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”
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!
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?
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!
What are you reading? Anything good? I’d love a suggestion for some bed-time reading!
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!
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.
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!
Artists and their Muses: “Mistress America” review
Mistress America is about many things. It is a screwball comedy refracted through the Woody Allen hall of mirrors. It is a study in the dynamics of desire and exploitation in female friendship. It is a biography of a muse according to the object of her inspiration. It is an account of the early days of college life just as the imperative to “discover yourself” feels simultaneously, paradoxically, crucial and passé. It is a portrait of the artist as a young co-ed. Continue reading “Artists and their Muses: “Mistress America” review”
Must-Read: Friendship Stories
Post may contain slight spoilers.
Since tittering with Acro coven-mate K.S. at the beefcake and bromance of Magic Mike XXL last month, I have been hungry for more stories about friendship. One of the best things for me about the Magic Mike sequel was the way it dwelt in male friendship and let the quiet moments between the men unfold. Those, more than any panting over hard dude bods, are the moments that I recognize as most genuine.
Friendship seems always to get short shrift in popular discussions about relationships. While desire, usually expressed as sex or ambition, romance or power, is compulsively and regularly narrated for us, friendship is always the consolation prize. It is the zone that represents thwarted desire. As a form of dependence that does not preserve the individualism undergirding our narratives of desire, friendship has the potential to be something radically affirming and constructive. And for all our chatter about the difficulties of romantic love—men are like this, women are like this, am I right, ladies???—it is friendship that feels truly dynamic, diverse, complex and difficult.
In preparation for this list I asked some of my friends to recommend their favorite stories about friendship, and as with most friendly advice, I summarily ignored it all (thanks, buds!). So below find a more or less idiosyncratic and personal list of friendship stories that I find particularly compelling.
The relationship between Abbi and Ilana is the best-friendship I’ve always coveted. Both effortless and deep, whimsical yet vital, youthful but solid, their friendship is striking in its simplicity. Neither sex nor competition muddies their rapport and mutual devotion. And unlike other female friendships on this list, this is not the sweetness of girlhood dependence before adulthood and the world of men and sex intrudes. No rich dentist or kinky neighbor could hope to replace the spark that exists for these women in each other.
Ilana is the best-friend unicorn of every 20-something girl’s dreams. More adventurous, brazen and cocksure than the staid Abbi with a sporty suffer-no-fools attitude and a seemingly boundless well of affection, she is the exciting boundary-pushing fantasy girl that inspires so many submissions to Thought Catalogue. The manic pixie dream friend who doesn’t seek adulthood or personal development, but will joyfully hump a wall in triumph at learning that Abbi has finally, finally, pegged a guy.
Every time I hear Ilana’s “dooood!” I am reminded of all of my cusp-of-adulthood friendships and the self-contained intensity of young women who keep the best of themselves for each other.
We are, all of us, just Abbis searching for our Ilana.
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
There is a certain kind of friendship that is only possible in the presence of a shared enemy. I’m not talking about the kind of bonding facilitated by a bad boss or a mean teacher, but about a primal connection that can draw people hurt by the same person together. These friendships are built on the perverse satisfaction of dwelling in one’s misery, of discovering an ally who will poke your wound only to comfort you in your hurt. Finding someone who knows your pain intimately, and won’t ask you to metabolize it constructively.
This is the friendship that Roz, Charis and Tony share in Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride. Each woman has fallen victim to Zenia, erstwhile best friend and recidivist husband-stealer, whose long-ago death is not as permanent as it should be. They are drawn together through their shared anger and pain at Zenia’s various betrayals, but they are equally bound by an unspoken grief at her loss. Although each woman rages and mourns at the loss of her man, filtered through that pain is the more fundamental betrayal of sisterhood and friendship perpetrated by Zenia herself. We might have expected it of men, they say, but how could a woman do such a thing to me?
Drawn together by the betrayal of another woman, Roz, Charis and Tony need each other simply to bear the pain of losing both their men and their sisterhood at once.
Withnail and I
Unlike other nostalgic 80s films about the 60s, Withnail and I remembers the era as intermittently hopeless and hysterical through the lens of a rapidly disintegrating friendship.
The film follows the relationship between the titular Withnail, played masterfully by Richard E. Grant, and Marwood (the “I” played by Paul McGann), two unemployed actors living one drink to the next in a grimy London flat as they attempt to snatch a little relief from the oppressive misery of their lives on a misguided holiday in the country. It is about the kind of friendship made possible by substance abuse and the kind of substance abuse facilitated through codependence. Alcoholism enabled by a friendship that feels distressingly like addiction. Withnail’s calls for alcohol are a constant refrain, and one of the best scenes in the movie has Withnail guzzling lighter fluid after they’ve run out of booze while Marwood objects that “you should never mix your drinks!” Riding the line where devotion slides into addiction, it deftly captures the feeling of emotional hangover.
Here is codependence and self-destruction at its most horrific and compelling. Here is friendship with a profound loneliness at its center. Here are men who consume each other with needs that can never be satisfied.
I should mention this is a comedy.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
I am devoted to bromance. Although I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about women and their relationships, my heart positively melts in the presence of genuine affection between men. Bromance isn’t exactly rare in film—the buddy movie is a time honored tradition, as is the cowboy flick—but the friendship between Butch and Sundance transcends, for me, the usual perimeters of male friendship prescribed by Hollywood. Their jauntiness is not a cover for homosexual panic. Their friendship is not an excuse to flee shrewish wives. They do not compete for money or jobs or women. No grudging respect, this. Theirs is a meeting of kindred hearts.
Butch and Sundance are so obviously in love with each other in that way that we fall for friendships that feels like destiny. The movie feels a little dissonant because it looks and feels like a gritty revisionist western with the sparkling banter of a romantic comedy. It lets Paul Newman and Robert Redford be beautiful and charming at each other in a way that feels more consistent with Frank Capra than John Ford. Theirs is the closest to genuine sexual tension to appear on this list. The banter is clever and flirty, and it really seems that bickering through the desert on horseback is the greatest pleasure these men could imagine. If Robert Redford were a woman they would have found their way into bed before the third act. As it is, they consummate their love through the proxy of an apparently non-competitive romance with the same woman—Butch handles the seduction and Sundance gets the sex. But rather than doing the obvious queer reading this film is begging for, I want to dwell in the friendship. This movie allows us to enjoy the erotic potential of friendship without insisting that its only pleasure must eventually be sex.
At its center, the Harry Potter series is about the vital necessity of friendship to the struggle, any struggle. The ties of friendship in this world have the power to mobilize armies and topple totalitarian regimes. These books believe that courage is a function of community and that the causes we fight for must include the people we love. Friendship here is nothing if not a political association. It is the very basis of revolutionary potential and political action. Fighting for a better world cannot be divorced from dedication to community just as investment in friendship is intimately tied to enthusiasm for justice. It is, perhaps, a romantic fantasy to believe that a pure enough love can solve political problems, but I think it is just as true that the model of anti-individualist dependence offered by friendship is a good place to begin building a sustainable politics.
Friendship here, as in a lot of other YA fiction, is so much more critical than romance. The crucible of puberty and sexual awakening is a strong presence, but desire can never sustain the struggle the way friendship does. The most touching relationships in the series are not the romances, many of which whiff hard, but the fierce loyalty and trust comrades carry for each other. They fight for the world so that their friends may continue to live.
Sula by Toni Morrison
The friendship in Sula is, in many ways, quite the opposite of that in Broad City. While Abbi and Ilana can live uncomplicatedly for each other while high-fiving over their various conquests, Nel and Sula grow up violently and early to discover that the communion of women is perverse and destructive in a world organized by men under the sign of hetero love. Among many things, Sula explores the ravages that adulthood and sexuality have on the exuberance of female friendship.
Sula and Nel’s adolescent devotion disintegrates under the pressure of Nel’s choice to marry a man named Jude while Sula remains unattached and unapologetically unconventional. Eventually Nel loses Jude and Sula both, and they live most of their lives without each other. But Sula’s death provides one of the most heartbreaking moments of mourning for friendship I have ever found:
“All the same, all that time, I thought I was missing Jude.” And the loss pressed down on her chest and came up into her throat. “We were girls together,” she said as though explaining something. “O Lord, Sula,” she cried, “girl, girl, girlgirlgirl.”
To be girls together. That is a loss worth mourning.
Do you have a favorite story about friendship? Any recommendations for must-reads? Let us know in the comments!
“As I Lay Crying:” A Podcast Introduction
This week, we are happy to introduce one of our writers’ upcoming projects. “As I Lay Crying” tells stories and explores issues related to a very universal, yet specific, phenomenon.
We do it in our cars, bedrooms, maybe at work, alone or with loved ones, and perhaps in front of strangers: crying, that is. It’s innate in all of us. It may seem like a remarkably basic concept, but it has plenty of hidden depth. We frequently cried as babies and children, as a biological way to convey our needs, i.e. hunger. But it gets more complicated as adults.
Why do we cry? And when is it “appropriate?” When does it show weakness? Strength? Those questions sparked the idea for my podcast, “As I Lay Crying,” which will explore the various biological and sociocultural facets of crying. More importantly, it will tell stories of hardships and joys, and what it means to be human — all through the universal peg of crying.
I recently held a podcast discussion during which fifteen people opened up about reasons they’ve cried. In this “safe space,” almost everyone shared relatable and poignant experiences that resonated with the entire group. Topics like familial issues, relationship woes, and struggles with identity and body image were mentioned. There was visceral empathy and sympathy throughout. Most of it came from the women in the group.
Continue reading ““As I Lay Crying:” A Podcast Introduction”