Monday, February 20, 2006

rudimentary, they say...

so, as i mentioned before, i submitted an essay which is supposed to be included in an anthology coming out in june. well, lately i've been reconsidering my submission. i mean, it's not that i don't want to be published, i mean, who doesn't? but a few things have come up in the past few days that make me hesitate.

for one, my editor just did some extremely last minute edits... without my approval.

so i need some advice, but first a little background:

i latched on to this project towards the tail end of the submission deadline; i.e. i had a month to write and submit a first draft. a month, when you're a full time employee of corporate america, is not really a lot of time when you consider how little free time is left after a 9-5 day. i didn't have the luxury of cutting myself off from the rest of the world to retreat to some writer's camp in the middle of a forest in montana to clear my thoughts and focus on writing, like many seasoned writers do. needless to say, it was kind of hard to meet the deadline, but i did it anyway, and i was sort of happy with my piece. not bad for an accountant, ya know? my editor worked with me and made a lot of helpful suggestions and constructive criticism, and at the very beginning of december, my essay was considered final. or so i thought.

just last week, i got an email from my editor saying that my essay was too long, and that parts of my arguments were redundant in relation to other essays within the anthology. therefore, she was getting pressure from the publishers to cut it down some and they made some last minute changes and hoped that i was okay with it. well, i wasn't. they practically chopped my essay in half.

not only did they chop my essay in half, but they cut out parts that i felt were crucial to my cause. the essay deals, in part, with islam and my editor felt that some parts of my writing in relation to that were "rudimentary". and you know what? she's probably right. but here's my thing: rudimentary or not, they're my feelings, my understandings and my interpretations of how i grew up as a muslim. maybe she couldn't relate, maybe the publishers couldn't relate; but i know many people who can. many... many... many! it's an experience that i share with several bengali muslims and several muslims in general. but the fact that i laid it out in a very simple and non threatening way, didn't seem to jive with the editors. and frankly, i'm pissed. they cut out enormous parts of my essay that dealt with my feelings about islam under the guise of "redundancy" and then later decided to be honest with me and say that my arguments were just too rudimentary. well you know what? fuck that shit in the ear i say. if my shit is rudimentary then don't fucking print it.

i mean, really, here's the thing: it's not like my editor woke up one day last week and decided my islam issues were rudimentary. she had to have felt that way about it back in december when she accepted my final draft. why didn't she say anything then? why wait until now, in february, when she's on a tight deadline and leaves me with a fucking ultimatum that i have to accept the changes or withdraw my essay?! on top of that, i'm out of the country with a twelve hour time difference, and can't call her, so we're emailing back and forth arguing over the timing of all this, and she basically tells me that i need to give her a final word by such and such time (which already passed by the time i read the email) as to whether or not i want my essay in.

what kind of shit is that?

so my question to you readers, especially those of you who've had experience with being published (shalini? anyone?): is this common? am i overreacting? i mean, i went ahead and ok'd the submission, but i'm still really torn about it. and if i'm still torn, a week later, then maybe it wasn't the right decision for me to okay it, right? i don't know... i mean... a part of me is ready to write to my editor and say fuck it, pull my shit, i'll find someone else to publish it in it's entirety. i'm not saying that my shit is all that and a bag of chips, i'm just saying i don't agree with their edits. i didn't have a problem with my editor's initial edits, and we seemed to have established a pleasant relationship. but now, i'm feeling a little bit duped. i'm feeling like they waited till the last minute because they knew i'd be pissed but with the timing and her deadlines i'd have to make a quick decision and i did. not only that, i'm a little bit annoyed with her for waiting until now to tell me my shit is rudimentary. frankly, and i told her this, rudimentary isn't always a bad thing. not everyone is a scholar and an intellectual. some of us are just regular fucking people with simple fucking ideas who want to be able to say shit in simple ways that other simple people can understand. i'm not a muslim scholar, nor am i some graduate from an ivy league institution with twelve million letters behind my name. i'm a fucking accountant for chrissake! how many accountants do YOU know who have submitted an essay for an anthology on women and islam?

it's after 2am here in dhaka, and i was laying in bed trying to fall asleep, but i couldn't because i kept thinking about parts of my essay that were no longer included in the final edit. it made me kind of sad. i mean, i think i should've been able to at least ok the edits. i shouldn't have to deal with a fucking ultimatum at the last minute when my editor has only a few hours before she has to turn everything into the publisher for good. that just doesn't seem like the right way to do this.

and if i'm losing sleep over it, well then that's a problem, no?

so... what do you think? any advice? suggestions? comments? please... help me out here.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


today was a really nice day here in chennai. the weather has been gorgeous since i got here, and today was no exception. it's been a balmy 75-80 degrees or so, perfect deshigrrrl weather and a nice refuge from chicago's cold. though i have to admit, january in chicago was pretty warm, relatively speaking. i think most of the month saw temps in the forties which really ain't bad. but of course this is way better. anyday.

for my birthday i was greeted with really early morning phone calls from dad and a friend and then my sister made plans for us to have lunch at the park hotel. man, this hotel is the bomb. see for yourself. the restaurant we ate at overlooked the rooftop pool which boasts a great view of the city of chennai. after lunch, we lounged in one of the cabanas while the waiter brought over a lovely chocolate cake and my niece sang happy birthday to me. it was really sweet. the rooftop pool area is amazing and it was really unfortunate that i didn't get to swim in the pool, but oh well. we opted not to get massages simply because we all ate so much food and cake that i couldn't even fathom lying flat on my stomach...

but enough about my birthday... (thanks for all the wishes!)

you know what rocks about chennai? two main things, really:

a TON of women ride around on motorcycles. actually, there are usually more motorcycles on the street than there are cars and it's just great to see so many women rocking the bikes especially with saris on! they kick ass. i love seeing them... riding around the busy streets of chennai with their pony tails sticking out of their helmets.

the other thing i've noticed is that the men don't leer at me. total change from dhaka men. i can't walk down a street in dhaka without a dozen guys stopping to stare at me wondering if i'm a boy or a girl. here, they might just throw a glance in my direction but then they just carry on because i'm not so freakish to them as a lot of indian women dress in western clothing.

a very interesting aspect of indian culture which i don't think is specific to chennai, is the nodding of the head. most of us are used to interpreting a side to side nod of the head as a "no". but here, it usually means yes. or at the very least an acknowledgement, if not a straight up "yes". it's not quite a straight line nodding from side to side, but more like a downward curved nodding from side to side. at first i took it to mean no, and was often confused especially when asking questions that you expect to get a yes out of, but i think i'm getting used to it. :)

so yeah, chennai is a pretty cool city. i've done a hell of a lot of shopping here, from clothes to home decorating stuff and artwork. i don't even really want to know how much money i spent in the short 6 days that i've been here. things are relatively cheap compared to US prices, but still...

we're off to dhaka on saturday, and i'm looking forward to seeing dad after over a year.

the india job folks never called, so i'm taking that as a no. too bad though... it was a stellar opportunity for me but alas was not meant to be.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

pardon my disappearance...

have i lost my audience? i think i might have. i apologize, dear readers, for my hiatus of sorts. it wasn't intentional or planned, it just happened. i think the last time i blogged was back in september of last year shortly after katrina, and then all of a sudden things just started happening in my life that made it really difficult to find time to blog. and then i just got lazy and figured no one was reading my shit anyway cuz i hadn't written in so damn long.

but my original reason for not writing was a valid one. i promise. sometime in late august i decided to respond to a call for submissions for an anthology and so i needed to save every ounce of my writing energy to write an essay. it was worth it though; my essay was accepted and will be published as a part of an anthology sometime in june of this year. i'm psyched as hell, it'll be my first published piece ever! email me in june if you want to know the title once it comes out in stores.

right now, i'm in india. chennai to be precise. my sis and niece live here now so i'm splitting my vacation time between here and dhaka. my mom is here too, but i won't see dad until mom and i fly out to dhaka next saturday. i decided this year, that i wanted to spend my birthday with my niece, because, um... frankly folks, she seems to be the only person in the world who is excited about the fact that i have a birthday coming up and that she'll get to spend it with me for the first time in her life. i arrived here late last saturday after a sleep-filled-long-ass-uneventful-journey via london, and the morning after i arrived my sister (and niece) surprised me with a quick getaway trip to a resort called temple bay in mahabalipuram which is about an hour drive from chennai. my birthday isn't until thursday (the 9th) but they wanted to do it over a weekend since my niece has school and sis has to work. let me just say, it was the best fucking birthday i've ever had. period. i spent the weekend swimming in an infinity pool overlooking the indian ocean, lounging in the sun, eating like a pig, relaxing and reading on a hammock and just all around chillin'. it was great. i loved it. i can't even say enough good things about it.

so yeah, turning 33 has so far been great. i'm looking forward to this year. it's funny how you get older and you start caring less and less about birthdays and you sort of stop getting presents and the specialness of the day just fades into oblivion and then it takes an 8 year old to make you feel like your birthday is indeed a special day and should be celebrated as such. as for the actual day of my birthday, i believe a visit to a local spa for a massage and a chocolate cake are on the agenda courtesy of my fabulous sister.

i really do feel special.

so let's see, i suppose i should catch you all up on a few highlights of my life in the past 6 months. i'll never be able to write it all up, so bullet points it shall be:

* i applied for a job in india. actually, they approached me, i wasn't even looking. i still don't know if i'll get it, but from the looks of things i don't think i will. the plan was to interview with them while i'm in chennai, but the company is having problems trying to work out a visa thing that would allow me to work in india and the prospects are looking kinda slim. i haven't heard from them yet, and i'm only going to be in chennai for 3 more days, so... you do the math. it would've been a great opportunity and i was really ready to make the move, but as with everything else in my life, being a bangladeshi citizen doesn't come with too many perks in the global visa department.

* i finally painted my living room and bathroom! yes, after living in my condo for a year and a half, i used thanksgiving weekend to get down to business and paint. it then took about another few months to actually put up all my artwork and stuff, but the place is really starting to come together nicely. it actually feels like a home now instead of a half-assed, bare-walled, temporary abode with a pool table in it!

* my new job was going really, really well until they hired someone in late september, who, let me really emphasize that i'm not lying at all, is a complete moron. normally i wouldn't care, except that the guy is my direct supervisor. it's one of those situations where the guy has a shit load of letters behind his name (and never fails to remind you of it), yet he somehow has no concept of some of the most basic stuff that you just have to know to be in the business that i'm in. i seriously know more than he does, and i feel like my intelligence is insulted every day that i walk into the office and have to deal with his ignorant ass. personality conflicts aside, the man is an idiot. i have no idea how he got all those degrees but i'm assuming he's just a really good test taker. the issue is actually a lot worse than i'm making it sound, and i'm hoping that my manager will see through his bullshit eventually and after the standard 6 month probation they'll fire his dumb ass. but one never knows. all i know is, if he stays, i go. i cannot, in my right mind, continue to work under this guy knowing that he's an imbecile. i'll give them until april (my one year anniversary) to figure out what a jackass he is until i start looking for another job.

* i had some really weird experiences with women in the past few months. remember raquel from miami (see private dancer post)? well, i went to miami again in december and my cousin, true to form, took me back to the same club and of course, raquel was there! she recognized me, and um, we went into the back room, and um, i did things to her that according to my cousin, men aren't ever allowed to do for the mere price of a lapdance. i also went out on a few non-dates with this chick who didn't have any eyebrows. well, ok so she didn't have real eyebrows, but she painted them so badly that they just looked downright whack. i really couldn't get past it. i think i might've been a little desperate, but nothing happened in the end except that i wasted a lot of time and drank a lot of wine and got sick on new years day. a few weeks later i had an make out session with a butch girl and um, i think i've come to the conclusion that i really just can't do butch girls. the chemistry just doesn't work. i mean, i'm sorta kinda butch-ish a little bit already, but i've always been attracted to androgynous girls. some of them turn out to be butch and some not. i just need to stick to the ones that are not. you know what i mean? i hate to blindly make statements like that, but i guess it's not that blind when you speak from experience, no?

* i'm officially calling myself a swimmer. i, deshigrrrl, am a swimmer. ever since august or september of last year, i've been swimming regularly at least 3 times a week if not more and not only am i getting really good at it, but i've also regained much of my girlish figure. i'm so proud of myself! at first i could only swim about 5 lengths of the pool before getting winded, but now i can swim 100 lengths without stopping (and i still smoke!). it's one of the most pleasurable achievements i've had in a long time and i simply can't get enough of it. i have a friend in the neighborhood who is equally freakish about it and so together we try to motivate each other to go. we call ourselves the aqua unit. yes, we do.

* i went to san francisco in early november with summer homeslice and fell in love wiht the bay area. summer's posts would do the experience more justice than this here little blip, but i must say that we went to a party in oakland that was quite possibly, hands down, the best fucking house party i'd ever been to in my entire life. the women in the bay are just gorgeous and i blame the superdopecaliweed on the fact that i spent the entire party dancing my ass off instead of trying to get my (lack of) mack on.

surely i'm missing things to write about, but my memory escapes me and, well, it's late here in chennai and i'm a bit tired from all the shopping i've been doing! :) i'll try to be a bit more regular about posting and hopefully i haven't totally lost all my readers. in the meantime, i'll be chillin' here in 80 degree weather, eating mom's home cooked food and getting ready to go see my dad and my friends in dhaka this weekend. i'll be back in chi at the end of the month. drop me a line in the comment box and let me know that you're still reading. i'd love to hear from you!