G is for Geese

(And Other Birds that Scare Me)

My sister and I used to play at our local park all the time as kids. I’m from one of those out-doors-y, spend time in the sunshine type families, so it was a given that my parents – who used to tromp around in Floridian swamps for fun – took us to play at the park at every opportunity. We loved the park; it had everything kids need to have fun: a playground, trees, grassy hills. It also had a lake, and the lake happened to be home to a crazy number of ducks…and geese.

Those geese, those mother fuckin’ geese, were the fuel of my nightmares. They would see my sister and I feeding the ducks from the other side of the lake and would advance upon us like a freaking armada. One second, that flock of feathered freaks would be at the other side of the lake, and the next they would be charging onto the shore, eyes alight with hunger and violence, toothy bills open in battle squawks.

What else could we do against such abject thirst for blood (or bread, as it were), but flee in terror?

So geese, geese scare me, but they were just the first in a bizarre list of my avian enemies. (Yep, this gets weirder and more ridiculous.)

“The Avenging Avian”

My preschool was pretty bomb and had a petting zoo to complement all the regular awesome parts of a preschool (you know, swing sets and sandboxes and the like). I both loved and dreaded the days we went to the petting zoo. Loved, because of the chicks and mini-ponies and fluffy bun-buns, and dreaded, because of the turkey.

Turkeys are awful creatures. If you’ve never seen a turkey up close, don’t. Their wrinkly, veiny heads have convinced me that they’re (hostile) aliens, they’re huge, and they’re mean. They don’t even taste that great (sue me, you know you don’t eat turkey outside of Thanksgiving dinner and leftovers).

Now, that turkey at my preschool was particularly gross and big (that beast of a bird towered over my four-year-old self) and mean. I swear it used to wait for me – for me in particular. It lurked around the corner of the barn eyeing me maliciously, braced for the exact moment when I separated just enough from my class of miniature people.

Then it sprinted after me full force, exuding killing intent, and I, at four years old, could do nothing but run circles around the barn or hide or cower in fear until rescued by a teacher.

So, fuck you, turkeys. This is why we eat you.

Revenge of the turkeys… 

And finally, crows. Crows are the bird I learned to fear – or at least to view with cautious apprehension – as an adult, after I moved to Japan.

I had heard rumors that the crows in Japan were pretty mean and I had read manga (you mean you hadn’t already figured out how big of a nerd I am?) with little side plots involving the helpless female lead being attacked by vicious crows and had, of course, assumed they were all grossly exaggerated for dramatic effect.

But then it happened to me. Twice.

The first time I really experienced the darker side of crows, I was visiting Hokkaido with a friend for the Snow Festival (which is awesome, by the way). There was an itty bitty shrine near the inn we were staying at that we walked over to one afternoon to check out, thinking we’d get some nice pictures of a cute local shine.

We didn’t even make it through the gate.

We were chased off by a crow.

I don’t want to stoop to the level of a big-eyed, big-haired, can’t-stand-up-for-herself-against-a-silly-bird Japanese comic book character, but when Japanese crows mean business, you’d better fucking listen, because my friend I were dive-bombed and squawked at all the way down to the next street.

Needless to say, the Hokkaido Crow Incident (hereafter referred to as HCI) taught me to be wary of future run-ins with crows in Japan, so I managed to do a pretty good job of avoiding them until I moved the countryside, where they were everywhere.

I was never actually attacked again, but I did have a couple of close calls and one terribly mentally scarring encounter.

I was walking to the bus stop one morning before work, following the same little country road I always took, with the river on one side and rice fields on the other. Even rural Japan can be pretty suburban (as was the case with the town I lived in) so I rarely saw “wildlife” beyond little frogs or songbirds (and bugs), but on this particular morning, there was a big, fat crow waiting directly in front of me.

Now, I had hardly forgotten the lesson I learned during the HCI, but on this day, I was overcome with a momentary spark of bravery and decided that I wouldn’t cross the road to get away from the crow. I would keep walking forward and the crow would get out of MY way.

It didn’t.

My confidence quickly ebbed as we entered into a stare-down. The crow didn’t back off, didn’t back down, didn’t even take a step back. Instead, it fluffed its feathers, hunkered down, and raised its wings in a blatant display of ferocity, and I was the one who felt their confidence waver, but I was determined and kept walking forward, committed to my demonstration of bravery.

This crow gave zero fucks, and instead of finally flying off, bent down and picked up the half-eaten corpse of the dove it had been tearing to shreds as if to prove to me that no, in fact, it didn’t give the tiniest fuck that I was a grown-ass human being and that it saw right through my show of false confidence.

I crossed the road and dashed past it, crow cackles echoing in my head.

This is the stuff of nightmares!

So fuck you, birds! You win this round.



F is for Fail(ure) (It’s actually a good thing, people)

My lovely co-blogger and myself have likely made it very clear that we are millennials. (In case you didn’t know, we’re millennials). (Why is Generation Y lumped in with them, anyway?) (Punctuation on the inside? I’m such a rebel!) (Parentheses party up in this bitch!) (We need to write tipsy more often). Moving on.


The first paragraph is a testament to why everyone should write drunk for the sake of entertainment. At least every once in awhile. Amusing, yes, so I’ll leave it, but I’m glad to be writing the rest of this soberly (at a later date).

Failure is defined as “a lack of success.” This is why I don’t like definitions; they oftentimes don’t get to the heart of what something really means. It’s way too superficial, but that’s a bigger problem with language, I suppose. Still, I’m not here to discuss the nitty gritty details behind how we define words. I wanna look at how these words are treated in our culture (as an American, this discussion will center around American culture, but I think it has value to all people, plus I don’t really consider myself a typical American anyway – international experience for the win)!

Failure is treated like a horrible thing. Something to be avoided at all costs. We (all of us) have to change the perception of failure. It’s not a lack of success, per se, but a temporary stumble in the direction of success. As one of my mentors says, “You either win, or you learn. There is no such thing as losing.”

How many times have you beat yourself up over some loss or failure? Quite a few, I’m willing to guess. That’s not because I think you have low self esteem. It’s that we all, no matter how confident we are, struggle to understand the positive side to fucking up. Hell, I’m guilty of these negative feelings, too, even though I know that failing helps me in the long run.

I’m sure this sounds like a funny thing to claim. Nobody wants to fail. But, failing is learning! Losing is learning! We are fortunate enough to live in a world where failure doesn’t mean death. (Which is directly opposed to how life has been for most of human history, I’d like to point out). So what’s the big deal? You mess up? Move on. Keep pushing. Keep hustling. You’ll get where you wanna go. Don’t just give up because of a setback (or two, or three…or more…). When you fail there are two options (one technically, as there is only one positive of the two choices): 1. Wallow in your own sorrow and blame everyone, or 2. Take responsibility and learn from what happened; that way you can do better next time.

Time to talk about millennials (again?). We are criticized for so many things, so it’s even more important for us to be gritty. Take those failures and turn them into strength. I know I haven’t really “made it” yet, so I’m sure some would say that the advice I’m giving doesn’t mean much. But, I’m trying. And I won’t give up. I wanna make sure you keep pushing, too. Whatever your goals in life are, you can do it!

Forward – charge!!

I believe in you.

Now you need to believe in you.

Failure isn’t flattering, no, but it doesn’t have to be final, either.

Wow, that was overly inspirational (but we all gotta be mushy sometimes)…just get out there and kick some ass!





E is for: Everyone (So this is actually about books…)

I read kids’ books.

Yep. I’m 27, a teacher, an editor, a writer, all Bachelored up with an English degree, and I read kids’ books. And you know what? I love them. I go through Young Adult and Juvenile books the way most people go through potato chips. Seriously, I love reading kids’ books.

And I seriously hate feeling like I need to apologize for it.

I catch myself doing it constantly. I’ll be recommending a new book to one of my many reader friends (go ahead, show me your shocked face) and I’ll find myself saying something like, “It’s Y.A. level, but it really is a good book” or “The story’s great, really. I know it’s for kids, but just give it a chance.”

Really?! Why should the proposed reading level of a book determine its worth? Why should I feel the need to belittle my own opinion?

It shouldn’t. And I shouldn’t.

These are my babies and I love them.

I majored in Creative Writing and I was a superstar in all of my high school English classes (#humblebrag), and I cannot remember a teacher or professor who didn’t at some point express their totally professional – and therefore obviously correct – opinion that anything besides literary fiction was sub-par and essentially not worth reading. Genre fiction – fantasy, mystery, sci-fi, and what have you – was cheapened by its setting, and fiction for young readers was delegitimized by its low(er) reading level. The few times I bravely admitted that I loved Tolkien or that the last book I had read was geared towards fifth graders, I was met with a shocked and mortified, “You read that type of book?!” and sometimes the deeply disappointed, “I never expected that of you, Chelsea.”

At my university, professors and workshop instructors stated outright that genre fiction and fiction for young readers was heavily discouraged by the program, and so like a good little student, I read classics and modern literary fiction and stuck to writing stories about the failings of the human condition because dragons and the like did not belong in quality fiction.

I slay thee, dragon!

In short, I was taught to feel bad about what I liked to read.

Don’t dismiss a book because it’s written for 15 year olds and you’re 25 or 35 or 45. Don’t think less of me because I, despite my formal training and professional writing career, read (and re-read) books by Kenneth Oppel, Tamora Pierce, and Scott Westerfeld. Don’t question the quality of my character because I am more consistently moved to tears by Bridge to Terabithia and anything by Lois Lowry than any proper work of literary fiction I’ve ever read.

So does that mean that I don’t like lit fic? No. Hardly. I’ve read The Great Gatsby as many times as I’ve read The Giver.

I’m just done with feeling ashamed.

Books should be loved for their stories, not for the difficulty of their syntax or the complexity of their allegory. Love a book because you share in the emotions of the characters. Love a book because you become swept up in the movement of the plot. Love a book because the themes resonate with you. Love a book because it tells a good story. Everyone deserves to read a good story and every good story deserved to be read.

Stories are for everyone.


D is for: Dingleberry (It all depends on whatcha been eatin’)

Pooping. The eternal struggle. Until now.

For those of you that have had a lifetime of strenuous trips to the bathroom (you know who you are…), the struggle is all too real. Well, folks, I have some good news for a change. Yes! A way to take all those nights you spent curled into the fetal position waiting for your laxative of choice to kick in, all those days wondering if you wiped all the loose stool from your bum in an attempt (futile as it may be) to avoid the dreaded dingleberry.

I realize that this is a rather gross topic, but for people (like me), who’ve had a hard time going number two their whole life, know that this is, indeed, a painful problem. (Damn you people who have bowels that work like well-oiled machines!)

Before I share “the thing” that will make pooping a wonderful experience, I want to talk about some funny (maybe that’s not the right word) stories about my own pooping troubles in the past. Sadly, they don’t really involve dingleberries. I just wanted a good excuse to talk about poop sooner rather than “P” (The letter…gezz, get your minds outta the gutter, people).

So, let’s get started! I’ve had so many strange pooping experiences throughout my life. Not that most people would be proud of something like this, but I’m not like most people (oh, no…). However, there are far too many stories to cover them all in one go, so for now you only get one story (I know, I’m such a tease).

And, yes, I pooped today. I hope you did, too.

Yes, I really own this pin.

Like my lovely co-author, I too have just recently returned from Japan. We ate a lot of rice there, and I’m talking basically all three meals of the day. After two years of this, I got very, very backed up. It was like someone took one of those long carnival balloons, used to make animals and such, and blew it up inside my intestines. This required some dire intervention. And ex-lax didn’t even begin to cover it.

It was time to pull out the big guns. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about an enima.

So there I am, position assumed to deploy the enima. At this point, you’d think I’d be quite ecstatic about the fact that I was going to get cleared out. And you’d be right. But, as soon as I finished squeezing the enima liquid into my…bowels…I pulled the nozzle tip out and, much to my horror, poop water started spraying out of my bottom. Although I tried to hold it in, the pressure was too great!

Well, needless to say, the whole experience didn’t work out quite as well as I’d imagined.

Cleaning the damn bathroom after that was the worst part. (You don’t wanna hear that part of the story.)

So, onto the self-help part of this story. Shortly after this fiasco, I discovered the wonderful anti-inflammatory effects of aloe vera. Using a 1:2 ratio of aloe vera and honey (to make it not taste so dreadful) I created a concoction which keeps my poops smooth and long (like little brown snakes). Perhaps it’s not my aloe vera honey, maybe it’s my diet returning back to the states, maybe it’s my Squatty Potty™ (thanks Squatty Potty™),  or it could be something entirely different (the bowels are a mysterious place, after all). But, I want to believe that this miraculous mixture is helping me more than any other thing. Maybe it can help you too? I certainly hope so.

Aren’t they cute?

Until next time, live long and poopsper.



C is for: Cat (I regret nothing.)

Weird things happen in the boonies of Japan. Strangers give you vegetables. Bugs invade your home. Kids on bicycles shout bad English at you. And if you’re me, you acquire a cat.


This story doesn’t start with me. Nope, nope. I may have run after every stray cat I saw while I lived in Japan in hopes that it would let me shower it with love for a minute or two, but I swear I did not intentionally acquire this cat. Nope, the glory of all the initial irresponsibility belongs to my friend I will fondly refer to as Gabu. (Not her real name.)

Gabu and I were the only Americans in our dinky little town. We were in the same English teaching program and although we worked at different schools, we did live in the same little two-story apartment building.

To her credit, she was a very nice person, and when me managed to hang out, we got along great.

To her discredit, she constantly dodged, ignored, and forgot my many invitations to do things, so for the year we lived all of 30 feet away from each other, I hardly ever saw her and we hardly ever talked.

And then one day Gabu found a cat.

It was a scraggly, five-week-old, crooked-tailed, probably inbred scrap of a kitten straight out of the rice fields. (Read: It was adorable and I loved it immediately.)

Japan has an infinitesimally small number of no-kill animal shelters, so when sweet, tender-hearted Gabu picked up the kitten, tried to hand it over to the authorities, and got an answer she didn’t like, she freaked out, took the kitten home to our apartment that didn’t allow pets, and called our boss…

…who told her – derp – that she couldn’t keep pets in her apartment and was coming over immediately to collect the kitten, which would be handed over to the authorities to be euthanized.

So she panicked and called me.

I went over to help. Of course I went over to help. We were – and, really, still are – friends. I don’t know what she expected me to do, and there wasn’t much I could do, except be there for emotional support. (And also I wanted to say hello to the little kitty because I am a huge cat person and I was terribly cat-deprived in Japan and I couldn’t pass up the chance to smother a kitten with affection for even just a little while.)

So I went over. I said hello to the rice field kitten (omfgsocuteahhhh). I did emotional damage control. I explained the hopelessness of the situation Gabu had gotten herself into.

Then our boss showed up and Gabu immediately burst into tears.

Now, our boss was a big man, one of the biggest Japanese men I have ever seen. He was 6-foot-something, and not heavy, not buff, but solid, the size of man that had to duck through Japanese doorways and didn’t fit into most vehicles.

He was also a huge softy and caved immediately.

(I want to pause here and give my disclaimer. I realize that I sound very bitter and irritated, and I was, and I am, at Gabu and how she handled the situation. That being said, that cat she picked up is now my baby and I love her to pieces. I regret nothing. That cat is mine forever and ever.)

Here’s where I get pissed off, even in the retelling.

Our boss gave Gabu three days to find someone to take in the kitten. Gabu, because she had turned herself into a recluse who only ever hung out with her sister, hadn’t ever really made an effort to make friends with the other teachers in our program, and hadn’t really reached out and connected with any of the amazing women in town (my Japanese moms!) who were always willing to drop everything to help us.

That left just the two of us.

Gabu called the few no-kill shelters in our area (which were very few and far between – and far away – and all had crazy waiting lists) and I contacted everyone I could think of (my Japanese moms, friends in the area, friends in the prefecture, friends in the next prefecture…) who might be able to take in a cat or knew somewhere or someone else we could contact. We both got nowhere.

On the night of day two, when things were looking not so positive, Gabu wandered over to my apartment (!) with the kitten to see if I could take care of it for a few days while she went several prefectures over to visit her sister. I never say no, I can’t say no, so I ended up with this tiny, cute little kitten in my entryway for the weekend. Gabu left for the weekend, and I spent the duration of it trying to pretend there wasn’t an adorable baby creature in my apartment, and then texted Gabu on Sunday night to come and please collect it.

Gabu did not come and collect it. Gabu, instead, texted back to say, “Sorry! Can you keep it? I’m afraid it might bother my allergies. Oh, and don’t worry about our boss! I told him that you already found someone to take the kitten.”


I still don’t know if Gabu is actually allergic to cats.

Did you know you can ship animals via auxiliary cargo on airlines? Because that’s what’s happened. I shipped that goofy looking rice field kitten from Japan to the US.

I swear, I tried so damn hard to be a responsible human being and not keep that animal. I wasn’t about to hand it over to be euthanized (because no) and I couldn’t ever bring myself to drop it back in the rice fields, so I spent a good couple of months reaching out to friends and friends of friends and friends of friends of friends of friends…

And at the end of it, when I had run out of options, suddenly the kitten belonged to me. Oops.

So I bought her toys and treats, I took her to the vet for her first shots, I finally named her (Viola, because I really like Shakespeare, okay?), and I stopped looking for someone to take her and started figuring out how to bring her back to the United States.

It required surprisingly little paperwork.

And so, after nearly four months of harboring a fugitive rice field kitten in my apartment, I took a day off work, took a bus to the airport, and shipped my kitten as auxiliary cargo to the United States, and now she is mine forever and ever.

I am the craziest of cat ladies and regret nothing.



Bonus for reading this far! The real Viola:


B is for: Beer (Always drink responsibly…(;>_>))


Ah…beer! What is there to say about beer, you ask? Why should I even listen to this random chick, you ask? Well, as a former connoisseur of beer (a.k.a. mild alcoholic?), I have quite a bit to say on the subject. But first, I have to ask, do you enjoy the fancy emoji? Chelsea’s idea. That’s what you get for having a gazillion Japanese friends…but I digress…back to beer!

So, beer. It’s delicious. We can all agree upon that, I hope. Except for you IPA drinkers; I don’t know what’s wrong with your taste buds, but that shit tastes like..well, shit. That should be blatantly obvious. However, we (and I’m talking as a society) abuse alcohol way, way too much. It’s not just the United States, either. I became an alcoholic during my stint living in Japan in order to take the edge off my stress and ended up with a slew of debilitating health problems from excessive drinking and the weight gain it caused. And although I’m not denying the words of founding father Benjamin Franklin: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” (Currently undecided if “God” had anything to do with it, but beer is still awesome, amirite?) What I am saying, however, is that all of us need to have a good long think about what drinking responsibly actually means.

I’m not trying to make a statement, I swear!

Now, I don’t want to lecture anybody, but I think part of the reason drinking has become an issue for many cultures around the world is that we all are drinking too much! No, it’s not just you. It’s not just your Mom. It’s all of us. Therefore, it’s easy to shove our drinking problems aside and say, “Well, everyone else is drinking as much as me, so it must be fine!” How many sad stories have you heard about someone dying because of a drunk driver? Or about a drunk person doing something unbelievably stupid because of good ol’ liquid courage? And, no, I’m not talking about stupid things like texting your ex or hugging everyone in sight. Besides getting behind the wheel, there’s a whole list of other things you can do to hurt yourself and others while drunk. It would take way too long to talk about all the ways you can win yourself a Darwin Award in an inebriated state, so just do yourself a favor, and go on YouTube. There is no lack of videos about drunk people doing stupid things, I promise you that.

Watched those videos yet? Yeah, I thought you’d get that done real fast. Okay, so now that there is hard evidence on the table, do you really want that to be you? While I realize that wrestling a crocodile is geographically impossible for most people, what about degrading a family member? What about picking a fight with a total stranger? How about getting hung over and not being able to go to work to support yourself? These are things that anyone can do anywhere. And they do. All the time. We just hide it very, very well.

So, come on people, lets get our acts together…well, together. If I can go from drinking 3-4 drinks a night (oftentimes drinking from sunrise to sunset on the weekends, to boot) to drinking a few times a week, you can too. Take it from someone who was there; you’ll feel so much better about basically everything in your life. (Saving boatloads of cash doesn’t hurt, either.)

Try it…I dare you…

If anyone needs help with these issues, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Drink (responsibly) and be merry, my friends!



A is for Ahhhhh! (I don’t know what I’m doing)

I am a wildly incompetent human being.

The only full-time salary job I’ve ever held was a brief stint in assistant english teaching in the boonies of Japan (more on that later) and, let’s be real, that barely qualifies. Say-and-repeat pronunciation instruction and intermittent vocabulary activities does not a proper career make.

Taxes are exceedingly baffling. Maintaining business connections is a pain. I hate bills (but who doesn’t) and am mostly incapable of paying them myself. I am twenty-seven, I have two (largely useless) Bachelor’s degrees and several years of international experience, I speak three languages, and I have no idea what I’m doing. Ever.

I do, however, make an excellent burrito.


Seriously, who let me adult? I have only recently, and very grudgingly, admitted that I am yet another of those prolific, over-privileged, lost, and perpetually never more than only partially employed members of Generation Millennial. Let’s be real; I am alive only by the good graces and indulgence of my, perhaps, too-forgiving parents.

I am, I concede, a victim of my own laziness and self-doubt. (The joys of job hunting forever, anyone?) But that doesn’t mean that I – or anyone else who, like me, studied what they liked instead of what was practical, or changed career paths, or hit their sanity limit with a stagnant situation, or hasn’t discovered exactly what inspires them the most – is without passion or goals.

Fuck it! This is me. (This is us!) Confused, confounded, lost, lazy, on-pause, between jobs, searching, seeking, Netflix-binging, Japanese-speaking, driven, impassioned, don’t give a gosh darn dingus dangit.

I don’t even fully understand the basics of starting and keeping and promoting a blog, but here I am and here it is. Enjoy.