Archive | May, 2013

An interview with Saaqshi Sharma – by Saaqshi Sharma

25 May

Why do you write? Were you always a writer?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I’ve always enjoyed editing, revising, and sharing information.

Not too long ago I signed up for a memoir-writing workshop because I was free Monday afternoons and it was only $20. I was only in my twenties and the class was full of retirees, so you could say I was a little intimidated by the years of experience (in life and in writing) my classmates had on me. At the end of the 4-week workshop we had to share a ‘Show and Tell’ piece, and I wrote about instant noodles because I didn’t have any souvenirs from Bali or guns from the war I never fought in. So I brought in a package of Mr. Noodles instant noodles and told everyone what they meant to me. They loved it and my piece ended up getting short-listed for a contest. Because of that experience, I accepted that I am a writer.

And health sciences-where did it come from?  Why is it in your life?

I think health science is in my life because I love biology and studying life. As a health scientist I understand the ‘why’ of life, and understand what goes wrong from a rational point of view. As a writer I understand the impact of life from an emotional point of view and see ‘the bigger picture’ of our experiences. I suppose it’s a way for me to balance the practical and measurable with the abstract. Both are important to our existence.

What are you afraid of?

I’ll kill a spider with my bare hands and go bungee jumping, but I lose control of my limbs and bladder when I see a mouse. Like all good fears, it makes little sense.

Your writing is very sarcastic and laced with humour. Can’t you be serious?

I am very serious; I just don’t choose to show that side to my readers. This blog is just a contract with myself to write regularly. People who know me personally know I am very serious and take myself very seriously. I also write a lot of dark material that I don’t broadcast here because I feel like it’s too revealing of my psyche, and that’s scary to me. So I protect myself with humour. Penis.

Oh so you’re a funny guy. Can you tell me a joke?

That’s what she said. Oh, wait, let me start again.

What are your goals in life?

To be able to do a man-pushup (check), chin up, and cartwheel. To be fluent in French and Spanish. And publish a book that isn’t self-published. And just be a boss in my career and everyday life.

Like a baws!

What’s your favourite book?

I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb.

What’s your favorite song?

You’re All I Need by Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige. I love hip hop because of this song. I want this to be the first dance at my wedding. Like a boss.

What movie could you watch over and over again?

Tropic Thunder. I mean, it’s black RDJ!

I know who I am! I’m the dude playing the dude disguised as another dude!

I know who I am! I’m the dude playing the dude disguised as another dude!

How would you describe the colour blue to a blind person?

What the hell kind of question is that?

You’re right, sorry. What was your proudest moment?

I don’t have a lot of those because I’m really hard on myself. I don’t know, maybe that I didn’t cry during my Master’s defence? Every time I get published I feel pretty good about myself.

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you?

That I’m a good writer.

What’s the meanest thing anyone has ever said to you?

“Saaqshi, I feel like we’re close enough friends now that I can tell you that I don’t really care about your life”.

What do you like to do for fun?

Drink. Don’t worry, I’m classy, I drink wine. Dance, watch movies, hang out with friends, read, try something physically challenging like surfing or rock climbing that I’m probably going to suck at. Because, you know, it’s important to fail at things sometimes.

Who are your celebrity crushes right now?

Jenson Ackles and Jared Padalecki from Supernatural; The Shield from WWE; Jimmy Fallon from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; and Batman from Gotham City.

So sexy

So sexy

What’s one thing you would change about yourself?

My sex addiction.

Oh really. Wanna come to my place later?

Okay.

I think we’re done here, thanks for your time.

That’s what she said.

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What the $%* am I going to do with my life? (I’m going through an early-adulthood crisis)

21 May

What the $%* am I going to do with my life?

It’s a question that a lot of people ask, and I ask myself almost everyday. Still, no concrete answers. And in a world where folks under the age of 30 manage to become YouTube singing sensations and develop the next great app to feed my procrastination, this is very disheartening.

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I feel ya, homie

I once attended a career workshop where I learned that personality has a lot to do with what someone should make a career out of (duh, I know it makes so much sense after you think about it, but I was all like ‘I’m gonna be a lawyer cause I look so hot in a pant-suit and thick-rimmed glasses’). Well apparently I’m an idealist meaning that above all else, I need to be true to myself and I measure everything against my internal value system. But I’m also a rationalist meaning that I tend to gauge things based on their likelihood, practicality, and how realistic they are.

What that boils down to then, is that my desires to live big and change the world are invaded by a nagging voice telling me why it may not be possible or worth my time and energy.

It means I agonize over making major life decisions and that I question the integrity of almost everything I do. It means I doubt myself a lot (then again, that might just mean that I’m a pessimist with low self esteem but I don’t have the energy to address that right now).

To give you an idea of my conundrum, I wanted to rewrite my master’s thesis because it just felt right and my gushy insides were telling me that my message had to be communicated through another lens; that I needed to change the story I was telling the world.

And then there was my rational side telling me to stop being such an egotistical d-bag and that no more than 4 people would even read it.

But of course, I rewrote the damn thing and ended up graduating later than expected. Still, I don’t regret it.

The greatest story never read

The greatest story never read

Now that I want to write a book, that stupid voice of reason is telling me to write a filthy S & M hardback (pun-intended, hehe) because it seems to be the trend, when what I really want to do is write a story about the coming-of-age and transcendence of a young female gang-banger that no one will really care about unless she has hot lesbian sex with her cell mate. I predict slipping into depression three times during this particular piece of work.

Le sigh.

So since my artsy-fartsy side always wants to take over, I drew a picture of myself and included things that are important to me and tried to balance it with things that would help me eat. I thought it would help me brainstorm actual job titles I could settle on since searching for “Nomad health-researcher feminist-writer” in Google doesn’t get me really far.

This is my attempt to try to figure my shit out.


saaqshi stick

In theory, I should be very happy

Then I started daydreaming and drew this:

The idealist always wins. I mean I’m in freaking space!

The idealist always wins. I mean, I’m in freaking space!

Clearly I still need some help so I’m taking suggestions on what I should do with my life. Leave your comments below. No stripping or telemarketing please.

patrick_pole_dancing

Stay of the pole, ladies and starfish

Let’s Construct

15 May

Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself. A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.

– Coco Chanel

Why I’m kind of a feminist

1 May
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I don’t know much about feminism, but I think I’m kind of a feminist even though I love rap music and That’s What She Said jokes. I’m kind of conflicted by this, but I’m going to try to work it out.

Treating others differently based on what may or may not be in between their legs is just not cool. This is especially true when you’re given the short end of the stick.

I feel like there’s another penis reference there.

I learned very young that boys were just better. They were more independent, they were tougher, and they were better at sports. And of course they were more relished by Indian relatives. I can still remember the looks of pity my mother received from friends and family when they realized she wasn’t blessed with a son.

“Why don’t you just try again?” they would ask her while I sat playing with Barbie dolls a few meters away.

Well, first of all: Gross. And secondly: Uh, screw you.

I, of course, didn’t say this aloud because I also learned early that running my mouth would land me a rolling-pin beating, and that’s never fun. But it still stung and it still filled me with resentment. I mean that kind of partiality is pretty hard to miss; it reeks of defamation.

My feelings of incompetence grew stronger as I made my way through adolescence. I ditched my dolls and with great difficulty avoided pink, ponies, and other markers of ‘girliness’ in an attempt to disassociate myself from what was clearly the lesser class. But that didn’t change the way I was looked at and it definitely didn’t change the way I was treated. I was still a girl, after all. If I knew all of the work I put in wasn’t going to make a difference, I would have just given into temptation and put on some damn nail polish.

I was frustrated and hella mad at the world yet for some unexplainable and miraculous reason I came to realize I wasn’t the problem, and despite my feelings of inadequacy, I wasn’t the one to blame.

High on a surge of newly found confidence, I began to see beyond the matter-of-fact truths that were presented to me. I realized that my sex was the function of a force greater than my DNA. I recognized that the reason that girls are ‘passive’ is not because we are inherently weak, but because it’s not ‘ladylike’ to throw a temper tantrum or to yell, fight, and punch someone in the throat when you’re upset. What I now know is that is that girls aren’t bad at sports because of chromosomal heterogeneity, but because they are given less opportunities and encouragement to play.

ASIDE: If you’re going to argue that men are still faster than women in 100 m race or can lift more weight, allow me to counter that by highlighting that if the motto of the Olympics was Balance, Flexibility, and Stamina rather than Faster, Higher, Stronger; women would be at the advantage.  Women have a lower centre of gravity, are more lithe, and actually suffer from less post-exercise muscle damage because of estrogen. Plus we have all that body fat that helps us last in super duper long activities like swimming the English Channel. So, we are just at a disadvantage in a social institution that was established to accommodate males rather than females. Even so, we’ve still made huge progress since actually being allowed to participate. Virtual high five.

Boom.

Boom.

And this was just the beginning of it. The more I accepted myself as an actual human being, the more skeptical I was of arguments that I wasn’t. Here are some other reasons why I’m kind of a feminist:

My Hymen

Historically speaking, girls need to be watched and protected because they carry a magical box in their pants (if they’re allowed to wear them), and if it falls into the wrong hands, the world will end. What I am talking about, Ladies and Gentlemen, is virginity. I remember watching 20/20 at an inappropriately young age and hearing a woman somewhere in the Middle East crying about her daughter’s rape by a solider. The girl was too young to know what happened and all the mother could say was that she needed the doctor to reattach her hymen so that she would be considered a virgin and therefore once again be marriageable material. Even more traumatizing to my young ears was the reporter’s aside discussing how some cultures abide by the practice of showing family members a bloody sheet to confirm the bride is a virgin post-consummation (some cultures even go as far as mutilating female genitalia to remove any pleasure associated with sexual intercourse in order to preserve virginity).

Years later, I learned that the hymen actually tends to degrade before a woman’s first experience of sexual intercourse by activities such sports, cleansing, and even walking. So what, I’m not supposed to walk because I might break my goods? Get out of here.

Oops, I went horseback riding. There goes my virtue.

Oops, I went horseback riding. There goes my virtue.

Bodywork

As much as I [now] enjoy putting on heels, pushing up my boobs, and caking my face, I don’t like to do it more than an average of 3x a year. However, as a woman I am expected to care a whole lot about my appearance. If I walked into an interview without mascara, lip-gloss, blush, and maybe even a skirt; there’s a good chance the interviewer would think Jeez, she couldn’t even bother putting on her face? I’m going to go out on a limb and say this probably wouldn’t happen to a man. And as it stands, I don’t like feeling obligated to do anything, and I don’t like feeling expected to do anything.

The Male Gaze and Assumed Rights Over My Body

During my trip to India, my body got a lot of attention. Bear in mind I wore sweat pants and baggy shirts in response to the fear mongering of my family and friends and the recent high profile rape cases that took place in the nation (yes, I realize that I lived out a ‘blame the victim mentality’ there, but I wasn’t about to take any chances in order to make a point. Shit is scary, yo). The attention I–or rather my body–got was geared around the fact that I am at a marriageable age and have an appropriate body for marriage. That is, it is tall and slim. And the comments were almost exclusively from older, male family members who were essentially giving me and my body their approval to exist and reproduce. Thank you for your permission, you sick, gawking, perverts.

Moolah

I like money just as much as the next dude, and I want to get paid as much as him for the same work, without having to put on high heels everyday. End of story.

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