartment with a plastic bag filled with old soda cans, parts of sandwiches I didn’t finish, receipts, empty bottles, and more plastic bags. I walk to the main road, Via Toledo, where there are public trashcans, and I, as discretely as possible, stuff my bag inside the can and speed walk away.

If the public cans are full, I find an overflowing dumpster. I hold my breath, lift the top, drop my bag, and briskly walk away. An old woman follows suit behind me.

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5 am

Here’s a journal entry from last summer, when I was living in the small town of Guardia Sanframondi.

This morning I woke up at 5:00am. My schedule is disrupted because of the week-long wine festival, Vinalia — I sleep on-and-off during the day and re-emerge at night, to dance and drink wine in the piazza mercato.

There is a certain peace about 5:00 am. I am not suggesting it’s worth waking up for (unless breakfast meats are involved), but it’s nice. Cool. Quiet. Still. I read my New Yorkers in bed for an hour and, after an unsuccessful attempt at falling back asleep, I put on my sneakers and stepped outside, prepared to go for a short passagiata and profit from the fleeting coolness.

I was not the only one awake. Stray dogs, old women in shift dresses sweeping their front steps, and men delivering pastries to bars. The embraced the new day with varying degrees of vigor.

I stopped by a fountain on the side of the road to fill up my water bottle. I heard someone scream my name.

“Maria!”

I resented this disturbance from my solitude. But  if you walk anywhere in Guardia, you must first accept the impossibility of remaining alone.

I made eye contact with Michele, a white haired man in his mid sixties, who is across the street, dressed in a tight pink T-shirt with a blue kerchief tied around his neck. Some evenings Michele can be found singing and playing guitar at Pizzaland, the fun-themed pizzeria where he performs alongside his smoke machine, that he owns, because he owns a smoke machine. More often than not he’s strolling around Corso Umberto, Guardia’s main road, popping in and out of bars and waving to acquaintances across the street. He seems to be perpetually making the rounds, overseeing the general order of Guardia, not unlike the town’s stray dogs.

“What are you doing up this early?” he asked me.

“Una passagiata.”

“Alone? Why are you alone?”

“I like being alone.”

“Listen,” he said, “The water fountain down the hill is much better. This one is no good. The water is hot.”

I put my hand under the running water. It was cool.

“This is fine.”

Michele spent the next five minutes trying to explain to me that the fountain a half a mile down the hill, in the opposite direction, is much, much better.

I asked him if this water, from this fountain here, where we were already standing, was drinkable, and he said yes, and I said it was good enough for me, as my only demand of water is that it doesn’t give me diarrhea.

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5 Things A Pug Named Frank Taught Me About Life

me and frank, dressed in our finest

When my friend went on vacation for a week, I was beyond blessed to have the opportunity to take care of her pug, Frank. Over those precious seven days, Frank taught me so, so much about myself, life, believing, dreams, and yearning. I want to share five of the most important lessons he taught me.

1. No matter how terrible your day was, there is not one single problem that a pug dressed in a bow tie cannot solve.

2. Don’t do anything halfheartedly. Whether you’re playing with your stuffed toy or licking your feet or smelling your friend, really commit to it. Only you can make your life purposeful.

3. Cuddling is the reason we were all, pugs and humans, put on this earth.

4. Sometimes, generations and generations of inbreeding turns out pretty okay.

5. If you stick your tongue out for a long time, it’ll get really dry, like sand paper.

Honorable mention lesson: Neck fat is the most precious thing.

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Classy Gin Dranks

Did you know that the 18th century English term for gin was “Madam Geneva?” I didn’t either, until I swung by Madam Geneva the other night, a cute, eclectic bar at 4 Bleecker Street. As a mostly impoverished writer, I’ve tried my hardest to lose my taste for cocktails…which isn’t so easy in New York. I feel like every day three new dimly-lit cocktail bars — with waiters dressed in 1920 ice cream parlor outfits — pop up around the city. And it ain’t cheap. In New York, if you want a high-quality, well-balanced cocktail, you have to pay upwards of $10. Upwards of $10 can buy me a couple of meals / dollar-store-impulse-buys, so I generally try my best to avoid trendy cocktail spots.

But gin is wonderful. And so is Madam Geneva. As a cucumber fiend, I’m tragically obsessed with their classic gin and tonic – made with a delightfully understated house-made cucumber tonic! And they mix in some celery bitters, which I didn’t totally pick up on, but was delighted to drink, having once heard something about how consuming celery burns calories.

The Far Eastern Gimlet is another must-drink. Spring 44 gin, yuzu, lime cordial, and Vietnamese mint. Utterly refreshing. The bar snacks look great, too – salt and pepper squid, shrimp toast, and duck steam buns – but I decided to save myself for later, as I had Velveeta Mac and Cheese waiting for me at home. It’s hard maintaining the classy act.

photo courtesy of saxon + parole

photo courtesy of saxon + parole

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