Posts Tagged ‘onLove’

Love and Other Problems: The First Step

Wednesday, June 15th, 2022


The First Step

I hadn’t really planned for my life to go in this direction, though I guess I should have expected that, because life and expectation have a discrepancy. It’s not supposed to necessarily be a bad change, but my life now is a cutting contrast to when I used to sit in the dingy, dry cafe outside of school, gossiping in hushed tones with the soft faces I had known for years. Now I sit in aptly-sized and aesthetic cafes with their overpriced coffee, and notably alone. I never gave extensive thought to how things would change and how strange that would feel. Now sitting here as I am on my cold, marbled floor, surrounding me are unseeing strangers with lips stretched around unfamiliar smiles and roads and alleys I could take one step into and find myself lost even with every map in the world. 

In hindsight, I should have known that the thrill I felt to leave the place I had walked through for 18 years to go to college, would grow into the gnawing dread that had come to possess my lungs when I stepped foot in the airport the first time. The airport was like a limbo, the place people stopped to look through tall windows overlooking larger-than-life planes, looking at other people flying off to better or worse lives and wondering which one they’d belonged to. High school was a simpler time even if it had felt like university was the key to figuring everything out all at once. It had been the same people, same building and same structure for years, and though I felt like a dancer then, performing one routine over and over and ready to step out of the cradle of my stage, it was still a comfort. I didn’t think about how much of a comfort it really was until I started to feel the absence of my shiny rehearsed performance and polished stage floors and the faceless crowd cheering me on. 

One thing that had felt difficult in particular was love. Love in all its forms and with all its nuances felt more out of reach. Youthful love and hate and heartbreak and drama had existed in a buzzing sort of confinement, not dissimilar to an agitated bee hive, and had been easier to find and keep. Moving to another city and leaving it all behind just felt like it meant letting go of every attachment I had with my favorite restaurants, my favorite spots at my favorite time of day and my favorite people. It was strange because even the kids I never really liked were part of a constant I had stickily attached myself to, and being uprooted from that was disorienting. Of course I had been merrily packing my whole life and never thought about it, until I was at the end of a hastily written chapter and facing my two best friends who seemed a grave sort of upset to my eerie calm. The moment I stepped through the gate and looked back at their weary faces, I knew we had taken our last picture together, smiling and heavy-hearted, because they would be moving soon as well. With that thought, I got through immigration blankly, a silent cacophony dancing in my head until I was at the gate, and then waited for my flight crying in the bathroom. 

And then I sent my friends pictures of me breaking down to poke fun at myself as some sort of odd, ludicrous way of coping. 

The flight overlooking my city

Perhaps it will get easier as I slowly integrate myself into the structure of this new community and the challenges and new comfort it brings. Maybe there will always be a part of me that will miss the ease that came with knowing what to expect and being told what to do, and the unadorned confidence in the knowledge that the people around me would stay the same. I had time back then, to get to know these people. The time we thought about was never in the context of workload, it existed with simple routines and little choices. Back then, my routine and method in befriending or getting to know someone was entirely based on knowing when and where I would see them; and that usually just consisted of either class, lunch, or after school. Now, that range is broader, so broad I could never list out every place or time or possibility if I tried –– and it makes keeping someone a constant harder, because one day you may see them regularly, but then the semester is over and you don’t have the chance again. Both of you forget about each other. 

I recall going through notes for my chinese exam in a line at the Starbucks inside university during my first semester, and a tall, soft-eyed guy had struck a conversation with me on the course. It was a nice conversation, until afterwards when I had gotten my drink and walked to my table and promptly realized I forgot to ever get a name or anything, and being as bad with faces as I was (am), I knew I could be found looking him right in the eye and not have a lick of recognition. If this was school, I could ask anyone about who that was (because everyone knew everyone) and strike an easy friendship. Mildly disappointed, I had huffed and sat down, sipping miserably on my overly sweet frappe. Tough luck. 

NYU Campus at Abu Dhabi

Since I realized how hard it was to keep in touch with people, and realizing how little people liked to follow routines, never being able to make friends or getting close enough to someone to love them has gradually grown into a crawling fear. Love, in all its forms of romantic and platonic and everything in between, suddenly wasn’t so simple. It was a challenge, a challenge I wasn’t exactly sure how to deal with. I was prepared to adjust to homesickness, to the difficulty that accompanied high-level academia, but I didn’t think love would be something that I found difficulty in. It had always come so easily to me. 

I understand that love as a concept is complicated –– like the life that I shouldn’t expect to keep to a routine, love is like tides refusing to bow to the pull of the moon; rebellious, exhilarating and unpredictable. I thought it was something that would easily fall into place, that it would find me as easily as it did before, but I felt lost when it didn’t. But, as I knew about the discrepancy between life and expectation, I should have known of the discrepancy between love and it too. Love in all its appearances has been unexpectedly hard but taking control of it has been the solution that I have discovered. Leaving love up to fate does not seem to be the answer, so I am taking love out of fate’s palms and trying to do the best I can with it in every way available to me.

Like I used to have good food with my friends at cafes and restaurants, you can use this coupon to do the same and save money with a student coupon at the same time:

Mahrukh Shaikh is a student at New York University studying Business and Finance with a Marketing concentration. She has been writing and creating literature for years and is fond of various artistic mediums and social issues.

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How to be a Comedian: Week 3: Go up There and Bomb – And Check Out some Bomb College Discounts Below!

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Before I start, I’d like to give a quick shout out to the Campus Clipper. The Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC, from the Upper East Side to Greenwich Village. The company helps support students in so many ways, from their coupon booklet to their Official Student Guide. Now, on to the blog!

Nothing beats experience. It’s incredibly important to get as much time as possible in front of a crowd. Unless you’re the reincarnation of Bob Hope, then you’re going to bomb the first few times you get on stage. We all do. It’s just one of those obstacles that you have to overcome; but don’t worry, it always gets better.

When you start out, you’re nervous, doubtful, and go up there and totally bomb – fumbling over your words, forgetting punch lines – but each time you do it’s a learning experience that will help you progress to the next level.

stage fright

In comedy, you have to have thick skin and roll with the punches. The best way to toughen up your emotionally fragile skin is to endure several cold audiences (most open mic crowds). Few situations make my lip quiver and face turn red like a stale room while I’m telling jokes. Blank stares, silence, and the sound of your heart beat. I hate performing for a cold crowd – I’m up there baring my soul and sometimes the best reaction I get is a lady sneezing.

One of my worst bombs was my second time ever performing stand up. A comedian I had befriended, Steve Brown, offered me a 5 minute opener spot at one of his shows at the Nashville club “Jazz ‘n Jokes.” I was the only white person there and felt extremely intimidated because I was most certainly not the person whom the audience paid good money to come see. I hadn’t rehearsed and my delivery of jokes seemed like I was trying to tell everyone about a dream I could barely remember.

The result: blank stares and a few pity laughs. Lesson learned: always be prepared! Any reaction is better than no reaction though, because you’re trying to create a dialogue with your audience and get a response from them. If you can start off with a strong opener and get a laugh in the beginning, then the rest of your set will run more smoothly – you broke the ice and they trust you. To gain the trust of the audience, I use self-deprecating humor to humble myself and let them know that I’m confident as well as comfortable talking to them.

There’s hope from these grueling moments though, because you’ll find that you continue to grow more and more jaded to a cold crowd. The less you allow cold audiences to affect you, the more you rely on yourself and the less you rely on their validation. Plus, each time you bomb, you become more aware of what areas in your routine need improving. Also, you know that the next time can’t possibly be any worse!

My best advice to avoid letting a cold crowd affect your stand up, is to fully immerse yourself into your monologue and become so consumed by your jokes that nothing can damage your mojo. I’ve found that when I’m fully consumed by my monologue, I believe in myself more. You’ve got to sell yourself on your act. If you can’t sell yourself on your own jokes, then you can’t expect anyone else to buy them.


There’s no shortcut to gaining confidence on stage and becoming famous. Everyone I’ve talked with has told me the same thing: get up on stage as often as possible.

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Giving Back: On Your Own

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Now if you already graduated or don’t want to be affiliated with your school, no fear, you can serve on your own! It might be a little more work, but if you go out and find an organization that really echoes your passions, it’s worth it. Find one that fights for what you love, or even better: one that fights against something you hate. We live in a towering metropolis, people from all around the world make their way towards NYC with hopes of dawning a new life. But with an abundance of people, there is an abundance of problems. Thankfully there are many organizations that try to combat these dilemmas, one issue at a time. Here are some organizations that I found to be engaging and unique. After confirming them in Charity Navigator and investigating their webpage, I recommend checking out these groups.


First we will start with a familiar organization, Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity has an uncomplicated system allowing you to go onto their website and view their upcoming projects. They give you the flexibility to choose a day that works specifically for you to sign up for. And get this: you don’t even have to know how to work a chainsaw to help! When scanning through the sign up page, I saw jobs available for office support or simply painting walls. The best part of this organization is that you can just volunteer one day and don’t have to feel pressured to come to another workday until you’re ready. You can easily sign up for yourself or even a group of friends that want to get involved. Who knows, you may have such a great time that you all decide to volunteer regularly.


The YMCA isn’t simply a place to attend a woodshop class, but is a great place to volunteer and help out with the youth in the community. The neat thing about this company is that there is a local YMCA in almost every big city. In fact, there are 22 YMCAs sprinkled all around NYC, so yes, there is one near you! Because there are programs for students of all ages, you can serve in many areas. Even if you feel like college math is not your strong suit, you can tutor young students in their elementary math courses. I remember being in high school and paying attention in class, but just not getting calculus. With the guidance of students around me, explaining different tips and formulas, I was able to pass the class. If tutoring isn’t your forte though, there are opportunities for assisting with coaching or refereeing at different youth sports games, or even using your organizational skills to plan one of their many special events.


I honestly don’t even remember how I stumbled upon this organization, but I am so glad I did! A House on Beekman is located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States, the South Bronx. Their goal is to revolutionize the area and help families including single mothers. They do this by teaching Mommy and Me classes for mothers, while volunteers watch and play with babies and young children. If you are majoring in elementary education, or just simply love children, this would be a great experience to use your skills to volunteer as you make your way through college!


An extension of the Polaris Project, an organization that aims to end human trafficking, GEM Girls is an group that specifically focuses on helping and educating girls who were victims of sex trafficking. They host residential units that create a safe atmosphere for women that were victims of this abuse, as well as send speakers out to inform local schools of this problem and ways to fight it. Although this can be a hard organization to get involved in, hopefully it can inspire you to learn more about contemporary human slavery that exists around the U.S. and encourage you to get involved in some way to spread awareness.


As you can probably tell, these organizations appeal specifically to me. I love working with people, especially teenagers. If this is not your deal don’t be dismayed, there are so many organizations out here in NYC that are just waiting for ready help like yourself! Surely these organizations have ignited that light bulb in your head, inspiring you to look on your own for an organization that matches your taste. Don’t worry, if you are still lost on how to help your community in every day life, just read further!



Proof that serving with a group of people is a great way to make friends. Here I am with a group at Christianville Haiti, check out more about this great organization below.

Proof that serving with a group of people is a great way to make friends. Here I am with a group in Christianville Haiti, check out more about this great organization below.



Habitat For Humanity:


A House on Beekman:

GEM Girls:

And to learn about where I went for summer break in school, click here!



Samantha Bringas

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Love without the Time

Friday, January 25th, 2013

written by Megan Martucci


Image by Angela-Z

“Love knows not what time is” -Unknown
Being a full time student and working a part time job takes up a lot of time during the week. Adding in the essentials of eating and sleeping and other bare necessities, like time to de-stress and spend with friends and a boyfriend, eats up any time left behind. To compensate for the hectic schedule, I’ve become a master of multitasking, and even with that, I tend to sacrifice sleep to have time for everything else—after all, you can always make up sleep during a holiday! However, having such a tight schedule leaves little time for romance, and having a boyfriend whose schedule is just as busy as mine makes it near impossible.

On an average day, I have classes and work from 9:00 am until 7:00 pm. My boyfriend works seven days a week as a personal coach and often works from 6:00 am until 9:00 pm with sporadic breaks in between. Also, both of us have tight budgets which makes doing some things out of our price range. However, in spite of our messy schedules, we manage to see each other often.

The key to our success is—ironically—not planning. We both have schedules that are never fixed, and trying to plan around times that are subject to change at any moment makes planning a futile and usually disappointing effort. We don’t set up strict times when we should meet and instead look for any moment we both happen to be free and take advantage of it. This usually results in short meeting at cafes, running into each other to quickly say hello, and often meeting up late at night for a quick dinner before we both head home to pass out.

While we see each other regularly, our time together is all too brief and we have fallen into a rut of doing the same things which tends to dampen any surprise and romance in the relationship. At first, never planning times to meet up did help somewhat since it prevented our relationship from becoming another obligation to add to our seemingly never-ending list of things to be done. But it didn’t help break us out of our “greet-and-eat” rut which we eventually stumbled into. We tried just varying where we went to eat to add a new flair to our old system, but it quickly became just as routine to wander looking for a new place as it was to eat at a place we had been to before. It seemed like the rut would be impossible to escape unless both of us deliberately took off work, and even then it would be a temporary fix to a continuing problem.

A new solution revealed itself in the form of a friend’s own relationship problems. The two of us were were talking over coffee, and she began telling me how she felt her boyfriend wasn’t willing to contribute as much to the relationship as she was. She told me how she often went out of her way to do things with him that he liked though he often didn’t return the favor unless it was something he also enjoyed doing.

At first the situation seemed nothing like the issues my boyfriend and I were having: both of us were willing to do things the other enjoys—we just didn’t have time. I suggested that she try making him do little things that he might not enjoy and work her way up to bigger things so that he might find some enjoyment in it by the end. I suggested looking at the Campus Clipper to find coupons for things she might like to do on her college budget, and, while discussing this option, I noticed a coupon for I coffee shop I hadn’t been to. After I went home, I realized that I had found a solution to my own relationship problems.

The next time I met with my boyfriend, I suggested we pick a book we would both like to read and meet up to talk about it at the new coffee shop since we both enjoyed reading. From there, we tried cooking dinner together rather than going out to eat like we usually did, and then we began including other little things along the way to vary up our usual schedules, realizing that little changes made a big difference.

Not only have these little suggestions that we started coming up with made our time together more exciting, it has introduced a little more passion since both of us are always thinking of small romantic things to mix in. It has given a breath of fresh air to our relationship, and found us the time for romance despite our busy lives. If you run into a rut with your own relationships, try changing up the things you do and be sure to look at the Campus Clipper for ideas and deals!


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Hello, I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name?

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Photo thanks to

The French expression for falling in love translates to “falling into apples,” which I correlate to sweet, but painful. Dropping the “L” bomb is a bit of a sticky situation. There are the blurters, the stagers, the first daters, the long termers, the constant reminders, the special occasioners, the whisperers, the shout it from the roof topers, whatever you’re style, the tricky part is figuring out whether your beau shares your sentiments or not. If one of you feels it first, it’s not the end of the world, nor is it necessarily the end of the relationship, but if you have to get it out there here are some pointers for not overwhelming (or underwhelming) your significant other.

You’re Ready, They’re Not: You’re most likely in a terrified state, with a candy coat of bubbling excitement. Hold onto that, don’t let it fester and rot the roots of your courtship. If you’re certain that your beau isn’t in the same place, feel them out a bit. If you’ve been dating for more than four months, and they’re still a bit frigid toward the idea of professing statements of affection, it’s okay to say it as long as you preface the statement with something along the lines of, “You don’t have to say it back, I just need to tell you how I feel.” This will give them the out, relieving a little pressure. A wedge can be stuffed between you if you push the idea too much. I know, it’s taxing, but if you care about the person (well, you say you love them) you should be considerate of where they are in the relationship. Not everyone moves at the same pace. Maybe they need more time to get there, they mean serious business when they say it, or maybe they’ve been badly burned in the past. Sometimes the people who are reluctant to love are so because of a painful past.  Give them time. Don’t use breaking up as an ultimatum, because then you’re pushing them to leave you when they want to stay, or they’re saying something they don’t mean because they’re afraid to lose you. Granted, losing you may snap them into realizing something, but that’s not fair, that’s making the relationship a game.

Signs They’re Not Ready: You gaze at them lovingly, they look away. You make plans for the future; they make plans for dinner instead. Holding hands, even when you’re alone is a no-no. If you’re not in bed, there’s no affection. Take these as subtle hits, and to use the oh-so-popular phrase: maybe they’re just not that into you.

Signs They’re Ready: Take the situations above and reverse them.

They Said It, You Didn’t: You haven’t been together that long, this is your first date, or you’re just not feeling it, but you’re happy in the relationship so far. The first point should be that if you’re just in it to be in a relationship (you know who you are), that’s fine, but when the other person is serious about a long term commitment and you’re not, you need to let them know. It won’t get better, they won’t learn to feel less or make it more casual. Once they have the heart throb, it’s only going to end in pain, so don’t augment this by dangling a carrot in front of them. Remind them of how wonderful they are, how undeserving you are, and break it off nice and clean.

If you think that you may feel this way, just not yet, explain this to them. You can do this without being harsh. Explain your sentiments, but don’t give reasons for why you don’t love them yet. This can be used against you for the entirety of your relationship. Every fight will be about this, even if it’s masked as something else.

First Times That Don’t Count:

– After being intimate, during, or before. After you’ve already said it, go ahead and shout it at the top of your lungs (or whisper loudly if you have roommates), but don’t say it for the first time in while snuggling with your honey. 

– As a form of apology. If you’re in the middle of a fight, unless it’s due to a romantic comedy-esque misunderstanding, this kills the sentiment. If you did something to cause pain, grief, or anger, don’t pull the L-card to get yourself out of the dog house. This taints it, makes it jaded.

Saying it: Think about it this way: after the excitement, shock, what have you, of the sacred words, they’re going to tell their friends, especially the ladies. Do you really want them to have to explain that you said it to get out of trouble, or in an inappropriate moment? My personal recommendation is to say it when you feel it. It will mean that much more if you’re in the moment, not in some rehearsed set up. Sure, flowers and violins are nice, but they amp up the anxiety and create a sensation of false sentiments. This isn’t Hollywood. If you’re brushing you’re teeth together one morning, or they pick up a treat for you just because, and you feel a rushing sensation, tell them. You can tell when someone really means it when they’re in the moment.

Alternatives to Love: Neither of you is ready for the commitment that accompanies saying I love you, but you still have strong feelings for one another. Use these carefully, as they can irritate if the other person has said I Love You and you respond with a luke warm declaration.

-I adore you (see Stranger Than Fiction)

-I covet you

-You’re my happy thought

– I’m crazy about you

– I think you’re the greatest thing since the wheel (make up your own)

– I’m so glad you exist

Love is a wonderful thing, and once you get the words out you can say it almost whenever you want. There is also a sweetness to the period before you express this, a time when the tension of affection, of the unsaid words, is palpable and being together creates an electrical charge of potential energy. Savor the beginning, people, don’t push it. You’ll get to the next stage, but remember that you’ll never have a beginning with this person again, so quit chomping at the bit. If you’re going to say it, think carefully and tread cautiously.

Written by Ashley Teal, Campus Clipper Blogger

See my blog: or twitter @amteal

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Late Night Creations

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

written by Sabina Ashbaugh

We always substitute an egg with two tablespoons of vanilla soymilk—a slight variation that leaves the dough runny and easier to mix with the cracked wooden spoon. The timer is set for 12 minutes, not 14 as the cookbook suggests, with a reminder at the six-minute mark to switch the top and bottom trays in the oven. Despite these careful discrepancies, accumulated over countless nights, our creations are never completely predictable. We speculate whether it might be the heat of the dimly lit kitchen, and that volatile summer breeze that seeps in through the windows and seems to soften the contours of the room.
Despite our many trials, my sister and I never fully plan our baking efforts, or even carefully measure out the ingredients of our amended recipes. The soymilk substitution, now a permanent step in the cookie making process, came from a late realization that the egg carton was deceptively empty. As if to support this impulsiveness, the planned desserts baked for family dinners—the pumpkin or apple pies, the blueberry cobblers, the cinnamon buns, the madeleines—are never as good as the spontaneous endeavors to satisfy late night cravings. The immediate satisfaction of these creations quickly assuaged the worries and anxieties amassed during school or work. Tasks divided and ingredients laid out, my sister and I get to work setting right the wrongs of the day.
It has been a year now since I moved away from home. Some months have flown by while others have painstakingly inched to a close, with pangs of homesickness and late night baking cravings that seemed to arise out of nowhere. Family, a concept that had seemed so natural and tangible just a year ago, has slowly been abstracted to stand for that sense of place so radically reconfigured after leaving for school. In times of stress, I often caught myself about to call the house with a confused plea of “What should I do?”
With distance I have come to realize how often I unintentionally underappreciated this form of support. I cringe at the thought that the ease and spontaneity of those nights spent baking are a lost bridge between my sister and I—treasured memories to look back on fondly but ones impossible to recapture. And yet the removal of this crutch has also forced me to examine how I will right the wrongs of the day in my own way—not by baking, but through the careers and choices that lie ahead.
Moving away is an exciting step towards independence and deciding how and what one wants to change in the world. In the midst of so many choices, the advice offered by family is a means of grounding oneself in times of transformation. Finding a niche in college involves exploring how one will contribute to society and improve the lives of others, but it also requires the recognition of the debt owed to those at home.
Growing up compels us to accept these recipes, relationships, and plans for future change. Family rituals become memories as traditions are re-made. It is important to maintain ties with those that helped us get where we are, and continue to want to see us succeed. Helping others starts by looking out for and appreciating those at home, and paying tribute to those left behind.

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The Melody Of Unexpected Rhythm

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

written by Angela M

Illustration By Tao Zao

I grew up on Disney and nightly walks with my Russian grandparents, sunflower seeds sticking to my fingers, old lady tales dripping from my ears like borscht. I was never told not to smile at a cute Asian boy, or to repress a casual wink at a dashing Spaniard.

Maybe I was never told to not do these things because: 1) I don’t smile often, and 2) I can barely wink. Regardless, there was never any objection to multicultural friendships. Romantically speaking, though, it was never really spoken about, perhaps because it was never really expected.
My first legitimate ounce of interest in the opposite sex could have something to do with my current situation.
I was in the first grade, and his name was Timothy. He was everything I wanted in a boy. He never spoke to me; he rarely, if ever, held the staircase door open for me; and he cheated on me. I don’t know whether it counts as cheating if we were never in a relationship, but my heart was temporarily in shambles. Did I mention that Timothy was Asian? Did I also mention that I’m white and Jewish and from Brooklyn?
At 22, and not a bit less romantic than my first grade self, I find my heart taken once again (this time, in a less make-believe type of way). I am in love with a writer who just so happens to be outside of my race. Raised Muslim but not practicing, my Indian love connects himself with the folk of Jackson Heights, Queens before anything else. To sum things up, not only am I dating a fellow who’s a hundred beautiful shades darker than my pastey self, but I am also dating someone outside of my borough.
We met at a house party. His band was playing, and I later on learned that he had asked our mutual friend to invite me, since he was too shy to do it himself. The night felt like something taken out of one of those typical teenage movies where the girl seems to be playing coy, not realizing what’s going on, and the guy is fumbling over every other word, crossing his fingers that he doesn’t look as dumb as he feels. It took me half the party to realize that I was falling heavy over someone who I had never expected to come across.
Surprisingly, my mother was more accepting of my new found love than some of my friends. When I say some, I really just mean one. My Jewish friend Rebecca* was stunned to realize that I was romantically involved with someone so far from my religion. I kept it secret from her for as long as I could, afraid of the very reaction that I got. She started telling me that being a Jew meant that I was part of the chosen ones, and how keeping religion alive in my family was imperative. Basically, she made me feel like the black sheep of the herd. A day after her attack, she apologized wholeheartedly and told me that I have her full support in any decision that I make in life. (I can only imagine how Rebecca’s reaction would have been if I had confessed that I was getting married!) Just to be clear, I consider myself Jewish more in terms of culture than practice. Echoing Keats, “Love is my religion.”
In a city where love has an astigmatism and hearts beat to their own bongo, interracial coupling is more common than ever. Every way my head turns, I see it: hands of different colors holding on to each other. It’s beautiful, really. And now, I am part of it. We grew up hearing different languages being spoken at home, eating foods synonymous to our cultures, but we were also scolded by our parents for leaving cookie crumbs in our beds, and watching too many T.V. shows instead of doing our homework. Plenty of people in college date people who they didn’t expect to be with. We aren’t really all that different, though. We both love literature and writing, we listen to the same type of music, and, obviously, we both enjoy a good house party.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

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The Love We Deserve

Friday, May 7th, 2010

In the quintessential coming-of-age high school novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, the following exchange takes place:

    Bill smiled and continued asking me questions. Slowly, he got to “problems at home.” And I told him about the boy who made mix tapes hitting my sister because my sister only told me not to tell my mom or dad about it, so I figured I could tell Bill. He got this very serious look on his face after I told him, and he said something to me I don’t think I will forget this semester or ever.

    “Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve”

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower, page 24

As students caught up within the hustle and bustle that comprises New York, there could be no truer sentiment. There is so much that we are consistently told we ought to be, whether it is by our parents, roommates, friends, bosses or more importantly, the media at large. New York is a glamorous city and the billboards and advertisements scream that attractive equals thin, utterly gorgeous women who are wasting away and whom we must all strive to look like. Yet the reason behind the urge to change oneself or otherwise undergo makeovers often has less to do with the simple desire to fit in and more to do with the simple craving, desire and need to be loved. The question, of course, then becomes: what does it mean to love or to to be loved? There is a sentiment expressed in C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce that it isn’t what we might imagine:

    You mean,” said the Tragedian, “you mean- you did not love me truly in the old days?”“Only in a poor sort of way,” she answered. “I have asked you to forgive me. There was a little real love in it. But what we called love down there was mostly the craving to be loved. In the main I loved you for my own sake: because I needed you.”

    “And now!” said the Tragedian with a hackneyed gesture of despair. “Now, you need me no more?”

    “But of course not!” said the Lady; and her smile made me wonder how both the phantoms could refrain from crying out with joy.

    “What needs could I have,” she said, “now that I have all? I am full now, not empty. I am in Love Himself, not lonely. Strong, not weak. You shall be the same. Come and see. We shall have no needfor one another now: we can begin to love truly.”

    But the Tragedian was still striking attitudes. “She needs me no more- no more. No more,” he said in a choking voice to no one in particular. “Would to God,” he continued, “but he was now pronouncing it Gud- “Would to Gud I had seen her lying dead at my feet before I heard those words. Lying dead at my feet. Lying dead at my feet.”

How to find love in New York City? The first, and perhaps the most difficult task, is to actually identify what love means. The craving to be loved and possessed, to live out the decadent but dark fairy-tale romances that appear in fantasy or fiction, doesn’t cut it. Struggling to identify love between the Edward-and-Bella, Blair-and-Chuck, Stefan-and-Elena images that we are consistently fed via television is difficult. Simply listen to the radio; women are consistently disrespected in the lyrics. I’m no feminist and I’m guilty of dancing to “Sexy Bitch” and enjoying it. I know all the words to 3OH!3’s song “Don’t Trust Me,” which blares from Z100 or 92.3 when I wake up in the morning. I intellectually know that there’s a problem with lyrics that reflect an attitude that disrespects woman and totally objectifies and sexualizes them, but in my party mode, I rationalize it away. The problem occurs when the pressure of school, work, parents, friends and the media all combine to create an unhealthy cocktail where we determine that acquiring a boyfriend/ girlfriend and via that person, love and status, is worth the ultimate sacrifice on our part. By this I don’t reference any groom running from bride-wielding-ball-and-chains type of scenario, but rather the danger there is of entering into verbally, emotionally or God forbid, physically abusive relationships simply due to the desire to feel less alone within The City That Never Sleeps.

I recently read a fantastic book entitled Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity written by Kerry Cohen. She beautifully and movingly explains exactly how it can be that a woman desirous of being loved can become promiscuous, thinking to herself that the men she’s sleeping with care about her:

    What statistics can’t get at are the feelings of uncertainty and confusion that surround a young girl’s sexual behavior. They don’t get at how easy it is for a girl to use sex for attention. A boy once said to me, “Boys have to put forth real effort to get laid, while all you have to do is stand braless in the wind.” It’s true. What’s easier for a girl than to get noticed for her body? Using my sex appeal was default behavior. To not do so would have required more effort. Add to this the fact that I was desperate for attention- any attention-and men’s interest in my body was the easiest avenue to being noticed. Of course, I confused their base interest with love. I needed to believe it meant something. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t see myself as entirely innocent. My story is also about addiction. Addiction to power, to the attempt to control others through my body. It is about how desperate I was to feel loved, less alone, and how, misguided by all those cultural mixed messages, I tried to fill my need with male attention and sex. How, as with most addictions, I managed to push most everyone away, foiling my greatest intentions. And finally, how I learned to stop.

    ~Loose Girl by Kerry Cohen, page 3

One of the most disturbing things I noticed in college was the plethora of bright, talented and otherwise creative and attractive young women who themselves did not feel as though they were worth anything. Male attention, especially sexual, made them feel noticed and better about themselves. They would seek it out and enter into relationships in which they were dominated and controlled by their partner, often not realizing the extent to which this had happened. It was almost impossible for them to voluntarily extricate themselves from these emotionally abusive relationships because they loved simply in terms of need and the need to be needed or craved. And as Bill says in ‘Perks,’ we accept the love we think we deserve.

Love is a great, complex, complicated and grand adventure, but it is something which requires work and commitment in order to thrive. Anyone who hurts, disrespects or abuses his/her partner in any way is feeding into a false belief which they firmly espouse: namely, that they don’t deserve to be loved, respected or thought of as worthwhile. The reason I know this is because I was once such a girl.

-Oliva W

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