Yeah okay not really—we’re all going to die whether we pursue our passions or not. Tough nuggets. But it’s easy to get caught up in the rat race of bouncing from class to class, or from 9 to 5, or kids to soccer, or whatever stage of life you happen to be in. Time flies by so fast, one minute you’re upside down doing a keg stand at a white-trash themed rager and the next you’re sitting in your cubicle with a framed picture of your cat drinking one of those nasty Kombucha teas thinking, Where the F*ck Am I? And what does this all mean, and why does it matter? What did I contribute? It’s enough to make even the happiest of us feel a little bluesy on the days when we wonder what we are really accomplishing.

I remember when Steve Jobs died and my boss gathered us together to give us a speech about following your dreams—especially the ones that make you look batshit crazy. I don’t think we all need to up and quit our jobs to start knitting penis finger puppets to sell on Etsy (imagine what my Google search history looks like, people…) but,please, I beg you–if your work is not fulfilling then at least make sure you have a passion project. Give yourself a concrete goal and work toward it daily.

At the end of the week—scratch that—the end of the day, look back and ask yourself what you did that you are really, truly passionate about. This doesn’t always have to mean tackling your Big Passion Project (writing a novel, completing a marathon, or whatever) but can be as simple as cooking a meal with real food that nourishes your body, having a stimulating conversation about something that matters to you, or spending time with the people that are important. Fill your life with activity and people, not things, and I guarantee that you will feel a lot more fulfilled.

What are my passion projects? Well you’re reading one, right now…this is my hobby that pays in lube!

I also have a few more top secret projects up my nutty sleeves, and when I am not hunched over my computer working on one of my zillion writing projects, or knee deep in lube, I also love spending my hard-earned greenery on high quality food, live music, and travel. My most recent bizarro trip was to the Poconos to compete in a Tough Mudder with a handful of my closest friends, most of them who date back to (gasp!) high school. One of my team-mates broke his tail bone, and managed to finish the course anyways because he is BAD ASS all caps. Stay tuned for more about this adventure in the next week or so on XOJane.com. Oh and while you’re at it, read about how I love my boyfriend’s armpits.

America! Where we put ourselves in horribly strenuous situations "for fun"

America! Where we pay lots of money to roll in mud and hurdle over walls...

Now watch this inspiring video featuring my girl Kristin Lajeunesse, Founder of Will Travel for Vegan Food, who crashed on my couch a few months back during her epic journey! Kristin followed her passion out of a 9-5 and into a decked out vegan mobile that travels around the country. Hear her roar—try not to be distracted by how foxy she is.

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Oohrah! In honor of what could very well be my last day on earth (Tough Mudder tomorrow!!) I am giving you a nice little round-up of weird food/sex news from the week.

Robots: The gateway to ‘mind blowing’ sex?

An article on MSNBC showcases robot sex—remember when I wrote about Roxxxy, the True Companion bone-bot? This article features the robotic sex trend, highlighting Amsterdam’s vision of robots taking over its red light district, Fem Bot style, to pleasure the patrons. According to the article, sex robots can help end sex trafficking, the spread of STDs AND can teach us to be better lovers…I don’t think I agree on the latter. Well, guess I can cross Amsterdam off of my dream vaca list…clearly my destination vacation would have real, live prostitutes.

Cocaine and Chocolate, what’s the deal yo?

HuffPo published an article about the US government’s battle on peruvian drug culture, and how it is affecting the chocolate community. USAID has proposed a cocoa hybrid as alternative crop to coca (the key ingredient in cocain) and chocolate conassioers have their panties all in a twist, as it apparantly affects the flavor and quality of their chocolate.

“USAID says it has a foreign policy mandate to curb coca production by encouraging alternative cash crops, not to cater to gourmets. But it also says it may be open to commercializing native varieties in the future and it is sponsoring a contest to encourage farmers to cultivate more native coco,.” writes HuffPo’s Carolien Stauffer.

Voyeurism, Exposed

(image from HuffPo)

This terrific Mother Jones photo essay showcases voyeurism, and asks us what is just watching, and what is voyeurism? Where is the line? Excerpt alert:

In the age of Weinergate, we are all lookers and watchers. The following selection of images from Sandra Phillips’ book, Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870, traces the fine line between the two. Covering spy and surveillance imagery, images of violence and sexuality, the rise of paparazzi, and our incurable boner for celebrity photos, Exposed‘s 249 images show how photography shapes not just what we see but how we look at it. Mark Murrmann

Jerking Off Dogs Is a Real Career (and Here You Were Doing It for Free)

As usual, Jezebel kills it with the above title. This article is about a woman who jerks off dogs for cash at purebred shows. Ohhhh, Jezebel. Je t’adore.

Ashley Madison Offers 1 Million for Tebow’s Virginity

"But I won't dooo that! NO I won't do that!"

Okay, not really. They offer 1 million to any woman who can prove she boned Tim Tebow, therefore blowing up his “but I’m a virgin I love jesus” devout Christian spotlight. The website—which provides a place for marrieds to have affairs—is clearly the epitome of class.

Fish Flavored Booze?

And now, just in time for a sloppy Friday night, The Worst Liquor Flavors of All Time.

Smoked salmon vodka for all you bagel n’ schmear lovin’ jews…(sorry dad! Let me rephrase that as people of jewish heritage…myself included…), Big Dill Pickle vodka, and Scorpion flavored vodka! Gross. My older brother once tried to bully my ex boyfriend into drinking some sake with a dead, preserved snake coiled up at the bottom of the bottle. Don’t you love family time?

And now, not food or sex but still interesting. Read this article on the significance of street art to urban culture…I don’t think this is exactly what they had in mind….

Cheers! Happy Friday, folks! Wish me luck on my Tough Mudder tomorrow. If I die, I leave my cat, Zucchini, to my ex boyfriend; my 1990s TV with its built in VHS player and all accompanying VHS tapes to my current boyfriend (YOU’RE WELCOME); and insist that my brother comes from Hawaii to dispose of my sex toys, because he once made me do the same for him in a weird scene that belonged in a Woody Allen movie.

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Like most ovary-bearing individuals, I love me some chocolate. I prefer the extra dark variety, probably because I know it’s better for me and have therefore tricked my brain into finding it more delicious than its dairy-ridden counterpart. Seriously, the darker, the better. I have even been known to gnaw on a hunk of Bakers chocolate. So I was excited this past Easter when my mama sent me a care package from Nib Mor, an organic vegan chocolate company founded by two women who met while attending the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, just like me and my madre. (Side note: I am not religious…since I was a little girl Easter has meant one thing and one thing only: mass amounts of candy.)

This was possibly one of the most exciting care packages I have received from my mother, rivaled by one particular package in college containing a can of black beans and a package of expired tropical fruit themed condoms. Love you, Ma!

Inside my box of goodness was four chocolate bars and three different types of drinking chocolate. The cool thing about Nib Mor chocolate is that they are made without any refined sugars. The bars are made with agave and the hot chocolate powder is made with coconut sugar. I kinda think that sugar is sugar regardless, but it is still nice to know that the treats I am eating aren’t made with the refined stuff.

My desk: Chocolate, the obligatory birthday card from the office, a photo roll of my college roomies goofing, and that foxy boy I get naked with hugging me at the Washington Monument.

So what did I do with my chocolate? I ate it duh. Actually, I am currently in training for a Tough Mudder, so that means I am usually ravenously hungry due to my extremely early, extremely long training sessions. So I was eating Nib Mor chocolate bars at my desk at 9 am. Oh yes. I was. And my fav thing about the bars? They are really light, so I can eat the entire bar for something like 250 calories. I don’t really care too much about calories, especially when I am in training, but the truth is I ALWAYS eat an entire chocolate bar when I open one, so it is nice to know I am not eating a meal’s worth of calories in the form of a snack.

Oh, and the drinking chocolate? I have taken to mixing ½ a tablespoon into my morning coffee for some mocha goodness.

But why chocolate?!

Chocolate is my favorite antioxidant, and I get down on it pretty regularly. Rumor has it the stuff (the good, dark stuff) has more antioxidants than wine or green tea! Cacao is an anti-inflammatory, full of healthy good fats which fuel up my brain, and contains Tryptophan which creates serotonin. Say what? This means that chocolate releases the same feel-good vibes that a steamy sex session or cuddle fest produces. And it eases depression! So…chocolate, followed by vigorous boning, followed by some intense snuggling will help battle depression and keep my wonky crazy-girl brain in check. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

Ever had Nib Mor? What is your favorite chocolate company? Do you manage depression with sex and chocolate and exercise and nutrition? Don’t go ditching your meds, people, because I am no doctor!

Now watch this horrifying video about the Tough Mudder, which I am doing in just three days! Eep!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vh5HdPM_QuE] Read More →

In March, I hit my one year mark of being a productive, 9 to 5 office warrior with my very own cube and an out-dated PC that feels like it has been injected with animal tranquilizers. For the year before this job, I had another full-time position that allowed me to work from home in my pajamas. This may seem like a writer’s dream, but in actuality it sucked all sorts of sloppy. For one, because I could work in my pajamas, I often DID work in my pajamas, and sometimes three days would go by and I would realize that—aside from my daily run and the canoodling I did with cat and my then live-in, now ex boyfriend—I would see no one! And had been wearing the same pajamas for days. During the cold winter months, I constantly had a microwaved Bed Buddy wrapped around my neck, to the point no matter how much I bathed I still smelled like the burnt rice that filled the thing. Mmmmn. I was a hermit, and I stopped wanting to go out. Although I was in terrific shape because I scheduled my day around long runs and yoga. Woo!

So, I am actually crazy about coming into an office every day, and appreciate it in a way I would not had I not spent the previous 12 months hermited in my dark home office, smelling like my cat and burnt rice. I love the people I work with, too, and some of them I would even choose to hang out with if we didn’t work together. However, I have noticed that topics that have been deemed “office appropriate” are minimal, and we talk about the same things every day. They are as follows:

Food
Everyone likes to tease me about my veganism, and that’s cool, because I know I will probably live longer than the rest of them. Uhh what? But also we like to talk about healthy eating and our love for hot sauce—Sriracha fo’ lyfe! One of my co-workers (Whaddup, Nick!?!) is currently doing the “Paleo Diet” which amuses and intrigues me on the reg. It’s almost healthy! Except for, you know…the gobs and gobs of tempered flesh. Blech-o!

Music
A handful of us are pretty into music and like to talk about our favorite artists. We trade music, burn cds as holiday gifts (okay that happened once…) and talk about all the ways we plan to piss away our paychecks on live music. I have spent more on live music this year than on groceries. Real talk. I think TV also falls into this category but I don’t ever understand the references, since I don’t watch TV, so I just grunt and nod dumbly.

Coffee
We compare our days to the number of cups of coffee consumed. You know it’s gonna be a rough day for me if I’ve had three cups before eleven, and when a co-worker goes back for more java around 4, we all commiserate together.

Weather
When it’s raining, we complain about the rain. When it’s cold, we complain about the cold. When it’s gorgeous, we complain about having to be inside. A sample conversation goes like this:

Co worker: “Oh hey, Zoe, how you doin?”
Me: “Oh, great, except for all of the rain….makes me want to stay in bed…hate all that rain…gonna be good for the garden…yep…rain.”

The day of the week
Our editorial department loves to talk about our loathing of Tuesday. You see, Monday is expected to be brutal because you know you have a long week ahead of you. Unless you are you still running on your glorious relaxed weekend high, you know Monday will suck. Maybe you had a really busy boozy weekend and you’re recovering. Then Monday will suck even more. Wednesday is a great happy hour day, plus it marks the mid-week and allows me to make jokes (to myself…) about Hump Day. Thursday is fantastic because I can still count it as a legit drinking day since I am only a few years out of college…Usually I don’t drink on Thursdays but for some reason they still remind me of a weekend pre-game. Sort of like muscle memory. My body knows Thursday is for kickin’ back. Friday is awesome because, duh, it’s Friday, and you can spend the whole day saying TGIF!!! (lots of exclamations) and talking about weekend plans.

So…that just leaves Tuesday…You have no real purpose, Tuesday, other than to serve as a marker between the abominable Monday and Wednesday’s happy hour. Because we don’t expect you to be as terrible as Monday, every time you rear your fugly head, it is shocking. Like when you switch grocery lines last minute to a shorter, more promising line, and then the person in front of you needs a price check on their marked-down produce and then goes to their car to get their reusable bags. DAMN YOU! Tuesday, you are just monday with a trench coat and glasses.

Yep. We spend a lot of time bitching about Tuesday.

Your cat
My coworkers who are under 30 all own cats. And we all like to talk about our cats, and trade funny cat stories, and make fun of ourselves for being weird cat people. Basically, it is training for talking about our children (which everyone over 30 who happen to be wifeyed and nuggeted does on the regular). We all know each other’s cats on a first-name basis, and know whose cat loves to chew on cords and headphones, and whose is completely bat-shit crazy and likes to parkour off all the walls and drive your room-mates nuts. (Cough. Not mine!)

Drinking
For some reason, talking about WANTING to drink is okay. “Is it 5 yet?” “Is it Happy Hour yet?” “Who wants to ditch early and go get beer….ha ha ha ha…” As a joke, our boss put a sign on the desk of our elderly secretary that reads “Alice’s Wine Bar.” Sometimes on a Friday we crack open beer and wine and drink around it. It’s all very amusing to us, because poor Alice doesn’t drink and seems to be upset by the situation.

5 Things You Can’t Talk About at Work


Drinking

It’s funny to talk about wanting to drink, and having a rough day, and wanting a beer. But it is NOT funny to talk about how hammered you got last night, or why your office cube has the unmistakable aroma of tequila and vomit…or is that urine? The idea of being driven to drink is funny…but the actuality of it is apparently not so much.

Sex
Obviously. No one wants to know! Especially because I am the only one in the office who isn’t some sort of wifeyed. Even my cat-chatting twenty-something co-workers have live-in others. My short-distance, weekend visiting boyfriend looks pithy in comparison.

Your Food/Sex Blog
I have one co-worker who secretly reads SexyTofu. I am sure everyone is aware of its existence because….well…they had to Google my name during the interview process. But my little passion project is like your weird drug-addled cousin. Everyone is aware it exists but (whisper) no one likes to talk about it.

My Lunch Naps
I like to sleep on my lunch break. If it’s nice out, I sleep on the green across from my building with no shoes on. I come back refreshed and with a bit of grass in my hair. If it’s not nice I sleep in my car….which is sometimes still parked in the office lot. A 20 minute nap makes me feel glorious! I am sure everyone has seen me doing this. We don’t talk about it.

SO what do you talk about at work? Do you hate Tuesday? Is it normal that, even though I really enjoy my job, my coworkers and I spend a lot of time complaining? What IS it with Americans and our passion for whining. Sheeeeesh.

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Celebrate Friday with Things That Don’t Suck

I’m a pretty positive person, but this week was particularly hellish. To keep our spirits up, and anticipate all the great things we have to look forward to, my friend C and I exchanged a series of emails of Things That Don’t Suck. Here are some things we came up with. Feel free to add some more in the comments section! And happy Friday!

  1. Tough Mudder
  2. Virginia Roadtrip, Part 4: The Passion of the Gaga
  3. Screaming as loud as you can
    Image
  4. Bonnaroo
  5. Summer is coming, and my car roof is staying off
  6. Tequila tastes better in the sun
  7. Zucchini the cat
    Image
  8. Planning big life moves
  9. Dogs hanging out of car windows
    Image
  10. Manparts
  11. Toes in grass
  12. Toes in sand
  13. Toes anywhere but shoved in uncomfy work shoes
  14. A too-much-sun-and-booze induced coma
  15. More tattoos
  16. CAKE the band…but also CAKE the pastry…
  17. Making cookies and eating dough while they bake #instant gratification
  18. Snuggling
  19. Puppy breath in my face
  20. Planning vacations
    Image
  21. Tax return money
  22. Whiskey tea
  23. A big blue sky
  24. Silly voicemails
  25. Spending a grossly irresponsible amount of money on live music
  26. Laughing until liquids come out of your nose
  27. Staying up to see the sunrise
  28. My favorite fire escape in Brooklyn
  29. A full belly
  30. A sweat inducing dance party
  31. A cup of coffee on a lazy sunday
    Image
  32. A rainy day and a book
  33. Cookie dough by the pint OMNOMNOM
  34. A post-run high
  35. Hiking Mt Washington!!
  36. Daydreams
  37. Real dreams
  38. The smell of library books
  39. Shenanigans
    Image
  40. Love, which is lovely
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Photo by CQG

Yoga has been getting a lot of attention this year, what with John Friend making headlines, and that article published in the New York Times about yoga “wrecking your body.” Unfortunately, yoga (like veganism!) has garnered a reputation as being a hobby for PBR guzzling hipsters and/or suburbanite housewives. But when done mindfully, yoga is one of the best possible ways to synergize your mind and body. I know because I used to be a non believer.

Passions are often sparked by a terrific teacher. While I am horrendously uncoordinated, I am a bit of an adrenaline junky, and my favorite natural high comes from a good sweat session. Give me an hour or two on a cool, clear day and I am happy to pound my sneakers against the road like it stood me up for dinner. So I used to think that if I’m not sweating, I’m not working. As a result, yoga frustrated and bored me. Blah blah blah wiggle around on a mat. Breathe in and out. Booohring.

In college I signed up for a yoga class to snag a few extra credits with ease. My teacher was a petite, graceful woman in her 40s with the most soothing voice I had ever heard and a frisky feline sense of humor that pounces when you’re least expecting it. The first day of class she announced that at some point in the semester, somebody would fart, and we should all be prepared for it. It was love at first fart-joke. I followed her home one day and never left—emotionally, at least. She is now one of my closest friends.

When a new job moved me 8 hours away from her—and the steady yoga practice I had picked up—I was stressed about finding a new teacher because I knew no one would really be able to replace Donna in teaching talent or just all around ooey-gooey awesomeness. However, in a small studio in Fairfield County I met Robert, who reminded me of Donna right away with his habit of infusing his classes with his own humor and wisdom. I never mind waking up early to get to a class to hear snippets like “you don’t only brush the teeth that people see when you smile, do you!?”

So in two years I went from someone who avoided the yoga mat like an ex-boyfriend at a Christmas party, to someone who believes whole heartedly that what you do on the mat affects your life in every possible way. It truly has changed me as a person, and I know it sounds super crunchy and hippie-dippie, and you’re probably rolling your eyes already. But bear with me as I tell you the top 6 non-yogic life lessons yoga has taught me.

Photo by CQG

1. F*ck your ego. Preferably on a lonely sunday evening with a hand mirror so you can learn about your anatomy and stages of sexual response. No no no. That’s not what I mean at all. The first thing I learned from yoga, and what really made me love it, is that I have a thing called an Ego and it disrupts my life on the reg. The ego is that pesky little bitch that says “But you must touch your chin to your knee!!!” and “if you don’t squeeze two more hours of work into your day you’re a failure. You have failed. You suck.” The ego is what builds expectations and leads to let down. The ego flares up around your insecurities, which is often why people with big egos are actually the most self conscious deep down. Don’t let your ego run your life, or your yoga practice, or you will end up with less friends and a torn hamstring (but my chin made it to my knee! And now I can’t walk!). One day, while struggling through a tree pose that was being held longer than I would prefer for 8 am, Robert said “every time you get frustrated doing this, remember you’re a human pretending to be a tree.” Eat me, Ego!

2. Less is more. Jamming a zillion things into my day will only leave me strung out. Pushing my body past its comfort zone will do just that—make me uncomfortable. Robert once quipped “would you rather get your foot behind your head or breathe?!” Touche! Focus on priorities and essentials. Simplify. Everything will unfold as it should.

3. Learn from your breath. Breathing is actually the hardest part of yoga. Sounds like snobby guru bullshit, but it is. I still have issues maintaining constant, steady breathing throughout a practice. But I HAVE noticed that by paying attention to my breath I can pinpoint where I am struggling, on and off the mat. If I’m talking about a tense subject with my boyfriend I notice I’m holding my breath. Irritated at work? My breathing is short and quick. To destress, I take five to ten long, deep breaths. It clears my head and calms me down. When that doesn’t work, I cuddle the crap out of my cat. You can’t be mad with 5 pounds of purring puss on your face.

4. Practice patience. This speaks for itself. I’m an impatient person. I’m from a high-strung part of the country where everything is GO GO GO. Pepper that with my generation’s acclimation to getting what they want when they want it and, well, I was born into an environment of multitasking and immediate gratification. But impatience does nothing but cause anxiety and stress. Stink-eyeing the car in front of me will not make it move any faster. So chill out and enjoy the ride.

5. Pay attention to weakness. The stuff that sucks the most is usually the stuff we need to work on. As far as my body goes, I have really open hips. Made for baby makin! Thanks, Ma! So I love getting in a position like pigeon, because it’s easy for me. I hate anything that involves back strength, because I have a weak lower back. I noticed because poses that work my lower back are hard, but also because I never want to do them. This makes me think about the things I put off when I’m off the mat. I don’t like letting people down, so I am terrible at saying “no” to anything. I will put off saying “no” as long as humanly possible, which usually makes people angry when I tell them I can’t do something at the very last minute. When you procrastinate, notice what you’re putting off—there is probably a reason for it. Next time, do those things first.

6. Lead with your heart. Sounds corny, but it’s true. In yoga, they say “lead with your heart” to help open up your chest, physically speaking. But listening to your own heart off the mat means following your intuition, and your intuition is usually right. Guy at the bar seem like he spends hours in his basement with RedTube? You’re probably right. Does something tell you your girlfriend is actin’ like a shady lady? You’re probably right. I know I often feel pressure from my pesky brain—and my nasty, manipulative ego—to go against my instincts, but by trying to remind myself to do what feels right instead of analyzing everything, I usually come out on top.

Alright, enough mushy yogic rambling….I promise to get back to reviewing lube and writing love letters to condom companies soon.

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This is not my friend Tyler. If it was, he wouldn't need my help attracting women. That wiener dog/kissy face combo would do the trick.

In the following exchange, my friend Tyler, who often lets me pick his brain and publish the results, comes to me for advice on how to meet women. I don’t think Tyler needs help attracting women, he is an attractive dude, but he came to me for help. Like most intelligent people, he knows how to get what he wants: through flattery. Read as I dub his brand-new style “Hipster Clean” and send him off on his merry way to charm the pants off some poor unsuspecting Southern belle. Oh, and note that halfway through this conversation Tyler comes to the conclusion I am basically dressing him like my boyfriend. Also please excuse the fact that this was an online conversation, thus some online lingo, bad punctuation and Tyler’s ridiculous exclamatories, like “fuggin.” Please note that these are MY opinions, and I am dressing him like someone I would want to have sex with. So feel free to argue them in the comment section.

Tyler: So zoe, you’re all hip (SEE. FLATTERY.). i need some advice on how to be hip like you. you know.

Z: Is this in reference to you wanting to start a blog? I think you’re pretty hip.

Well kinda. I’m starting the blog this week, but I wanted your opinion on what you like your men to look like. I have no conception of what women really like, and I feel like i’m dressing like an old man.

Oh! Okay. Men should look put together but not like they tried to be put together. I also am a big fan of men in glasses, and with nice shoes. Oh, and no more hoodies in public.

No hoodies in public?

No more. It reminds me of high school.

That sucks. I fuggin’ love hoodies

Well I guess it depends. if you’re goin out..don’t wear a hoodie. Grocery store and gym, fine.

No! this has to be cut and dry. Like the ten commandments. I just don’t know where to begin. I don’t want to look preppy, but I don’t wanna look like I smoke Newports and drink PBR either

Okay then no more hoodies anywhere you think you might meet a lady. Gross Newports, that reminds me of the 7th grade. Okay so not a total hipster or yuppie.

Yeah like in-between.

Hipster Clean

I like that. There you go. Hipster Clean.

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Baby don't hurt meeeeee

I rant a lot about sex, and I make loads (hah, loads) of lewd remarks, and I am so pro-slut it may seem like I’m all about casual sex. While I think casual sex can be great for those who enjoy it, I actually hate casual sex. Okay, sorry. I dislike casual sex. Hate is for Hitler. I don’t dislike the idea of it, I dislike the physical act of it. It makes me uncomfy, and as a result, I have never really had good casual sex. Sorry if we bumped drunk uglies and you’re reading this and thinking “awww, shit.” I promise, it wasn’t you, it was me. I much prefer stinking up my sheets with a regular, consistent partner. And even more so, I prefer gettin’ it on with someone I love, all Percy Sledge style.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about love. Specifically, I have been thinking about love versus its sneaky doppelganger, attachment.  What is the difference between love and attachment? How can we differentiate between the two feelings, which often become entangled faster than two teens with the lights off.

Love, to me, is a feeling of deep trust and connection. It also produces the type of endorphin induced high that makes me grin like an asshole for no reason at all. (Do assholes grin? There’s a thought.) I love the feeling of love; I want to roll around in it like catnip and then wear it to bed like my boyfriend’s stinky t-shirt.  Love is flexible, and grows with you and around you and even if you have been together forever, love can feel exciting.

Attachment is that angsty feeling you get about someone. Attachment is the feeling of need. Love and attachment are often entangled because they can go hand in hand. You can be in loved and also be attached—most are, which is why we hate being away from those we love. But you don’t have to be in love to be attached. Often we confuse attachment for love, and the easiest way that I can differentiate between the two is this: When you’re in love, you want the other person to be happy. When you’re attached, you want the other person to make YOU happy. Attachment is not really about the other person, but the way that other person makes YOU feel. That’s where that corny saying “If you truly love someone, let them go,” comes from. “But what? I LOVE them. I don’t want to let them go!” says the ego. Echoed behind this is mine mine mine mine.

Defining love is extremely difficult, if not impossible, because it’s a feeling, and how do you define a feeling? Poets have spent centuries trying to define love—some more successfully than others. Whenever I think about trying to put this short-bus-special feeling into words, I am usually reminded of an extremely charged scene in that deliciously dramatic Mike Nichols film, Closer. I love this movie because it only has four cast members—Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts and…gasm..gasm…Clive Owen—and I want to bathe each and every one of them with my tongue, all careful and cat-like. The movie is all about sex and love, and yet shows more of the latter and none of the former (aside from an awk cyber-sex scene between Owen and Law). I am completely enamored with this movie, because of its raw characters and sloppy, real life scenarios. Everyone in it is an asshole, and all of them are likable.  Anyway, at one point, Portman’s character says to Law, “Where is this love? I can’t see it, I can’t touch it. I can’t feel it. I can hear it. I can hear some words, but I can’t do anything with your easy words.” Ooooph.

During my last Big Breakup, my ex and I sat arguing about The End. He kept repeating (much like Law’s character in the aforementioned scene) the big L word. Finally, channeling my inner Portman, I asked if he could please specifically pinpoint what this feeling of Love is, and why it is so important to him.

After a long pause, he uttered a word that sent my inner-hopeless romantic screaming out of the room, tearing at her hair and slamming the door—and our relationship—shut behind her.  Comfortable. “You’re comfortable,” was what he said.

Comfortable? My bed is comfortable. I look forward to lying down in my bed. I would prefer my bed over the cold floor. If my bed was gone, I would miss it. I enjoy my comfy, comfy bed. But that, my friend, is not love. That is attachment. Attachment is wanting what is comfortable, what is convenient. Love is not always so.

Not that love cannot be comfortable. Love should be comfortable. When we are truly connected to someone else, we should feel comfortable with them. And sometimes, when you have been together  a long, long time, that excited In Love feeling may—after the golden retriever and the kids and the second mortgage—turn into a comfortable partnership. Sure, that happens. There are more important things in a functioning relationship than feeling so excited about someone that the majority of your orifices begin to salivate when they walk into a room. But the sheer feeling of comfort should never ever be mistaken for love.

Personally, I know I am in love when I find myself wanting to share things  that are special to me with that other person. It’s a way of opening myself emotionally, and I often notice it most with places and people that are special to me. My sleepy southern college town nestled in the blue ridge mountains, for instance. I’ve been itching to take my boyfriend there for a reason that is hard to verbalize. This is special to me, this is a part of who I am. Here. You have it.  Or friends who have made a significant impact on my life; I want my partner to meet them. And when something good happens, that other person is the first I want to tell. I have been in non-loving relationships with people that I want to separate from things that are sacred to me. I remember dating a guy and realizing I wasn’t into him when I noticed I never, ever wanted him to come to my house. I liked going to his place so I could leave when I wanted and not feel like he was invading my space. When I love some, I want my space to be their space, too. Get in me!

So what is love to you? How do you differentiate between love and attachment? Have you seen the movie Closer? Do you not want to breathe Natalie Portman’s heavenly pink-wigged stripper scent?

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Yes, those are peas and carrots in the corn bread…

In honor of A’s southern home-town, this past Friday we whipped up a vegan friendly southern meal of barbecued tempeh, gluten free corn bread and—in lieu of lardy collard greens—raw kale avocado salad.

The kale avocado salad was inspired by one of my mom’s recipe. My version is much simpler—mainly it contains less ingredients because I am usually too poor to get all the good stuff Ma puts in. Plus, her recipe is top secret!

Raw Kale Avo Salad
Serves: two hungry people

1 large bunch of kale, washed and torn
1 medium organic ripe avo
2 tablespoons fresh basil (foraged from the basil plants for sale outside the local grocery store, perhaps?!)
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Step One:
Put kale in bowl and add flesh of avo. Mash with (clean!) fingers.

Step Two:
Add rest of ingredients, except tomatoes, and massage until kale begins to break down. You will know this is happening because the kale will shrink right before your eyes, ending up with an itty bitty fraction of the mass you started off with. I usually mash mine for a solid 10-15 minutes straight.

Step Three:
Lick fingers. Add tomatoes. Serve.

The barbecue sauce A and I concocted was inspired by Veganomicon, although we didn’t follow any of the sauce recipes in there…just lovingly observed what Isa Chandra Moskowitz did. A and I love a good spicy hot sauce, so  one of the featured flavors in our BBQ is ginger. In honor of that, we named our sauce Red Bush BBQ. (A’s boyfriend disapproved of the name, saying no one wants to “think about pubes while eating.” I disagree. )

I am currently working on perfecting this BBQ sauce in time for National Barbecue day, which is May 16. I actually vowed to stop celebrating national food days after I had an extremely traumatizing experience on National Pancake day, which is why I am prepping this recipe wayyyy in advance.

Red Bush BBQ sauce is a terrific late-night food. We made the meal for dinner and then teetered home at around 3 am to eat the rest of it. When the tempeh was gone, we continued to dip everything in sight in the BBQ sauce while saying stupid drunk-girl things like “do you know what would be good in this BBQ sauce? Frozen pizza crust,” and “OHHHMYGAWD I don’t want to still be dating at 35. I want nuggets”

A is so adorable, stirring that sauce, drinking her chai. She will most certainly be wifeyed and nuggeted by 35.

Stay tuned for the recipe for Red Bush BBQ sauce, coming in May! Are you still dating at 35? Is it like when I was 16 and thought 24 was old, and now that I am 24 I think 35 is old?  Do you agree with A’s boyfriend about the name of our BBQ sauce? I like it. But I am kind of gross. (Thus I will probably not be married at 35…)

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On our road trip to Sedona, A and I paid a visit to the town’s well-known vegetarian restaurant. What is interesting about ChocolaTree (pronounced Chuh-cola-tree) is that it is 99 percent vegan (some of their sweets have honey) and mostly raw, yet they don’t announce that—probably to avoid scaring away the tourists. I first heard about the place on XOJane.com, because the cousin of an XOJane writer, Liz Armstrong, founded the place. Liz writes about new agey stuff on XOJane, and the place is pretty new agey—crystals galore, a magical herb garden and patio out back, and the heavenly scent of chocolate all up in your nostrils sending gasmy thoughts all throughout your body. Or at least, that’s what happens when I smell chocolate…

The place makes everything right on site, and they have delicious house-made packaged foods for sale, like dehydrated kale chips…they taste a lot better than they sound, scout’s honor.

A and I split their sampler for two and the Viva Burrito. The sampler had the best raw hummus I have ever tasted, guac, “Nori Nachos” and these amazing chia crackers—all house made, all raw, all coregasmy. We asked for hot sauce because we’re total spice lushes, and their house made hot sauce is probably the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. (Shhh, don’t tell my boyfriend.)

The raw Viva Burrito—stuffed with cabbage, red peppers and tomatoes–had this delicious home-made creamy vegan cheese, but unfortunately there was only a smidge of it inside and as a result A and I were fork-fighting over it like some hungry crows.

But the best part of course was dessert. We eye-f*cked the plates of the women next to us before quizzing them on what the best selection was, so that we could better prepare ourselves. Remember that my mother is a pastry chef and makes the best vegan cakes, so I can be a bit snobby about my sweets. However, they did not let us down.

We ordered a slice of creamy pumpkin pie, with a texture of cheese cake and a crust made of coconut. Upon my first bite, I spurted “THECRUSTISCOCONUTTHECRUSTISCOCONUT” to A, to prepare her…we are both coconut fiends. It was phenomenally subtle, not over-the-top cinnamon-y the way some pumpkin treats can be. And the sweetness wasn’t overwhelming, allowing you to really taste the earthy pumpkin goodness. Bangerang, ChocolaTree.

We also shared some of the best vegan chocolate ganache I have ever had. It was decadent and creamy, intensely bitter, not too sweet, melt in your mouth and left me tonguing my fork like it was going to buy me dinner.

Oh girllll, that's not frosting...

I really loved this place, from the warm inviting atmosphere, to the friendly staff–a pleasant man with a hipster mustachio served us–to the blow-your-brains-out food. For me, raw food can be either bland or intense, but ChocolaTree, you make raw look good. Thanks for getting in me!

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