a reluctant hot take

women and cats SOM


I’m usually not a “hot take” writer, but it’s about that short story from the New Yorker, “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian. It was a story that was buzzing on Twitter over the weekend. I listened to her tell the story, which I suggest you should do.

It’s a timely piece, as we’re going through a revolution of how women are seen and treated. And, it’s a well-written piece. It reminds me of being in grad school–I read the New Yorker for a whole semester. It was good to read literary fiction again.

If you haven’t read or listened to the story, you should stop here because there be spoilers ahead…

One thing that has been sticking out to me about this story is our relationship with technology. When I started my novel in grad school which I have completed the first draft for during #NaNoWriMo, I was trying to wrestle with a story of being enchanted by and then ghosted by a man via our blogs. The novel went a completely different and to me lovely direction, but I want to get back to that topic next year.

What I realized after reading “Cat Person” was how analog I am in a digital world, especially in the land of love and relationships. But I always thought it was something I was doing wrong. If you want to count me not understanding how to be in the 21st century as wrong, then I’m hella wrong.

But really, though–it’s about how we communicate, or don’t effectively communicate with each other.

I’ve been on social media since I was 18 years old, starting with sixdegrees (RIP). I’ve had countless friendships and a few relationships or situationships–through that site and other sites. It seemed like an outflow of what I was doing offline with people–connecting on viewpoints and hobbies and passions.

Right around when I was basically fed up with dating or whatever I called my love life, the smartphone came around. “Cat Person” has so much to do with texting, and I am not really a texter.

Here’s a big section from the story that stuck out to me:

Soon she noticed that when she texted him he usually texted her back right away, but if she took more than a few hours to respond his next message would always be short and wouldn’t include a question, so it was up to her to re-initiate the conversation, which she always did. A few times, she got distracted for a day or so and wondered if the exchange would die out altogether, but then she’d think of something funny to tell him or she’d see a picture on the Internet that was relevant to their conversation, and they’d start up again.

This really stuck out because it described what the story calls a dance, but one that actually makes me quite dizzy and ill. It’s the 21st century form of the chase, except the gender roles have been reversed.

(And, by the way, I hate gender roles, I hate “the chase,” I hate all of that proscribed bullshit about how people should relate to each other since it’s so heavily steeped in misogyny and patriarchy anyway.)

Beyond this tech-heavy period and the fair and equitable treatment of women, this short story resonated with me because of how real (and really flawed) the characters were, and how real the situations were.

I was reminded of being in that dizzying dance with someone–pre-smartphone. I had a relationship while I was in college with an older man, this futures and commodities broker from a yuppie part of town–and I had met him in a chat room. I can’t even remember how we got together. I just remembered going out and drinking in his yuppie part of town, going back to his place, rinse repeat.

It was fun, even though clearly he was not my person.

Eventually, as I got a little closer and wanted to be just a tad more serious, and maybe the turning point was helping me move after I had to take a leave of absence from college, he ghosted.

I never blamed myself for that (I just wanted my Maxwell CD back!). Also, I’ve ghosted a dude–and this was still pre-smartphone.

But in other instances, especially lately, I have, a lot, like there is something really, really wrong with me. It’s not something that’s obvious. It’s just this dull, heavy weight that I drag around, of being some sort of misfit.

Yet through this story, I realized that in terms of how I communicate with people, I’m still stuck in the past where the internet enhanced life, not where it became life.

Back in college and soon after, being online wasn’t as prominent as it is now. You couldn’t drag a desktop computer with you. Online life and offline life were two distinct things. Online life connected you to offline life. But now, being online is so much more easier.

There are smartphones, tablets, smart watches, laptops, and notebooks. On a larger scale, we have the Internet of Things with wearables, smart thermostats, smart sensors, smart TVs, and remote doorbells and cameras. Bluetooth anything and everything. Through mobile apps, people can always know where you are.

We’re so much more accessible and have so many more forms of communication, and yet miscommunications and disconnections happen so much more often.

I’ve tried to adapt. I’ve been on dating sites and that’s just a lesson in being ignored or disrespected. But connecting with people in general just seems…fleeting.

Yesterday and today, I was talking to a friend about this story both on a literary and cultural level, and it was all just coming together, the realization of that dull, heavy weight that had been dragging me down. There was so much more clarity about the last 13 years of my life.

Although Margot, the main female character, is not at all like me, that section I shared above made me realize how much I’ve done that very thing–of trying to keep conversations going, of trying to contort myself into someone I’m not, just to get or keep someone’s attention.

Things fizzling out aren’t necessarily my fault. Sometimes, it’s that men generally really do suck at communication–that’s been an issue since time immemorial.

The Twitter account @MenCatPerson posted screenshots of men reacting to the short story. It showcased that not only do so many men fail at communication with women, but also fundamentally and obstinately fail to respect, understand, and appreciate women, which, I would dare say, is a major theme of this piece.

But layering on the technology piece, there was something that really rang true about how Margot and Robert were communicating and not communicating.

It wasn’t a line-by-line fit (I’m twice as old as Margot, so I’ve got a lot more maturity under my belt), but the spirit of it: the incessant waiting for intentions to be made clear, the self-doubt and constant questioning of one’s own intentions, the trying to make things fit when they really aren’t supposed to, just waiting for a reply or a phone call–all of that will haunt me for some time.

Granted, how Margot and Robert treated each other was nowhere near optimal (which is putting it lightly), and Robert, with being older, he should have had more experience in treating her better–ideally, anyway. But the gender and power dynamics that were happening, especially at the end of the story–again, I will be haunted.

What this story did for me was liberate me from being hurt or upset when communication drops–especially with men. I won’t be blaming myself to see what went wrong, trying to comb through every word I said.

Also, if I, being an early adopter of social media, can’t seem to get it right online (and sometimes offline), then how can I expect others to do the same? It’s a bit of a crapshoot, and it’s because this is all so new still, and we’re still trying to get the hang of online communication.

Just this year, I feel like I’ve found friends that are really there, as people. Even if the geography stinks, as it tends to do when you find friends online, it still beats forced solitude.

So, I may be stuck in a pre-smartphone mentality for the rest of my life, but it seems the better way to be. Although I am online most of the day because I write, I do try see people as people, who have feelings, hopes, dreams, and regrets.

I know my words have impact, and I know people’s words have impact on me. Just because I turn off my phone or shut the lid on my laptop doesn’t mean everyone’s lives are frozen in time or that people sublimate into nothing.

Yet beyond words, beyond intentions, beyond thoughts, beyond feelings–there are actions. Actions are so much easier to go by than a fictional storyline of what could possibly be be happening.

There could be some other person, or an illness, or too busy at work, or…just being done and over you, but doesn’t have enough guts to say it…or is completely about you and doesn’t have the guts to say it (yet?).

And, the actions that truly matter involve kindness and consideration. People hook up and get together all the time, and then it doesn’t work out. But because we think we can just turn off our phones or close our computers, that person will just disappear, like you were talking to some AI bot or a ghost.

That mentality has to shift, and soon. It’s dehumanizing and painful to be treated that way, to be seen as expendable.

Relationships are messy because people are messy. I want to be with people who don’t run away from the mess but embrace it. So I’m grateful for this story because it reminded me that, for now, where I am in my life, those kind of people are rare, and I cherish them as such. Yet it’s sadly a chronic symptom of a culture we live in, a very lonely and isolated culture.

We’re really not that good at keeping in touch and letting each other go.

Wanting to get closer to people, whether it’s for a night or for the rest of my life, is not a bad thing–even if I have to risk looking stupid, getting ghosted, being snubbed. It’s still worth it. I don’t have to transform into anyone else to find someone who isn’t afraid of a little mess, of seeing me as a whole person, of seeing me as someone with autonomy and worthy of respect.

I’ll leave you with a tweet I sent out last night:





“Daughter of the forest” – Tina Lawson

From my last blog post, I should have ended it with a song: “Daughters” by Lissie. So I’ll start this post with the song.

When I was writing about how awesome women are, and how awful men can be to women, this song came to mind. It’s catchy as hell, and it encapsulates what I was saying. You should listen to Lissie talk about the song, too.

We are the daughters
We are the damned and doomed
Give us your violence
We won’t be silent
We are the shelter
We are the helpers
We are the daughters

I don’t have anything more to add except for a fist raised in solidarity.

A buyer’s market


Straight ladies, it’s a buyer’s market–and we’re the buyers.

I had this thought after talking to a Virgo friend about yet another love interest of mine that went bust. At least I’m cycling closer and closer to the Truth. But as a Cancer moon, it’s been wearing on me.

This year, three times, feeling so close. Three times, I’ve been dead wrong.

The one thing I hate being wrong about is Love.

I had this thought about it being a buyer’s market this morning, in the bathroom–inspiration always hits there and in the kitchen for me.

Why am I the one doing all the emotional contortionism and intuitive gymnastics? Womendom has evolved light years ahead of mankind, and many times, I’m fed up at this large, cavernous gap of understanding between straight men and women. I can’t, and won’t, tolerate it.

Women are everything. We’re great spouses, partners, bosses, workers, siblings, friends, lovers, homemakers, mothers, community leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, healers, intuitives, guides, hostesses, chefs, nurses–you name it! There are many times I hope that over time, men are deleted from the human gene pool altogether. Why men?

And I don’t mean to bash men. I don’t have to. Men bash themselves, with violence, and we’re caught in the wake of it. The imbalance of kindness is stark. So many of us have been physically, emotionally, and spiritually harmed by men. So many of us don’t survive our encounters with men.

In light of this, I feel chagrined that I ever have felt that I needed to do any extra anything when it comes to men and dating. In my years of near misses, I was overworking my intuition, reading into imaginary or dead and rotten tea leaves.

I may have been left on the shelf way too long, covered in two inches of dust, sprinkled with copious amounts of invisibility. But. I know the white hot, laser-focused interest of a man. It’s very hard to ignore, that searing heat.

I don’t need to convince anyone of my awesomeness. Men need to convince me that they are worthy of me and my time.

I’m saying this at the bottom of the empty well of my life. On the outside, I look like a failure. I’m an underemployed writer with no local community. I’m juggling my bills, and not that well. I am always dropping one ball. I haven’t felt attractive in a while as I’ve been a hyperhomebody. If I’ve had any game, it’s out of date.

Even in this sphere of inertia, even in the disturbing stillness of my life, even as I rub more sleep out of my eyes–I know that I’ve been acting like men are some scarce resource. And well, good people in general seem to be in short supply.

On top of that, loneliness will make you feel like you’re worthy of whatever floats by, as if you don’t have any standards of decency. It can distort your self-image, making you think there’s something wrong with you.

There’s nothing wrong with you.

I can go on about being your own best friend, but this is not that post. Self-love is important, but so is community. We are social beings. The longing to hear that “me, too.” It’s why I’m a writer–ironically, because it can be a lonely profession, being alone in your thoughts.

As Cuffing Season comes and goes, just know that, as a woman, you’d better not fucking settle, not even with crushes. If you’re crushing hard on some unattainable, emotionally distant dude, look at what else is going on in your life. What are you running from? Address that, head on, as bravely as you can.

A crush is only anticipatory coping. But I’m not 100% anti-crush. I’m not dead. Cary Fukunaga can always come into my life and rescue me. But it is your energy, going from you to another source, in one way, going into a void. It could be energy you could use to serve you, to create your dream, to heal you, to liberate you.

This week (I think it was yesterday), I took my selenite wand, and, with Archangel Michael, I cut cords from any man I had even the slightest crush on (not Cary, of course! But everyone else!). I’m a (mostly) blank slate now. It’s so strange, because there’s always some calamity I’m trying to escape in my life. I admit, though–sometimes it’s nice to think about someone else. But for me, my tender Cancer moon gets way involved, way too involved, clutching with her little crab claws. And then, it’s torture. It’s suffering. It’s not a mental break.

So now what? I rest. For me, those messages of Love coming are still coming through. I can delight in that. I can knock off all that fucking, unnecessary efforting. I can delight that I won’t have to read into anyone’s actions anymore.

Well, we did talk for a while. And he asked me how I was.

What did that like on my tweet mean?

I swear on a stack of Bibles he was looking at me.

This is all work that I shouldn’t be doing.

I loathe this inner dialogue. It is the mental masturbation of desperation that never comes to any sort of climax. As women, we’re trained and socialized to be hypersensitive to other people and their emotions. Most of the time, it is to our detriment–we start ignoring what our intuition is saying to us, about us: real information that we can use.

And maybe my intuition is right, about all of the encounters I’ve had. But in my very earthbound world (I say this as a double Capricorn), if you’re not going to really act, if you’re not going to ask, to make the big gesture, to say the words, to do all the things that I’m willing to do–well, it’s all conjecture. And if you’re too afraid to do that work, of being present, of being vulnerable, of daring greatly to connect, then you’re definitely not worthy of my time. I won’t eat those emotional bread crumbs on a trail to nowhere.

Earlier this year, I definitely had a taste of kindness that felt refreshingly balanced, even innocent. Maybe there were strings attaching and forming–but I had to leave. Still, though, in the end, nothing happened. Those strings just dropped into the abyss of inaction.

And it drove me crazy, because I wanted more. And that’s not bad. But it was more of a quick life lesson, a tutorial, than a commencement of a relationship (where there would be oodles more lessons and tutorials. It’s not like learning ever ends).  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with whetting your appetite for the truth and beauty of kindness.

So, in being “wrong” about love, over and over–it means I’m learning what it isn’t. Each time I’ve gotten a 9 on the bullseye, I’ve gained more information into what I want, and what I don’t want. I’m improving my accuracy. I’m going to get a 10 really fucking soon.

This spills out into other relationships, too. As a Capricorn, I believe that I really work hard at all my relationships–usually too hard, even if I enjoy the effort. So much of my energy over the years was returning to me untouched, untapped, unwanted. I’ve had to be ruthless in cutting off those connections, because I will keep caring with an unintentional arrogance, as if my caring can change someone if they don’t want to be the friend or lover I want them to be. Even deities don’t have such powers.

Well, I’m humbled now. And I’m worn out.

Exhaustion: it’s a good place to start over, on your back, panting, maybe in some pain, palms up in surrender. Breathe. Peer into the darkness. You have the perspective of the night sky now, where Venus is shining bright under a crescent waxing moon. You can reimagine what your life can look like, in the community of two that you’ve been maybe even a little desperate for–and sure, you can even admit that yourself, the desperation. You don’t have to let that dictate your choices, though. You are loving the hell out of yourself now. You know better. You have adorned and clothed yourself in your own love. Your own love can now keep your safe. Your own love can keep you from choosing people who are not for you.

When Love comes calling, and you know it will, you will never have to question its message or intention. You will recognize and know Love.

It’s a buyer’s market. You can be choosy and choose yourself.