Tag Archives: amwriting

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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Discrimination in the Form of Kim Davis

kimdavisEvery now and then a craze sweeps through current events and grabs my attention, leading me to become obsessed. I research everything surrounding the topic: what happened before, during, and what’s projected to happen after it passes over. My most recent news-related addiction was with Rachel Dolezal, but now I’ve become fixated on the bigoted Kentucky clerk that is refusing marriage licenses to gay (and straight) couples, Kim Davis.

When it comes down to it, it’s hard for me to process exactly what has Kim Davis so upset. She’s been married four times herself, cheated on her partners, and only became religious within the last four years. The hypocrisy is glaringly apparent to anyone who’s read more than a paragraph about her past, however, being “born again” has absolved her of any sins. Aside from that though, the way she acts is just disrespectful—there’s no rationale behind her actions that quite explains why she thinks gay marriage is so wrong. And I guess this is true for many highly religious folks, but it’s hard for me to grasp when I really try to think about it. Despite being raised Catholic, I never actually read the Bible in its entirety so I’m possibly missing something, but in all the religion classes I went to until I was confirmed, I don’t ever recall someone telling me that gay marriage or a gay lifestyle was wrong. The central point seemed to focus around “be nice to everyone and that makes you a good person,” but somehow that’s become so skewed in any religious societies and has turned into “be exactly like me and I’ll be nice to you and we’ll be good people together” instead.

From what I hear, there is never anything in the Bible that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, yet it’s constantly sited in vague references. How is it that our society has gotten to a place where we can blatantly discriminate against a certain lifestyle with thinly veiled excuses that aren’t ever properly explained? This is what blows my mind the most—we’re literally pitted against one another on the side of being kind and open to all or being closed off to anyone who is different. It’s always such a cyclical journey in this country with racism and homophobia, and as much as I want to believe that things are getting better as time goes on, Kim Davis and her supporters make me feel disheartened.

I was excited to hear that after Davis was put into jail to be held in contempt of court, her Kentucky office started issuing Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 10.16.55 PMmarriage licenses again. It’s confounding that a woman can be paid for so long to not do her job after being told time and time again that she must do this simple task. It’s not like anyone was asking her to officiate gay marriages. Due to the fact that she was an elected official, she could only resign or be impeached, which I don’t think is fair at all either. Elected official or not, if someone is being paid to disregard the law and the responsibilities of their job, then they should lose said job. Seems simple enough, especially since any other career is subject to this. The worst part about her being jailed is that now she’s going to be seen as some type of martyr for her actions, a christ-like figure persecuted for doing god’s work.

So much of our country is rooted in the belief of “separation of church and state,” yet extreme right wing politicians tote their religious beliefs and get more votes for it all the time. The political debate was riddled with references to Christianity and the Bible. But what if they were Jewish—or god forbid, Muslim—and had done the same in a political sphere? The media would jump on their back immediately and they’d be ostracized. It’s more like a separation of synagogue/mosque/any house of worship aside from churches…and state.

In the end, it shouldn’t matter if your religion tells you that it’s wrong to abort a fetus or that two people of the same sex shouldn’t marry. All that matters is that we’re nice to everyone and you’re a good person. Treat people how you expect to be treated: The Golden Rule that’s become buried under loads of self-righteousness.

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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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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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