Remaining Myself in the Face of Professionalism

Dearest Readers,

I hate being professional. I don’t mean in the sense of being on time for things, keeping my word, doing good work, and all the other things that one does while being professional. Those things are important. They’ve gotten me through undergrad and into a postgraduate program. They make people like me, and they keep me sane.

Aesthetic professionalism, however, is a completely different thing, and that’s what I hate. The things people wear and the items they use in order to be professional are at odds with many things I prefer as a person.

But I’ve realized, in the course of this masters program while trying to present myself as a professional, is that I need to keep the parts of myself that are anti-professional, too. Being professional and wearing clothes all the time that fit the trends is an assault on my senses, my energy, and and my individuality.

My bad sense of fashion keeps me happy, and it makes me willing to put on the well-fitting, clean-cut outfits I’m expected to wear as a serious adult in an academic setting.

Simple colours and limited patterns? No thanks. As my parents were loathe to discover when I was a child, I’m not just a fan of many colors and patterns in the things I wear. I’m a fan of mixing those colors and patterns. During the season or so when putting two bold patterns together was in, the way I’ve liked dressing my entire life was suddenly the cool thing, and it was amazing.

Too bad it’s over.

Ombre dress with striped leggings; plaid dress with leggings covered in skulls; red plaid leggings with a rainbow cheetah-patterned sweatshirt; purple dress, black tights, brown leather jacket, and some hiking boots…all of these outfits exist in my wardrobe, because who doesn’t want the double fun of having two different patterns in their outfit or overtly breaking an unspoken rule?

And pairing any outfit with patterned socks? Yes, please.

However, I’m realistic. I shouldn’t arrive at a serious event looking like a child learning to pick out her own outfits or an athlete that put on comfy pants after a workout. I understand that there are unspoken rules to follow in order to be taken seriously, as much as I wish there wasn’t, just as I know those rules apply to simply stepping out into public and not just to actual professional environments.

My prefered outfits would fly just as badly in a pub as at a conference, although with different possible social consequences.

(Really, guys, the fashion gene/interest/awareness that develops in most people, male or female, through their teenage years just didn’t do much in me. I can recognize things and am able to pass as fashionably aware, but it takes a lot of effort, and even so, I wore a peacock-feather patterned dress to prom in a year when it was the only patterned dress in the store, and the best compliment I’ve ever gotten about my fashion sense was ‘unconventional.’)

Anyway, I’m learning to do what I can in order to stay my pattern-loving self while also trying to pay attention to what successful professional people wear in order to pass for their intelligent selves.

So I might stick to jeans and a simple shirt with a plain cardigan to be casual-professional, but you can be damn sure I’m wearing wierd socks.

And I might look nice all day in tights and a professional dress, but at night, I’m putting on my unicorn and rainbow covered nightshirt and my cheetah-patterned pajama bottoms and relishing in the beauty of the clash.

And if one day I’m successful enough that ditching some unspoken fashion rules wouldn’t harm me, my career, or my chances to be taken seriously, I’m certainly going to throw some bad fashion fun into my work days.

Why?

Because everyone needs to stay 100% somehow.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani

Michael Newton on the Post-Colonial Fionn

Surely the most popular narratives in the Scottish Highlands in the early modern period were the heroic tales and ballads relating to the warrior Fionn mac Cumhail and his band of superheroes, the Fian (variously called An Fhian, An Fhéinn, na Fiantaichean, etc., in Gaelic). There was a huge selection of material, and on any particular occasion, a performer might recite or sing only a small portion of the adventures that related to the “Ossianic cycle” (or “Fenian cycle,” as it is sometimes called).
It is always the case that once a body of narrative becomes intimately known by an audience, it serves as a vehicle for multiple rhetorical purposes. In other words, it can serve not just as an imaginative story about far-away people and places, but as a means of social commentary about the here and now. Think of “Romeo and Juliet,” for example, and how it has been retold and repackaged to comment on youth gangs in California (as in the 1996 film with Leonardo DiCaprio) or 1960s New York (West Side Story). The many, many retellings of the Arthurian legends provide another example of how the well-kent characters and plot structure have enabled skilled storytellers to comment on power and corruption.
The same was true for Gaelic storytellers in Scotland and Ireland.

via Fionn and the Post-colonial Fian – The Virtual Gael

Dear Readers,

I am currently a future-adult-scholar, in training to be an expert in the field. The man who wrote the above, however, is an adult-scholar, and he’s very good at it.

I suggest reading his blog for scholarly takes on things related to Gaelic literature. His posts are always interesting, and they certainly make you think.

I like the one above because I’ve been taking a class on Fionn, and because I like seeing how circumstances affect the way the stories were told and what sorts of stories were told. I haven’t read that Fionn tale before, either, which is also a plus.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani

Review: The Lass Wore Black by Karen Ranney

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Dearest Readers,

I really wanted to like this book. The premise of the romance was promising: a woman driven to hide herself from the world under a veil, a male doctor sent in to get her eating again, their romance, and an ex-lover with murder on his mind.

It sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, The Lass Wore Black just left me constantly wanting more or disappointed. It’s a romance, so it’s meant to allow for suspension of belief and escapism, but even then, I was unsatisfied. Some of the reasons are nitpicky, like the absolutely impossible suggestion that while in a carriage accident, Catriona (the woman in the veil) gasped in pain every time a shard of glass sliced her skin. That would be dozens of times within a couple seconds, and that’s just not happening.

Another thing is the way Ranney included ways of speaking that were ‘appropriate’ for the time, meaning more delicate about sexual matters and more set into gender roles and sexism. I’m not faulting her for that. However, the way it was incorporated was inconsistent and sometimes contradictory.

For instance, the doctor seems to equate Catriona, who went through trauma and is scarred/permanently injured from it, with wealthy old women that are clearly hypochondriacs. He goes from understanding and compassionate to irritated too easily and with little provocation.

By the end of the novel, I still wasn’t invested in the couple. Their big climactic moments, like sex for the first time and her removing her veil, are…anti-climactic. They’re over too soon or just feel strange. He gets described as kissing ‘like a demon’, and he keeps smiling and twinkling a lot at inappropriate moments. Catriona, although not dorky smiling all over the place, is really prideful, which makes her stubborn sometimes but bratty the next. Most of the relationship seems forced.

Even the villain of the tale, the ex-lover with murder on his mind, makes me cringe. He’s tried to kill Catriona multiple times and seems quite intent on doing it. But he waits for months while determining the right time and place, and then for some reason thinks the right time and place is the carriage house a couple days after she was seen there one time because even though she’s being watched all the time, that one-time trek into the carriage house means it’s time to set it on fire.

And then, after trying to stay secret and plotting murder while doing nothing else, he ends up trying to kill her in the middle of a crowded street and getting caught because of course.

Except wait…what? What villain that’s been plotting for months thinks that’s the best course of action?

Also, as far as I can tell, the cover doesn’t have anything to do with the book at all.

The redeeming qualities of this novel were the secondary characters. None were particularly thoroughly fleshed out, but they were more intriguing and worked better with the main characters than the main characters did with each other.

I find that unfortunate. The plot had so much hope, but it just fell short. Not something bad to read to pass time in an airport or something, but for serious enjoyment, I wouldn’t suggest it.

I would say, however, that on Goodreads the book has a 3.71/5 rating as of the end of March 2017, so some people really liked it.

I am not one of those people.

Your Bonnie Celtophile,

Dani