An Agoraphobia Allegory

Once upon a November, a pecan tree shed the fruits of its spindly loins. Some nuts were rotten, some buttery, and one crunchy shell cradled a little girl. She cracked the hard womb in half and stepped out into autumn, shaking off gooey drops of amniotic fluid. She was a diminutive creature – only in the 5th percentile – and she loved reading about animated bears, altruistic trees, and saying goodnight to the moon. She feasted on bottom feeders from mud holes and swamps. She was born again in every thunderstorm in the summer. Her blood was so sweet it made mosquitoes drunk. She was home.

One day she noticed a lump on her heart. The doctors assured her it was benign. As long as she stayed and played beneath her pecan mothers and fathers, she was safe. True to form, the azaleas would burst forth in a mauve eruption every spring. The crickets and thunder and barking frogs engendered the daily euphony. She smiled at the little fires in the sky in the crepuscular hours.

It was safe, it was steady. Still, she thought often of her little heart lump. She thought it was making her heart beat more rapidly. What if it was swelling against her lungs? She breathed quicker. She thought faster. But she had so many dreams. She watched the woodpeckers soar and her heart ached for something more, for a different shore.

So she flew West to a place where rain never pattered and the sun blanketed every inch of parched ground. A place with many people, people who spoke more than they listened, and few trees, desiccated trees that groveled for a drop of water. A line of grey demarcation steadily separated smog from sky. Atlases and talk shows named it paradise.

The little girl noticed her chest becoming red and swollen. Her heart ached and itched and she could not seem to scratch it. The doctors did not meet her eyes when they said her heart tumor had metastasized. Inoperable, they said. Terminal.

She made a mourning nest with pillows and furs and lay paralyzed for a time. She cried, “I have to get rid of this ugly growth! It’s so heavy on my heart. It keeps me stagnant in my sick bed. I want to be kinetic.” She applied salves and balms to the affected area every night. She swallowed toxins that might draw swords with the angry cells. She took a dirk to her ribs and cut a crater. She pulled and pulled the carcinoma but it would not let go.

“It will not let go,” she stated plainly. “It will not let go. But I can let go.” She crawled out of her nest and traversed to the grocery store. She ignored the stares as best she could. It was uncomfortable, but she had so many dreams. The next day she went a little farther and a little longer. She still felt deep pain. But she had so many dreams. So she carried her cancer with her everywhere.

“I must marry my malignancy,” she decided. She said her “I do’s” upon an alter. She planted a kiss upon its lips and vowed to embrace her tumor as fundamental to her body, as important to her being as her heart. “Thank you, my little neoplasm. Thank you, foreign cells. Thank you for this lesson.”

Soon the deviant cells began to fuse with the pieces of her heart. They wed the ventricles and coupled with the atria. Rich burgundy blood enveloped and nourished the organ. All of the cells united to form one titanic heart, and with it her capacity to love and feel and empathize became her defining feature.

She went home to her trees and around the world again. Her heart still ached occasionally, and sometimes the size of it simply exhausted her. Still she said her thank you’s. Thank you, onerous heart muscle. Thank you, memories of disease. She lived so many dreams.








Eggplant Parmesan

My daddy was always a wonderful cook growing up, and one of his best dishes was eggplant parmesan. I stole his recipe and made a couple of tweaks, but the essence is the same – and delicious. This dish is very involved, so make sure you have a couple hours to do it right. Your tastebuds will thank you for the effort.


  • 2 eggplants, thinly sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 2 tsp. ground thyme, plus 1 tsp.
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano, plus 2 Tbs.
  • 2 Tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper, plus 1 tsp.
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (14.5 oz each)
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup button or crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 7-8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs.+ canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seed
  • 1 tsp. anise seed
  • 2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 cup shredded mozzerella
  • 1 lb. thin spaghetti

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. In a separate bowl, stir together bread crumbs, flour, and seasonings. Coat thin slices of eggplant in egg, then dust with bread crumb mixture. Let sit on a wire rack for 15 minutes. This well help the breading stick to it.

Heat large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and mushrooms for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Season with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, basil, anise seed, fennel seed, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and cover.

Meanwhile, in a separate skillet over medium-high heat, heat canola oil. Lightly fry the eggplant in batches until golden brown on both sides, then drain on paper towels.
Now it’s time to assemble the casserole. In a 3 quart casserole dish, ladle 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom. Cover this with fried eggplant, then ladle another 1/3 of sauce on top. Sprinkle with both cheeses. Top this layer with more eggplant, more sauce, and then top with with the rest of the cheese.
IMG_4273Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Broil for 2-5 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta. Serve eggplant parmesan with the spaghetti. Enjoy!

Easy Spaghetti Bolognese

Everybody has a different definition of what “comfort food” means to them. For me, it’s spaghetti with meat sauce (otherwise known as spaghetti bolognese). It was my favorite meal in my school cafeteria, and you KNOW I made a spaghetti sandwich with my dinner roll (you did it, too, don’t deny it!). This spaghetti bolognese recipe takes only about 30 minutes from start to finish. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll make sure it becomes a part of your “comfort food” lexicon!


  • 1 lb ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped 
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jar pasta sauce of your choosing
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. anise seed
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle olive oil into pan. Saute onions and mushrooms until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add ground beef, cook until fully browned.

Stir in jar of pasta sauce. Season to taste. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente.

Drain pasta. Ladle bolognese sauce over spaghetti, and top with freshly grated parmesan. Enjoy!

Chicken Pesto Pizza with Pine Nuts, Feta, and Spinach

I grew up in a small town in Louisiana, and while we didn’t ride gators to school, there are several rumors about the South that are generally true. The people are warm and hospitable, and bless your heart if you are frightened by physical contact, because the hugs are bountiful. You haven’t known humidity until you’ve spent a July in Baton Rouge, when you virtually swim through the air – or when you actually swim through the air, if a Category 5 packs the right-hand-punch. Above all, the rumors spread far and wide about southern food are as true as a heavy heart in the confessional. Nothing compares.

There weren’t many restaurants in my small town, but the ones that did exist made up for this deficiency – quality reigned over quantity. My favorite place was a restaurant built in an old gas station in St. Francisville: The Magnolia Cafe. I begged my dad every weekend to take me there so I could devour one dish in particular: a pizza, made with pesto, feta, pine nuts, spinach, and chicken. One of the saddest days of my life was when The Magnolia Cafe burned down, and you can bet one of the happiest was when it was rebuilt right next door. I have created a recipe that mimics it as best as I know how, and the results are quite similar to the real thing. Try a slice of this pie and imagine that you’re sitting at The Magnolia Cafe, listening to a blues band and slapping the blood-sucking mosquitoes from your shins.


  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 4-6 cups flour
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts, plus 2 Tbs.
  • 3.5 oz crumbled feta
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 12-16 oz mozzerella cheese
  • 6 oz parmesan
  • 1-2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cups basil
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2 of olive oil, plus 2 Tbs.
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

The dough is very simple. It makes about 6 personal size pizzas, or 3 pizzas to share. Stir two packets of yeast with 2 cups of warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer with a dough hook attached. Let sit for about 5 minutes until slightly frothy. Add 1 tsp. salt.


Slowly begin stirring the dough on low speed, and add 1 cup of flour at a time until dough forms a ball and isn’t too sticky. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until elastic. Form into a ball and place in a well oiled boil.


Cover and let sit in a warm place, free from drafts. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. While the dough rises, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

To make the pesto, put basil, 2 Tbs. pine nuts, garlic, 2 oz parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste in a blender. Pulse and drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil, more as needed, until smooth.


Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute chicken. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Remove from heat.


By now, your dough may be doubled in size. Punch it down so it deflates. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.


Drizzle enough olive oil to lightly cover the bottom of a pan. I use both a cast iron skillet and a 9 inch round pan. Take a handful of dough and stretch it in your hands.  Put it in the pan and continue stretching until it reaches the edges. This will require some time, and don’t worry if there are some holes in the process – you can fill them in at the end. This will make a very thin, crispy crust.


The first layer of the pizza consists of pesto, topped with pine nuts and feta. Evenly distribute the toppings, leaving a 1-inch crust on the outside.


Top with spinach leaves. I used regular spinach, but you can also use baby spinach. It will become nice and wilted in the oven.


Top this with mozzarella, chicken, parmesan, salt, and pepper.


Place on the top rack of your oven for 15 minutes. Then move it to the bottom rack for 7-10 minutes. This will help the bottom crisp up.


Mmmm mmmm good! Whoever said Louisiana folk can only cook Creole was a damn fool!

Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms, Bacon, and Thyme

Gnocchi is the potato equivalent of pasta. They’re little round mashed potato ovals that boil in less than five minutes. They’re soft, gooey, and buttery, and mix well with a large palette of flavors. For this dish, I combined crimini and button mushrooms, but you can use any variety of mushrooms (portobello and chanterelle would be delectable). A healthy serving of melted butter, thyme, garlic, grated parmesan, and crumbled bacon, make this dish a mouth watering alternative to weekday pasta.


  • 1 package potato gnocchi
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms of your choice
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 3 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 cup of beef broth
  • 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes
  • Parmesan cheese, to garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels and let cool.


Meanwhile, chop vegetables.


In the same pan you cooked the bacon in, reduce heat to low and melt half a stick of butter. Saute mushrooms in melted butter for 5-7 minutes, until tender. Add garlic and thyme and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.


Add beef broth and the rest of the butter. Season with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.


Meanwhile, while all of this is happening, bring salted water to a boil in a separate pot. Pour in gnocchi, and cook until it floats to the surface.


Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the pan with the mushrooms. Remove from heat and toss until well coated.


Serve gnocchi immediately. Top with grated parmesan and crumbled bacon.


Other substitutions you can make: you can use pancetta instead of bacon, for a slightly fancier take. You can also use fresh sage instead of OR in addition to the fresh thyme. You can brown the butter to add a nuttier flavor to the dish, but be careful – browning butter is not as easy as it sounds, and it can quickly go from subtly nutty to bitterly burnt.



Honey Sriracha Wings

Buffalo wings are a popular party food and oh-so-American, but sometimes, the bombardment of buffalo-flavored EVERYTHING can get boring. So one day, for a neighborhood barbecue, I mixed a sauce composed of: the kitchen sink. (The predominant flavors, however, are sriracha, honey, and barbecue sauce.) You can grill or fry your wings; being from Louisiana, of course I fried them. Not trying to brag here, but many a burly man have begged me to bottle up this sauce and sell it. Give it a try and see if you agree.

Ingredients for sauce:

  • 1/4 cup of Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce of your choice (I like one with hickory smoke flavor)
  • 2 Tbs. ketchup
  • 2 Tbs. dijon mustard
  • 1/4 of honey
  • 3 Tbs. of soy sauce (or more, to taste)
  • 2 Tbs. of sesame oil 
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbs. onion powder

Simply stir everything together until smooth.


Ingredients for chicken wings:

  • 10-15 chicken wings and/or drumettes
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 2 Tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbs. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. red pepper
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground thyme
  • Oil of choice, for frying (peanut works best, but you can also use canola)

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl.


In a large plastic bag, add the chicken as well as the flour mixture. Shake it up until well coated.


Remove the wings from the bag and let sit on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium-high heat.


Fry wings for 8-12 minutes until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel. Toss in wing sauce.


Mmmm mmm good! Feel free to adjust the heat levels for your own tastes by adding more or less Sriracha.

Valentine’s Day Makeup



Products Used:


  • Foundation: Makeup Forever High Definition Foundation in N110
  • Mac Pro Longwear Concealer in NC15
  • Contour: Dior Bronzer in Amber Matte
  • Highlight: Mac Mineralized Skin Finish in Soft and Gentle
  • Blush: Victoria’s Secret Beauty Rush Radiant Blush in Flutter


  • Base: Mac Pro Longwear Concealer NC15
  • Crease: Urban Decay Habit, Coax, Last Call
  • Lid: Urban Decay X-Rated
  • Under Brow Highlight: Mac Shroom
  • Under Eye: Urban Decay Last Call
  • Waterline: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Psychedelic Sister
  • Gel Liner: Maybelline Eye Studio in Blackest Black
  • Mascara: DiorShow Waterproof and L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Lashes in Carbon Black (Waterproof)
  • Brows: Anastasia Brow Wiz in Ash Blonde



  • Revlon Colorburst Matte Lip Balm in Showy
  • Dior Addict Lip Polish in Fresh Expert

The Dangers of Not Giving a Fuck

Lately, one of the most prolific memes I have seen disseminated throughout social media are variations of this:


I see this all over the Internet. There are several tumblrs devoted to “not giving a fuck.”

The problem is, I also see this in real life.

One could assume that this means that “not giving a fuck” is the new, cool thing to do, but let’s remember that correlation does not equal causation. Indeed, apathy has existed since the beginning of time… but it might be fair to suggest that it is becoming more common in today’s society – younger generations arguably boast a greater sense of entitlement, and, simultaneously, face fewer consequences and less accountability for misbehavior. Essentially, this breeds a lack of obligation and responsibility in our children. The modern day version of “being fed with a silver spoon becomes, “I got an iPhone when I was 8; now I’m 10 and I’m really good at posting selfies to instagram and #hashtagging #swag #shareforshare #followforfollow #lookatallthefucksigive.”


Since when did apathy become something to aspire to?  Merriam-Webster defines apathy as:

1. lack of feeling or emotion

2. lack of interest or concern

You know who is infamous for apathy? Psychopaths… or, if we’re referencing the DSM-V, those with antisocial personality disorder. Brain scans of individuals with this diagnosis reveal that their amygdalas – the emotion processing center in the brain – are abnormally small. Symptoms include a lack of remorse, as well as the use of superficial charm and manipulation to obtain selfish ends. To not give a fuck is psychologically maladaptive.


On the other hand, let’s remember those famous for giving a very big fuck: Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Susan B. Anthony, and Anne Frank, to name a few. Their passion – and their compassion – were palpable; they left the world a better place because they cared enough to do so. This is the model we should be emulating and instilling in our children.

Ultimately, not giving a fuck gives rise to dysfunction in every arena of one’s life. For instance, it is one impetus for bullying: if a kid doesn’t care about the repercussions of his actions (potentially because there are none), and doesn’t care about the feelings of his peers, it is much more likely that he will torment someone he views as different or weak. On the other hand, a child who is strictly disciplined (both at home and at school) for breaking the rules, and a child who was raised to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before judging, probably won’t be calling a fellow classmate a nerd, a freak, a slut, a fatass, or a faggot.


Additionally, sometimes I will post my opinion about a current event on Facebook. There are always those who respond with “Who cares?” or “Cool story, bro,” or “tl;dr” (too long, didn’t read). I cannot create within you an urge to care, and I can only respect your opinions (or lack thereof). However, I can assert with confidence that our world will remain stagnant, at best, and crumble completely, at worst, if the attitude of “Who cares?” pervades. Impassivity and aloofness isn’t cool or sexy – to me, it’s a sign of insecurity. Think of the sexiest and most captivating man or woman you know. I’d be willing to bet that one of the things that makes them so attractive is their passion and zest, not their disinterest and torpor.

Stephen Crane, a famous American writer, penned one of my favorite poems:

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”

The massive, nebulous, unknowable Universe could care less about our existence. It will keep trudging forward for eternity, with or without us. Some use this as justification for their apathy – if our existence is meaningless, what is the point of trying or caring? I agree that our lives have no inherent meaning… instead, I believe that we create our own purpose, in existential fashion. And, as far as we know, we only have this one life. What will your life’s purpose be? Will it be driven by pockets that filled with all sorts of fucks that you give – fucks about your family, fucks about your career and your education, fucks about the greater world in which we live? Your pockets might be a little heavy, even burdensome at times. They may cause you to walk slower, drag your feet. But when your pockets are empty of fucks, the problem is, you just might float away on a jet stream of indifference.

This is a call to end the culture of not giving a fuck. This is a call to stop bragging about an ostensible deficiency of humanity and emotion…instead, let’s make a commitment to cultivate empathy and compassion towards our fellow man. The world is only getting bigger and more complicated every day. Progress has never been inspired by apathy – progress only occurs when someone cares enough to take a stand, when they alter their behavior on a micro- and macro- scale, and when they scream from every rooftop that they, for one, are not ashamed to give a fuck.

Do you suffer from OCCS?

Do you suffer from Overactive Cerebral Cortex Syndrome, also known as OCCS?

Individuals with OCCS report symptoms including but not limited to: relentless rumination of regretful experiences, waking phantasms of future fortuities, diurnal episodes of spiritual somnambulism, a dogmatic belief that the eloquent raconteur within dictates one’s external existence, and, last but not least, deathbed discoveries that the entirety of life was driven by unexamined assumptions, a dense fog that dulled even the most vibrant sensual experiences.

If you have experienced any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about Panacea®, an elixir that has been proven highly effective to treat OCCS. Long term studies of patients who have taken Panacea® report an improved sense of well being, highly successful careers, unparalleled sexual stamina, perfectly symmetrical facial features, an immunity to most modern diseases, a sizable bank account, a comfortable social status, and a guaranteed spot in a white and bright afterlife.

Side effects included nausea, headaches, dizziness, diarrhea, sensitivity to light or sound, increased appetite, decreased appetite, liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease, throat cancer, brain cancer, lymphoma, cancer of the soul, impotence, burning or tingling urination, room-clearing flatulence, unexpected growth of extra nipples, anxiety, paranoia, drooling, and shortness of breath. Talk to your doctor if any of these side effects are persistent or severe.

Tell your doctor if you have a history of cultivating mindfulness, practicing meditation, or living in the present moment, as interactions with Panacea® can be life-threatening or fatal.

Everyday Makeup Look with Neutrals

Products Used:


  • Foundation: Makeup Forever High Definition Foundation in N110
  • Concealer: MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NC15
  • Highlight: Smashbox Soft Lights in Shimmer
  • Contour: Dior Bronze in Amber Matte
  • Blush: Nars Blush in Luster


  • Base: MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NC15
  • Crease: MAC Soft Brown and Swiss Chocolate
  • Lid: MAC All That Glitters
  • Under Brow and Inner Corner Highlight: MAC Shroom
  • Gel Liner: Maybelline Eye Studio in Blackest Black
  • Pencil Liner: NYX SPE906 (White)
  • Mascara: DiorShow Waterproof and L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Lashes in Carbon Black (Waterproof)
  • Brows: Anastasia Brow Wiz in Ash Blonde


One of my eyebrows always raises in pictures…No idea why


  • Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Fiend
  • NYC Lipstick in 320 (Mahogany)


  • Aveda Air Control Hairspray
  • Got2B POWDER’ful Volumizing Styling Powder
  • To style, I simply slept with it in a bun while it was damp.