Looking for the perfect gift for a skater this holiday season? Look no further. Two local sweethearts, Tait Detro and Margot Czeropski (both 23), built a skate business like no other, out of scraps and locally sourced, secondhand materials. Behold, Potaito Boards, the environmentally sustainable skateboard manufacturer that’s reducing the carbon skate tracks of the skating community, one sale at a time.
According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Detro began building his own decks out of scraps in his dad’s wood shop in East Palo Alto when he was 14, and “hasn’t owned a deck he didn’t make himself since” (Ibarra). Detro’s scavenging resourcefulness, combined with his and Margot’s frustration with the “glut of wood-veneer boards on the market” (Ibarra) sparked the flame that ignited this business into the operation it is now. As espressed on their website:
“…What’s the point of making beautiful shred-machines if we can’t do so in an Earth-friendly way? We pride ourselves in our dedication to environmental stewardship, building each longboard with sustainability in mind. Every deck is built from 100% high quality repurposed materials that would have otherwise gone to waste.”
So far, Potaito Boards are available for sale online on their website, and also in three retail locations: Berdels, Santa Cruz; Black Diamond Sports, Palo Alto; and Skateworks, Los Altos. They offer “3 different models… all designed to optimize ride quality,” thanks to their “unique lamination method [that] allows us to design each board with varying concave, camber, and kick for its specific riding style,” as stated on their website.
But,of course, the cherry on top of that sweet ride is the sustainability embedded in its US-manufactured wheels and locally sourced, recycled wood. Not only will your purchase be an awesome gift for a skater you love, but also a gift to the planet you live on, and an investment in a business dedicated to sustainability, so your loved one can “ride assured” knowing their board was constructed by the hands of people building toward a better world.
Gift-giving is always a gamble. There’s no guarantee the person receiving your gift will like or use it. You’re just giving them the option, if they want it. So take advantage of this solid opportunity to force unwanted crap on somebody you love to supply them with the tools they need, should they decide to utilize them, to make this world a better place for all of us, one meal / beverage at a time. Let your present double as a present to this planet, and by extension to yourself, by giving the gift of sustainability.
New parents describe their babies as eating, shitting machines, but to my knowledge, adults carry right on eating and shitting just the same. The only difference is adults have more responsibilities to tend to in between shitting and eating. Feeding ourselves is a lifelong commitment, and requires all kinds of equipment. Dishes, cups, utensils, containers to store leftover food, bags to haul our groceries home, etcetera. More and more of these materials are being produced for single use. To-go cups. Fast food packaging. “Disposable” serving utensils and shopping bags.
But there’s no such thing as “disposable.” Diverting garbage to the dumps so we don’t see it doesn’t make it disappear. We can’t sweep our waste under the rugs forever. We’re running out of rugs. All we can do now is reduce our waste in any way we can, and there are many ways we can, all of which would make for awesome gifts. This year, your holiday shopping list should look something like this:
As a barista, the coffee shop I work at doles out hundreds of paper cups each day to customers taking their coffee to-go. And even if the cups are compostable, realistically, only a fraction of them will be composted. The majority will likely wind up in the garbage, and a fair amount are fated to be litter. And that’s just one coffee shop. Multiply that by all the coffee shops combined and all the days that they’ve been open. That’s a lot of coffee cups.
An individual who drinks at least one cup of coffee every day contributes at least 365 paper cups every year. Reduce this number to one by investing in a cup that’s built for infinite refills, one cup to do the work of hundreds. Behold, the mighty travel mug.
And like your loved ones, and unlike plain white paper cups (or even worse, the dreaded #RedStarbucksCups), travel mugs come in all varieties of color, shape and size. Handle. No handle. Any material. Ceramic, for the folks who forget about their coffee until it’s cold and need to nuke it. Metal or plastic for gravitationally challenged folks who have yet to fully grasp the art of holding onto things.
Color, design and prints are also solid opportunities to espress what makes that person special—their interests or favorite animals. Note: whatever words or images are printed on your loved one’s travel mug will be their constant companion, staring back at them every morning from across their desk, or warming their hands while they step outside for a coffee break, or whatever their morning ritual may be. So keep in mind, whatever message is embedded in the graphic of their travel mug better be something they’d like to look at.
And whatever you do, don’t get a travel mug from Starbucks.
Last year, I asked for travel mugs for Christmas, and my Mama faithfully delivered. She’s a huge supporter of artists on Etsy, so I picked out a few. Here they are in action:
The reusable coffee sleeve goes hand in hand with your loved one’s new travel mug. However, if travel mugs are out of your price range, reusable coffee sleeves serve as a more affordable alternative. If a paper to-go cup must be used, at the very least, saving a sleeve every day makes a difference. Also, another opportunity to a) support an artist by buying one, or b) get crafty and sew your own.
LOOSE LEAF TEA INFUSER
Travel mugs and sleeves are not exclusively for coffee lovers. Tea drinkers are just as guilty of contributing wasted to-go cups as coffee fiends, but even worse, most tea bags are individually wrapped in what is ultimately garbage (non-recyclable wrapping). So take an extra step to convert your loved one to loose leaf tea.
Some tumblers are sold with built-in loose leaf tea infusers. Infusers are also sold individually, that are compatible with any cup. Each cup of loose leaf tea equates to one less wrapper, one less piece of trash.
LOOSE LEAF TEA
If you should decide to buy a loose leaf tea infuser for a loved one, you should consider pairing it with some loose leaf tea. Give them something yummy to steep in their new tea infuser.
Maybe your loved ones won’t use your gifts. Or maybe they will. But in any case, you’re leaving the door ajar for someone to become a more sustainable, waste-conscious eating-shitting machine. Happy Fat Saturday, and Happy Holidays. Purchase responsibly.
Being Black Friday, inevitably, thousands of frenzied shoppers nationwide are spending this morning swooping up amazing deals on generic, shitty gifts, many of which will go on to be neglected and forgotten by their recipients, if not deliberately discarded. I know because I too have a growing collection of shitty gifts I’ve received over the years and never touched, that I feel too guilty to get rid of, so they sit collecting dust.
Gifts I hated from my ex or casual acquaintances have long since found their way onto the racks and shelves of local secondhand shops, or the closets of my friends. But it’s the gifts that I hate from the people I love that are hardest for me to part with, because those gifts, as shitty as they are, are gestures of love, and I’m fucking sentimental. Sue me.
Also, it doesn’t help that I’m a hoarder. But if the shitty gifts in question are so bad that it pains me, a hoarder, to possess them, then that’s a fucking problem. How are such good people capable of purchasing such shitty gifts? I feel like we’re going about giving all wrong, and it’s become some kind of blind consumer race to cross the names of loved ones off our shopping lists.
I realize when I say “shitty gifts,” you’re probably wondering what specifically makes them so shitty. So when I say shitty gifts, here’s what I mean: a gift that is so arbitrary and generic that the person who gave it to me might as well have never met me in their life. (Money, of course, being the exception. Money is always an awesome gift.)
For instance, this year has marked the start of an unfortunate and unexpected trend—a pandemic of purses. Anyone who knows me has only ever seen me in possession of one bag. Note the distinction. Bag, not purse. In my vocabulary, purse is a dirty word. I expect this to be somewhat understood among my family and friends. The only other accessory I use to contain my shit is a black Jansport backpack I found on the ground. You’ll sooner see me hauling my shit in a shopping bag than swinging a purse.
The purses were chosen, presumably, because I am a woman, and women like purses. This is, of course, a universal fact. As a female, my compulsory fondness of purses has been predetermined by my vagina, or some arbitrary chromosome or something. But stubbornly, I’ve failed to comply, and so the purses are a curse that I will carry all my life.
But for someone who loves me so much to show me they know me so little that they had to fall back on my gender to select an “appropriate” gift is, frankly, a little insulting. Between a shitty gift and no gift, I’d take prefer no gift at all. Shitty, arbitrary gifts defeat the purpose of giving. So take extra care not to purchase generic, gendered gifts this season. Think about the individual, and what makes that person unique, instead of reducing them to a present prescribed to them based solely on their sex.
This summer, Target took great lengths to stop prescribing toys to kids based on their gender, by integrating ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ toys into one combined department. Target, despite being a giant consumer-driven corporation, which in some ways stands for everything I hate, has earned a few gold stars this year for gender-neutralizing the children’s toy department, giving individuals the option to choose based on their personal interests and preferences and not their sex. Take extra care to follow their example. Try to eliminate gendered presents from the gifts you give this year. Purchase responsibly.
Since the birth of Espress Yourself one month ago, we’ve managed to acquire a whopping ten followers on Twitter, the most recent of which I’ve spent all morning stalking and obsessing over. VivaLaKatieJ epitomizes the confidence and body love Talk-Beauty-to-Me Tuesday’s all about, but even more than that, she is a woman who truly dares to espress herself.
Don’t be fooled by the pink, or continuous tossing of blonde hair, or the ums and likes because the spaces between those ums and likes are filled with profound honesty and wisdom. As if her British accent isn’t reason enough to watch her entire battery of Youtube videos in one sitting, on top of that, she has some worthy shit to say. KatieJ doesn’t shy away from the real shit.
The video that moved me the most was Katie’s Self Harm Story, which I’m sharing here today because so many people share her pain and never dare to talk about it. We bear our emotional burdens alone, secretly, and privately. We keep our pain inside. We don’t think other people share our struggle, but lots of people do, and they probably struggle silently too.
Katie learned to love a body she used to harm. That’s not to say self-harm is strictly body-image inflicted. Self-harm can be triggered by any emotional pain, for any reason. Maybe Katie used to hurt herself because she had no other way to express her pain, but she’s created a new outlet for herself, a safe place to speak up, and it’s a damn good thing she did, because she has powerful shit to say.
I think it’s key to have an outlet to express the things we feel instead of suppressing them. If you don’t have an outlet, create one. Katie has Youtube. I have this website. Find a place to #EspressYourself because you’re fucking worth it. And so much admiration and respect for Katie’s strength and willingness to open up, and share her story.
Hers will be a tough act to follow for our next Twitter follower.
Give me a fucking break. Quit staring mournfully at your reflection as though I’ve failed you somehow. As if your rolls and muffin-tops and wrinkles somehow hinder your ability to live your life. As if I don’t give you enough—eyes to see, a tongue to taste, a voice to speak, two ears to listen, nerves to feel, lungs to breathe, a heart to beat, a brain to think, legs to carry you and feet to keep you standing, arms and hands to reach and hold and to create, even an ass to sit on when you need a break—and you’re complaining that your dick and/or tits aren’t big enough? Go fuck yourself.
Do you know how much work went into building this body? How many billions of years it took me to evolve? All the elements I’m made of? Where they came from? I bet you didn’t know (or maybe you did) that some of your ingredients wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for a distant supernova—the death of a massive star, combusting, heating, fusing and releasing all the elements your body is composed of—billions of years before the creation of our solar system and the birth of our own sun. The universe has had your body’s blueprints in the works longer than I think you realize. A lot of love and care and/or coincidence and chance went into your intricate design, and each human form is complex and exquisite and capable of things that other creatures couldn’t dream of, and yet, your boobs aren’t big enough / your belly isn’t tight enough / your muscles aren’t defined enough.
What do you think this is? A beauty pageant? I’m not something to be judged, I’m just a vessel to be lived in. I don’t appreciate your disappointment, and quite frankly I’m repeatedly insulted by your lack of gratitude. Get naked and go look in the mirror. Try to conceptualize how many cells you’re made of, and how lucky you are to be made of them.
“The Holidays” are closing in on us. Whatever religion you practice, whichever god you worship, or don’t—regardless, chances are some gifts will be exchanged in your near future. Each year is punctuated by the same consumer spike, the ever-dreaded holiday shopping frenzy. The shopping is done, no doubt, in the selfless, giving spirit of people just trying to espress their appreciation for their loved ones by means of some material reward.
Care to make it interesting?
This year, I propose a challenge. In fact, I propose a few. Pick one and actually do it. I dare you. Twenty points to the house anybody who accepts my challenge(s). Twenty points!
NOT BUYIN’ IT
You may not spend any money on anything that you present to anyone this holiday season. This means you cannot purchase any gifts. Nor can you steal them; that would be cheating. You must hand-make every gift out of materials you either find or already own. Get crafty. If you don’t know how to get crafty, get drunk. See what happens. If you don’t have the resources to construct something practical, when in doubt, make modern art. Anything goes with modern art.
If you choose to accept this challenge, be prepared to set aside some time. Home-making things is tedious. Also, be prepared to present relatively shitty gifts. You’ll be forgiven, but your gifts might be a bit embarrassing. On the plus side, you won’t have to worry about your budget.
Every gift you buy this season must be secondhand. You may buy anything you like, as long as it’s been bought by someone else before, used and/or forgotten about until it was no longer needed, donated, and then bought again, by you. This means nothing new had to be manufactured to satisfy your shopping list. Buying secondhand is more sustainable because it reduces our need to produce new stuff where old stuff can still suffice. Plus, previous ownership and disownership adds intrigue and character.
NOT TRENDING THIS SEASON
Every gift you give this season must be totally unique. Custom. Original. One of a kind. As uncommon as the individual receiving it. More and more of this world is mass-produced. Don’t risk buying someone the same thing somebody else already bought them (or worse yet, discovering that somebody-else scored a better deal). Eliminate this hazard altogether by purchasing something there is only one of. Something handmade, perhaps, not necessarily by you. Hint: this is a solid opportunity to support some of your local artists.
My brother spent last Sunday afternoon collecting donations outside of Safeway for his high school’s holiday canned food drive. I too was an active participant in the drive when I attended, and I still contribute in donations, as much as I can.
For such affluent shoppers, it always surprised me how slowly the cans accumulated. Many shoppers went out of their way to avoid and ignore us. Some went so far as to feign phone calls. But typically, as soon as the first cans have been planted, donations gain momentum, which always baffles me because wouldn’t an empty cart compel you more? Isn’t there more urgency in emptiness? Personally, I’d rather leave a dollar in an empty tip jar than a full one, because it makes more of a difference to someone who has nothing. But nonetheless, in my experience, this pattern has persisted year to year, with one exception.
It was my Junior year in high school, and a particularly slow shift at the Middle Ave Safeway in Menlo Park. Not for lack of shopping traffic, though. But our donation cart remained empty well into the first hour of our shift outside the automatic doors. And just as I was about to give up all hope in humanity, a woman exiting wheeled her cart toward us. She removed a single shopping bag, presumably to leave as our first donation of the night, but this woman flipped the script and kept only the bag. Instead she offered us the cart, fully loaded with non-perishable nourishment for families who need it.
So this is just to espress my thanks to this mystery woman, my hero, whoever she is, bless her generous heart. And to my brother, and Ben Jammin’, and everyone contributing their cans, and their hands and their time.
Chances are at some point in your life, you’ve been in a shitty relationship. Or you currently are. If you have not, it’s only because a) you currently are and you’re in denial, or b) you haven’t been so far. Just wait. But if you are, or if you have been in the past, you know how bad shitty relationships can be. But a shitty significant other, if it comes down to it, you could abandon and have nothing to do with, or take to court when they’re not ready to be through. If there’s one thing worse than being stuck in a shitty relationship with someone, it’s being stuck in a shitty relationship with yourself, and breaking up isn’t an option.
Sometimes we fall in love with shitty people, who treat us like and make us feel like shit. The specific terms and particular circumstances of that shittiness manifest differently in all relationships, but in my own experience, I was swift to adopt my ex’s verbal and emotional abuse. The most damaging five words, which he carved deep into my ego were, “There you go thinking again,” as if I’m not entitled to my thoughts, which as you and I both know are golden. But I didn’t know that at the time. These words invalidated my opinion. Every time I spoke, these five words were fast to shut me up. But it was the words that silenced me, not my ex-boyfriend.
I can blame my shitty ex-boyfriend all I want, but the truth is, I’m just as much to blame for believing those words as he is for speaking them. He didn’t create those insecurities and doubts, he only fed and reinforced them. His shitty relationship with me was only a reflection of my shitty perception of myself. I think it’s important to note that distinction, because at least in my own case, my shitty relationship was only a symptom of something much, much worse.
Looking back, maybe I stayed with him because his words, as vicious as they were, were reassuring. They confirmed what I had already suspected early in my writing career: that my opinion wasn’t something worthy to be heard. If it was, I’d have to do something about it. Make a website. Write a book. Books and websites are a lot of work. Putting yourself out there is scary, and saying things is risky, and in a sick twisted way, having nothing of value to say can seem safer, because you don’t risk saying anything. At that point in my life, the self-doubt felt familiar, and there’s security in that.
But there’s no fun in suffocating every thought, emotion and creative impulse. No fucking freedom in that either. It took him leaving me for me to see that. He gave me a face to put to the voices that already whispered inside me, which made it easier for me to disengage from that side of myself, and talk back to those words every time they echo in the back of my mind… “There I go thinking again.” Damn right I do.
Local hipster, Forrest Woods, has been uncharacteristically absent this #NoShaveNovember, to the apparent dismay of his Instagram followers, one of whom reported him missing over the weekend. The search didn’t last long. Police found Woods alive and well in his apartment. “Waste of time. That’s the last time we search somebody reported missing by a Twitter follower,” complained one officer.
“Instagram, not Twitter,” his partner corrected, then added, “Boy probably just didn’t pay for his wifi this month.”
Woods disclosed to us by phone that his Instagram followers were probably concerned about his absence because of his dedicated participation in previous no-shave Novembers. “A lot of my followers only know about me because of prior years’ no-shave Novembers. I’m known to post every day to document the progress of my beard. People dig my facial hair, what can I say?” Woods explained.
So we asked him, “Why not this year?”
Woods sighed, an air of defeat in his breath, and swallowed back the tears as he confessed, “I burnt it off… my beard. I can’t show my face like this! Hairless…” This last word he uttered under his breath—a dirty word, in hipster terminology. “My beard is my most valuable asset, and now it’s gone, and who knows when it will grow back again… if ever!” Woods proceeded to lose his shit entirely as the true burden of his beardless-ness fully dawned on him. “My life is over,” he dramatically concluded, mid-interview.
“Not so fast,” we argued, “We still have more questions for you. For starters, how did you burn off your beard?” Predictably, Woods’ beard ignited after accidentally catching fire to his bow-tie whilst torching the unrefined organic cane sugar on his vegan crème brûlée. “Did your date call 911 when you went up in flames?” we asked.
We pointed out that Woods was making homemade crème brûlée, and wearing a bow-tie—rather unusual behavior for a man alone, staying in for the night. “Alone? I wouldn’t say I was alone. I mean, physically, maybe, but I was posting on insta the whole time… well, up until …the accident,” he choked back a sob. “I haven’t posted since I lost my beard. I haven’t known loneliness like this all my life. I had to disappear completely. Any account activity at all would warrant a demand for my customary morning selfie and a full-blown investigation from my fans. What would I tell them?!”
“Have you considered telling them what actually happened?” we suggested. “…#ForrestFire?”
“Not an option,” Woods asserted, resolutely.
“Suit yourself. But if you insist on disappearing, how have you been occupying all your time?”
“Mostly, I’ve just been altering old pictures enough to pass for new ones, so I can resume my online presence while I wait for my follicles to heal. I’ve also been massaging the affected area with coffee grounds and avocado oil to try to stimulate new growth.”
“Have you tried Rogaine? I hear it works wonders on premature baldness.”
“This isn’t baldness, it’s a burn…” Yes, Woods—a burn it was, indeed. Woods’ was becoming audibly frustrated with us, at this point, likely beginning to suspect we weren’t local officers following up to collect his statement for the police report, so without any further ado, we prompted Woods with our final inquiry: “We can’t help but wonder why your Instagram followers were the first to notice your disappearance. Typically, missing persons are reported by someone they’re physically close with… a coworker, friends, family, a neighbor…”
Woods paused to ponder this before responding, “I suppose I don’t see people in person frequently enough for them to notice. I live alone and work from home as a freelance writer and photographer. Rarely do my clients meet with me in person. And my family lives out of state. So, naturally…” Woods trailed off.
“We see. Perhaps you should consider having more of a physical presence in your own community, instead of confining your social life to social media,” we suggested, then added, “you know, so next time you go missing, you do it properly.”
“But I was never missing…” Woods argued.
“And if you do decide to go missing again, make sure it’s for a better reason than burning off your beard. Surely you have more to offer your followers than just your facial hair. If they can’t accept your naked face, they don’t deserve to see your photos in their feed. Find yourself some real friends who value you as a person and not just a vehicle for your beard. You should never be so ashamed of your face you refuse to show it.”
“Makeup or no makeup, people will always give you more likes for your self confidence.” -Adriana Garcia 11/16/15
“I don’t consider myself an artist. I feel like I’m just another addict like everyone else, and I just want to share the excitement and love I have for makeup.
It’s like portal I use to get away sort of like therapy just having the choice of all the colors, textures, techniques, finishes, mixtures, blends, styles, looks, etc.—it’s endless.
I love how it’s always multifunctional like if it’s a lipstick it doesn’t mean it’s only for lips. I can use it as a blush or a base for an eyeshadow. If I make an error, there’s always a way to correct it.
And at the end of the day, it’s not permanent. So there’s no commitment.”
-Adriana Garcia-Ayala 11/16/15
Ultimately, Adriana believes the bottom line is there are no real rules, and comfort is all you need to radiate confidence.