Well, I’ve finally finished reading The Opposite of Loneliness, a collection of short fiction and non-fiction by Yale graduate Marina Keegan. I can’t say that I absolutely loved it – I honestly don’t have too much to say about it, and no single story or essay really stuck with me or left me with a lasting impression. Although I think Keegan’s writing voice is nice and I am struck by the tragedy of her untimely death, I didn’t feel that the collection was special or unique or particularly powerful. Some of her commentaries were interesting, but I think they’re indicative of what a lot of twenty-something university/college graduates are thinking and discussing…and as someone in that category, I wasn’t overwhelmingly inspired by what she had to say. I agreed with many of her words, but I wasn’t blown away by them by any means.
I didn’t dislike the collection vehemently, though. I’m indifferent to it, and so I’ve struggled to figure out what exactly to say about it. I was able to pinpoint one specific quote that spoke to me in a way, however, so I thought that to use it as a #JNGReads quote would be a good way to talk about the book in a more coherent and significant way. Here is the quote that I chose:
“When I’m pregnant, I think, I’ll eat just boiled rice.” – The Opposite of Loneliness, Marina Keegan
You’re probably wondering how this line is at all relevant to me because I am after all not pregnant. I’ll explain. The quote comes from one of Keegan’s essays about her struggles with celiac disease, and this was one work that I found interesting. I have a huge love-hate relationship with food: I love it when I’m eating it, and then I hate it immediately after I’m done most of the time. There are a lot of foods that make me feel sick and bloated and just not good, and yet I return to them over and over because I convince myself that they are delicious and it’s worth the feeling of discomfort to eat them again. So, basically I’m all over the place when it comes to my eating decisions and I’ve never been able to maintain a consistent diet.
Well, I’m currently writing this post in a bit of a groggy haze after drinking an iced vanilla latte. It turns out that I think I may be intolerant to caffeine because every single time I drink anything with the tiniest hint of caffeine, from coffee to tea to carbonated beverages, I feel anxious and nauseous, my hands start to shake and my heart starts to race. When I realized the correlation between caffeine and my jitters, I immediately stopped drinking tea every morning. But, for whatever reason, the appeal of sugary frappuccinos and lattes draws me back almost every weekend, especially when a friend asks me to meet up at the local Starbucks. I will admit that I regret ordering whatever drink I’ve justified is actually okay as soon as I finish drinking it.
So why do I even bother? Why don’t I stick to water or juice or something safe like that? I truly have no idea! But Keegan’s essay does help me figure myself out a little – in it Marina discusses how she often ignores her celiac disease in favour of eating whatever her stomach desires in the moment. She doesn’t consider the future implications, like stomach upset-ness or long-term risk for serious illness, and she’s extremely nonchalant about her food choices on a regular basis. She justifies all of this by telling herself that one day, when she’s pregnant and even the smallest amount of gluten in her system can seriously affect her unborn child, she will be better and smarter and more committed to taking care of herself.
And this is a sentiment I can really relate to. In the instances when I’m ordering my latte or frappuccino, I always somehow manage to tell myself that I will be better tomorrow, that tomorrow I will finally cut all caffeine out of my diet. But I never actually do – and so right now, I get to feel sick and nervous and generally not like myself!
Something has to change and the cycle has to stop somehow…because we really do only get one body and I don’t want to feel uncomfortable in mine! So, I’m taking a No Caffeine Pledge today, once and for all! If that’s the only thing I take from The Opposite of Loneliness, at least I’ll live a less jumpy life for it!
Cheers to you all (with a glass of water of course)!
Girl with a Green Heart