ABD: A Big Deal


Hey there! So… I’m not even going to make up an excuse. I haven’t been writing here at all because, for the past 9-or-so months, I have been working towards my comps. And, surprise! I did it, I’m ABD now!

Passing comps is a big deal, so one could say things are going well. But are they really? This is a telenovela after all.

The truth is, I can’t write. Not because I have nothing to say, but more because I keep second-guessing what I’ve got to say.

It shouldn’t be like this, really. I didn’t think it would be. My comps had been taking over my life for the past year or so, and I had been thinking of them like some sort of finish line, not the real one -obviously the finish line is the thesis defense-, but a pre-finish line that would make everything more approachable once crossed. I’ve always been fully aware that comps would be the hardest exam(s) I had ever taken, and now I passed them, so what’s my deal?

Maybe it’s a dash of post-partum, with a hint of PTSD. After all, I had been crafting those lists and that thesis proposal for months and months, and then March was just a giant monster exam -or, rather, 5 medium-sized monster exams-, culminating on April 4th with the proposal defense.

I had multiple nightmares between January and April. In each of them, I lived through a disaster version of the last exam. The week before, I had the weirdest nightmare, in which my exam was going perfectly well, and I was nailing it, until my scariest committee member said ‘OK, let’s not lie to ourselves, we all know you’re not suited for this program. Have a nice life.’ See, even my seemingly nice dreams won’t let me enjoy anything.

But the day came, and I did nail it. I really did. I answered each question, demonstrated and asserted my expertise, and addressed the fact that I’m a white woman in postcolonial studies. Then, they asked me to get out of the room to let them deliberate, and I was still second-guessing myself. I thought, isn’t that what we do to old dogs? We give them their favorite treats, we take them out for a nice day at the beach, we give them cuddles, we let them think that everything is great, and then BAM, they get euthanized.

E903E527-6C3B-4F88-8C2E-8E9C32CE6D17-4211-000005C6E6704018If even Jack Pearson says so, I’m screwed.

I was still imagining the worst, there in the hallway, as far as I could be from the room, for fear that I would hear them cackle about me and making fun of my stupid, stupid self, when they finally called me back in. And they told me I passed. One of my committee members even hugged me. Obviously, I looked shocked, because in my mind, I was already headed to the vet’s to get my last injection. My scariest committee member noticed my dumbfounded face and said ‘Did you really think it would go any other way dumbass?’, and I told them about my dark, dark dog analogy. They laughed heartily; they’d found it hilarious that I was so unsure, when there had been no doubt in their minds. Except that I was serious, I was fully waiting for the other shoe to drop. Maybe I still am.

So, people were happy for me, I got hugs and applause when I returned to my office, I celebrated with my friends that same night, and then with my boyfriend that weekend. It was relaxing for about 5 days.

Then, I had to deal with everything I had put on hold to deal with my comps. For starters, I had to write a conference presentation. And, most importantly, back in February, I received a Revise&Resubmit for an article I had sent out for publication. So, I started the revision process. Except that I can’t write.

Shouldn’t my comps have granted me with newfound confidence? Because, you know, they haven’t. I’m still deleting every word I write, thinking they’re shit. I’m still wondering if I have any legitimacy writing about this. I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It pains me that all the work I put towards my comps resulted in no tangible change in the way I perceive myself. I’m wondering if it will ever change. Will I ever see myself as an expert? Will I ever shed my doubts, just the time to finish this article, or you know, even better, permanently?

On Friday night, my boyfriend and I went out, and after a couple of beers, I started opening up about this. I had talked to a friend, who passed comps last year and went through the same self-doubting period, but that’s all. It felt good to talk to a non-academic about it, though. I know my boyfriend isn’t objective about me -whenever he’s drunk, he goes around telling everyone I’m a genius-, but maybe that’s exactly the type of thing I need to hear. What he told me was simple: maybe I should make a bigger deal out of it, maybe I’ve been downplaying it all along, because I’m riddled with anxiety and this stupid, stupid French modesty that prevents me from bragging, even when I would deserve to. Maybe I should brag more about the fact that I have 2 years left before being a doctor. Maybe I shouldn’t even add ‘if all goes well’ to my last sentence. Maybe I should just shout ‘I’m ABD, bitches!’ And stop worrying. For now.



The Epic Tale of the Mouse

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « fievel »           I realize it would have been funnier to write ‘tail’ instead of ‘tale’, but Fievel did it before me, and I didn’t want to plagiarize him.

Fair warning: this story does not depict me in a glorious light. Sure, I made a few confessions in these posts, I even confessed to being an embarrassment. But this story, still fresh in my mind because it occurred less than 2 weeks ago, shows that I am ultimately a scaredy cat with zero common sense.

Two weeks ago, my boyfriend’s car was in the shop for the state inspection, so I had to drive him to work in the morning and pick him up at night. So, I dropped him off, went back to his place to get into my running clothes -yeah guys, I run now, a lot has happened in 2 months-, when I saw it.

A mouse.

A cocky, carefree, tiny little mouse, in the middle of his living room.

I screamed pathetically, as if the poor thing was going to harm me, when it was barely bigger than my toe. Naturally, it ran off under the couch. But as soon as I was done screaming, it came back, thinking that the giant lady in the living room was gone already. When it saw me, it ran away again.

Here’s what went through my mind: ‘Fuck this shit, I’m not staying in this mice-infested apartment, I’m gonna take my purse and run away too, never to return again!’

So I did, and I drove to the place that one drives to, when one doesn’t know where to go.


Being the grown-ass woman that I am, I called my mom. She laughed so hard I thought she was gonna have a stroke. ‘My poor child, you’re so dramatic. Go back there, it’s not gonna eat you, and call maintenance so they can come and catch it.’ I did call maintenance, but I did not go back. For the past couple of days, I had postponed going to water my boyfriend’s mom’s plants, because ain’t nobody got time for that. But now, I had plenty of time to kill, so I went there. And also to Trader Joes, Barnes & Noble, and Old Navy.

When I ran out of distractions, I thought, shit, I should go back and do some work, but what if the mouse has mutated and is now the size of an elephant, with the strength of a White Walker?

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « white walker gif »Yeah because this summer, the boyfriend and I started watching Game of Thrones, approximately 25 years after everyone else. So many changes, guys! (Also, I might be in love with Tyrion)

So, instead of going home, I went to the office building to see if maintenance was coming soon. I thought, why not wait for the guy to open the door? Who knows what I might find. The guy was coming within half an hour, so I decided to wait. I waited IN FRONT OF THE APARTMENT, while holding my Trader Joes bag like a pathetic person. The guy arrived 45 minutes later, of course, wondering what I was doing waiting like an idiot.

He opened the door and, of course, no mouse. He looked everywhere, and I mean everywhere, behind the fridge, under the oven, in the closets, NOTHING. He seemed to think the little beast had fled the building as swiftly as it had arrived, but he could tell I was being paranoid, so he offered to set some glue traps. And you know, I love animals, and if I had seen that little specimen outside, I would have cooed and used my baby voice to talk to it. But there is something about seeing an unexpected animal in your living space, where it’s not supposed to be. It’s a fucked up feeling, I get it, because technically, I do not want to kill little mice, not even trap them in glue! But my irrational fear got the better of me and I became like Kelly Kapoor when she sees the bat.

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « kelly kapoor bat »ME AF.

So he set traps, warning me that the poor little thing was probably gone already, and that I shouldn’t expect to catch it. I nodded and smiled, but while he was talking, I was plotting my next move. Which was to get the fuck out of there. Keep in mind that I was in my running clothes, which were wayyyy too hot for the weather. So I took a bag, shook it a million times to be sure that no mouse was hiding in it, and packed all my stuff: a dress, a non-sports bra, sandals, deodorant, my iPad and my phone charger. As soon as the guy left, I left too.

Why didn’t I stay, you ask? Yes, I am aware that the mouse was probably gone, since he had looked everywhere with no results. But I was CONVINCED that the mouse was a cunning, criminal mastermind, who would come back as soon as the big strong man was gone, in order to terrorize me.

So I chose the ridiculous way out. I went to change at THE PARK, which is the epitome of ridiculous. Why didn’t I go to a café? I don’t know. I wasn’t thinking rationally at that point. I just wanted to get out of the house, and get out of my warm clothes. The park I run in has a very clean changing room with sinks and hooks for clothes, so I went there, and finished the day wandering around town like a hobo, carrying my iPad with me to watch The Great British Bake Off on Netflix while sipping on Panera coffee, until it was time for me to pick up my boyfriend.

We never saw the mouse again. I am convinced it went away the second I left that morning.

What this story has taught me is that I am a ridiculous person and it is embarrassing to be me.

The End.

Next time, maybe I’ll tell you about the reasons why I love Tyrion, because there are a lot.

Boring and proud

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A few years ago, when I was young, I had many fears. One of them was to become old, and another was to become boring. Actually, I had a very specific idea of what boring meant: for me, serious couples were boring, because they were constant and seemingly not exciting. So, I judged. When someone I knew started a good relationship, my second instinct after being happy for them was to dread the inevitable: the moment they would become boring.

Why? Because I was fed rom-coms in an IV, and religiously watched Sex & the City as if it were reality. Now, when I imagine myself in my thirties (which does not take that much imagination…), I can’t imagine being as messy as Carrie, in my closet or in my relationships. But back then, in my late teens/early twenties, I firmly believed that having drama signified being alive. And as far as I knew, couples who ‘settled down’, steady couples, did not have drama.

I was wrong on so many levels…first of all, just because it’s not visible to me doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, and I ended up discovering that serious couples do have drama from time to time, but they just don’t display it as gleefully as silly 19-year-olds who go on a third date once in a blue moon. Another thing I was wrong about, is that ‘drama is life’. Yeah, more like ‘drama is a pain in the ass’.

Image result for kim kardashian gif dramatic

This weekend, my boyfriend and I celebrated our 4 years together. It may not seem like much, in the grand scheme of things, but to me it is a lot. When I met him, I was not in a very stable place: I was anxiously waiting for a job offer, and my relationships had been shaky for, well…all my life. I don’t want to say that he ‘saved me’ from bad relationships, that’s not the narrative I want to take part in. But meeting him woke me up. I realized that drama was the enemy, not the fuel. I realized that there is nothing wrong with seeming a little boring to others, as long as you are happy in your own life and relationship.

Maybe I’m getting old, maybe it’s just that. Maybe my youthful fears came true: I am older and therefore boring. But you know, I’ll take it. I feel happier staying in and watching Netflix with my boyfriend than I used to feel staying up until 2am waiting for some guy to call. Stability is not boring, it is fulfilling. I’m not saying our life is perfectly stable, we have fights, and probably more than we would like to. But every fight is not a potential threat to our relationship, it is merely a little annoyance.

Here’s another way to put it. When I was younger, I really liked the movie He’s just not that into you. You know, where Bradley Cooper cheats on his wife Jennifer Connelly with his mistress Scarlett Johansson. Well, as a young bitch in her early twenties, I used to feel really bad for Scarlett Johansson’s character. I was all like ‘Bradley’s wife is so BORING, why wouldn’t he be attracted to this fun, gorgeous blonde with huge boobs?’. I found him excuses and found it really tragic that he and Scarlett did not find their way to each other in the end. I rewatched the movie recently (don’t judge me, it was on TV)(…)(Fine, it was on demand. But it was for free.), and I realized I was really insensitive before. Bradley Cooper is obviously a fuckboi, and Jennifer Connelly is a boss, especially when she leaves his ass in the end. I still feel bad for Scarlett, but when she purposefully decides to seduce a married man, I want to stage an intervention for her and tell her that she deserves better.

The point is, Jennifer Connelly was never boring. Maybe she got too hung up on the color of their wallpaper, and she definitely wrongly accused her contractor of smoking in her brand new house, but apart from that, she did nothing wrong. She was simply comfortable in her relationship, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

After years of relationship, I’m not saying the passion necessarily has to be gone, but I’m just saying that we can’t act like Scarlett Johansson every single day. If you were to look into my phone, and into my conversations with my boyfriend, you wouldn’t see a lot of steamy texts. You would probably see me ask him what he wants to have for dinner, and you would definitely see us exchange gifs of cute baby sloths.

Related imageJust like this little cutie, there’s nothing wrong with being comfortable.


Image result for french depression crazy ex girlfriend

If I were Carrie Bradshaw, I would start like this: ‘I couldn’t help but wonder, am I exotic?’

But I’m not Carrie Bradshaw, so I won’t.

The thing is, this morning, I went to the bank -I know, I know, fascinating- and was treated like a fancy princess by the woman working there, and let me tell you, it wasn’t because of my bank account.

She fell in love with me the moment I told her I was French. Just to be clear, I don’t walk around telling everyone I’m French, but it was necessary information for the question I wanted to ask her, which was about international wire transfers -my life is so glam.

Her face lit up and she stopped listening to me instantly. She actually cut me off and asked me to confirm that I am, in fact, French.

Ummm yeah, calm down, bank lady.

She especially had trouble keeping it in her pants when she mentioned my brand new president, whom we elected yesterday, and she literally said: ‘Oh my, you have a sexy new president!’. True, our new guy is probably the sexiest president we’ve had since, well, Chirac.

Image result for jacques chirac sexyWell hello there, Mr. President.

Alright, back to Bank Lady. She helped me out with my questions, but as soon as that was done, she asked me a million questions of her own, about how it feels to be French -I mean wut- and what brought me here. Part of me still thinks she wanted to check that I was here legally, but mostly, she really wanted to know more about being French. She mentioned several times that she was born and raised around here and had not travelled too much, so the idea of living so far from home fascinated her. I indulged her a little bit and andswered a bunch of her questions in a way that was as cliché as possible. I casually mentioned croissants a couple of times and I basically gave her what she wanted to hear -my international wire question had high stakes; I was trying to score a couple of free ones.

It’s not the first time a person has completely exoticized me because being French is a small part of my identity. On paper, it bothers me, because it turns me into a walking stereotype and ignores who I really am. We’ve talked about this. But in real life, when someone asks you a lot of weird questions about your Frenchness, you smile and nod, because it is not the time or the place to take a stand and quote Edward Said.

I know orientalism doesn’t apply to me, I’m just making a joke, relax.

So, Bank Lady asked me a lot of personal questions and, when it came to why I was in the area instead of in the town where I go to school, I told her my boyfriend lived around here and I was staying with him for the week. She then proceeded to ask me how we met -if you are starting to think that Bank Lady is a little inappropriate, you’re not the only one- and she ended up saying something along the lines of ‘he must have liked you instantly because you’re French!’

Alright. So I know that it came from a good place, probably. She meant it as a compliment. She also is not totally wrong; my boyfriend thought it was really sexy to date a French woman, but after almost 4 years, the novelty of it has worn off for real. But come on Bank Lady, saying he liked me instantly because of my nationality? That’s pushing it a little bit too far. He liked me instantly because I have a great rack.

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Coin toss

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Everyone has thought of the fact that one single change in our actions could have led to a completely different outcome in our lives. For instance, had you decided to go home instead of going out to the bar that night, perhaps you wouldn’t have met your future husband. Or even if you had gone to the bar but had gone to the bathroom about 10 seconds before you did, he would have slipped through your fingers and you would never have known what you had missed. Frightening, huh?

I think about those things a lot. But there is one thing, one alternate universe that I had never really thought of until earlier this month.

I was in an Uber with my friends, ready to go to the conference I told you about. Our conversation brought us to the topic of my college friend, let’s call her Lolo because that’s her name, who studied abroad in the US a year before me. My friends asked me where in the US she stayed, back in 2010, and it prompted me to tell the whole story, for the first time in several years. Lolo and I had both applied for the same TA job in the US that year, and our professor didn’t want the burden of choosing between us, so he decided to flip a coin for it. So, one of the biggest life changes ever was decided by literal fate -I can’t even remember if I chose heads or tails- and I lost. Lolo won and went to Carbondale, IL for a whole school year, while I stayed in Normandy. My professor had promised me a TA job for the next year, and had assured me that the position I would get, in Newark, DE, would be more enjoyable than the job I had just lost on a coin flip. He was right, and the rest is history.

After telling my friends -and our poor Uber driver who had to sit through it- the story of the coin toss, my friend Eric freaked out and said: ‘Can you imagine what your life would be like today if you had won?’

And it’s true. I don’t often reflect on this moment, but I used to think of it as an infuriating, unfair moment, as if I had been wronged. But the alternative would have been going to Illinois instead of my beloved Delaware -although at the time, I had no idea of course- and perhaps not getting all the opportunities that I got. It would certainly mean not meeting my boyfriend, which I can’t even imagine.

Maybe I would still be in Illinois, or maybe I would have stayed a year, like Lolo did, and gone back to France after. Maybe I would be back working at the hotel. Maybe I would have tried for a PhD in Europe, still in American studies, which means I would still be writing about phallic symbols in Annie Proulx’s work (more on that another day I guess) (now you know why I might blurt out the word ‘penis’ in any circumstance). It’s hard to think of what would have happened if such a huge change hadn’t happened. I’d rather not think too much about this alternate universe.

That coin flip is particularly connoted as a ‘deciding moment’, because it explicitly carried a life-altering decision, but can you imagine how many moments like this one we live through everyday, without necessarily realizing it?

Image result for mind blown gif

Another thing that I noticed these days -not as mind-blowing, but interesting enough- is how one single moment or action can make people’s perception of you drastically different. I’ve talked before about my horrible first year in my program, when all my professors thought I was a lazy bitch. The more I think about it, the more I believe this general opinion was based on -well, my moody attitude, for one…but also- a couple of instances of me not behaving exactly the way they wanted me to. Then, snowball effect, and the few professors who did not feel satisfied with my performance ‘contaminated’ the others with their tainted opinion of me and BOOM, a reputation is born. I’m not complaining, because the whole situation gave me the opportunity to rethink my goals and priorities, and I discussed this with you before, so I won’t bore you for much longer with it. But the fact is, I was not horrible every day, but I was probably horrible on the wrong couple of occasions.

Recently -well, on Monday-, I went to a dissertation defense. It was a defense no one was hoping for anymore; the now-doctor is sort of an unconventional student, she is in her mid-forties, has been ABD before, and has had a shaky relationship with her professors and her advisor. I went to her defense for support, of course, but also because it’s something that we are expected to do, as much as we can. When the department invites us to something, we make a point to go. I expected a trainwreck, not because she is not capable, because she IS, but more because I knew how strained her relationship with her advisor was.

The truth is, she did an amazing job, and it was one of the best defenses I had ever been to. She spoke with confidence, but was also relaxed and cracked a few jokes, and her advisor seemed to look at her with more and more admiration as time went by. She had redeemed herself, and the atmosphere after the defense was very telling: we all had champagne and snacks, and her advisor started joking about their complex relationship, as if it were a thing of the past. It was really cool to witness.

However, his other advisee was present, and although she is viewed in the department as Little Miss Perfect, she committed a faux-pas -I will not bore you with the details of it because it’s long and annoying, but let’s just say that she omitted to tell her advisor about something very important, and screwed herself over in the process- that sent her straight to undesirable territory. When I tell you that a single action can change everything, it’s because it happened right before my eyes two days ago.

Alright, today’s topic wasn’t super fun, but I promise to come back soon with more light-hearted stuff. Although I am in the middle of watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu, so who knows, maybe I’ll come back with gut-wrenching commentaries on nowadays’ society and how it relates to the dystopian society of Gilead. We’ll see. (Who else was shaken to the core by Episode 3?)



Confidence boost

Image result for winston bishop gif

Guys, I know (I’m saying ‘guys’ as if I still have more than one reader), I’ve been absent forever. But unlike my students, I’m not gonna try to make up a pathetic excuse for not being around. The truth is, I’ve been busy: I took an important exam (and passed it), I went to a conference, and now I shouldn’t even be here. I have three final papers due next week, so I should probably be writing them, instead of telling you about my life. And yet, here we are.

Where should I start? Probably by telling you that in the near future, I’m going to TRY and post more, because just by opening up the WordPress website, I could tell that I had missed it. And also, I waste a lot of time looking at reviews for every single episode of every single TV show I watch, so why not use my free time to write instead?

So, what’s up with me, you ask? From my very presumptuous title, you can probably tell that things are going pretty well. I told you about my impostor syndrome before, and it hasn’t gone away per se, but the recent events made it fade a little bit. For one, I passed my candidacy exam, which means that my committee members are essentially on board with my thesis proposal. After months of self-doubt, hearing that I have a good project made me feel extremely light, and even if I have a shitton of work to do still, I can see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel -the tunnel didn’t have an end a few months ago, so I guess that’s progress.

And then, I went to a conference, for the second time in my life. It was actually the first time I ever presented on my area of interest, specifically on a novel that I will analyze in my future thesis, so let me tell you, I was shaking in my boots.

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I went to the conference with two friends, but my advisor AND my former advisor were also there, so yeah, I was pretty nervous. What if I tripped over my own feet and fell over? What if my nervous sweat formed a puddle under me? What if I accidentally said ‘penis’ instead of ‘colonization’?

What if what I have to say sucks?

When I found out I wasn’t gonna be able to sit to present -my last experience with conferences had more of a roundtable kinda vibe-, I freaked out: everybody was going to see that my hands were shaking, because I didn’t even have a podium to put my paper on. At the end of the day, it went well. I was scared for the first two minutes, but right after that I started making jokes (well, not hilarious ones, and not ‘that’s what she said’ jokes, but, you know, things that make academics laugh) and feeling much more comfortable given the situation.

This semester has been a huge confidence boost, so far. I’m saying ‘so far’ because I still have a few assignments to complete, so who knows how much I could screw those up. But really, even if I still feel like a failure most of the time, I know I can do this.

On a different topic, I bumped into one of my students at Target as I was buying tampons, so there’s that.



alba-villanueva-5-1453496549Abuela is judging me.

I’ve been absent from this page for weeks now, for a lot of reasons, all related. The main word is work. I’ve had way too much to do, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t had down time. The problem is what I’ve been doing during my (rare) off time. I’m guilt-ridden every time I choose to do something over another. I feel guilty when I’m not working to begin with, but on top of this, when I do something other than read/study/write my proposal, I feel guilty about doing this one thing rather than another. If I choose to watch TV, a voice in my head scolds me for not writing an email or a letter to my friends instead. If I decide to knit, I scold myself for not writing on this blog, and so on. I haven’t allowed myself to do a lot of things lately, knitting is a good example. Last weekend though, Jane Fonda -my boyfriend’s mom, a fellow knitter- signed us up for a knitting class. I was excited but also pissed, because this class had an assignment; we needed to complete a few rows before showing up. I complied and did it, and I realized what I had been missing: an activity that allowed me to create AND to relieve my stress. I found myself enjoying the class immensely too, not only because I was the best knitter there and could unleash my inner Monica Geller, but also because I just threw myself in my project without thinking about all my work, for the first time in weeks.

539a25bba04b683802338d52ea9a459dYou go, girl.

So, I started thinking: why am I feeling guilty about all these other activities? What is so bad about prioritizing anyways? I’m writing on here right now, because I don’t have the energy to do any work, but also because it helps me relax and reflect on things. Also, in my free time, I watch TV a lot. What’s so bad about that? TV can be relaxing, and it can sometimes spark reflection. TV can be quite powerful, actually. Within the past month, two of my favorite shows have tackled the crucial question of abortion (no relation whatsoever with my previous topic: knitting). I’m going to try and stay out of politics for this one, because I always said that this is not a place for debates or politics in general, but I believe certain topics are even more powerful in light of recent events. Certain topics need to be referenced and to stop being invisible and, therefore, stigmatized. Both Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex Girlfriend handled abortion very tastefully in the past few weeks, and I thought I would talk about it a little bit today, because in my opinion, this issue is closely linked to guilt, too. In Jane the Virgin, –SPOILER ALERT–  Jane’s mom Xiomara has a medical abortion off-screen after finding out she was pregnant with Esteban’s baby. She doesn’t only have an abortion because it’s Esteban’s and not Rogelio’s; she literally does NOT want another child, and this is even what ended her relationship with Rogelio, whom she loves so much. Her decision is really that, a decision. She’s not a kid anymore, she could technically handle another child, even if money would be a little tight. But she doesn’t want to have to handle it, because she doesn’t want it. Her biggest problem is telling her very religious mom -can you blame her? I’m still shuddering from the gif I posted above-, but she had no problem telling her daughter, and her daughter’s husband (and probably Rogelio, too). In Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Paula gets pregnant right when she finally gets into law school. Her husband points out that she has options right away, without saying the word, and Paula brushes it off quickly, stating that those ‘options’ are for teenagers who got knocked up at prom -I’m paraphrasing. I got really upset at the show after hearing this conversation, because I was expecting more from the writers. But by the end of the episode, Paula has realized that her dreams would literally be shattered by this pregnancy, and that she would be miserable. She also has an abortion off-screen, and the word is finally pronounced by her son, who hilariously says he will get the door ‘because you just had an ABORTION’. I giggled at that one, because it’s funny, but then it hit me: this is important. Don’t hide the word, don’t use metaphors, don’t treat it like something shameful. Paula told her son, because this act of family planning concerns him. He is part of this family, he has the right to know, just like she would have had the right to hide it from him if she had wanted to. Everything about this is a question of choice.

Everything about it is also a question of guilt. The common ground between these two women is their absence of guilt. Xiomara voices it when she tells Jane that Alba is punishing her because she does NOT feel guilty about her abortion, and Alba thinks she should. People’s relationship with abortion is a catch-22: (some) women who have had one feel guilty because society is telling them that it’s shameful. But society is saying this, partly because no one is vocal about abortion. Sure, people talk about it as a societal problem, so it gets some screen time, but as a secretive practice that is, above all, private, if not downright shameful. What these two shows have done recently is take the stigma out, and prove that you can choose to have an abortion and be right back on your feet. It doesn’t make you a bad person, either.

tumblr_ofnhf326zv1qa3emao5_540Another spoiler alert: Abuela comes through.

So yeah, TV can spark discussion, it can be deep.

Watching TV needs to be destigmatized. I should not be shamed because I have watched TV, and I refuse to feel guilty.




I like to let my mind wander when I drive. On my weekly commute yesterday, I got to thinking about social constructs. Mainly because of the discussion I had with one of my friends that same day. Her boyfriend was born in Bangladesh 32 years ago, but his passport says he’s only 31. The embassy must have made a mistake with his date of birth and now, in America, where he’s lived for about 10 years, he’s officially a year younger than he actually is. The crazy part is that he has now internalized his new age, and refers to himself as being 31, not 32. My first reaction was a mix of ‘Wow, how lucky, he gains an extra year!’ and ‘It’s disturbing that such a big error would be made on such an important document.’ Then, I found it pretty weird that he would ignore his real age and act like he is only 31. I thought that, if it were me, I would be very aware of the reality and never mix up the two.

And then, on my drive, it dawned on me: what if age was yet another social construct? It’s all about perception, after all. For instance, I’m a person for whom it’s very important to keep track of time. Anniversaries, dates and duration are a big deal to me, and you *may* have noticed that I talk about my age quite a lot. When I’m older, I’ll probably never lie about my age, because I personally find it unsettling. I need to be aware of time passing, and be firmly grounded in a timeline. But, come to think of it, my behavior and comfort zone are completely determined by the society I live in. Every date is documented, people know exactly when they have sent and received every email, and everyone’s birthday is on Facebook. So what if I started telling people that I’m 32, all of a sudden? What would it change for me, besides their perception of me?

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I also realized that I’ve always been very judgmental of people who lie about their age, because it unsettles me personally. Take the plot of the show Younger, for instance. (I know, I know, any excuse to start talking about TV, right?) Liza (pictured above) is a 40-year-old mom from NJ and pretends to be 26 in order to land an assistant job in publishing. The premise fascinates me, because of the implied social experiment, but I find myself judging the main character pretty hard. For me, she is a liar first and foremost, and people deserve the truth. But the interesting thing is: why? Why does this particular truth matter? If she were lying about anything else that we consider a pure fact, like her height, her weight or blood type, it wouldn’t matter at all. But because age is such a heavily loaded question, because it allows us to put people in categories according to where they are in life, we find it crucial. So sure, the main character is lying to everyone in her life, but the point is, she didn’t have to try really hard to make that lie stick. She introduces herself as a 26-year-old and BOOM, everyone believes her, just like that. Because people will believe what you tell them, most of the time.

So really, is age all that important? We could argue that it’s just a number, that it’s all about how you feel on the inside. It sounds cliché but it might just be true. Liza lies about her age but she is sincere with the people in her life, about everything else. So why should it be a big deal? Maybe I would be less afraid of the passing of time if I let go for a minute and stopped counting the days, weeks and months.

That’s what I reflected upon, on my drive yesterday.

Then, I looked in my rear view mirror for a second.

I saw my frown lines.

And then, I concluded that age exists, after all.


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I am an embarrassment


As much as I would love to be a Gabrielle Solis, I think I’m unfortunately more of a Susan Mayer. When you’re an embarrassment, being able to laugh at yourself is a good skill to have. So sure, I’ve never been caught naked in some bushes, but some of my awkward moments were pretty laughable too.

  • Let’s start with the heaviest of the embarrassing stories I have in store. During mandatory study time at boarding school, I was gleefully chatting with my friends and helping them with their homework. I got up from my chair a bunch of times, when a kind soul -a fellow high schooler named Juliette, can’t forget that name because it’s also my grandmother’s- came close to me and whispered: ‘Hey MPug, can I talk to you?’ I was like, yeah, sure. She asked me if I was on my period right now, and I thought it was a weird question, but I figured she wanted to borrow a tampon or something, so I answered candidly that yes, I was. And then, she said ‘You have a huge blood stain on your butt.’ YUP.


  • OK, no big deal but this might be the funniest story in the world. I don’t know if it’s really that ’embarrassing’ per se, but it’s along those lines. My friends and I were playing charades one night, and we kept pointing at/touching certain items at my friend’s house in order to show flag colors. So whenever we wanted to signify that someone we were miming was French for instance, we would touch something blue, something white, and something red. I noticed a red piece of cloth resting on a chair, and I made it my go-to red item. After touching it approximately 55 times, I finally picked it up to see what it was. Lo and behold, it was my friend’s dad’s UNDERWEAR. Literally his bright red briefs sitting on top of a chair. I touched my friend’s dad’s underwear like a million times that night.


  • One time, I had to give a speech about Normandy and D-Day for some French and Francophone festival in Delaware. I wanted to say something about the D-Day beaches, but I screwed up and accidentally said ‘the D-Day bitches’.


  • In the same family of embarrassment, about two weeks ago a student came to see me during my office hours. The student asked me what she had to review for the exam, and as I wanted to tell her about the review sheet I had just posted, I said that I sent them a ‘review shit’.


  • One time, I emailed my professor and meant to say ‘I hope you had a good week’, but I accidentally said ‘I hope you had a good weed’ AND I SENT IT.


  • One time, I was driving my friend home after a road trip, and for some reason I tucked my dress straps under my armpits. I got out of the car to say bye to her when we reached her place, and BOOM, the top of my dress had fallen down because I had forgotten to put my straps back on, and I was just standing there in my bra.


  • In undergrad, I was going to my Shakespeare class, and I was in a rush, so I grabbed what I thought was Richard III and ran to class. It was a super small class and I sat very close to the professor. When I took my book out of my bag, I realized it was Sex and the City.


  • Again, in undergrad, I woke up late for a lecture, so I rushed to class, and when I took off my coat I realized I was still wearing my SPAGHETTI STRAP pajama top.


  • When I was working as a hotel receptionist, the head chef was very classy and very handsome. I bumped into him in town one day, he shook my hand and asked me how I was doing, and I was so intimidated that I said ‘blrgghh’. He looked at me like I was an idiot and said ‘Oh. Okay.’


  • This is NOT my story, but this is too good not to tell. My very good friend and colleague -I mentioned him in ‘Old Friends’- once intended to text me about a fight he was having with our teaching supervisor. He wrote and sent a text that said ‘Judy is out of control’….yup, you guessed it, TO JUDY. After a full hour of panicking, his boyfriend came up with the perfect solution: he texted Judy again saying that he meant ‘Judy, THIS* is out of control’, and that they needed to talk about the situation. Judy completely believed it and went like ‘OMG you’re right, I’m sorry I snapped at you’ and BOOM, they were friends again. So, guys, you know what to do during your next textastrophe.


Baby Heartbreak


A couple of weeks ago, I said here that dating stories are the best. I don’t think that was completely exact; sometimes, stories of non-dating can be even better. I don’t know if what I’m about to tell you about is good or not, but what I know for sure is that it was my first tale of rejection and that it shaped all the subsequent rejection moments in my life.

This was my first year of high school. I was only 13 -I skipped a couple of grades back in the day- and everyone around me was 15. So, naturally, I came in with a deep fear of being ostracized. The exact opposite happened: I made a ton of friends, almost instantly. I still had my friends from middle school, who were actually my roommates in the dorms -this was a boarding school-, but we were not in the same class, so I branched out and made brand new friends all on my own.

Among those friends was a guy. He was dreamy, had black hair and blue eyes, and bore a slight resemblance to Ross Geller from Friends, which was the epitome of cute for my 13-year-old self. This guy and I became friends, and soon enough, we were inseparable.

For once, I feel compelled to share his name, because it is so nondescript that it will certainly not give anything away. His name was the most normal French-guy name ever: Pierre.

So Pierre and I were friends, he sat next to me in every class, and we spent the whole school year hanging out with our squad -except no one was calling it a squad in 2003-2004. He was sweet to me in a way that no guy had been sweet to me before, and my little teenage self let herself fall for him. To illustrate that point, I will share an embarrassing piece of info with you: I wrote about all of our interactions in my diary every day. I literally had bulletpoints in my journal that said stuff like ‘In chemistry class, he sat by me and he smelled like Calvin Klein cologne.’ I was the poster child for teenage infatuation. Also, let it be known that I copied all of his texts to me in my journal. And, since the text echanges were not super romantic, I basically copied down a bunch of texts that resembled this: ‘R U going 2 the mall after gym class?’, except in French. Bottom line is, I documented everything, like a perfect little psycho.


That was also the moment when I found my signature move: I offered to help him with his English -10 years later, I would use the same move on my current boyfriend, but with Spanish this time. So, Pierre and I spent long hours in the study room, reviewing irregular verbs and writing small essays.

I originally only told my close friends about my crush; the ones who didn’t really know Pierre. But gossip always happens, and I don’t think I was very smooth hiding my feelings.

What I find incredible now, is that Pierre did not find out for a whole year, even though all our friends seemed to know. Maybe he knew all along but didn’t want to make it weird. I guess we’ll never find out.

Anyways, back to our timeline. After our first year of high school was over, along came summer. Although most of my friends were super thrilled about 3 whole months of doing nothing, I was simply devastated by the idea of not seeing him every day. During my first week of withdrawal from this teenage heartthrob, I refused to eat. Baby heartbreak was tying a knot in my stomach, and present-day-me can’t help but be jealous of this super convenient feature.


One day during the summer, I bumped into him at a Foot Locker. The interaction lasted a whopping 5 minutes, but my journal entry that night was about 15 pages long. I’m cringing right now, remembering this, but I believe I analyzed his smile over a good page and a half.

Our second year of high school started, and we were still in the same class. We basically picked up where we left off, and we began getting even closer. Except that one day, as we were hanging out in the student lounge, he announced us that he was transferring schools. The news hit me like a freight train, so I excused myself and went outside to, well, for lack of a better word, ugly-cry.

He followed me out and asked me what was wrong, and I candidly told him that I was going to miss him. He was very comforting and he hugged me. At that very moment, I put my -metaphorical- big girl pants on and decided I was going to declare my infatuation on that same day.

As we sat together in English class, I wrote him a long note explaining that I had feelings for him, and had had those feelings for a while. Looking back, I feel like this was a very mature way to handle things, instead of pining for him for a few more months. After being a little drama queen for a whole year, I was finally growing some balls ovaries.

I handed him the note, he read it, smiled, and started writing something on the piece of paper. I was over the moon, I thought ‘OMG, this is so romantic, he’s writing me back, AND he hugged me earlier, this is gonna be the best journal entry EVER!’

Except that you guys probably figured out by now -probably since you read the title of this post- that this story would not have a happy ending.

He gave me the note back, and among other things, he had written something along the lines of ‘aww that’s so sweet! I also feel something for you; I like you like a little sister!’

*insert shattering glass sound here*

All of this to say, this wasn’t exactly the worst rejection story of all time. After all, the guy was sweet enough not to ignore me, we were friends for a little while, and I feel sorta proud of myself for having the guts to tell a guy about my feelings, even though I was a little 14-year-old drama queen. It was sad, but I just remember being relieved: I had finally gotten rid of my ‘secret’.

I recently saw on Facebook that Pierre is in a relationship with a girl I went to elementary school with -small world-, and that they just had a baby. It made me feel happy for them, and it also made me feel really old. This guy had to deal with my teenage infatuation about 12 years ago, and now he’s a dad.

Oh, and another useless piece of trivia. I don’t know WHY I remember this, but the day I got rejected by Pierre was also the day the world learned about Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston’s divorce. So, it was a bad day for a lot of us. Go figure.