A Brief History of the Cat Lady

cat-lady3

From the tenth to the eighteenth centuries, countless thousands of cats across Europe were tortured and burned to death alongside the women whose “familiars” in witchcraft those cats were presumed to be.  Sometimes the cats themselves were believed to be witches.  The women were usually single and often elderly.  Medieval and Early Modern society’s mistrust of single women, cats, and any bond between the two lingers in today’s conception of the “cat lady.”  Like her persecuted “witch” predecessors, the cat lady is our culture’s envisioning of the woman who has failed to remain within the social order, who lies precariously outside it.  Continue reading “A Brief History of the Cat Lady”

Ask Momo: 3/21/16

Momo tackles furballs, leaving your parents for college, and being #foreveralone

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetDear Momo,

Basically, I’m writing to you because I have already exhausted all my friends in talking about this. Maybe you’ll have some good advice. I’m 27, a successful consultant with a big firm, and generally feel good about where I am in life. I have a circle of friends I love, a nice apartment…I’ve hit all these benchmarks that I told myself I’d earn by this point in my life. So far so good. But my love life so far has been unfulfilling and unsatisfying, in terms of real partnership. Many of my friends are engaged or married, while I keep making the same tinder rounds. I can’t help feeling like I’m going to be alone forever.

I don’t feel this way all the time, but there are moments…quiet moments, I guess, when I’m home alone and I just feel like…this overwhelming feeling of panic and loneliness because I’m not getting any younger and I haven’t found anyone and maybe never will. I’m getting so tired of just going on empty meaningless dates and never moving past that stage. I feel like my time is running out. I know that makes me a bad feminist. I don’t need no man, etc. etc. But I can’t help feeling this way, anyway. So…any advice on how to get over it?

—J

Dear J,

As a cat, I like my alone time and consider it something to be treasured. But I also know how nice it is to be petted and cared for. I get it. Wanting to have something to joke with and watch TV in bed with and just generally share life with is not something to feel ashamed of. It’d be one thing if you felt like you absolutely couldn’t get your life together without a man/woman/partner/whatever. But that’s not the case, right? You’ve laid out your other “benchmarks,” as you call them, and it sounds like other than this partner thing, you are a woman (?) of many achievements and live a fulfilling, fairly balanced life. That’s more than many, many people are able to have, and you should be proud of that.

I also wouldn’t treat this as something just to be “got over with.” Accept that you are lonely, accept that you want a partner to share your life, and accept that it’s ok to feel this way. This is a more common “problem” than you think. So, how do you go about addressing this?

Honestly, I have very little concrete advice. I’m a cat, after all. Even if I were a human, this sounds like the kind of messy, complicated, open-ended problem that humans are always creating for themselves. You say you’ve tried dating apps, but find them unfulfilling. Maybe it’s time to switch up your tactic, if this approach is not getting you the results you want. Ask your friends to set you up! Go to in-person meetups, wander around bookstores, live whatever rom-com cliche you want. Just know that you are taking concrete steps toward your goal and feel happy about that.

Finally, I would tell you to have more faith in yourself. You are not unlovable, as your friends will attest. Take the confidence you applied to school, your job, and your social life, and tell yourself you won’t be alone if you don’t want to be. Have a little more belief in yourself, as you do in the other areas of your life. And good luck!

—Momo


 

Dear Momo,

I’ve been lucky enough to get into three of the colleges I really wanted to attend, all of which are outside my home state. I even have a full ride to the one I liked the best. The problem is that my mom is really, really opposed to me leaving the state. (My dad has very little opinion on this, but with his silence basically supports my mom.) She wants me to attend the state school I also got into, which is a pretty good school and close to our town, but just isn’t where I saw myself ending up. I’ve tried telling my mom the reasons I want to leave the state, but she always feels hurt and says I want to get away from them. That’s not really it, though I do feel like going to a school out of state would let me be more independent and meet more new people. Do you have any advice on how to handle this situation? What do you think? My mom and I have always been very close, and I hate having to start my college career like this. But I also don’t want to give up on my dream school. Thanks!

—M

From one M to another,

College is the time to stretch your spine and try something new. It can be one of the most formative times in life, and for most young humans, it’s their first time living alone and figuring things out like adults. That step into adulthood is something important that you shouldn’t give up just because you might hurt your mom’s feelings.

Your mother sounds like she’s being emotionally manipulative. She should realize that your college decision, which will probably shape the course of your life (or at least give it a push in a certain direction) is more about you than it is about her. Since you are (or shortly will be) an adult, it’s time to make the decision that will be best for you and help reconcile her to it as best as you can—especially since you have a full ride to the school of your choice, so there’s no practical reason you shouldn’t be able to go!

Take some time to talk this through with your mom, adult to adult. Of course, it is often hard for parents to accept that their children are growing up and leaving the litter. Be respectful of her feelings and make her feel appreciated, but be firm on what you want and why. I hope that approaching this in a rational and thought-out way will go a long way toward reassuring her. If not, make the decision that will ultimately be best for you. Weigh the options. You know your mom best—is this something that will hurt your relationship forever? It might seem like it, but remember that there are a lot of things you can do to ease the pain of this transition, like visiting home as often as you can, giving your parents frequent phone calls, etc. Good luck!

—Momo


 

Dear Momo,

How do you keep your coat shiny and healthy? Asking for a friend.

Dear Anonymous,

IMG_2429The only heat styling I submit to is a nice long nap in the sun. My human supplements my organic cat kibble with fresh fish and occasionally, some fruit (I like apples). Having a balanced diet with enough protein is important for fur and hair growth. I also try not to let myself feel too frazzled, since anxiety can manifest physically. Yoga is good for this. And of course, I groom myself daily. Sometimes twice daily. Looking put together is extremely important, don’t you think?

—Momo

 

Have a question? Submit to Ask Momo using the form at the top of the homepage. We take questions on any and all subjects, and promise to answer to the best of Momo’s ability. 

 

“Zootopia” Encourages Us to Examine Our Prejudice

**This post contains some spoilers**

Zootopia continues Disney’s time-honored tradition of using animated creatures to talk about something else, whether it’s covering….Hamlet with lions or depression with walking, talking emojis (I’m talking Lion King and Inside Out here, in case you couldn’t tell). But Zootopia manages to do a little more, by drawing a charmingly insightful view of the world that still manages to talk about the prejudice and stereotypes that plague us.

Are you in it for the animal puns and inventive world-building? Sure. There are little sparks of pleasure throughout the entire movie, as the animators recreate familiar technology in an “evolved” world where animals, predators and prey, live together in a modern metropolis. How would subways accommodate both giraffes and hamsters? Do rabbits facetime? Are leopards pop-star fanboys who know how to use apps? All of your questions will be answered. (Bonus: this makes the film’s address of bigotry, racism, and prejudice even more compelling, as there’s a clear parallel drawn between Zootopia’s world and ours).

MW-EH262_Zootop_20160307103851_ZH
Photo from Zootopia \\ Twitter @DisneyZootopia

Its main character, Judy Hopps, is an amibitious young bunny bent on becoming the first police officer of her species. To do so, she works twice as hard as anyone else, insisting that she’s not just a “token.” She is a creative problem-solver who works collaboratively, respects her friendships, and knows when to acknowledge her own mistakes and shortcomings. She’s a great cop who got there mostly by the dint of her own hard work, but also through the love and support of her community. She is defined more by her ambitions than anything else (and thank god there was no love story in this movie, because how would that even work…?). My cynical heart swells thinking of the young girls watching this movie who will absorb this film’s subtle, but strong message about the potential and abilities of the underestimated.

But Zootopia is more than a girl-can-do film, and its address of bigotry is what makes it one of the best and most important movies Disney has put out yet. In the beginning, Judy’s naive worldview presents Zootopia as the harmonious, “race-blind” melding of two distinct classes of animal: predator and prey. Part of her journey is through the disillusionment of that idea, and toward a concrete plan of action to remedy it. There are forces at work in the city who feed off of the distrust and prejudice that still surround “predators” and their unavoidable “biological instinct”—an early lesson for young viewers in the insidious power of coded language to shape public opinion, as Judy also learns. Through Judy’s friendship with the street-hustler fox Nick Wilde, she learns what it means to confront the lingering animosity between “predator” and “prey,” and how to forge a strong friendship from this unlikely, but very effective, partnership.

CbrFW3wUMAArdUa
Image from Twitter @DisneyZootopia

The film is also seeded with references for the adults or particularly savvy kids—like how the “nighthowlers” drug can be seen as a parallel to the crack epidemic, or how Judy tells another animal that bunnies can call other bunnies “cute,” but if another species does it….(you can almost hear the n-word echoing in the background). Zootopia depicts how quickly people (or animals) can fall into the traps of fear-motivated thinking, how bigotry and racism feed off of misinformation and fear. It also shows how much is lost when one’s world is circumscribed by these prejudices. And it does so in terms that both children and adults can understand and use to discuss racism, bigotry, and prejudice in the real world. That is a refreshing antidote to the hate-mongering and racism being peddled by election frontrunners—and the positive reaction to Zootopia bespeaks more than just our love for cuddly animals. Is it perfect? Probably not. But it brings the problems of bigotry right to the front and center. That’s a hell of a lot more than Disney movies used to do. We need more children’s movies like this, which are driven by interesting storylines and use world-building to open up discussions about the pressing problems of our own world.

 

Plus, this movie is just really freaking cute.

 

 

Ask Momo: 1/14/2016

New year, new naptimes, folks. Try to keep up. I hope you had a pleasant and restful human holiday. Mine was spent covertly peeping at my humans through the low-hanging boughs of their strange artificial tree, sampling some fine Christmas catnip, and savagely rending roll upon roll of crisp new wrapping paper. My goals for the new year? To stay as magnificent as ever and to take my advice column as seriously as I always have—which is to say, mostly seriously to varying degrees. Here’s to another year of everyone’s favorite slightly snarky, mostly earnest scribbling kitty. Continue reading “Ask Momo: 1/14/2016”

Weekly Dance Break: Suki Kirai (Rin and Len)

Today we continue our theme of little children who are better at dancing than you or me.

If no part of you finds this adorable and heartwarming, I suspect you are kind of dead inside. Happy holidays! Continue reading “Weekly Dance Break: Suki Kirai (Rin and Len)”

Ask Momo: 10/20/15

Momo extends a pawprint of approval to reader questions about napping, long-distance love, and comic-book cats.

Have a question? Submit your thoughts via the “Ask Momo” tab at the top of the page! 


Hey Momo,

I have a question on something that you should be really good at…napping. I’m in my third year of college and have always had a pretty good work ethic/stayed on top of my assignments, etc. But lately I’ve been taking naps almost every day. I can’t really help it. I haven’t been sleeping very well at night, so every afternoon I basically doze off wherever I am—in the library, in my apartment, in coffee shops…do you have any thoughts on napping techniques to get my sleep schedule back in shape? Anything you want to share? I feel kind of silly asking this of an…internet cat, but I thought, lol why not?

Thanks,

Zzz

Dear Zzz,

Lol why not, indeed. That is generally my nap philosophy, in case you were wondering. Like you, I have a lot of things to take care of everyday – grooming, hiding bobby pins in shoes, patrolling every window of the house for that little sparrow bitch always flitting around the backyard. But I make time for my naps because they help me function at my best. Personally, I find that three naps daily of two hours each works best, but YMMV.

Part of your question, my dear, is very easy to answer. Want to get your sleep schedule “back in shape”? (By which I assume you mean the twisted “responsible human” shape of, generally, no naps per day…) Force yourself to skip your nap one day, go to bed relatively early, wake up feeling refreshed. You humans are wonderfully simple that way. And I know you can force yourself to skip that nap if you really want to, given that you seem to be a successful and self-disciplined young human working your way through school (good for you)!

But really, it’s probably not that simple, is it? You also mention not being able to sleep well, and there are a lot of potential reasons for that. When it happens to me, it’s usually stress. Especially if daily napping was never really a thing for you, and you’re suddenly feeling the urge to do so on the regular—that’s a sign that something might be off. There’s probably a root cause you’ll have to address. Is there a reason you’re so anxious to regain control of your sleep schedule (a relatively easy thing to feel in control of when other parts of your life are spiraling, maybe?) Don’t beat yourself up, in the first place. It’s ok to take naps, it’s ok to rest when you want to, and it’s ok to listen when your body is sending you a (very sleepy) signal that not all is well. Does your school have counseling? They should! Go see them. In addition to trying to self-correct your sleep, I’d suggest talking to a professional about other potential sources of anxiety that are messing with your snoozing. Good luck!


Dear Momo,

What are you reading? Anything good? I’d love a suggestion for some bed-time reading!

Xoxo

Dear Gossip Girl,

That’s what your sign-off is about, right? I wasn’t sure. As a rule, I only allow my owners to give me one kiss a day. There’s no need to be excessive. As for reading material—I don’t do it much, but I am currently perusing a comic book called Saga. The issues are thin and therefore good for bringing under the couch with me. There’s also interplanetary romance, cute mixed-race babies, and especially important, a truly majestic cat who can tell when humans are lying. Happy reading!


Dear Momo,

I need someone to calm my anxieties about going long-distance with my girlfriend, N. I just moved to a different state this fall to start a dream job of mine. N is still in school. She has one more year. We went to the same college and spent pretty much every day together. I know you can’t really give me an answer about this, but I’m just spending pretty much every day worrying that we’re growing apart, that she’s meeting other girls, and that I’ve just broken our relationship for this job. Before I left, we did talk about our relationship and plan to stay together, but that seems kind of flimsy to me. What should I do to feel better about this? I don’t want to overwhelm her with my worries and push her away.

—Charlotte

Dear Charlotte,

That’s a tough one because a lot of it is not entirely in your control. I know it’s hard to do long-distance because my humans did it. There was a lot of face-timing involved, and I do not like being on camera, but you have to do what you have to do.

Honestly I’m not really sure what to tell you, because it seems like you’re doing everything you can to keep the relationship alive and healthy. It’s pretty pointless for me to tell you not to worry, because you’re going to worry if you want to (AND if you don’t want to). I cannot calm your anxieties. The only people who can do that are you and your girlfriend, N. If you both talked about wanting to stay together, and are invested in making it work, I think you will be fine. That kind of agreement, and that kind of investment, is the best protection against infidelity and negligence. But then again, there are no safeguards and no guarantees. That’s probably not making you feel much better, is it? :/
I will say that it is great you are pursuing a job you enjoy and find fulfilling. You sound very young in human years, and these are the times in which nothing is pinned down. I think the only thing you can do is work toward your own happiness in the ways you can control, like you’re doing with this job. You can’t control what N does or how she feels, so if eventually this relationship breaks—well, know that you will survive without her, that you are young and don’t need to be tied down at the moment, and that if you are both willing to put in the work, your relationship will be just fine. If she’s not willing, it wouldn’t have worked out long-term anyway, probably. Good luck!


Send Momo your questions on life, love, and brands of cat food via the tab at the top of the page! 

Weekly Dance Break: Japanese Granny Pop Group KBG84!

If you’re feeling stressed, let this geriatric pop group transport you to Okinawa (the average age in the group is 84, and they are everything.) From a story by The Guardian:

“When I first heard someone call us ‘idols’ I thought an idol meant someone who had lived a long life and was at the gates of heaven,” pint-sized diva Tomi Menaka, 92, told AFP in a herb garden overlooking Kohama’s turquoise sea.

“But in Tokyo they told me it was an entertainer – which was a relief because I thought it meant I was on my way to heaven,” she added, picking up steam as her fellow group members collapsed in fits of giggles. “I hadn’t even been to Tokyo or Osaka. I wanted to go there before I went to heaven.”

The 33-strong troupe of singers and dancers has released a single called “Come on and Dance, Kohama Island”, with a heart-warming video shot on the tiny honeymoon isle, which has a population of just 600 and lies a mere 150 miles (240 kms) off Taiwan.

Okinawan islanders have one of the highest life expectancies in the world, their diet containing more vegetables and less sugar than that of mainland Japanese, the staple food the purple-fleshed local sweet potato rather than rice.

Menaka, a queen bee of the group, which has a minimum age requirement of 80, stays fit by doing housework. But she is not particularly fussy about her diet.

“I like meat and sweet things,” she cackled, flanked by the group’s eldest member, 97-year-old Haru Yamashiro, who shook her head disapprovingly.

“I look after my health by cleaning my home, wiping the floors, steaming rice. I stay in the shade when it’s too hot. I don’t want to tan. I have to take care of my skin – I’m still young at heart!”

Continue reading “Weekly Dance Break: Japanese Granny Pop Group KBG84!”

Weekly Dance Break: Bar Bar Bar (Crayon Pop)

This week’s dance break is wonderfully weird and self-explanatory. It’s like it was made to be featured on Ellen or something. In a nutshell: little Chinese girls, rainbow striped leggings, synchronized dancing, helmets. See for yourself. Continue reading “Weekly Dance Break: Bar Bar Bar (Crayon Pop)”