Weekly Dance Break: There Goes My Baby (Usher x Keone Madrid)

Is this even real? I’m not sure anymore.

Weekly Dance Break: wRoNg (Zayn ft. Kehlani)

All our best wishes to Kehlani as she goes through this tough time.

Choreographer friends: who’s on this?

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. 

 

Assemble the #GirlSquad: Finding My New Best Friend on BumbleBFF

tldr; I tried online friend-dating so you don’t have to.

A good friend of mine says she wishes her early and mid-20s would come with a guidebook, like those pamphlets on puberty from grade school. There are just things we don’t know to expect, despite our generally good educations and common sense. Examples?

Here are some weird things your not-yet-old, not-quite-young body will start doing. Ten things besides taxes you don’t yet know how to do, but should.

After I uprooted my life and moved to a new city with my boyfriend, I added something else to her list: it’s really f*cking hard to make adult friends.

To paraphrase the ladies of Another Round, it’s weird to try finding adult female friends if you don’t have a good reason. You can’t just lean over to that cool-looking lady on the bus and be like, hey bus friend. You wanna go to the movies sometime?

A good friend of mine says she wishes her early and mid-20s would come with a guidebook, like those pamphlets on puberty from grade school. There are things we don’t know to expect, despite our generally good educations and common sense. Examples? Here are some weird things your not-yet-old, not-quite-young body will start doing. Ten things besides taxes you don’t yet know how to do, but should. After I uprooted my life and moved to a new city with my boyfriend, I added something else to her list: it’s really f*cking hard to make adult friends. 

I don’t mean friendly acquaintances, like that girl you always see at the gym and often chat with. I don’t even mean surface friends, the ones you see once a month for drinks and some pleasant small-talk. I’m talking the dream of female friendship that, lately, has blossomed beautifully in our pop culture: the Broad City love, the tight-knit ride-or-die crew. The women whose lives are woven together deeply through late night giggle sessions, daily commiserating over nothing at all, and deep existential talks while drunk.

broad city
TV’s weirdest and best female friendship

To be clear, not everyone wants or needs this level of female friendship. Plenty of people do well without. But it was certainly something of a lonely shock for me to be plunged from many years of effortless community building (through school), into a work-from-home situation where I trudged from coffeeshop to coffeeshop and wasted time in insipid MeetUps. I still had the friends I had relied on to keep me sane throughout school, and I still loved them as much as ever. But there’s a difference between even the most fulfilling GroupMe chat, and the reassuring feeling of having a friend in the same city who can run over at a moment’s notice. I had been confident that I could build a strong friendship network in my new city. After all, I had met *soulmates* in unlikely places. I had made friends even under the crushing pressure of a graduate school program I grew to deeply resent. I had never failed to make connections before—and now I would have all this “free” time. I could be flexible! Instead, I found myself split between my new city and my yearning for my friends in other places. I traveled a lot of weekends, dropping in for an intense bout of fun and emotional connection before returning to my lonely weekdays of work. Without the support of a structure, like school or a workplace, I found myself floundering. To paraphrase the ladies of Another Round, it’s weird to try finding adult female friends if you don’t have a good reason. You can’t just lean over to that cool-looking lady on the bus and be like, hey bus friend. You wanna go to the movies sometime?


 

In the corner of the internet where my online friends live  (a secret facebook group that doubles as constant sleepover/oversharing extravaganza), a woman mentioned a new resource that I had been waiting for without realizing it: BumbleBFF. You may know of Bumble, the dating app that requires women to make the first move when meeting men. BFF is a new feature in this app, which lets you create a profile and swipe on potential female friends like you would in a dating app.

Once you download Bumble (or set it to the BFF option), you create a profile by linking your facebook, much like tinder. You write a blurb about yourself, which is one of the hardest and most awkward kinds of writing that exists. You can also play around with your photos by deleting, rearranging, or adding new ones from your camera roll. Crowdsourced word of advice: pictures of pets? Good convo starter. Five bathroom selfies from slightly different angles? Not so much.

 

Many of the women using the app referenced well-known TV friendships in their blurbs, noting that they aspired to find their beautiful-tropical-fish-Ann-Perkins, or that they were looking for the “Tina Fey to my Amy Poehler.” I must have seen that line about Tina and Amy at least ten times. Are women more conscious of the expectation that they have a #squad? Probably. TV has perhaps fueled the desire for this kind of friendship—which is not a bad thing in itself. Many, many of the women on this app were also quick to note that they were on BumbleBFF because they were new to the city, or were looking to expand their social circles beyond work and their boyfriends. I’m normal, I promise!
It’s weird in some ways and not others, of course. It makes perfect sense, in this moment, to try and make friends the same way we do so much else: through an app. What’s weird is the slight mismatch between this interface and its purpose. When you swipe, you decide based on a picture and a blurb…but a lot of women don’t fill out the blurb, or list only a series of cryptic emoji (burrito, wine glass, twin bunny girls dancing). It’s pretty visual, and that’s a strange sole criterion for friendship. After all, I have never made an IRL friend solely based on her cuteness. But for a lot of these women, who for some reason chose only a selfie and no other info, that was all I had to go on.

It’s kind of a distasteful process to confront your own visual prejudices so clearly. The game-like aspects of this app, like all dating and social-matching apps, winnow your preferences quickly and clearly. The act of swiping trains you to quickly assess a limited amount of information and make a decision. In all honesty, I hesitated, and often swiped left, on *basic* white girls with chevron print dresses or monogrammed wine glasses. I swiped left on people who listed alcohol as their main interest, because it felt like they were performing some kind of *bitter-but-cool-millenial* wine-guzzling act. (I also like wine, and drinking, and brunch, but GIRL everyone does! It’s not a lot to go on when meeting an individual). They are probably lovely people, and we could have had a fine time together. Regardless, I swiped left because some part of me instinctively recoiled, and there were a lot of other women to look through. I’m sure other people on the app did the same for me.

I have never actually used a dating app, since my current boyfriend and I have been dating since before tinder was a thing. It was fun to participate in this facet of culture. As a low-stakes way to specify the kind of friends I wanted to meet, it was great. But for my (squad-)goals, did it work?

IMG_8014
Aren’t these redaction stickers the cutest?

I had a few matches within the first couple hours, which was heartening! When you match with someone (meaning both of you swiped right on each other), your phone buzzes in celebration and a whole world of possibility opens up in front of you. At least, that’s how it felt the first time I matched. A new window comes up, letting you know that the hours are ticking down on your new #foreverfriend, and one of you will have to start talking. Members of the secret facebook group mentioned above agreed: it is awkward af to start small-talking someone you don’t know if you’re not face to face. Some girls sent a blank, “how are you?” which was about as inspiring online as it is in person (which is to say, not very). A couple people sent compliments: “I love your hair!” or “ooh, the donuts in your pic look so yummy!” As is the case when I make in-person small talk, I felt like I was lifting heavy weights. (Small talk is tedious, y’all. Why don’t we as a society just acknowledge this fact?) It felt easy to let conversations fall by the wayside. After all, these were still strangers to whom I owed nothing. But that also meant that moving forward to meeting up was hard. Usually one or both of us flaked, or the topic never came up at all.

While I’ve yet to meet up with any of my matches, I suspect that this app, like most dating apps, can only do so much. We will still have to wade through the slough of small talk and introduction together. We will meet, and leave that meeting, still basically strangers—and it will take some effort to keep any momentum going. One or both of us will have to be very proactive, in a way that I find most people of my generation rarely are—at least when it comes to making and keeping social engagements with people, especially people you don’t know well. It’s too easy to lie back in bed, log in to netflix, and lazily flick through the next 20 women waiting in your screen. BumbleBFF may help us take the first step, but the hard work is still up to us. I remain optimistic, though. If anyone wants to buzz me, I’ll be here.

 

Big Sound Saturdays: Valentine’s Day Blues

 

What’s everyone doing this weekend? I, personally, spent Friday night in The Pit trying to figure out how to make a condensed and an expanded version of blues Valentine’s Day that captures the elation, the bummer, the prickliness, and the hilarity that is this made-up holiday. On Sunday, I’ll play the longer version on the radio and potentially get one of the phone calls I used to get in my New York radio days when I had a V-Day show, a mouth-breather asking if he could pick me up from the studio and take me out to dinner. See what I’m talking about? Alone, together? Continue reading “Big Sound Saturdays: Valentine’s Day Blues”

At The Movies: Carol (2015)

Some spoilers.

What does falling in love look like? As Todd Haynes’ film Carol reminds us, it often looks quite boring, looking from the outside in. Lives are brought together and broken apart in the most ordinary of settings—a rather depressing department store, a diner where the porcelain is thick and ungainly, a motel with ugly bedding. People with beautiful cheekbones and deep, startling gazes must still remember to pay their coffee bill and deal with traffic.

carolmovie 2
Image via Twitter @carolmovie

In some ways, not much happens in the movie. Two women meet in 1950s New York, exchanging glances and a joke or two over a toy counter. They fall in love, suddenly and without warning. One of them is Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett), the kind of woman who matches her coral lipstick to her nails perfectly, the better to veil her repression. The other is Therese Belivet, an aspiring photographer who shies away from others (Rooney Mara). What ensues? A couple of visits, a road-trip to flee Carol’s estranged and pushy husband Harges (Kyle Chandler), sex, and finally, a confrontation that sends them spinning away from each other and then back again.

@carolmovie
Image via Twitter @carolmovie

In other ways, the stakes of the film are much higher. Vibrating underneath these events is a tension more meaningful than a shared cup of coffee or kisses exchanged on a motel pillow. In an era that could not brook the love between two women, or even call it by its name, Carol’s struggle to fit both her family expectations and her personal needs into a single life is a bitter one. She and Therese strive to fully realize their desires and selves. From the 1950s until now, that struggle for the right to occupy mundane space, even peacefully and beautifully, without intrusion and judgment, can ring true and familiar.

Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel The Price of Salt, the source material for the film, was long considered a literary footnote—after a surge in popularity at the time of its publishing, it fell to the wayside. It was, in fact, daring and important in many ways. Not only did it take lesbian love as its central theme, it broke the convention of “lesbian pulp fiction” to give its lovers a happy ending and a modicum of hope. The Price of Salt also precluded that other famous love story of the 1950s, Lolita, in its use of transgressive sex and the open road to explore the morality of American sentiment and loneliness. Both versions of the story celebrate the seemingly small but in fact monumental choice of self-satisfaction in the face of censure. In Carol, the driving force of a beautiful love story unfurls, whisper-soft but sweet.

Big Sound Saturdays: That’s My Best Friend!

As we all come down from our turkey and/or capitalism-induced hangovers, let’s take a moment to give thanks for two beautiful things: hip-hop and friendship. Our Big Sound Saturdays playlist this week brilliantly celebrates female friendship (and more) in this guest-curated playlist of hip-hop and R&B jams, put together by M.H.

cheetah girls

Most of you may know about the Bechdel test. If a movie does not feature two women on screen without a man present in either frame or conversation, we use the Bechdel test to declare it to be on the wrong side of feminism. Of course, this test is overly simplistic and often inaccurate. The famed lesbian feminist cartoonist, Alison Bechdel, after whom the test is named, recently admitted, “You can certainly have a feminist movie where there is only one woman–or no women.”[1] I agree. I think some episodes of the TV show Entourage are surprisingly feminist in how they bend expectations of masculinity. But I think it also useful to have a metric for measuring gender equality in something as hyper-masculine as the film industry. So it got me wondering: why is there no Bechdel test for music? Specifically, for hip-hop and R&B, two genres famous for being about either a) individual financial success, b) heterosexual prowess, c) defeating one’s enemies with hot rhymes or d) all of the above. One of the most famous movies to pass the Bechdel test is Thelma & Louise because it is all about female friendship. I thought the same might be true for rap songs about friends. So I went on a search for some smooth and/or hard jams about platonic love. Continue reading “Big Sound Saturdays: That’s My Best Friend!”

Animal Feeling

…There’s a reason we try to teach our children this kind of sympathy. Lack of sympathy, or outright cruelty, to animals, stems from the same mindset that, more egregiously, can deny humanity to other people by denying their capacity to think or feel. The Victorians considered women less rational than men, and regarded other races and the lower classes as less sensitive to pain, thus denying these groups full humanity and consequently full legal rights. Given these attitudes toward members of our own species, it is unsurprising that many Victorians felt panicked when Darwin suggested our kinship with other creatures.

Editor’s Note: I’m very happy to introduce our newest writer, Isabella Cooper! I hope you’ll enjoy this heartfelt, nuanced look at our feelings toward animals–and how we can avoid letting our sympathy become a “zero sum game.”


I am a strong proponent of the idea that the things you loved most at age six are probably the things you should pursue for the rest of your life.  The thing I loved at that age was animals. My first memory is of delightedly watching the sea lions at Monterey Aquarium. I can’t actually remember the fishy smell, the barking, or the antics of those particular sea lions, but I remember the feeling.  And that same complex feeling—a mix of awe and joy and something I can only describe as love–that I felt watching those sea lions returns to me whenever I see an animal happy or in its natural habitat, living its wild animal life.

sea-lions1

All children are fascinated by animals, even if not with the same intense, protective attachment I felt for them.  The first time it occurred to me to feel guilty about caring so much for animals occurred after going to see the 1994 live-action version of The Jungle Book with my grandparents.  My grandfather mentioned to my parents the way I’d cried when I thought Baloo the bear had died, but had been pleased when the human “bad guys” died.  I felt rebuked, as I always have when someone has suggested that my emotions are excessive or inappropriate.  Beyond that, the implication was that I cared more for animals than people.  It wouldn’t be the last time I’d face that charge, and feel like I was somehow a species traitor.  (Let’s just say no one was surprised when I became a vegetarian at fourteen.) But that experience with my grandparents was my first realization that a core part of my being might be viewed by others as emotional self-indulgence.  Continue reading “Animal Feeling”

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! 

The Mindy Project Recap: Season 4 Episode 1

The Mindy Project is one of those shows that I think a lot of people support in theory, but have trouble remembering when it comes time to actually watch something. There are a couple of reasons I can’t stan for the show completely (foremost being its deep commitment to the parade of plain white dudes…I realize this is a send-up of/homage to traditional rom-coms, which traditionally have featured Tom Hanks/Billy Crystal types, but can we get ONE love interest or major character who isn’t the most vanilla of vanilla scoops?) Continue reading “The Mindy Project Recap: Season 4 Episode 1”