Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Aloha From the Cayman Islands!

I wish we had a cutesy, pseudo-cultural way to say “Hello” in the Caymans but since we’re a teeny tiny little ex-British outpost, you’ll just have to settle for a term I borrowed from Hawaii.

I’m on vacation!!!

After six long months of winter, winter and more winter, here I am, sipping a cappuccino at the very same café I sat in to start (but not quite finish…) Cutting Loose during the two wonderful months I took off to enjoy the island before I left. I’d be on the beach but sadly it hasn’t been very nice since I arrived… I’m beginning to seriously think I’m the official Bringer of Nasty Weather. Montreal is having its worst winter since 1971 and Cayman is seeing a bit of rainy-season-esque weather even though we’re smack dab in the middle of dry season, and so I must conclude I have something to do with it. No matter, it’s still a lovely, balmy 27 degrees (81 F), party cloudy with sunny breaks and I am here for another week and a half while everyone back home gets used to the idea that winter will be with us for another month or so.

I have to admit I’ve been out of writing mode for the past two weeks or so as my brain has been kidnapped by daydreams of lying on Caribbean sand, and also some pretty crazy happenings at work. It’s pretty tough to stick to my self-inflicted rule of keeping the working and blogging lives separate right now, but suffice to say that good, exciting things are happening, and that if I’ve learned anything from everything I’ve done so far, is that no matter what, know thyself, and then stay true to thyself. I’m more convinced than ever of a saying I read once: You can have anything you want, anything at all, as long as you are willing to give everything else up to have it.

There’s another saying my sister is fond of: choisir c’est renoncer, which loosely translates to: to choose is to forsake.

When we write we forsake snippets of a social life we could be developing, parties we could be going to, friends we could be with, relatives who need us and who don’t understand how we could spend so much time alone with our thoughts and our word processors. Some of us forsake extra hours we could be spending at our day jobs that could earn us promotions or more money. All I’ll say about what’s happening at work right now is that I took a huge gamble several months ago, one that saw me forsaking everything I’d built over the course of my career for an uncertainty. The more time passed, the less I was convinced I’d done the right thing. And then suddenly, as I sort of coasted along leaving as many of my options open as I could, the road forked, and I was facing two great opportunities: one that would forever anchor me to the career I picked in university, and one that would throw me into a future I’d always dreamed about. And unlike writing, I couldn’t do both. Choosing one would mean forsaking the other, maybe forever.

I chose to keep moving forward, deeper into the gamble I took when I moved back to Montreal. I had received a very concrete, tangible validation that what I’d dreamed about and hoped for since forever wasn’t just some crazy dream, that there’s actually a job out there I’m a perfect fit for. On the other hand, of course, lies financial security and comfort. If I succeed on this new path, then security and comfort will come eventually, but in the meantime there’s fear and insecurity.

But here’s the funny thing: it seems that ever since I started taking (calculated) risks with my life, the closer it has started resembling the life of my dreams. So I’m forging ahead… for now.

I’ll be off until April 6, sporadically checking email only because I’m a bit of an online news/café junkie. But as much as possible, I will be trying to lie quietly on the beach, mentally plotting book #3.

Have a great two weeks guys!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Published in my Home Town!

My sister, after reading my weekend post, suggested that instead of just venting my outrage over the limited sphere of my blog, I should go ahead and send my post (or a modified version) to the Montreal Gazette, which had reprinted the Charlotte Allen piece.

And guess what?

The published it!

Read the modified article here. It's actually a pretty good example of taking a blog post (where you're allowed to go on tangents and hit on pretty much any subject you feel like) and hunting for a theme, bringing it out, and organizing your ideas around it in a succinct way. If I had just sent in my blog post as is, I doubt it would have been printed.

NB - That headline is NOT mine... just goes to show the kind of sensationalism it takes to make the paper. But hey, if a little bit of sensationalism is what gets my article read then I certainly don't mind!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Charlotte Allen - Media Whore, Rabid Anti-Feminist, or Just Plain as Dumb as her Article?

Can someone please tell me what's so wrong about watching Grey's Anatomy? Or listening to Celine Dion, for that matter?

Is there any empirical evidence lying around somewhere that proves Celine Dion has a more damaging effect on brain cells than say, Garth Brooks or Snoop Dog? Is Grey’s Anatomy really dumber than Pimp my Ride? Is Oprah cornier than Ty Pennington on Extreme Makeover: The Home Edition?

Can it be that Celine, Oprah and Grey’s Anatomy are dumb because… wait for it… they are women (or in Grey’s case, created by a woman, for women) and are also… hugely, massively, out-of-this-stratosphere successful?

I could write pages and pages about the article I read in this morning’s Montreal Gazette, which originally appeared in the Washington post, but I won’t, because I fear I’ve already succumbed to the Ann-Coulter-perfected trap of giving someone who shrieks outrageous drivel at the top of their lungs a platform from where to shriek their outrageous drivel.

Charlotte Allen, annoyed by the unusually heartfelt devotion Barack Obama has been inspiring of late – to the point where a few people across the US, trapped in throngs of thousands, succumbed to fainting – has used these incidents as narrative spark to a bonfire of hateful woman-are-so-stOOpid hate speech. Amongst other arguments advanced for why women really are the dimmer sex, is the popularity of Grey’s Anatomy, Oprah, Celine, and yes, even Chick lit! Had the author of this op-ed tried to make a serious stab at intelligent insight with her piece, I’m sure Jane Austen would have garnered a mention as well. From the pop culture related reasons as to why women are an embarrassing excuse for human beings, Allen segues to politics, with the mismanaged Clinton campaign held up as an example. This is the gist of the theory: Hillary Clinton’s campaign, up until the Texas and Ohio primaries, has been run like an all-monkey cast stage production, Clinton is a woman, as are most of her advisors, ergo women shouldn’t be in politics. Because they are stOOpid.

A little bit of googling reveals a Washington Post sponsored Meet-the-author type online forum with the aim of giving outraged readers a chance to “clear things up” with Allen after all the ensuing hoopla.

Rest assured, this transcript, together with the article itself, cleared a lot of things up for me.

Far from thinking all women are stOOpid, Allen does in fact dignify a few with her respect: Margaret Thatcher, and Golda Meir.

Margaret Thatcher, a classic example of oh-yeah-let’s-see-whose-balls-are-bigger female leadership style, is quite notorious for her BFF, the equally notorious Chilean dictator, General Pinochet, recently on trial for crimes against his people, namely widespread, decades-long torture.

Golda Meir I hold near and dear to my heart for this lovely gem of human insanity: “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people […] they did not exist.”

So these are the shining examples of female leadership we feeble-minded women should aspire to emulate (if only we had the brain cells! The balls! The butt-ugly hairdos!). Not, say, Mary Robinson, former prime minister of Ireland who’s been credited with that country’s economic renaissance, took office as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and was a the recipient of the Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience award, or the late Benazir Bhutto who, in spite of problems during her political terms, would have been a much-needed positive role model for young women in the Muslim world at large.

So, you see, I’m not sure whether Allen’s op-ed was motivated by:

1) Sheer stupidity – there is nary a logical arc to be found anywhere in the piece

2) Politics – this is also the woman who thinks Hurricane Katrina was the best thing to happen to poor, disenfranchised African Americans since KFC

3) A little bit of resentment against women who chose career over kids and
baking cookies at home (see her lament at why women don’t just do what they’re naturally good at and leave the serious stuff to the able-bodied – and brained – men)

4) An Ann-Coulter-esque thirst for 15 minutes of fame – or infamy, in this case.

Allen ends her piece with an appeal to women worldwide: Face it ladies, a bunch of scientific theories and studies I just made up say that you’re not going to excel at anything besides whining and passing out when faced with male virility to which you can never aspire, so why don’t you just have some kids and decorate instead?

Inspirational words indeed. I was going to work on my novel tonight, but I think I’ll just grab a box of chocolate chip cookies from the pantry and watch some Grey’s Anatomy instead. Or maybe read some chick lit. Because chick lit is stOOpid, and so am I.

PS - I think what got me really going is her anti-Eat Pray Love rant. Out of all the issues plaguing the world, she picks a fight with "spirituality", "relationaships" and "Latin lovers"??? DUDE - it's called "ENTERTAINMENT".

Charlotte - a word of advice - a "Latin lover" of your own might make you a much nicer, more interesting person, the sort of person who gets famous because people find her interesting - like, say, Elizabeth Gilbert - and not because she's a gender-bashing shrew straight out of the twelvth century. Lighten up, Char.

Friday, March 07, 2008

New Cover!

Fashionably Late has a new paperback cover, with a bonus sneak preview of Cutting Loose included at the end!


I am totally tickled pink.