Eyes Up, Writers




On Twitter today — and everyday — there was some chatter and scuffle about Some Authors’ Careers and Some Authors’ Fame and whether they had deserved it. Some folks invariably said the chatter and scuffle was jealousy. Some others invariably said not everything is jealousy.

Here’s what I think: having a writing career is like driving a race car.

I’m not really a grand race car driver, mostly because I’ve discovered that I don’t really care about winning against anyone but myself, which turns out to be not the point of organized sports. But I have been in race cars, and on race tracks, and have spent many hours doing classwork at over 70 mph. Enough to know that a writing career is a lot like driving a race car. 

One of the things they teach you in every single form of car racing is to keep your eyes up. Up. Upper than that. Upper than even that. Don’t look at the dash, because then you won’t see what’s happening on the road. Don’t look at the road right in front of you, because you won’t see that the turn you’re going into links into another turn and you could set yourself up for both. Put your eyes up as far as you can see down the road, and look there. Only when you see the absolute farthest point can you start to calculate the best way of getting there.

(this is great advice to use when you’re driving normally, by the way)

A writing career is like that. Use your peripheral vision to look at the things that are coming at you day to day, but never forget that every decision should contribute that farthest-away-point you want to get to. Never forget that every tiny success and failure is just a steer or counter steer toward the real point of the thing.

And here’s the other thing they tell you about keeping your eyes up: don’t fixate on the person in front of you. If there’s another driver just in front of you, the tendency is to stare at their bumper and then take the turn just like they do. But guess what? Then the absolute best scenario is that you will take the turn just like they do. So if they’re taking it wrong, you’ll take it wrong too. If there’s a better way, a faster way, a cooler way, a way that involves painting a giant knife on the side of your car and listening to Finnish rap very loudly, you’ll never know.

Eyes up, drivers, they say: look past the car in front of you. All you need to do is to note them well enough that you can pass them when you find a better way to take the turn.

Don’t fixate, writers. Eyes up, writers. I don’t care if x or y is doing a or b. What does that have to do with me? I have my eyes on where I want to go, and no one else matters.

The race is Maggie vs. Maggie. Who are you competing with?

reblogging this because the writer-envy piece in yesterday’s Salon hurts my soul on a most basic level.

It’s ludicrous to go comparing yourself to/being jealous of other writers.  It’s meaningless.  No one is going to write like you, even if they use the same themes and tropes, and there is no telling why one writer’s thing hits big and why the same ballpark thing, two years earlier, didn’t.  You may as well get angry because Jonathan Livingston Seagull hit big and your pelican book didn’t, or for my generation, Harry Potter.  It doesn’t work.

You could put twenty writers in a room, give them the same idea, and they would write twenty different things.  It’s absurd to be jealous. And the person who strives to write what the market demands or what is “hot” right now will fail, because markets and audiences change faster than the publishing system can turn books out.

All we can do is write what we want to write and understand that making ourselves happy is all we may get to do.  And, if we’re lucky, we’ll make a bit of money.  But we can’t guarantee we’ll write a bestseller.  No one can.  If you’re jealous of other writers, you’re simply wasting your own time and energy.  If you compare yourself to other writers, the same applies.  The only writer you should worry about, apart from reading for pleasure, is you.  You’re the only writer who matters then.

Why is it that people are willing to spend $20 on a bowl of pasta with sauce that they might actually be able to replicate pretty faithfully at home, yet they balk at the notion of a white-table cloth Thai restaurant, or a tacos that cost more than $3 each? Even in a city as “cosmopolitan” as New York, restaurant openings like Tamarind Tribeca (Indian) and Lotus of Siam (Thai) always seem to elicit this knee-jerk reaction from some diners who have decided that certain countries produce food that belongs in the “cheap eats” category—and it’s not allowed out. (Side note: How often do magazine lists of “cheap eats” double as rundowns of outer-borough ethnic foods?)

Yelp, Chowhound, and other restaurant sites are littered with comments like, “$5 for dumplings?? I’ll go to Flushing, thanks!” or “When I was backpacking in India this dish cost like five cents, only an idiot would pay that much!” Yet you never see complaints about the prices at Western restaurants framed in these terms, because it’s ingrained in people’s heads that these foods are somehow “worth” more. If we’re talking foie gras or chateaubriand, fair enough. But be real: You know damn well that rigatoni sorrentino is no more expensive to produce than a plate of duck laab, so to decry a pricey version as a ripoff is disingenuous. This question of perceived value is becoming increasingly troublesome as more non-native (read: white) chefs take on “ethnic” cuisines, and suddenly it’s okay to charge $14 for shu mai because hey, the chef is ELEVATING the cuisine.

One of the entries from the list ‘20 Things Everyone Thinks About the Food World (But Nobody Will Say)’. (via crankyskirt)

OOOOMG my coworker and I were just talking about this wrt mexican food specifically

(via differentrealms)

Ingredients as well.

Fleur de sel


(via arari)

(via thisisnotjapan)

I hate 2003 movie Lost In Translation and you should too



So, for a while now I’ve been making scattered posts about how much I hate this movie, and when asked why I replied: well, it’s fuckin racist (and misogynistic as well we’ll talk about it).

Dropping my trademark lowercase typing for a more legible text here but we’re in for a wild ride. I’ve also been asked: how is the movie racist? Could you elaborate? So here’s the essay.

How is Lost In Translation racist?

I’m sticking to some sort of (shudders) academic but also handy and organised plan here to explain the whys and hows and what makes this movie that a lot of teens and older teens, and olderer not-teens consider deep, relatable, original, good, gorgeous, whatever, a 100 minute constantly and unapologetically racist piece of trash of a movie.

I think we’ve all figured out even by reading the synopsis to whom the aforementioned racism is directed to: it’s us, the Japanese. And yeah for once I’m gonna take the liberty to speak for all of us because let’s be real, this movie is outrageous.

3 Important Points as to How Lost In Translation is racist:

  1. THE WHITE CHARACTERS: the characters themselves are typically “white in a ‘foreign’ country”: entitled, ignorant, racist. I am gonna talk about our two main characters, Charlotte (portrayed by our beloved confirmed zionist Scarlett Johansson) and Bob (portrayed by our favourite wife-beating, multiple time cheating asshole Bill Murray) but also the secondary characters such as Charlotte’s boyfriend or that other girl whose name I totally forget.
  2. THE MOVIE ITSELF AND ITS RUNNING JOKES: something I hadn’t noticed until I rewatched the movie a few days ago for the sake of making this post, there are many, many awfully racist running jokes throughout the movie. It actually angered me a lot. Here I will talk about how the movie itself, how some visual elements and how the plot unravels reveals a lot of racism and misogyny.
  3. THE JAPANESE CHARACTERS: now this is where it gets tricky. truth is, no importance is accorded to any Japanese person in this movie, despite being set in Japan. Fishy huh? This point is kinda tied with the second one but I think I can elaborate on the absence of a Japanese POV, and how this extends to other movies where the setting and its inhabitants serve as a prop to the white story the white movie wants to tell.

Continuing under the cut:

Read More

Hitting insta-reblog on this without even touching the Read More. My God, what a crap movie.

I had a boyfriend who insisted on watching this together when he heard that I hadn’t seen the movie because he loved it. The relationship was officially over shortly after the end of the movie.

I love my parents

I decided to wear a pair of black and white patterned lightweight, flowy pants this morning. Perfect pants for a nice summer day. Showed off my outfit to my mom, who promptly told me I look good in them but described my pants as “old lady pants.”

I sputtered and scowled for ten minutes, changed, threw the pants at her, and told her she could keep them. She smiled, “Yes!” and dashed off to put them on.

She came back, proudly wearing them, grinning from ear to ear. My dad took one look at her and goes, “Those don’t work on you. The pattern makes your legs look really short.”

She gaped at him for a moment, then told me as she turned away to go change, “You can have these back.”

My dad turned to me. “You’re welcome.”


The other stupid thing about that size 000 article is that the real issue, and an important one, is the size inflation/skew of the modern clothing industry.  

23” waists are not new or interesting; you will find a shitload of vintage clothes in that size because people used to be both skeletally smaller and have less body fat than modern Americans do, and I have plenty of vintage pieces in 24” waists that were considered (and are marked) a size 8-16.  I have several Japanese and Korean items clearly labeled “large” or “extra large” that are snug on me.  This is where the popular myth of “Marilyn Monroe was a size 16” comes from: although Monroe struggled with eating disorders her entire life and yoyoed in size considerably, she was never the modern equivalent of a 16.  She was a small woman, generally, and plenty of photos of her from all stages of her career show visible ribs and collarbones.  Other photos show her softer and heavier and just as lovely, but even at 5’3” and looking nearly zaftig, a size 16 dress in the 1960s was 34-28-37”.  That’s the equivalent of a size 8 today. [source]

My point is, slowly inflating the actual measurements of a “size 0” to something that used to be a size 2 or 4 is how you sell more clothes.  The positioning of capitalism to clothing is that we buy clothes to self-medicate, and we feel better walking out of a dressing room a size 0 than we do a size 8.  This is shitty, but it’s what capitalism wants, and it’s why the concept of “dress size” in women’s clothing is essentially useless.  Why aren’t women’s pants sized waist measurement/leg measurement?  Why can’t I buy a 34/36 and walk out the store? This is why.  Because keeping us guessing, is keeping us spending.

I can’t even shop in the “women’s clothing” sections anymore because sometime in the late 90s when average body sizes in America were really ramping up, everyone below a certain size bracket in female clothing was moved into “Juniors”, or more optimistically, “Petites”.  What was considered “Plus” was labeled “Women’s”, and “Plus” was bracketed up to larger sizes still.  So according to official sizing in MANY midlevel outlets (think Walmart, not Nordstrom—sizing is directly attached to class marketing, big surprise there), I’m not technically a woman because I’m not big enough.  It’s interesting how this ties into the common refrain from people trying to be body positive but not quite getting it, that “real women have curves”.  Real women do have curves!  Other, equally real women have angles, or poisonous spikes, or in my case, a brightly colored neck frill that helps me attract mates and frighten rivals.  As an addendum to that class thing I mentioned earlier, the more expensive a brand is, the smaller the clothes tend to be, which puts me in the weird (and familiar, to tons of women all over the body shape 3DLUT) position of being sized out of most affordable brands.

I haven’t looked into it but my guess is that size 0 in 1995 when everyone was first freaking out about it is now size 000.  And everyone buying plain ol’ 0s now is getting what used to be 2s and 4s.

Welcome to white patriarchal capitalism, everyone! Enjoy your “inexplicable” eating disorders.

I’ve got women’s clothing that ranges from size 0-12, bought over the last two decades.  (Yes, I keep clothes that long.  Plus, I yoink some of my mom’s clothes.)  I’ve recently started buying clothes from the girls’ department because I can now fit into girls’ sizes 12-16.  Thankfully, sewing patterns seem to have stayed constant in size, I think because they’re based on measurements, and I’ve been a size 12/14 on sewing patterns over the last 15 years.

I side-eye when people try to tell me that vanity sizing doesn’t exist, because my personal experience tells me that it does exist.  Take buying jeans, for example.  Prior to puberty, when I was 5’8 and 98 pounds, I wore size 8L jeans no belt.  Now, as an adult at two inches taller and twenty pounds heavier, I buy size 2L jeans.  I have a couple size 4s, but one pair (they’re different brands) requires me to wear a belt or I’m showing an uncomfortable amount of underwear.

I’m now bigger than I was twenty years ago, but my pants size are smaller.  So yeah, I think sizing of clothing is fucked up.