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Burning Bridges

Abuse of power comes as no surprise – Jenny Holzer

essay by Janna Jesson


jannaHe asked me over text, “Promise you won’t be angry and burn the bridge, or not to want to work again?” It was a strange thing to read from a photographer I’d only worked with one time. He seemed odd to begin with, though. Or maybe he was just awkward.

He contacted me through Model Mayhem and offered me $100 an hour for my time as a model. We decided to meet at El Dorado Park. He texted me as I was on my way that parking at El Dorado was $5, and I should meet him out by his white van. Van?! Okay, either he was a father of five or some kind of serial killer. I texted my sister where I was and texted her his license plate number as soon as I pulled up behind him.

He introduced himself and seemed pleasant enough. He’d bought me a shirt from one of my favorite stores, Brandy Melville. And he got me some matching white underwear from the Gap. I have an awkward, bony-in-the-wrong-places body type, and instead of asking me my size, which was a large in bottoms, he bought a small and an extra small “just in case.”

He turned away, and I shamelessly undressed in the unpopulated park while he kept watch for any passersby. He was a little bit shorter than me and had a darker complexion and a handsome face for his age, which was around 40.

Once I was dressed, he got out his camera–a dinky point-and-shoot. I wondered if this was really a test shoot for a bigger, better sports shoot like he had said or if it was for his personal spank bank. Either way, I was getting paid to model, so I went along with it.

His directions were a bit strange. He was very focused on my feet being pointed or looking like I was “pressing on a gas pedal.” Okay, he probably had a fetish.

Afterward, he started talking about film, a topic I am obsessed with. Then he told me about how he went to grad school in London, a city I’m obsessed with and hopefully moving to when I’m older. He invited me for coffee to discuss film and grad school, and so he could get the cash to pay me on the way.

Coffee was pleasant. He bought me a chai tea and a donut. Hey, I worked hard looking hot, and post-photoshoot is the best time to indulge. (more…)

Cool Girls Read: December

by Janea Wilson

I thought it would be fun to wrap up the year with a new feature called Cool Girls Read. I am an avid reader, as I assume most readers of this magazine are, and I have been since I was a little girl. My aunt was a single mother and raised my siblings and me along with her own two children. Having to take care of five kids isn’t easy on one paycheck, so the more free things we could do as a family the better. One thing we always did was visit the library. Lucky for us, the Long Beach Public Library was always open on Saturdays. Thus began my love affair with the library & literacy in general.

I became obsessed with the librarians. They were so special to me because they introduced me to so many new worlds. I began with the essentials of a girl growing up in the 90s: The Babysitters Club, Goosebumps (then graduated to Fear Street), The Boxcar Children, and all the Choose Your Own Adventure I could devour. I kind of got bored with those books, though, and the librarian moved me on to what we as adults now label as ~genre fiction~. I started with horror, since I was already in deep with R.L. Stine. Stephen King and John Saul became my best friends, and I could not get enough. I also read a ton of crime fiction, suspense, mystery, and thriller novels. When I learned I could check out up to 25 books at a time I went through as many books every two weeks. I learned a lot of things that a 10-12 year old should probably not have been exposed to, but comparing what I read to what’s available at the tip of every preteen’s fingers today, I think books are by far the safer option, regardless of content.

SylviaPlath_2469087bIn sixth grade everything changed when I happened upon two authors: Sylvia Plath and Flannery O’Connor. I found a copy of The Bell Jar in my sixth grade history teacher Mr. Wynn’s classroom, and I guess I stole it. But I read it in one sitting and it completely changed me. I’d found a writer who I could connect with and it all just clicked for me. As for Flannery… the school librarian gave me a copy of A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories and nothing had ever terrified and electrified me as much as that collection of short stories, and I’d already been through some heavy-duty horror! I always knew I wanted to teach, but these books made me realize I wanted to be a writer. So here I am, eighteen years later and (better late than never) in my first year of an MFA program studying poetry.

I have had the greatest honor and pleasure of knowing some really amazing women and girls throughout my life. They are brilliant, funny, talented bibliophiles, and each month I’d like to share their stories too.

IMG_0085This month, my featured Cool Girl is author Lizette Valles. Lizette loves to hear, read, and tell beautiful stories. Her children’s bilingual book Land of the Lost Socks/ La Tierra de los Calcetines Perdidos was published in 2012, and she is currently working on a second book entitled My Life is Richer Because of You: Reflections on My Special Needs Sibling. As a high school librarian, her desire is to ignite a passion for reading within her students while glorifying God in all she does.

Here is her book recommendation for December’s Cool Girls Read:

Wonder by R.J. Palacio, a book that I love and that I hope will find its way into the hands of many, has so deeply resonated with me that I don’t believe I will ever get over it (nor do I want to!). Although categorized as YA lit, it’s a story that every human being should read. The main character, August (Auggie) Pullman, is a 5th grader with a severe facial deformity, who is at once honest and humorous. Kids call him a freak, orc, and E.T. (among other names), causing him to fully realize how his appearance disturbs others. However, there’s hope that comes from human kindness, compassion, and friendship that refuses to be trumped by cruelty. The book is written from the POVs of Auggie, his friends, and family, a welcomed element that greatly adds insight that we might otherwise not have. Wonder’s originality, poignancy, and overall call for empathy has had a positively seismic impact on my soul!


I hope that you will share your story too! If you are interested in sharing your Cool Girls Read story, send me an email at lipstickpartymag (@) I look forward to reading all of your stories and recommendations.

A Tribute to a Pen

By Apurba Mazumdar

What does a pen signify to us? It is a solid object acting as a medium to express our subdued thoughts on a paper. It is sometimes called a mirror, a reflection of our selves, to what we look at or what we think. Just like a crown symbolizes kingship, a sword symbolizes bravery; similarly a pen stands for expressing one’s inner feelings, outburst of emotions, or any matter of concern in the form of strong words. A literary person is thought to be a product of a society and creates his piece of art as his reaction to his own life. Influences varying from person to person, resulting in changing views and those who take interest in such literary sculpting, gives exposure to such writing skills that scores the moment of glory.

A pen can be implied in a number of ways. Call it a poetic diction or a model of many revolutions or sharing your own personal experience or views. Literature, considered as the spirit of age, knocking the doors of various periods, glorified the literary entities day to day with changing views and influence, all comes under the worth of a pen. The patriotic songs composed by Rabindranath Tagore that have stirred our nation, even drifted apart the religious differences between the Hindus and the Muslims at the time of Swadeshi Movement, stored as the glorious moment in our mind forever. Why, haven’t you felt pride in your heart, while singing your national anthem right in front of your national flag? Isn’t that a moment of glory? Even in western countries too, the French philosophers who have dared to hold their pens strong enough to cause a riot among the minds of common people, during the French revolution, resulting in rocking the whole of Europe. “A pen is mightier than a sword” goes the old proverb. A sword always fits only a physically strong man, but a pen can be a weapon of a feeble man too. It depends on a strong mind, not on a strong body.

As a matter of fact, I always consider my pen as my best friend. It helps me to communicate with myself. I can judge myself. Who am I? What am I? I recall one incident when someone dear to me was lost forever. I cried a lot, although nothing really worked to relieve my inner burden. One afternoon I was sitting near my window, wondering. Suddenly I saw a pen on my study table. Without any further notion, I picked that up and started writing on a piece of paper. I wrote gibberish at first (at least to others), but I was relived of that burden, of that pain. So from that day on, anything that troubled me, excited me, my first love, my first trip with friends, several mischief, was recorded in a book termed as my diary. This was my first introduction with the literary world. All thanks to my pen. Yes, I still write in my secret world, maybe a time will come when the world will get to know me and the skills of my pen. Appreciated if though, then that very moment will be my moment of glory. Till then, let us keep it as my personal achievement of my cause inexplicable to others.


Apurba Mazumdar, a resident of Calcutta, is a freelance writer. She is currently pursuing her B.A. in English Literature.


by Megan Ranger

Robbie cut deep into Ma’s leftover lasagna, the nuked cheese oozing from the layers of noodles she had carefully stacked the day before. He twirled the gooey string around his fork and chewed richly on the starch, meat, dairy, and sauce. He caught the saliva that had built up to the point of eruption in the corner of his mouth, wiping it away with his sleeve. Using the plastic claws of his least-favorite collector’s edition Wolverine action figure, Robbie dug the chunks of lasagna out of the tracks of his braces. Marinara smudged the mouse of his computer as he feverishly scanned the numerous fan pages devoted to Annalise Thompson, who had recently starred in a movie based off of a World-War-II-vampire-young-adult-romance-mystery novel. He jotted down notes about her family, career, romances, childhood, convictions, and ambitions. Everything about her entire life was accessible through a persistent Google search.

A commanding knock on the bedroom door broke Robbie’s concentration and made him jump in his seat. He readjusted his glasses and spun around on the chair’s tired axis, nearly toppling over onto the mountain of dirty laundry that had been building up in the center of his room for weeks.

“Whaddya want, Ma?!” Robbie yelled as lasagna spit freckled his chin.

“How many times do I have to tell you, I will not be barked at from behind a door. I work two jobs just to keep this damn door up, the least you can do is talk to me like a man. Now open up before I take this thing off its hinges,” said Ma.

Robbie could have sworn he heard her hands authoritatively connect with her hips. He dragged himself away from his computer, his legs tingling from the sudden activity. He clicked the lock and swung the door open for his mother.

“Gawd, you’re so annoying. What is it?” he said. He rolled his eyes as he impatiently fiddled with the doorknob, eager to shut himself in again.

She gingerly smacked Robbie’s cheek as he itched himself through his basketball shorts. Her waitress uniform was neatly pressed and her hair was arranged in a tidy knot, and her eyes were heavily lidded with fatigue. She threw a small package onto his Adventure Time bedsheets.

“Your Proactiv came in the mail,” she said, “ I think it’s almost time to renew your prescription. You want me to leave a sticky note on the fridge to remind you?”

“I can remember by myself, Ma,” said Robbie, consciously picking at the newly formed puss socket on his chin.

His mother brushed off Robbie’s indignant tone as she fumbled for her keys inside of her purse.

“Fine. Listen, I gotta work late tonight, so you’re on your own for dinner. There’s a DiGiorno in the freezer for you. Don’t forget to turn the oven off after you’re done with it. Stay out of my beer.”

“Alright fine geez, just go Ma,” said Robbie, slamming the door in her face. He waited to hear the creaking of the garage door closing before he resumed his work.

Robbie opened up a new window which requested an email address. He typed in “” and hit the “enter” button.

Forgot password? Please answer these three security questions: What was the name of your first pet?

Robbie smirked as he found the first answer on his first page of notes, causing his braces to get snagged on the fleshy inside of his upper lip.

“Queenie,” Robbie said as he confidently typed his answer into the square.

What was the name of your high school?

Robbie cross-referenced IMDB before entering “Playa Vista High” into the second field.

What is your mother’s maiden name?

It had taken Robbie a couple tries before he found the third answer on an obscure fan site outlining an oddly detailed family tree. He punched in “Beaudet” and waited for Annalise’s iCloud to lower its defenses.

Robbie penetrated Annalise’s firewall within moments of pressing his “enter” key. He scoured her emails and iMessages for images IMDB would never be able to offer him. Annalise’s  hushed-up relationship with her co-star was stripped down in front of Robbie on his computer screen. He uncovered revealing sensual idiosyncrasies the public would crucify him for revealing, but would follow the link to see regardless. (more…)

Sylvia Plath Reading from Ariel

by Janea Wilson



Today is Sylvia Plath’s birthday. She would have been 82 years old. I guess I never grew out of my Sylvia phase. How could I? Her poetry is perfect. It reads so beautiful. Clean. Precise.

Sylvia is queen of the metaphor. The rhythm is explosive. Have you heard her Sylvia Plath reading her poetry before? Apparently you can listen to her reading on Spotify. I usually spend afternoons listening to her on YouTube. Someone uploaded her reading from Ariel, a recording from October 30, 1962. Three days after her birthday and just four months before her death. One of her most famous poems, “Daddy,” is the last on this video:

1. The Rabbit Catcher; 2. A Birthday Present; 3. A Secret; 4. The Applicant; 5. Daddy

While some may sit around making their “oven” cracks, I’ll be celebrating her poetry and her life by having a cupcake. I guess that’s an unintentional baking joke. Nevertheless, happy birthday Sylvia.

1. Medusa; 2. Stopped Dead; 3. Fever 103°; 4. Amnesiac; 5. Cut

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