And now I am finally drinking coffee the way I like it.

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Photo from Unsplash.

We broke up over three years ago. I remember it to the day. November 12, 2017. It was a Sunday, and I was in Seattle — standing on the corner outside the apartment smoking a cigarette. He dumped me over text, or maybe with a short, curt call. I don’t quite remember that details now, just that my engagement ring was sitting inside the apartment in my green sparkly plastic retainer case, and that I didn’t cry. I knew what was coming, I had already taken it off. Moreover, I deserved to be dumped — or at very least we both just deserved not to be together anymore. It wasn’t working, and it hadn’t been for a long time. …


But she pays attention.

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Photo from Unsplash.

Are you there, God? It’s me, a misunderstood teenager.

Or at least, this is what I would’ve said several years ago. I had what one might consider an exceptionally lengthy spell of growing pains. Put a little less nicely, let’s just call a duck a duck and say that I was probably a nightmare of a teenager. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop at the ripe old age of 19, but continued into my early twenties (until about 22). Vestiges of my teenage rebellion may, in fact, still live permanently with me.

For the longest time, I felt like my mom and I were leading a doomed relationship and that it was folly to even pretend. She didn’t seem to like the person I was turning out to be, and I wasn’t supposed to like my parents anyway right? I didn’t think this would ever change because at 20, everything seems slow and permanent. …


Yes, my cabin is the one blasting “Let’s Get it On”

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Image from Unsplash.

My partner and I have been doing long distance for over a year now, with him in Southern Washington and me in Central California. I had planned to move up this year, like I’ve been planning for the past three years. In fact, my dream in life is to live in a penthouse apartment with a view of Pike’s Place Market and the Puget Sound (I’m a simple person with simple needs, I guess). But as John Lennon said, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”, and some timely and strange intervention has lead me to a service year on the coast of California, thereby putting off my endgame plan for another year. I have to say, this works out well for me, because I am great at long distance. …


Tales of a wandering soul.

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Image from Unsplash.

For the past six or so years, I’ve been all but directionless. Much to the worry of my family, I went through 3.5 years of my undergrad and 2 years getting a Master’s Degree, all without coming any closer to a conclusion about what kind of career path I might want to do. To say I’m a commitment-phobe is a bit of an understatement — I think everyone was beginning to fear that in fact I might be work-phobic (and to some degree, aren’t we all?). The thing is, as mentioned in my previous article, my entire family works in education. And most of them love their jobs. Or at very least, they love the benefits package, the long vacations, and the opportunity to travel during the summer. Trying to get me to consider education was their way of caring. It’s what they know, and it isn’t a terrible job, all things considered. But it just didn’t resonate with me. And I tried. Hard. I worked at after school programs, before school programs, summer camps, as a substitute teacher, a special education teacher, a tutor. For several years, I just thought it was normal to hate your job. That’s not to say there weren’t good moments — there always were. But my overall feeling toward these jobs was sick dread. …


The Jumpstart of my Service Year

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Image from Unsplash.

I started my service term with AmeriCorps in a flurry of activity that can only be described as chaotic. Not a month before my term was set to start, I woke at night to the biggest thunderstorm I had ever heard. I stood on my balcony at 3am, mesmerized by the beautiful lightning and breathing the fresh eucalyptus-scented air of Santa Cruz. All was well.

Two days later, most of the area was on fire. What I didn’t know while I watched the storm was that I was witnessing the shocks that would start the CZU Lightning Complex fires that would devastate the surrounding region. Hundreds of people lost homes, and thousands had to be evacuated as the acrid smoke filled the sky. In a year where we have already experienced such loss, it seemed like we were losing once again. …


Money is tight during in 2020. This list should help.

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Photo from Unsplash.

If you’re anything like me, the pandemic absolutely decimated your bank account and ruined any shot at having a cushy lifestyle for the next year or so. While I worked 2 jobs for most of the 2018–2019 school year, and then three jobs from Fall 2019 until, well, March brought quarantine, I dreamed of all the things I would be able to afford with the money I was working so hard to make. A new pair of Doc Martens. A bottle of premium aged whiskey. A trip to France. …


And I hope the boy who said it reads this.

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Photo from Unsplash.

When I was in high school I had a playful arch-nemesis. (Let’s call him Gary.) He was a little cute, a lot annoying, and an excellent grindstone for me to sharpen my wits on. We traded quips and tossed insults at each other, and as much as he sometimes burned me up, there was a bit of a flirtationship there, and neither of us took the insults too seriously. I can honestly say that my high school experience wouldn’t have been the same without him because it was fun to have a very public rivalry that we both knew was a bit of a joke. Gary was pretty popular with the jocks and the debate team, I was the de-facto king of the nerds and helped run the school newspaper. …


In no particular order, because they are all the absolute worst.

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This must be some sort of hybrid hug, because I haven’t had this one yet. (Photo from Unsplash.)

I am not the most huggy person. Everyone in my family is full of demonstrative physical affection, but that isn’t my love language. It’s not that I hate hugging unreservedly… It’s more that it just isn’t my preferred way to show affection. I try to be mindful of everyone else’s love languages and react accordingly — I would never want to make someone feel bad for trying to give me a hug. But there are some hugs that are just too much to bear, and unfortunately I think we’ve all suffered them. …


The grief of losing a pet.

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Our good girl.

In the dark of the night, there is a sound somewhere between the pitch of an anguished teething baby, and a wailing peacock being murdered. Every cry ends off with a mournful growl, deep in the powerful lungs of what must be some formidable Eldritch being. The terror grabs ahold of my soul, and a shiver runs down my spine.

It is my dog wailing, and she is in no form of pain or danger — she wants some attention, and a fat piece of salami.

Flash back to almost exactly 11 years ago. That April, I was bouncing on the edge of my seat in my junior high class. My grandparents’ dog was having puppies, and they told me I could assist after school. I believe it was my other set of grandparents who drove me there, and I remember looking on with hushed awe at the only surviving pup — so tiny next to her still minuscule mother. I was deep in the throes of dog-crazy pre-teen angst at the time, and I was known for carrying around my AKC book, being able to name any breed on the street, and knowing more dog facts than Wikipedia. I wanted a dog more than anything, but the chances were slim, and being around this one was the next best thing. …

About

Natt Bartell

Cooking, reading, and gardening (unsuccessfully). Amateur bone re-articulator, professional wit. I tweet ridiculous thoughts @oh_brophelia when I’m not writing.

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