I really meant to, but I lost my personality


Well, part of it. I have one personality. I know the Kayleigh who introduces herself with a confident smile at parties is the same Kayleigh who struggles to breathe in crowded restaurants. The average, everyday version is generally on top of her shit, but also avoids crowds and interacting with lots of strangers, especially with this [hopefully-temporary] beer-free diet.

Problems arise when Confident Kayleigh makes commitments that Average Kayleigh is not prepared to fulfill.

Confident Kayleigh attended a volunteer training held by a local environmental group I would love to work for. This particular project seeks to document how the toxic chemicals released into the Hudson River decades ago by GE are still affecting families today. Confident Kayleigh learned how to properly survey fishermen and women about their catch, scooped up a stack of survey materials, and prepared to head out to a dock at the next opportunity to contribute valuable data to the report.

That training was over a month ago. Confident Kayleigh is MIA. The survey materials are dusty and untouched. Average Kayleigh got an email from the training organizer asking for a progress update, and after waiting a few days, I responded with the valid but lame excuse that I hadn’t surveyed anyone because not having a car made it difficult to get out there.

Confident Kayleigh knew walking up to strangers who were doing something I’ve never done successfully in my life (fishing), would be nerve-wracking. We are the same person, after all. But wanting to contribute to something that could eventually improve the health of this river and the ecosystems and communities around it was more important. IS more important.

Even though Average Kayleigh, and even Hyperventilating Kayleigh, are on the same page about protecting our planet’s ecosystems, I don’t know how to do my part without Confident Kayleigh in the lead.

I have one personality with many facets, as most of us do. But it seems like instead of shining as one cohesive whole, my facets are separated and angled away from each other so only one can reflect the light at a time. Someday, I want to join them together, even if the edges end up a little rough. Continue reading

I may have lost my job, but I’ve caught some cool Pokémon


This accurately sums up my job and pokémon search: not loading, and full of monsters.

I was laid off in June, and although there’s never really a good time to lose your job, summer isn’t bad time for it. I had just moved back to the East Coast from Chicago two weeks before and was actually in the middle of vacation when I got my immediate termination notice, but that’s neither here nor there. Point is, I suddenly had a new home and a lot of time on my hands.

When my boyfriend mentioned that a new game requiring you to catch virtual Pokémon out in the real world had just been released, he said it in a “haha isn’t this ridiculous” kind of way. But I wanted it in my life immediately, and we downloaded it. Continue reading

How to be WILDLY affectionate this Valentine’s Day

How do you and your partner show each other affection – hugs, kisses, cuddles? How about caressing one another’s eye stalks or changing colors while dancing together at dawn? Let these ten couples show you how it’s done in other parts of the animal kingdom.

  1. Lean On Me

Owls are usually territorial creatures who will not choose to spend much time in close proximity to other owls – like guys sitting on opposite ends of the couch. Owl mates, on the other hand, may stand close together and actually lean on each other as a sign of affection.

2. Bite me

Real love!! (4294586131) (2)

As many dog-owners know, canines often show their love by licking one another’s faces and coats. Wolves in particular will also nip and nibble their loved ones’ faces. Although it can sometimes look aggressive, gentle face nibbling is a sign of affection in wolves.

3. Necking

Embed from Getty Imagesgiraffes.jpg

Male giraffes use their long necks and heavy heads for graceful, slow-motion fights with each other, but they also use them to rub the heads and necks of their love interests. You may spot a giraffe resting his or her head on a mate’s neck, or even entwining their six-foot long necks together. Check out this YouTube video to see it action! 

4. The Better to See You With

Garden snails and love dart

Land snails, like the common garden snail, will wave their antennae – which are actually their eyes – at each other before mating. The two will caress each other’s “eye stalks” and rub their bodies against one another in a somewhat slimy yet affectionate way. Continue reading

Mission: research and write stuff. Status: go.

My mission to devote one night a week to blogging AND ONLY BLOGGING! has so far been successful. I may need to separate it into two nights, though, now that I’m branching out into freelancing as well.

Last week’s blog night started with “I’m going to research hive mind and honey bee self-sacrifice for my blog!” When I popped up out of the rabbit hole a few hours later, I had started writing “10 Animals That Discard Their Own Body Parts and Why.” There was a logical progression in there somewhere, and I think it involved bee penises. Strangely, I get a lot of silence on the phone when I tell my boyfriend what I learned about honey bee drone endophalluses.

Anyway, I’ve been loving researching and tracking down facts that fascinate me. I haven’t finished anything yet, but prepare to learn some cool stuff about animals that sacrifice their body parts, swarm intelligence, and surprise tunnels I have yet to burrow into!

I don’t do resolutions, but if I did

It's not hope, but work, that transports us to the highest peaks.

Never hope more than you work.

The more complete quote from wildly-influential-author-I-had-never-heard-of-until-yesterday Rita Mae Brown is:

Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts.

And never hope more than you work.

Trust has never been my strong suit, and work seems considerably more trustworthy than hope anyway. I wouldn’t characterize myself as generally hopeful, but I have oscillated between an odd sort of optimism and a conviction that the most soul-crushing possibilities must be the most “realistic.” I call my optimism ‘odd’ because I’m never really sure if I believe it, if I’m thinking it to make myself feel better, or if I’m joking with myself. I only have one personality, but it sure plays games with itself sometimes.

All this is to say, I’m a little conflicted about hope and optimism. Work, on the other hand, is actionable. I can do that. I can reasonably expect better outcomes from working than from hoping. And hence, I will make every effort to work more than I hope.

I already finished my beer😦 , but if I hadn’t, I would raise it with the conviction that it’s time for hope and uncertainty to step aside. There is work to be done.


I need to thank Ariel Gore for her book How To Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead, and my former boss Jennifer Hee for leaving it out for a poor and ambitious employee to take home. After two years of bookshelves and moving boxes, I finally cracked the book open and read the quote from Rita Mae Brown that gave me the kick in the ass I needed.

The question I didn’t know pool toys were the answer to


“Even when everything’s going your way, you can still be sad. Or Anxious. Or uncomfortably numb. Because you can’t always control your brain or your emotions even when things are perfect.”

Jenny Lawson in her new book, Furiously Happy

My brain decided it was about time to remind me of this truth last week, even though I had just finished Jenny Lawson’s book over the long weekend and could have sworn my brain was with me when I did. The sadness had already been creeping in at the edges for a few days, the exhaustion was setting in, and the things going wrong in my life were nowhere in sight.

Continue reading

There’s more to “The Environment” than climate change

A New Zealand sea lion, endangered. Photographed by me on New Zealand's South Island in 2011.

The overarching narrative of climate change cannot replace the localized stories of environmental degradation being written all over our Earth.

Climate change is such an extensive problem that even many who acknowledge its causes are too frozen to act on it. All of us are responsible to varying degrees, and there is currently no one capable of forcing the concerted action scientists have been calling for for decades. But being incapable of saving planet Earth from all the effects of climate change is a far cry from being incapable of making a difference on a part of our environment, on one species, on one being. Continue reading

So I’m back, and here’s why

On Makapuu Lighthouse trail, Oahu

I started Wandering Aloud almost two years ago for many of the same reasons I have returned now. Put simply, learning, reading, and writing are what fulfill me. Especially now that I’ve caught up on all the episodes of Bob’s Burgers.

When I first started blogging, I found none of these things in my work – I had a degree but was barely getting by in a string of jobs that didn’t satisfy me. On the bright side, I honed my ability to make a killer cappuccino in three countries.

Continue reading

A Not-So-Bad News Roundup

10 years ago, then-Staff Sgt. Michael Maloney rescued a 3-year-old during Hurricane Katrina. Soon, they'll meet again. (Photo: Veronica Pierce/U.S. Air Force)

You know what I realized recently? Even though I complain about the abundance of bad things happening every day, from Donald Trump’s continued presidential candidacy to actual crimes against humanity, there IS good news out there. But when I come across it, I don’t bother to read it because it’s not “important.”

The refugee crisis in Syria is important. The whip count on the Iran deal is important. Some guy finding out the name of a girl he rescued on the job 10 years go? Ain’t nobody got time fo dat.

But we should, and for so many reasons. Continue reading

Feline Friday: Game Night Edition


Lieutenant Pumpkin joins the game!

Playing board games with cats adds a whole new level to the challenge – you have to physically protect your pieces from feline intruders AND remember where they were on the board when your catty competitor inevitably succeeds in relocating them. Great fun is had by all!

In other news, Lt. Pumpkin and I may soon call Chicago home. I will have to start knitting her sweaters for the winter…

Toddlers: the next frontier of the gun debate

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A two-year-old sitting in a shopping cart next to his mom’s purse reached into it, as children, cats, and pickpockets alike are wont to do, pulled out something to play with, eat, or throw on the floor, and killed his mother with it.

Whether or not you’re from a town where carrying a loaded weapon is the norm, chances are this is not how you envision your next shopping trip turning out. Several things strike me about this event: Continue reading

It’s a GOOD newsem!


As in a good-news poem, not necessarily a good news-poem.

Obama made an executive call
To give America’s Cuba policy an overhaul.
Some Republicans in Congress are pretty pissed,
But soon enough I doubt the embargo will be missed.

Global temperatures are still on the rise,
But more of New York’s gas will remain where it lies.
Governor Cuomo banned fracking after a health and safety report,
Though the science is “bad,” say the Wall Street sort.

Continuing along the fossil fuel vein,
Gas and oil companies are still feeling the strain.
Chevron just decided to say no dice
To their Arctic drilling plans due to oil’s super low price.

US death penalties also hit a record low,
With jails dealing only 35 inmates their final blow.
Texas and Missouri tied with ten deaths apiece,
But at least the trend is on the decrease.

Conditions at Rikers Island jail are far from good,
But thanks to the federal government, the prison may finally do what it should.
Suing the city for civil rights violations may cause some dismay,
But let’s face it: suing is the American way.

Thought I know in my heart the good news doesn’t stop there,
It is time for me now to go dry my hair.
If you come across any delights worth sharing,
Please post them below – go on, be daring!

Back in the saddle!

After months of silence my fingers are itching to get their keystrokes back out there, and my inner rhymes are begging to be released. So much has happened and is happening and will happen, and Wandering Aloud is going to stay true to its name. It’s time to get movin.

These things happened:

Madeleine Albright speaking about Myanmar/Burma

Madeleine Albright speaking about Myanmar/Burma at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting 2014

Some of my favourite pictures from the People’s Climate March here in New York City:



The coolest marching band Ive ever seen and/or danced to.

The coolest marching band Ive ever seen and/or danced to.

Wait a second... That doesn't rhyme!

Wait a second… That doesn’t rhyme!

The shrine at the Tree of Life, where all were urged to write their responses to the following question on a ribbon: “What do you love and hope to never lose to climate chaos?” We then picked a ribbon written by someone else and chose to continue fighting for climate justice in the name of what that person held dear.

The shrine at the Tree of Life, where all were urged to write their responses to the following question on a ribbon: “What do you love and hope to never lose to climate chaos?” We then picked a ribbon written by someone else and chose to continue fighting for climate justice in the name of what that person held dear.

I finally saw this up close:


I learned that three ferry rides in one day is just excessive. And excessively uncomfortable.


And of course, a returning-from-hiatus post would not be complete without a picture of my little one:


Lieutenant Pumpkin, interrupted while playing with a bag of sticks.


Oh, and I have a job now – it even pays in money.

The Substitute

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Check out my essay on Vox Populi, a forum for discussion of contemporary events and politics! We would really like to hear from everyone who has a thought, theory, or experience related to today’s youth, especially if you have suggestions for improvements to the social and educational spheres we bring them up in!

Vox Populi

I am not a teacher. I haven’t taken a single class on education, let alone made it through the testing and observation required to be a public school teacher. I am an underemployed BA-clutching young woman who paid the bills working as a substitute teacher in Pittsburgh when I couldn’t take another day at my call center job.

People who spend enough time with children can attest to our young’s ability to brighten a rainy day, to say something that makes you laugh out loud every time you remember it, to give you hope for the future. This isn’t about those moments.

Every day as a substitute teacher was an exercise in overcoming my aversion to things like crowds, loud noises, and disrespect. I can proudly say that I have not hidden in a bathroom between classes since my first day teaching in the city, but the way students as…

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Tonight, the thunderstorm overtakes the moonshine

My virtual being has been quiet for the past month as the flesh and blood version moved between three states, the intellectual matter started a new job, and the emotional remnants tried to hold a broken heart together.

I’m trying to tease the opportunity out of the adversity and reunite those disjointed pieces into the whole person I was, and I know when I do I’ll be put together stronger, with extra super glue between the cracks. But in the meantime alcohol is a smooth talker, and it doesn’t get along with emotional adhesive.


Why the schoolgirl kidnapping was not high on the Nigerian government’s agenda, and what’s going on now

In the middle of the night on April 14th, hundreds of militants descended on a girls’ school in the northeast Nigerian town of Chibok. After killing the guards and setting the school ablaze, the parade of pickup trucks and motorcycles disappeared into the Sambisa forest, and with them nearly 300 young girls. The girls had not been seen or heard from until May 12, when a video showing about 100 of them clothed in grey veils and praying at gunpoint was released.

The kidnappers are members of the Islamist extremist group widely known as Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language spoken in much of northern Nigeria and the surrounding region. Since launching their insurgency in 2009, Boko Haram has killed thousands in Nigeria, primarily civilians. Already this year they have carried out more than ten attacks and killed hundreds of people, including dozens of children.

The kidnapping has caught the interest of the global media and has prompted a significant increase in civil and military aid to the Nigerian government, strengthening the hope that the girls will return to their families soon. But why did it take so long for the Nigerian government to initiate a concerted rescue effort?

Continue reading