SCRIPT: Wake Up Call

Meanwhile, in South Dakota, way out on the lone prairie, Betsey Horton, Writer Extraordinaire, awakes from her not-so-sound slumber sometime well before dawn. After tossing and turning for sometime, she finally accepts the inevitable. She picks up her iPad and sees an interesting notification.

Duolingo: Ms. Horton, we’re just done your Year in Review and we have good news! Congratulations! You’re in the Top 1% of Language Learners in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD! That’s right! Out of millions of people on this planet, you made it to the top! You did it! You’re a World Champion! You’re #1!

Betsey: What the f—? Is this for real?

Duolingo: You’re damn right it’s real! Here’s 10 pages of states to prove it!

Betsey: Wow, okay. Uhhh… but… wait… uhh… how?

Duolingo: You dedicated your time and put in the work! You took lessons in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Navajo, Haitian Creole, and Swahili! French and Portuguese are the two you dedicated the most time and practice on. That’s right! Just by dedicating 10 minutes a day, you made it. You didn’t even know any Portuguese a year ago. Now you can understand the brief dialogues they included in The Woman King. How does that make you feel?

Betsey: Are you sure you’re not making a mistake? I never win anything. There’s no way I can be Number One.

Duolingo: C’est vrai! You’re on top! Here’s your award!

The Owl motions to the stage behind him as the red velvet curtains roll up. Betsey suddenly finds herself standing in front and center with the spotlight on her. The Owl drapes her in a golden sash, hands her a bouquet of flowers, and puts a crown on her head. The crowd gives her a standing ovation and throws their hats in the air.

The Audience: You’re Number One! You’re Number One! You’re Number One!

Betsey: [looks around in awe for just a moment before she realizes she *LOVES* all the attention suddenly being thrown her way and immediately starts hamming it up for the crowd] Oh yes, thank you, thank you! Merci beaucoup! Muchas gracias! Obrigada! Obrigado! Merci, merci, merci! Yes, thank you. I love you all! J’adore tout la monde!

Duolingo: But wait, there’s more! Just for purely scientific purposes, we must know… why did you end your streak and go dark on your lessons when you were doing well?

Betsey: Uhh… well… actually… if you must know… the real reason is because I was listening to the French audio lessons and I got to the one where my two friends meet at a dinner party and really hit off and go on a date to the tennis court together and it goes so well that he asks her out for lunch. Honestly, I just got really randomly insanely jealous and I had to turn it off because I couldn’t stand listening to it anymore.

Duolingo: Ahhh… l’amour.

Betsey: Oui, l’amour. C’est une blague. Ridiculous. Why can’t I be invited to a fancy French dinner party where some random hot French guy asks me out on a date? Why do I have to be stuck in this godforsaken town in the middle of nowhere?

Duolingo: I can’t answer that question, but I can suggest you finish out the audio listen just in case you ever happen to find yourself in that situation. You never know! After all, that’s the point of learning new languages. They open up lots of new doors!

Betsey: You’re right. I should go back. As it turns out, I really enjoy winning. This seems like a pretty good way to go about it.

Duolingo: Yes, yes. That’s it. Turn back to the light side! Use your brain power for good!

Betsey: Brain power? What brain power?

Duolingo: The brain power you used to become a #1 Top Language Learner Worldwide!

Betsey: Oh, that brain power. The brain power I’m destroying with alcohol because I have no practical use for it in my every day life now that I live in this miserable fucking culturally devoid shithole.

Duolingo: Exactly. Now let’s get you back on track so you can make that fabulous trip to Brazil for Carnival!

Betsey: You’re right. I am much happier when I dedicate my time and energy to opening new doors to new worlds and new people. Let’s take the New Year by storm!

The crowd goes wild, again. Betsey waves and bows and blows kisses as she waltzes offstage.

The End?

SCRIPT: Betsey Returns to the Island

Author’s Note: This was originally written in October 2018. I didn’t publish it because assholes were causing me a lot of problems at the time. Also, I’m not sure where to go with it. Should I continue the series, or should I abandon the Island of Lost Guys forever? Please let me know in the comments! Thank you in advance!


On last week’s episode of “Island Escapes International…”

BETSEY and a REAL ESTATE AGENT are standing on a desert island somewhere off the coast of Belize.

BETSEY: This Island will be perfect for all of my Lost Guys. I will build them a house so grand, they will never want to leave me ever again.

REAL ESTATE AGENT: That will be one million dollars, please.

BETSEY: Shut up and take my money!

REAL ESTATE AGENT: The exchange rate for Americans is really good down here, no?

BETSEY: That’s what happens when terrible first world foreign policy allows third world countries to become havens for money laundering, drug running, human trafficking, and gang warfare.

REAL ESTATE AGENT: No comment.

BETSEY: Enough about politics! I’ve got a house to build.

Three months later, Island Escapes International checks back in with BETSEY to see how her little project is coming along…

The scene opens with a flyover shot of a beautiful, exotic island somewhere in a far away land. Area Codes by Ludacris plays in the background as a private jet circles the island. It lands gracefully in a clearing. The door opens and a staircase appears. A red carpet rolls out.

BETSEY appears at the top of the staircase looking glamorous. She is wearing an emerald green sparkling fringe dress, a glittering headband with an ornate peacock feather fascinator, multiple strings of pearls, and a fur coat. She waltzes down the red carpet in her fabulous high heels. She is followed by 25 of her closest friends. They are also dressed up in 1920’s-themed clothing. BETSEY stops to greet the cameras.

BETSEY: Welcome one and all to the grand opening of The Island of Lost Guys! Here you will find an exotic wonder never before seen anywhere in literature! I’ve searched the world far and wide in search of these rare creatures of all shapes and sizes. Behold! My ridiculous collection of Ex-Boyfriends!

A sign appears on the screen reading: “VERY IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: The term “Boyfriend,” as used in this story, is defined as any man Betsey may have dated, hooked up with, crushed on, or derived inspiration from by staring at them from across the room. Why? Because it saves a lot of time.”

Cut to shot of a large mansion built in the middle of the clearing. The house is a white Southern plantation-style home with lavender shutters and a row of elaborate Corinthian-style columns out front. A grey slate path leads a trail to the grand front steps. Antique rocking chairs sway out on the front porch. Empty beer cans cover the grass and toilet paper hangs from the bushes. Mardi Gras beads decorate the windows and doors. A flock of plastic pink flamingos hangs out on the front lawn.

BETSEY: Wait a second. Something isn’t right here. This isn’t how I left my house!

BETSEY leads both the group and the camera crew to the front door. BETSEY unlocks the house and throws open the clean glass French doors to reveal a messy, smelly, utterly disgusting man cave. More empty beer cans litter the floor, joined by half-eaten bags of chips, used solo cups, and crushed Mountain Dew cartons. Everyone gasps in shock at the sight.

BETSEY: [laughing nervously] Looks like the guys had another party last night! Ridiculous! I know for a fact I told them I was coming. I don’t know why they didn’t clean up!

BETSEY leads the crew through the foyer and living room into the kitchen, where the mess is even worse. The garbage is overflowing with trash, the counter is lined with liquor bottles, and the counters are stained red from the cheap mixers. A gigantic stack of dishes sits abandoned in the sink, left for dead some time ago. The door to the backyard is slightly ajar, with a dog’s muddy paw prints trailing in and out of the house. An empty keg rolls across the deck like a tumbleweed in the wind. Everyone looks over the scene in horror.

BETSEY: I can’t believe this! How could they leave the house like this when they knew they were going to be on national television?! Don’t they have any idea we’re live?! Men are so ungrateful! You give them a whole house and they trash it! Typical!

Everyone follows BETSEY as she storms up the stairs to the second floor to wake THE GUYS. She raises her voice and lets out the most obnoxious holler they’ve ever heard. All of them simultaneously jump awake, throw on their uniforms, and assemble in the hall. They stand at attention as BETSEY marches up and down the hall to inspect the lot. She immediately notices who is missing from the lineup.

BETSEY: Alright, which one of you measly maggots decided it was a good idea to leave that mess downstairs?! Don’t you realize we’re live on national television here?!

THE GUYS stand together in silent solidarity. Betsey rolls her eyes and marches to the end of the line. There she finds TOM DE LA SALLE. He looks especially determined to play the part of LOYAL GRUNT SOLDIER, a random extra in Scene Three who captures the attention of the director, becomes a crucial supporting player over the course of the movie, and receives his own dramatic death scene in the final act. As a result, he stars in the director’s next five productions, wins multiple Oscars, and quickly becomes an international sensation.

BETSEY: You! Soldier! You seem like you’re looking for a chance to stand out from the crowd! I always know a Star when I see one. Tell me. What do you have to say?

TOM: [stands up tall and salutes BETSEY fiercely] Ma’am, yes, Ma’am! It was the President of the Belizean chapter of the Mu Alpha Tau Zeta fraternity, ma’am!

BETSEY: [confused] I beg your pardon? The Who of the What now?

TOM: The President of the Fraternity.

BETSEY: [eyes narrow darkly] What fraternity?

TOM: The fraternity we all joined in a Secret Ceremony in the basement. He told us it was real jack rabbit blood, but it just tasted like regular old blackberry brandy to me. Never much liked the stuff myself. Always thought it tasted like cough syrup.

BETSEY: [twitching angrily] I never authorized any sort of Greek activity on this island! There is no way this is a respectable, legitimate, registered organization. I’m not dealing with the legal ramifications of this. I’m going to have to shut it down.

TOM: Well, good luck with that one. He’s not going to let it go easily. It was crazy how it all happened. Everything was normal. All of us were just relaxing out here in our hammocks. The one day, HE showed up. Suddenly, he took over everything. [snaps fingers] Just like that.

BETSEY: I know exactly what you mean. What happened next?

TOM: He rounded us up, put us in bunks, and sent us out to do the grunt work. It’s been three years now since he enslaved us, but I never lost hope. Every once in awhile he throws a party to boost moral, but slogging through the day is brutal. We built this house with blood, sweat, and tears. Good men died here. So many good men! So many good god damned men!

TOM breaks down and starts crying dramatically. The crowd stands in awe, completely enraptured by his performance. BETSEY wipes a single tear from her eye.

BETSEY: Beautiful. Just beautiful. That is some real goddamn talent right there!

THE CROWD applauds. BETSEY promptly resumes her angry stance.

BETSEY: And pray tell, good solider, what is the name of this so-called “president” of this obviously fake “Mu Alpha Tau Zeta” fraternity? Is he aware that no legitimate Greek organization contains four letters in its name?

TOM: It was Andrew Darling, ma’am.

THE CROWD gasps.

BETSEY: [fuming] Of course it was.

TOM: As for your second question, I can neither confirm nor deny he has any knowledge of the Greek system. I can only say that he believes himself to be The Emperor of the whole island and therefore controls everything that goes on here.

BETSEY: Well… we’ll see about that, won’t we?

TOM: He’s upstairs in the penthouse if you’re looking for him.

BETSEY: [sarcastically] Of course he’s in the penthouse. Where else would he be?

TOM: I can take you up there if you like.

BETSEY: Lead the way. As for the rest of you, clean up this mess right now! I want this island to shine like the top of the Chrysler building!

THE GUYS: Whatever you say, Boss!

BETSEY: Damn right.

TOM leads BETSEY & COMPANY upstairs to the penthouse. At the top of the stairway they find an elaborate purple and gold door with a sign written in childish crayon scrawl, “ANDREW’S ROOM. NO GIRLS ALLOWED! (EXCEPT 4 MOM).” The door promptly opens and two young college girls come tramping out in the same clubwear they wore to the party the night before. Their makeup is smeared and their hairstyles askew. They stop giggling when greeted with the sight of a full camera crew.

BETSEY: Excuse me, I don’t mean to be rude, but… who the hell are you?

COLLEGE GIRL 1: What’s with the camera crew? Are we on TV right now?

COLLEGE GIRL 2: [cutting in front and taking a selfie in front of the cameras] I’m Ashley and this is Tiffany! We’re Influencers!

BETSEY: Uh huh, yeah. Right. Sure you are. And tell me, ladies, just what are you doing in my house?

TIFFANY: This is your house?

BETSEY: It is indeed my house. Let me guess. Andrew told you otherwise.

ASHLEY: He sure did! He said this was his house and we were welcome to come over to use the pool anytime we want.

BETSEY: [rolling her eyes] Well, unfortunately you have been misinformed. This is my house and you are not to come back here anymore, especially to use my pool. No other women are allowed on this island except for me. It’s my island I bought for my ex-boyfriends. You are not welcome here.

TIFFANY: Oh… sorry!

ASHLEY: We’ll just be going now.

BETSEY: Great. I’ll send one of my minions to get the helicopter. I support your right to party, but you can’t do it in my house. Go back to school and find a real frat house to get wasted in. Thanks again for visiting The Island of Lost Guys. Get home safe!

COLLEGE GIRLS: Thanks!

THE COLLEGE GIRLS slip past the camera crew and disappear down the stairs, stopping to take several selfies on the way down. BETSEY shakes her head and looks back at the door with dread.

BETSEY: All right, let’s see what’s behind Door Number Three!

BETSEY throws the door open to find a wide open studio space. A ring of strategically placed chairs sits in the middle of the room with various instruments strewn about. In the corner rests an old futon with a lump of blankets on top and a golden retriever puppy sleeping in the corner of the bed. BETSEY approaches the futon and pulls off the blankets to reveal a disheveled (early) middle-aged man with messy hair, a heavy five o’clock shadow, and a total dadbod. He is completely naked from head to toe and holding his dick in his hand. He jumps up in surprise and quickly covers himself with the sheet.

BETSEY: Andrew! What is the meaning of this?

ANDREW: [hazily] Oh… um… heyyyy, baby. What are you doing here?

BETSEY: I called three days ago to let you know in advance I was coming! I told you to clean up the house! Why isn’t it done?

ANDREW: Uhhh…

BETSEY: And while you’re at it, would you mind explaining to everyone who those girls were we just met outside your door?

ANDREW: What girls? I didn’t see any girls.

BETSEY: We have them on camera telling us you invited them over here.

ANDREW: I don’t know who you’re talking about. Sorry.

BETSEY: [points to a lime green thong on the floor] One of them left their underwear right there.

ANDREW: Wow, that’s so weird. How did that get there? Is that yours?

BETSEY: [gives him a look of disgust] Seriously? You think I, Betsey Horton, Writer Extraordinaire, would ever wear anything lime green, let alone a g-string? I am a woman with style, class, and taste. I would NEVER wear a lime green thong!

BETSEY throws the thong in ANDREW’S face. He takes a quick sniff of it before tossing it to the floor.

ANDREW: I’m not sure where that came from. Sorry.

BETSEY: [visibly disgusted] Roll the tape!

THE CREW plays back the video footage of TIFFANY and ASHLEY for ANDREW. He looks down at the floor and cringes.

ANDREW: Ohhh… uhhh… right… uhh… those girls. Yeah. Um… They were just here to clean the house.

BETSEY: So you hired a set of maids. I see.

ANDREW: That’s right!

BETSEY: Maids that you were just found in bed with. In a filthy house.

ANDREW: You didn’t find me in bed with them. They were in here cleaning the room.

BETSEY: They certainly weren’t dressed like they were cleaning the room! They were wearing crop tops and mini skirts with six inch heels!

ANDREW: It’s a specialized service. They’re supposed to dress that way.

BETSEY: Which explains why you’re naked, of course.

ANDREW: I’m not naked. I’m wearing a sheet.

BETSEY: [heavy sigh] Andrew, I just want you know I’m very disappointed in you right now. I thought you were more responsible than this. I thought I could trust you to be left alone in charge of the house. Now I see I was wrong. You’ve humiliated me in front of a live audience. Yet again! Thanks for nothing.

ANDREW: Wait! Stop! I can explain!

BETSEY storms out of the room. The cameras linger on ANDREW for just a moment as he calls after her. THE CREW proceeds to follow BETSEY as she walks down the hallway and back to the foyer. She stops at the top of the stairs, takes a deep breath, and turns around. She clears her throat and smiles at the camera as if absolutely nothing is wrong.

BETSEY: Well, it looks like we’ve discovered the main culprit behind the party! Typical men! They really do believe deep down in their primitive little lizard brains that women are in charge of the household chores! We’ve clearly got a lot of work to do here, so I guess that means it’s time for a commercial break. We’ll be back after these somewhat questionable messages from our sponsors.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

To be continued…

SCRIPT: Retail Apocalyse

Author’s Note: I wrote this because I am a lifelong shopaholic/mall rat who started working retail in 2007, watched all of these companies burn their businesses to the ground with crappy, unnecessary changes, and now lacks any kind of sympathy for any of them.

Corporate Retailers: Why are we all constantly declaring bankruptcy and closing all our stores? We can’t figure out what we’re doing wrong!

Retail Customers: Well, once upon a time, most of you had a solid business model with solid products that created customer loyalty. Then you decided to throw away that model in favour of a constantly-changing array of cheap, ugly crap that doesn’t last and overcharge for it. Now people can no longer find the products they were habitually buying from your stores.

In the case of clothing, you flat-out refuse to cater to the average-sized American woman, instead creating exclusive lines for size 2’s only. That’s not a realistic, profitable business model. It’s just not. You can fantasize about some perfectly proportioned woman who will never exist, but reality will NEVER match your expectations. If you want to make money, you’re just going to have to accept the fact that woman are all unique individuals who deserve fabulous clothes regardless of their shape or size.

Second, you change the floor set every five minutes, creating chaos and confusion. How am I supposed to find anything when you’re constantly moving all the displays?

Third, you train your employees to harass every customer by following them around the store asking incessantly if they need anything. Then you try to push those customers into signing up for your credit cards and rewards programs, even if they said no the last 50 times they came to the store.

Retail Employees: Another part of your problem is that you hire 20 part-time workers to work 5-10 hours a week each when a small handful of full-time workers could easily cover those same hours. Yet you refuse to schedule anyone for a full 40 hours a week so you don’t have to give them healthcare or benefits. Then you cut people’s hours down even further by sending them home early citing “payroll.”

You tell us this is because “retail jobs are for teenagers and college students,” completely dismissing everyone who has a degree in, oh, let’s say fashion merchandising, for example. It also ignores people who don’t have degrees and people living in rural areas where the closest mall offers most of the non-ag/industrial/manual labor jobs. Yet you pay shit wages that don’t even cover a week’s worth of groceries for most families.

On top of all of that, you demand we harass customers with credit cards to meet arbitrary sales goals when there is absolutely no reward for us. You treat your employees like easily-disposable garbage that you can replace just like that and wonder why your employee turn-over rate is so ridiculously high. You fire people without giving reason or warning so they can’t file for unemployment or get the benefits they need. Then you call this “job creation” and tell us to be grateful for it.

Retailers, you do all of this, every single day, and you wonder why you are shuttering at an alarming rate. Seriously, fuck off.

Corporate Retailers: We just don’t understand why we’re losing customers. Let’s blame Amazon and online shopping! Now get back to work, you ungrateful maggots. We’re cutting your hours and your hourly pay even more. And don’t even ASK for healthcare in the middle of a pandemic! Just be grateful you even have a job!

Now, if you don’t mind, we’re going to go sail around on the yachts we bought with all the money we made off of screwing over both our customers and employees. Then we will beg for a big government bailout when our company goes under! Yay capitalism!

SCRIPT: Feed Your Ex To A Tiger

Betsey is scrolling through Facebook when she comes upon an exciting ad: “CLICK HERE TO FEED YOUR EX TO A TIGER.” Upon following the link, she finds an Exotic Cat Sanctuary page advertising a charity event.

Web Page: Have you ever fantasized about feeding your ex to a tiger? Now you can make that dream come true! For every five dollars you donate, we’ll name a piece of raw meat after your ex and feed it to a tiger on our social media livestream! Every contribution you make goes towards helping end the enslavement of these beautiful, dignified creatures for human entertainment! Whether your contribution goes towards efforts to lobby Congress to pass the necessary legislation, care for the cats, or general upkeep of the facility, rest assured your money is going to good use! Click here to donate today!

Betsey: Hmmm….

After dedicating many long hours to carefully researching the legitimacy of the organization, Betsey makes her decision. She sits down at her computer and begins to pen her email.

Betsey: [reading aloud as she types] To whom it may concern, I am contacting you directly because I would like to make a significant enough contribution to your organization that I receive a tax break in return. I care deeply about protecting the rights of animals, especially exotic animals born, bred, and forever imprisoned in captivity for profit and so-called “entertainment.” My lifelong passion for this cause is something I take very seriously. That is why I want to make such a significant contribution to your organization.

The following list of names is quite lengthy and may take up the majority of your livestream, which I am more than happy to financially compensate you for in return. Here’s my offer of a ridiculous amount of money that only exists in this story. Please let me know what you think. Thank you again for dedicating your life to preserving the dignity of these beautiful creatures.

Betsey attaches a list of names that not only includes her exes, but several former employers and assorted bullies as well. She sends off the letter and waits for a response. A few hours later, she receives an email from the organization’s director.

Director: Dear Betsey, Thank you so much for your donation! I am thrilled to offer you an exclusive spot on our livestream in return for your generous contribution. We will be hosting the event on DATE at TIME. Here’s some super boring info about financial stuff, blah blah blah. Thank you again for working with us to protect exotic animal rights!

On the day of the event, Betsey tunes into the livestream.

Director: Hey there all you cool cats and kittens! We are excited to inform you that our “Feed Your Ex To A Tiger” campaign has been a raging success! We’ve received millions of dollars in donations! You’d be surprised just how many people in this world would feed their ex to a tiger!

… Not that I would know or anything, of course. I didn’t do it, but if I did, I was clearly ridding the world of a shady drug dealer who was regularly flying to a third world country to prey on young girls living in poverty. Is it really that big of a loss to the human race? NO!

Anyway, as I was saying, the number of people who want to see their ex fed to a tiger was so significant that we’ll be doing these livestreams for several months. We might even make it a permanent thing!

That being said, I’d like to dedicate the first episode to Betsey Horton, who sent us a list so long and a contribution so large, we decided to acknowledge her as our top donor! Those of us here at Exotic Cat Sanctuary are grateful to you for helping our cause. Enjoy watching your exes get fed to a tiger, Betsey!

Betsey: [sits back and smirks as the first deer leg is pulled from the pile and waved over a hungry tiger’s head] Thanks, Director Lady. I will.

The End

PROMPT: Ten Year Challenge

PROMPT: Are you currently where you thought you would be in life ten years ago?

Hmm. Wow. Deep. My first thought is, “Yes and no.” Yes, because I have done quite a few things on my bucket list (such as attend the Paris Writing Workshop and go on a road trip across the United States). No, because 21-year-old me just had her entire life uprooted against her will and had no idea what she wanted to do. So, it’s hard to say where I thought I would be ten years ago.

I feel like 21-year-old me felt completely powerless to change her life. At 21, I felt like my life would always be dictated by the people around me: family, doctors, teachers, shitty boyfriends, and bad social situations. I didn’t get to choose where I went to college, I didn’t choose to move to South Dakota, and I definitely did not choose to be surrounded by users, abusers, and narcissists. Unfortunately, that is what happened to me and now I have to accept it so I can live out the rest of my days in peace.

I digress. The important thing is that I have snapped out of this unhealthy mindset. I firmly believe I am in control of my own destiny, which is why I spend most of my time doing whatever the hell I want with absolutely no regard for how anyone else feels about it. I didn’t flush three bottles of zombie pills down a toilet just to be told what to do by someone who has no idea what it feels like to be me. I refuse to be controlled by anyone or anything. The wild cat finally escaped captivity. Now it can never go back.

I adopted this attitude about six or seven years ago when I decided to start my journey to “enlightenment,” whatever the hell I thought that meant at the time. Since then, I have worked on my mental health, written my ass off, and traveled to quite a few places on my list. Am I where I currently want to be in life? No. But I am also 31-years-old now and have a much better idea of what that actually looks like.

I’m grateful I took the time to explore my identity in my 20’s. The mistakes I made and lessons I learned from them have been invaluable. I felt confident walking into my 30’s with the understanding that life can really only get better from here. I made a list of writing, travel, and career goals to check off in my 30’s. I feel prepared to take on the world.

The question I am thinking about now is: where do I want to be ten years from now? I think we all know the answer is finally living in Paris! But more importantly, I want to be a successful, established writer with a serious, professional career that allows me to travel. I would also like a fabulous apartment with a balcony, bathtub, and amazing view.

I’m sure someone out there is thinking, “BuT wHaT aBoUt MaRrIaGe AnD bAbIeS? YoU’lL cHaNgE yOuR mInD wHeN yOu EnD uP aLoNe WiTh CaTs.” I don’t think I will, actually. Cats (and dogs, and most animals in general) are superior to human beings (especially children) in just about every way possible. You know what’s even better than cats? Crows. Specifically Parisian crows, who are snobby and judgmental about what kind of food they eat out of the trash. A mere hairpin is not a sufficient offering to a Parisian Crow. It must be a fashionable hairpin; so fashionable that this crow will become a trendsetter just by picking it up and flying around town.

Okay, it’s decided. I also hope for a fabulous murder of stylish-but-cynical Parisian crows to hang out by my balcony and keep me company while I write. That seems like a great life goal to achieve by age 41. I am now inspired to write a short film about a murder of crows who conspire to help a lonely writer meet a sexy-but-wealthy Frenchman so she can get a visa and stay forever. True love isn’t a feeling; it’s a carefully-negotiated business contract that benefits all parties involved.

Okay, so that was fun. Time to go clean my house now. Ta ta!

PROMPT: Gas Station Casino

PROMPT: Write about an experience you’ve had at a gas station or convenience store.
Taken from 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Do you know what a gas station casino is? Neither did I, until I moved to South Dakota. Out here, gas station casinos are EVERYWHERE. I would estimate that the majority of gas stations in SD have at least one video lottery machine, if not several rooms full of them. In fact, most gas stations have an entire wing of the convenience store dedicated solely to video lottery machines. It is truly one of the weirder cultural aspects of SD as far as I, a person who grew up inside the Beltway, am concerned.

As I am not a gambler, I had no reason to ever set foot in a gas station casino. The only time I had ever been in one was during my brief stint as a gas station attendant (yes, this is a real job I once had), which required me to clean the casino. My assigned tasks were stocking the free snack bowls, vacuuming the nasty carpet, and wiping down the greasy machines. I quit this job after about a week and ran off to Colorado with my boyfriend at the time. The relationship did not work out.

I remained largely indifferent to the existence of gas station casinos until I found myself sitting in the one at “my” gas station (aka the one down the street where I frequently buy snacks, cigarettes, beer, and incense sticks) on a random Sunday afternoon. How did this happen? Well, there’s only one person in this world who could possibly convince me that setting foot in a gas station casino is a great idea. That person is none other than my good friend “Mad Dog.”

I was not planning to hang out with Mad Dog on this particular Sunday. I have no idea what I was planning to do, to be honest. I went to the gas station to buy cigarettes and saw Mad Dog’s beat up old orange bike parked outside. I did not see him when I went inside because he was not in the convenience wing of the building. I asked the gas station attendant if she had seen him and she promptly pointed to a door I’d never noticed before. Imagine my surprise when I walked through this door and discovered a whole half of a building I never knew existed before!

As I’m sure you’ve already realized, this part of the building contained the casino. There were two rooms full of video lottery machines, one smoking and one non. Mad Dog was in the smoking room, of course, chainsmoking his Mavericks and drinking a beer. He was deep in conversation with a Native lady I’d never seen before (who he claims to have dated once when he was much, much younger) and his friend “Crazy Dave.” I’d met Crazy Dave on a number of occasions prior to this. He definitely has that nickname for a reason. That’s all I’m going to say for now.

Mad Dog greeted me happily and immediately offered to buy me a beer. I had no idea that one was allowed to purchase beer from the convenience store and drink it in the casino, but apparently this is encouraged. He walked over to the convenience side, bought me a 24oz can of Bud Light, poured half of it into a plastic cup, and promptly started chain smoking again.

A few minutes later, Crazy Dave and the Native lady returned to their gambling. It was like watching a human turn into a zombie in approximately 10 seconds flat. They spent the next hour sitting at the machines while Mad Dog told me the same set of stories I’ve heard a thousand times. He apologized to me because gas station casinos “don’t have the liveliest of crowds,” which is why he prefers actual bars.

An hour later, Mad Dog went back to the store to buy another pack of cigarettes. He returned with another beer for both himself and me. This is how I ended up drunk at a gas station casino at approximately 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. I did not play on the machines (nor did Mad Dog), but we did watch several people gamble away hundreds of dollars they didn’t have.

Sometime during the second beer, a super trashy white lady and an old Native guy appeared in the casino. The Native guy and Mad Dog chatted for awhile while the lady played the machines, then they switched places. The lady sat down with us at the table, lit up a cigarette, and proceeded to start talking about Donald Trump. She goes on and on for about 20 minutes before returning to the video lottery. The room was silent again. Mad Dog got bored.

“Well, do you wanna finish that beer and head over to Cleo’s?” he asked. “There should be a much livelier crowd in there.”

Before I could respond, he dumped the rest of my beer into the plastic cup and handed it to me. He did the same for his and started for the door. The gas station attendant smiled and waved at us as we left. Both of us walked out of the gas station with open containers in hand. Mad Dog made me carry his down the street to Bloody Mary’s while he rode his bike. He parked his bike and went inside for a drink, leaving me outside with both cups. I sat on the bench outside and finished mine. After about 20 minutes, Mad Dog reappeared and finished his cup. Then we walked around the corner to Cleo’s, only to discover it was closed. The day ended with him returning to Bloody Mary’s and me wandering back to my apartment.

It wasn’t an eventful nor exciting day by any means. In fact, overall it was rather dull, especially for a “drinking with Mad Dog” situation. However, it is the story of the one time I randomly got drunk in a gas station casino, and that’s what makes it interesting.

The End

PROMPT: Dream Destination

Author’s Note: I am resuming my prompt challenge until my mind goes blank again. I will not be defeated by a blank page.

Prompt: Write about your ultimate dream travel destination.

For me, it’s Africa. Hands down, Africa. It’s not even a contest. Africa all the way. I truly desire to see all of it, but when I think of my ultimate dream trip, I think of the South Eastern region of the continent. I’ve wanted to go there for as long as I can remember. It’s basically a lifelong dream.

To say I have carried a lifelong obsession with Africa is an understatement. When I say Africa, I mean all of it. The entire continent is SO diverse. There are so many people, languages, cultures, ecosystems, species, beliefs, and stories. I love them all. Some of my earliest memories involve watching documentaries on African wildlife for hours on end. I’ve spent countless hours researching the various countries, memorizing the ever-changing borders, and studying their political, cultural, and economic histories. In high school, I worked on various African human rights campaigns during my time in Amnesty International. I will watch movies and read books set anywhere on the continent. I follow it in the news as much as I can. Someday I hope to visit every single country on the map, especially the ones that don’t exist yet.

This trip I’m planning is only the first piece of a much larger journey. Africa cannot be seen in one trip. It must be explored in sections. For example, I firmly believe Egypt should be explored on its own for several weeks. A trek through North Africa would be part of a larger trip around the entire Mediterranean, with the primary goal of visiting sites from Antiquity (I did a Classical Studies emphasis, after all). Western and Central Africa can be very dangerous because of wars, depending on where you go. I would be willing to explore parts of Western Africa where French is spoken, but that would also be its own trip. That leaves East and South Africa, where it is generally safe for travelers due to heavy economic investment into tourism. What does tourism translate to? That’s right: SAFARI!

Six months, ten countries: Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. How do I accomplish this mission? With a combination of volunteer work, safari, and solo writing time. Sounds pretty amazing, so far, right? Stick with me, my story gets better. No, seriously, it does. I literally woke up yesterday morning and spent my entire day researching and planning this trip for no discernible reason whatsoever. I’ve got my entire itinerary planned, right down to the flights. It’s crazy. It’s not planned planned for reasons I will explain later (money and exact dates), but the outline is there.

The only explanation I can think of for this is that the news is making it sound like The Great Plague is coming to end the world as we know it. While I am generally okay with this outcome for humanity, I would very much like to see Africa before I die. Therefore, I figure, I might as well start thinking about it now, while there might still be a chance for me to go. By my calculations, it will require at least a year to make it all happen. Good thing I was just offered cushy seasonal employment at a National Park. I’ll get back to that later. For now: Africa!

I’ve researched traveling to Africa on and off since graduating college. This time, I immediately googled “backpacking trip through Africa.” I found an EXTREMELY informative travel blog called Helen in Wanderlust, where the author recounted her first six month trek across Southeastern Africa. She accomplished this with two volunteer placements, a 77-day overland safari, a combination of riding trains/buses/cars and walking, and hostel hopping. While she was not always alone, she did accomplish all of this as a single Western white woman traveling solo. If she can do it, so can I!

Needless to say, I found it inspiring. I took quite a few tips from her. As I previously mentioned, I took a three-pronged approach to planning my fantasy six month trek across the continent: volunteer work, safari, and solo writing time (aka hiding out alone in an upscale hotel with western amenities for a few days between assignments). I’ll talk about the various aspects that went into researching each one.

VOLUNTEER WORK

Okay, so, anyone who knows me knows I have a lot of opinions about “voluntourism,” which often does more harm than good. If you aren’t familiar with this term, it refers to rich white people spending thousands of dollars to visit “Africa” (aka an unfamiliar country they know nothing about and cannot identify on a map) for two weeks, where they will take pictures with kids at orphanages, lay a couple of bricks on a wall, go on safari, and return home feeling better about themselves. There are lots of legitimate criticisms to be made about voluntourism. This is why I’ve stayed away from it… until yesterday.

Though I am cynical, I understand there are some people in this world who genuinely care about working in developing nations. They are not voluntourists. They dedicate their time and energy to uplifting local communities. They seek to create ethical situations where volunteer work is meaningful for both the community and the individual. I found SO MUCH info just by googling “Ethical volunteer work in Africa.” I’m so grateful to discover there are meaningful opportunities out there. Yes, I have to pay for them, but it’s fine, because my money is helping the organization, the mission of said organization, and the economy. A true act of charity involves giving both money and time. That’s just how it works.

I spent several hours sifting through my Google search results. One of the first pages I found suggested making a written list of my motivations to volunteer and any skills I have that might be helpful.

The motivation part was easy for me, because I am obviously a person who use to care about things until I moved to a small town and became a cynical, mean, depressed drunk. I care about the environment and feminism and politics. I want to make a difference, really I do. I don’t want to sit in the bar anymore. I want to DO SOMETHING THAT ACTUALLY MATTERS! Like I always thought I would when I was 18 and begging my indifferent classmates to write letters on behalf of a random journalist unfairly imprisoned abroad. Instead I am a miserable drunk falling off a barstool who recently worked for a major retail chain that is in the news for its CEO’s connections to a child sex trafficker. Oh, how I loathe what I have become, even though I did take that job pretending I was an investigative journalist there to get an inside scoop on the company. My Assessment? Its reign of terror in malls all across America will soon be ending.

Now for the skills. It turns out, I have some. For one, I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English and History. I’m a writer. Though I have no formal teaching experience, I have enough life experience to feel confident teaching others how to write. I could imagine myself teaching a basic writing class with lessons on fiction, poetry, and essays. There’s plenty of African authors out there to mine for reading material. Yeah, I’m pretty confident I could do that.

Anything else? Well, I’m pretty useless in the kitchen, but I do love animals and spending time outside. I have lots of experience trekking through the wild, as hard as that may be to believe. I also possess some basic horsemanship skills, which might come in handy at a moment’s notice.

Legitimate reasons for volunteering? Check. Useful, relevant skills? Got ‘em! Now, what type of volunteering should I do? Well, I don’t really like kids, so that narrows down the list A LOT. How about wildlife conservation and women’s empowerment programs? Sounds like that’s right up my alley! Wow, look at all these opportunities! But how do I decide where to go and which organizations to apply for? That brings us to…

SAFARI

When I read Helen’s posts about her six month backpacking trip, the biggest thing that stood out to me was her experience taking a 77-day (2.5 month) overland safari across the ten countries I mentioned above. The safari starts in Nairobi, Kenya and ends in Cape Town, South Africa. Though Helen did both of her volunteer assignments prior to this safari, I had the idea to bookend the safari with assignments and use it as the primary method of travel from one end of the region to the other.

This safari is incredible, by the way. It hits all of the major parks and game reserves in those ten countries, such as the Masai Mara (a chance to see the Great Migration!), the Serengeti, Ngorogoro Crater, the Virungas, Victoria Falls, Zanzibar, and the Okavango Delta. It also includes options for activities such as hot air balloon rides (DREAM), horseback riding, winery tours, and wildlife tours.

It’s incredible, but it also requires camping in the bush with a bunch of other tourists for the majority of that time. That means no running water. Strangely enough, this idea thrills me. I would willingly give up hot showers for a chance to go on a 77-day safari. Yeah, no, that doesn’t even phase me at all. It’s worth it. I know that I do not want to trek across 10 countries alone. I’m willing to give up some comfort if there’s a group of adventurous travelers along for the ride.

This safari is how I decided to choose my volunteer assignments. I found a few different women’s empowerment organizations in Kenya and Tanzania, which is where I would start. I truly feel this would be a situation where I would learn, not teach. My desire is to talk to these women and listen to their stories of survival. I also find it ironic that these organizations teach skills like cooking, sewing, and other “traditionally feminine tasks,” none of which I, a white Western woman whose version of Feminism they are theoretically trying to emulate, can actually perform. Maybe they would let me help teach them how to write their stories down instead. That’s a useful skill to have, especially when you’re a woman who has endured significant trauma.

After the first assignment is over, I would take an 8-day guided trip to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. It costs $1500 to do this, by the way, because they feed you and make sure you don’t die on the trail (v. important!). All of the excursions are expensive. You stop paying attention after awhile and just figure out the total amount you need knowing it’s worth it.

After the climb, I’ll take a few days off to recover before taking off on the 77-day long overland safari. The safari starts in Nairobi and will pass through Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and end in Cape Town, South Africa. It will be… incredible. When we arrive in Cape Town, I’ll spend a few days locked in a Western-style hotel with a balcony overlooking the sea relaxing before heading off on my next assignments.

I found three volunteer opportunities in South Africa I am drawn to. The first are the wild cat sanctuaries. As they are ethical organizations, they are not a place where you play with lion cubs for photo ops. They are dedicated to saving these animals from abusive captors, poachers, and others who would bring them harm. They provide a place for these animals to live out their lives with dignity. These animals have their own stories of struggle and survival. They will tell you if you listen. I would be honored to work for them.

I’ll take another break between assignments to chill out in Cape Town, where the extra activities offered include things like shark cage diving, whale watching, horseback riding on the beach, and even MORE wildlife tours! Next up is a journalism internship/writing course I found. It’s one month of travel along the southern coast of South Africa combined with lectures and assignments. It would add a nice line to my resume and give me the tools I need to tell all of these amazing stories.

When this assignment is over, I’ll set off to Johannesburg via luxury train across South Africa. I’ll probably spend a couple days in Joburg before heading to Kruger National Park to assist with conservation efforts. This requires me to camp in the bush, again, in an area where the Big 5 (elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo, and rhinos) are free to wander through as they please and elephants regularly dismantle the rustic plumbing for fun. Conservation efforts include tagging and photographing endangered animals, eliminating invasive plant species, and helping a badass team of women called The Black Mambas track down and destroy poaching traps (STORIES GALORE!). Pretty epic, right? How often can one say, “I couldn’t shower for a week because an elephant got bored and stole a couple of the pipes just to feel alive again?”

This will be my last assignment, so I’ll spend my last few days enjoying Western amenities once more in either Joburg or Nairobi, depending on where I decide to fly from. Flight prices are crazy, but the good news is that the trip can be divided in half with a few days in either London or Paris to break it up. I need this, because I HATE flying. Then home, wherever that is, to sit down at my desk and write about all of the amazing things I just experienced. This brings me to my final prong for planning…

TIME ALONE TO WRITE

As much as I love to be around people, I also need to take time to be alone. I’m giving myself breaks so I have time to process everything, write, and relax. While I am willing to live in the bush for 3-4 months of my life, I also enjoy activities like hot showers, relaxing bubblebaths, and watching TV by myself while eating take-out. There is nothing wrong with this. I have every right to spend slightly more money on a balcony suite overlooking the sea if it means time to write. I figure I will be saving and spending A LOT of money on this trip anyway, so I might as well save up extra to give myself some ME time.

This is what puts me off staying in backpacking hostels during my designated “breaks.” I realize backpacker hostels are cheaper. They’re also full of drunk teenagers who have no idea what they’re doing with their lives, which I prefer to avoid at all costs. I especially want to avoid this in Africa, a place where people should come to meditate on the complexities of the natural world, not get wasted in bars. I am only saying this because I spend a lot of my time getting wasted in bars, which does absolutely nothing to benefit me physically, mentally, or spiritually. After my recent trip to New Orleans, I’ve realized I want to avoid too much bar time when I travel in the future. I end up missing out on all of the cool stuff I actually want to do and feeling bad about it later.

They say you are never alone in Africa, even if you’re traveling solo. However, I believe privacy can be bought and I am willing to pay for it. While I want to meet as many different people as possible, I also want time to myself so I can write. That’s okay. I am already staring at the photos of the sea view balconies on Hotels.com, imagining myself typing away happily…

———–

Wow! What a ride, right?! So many amazing things to do! Can you believe I spent an entire day doing research, took 4-5 pages of notes, and put together a real itinerary? For a trip I can’t afford to take? All because I was prompted by the “fake news media” to consider the fact that I could possibly die in the future? Incredible.

Now, for the Million Dollar Question: How much will this trip cost? LOL! That’s the fun part! By my calculations (and I tend to overestimate for security reasons), it should be somewhere between $15,000 – $20,000.

I know. I’m laughing right now too.

That total includes the volunteer/internship/safari program fees (which cover food, lodging, and some activities), cost of extra activities/excursions, spending money, supplies, flights/transportation, insurance, visas, and approximately 7-10 vaccinations for absolutely TERRIFYING tropical diseases like yellow fever and typhoid (none of which would be covered by my non-existent health insurance anyway). Africa is beautiful, but there’s a lot of shit that can kill you dead. It’s best to be as prepared as possible, especially because I am literally planning to camp in the bush.

Yes, I realize that amount is the equivalent to both a down payment on a house and a year of tuition for graduate school. My response? Worth it. Don’t care. I don’t want a house and with this experience on my resume, I’m DEFINITELY getting into a fully-funded MFA program (such as… LSU!!!). BRB, going to Africa for six months to live my dream and write about it all!

So how am I going to acquire these funds? Well, as I mentioned earlier, I was recently offered a job in a National Park. It’s a pretty good gig. Lots of potential to save money and train myself to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, which takes physical, mental, and spiritual strength. It’s absolutely nothing like my previous attempt to go to Montana, which as we all know ended in disaster. I’ll talk about the job thing in a different post. This post is dedicated to My African Dream.

I realize I sound COMPLETELY ridiculous right now. It’s okay. It’s not actually that ridiculous at all. It’s just a question of what kind of priorities you have in your life. For me, I already know I don’t want to settle down in the suburbs, get married, and have kids. I want to travel the world and write! So if I want to spend my money doing that, then that’s what I’m going to do.

After spending an entire day thinking about this trip, I went to bed wondering why I don’t just do it. Why don’t I use it as motivation to keep my job in the park for a year and save as much money as humanly possible? The only thing I would have to make sure of is that everything is booked at least 6-8 months in advance.

I’m stressing over the job thing. I admit it. However, this time I am determined. I WANT TO WORK. I AM GOOD AT MY JOB! I am tired of shitty people who have no idea what they’re doing throwing me out on the street. I will not let it happen again. I solemnly swear to you, reader, I will not let some petty bully come between me and my lifelong dream to see Africa. I will keep this damn job, no matter what! And if I can’t, I’ll find another one in the area. That’s the perk of working at a major tourist destination.

Well, that was fun to write about. I guess now that I’ve planned it out and written it down, it will all magically manifest into my life! That’s how the Law of Attraction works, right? Dream it, plan it, do it? Yes! Now… let’s get this bread! And maybe come back down to Earth from Outer Space for awhile, eh? Hahahaha. At least you can now say with full confidence you know what I’m thinking about when I’m sitting at the bar alone staring at my iPad. It’s an elaborate fantasy about camping in the bush with no running water, bonding with wildlife, and flying over the Serengeti in a hot air balloon. Who knew?

PROMPT: Writer’s Block

A/N: This is late due to WordPress error.

Prompt: What does it feel like to have writer’s block?

It’s true. I am an angry person, albeit significantly less angry than I used to be. Writing on this website has allowed me to cleanse myself of the anger and negativity I was holding inside for so long. It’s frustrating that I am still working it all out, but that is the way it must be. Therapy taught me that the best way to deal with your emotions is to feel them and release them instead of bottling them up or numbing them with substances. Right now, I am feeling the anger. I am letting it out. Unfortunately, that means I cannot create until all of it is out of me.

It’s like there’s a giant bubbling pot full of creativity, stewing away and almost ready to be served. There’s only one problem: a thick crust has formed on top of said stew and I have been unable to remove it. It doesn’t matter what kind of tools I use to try to break it. It only gets stronger and thicker with every hit.

I definitely don’t want to feel this way. It’s quite uncomfortable, both physically and mentally. Some days, like today, it feels physically painful not to be able to release the ideas I’m holding in my head. And yet here I am, trying desperately to destroy the block however I can. Hopefully this project will have successful results.

PROMPT: Life Lesson

Prompt: What is the most important life lesson you’ve ever learned (so far…)?

I would definitely say the most important thing I’ve learned in my life so far is not to chase after men, especially stupid ones. Chasing men is a total and complete waste of time. Writing letters to and stories about some douchebag will not make them like me. It will not make them stop cheating on me. It will not make them do anything except call me crazy. Because, as we all know, the desire to be loved and cared for by another human being is totally unnatural and completely unhinged!

I’ve made this mistake too many times to count. Luckily, I finally stopped making it due to the advent of Tinder. Seriously. I have Tinder to thank for my dating education. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I constantly chased the supposed validation that dating a guy who was actively cheating on me with three other girls could provide. I thought if I won him away from all the other girls, I would be complete. It turns out I was wrong, as that guy should probably never date anybody because he is a sociopath. I chased a couple of guys like this when I was young. Tinder taught me this was a waste of time.

Tinder is basically like walking through a meat market where all the cuts are on display. You have the ability to pick and choose dates anywhere, anytime. In fact, I have used Tinder while traveling to research dating prospects in various cities I’ve thought about relocating to, though I never actually met anyone from the app. What I learned from my research is that there is no reason to get attached to shitty men. A shitty man can be replaced in an instant by someone who spends most of their time walking around shirtless at the gym. And what happens if that guy doesn’t have a personality beyond GTL? He can instantly be replaced with a nerdier type who wants to mansplain Foucault to you over sushi and craft beer!

This is not to say I go around sleeping with random guys on Tinder. I’ve only ever met three guys off the app, and all of those dates happened in December of 2014. Since then I’ve only used it for chatting, and as previously stated, research. The point I’m making is that dating sucks, it’s hard, and you shouldn’t give up on it forever just because the guy you dated when you were 19 was a Sagittarian Slut. You should give up on dating because it’s exhausting and starfishing alone in bed with Netflix and a whole pizza to yourself is better.

Tinder also helped me understand my dating behaviors better. Why was I attracted to sociopaths in the first place when there are so many other, supposedly better guys out there (lol)? I didn’t know, so I did what any intelligent person would do: I went to the library. Armed with a stack of psychology and self-help books, I took it upon myself to identify and change my dating behaviors. No more getting stuck on assholes for years on end! This time I mean it!

Based on the personalities of the last three guys I’ve dated, I am confident in my statement that I have changed my dating behaviors. All three were decent individuals who respected me, liked me for who I was, and didn’t ask me to change for them. Naturally, I dumped all three because I can’t get stuck in this town, but the point is that they were decent. I stopped dating assholes and started dating decent guys instead. My lesson was learned, and that’s why I am still happily single today.

The End

PROMPT: Worst Fear

Prompt: What is your worst fear?

My worst fear is definitely men. Specifically, being kidnapped and held prisoner by a man in his custom-built torture dungeon. I fear being locked in a cage and repeatedly violated by some psychopath. I also fear attractive men who try to pick you up at the grocery store by pretending to have a broken arm and then turn out to be serial killers.

I fear being stalked, harassed, doxxed, and threatened, especially online, which I have experienced multiple times. Have you ever had your phone number posted on 4chan and woken up to a barrage of text messages telling you to kill yourself? I have.

I fear men who react with anger when I have rejected them. I fear men who react with anger to the words I write. I fear acts committed in retribution for my stories, such as calling the cops on me and telling them an elaborate lie about me being a danger to children. And how much did it cost me to make all of this dumb, imaginary, made-up bullshit go away? Oh, only about $1700. Meanwhile, the rapist and womanbeater who these lies were protecting got off with nothing and are allowed to roam the Earth free. Fuck men, especially the kind who you repeatedly confront to their face so you can honestly explain your side of the story, only for them to turn around and make up a bunch of crazy bullshit to make you look bad.

I fear being attacked, raped, and killed. I specifically fear being attacked by men I know who pretend to be a friend but force themselves on me when we are alone. This happened to me YET AGAIN recently, when I went to a male friend’s house and he forced a kiss on me in spite of the fact that I have told him repeatedly that I am not interested. Do men care when women say no? Of course not. No doesn’t mean no, it just means try harder!!! /s

I think all of this is very reasonable. After all, men are the worst. This is a fact. If I hadn’t already survived rape and assault, perhaps I would still be naive enough to trust the men I meet. Instead, I look at all men I meet with suspicion. This is a wise choice, as it is only a matter of time before most of them try to cop a feel or make suggestive comments. Men will always find an excuse to ask you to have sex, even if you are doing something neutral like moving a table into a new apartment. They cannot be trusted until after many, many, many rounds of very thorough and extreme background checks. This is just how I feel after living 31 years on this earth.

I also fear living through another terrorist attack, but that’s another story for a different day.