The Girl on the Train

91lUeBR2G1LPaula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train has been raved about recently, and was so popular that I had to wait over two months to get my copy from the library. The teasing description of the book promised the tale of a woman who gets caught up in the life she created for two people, “Jess” and “Jack,” that she observed on her commute into London every day. What the description failed to say was that it was the story of three desperate women who work toward the ultimate goal of having a baby and pleasing their men, which ends up being the same singular male (apparently god’s gift to women in this small suburban town).

The main narrator, Rachel (aka our girl on the train), is an unemployed drunk who takes fun in riding the train every single fucking day to keep up appearances of having a job to her roommate. Because somehow after getting fired she has the funds to pay her rent and various bills as well as afford alcohol multiple times every day AS WELL AS these pointless daily round trip train tickets. Maybe Rachel can recommend me for her old job because it seems like it must’ve paid a helluva lot more than my job does. Aside from her love for trains, Rachel enjoys stalking her ex-husband, Tom, who cheated on her with a blonde real estate agent, Anna, who then went on to also cheated on Anna with his blonde and probably younger and thinner neighbor, Megan. Megan aka “Jess” aka the girl that Rachel watched every day from the comfort of her free train rides and imagined a life for.

Now isn’t that a mouthful?

Here’s the biggest kicker, though. Tom isn’t who all these women thought he was! Anna is somehow shocked when she finds out that the husband she met through an affair is cheating on her, and they’re both even more shocked to learn that he’s a psychopathic liar.

This book was so cringy and annoying to read, and so much of it reminded me of the dreaded Hausfrau. I couldn’t relate to a single thing that any of the characters did because they all acted idiotically and their thoughts/actions were extremely exaggerated. At one point, the “evil villain” Tom (I’m going to refer to him as that because he seems like a comically exaggerated evil villain) sits down and explains his dastardly plan and all his intentions behind his evil acts. I really thought that in 2015 we were past that sort of crap.

I wish I threw this book in the Gowanus Canal when it flooded last week. The best thing I can say about this book was that it was a quick, easy read so I didn’t have to suffer through it for a long time. Lately I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of horrible books, so I’m hoping the next book I venture into is better than these have been.

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House of Leaves

71Vmj-9DZYLMark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves is one of those books that I’ve tried multiple times to read but never completed. I always knew I’d come back to finish what I started because I really hate not finishing books, though, and now I can finally say I’ve finished this one.

A friend recommended this book to me probably around 2007 and I tried and tried and tried to get into it, but when I was 18, it just read as pretentious drivel. Now that I’m older, I definitely had more of an appreciation for all the hard work and effort that went into the creation of this novel. But I also think that Danielewski is a bit pretentious still, especially because I’m sure he went into the creation of the book with the intention of making a cult classic. I also don’t think it was necessary to have so many stylistic tendencies, like having his words spiral or reducing word count page by page until there’s just one word on a page. Turning a 600+ page book upside down to read four sentences every other page while standing on the subway at 9 a.m. is enough to make anyone want to throw the book between the gap.

House of Leaves has a serious cult following behind it where obsessed fans have an ongoing forum that they still post it almost 20 years after the book’s publication. Some of these more than dedicated fans have even created the fake cited sources Zampano refers to in the book. Yep. It’s THAT kind of book.

In a 600+ page novel, you want to be gripping the pages anxious to see what happens next. With House of Leaves, that was often not the case. A lot of the book drags on and on with deep mythological explanations of where an Echo came from and “removed” (aka red crossed out passages) about Minotaurs that, while interesting, could definitely have been shortened. It’s almost too obvious that Danielewski wants people to take a metaphor away from these passages.

The novel is narrated by Zampano, the old man who created this in-depth analysis of a movie that he also made up, and is full of fake sources, fake definitions, and tons of other falsities where you don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. Sure, it’s metaphorical as fuck, but after page 250 of intense metaphors that you can’t quite put your finger on, most normal readers resort to heavily skimming and sighs of frustration.

The other narrator is Johnny Truant, the sex and drug addicted son of a mother who spiraled into violent psychosis after she tried to murder (and possibly succeeded, according to one fan theory I read) in murdering her son because she didn’t want him to suffer through how horrible the world is. I mean, I guess that’s one way of dealing with how much life sucks. As Johnny becomes immersed in this world that Zampano created, he begins to have trouble differentiating reality from dreams from paranoias, a theme that runs rampant throughout the book: What exactly is real? What exactly is going on?????

My disdain for Johnny is practically unrivaled; I haven’t hated a character in a book since reading the abomination that was Blackbirds. The parts where Johnny was writing, I was overcome with rage at this fictional character because his rantings often revolved around who he was fucking, how many drugs/drinks he had that night, and the CRRAAZZZYYYY antics that Lude was up to. What’s that Lude gonna do next!?

One theory that I read and really liked was, as I mentioned before, that Johnny’s mother actually did kill him and House of Leaves/the writings of Johnny are all this elaborate story that she created and wrote. She loved writing her son letters as we knew but also suffered from some sort of psychosis (schizophrenia? bipolar? something else indicating that she was delusional?), and possibly the contents of this book are the ramblings of a disillusioned woman. For example, Lude’s and Thumper’s names are characters of what they’re known for (lewd behavior and…thumping), which can be evidence of a person that’s unable to create anything more than a flat, two-dimensional character whose actions are indicated by their names. Anyway, it’s not necessarily a good theory but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Regardless, I did actually like this book for the most part. After four years as an English major, I find a lot of enjoyment from book/movie analyses, even if they are fake, and took a lot away from it. I didn’t care for drunken, drug-induced, unreliable ramblings because those got old pretty fast. No one in the book club aside from me (I WIN!) finished the book, so I would one day like to actually talk to someone who read it in its entirety because I think there would be a lot of interesting things to discuss. For now, I’m basically just talking to myself about it.

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Nicole the Nuisance

My fourth grade field trip companion.

My fourth grade field trip companion.

A few weeks ago, I was telling my boyfriend about all the crap I did as a kid, and I realized two very important things. I was a horrible little ball of energized annoyance, and these stories are actually kind of hilarious.

So here’s one of my better tales involving an annoying child and a fire alarm. It’s short, but it’s also super cringeworthy and makes me hate myself a little bit. Enjoy…?

In fourth grade I came to the important realization that being annoying is adorable so therefore I should be the biggest pain in the ass because adults will love me and find me endearing. And what more could I really want at age nine? I forget where this came from, but I also think I concluded that being dirty and gross was really cute, too. Memories are burned in my mind of me standing in front of the bathroom mirror and messing up my bangs before returning to class only to be stared at like the grimy little gremlin I was. I didn’t mind that they stared—in fact, I reveled in it. I loved the attention and I loved getting it by being the dirty, weird kid. Being unpopular was my goal in elementary school, but that’s probably a different story for a different blog post/therapy session.

Fourth grade was the epitome of my “bad” days, to the point that I was under teacher supervision during every field trip. This came to be early on in the year after I drew a picture of a mean substitute and wrote “The Bitchy Witchy,” which of course the poor substitute found and delivered to my teacher. My 26 year old self aches for this sad old woman who was just trying to do her job, while nine year old Nicole sits in the corner maniacally laughing.

This story takes place at the planetarium, which is probably one of the coolest places for a nine year old to visit. We were standing in line to get into the theater and I was bored. Maybe I had ADD, or maybe I was nine and easily distracted. But whatever the reasoning, I walked over to the fire alarm and set off the alarm.

Now let me just clarify something. This wasn’t a situation where I schemed and planned to ruin everyone’s afternoon. I was never one of those kids that wanted to pull the fire alarm, and I frankly can’t pull a prank to save my life. I was bored and the idea of opening a little box that I saw everyday at school but never desired to touch suddenly became important. No, necessary. I had NO IDEA that just opening that clear plastic case would set the alarm off, though. I wasn’t even bad enough to purposely do this.

People shouted and started hurrying around, and I distinctly remember the panic in my teacher’s eyes. She looked around trying to pinpoint her student’s locations and not lose her job, only to see Nicole the nuisance standing next to the fire alarm looking guilty and terrified. She laughed. She. Laughed.

I still maintain that this teacher adored grubby little ol’ me and wanted me in her group because she liked me so much, and this situation is my biggest piece of evidence. Even when she was telling me that I was disgusting or annoying, she always did it with a smile. When I think about it now, it’s definitely a weird, negative relationship to have with a teacher, but it made for a fun school year at the very least and a slew of insecurities that I’m dealing with in my adulthood at the very most. BUT I DIGRESS…

From what I remember, no firefighters came to the location and I don’t think we even evacuated the planetarium. Soon after the chaos was resolved and someone closed the fire alarm case, we got to watch our starry show. As soon as the lights dimmed, I took out my Snoopy flashlight (the one I brought on all my field trips, along with all the other toys that I made sure to bring on any class outings). My teacher tsked, leaned in close to me, and whispered, “That’s cute, where’d you get that?”

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Love is Love

36778I’ve always wanted to experience an event that would undoubtedly be remembered as a piece of history, and today finally brought that. Today—June 26th, 2015—is the day that the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.

I can barely even find words to express how happy it all makes me, and my eyes have been welling up with tears all day. Tears for my friends who are finally allotted the same basic rights that I’ve always had; tears for the couples who have been through hell and back just to be treated as an equal; and tears for those who aren’t here to see this amazing moment in history, but fought their hardest to make this possible.

We’re all living a moment that’ll be in future history books, and that’s beyond amazing. I’m so happy to be alive to see this day finally come, and this is a moment when I can truly say that I’m proud as hell to be an American. And I can’t wait to see what Sunday’s Pride Parade is going to be like.

<3 <3 LOVE IS LOVE <3 <3

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Race and Rachel

idiotI think I need acknowledge something that’s been happening because I’ve mostly tried to stay silent, but I’m sick of it. I want to talk about race.

As many of you know, I’m proud as hell to be half Puerto Rican. And those of you who know this also know that I do not look anything other than white white white. I’ve never experienced any of the many, MANY struggles that come with being dark skinned or a minority. And I’ve also felt that I don’t really have much of say in anything that’s been happening in the media lately as a middle class white girl from the suburbs. The recent surge of video evidence of excessive police brutality toward blacks is horrific, and it breaks my heart to think of how much must have gone by undetected before camera phones existed.

However, now this Rachel Dolezal shitstorm kicked up and I’m pissed off all over again. And this time I don’t really want to stay quiet.

There are so many things wrong with what Dolezal did, but the thing that’s most alarming to me is how many people are so quick to defend her actions. It’s truly commendable that she did great things for the Spokane NAACP branch. That’s great, and there’s good to be found in every negative situation. Because regardless of her accomplishments, everything she did could have been achieved as a white woman. There was never a need for her to start darkening her skin and wearing weaves, but she did it anyway so that she could play the role and use it to her advantage.

Her interview with the Today Show was confounding. Dolezal contradicts herself multiple times while skirting the questions and avoids giving any substantial answers. Here’s what I took away from it:

  • Dolezal doesn’t put on blackface for a performance. Since her reasons are practical and professional, then it’s acceptable for her to not “stay out of the sun.” Maybe she should trade in her bronzer for some sunscreen.
  • She also mentions that for people to believe that she’s Isaiah’s mother, she can’t look like a white woman. It just wouldn’t be “plausible.”
  • Albert Wilkerson is her dad. Not her father, her dad. Because people can be dads but not fathers. Even though the person she was speaking with meant her biological father and she knew that, but let’s just move on.
  • It was totally okay for her to sue her predominately black graduate school (Howard University) as a white woman because they hurt her feelings.
  • The color crayon you use to color in your skin as a child determines your race. So I personally learned from this interview that I must be related to Skeeter Valentine because I’m pretty sure I always drew myself with blue skin.

Am I insane, or is this interview absolute horseshit? So much of it makes NO sense. I was shocked that Matt Lauer didn’t persist or push his points, but I guess with such a hot topic they want to see how long they can drag it out and exploit it for more airtime.

Just a quick sidebar: I’m just going to say now that the term “transracial” is fucking aggravating to hear. Race and gender are ENTIRELY different, and there’s no way that the “struggle” Dolezal has gone through is in any way comparable to that of a transgender person. If I see one more person likening Dolezal to Caitlyn Jenner, I’m going to throw a chair.

Rachel Dolezal wanted to be a martyr, and rather than do so in her own skin, she changed herself and took on the physical appearances of a black woman. She made a mockery of an entire race and belittled the struggle that millions went through and continue to experience. She lied about being on the receiving end of hate crimes and even told her family to not “blow her cover.” This is probably the most extreme example of white privilege I’ve ever seen: A white woman that shifts her race when it’s most convenient and beneficial to her needs, and she somehow has people supporting her through it.

Now there’s even more coming out with the exclusive NBC interview where she finally just says that she’s black and can’t identify as white. She’s black because she raised black children and felt a connection to the culture and knows black people and has curled hair and tanned skin. Because apparently that’s all it takes to be black. Rachel Dolezal is just a self-centered woman who wants to be remembered at whatever cost it takes, changing her story as it conveniences her.

This New York Times piece is well articulated and points out exactly why this whole sham is so ridiculous as well. As for me, I’m waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out and let the country know that we just got severely Punk’D because there’s really no other acceptable end to this story.

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Bad Feminist

badfeministI loved this book. I loved this book. I needed this book.

Here’s a little secret you may not know about me. I LOVE WORDS. Weird, right? And Bad Feminist was full of words and phrases that I wish I could high five and befriend. There were times while I was reading that I burst out laughing and others where I shook my head as I held back tears. There aren’t enough words to express how much I appreciate a writer that can make me emote, and Roxane Gay is a prime example of one. She was also able to articulate so many thought-provoking assertions in such an eloquent way, leaving me utterly impressed by her talent, skill, and brutal honesty. The thoughts that she expressed are ones that I’ve had before, but was unable to find such a composed way of conveying.

There is now a huge, not-so-secret part of me that wants Gay to recognize me on Twitter and somehow become my new best friend. I want to sit with her and roll my eyes at terrible movies and just vent about what’s bugging me lately in the world. I identified with so much of what she thinks and has experienced, and when I couldn’t personally relate, she still made it coherent and accessible.

Every woman has a series of episodes about her twenties, her girlhood, and how she came out of it. Rarely are those episodes so neatly encapsulated as an episode of, say, Friends, or a romantic comedy about boy meeting girl.

I can’t express how reassuring it is to hear someone complain about how difficult and stressful their 20s were, for instance. I had NO IDEA what I was getting into once I graduated college. My parents and all my aunts and uncles met in high school, got married in their early 20s, then moved into houses with mortgages by my age now. Not only is that absurd, but that’s unrealistic—not that I knew that growing up, though. This was the example I had to grow up alongside, so imagine my anxiety when life wasn’t that easy come the end of my educational career.

After finishing the book, I feel a bit more jaded but also way more aware. I’ve always felt like I fell a little short on the feminism spectrum since I hadn’t studied the classics and I probably can’t name many of the women who made important strides in the movement. There was a part of me that didn’t feel qualified to assert my voice and opinions in conversations revolving around gender equality. However, this book reassured me that the feelings I have are justified and worth having—I feel totally reinvigorated in my feminism.

It’s hard not to feel humorless, as a woman and a feminist, to recognize misogyny in so many forms, some great and some small, and know you’re not imagining things. It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away. The problem is not that one of these things is happening; it’s that they are all happening, concurrently and constantly.

(I absolutely LOVE this quote! It is the perfect example of Gay’s clever writing and honest perspective.)

Most importantly Bad Feminist made me mad. I’m mad that we, as women, have to deal with so much nonsense still. I’m mad that myself and other qualified, impressive women aren’t paid nearly what we deserve in comparison to our male coworkers. I’m mad that our culture glamorizes sexual harassment and inequality, making it seem like those of us who demand respect are “wrong” or “too radical” or “cold-hearted.” I’m mad that if I get catcalled or inappropriately touched, then my clothing or way I carry myself is to blame. I’m mad, and I’m sick of letting it happen or risk being coined the token “bitch” of the group if I refuse to go along with it. Misogyny is a big joke to most of our society where everyone goes along with it, and if you’re offended then you’re told to relax and just laugh because it’s a joke after all. Well I’m done pretending I’m relaxed, and I’m done trying to be on the inside of a joke that I don’t even find funny.

This book is an important reminder that there is still A LOT of room for improvement in regards to gender equality in this country. We live in a progressive country that still fosters so much negativity and absurd gender biases. The realization that equality is worth fighting for and I’m worth fighting for has become rekindled upon reading Bad Feminist, and I’m so happy it’s reawoken this in me.

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Naked Lunch

nakedlunchAbout a month ago I founded my own book club. It all happened so fast, but I’m (so far) really pleased with it. Aside from the fact that we all absolutely hated the first book. Woops?

It all began with This American Life’s William S. Burroughs podcast. I never cared for Burroughs or his writing, but the podcast had me enticed—because what’s not fascinating about some drug addicted pervert’s musings? My friend Nuala and I talked about the podcast together and both said we wanted to read a few of his pieces afterwards. From there I moved on to talking to other people about how we missed reading/discussing literature in general and are always craving new books recommendations. (Seriously, always. Send me all of your recommendations immediately!) So I decided that maybe we could read Burroughs’ most acclaimed work together, Naked Lunch. And thus my baby book club was born.

It’s worth mentioning that I tried to read Naked Lunch once before and that I fucking hated it. I read the entire thing because I can never begin a book without finishing it. It was torture for me, though. I had no idea what was going on, hated the content, and forced myself through it without retaining a single thing aside from my intense dislike of it. So obviously a great first choice for our club.

I figured maybe I was just too young or immature to understand the novel, and now that I’m older, it should be a lot more enjoyable/interesting. WRONG. WRONG. YOU WERE WRONG, NICOLE. AND IF YOU’RE READING THIS POST IN THE FUTURE AND CONSIDERING READING NAKED LUNCH AGAIN, YOU WILL MOST DEFINITELY HATE IT AND YOU SHOULD STOP. JUST STOP IT.

I got about 95 pages and for about the third time ever, I stopped reading a book. I can rest easy knowing that at one point in time I finished this book, but not this time. And never again. I had no idea what was going on and suddenly found myself in the thick of a 30 page description of suicidal orgies. I gave up. I have no idea who any of the characters are, where they ever were, what they were ever doing (aside from the painfully obvious), or what they wanted to be doing.

No one in the book club was able to finish it—in fact, I made it the farthest out of anyone. I’ve heard his other, shorter works are more enjoyable, such as Junkie or Queer. I’ll never find out because I’m done trying. Beatnik era writing is simply not for me (I also hated On the Road in the past and will not make the mistake of trying that one again).

The only other time I can really remember beginning a book—multiple times, actually—and not being able to finish it was with Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. And just guess what our second book club novel is…

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Hit & Run

8721bfb0156b93902261f7e663bfc952In the past three years, I’ve gotten really into cycling—I get such a rush from it and feel so liberated. Nothing wakes me up better than an hour long bike ride from Brooklyn into Manhattan in the morning, and nothing ends my work day on a more positive note than great music in my ears and the wind streaking through my helmet. Long tours are my favorite: Exploring new areas is a passion of mine, and getting to do so from my saddle only enhances the experience.

Yesterday I participated for the first time (and possibly the last) in the Tour de Staten Island with my riding buddy/shark pal, Angela. We were really bummed that we missed out on the ride last year and were so excited to start off the season with a 55-mile ride through a borough that we don’t really ever go to. Before this I’ve only briefly driven through Staten Island, but yesterday I had the opportunity to explore the developing Freshkills Park and the island’s many MANY hills. Yesterday I also got hit by a car for the first time.

Part of me knew this sort of thing was inevitable, but there was also a naive part of me that thought that it just wouldn’t happen to me. It makes sense, though. They never shut the roads down for these long tours because it’d be completely impractical, and drivers would probably riot through the streets and push us off our bikes anyway. Almost every cyclist I know in lower New York has been hit by a car, in either a minor or extreme way, or at least doored. I figured the culprit would either be some irresponsible cab or bus driver, but instead it was an older Eastern European woman.

I was riding along the road entering a park and heading to our 40-mile rest stop, the last one before we completed our final 15 miles. I felt great. I had just oiled up my gears and chain, my legs were feeling the familiar aches that I’ve come to love from riding a lot of miles in one day, and I was excited to rejuvenate with some fruit and Kind bars. It happened so suddenly, and I know everyone says that, but I didn’t understand just how quickly something could really happen. She was way too close to the line and if it wasn’t me, she would have hit someone else. There was no shoulder, just gravel, and I hit her car two or three times before crashing to the ground with my bike flipping over behind me. I braced myself for the fall, shielding my head/face, and dragged my bike with me to the side of the road in case the drivers behind us didn’t see the crash and kept going. The tears were immediate and I was surrounded by witnesses who were jogging or driving nearby. No one from the ride was close unfortunately except for another girl Angela and I were riding with, and I asked her to find a marshal and Angela at the rest stop. She said she didn’t really see what happened, another witness to just how quickly these sorts of things occur. People were trying to get me to calm my breathing, stop crying, and move my limbs to make sure I wasn’t seriously injured (Spoiler: I’m not, just a sprained wrist and lots of bruises). I was overwhelmed by the help while trying to contact my friend and find some familiarity for comfort. The woman who hit me got out of her car briefly then drove away. No one saw her license plate number or where she went. EMTs arrived shortly
after and I took my first ambulance ride to a nearby hospital.

Every time I tell someone what happened, they seem disappointed and dumbfounded when I tell them I didn’t get her plate number. That is one of the most annoying things that I’ve dealt with in the last 24 hours. When I’ve thought of possible scenarios where I could have gotten hit in the past, I always imagined that I’d chase the person down if necessary to make sure they stayed in the area. Now I’m just relieved that my instincts were to protect my face and head then drag myself to safety. Unfortunately there’s probably no chance that this woman will be found, but I hope she at least feels horrible for hitting someone and then leaving. I hope that guilt plagues her for the rest of her life.

I’m going to pick my bike up from the Transportation Alternatives office on Wednesday, pay the probably high price to get it fixed up, and continue to ride every day that I can. I’ll be more paranoid than I was before, but let’s face it—generally, I’m a pretty paranoid girl anyway. I won’t let this deter me and will continue to find my inspiration and happiness from the saddle of my Schwinn. I’ll just be hyper aware of my surroundings and risks that I’m taking while doing so now.

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Analysis of Dante’s Inferno, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Margery Kempe’s Book

804192989_origAn essay I wrote in undergrad comparing Dante’s Inferno, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Margery Kempe’s Book. 

—–

In Dante’s Inferno, Christianity was the main focus of the epic; Dante explored the underworld showing his opinion of what was sinful and what would qualify someone for Hell. In Margery Kempe’s Book, all of her stories were also written about Christianity, however, she created a sexual relationship between herself and God who was also a character in her book. In Virgil’s Aeneid, the gods and goddesses also had active roles in the storyline and helped the plot progress. Although the time periods when The Aeneid, The Inferno, and Margery Kempe’s Book were written have drastically different religious views, they all incorporated their beliefs into their writing.

Roman gods had dialogue and actively participated in the story; they were an ever-present force in The Aeneid. The gods were able to control situations depending on what they wanted, even if that was not the way that things were supposed to work out. Throughout the epic, Juno tormented the Trojans and created unnecessary problems for them even though she knew that they would settle eventually and Rome would start; she held a grudge against them which was why she incessantly tortured them. Robert Coleman said, “Divine interventions were a traditional staple of epic, conferring status upon human events portrayed and evoking a world where gods and men were closer to one another” (143). In Roman epics, the gods usually played a major role in the storyline and their over exaggerated emotions would create problems for the humans. Their intentions to create some sort of drama usually conflicted with fate, but the gods still interfered and fate worked its way around their intrusions. The Roman religion was something that became apparent in all epics, especially The Aeneid because of how it was portrayed. Religion was a major theme in that epic, threading its way throughout the plot. It was obviously a main value of the Roman people as well because of the huge part that it played within the storyline. Fate and the god’s influence would conflict with one another causing the majority of problems throughout the epic. “Gods intervene in two general ways: by manipulating the external world and by influencing human reactions and decisions internally.” The gods were real characters in the epic and interacted with other characters, showing the importance of religion in ancient Rome.

Dante’s story had mention of religion and made the rules of Christianity clear, but God was not a character. Dante also made it known what would or would not get you put in Hell, showing how strongly influenced he was by religion. Although God was not actually in The Inferno, His will was still made known by Dante and His influence was apparent throughout the entire epic. Dante the Pilgrim was positive that he was heaven-bound and went around Hell from a spectator’s perspective. However, since Dante was also the writer, he was not the innocent bystander that he appeared to be in the epic; he felt that God was merciless and that if you sinned, there was a slim chance that you could repent and avoid going to Hell. “In Dante, there is no ‘development’ properly speaking: the soul itself continues to exist without change while the life of the body is utterly destroyed” (Spitzer 82). One of Dante’s beliefs about how the Christian afterlife was that the soul could exist but the body would be destroyed. He made a lot of assertions without actually using God to say what he believed, creating an experience that showed his opinions about Christian afterlife.

Margery Kempe was controlled by religion and her stories were entirely about her interactions with God and Jesus with both acting as main characters as well. Margery sacrificed having a normal life to be entirely dedicated to Jesus; she refused to have sex with her husband, she cried out and annoyed people around her—all so that she could be pure and entirely dedicated. “Margery demonstrated her mind’s kinship with spiritual realities” (Glenn 541). Margery’s entire book is based on “her divine visions,” and how Jesus or God would talk to her and tell her how much they loved her (Glenn 541). She was known for crying hysterically all the time because of how deeply she was affected by her visions. She would be in church, for instance, and have a vision of Christ being nailed violently to the cross as if she were there watching. “By associating her own development with incidents in Jesus’s life, Margery blurs her theology with her autobiography” (Glenn 544). Margery was seen as a nuisance but could also be considered special by some because of these visions. Her writing was entirely dedicated to Christianity and her level of infatuation with God. Margery showed her views in her writing by including her crazy visions, her supposed conversations with God and Jesus, and her overall commitment to Christianity.

The similarity between them all was that they lived in times when religion (no matter what kind) strongly influenced them and they made sure to bring it into their stories. There were many reasons why these writers would incorporate religion into their pieces. In their times, making religion a main theme of their stories or epics showed the values of the society and it was a way for the writers to appease to readers then. In each society, people would only want to read about stories that they could find a way to apply to themselves, and being able to relate to the religious aspects was a good way for the authors to appeal. Life during their times were usually centered on religion, which was another reason why it was a good way for the writers to get publicity for their works. There were also trends in literature with religion threaded throughout stories. Before Virgil and Dante’s epics, Homer and other epic writers also incorporated their religious beliefs into stories. Greek and Roman writers made the gods into characters, which is a trend that Virgil kept with, and although Dante deviated from the trend of keeping God as a character, he was also dealing with a new type of epic poem and a new type of religion. Aside from having similar messages due to the fact that religion was so strongly incorporated, there were similar characterizations and plots as well. Margery Kempe was inspired by God enough to feel His presence and see Him all the time, and Dante was inspired enough to create a version of Hell appropriate to what he believed. Similarly, Virgil used religion in the way that he and other ancient Romans believed, although he himself was not entirely embodied by the beliefs. He used what he believed in his storyline, but it was not a part of him as much as it was part of the story. All three authors were able to somehow incorporate their different beliefs into their stories in a way so that they told an interesting story while utilizing what they believed. For Virgil, it was a minor point to include the gods and just something that he did as a tradition in epic poems. However for Dante, it was more of a small focal point for him to branch off from. Margery used religion as the entirety of her book and made her beliefs into part of her autobiography. In different ways, they were able to show the varying strength of religious influence in their lives.

Dante, Virgil, and Margery Kempe all integrated their religious beliefs into their writing, whether it was the main focus of the piece or just a small part of the larger story. Kempe and Dante’s stories were more focused around religion while Virgil was more focused on the creation of Rome with the gods mixed in. Regardless of their approach to writing, they were all able to show their beliefs. Margery used her visions and conversations with God to show her dedication to Christianity, Dante used his decisions as to what made a person a sinner to show his devotion, and Virgil mentioned the gods and goddesses as characters to show his views.

Works Cited

Coleman, Robert. “The Gods in the ‘Aeneid’. “Greece & Rome. Vol. 29, No. 2.

Cambridge University Press, 1982. 143-168.

Glenn, Cheryl. “Author, Audience, and Autobiography: Rhetorical Technique in the Book

of Margery Kempe.” College English Vol. 54, No. 5. National Council of Teachers

of English, 1992. 540-553.

Spitzer, Leo. “Speech and Language in Inferno XIII.” Italica Vol. 19, No. American

Association of Teachers of Italian, 1942. 381-104.

 

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Catcalls

catcall“Come here pretty baby, aww you’re so fine. Come here pretty girl, I just want to make you mine.”

We (and when I say we, you know exactly who I’m referring to here) all know how this one goes. A person comes near you, gets way too close, and whispers seemingly sweet words that are dripping in not-so-hidden meanings. Pretty baby? Make you mine? Oh, puh-lease.

Maybe I invite this kind of behavior, or maybe I somehow deserve this. Am I strutting in a provocative way? Do I look extra cute today? I try to figure out every day what it is about me that compels people to feel so bold, as if they’re able to just walk up to me and tell me that I should go home with them. Every. Day. This is actually a situation that I face every single day of my mere 28 years. I’m practically a child still, yet there’s this weird urge for people to domesticate me. Straight to the kitchen for the rest of my life, am I right?

Not me, though. Nope. No way. I’m not like some of the others. I’ve seen a bunch of my peers get giddy for these types of remarks, and then six months later they’re trapped in the home all the time. It works for them, but not me. I’m a free spirit–you can’t tame me! Call me wild, if you will. It isn’t necessarily true, but sometimes I like to think I can channel it as if I’m reaching my roots somehow.

Oh geez, here it comes again. Another one. I can hear the whistles from a mile away, and it’s not just because I have fantastic hearing. This is a different type of whistle, the kind that’s directed right at me in order to capture my attention, and with any luck, my heart. Not going to happen, buddy. Sorry!

“Come here! Come here, cutie. Aw, you’re so sweet! Baby, look at that pretty little girl. Is she a tiger cat or a tabby? I can never tell the difference. Aw, no! She’s running away! Come here pretty baby, aww you’re so fine! Come here pretty girl, I just want to make you mine!”

I dodge their dirty hands (I spend enough time cleaning my fur, I don’t need some total stranger touching it–thank you very much!), and hide under a car. Humans are so rude, total and utter pigs. Maybe if they could spend a day in my paws they’d understand how this is not an okay way to treat others.

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