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Mandarin Peeling, 101

What you’re about to read is something I've only confided to a group of close coworkers a few years ago, and not again since. It was met with a collective “Are you serious?!” and a quick visit to YouTube, but still the situation was never corrected.

I was never taught how to properly eat an orange. There. I said it. My parents never sat me down and showed me how to open this delicious sunshine treat, or maybe I just missed that day in kindergarten. I'm not quite sure. All I know is I’m the type of person who would actually benefit from those packages of pre-peeled oranges that can be found in the refrigerator as you walk into Whole Foods. That marketing “genius’s” demographic that was mocked on Twitter? Hi. Nice to meet you.

So I don’t know how to eat an orange. But I’m starting small—with mandarins. I still don’t know if I’m doing it right, but judging by the laugh that eked out of my wife when she caught me opening one once, I’m going to go with a big no. No Bridget, you can’t even open this lacrosse ball-sized fruit.

Let me tell you how it goes down:

I start by poking a hole with my thumb into the part where the stem once was. Then I slowly pull the tough outer layer back, and 15 misshapen pieces later, I have a semi-naked mandarin and sweet smelling nectar caked underneath my fingernails. This is where I’m assuming most people just start taking bites. Not me, though. Not this person who never learned how to eat any fruit of an orange hue.

I continue to take the mandarin apart, freeing each crescent from the overwhelming sphere. Not able to see enough of the juicy flesh, I have to keep going. I pull away the bigger strings and then scrape away as much of the white casing as I can. My wife tells me that this skeleton is where all of the nutrients and antioxidants are, but let’s be honest, my immune system has never been that strong and it’s a little too late to start that reversal now, anyway.

Once all the pieces are free and as clean as possible, once I can see a few drops of the tangy juice begin to seep out, only then do I begin to indulge. One piece of mandarin a time, I crush the fruit with my molars and savor the sour nectar. Crescent by crescent, the feast continues.

I’ve seen my wife peel a mandarin in two swift pulls and devour it within seconds. It takes me at least five times as long to eat this palm sized fruit. So long in fact, that my mind was able to describe the process in 450 words. But who’s to say who's right? The quick and efficient, or the slow and determined?

#WhyIMarched

I’ve had a lot I’ve wanted to say for a while now. I’m not even sure where to begin, or even if I want to begin, though. The person I voted for did not win the presidency. That’s okay. I can handle not being on the winning side. (I am a Syracuse fan after all…)

The person who did win the presidency, however, has awakened misogyny, bigotry, racism, Islamophobia, and homophobia in far too many people. He ignores scientific evidence and is set to sign actions that will put our planet in danger for future generations, our children’s generation. He is set to sign actions that will take away mine, my wife’s, and a lot of our friend’s rights and freedoms. That is not okay.

I struggled a lot with depression in my teenage years when I was coming to terms with who I was. I tried my best to repress my true feelings, tried to live a straight life, and often thought about how it might be easier to just give up on life altogether. And then when I finally found the courage to come out, I was met with private messages from family members who shunned me for living a life of sin, comparing me to a Renaissance prostitute, and pointing me to Bible verses that would help me get my life on the “right” track again.

These were people I grew up next door to, played backyard baseball and kickball against, and swam at our grandmother’s pool with. These were people I considered my best friends, people I thought I would always consider my best friends. And now, suddenly I’m no more than a sinning prostitute who will be burning in hell and whose marriage is somehow less valid.

That is why I “missed so many days of work” and marched on Washington. (In reality, myself and so many others were bused in for 8 hours…on a Saturday…) I marched because these isms and phobias that I have felt firsthand have no place in the White House or in the United States and they have got to go.

I marched because I know what it’s like to be on the outside, to be in the threatened minority. I marched because I know the strength that’s required when one is met with these hurtful comments, and I know sadly, not everyone possesses that kind of strength. I marched because I also recognize my white privilege and instead of basking in it, would rather use my voice and platform for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, my Muslim brothers and sisters, my black brothers and sisters, anyone who feels mistreated and threatened. 

I marched because for me, even as a writer, I believe actions speak louder than words. If Facebook arguments and the sharing of biased news articles behind the protection of your keyboard is your way of voicing your opinions, that’s great. But don’t you dare ostracize me for actually doing something about the causes I believe in.

I’m really glad that so many women I seem to be “friends” with didn’t feel the need to march. I’m glad that you’ve always had access to health insurance and affordable reproductive healthcare. I’m glad you’ve never felt your freedoms, your rights, or your way of life was ever threatened in any way. I’m glad you’ve never faced any kind of discrimination in the workplace. I’m glad you’ve never had your family speak out against your “lifestyle.” I'm glad. I truly am. But instead of bashing those who have felt any of the above, is it too much to ask for you to have a little empathy for your fellow sisters?

And let’s not forget: if you voted in the last election, you have some women who marched to thank for that…

Crossing The Brooklyn Bridge

The first time I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge it was in the middle seat of a 20-foot U-Haul with my entire world packed into boxes behind me. We were three country folks so focused on navigating through the crowded streets of Lower Manhattan that we missed all of the signs on the Bridge that screamed “ABSOLUTELY NO TRUCKS.” I paid no mind to the chaos on my left and right and instead snapped my first wide-eyed Instagram of the Bridge. Caption reading: “Welcome home.”

The second time I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge I was walking home from my unpaid internship near City Hall with my entire world up in the air. I had moved to New York without any real money saved up, without a job lined up, and without any real plan. I was willing to do whatever it took, but two weeks into this unpaid journalism job, I realized the truth: that the kind of work I just spent five years getting a degree in bored me and depressed me to death. Where was I supposed to go from here? Back home across the Bridge of course, snapping photos of the city lights along the way. Caption reading: “Inspiration is all around.”

I’ve crossed it many times in between, but the most recent time I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge it was with my entire world right next to me, holding my hand. With no other purpose than to shake the remnants of winter from our bones, my wife and I walked the narrow mile-long pedestrian pathway while snapping photos of the skyline and each other. Swapping the Canon back and forth, sometimes we’re just as bad as the group of tourists we zigzag in and out of. Caption reading: “I will carry you." 

View of One WTC While Walking Through Lower Manhattan

View of One WTC While Walking Through Lower Manhattan

Manhattan Bridge From Brooklyn Bridge

Manhattan Bridge From Brooklyn Bridge

Graffiti on the Brooklyn Bridge

Graffiti on the Brooklyn Bridge

Lower Manhattan From Brooklyn Bridge

Lower Manhattan From Brooklyn Bridge

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

Springtime In New York

Before I moved to New York, I was fascinated with the city. Every time I visited I would take hundreds of photos: first on disposable cameras and then on pocket-sized digital cameras. When I finally bought a decent DSLR and made the decision to make the move downstate, I imagined that my lifelong passion for photography would bring me up and down this island creating a personal portfolio Bruce Gilden would be proud of. My apartment would become filled with giant black and white prints of the city that I took. 

I've only called New York City home for 3 years, but somehow it has already lost that photographic element to me. I'm not entirely sure why that is. I don't feel as if my life has become routine or like I never go to new places, never see new things. I just feel like I've been forgetting to notice life around me. I've been forgetting to look up, to view my surroundings through a lens. 

So this week I've been trying to bring myself out of that mindset. I've been taking lunchtime walks around my office's neighborhood and just snapping away—on my iPhone of course. I'll start hauling around my DSLR more on the weekends. But for now, I give you Springtime In New York.

Bleecker and Cornelia


Bleecker and Cornelia

Looking down downing street


Looking down downing street

the freedom tower from thompson street


the freedom tower from thompson street

washington square park from fifth avenue


washington square park from fifth avenue

washington square park


washington square park

When you come close to selling out, reconsider.

I’m not usually one for New Year’s resolutions, but this year I actually did outline a few goals for myself. Back in January, I decided 2016 was going to be less about pushing my content out to numerous millennial sites, and more about building my personal brand. Less about cranking out "X Reasons to Swipe Right," or "What Your Fav. Type of Pizza Says About You," and more about taking the time to write about and embrace the things I know and love. Less about focusing on making a career out of it all, and more about just doing it and living it—for me.

I go through ebbs and flows of creativity, as I’m positive every artist does. So I’m not too concerned that it’s mid-March and all I’ve really written is a two-page letter to a West Coast cousin, and half a birthday card to an upstate friend.

No. I think it’s exactly what Elizabeth GIlbert has been telling me in her podcast series, “Magic Lessons.” I think it’s a fear thing. For me, I’m afraid I’ve written everything easy. I’m afraid I’ve written and said everything on the surface, everything everyone who knows me even a little, already knows. And now that it’s time to dive deeper, I’m afraid of what certain people will think. I’m not so much afraid of what I have to say and what anyone who reads these hypothetical words will think of me, as a person, because these are my truths. I’m more afraid of who will get distracted and hurt or upset and will take things too personally.  

So I haven’t written anything. But I’m going to.

It’s time to let the fear go and to let the creativity and inspiration take over and be heard. I seem to have taken a hiatus from this blog and took the winter off, but this is me promising you it’s coming back. More regular posts are coming. That book I’ve been telling myself for so long I’d be able to write is also coming. Not in the voice of any millennial website, but in my own authentic words.

"You're the right age, you're in the right city. You brought yourself here, and now it's time to do the next thing." —Elizabeth Gilbert

#28—Cross It Off!

Number 28: Love unconditionally, whole-heartedly, and fearlessly.

I cannot wait for the someday that I’m sitting with our kids and they ask about the story of us. I’ll tell them:

“We got engaged on a Friday night.” One day I'm going to tell our little Greek Americans that I asked their mommy to marry me over banana pancakes in my pajamas at the end of a long week.

“We drank champagne on a Saturday afternoon.” They say nothing in life—especially life in New York City—is free. That’s a lie. Go to any bar the day after you get engaged and the bubbly won’t stop.

“We were complete on a Sunday morning.” This past year was the first time I have ever been so completely open about my personal life and relationship. For the first time, I didn’t care about who gave me a weird look when I uttered the word “girlfriend.” I don’t know how to describe how it feels to share that experience with someone, other than the clichéd “complete.”

I feel even more comfortable, secure, and taken care of in this relationship than I could have ever imagined. I have a future wife, who I truly love unconditionally, whole-heartedly, and fearlessly, and one who I know loves me back in exactly that same way. We have 154 people in our lives that aren’t afraid to show us their support. 154 reasons I don't feel like I need to give up.

For the first 12 hours, words like “fiancée” and “bride” kind of freaked me out. Now I use them with pride. This was something neither of us has ever envisioned for ourselves, yet here we are: fumbling through the beginning stages of planning a big fat Greek/American lesbian wedding.