Comparing yourself to a millionaire and other pitfalls.

Hours

HA HA HA NO I FUCKING DON’T. You think Beyonce took public transit to work today?

I recently unfollowed a popular Toronto-based “nutrition expert” when she started a post-baby “Get Back in Your Skinny Jeans, You Fat Moms” campaign (not the exact title of the campaign). This seemed to be a very off-brand choice for her — through social media, this expert has crafted an image that implies she ate and exercised perfectly throughout her pregnancy AND after giving birth, while always and only using all-natural, organic, HOMEMADE skincare and cleaning products. So why the hard left-turn from focusing on “health” to focusing on “skinny”?

(Also: give me a break. No one’s eating perfectly and making all their own products throughout pregnancy and while caring for a baby without having a tonnnnnnn of help (that, by the way, isn’t getting mentioned).)

The skinny jeans campaign and this stupid Beyonce meme all feeds into a culture that asks women, especially moms, that since we “have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce, why aren’t we more like Beyonce, why are we sitting on the couch watching Adventure Time while eating sour patch kids, does that sound like something Beyonce would do with her hours, this is why you’re not Beyonce.”

Beyonce and her hours + the incessant drumbeat of “experts” who are way too eager to see moms in tight pants comprises another effort to shame motivate women to, I don’t know, get off their lazy asses and be more productive/eat better/exercise more/lose baby weight/use pinterest/buy mugs. Only the women though: there’s a reason why nobody’s talking about Jay-Z’s hours and no one’s trying to get his dadbod into skinny jeans. (The reason is sexism.)

(Actually, and capitalism.)

 

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2014 in review: Books.

In 2012, my goal was to read 60 books. I achieved that goal! I read 62 books! In 2013, I increased my goal to 70 books. I did not achieve that goal. In fact, I failed in 2013, and again in 2014. Meh, life goes on. But DEFINITELY I will reach that goal in 2015, because now I have a baby, ahem. REGARDLESS, here is my Year in Review: Books.

The 5 best books I read in 2014:

Hyperbole and a Half — Allie Brosh (10/10)

This book was super hilarious and I laughed out loud multiple times.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia — Mohsin Hamid (9/10)

Hamid is suuuuuch a great writer. GREAT style. I liked The Reluctant Fundamentalist more than this book, but I liked Fundamentalist more than 95% of everything I read, so I’m not sure it’s a fair comparison. ANYWAYS, this was really good.

On Such a Full Sea — Chang-Rae Lee (9/10)

If a book review mentions the phrase “post-apocalyptic” or “dystopian future,” congratulations, you have found my kryptonite and shut up and take my money I will now check that book out of my local library.

The People in the Trees — Hanya Yanagihara (9.5/10)

Okay, here is the thing: I am super tired right now and I can only dimly remember this book but I know I liked it BUT I also can’t think of WHY I liked it so much, other than to say “I liked the plot.” Oh my god, this is what it’s come to. Earlier today I pronounced “Yosemite” as YO-zem-mite, so whatever, at least this is somewhat coherent.

Annihilation — Jeff VanderMeer (10/10)

OKAY! This book was AWESOME. Genuinely one of the best books I’ve ever read. So descriptive. It tried to make me feel nauseous, and guess what, it worked! I felt sick reading parts of this! That’s HOW GOOD the writing is! Also, there are a ton of fun, cool mysteries that are brought up! Questions are raised! But guess what! This is the first book of a trilogy, and a lot of those mysteries and questions are never solved/answered by/in the third book and that is super frustrating. Do you remember the TV show LOST? This book is like the first couple of seasons (SO good!), the second book is like the next couple (getting antsy, not much ‘splaining going on…), and the third book is like the last season EXCEPT instead of saying “purgatory,” it says “LOL you thought there was an explanation for that? That’s so cute!” AARGGHHH. It basically offers nothing, which is the author trying to say that some things are just unknowable. I GUESS!

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COME ON NOW

Jcrew

No, no. Don’t change a thing. You look GREAT.

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The 7 best books I read in 2013.

I only read 50 books in 2013. These were the standouts:

Non-fiction

Behind the Beautiful Forevers — Katherine Boo

[Subtitled “Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity,” this book looks at the lives of some of the people who live in a slum by the Mumbai airport. As sad as you would expect it to be.]

Salt, Sugar, Fat — Michael Moss

[If you are interested in nutrition at all (and/or enjoy junk food), this book will tell you why and explain how hard snack companies work to get you to never stop eating their products. Their delicious, tasty products.]

Fiction

The Interestings — Meg Wolitzer

[I think Wolitzer is the best person writing about interpersonal relationships today. I have no idea why she isn’t at least as popular as Jonathan Franzen.]

The Reluctant Fundamentalist — Mohsin Hamid

[This is probably one of the best books I’ve read in the past 5 years.]

Life After Life — Kate Atkinson

You Are One of Them — Elliott Holt

A Tale for the Time Being — Ruth Ozeki

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Tigerific! (Not so much for the tiger, though)

From The Remains of the Day:

Image

From Crazy Rich Asians:

tiger_jpeg

 

 

Okay, maybe the passages aren’t THAT similar, but it’s still kind of a weird coincidence.

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December 4, 2013 · 1:16 pm

Oh, Brother.

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver is a deeply weird book. Except for the main character’s emotional austerity and some explicit parallels detailing how sister/brother relationships can be very much like mother/son relationships, there is little here that resembles Shriver’s most well-known book, We Need to Talk About Kevin. An incredible and disturbing book about a mother questioning the impact of nature versus nurture in regards to her sociopathic son, Kevin is now ten years old, but it left such a stain on the “books I’ve read” part of my brain that I couldn’t help but to read Big Brother in its shadow. Not a fair fight, really.

Big Brother is intentionally broken into three parts by the author. She does this for the purpose of storytelling, but thematically it fits into how I saw the book: part one is where the author feeds into the absolute worst stereotypes about obese people and makes it clear exactly how disgusting she thinks they are; part two is where things become too bizarrely fantastical to be true; part three is where you learn things seemed untrue because they were. The ending is a trick, but one that doesn’t quite work because what came before wasn’t believable enough in the first place.

The three main characters — Pandora, her brother Edison, and her husband Fletcher — bounce between being merely obnoxious to maliciously cruel. And yet, no one in the book seems to really care what insults and emotional abuse is casually thrown around. In particular, Fletcher, who calls Edison a “fat fuck” several times throughout the novel and moves on to a worse invective-filled rage from there, is still treated as someone who is basically decent. It is mind-boggling that Pandora wants to stay in a relationship with a man with seemingly no redeeming qualities. Not that Pandora is a prize herself. Her company creates and manufactures dolls that spit out phrases chosen by the buyer and made to resemble someone the buyer knows. Buying the doll is a passive-aggressive measure, meant to embarrass and chasten the person to whom the doll is given by pointing out that the person tends to repeat annoying, dumb phrases, over and over. Just what everyone wants: a gift that tells them how annoyed their loved ones are with them. Somehow, the reader is to believe that these dolls are both in high demand and incredibly expensive, and in this way, Pandora has become very wealthy. Edison is generally just very obnoxious, speaking in this ludicrous “jazz” shorthand — “I play with some heavy cats,” “you dig?,” “jive,” and so on. He is a pathetic figure, but at least he isn’t outright cruel, and if he weren’t so irritating he would be a sympathetic character.

The “surprise” ending is a strange decision, and I wonder if it was the intended ending all along. Whatever minute movements the characters could have been interpreted as making towards learning anything or becoming better people are wiped away. The reader is left with no character development and very little plot development. No one learns anything, people stay cruel, no one changes, and all we are left with are Pandora’s vague doubts about her inaction. However, Shriver indicates that even if Pandora had taken the action of constant, insistent surveillance over her brother (like Big Brother, get it?), the outcome would’ve been the same regardless. The moral is that some people are beyond help, so don’t worry yourself with trying.

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On giving up.

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“Oh hey — OH. Ummm. Hmm. So… you’re like, all ready to go? All ready to do this? No, I’m just… I guess I was just… You know, I just wanted to make sure. Dress looks nice; makeup’s done… Anything… else? Anything else you had to do? No? Hmm. Okay. Just wanted to make sure… I guess…”

BRO, I KNOW. TRUST ME.

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