As originally published in McSweeney’s.

Rhythm Superfoods Beet Chips – Naked Flavor
Submitted by Kristen Van Nest

Caught up in the lifeless grind of everyday, my fingers wander to the strategically placed rack in the line area at Starbucks. My eyes linger upon a bag of Rhythm Superfoods Beet Chips – Naked Flavor. Will these beet chips answer my yearning to try something new? Will they add purpose and excitement to the malaise and monotony of my life?

After all, beets are a superfood. Once consumed, the nitrate in beets is converted into nitrite, causing blood vessels to dilate, directing blood and oxygen to your muscles. Beets will improve my aerobic performance, but will these beet chips cure my longing for something more?

These chips could have been “plain” flavor, but life is plain. “Naked” implies the experience of flesh on flesh, the tingling sensation of increased blood flow. Like the touch of a new lover, these chips promise heightened excitement. I blush as the cashier rings up my “Naked” chips.

Ripping the bag open, it is dark inside. I peer in and discover a pile of porous, cavernous flat circles. The chips have the rutted exterior of black truffles and, like a tree trunk’s many ripples, their oblate sides have concentric ever-expanding circles. These beets are young, but their exteriors show their deep character, answering to the BALANCE & HARMONY promised on their packaging (listed as a core principles of the Rhythms Superfoods brand). The beet chips have proven mysterious. I must have them.

Seeing they are baked not fried, I bite into their hard exterior. The taste of a thousand deserts enters my mouth. All liquid has been removed. Like the creation of a diamond, everything has been compressed into the hardened flavor of sweetened dehydration. If you dried everything good in this world, removed all that flavor, leaving just mere dust, you would have these chips. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. These beet chips cannot quench my thirst for something more. Perhaps I should have bought the Naturally Bare Baked Crunch Coconut Chips.

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Perfumeria: Plastic Hand to Squirt Room Spray: $400. Aromatherapy diffusers are so 2015 dorm room. Now you can take this rubber hand, fasten it onto the top of your home scented spray, and walk around your apartment, clicking a button on its wrist and the hand will spray the scent for you! So easy, so chic, it’s like you have a personal servant (hand), to do your chores with you.


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3. “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it” — Karl Marx
Why are you on Instagram? Marx in this quote is pointing towards curation. What do you want to be known for? Fitness? Travel? Crushing capitalism? Followers come when you have that one thing that they can rally behind.


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“Selling my hair does not sadden me at all,” says Priyanka, “Now I can feed my family and have a new way to express myself through colorful headscarves.” Last week, she made $50 by allowing a hair scout to shave her head clean. Lifestyle / Women’s

Articles published in Click on an article image below to read the full article. Samples below:

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Bedroom: “I know it wasn’t in the picture, but I hope it’s okay that I store my doll collection in here. They’re all lined up against the wall so they won’t be in your way. And you know, they’re dolls, so they’ll just be still the whole night while you’re sleeping.”


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His fingers trail between my buttocks spreading olive oil … Instantly the plug inside me starts to vibrate like a kitchen timer — down there! … It feels alien, full, forbidden … like unpasteurized cheese. But oh… so… good… As my body explodes, I’m nothing but sensation, everywhere.


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“What did you do for your birthday last year?”
“Steve took me to a romantic dinner and told me he loved me.”
“And this year?”
“I found this great recipe on Pinterest and my cat Sammy is a stray so he doesn’t have an official birthday, so I made this awesome cake. It’s like a professional chef making tuna tartare where you have this white paper cone and then you fill it with chopped up tuna, crab meat, and Fancy Feast. Then I put a little candle on top, sang happy ‘Meowthday,’ and we had a wonderful celebration together. He’s been putting on some weight so I’ve put him on the South Beach Diet, so this was a perfect treat.”


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3. “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it” — Karl Marx
Why are you on Instagram? Marx in this quote is pointing towards curation. What do you want to be known for? Fitness? Travel? Crushing capitalism? Followers come when you have that one thing that they can rally behind.


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5. African Voodoo Mask Wall Decoration
Suggest hanging this hand-carved creator of nightmares over their bed to remind them that something’s not right both when awake and in deep slumber. Preferably pick one focused on infertility to prevent Travis’s pricker of crushed dreams from filling sweet, sweet Karen with his demon child.


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“Selling my hair does not sadden me at all,” says Priyanka, “Now I can feed my family and have a new way to express myself through colorful headscarves.” Last week, she made $50 by allowing a hair scout to shave her head clean.


Article published in Slackjaw. Click on the article image to view the original piece in full:

healing power of crystals healthcare obamacare

Fight negative auras with love not hate. Put away your pistols, start healing with crystals. Call your Congressman today and tell him/her YOU want a crystal clear healthcare system. Politcal Satire

Articles published in Click on an article image below to read the full article. Samples below:

cats white house first pet POTUS

Pussy Galore, named after the Bond girl, knows that the only way to get into the White House as a female kitty is too be sexy and hott. Now that Joe Biden is out, a new cat’s in town, and she’s ready to be America’s sex icon.


JAWS Ocean Conservation Sharks Shark Week

What is the biggest threat to our oceans? Humans. Humans have been destroying our oceans for centuries and no one has been doing anything about it. Therefore, I took it upon myself to get out there and fight the good fight. There have been many who have said hurtful things, but my plan-of-action is very methodical. Please review this selection of my kills and their reasoning so you can better understand my viral marketing activism approach…


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When asked specifically about her choice of the cobalt net pattern, she said, “This pattern does not reflect the web of connections between this administration and Russia. Instead, it is a tribute to Catherine the Great. She is an example of what one nation can do if they give all their power to one single leader and put all their faith in them. In this time of great turmoil, we must trust my husband and give him more, and more, power.”


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“As we get older, we realize having a male figure to guide us and make decisions for us is really a benefit. I can sit back, relax, and focus on, once again, becoming a sex symbol for the Republican Party.”


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Having heard that Paul Ryan’s cure-all Repeal and Replace Bill for Obamacare was reportedly hidden on Capitol Hill, his fellow Congressman joined in on a game of hide and seek, knowing that whoever was the last to find the mythical bill would not benefit from its super powers (more specifically, healthcare a.k.a. the ability to pay for medical treatment so that you can live a happy and healthy life and continue to be a supportive, tax-paying citizen of the United States of America).


As published on Medium weekly here. I spun together real life scenarios and biographical information to bring to life a fictional story involving top political and pop icons. Similar to Forrest Gump, but about Kanye’s ambitions for presidency.


Fanfiction Summary:

Kanye and Kim are ready to become the next JFK and Jackie O. Everyone thought his run for office was a joke, and yet it’s his dream, his future, his and Kim’s destiny. They have been working so hard for this, but Beyonce and Jay Z may take it all away…
Join Kimye on this tale of political espionage as these American pop royals battle to enter the political mainstream.


November 8, 2015

Mushy yam-colored skin slapped against tawny young flesh with each of Trump’s thrusts. His hair waving to and fro, his crinkled orange face in a tight pucker. He was close to climax.

Making a short, loud open-mouth cough, he overtly shouted, “Rebuild the Empire!” with climax. Donald liked trying new campaign slogans at the point of peak pleasure to see if they could carry the weight of true emotion.

Having finished, he fell suddenly and at full speed, like the end scene in Moby Dick, breaching back onto the small-malnourished model with whom he shared his bed. She gave out a quick gasp, raising her Swarovski covered wrists to cover her breasts and face, hoping Trump’s weight wouldn’t pop a synthetic breast.

Trump liked feeling his weight upon his most recent Eastern European immigrant guest; it reminded him of his power. Helping her get her green card and learn English was, in his mind, a certain form of charity. With a long exhale, he pulled himself off her.

“Tomorrow I go on Kanye’s yacht,” he sighed.

“Yak?” She asked.

“Big boat. Kanye’s. He’s an important donor, I must support him.”


“It’s Kanye, that black guy who sings, dabbles in fashion? Don’t worry your pretty head, get some rest. Reaching into his bedside drawer, he pushed aside a bottle of Viagra and grabbed a bottle of Klonopin.

“Sleep my dear,” Trump cooed, handing the model a pill, “Tomorrow is a big day for me.”

The model gulped down the pill, shortly passing out, an ever growing pool of saliva wetting her pillow.

“Do I really have to wear these?” Bernie said, snapping his Yeezy’s together like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

“Of course,” his wife Jane said, “Kanye is an important donor, impressing him is important,” giving him a tight squeeze on the rump. Her cheeks were still flushed from their non-gender specific pegging morning romp in the sheets. Everyone deserves equality, even in the bedroom. During this daily morning ritual, pleasure was monitored consistently by both parties to ensure a fair and safe environment.

“I made a point not to take money from donors,” Bernie whined.

“I know, but if you don’t take his money, at least ask for his support.” Bernie knew Jane was right. Although Obama had called Kanye an “ass hole” in the past, Kanye had recently won over him and Taylor Swift. He seemed to be in with Bernie’s in-crowd. And besides, his Yeezys were growing on him. They were much more fashionable than his usual velcro-leather sneakers (although they had less sole support).

He quickly crammed Vermont maple syrup candies and Character Is Destiny: Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember by John McCain into his canvas duffle bag. The old bag had been with him since his year at Brooklyn College. Scotch Taped up so many times, he liked the worn, used image the bag conveyed. Bernie headed for the train from Vermont down to Kanye’s yacht, moored in Southampton.

Hillary looked at herself in the mirror. Long gone were the days of the WASP yellow power suit and yet she wasn’t sure how to best impress Kimye. Hillary put in her large pearl earrings and accent necklace set. Her thick wool bright blue suit was always a safe staple. After all, this suit had won her millions worth of support in the past, why stop now?

Calling in her makeup artist. “Maybe a little more contouring,” She instructed, “Like in that Kim Kardashian Youtube videos.” She really wanted to get into the shoes of Kim (in a figurative, not ShoeDazzle kind of way).

Hillary was fascinated by Kimye. Her team had tried and tried, but didn’t seem able to catch the energy this couple easily controlled. So much free press. How did they do it? She’d be in the game for ages, but couldn’t seem to upgrade her techniques to win over Millennials, at least not like Bernie. She made a mental note to ask Kim for some tips in private later, maybe get her on a call with some of her staff. Perhaps she could convince Kylie to launch a “Power Suit” shade lip kit, with the proceeds going to her campaign (although she knew Kris Jenner would never let that happen).



November 9, 2015

Bernie waited in the upper deck of the yacht. Because of the train schedule, he showed up two hours early. Arriving at the slip, he kicked around the dock and spoke with the dockhands, who, upon seeing his Scotch Taped duffle, tweed jacket, and Yeezy’s, kept asking if he was lost.

Bernie felt like he was in the bowels of the enemy, surrounded by these huge ships. Sitting on a dock peg, he watched a Seagull swoop high into the air, a crab in its mouth, and drop it, it’s shell cracking on the wooden dock. We must crush the upper class, he told himself. Surrounded by all these yachts, he felt antsy with a want to fight and fight hard. This was the 1%, the crushing first class, and he must take them down. That’s why he was here, that’s why he was wearing Yeezy’s, to bring these moguls to their knees, help them understand the struggles of those below them in the economic pyramid.

As the sun set, Bernie was invited on-board. Waiting in the upper deck, he put a handful of the peanuts offered by the crew in his pocket, eating them slowly.

“What are you doing here?” He suddenly heard from behind him. Hillary had arrived, she strolled up, her short, thick heels clopping on the deck’s wood.

“You show up and ruin every party,” She yelled, knowing they were alone.

“The Democratic party was already ruined,” Bernie snapped back. Hillary’s face burned a fiery red. She was sick and tired of this hangaround. Of course he was doing everything ‘Millennial,’ the one voter group she couldn’t wrap her head around.

“For the first time I actually agree with you, Bernie,” Donald’s voice could be heard as he walked up the steps of the megayacht. “Looks like Kanye invited all of us together to meet him. That’s GREAT,” he said at the top of the steps.

The three stood together, eyeing each other up and down like dogs in heat. They were a ragtag bunch, but also the future of the world’s greatest hegemon.


Kim took a deep breath. She had been to many a stately dinner and had selected a full white dress with a gaping neckline down to her belly button. It had taken two hours for her housemaids to dress her, locking in her ample breasts with a patchwork of body  tape.

She and Kanye had great plans for the future. They would be the Jackie O. and John F. Kennedy tagteam of the 21st Century. She would wear white and he would wear black. And in these colorless shades they would rule the world together. Tonight was one slink in a Slinky chain of ideation to their greatest point of victory and world domination, rising like Phoenix, in a burst of fire and feathers, above this world.

Kim walked out onto the deck of the megayacht, where Melania had joined the group, arriving late having wanted to put Barron to bed. “Welcome guests, so great to have all of you here tonight,” Kim said. Walking to each candidate, she kissed their side cheek, giving a wide berth around Trump, knowing he had a reputation for being handsy.

“Right this way,” she gestured, leading them into the dining room enclosed portion of the deck. White linen lay across the full table and and chairs, the table ladened with gold silverware and trim along each of the plates.

“Kanye will only be a moment,” Kim explained as she pointed to each of their seats. The servers appeared. Each with blond hair and pale skin, they wore blue linen floor-length gowns, with white aprons and bonnets. A server for each guest, they approached the table in unison, pouring water into clear crystal glasses.

“Your servers have quite interesting outfits,” Hillary commented, politely.

“Thank you, it’s a thought piece of Kanye’s. They are each in historical house slave attire. It’s to help us, in this home, remember that we can’t dehumanize other based on our extravagant, superior, all-encompassing wealth. Very, like, humbling,” Kim explained, “We are the new slaves.”

Suddenly the lights dimmed. Smoke from a fog machine filled the room and the servers moved a thing curtain at the front of the room aside. Light shining from below, a black cross rose from the darkness.  I am a God from Yeezus started to play loudly as the candidates sat in darkness.

Suddenly, a light shone from the front of the table, outlining a human form on the black cross. Kanye became visible, in a black suit, tied with black painted ropes to the cross. Black on black on black.

Kanye opened his eyes, the balls the only white, “I am a God,” he stated blankly, turning his head robotically. He ruffled his legs and arms from the black rope, jumping from the cross and walking over to his seat, the music fading.

“Welcome guests,” he said, arms stretched wide. “I am so happy to have you all here. Thank you for joining me in this dark, twisted fantasy.”

A new chapter is published on Medium weekly. Click here for the full story…

Why It’s Important to Have Real Male Friends

Originally published on MYSA.

 “You should be manager of the hockey team,” a sophomore from down the hall advised. “We need one – it’s a really chill group of guys.”

“OK?” I agreed, hesitantly.

Agreeing to manage the men’s club hockey team was the start of a college-long commitment – not just to seasonally spending every Saturday in our home rink or traveling hours to some other nearby university for games (with a return trip that wreaked of moldy socks, aftershave and epic helmet head), but also to expanding my social horizons. This was my time to see what happens in Guy Land. And like the inside of their gym bags, it wasn’t always pretty. But it definitely taught me some skills that have proven useful.

How to Talk to Guys

Our first away game, I packed into a car with three freshman players. Nervous, I sat on my hands and hardly said a word. To my luck, the freshman were just as anxious. From the driver’s seat the team captain complained into his phone,“This is so boring. It’s silent. I am talking to myself.” This was the first of many silent moments, but soon I learned to relax and became the token girl of the gang.

Later on in life, this prepared me for many a male-dominated work environment. Being the only woman in the room was no longer an issue due to many nights bro’ing out with the hockey team.

In all my relationships, whether professional or personal, I became a lot more comfortable speaking with men. (Fun fact: guys are just as tense – or even more-so – speaking to us as we are to them.) I learned to ignore the nervy, awkward introductions, and even adopted a few strategies for diverting conversations from sports (about which I know nothing).

How to Make Skippy

As part of my initiation as manager, I was taught the magical recipe for “Skippy” – a highly alcoholic, nuclear-colored beverage that tastes like a mound of watered-down Starbursts.

The recipe:

  •     1 30 rack of beer (poured against the edge of the water cooler in order minimize carbonation loss)
  •     1 canister of Old Country Lemonade powder
  •     2 liters Mountain Dew
  •     1 handle vodka

Place ingredients in a Gatorade water cooler. Stir together with a wooden spoon (preferably like you are a witch doctor, for added effect). Write “SKIPPY” in sloppy capitals (better when already inebriated) on a large piece of masking tape. Serve in red solo cups, interrupt gulps for occasional “USA! USA!” chants.

The Benefits of a Broad Network

No matter what party I went to, I always ran into a hockey player or a friend of a friend. As the independent, social Thundercat I am, making the rounds to two to three parties a night was never a problem – I always found a friendly face from the team.

The Importance of a Go-To Spot

The hockey house was my home-away-from-dorm. Going to hang out with the team was like visiting a bunch of older brothers. Whether watching Grandma’s Boy for the millionth time or playing beer pong on a Thursday night, I was always welcomed and knew I’d have good friends and a good time.

The Advantages of Being a Connector

Knowing a lot of hot guys was never an issue with my girlfriends. Broke up with your boyfriend? No problem. Done with a major exam? No problem. Sick of frat guys? No problem. There’s always a place to take it easy and admire some chiseled jaw lines.

Life After Graduating From Hockey Team Manager

My spot tucked snugly under the team’s wing taught me a great deal about the importance of having male friends. Years later, I moved to a new city. Weeks into the apartment search, nothing had proved promising. Feeling a bit discouraged and desperate, I agreed to a tiny room in an apartment with male roommates. They showed up the next day with the lease for me to sign looking incredibly hungover. They explained a rugby party the night before had done them in, and they urgently needed some wings and a Bloody Mary or two to cure the headache. “Wanna come?” they asked. It was then I knew I’d made the right decision – tiny room or not.

Without these men in my life, I wouldn’t appreciate the merits of Keystone Light versus Keystone Ice. I wouldn’t know that Cookies & Cream protein powder tastes good in a milkshake – or that eggs should always be cooked in bacon grease. Without my team, I may fear or avoid male-dominated environments. But thanks to them, I know that they’re places to enter confidently, ready to win – or lose – a game of beer pong (or, now that I’m a bit older, sip on an ale out of a real pint glass). I know that no matter the gender ratio, I can walk into a room, cool, calm and collected and strike up a conversation with anyone.

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Home Is Where The Heart Is, So Where Is Your Heart?

As originally published on MYSA.

Growing up in suburban Connecticut, nature constantly embraced me, whether that be with beautifully landscaped neighborhood lawns, winding trails to meander in my town’s park, or a microadventure getaway up North with my family. Now as a young professional, I find myself confined to cityscapes. Without surrounding natural beauty, I have to find a new way to define “beauty.” For a city, this is often by its character, or more specifically its characters.

When you’re new to a city everything feels fresh and exciting. Every corner brings something new – a woman in a sleek black trench and big sunglasses, a poodle in a particularly sassy sweater, or both. Gradually, as you become used to your neighborhood, these little quirks create the foundation of the feeling of being “home”.

Dog-sitting for my friend in Stuyvesant, New York, I walked out on a cold fall day, my exhalation white hot in the brisk autumn air. Leaves concealed beautifully manicured lawns beneath and squirrels busied themselves burying nuts for winter ahead. Butters, my friend’s petite beagle-dalmation mix, trotted along in his red booties and plaid coat, assuming a tense hunting pose each time he spotted a squirrel. We had a meeting at Thompson park with my friend, Townsend*, who I hadn’t seen in months – a catch-up long overdue.

Entering the park, Butters hesitated, stalling as I bent down to undo his leash. Looking at the Irish wolfhound and back at me, he gave me a “Is that really a dog?” look. In my hometown, the majority of dogs are labradors. New Yorkers seem to select a wide array of breeds, seeing their canine companion as an extension of their personality. It’s fun to play “match the dog with its owner,” guessing who might own the American bull dog versus the miniature greyhound.

“Go on,” I said, but he had no choice as the other dogs were already rushing to greet him.

Townsend arrived shortly after in a fawn green jacket with large brass snaps and sheepskin-lined gloves. “Long time no see,” he said, handing me a cup of coffee from Everyman Espresso. Settling in perched atop a park bench, we watched the dogs playing. Butters played with three blonde retrievers. The tall girls towered over him; he stared up, mesmerized.

“So how’s work?” I asked. He worked as a recruiter for one of the largest internet companies.
“Eh,” he said, looking away for a moment, “I’ve been living in New York for a few years now, and I don’t have the same feeling for it anymore. Maybe it’s time for me to find a new city.”
“We enter different phases, we look for different things,” I agreed, sipping on my coffee to stay warm.
“There’s just the smells, the pushing on the subway. People can be cold,” he lamented, a long trail of icy sigh following his statement.
“That’s true, but you do have the subway performers doing crazy poll dancing moves at Bedford Ave,” I added, trying to cheer him up.
“But you also get the beggars who fake a limp,” he said.

We chatted for an hour or so, letting Butters make friends. A large male husky had replaced the golden retrievers, jumping at Butters with a loud, aggressive bark. Butters circled over to me sheepishly.

“You ready, bud?” I asked. He tilted his head before hanging it, looking back at the husky. “Let’s go,” I said, hopping off the bench.

Walking Townsend back to the L Train, we continued our conversation, “Maybe you’re looking for something a little more low-key,” I offered. “New York can be very in-your-face, which is fun sometimes, overwhelming at others.”

Butters hung back on his leash. Glancing back, I noticed an embarrassed look on his face as he dragged his butt along the pavement.

“He’s got a dingleberry,” Townsend pointed and laughed.

“Oh no,” I said, grabbing for a plastic bag from my pocket. “What do I do?!”

As I fumbled with the plastic bag and Butters’ unfortunate little butt, I noticed the nasty smell of someone in serious need of a shower. Looking up, a man walking by flashed me a wide, mostly toothless grin.

“You know what they say,” he belted, pointing to the dingleberry. “Those things are good luck!” Without a break in his stride, the stranger continued on his way.

I tightened my lips, holding in a burst of laughter until he was out of earshot, cleaning up poor Butters. Townsend’s nose wrinkled in disgust. “Only in New York would a stranger say a dingleberry is good luck!”

“I mean, really!” Townsend shoved his hands in his pockets. Keeping my lips clamped, I pulled on Butters’ leash as he excitedly sniffed the pungent place by which the man had passed.

“Don’t smell that,” Townsend shooed Butters. Butters moved on, tail wagging, having found a cigarette butt on which to chew. I patted his rump. “There, there,” I smiled.

Who knows who really benefitted from the lucky dingleberry, but the following week, Townsend quit his job. He was unsure where he was going but he knew it was time. With Butters’ owner returning, I explained what fun Butters and I had and that he had a new girlfriend at the dog park. Taking the time twice a day for outings with Butters through the city had solidified my love for New York.

You can’t always identify or articulate what makes a place home, but you know it in your bones when it is and when it isn’t. In the end, whether it’s natural beauty, urban quirks, your favorite coffee shop, or a homeless man who dispenses good fortune, your experience of a place has to feel like home. Otherwise it’s time to keep searching.

*Names have been changed.

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