A Poem for my Friend

10301515_10101125694356362_5792222484213705208_nMy beautiful, kind-hearted friend Michelle Monachino recently passed away, and I’ve been feeling miserable as I deal with losing such a wonderful beacon of light in my life. Michelle used to write me poems all the time (most of which made fun of me for being short or for enjoying editing), and I realized that I never wrote her one back. Ever. That’s definitely one of my biggest regrets, which may seem silly, but I just wish I wrote her a poem at least once. So I figured, even though I suck at poetry, better late than never.

Michelle, Michelle
I want to scream, I want to yell
At you, at strangers, at the sky
But instead I’ll opt for a heavy sigh

Could I have done more?
Should I have done less?
This whole situation has my brain in a mess

When we met freshman year
On Whitney’s third floor, full of innocent fear
You described yourself as a JewBu
And I needed to know more about you

Who was this cool chick
With big curly hair and a free spirit aura
I knew I had to befriend this girl from my floor

So we gossiped and had sleep overs and drank too much beer
After all, it was freshman year
There was that one party where I wore baggy sweatpants
A moment that you never let me forget

And through ups and downs in that first college year
It never escaped my sentimental attention
That you were my first friend at good ol’ Binghamton

By junior year you were living on my couch
Wait, did I say couch?
I meant in my bed
That is where you were actually living instead

Times spent together were always a blast
We danced and sang and formed a fake band
Jammed out to Backstreet Boys with our feet in the sand

Watched movies and ate way too much food
Did yoga and talked about all of our moods
We bonded over our varying worries
I knew I could always go to you when my heart was in flurries

We wrote in our journals e parlavamo in italiano
Reminisced about past moments that felt so clear
And entertained ideas of futures too near

And although we didn’t see each other in over a year
We both held our friendship ever so dear
Plus, we were connected through all kinds of digital means
And now when I miss you, I can pull your words up on a screen

These upcoming days are going to be rough
I’m fated to cry pretty much every time
I hear Britney or BSB make a clever rhyme

And if I see anything that resembles high fashion
Or a woman dressed with Audrey Hepburn inspired passion
I’ll think of the time Shana and I coached you for your audition
(America’s Next Top Model doesn’t know what they were missing)

The memories abound and feel almost overwhelming
But what I’ll miss most, it’s undoubtedly true
Are our long conversations, just me and you

You’ll always be one of my closest, best friends
That’s a promise I’ll hold till the end
And despite the fact that you’re no longer here
I’ll think back on our memories with nothing but cheer

I miss you, Michelle
There’s nothing more true
And please don’t forget that I’ll love you forever, too

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World War Z

World_War_Z_book_cover.jpgMax Brooks’ World War Z had been on my reading list for years, and I finally got around to crossing it off the list. It was definitely a good read, but for some reason I really dragged through it. I found it to be slow at times, and my mind often wandered.

Post-apocalyptic stories are one of my favorite genres, and yet I found this one to be bland at times. Maybe the devil way too far-gone in the details. I think it also might just be the fact that zombies are overrated these days, what with “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” and every other zombie show or book floating around. At this point, I feel like humans are fairly equipped if a zombie outbreak were to happen—hell, most people probably wouldn’t even be that afraid.

What I did like about World War Z was that Brooks really created some interesting storylines. While some had me bored and drifting in and out, some of them almost brought me to tears, and those were the ones that I really appreciated. I also enjoyed the background he dreamt up, with a Middle Eastern nuclear war going on as the outbreak began and hostilities between Russia and the U.S. reigniting. I don’t think much of what he said was too far-fetched, which I guess is what I enjoyed the most about it.

Overall I’m happy to have finally read it and will probably continue to seek out more zombie/post-apocalyptic stories.

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Sylvia Plath & Women’s History Month

belljarFor last month’s book club, we read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, which I had never read but always felt like I should. I’m glad I finally did, even though it depressed the hell out of me. It felt like a necessary read, and also felt super appropriate to read during Women’s History Month.

I find it incredible reading about women’s lives during times when they didn’t have nearly as many rights (not that we don’t still have a helluva long way to go). It really does appear to be a bell jar of sorts, looking in from the outside and especially coming from a futuristic perspective. Life was so limited for women, even in the 50s and 60s, since the idea of the housewife was still very much alive. I seriously cannot imagine being born and raised with the end goal being that I’ll take care of my husband and children and remain in a home all the time—is there anything more depressing than that in itself? It’s no wonder that so many housewives felt trapped and depressed—they were forced into a life of stagnancy and were forced to repress themselves essentially.

As someone who has suffered on and off with depression and anxiety, I found it easy to relate to Esther in The Bell Jar. When I graduated college and moved home with my parents, I felt lost and miserable. My independence was gone, and it was as if the past four years of my life hadn’t happened and I was back in high school again. This almost mirrors what happens to her—she doesn’t receive a scholarship she wanted, and instead has to move back in with her mother. It was especially difficult for her since she came from a poor home where she couldn’t easily afford schooling and education opportunities, so she relied on these various scholarships and programs.

My favorite part about Esther/Plath was just how feminist she was without even being totally aware of it. She refused the idea of the traditional housewife and to learn shorthand, which is what “other women” (like her mother) did, opting instead to follow her passion to become a poet, and also lost interest in men and their imposing ways quickly. Rather than just sulk about the crappy guys in her life, too, she kicked them to the curb without the slightest regret. Yes, girl, YES.

Throughout the book, I was able to empathize with Esther a lot. I understand the downward spiral of depression all too well and how easy it is to be your own worst enemy when all you need is a friend. It was a fantastic, eye-opening read, but not one that I think I’m going to delve into again any time soon.

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[Don’t] Cry

Don-t-cry-animals-2967816-425-349It was, and at times still is, embarrassing for me to express something I’m passionate about without tears breaking into the corners of my eyes and my nose stuffing up. Usually the person I’m talking to shifts uncomfortably, awaiting the inevitable waterworks. When I feel this happening, I end my statements early and dispassionately to try and ebb the flow of tears as well as offer the other person an out to the conversation, cursing my proclivity to get teary-eyed when I feel a strong emotion. But that’s usually about the extent of it; I rarely actually end up crying.

In childhood, crying came pretty easily to me. If I felt angry, sad, or even incredibly happy, tears would brim in my eyes, and I’d eventually dissolve into a child-sized puddle. I cried in class frequently, especially when I felt like I was being attacked or made fun of. Classmates in elementary school knew when I was emotional because I’d put my head down on my desk.

“She’s crying again.”

Their whispers didn’t help me to stop crying, but they taught me to contain my tears to the privacy of my home. So I traded in my tears for curse words, laying into anyone who hurt my feelings with a slew of profanities that I didn’t even fully understand. I didn’t deal with the pains I felt or find a healthier way of handling my emotions, but I was able to at least get past the occasional bully. In my mind I looked tough, but to your everyday schoolyard bully, I was probably just wearing a tearstained bullseye.

Once middle school came, I decided to give myself an internal makeover. I’d shut my mouth and my tear-ducts and fade into the background to the best of my ability. When my seventh grade English teacher asked us to describe everyone in the class using three adjectives, I (internally) celebrated when almost all of mine were “smart, quiet, and shy.”

This worked for awhile. I didn’t cry in school for years. I had a new reputation that I was pleased with and plenty of new friends that didn’t know me as the blubbering child from my elementary school days. I felt strong and confident, which was only affirmed when I met my first boyfriend.

Someone was interested in me and had no idea of the crybaby I used to be. I come from a family where my parents and many of my aunts and uncles were high school sweethearts, so I thought this relationship was it for me. I assumed we’d get married, but when it didn’t work out, it destroyed me. I no longer saw myself as confident; instead I was made up of all the faults and flaws that made my boyfriend cheat on and eventually leave me.

I dragged my feet through the hallways each day, shoulders slumped and eyes glossed over with a perpetual sheen of tears. I became the version of myself that I abhorred, the one I worked so hard to destroy. And this time, the bullies were more clever than the boys who used to pretend to have crushes on me. They nicknamed me Sad Girl.

“Here comes Sad Girl.”

“Why so sad, Sad Girl?”

“I fucked Sad Girl.” (My ex-boyfriend was the best.)

Each whisper stung, lowering my shoulders until they were practically level with my knees. My friends didn’t know how to handle me in this state, so they left, at least until I could wipe my eyes and stand up without a sniffle. I lost what I believed to be my soulmate as well as my best friends.

When you feel desperately lonely, there’s little to do that can snap you out of that state. It begs to be indulged, feeding off your misery and growing like a black hole. And when it consumes you completely, turning back feels impossible and exhausting.

The best (and worst) part was that I rarely cried during my time as Sad Girl. Although I felt miserable about the breakup as well as my horrible friend situations, I didn’t want to make the same mistake that I had in elementary school—I didn’t want my reputation tainted by tears. There was no doubt that I was sad, but I at least waited until I was home to unleash the waterworks.

Eventually I was able to shake the weepies over the relationship. I changed my MySpace name to Sad Girl to show my ex I wasn’t affected by his pet name for me, and people eventually stopped calling me it. I took it as another lesson, though. My emotions once again became a point to laugh over and were something for me to be ashamed of. So I learned to bottle them up and plaster a smile on my face, even—and especially—when it hurt to do so.

That brings me to today’s Nicole. Not Sad Girl, not the little girl that easily bursts into tears, but the adult woman who finds it impossibly difficult to cry. The one who still deals with bouts of depression, but rather than seeking out an outlet for them, pushes them down until they come rushing out in the form of periodic breakdowns. The one who feels like a burden to the few people she chooses to confide in, and who instead opts to unload all her thoughts and feelings onto her boyfriend to save her friends the trouble. The one who hasn’t felt comfortable telling her parents about her secrets and fears since her mom asked her why she’d want to tell a stranger her thoughts in therapy and since her dad told her to just stop being sad.

Lately my eyes yearn for the release of tears, but my mind shuts the idea down almost immediately. I feel them build up behind my eyelids, tingling and threatening to cascade down my cheeks. Don’t cry, Sad Girl. Don’t you dare cry.

Sometimes crying can be so helpful. I remember crying until my throat was raw, screaming into pillows, and dissolving into cry-hiccups. And every time I had one of those moments, although intense, the weight lifted from my chest and shoulders. My mind felt clear. I was reinvigorated with hope and confidence. Sometimes you need to completely breakdown to be able to rebuild.

After being made fun of and insulted for expressing anything other than happiness and contentment, I struggle to connect to the long forgotten Sad Girl of my past. So what do you do when your mind won’t let you fully breakdown anymore? Do you pinch yourself until you burst into tears, or should you just think of all the negative things people have ever said to you until you feel inspired to cry?

What I know with utmost certainty is that crying would help alleviate a lot of the stress I feel lately. My job is horrible and only seems to get worse every week; my friends are either too busy to hang out or have decided to exclude me from things altogether; and my family likes to refer to the recent goings on in our collective lives as “the curse.” And yet, I don’t cry.

There’s certainly times where I shed a few tears, but my waterworks are dried up in comparison to how they used to be when they flowed freely. Maybe from crying too much in life, I’ve spent my life’s given amount of tears. Or maybe it’s time to finally start knocking down protective barriers that have been in place for so much of my life. And in doing so, I hope to finally have a healthier relationship with my emotions and whatever form they show themselves in.

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The Clasp

theclasp.jpegI recently read The Clasp by Sloan Crosley, and it honestly kind of bummed me out. The characters were morbidly cynical, and the pacing of the novel overall felt a bit off to me. The climax of the story didn’t even start taking place until almost 200 pages into the book due to a lot of character buildup that ultimately felt like too much content with little substance.

The story was about a group of friends from college who secretly hated, or at least strongly disliked, one another. It was so depressing to read the inner monologues of all these people getting together at a mutual friend’s wedding and shitting all over everyone in attendance. I can’t imagine going to any of my college friend’s weddings and feeling anything other than extreme happiness for them—except maybe my douchebag ex-boyfriend, but that’s because he’s actually just a mean person—but I guess to each their own.

It wasn’t like it was just Victor—who is pretty much the main protagonist even though the story followed two other characters, Kezia and Nathaniel, as well—that was super cynical. Even though we were supposed to believe that Victor was the most depressed and negative person in that group, I really didn’t think Nathaniel or Kezia were any better. Kezia complained about everything in her life, constantly rolling her eyes and scoffing, while Nathaniel compulsively lied about every occurrence in his life. And for some reason, they were all friends even though they complained about each other all the time. It never seemed like they actually enjoyed each other’s company aside from a few moments where they weren’t insulting or making fun of one another.

The story follows Victor, a depressed coder who was recently fired from his job, after a mutual friend’s wedding. He drunkenly falls asleep on the groom’s mother’s bed, and she’s mostly fine with it the next morning. She even shows him where she keeps her jewelry, despite discovering that he had tried to steal it the night before. She shows him a photo of an expensive necklace that was stolen from her aunt, which Victor then steals from her. He then turns it into his mission to go to France to search for this necklace, aka he breaks into a chateau and is promptly arrested. Fortunately, Kezia is also in France on an urgent business trip, and Nathaniel happened to be there too just because he needed a vacation. What luck! From there, although Victor never actually told Kezia much, she somehow pieces together his entire plan and is able to locate him in the prison right after he’s arrested.

And what would any group of close-knit “friends” be without a little bit of romance drama? So, get this. Victor loves Kezia, but she just sees him as a best friend. Bummer! When she shut him down in college, he went into a spiraling depression where he cut everyone out of his life for months and no one really tried that hard to help him. Meanwhile, she’s apparently loved Nathaniel the entire time, who was Victor’s old roommate and pretty much his closest friend in college. When Kezia and Nathaniel finally do sleep together, though, she pumps the brakes because it turns out that she’s just not that into it anymore even though he appears to be super into her finally.

I think?

It ended very strangely with the three “friends” returning from Paris on a plane together. Kezia and Victor are chatting, laughing, and generally having a good time while Nathaniel is ignoring them and pretending to sleep. Victor is in a grand mood because he got beaten up in a small village outside of Paris, had all his stuff stolen, got arrested for breaking into a chateau, and then was randomly offered a job. Victor goes to the bathroom, Kezia pokes fun at Nathaniel, he gets moody and keeps ignoring her, and THE END!

And that’s pretty much all she wrote. It starts abruptly, not a whole lot happens in the middle, suddenly there’s action for maybe 40 pages, and then it ends similar to how it started. I wouldn’t have minded as much if it had been a more interesting story, but it fell flat. I read actually on another review that the author said she cut over 200 pages out of the original piece, which actually makes a lot of sense. It felt like there was a lot missing from this story, and it’s unfortunate that it wasn’t strung together is a more concrete way after the other content was removed. Ah well.

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Maybe in Another Life

23492661.jpgTaylor Jenkins Reid’s Maybe in Another Life was…fine. Well, mostly fine. It was relatively dull at times, and I thought the dialogue tended to drag. Also the protagonist, Hannah, mentioned cinnamon rolls way too much. Like, we get it, girl. We get it.

I think my biggest problem with the story was that it was way too predictable at all times. When Hannah chose to stay with Ethan, it obviously came as no surprise that they would get married two years later. And as soon they even mentioned her nurse, Henry, in the hospital during her other timeline, I rolled my eyes because of course that Hannah is going to get with him. The Henry timeline seemed a bit ridiculous to me, too. She was insanely excited to see Ethan again after years of not living in the same state as him and realizing that he absolutely was the love of her life. But upon learning that he possibly went home with another woman, Hannah cuts him out entirely. She doesn’t try to have a dialogue with him about it, but instead takes a secondhand text as the truth and lets that decide her future. He was the supposed love of her life that she was never able to get over despite being in countless relationships afterward, yet she’s able to turn off her feelings for him as soon as she hears that he might have hooked up with someone else. Also, fuck you Ethan because like what even is that? The girl of your dreams who you’ve been in love with since high school declines hanging out with you for an extra two hours so you sleep with someone else? Maybe these two ARE perfect for one another actually…

I think what would have improved this story would have been a bit of conflict or uncertainty—I knew from chapter three that, even with all the negative things happening to the characters, everything was going to work out in both scenarios. I was more interested in Gabby and her story rather than Hannah’s. Because, despite claiming to be a whirlwind mess, Hannah seemed relatively put-together and would probably register as just a normal mess on the messiness scale.

And on a final note, I kinda thought the whole baby situation was a bit forced as well. The Hannah that mourned the loss of her child made sense to me—she was upset, thought about the possibilities, and rationalized that it must have occurred at the wrong time. Yet the other Hannah jumped right on board with the idea of motherhood without even working her first day on a job, having a place of her own to live, and after just adopting a new puppy. It just seemed like overkill and almost unrealistic. Like why was everyone so happy that she was having this married man’s baby? Why wasn’t Gabby or her parents like, “Okay cool, but let’s just make sure we think this out because you actually have no money and no home so let’s like just take a pause here”?

I think I just tend to enjoy books that have a bit more of an emotional twist to them rather than wrapping everything up in a nice, pretty ribbon of happiness. It wasn’t a bad read necessarily, it just wasn’t my ideal type of book.

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Resolved to Resolute

8af3463b6882ec19def84e604abcb759I always enjoy celebrating holidays, and I get really into the cheesy traditions that come with them. So it should come as no surprise that I’m having a fun time making resolutions for 2016. I saw on Twitter that a girl wrote out a list of her resolutions and taped it to her wall so that she would be inspired by it all the time. I loved that idea mostly for how organized it sounded and because nothing makes me happier than a nicely composed list. So here’s a lazy list post full of things that I might/maybe/hopefully will change about my life in the coming year.

  1. GET A NEW FULL-TIME JOB! You know, with a company that actually cares about its employees and the work they do where I’m equally happy to be there. I know it’s possible to wake up every day not hating my job, and I’d like to live that life now.
  2. Meditate every day for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Expand my freelancing career.
  4. Pitch (and hopefully end up contributing) to more reputable blogs and websites.
  5. Make more of an effort to do things I want to do while applying for jobs (start attending Spanish classes, go to bike mechanic workshops, etc.).
  6. Get clip-in pedals and shoes for my bike. From there I’ll try not to fall too often, but I don’t know how realistic that is.
  7. Stretch every day (this is ambitious for me, even though it sounds super easy).
  8. Make strides in actually dealing with my anxiety rather than just making excuses for its persistence.
  9. Pay off my ever-increasing credit card debt. UGHHH.
  10. Start writing fiction again, and eventually try submitting my pieces to literary journals—eek!
  11. Do a multi-day bike tour. Canada? Southern bike trip? NYC -> DC?
  12. Make more connections in the writing/blogging world.
  13. Ride another century. I’m looking at you, 2016 TransAlt NYC Century!
  14. Make more of an effort to enjoy New York’s many galleries and museums. Thanks to the NYC ID, this shouldn’t be too hard hopefully!
  15. Start thinking about the possibility of what life could be like if I were to write a novel one day.
  16. Last but not least, cuddle my perfect cat way more.
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Fates and Furies

9781594634475_custom-a1c60d0db7c4d3d9fce99ec338b463c8ea95ca03-s400-c85.jpgI was inspired to read Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies after NPR chose it for their Morning Edition book club. My immediate reaction was to roll my eyes at the language, and I even started to write it off as a bit pretentious, but that changed after just a few pages. I became enraptured by this book, finding myself thinking about it and wondering what was going to happen next in between readings. Ugh, I LOVE when that happens during a book.

It’s the tale of a marriage told from the perspective of the husband (Lancelot aka Lotto) first and then from the perspective of his wife (Mathilde). Mathilde’s perspective was almost alarming since I didn’t see any of it coming—the skeletons in this woman’s closet have their own closets full of skeletons. Usually I like to think I’m relatively perceptive, but damn, Groff—you got me. It threw me so off-balance that my immediate instinct was to totally reject the character and her secrets that. I wanted to believe that she had a perfect marriage where she and her spouse knew everything about one another. That is, until I started questioning why I disliked this strong, wildly independent female lead so much and preferred her as the timid wife that her husband saw her as. I think it was simply because I heard Lotto’s side of the story first and was so ready to read the perspective of his quiet, stay-at-home wife who lived to serve him and their marriage.

In her interview with Morning Edition, Groff talks about how she rejected the idea of marriage until her now-husband proposed and she accepted since she didn’t want to lose him. She felt like a hypocrite (I definitely don’t think she is), and this book was a redemption of sorts for her. What she created was a strong character who tells her husband within the first few pages of the book that she isn’t his just because she’s his wife. Girl, YES.

Lotto was raised with a lot of money and the constant support of his family who put him on a pedestal at birth—he was told that he could do anything and that he was destined for greatness, an that idea followed him for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, Mathilde was lonely and outcasted (sometimes intentionally so), and never understood what it was like to be adored while her husband had legions of loyal followers. He turned a blind eye to the imperfections in his life and to Mathilde’s somewhat obvious flaws rather than deal with the possibility of failure or falling short of perfection. He wanted to believe that he had a wife straight out of a fairytale as well as the best job and all the fame that came with it. They finally recognized his talent, he believed, and now he could sit back and relax as everything in life continued to come to him easily and fall into place.

Reading it from Mathilde’s perspective was startling, though. How she went into his study after he fell asleep drunk to edit and refine his plays, or finding out how she kept them financially afloat while Lotto struggled to find his calling. It was impressive, resourceful, at times exceedingly manipulative, and so not the Mathilde that I thought I knew. Then, on the other hand, it deeply saddened me to read about her own failed plays that she put on under an anonymous moniker. Even though she essentially created works through Lotto, they were accepted and approved of simply due to his name and status in the community.

I also loved the way Groff styled the book and the way she wrote it; it was poetic, yet at times it read like a more detailed play. There are few things I love more than amazing character development, and this continued right to the very end. It was an entrancing read that captivated me pretty much from start to finish; there was nothing I would change about this novel. I think if I were to read it again (which I probably will, let’s be serious), I’ll probably discover so much more than upon my first read through.

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Americanah

51mSJNECGyL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_For our latest book club meeting, we read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, which is undoubtedly my favorite book we’ve read so far in our short four or five months of meeting. Adichie is a fantastic writer; she makes it easy to picture the characters and readers can get fully invested in their world. (She’s also a brilliant public speaker, as can be seen in her TEDx Talk “We Should All be Feminists.”)

It’s amazing yet disheartening to think that there’s so many Americans (myself included) that don’t actually know much about Africa. For instance, I really had no idea that most Africans—especially educated ones—speak English, and that many prefer to speak it instead of their tribal language. It’s a very clear indication of both westernized influence on their continent and self-obsession with our own affairs, yet I really had no idea the extent of it. In the same vein, another thing we discussed was how people in many other countries know so much about the happenings in America while we don’t know all that much about places outside of our immediate realm. One of our members conveniently went on a trip to South Africa recently and spoke with locals there about Trump and our political process as we gear up for the primaries. I have no idea who rules in Nigeria, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to hold a lengthy, in-depth conversation about their politics. It’s actually rather embarrassing and makes me want to expand my political intake more.

We also talked about the difference between people in Nigeria and in the United States. In the book, Adichie shows people asking their neighbors for money, and they all know and talk about each other’s problems. They’re pretty distant from their corrupt government, but among their peers, they’re open. Meanwhile in Brooklyn, I can’t even tell you what the girl and guy that live upstairs do for a living. There’s more of a feeling of community among people, which is further shown when Ifemelu moves to America and feels isolated from the people around her, especially the ones she knew back in Nigeria. The idea that many foreigners have of America is that it’s a place where dreams can come true and people can get a new start on life, however, Ifemelu’s experience is a more realistic depiction of many immigrant’s lives. She struggles to find work and has to settle for jobs that are below her capabilities, nannying and working as a maid. She eventually adapts to it, but then when she moves to Nigeria again over ten years later, she’s shocked by people’s honesty and openness as well as their enthusiasm to hire her simply because she lived in the U.S. Once she gets used to the new culture, she has to acclimate again to what she grew up with.

Additionally we discussed her white American boyfriend, Curt, who most of felt was dating Ifemelu as a trophy in a way—her being black was something that he was attracted to before he even knew her as a person or figured if he actually liked her. It almost felt like a rich white man’s rebellion against his upbringing. I’ve also known people who say things like, “I only fall for black guys, I don’t know why,” and it has always annoyed me. Saying that you prefer one race over another fetishizes a person’s race and makes the relationship inherently flawed from the start.

The only thing people universally disliked was the ending since it seemed so sudden and rushed. It was almost as if Adichie got tired of writing the story or hit a word limit, and she tried to nicely wrap it up and leave the reader to interpret it as they would. But we didn’t want to do that! We wanted to be told what happens since we were so invested in the story and characters the entire time. I did find this blog that Adichie made in the voice of Ifemelu as if it were the blog that she created once she moved back to Nigeria, so I guess that’s a bit of a continuation and closure. Personally, I didn’t hate the ending entirely. It definitely didn’t detract from my feelings on the novel as a whole, and I’m excited to delve into more of Adichie’s works (possibly Purple Hibiscus next!).

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Five Years of Cat

10422571_10153639680370180_3319121734750461560_n

So damn smug.

In July, my little baby kitty face, Ava, turned five years old. Five. Years. Old. I don’t want to alarm people, but I’m incredibly proud of myself for helping another living creature survive for five years. And in completely unrelated news, as of this blog post, I will now be available as a babysitter for all parents looking to continue the existence of their children.

I grew up with cats a child, but being a child, I did absolutely nothing for them aside from pet them until I/they got bored. At some point in my adolescence, I developed an allergy to cats, which has almost entirely disappeared somehow. I believe that I mostly willed my allergies out of existence, but maybe I just haven’t met the right/wrong cat to upset that balance again. And then I decided I needed a furry friend to cuddle with, and Craigslist brought me to Ava.

The world is pretty depressing and grim lately, getting to a point where I’ve almost disabled my Facebook account just to get away from it all for a bit. So here’s some lighthearted silliness: In honor of Ava’s birthday, these are five things I’ve encountered as a cat owner, some of which I was not expecting at all.

  1. Cat hair. Everywhere. This isn’t an exaggeration, and there’s a reason it’s number one on my list. Ava is a maine coon, meaning she’s extra adorable but also extra furry. And sooner or later that fur has got to go somewhere, almost always ending up in my mouth. Every single meal that I cook or eat has cat fur in it. All of my clothes, blankets, pillows, curtains, carpets, desk tops, and basically every other surface in my apartment has had cat fur on it at one point or another. Especially the ceiling fans—it is mildly disturbing how much of her fur latches onto my fans and then coats the walls whenever I turn them on.
  2. Cats are stalkers. I can’t turn around without almost stepping on Ava’s tail; she’s either super clingy (she is.), or she has a serious case of FOMO. If I go to the bathroom to wash my hands, she’s bounding down the hallway behind me with her big eyes lit up and yipping in excitement. If I dare to close the bathroom door behind me, then I fall victim to her gentle yet incessant scratching. I officially have a small cat-shaped shadow whenever I’m home.
  3. Sometimes cats purr so hard they drool. Haven’t you ever gotten so happy and been so content in life that you drooled all over yourself? In one sense, I’m thrilled that Ava is so happy that she purrs to the point of transforming her salivary glands into a flowing river. Yet on the other hand, she sits on chest and drools on my face a bit too often.
  4. Some cats revenge-vomit. This is a theory, but I have a lot of evidence to back it up. If I leave my apartment for more than a day, despite leaving enough food, toys, and a clean litter box behind,  I can be sure to find cat vomit all over my comforter or somewhere in the living room. It isn’t like she’s alone—my roommate often takes care of her if I’m not around. It’s as if Ava fears abandonment so much that it literally makes her sick, or she just wants me to learn a lesson and never leave her alone for more than nine-hour stretches.
  5. Cats can be allergic to fleas. I’m of the opinion that almost every cat will have fleas at least once in their life, but maybe this is because Ava—my strictly indoor cat—has had multiple already. Ava had a flea infestation when she was a kitten; the biggest kicker being that I gave her the fleas. It’s a disturbing moment when you’re holding your cat and see a bug crawl over her pink belly, burrowing itself into her fur as she purrs away without a clue that you almost just catapulted her across the room. It only got worse when I discovered that Ava is allergic to flea bites and flea saliva. Her entire back, tail, and neck were covered in hives for three months, and the only thing my vet could do to help her was reluctantly prescribe her steroids. Luckily it kicked the allergy back into submission, but I’m hyper aware of fleas now because I felt so bad for my itchy little baby cat.
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