New Page

There is a new page on the blog that I added last night. It is called “Ask Clarissa.”

Thanks to reader Matt who suggested this.

Online Shopping for Swimsuits Is a Road to Happiness

How come when I go to a store and buy an expensive swimsuit in person, it always turns out to fit me horribly but when I buy a cheaper swimsuit online, it turns out to fit me ideally?

Look at this great swimsuit I bought on Amazon. It cost me $39.99, which I consider to be a fantastic price. It fits me like a glove, holds everything firmly in place, and feels super comfortable.

And it’s available in a variety of larger sizes.

To answer the question I asked at the beginning of this post, I guess that having to try on swimsuits at a store is so stressful that I just grab whatever feels remotely fitting and run. There is no such pressure in online shopping.

This is the second time I’ve bought a swimsuit online, and both purchases have been an unqualified success.

And What Are the Women Doing?

As you probably already know, I’m translating a mystery novel by a Russian writer who wants to capture the North American market. I decided not to read it before translating because I can’t read something like this twice in a row and preserve my sanity. So I read it as I go along with my translation and discover the plot gradually. This system really works because I’m curious how the novel will end and this motivates me to translate faster.

Somewhere around page 80 of the translation, I felt that something extremely strange was happening in the text. By page 150, this feeling intensified to the point where I could barely translate any longer.

When I got to page 200, I knew what it was. Women. The female characters of this novel are engaged in two activities, to the exclusion of absolutely anything else. If they are under the age of fifty, they exhibit an insistent and constant readiness to have sex with anybody they see in any context whatsoever. If they are older than fifty, they exhibit an insistent and constant readiness to make food for anybody they see in any context whatsoever.

Some women offer sex and food at the same time.

That’s it, people. There is not a single female character in the novel who doesn’t offer either sex or food within seconds of her appearance in the novel. Even completely secondary, unimportant female characters do nothing but that. It’s getting really bizarre. The male protagonist gets on the bus. A woman offers sex. The male protagonist walks into a store. A woman offers sex. The male protagonist goes to a hospital to visit a sick friend. A woman offers sex. When the male protagonist refuses sex, she offers food. And then sex.

I’ve started to wish passionately that finally a female character would appear who sells socks, treats patients, takes a bus, walks down the street – just does anything completely mundane – without offering sex. Or food.

You all know me here by now, right? I’m sure you have all figured out that I’m not in the least opposed to either sex or food. But I’m now on page 316 (out of 437) of the book, and these sex-offering women are getting to me. I’ve started having nightmares where there are crowds of women who lick their lips, stick out their tongues and unbutton their blouses (like they do in the novel) all day long without stopping for a second.

Given that women buy 80% of all fiction published in this country, I’m having serious doubts as to whether this author is likely to get his work sold to a US publisher.

Should I offer him a hint?


One psychological trick to unblock a blocked brain is getting rid of old stuff you don’t use any more and that has been cluttering your space.

I have now decided to accept the painful truth that I’m never going to fit into the clothes I used to wear 5 years ago and get rid of them. Actually, I will get rid of anything I haven’t worn in a year. I’m having a panic attack just imagining it but I will do it anyway. It feels kind of defeatist to do this (what am I, just accepting that I will never be size 10 again??) but I realize that this is just stupid.

After that, I will recycle all papers I haven’t consulted in over 3 years. I still have my notes from my undergrad courses that I’ve been lugging around since 2001. I always felt that I might use them one day until I finally leafed through them and realized that I now know so much more than what the notes contain that keeping them has become ridiculous.

Then I will clean up my computer.