Let Us Take a Trip Through Time


Let’s go back — far back (and I mean faaaar back, like a whole 4 years ago). Look into my crystal ball to see…

Teenage Cappy: writer, high school student and Strokes fan extraordinaire. She had long blonde hair, bangs, and was just learning how to do a cat eye (oh, so young with so much to learn about brow pencil and lipstick).

We’ll zoom in to April 2011, when Cappy was finishing her novella, Dark Blue, which showed promise to be one of the most forgotten works for young adults to date. Though…even I must admit, it was still a better love story than Twilight. Dark Blue told the story of a girl who found out her father had cheated on her mother with the mom of her crush. Confusing? Check. Bizarre and uncomfortable? Possibly. Unique storyline? Admittedly, yes. Maybe. I don’t know. Regardless, it featured some of the most contrived banter-dialogue known to man. See for yourself:

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Notice how frequently high-school-Cappy mentions and/or describes hairstyles in this particular excerpt. Classic. Believe me, there was a lot of “disheveled hair-flipping” and probably a few more brooding looks coming from Mack in that chapter, much less in the entire 116 page novella. The reader (whoever that is, unless the NSA hacked into my creative writing computer file) later finds that he was looking at her intently WITH HIS DARK BLUE EYES. OH LOOK, THERE’S THE TITLE.

Skip forward a bit to Bea and Mack realizing their parents had an affair 10 years prior. Slowly (really quickly within the span of about 15 pages) they fall in “love” even though Bea initially thought he was a stupid jock (he was just misunderstood!) and bond over their intense infatuation with The Strokes and other various indie/garage rock bands. Bea argues a lot with her dad (it’s weird to go back and see how much of my own life is reflected in this story) and Mack does something that makes Bea mad. Bea goes on some dates with a British exchange student who ends up only wanting her for sex (he is a total stock character if I ever wrote one) and Bea feels conflicted! OH GOD THE ANGST. Maggie’s character really only exists to serve as a stark contrast to Bea, and so fully embodies the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope that I’m surprised I didn’t actually know that trope existed until years after I wrote her character.

Dark Blue is fun to read over again, because it gives me a little glimpse of Cappy from 4 years ago. She just wanted to fall in love with a boy who liked music and played soccer and had dark hair, regardless of how FLAT HIS PERSONALITY WAS (oh my God it’s almost embarrassing how boring Mack is). It’s nice to see how far I’ve come (I now date jerky guys and pretty girls with long hair, so it’s kind of a step up).

Maybe I can salvage some plot points, rewrite some of the characters (literally every single character) and fix the dialogue (which may take the rest of my life, if we’re being realistic). I didn’t start this post with the intention of ripping apart the story I wrote when I was 17 years old, but it just happened. It’s so good to laugh at myself a little.

To be fair…it’s a damn good attempt. I wrote something with a beginning, middle, and end, and it was 116 pages long and took a year to write, and it made me feel accomplished. It’s better than some actual published books I’ve read (sorry E.L. James, but I still think I was a better writer than you when I was 17 and I didn’t even have to rely on bondage to make my plot at least somewhat interesting). I love going back and seeing where I was, because at least I can point to some new stuff I’ve written and say “I’ve come pretty freaking far.” It doesn’t discourage me from writing; in fact, it encourages me, because it shows me how much I can grow in a short time if I just keep writing.

Am I the first writer to give her own novella a bad review? Probably not. And anyway, I’ll just keep on keepin’ on.

xo

Oh…did I mention that I began each chapter with a song lyric that embodied that chapter? Because I did. The prologue describing Bea’s parents’ divorce started with a Tupac line. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

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One Time, A Guy Sang At Me


I always feel really conflicted when men come up and do things that they clearly think are nice when really they’re just making me uncomfortable.

So…for example, one time a guy sang at me. I say he sang at me because I sort of just sat there, bewildered, while I was accosted by Justin Bieber lyrics. He had approached me in the student union, asked me my name and told me I had a “beautiful smile.” He then proceeded to ask me if I had a boyfriend, because he’d “seen my boyfriend this morning. In the mirror.”

Clever. Also why is this happening?

Then he grabbed my hand (stop stop I do not do well with random strangers touching me please stop) and sang “Boyfriend” by Justin Bieber. I think at that point we might’ve gotten engaged, but I really don’t know because I think maybe I have PTSD and also I was focusing on trying to extricate my hand from his grip while simultaneously not seeming like a bitch.

And that’s the issue. I didn’t want to seem like a bitch. He was invading my personal space, particularly because I was trying to do my homework and didn’t really want to have a weird conversation with a random guy. But somehow I was concerned with making him feel comfortable in the situation; my entire life I’ve been subtly told that it’s my job to make sure that men feel comfortable, which…barf, no.

This is the type of thing that women navigate daily. It can be really lovely when people come up to you and say nice things and or just want to brighten your day by giving you a compliment. But it’s can also be really frustrating, because sometimes men assume that women want that sort of thing all the time, and we don’t. Sometimes we just want to get on with our lives without someone assuming that it’s okay to invade our space and make us uncomfortable. I didn’t know that guy. I didn’t want to go on a date with him. I actually told him I had a girlfriend, which was a total lie, and I still don’t totally know why I did that. I wanted to show him that I was both uninterested and unavailable for him while not having to actually say that out loud (thinking back, I probably should’ve just told him I wanted him to leave me alone). But even after I outed myself as not heterosexual to a random stranger, he stayed. That was when he started singing to me and holding my hand.

I laughed about it later with my roommate, because it was so random and out of nowhere, but I definitely felt more bewildered than happy about what had happened. Often, women have interactions with men that make them uncomfortable, and we just walk away from those encounters feeling bad and confused. I think we typically don’t feel justified in being upset about these types of things, because often men’s response is “why can’t you just take the compliment?”

I don’t want to be “complimented” like that. I do not want to be touched by strangers. I do not want to be sang to by strangers. I do not want to be hit on by strangers when I’m minding my own business at 4 pm in the student union.

I don’t know. This post was originally going to be a funny story about a weird thing that happened to me, but I couldn’t write it that way. As I wrote, I just felt weird. I don’t want people to do that; I don’t do that to other people. I just want to go about my life without people touching me without my permission simply because I’m a woman and they assume that I’ll be flattered. It was kinda creepy, to be honest. And I’m aware that some doofus is going to comment on this post and tell me I’m being a bitch, but at least people on the internet can’t try to hold my hand.

Healthy Living, or I Sexy-Danced for My Cat


I hate New Years Resolutions because I think that every day, not just January 1, presents an opportunity for change, but I think I’ve accidentally made one…

I’m going to lose weight. How much is my own business, and I share enough of my life on here as it is, but it’s really important to me that I lose it. I want to be healthy, feel better, get active, eat well. And…judging by how much pizza I ate last semester alone, this change is a little overdue. But better late than never, I guess! Plus…as much as I’m always yelling “love your body no matter what!” I want to feel sexy again, and it’s hard to do that when most of your clothes don’t fit. I suppose I could go all Lady Godiva on everyone, but I don’t particularly feel like getting arrested.

I’ve been back in my apartment for the last two days, and since then have been cooking for every meal, juicing, and exercising. Plus, I’ve had so much water that half of my life seems to be spent in the bathroom. Again, I share too much of my life on this blog. But I feel really good! A little more energetic and excited for the future. Y’all know how much I love to cook — the more complicated the recipe, the better — so this is fun for me.

The weather was gorgeous yesterday, so I went on a run around my neighborhood, past my old apartment. I bumped into an old friend — the little tiny kitty cat that lived upstairs — and she ran up to me for a cuddle. If every run involves snuggling tiny cats, I’ll lose this weight in no time.

But the weather changed today. It’s been so cold in my apartment that I checked at least 5 times to make sure the heater was actually working. There’s fog outside my window — so much that I can’t see outside. And so, with no other option but to stay inside and die slowly, I decided to work out and generate some body heat…and my sister had just given me a Zumba DVD.

Zumba is ridiculous. I probably burned more calories laughing at the instructors and myself than I burned from the actual workout. I kept yelling, “I CAN’T SALSA WHAT IS HAPPENING” while my cat stood under my feet and only just escaped being trampled at least three times. He retreated to his cat castle while I did this weird dance move that involved more shimmying than was really appropriate and I’m pretty sure I learned to booty-pop.

So I guess today’s lesson is…if you want to lose weight and you need to keep warm, you can always sexily dance for your cat.

xo

Cool It, People


Lately, I’ve had a few adults (and I say adults like I’m not one because they’re my parents’ age and also because I refuse to grow up) make sassy and inappropriate comments about my appearance. “Oh my goodness, what have you done to your hair? And you’ve got things in your nose!” When I hear these comments, I never quite know how to react, so I default to laughing a little and sort of ignoring the fact that I was just insulted tremendously by someone who should know better.

Maybe I should put them in their place, say, “Listen, sister, you better cool it because that’s rude and you’re clearly an ignorant moron.” Maybe I should forget everything I’ve ever learned and believed about nonviolence and just throw a glass of wine in their face — glass included. But today I’ve decided to just have a mini-rant on the internet because that’s what feels necessary. A little bebe PSA on how to act, because you’re an adult, and you know what you say is hurtful.

Yes, I choose to look this way. I choose to dye my hair and pierce my nose and have tattoos. But other people have a choice, too. They can either accept me for the way that I am, or judge me for what they see on the surface. They can choose to actually explore the creativity and kindness I have to offer the world, or they can — through willful ignorance — decide that they don’t care to expend any effort by getting to know me.

I’m pretty tame looking, if we’re being honest. I know people with so many tattoos and piercings you barely know what color their skin was originally. It takes all kinds of people to make this world as gorgeous as it is, and for people to expect everyone to look and act just like them is pretty unrealistic and frankly a little ridiculous. People are going to have to get used to seeing colored hair and piercings and style choices that they don’t like, because welcome to real life — things change. People don’t wear corsets and wigs anymore, thank goodness. Styles and tastes progress.

I think the most important thing to take away is this: if you see someone and you decide you don’t like their hair or their clothes or their septum piercing or their massive leg tattoo, get over it. Choose to not get a tattoo for yourself, but don’t put others down for their personal choices. Those choices are some of the few that will literally never hurt you personally — my nose piercing impacts zero percent of your life. Don’t get one yourself, sure — it would be pretty weird to see everyone wandering around with septum piercings and mooing like cows — but shut the hell up about mine.

I’m proud of myself for being an individual. I’m glad I don’t look like every other 21 year old white girl on this planet. I’m happy that when I walk out my door I do it with integrity and don’t try to pretend to be someone I’m not. As long as we’re all expressing our true selves, I say rock on. And if you’ve got an issue with that, go complain about it to someone else.

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Happy Happy


I just wanted to sit down and write something in the middle of the night because…I’m happy.

I’m happy because I’m warm in my bed and it’s absolutely frigid outside. I’m happy because I’m going home this weekend to visit my family and exist outside of this college town for a few days. I’m reading Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, and every page I read reminds me of who I’m going to become — spirited and wise and silly. I played so much guitar yesterday that my fingers are still sore today. I’m listening to The Doors, Peter Paul and Mary, The Allman Brothers Band, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young…and realizing how much beautiful music has made my life worth living. I spent the day with my roommate studying at a coffee shop and actually got a lot of work done. I’m happy because I’ve got two exams this week and feel enormously unprepared for both of them but…when has that ever stopped me? There’s always time.

I’ve found people I love and I spend time with them. I tell them how I feel about them. They feel the same way back.

I smell like incense almost every day because I bought champa flower oil and haven’t been able to stop sniffing myself for the past year. I worked out and ate cookies today.

I’m happy because…I’m me. And I’m a happy person. Even the word “happy” looks happy and that makes me happy, too.

One Time I Wrote Fanfic


It was awesome. There’s something really exhilarating about writing absolute tripe on the internet…maybe that’s why I like blogging. Anyway, it’s some of the most ridiculous nonsense I’ve ever written but I thought I’d share it with you here, because…because it’s Downton Abbey fanfic and Carson is sassy in it. So you’re welcome.

 

Midnight in the Library

In which Carson keeps it tight. Meow.

“Carson.” Thomas leaned against the doorframe, his sleeves rolled to the crook of his arm, vest buttons undone. His chest rose and fell quickly over labored breath. “Carson, I need you.”

Charles Carson looked up from his desk, his glasses at the tip of his nose. He pulled them off to chew tenderly on the end of his wire frames. “Oh?”

Thomas walked forward, leaning on the desk and pushing his face toward Carson’s. A small trickle of sweat ran down his temple, his hair disheveled, chest still heaving. “You’ve got no idea.”

This had become a common occurrence lately, as Thomas became more and more stressed with his duties serving Branson, so Carson was not particularly surprised to see him in disarray, panting above him. At first, Carson had disapproved of Thomas’ growing familiarity, running into his office at all hours of the evening, constantly needing advice or support of some kind. But loneliness gets the better of even the most upstanding men, and he’d begun to find Thomas’ adoration difficult to eschew. Carson was leaving tomorrow, anyway, without a word to anyone, not even Thomas. So no, it wasn’t surprising that Thomas arrived in Carson’s office at midnight, as the last bits of his candle flickered weakly. What was surprising, however, was that a desk still separated the two men.

Thomas led him into the library, fingers lightly grazing Carson’s hip through his jacket while he spoke. “I just can’t get these books straightened.” Never mind that book-straightening had never been an actual duty around Downton. Never mind that, had it been, Carson would have been even less capable of the task than Thomas. Never mind that they could be caught at any moment, suspiciously wandering the upstairs while the family slept. Nothing mattered now. Not now that Carson was leaving Downton forever. This was their last night together, and it would be spent in their place. It would be spent in the library.

It was too much. Carson found no reason to stay at Downton now, not now that he’d sullied his position and all it stood for. He’d loved every moment of his mischief, loved every warm breath that had passed from between Thomas’ beautiful lips, loved every second they’d spent alone in this darkened room. But he could no longer look Lord Grantham in the eye at dinner with these secrets ricocheting through his head. Given his propensity for telling the truth, no matter the cost, Carson knew he wouldn’t make it much longer without outing Thomas and himself as the sinners they were. The incandescent, passionate, sinning lovers they’d become.

It had been the false premises that intrigued him, always gave him that giddy fluttering in his stomach that he’d never experienced before. The questions Thomas had needed to ask him in the wee hours of the morning, drawing him from his bed in just a nightshirt. Before, he’d walked a tightrope of perfection that had thrilled him; polishing candlesticks had made his heart race in a way no woman ever had. But Thomas was an enigma, the most beautiful enigma, and now that he’d tasted freedom with Thomas, staying at Downton felt futile.

So he stood in the library, that same candle glimmering away in all its dying glory, his arm against a bookshelf as Thomas stood between him and so many classic pieces of literature, his breath catching in his throat, passion choking him as it never had before.

“Thomas,” Carson breathed. Thomas’ eyes twinkled wildly, his lips curled into the most glorious smirk he had ever seen. He exhaled heavily, leaning closer.

The candle flickered and, in a tiny burst of light, died.

Mating Rituals


My roommate fed me a cheese curd from Dairy Queen earlier today and I told her I loved her because…cheese. She just stuck it right in my mouth cuz she loves me, and now the feeling is mutual. Then…then she uttered the funniest, truest thing I’ve heard all week:

“Before you mate with the wild Cappy, gently feed her cheese curds. Don’t be too aggressive or you might scare her off.”

She’s right. I like to be fed cheese gently. Take notes, fellas.

On Diwali: Glorious, Magical, Bittersweet


Only the best restaurant I've ever eaten at in Bangalore.

Only the best restaurant I’ve ever eaten at in Bangalore.

It’s Diwali, and with that comes so much light and love and happiness for me as a Hindu. I continually learn about elements of my faith with each passing holiday, so I always have a hard time explaining Diwali to other people, but the most beautiful thing for me about Hinduism is that I feel it deep in my soul. I understand it there first, and then in my head. That doesn’t always sit well with others, but its what makes Hinduism mine. It’s why I am Hindu and not Jain or Sikh or Muslim or Jewish or anything else. I am inherently Hindu, deep through my core, and it bursts out of me in the most glorious ways. I am a human representation of the physical aspect of Diwali.

I am drawn, like that cliche moth to its mother flame, toward the light and love that Diwali represents, both in the material and spiritual worlds. But as I celebrate, I miss my mother. I miss India. I miss my spirit’s home. Hinduism and India, in my heart, are one.

So many things have reminded me of Bangalore this past week, even before I began celebrating the festival of light. My roommate bought a new hand soap that I’d used while I was in Bangalore, and every time I wash my hands I feel like crying a little as the scent reminds me of my time there. I watched a few videos of people celebrating Diwali in New Delhi and Bombay and once again felt like crying as I saw the trees wrapped in the most fluorescent lights known to mankind. I miss seeing those everywhere at night, simultaneously blinding and entrancing me. When I was in Bangalore, those lights comforted me even as I felt like dying from E. coli or homesickness for America, and remembering that they exist makes me want to jump aboard the nearest plane and endure 20 hours of air travel just so I can see them again.

India is magic. I miss the old men, laughing louder than I’d ever heard anyone laugh before, burping after they ate a good meal, looking at me like I was just a silly child when I got confused about directions. I miss rickshaws, those sassy little vehicles that simultaneously inspired terror and joy as they careened throughout the narrow side-streets. I miss women touching my blonde hair and telling me I was so tall. Mangoes. Everyone laughing at me. With me.

But in the same breath that I call India magical, I must also call it devastating. The duality of India is not lost on me: rich and poor living directly next to each other. Beggar children with no shoes standing atop piles of trash. Cattle wandering aimlessly, without owners or protection. Wild dogs, all of them with at least one injured limb, begging for food. Rabid. Begging. India begs, often without pride or ego, with the most desperate voice. It’s not something anyone can easily forget or ignore.

But it’s like a lover you can never leave behind. India. She appears in my dreams, calling out, begging me to return. And oh god, I would oblige if I only could. I don’t think I’d ever wept before, but I weep now for my companion. India is a physical representation of my god, my religion, the spirituality I feel deep within. And I need her now more than ever.

Diwali is glorious, shining, happy. I will celebrate and pray and love, of course, because this holiday is perfect. But this year, it is also tinged with sadness as I experience a longing for the home I never truly grew up in, wishing teleportation would hurry up and invent itself, because I’m homesick.

Henrietta


henrietta letters

Oh yeah, and I got some pretty sweet cat salt and pepper shakers, too. You’re welcome.

I’d never liked antiquing before — my mother half-dragging me around rooms full of musty nonsense that nobody wanted, my feet tired, my nose stinging a little from all that dust and “history.” History in quotes, of course, because much of it seems to be weird plastic crap from the 1970s that got tossed out of someone’s basement and somehow landed in a shop dubbed as an “antique.” But my family took a trip to a little town on the river and found an amazing shop with proper, beautiful antiques. Vases, gorgeous old pipes, well-preserved powder blue suitcases, lamps, a strangely huge collection of salt and pepper shakers and finally…a stack of old letters spanning from 1913 to 1935 chronicling the life of Henrietta, a woman from California whose husband died of influenza in 1918, whose children grew up and sent her postcards from their trips throughout the state, whose sister and disabled brother sent her darling letters, drawings, and times tables. My favorite envelope simply contains a newspaper clipping of a burned-down building, with the words “our old playgrounds are ruined” in thick pencil-scrawled cursive.

I hadn’t written or been inspired to write since I left India. Life has felt like a blur, and a not-so-pleasant one at that, since I returned. I miss my life in Bangalore, miss the way people treated me and loved me and randomly took photos with me, miss the bizarre hole-ridden sidewalks and too-strong milk in bags, miss the food (oh, the food), miss rickshaw rides through monsoons. I often find myself up at night wishing I were back there, even though I love being home in the states, where it’s actually quiet at night and I don’t have to wear long pants in 90 degrees with 80% humidity. I’m glad I don’t have E. coli anymore, which finally ended its long romp inside my intestines after 4 weeks of the most impressive diarrhea imaginable. But I want to go back. It’s particularly hard because I was supposed to be there for 10 weeks and left after 4 instead, so in my mind I’m supposed to be there, not here doing yard work at 7 a.m. or living in the country with only a few friends around. I got used to never being alone, always having something to look at or taste or laugh about (so many goats), and writing is such a solitary activity that I think I’ve been avoiding it.

But then…Henrietta. Henrietta has a story to tell, and I’ve been researching her family tree and census records, trying to get a timeline so I can imagine her life and recreate it on paper. She came to me on old, yellowed paper, wrapped in a pink ribbon, and it’s my job, my duty even, to do her justice. You’ll see the results. Not tomorrow, maybe not next year, but someday you’ll meet Henrietta.

Many thanks to my reader Hans, whose kind words and constant reassurance always add a little joy to my day! (Basically, he was like “Why don’t you write anymore” and I was like “Good question” and that was like…that.)

Bye Bye Bangalore, Bangalore Goodbye…


I’m leaving early. I’m leaving early, after one session instead of two, and it’s so bittersweet, because there are things I love about this country — the food, the constant respect I receive, the way everything lights up and twinkles at night — and things I truly despise — the sheer number of people and cars, the heat and dust, the fact that I can’t even drink the purified water without feeling sick. I’m leaving in 4 days, because it’s hard to exist far from home when your intestines are screaming and E. coli seems to have taken over your body. I’m leaving because it’s time to leave.

I’m leaving the wonderful friends I’ve made through my program, leaving the office aide Saraswati who has become my surrogate mother during this trip, leaving the temples and villages and mango carts. I’m leaving aloo gobi from my favorite “fast food” restaurant, the market on the corner that sells ice cream. The nights when we stay in and watch Bollywood music videos and laugh until we feel sick. The trips out of the city to feed elephants and see Tibetan monks and buy spices. Leaving rickshaw rides in monsoons, calls to prayer, sari fabric that must’ve come straight from god, and the most handsome boys at the cake shop down the street.

village

But I’m returning, too. Returning home, where I’ll hopefully rid myself of E. coli and get to hug my mother, breathe in her scent, sleep with my cat, take care of my father after his knee replacement, and drink tap water. With ice. Home, where I can actually eat fresh vegetables without worrying. Home, where people move too fast and worry too much and live with so much fear even when there’s no danger around the corner. There are downsides to every place you go.

Sometimes we forget that India isn’t some mystical land of wisdom and perfection. It’s seriously flawed; overpopulated, often undereducated, and still developing. That’s not a criticism. It’s a fact. And if I stayed here simply because I thought India was somehow going to heal me from within, to thoroughly cleanse me spiritually so I would come home a different person…well that would just be a dangerous illusion. To stay because I’m afraid to quit, because I’m “supposed” to stay, because I’m afraid of judgment…I won’t do that. I need to take care of myself, just as I would at home, and right now that means I need to be home. India has a spirit and mind of it’s own, that’s for sure, and right now our spirits are at odds.

I’ll miss this beautiful, terrible place. Truly I will. But I’ll be back, India. Tujh mein rab dikhtah hai. I see my god in you.