That cockatoo is probably not yelling nonsense…

Being the parrot enthusiast that I am, about five friends have sent me this video over the past few days:

Ok, I will admit it is funny. It’s amusing to watch parrots run in the same way it’s fun to watch Americans use chopsticks for the first time. But at the same time there is also something sad about this cockatoo’s tantrum. It reminds me of a passage in one of my favorite essays of all time, Parrots I Have Known, by Paul Bowles:

The next pstticine annexation to the household (in the interim came an armadillo, an ocelot and a tejon – a tropical version of the raccoon) was a parakeet named Hitler.  He was about four inches high and no one could touch him.  All day he strutted about the house scolding, in an eternal rage, sometimes pecking at the servants’ bare toes.  His voice was a sputter and a squeak, and his Spanish never got any further than the two words perquito burro (stupid parakeet), which always came at the end of one of hs diatribes; trembling with emotion, he would pronounce them in a way that recalled the classic orator’s “I have spoken.”

This description of little Hitler almost brought me to tears of laughter the first time I read it, but after our amusement subsides, we should consider what kind of torment the parrots must have endured to lash out in such a grandiose effort of futility. In the cockatoo’s case, I suspect he is the frequent unwitting eavesdropper on domestic disputes. When he runs into the other room, you can make out a mumbled “I’m so angry!” How sad to be trapped in an environment where you are exposed to the stress-inducing warfare of two members of a different species. The consolation, however, is that you can hear the couple chuckling on the other end of the camera. Parrots, very emotionally attuned creatures, will often go to great lengths to improve their human companions’ moods. Perhaps this parrot discovered that by mimicking an argument while it seeded, he could effectively derail it.

Arikia On Her Phone: A Photo-essay by Gabrielle Motola

I once traveled through the Sahara desert with one of the best photographers and amazing human beings I have ever met, Gabrielle Motola. She found it funny that I was always on my phone. Here is a brief view through her lens.

Arikia Millikan on her phoneArikia Millikan on her phone, againArikia Millikan on her phone

Arikia Millikan on her phone, once more Looking forward to many adventures to come with Ms. Motola <3

I have too much to do

Just so nobody is surprised when I collapse from exhaustion/internet overdose, and also so you don’t think that I’m a bad friend or being lame for missing out on your really cool thing, here is a comprehensive list of what I am working on.

1) Running a publication with no startup capital, no personal funds, and a lot of empty promises from people who have pledged to help.

2) Collaborating with a developer to build website for said company.

3) Establishing an operating agreement that will allow me to continue to build my team, solicit investments, and distribute equity for said company.

4) Assisting lawyers in filing a trademark infringement suit against some irreverent 20-somethings who forgot to Google “LadyBits” before deciding to name their podcast the same thing.

5) Contracting assignment as the acting editorial director for a startup online counseling service.

6) Doing research and linguistic translation for a genetic testing startup pairing those suffering with cancer to clinical trials.

7) Writing an article about the multiverse for 538.

8) Preparing to launch a partnership between my company and a super cool media company, next week.

9) Editing content from five writers for said partnership.

10) Drafting two pieces of my own content for said partnership.

11) Writing a book proposal.

12) Figuring out the best way to send out 1099s to about 50 people who were paid out through my company in 2014.

13) Figuring out what the hell to do with 15 different 1099s for my own work over the past few years.

14) Helping people with various things they ask me for (introduction, recommendations, coffee, drinks, lunches, etc)

15) Trying to find a way to get out of bed every day and chip away at all of this, little by little.

If you have a cabin in the woods I can retreat to, want to rent my room so I can leave this cesspool and go somewhere warm to think, have an extra computer you want to donate, or would like to send some form motivation my way (words, drugs, GIFs), email me at justarikia at gmail dot com. I’d love to hear from you.

Blood lust

Why is it that women aren’t supposed to have enemies, only oppressors? We can have cutesy competitions and petty rivals over men, or we can be under the thumb of some big bad force that we require saving from. But to acknowledge those people who have crossed us and held us back, those entities so inherently unjust that the knowledge of their continued existence activates a blood lust deep within that can’t be satiated until we see them flounder and fail… well, that’s not very ladylike.

When it comes to The Prisoner’s Dilemma, I much prefer a fair game. But let it be known, that if a bridge needs burning, I have no hesitation in striking the match.


Tomorrow you will die

Photo Oct 13, 8 46 34 PM

Today I went to a seminar on happiness at the Kadampa Buddhist meditation center in Chelsea. I don’t know that I am a Buddhist, or that I am any religion. But out of the global sampler platter of spiritual practices I have encountered in my 27 years on Earth, I find that Buddhist philosophies make the most sense and offer the most practical advice. I’ve met a lot of monks in a lot of weird places, and they have shown me things through the most subtle gestures, sometimes without even speaking. My curiosities about Buddhism have never pressured me to adopt a delusional belief structure, attempted to rob me, or demanded I adopt the mandates of a patriarchal authority figure, or else. Every time I approach Buddhist practices with questions, its teachers simply encourage me to look inside myself to find the ways by which I can alter my perspective to maintain inner balance.

In this sensation-seeking body in general but especially in this roller coaster of a concrete jungle, I’ll take all the balance I can get.

In 2012 I sat in the main lecture hall at the Being Human conference in San Francisco. When a presenter walked on stage to commence a group meditation, I looked around incredulously and, unwilling to participate in this ritualistic exercise, took out my phone to tweet. Clear my mind? Was that even possible? Consuming mass amounts of information via the internet was my meditation then. Now, possibly out of frustration with the state of information on the internet and the increasingly invasive modes by which it is transmitted, I have found a new appreciation for mental stillness.

Back to the present day in this meditation class, a woman came in late, sat down next to me, proceeded to check her email on her phone and scrawl into a notebook with the loudest pen ever. As I struggled to maintain my concentration atop my annoyance, I felt a karmic poke in the ribs.

So the lecturer, Kadam Morten, proceeded to talk about finding happiness. Where is it? American society would like to have us believe that it is somewhere out there. You can touch it, taste it, feel it, buy it, fuck it, smother yourself in it—oh but not yet. You’re not quite there yet. But, if you keep working and spending and wanting, then maybe you’ll find it. No. According to Morten, happiness is inside of each of us, we only have to learn how to access it so we can find our way back there any time. This involves dumping all the worries and cluttered thoughts and to-do lists from our minds and just being with ourselves internally.

During a guided meditation, he instructed us to think of something that made us happy. At first I panicked because I realized that my happy places and people and moments also made me sad because I am now so far away from them. But then I managed to get back to a place in Michigan, sitting on the end of a pier looking out at a perfectly still lake next to my best friend, our heads resting on each other’s as we sat in silence. And I remember thinking in that moment that I wanted to save it like a file on my computer, to access at will always and forever.

And then he beckoned us to prepare to meditate on death, in the most light and jovial manner I have ever heard anyone approach the topic.

“The impulse to check in with external stimuli has never been stronger,” he said, referencing the entirety of what capitalism immerses us in. “Now is the time to check in with death, and be present in our lives.”

While it is oft considered morbid to think about death and especially to talk about it, Morten made a pretty compelling case for why we should think about it excessively: the fact that we will die is really the only certainty we have in life. ‘Death and taxes…’ whatever—we could all die before it’s time to do taxes. To live life in denial of our mortality is to live disconnected from reality, whereas to embrace death is to live in the moment, he said.

So imagine that tomorrow you will die. What would you do with your day? Would you spend it arguing with someone you loved? Would you spend it watching TV? Reading celebrity gossip? Being a drone?

Nah. You’d do something radical. You’d make a step toward creating the legacy you’re capable of leaving behind. You’d connect with people you love. That’s what I intend to do tomorrow.

Photo Oct 13, 8 45 00 PM

Thanks to Talia Eisenberg for inviting me to explore this peaceful pocket of NYC.