Racket

I watched Twilight.  Not just the first one but the whole damn saga and I’m not embarrassed in the least.  Someone with an Ivy League education was equally as excited to watch Eclipse with me at the Thai-Burma border.  So if it’s not above her all you judgey people can take a walk around the block.  Plus, it was mainly for Robert Pattinson.  Yes, my teenage dream transferred from Channing Tatum to that “complicated” London bloke.  Weird.  Though right now you might want to lay off some of the “stuff” Patty.  Just look at Leo Dicaprio to see what too much Ibiza does to the system.

Anyways, have you ever consumed popular books or films to see what exactly all the hype is about?  You soon learn that some of the praise is mainly created through noise and good PR while others actually do deliver.  But popularity produces targets and snobs who feel that these well-liked things aren’t particularly special.  The game-changers never like to be part of the crowd.  I get that, but sometimes it’s nice to smell the roses even if everyone and their mother are doing the same.

Now here’s my take on two blockbusters and one of them even has a Robert Pattinson connection.  Ha.  At the height of its hype it seemed like everyone was talking about “50 shades of Grey.”  Sure it’s not exactly Tolstoy or Ondaatje but it was still entertaining.  I don’t understand how people expect NPR content for every single thing that is produced and consumed in the world.  The smutty parts didn’t exactly thrill or shock me but was definitely an education.  It made me pause and say hmm, I didn’t know there was a method for that.  At the end of the day though it’s not the whips or the room full of toys that excited me.  It’s the powerful man I like, not the handcuffs he offers.  Give me a fully clothed man over Magic Mike any day.  Ideally he’d be reading a paper in the Paris sun with wayfarers and a nicely cut suit.  The Robert Pattinson connection is that “50 Shades” started out as a Twilight fanfic.  So, basically Patty is Christian Grey.  I dig that.  He looks accomplished without being too pretty.

The other successful novel that fully provides what it’s selling is “Crazy Rich Asians” but perhaps I like it for different reasons than the average reader.  It is set in the elite circles of Singapore where the wealth and privilege goes back generations and is not from recent investment in natural resources or whatever else is making money these days.  No, these families exploited people during the colonial era and actually did a good job of protecting their assets.  They were not subjugated by the Europeans but also had a hand in subjugating others.  The premise is that an educated Asian-American woman goes to visit her boyfriend’s family and quickly learns that she is out of her league in his world.  She can’t quite read the social signals or transactions and everyone thinks that she’s fond of him for the wrong reasons, when in fact she only recently learned of his privilege.  Plus clearly in their eyes she is not good enough for him since her blood does not have even a hit of blue.  The first thing I love about this concept is that we are not in Victorian England or Downton Abbey to witness how the upper echelon of racialized individuals operate.  Secondly, the very first chapter that takes place in a European hotel lobby makes up for every instance we’ve had to feel subhuman.  When we were thought to be uncouth (when we weren’t) or to loud (when we aren’t).  Again, the majority of us will never live this reality but the author Kevin Kwan does, and he does not hold back.  You know that he is writing about his cousin’s second wife’s mother-in-law or whomever else is part of his network.  God, I wonder if they still speak to him.  I promise that they turn a nose up that he’s selling their secrets for some pocket change.  The fact of the matter is though that in many societies it still matters who your grandparents were and what your name signals.  Of course there should be more social justice and vast differences in wealth disparity is unfortunate.  But there are certain practices that do stand the test of time.  I do agree that it is gauche to talk about money and there is something to be said about being secure enough about your positioning and where precisely you stand.  Pride and arrogance are two very different things and have varying outcomes.

I will forever roll my eyes at those who are too good for certain programs or products.  Sure, it many not be your thing but it doesn’t mean that someone else can’t find value or connect with it.  Yes, I would never watch those teenage mother shows but maybe it is someone’s current reality or will convince others to prioritize other endeavours.  It’s like these people want everyone to consume bran cereal all the time when a bit of marshmallows or raisins even could liven things up.  Come on now.

tumblr_n7dih8jcfn1taiftro1_500

Nerves

As of late I often scrunch my nose up at compositions that start with quotes set in italics.  Why would you start with words other than your own?  I do understand the intention behind it.  That you are setting up a theme or frame for where you want your story to go.  It’s like in a horror film when they build tension with foreshadowing.  And sometimes it works, especially when an author says something that is in your heart better than you could.  So here it is:

If your Nerve, deny you—

Go above your Nerve—

EMILY DICKINSON

Seriously though, what could get you more riled up to fight than that?  And how true it is.  The very best things I’ve done were accomplished when I was scared but did it anyways.  When I didn’t want to be chicken shit.

I’ve just undergone a major life change by moving to a new city.  There is some unfinished business in Toronto mainly tied to going back to defend my dissertation but other than that the field is wide open.  We’ve uprooted ourselves for my husband’s work but also to grow up a little.  It’s our job to slowly but surely build up our world and craft new meanings in a place where the surroundings are strange.  We’re in the phase when we’re still trying to orient ourselves, gain some stability and are desperately searching for landmarks.  This is all helped by how incredibly nice people in MA generally are.  When we visited a few months ago to secure housing and set the scene for what was to come we thought that we were in the phase when everything is good.  Surely because we were speaking to people in the service or hotel industry, their job is to make everyone comfortable.  But now, after a few days of engaging with different people from all walks of life, Jesus Christ, they are still so considerate.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this place produced the Kennedy family and Matt Damon.  No wonder Ben Affleck and Mark Wahlberg are obsessed and continue to write and direct films about this place.  They are polite, say their “excuse me”s and generally have an openness to want to chat or meet new people.  I’m looking forward to connecting with a book club, mommy group or fundraising society to further my network.  I feel like there is potential for them to be positive experiences.

Now I write all of this a couple of days in when there is clarity and calm.  After everything from the flight, airport and various administrative errands have gone more or less smoothly.  Knock on wood.  But to be honest on my last night in Toronto, I was in the fetal position with tears in my eyes, telling my husband I was scared.  And God I was embarrassed for behaving this way because I usually see it as being weak.  But it’s part of human nature to be sad to leave loved ones and a place that is so familiar and good.  Like anything worth having though, you jump right in and keep on working through the pain.  Well that’s my philosophy these days anyways.  Because what choice do we have?  My husband is a Professor and secured this position before graduating.  This is a tenure-track position and it has the potential of being one for life.  He’s also lucky that they want him enough to sponsor him to work in the United States, that he had the means to complete those degrees that gave him the credentials and that his skill sets are specialized enough.  He understands his privilege.  So you go where the job is and you have to find your footing.  I just feel blessed that it’s looking like a place that we’d like to be.

If I’m honest though I can’t count on being completely rooted.  Although the area we live in is beautiful, affluent and safe, I miss the city already.  I miss the noise, the people, the pollution and being able to walk around the corner to find something to do.  But my home is out there, I’ll just have a couple of rest stops along the way.  And thankfully, the people and the food are good.  The ocean is beautiful.  You enjoy the upswings with the knowledge of the downs right?  If that’s the case, it’s all good.

tumblr_n7c2atxm1d1qatbyfo1_1280