Musings

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Question of the Week

If you could get a tattoo that only lasted for 2 years (and disappeared with no painful removal), what would you get done?

Personally, I would get something incredibly foolish and arrogant…like a tattoo of me riding an elephant, with wings. I would have a crown on my head, one hand holding grapes and one with gold coins spilling everywhere. There would be little people dancing around the elephant and I, singing Bicycle by Queen.

I would have the biggest smile the world has ever seen, from ear to ear. I would be wearing a gold cape and a BMX suit. On my feet would be Nike Jordans…and Jordan would be walking along side the elephant putting one of the shoes on for me.

Am I forgetting anything?

Oh yes, and there would be a chimp sitting on the back of the elephant. Eating a banana of course. And doing my taxes.

That’s all for now. What about you?

- Cougar

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My Own Arab Spring (and I’m not even Arab)

One year ago today I took my first real trip outside off of United States soil. This was an incredible leap for me as I am on the verge of 30 and had never really traveled before other than to the many cities that dot the American landscape (and wee little bit of Canada).

Suddenly I was looking at blazing a two-week long trail across the Europe and the Middle East. Mind you, this was my first trip outside of the United States to non-english speaking countries. I was going alone and this all took place just a few short months after the beginning of what would be known as Arab Spring.

Needless to say my inner circle wasn’t too happy with this quest I had set myself on. I heard over and over from friends and family of the dangers I was about to put myself in. But, I didn’t listen…I didn’t even think twice. I am 100% honest to God serious that I did not think twice about stepping foot on Arab soil. I was (or am) pretty well educated after all, and I think I’ve always had a bit of a rebellious streak in me.

So I packed up and set flight on Memorial Weekend Thursday. 3 days in Istanbul, Turkey, one full week in Amman, Jordan and 3 days in Beirut, Lebanon.

This is what I learned…

  1. The Middle East is NOT as hater as Western media paints it to be. I don’t know if I could have been in more friendly countries. Turkey, not so out of the way friendly…but then again, not in the Middle East. People waved, smiled, helped me in so many ways. I never once felt unsafe or tense about my surroundings. At one point I got lost in Amman after my cabbie dropped me at the wrong address. I had no idea where to go and not an English speaker for miles. All I had was my iPhone with no cell service. A random guy left his family to help me find my way. He spoke no English but between himself and a couple other kind souls they figured out where I was and he drove me to where I needed to be. Incredible.
  2. Never, ever go drinking with a guy who seems cool and speaks English on Istiklal Street. Just don’t do it. You might be risking your life and I’m being totally serious.
  3. Hate is an incredible strong emotion and it spills over those around you. During my time in Amman I saw first hand the suffering of Palestinian refugees, and I can’t even begin to describe the conditions in which they live. It was an abomination of the eyes. I drifted in the beauty of the Dead Sea and thought about how I couldn’t swim (or rather float across) for fear of being blown to bits by an Israeli placed water mine.Seeing children in such squalor twisted my heart and stomach into knots no sailor could undo. I found myself red with anger, foaming at the mouth with hatred, for those who had caused these conditions.After I returned to America, for a minute, all I wanted was to take a camera and a type pad back to the camps and tell the story of the refugees that no Westerners really wanted or cared to hear about. I was full of contempt for Israel.Since then I’ve cooled off. I’ve read about both sides of the issue and the only thing that really mattered is that there are children living in death. I don’t care if you’re Palestinian or Israeli (or friends of either). Trust me I know its more complex than this and I’m going to be shunned for my “ignorance,” but hug it out, b**ches.
  4. Silence, truly is, Golden. Traveling by yourself is complete liberation and like dark lonely dungeon all at the same time. I spent a lot of time alone and in silence. Even when I was on Istiklal Street in Istanbul with people buzzing too and from, the languages were all confused and I was alone with my thoughts. I honestly don’t remember what those times sounded like because for the most part I was listening to myself.I think everyone should venture out on their own at least once in their life. I needed that time. I would wake up when I want, walked where I wanted, ate where I wanted and did as I pleased. I probably would have had a bit of a freer time had I been in a more English friendly environment, but still, the silence was golden. I came back with a Can’t Tell Me Nothing attitude.Once you’ve conquered yourself, you can do just about anything.

Overall, the biggest life lesson I came away with from my personal journey, is that life is too short to live in fear. I talk to people every single day who are afraid of what might happen the moment they step out of their front doors. To me, that is insanity.

The world is too big, too beautiful. Don’t believe the hype. Don’t believe everything you read or hear from tv, friends or family. See it for yourself. Make your own decisions about what you’ve experienced first hand.

And if you ever need a travel buddy, I’m willing to go wherever. Antartica? Let’s do it.

- Cougs

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Dear Cougar: How to Make a Relationship Work

I’m often approached (as I was asked today how to tie a tie) for fashion advice, but even more often for advice about relationships. In college, I was that guy. The friend zone guy who would listen to all of your problems and try to help you sort it out.

My big problem was that I was awful (ask my first college girlfriend) at taking my own advice. The summer after my freshman year I spent alone for the most part wallowing in my own pitiful  lame sadness about a girl who dumped me for being a dick. So I vowed to break bad habits and I wrote down several pieces of wisdom on how to make it through a relationship successfully. Surprisingly 11 years later they still ring true.

I was wise beyond my years.

So this week instead of answering one specific question, I felt like passing this old document on. This is unedited awesomeness from how I saw “making it work” in 2001. Let me know what you think. What would you add? What would you take away?

As always, feel free to load me up on style Qs, advice solicitations, etc. to cougar@leftcoastfashion.com

Cougar’s Guide to Relationships

  1. The first and foremost rule of relationships; don’t make assumptions! You are one person, you cannot see inside anyone’s head, so don’t assume you know what they are going through or what they are thinking.
  2. Don’t concern yourself with what the other person is doing in their lives and how it will make you feel. You can’t do anything about it.
  3. Don’t stress over things that are out of your control.
  4. Be open-minded. If you are not open-minded the world is going to pass you by.
  5. Be optimistic…pessimists please no one and end up dragging people down into their depression and bad attitudes
  6. Your past is not reflective of your future. You can learn from your past, but don’t let it entirely govern the actions you take.
  7. Her past is not reflective of her future…don’t bring up things that don’t matter. You can’t undo your past or hers; so let it go because what’s done is done.
  8. Don’t play games. Games never get you where you want to be in the long run.
  9. Don’t be petty…it goes back to playing games. People that are petty and try to point out little things and overreact about everything will lose all they have invested in.
  10. Support her in everything she does and wants to do. Don’t be discouraging. Offer advice, but never force your views on her.
  11. Take life one-step at a time.

Work like you don’t need the money; dance like nobody’s watching; sing like no one is listening; love like you’ve never been hurt; and live every day as if it were your last!
-Irish Proverb

Dear Cougar: I’m a Starving Artist. Do I Have to Get a “Real” Job?

DEAR COUGAR: I’m an artist and budding filmmaker with a B.A. degree. My problems are my job situation and where I live.

My dad has told me that — like him and his father — my brother and I share a similar problem. We all have trouble getting and keeping jobs. We never seem to get ahead or be content or comfortable. On my mother’s side, however, she, her father, her brother and my cousin all have held steady jobs. Why is that?

As an artist, I feel I don’t really fit into any job description. Mom would like me to work for the federal government like she does, but I don’t want to. I have had people let me down the past few years, and I have fought depression and personal attacks from friends and classmates who all told me to give up and get a “real” job. It makes me even more determined to realize my dream, but it’s getting harder. Can you advise me? – STARVING IN LA

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DEAR STARVING,

To put it simply, should you get a real job…yes. Should you give up your dream of going from “budding” to prominent filmmaker, no.

Interestingly, I know several “starving artists” who with hard work and determination are doing what they love, but all bit the bullet and got a steady paying job. Having a steady job isn’t telling the world that you’ve given up on yourself and your dreams, its helping to fund those dreams.

For instance, my cousin Steven is a great artist and recently in the last couple years found a love of photography. He worked at Target and then got in at the state prison system…not exactly what I would call cushy fun and inspiring positions in life, but they were steady jobs. Steven used the money he was making to fund his photographic adventures and eventually built himself up a portfolio that got noticed. Just a few months ago he was asked by a major new music artist to go on tour as their tour photographer. He quit his job and is never looking back. He is dream is coming true every day.

Keep moving forward is the best advice I can give. Find a job that you can tolerate and that will keep a roof over your head. Build that portfolio of great work and share it with your friends and family, and they will all cheer for you.

Hope to see you on the big screen one day my friend.

-Coug

If you have any life conundrums of your own, click the ask button above or email me directly at cougar@leftcoastfashion.com, and I’d be happy to help!

Dear Cougar: My Niece Slathers Cream on Her Scone with Her Fingers!

DEAR COUGAR: My 11-year-old niece, “Nina,” has no table manners. I was surprised at her inappropriate behavior because her parents are well-educated people who were raised with good table manners.

I didn’t say anything when Nina slathered clotted cream on her scone with her fingers, but I was disgusted. I did suggest she use a spoon after she scooped rice out of a communal bowl with her hand. Both of these incidents happened in restaurants.

Is there anything I can do when I must eat with this child? I know it may have been wrong of me to correct Nina in front of her mother, but we were all eating from the same bowl. Should I ignore her ignorance of basic table manners and keep my mouth shut? — LOST MY APPETITE IN HOUSTON

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Dear Lost Appetite:

Wait, I thought all Texans slathered clotted cream on their scones with their fingers? I hate this child already. My advice is to tell her you’re going to take her to get some ice cream. Drive her about a mile down the road from home, then drop her off and tell her to walk home backward. Pull away laughing and never call your family again.

Simple as that.

Dear Cougar: I See Dead People. No, for Real!

 

DEAR COUGAR:

I will graduate from college in June and be a social worker. I am psychic, although I dislike that word because it conjures up visions of crystal balls, quacks and scams. For legitimate psychic individuals, it can be overwhelming to live this way.

I first noticed my ability when I was young, but I repressed it because my folks thought I was imagining things. It began to resurge in college. This school is haunted, so I have become used to daily interactions with ghosts — often in the dead of night…

 

(this is as much as I can handle…I couldn’t stop laughing at this point)

It’s hard to separate my own thoughts and emotions from those of spirits around me. I’m concerned about my psychic ability in relation to my clients. If I pick up on abuse in the mind of a child, for example, am I obligated to report it?- GIFTED IN NEW YORK

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DEAR “GIFTED” …

My advice…don’t tell a single person about your “gift” as they, like me, will make fun of you. Honestly, whether you can or cannot read people’s minds and see dead people, you are in a serious job with serious subject matter and even more serious consequences. If you have such a strong feeling about those you serve, a feeling that as you put a child may have been abused, that is something you HAVE to investigate.

But, investigate it like a normal person lest you be branded as a crazy and ostrasized by your coworkers. This kind of “crazy talk” could lose someone their job, especially if they were to make an accusation such as child abuse and no evidence could be found.

Go with your gut feelings and investigate it the real world way. Tame the voices in your head or I’m afraid I’ll see you on the streets of NYC one day selling magic beans and talking to your spirit friends. Abba zabba dippity doo!

- Cougar

Side note: I find it hilarious that Dear Abby even answered this question seriously…

Question of the Week

If your had to change your name, what would you change it to?

Be sure to answer in the comment section below or on our Facebook Fan Page.

Last week’s question, “You can pick one person to bring back from the dead, who do you pick? And why?”

Of course there were those that wanted to bring back notables such as…

  • Famous: FDR, regular: my great gramma - Hillary D.
  • Bob Marley. I saw the new documentary last night and boy would I like to meet him in person. –  Jordan E.
  • JFK the most influential president that was taken way to soon. He is the one person that could get this country back to where we belong! – Nelson R.
  • Famous: Marilyn Monroe, regularr: Grandma Marion ♥ – Sarah N.
  • Kurt Cobain. I would love to see a Nirvana in concert alongside Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots – Nels P.

And of course our sentimental types who had personal wishes…

  • My brother I miss him. He had so much life left to live. - Misty A.
  • Diane Demorest – I miss her so. - Cheri F.
  • My Grandfather Albert. Grandpa Jim. Friends who died way too soon and it just goes on. - Kathy H.
  • My brother in-law. It would make my niece & nephew the happiest kids on earth…and so many others who also miss him terribly. –  April McK.
  • My father in law. – April S. 
  • Shasta. Because I owe her so much for who I am today. – Pamula R.

Me…hmm, I would reanimate George Washington for sure. Tell me that guy wasn’t a stone cold ladies man.

Thanks for playing!

- Cougs

Dear Cougar: A Friend’s Husband Kissed Me *Blank Stare*

 

DEAR COUGAR:  A friend’s husband gave me a ride to the airport, and when I went to hug him goodbye as I have always done when we parted, he grabbed me by the arms and kissed me on the lips several times. I wasn’t expecting it, and I certainly hadn’t invited it. I made light of it, but it made me very uncomfortable and I don’t want to see him again.

My problem is I don’t know how to end my friendship with his wife. I would never tell her, and I do not wish to have this standing between us, so I’d rather just end the friendship. How should I handle this? She occasionally contacts me for lunch dates. — Dismayed in Manhattan

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DEAR DISMAYED:

How dismayed could you possibly be? How do you even call yourself a friend if you’re more down with dumping your friendship over telling your girl? My bet is that you were actually down with these rogue kisses from day one. You bad girl, you.

Put the guy on blast. I mean we all know what kind of husband does that kind of thing…one who thinks he can get away with it. It’s not like you stopping your friendship with her will stop him…in fact it’ll probably make him more eager now that you less connected to his wife.

Either air him out or go with it like I’m guessing you secretly want to. If you decide to do the latter I hope you wear your scarlet letter loud and proud.

- Cougar

Dear Cougar is a weekly column where I steal letters to the legendary Dear Abby and answer them like a man. Feel free to ask questions you want answered like a man in the comment section below.

Question of the Week

With all that Tupac’n over the last couple weekends that raises the question…

You can pick one person to bring back from the dead, who do you pick? And why?

Last week’s question of a soul’s worth got a lot of great answers. What would you trade your soul for?

  • World peace!  (and about 1 billion dollars) –  Brie S.
  • French Fries… isn’t that what Bart sold his soul to Milhouse for? – Justin E.  
  • All the equity in my soul is overextended already, shit… – Christina R.
  • To save wildlife & wilderness/marine ecosystems. – Ericka W.
  • TRUE LOVE! – Kristine M. 
  • That I knew then what I know now… – Sarah C. 

Then there were the people that wanted more souls:

  • 10 more souls. Wait that’s wishes. –  Joanie Coyote ‎ 
  • ‎3 really primo souls. –  Jim D. 
And of course the ones that wouldn’t trade their souls for anything…
  • Not a damn thing – Rhonda H.
  • Nothing could ever even come close!! – Jackie B.
  • Nothing – I am going to be a good grandma so I can join my grandson when my time on earth is done. –  Sandy H. 
But I thought the best answer went to Dennis W. with “‎2 *extra* hours everyday, that I can have uninterupted to do with as I pleased. That way I would have 2 hours I could do my studies, play a game, do garden work, or just read if I wanted to in my personal 26 hour day.”

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Dear Cougar: How to Show Thanks for a Sleepover

No , not that kind of sleep over…

DEAR COUGAR: I’m confused about the protocol in thanking or repaying someone after staying several nights at their home. My feeling is, if you’re staying with people, the nicest way to thank them for their hospitality is to pay for most, if not all, the lunches and dinners you share with them when you dine out. That way, you lessen the monetary burden of your visit, and it gives you a chance to say “thank you” for the use of their home.

Some visitors seem to think that when they come to your home, you should not only put them up, but also pay for all their activities while you show them your town. What is correct? Or is it a matter of preference? — Not Too Old for a  Sleepover!

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Dear Not Too Old for a Sleepover!

The art of a proper “thank you” is dying. I’m a huge proponent of showing thanks for all sorts of occasions where others feel an email could cover it. I say it is never in bad taste to be thankful.

To that end, it is all a matter of preference. If you’ve been invited to stay with someone for several days and they insist on paying for everything, let them! It is otherwise rude to refuse hospitality.

On the other hand, if you’ve asked to stay with someone, its only right that you pony up some cash and maybe not pay for everything, but a good share.

In either case I think the best way to thank someone comes before, during and after your stay.

  1. Make sure that they are in the know and up-to-date on the details of your stay. Don’t tell them you’ll be there for one night with the secret intention of staying three. Make sure they know your plans and are prepared to accommodate.
  2. Thank them by being an excellent guest while in their company. Clean up after yourself. Take showers. Be social and fun. Don’t drink all of their booze. Don’t sleep with their significant other. You know, be a good guest.
  3. Finally, post stay, make sure to leave your lodging in better condition than you found it in. Once you’ve made it back to wherever you call home my suggestion is go with a hand-written letter of thanks. Buy a funny card, send a bottle of wine. That’s classy and classy is what you want to be remembered as.

Long story short, if you’re going to take over someone’s home and life for days on end, do it with class. You don’t have to pay for everything while you’re in their company, but if you do nothing or even worse, write an email thank you, you’re an a-hole who deserves the worst house guest karma the devil can serve up.

I hope that helps.

- Cougar

PS, I stole that question from Dear Abby. Click here to read her interpretation of how to say thanks.