Incognito Press

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Archive for June, 2010

The world through blue eyes

Posted by E on June 30, 2010

Ever wondered how you’d look if your eye colour was different? So have I. And, like most people, I fell for the whole idea of ordering a pair of opaque contacts. I started with Acuvue 2, because I LOVE Acuvue in my clear contacts – they’re so comfortable, I always forget I’m wearing them. So I figured the opaque coloured contacts would be the same. Well, yes and no.
I ordered Acuvue’s opaques in the Sapphire Blue and the Pearl Grey colours, and I was horrified at how bad the blue looked. My eyes are naturally a medium-brown and didn’t look good with the blue sapphire AT ALL. They looked completely fake! Resigned at having to wear it in the house only, I tried the Pearl Gray ones, and fell in love. They made my eyes look amazing, a deep shade of grey-blue. Not really grey, not really blue. If anybody wants me to take a pic of those colours, I will – but before I go to all the trouble, please ask!

So after realizing that the shade I love most is the gray, I decided to try a new brand – Freshlook. I went for the Sterling Gray, which is a complex mix of ice-gray and blue. They came yesterday, I tried them on, and WOW – my eyes turned blue. But a completely natural blue, one that looked great with my complexion. They looked so real I freaked myself out.
So here a secret tip for you – and shhh, keep your beauty secrets to yourself. If you want to alter your eye colour, it’s not just a matter of buying a package that says Blue on it. You have to experiment with shades, because a mix of shades can sometimes result in an AMAZING colour. Like mixing yellow with blue results in green, mixing my brown eyes with Freshlook’s Sterling Gray resulted in this beautiful colour pallette.

All the photos I’ve posting are of the Freshlook Sterling Gray colour.

Posted in sight | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

In memory of Nadia, in memory of myself

Posted by E on June 23, 2010

Now that I think about it, it was about two springs ago, around that time of the year when the ice thaws out and winter dissolves into spring, that I was watching the news and a missing person alert flashed over the airwaves. The haunting photos of a beautiful brown-haired girl proclaimed her disappearance from Carleton University in my old alma mater town of Ottawa. Her name was Nadia Kajouji, and this June she would have turned twenty-one years old.

It had been approx. five years since I’d graduated and moved away, first to teach English in South Korea, then to find better opportunities for employment back in the Toronto area. But Ottawa has always been the one Canadian city closest to my heart. Some of my happiest memories involve the long walks I used to take by the leafy Rideau Canal, or writing poetry under the shade of a tree on a hill overlooking Major Hill’s Park and the turbulent waves of the Ottawa river.

Although I had gone to Ottawa u., I was quite familiar with the Carleton campus, particularly with the gymnasium where I used to practice fencing with their varsity team. As I now watched Nadia Kajouji’s parents plead for information about their daughter’s disappearance, my mind replayed my winding walks across the Carleton grounds – from the bus stop where the inter-university shuttle spat me off, past the flock of tall concrete buildings that formed the campus residences, and down the steps that led to that all-too-familiar girls changing room, which always smelled like chalk, cedar bleachers and dusty corners, and resounded with the sound of combination locks clanging hollowly against locker doors.

As soon as the newscasters told of how Nadia had left her radio playing and her wallet on the counter of her dorm room, taking only a pair of skates with her on that terrible evening, I knew what she had done. While I was her age, all those terrible winters ago, I’d also walked across the Macdonald Bridge and looked down into that endless sheet of ice, wishing badly that I wasn’t such a coward.


Throughout my fourth year of school, I fantasized about dying, wrote letters and feverish entries in my journals, packed my things neatly into boxes, and stocked up on pills and online how-to tips. I knew precisely how I was going to do it, and no Ottawa U prof or concerned friend knew how to broach my change in personality.

And yet, so many friends and classmates undoubtedly had noticed my dark eyes, my lack of sleep, my A-average grades slipping down and down and down…..I didn’t care, I was already dead inside. I’d come out of a psychologically-abusive relationship with someone who couldn’t care less about me, who broke every promise made and shattered my heart into a million pieces. And I thought that without this person’s love I was nothing, that I was totally worthless.

Finally, a close friend who was doing her masters in a medical-related field, insisted that I go see an MD. Not a counselor, but someone who could actually prescribe me something. “There’s no difference between what is going on with you,” she said, “and someone suffering from a physical ailment. There’s only stigma. But if you’d fallen and broken your leg, would you not go to a doctor to mend it? You just have a deficiency in serotonin, and a MAO-inhibitor would help you get back up.”

But guess what? Unlike what I’d learned in my psychology classes, awareness doesn’t mean that Poof! everything magically goes away. I knew without a doubt that I was clinically depressed, and it still didn’t stop me from wanting to put my plans into action. Within a month of being on Prozac, I felt amazing. Able to concentrate, to read again, a pleasure I thought I’d lost forever – and with all that newfound energy, I was invincible. I could finally put my energy to use, and complete the plan I’d set in motion months earlier. I emptied all the sleeping pill packages I’d hidden in my bedroom and woke up in the hospital hours later, having been found by my landlady’s daughter. After that attempt, I saw a counselor twice a week and my dosage was increased. It was another couple of months before the self-destructive thoughts receded.

As I now watched the news and learned with the rest of the world that Nadia’s depression had escalated so visibly, yet nobody had taken measures to assist her, I was certain that it was only a matter of time before the Rideau river thawed and her body would be found. Her poor, poor parents, I thought, looking at their photos on the Facebook group that had been created to publicize her disappearance. Having grown up in an abusive home and the foster care system, I’d never had any parents of my own to turn to; to think, Nadia did have a supportive family. And still, this happened to her.

And sure enough, the day when they found Nadia came six weeks later, just as the birds were returning from their southern burrows and new leaf buds were bursting through the trees. As her grieving family was laying her to rest back in the Toronto area, police began to launch an investigation, prompted by information that was seized from her computer records.

As it turned out, not only had nobody stepped in to help Nadia at her most vulnerable time, but someone she had been chatting with online in a support forum had encouraged her to take her own life. This person turned out to be a pudgy, middle-aged man in Minnesota with a perverse fetish for watching attractive young people hang themselves via webcam. He posed as a young girl while talking to Nadia, expressing a similar desire for suicide, and urged Nadia on and on toward her inevitable demise.

It took more than a year of inquiries, along with a Fifth Estate documentary investigation that determined that the pudgy middle-aged man, whose name is William Melchert-Dinkel and who is a registered nurse no less, had had a virtual hand in the suicides of scores of other desperate people all over the world, including a 32-year old British man by the name of Mark Drybrough. Apparently he had used some of the knowledge of his profession to assist suicides via the Internet and posed as various individuals in order to coax people into taking their own lives via suicide pacts. He is also estimated to have personally helped at least five others kill themselves.

At the end of this month we will find out if William Melchert-Dinkel is going to be convicted and serve the maximum thirty-year sentence that he’s facing. But no matter what happens to this sadistic, pathetic excuse for a human being, nothing will bring Nadia or Mark back. As I mourn the loss of a girl I never knew personally, yet shared so much with, I am reminded of the wise words uttered by sixteenth-century English reformer John Bradford: “There but for the grace of God go I.

Any of us – our friends, siblings, children – could suffer from depression. It’s not something to turn the other cheek to. If you suspect that someone you know is chronically affected by this, don’t act polite. Don’t “give them space” and assume that they’re going to be fine. Talk to them. Go along with them to a clinic. Keep them close, in heart, in mind, in spirit – or you might lose them forever.

Posted in death, depression, life, love, media, murder, news, ottawa, suicide, uk | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

From hermit to social butterfly – is that even possible?

Posted by E on June 16, 2010

Contrary to my social savvy on FB, Twitter and WordPress, I am quite the introvert. Now, don’t laugh, it’s true. Doesn’t everybody know that the more popular you’re on social networks, the more of a friendless geek you are in real life? lol… because, in all earnestness, f you follow the logic that if I was popular, I wouldn’t have all this time on my hands to tweet and FB-post, would I? I’d be hanging out at a cafe somewhere downtown, preferably dressed in black (a scarf tied at the neck being my sole accesory, something mocha-coloured or a brilliant, artistic red), pissed-drunk on cappuccinos and artificial sweeteners. And in a designer tote purse by my side, gnawing on a bone-shaped biscotti, there would be the obligatory chihuahua 😀

But…I’m not that creative. Really, I’m not. Creative enough to pull off the bullshit artiste illusion, that is. Smooth enough to pass as a social butterfly when I’d rather lock myself inside four walls and write, read, or do anything but interact with other human beings. But I will try to do my best this week(end).

So I’m attending the Book Summit at the Harbourfront Conference Centre on Friday. I do hope I’ll see some familiar faces, though with my luck the only people I’m sure to see are my ex-agents – one of whom is part of a panel that is presenting in the afternoon. But maybe some of the other folks I met at the Humber summer workshop couple of years back might attend, so that would be cool. Not that I’m great with faces, but it would be nice to run into somebody I know.

I’m not normally the conference-attending type of writer. Not a junkie for constant agent-pandering and critiques, like some people I know, who make it their business to attend every bloody literary event that spans this city. But this conference actually had an interesting line-up, and it was a really good deal – $120 for early bird registrations, and they’re feeding us breakfast and lunch too. Not bad, i must say. Though I bet if they hosted this thing on a Saturday, they might have attracted more participants.

So I’ll let you know how it goes. Oh, also won a bid on Priceline (first time I’ve ever used them!) to stay at the Hyatt Regency for $85, all incl. Since I’ll be in the theatre district, I hunted around for online coupons and managed to score a code for 25% off Rock of Ages. I know, I know. Big 80s hair and rock&roll. Screeching electric guitars. So totally uncool for someone who’s not part of that teenage generation…but funny enough, I do look forward to it.

Ok, enough rambling for today. Catch y’all later 🙂

Posted in books, personal, Uncategorized, writer, writing | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Beauty and the Psycho

Posted by E on June 11, 2010

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl. Who met a charming, smooth-talking prince by the edge of a beautiful blue ocean. And then the prince turned out to be a psycho and murdered the girl. And then he murdered another girl. And he kept getting away with it, because his daddy was a judge, and the police preferred to investigate poor, black locals, and the FBI refused to follow the extortion leads until it was too late.

Not many people know that I’ve been following this story since Natalee went missing while on vacation in Aruba, back in 2005. There was something so engaging about her story, that beautiful smile, her desperate parents, and the breathtaking locale where all this happened….I followed the newscasts and the documentaries that asked what happened to Natalee, and I too, like so many other bloggers and readers, speculated on whether the rich Dutch boy did it.

And then this past week, EXACTLY five years to the day Natalee went missing, with the murder of Peruvian citizen Stephany Flores, the answer came. An answer that, as horrible as it may be, will bring peace to Holloway’s family and incense the hearts of a new family whose daughter did not have to be taken from them, if the authorities had done their job.

One wonders (hypothetically of course, since the answer is pretty clear) if Stephany Flores would still be alive if Joran van der Sloot’s daddy wasn’t a prominent judge with money to burn, and an uncorruptable desire to cover up for his psycho son at any cost.

One also wonders how many signs there must have been in Joran’s teenage years, signs of a troubled psyche including, but by all means not being limited to – binge drinking, drug abuse, harming small animals, adding Rohypnol in college girls drinks…. I imagine the whole sordid saga will come out during the inevitable trial (and appeals, and retrials ad nauseam, until the money for high-profile lawyers runs out) to come.

I know, I know. No use asking the What Ifs now. Two girls are dead, and for all we know, there are others. But still. The only comfort there can be in this whole ugly mess is that Joran will spend the rest of his days inside a brutal Peruvian prison. And given that his now-deceased daddy wasn’t a local celebrity in these parts, I doubt his son will get the royal treatment. That is, unless a new judge caves in under the persuasion of smooth-talking defence counsels, and signs an extradition order for Joran to spend his sentence(s) concurrently in the relative comfort of a Dutch prison.

Let’s just watch and make sure that doesn’t happen. But if I were a betting girl, this is what I’d predict: rich boy will finally tell where Natalee’s body is, so that he makes sure he’s tried in Aruba first (and presumably convicted there) so he doesn’t have to do time in Lima (one of the most violent places in Latin America) and get his ass kicked, raped or murdered by the other inmates.

Your thoughts?

Posted in crime, murder, news, rant, thoughts, violence, women | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Character Assassination or just…Assasination?

Posted by E on June 10, 2010

I’m sitting here watching Amanda Knox’s parents on Oprah, trying their best to clear their (convicted murderer, pictured on the left in the photo above) daughter’s reputation, and the thoughts that are rapidly crossing through my mind are:

1. What kind of strings did they pull to get Oprah to endorse this charade?
2. Yet another unbalanced tripe that passes as journalism – with no side given to Meredith Kercher’s family, and 100% attention to the Knox side. But of course, Italian authorities were guilty of “trial by media”, botched up the investigation, the jury hated the blond&blue-eyed innocent young girl, the list goes on.
3. If the freaking drug-dealer’s DNA is inside that poor raped and murdered British girl, then how did the drug-dealer get in the house, past all the other roommates and boyfriends there? Wouldn’t a more plausible explanation be, they invited the druggie in to buy some of his stuff, the party got out of hand, and they collectively murdered Meredith in a drug-infused stupor?
4. DEJA VU!! This is so, SO reminiscent of the Schapelle Corby case, where an equally blue-eyed, innocent Westerner female just happened to be caught by Indonesian authorities with a boogie-board stuffed with hashish. Read my blog entry on Schapelle here.
5. A motive doesn’t have to be necessary in an accidental death…esp one that involves drug and alcohol-fueled parties
6. Oh, the irony! All these accusations of “trial by media” having impacted Knox’s trial, when in fact the ABC co-anchor and other personalities invited on the Oprah show are also members of said-media…but I suppose their point of view is to be weighed more than that of those oh-so-biased European media outlets??
7. And lastly, never underestimate the tear-jerker effect of broken-hearted parents who triumph their convicted murderer daughter’s innocence on Oprah.
Where, oh where is the humanity? Those horrible judges, those lying lawyers, that hating jury who would convict Little Miss Amanda?…. Don’t they know anything? That a pretty, blond co-ed raised by a nice American family just does not DO this sort of thing??

So let’s all discard our IQ to the wayside and pitch in to her college fund (since she’s enrolled in university long-distance studies, like a good girl should be) and jump on the Let’s-Free-Amanda bandwagon! If I send in a dollar to the Defence Fund, do I get a ribbon, a button pin or an elastic wristband?…

.

Posted in amanda knox, bullshit, italy, media, meredith kercher, murder, news, oprah, press, violence, wtf | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

I miss Europe…..

Posted by E on June 10, 2010

London, May 2010

I know I said it before, but still…exploding volcanoes, euro crashing, Greek riots, the EU splitting up, and least of all, those airport shut-downs…what else could go wrong in Europe this summer?

And yet this is where part of my heart lies. Where I’ve been most alive.

Like everybody born in one place and reared in another, my feet straddle two continents, and it seems like I am never whole. Yes, I know that what you call your “home” ought to reside within you, but there are still moments when I viscerally sense the absence of springtime in Canada, where I gaze up at the trees and almost expect to see white, pink and purple flowers in bloom…but there are only leaves. Vibrantly green, beautiful leaves, but nothing like the kaleidoscopic burst of petals and pastels I remember from my childhood.

Do you ever feel like you want to be in two places at once? It’s like that early morning moment when you’ve just woken up but you’re not altogether sure which world is real – the one of dreams and longing, or the one that protrudes, weed-like, through traffic and ashphalt?

Posted in belonging, europe, life, london, longing, thoughts, travel, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

On finishing the book, getting agent, firing agent, & getting another agent

Posted by E on June 3, 2010

It was last June, exactly one year to today (and no, I didn’t plan it that way), when I made the decision to close down my blogs — not the smartest move, some would argue, given the fact that one of my blogs had close to 90,000 hits between 2007-2009. But I did what I felt was necessary to focus exclusively on finishing my book. Wayyyy too much of people’s time can be taken up with social networking and blogging, and while the encouragement and connections you make with others can be so exciting at first, it can lead to neglecting other tasks. Like finishing manuscripts. Which took me slightly over a year and a half to complete.

And I don’t regret it one bit that I chose to stop blogging, because on January 26 of this year I FINALLY finished the first draft of my manuscript! And after that, life took on the odd, techicolour quality of an amusement park rollercoaster. I could try to describe it, but I think I’ll let my Facebook diary speak for itself:

Facebook entry for Jan26: FINAL TALLY: 2 years, 3 grants, 1 nervous breakdown and countless grey hairs later (lol), I am FINISHED! Final numbers=228,500 words, which I’ve edited down to 226K. By the end of this, hopefully I won’t be more than the 200K mark. But I am DONE!! And too exhausted to feel anything but numb right now…….

The next day, I started querying literary agents. To my surprise, (in all the workshops they tell you to be prepared to wait for months) most of the requests for book excerpts came within 24 hours.

Facebook entry for Jan. 29: This afternoon received query for the full MS from my #1 choice literary agency…they wanted the whole thing. Keeping my fingers crossed! I wonder how long the excrutiating wait is before I find out if they take me on or not…anybody have requests for fulls or partials? How long did they take before they got back to you?

Facebook entry for Feb.9: queried 10 more agents today – 8 in NY, 2 in Toronto. It’s a numbers game, isn’t it? Anybody here have an agent? If so, are you happy with him/her and would you recommend their agency? Look forward to all input and advice. Many thanks in advance:)

Facebook entry for Feb.25:  “a few of us here have now had a chance to read the manuscript and we’re all quite taken with your story” — I’m scheduled for a lunch meeting with my No.1 choice literary agency (still keeping it secret for now) this week – wish me luck that they’ll sign me!

Given the long-standing, international reputation of the agent it is named after, this agency could easily be considered Canada’s top literary agency. The fact that they wanted to sign me right away was incredible, incredulous, and left me utterly ecstatic! 🙂 I mean, realize that all I had was a first draft to begin with – mind you, a well-written and polished first draft, with certain rephrasing here and there, but still…

Facebook entry for March 2: IT’S OFFICIAL – I’ve accepted an offer of representation from my #1 choice literary agency, the Lah-de-Dah Agency! (Name changed to protect the guilty, lol). We had lunch today, discussed the manuscript and sealed the deal 😀

Ok, so here is the point where you break out the champagne, have all your friends over and pretend to be coherent while you’re head’s spinning off in la-la land. You basically have a mini-meltdown a la hyper teen: OMFG, can you believe it, LOLZ!! I was in a euphoria for the rest of the week. And wouldn’t you know it, but the month was just about to get better.

The following week, there are two envelopes in the mail — one big one, with my official contract all signed and autographed from the famous agent the agency is named after, and the other is a shiny cheque for $12,000 from the Canada Arts Council!! I’d applied back in October and by now had pretty much given up on ever hearing from them. Ever the optimist, I was absolutely certain I was going to have my application rejected. I’d never applied before, I only had the minimum amount of required publication credits, yada, yada, yada…..but then, Holy Crap, it CAME!! And not a moment too soon, since I’d just run out of my other $12K from the Ontario Council.

So, as you can imagine, this was one of the happiest weeks of my life. Honestly, I was in hog’s heaven.

And then….it all went downhill. Got a horrible cold that practically killed me for a week, and worse even, I realized that I wasn’t going to click with my agent after all. As an unknown author, a newbie in the industry, the Big Name agent wasn’t going to rep me anyway, and not with a non-fiction book to boot, so I was being repped by two newbie agent associates. Not that it matters what their sales record is, given that they’re working with one of the biggest names among Can Lit agents. I mean, hell, I was represented by THE So-and-So Agency, right? And being told that they get hundreds, even thousands of queries a year and only take on only about 10 new clients per said year, it was an achievement in itself to be on their roster.

And then I realized that they weren’t the agents for me. That just because I was being repped by the same folks who represent Nino Ricci, Vincent Lam, Camilla Gibb and Lisa Moore and half the freaking country’s big-name authors simply wasn’t enough. Not if I got nothing back in the way of direction, input or enthusiasm.

Stay tuned for my next entry, Why I Fired My Literary Agent.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Posted in agent, blog, blogger, blogging, canadian literature, life, literature, manuscript, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Just back from London

Posted by E on June 2, 2010

Well, I’m back!! In more ways than one. Back from London, England as of a week now, and back on WordPress after a year of absence. I know, I know, a shitload of stuff has happened over the last year, and over the next little while I’ll be sure to update all of you on what has been going on.

But first, let me say this — despite all the trepidations about the ash cloud, etc (given as it made quite a dent in the recent London Book Fair, which was a bust for most overseas agents who didn’t get there early enough), somehow the clouds lifted during the particular week we were scheduled to leave.

To be honest, though, I didn’t let myself hope – or pack my bag even – until the day before our flight. Why bother getting all excited, I figured, if the airport was going to be shut down again? And, as if on cue, we leave on a Saturday, and the next day, Sunday, all UK airports close up. Yep. Not making this up. And they stay closed until 2 days before we’re supposed to depart.

Which made life a teensy bit tense for the partner, given a conference she was to attend the very next day in Boston….well, everything ended well. We got back to Canada, she got to Boston, wrapped up conference and came back home, and now we are….you guessed it, in another hotel room. In buttf*ck nowhere, southern Ontario. Don’t even ask. (Business, why else?)

But London was grand. For me, it wasn’t the reaction I anticipated: it wasn’t that punch-to-the-gut, breathtaking awe I experienced when I first laid eyes on Venice, or the fairytale magic of being on Barcelona’s streets, or the dizzying magnificence of Paris….no, my reaction to London (and its war-scarred architecture) was much more subdued. It was a bit like…coming home. Like settling into a comfortable pair of slippers. One that you never want to be forced to take off.

I could live there, I really could. (As I write this, I’m mentally adding it to my list of places I’d love to have a pied-de-terre in). The leafy parks, the grand boulevards, the excitement of Soho and Bloomsbury….not to mention all the great pubs and restuarants, and even the chain of Nando eateries I hadn’t expected to encounter. Not a far stretch of the imagination to think of London as a great central base for exploring Europe.

It’s definitely a place I intend to return to over and over again. And sample my new favourite drink: cider. Which I’m ashamed to say I’ve not ever had before this trip. It’s a fantastic find, I tell you — for someone who hates beer as much as I do, I finally have a substitute to make me look like I could fit in with all the cool kids and their big pints. Who’s ever to know that my pint tastes like sweet pears and apples? 🙂

More on London later. Ta-ta for now!

Posted in ash cloud, cider, england, london, travel, uk, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »