Love Happens with Your Chest Wide Open

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You fall in love quickly and in the dark. It’s 2AM, the black of the room lit up by your phone screen, your furious typing making clicks in the quiet. His responses are immediate. When they aren’t, you long for them.

It’s all very millennial: after talking in class a few times, you move to Twitter and then texting, hesitancy quelled by the distance the medium allows. The separation eases confession, makes vulnerability less dangerous.

And so you are vulnerable.

You tell him secrets. He is five days removed from a stranger, and you give him the darkest parts of yourself. He opens up, lets you see his darkness, too. You scoop your guilts and pains and shames from your chests and say, “Here.” You lay your triumphs and falls out for inspection and say, “I trust you.”

It is shaky and scary and you know that he could destroy you with what you put in his hands yourself. You know that he could clench his fists and crush you. It’s happened before.

But that night you ignore common sense; that night you disregard past experience; that night you open yourself up to hurt. That night, you fall in love.

Telling him this means giving even more of yourself. Rejection is a terrifying thing — maybe he doesn’t feel the same way. Maybe going back to being friends would be too awkward for him. Maybe he’ll cut off contact completely, and you’ll make fleeting eye contact passing by, and you’ll always wonder what it would have been like to be with him. Or maybe you won’t be met with rejection; you’ll both profess your mutual affection instead. But maybe it won’t work out. Maybe he’ll break up with you in three months. Maybe you’ll break up in a week. Maybe his mom will hate you. Maybe you’ll get married and ten years later he’ll sleep on the couch every night. There are a million possibilities involving your inevitable heartbreak, and it seems ludicrous to think that you can avoid it. Telling him how you feel means that you can date and kiss and cry together, but it also meant that he can hurt you.

You tell him anyway.

You start dating twelve days after your first real conversation. You fall fast, and hard, and surely in love. With him you feel all the giddy wonder of learning his history and how he likes to be held, and you tell him the stories of your past, and you smile when he kisses your forehead. Every night he reminds you, “I am falling for you.”

There is an inevitability to falling: you fall and you hit the ground. That’s gravity. And so you are whirling, spinning, hurtling downward. There might be a safety net at the bottom or jagged rocks or no bottom at all. There is no way to know.

You’re falling fast. You meet his mother. The dad and brothers and sister too, but mostly his mother; you’re worried most about her, straighten up in your seat when you’re talking to her. Gathered round the dinner table you talk about your job and your parents, your successes, you laugh and you smile, prepare yourself for barbed words because you feel so soft-skinned here. They are nice people, jocular and kind, and they cook food for you and ask you excited questions, but you still feel like a bug under a microscope, susceptible to their poking and prodding and examination, aching for their approval. Luckily they extend it; they love you; they rave about you later. But you don’t know this now around the dinner table. You do it because you love him.

In that same house you tell him about the worst night of your life and all the months that came after. He tells you about his own worst moments, about the things he fights. He finds the spot on your side that makes you screech and laugh, begging for mercy, and he rests his hand there gently. Sometimes, tucked into his side with your head on his shoulder, you think about how he could do whatever he wanted to you. It’s an intrusive thought, and you push it away, but you know this: he is so much stronger than you, and all your struggles would be weak and flailing. At first it makes you dizzy; you tear away from him, remembering the one before who said he loved you. Now the thought makes you move closer to him, grab him tighter. You know he won’t hurt you.

You kiss him hard and you know it might hurt, all of it. Kissing him is like baring your soul to him, baring your bones, the ticklish parts of your neck and the fragile skin over your ribs, places sharp things could destroy. To touch is to trust: where his hands brush lights a flame that could burn you to ash. But it feels so new and beautiful and right that you ignore the fire hazard, and so with every nervous kiss you give yourself, push away thoughts of other, harder hands, until you feel safe again.

The sound of his heartbeat pounds in your ear and you realize loving him means being illogical. At your core is a primal urge to protect yourself, but with him you’ve torn down your defenses. He tells you that “love is a socially acceptable form of insanity.” You agree. How else would you let yourself become so unguarded?

He’s lying on your bed, his summer tan skin against the blue flowers of the duvet, and everything is so perfect, and you are so still. He sits up, looking at you. You’re such a fragile strong thing; he could break you. He knows every secret thought, every pipe dream, but he’s never laughed, only cradled your face in his hands and prodded you on. And this moment, this stolen frozen happiness, this is when you know that it was worth it. That being vulnerable led you to this comfort and security and joy.

Love is opening yourself up to him. Love is knowing you can trust him with what he finds.

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When I Can’t Sleep 


Two of my friends teamed up with my roommate/bestie to create this gem of a song. It’s got simple, haunting vocals and a beat so head-bob-inducing you almost forget its potent late night nostalgia: I’ll relive those nights with you when I can’t sleep. Anyone who’s ever found themselves clinging to distant summer memories when a love has left with the sun will feel its bittersweet beauty. 

Listen to Redux by Destro & Swayvor (ft. Taylor the Sailor) here.

Artist Spotlight: An Interview with Fashion Designer Cartier Dior

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Designer Cartier Dior at Utah Fashion Week, next to her model wearing a dress made from satin, tulle, and holiday decorations.

I created On A Hot Wire with other artists in mind. I want to write things they’ll enjoy and relate to, but I’ve always planned to feature their art here, as well. I thought that Cartier Dior, an incredibly talented young fashion designer from my city, would be a great first artist to spotlight on OAHW. She never fails to stun me with her ingenious use of material, creating classy silhouettes and funky details with recycled homework assignments and repurposed home decor. I’m also so inspired by her drive and entrepreneurial spirit; Cartier has already achieved a lot of success in her brief artistic career, and I know she’ll rise to high places. Answers are Cartier’s; questions and bolding are mine.

Introduce yourself!

My name is Cartier Dior and I am a 16 year old fashion designer and model based in Pocatello, Idaho. I specialize in avant-garde and unconventional designs. My specialty is fabric manipulation, which means that I use methods like painting and hand sewing to create one of a kind, custom fabrics.

How would you describe your art form and style?

I create out of the box formal dresses. I like to take classic cuts and manipulate them to make something new and exciting. I also use unconventional materials, like holiday decorations, paper, and plastic, and use them to enhance and design and make it unique.

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Dress made from National Geographic world maps.

What’s your artistic journey been like?

I started designing when I was nine years old, and I am completely self taught. I worked only in unconventional materials until about a year and a half ago. I am still defining my skills in fabric, but I’ve come a long way since making paper dresses. While I still wish I had some formal training, I think that the self taught route has helped me to learn how to use my resources and solve problems creatively.

How do you practice your art?

Toiles. Lots and lots of toiles. A toile is basically a draft of a design that is sewn in muslin or another cheap fabric. When I make a design for a client, I drape an initial pattern, then make the toile from that. I then fit the toile on the customer, then take apart the altered toile, clean up some lines and curves, then use that as the pattern. Making the toile is a cheap way for me to get a three dimensional feel for what a design is like without wasting expensive satin.

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A dress from Cartier’s Ijskristallen collection at Utah Fashion Week, made from satin and holiday decorations.

What inspires you?

I like to think of fashion design like storytelling, so a lot of the work I do is inspired by my own life experiences. Form wise, my inspirations are avant garde designers like Alexander McQueen and Iris Van Herpen, who take classic silhouettes and manipulate them into something new and modern.

What do you do to power through a creative block or other rough spot?

For me, creative blocks are generally caused by stress. If I am having trouble working creatively, I try to make time to relax and take care of other priorities in my schedule so I can think more clearly.

Where do you display your art?

My work is displayed in fashion shows, which happen periodically through the year. The major show I do is Utah Fashion Week, which is in late winter/early spring.

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All of Cartier’s Utah Fashion Week looks (plus, Cartier wearing her own hand-painted Starry Night dress, my whimsical favorite).

What progress would you like to make with your art? Where do you hope to see yourself in the future with it?

I would really like to get an education in fashion and improve my construction and design process. After that, I want to open my own design house. My ultimate goal would be to show a collection at Fashion Week alongside designers like Dior, Chanel, and others major names in fashion.

What are you doing to gain an audience or make a name for yourself?

I lean on social media for all my promotion. It’s simple, free, and helps me to get my work seen by people in bigger areas.

What do you enjoy about the fashion / clothing design industry that might be different from others? What are problems you’ve encountered?

I love the outreach fashion has. Even here in Pocatello, the clothing we buy has been influenced by haute couture collections. That being said, Pocatello is definitely not a fashion capital. The nearest place with even an ounce of a distinct fashion industry is Salt Lake City, which means that I have to travel 2 hours every time I attend a fashion show or even buy high quality fabrics.

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Dress made of U.S. History assignments.

What should someone expect (at least from your experience) if they want to get into the industry?

Getting into the fashion industry requires lots of work and, in turn, very little sleep. It is incredibly common for me and other designers to work all night trying to finish commission and collections. As an artist, it’s also very common for people to expect you to do work for free. This is definitely a quite annoying thing to have to deal with, but at the end of the day, your work has value and it’s worth it to keep working towards your goals anyway.

How can someone see more of your work?

@cartierdiordesigns on Instagram or www.facebook.com/cartierdiordesigns. Commission information is available by email at cartierdiordesigns@gmail.com.

Multitudes: Complexity in Self and Story

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A quick Walt Whitman doodle
I’ve been thinking a lot about complexity and simplicity. I’ve been thinking about how simplistic portrayals of complex things influence our perception of the world, how they drive our politics, how they contribute to an incomplete understanding of the people with whom we interact every day. The truth is that in seeking to grasp reality, in attempting to explain things that are huge and confusing, we often create narratives full of half-truths and ignored truths. We cling to stories that align with our pre-formed beliefs and reject stories that offer contradictions.

We like to believe that a political figure or ethnic group can fit into one clean explanation. But it is dangerous, I think, to assume that any one-dimensional understanding of a thing is an accurate one, especially when all of us as human beings are so extraordinarily complex. “I am large, I contain multitudes,” writes Walt Whitman in the ever-glorious Song of Myself. We are multifaceted creatures, stuffed with chaos and contradiction, both tormented and liberated by these inner inconsistencies. We struggle to do good and we fall into bad; we seek to spread love and sometimes, instead, cause harm. Or perhaps for some it is the opposite.

If we are able to address our own complexities, perhaps then our views of others will be more complex as well. If we struggle to pin down one explanation of ourselves, fail to condense our existences into punchy Twitter biographies, how can we rationalize an interpretation of another that sacrifices messy minutiae for an airtight narrative? (The answer: easily and subconsciously.) But if we seek to be informed, ethical people, we must reject simplistic answers and embrace ones that challenge us. In her brilliant 2009 TED Talk, the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns against the “danger of a single story,” asserting that such a view “robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.”

Yet so many of our stories seem to be of just this kind. We say, for example, that Christians are bigots, that Muslims are terrorists, that nonreligious people are cynics, disregarding charitable Christians, moral Muslims, and altruistic atheists. “So that is how to create a single story,” says Adichie, “show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.” In constructing our angry criticisms, often inspired by genuine hurt inflicted by a person belonging to a certain group, we forget that not all gun owners are mass shooters; that not all Donald Trump supporters are uneducated hicks; that not all Bernie Sanders fans are people hoping to bum off the government; that not all welfare recipients are lazy and unemployed; that not all feminists seek female superiority; that not all police officers are racist “pigs;” that not all Black Lives Matter activists are militant and anti-police; that not all teenagers are lazy and entitled; that not all politicians are corrupt or self-involved; that not all journalists are vapid, biased, or unprofessional; that not all immigrants are illegal; that not all refugees are murderers in disguise. I’d go so far as to say that most Christians are not bigots, most Muslims are not terrorists, most feminists do not seek female superiority, et cetera.

Reducing an entire group to a single story may be simpler to wrap your head around, but it’s just that: reductive. Simplistic. It denies the group its humanity. Looking at a group as it is—a complex, varied, diverse set of human beings—will get you closer to the truth, and to compassion, than hackneyed generalizations ever will. As Adichie maintains, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

So here is to a multitude of stories. Here is to stories we write about ourselves and stories we read from others, stories that make us think, stories that do not let us stay comfortable. The more we seek out these stories, the closer we inch to an accurate understanding, and the clearer our vision becomes of what happens in the world around us.

 

You Can Have It All

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My mom gave me this Sylvia Plath necklace as a graduation gift. It’s a line from The Bell Jar, the novel that inspired my poem.

A few months ago, I wrote and read this spoken word poem in my literature class. Just a few weeks before graduation, I was feeling anxious about my future and overwhelmed by the infinite options I could choose from. Luckily, I had an outlet to voice these feelings, and I incorporated a Sylvia Plath concept, advice from my ever-wise lit teacher, and the perpetually frustrating question of “Can you have it all?” into one sort of pessimistic, really earnest piece.

I’ve been thinking about these words as my first day of college draws nearer, and with it adulthood and “the real world.” Today’s my 18th birthday, and it all feels so close. It’s a bittersweet feeling, I guess.

If I’d known the poem would get the attention it did, I would have memorized it like my teacher wanted me to—but, of course, I read it from my iPhone (so ignore that!). The video’s a bit blurry, and the audio isn’t perfect, but the poem’s meant to be heard as well as read.

Watch the video here: “You Can Have It All”

you can have it all

Here’s the text:

“You can have it all, but you can’t have it all at once.”

She is my lit teacher,

A formative feminist influence,

And her words ring with the wisdom of 35 years of teaching teenage kids

Hungry for and scared to death of their huge futures.

“You can have it all”

The doors are there, she’s telling me, every door I want to enter,

Every achievement and position,

Power and prestige,

If only I dare open them.

“But you can’t have it all at once.”

The catch.

Here are all the doors.

A line of doors extending miles

Their paint blue and brown and glossy

And if I open one door

Hear the creak of its protesting hinges

A deadbolt down the line slides shut.

The more knockers I lift

The more boards get nailed against the jambs of all the other doors.

 

I am a somewhat unstable teenage girl who likes poetry

And like most unstable girls with loves of poetry I like Sylvia Plath,

I read The Bell Jar in tenth grade and thought she’d written it for me,

The older I get the more solipsistic I become in that regard.

She writes of a towering fig tree

Branches heavy with fruit.

Each fig symbolizes some fantastic future ahead.

One is a happy family,

Another the life of a famous poet

Another a position as a brilliant professor

An editor

Foreign lovers with foreign names

Travel.

If you choose one fig, clamber up the trunk to a single branch and pick one fig,

Pluck your forbidden fruit of choice,

The rest fall and rot in the dirt

Their possibilities lost to you.

No takebacks if you pick the wrong fig. Store policy is no returns. So instead of inching up the tree,

Instead of pursuing your fig with all your vigor,

You stand at the base,

Paralyzed with fear.

Rather than choose the wrong one

Or choose one at all

You abstain from fig-picking completely.

The fruit drops before ever touching your fingers

And the tree withers away

Felled by your fatal uncertainty.

 

“You can have it all”

But I know I can’t

I know that having one thing means losing another

And nobody believes any different.

I know it because when I wanted to be a doctor

People told me I wouldn’t be a doctor

They said I’d get married instead.

I know it because when I told my dad I wanted to be a journalist

He said I couldn’t do what I love and not starve to death.

 

How can you choose when every choice is equally attractive and repulsive to you?

 

I want baby blankets and sticky fingers and I want lullabies and forced piano lessons I want the joy I can have when I make something out of my own body and blood

And I want pantsuits and I want a professional position and I want glossy photos and blocked typeface I want red pens and people that answer to me

And I want conflict and war I want tears and shrapnel I want to talk to refugees in dirty desert camps and I want to cover rebel soldiers in clandestine locations I want to get captured and held for a ransom no one will pay for a lowly war correspondent

And I want long Saturdays shut up with a keyboard in a shaded office on my home’s second floor and I want the smell of Sharpie and my signature on a page and I want my name on a dozen front covers in glossy script

And I want a Dr. before my name, a name written upon a chalkboard every fall and I want to teach impressionable college students to do something bigger than themselves and I want to spend my whole life cramming my brain with knowledge

And I want to learn how to play upright bass and join an indie band I want to tour the country playing music I make to audiences who don’t give a damn what our clever band name is.

And I want to run a girl’s orphanage in Peru I want to mother fifty girls and make sure they have bras and tampons and lunches and all the things I’ve never had to ask for

And I want to own a small bookstore I want to buy secondhand paperbacks with pen in the margins I want to recline on a leather chair all day reading Aristotle and Austen and Poe

And I want to live in Buenos Aires I want to live in Spain I want to live by dirty canals and hear song in a hundred languages I want to live in a jungle or a savannah I want to live somewhere where for the first time in my life I can get a tan I want to climb to the top of the world and see what I can see from up there

 

I want everything

And I can’t have everything.

The tree is so vast

And I am such a slow climber.

I can’t have it all

And I definitely can’t have it all at once.

 

Perfect Bodies


Today while listening to Regina Spektor’s “Folding Chair,” I was struck by a few lines in the middle of the song. I thought her words—gorgeous and wise, as they always are—might impact others as much as they did me, so I doodled up some eyelashes and wanted to share. 

Spektor expresses so earnestly a truth that I think all of us forget: our bodies are faulty and flawed, flabby and bony, pockmarked and scarred, but ultimately perfect just because they do what they’re supposed to do. It’s easy to get caught up in everything we dislike about our bodies, but there’s such beauty in their gloriously simple, incomprehensibly complex functions: in the details of a fingernail bed, the process of a breath, all the millions of synapses that spark speech and thought and movement. It really puts into perspective, for me, just how wonderful it is to have a body at all, especially one that performs relatively well. For today, at least, I am finding joy in the simple act of being in my body (my perfect body!).

8 Adorable Ways to Say “F*** You!” to the FDA

Recently, the (obviously publicity-hungry) FDA caused a commotion when they issued a warning against the dangers of eating raw flour, linking its consumption with at least 38 E. coli cases in the past seven months. The bacteria, they said, contaminates grain through bird poop and can cause “diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps” or “a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).” 

Blah blah blah, am I right?

Raw flour = cookie dough. And everybody knows that cookie dough is amazing and the only way it could kill you is if you ate, like, fifty pounds of it and your stomach exploded or something. I don’t want to use strong language here, but the FDA is really being a party pooper. So forget “research” or “health hazards.” Whip up these 8 Pinterest-perfect cookie dough recipes and tell the FDA you literally do not give one crap about E. coli-infested bird crap.

1. Egg-less Cookie Dough

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This whole time, we were worried about the raw eggs in cookie dough giving us salmonella. Now we have to stress about raw flour. What’s next, raw meat? Too many health risks to keep track of, IMO.

Get the recipe from Lil’ Luna.

2. Deep Fried Cookie Dough

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Stick it to the man while clogging your arteries. (Okay, this is cooked, but it’s the thought that counts, right?)

Get the recipe from Handle the Heat.

3. Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pop-Tarts

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This is cooked, too, but honestly I got so distracted by how good it looks? Really, it’s the sentiment of the cookie dough that’ll tell them… Mother of everything that is holy that looks so good. I was saying something about the FDA? I don’t remember.

Get the recipe from Babble.

4. Salted Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Snickers Barsclickbait bars

This is seriously just a bunch of nouns I really like smushed together into one thing. It’s either clickbait or the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

Get the recipe from Half Baked Harvest.

5. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Footballs

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Make your friend’s Super Bowl party halfway bearable. Plus, what’s more manly than something football-shaped and possibly detrimental to your health?

Get the recipe from Life, Love, and Sugar.

6. Vegan Cookie Dough for One

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It’s vegan. You can be angry about the cruel treatment of domesticated animals and the cruel treatment of cookie dough by the FDA! Bonus: Paleo cookie dough truffles, to hearken back to Caveman times when nobody cared whether there was bird poop in their food or not.

Get the recipe from The Live-In Kitchen.

7. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cannolis

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Get fancy with your figurative middle-finger-to-the-FDA. Or not. Who do you think you are, Cake Boss?

Get the recipe from The Domestic Rebel.

8. The Half Baked Cake: A Cookie Dough Explosion

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Actual quote from this food site: “This cake is absurd. No really. It’s just so…. Extra.”

Honestly, at this point, just forget the FDA protest. We were trying to stage an angry critique of the FDA’s hasty condemnation of cookie dough, but now we feel like losers. We’re never gonna make this cake. We’re probably going to give up on this whole list after pulling the last half-empty bag of chocolate chips from the depths of our freezers. Go home. We’re done here.

Oh, yeah, get the recipe from Glazed and Confused.

 

I think I just… wrote a listicle. This is what I’ve become. I am Buzzfeed. I’m going to go lie in bed and think about my life choices now (with a bowl of cookie dough ice cream).