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 shitty movies and just fucking 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 bitch 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 fucking mad. I’m mad that we, as women, have to deal with so much bullshit 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

In 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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Writing Down the Bones

41vE++wPhKL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_My lovely boyfriend gifted me Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones for Christmas because he really gets me and knew that this would positively influence my life. What a keeper.

There isn’t a lot that I have to say about this book aside from the fact that I think it’s superb and that it should absolutely be taught in all middle schools/high schools across the country. Writing, and education in general really, are rarely valued anymore, which I think is such a shame but that’s a topic for a whole other blog post. I think there is a lot of value to be found in this book by students who are maybe unsure of how to go about their passion for writing, and I even think that it could help open other students up and expand upon their skills. I never realized how many people struggle with writing until I started editing. Even those who aren’t interested in eventually publishing a novel or even writing for fun would benefit from this book and the practices it instills. Business owners tend to discard writing as a skill and send out emails littered with incorrect spelling and poor grammar, but imagine how they would benefit from a bit of practice and proofreading. I find her relation between writing and meditation to be natural and eloquent, and I yearn to be at a similar space as Goldberg with my own writing. Since completing this book, I’ve tried to make it more a goal to write at least every day again (starting back up the journal!) and have simply felt more inspired to do so. I even find myself less critical of my work and attempting to have confidence in my pieces. I’ve found ideas floating around my head more often, and I look forward to practicing some of her techniques and prompts. Overall this book changed my writing life already and I think it could be a fantastic resource for others as well.

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Uncommon Courtesy

idiotSometimes you just need to rant about things. And lately I’ve been finding myself annoyed–and I mean really annoyed–by people on the subway who either have no concept of what personal space even begins to entail or just frankly don’t give a shit about people around them. This is due mostly to the fact that I rarely take the subway since I usually bike, but I’ve been sick for almost three months and didn’t want to prolong my illness(es) by jumping onto the saddle again too soon. So I’ve found myself commuting an hour to and from work among some of New York and Brooklyn’s finest specimens of egotists, and it’s turning me into a grumpy old woman.

I genuinely don’t think I’m being irrational or complaining too much when I list these things, mostly because I see other people who are annoyed along with me. Even though the majority of people are irritated that someone nearby is blasting Candy Crush or watching Rush Hour 2 at 8 a.m., no one wants to offend that person or risk telling off a crazy person. It’s completely understandable, too. Just last month a woman yelled at me and tried to instigate a fight with me on the subway because I tried to let people off the train rather than crowd the open door. It’s a silly story now, but in the moment it was both infuriating and terrifying.

To me, it seems like one of the rudest things in the world (I know–first world problems, blah blah blah. Get off my blog, you rotten kids!) is to have music or a movie playing without headphones on. This just makes no sense to me at all. What weird pleasure are you getting from subjecting everyone to your music? Even worse than those people are the ones who play insanely obnoxious cell phone games. You probably don’t have headphones in because you don’t want to exclusively listen to that crap, so I guess the logic is to bring others down with you at that point. It seems like a no-brainer to not burden others with what you’re doing. Hell, if I’m listening to music with headphones on I usually take them off to see if I can still hear the music then turn it down until I can’t just so I don’t annoy anyone. My friend Molly once asked a kid on the subway who was playing Candy Crush (or Farmville or one of the other games I have ten thousand pending requests for on Facebook) to turn his game down. He stared at her completely confounded that we even knew he was playing a game on his phone. He did not turn the volume off that day and probably never has since.

Another pain is people talking on cell phones in a quiet place where it’s usually assumed that a phone call would disrupt and annoy others. The other day I was on a Megabus with my boyfriend and we were both exhausted. We had slept like crap the whole weekend because the air mattress we used had it’s last round of life and deflated both nights, leaving us huddled on a hardwood floor. So we were passed out on the bus when the boy next to us decides that it’s prime time to call his parents and loudly update them on his life. For over an hour this kid chatted about his broken laptop and how his weekend in Philly went until we both finally looked at him and he quieted down, remembering that he wasn’t alone in his dorm room after all. Let me repeat: He got quieter. He never hung up the phone, though.

My last complaint is just a general people not understanding personal space and how they affect someone else. I can’t count how many times I’ve been sat on during my commute by people who see a very small amount of space left on a bench and somehow think they’re going to fit there. It blows my mind how desperate to sit down people can be that they’re willing to compromise their own comfort just to have half of their butt cheek on the corner of a subway seat. Half the time I end up getting out of my seat anyway because they’re either sitting on me or have made me immensely uncomfortable.

I couldn’t be more thrilled by the warming weather, and I hope that it lasts. Warm weather means riding my bike means rarely taking the subway anymore. And the less I’m on the subway, the happier and more content in life I am overall. For those poor perpetually commuting souls out there, you have my sincerest sympathy.

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Hausfrau

hausfrauI read Jill Alexander Essbaum’s Hausfrau for my book club, which I haven’t been to in FOREVER. I made a point to go to this one mostly because it was being hosted at the Random House office and I have a not-so-secret obsession with publishing houses. I also thought the author was going to be there, but instead she just Skyped in, which I actually preferred because people seemed to hold themselves back from saying the “wrong” thing in front of her. Oh, and I also thought her book sucked.

I thought this novel was cheesy and overly dramatic and also catered exclusively to women who are married/have kids. I couldn’t relate to most of things that went on in the narrator’s life, but older women at the book club meeting today seemed to understand it. The narrator, Anna, was a woman who drifted through her day-to-day life in passivity as she lived with her husband in his native Switzerland. During her nine years there, she never bothered to learn the language, get a job, meet any friends (she literally had one, who was actually kind of a badass), or even have some sort of hobby. She actually just let life pass her by, which was exactly as boring as it sounds like it’d be, and admitted to enjoying sewing as a girl before she majored in Home Economics (yes, exactly.) in college. A girl at the book club argued that she believed the narrator to be “actively passive,” meaning that she forced the passivity and did it all to herself. To an extent, I agree, but it was also very clear that Anna was severely depressed and couldn’t stop herself from isolating others. The book ends with Anna killing herself, confusing almost everyone that read it, but I thought in her suicide she was able to take control for the first time in a decision she’s made. I was also really happy she died off because I was utterly sick of her complaining and being a victim to every incident in her life.

Essbaum is a poet mainly and her book reads like extensive poetry as well. It has a great flow at times, however, I think her sentences read very dramatically and over-the-top. I found myself rolling my eyes and sighing most of the time as Anna or her psychiatrist went off on long inner monologues where, instead of letting readers figure out the metaphors and symbolism, she spelled them out in painfully long tangents. Overall, not a fan of this book, and I was surprised to see how many people there actually enjoyed it. I am, however, a fan of the Random House office and its desks full of books.

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