Life Crisis Solved: Mayonnaise as a Concept is Gross But Society Makes it Seem Okay

The Help. The Secret Life of Bees. The Kitchen House. The books that have always comforted me and given me advice have always been about black women. More specifically, a white woman writing about black women pre-civil-rights-movement and their interactions with a sweet, endearing, non-racist white girl. None of the experiences told in these novels are remotely racially conscious, none of them truly celebrating black women. They beat the Magic Black Woman trope to a cringe-worthy death. So, once I understood this, I wasn’t sure why I didn’t immediately sell my copies and move onto some better literature.

And then I listened to Glass Animals for the first time. The winter going into 2015, I was spooning a thick fingertip-sized mound of eyeshadow onto my lid, blending, when I heard “fresh out of an icky, gooey womb / woozy youth / dopes up on her silky smooth perfume” from my iPhone speaker. “Peanut butter vibes,” “Mind my wicked words and tipsy topsy slurs,” “Tripping round the tree stumps in your summer smile,” alliteration, food and nature imagery, a voice like warm, fuzzy butter. I realized that it wasn’t the hollow experiences that I enjoyed. It was the food.

It was why I liked watching movies about the south with my dad. Always an aficionado of southern American culture, taking us to southern-themed restaurants and watching Sweet Home Alabama were among his favorite pastimes. As I grew older, learned what the confederate flag really meant, and the intricacies of American enslavement, I started to resent his favorite things. And even when I became a vegetarian, I couldn’t resist freshly made chicken and dumplings with grits pooling into warm dishes at the kitchen table. It reminded me of my favorite books; Aibileen’s chicken, August Boatwright’s love of honey. Lavinia learning the ways of the kitchen house. Why did I (literally) indulge in these narratives? It all made sense now. I love food.

Writing this is making me hungry. I want bananas and thick, creamy peanut butter with gelato for dessert. I want all of the wines they describe in the book I’m currently reading, “a rosy, yummy mess of a California sparkling wine. Drier than it was sweet,” and I’ve only had boxed wine and a few $5 bottles from the front of the package store. I want to watch the food network channel, Cupcake Wars specifically, and listen to them list the ingredients needed for the perfect lemon buttercream frosting. I want to be the girl Glass Animals describes in Season 2 Episode 3, “Leftover breakfast, cereal for lunch / she’s broken but she’s fun / my girl eats mayonnaise / from a jar while she’s getting blazed.” And I hate mayonnaise. I don’t really like weed. But they make it sound great.

A lot of things make sense now. How Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is my favorite movie. How I write down all of the restaurants I visit, and why I need to have the Zagat app on my phone even though I can’t afford to eat more than cough drops at this point in my life. TLDR: I can’t wait to go to the farmer’s market tomorrow morning.

 

For the Ones Who Stress Shower

Due to my constant and overbearing feeling of terror and loathing while I clomp down L/L’s stairs in dirty Jack Rogers sandals, preparing myself for breakfast, lunch, and dinner spent alone, I have come up with a repertoire of things I can latch onto to make this place feel more like Connecticut, more like a safe space, and more like home. Here are those things:

1. Talking to straight edge people. These people don’t have to have anything in common with you. You don’t even have to like them. You could be a cocaine addict or an alcoholic, it doesn’t matter. But if they refuse to do drugs or drink alcohol, there is a safe bet they are pleasant people. They will remind you that not everyone is scary and most importantly that not everyone thinks vaping is cool.

2. Memorizing a poem or song. Over the summer, I memorized (while procrastinating everything else of course) the poem Bygones by Marina Keegan. The poem has a lot of sentimental value to me and repeating it tonight walking to my dorm with a chocolate milkshake in my hand had real therapeutic value. I also like to play songs in my head, with lyrics flashing up on a screen like a lyric YouTube video, to take my mind off whatever the matter is at hand, which is usually being alone in a crowd of people wearing identical Birkenstocks.

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3. Reading for pleasure. Right now, I am reading Modern Lovers by Emma Straub. I don’t like it as much compared to The Vacationers, but reading a style of writing that is familiar is comforting to me. Making a point of buying yourself new books to read that aren’t for classes is so important, even if you only have five minutes per day to actually read it. Another way to fulfill this need and not spend money is to find blogs and read the shit out of them. I read The Messy Heads and The College Prepster (who also has a shit ton of tips for college students), and when I was an underclassman I read Rookie.

4. Focusing on the future. The weekend before real classes is a lot of waiting, and syllabus week will not be much different. Looking at internships back home and planning concert trips has been one of my favorite distractions. Going off to college knowing I would be visiting Michael in a few weeks and seeing Two Door Cinema Club has given me something to look forward to. I also purchased my passport, and I hope to find somewhere to travel to during Christmas break!

5. Preserving small pieces of your at-home routine. I make the same breakfast as I did every morning junior and senior year of high school (albeit, in plastic containers and with Walmart silverware) here, before my 8:30 a.m. classes or incoming freshman activities on weekends. I also still shower around the same time at night (9 p.m.) and write in my One Line a Day Journal that Maggie got me for Christmas before I go to bed. Small things like checking the Timehop app every morning help, too.

6. Being honest and vulnerable with everyone. College is so good, I’m sure, for so many people. But personally, I’m having a significantly difficult time with adjusting. In a lecture the other day, the speaker said to all of us, “Vulnerability fuels connection.” And something I have been lacking here is a feeling of connection, whether it be to the place I live or the people I live with. I am trying in all ways possible to be transparent with people, and maybe that seems off-putting to the person on the receiving end, but it makes me feel better about my experience.

7. Coffee. It’s the New England thing. It’s the pace of life. It’s what your mother and father and boss and next door neighbor and grandfather and professor and cousin-in-law all crave first thing in the morning. It’s the championing drink of successful, busy, lazy, unsuccessful, stupid, smart, human people. We all share the common human condition that is called “I need coffee.” And, personally, I don’t have the fucking time to use a tea press or whatever that is.

8. Always having your favorite childhood snacks on hand. Yes, I’m afraid of the freshman fifteen, but having a carton of Goldfish and a bag of Smartfood popcorn in my dresser drawer brings comfort to my soul.

9. Finding people from where you’re from. These people will reminisce on your area’s restaurants and highway traffic with you. These people are important and you need them to feel small moments of relief.

10. Never underestimate the power of FaceTime. My entire campus has functional Wi-Fi, so I never really use data, and that makes FaceTime all the more acceptable for my data plan. I FaceTime people walking to and from everywhere, especially when I have no one to talk to. FaceTiming my family is funny and they ask me embarrassing questions really loudly. I like the disruptive power of FaceTiming in public because people give you weird looks, and you should always strive for weird looks, especially in an already strange place because you have accomplished a new level of psychotic. (I have won a few of these and I’m proud.)