Pepper Ann. Saturday morning cartoons in the 90s. A certain aesthetic that will never exist again. Bell Pepper, Jalepeno, Chipotle, Ghost. Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore daring each other to eat the seeds of a Poblano. Chicken Mole; a recipe I’ve been meaning to try, yet will not make the time for. Cowboy Caviar from Trader Joe’s; One of their finer products. Mexican cooking; Steam rises from a hot pot, engulfing my chilled face, bringing light back into my body after a tiring afternoon shoveling snow. Frosty the snowman dances on the TV (back to 90s cartoons). That was a classic. Amazing fun. Fun Time Junction in Fairfield and my Pocahontas Birthday Party. I had turned 4 years old and invited my class and I cannot imagine for the life of me now why and how that place was so much fun. Diving in plastic balls and crawling in tight spaces. I remember having fun, but I also remember extreme anxiety sometimes feeling lost or fearing I’d get stuck. There was a sand art station there too. Multicolored sands in plastic bottles. An arcade with a Spider Stomp game. It was fun and scary. Funny how those two things are linked. Ice cream cake and pizza and goody bags. Me without glasses. Did I even exist? Pepperoni pizza, steaming hot. A delicacy I will never be able to eat anymore it it’s pure form. My body does not like cheese. Although, it has recently taken an acceptance to 100% sheep’s milk feta. Pepperoncini and giardinera. I could live off the salt. Spinach pies and stuffed grape leaves. Olive oil and the simple life. I am my most Sicilian in these moments. And moments of love, falling in love, and experiencing betrayal. In moments of full-fledged emotion, I become my true, realized form. “Who are we, but the eyes of the Earth?” Joseph Campbell and Carl Sagan make for spicy food for thought. Painful, delicious, coming-back-for-more experience. Thoughts slice open our mind like knives. Bell peppers or cauliflowers – la cabeza. The blueprint is there. Nature and our bodies are the same. Nature imitates nature. A nesting doll of discovery. Counter to salt, pepper balances it all out. Life is about balance. As I descend into darkened caves (which there will never be a shortage of), I feel along the walls for signs and direction so I may find the way I need to go, to live in the world. It’s these true life ancient quests we must all undergo. Armor or not. Ready or not. Here we go. How.