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5 things 5.3.16

1. Lots of talk in Switzerland this week about the delicious defeat of the SVP’s second “black sheep” offensive. Yay, great news and all, but the extremely close call on the marriage initiative stressed me out. Couched as protecting married couples from unfair tax rules, it came bundled with a nasty, underhanded attempt to block equal marriage. And 49.2% of voters were just fine with that. Oh, Switzerland.

2. My ongoing German literary practice has taken me (not at all reluctantly) into the wilds of chicklit. Working very much better than short stories, fyi. But based on my highly scientific sample of two books thus far, I’ve noticed an odd trope. The heroine, embattled and depressed, naturally enough sinks into bad dietary habits and weight gain. Plausible, understandable, familiar. The next step? Not so much. That’s when she goes on a drastic diet (in Bridget Jones 3, it’s protein shakes; Männer und Andere Katastrophen features a fruit fast), and while comedy lip service is paid to a shaky start (Bridget apparently needs to be TOLD that the shakes are a meal replacement, not a supplement; Judith gets really hungry but throws herself into her secretarial work for distraction), basically this drastic diet is exactly what is needed to get heroine back on track fast, over her physical and psychological state of blobbery, into a size 8 dress and obviously desirable to all. For good, apparently. Is it really just the chip on my shoulder that makes me resent this? I mean, I know. It’s chick lit. It’s a fantasy. No need to take it so seriously or expect anything more realistic. But… the audience for this stuff is not unfamiliar with weight gain. I expect we’re all far too well acquainted with crash diets, also, and we know very damn well what happens next. It’s not exactly happily ever after. And I deeply, deeply resent this smug, dishonest, unnecessary trick. We loved Bridget when she was constantly trying and failing to get skinny. I could accept a Bridget who really did find a long-term solution, but I cannot for a moment believe that this is that solution. In the other book it’s even less justified – the heroine’s size and body issues really aren’t a plot point. I don’t care if she diets or not. But I do seriously resent the idea that she can go from post-breakup sustenance of ice cream and chips to living on fruit, and actually keep it up. Apparently the reader is supposed to be invested in Judith having a plausibly desirable shape? And be self-deluding enough to buy into fasting as a way to achieve and maintain that? This is woman-friendly entertainment? Great. Really. Fan-fucking-tastic.

3. I’ve been thinking about the evolution of cellphones. Remember when they were first a thing? Such a status symbol, the “Sandton earring”. Cellphones were the domain of a very particular type of person, and the rest of us could safely mock them. I remember seeing someone in St George’s Mall very showily talking into his phone – and then it rang. Lots of stories like that. And then they became ubiquitous, and you pretty much had to have one, especially as a freelancer, and I hated it. I missed the mocking days. But then – oh frabjous day! – then came text messaging, and cameraphones, and at first that was ripe for mocking too, but they got so much better and suddenly here we are, with phones that are an introvert’s best friend and do a fantastic job of allowing us to stay in touch while actually talking on the phone sooo much less than when it was landlines or nothing. FSM bless mobile technology, really.

4. I just finished a two-week freelance gig, editing a trade journal. My first time on this team but will be a regular thing. The material is pretty dry (better than some of my clients, though) but it was soooo nice to be subbing a magazine again. Because I seriously kick butt at that. And it was very gratifying to have this new client discover that, and be amazed. Also a tiny bit bittersweet, though, that this thing that I am best at is such a tiny part of my life. (And… well, also a tiny bit sad that the thing I am great at is subediting, because really. But there we go. Commas are my domain, and even if it’s a mildly tragic domain, my rule is resplendent.)

5. Holiday time! We’re off skiing now. At least, that’s the theory. The weather forecast is for constant snowfall, and while we do want actual snow on the ground, that’s… not ideal. But it’ll probably be wrong. It usually is.

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