Weekly Dance Break: Dozing Off Again

So this is less a dance break and more of a…give-yourself-a-moment-to-breathe-maybe-unplug-maybe-catnap break. But I think we could all do with a little bit of it.

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What to Do About Depression: The Limits of the Social Model

How do people usually talk about disability, and is this model of thought applicable to thinking about mental illness and depression? Writer S.T. takes us on a journey through her own experience, both experiencing mental illness and researching the subject.

My sophomore year of college, I went through the worst depressive episode of my life. Making it to class – not even participating, just getting myself there – was a victory. I could barely leave the apartment, and some days, I couldn’t even leave my room. Pulling out details is difficult – most of the year is still submerged in a thick fog – but I remember sleeping through a psychology exam in November. The next day, I went to see my professor, sobbing hysterically in her office as I tried to explain why I had slept through two alarms. Abstractly, I knew what depression was, but as I sat there under her unsympathetic gaze, I didn’t feel like I was suffering from an illness. I felt like I was just lazy, weak, a bad student. A failure. My professor was hesitant to give me a makeup test. Her anger felt physically painful to me, but it was a pain I felt certain I deserved.

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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.

 

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! 

Ask Momo: 9/17/15

Momo tackles blankets/Miley Cyrus, office friendships, fashion.

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


Hey Momo,

My friend and I are still (I know, old news) kind of reeling from that amazing moment at the VMAs when Nicki came out to remind Miley what was what. It’s not that I stan for Nicki or anything. It was just so f—ing satisfying to see Miley put into her place while wearing those fake-ass ugly dreads and generally being a mess. I am so over these pop stars who pick and choose what parts of black culture to use to promote their own sorry asses. I guess that’s the whole history of pop music, but whatever.

Anyway, while I was talking to my other friend about this cultural theft and he (kind of rudely, I think?) was like, “But you have that blanket…” So, he’s talking about this Indian (Native American? Idk what term to use, sorry) blanket my parents and I bought while visiting South Dakota when I was a kid. I’ve had it for a long time and really love it. It has this really pretty red and yellow woven design on it, and I use it around the living room while I’m watching TV and stuff.

What I want to know is—do you think owning this blanket is also cultural appropriation? I’m feeling really conflicted because I would hate to participate in something that I personally hate in others. But no matter how I try to justify it to myself, I can’t really explain why it’s not really cultural theft. What do you think?

—Allison

Continue reading “Ask Momo: 9/17/15”

Last Night

Just…no.

I live ensconced in privilege.  I am white, I am well-educated, I got that education without accruing major debt, I have a supportive family and access to the healthcare I need. I grew up in a wonderful feminist household that gave me the confidence necessary to navigate a sexist world and the conviction that I do not deserve any less on account of my gender. I am not afraid to speak my mind. I don’t put up with being talked down to. I can jumpstart my car and open stuck jar lids and I find the idea of “needing a man” around for anything ridiculous. But every once in a while, I am forced to remember that none of these things – not my privilege, not my mind, not my willfulness – protects me from the men who think they are entitled to my attention and my body.

Continue reading “Last Night”