Thought Catalog


What Writer’s Block Really Means

Posted: 05 Oct 2015 07:01 PM PDT

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The frustrating thing about being a human is that we’re supposed to be so smart, but the sentience that separates us from animals also makes us dumb to our own desires. In a crisis situation, instead of letting our bodies respond the way they are trained to respond, we overthink. In the long game of our lives, instead of being able to hear our inner voice tell us what is important, we let our brains tell us instead what is comfortable.

We cannot access our minds and read them like a book. We’re stuck with what floats to the surface.

This is why we do things to lose ourselves like drinking or having relationship after relationship or even just binge-watching Netflix — anything — instead of being still and listening to the uncomfortable thoughts that might surface. We avoid listening because we are afraid of what we might hear. We think we know better. We think we can do it in a way that won’t cause us to be vulnerable or unstable or in a position where we might worry about how we will make rent.

This is especially vexing for creatives, who I think are born with some kind of mission. A story to tell or a work to create or a special place of inspiration or power where they’ll be able to help other creatives. But our special talents are always at war with our egos. We don’t want to play the long game, we don’t want to toil or suffer for what is inside us. We want what our hero artists had, but we don’t want to do the lifetime of work to get there. And so we run into obstacles and we call it writer’s block.

If we want to do our best art, we need to pay attention to what we are communicating to ourselves. Our satisfaction is a language that relays this information to us — and so is our frustration. When something isn’t working, there is a reason for it. There is an opportunity to address the problem and find a way around it. There is something inside us saying “this is not the way.”

The expression is “when God closes a door, he opens a window.” But I like to rewrite it as “when creativity closes a door, it opens a window.” If you are a creative person and one specific creative project isn’t working it’s really, really important that you listen to yourself and figure out what the reason is instead of forcing something to work. A creative work you have to force will never be as good as a creative work that flows out of you. Hammering through it isn’t the way forward.

This isn’t to say that creative work isn’t work. It definitely is. It’s a lot of hours of sitting in front of a blinking cursor and writing and publishing your work and hoping that it resonates with people. It’s hustling because creative work in often not 9-5 with benefits work. It’s feeling exhausted because you’re feeling so much and putting it out there for the world to see and criticize and then feeling lonely because that’s not a feeling the people in your life probably understand.

I read something that Peyton Manning said once about how he gets paid to practice, but in his mind, he plays the games for free. I related to this as a person who also gets to do what they love for a living. The money is for all the things that are hard. It’s for writing emails and working on your website and editing and formatting what you’ve done. But it’s not for writing. Writing is the fun part.

When you feel what you call writer’s block you need to ask yourself what you’d rather be doing. What is “the fun part” for you? Maybe you only think it’s writing (or whatever creative outlet you’re currently pursuing) because that’s what other people are doing but your calling is to be a curator of artists or to mentor young writers, or to do Instagram poetry or something uniquely you that hasn’t even been invented yet. Because the world is waiting for you to do it.

When what you are trying to do feels frustrating, do something else. If you are trying to write the great American existential novel and it isn’t coming out, try poetry. If poetry doesn’t work, write about your sex life. Don’t put a judgement on what you are doing, don’t value it on what is prestigious and what people will think about it. Create what you feel like creating. It will always turn out better when you do it this way. TC mark

12 Simple Ways To Guarantee You’re The Woman He’s Fantasizing About

Posted: 05 Oct 2015 10:27 AM PDT

Twenty20, ajweberphoto
Twenty20, ajweberphoto

1. Give him material to masturbate to.

If you want to be the one he’s thinking about while he jerks off or entertains random sexual thoughts, provide him with some fresh material starring you. This is easy to do nowadays, and the potential payoff is great. Just sext him regularly (you can always crop your head out if you're paranoid), or send a few detailed sensual voice notes.

2. Flash him when he least expects it.

Few things are better received than an unanticipated glimpse of a woman's breasts. It doesn't matter how long you've been dating, or how many times he's already seen you naked. If you time the boob flash carefully, it’ll definitely get him going in the moment, and he’s bound to recreate the experience by imagining it over and over again later. If you flash him in a somewhat daring setting—in the backseat of a taxi, for instance, or near the coat check on your way out of a fancy party—the tactic is yet more effective.

3. Challenge him to do naughty things when you're apart.

Dare him to masturbate in the bathroom at work or to touch himself under the table during an important meeting. If you're the one generating the naughty ideas, he's destined to think about you while he's carrying them out, and to associate you with racy, mischievous behavior in general.

4. Reward him with sexual favors.

Nothing says congratulations like a blowjob first thing in the morning, or an impromptu sex session that's all about him. The benefit of establishing a sex based reward system is that your partner will start to associate his biggest accomplishments and happiest moments with two things: hot sex, and you.

5. Bend over while he (and his friends) are watching.

It's one of the easiest tricks in the Keep Him Sweating For You handbook. We covet what we see, and we covet what we see that our friends want even more. So let him and his buddies catch you bending over to pick something up when you’re out next. You don't even have to be wearing an especially low cut shirt or a short skirt. If you execute the move correctly, you'll get everyone’s attention in any outfit. Without a doubt, he’ll be thinking about fucking you doggy style, with the added satisfaction that his friends can’t.

6. Strip for him.

Undressing is way more fun if you turn the otherwise dreary nighttime routine into a striptease performance. Even if you start off joking, the act is almost always appreciated. As an added bonus, the next time he thinks about visiting a strip club, the image of you shaking your tits in his face after twirling your bra and tossing it aside will surface in his mind. If followed by a lap dance, the striptease is bound to be yet more memorable. You don't have to be a great dancer to put on a little show.

7. Talk dirty to him during sex.

There's really no reason NOT to talk dirty to a man while you're sleeping with him. For one, it'll turn him on. Plus, it'll make YOU feel hot. And it's not even that hard. The formula is simple: say what you're going to do, do it, and then say what you did. Simple affirmations like "Yeah, baby!” and “Just like that," work well too.

8. Talk dirty to him outside the bedroom, too.

You don't have to be naked to be naughty. Transform a regular moment into a titillating interaction he'll be thinking about hours later by surprising him with a random sexy comment. While you're walking down the street hand-in-hand, tell him how hot the sex was last night, or mention that you want it a certain way next time.

9. Let him know when you're feeling aroused—even if he’s not around.

Remind him that you're a living, breathing, sexual being even when you're on the move and unable to act on your desires. A simple message reading "So horny…wish you were here," can go a long way. He'll love knowing that you're out there feeling turned on as you cross the street or prep for an important exam or presentation. Plus, he'll feel closer to you knowing that you're having sexy thoughts midday too.

10. Let him know you're thinking about him specifically (even if you aren’t).

When you touch base with a man just to say you're feeling hot and bothered, you trigger dirty thoughts centered on you. It's a surefire way to ensure that you're part of a man’s sexual narrative at least once a day. You don't even have to be having sexy thoughts at the time, let alone sexy thoughts about the man you’re contacting. A not-so-innocent fib never hurt anyone.

11. Better yet, tell him you’re touching yourself while thinking about him.

Female masturbation may be taboo by societal standards, but rare is the man who minds the image of a woman touching herself, especially if that woman is thinking about him while doing so. If you want to dominate a man's dirty mind, you might as well encourage him to picture you masturbating. You can do this any time of day with a simple, carefully phrased text or email.

12. Cast yourself as the star in his favorite porn.

Watching pornography as a couple can be fun as well as helpful since it gives you insight into what your significant other likes in bed. But why let those busty hairless chicks dominate the spotlight? Once you completely trust a man, you might as well film a few sexy videos he can enjoy when you're together or apart. TC mark

Please Don’t Try And Spend The Night

Posted: 05 Oct 2015 10:49 AM PDT

Franca Gimenez
Franca Gimenez

There are feelings in this world; specific sensations we experience that make our entire body enveloped in goose-bumps; and not the good ones from music or poetry. The bad kind like when you touch a texture that sets your senses in a spiral or hear a noise that just feels like the audible version of No Thank You.

For me it's the equivalent of the shoulder tensing, gut wrenching moment of hearing forks and knives scraping against ceramic plates. Other people would equate it with the sound of a microphone hitting feedback moment, or the sound of Styrofoam rubbing against itself. It's cringe-worthy and terrible; forcing you to grit your teeth and internally shudder.

Different things trigger those feelings, those bad tingles for everyone. Maybe it's the idea of wearing wet socks, or accidentally biting down on some shell from an egg. Maybe it's hearing someone attempt to make an off color joke but it doesn't land.

For me it's his arm across my shoulders, pulling me closer to his body at 2 AM.

My muscles tense, I grit my teeth, and I internally squirm.

It's stupid. I'm a fucking cliché; I know. "The girl who hates cuddling." – How goddamn original of me.

But then his grip tightens, his toes graze the back of my calf, and I wish I liked it but I just don't. I can't focus on the affection because my skin is trying to pull away from my muscles. I'm stuck back in the classroom in fifth grade with Alex S. sitting behind me with his pencil that won't stop squeaking and my body can't handle the sound. Except instead of the sound being a number 2 pencil that is in desperate need of sharpening, the sound is this person's breath hitting the back of my neck as he sleeps, and I stare at the wall uncomfortably.

I've heard a billion reasons for "why I'm like this." I have intimacy issues, I'm afraid of liking people. My heart was broken and never really healed. I'm afraid of commitment and allowing them to see me in a state that could be considered vulnerable would be teetering on the line that separates casual from DTR. Or maybe I just hate cuddling because I'm "quirky" and "not like other girls."

Or maybe, when we're really being honest, it's all of the above.

I don't want to struggle to sleep with another person in my home because it's uncomfortable and forced and I shouldn't have to because that is how I feel. We have our own beds and our own pillows to drool on after we're in the middle of a REM cycle. We don't need to sleep with interlaced fingers and wake up to morning breath and hair that's matted and tangled. I can do that without you, without him.

I don't want to actually sleep with someone else because I don't want them to see me like that. I'm not the version of myself I've presented prior to getting actually, physically naked. I have no makeup, no contacts, no styled-to-look-just-messy-enough hair when I'm in my old t-shirts and glasses. My armor is gone and I am exposed. The thought of having to admit that I am not something I've spent so much time perfecting and presenting is just too much so I'd rather be by myself than face it.

I don't want to sleep with him and watch him drift off because that's forcing myself to actually get to know them as a person and not a body. I don't want to talk about our families or our dreams or why we were in that bar alone.

I want him to use me, I want to use him, and then I never want to see him again because if I see him again, I might start to care about why he was in that bar alone. And I can't have that.

So no, I'm not just exaggerating and I'm not kidding when I ask how he's getting home. I'm not trying to be a bitch and I'm not doing it in some reverse psychological way to say, "Actually please stay."

His nails don't feel light and caressing, they feel like nails on a chalkboard. His hand holding mine doesn't feel tender, it feels like a chokehold. His breath is not warm and inviting, it's suffocating me. He may be sleeping but I am counting down the hours until the sun comes up and he leaves.

Please don't spend the night, because I'm not ready to not sleep at all. And please don't spend the night, because I never want you to see this side of me. TC mark

10 Of The Most Terrifying Short Horror Stories That Will Keep You Up At Night

Posted: 05 Oct 2015 12:38 PM PDT

While working on my debut short horror story collection, I learned that one of the most important things a writer can do is very simple: READ. Read as much as you can, as often as you can. It’s the absolute best way to improve your craft. And in doing so, I found myself discovering (and rediscovering) some absolute gems in the horror genre. So here they are, just for you: the spookiest, most blood-curdling short stories I’ve ever read. Turn down the lights, grab one of these tales, and prepare to be scared.

Lunch At The Gotham Café

from Everything’s Eventual by Stephen King

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“Eeeeeee. Eeeeeee. Eeeeeee.” This is one of the most unsettling stories I’ve ever come across. I’m not sure what’s worse: the insane maître d’, the graphic violence, or the coldness of a marriage that’s utterly fallen apart. Perfect to read on a patio at your neighborhood bistro (while keeping a close eye on the wait staff).

Hot Potting

from Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk

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While Haunted isn’t necessarily a short story collection per se (as the tales all add up to the overall plot of the novel) it’s still full of fantastic shorts that can stand on their own. Told by a woman who calls herself Baroness Frostbite, this is a jarring tale that will chill you to the bone… almost literally.

The Dreams In The Witch House

by H.P. Lovecraft

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Part of the Cthulhu mythos, this one explores some of the more occult backgrounds of Lovecraft’s insanely complex world. An interesting spin on the “haunted house” trope, find out what’s been going on in the Witch House… and stick around for one of the most satisfying endings in horror history.

[Redacted]

from The Collector Of Hearts by Joyce Carol Oates

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I’ve mentioned this story before and I have to mention it again because jfc it is so damn scary. Imagine trying to recall a dim childhood memory that you repressed — for good reason. Doubt, bizarre circumstances, and the terror of being young and powerless. And you can’t even give it a name. Terrifying.

“Oh, Susannah!”

from More Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark by Alvin Schwartz

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I think I read this for the first time when I was 8. Safe to say, it scarred me for life. It’s short, simple, to the point — but there’s no resolution. You can’t do that to a little kid! We need closure!

The Cask of Amontillado

by Edgar Allan Poe

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One of the literary classics, this is an age-old tale about revenge and the cruelty of man at its finest. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is obviously a contender, too, but I think the image of a screaming man being encased behind a brick wall is far scarier than a paranoid guilty murderer. You can read this here since it’s considered public domain!

Best New Horror

from 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

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I love this one because it speaks to horror lovers specifically. There’s also a story within a story, which is always fun. More bang for your buck! Stephen King’s progeny comes through once again.

The Lottery

by Shirley Jackson

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There’s not much to say about this. It’s perfect. If you didn’t read it in high school (for shame) you gotta read it now. NOW I SAY! (And look, since it’s in the public domain, you can do that right here!)

There Will Come Soft Rains

from The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

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Another high-school-lit staple, this one’s less all-out scary and more subtle. But that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. Also, it takes place in 2026, so I guess we don’t have much more time before the eventual world-ending nuke! Hooray!

The Jaunt

from Skeleton Crew by Stephen King

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Honestly, this might be it. It might be my favorite short horror story of all time. Told through two narratives, King’s exploration of time-travel and warping abilities is both interesting and horrifying. Not to mention the unforgettable line towards the end: “Longer than you think, Dad! Longer than you think!” Pure perfection. TC mark

For more scary stories, check out my debut horror collection Certain Dark Things, available for Kindle or iBooks. Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.55.34 PM

How To Be An Independent Artist In 2015: Getting To Know Amel Larrieux

Posted: 05 Oct 2015 05:31 PM PDT

It’s difficult to be an independent anything in the time of the corporatization of society. Corporations are the consequence of capitalism and they infiltrate almost every institution of the state.

A relentless type of capitalism has become even more prevalent in recent times. Or perhaps we are just more aware of the corporation, and its consequences in a new era. I think the former is true – from the reduction of the number of banks to the corporatization of higher education.

Many of us have accepted this brave new world, sometimes intentionally, but mostly by what we consume. How we spend our dollars and our time make us complicit in the system; sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad. There is one area however, which still leaves people uneasy to think of as becoming corporate – art.

But in the time when the artist can be constructed by capital, fundamentally, as opposed to art, fundamentally, the independent artist is perhaps more admirable.

We like to think that our art should be pure. And by that we mean it should not be shackled with the dirtiness of the corporation. I contend that this is a romantic version of history and an unhelpful oversimplification in our time. Many people who work in creative fields often admit that knowledge of skills in the business of making art, does not destroy the art. Indeed, it might even make better artists. It just takes more work.

But to be an independent artist has always required more work. It is not unique to our current economic and socio-cultural parameters. But in the time when the artist can be constructed by capital, fundamentally, as opposed to art, fundamentally, the independent artist is perhaps more admirable.

In that light, I have had the pleasure of seeing Amel Larrieux perform live, as well as speaking with her over the phone. I can say that she is a beautiful soul whose power and strength lies in her softness. This is evident in how she talks, sings, and goes about her business – all of her business. From Amel, you learn that not only does the independent artist exist in 2015, she thrives.

Early Days

Amel Lerrieux | Beautiful Us
Amel Lerrieux | Beautiful Us

When did you know you wanted to be a singer?

Amel Lerrieux: My mother would tell you she knew before I did. She says as a baby I would wake myself up by singing, and she would stand outside the door listening to me.

Can you tell me about the role music played in your childhood?

AL: I grew up around a lot of artists in the West Village of New York City in the early ’80s. Music has always been a part of my upbringing, even later as we moved to Philly. Dance was actually was at the forefront until I quit at age 13 when I was at a performing arts school in Phily. I decided to became a vocal major – I wrote my own songs even then. It was very natural to me.

When and how did you “break” into the industry as a professional singer?

AL: I have to say I never really had a plan. I was flimsical and disorganized at 18 years old. I knew I loved music and I wasn’t sure about school but I had no real plans. I ended up getting a job as an assistant to a music publisher and I was pretty bad at that job. And just before I was about to be fired, I ended up being introduced to Bryce Wilson, who is a producer. That led to a demo, then a record deal at Epic Records, and so it began.

Becoming an Independent Artist

How did you make the transition into being an independent artist?

AL: I think being an independent artist is similar to having your own business. I wanted to be my own boss and in charge of my own ship, as they say. It’s very different from being part of a label. You have a lot more work to do but also a lot more freedom.

What is the most challenging aspect of being independent?

AL: I think the reality is you have to have some start up money to begin. It’s more work and it’s different work from artists who are signed to a label. I will say I have an excellent team and I’ve been very fortunate because my husband who is also my partner, takes care of most of the business side.

What do you think is the one thing people should know if they are trying to follow in your direction?

AL: I think people should know that I don’t do everything. And if it comes across that way, it’s false. I’ve tried to do more than I can before and things end up suffering. So it’s best to let a good team that is your family, that becomes your family, work according to their strengths. I have to stress too the importance of financial stability. It would have been near impossible to work independently without that backing.

The Business away from the Music

Instagram / Beautiful Us
Instagram / Beautiful Us

You recently came up with a wonderful new hair and skin product – Beautiful Us – which I received at your concert in Chicago and I absolutely love it. Can you tell me more about how you came up with the idea for it?

AL: It’s a funny story because I ignored it for a long time because I would always get asked about my hair. And I didn’t want to be the singer who focused on her hair, her looks. But I would make all these concoctions and my husband was the one who eventually encouraged the idea of coming out with a product.

What have you learned from the process?

AL: One thing that is certain is entrepreneurship is key, and it’s something that is understood all over the world. Going from an idea to a product requires more steps than I would have ever imagined. Again, I’ve been blessed to have a strong team because there were many times I wanted to just be done with it.

Who is Beautiful Us for?

AL: It’s for everyone really. The product is made for all hair types and all skin types and I like to think of it as something that brings people together – you can see it in the name.

Amel Lerrieux: Away from Music and Business

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a singer? 

I’d love to work with children and music in some shape or form. Children are my other great love, and I’m working to combine my love of music with working with disenfranchised children.

If you could give young people who want to follow your path or go their own path one piece of advice, what would would that be?

I would say it’s really important to put out good vibrations into the world. I think the vibrations you give off, catch up with you. I think it’s important to think of what you do as a service – if I’m not serving people, there’s no point. So if you’re not serving people in what you do, you should probably do something different.

You can learn more about Amel Lerrieux and Beautiful Us here and here. TC mark

When My Friend Invited Me To Visit His New Property, I Never Expected This Nightmare

Posted: 05 Oct 2015 03:20 PM PDT

Flickr, Will Folsom
Flickr, Will Folsom

It was a beautiful mid-summer's day. The sun was bright between cotton shaped clouds. Autumn was just around the corner and the leaves were beginning to turn. I spent the latter part of the afternoon throwing the football around with Richard and his three sons.

During this time I spotted a heavy aircraft propelling above us. It was an army green military plane flying at a low altitude. The engines were loud. So loud that my concentration broke when Richard threw a ten yard bullet in my direction.

The ball landed in my temple. I saw stars among the clear sky behind my blinking eyes. The side of my face welted with pain, like I was a child who had cursed in front of his parents. I laid on my back for some time, trying to get my vision back. Despite my eyes welting with tears, I laughed it off because that's what you do when you're with the boys.

Richard's shadow loomed over me. My eyes followed the tip of the football as he panned it from right to left.

"You okay?"

I smiled. The three boys tackled each other at my feet, laughing and hollering as they rolled in the lush green grass.

I stood up and brushed the imaginary dirt off my shoulders. That's when the clouds became dark. They formed a grayish fog and spun in a circle at a high velocity. A perfect retractable circle formed in the center of the cyclone eighty feet above us. It opened from the center. A cluster of rods stretched out of the opening and pointed towards Richard's oldest son, Casey.

A neon blue beam of light emitted from the end of the sliver rods and struck Casey. His body hovered in the air five feet above us. His head bent back, his arms and legs dangled, lifeless.

I jumped over the beam and ran towards Richard who ordered his two youngest boys inside his two story country home. They did as instructed, scattering up the bi-level wrap around porch. It was odd, like they had rehearsed this.

"Follow the boys inside."

I stood there for a moment, unable to move.

"Go!"

I sprinted towards the front porch, scooping up Bagel in my arms. He licked my face, un-phased by what was happening. The little beagle must've been prepared too because he didn't seem all that surprised by what was happening to Casey.

The boys had gone to their bedrooms to change clothes. I held Bagel and peeked out of the window. Bagel jumped out of my arms and scattered to the living room. The aircraft was gone and so were Richard and Casey.

I went back outside, took a few steps off the porch, and looked into the sky. It was calm. The clouds were gone and so were Richard and Casey.

The only place they could've gone, logically, was the detached four car garage by the swimming pool. I tried to open the garage door but it was locked. I tapped my fist on the tinted window next to it. The door opened, ajar, and I grabbed the jamb to enter.

Richard came out, shut the door, and locked it behind him.

"I saw one earlier while I was driving to the filling station. I told a military officer, who was there to recruit local teenagers, that they had another one on their hands. He didn't listen."

Richard gave me one job: make sure the kids stay occupied. Don't let them chase each other around with scissors.

I went back inside. I had never been to Richard's home before. All of his furniture and appliances were outdated by at least forty years. The boys were in the living room, watching a baseball game. Roberto Clemente was at bat for the Pirates on a thirty two inch tube television. The VCR below it was on, in playback mode. The boys were sprawled out on red bean bags, transfixed by the game.

Looking around the room, I didn't see any scissors. So far, I was doing my job. I wanted to change into dry clothes since my trunks were still damp from swimming earlier, but my bag was still in my rental. I was also afraid to leave the boys alone in case they knew where the scissors were.

I took a seat on the sofa. Yellow and orange patterned flowers covered the velvet cushions. I put my elbows on my knees and rested my head in my hands, unsure of what to do next. The clock on the wall was an old grandfather model. I imagined if I lived long enough to see midnight, a bird would come out on its stoop and chirp that the clock had struck twelve.

I received a letter from Richard earlier in the month, he didn't use email, requesting to visit his new property. The letter was written in beautiful penmanship on heavy paper. I assumed he was lonely after his wife had died and wanted some adult company for the weekend, so I obliged. Following his lead, I sent him a letter. He responded with a detailed map on where to find him once my flight landed. He requested that I not copy the map, and to present it to him when I arrived. Now I found myself in his seventies-style home, questioning everything I thought I knew about life, about God, about humanity.

The screen door slammed shut and Richard appeared. He rushed around the house, disappearing from room to room. He occasionally popped his head into the living area to check in on me and the boys. Eventually he joined us with a bowl of popcorn and a canister of Planter's cheese balls with a six pack of soda under his arm.

"What inning is it?"

I shrugged my shoulders.

Richard stacked a pile of pillows between his two sons and was soon fast asleep with them wrapped in his arms. Bagel was sleeping on the couch next to me. I waited until the four were snoring before I left. I stood up and went into the kitchen where I found a key ring. Only one key was looped around it. Curiosity set in. I was sure it was the same key he used to lock the garage.

The sun was still bright when I went outside. I looked at the rental, down at the keyring, and decided to see what Richard was keeping from me.

I entered the garage and there was his oldest son, Casey. His tanned skin and sun blonde hair were no longer present, but instead a beautiful aqua color, almost albinism. He laid in a military hospital bed. An IV bag hung above his head. A small tube from the bag into his arm. A pink substance was being fed into his veins, a slow drip. I approached Casey with caution. I looked at his translucent eyelids as he laid there. I could see the corneas. His pupils were dilated.

"You're not supposed to be in here," Richard said.

I turned around. Richard stood there with a concerned look while Bagel wagged his tail below him.

"Are you going to inform me on what exactly is going on here? I'm sorry but I've been questioning my own existence for the past few hours and all you seem to be doing is ignoring the fact that Casey was just zapped by the Starship Enterprise, like everything is cool. Well, bud, everything is not cool."

"They're back," Richard said.

"Who is back?"

"Look."

He pulled the curtain open next to Casey's bed, revealing a long corner desk, and sat down. It was occupied with two-way radios, green radar screens, and weather monitors. This type of equipment was obsolete. They had to be hand-me-downs.

"See this?" Richard pointed to a darkened area on the weather radar.

"Yeah. Looks like an ink blot. A very large one."

"That's them," Richard said.

"That's who?"

"Listen."

He flicked some levers on a switchboard and turned a large dial. Only static came out at first. He adjusted the antenna and turned the large dial again. A voice finally came through:
"All flights landing and departing to and from Rocksville, Pennsylvania have been cancelled due to a severe terrorist threat. All airports have been vacated. Please stay tuned for further details. This is an emergency broadcast…"

He turned another knob. I watched as a tiny red line moved behind a row of numbers, trying to find a valid frequency. The red line scrolled all the way to the right before Richard gave up searching. He returned to the previous channel. It only produced more static.

"Did you hear the voice? Terrorists. That's what they say now to hide the truth. The truth is too threatening for the public to understand."

"How long have you known about this?" I said.

He took a worn cigarette out of the desk drawer and rolled it between his thumb and index finger. Richard reclined in a weathered office chair, looking more like a used car salesman than he did a scientist.

"I've always known about it."

Richard removed his bifocals, rubbed the red markings on each side of his bridged nose, and stroked Bagel's head.

"It was only until recently that they started really paying attention to us. You know how when you access certain apps on your cellphone, like Google Maps for instance?"

I nodded.

"You're prompted to give your location. You can choose: accept or deny."

"Right," I said.

"That's them. They're tracking us. Studying us. And we've made it easier for them. Ever since the technological boom, I've been finding more and more of them. In Russia, China, Germany…everywhere. They want to know what we're doing, what we're eating, who we're having intercourse with. And the different ways in which we do it. They're very perverse that way."

Richard sighed, put his glasses on, and continued.

"What's important to us. What entertains us. What are motives are. Why we live. You see Daniel, we are the ants under the magnifying glass. We have been for several years now, and it's only a matter of time before the sun emerges through the clouds and hangs above their shoulders, burning us all."

"You're talking alien life forms?" I said.

"Follow me."

Richard felt underneath his desk and removed a crow bar. He peeled back a rug, among several on the floor, and pried into the concrete floor. A hatch opened and he disappeared inside of it. I looked over at Casey's body.

Richard popped his head out from the passage.

"He'll be fine. You coming?"

We climbed down a long ladder into a dark room. I heard Richard messing with a control box. Moments later a long row of fluorescent lights lit his hidden laboratory. Three tanks hung from the ceiling. They were filled with the same color fluid that fed Casey's IV bag. Floating in the liquid were human bodies. One in each tank.

"Here, put these on," Richard said. He handed me a lab coat and a medical mask, the kind with the tiny rubber string on the back.

I approached the center tank to take a closer look. The naked body of an old man was suspended in the fluid. Pubic follicles swayed back and forth between his crippled legs. I could see each rib through his malnourished torso. Tiny fibers of hair danced among his bald head. I eased around the rear of the tank. His wrinkled buttocks was swollen below a rigid spinal cord. The same could be said about the bodies in the other two tanks, one woman, and one child. Three decrepit bodies preserved by Richard. Thick glass the only thing separating us.
Richard was perched on a ladder, attaching tubes from a machine to an empty tank.

"Daniel, see that hose over there? Would you hand it to me please?"

There was a table next to him scattered with surgical tools, packaged sponges, and several boxes labeled confidential with a red marker.

I handed Richard the hose. He held onto one end as I pulled on the other end, making it taunt. He then attached it to the top of the empty tank and flipped a switch on the machine. A low rumbling hum echoed through the lab as the machine filled the tank with a thick pink jelly.
"It'll get thinner as it warms up," Richard said, climbing down from the ladder.

I had a feeling who Richard was prepping the tank for. My eyes glanced down inside one of the boxes. It was filled with bubble wrap. I peeled it back and found a steel gun, similar to the staple type. Four syringes were attached opposite the trigger. Richard removed it and filled the syringes with a saline solution.

"We have to get Casey in this tank soon, or he'll turn."

"Turn to what?" I said.

"One of them."

"An alien?"

Richard again dodged my questioning and touched the tip of each syringe, ensuring they were sharp.

"Are you preserving his body?"

"Precisely."

"Who's in the other tanks?"

"Previous owners of the property. The old man had heard about my research at the university. He contacted me after their first encounter with them."

"The one you worked at after college?" I said.

"I was fired after they discovered I was spending their funding for my own experiments." Richard said, shrugging his shoulders. "Can you blame them?"

Richard removed a green lollipop from his lab coat and stuck it into the corner of his mouth.
"I was their only option. Their claims were dismissed by authorities. Their grandchild, the one you see on the right, became very ill after the encounter. He couldn't break the fever. Soon after, the old man and his wife became sick with the same fever. To prevent an outbreak, I preserved their bodies in these tanks so I could research their anatomy."

He switched the lollipop to the other side of his mouth with his green stained tongue.

"It took me the better part of the winter to get the lab in order. I returned home to find that Lindsay's battle with breast cancer was over. She was dead."

"Richard, I'm sorry," I said.

"Don't bother. It's not important now. The old man sold this property to me when I arrived. My plan was to move my family here, take care of Lindsay, and work on a cure for the fever. Upon learning about Lindsay's death, I packed up the boys and we settled into the property after the funeral."

Richard took me by the shoulder.

"That beam you saw disrupts the brainwaves of the young and old. Middle aged humans are unaffected."

"Why?"

"I think it has something to do with the research they’re conducting."

"But why here? Why Rocksville? Why this place?" I said.

"This land is rich in fossil fuels for their spacecraft. I found what we've come to know as crop circles in the acreage behind the home."

"Two birds, one stone. While they fuel up they tried to take Casey for research purposes?" I said.

"You always were a smart one Daniel."

"What about the other boys?"

"He's my first born, Richard. They know that my love for Casey is stronger than that of my other two sons. As I said before, they've been watching. It's what they want. For me to choose. A win-win for them. A win-loss for me, that is, if I can save Casey."

"What about the boys now? Were they affected? The fever?"

"It's already set in. They were already warm after they fell asleep. That was the last moment I will have with them, before they turn. I'm happy you were here to share that moment with us Daniel."

An unwavering horror came over me.

"Casey's body is almost ready. I need your help carrying him down here."

I knocked Richard's hand from my shoulder and reached for the ladder back to the garage, skipping every other rung as I climbed.

"Trust me Daniel, it's too late to do anything about it now," Richard said, calling up to me from the laboratory.

I rushed towards the living room, the screen door rattled behind me. I found Richard's middle son on top of the youngest, holding a pair of shears. The TV reflected a prism of light from their sharp points as Willie Stargell rounded third base. The crowd cheered. I lunged forward, knocking the boy off his brother.

But it was too late, he had snipped his brother's eyelids. Four bloody triangles rested below the brow, curling back. Two paralyzed eyes stared back at me. The boy's throat was slashed.
I crawled backwards, distancing myself from the boy's body. The middle child stood up. He was covered with yellowish sores. The bubbling flesh on his face expanded. Some popped. Some just deflated. A tentacle coiled in the air where his left arm was just hours earlier. Suction cups covered the underside. They oozed with a slimy gel.

"Get out of here Daniel!" Richard said.

The middle child turned to Richard. He looked down at his dead brother, then to the shears, confused by what was happening. The tentacle continued to stretch and recoil.

"He's not my son anymore Daniel. Do you understand that?"

I nodded my head as I crawled behind Richard. He held a pistol in his right hand, a machete in the left. He handed me the blade, then pulled the trigger. A small bullet entered the boy's forehead, just above his nose. Bullseye. Blood and pus splattered the walls of the living area.

"Cut it off Daniel, hurry!"

I approached the thing that was once Richard's son and raised the machete over my head. I sent the blade through the shoulder, freeing the tentacle from his body. It hissed at me as it squirmed on the floor.

"Step back," Richard said. He fired two shots into the aqua colored limb. The squishy gel that once dripped from its pores began to dry up. A furry cocoon grew around the tentacle. It was hibernating.

"We're no longer safe here. Douse this room with the kerosene that's on the front porch. I'll handle the rest. Meet me out back when you're done."

Richard ran towards the garage. Underneath the hammock swing were two cans of kerosene that Richard spoke about. I poured it on the velvet couch, the cocoon, and the two boys, now dead. One from murder, the other from a monster. I took a red tipped match, stuck it against the side of its container, and glanced at the television. The Pirates won 8-7 from a walk-off home run by Clemente. Game over.

I heard an explosion from outside when I tossed the match to the floor. Red and yellow flames danced across the furniture. The television contorted as it melted away. I could feel the raging heat against my face. Sweat dripped from my armpits like a fountain. The grandfather clock toppled over on top of the cocoon. The crash sent springs in every direction. The birdie popped out and sang in a distorted tone. I guess I will see midnight after all.

Outside, the garage flamed up like the living room had. Small explosions went off every few seconds as evidence of Richard's work was destroyed. I met him behind the house like he instructed. Richard waved his hand towards me from inside a helicopter.

I hoisted myself into the cockpit from the landing skids and shouted at Richard over the main rotor blade.

"I didn't know you had a pilot's license!"

"I don't!" Richard said, smiling.

We hovered in the air for a moment before taking flight.

"That doesn't mean I don't know how to fly one!"

In the cabin was Casey's body. Richard had transported it before setting the garage afire. He looked the same as before, only he didn't have the IV bag feeding his vein. Richard turned to me as I studied his body with my eyes.

"His fever broke," Richard said. "He might make it."

Black smoke floated in thick circles above Richard's farm property as it burned to the ground. Soon, the authorities would be there to put out the fire. But we would be gone. Long gone. With the Pennsylvania mountains below us, Richard, Casey, and I flew through the purple sky while the sun set behind us, thinking about how we were going to start over. TC mark

10 Kinds Of Passive Aggressive Facebook Posts And What They Say About You

Posted: 05 Oct 2015 10:08 AM PDT

GaudiLab
GaudiLab

Truthfully, there really is no point and they just make the you look bad. They also inadvertently reveal some embarrassing truths about you. Here are 10 kinds of passive aggressive Facebook posts and what they actually say about you:

1. THE PITY PARTY

Example: “Omg can’t even. Still long for you all the time”
Translation: “I haven’t been fucked in a year”

Nothing says you aren’t having sex like shit ton of emo whining. It’s Freudian. Or something. This post is also a cheap ploy to get the aforementioned mysteriously unnamed object of your affection to feel bad about whatever mysteriously unnamed conflict caused the demise of whatever mysteriously unspecified thing you two had and cause that person to miss you, too, therefore come sprinting back to you across an open field while Whitney Houston’s “I Want To Run To You” crescendos in the background.

…Yeah, compounding your problem is that no one fucks a whiny idealist. Unfuckable vicious cycle… ya dig?

2. THE MONA LISA

Example: *Insert* [Photo of you with hot stranger after very recent breakup]
Translation: “I’m petty”

Nothing says you have TOTALLY moved on and are TOTALLY NOT trying to get under your ex’s skin like posting a picture with that hot Latin stripper who you bribed by promising him you’d toss him some extra singles if he grabbed your left boob and said cheese. Oh yeah. You are fast trackin’ it to classy town.

3. THE GOD COMPLEX

Example: “Don’t think I don’t know what you did”
Translation: “I’m too much of a pussy to confront you because there is a solid chance you didn’t do it”

“Don’t think I don’t know what you did”?? WHOA, Dude. I haven’t seen anything that unnecessarily ominous since the ending of Jumanji where that trembly board game washes ashore and the audience is all OMG THERE WILL TOTALLY BE A SUPER TERRIFYING SEQUEL!

Cut to: There has never been a super terrifying sequel.

And, actually, let’s ponder the logic of this post for a moment. If the “you” in question actually “did” what you definitely “know” they did, you would have called them on it in person. But you have not done that. Instead, you have chosen to blast some cryptic words into cyberspace in order to project some kind of faux confidence regarding all the knowledge you supposedly have but choose to… keep to yourself… ?

4. THE LAST WORD

Example: “Guess I dodged a bullet lol”
Translation: “I might kill you in your sleep”

IT’S A TRAP! DON’T HELP HIM TO HIS CAR!

If you were truly feeling that jovial and lol-like, I doubt you would feel the need to publicly stick it to someone like this. This post is dripping with so much unresolved anger that I actually need to towel off. And not in the good way.

5. THE SONG LYRIC

Example: “I knew you were trouble when you walked in/So shame on me now”
Translation: “I’m a constant emotional mess”

::Sigh:: The song lyric. Is it me or does it somehow seem like we all know that one Maestro who will not stop posting in operatic verse?

Here’s a little question for him/her: doesn’t the desire to brand yourself as ‘The Taylor Swift Of Facebook,’ feel… oh, I don’t know… A BIT DRAMATIC!? Nothing says you are kind of maladjusted and maybe hysterical and possibly possess zero coping mechanisms like frantically re-gifting someone else’s Billboard hit, pounding ‘enter,’ and symbolically proclaiming OMG YOU GUYS THIS IS SO WHERE I AM RIGHT NOW. Throw in the fact that you are usually targeting some previous lover and this is basically the cyber equivalent of running at them with scissors. Not a good look.

If you could learn any kind of healthy ability to sort out, articulate, and take ownership of your feelings, I promise a calm and simple, “I’m upset” could do the trick. So beware – when it comes to this poster, there will be screaming, crying, perfect storm/(They) will make all the tables turn.

6. THE BIBLE VERSE

Example: “Ephesians 2:8-9”
Translation: “I voted for Bush”

Congratulations?

7. THE ROMEO/THE JULIET

Example: “My heart skips when I see you”
Translation: “I’m creepy”

…Ummm… yeah… so… one grows apprehensive when you write about seeing someone instead of just going to see them or telling them this information to their face. Why the need to Poltergeist it to them through the computer screen? I get that wooing has evolved with the technological renaissance, but I promise grouping yourself in with a terrifying as balls Spielberg film will not be getting your new romantic prospect to lead you “into the light” anytime soon. Send a dick pic/topless photo and call it a day.

8. THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Example: “To eres un perro”
Translation: “I’m like so totally super covert”

You know there is a hyperlink underneath your post that says, “translate,” right? I’m not even going to bother with this one.

9. THE PHILOSOPHER

Example: “In life, there are those who will help you and then there are those who will walk all over you. Know the difference.”
Translation: “I suck at problem solving”

I guarantee no one reading this status ever shouts, “Wow! Aristotle has risen from the dead and is splooging genius sociological commentary all over my news feed!” More than likely, everyone simply internalizes, “Um, who pissed off Sam?”

So, Sam, if you really feel like you are in the presence of someone “who will walk all over you,” then please know that it would be far more effective to express your grievances directly to them as opposed to expressing your dissatisfaction indirectly at them by way of heady, generic concepts. Got that, Sam? They are called “I” statements. USE THEM.

10. THE COMMANDER

Example: “You better respond to my email!!!”
Translation: “I have no manners”

I’m going to offer you some metaphorical life advice: pushing my head down will not make me suck your dick… so stop barking orders at me, I don’t have an ISIS fetish.

If you could have simply sent the recipient a polite and private follow-up email, why theatrically swing from the tree branches with your wooden club in hand, demanding ME. WANT. RESPONSE. NOW.?

Maybe the recipient’s guinea pig died and they just need space. YOU DON’T KNOW. Even if they don’t want to respond to you, disrespecting their choice by hurling exclamation points at them is rude. As the wise Samantha Jones once said, “Please. If it happens, it happens. Bottoms up!”

In closing, it appears as though some people might need to invest in a private journal. When viewed in a certain light, passive aggressive Facebook posts can be seen as an alternate form of harassment and cyber bullying… and no one wants that. So, people, let’s do our best to keep it to cat memes, check-ins, and, of course, all the things that make us feel “so blessed.” TC mark

32 Insightful Quotes That Will Make You Re-Evaluate The Relationship You Have With Yourself

Posted: 05 Oct 2015 09:50 AM PDT

hilaryvolson
hilaryvolson

1. We are always on our guard against contagious diseases of the body, but we are exasperatingly careless when it comes to the even more dangerous collective diseases of the mind.

Carl Jung


2. Sometimes the relationship you need to rescue is the one you have with yourself.

Dr. Phil


3. Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.

Robert Holden


4. What holds most people back isn't the quality of their ideas, but their lack of faith in themselves. You have to live your life as if you are already where you want to be.

Russell Simmons


5. It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story.

Patrick Rothfuss


5. Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it’s dark.

Zen Proverb


6. Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.

Anaïs Nin


7. You have to keep recycling yourself.

Chuck Palahniuk


8. Don't Take Anything Personally. Nothings others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

Don Miguel


9. It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there is no answer to the question ‘who am I’ except the voice inside herself.

Betty Friedan


10. Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.

Dr. Alexis Carrel


11. It's surprising how many persons go through life without ever recognizing that their feelings toward other people are largely determined by their feelings toward themselves, and if you're not comfortable within yourself, you can't be comfortable with others.

Sidney J. Harris


12. Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.

Chuck Palahniuk


13. It's a very powerful thing when someone sees you as the person you wish you were.

Veronica Mars


14. Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection.

Henri Nouwen


15. Whatever you believe about yourself on the inside is what you will manifest on the outside.

Unknown


16. You are as amazing as you let yourself be. Let me repeat that. You are as amazing as you let yourself be.

Elizabeth Alraune


17. Often romantic relationships fail because you are trying to get someone to fall in love with the YOU that you never discovered.

Shannon L. Alder


18. The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.

Bob Moawad


19. The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself.

Rita Mae Brown


20. When you’re unhappy, you get to pay a lot of attention to yourself. And you get to take yourself oh so very seriously. Your truly happy people, which is to say, your people who truly like themselves, they don’t think about themselves very much. Your unhappy person resents it when you try to cheer him up, because that means he has to stop dwellin’ on himself and start payin’ attention to the universe. Unhappiness is the ultimate form of self-indulgence.

Tom Robbins


21. Taking care of yourself is one of the hardest jobs — don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. It's much easier to take care of others.

Charity Shumway


22. What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


23. Sometimes you have to forget about what you want and focus on what you deserve.

Unknown


24. Know thyself, or at least keep renewing the acquaintance.

Robert Brault


25.Before you can live a part of you has to die. You have to let go of what could have been, how you should have acted and what you wish you would have said differently. You have to accept that you can't change the past experiences, opinions of others at that moment in time or outcomes from their choices or yours. When you finally recognize that truth then you will understand the true meaning of forgiveness of yourself and others. From this point you will finally be free.

Shannon L. Alder


26. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.

Buddha


27. When nobody else celebrates you, learn to celebrate yourself. When nobody else compliments you, then compliment yourself. It's not up to other people to keep you encouraged. It's up to you. Encouragement should come from the inside.

Joel Osteen


28. You cannot find yourself by going into the past. You can find yourself by coming into the present.

Eckhart Tolle


29. At the center of your being
you have the answer;
you know who you are
and you know what you want.

Lao Tzu


30. Just as a snake sheds its skin, we must shed our past over and over again.

Gautama Buddha


31. Never sacrifice who you could be in the future for who you think you are right now. Identity isn't found. It's made.

Jan Angelique Maravilla


32. It is never too late to be what you might have been.

George Eliot

TC mark

4 Things I’ve Learned My First Year In Law School

Posted: 05 Oct 2015 09:13 AM PDT

Flickr / Tony Webster
Flickr / Tony Webster

1. Books! Books! Reading! Words Galore!

Prepare yourselves for a reading journey like no other. When they say as a law student you have to do a lot of reading, they are not joking. This is the one thing all university students had told me, but I loved to read anyway so I didn't mind. Oh, how I was wrong. The whole course is based around reading: if you don't do the reading you won't know anything. Unless you want to look like a fool during class I suggest you do the ALL of the reading. There's not only books, but articles and cases. I don't think I've ever read so much in my entire life. They will be giving you chapters, hundreds of pages to read per week. I would always check the amount of pages before hand to prepare myself mentally, 10 pages would be a good day.

2. Giving 100% Is Never Enough

This would really only apply if you want to be a solicitor or a barrister. Competition is fierce — there are always more students than jobs available. I suppose you can apply that to any job really and to all courses. However, arguably with law you'll need to put twice as much the effort. As I mentioned, it is extremely competitive and you really need to stand out from the crowd, that is something they tell to you at the start of the course. Not only do your grades need to be high and consistently high (2:1 is the least you should want), but you also need to get involved with societies, mooting, activities happening in university, work experience, vacation schemes, mini-pupillages, if any of this sounds alien to you, Google it. The more you do the better, that CV needs to be looking damn good. So as I said 100% is not enough — you need to go beyond.

3. Keep Up With The Class, Dammit!

The worst mistake any student can make is not keeping up with the work. No one likes to play catch up. If I have to emphasise anything it is to KEEP UP! I made the rookie mistake of not doing all of the reading, and spent the Christmas holidays catching up with notes. Honestly, it may seem hard at first, but keeping up with all the work from day one will make your life a whole lot easier. By the time it’s exam season, you'll have the revision materials you need, and won’t be the student who is making notes that they should have made a semester ago.

3. If You Don’t Want To Speak — Go Home.

(The subheading probably sounds a lot harsher than I mean). If you are aspiring to be a barrister or a solicitor, it is a fact you need to be vocal, and cannot be afraid of public speaking. So speak up and voice your opinions.

One of the best things about university is that the teachers are a lot more understanding than those at high school and college. In my first class, I remember my teacher actually saying that he understands how some students genuinely don't like speaking in front of a class, and do get shy and so on, he said that it is fine and he won’t pick on anyone. Though not every teacher is like this, some do pick on students. The best way to go around this, is that at least try and answer one question in class.

Try and speak once that way you have contributed, especially if you are not too confident. Teachers never result in picking a student unless the class is just beyond quiet. I can honestly say though University does make you a lot more confident and to some extent get over the fear of public speaking. This is coming from someone who would only speak once in a class, but by the end of the year being one of the most vocal students. Always remember that your classmates, if anything feel the same way as you do and so you shouldn't be scared, and there's nothing wrong in getting an answer wrong. Your teachers are there to help! However, it is very important that you do speak up. You will never get away with staying silent. Trust me on that.

4. Law School Is Intense.

Almost everyone I spoke to before going to university told me that university is a lot more relaxed and easier than A Levels. If you study law that is not the case. (Ha! See what I did there?) This is a hardcore degree — there is a lot of work to be done. The library and highlighters will be your best friends, your days are spent reading and preparing for your next class. You are practically competing against your classmates. So don't go in thinking this will be an easy degree to complete because you will fail. Though, I hope this does not put you off because the work is enjoyable, and everyone is always willing to help, and hard work almost always pays off.

PS. Watching Suits does not count as revision. TC mark

How To Create The Perfect ‘Gilmore Girls’ Road Trip

Posted: 05 Oct 2015 12:58 PM PDT

Molly and I knew each other when we were two. Neither one of us remembers the other though our parents have assured us we were the best of friends. Cut to twenty-four years later and we both work in media (publishing, journalism) and live half a mile away from each other in Brooklyn.

After a blind email introduction from our mothers, who have both recently and randomly relocated to the same small town in California, we agreed to meet for dinner. We got pizza on a weeknight at a local place, something neutral, nothing fancy, convenient to the train and inexpensive as the setting for any blind date should be. We talked about what we do, who we’re dating, what we like about New York, what we miss about LA (where we’re from), but mostly we talked about Gilmore Girls.

I had recently purchased the boxed set of all seven seasons on DVD and was about to start watching the series from the beginning. We talked about how the show shaped our lives. How it made us want to read books and be smarter than boys. How it made us exclusively fall in love with writers, and with boys who resembled Jess, but how we'll always have a soft spot for tall, skinny, dishy boys like Dean. How the show and its characters shaped our own expectations of the women we wanted to be.

We talked about how bad it made our mothers feel when we watched the show with them. Our mothers, who fell almost perfectly in the middle of the Emily/Lorelai Gilmore continuum, were never quite what we wanted them to be; an impossible, fictional standard to set. Everyone wants to be a Lorelai. Both of them.

Then the news broke. The complete series was coming to Netflix and a whole corner of the internet that was previously silent woke up. After too many caught references and plenty of nostalgia for that tiny Connecticut town (and, okay, some wine) we decided we needed to find Stars Hollow for ourselves.

As it turns out, many have tried. If you've read this far, surely you too have tried and failed to find it on a map. Stars Hollow, as you will have discovered, is not a real place, but rather a composite of south-western Connecticut towns and places visited by the show's creator Amy Sherman-Palladino.

Users of Tripadvisor have documented there own attempts at the "Gilmore Girls Experience." And Buzzfeed did a twee Flat Stanley photo essay of various scenes vaguely reminiscent of Stars Hollow. None alone felt quite complete so we set out to create our own Stars Hollow. Here's how we did it.

Step one: Pick a date and reserve a rental car

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 3.45.35 PM

It was going to take all day so we needed a summer Friday to skip work for our adventure. I finally got to use that Enterprise Car Share I signed up for earlier this year.

Step two: Casting

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 3.46.46 PM

Okay, bear with us. We decided that in order to take great pictures, we had to look the part. For you. Choosing roles was a brunette battle of bangs and blazers. Molly got Rory because she had a Chilton-esque blazer (a leftover from her own school uniform) and skirt, and I got Lorelai because I just so happen to have the cowboy boots and the Daisy Dukes Lorelai sports in the second episode.

Step three: Mapping the Route

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 3.49.36 PM

We knew there had to be a gazebo, and we had read about a charming inn that Amy Sherman-Palladino had stayed at, and gained a surge of inspiration from for the nascent mother-daughter pilot she'd sold to the WB, while vacationing in Connecticut with her husband Dan. We also needed a Luke's for coffee and a bookstore for character assimilation.

Step four: Stay up all night binge watching season one

Gilmore Girls
Gilmore Girls

For maximum inspiration we needed to be as rushed and frazzled as the Lorelai's were on their first day of school. Luckily, I had to run into my office at the last minute to give a quick morning presentation, my Daisy Dukes temporarily concealed within a flowy skirt. ("Laundry day.")

Step five: Caffeinate

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 3.52.46 PM

It took about an hour to get to our "Luke's," aka Marty's in Washington, Depot. Conveniently located next to the Hickory Stick bookshop, where you could imagine a young Rory discovering Joan Didion.

Step six: The Inn

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 3.54.17 PM

The Mayflower Grace in Washington Depot, CT (previously the Mayflower Inn) was, much to our delight and relief, a deadringer for the Independence Inn, where Lorelai raised Rory and for which she serves as general manager for the first four seasons.

Step seven: The gazebo

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 3.37.06 PM

Even though Washington Depot had the inn, the coffeeshop and the bookstore, the feel of the town wasn't quite there. Stars Hollow itself is almost a character in the show, anchored by the central square with its picturesque gazebo. Our research lead us to a few adjacent towns including New Milford, a TK drive from Washington Depot. As we parked the car in front of a ceramics studio we saw it…the gazebo. It was white and tall, in the middle of a grassy town square. Just like in Stars Hollow. We had found what we were looking for.

Step eight: Yale

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New Haven was pizza and a photo on the steps of an imposing grey stone building. We were too tired to figure out if it was a church or a library, but it fit the bill. Exhausted and triumphant, we were able to admit we weren't eighteen anymore and drove back to Brooklyn with Carole King blaring from our rental car's speakers.

Curious? Email us at gilmoregirlstours@gmail.com