I Have A Cold

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I have a cold. Forgot to take a selfie so I painted exactly what I look like right now. #NoFilter

How To Appreciate Wine (Like A Classy Grownup)

How To Appreciate Wine

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Wine is an acquired taste. A few years ago, I didn’t drink wine. I even kind of hated it. Now, I love it. Have no fear, I will gladly guide you through the steps of how to appreciate and acquire a taste for wine. But only if you’re 21 or older – an actual grownup.

Step 1: Have An Encouraging & Discouraging Parent

When your mother loves wine and encourages you to take a swig of it every time she has a glass, you are more likely to follow in her path of winelovedom. Plus, she already chose the wine label for you – Free wine!

When your mother is also encouraging you to follow her footsteps further, like her own idea of getting a “grownup job” and having “kids”, but you’re just not that into those ideas, it might feel discouraging to talk to her about things that are actually your life.

That’s a good thing, because it will give you more reason to want to drink something to numb the pain every time you talk to her. And with wine, you and your mom might finally have something in common.

Step 2: Move to Chicago

Chicago only has about 30 actual warm days per year, but it’s all worth it because there’s a liquor store at every corner. The wine selection at the store near your new apartment will more than make up for the fucked up weather.

When the “free heat” that was advertised isn’t running in your new apartment building, it gets chilly. But space heaters are too dangerous and trying to warm your hands in cold water all day can result in stalled productivity. Since you’re not paying for heat anyway, you can spend that extra cash to stock up on wine. You’ll be winning at wining, instead of whining about the weather.

Step 3: Care About Your Health, Kind Of

But why have wine, as opposed to other alcohol, when you move to Chicago? Because you can only have so many apple martinis before all that sugar and high fructose corn syrup starts to clog up your face and arteries. Sugar can cause zits and heart disease (also, diabeetus), but that shouldn’t keep you away from alcohol.

Just do a Google search for healthier alcohol and it will lead you to wine. At some point, you’ll stumble upon a wine article that you’ll just skim through until you see something that says “Why It’s Good for You,” and only read half of it before downing an entire bottle.

Step 4: Be A Classy Artist or Just Enjoy Art, Classily

When art galleries hold a reception for an art show, there’s 99% chance that they will serve wine. If there’s no wine, that’s okay, because you’ll be thinking drinking ahead and have a flask of wine in your pocket.

Classy art visitors attend the reception, mingle, and talk about classy art stuff. When you’re a classy artist or visitor, and experience some slight and/or soul-crushing anxiety during the reception, it simply means that you’re not drinking enough wine.

When you’re a classy art visitor, and some and/or all of the art at the show doesn’t make any sense to you, that’s not the art’s fault. It’s your own fault for not drinking enough wine.

Congratulations! You have just completed the wine appreciation course and you now appreciate wine. To celebrate, have some wine!

One Squirrel’s Fight Against Diabeetus

This young, hardworking squirrel is named Bear. He lives in Milwaukee and has been diagnosed with The Squirrel Diabeetus. But his battle with this disease has been silent because Bear doesn’t have things that we humans tend to take for granted, like being able to afford the internet, and the ability to speak English. It wasn’t until his good friend Nate St Pierre, a human who has the internet and who is fluent in Squirrel, helped me get in contact with Bear via email to share Bear’s story.

IllustrArticles: Hi Bear, tell everyone about yourself.
Bear: I just turned three years old, and the tree I’m in now (in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Lake Drive right up against Lake Michigan) is the first place I’ve lived on my own since leaving the nest six months ago. I’m about a mile away from my mom and dad and siblings, which is a good distance, but not too far that I can’t see them when I want to. I’m just a couple hundred yards from the lakefront, so when I’m up in my nest at the top of my tree, I have a beautiful view of the shoreline and the lake, with downtown Milwaukee just to the north. Originally my family line comes from the high Scottish moors. I believe one of my ancestors stowed away on an immigration boat to Chicago by way of the St. Lawrence seaway. I have family all up and down the Lake Michigan shoreline between Chicago and Milwaukee.

IA: What do you do?
B: I work for the city as an electrician (squirrels have their own rodent cities alongside the human ones), mainly running electrical lines to newly inhabited trees. Most humans don’t know this, but we squirrels often tap into the humans’ houses and run secret lines to our trees for electricity, broadband, etc. On the side, I’m something of a gamer. I don’t have internet yet in my nest (it’s expensive for us), but I have all the old video game systems and I’m a master at most of them.

IA: What’s your favorite food?
B: I’ve always loved black walnuts – they’re my favorite. When I moved into the neighborhood and discovered never-ending supply of leftover cookies (and sometimes even cookie dough), I just couldn’t help myself. My human neighbor’s house has a man and woman living in it. The woman is a baker, and she’s constantly trying out new cookie recipes. She throws away most of it, but she always throws a few extra cookies out onto the porch for me and my buddies, and occasionally even some of the raw cookie dough, which I tell you, is a delicacy that no squirrel should ever live his life without trying . . . and I have an unlimited supply!

IA: What is Squirrel Diabeetus?
B: That unlimited supply is both a blessing and a curse – I’m never hungry, but I also can’t stop myself from eating it. It’s so good. Over the past six months I’ve developed what doctors call the Squirrel Diabeetus. I guess it was originally discovered by a human named Wilford Brimley while he would take a cookie break outside his trailer during shootings for his commercials. He used to feed his squirrel friends his leftover cookies, and found that they would quickly blow up to an extremely round size and have some of the same problems that he did. So, he got to name the disease among our people, and it became “The Squirrel Diabeetus, discovered by Human Wilford Brimley”.

IA: How does The Squirrel Diabeetus affect your life?
B: My real name is Alexander but I kept eating and eating [the cookies] until I got so big that the human man who lived there started calling me Bear. When my friends heard it, they started too, and now that’s all anyone ever calls me. I’m okay with it, actually. It makes me sound tough, and that’s a rare thing for a squirrel. The disease isn’t actually that bad right now. I’ve bulked up, and the fat layers keep me super warm during the brutal northern winter, so I’m better off there than most of my friends. They may even be a little jealous. But it’s going to be a problem in spring and summer when I can’t run around or find a mate or make additions to me nest. Unfortunately, human medication doesn’t work on me, so I’ve been talking to our squirrel doctors (who are not as advanced), and they have me on an experimental treatment right now.

IA: What kind of treatments are you receiving?
B: This treatment involves me eating a strict regimen of only the smallest of the winter storage nuts, a few frozen berries, and going to hypnosis classes to try to circumvent my desire for the cookie dough. I think it may be working a little bit, because last week I only ate cookies and/or cookie dough four days of the week, though I did see it out there for five.

I’ve seen what a problem this is going to be for me in the summertime, so I’m glad I’m taking steps now at the end of winter to get better. I don’t want to have to deal with this problem when all my friends are running around having fun, going swimming on weekends and tailgating at the Milwaukee Brewer games (we tend to keep our groups hidden, but we enjoy the feast the humans drop for us).

IA: How are you paying for the treatments? Are you enrolled in health insurance?
B: I’m not sure humans know the details of how this works, but the squirrel system of government takes its lead from the human system, right down to the naming of the squirrel president once elected. I got in on President Squobama’s subsidy program last year, and am now paying affordable monthly payments that help cover the bulk of the new treatments. The insurance is more expensive and not as good as when I was under my parents, but it’s definitely helping now that I’m on my own without too much money.

IA: Thank you for your time, Bear.
B: Thank you so much for your time, Tanya!