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Nobody knows where they’re going, so everyone has decided to stay still. It’s a ritual of sorts when weather goes south in Southern California. The city becomes a small town, headlights muted and streets too slick for even the smoothest movers and shakers. I don’t quite understand it, but I respect it and I stay still, at home, too. I think about feelings and I take a bath. I recognize that I have chosen to take a bath on an evening devoted to staying dry. …

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The Health Screen
Artisanal NyQuil, cruelty-free soda water, saltine cracker garnish, evaporated anxiety, hand-poured in a discarded latex glove.

The Welcome Toast
LinkedIn-endorsed coconut, oxygen compote, expired rum from a locally shuddered business, warmed with the embrace of a should-we-shouldn’t-we hug.

Movie Night Mojito
Blended shards of Paddington 2 DVD, stifled yawn, juiceless lime, poured over Faberge ice. #Ad #Paddington2

The Circle of Friends
Fermented diamond gelatin, served in a hollowed out bagel.

The Taste of Normalcy
Bottled Budweiser, dumped in the sand, refilled with liquified Bitcoin, wrapped in vintage Hermès gauze koozie.

The Birthday Cake
Archival Funfetti batter, gluten-free illuminated Bible mist, spiked with a whisper of antique rum sourced from the Temple of Doom.

The Humble Tweet
Yeezy sneaker with a single sip of organic chicken broth; blessed by eleven Calabasas monks via Zoom.

Let me be clear: I am not my sister.

Pumpkin was legally born Jessica. Even as a child, she feared being anything short of extraordinary. She changed her name. She bleached her hair. She followed a married tea leaf to Seattle. She got dumped and flirted her way through most of his friends until one decided she deserved her own season. The rest is history.

Let me be clear: I am not bitter.

I am 6000% sugar. If I wanted to be in the spotlight, I could be. Gourd Spice is just as interesting. Gourd Spice can surprise and delight. Just last month, I bought my husband, Basil, a custom jet ski for his 40th birthday. He can not use it, but he loves it just the same. I may not be as trendy as Pumpkin, but I am all personality. My blonde is natural, too. I may not be leading the charge on novelty drinks and scent neutralizes, but I have just as much going on right now, all of which I am happy to…

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This is where I tell you I am made of glitter glue.

I don’t have a record to prove it, but I am certain it runs through my veins, which is greater, in my opinion, than proof itself. Others seem to believe it, too. I’ve been lucky in that way, many, many times. To be trusted to create is a gift I don’t take for granted. …

The times may be unprecedented, but your gift can still be lackluster.

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A bulk order of lukewarm mostaccioli

A party may not be in the cards for your grad, but you can still capture the spirit of a catering order. Find a lasagna recipe, multiply it by 30 and advise your grad to leave it out in the sun for 4–6 hours. *Best served near an above-ground pool.

A ticket to your high school Zoom reunion

Your grad might have missed the chance to say goodbye to their classmates, but they still can say hello to yours. Invite him to your next virtual gathering and be sure to ask: Did things seem tense between Pete and Eileen or was it just a bad connection?

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Dear Yoder Amish Academy Families:

As of Monday, the use of all “TikToks” will be strictly prohibited on/near learning grounds, due to recent safety concerns reported by an archived city folk newspaper.

Furthermore, “rollerblades” (feet buggies), PG-13 tall tales, and revealing turtlenecks will also be prohibited upon the passing of tonight’s dusk. If one feels the need to indulge in such activities, one should feel free to take a hard look at oneself in the puddle near Old Winslow’s Shame Dune.

Again, for your personal records, “TikToks,” “rollerblades,” PG-13 tall tales, revealing turtlenecks, “zippers” (devil’s ladders), “contact lenses” (peeper pieces), the name “Lance,” twin witchcraft and filtered water are all officially forbidden. …

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It’s 11:30 am and a man is holding a turtle up to a laptop screen.

“This is Colby Jack,” he says, the man, not the turtle, in a voice I have heard on some other wavelength reserved for data analysis. The turtle seems unsure about most things: the people applauding from a digital distance, the free fall air under his belly. He decides to disappear and I don’t blame him.

This is the what it means to work from home during a global pandemic.

Of course, it isn’t all shell shock. We’re lucky to be working at all and we know it. We say this often, between somber sighs. There’s a gentle buzz of humanity vibrating from weekly sync to weekly sync. We see each other and we hear each other in new ways. We struggle to find the softest words together. It’s a very beautiful thing if you let yourself sit and think about it. …

If it’s not one fight, it’s another.

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After a run-in with a Frappuccino, Fuck Your Privilege now resides in a westside landfill. She has befriended a Lean Cuisine and a 2010 issue of People Magazine. Together, they have established a literacy program for local mice.


Now 1/4 of her original size, Strong Women is folded up in the glove compartment of Jenny’s boyfriend’s car. His name is Jared and he still listens to Ryan Adams. But he also calls his mother on speakerphone, often. Strong Women approves. For now.


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*Also denied admission to the Jellicle Ball:

Brittlestix, The Percussion Cat

High Voltina, The Electricity Cat

McHiddenFee, The Airline Cat

Snapple Cap, The Knowledge Cat

Pedialyte Bones, The Hangover Cat

HTTP 404, The Frustration Cat

Papa John, The Reckoning Cat

Dollar Short, The Roommate Cat

Split Check, The First Date Cat

Hi There, The Uncomfortable Email Cat

Bed, Bath & Beyond, The Coupon Cats

Old Rage Tweet, The Political Cat

Cabo Lice, The Spring Break Cat

Adam Driver

Form 1298602-B, The DMV Cat

Stab & Scamper, The DATELINE Cats

Lord White Sneaker, The Retired Dad Cat

Fleece Tears, The Seasonal Depression Cat

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There were only two spirits present at the birth of Office Bad Boy, one of whom was God. The other was a snake, a sleeve of restless heartbeat patrolling some self-assigned edge of desert, where life caught fire when it was done right. Office Bad Boy simply and spectacularly appeared, draped in denim on denim and five o’clock shadow, searching for something essential to say. Some wordless anthem. Some shade of cool. Some distant destination and then some other.

He wandered as he searched for a century or two, counting grains of sand before hitting concrete, still lost in thought and lonesome reflection. He crossed sidewalks and spongy road and front lawns, too, before collapsing on the steps of a corporate cubicle den. The sun seemed dimmer there, edges of steel wrapped in a foggy breeze as a group of smoke break women approached. They tended to Office Bad Boy, dazed and dusty, and took him in shortly after, drawn to his denim on denim, black and blue, and the way he stayed quiet, which was unheard of when it came to men in cubicle dens. …


Marina Mularz

Writer, Reader, Animorph

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