She Who Must Be Obeyed (TWIR)

Oh no my library loan ran out on Waking the Moon how tragic that I don’t get to finish.

Clipping from a Wonder Woman comic, with Wonder Woman saying "Back! All men are banned from this island by Aprodite's Law!"
Just base a graduate class on this image and I’m there.

In addition to the Book About Writing Craft that I’m reading, I started reading She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard, and while it’s enjoyable in a way, I have this sneaking suspicion that it’s not going to end how I’d like it to.

If anyone wants to start a turn-of-the-century feminist/utopia/adventure book club, I am in. Tentative syllabus: SheHerlandThe Sultana’s Dream, Mizora, New Amazonia, Man’s Rights… Arqtiq sounds fun, being described as “exuberantly incoherent” so how can I resist? As a voice on the other side, The Republic of the Future and Unveiling a Parallel, maybe?

I spent some time on Wikipedia just now and had a lot of fun.

Short things

I’m really into fairy tales this week.

East of the Sun and West of the Moon – A fairy tale from Norway.

She rode a long, long way, until they came to a large steep cliff. The white bear knocked on it. A door opened, and they came into a castle, where there were many rooms all lit up; rooms gleaming with silver and gold. Further, there was a table set there, and it was all as grand as grand could be. Then the white bear gave her a silver bell; and when she wanted anything, she only had to ring it, and she would get it at once.

Our Fairy Tales Ourselves: Storytelling From East to West – Fairy tales and stories beyond the Hero’s Journey. I added quite a few things to my to-read list from this essay.

Reset

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Photo of glorious sunset over palm trees by me

Look, running off to Sunny Florida for a few days isn’t possible for everyone. Maybe I shouldn’t have done it, but life is short and winter long, and I don’t go places for no reason all that often. Plus it was a “working” vacation, by which I mean I got writing things done. And saw Star Wars. That was a very important task. Jess and I might have been the last people in the US to see it. Everyone else was waiting for us.

pew pew

It feels a bit like I hit a reset button on my brain, by being away from everything for a few days. You wouldn’t think that’d be necessary, so soon after Winter Holiday Time, but gosh, it makes a difference, the type of traveling you’re doing. Whether you’ve been a thousand times, rushing around to try to see all the family and friends, or if you’re just sitting in the sun, maybe talking about going to dinner that night.

Either way I arrive back at the airport, trying to keep the Airport Grievances Grumps from sticking to me* and head home, all the way back to my quiet little walk home in the dark. I like my little walk. There are streetlamps and houses so nice I want to gut them and turn them into community living spaces and it wasn’t too cold. I knew at the end of it was my bed. It gives this moment of separation, a clear cut between one thing and another. Ten minutes that are always the same, to clear my head and separate the other place I was from home.

But now I’m staring at the above photo and wondering if leaving was the right thing to do, or if I’ve only been convinced of it because of Capitalist Indoctrination.

*we were stuck on the runway for an hour. they made me check my bag. i had to elbow-fight for the armrests with two Men of Business. the usual.

TWIR: Life as a restless manner of being

Here is a modern tragedy: My hold on Carry On came in at the library this week, so I had to pick it up. But I’m out of town for the next few days, and this book, while not heavy, is THICK. No way I was making room for that. So I have to wait until next week to start it.

My Kindle will always have my back, at least.

Dune is a good book, did you know that? What a surprise! No, really. For some reason I had been put off by it for years, despite it being a book my mom loved (along with many, many other people). But over the holidays I picked it up and suddenly the first page appealed to me. If I were a more morally sound and upstanding person, I would be writing an essay about it. Including some thoughts about the women in it, because while I appreciated that there were significant roles for a few women, I have some unease about how that was executed in the larger story, and the implications of it.

I may have more thinking to do.

In other news, I listened to Modern Romance last week, but only reviewed it this morning:

Modern RomanceModern Romance by Aziz Ansari

My rating:💛💛💛💛 (4/5 heart emojis)

You know what’s great? Having a big ol’ Photoshop project, needing an audiobook to listen to, and something on your “It’d be amazing to listen to this rather than read it, because I know it’s read by someone good” list is immediately available at the library. Thank you, Library Deities. (read full review)

Short things

some other animal’s meat

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Look, this is a new Emily Carroll. For some people you already went back up and clicked the link, in some feverish state of excitement. For some of you, I should say: Emily Carroll makes carefully drawn comics of a subtle and effective horror. Over the years I’ve been following her, her work has shifted from dreamlike, fairy tale horror, into horror weighted with a more modern reality, with living, with the discomforts and unease of life. And dreams and fairy tales.

My Father, the Church, And Why I Left  I always like Mindy’s writing. I’m terribly jealous of her ability to write about her life. In some ways I could relate to this essay (growing up in a church and leaving in gradual way) and in some ways our experiences are completely different (obviously! Hi, I grew up as mostly white in the Midwest where every church had a place for someone like me, using my language, focusing on one denomination). What makes this essay great is not church, but family.

But the story of my relationship to Christianity is also the story of my relationship with my dad. Growing up, we were close. We were both sloppy to the great annoyance of my mother. We were handy with languages and musically inclined. And my dad was the one who would listen to my doubts.

Why life is not a thing but a restless manner of beingOn the origin of life, and alternate ways of looking at what life is, which I really enjoyed.

In that sense, life isn’t a thing so much as a manner of being, a restless fit of destruction and creation. If it can be defined at all, it is this: life is a self-sustaining, highly organised flux, a natural way that matter and energy express themselves under certain conditions.

TWIR: Tomatoes are delicious

I feel like I haven’t read much lately. I’ve been working on a project that I’m terribly excited about, so I let it eat up some time that would have otherwise been spent reading.

Also, I spent some time this week watching movies, which is not typical of me. And listening to music, which is. I had to do a lot of both of those, though. Because David Bowie means a lot to me. I wish I could put it into words, but I haven’t found a way. Others have said a lot, and it’s very good, and true, about discovering a place to be an outsider, and about making art, making it forcefully and daringly, being willing to change, and being kind, especially after you’ve found success. I’m sad and also not. I don’t know. I’m left with a lot of wandering thoughts.

Anyway, reading.

I started to read Waking the Moon by Elizabeth Hand early this week, because I was looking for books about schools of magic that weren’t vaguely medieval, but every character is so unbearable, so insufferably posed and styled and stiff, that I don’t think I can do it. I had such strange hopes for this book, but there’s only so many times I can plod through a description of another mid-nineties college-goth outfit. I’ll give it one more try before the library loan expires.

For some reason I dropped Dune for a while after I got back to Boston. I’m back into it. It’s still good, you guys.

Short things

On Jerks at the Casual Optimist, an excerpt from the book Measure Yourself Against the Earth. My favorite bit: “Regret may be rare and hard to come by, but the general sense that jerkiness is associated with perceived and maybe temporary superiority, rather than with entrenched entitlement, offers at least the chance of asking oneself: Hey, was I being a jerk?”

Spanish Lessons: On Language Loss and Recovery at The Toast. I have a lot of feelings about this. About not knowing the language of your grandparents, and feeling not [heritage] enough. The effects of assimilation echo far down the line. Down here on my end, you try to make your own way, to muddle your way back to that heritage, if you can. But you can’t. There’s a feeling of things lost, things missing, things not had because of whatever circumstances. I’m actually jealous of the writer of that article, because of how much more she had than me. She had Puerto Rico. She’s more real than I am. As though my life is fake, somehow, because it was so dominated by whiteness. All my life, every time there’s a demographic question about race and ethnicity, I pause. Every time, I pause, and I ask myself “Is it lying to mark Hispanic?”

Then I mark it.

The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon (Apex) – This is set in the same world as The Jackalope Wives, and I’m so glad. I’m also so glad for this worshipful tone about tomatoes. Just this week I was talking with some friends about how much I love tomatoes, and how that’s the thing I miss about Texas. A good, juicy tomato, sliced onto bread and devoured on a too-warm night. Eating cherry tomatoes straight off the vine. Anyway, The Tomato Thief is a bit of a longer story at 14,000 words, but it’s delicious, with magic and earth and desert.

TWIR: Vicious mermaids and cross-dressing knights

Because it had to go back to the library, I read Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant in about two days. It was fine! I wanted more from the story, though. “A schlocky faux-cumentary company discovers that mermaids are real, and they’re territorial predators” is a good start, but as it doesn’t go much beyond that, it could’ve been a short story.

The other book I read is the one that has provoked the most interaction I’ve ever experienced on Goodreads. Did you know apparently every girl but me read the Alanna books when they were younger? I didn’t! I was kind of aware of Tamora Pierce but never ever read a word by her. Until now!

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness, #1)Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

My rating: 🐎🐎🐎🐎 (4/5 valiant steeds)

In an adult book, the fact that this is courtly-medievalish-knights-and-magic-and-nefarious-dukes would make me drop it like it was a poisonous damn snake, but in this case? *shrug* Alanna is fun!

Read the whole review

To semi-restate my review, if I hadn’t had my inner twelve-year-old come out to read this, I would have been less patient with a few things about it. But it’s not for adults with adult perspectives! It’s not for a grown up who’s seen too many Perfectly Talented Heroes! It’s for a kid, who wants to read about girls being amazing. Plus Alanna isn’t Perfectly Talented. She has that Gift, but otherwise she works hard at all her skills, and is, apparently, constantly exhausted from working so hard. (On the other hand, nearly everyone adores her, which is perhaps the least believable thing from an adult perspective. But that’s okay!)

Anyway, the rest of the Alanna books are sure to appear on my Kindle in the near future.

Short Things

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The Hogwarts founders from Andrea Castagno’s paintings of various people. – deviantArt user kala-way

Sorting Hogwarts: Charting a Deeper Meaning to the Four Houses – A while back Twitter friend @keepthemuse apparently wrote a long, thoughtful piece about a better sorting guideline for Hogwarts and it is really great. Doing the Lord’s work, he is.

Lotus Face and the Fox by Nghi Vo in Uncanny Magazine – Lovely and short, with a great soft ending. I really liked the use of masks, and the emotion that comes through.

Okay, friends, it’s a gloomy rainy day and my cat is sleeping on my bed, so I’m out.