the zoo bar

Four People I Could have Loved

1. For reasons I’ll never understand, the taste of mint and the smell of pine trees make me think of him. They bring to mind summer evenings out on the shore of a lake as we sat and watched the sun sink behind the distant trees while our friends drew pictures in the sand. We never dated, but we would spend hours talking and trading music and promising that if we ever needed each other we’d be there. He was a slight lisp, and dark eyes, and the warmest smile I’ve ever seen. He bandaged my wounds and ignored the fact that he was damaging me more than healing.

He dated someone new every month, and I kept waiting for it to be my turn only to have him tell me he loved me like a sister. His hugs were like being wrapped in a blanket that was a little too tight, comforting for a moment until you needed to breathe. I kept waiting and waiting for him to see me the way I saw him, but he never did.

2. She was electric blue eyes and a Slytherin smile and always kept the heat on in her room turned up to feel like summer. Being around her was like orbiting a black hole- you were pulled in before you could realize what was happening. She was a master of distraction, telling you to look at this thing happening rather than how she slowly pulled you apart. She tore me apart, looking for the pieces of me that she wanted to keep and tried to throw out the parts she wanted to change. She didn’t want the whole me, she just wanted someone she could fill with her own thoughts and plans.

She should have been kinder, I should have been stronger. There’s a lot about our relationship that I regret, but the beginning and middle were what I had always wanted from someone. I felt alive around her, even if all we did was work on essays or have a quiet breakfast before running off to our classes. She was a constant, a shoulder to lean on and sometimes I miss how I felt with her but I can’t bring myself to miss her.

3. I didn’t expect him, didn’t expect to successfully turn a long-distance friendship into a relationship. At times that whole spring still seems not-real, like I dreamed those few months when we would spend hours each day talking over webcam about our favorite books and songs and how emotion isn’t tied to a place, isn’t confined to a radius around our bodies. When we finally were in the same place, oh, how I was sure the stars were dancing for us. Whenever it rains, I think of him and our first kiss. It took years, but I’m finally able to listen to our song again without crying. Neither of us did anything wrong, there are just relationships that aren’t meant to last. We were one of those.

When I think of first love, I think of him. I think of museums and zoos and heath candy bars. I remember a three page letter I never sent from just before we started dating, when I had never been surer of someone in my life. Now, last I heard, he’s looking at engagement rings for his girlfriend.

4. I had fallen far before even naming what I felt. She is adorable, and tiny, and full of rage. She doesn’t talk endlessly, doesn’t share things easily, but she feels so so strongly. Her smiles could power a city. When I feel lost or like I have reached the end of my rope, I call her and she calms me down. Even just having the phone open in a call to her, neither of us saying a word, just breathing, can sooth my nerves in a way I don’t think anything ever has. She feels like home- acoustic music and pancakes and mugs of tea and hot chocolate cooling on a counter.

I’ve held her while she cried over an idiot boy who never deserved her- who couldn’t see the way her eyes light up when she’s talking about history, who never heard how bright she laughs when she’s just a little tipsy, who didn’t realize she is the northern lights in human skin- bright and beautiful and just out of reach. She’ll always be just out of reach for me. I tell myself I am fine with us just being Platonic Life Partners, and I am, I swear I am. There’s just a traitorous part of me that wishes she could love me too.

- “Four People I Could have Loved,” C.D. (chickadeeburns)


Jungle Habitat
West Milford, New Jersey

In 1972, Jungle Habitat was opened in West Milford, New Jersey as a zoo for the adventurers of the world.  Half of the park was similar to an average zoo.  It had a petting zoo, snack bars, reptile house, etc.  The second half of the park was quite the opposite.  It allowed guests to drive their own vehicles into the woods and go on a self guided safari ride.  The tour allowed guests to see free roaming monkeys, elephants, llamas, giraffes,  lions, and tigers.  Animals would often walk right up to cars and sometimes climb on top of them.  As one could imagine, Jungle Habitat was faced with a series of “accidents” during its operating years.

Within the park’s first year of operation, the park experienced its first “accident” when a guest was attacked by two lions.  Shortly after, a woman was bitten by a baby elephant who had grabbed her arm with its trunk.  In addition to these incidents, the animals were constantly escaping into the town of West Milford.  A wild case of tuberculosis also spread among the park’s animals, resulting in many of them having to be put down.

After closing in 1976, the park was quickly abandoned. Carcasses of animals, including elephants and giraffes, were left behind.  The remains of Jungle Habitat is a popular hiking spot to this day.

New York.

Hagenbeck’s Trained Animals, by Napoleon Sarony, Union Square, 1893.

Carl Hagenbeck, supplied trained animals to the 1893 Columbian Exhibition, The Louisiana Purchase Exhibition, as well as to Coney Island and P.T. Barnum. He is credited with the concept of the modern zoo, displaying animals without bars, in settings as close to their natural environments as possible. 

My Whole Foods Grocery List

Leaving it here in case I forget

-a lb of apples, picked from the tops of trees as Icarus flew down from the sun

-cheese, made from not cheese

-grain from large plastic bins, much like goat feed at a petting zoo

-a granola bar that has been to college

-the kind of tortilla chip you can count on 

-sugar substitute extracted from old DVD’s, 1000% natural

-a thousand dollars worth of fruit

-a popsicle that is so far removed from what we know popsicles to be you might as well eat frozen cauliflower from a bag

-BBQ c’h’c’k’n substitute

-bread that got married to a small wHeat (said like wHEat, really say the h) field and goes back to visit it a few times

-butter made from either oil or a rich cow

-if you say coconut oil 3 times in the mirror, you will have somebody from your past pop in and tell you how to rub it on your legs as a shaving cream

-sentient kale that screams when you massage it with olive il


-something Gwyneth Paltrow has kissed

-water with more knowledge

-potato chip: what do you want

me: Just fuck me up

potato chip: cool, I’ll bake myself in a steel kettle with zero salt and add a bunch of weirdo grains

  I’m just trying to find someone super hot and successful. Who’s into vicious sarcastic humor, and isn’t afraid to say exactly what he wants. Someone who’s down to travel, everywhere. Who wouldn’t mind camping. Who won’t tease me too badly about my love for spaghettios. Who loves lives shows.
  We’d have our own little apartment with a dog named Vader or Luke. Hell, in my world, we’d have both. We’d host game nights with our circle of friends cramped in our living room overflowing with laughter and warm bodies, staying up until obscene hours, well past the acceptable age to do so. We’d never stop going out to bars, or going on zoo dates, taking time to visit the drive in movie theater, or catching movie premieres. Some days we’d get home from nights at bars with friends too wired to sleep, and someone would remember the light sabers. We’d probably break something, but it wouldn’t matter. Because we’d be in love. We’d have our apartment and our dogs. We’d have a good life. We’d be happy. 

In the car crash of the century.

On Stalking

Does this post need to be made? God, I wish it didn’t.

As a creator I always want to give my audience the benefit of the doubt. I totally empathize with feeling connected to characters in books and the authors responsible for penning them into existence. I admire movie and television actors, and you can bet if I ever got to meet David Attenborough I would fangirl like nobody’s business. Fandoms: I understand you. I think you’re great.

Fan letters? No problem. I try to respond to as many as possible. Attending public meetups? Please do! If we post a time and place to come say hello, nothing makes me happier than to see you there. Maybe we run into each other in public - PLEASE come say hello - I actually much prefer to meet you and talk than to see later on tumblr or twitter that you saw me and didn’t say hello (it makes me feel like I’m always being watched in public which is a little unnerving). I’ve talked to folks while I was out jogging, standing in line for the bathroom, at bars, movies, zoos, grocery stores, bowling alleys. I love it. Let’s take a photo! I’ll sign your shoes or posters or book or planner or shirt or whatever! Let’s talk about science!

But if you send me so many messages every day that I need someone to respond telling you to cease and desist, get the hint. If you receive multiple notes telling you to stop, then stop. And it’s never okay to send a creator a note saying you’re imaging spending your life with them. Please don’t get the impression that just because you’ve seen all of my videos that we have a personal connection.

Respect the personal space and life of the creator, especially if they have expressed that you are making them feel uncomfortable. I am at a disadvantage in that people know where I work and, in theory, could find me there. I’m fine meeting people when they’re in the Museum if we make plans ahead of time, or if you see me in a public hall. But don’t call my colleagues asking about me or where you could find me. Please don’t wait outside of my workplace. If we have told you to stop, stop. Your primary goal for visiting the museum is to learn about natural history, not linger around waiting for me. I’m working!

Do I have a highly public life? Yes. Largely, I’m totally okay with that. I’m proud that my work is so loved and appreciated by many people - it’s very gratifying. Does that mean I have signed myself up to be harassed, or that this sort if personal violation is just a part of the job? No.

On behalf of the 99% of kind and respectful people who just want to meet me and say hello, please don’t ruin this for them.