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I finished another book for my writing project over break! This one is "Ikebana: The Art of Arranging Flowers" by Shozo Sato. (Like tea ceremony, flower arrangement appears to be seen in Japan as something either sex can do. Shozo Sato is a man.) I'm here to write a review.

One of the things I found interesting about this book is that, unlike the tea ceremony book I wrote about previously, this isn't a guidebook full of philosophy. This is a straight-forward and to-the-point crafts book. If you actually want to get into ikebana and make a simple start, this is definitely the book for you.

It has lists of materials and what each tool does, diagrams, precise geometric calculations, and basic lessons in three different styles of ikebana. There are lots of pictures and countless examples, each one explained in detail. Shozo Sato's abilities are even complimented by a grandmaster of a major Japanese school of ikebana in the foreword.

If, however, you're looking for information - history, philosophy, etc - this may not be best. While there is a brief history section, for the most part this is a craft's book. It's a how-to book.

It was an interesting read and if you want to get into the practice, I'd recommend it. One thing I learned is that ikebana is NOT putting pretty flowers into a bouquet. It's more like a kind of temporary, artificial sculpture using plant-based materials. Like tea ceremony, it has strong connections to the seasons and what each one signifies in nature (especially Japanese nature).

So if you're any kind of model or sculpture based artist, I'd recommend giving this a try. Just remember - the "sculptures" don't last very long! ;)
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I have finished another book - The Tea Ceremony by Sen'o Tanaka, translated into English - and, funny enough, it's about Japanese tea ceremony. I'm here to write a review.

I have two criticisms about the book:

1) It's very... technical. If you're not into technical details of a culture or ceremony, this may not be the book for you.

2) You should already know the process of a tea ceremony before you read the book. He doesn't really ever give you the whole picture. This is more of a book for someone who's already researched tea ceremony, at least online, and wants to know more about it.

With that said, it's a wonderfully detailed book. It goes into so many subjects in such an in-depth way, and is excellent at communicating the beauty and serenity of the ceremony itself through the various details and practices he describes. He even goes into the philosophy of tea ceremony, and its connection to Zen.

I also thought it was interesting that he said tea ceremony has always technically been a co-ed art, because I've always seen it as more of a feminine art. I've now started a new book on ikebana - Japanese flower arrangement - and this author is also male! It seems that Japanese men have much less compunction being what might be called "femininely artistic" than Western men do, which is something I definitely applaud. Yay for no defined gender roles!

Anyway, if you're interested in learning about the above, this is definitely the book for you. I used it as research for a writing project, and it provided all the detail I needed to deeply understand the subject - at least to understand it enough to write about it. This book and my online research together were enough to give me a good idea of Japanese tea ceremony.
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I just finished reading "Nappy: Growing Up Black and Female in America" by Aliona Gibson. I needed a book on female experiences of prejudice for my fem Naruto story I'm writing, and I figured that since I'm American and have taken classes in African American culture and become involved in African American civil rights, this was the kind of prejudice I knew the most about. I'm here to write a review of the book.

First, I would like to say that this book is surprisingly unique. I say "surprisingly" because it's the only book I could find that just straight-out talks specifically about black female experiences of prejudice. There are no other autobiographical details, it's not a fiction book or a book of poetry. It's a book specifically about one black woman's memories on what it's like to be a black woman. And in this area, it excels.

She goes through everything: the pain of prejudices based on appearance, experiences with men, and experiences of various places and cultures. She talks about how she's noticed black communities differ from area to area: East Coast, West Coast, and even Africa. There was a lot of invaluable information in there, if you were looking for it, about female experiences of prejudice in general. Fears of sexual assault, for example, or ridicule based on appearances that do not fit the "ideal."

It was not a very professionally done book and was obviously self published. That would be my only major criticism. There were a lot of weird spaces where there shouldn't be spaces, spelling and grammatical errors, etc. The book was also rather short, but I think it covered everything it needed to cover.

Overall, a good read, and I would recommend it. The book should be more famous than it is.
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I signed this petition and thought I'd give you a chance to. Here's the description:

My grandmother, Elaine Danforth Harmon, was a trailblazer. During World War II, Gammy, as we called her, enlisted in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). She was one of 1,102 women who risked their lives stateside ferrying planes, towing targets for gunnery training, and instructing male pilots. Sadly, thirty-eight of these women were killed during their service.

The WASP have been recognized as veterans by the Veterans’ Administration and were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President Obama. Yet, despite their service, and ultimate sacrifice, the Department of the Army refuses to allow their ashes to be placed in Arlington National Cemetery like it does to their male equivalents.

Gammy was the most giving, selfless woman I have ever known. She hardly ever asked for anything, so when she did, my sisters and I paid attention. Her dying wish was to be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with the WASP and she lobbied for decades to make this happen. In fact, when testifying before Congress in 1981, she said, “it is our understanding that we are eligible for military funerals. If there is any question about it, we would like to have this clarified.” She wouldn’t give up on this fight and so, neither will we. This is why your signature means so much to us.

Join me in asking Congress to provide the clarification our Gammy asked for all the way back in 1981 which would guarantee the WASP full military burial rights in Arlington National Cemetery.

Gammy saw Arlington as a museum for U.S. military history and we believe the WASP have earned their place among their fellow servicemen and women. And it’s not just us who think so. Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ), sponsored a bipartisan bill that would restore burial rights for the WASP at Arlington National Cemetery, stating, “These women fought, and died, in service to their country. They trained in the military style: sleeping on metal cots, marching, and living under military discipline. They deserve the full honors we give our war heroes …”

Being part of the WASP and her service to her country was Gammy’s lifelong passion. It was very near and dear to her heart because she would do anything for her country, including risk her life, as she did while in service. By signing my petition, you’re not just helping us fulfill our promise to our Gammy, you’re also bringing justice and honor to service women who deserve full burial rights at our nation’s place of honor.

Here is the link:

https://www.change.org/p/patrick-k-hallinan-department-of-army-grant-military-burial-honors-to-women-wwii-pilots?utm_source=action_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=497618&alert_id=hxDrnXxLRh_%2FqB9RnZuVD3Kqci9TZZKguM3KYtg7gzniTea6U%2BhhwM%3D
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I read this book in particular for a writing project I'm doing. I've read one book on astrology, one on personality psychology, and this one. I still have -- wait for it -- NINE more books to read for research before I even start the writing project I have in mind. It's a fanfic, which I contend can be just as cool and meaningful as regular fiction books. I will keep you updated on which books I read for the fanfic I'm researching. See the "fem Naruto story" tag at the bottom.

Anyway, I'm reviewing this book on yokai. It's called "The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore" by Michael Dylan Foster. I read all 244 pages in less than two weeks. It's a really great read. I recommend it.

What is a yokai?

It's a Japanese demon of sorts -- more broadly, a Japanese mythical creature that can perform dark acts. I began my fascination with Japan through watching manga and anime as a kid. From there, I branched off into learning more about the culture behind these fictions I loved so much -- I read up on Japan and took on several Japanese pen pals at one point or another, read and watched blogs and vlogs on Japanese travel, tried cooking Japanese meals, researched various aspects of ancient Japanese culture, read interviews of famous Japanese artists, watched Japanese films and sampled Japanese music. I know at least something of typical Japanese religions and philosophies. I plan on starting Japanese language classes this summer. The more I learn about Japan, the more I love.

Especially given my love of fantasy in Japanese anime, it only made sense for me to buy a book on yokai.

It was a fascinating read. A lot of elements from modern Japanese stories that I had always thought were random or made up -- it turns out? They were actually deliberately referencing ancient Japanese folklore! And I've probably only just scratched the surface. Isn't that great?

Even for people who are skeptical of why ancient Japanese folklore is important should read this book, however. Foster really gets at the importance behind yokai -- their various meanings, their cultural relevance (both ancient and modern, national and international), and how they help us see the world differently. He talks about yokai history and philosophical categorization, and only then does he actually go on to discuss the yokai themselves. He gives you good background reading before diving into the various yokai there are. I really liked that part of the book.

I think this would be a good textbook for a class on Japanese culture. That was one thing that really struck me as I was reading. And it was written in 2012, so it's pretty recent. He references a lot of Japanese scholars and has a native Japanese artist render his yokai drawings, has lived and studied in Japan for a time, yet is Western himself and so can explain Japanese culture to us in a way we would understand it.

That ends the "personality research" section of my writing project. I know how this female Naruto is going to be and how being (spoiler alert) part kitsune fox demon would affect her. Now comes the "experiences research" section. More fun times ahead!
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I finished a 500-and-some-odd page book in two and a half weeks of winter break, and I'm here to write a review. The book is "The Paying Guests" by Sarah Waters.

Ahoy, matie. There be spoilers below.

"The Paying Guests" is really about the evolution of a relationship -- a lesbian relationship set in London in the 1920's. Frances Wray and her aging mother used to be very wealthy, but have fallen on hard times and have to take in boarders. Their boarders turn out to be a handsome young couple who on the outside seem to have the perfect life.

But looks can be deceiving. Both sides are hiding things. Frances's father squandered the family fortune, her brothers died in World War I, and she's had brushes with the law in the past at pacifist and feminist protest rallies and has had to turn away from a previous lesbian relationship to take care of her mother. Meanwhile, the young couple, the Barbers, have a crumbling marriage based on lies, adultery, and lost babies. (After miscarrying the first time, Mrs Barber actually gets an illegal abortion at two different points because she doesn't want her husband's baby, and one of the abortions is described in rather brutal terms.) Neither Miss Frances Wray nor Mrs Lilian Barber seem to have a happy life.

But they find happiness in each other. They begin a secret relationship, which is evolved slowly, and rather than this being idealized and romanticized, it's quickly shown that this falls apart. First, it's made quite explicit that carrying on any sort of homosexual relationship is insanely hard in this time period. But there's more. Mr Leonard Barber finds out about his wife's adultery, and -- quite hypocritically, since he's committed adultery himself -- he tries to strangle Frances. Lilian responds by killing him from behind. The ensuing scandal as they try to cover up the truth of the death from the police nearly tears the two apart as they begin criticizing and second-guessing each other's motives, the strain and stress of their crime weighing on each of them. (One interesting point: Lilian claims the death was accidental and she just wanted to hurt her husband, but she also got a great deal of money and newfound freedom out of his death, so Frances isn't sure whether or not to believe her. Since it's all from Frances's point of view, we never really know what to think of Lilian either. This is never quite resolved. Lilian's motives remain mysterious, perhaps even to herself.)

A few thoughts on the book:

You can't help but dislike Frances and Lilian for the last third of the book. You don't feel like you're on their side anymore. A young boy is about to be convicted for their covered-up crime, but they're going to wait until he's committed to the gallows before admitting their guilt. When he's set free by the court, they never admit what they did at all. It's a triumph for the characters -- they get to be together and at least somewhat patch up their relationship at the end -- but it's also a moral failure, and the characters seem very aware of that. Basically, they get away with at least involuntary manslaughter in order to be together. That the death was in self-defense is only part of the puzzle.

I didn't really like Lilian and Frances's relationship -- until the very end. When after it all, they have that quiet moment together when they sit in alcove on the bridge and watch the passersby, close together, and a completely silent understanding passes between them. Paradoxically, even though you've stopped liking the characters, you like the relationship. It carries a heaviness and subtext that the previous, somewhat childish relationship lacked. I liked the relationship better that way -- I'm not sure what that says about me.

The pacing was a bit odd. It was slow, of course, I've said that, but for most of the book it worked. For that last third, though... it just dragged on and on and on. I'm not sure if that was intentional, to get us into the characters' trapped mindset, or if it's just a failure on the part of the author. But either way, that last section involving the murder trial and investigation centered on the young boy was torturous and agonizing in its slowness.

Also, shoutout to the deliciously complex relationship Frances has with her mother. I really liked that part. Mrs Wray in herself is a bit boring, your typical friendly and gullible little old lady used to being wealthy and Churchgoing and doing charities, but put her together with her newfound lack of money and her rebellious yet responsible and duty-bound daughter Frances... oh, and interesting things happen.

Overall, it was a good book, as you can see by the fact that I read it in less than three weeks. I would recommend it to others.

Breakup

Jan. 2nd, 2016 12:38 pm
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I broke up with Cowboy Bebop Dude today. It was really for a multitude of reasons:

- I didn't really trust him. I never felt like I could trust him with any personal details of my life. I don't know why, it's not like that with all guys, but I just never felt like I could trust this guy in particular.

- I never felt supported by him. I would tell him about bad things that were going on in my life, and he never really supported me, or even said anything against me -- he never really said anything.

- He was pushy. In a nice, subtle way, but still pushy. I told him I was not comfortable being physically intimate with him yet, but he would do things like move closer to me on dates, ask me for a time-frame for when we could be physically intimate, and invite me over to his place for the night after dinner dates.

- He wasn't big on family. This was a down side for me, because I'm HUGE on family, and unless your family mistreats you (which his didn't) I'm not impressed if you don't seem to enjoy spending time with them.

- He sometimes struck me as a bit whiny and dramatic. I canceled plans with him once during finals week, and he gave me a phone call -- right after he knew I'd had a huge, stressful final -- complaining in kind of a whiny voice that I never had any time for him. Sorry, dude, school comes first.

- And that brings me to my last reason: I might just be too damn busy with school to successfully carry on a relationship. At the very least, I need someone who understands that school comes first, like me. Maybe I'm just not ready for a serious relationship yet? Because this one very quickly began to feel like a burden on my time and energies.

Basically, he was attractive -- in an aesthetic sort of way, at least -- but problematic. Whereas my last boyfriend was blissful but physically unattractive.

My best friend and my sister didn't like him, either. My friend (the married one) gave the assessment that he seemed "clingy and immature, and only cares about being physically intimate." Not the first time I've attracted a clingy guy, funny enough.

My sister also never liked him, and she has good instincts. She thinks that might be why he was a boy in the feminist club in the first place -- and why he talks about how important women’s studies classes are to him so much -- to get sex. Well he won’t be getting any from me!

I waited until the holidays were over -- breaking up with someone over the holidays is a shitty thing to do -- and then I called him over the phone (he gets this really sad, pathetic face on when he gets upset, and I thought if I had to look at it I might not be able to go through with the breakup) and said this:

"I’ve realized something. I’ve been telling you that I’m not comfortable being physically intimate with someone I don’t know well, and I’ve also been too busy to have much time to get to know you better, and I’ve realized that’s not fair. That’s not fair to you. Or to me. We both deserve a better relationship than that. But I don’t have anything better I can offer at this time. I think the time is just not right for me to be in a relationship right now. I also think we seem to be looking for somewhat different things in a relationship. I’ve tried to tell you what I need, but I think our pacing in a relationship just seems too different for it to really work out. It’s not that I don’t like you, or aren’t attracted to you, or anything like that. It’s just that I feel this relationship isn’t healthy for either of us. So I’m breaking up with you.

"And I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but there’s really no negotiating on this. I’ve made up my mind."

I’ll give him this one, he took it better than I anticipated. He said, “I don’t agree that we should break up, but it sounds like you’ve made up your mind, so.” And then it got really awkward. We hung up soon after.

Honestly, I just feel so relieved. This huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It's a good start to the year, not a bad one. Breakups have never really bothered me. I'm not a big cryer. I have a pretty huge "life goes on" attitude when it comes to losing people -- through death or through separation. It takes a really close person being torn from my life for me to get really emotional about it. I guess it helps that I'm usually the dumper -- not the dumpee. I've been called a heartbreaker -- jokingly, but still. I guess you could say I don't handle bullshit well and I have pretty high standards.

My Mom put it the best: "You, more than anyone else I have ever met, need to find an intellectual equal. Like Jane and Mr Rochester. And finding Mr Rochester is going to be hard."

In any case, what's done is done. We all have to just keep going and not look back, don't we? I'll quote Reba McEntire: "I'm pretty sure it's not the end of the world tonight."
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Tonight for New Year's Eve, we'll have shepherd's pie for dinner, then red wine and a tray of cheese and salami with crackers. We'll watch the Dick Clark show, hosted by Ryan Seacrest, and see the ball drop in Times Square at midnight from the safety and comfort of the TV in our living room. The countdown is always so exciting!

No wild celebrations, just a quiet evening at home curled up with a glass of wine and my family, and that's the way I prefer it.

Here are 5 things I learned in 2015:

- You can't save people who don't want to be saved. I had a friend who got caught up in over drinking and partying. Over and over again, she continued to gravitate toward people who treated her like shit. She eventually dropped out of school and I never heard from her again. I think she was ashamed. I tried over and over again to help her associate with kinder people, and do fun activities that didn't involve getting drunk, but she wouldn't have any of it. Some people you just can't save.

- You can seem really close to someone, but the two of you can go down completely different paths in life and you may never see them again. That happens a lot at college age. But it shouldn’t keep you from making new friends.

- It’s never too late to change your life around and make it healthier. Health often leads to happiness.

- Not every date leads to instant romance -- even if it seems like the first date went really well.

- It is absolutely possible for a guy to be reasonable and treat you well, and you should expect that, and even demand it. EVEN and ESPECIALLY when it comes to sex.

(For more on my relationship goals and what I've learned to expect from a relationship this year, I refer you to this magnificent article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/natasha-craig/6-phrases-more-important-_b_6679492.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women§ion=women&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046

Enjoy.)

And now here is my New Years resolution: to find my strong inner voice and to use it without guilt. I was inspired by this article. So much of it resonated with me:

www.huffingtonpost.com/sara-lindberg/why-my-new-years-resolution-is-to-gain_b_8881892.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women%3Futm_hp_ref%3Dwomen&ir=Women&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046

I remember the first time I was ever called bossy. I was in elementary school and it was cooking day, so me and my friends were making pancakes. Kids kept crowding around the cooking table and impeding our work, so I began shooing them back and getting them all in a straight line. I will never forget the way my friends treated me with complete disgust. "We're done," they said, emphasizing the 'done', and I remember this crippling feeling of shame sweeping through me. The way they looked at me was very cold. The sad thing is, it was other girls who made me feel that way.

I always see that as a kind of beginning, because ever since I have always felt guilt, hesitancy, and uncertainty whenever I get too opinionated, or say something that might upset someone -- even if it's the way I really think. All too often in my life, I have stayed silent, not wanting to create waves. In high school, I was so careful about ordering people around that in the photography class I took, a girl accused me of having "no vision" because I was terrified of ordering my models to do what I wanted them to do.

Well I'm done with all that! This year, I will try the perhaps long process of finding my inner voice and using it to voice my opinions and instructions without guilt. Now, keep in mind, speaking your mind doesn't necessarily mean you have to be rude. I'm not talking about deliberately hurting anyone's feelings. I'm simply saying that I'm tired of staying silent -- tired of being embarrassed -- and tired of caring what other people think about me!

I'm finished!

So this year that is my goal. And while I'm at it, here is a toast -- a toast to a strong new year, and a new beginning!

With Love,

Grimrose Eilwynn

PS: Enter this door, but be warned: you will not come out in the same condition as you were when you entered it.

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I have dedicated myself to writing one poem each day, on everything from political opinions to things going on in my life to media I enjoy. So far, my typical volume is two or three per day. Most of them are free-form, though I do have the occasional rhyme-and-meter poems and haikus.

Writing poetry every day is so much easier than I expected it to be. I always go back and edit later, and this, also, is going amazingly smoothly. It's so relaxing and it makes me feel so accomplished.

Once I have a big enough collection of poems, I may try to send them off to different magazines and see how they are received. They're very vulnerable poems, so the idea makes me a little nervous -- poetry for me is a lesson in vulnerability.

Me and my sister are also thinking about writing songs together once we get better at singing and the guitar. (I'm teaching her music based off my own years of experience taking lessons -- and I'm practicing basic technique in the process.) We already have eight or nine song ideas written down. Every time we come up with a mutual idea or experience, I jot it down for future reference. One thing being a writer teaches you is to learn when to recognize an idea when it comes to you.

Our future songs will have a particular slant, because I know that's important in marketing and selling your work. You've got to have a sound. If there's anything I've learned from studying other musicians, it's that. Our sound so far is encapsulated by what I call the three Fs: Fearless, Feminist, and Funny.

So much creativity going on. Fun times!

Star Wars

Dec. 29th, 2015 05:36 pm
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I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters with my sister today.

And ohmyGod, guys. All the Star Wars. I'm full of Star Wars thoughts. Look what that movie did to me.

I wore my favorite cosplay/Halloween shirt. It says, "This is My Costume or Whatever." Me and my sister took the bus all the way across town to the nearest movie theater. It was cold. Like, really cold. And this skinny little old man on the bus kept shoving this mentally disabled girl, and she kept shoving him back. Then he moved to the front of the bus. Then she started shouting at him.

It was weird. I'm not really sure who started it, but finally the mentally disabled girl's handler finished it by telling them both, in so many words, to shut the hell up.

Me and my sister just Looked at each other. You know, like, "Holy shit. This is crazy." That kind of Look.

Then we got to the mall the theater was in, and there was a bunch of screaming kids in the lobby. Like, as in, they were actually screaming. Like they were in pain. And running around. I half expected it to go Jurassic Park and for a dinosaur to come around the corner chasing them at any second.

Why can't people control their fucking kids? Like, is that something I'm only thinking because I don't have kids? My Mom and Dad would never have let me get away with that shit. I think it's just a sign of a crappy parent.

But anyway, we finally got to the theater. We got concession snacks -- cookie dough bites and an ice cream sandwich. And we sat back, and enjoyed.

Now excuse me while I explode.

OHMYGOD GUYS REY IS SO COOL. SHE IS AWESOME. AND LEIA. AS A GENERAL. AND THE HUG.

AND THE HUG.

Also, what the fuck how is Kylo Ren THAT EMO? It must be hard. Being THAT EMO ALL THE TIME must be so hard. (Side note: Where are all his fellow students of Luke's? Did he do a Darth Vader and kill them all?) I really hope we're going to get more on why he turned to THE DARK SIDE or else I'm dismissing him as a SHITTY CHARACTER.

Fin was cool, too, but he threw his weapon away at the end to kneel dramatically at the injured Rey's feet. And I was like, "Really?" If a guy ever threw his weapon away to come to me, I'd be pissed. I'd be all like, "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING GO KILL THAT SONUVABITCH, FUCKNUT."

Another thing that confused me: how did Fighter Pilot Dude survive? I mean, it's cool that he did and everything. It's just. How. If the Resistance saved him... why didn't they go get Robot Dude Whose Code I Can't Remember?

One thing: I was wondering why Harrison Ford got paid so much more than everybody else. And then there was that scene with Kylo Ren at the end. And I was like, "Oh. That's what they're going to do." I had winced. I was waiting for it when it happened.

I won't spoil for anybody, but afterward I was like, "Oh. That's why he was paid so much more than everybody else."

I'm not sure I liked Han Solo being that gullible, though. I guess we can forgive it, for... personal reasons.

Another thing that really struck me was how many different kinds of people were there to see Star Wars. I saw little kids. Teenagers. Parents. There was this cute, tiny little old couple sitting next to us, and in the dark on the way out I stumbled over someone's feet.

"Sorry!" I said immediately. "Can't see in the dark."

"Oh, don't worry about it!" said the little old lady. "I'm short, my feet hang!" She stood and so did he and they let us pass. "May the force be with you!" she added brightly on our way out.

We grinned. "May the force be with you!" we returned.

The bus driver on the way home was funny. "Does it always have to be aliens?" he asked incredulously. "Isn't anyone interested in reality?"

"Of course it always has to be aliens!" I returned, faux indignant.

There was a physically disabled man on the bus, and he had a walker, and the bus driver didn't want him slipping on the way to his doorway, so he just went off road. He drove off the road and straight over the side of a snowy hill and got the guy right up to his front door. It was so badass.

The bus driver got back into the bus after helping the disabled man out. It was dark and late and we were two of the only ones left. "You didn't see that, did you?" he asked gruffly.

"We didn't see anything!" my sister and I returned earnestly as one.

It was a great day. Weird, but great.
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Dear Teenage Self,

I’m not quite sure how to begin. There’s so much I want to tell you; so much has changed. Most of it for the better.

First, I know being a teenager is hard. It seems like people are always trying to under-rate the problems of being a teenager. But I remember: being a teenager is insanely difficult. Just know that things will get better, if you give them time.

I know you think you’re ugly. I know those bullying girls in middle school make you feel like you’re ugly. And I remember what you look like in middle school: long frizzy hair, braces, snobbish little gold-rimmed cat’s-eye glasses, tomboyish clothes. I remember that you cried the first time you heard “I’m Not That Girl” from Wicked. You pretended you were smarter and more arrogant than everybody else to hide the truth -- that you never felt like you fit in, that you doubted you’d ever find a boyfriend or fall in love.

Well, guess what? All those bullying girls in middle school? They’ll lose interest in you in high school. Your braces will come off. One day you’ll just decide to cut off all your hair, and it will feel incredibly liberating. You’ll get some new square plastic black-framed glasses. You’ll learn to make your tomboyish look work for you, with band T shirts and checkered open sweaters and long wool coats and skintight jeans.

And guess what else? Guys will call you pretty. So will girls. You’ll be asked out on dates. You’ll make new friends. College will free you from the confines of teenage hierarchy -- yes, you have to wait till college, and it will frustrate you because it seems like everyone else has it all figured out in high school. (They don’t. Trust me.) In fact, you’ll go to prom stag with a bunch of your girlfriends instead of with some immature teenage boy, and you’ll have the time of your life. You’ll rent a white limo and put on a lavender ball gown, and you’ll giggle and silly dance on top of a ship overlooking the sea sparkling in the night. And then, eventually, a year or two later in college, you’ll have the courage to ask somebody out and romance will happen for you.

But you’ll also learn not to let your beauty define you. I know you can’t even conceive of this right now, but you’ll get into a relationship, realize this guy’s not right for you, and you’ll have the courage to tell him “no.” He will validate this idea of the beauty you never thought you had, but he will not be the right person for you, and you will realize that it is okay. It is okay for him not to be the right person for you. You don’t owe anyone anything just because they called you pretty.

And it is okay not to have a boyfriend. Especially in high school. Ya got time, girl! Go easy on yourself!

Also know this: you still haven’t completely fallen in love. I think you’re probably one of those people who falls in love really intensely, but only once or twice a lifetime. And you’ve realized that’s okay too. You’ve kissed boys, held hands with them, even made out with them, but you have never given your virginity away to a guy who hasn’t earned it. And your inexperience? That doesn’t bother you as much as it used to. In fact, you’re a little proud of it. You go slow, and that’s okay -- your relationship experiences will be more rewarding that way. It’s okay to wait until the time is right.

You will try to force it. There will be a point in college when you try to force relationships that aren’t there, out of some misguided idea that you’re supposed to. And guess what? You’ll get over that, too. It’s a phase. You’ll grow out of it.

Don’t get me wrong. You’re not always the paragon of self confidence or anything. You still have your self conscious moments, but you’ve learned that those are okay. Progress can be imperfect and still be progress.

I know you have a lot of celebrity and book crushes right now. You’ll grow out of those, too. Don’t get me wrong, admiring sexy guys is awesome and so are idle daydreams, but the intense crushes on people you’ve never met? I’ve found those usually fade as you get older as well.

I also remember that those bullying girls used to call you a freak. Behind your back, which is worse. Even now, you still haven’t forgotten that girl who cheerfully told you, “I know everyone says you’re a freak, but I think you’re really nice! Oh, wait. You did know people call you a freak, right?”

You hadn’t.

Yeah. Ow.

That one still hurts a little.

But overall, you’ve come far. Time heals most wounds, and all those times you were socially humiliated in middle school? Those times don’t seem so important anymore. You can look back now and see those bullies for exactly who they really were: immature airheads. You can remember the memory, and be exasperated by it, and not feel pain.

And you know what? You ARE a freak. And you should be damn proud of that! The freaks are the best! They’re the originals, the daring ones, the ones who will change the whole fuckin’ world! Dare to be different! Live it up! Don’t let those assholes weigh you down!

And don’t give up on your childhood dreams. Remember when you wanted to be a novelist, a poet, a musician, an actress, but everyone told you that would be too hard and so you gave up? Don’t give up! You’ll get to a place where you’ll feel brave enough to start dreaming those things again.

You’ll also get better at talking in front of people. You don’t just babble incoherently and shake like a leaf in a high wind when you get up in front of people anymore. You’ve learned to deal with crowds, parties, and yes, school presentations -- at least to a certain extent. They can even be kind of fun!

Don’t start drinking. Stick to your principles and instincts and don’t get caught up in that addictive cycle. It may separate you from your peers now, but you’ll be so grateful for it later. For the ability to have an occasional beer or glass of wine without feeling the need to get drunk.

Yes, you WILL find jobs. You'll volunteer at the local library for a year in your senior of high school, edit someone's book for publication for a fee, and you'll have a really cool virtual internship doing business writing for an environmental company. (Your major right now is Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing -- this may surprise you because I know you were thinking Psychology. But really, budding young writer, is it such a surprise?)

Also, you know that girl you’re best friends with? The daring, original one who loves goth stuff and who you walk home with every afternoon so she can show you her anime collection? The one you really admire and envy for her sheer comfort in being different? The one who takes you to the cool rock concerts? The one you wear bandanas with because you want so badly to be her? Yeah, you’re not really friends with her anymore. Not because you had a big falling-out or anything, but just because you both went off to different colleges and she turned out not to be the kind of friend who wanted to keep in contact with people she didn’t see every day -- even though you DID turn out to be that kind of friend.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that won’t hurt. It will. It’ll hurt like hell. It’ll feel like a betrayal. But eventually, you’ll come to the realization of this: that girl you admired and envied? You ARE that girl now. You’re comfortable being yourself, and being different.

And maybe you’re not different in the same way she is. Maybe you don’t wear dark eye makeup and dye your hair twenty different colors. But that doesn’t make you any less special and unique. Guess what? She’ll admit to you one day that SHE always really admired YOU -- for your dedication to your creative endeavors, especially to your writing, a dedication and creativity she’s found she can’t quite match.

Another compliment you’ll get, from a completely different girl, at the end of high school? That you’re “mysterious” but “passionate about your music.” And here was you always thinking people don’t talk to you because you’re a dorky loser. They may actually have been intimidated by you!

Speaking of that girl you’re friends with, you actually did want to go to the same college she did. She got in. You didn’t. And guess what? She was fucking miserable there. You cried when you didn’t get in, and she didn’t even like the goddamn place. So you moved far away, to a college in a different state right in the downtown area of a big city. You explored different kinds of cuisine. You tried online dating. You got interested in politics. You became addicted to coffee. You found out that snotty private school kids can be cold, bitchy, judgmental, and mean.

What I’m saying is -- first, you’ll get into college. Don’t worry about that. But second, the college you first went to? That wasn’t even your final destination. You ended up transferring to a totally different college, a public one in a small, rural town, and meeting some absolutely incredible people there. You’ll move out on your own, share an apartment with your college-age sister. The two of you will become incredibly close. You will successfully become independent.

Somewhere in between the first college and the second, you’ll be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That’s right, all your online research proved you right. And I know that right now you’re trying to convince other people that how you’re feeling is an illness, and they’re grownups so they’re trying to tell you it’s really just because you’re not doing THAT and THIS and THAT OTHER THING.

So I just wanted to validate you. You were right. And finally getting that diagnosis and starting on the path to recovery? It’ll feel like a huge relief.

That brings me to my central point. I know you’re feeling suicidal. I know your parents are angry with you because you withdraw and hide in your computer so much, but you’re just trying to get good grades in class (you feel a lot of pressure there) and ignore the feelings welling up inside you. And I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you -- it’ll get worse before it gets better. There are times when you’ll sob and scream. There are times when you’ll just want to fucking die. There are times when you’ll feel broken. You will lose people. You will be bullied and abused. You will act fucking insane. Horrible things will happen to you.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: It. Gets. Better.

You will go see a psychiatrist and a therapist. You will find a medication regimen that works for you, and learn self management techniques to keep bad thoughts from controlling your life. You will also start being healthy -- going out walking regularly, eating more frequently and healthier, sleeping more (but not too much), and you’ll travel and find tons of new hobbies! (You’ll even feel brave enough to take night classes in swing dancing downtown above a really sketchy bar.) These might all sound cheesy in isolation, but put them together and you’ve got a great recovery strategy.

Recovering from depression and suicidal thoughts is the most incredible feeling on the planet. All of a sudden, you’re grateful for everything -- you’re so much wiser, and you take a whole new lease on life. Life is an incredible journey, and you’ll want every part of it.

And the realization will come to you, over and over and over again: That you made it. You survived. You’re a survivor. And that realization never stops coming. It’s the gift that never stops giving. You will feel that triumph again, and again, and again. Every time you learn something, every time something good happens to you or you get reflective, you will feel that triumph again.

Like today.

So congratulations, kid. You’ve hit your twenties. You made it.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Merry Christmas everyone!

Here's a list of the gifts I gave to other people:

- My boyfriend got a Cowboy Bebop coffee mug

- My best friend got Hunger Games jewelry and pins, and a 25-dollar Amazon gift card for her birthday

- Her husband got a basket of Russian and Ukrainian chocolates

- My mother, when she comes up for New Years, will get a winter vest and a stuffed elephant

- My father, when he comes up for New Years, will get some new gadgets for his iPhone and a funny little vampire bat Minion figurine

- My sister got a video game T shirt (she likes Comic Sans from Undertale)

And here's a list of the gifts I got from other people:

- Shitloads of new music (Adele’s “25”, Cage the Elephant’s “Tell Me I’m Pretty”, Mindless Self Indulgence’s “Pink” -- plus 65 more currently unused dollars in iTunes gift cards)

- a giant bottle of hazelnut syrup to put in my coffee

- a Harry Potter themed Hot Topic gift card (which I used to buy a new “I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up to No Good” Marauder’s Map Harry Potter backpack, and a big brown coffee mug that says “Coffee Makes Me Poop”)

- new clothes

- 150 dollars for clothes shopping

- 2 books: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

- a black MCR (My Chemical Romance) sweater

- lots of Christmas cards from my Mom’s side of the family

On Christmas Eve, I Skype called my boyfriend, who was off visiting family in the Bay Area. He said we should get together and go out to dinner after he gets back -- and I agreed that sounds great, and said we could even go to a movie -- and then he said, "And maybe after the date we could go back to my place, and -- I mean, I've seen your place but you've never seen mine --"

We all know what "let's go back to my place after our date" means.

"Yes, I have seen your place," I said. "I saw it once when we went inside to get helmets and go out on your scooter."

"Yeah, but not for very long," he said hopefully. "Just -- can't we --?" He saw my face. "Okay, never mind," he muttered.

I was in a good mood, so I said, "Let's just go on the date, wait, and see how we do."

It's been a little over a month and he already wants me hanging out and spending the night at his place? This guy is so pushy. And he's so nice while he's doing it, but he's still so pushy. It's weird, that he considers himself a feminist.

Anyway, after that my sister and I got a giant pizza from the local deli and had pie with hot cocoa. I had warm milk. We turned off all the lights and watched A Christmas Carol with George C Scott, enjoying the lights and ornaments shining on our tiny little single apartment-sized Christmas tree.

We stayed up till midnight, just so we could stay up until Christmas hit.

Then on Christmas Day, we slept in and had a pajama day. Immediately upon waking, I texted my parents, best friend, and boyfriend a Merry Christmas.

My sister and I exchanged gifts, sitting around the tree and ripping off the wrapping paper and finding what we had gotten each other underneath. We were both so happy with our gifts. We hugged and said Merry Christmas. We joked that my wrapping job looked like a blind T Rex had done it.

Later, we're going to make a fancy dinner together -- home-made burgers, starting from scratch with a pound of ground beef, with salts and spices and portobello mushrooms. Yum!

What are you doing with your family and friends for Christmas? In any case, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. May your cup always be full and your presents always be satisfying!

With Love,

Grimrose Eilwynn

In the spirit of the holiday season, here's a TED talk on the connection between happiness and gratefulness:

http://www.ted.com/talks/david_steindl_rast_want_to_be_happy_be_grateful?utm_campaign=&utm_medium=on.ted.com-static&utm_content=awesm-publisher&awesm=on.ted.com_gratefulness&utm_source=t.co
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
So I decided to see the guy I'm dating (kendo/Cowboy Bebop Dude) at least one last time before he left to see his family for Christmas Break.

I had it all settled. I put a time aside for him in between all my finals studying. He came over to my place, I gave him his Christmas present, I sat him down in an armchair before the TV with a mug of warm apple cider, and I let him pick any movie out of all the movies I owned for us to watch. I made plenty of commentary throughout the movie, though always in between important scenes, and I made sure there were lots of opinions so he could jump into the conversation and offer his own thoughts.

I had it all perfect.

Three things:

1) When I went to Google search something about the movie, he looked at my computer screen and commented on it. Which is creepy.

2) He moved a remote from the arm of my chair so he could leave his arm there, very suggestively and deliberately.

3) At the end of the date, he asked if there was a specific time frame for when we could be physically intimate again.

What the hell was he expecting me to say? "Yes, in three months, two days, and eleven hours I will feel comfortable with you and trust you." And you know what? I'll NEVER feel comfortable with him and trust him if he keeps pushing this!

AARRGGHH!
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
So, I've always been uncomfortable coming into physical contact with people I don't know very well.

When I was little, the only people I enjoyed touching me or hugging me were my parents. Later, my sister was let into the group, as were my two closest friends. And they're about it. I have never liked to be touched by anybody else, out of all the people I have known in my life. It sets me on edge, and makes me nervous and uncomfortable.

This is a problem with dating. I have never known how to tell guys that I need them to wait on the whole physical intimacy thing for a while -- perhaps for a long time -- without it coming across like I'm trying to insult or control them. Additionally, I have always had some issues with this part of myself, because society tells you that you have to kiss on the first or second date and be having sex by the fifth or sixth. That is way too soon for me.

For this reason, I am still a virgin, and in fact I'm perfectly happy with that because I have NEVER known a guy well enough to even want to do that with him.

So I was talking with a good friend of mine the other day -- the married one, who I met through fiction class -- and she told me to just tell the guy I'm dating (the kendo guy) that I'm not ready for things like kissing and making out yet. She empowered me by saying some people are just like that and it's a perfectly valid way to feel. She goes slowly in relationships herself, and she found someone -- her husband -- who was willing to wait for her. She agreed that me and kendo/Cowboy Bebop guy already making out is way too soon. We've known each other less than a month -- feminist club aside, and we barely even talked in feminist club.

We've been on a couple more dates. One to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. But I always feel really nervous and uncomfortable on our dates, because I dread the kissing or making out at the end. It's not comfortable for me, I don't know him that well yet.

So I told Cowboy Bebop guy this -- face to face -- trying to phrase it in as polite and positive terms as possible. I told him he would see me a lot more often and I would feel a lot more comfortable, and thus the relationship would progress better, if we took physical intimacy off the table for a while (not forever).

He pretended to be okay with it, but I could tell he was not happy. Yet he still wanted to see me again, and we're hanging out on Sunday. So I'm not sure how to feel. Should I be angry that he seemed upset and appeared to take it personally, despite me saying I'd always been like this and it was nothing in particular against him? Should I be upset that he didn't understand me not wanting to make out with a relative stranger unless I didn't find said stranger attractive?

Because that's how I feel, sitting here thinking about it. I feel annoyed. Angry. Not understood. Even if maybe that's not so rational.

This guy's not very supportive, either, which is another count against him. I tell him about problems that are going on in my life, and he listens willingly enough but he always cops out and never supports me and never says much of anything with any emotional undertone to it. He doesn't even argue with me or tell me how I'm feeling isn't valid. He just... doesn't say anything. And so I don't feel supported when something upsetting happens.

I just... I don't know about this. He's sweet. Funny. Smart. Cute. I do like him. I just... I'm trying to tell myself not to expect perfection.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I went on a date today!

Not with the guy I mentioned in a previous post -- the one from American Lit class who seemed kind of like he was flirting with me? Yeah, it wasn't with him. It turns out he:

(A) Has a girlfriend

and

(B) Is a bit of an asshole, so I don't really envy her

No, this guy I met through feminist club. He's sweet, kind, and funny, with glasses and a long coat. He studied kendo (Japanese sword fighting) for several years. He studies business and environmental science. He has a learning disability but still manages to get As, and is currently interning as a Study Abroad Counselor after having spent some time himself in Thailand. He asked me out, and he also paid for our first date -- though politically liberal, he's pretty socially conservative. His Dad was a Mormon and his Mom was a Catholic.

We just went to a cafe downtown and had a casual coffee/lunch together. We wore fancy jackets and tried to look nice, but we also both just wore jeans. It was the perfect blend of "nice" and "casual."

We talked anime, because it turns out we're both really into that. (He shall henceforth be known as Cowboy Bebop Dude.) We also talked politics, religion, and family and life experiences. It was a really nicely intellectual and deep conversation. We even made future plans: to watch Cowboy Bebop together (I've never seen the whole thing) and to take swing dancing lessons in 2016.

We went to a bookshop afterward, and then we went back to his apartment briefly. It's a really nice apartment right in the middle of downtown. His roommate is a funny guy who drinks a lot and talks to his plants. We got helmets from his apartment and then he drove me home on his scooter/motorbike! I was nervous getting on, but it was so much fun!

We hugged and kissed briefly at my door, and then I went to go back inside. If I were a less awkward person, this would be the moment when I threw him a sly smile over my shoulder and walked smoothly in the door. As it is, it took me a full minute to find my keys and another two minutes to force my way in through the door. He thought it was kind of funny. He applauded when I finally managed to get in.

Just me being my usual, awkward self.

I called my Mom and dished with her over the phone after the date was all over. I also made sure to emphasize to said boy that I had a great time, we should do this again, and he should text me. I even texted him to let him know I had a good time.

So now soon I guess I'll know one way or the other if he was really into me. But either way, it was just nice -- to meet someone through normal social avenues (instead of online) and have a sweet, casual date with him.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I signed this petition and thought I'd give you the chance to as well:

https://www.change.org/p/my-wife-is-imprisoned-in-iran-demand-her-release?utm_source=action_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=429810&alert_id=finXtiJSaS_FCXL7k8jAe8BZgfRfItrhOQ40bWuYuEk8xROWisNPwo%3D

This Iranian woman was a women's rights defender and activist. She was arrested and imprisoned for fighting for women's rights in Iran. She has served six years in prison.

She should have been released this summer according to Iranian law, but officials have elected to keep her imprisoned for at least another two years.

The woman -- Bahareh Hedayat -- has failing health (in the area of the kidney and reproductive organs) and is suffering major depression. She may not survive another two years in prison. This is completely ignoring the fact that she was unjustly imprisoned in the first place.

In recent weeks, Iran has been releasing many political prisoners, and Bahareh's husband is hopeful that with this petition his wife will be one of them. Please sign and support justice and women's rights in Iran.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
“Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpeck’d cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheek’d peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries;—
All ripe together
In summer weather,—
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy:
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye;
Come buy, come buy.”

Evening by evening
Among the brookside rushes,
Laura bow’d her head to hear,
Lizzie veil’d her blushes:
Crouching close together
In the cooling weather,
With clasping arms and cautioning lips,
With tingling cheeks and finger tips.
“Lie close,” Laura said,
Pricking up her golden head:
“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
“Come buy,” call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.

“Oh,” cried Lizzie, “Laura, Laura,
You should not peep at goblin men.”
Lizzie cover’d up her eyes,
Cover’d close lest they should look;
Laura rear’d her glossy head,
And whisper’d like the restless brook:
“Look, Lizzie, look, Lizzie,
Down the glen tramp little men.
One hauls a basket,
One bears a plate,
One lugs a golden dish
Of many pounds weight.
How fair the vine must grow
Whose grapes are so luscious;
How warm the wind must blow
Through those fruit bushes.”
“No,” said Lizzie, “No, no, no;
Their offers should not charm us,
Their evil gifts would harm us.”
She thrust a dimpled finger
In each ear, shut eyes and ran:
Curious Laura chose to linger
Wondering at each merchant man.
One had a cat’s face,
One whisk’d a tail,
One tramp’d at a rat’s pace,
One crawl’d like a snail,
One like a wombat prowl’d obtuse and furry,
One like a ratel tumbled hurry skurry.
She heard a voice like voice of doves
Cooing all together:
They sounded kind and full of loves
In the pleasant weather.

Laura stretch’d her gleaming neck
Like a rush-imbedded swan,
Like a lily from the beck,
Like a moonlit poplar branch,
Like a vessel at the launch
When its last restraint is gone.

Backwards up the mossy glen
Turn’d and troop’d the goblin men,
With their shrill repeated cry,
“Come buy, come buy.”
When they reach’d where Laura was
They stood stock still upon the moss,
Leering at each other,
Brother with queer brother;
Signalling each other,
Brother with sly brother.
One set his basket down,
One rear’d his plate;
One began to weave a crown
Of tendrils, leaves, and rough nuts brown
(Men sell not such in any town);
One heav’d the golden weight
Of dish and fruit to offer her:
“Come buy, come buy,” was still their cry.
Laura stared but did not stir,
Long’d but had no money:
The whisk-tail’d merchant bade her taste
In tones as smooth as honey,
The cat-faced purr’d,
The rat-faced spoke a word
Of welcome, and the snail-paced even was heard;
One parrot-voiced and jolly
Cried “Pretty Goblin” still for “Pretty Polly;”—
One whistled like a bird.

But sweet-tooth Laura spoke in haste:
“Good folk, I have no coin;
To take were to purloin:
I have no copper in my purse,
I have no silver either,
And all my gold is on the furze
That shakes in windy weather
Above the rusty heather.”
“You have much gold upon your head,”
They answer’d all together:
“Buy from us with a golden curl.”
She clipp’d a precious golden lock,
She dropp’d a tear more rare than pearl,
Then suck’d their fruit globes fair or red:
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flow’d that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She suck’d and suck’d and suck’d the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;
She suck’d until her lips were sore;
Then flung the emptied rinds away
But gather’d up one kernel stone,
And knew not was it night or day
As she turn’d home alone.

Lizzie met her at the gate
Full of wise upbraidings:
“Dear, you should not stay so late,
Twilight is not good for maidens;
Should not loiter in the glen
In the haunts of goblin men.
Do you not remember Jeanie,
How she met them in the moonlight,
Took their gifts both choice and many,
Ate their fruits and wore their flowers
Pluck’d from bowers
Where summer ripens at all hours?
But ever in the noonlight
She pined and pined away;
Sought them by night and day,
Found them no more, but dwindled and grew grey;
Then fell with the first snow,
While to this day no grass will grow
Where she lies low:
I planted daisies there a year ago
That never blow.
You should not loiter so.”
“Nay, hush,” said Laura:
“Nay, hush, my sister:
I ate and ate my fill,
Yet my mouth waters still;
To-morrow night I will
Buy more;” and kiss’d her:
“Have done with sorrow;
I’ll bring you plums to-morrow
Fresh on their mother twigs,
Cherries worth getting;
You cannot think what figs
My teeth have met in,
What melons icy-cold
Piled on a dish of gold
Too huge for me to hold,
What peaches with a velvet nap,
Pellucid grapes without one seed:
Odorous indeed must be the mead
Whereon they grow, and pure the wave they drink
With lilies at the brink,
And sugar-sweet their sap.”

Golden head by golden head,
Like two pigeons in one nest
Folded in each other’s wings,
They lay down in their curtain’d bed:
Like two blossoms on one stem,
Like two flakes of new-fall’n snow,
Like two wands of ivory
Tipp’d with gold for awful kings.
Moon and stars gaz’d in at them,
Wind sang to them lullaby,
Lumbering owls forbore to fly,
Not a bat flapp’d to and fro
Round their rest:
Cheek to cheek and breast to breast
Lock’d together in one nest.

Early in the morning
When the first cock crow’d his warning,
Neat like bees, as sweet and busy,
Laura rose with Lizzie:
Fetch’d in honey, milk’d the cows,
Air’d and set to rights the house,
Kneaded cakes of whitest wheat,
Cakes for dainty mouths to eat,
Next churn’d butter, whipp’d up cream,
Fed their poultry, sat and sew’d;
Talk’d as modest maidens should:
Lizzie with an open heart,
Laura in an absent dream,
One content, one sick in part;
One warbling for the mere bright day’s delight,
One longing for the night.

At length slow evening came:
They went with pitchers to the reedy brook;
Lizzie most placid in her look,
Laura most like a leaping flame.
They drew the gurgling water from its deep;
Lizzie pluck’d purple and rich golden flags,
Then turning homeward said: “The sunset flushes
Those furthest loftiest crags;
Come, Laura, not another maiden lags.
No wilful squirrel wags,
The beasts and birds are fast asleep.”
But Laura loiter’d still among the rushes
And said the bank was steep.

And said the hour was early still
The dew not fall’n, the wind not chill;
Listening ever, but not catching
The customary cry,
“Come buy, come buy,”
With its iterated jingle
Of sugar-baited words:
Not for all her watching
Once discerning even one goblin
Racing, whisking, tumbling, hobbling;
Let alone the herds
That used to tramp along the glen,
In groups or single,
Of brisk fruit-merchant men.

Till Lizzie urged, “O Laura, come;
I hear the fruit-call but I dare not look:
You should not loiter longer at this brook:
Come with me home.
The stars rise, the moon bends her arc,
Each glowworm winks her spark,
Let us get home before the night grows dark:
For clouds may gather
Though this is summer weather,
Put out the lights and drench us through;
Then if we lost our way what should we do?”

Laura turn’d cold as stone
To find her sister heard that cry alone,
That goblin cry,
“Come buy our fruits, come buy.”
Must she then buy no more such dainty fruit?
Must she no more such succous pasture find,
Gone deaf and blind?
Her tree of life droop’d from the root:
She said not one word in her heart’s sore ache;
But peering thro’ the dimness, nought discerning,
Trudg’d home, her pitcher dripping all the way;
So crept to bed, and lay
Silent till Lizzie slept;
Then sat up in a passionate yearning,
And gnash’d her teeth for baulk’d desire, and wept
As if her heart would break.

Day after day, night after night,
Laura kept watch in vain
In sullen silence of exceeding pain.
She never caught again the goblin cry:
“Come buy, come buy;”—
She never spied the goblin men
Hawking their fruits along the glen:
But when the noon wax’d bright
Her hair grew thin and grey;
She dwindled, as the fair full moon doth turn
To swift decay and burn
Her fire away.

One day remembering her kernel-stone
She set it by a wall that faced the south;
Dew’d it with tears, hoped for a root,
Watch’d for a waxing shoot,
But there came none;
It never saw the sun,
It never felt the trickling moisture run:
While with sunk eyes and faded mouth
She dream’d of melons, as a traveller sees
False waves in desert drouth
With shade of leaf-crown’d trees,
And burns the thirstier in the sandful breeze.

She no more swept the house,
Tended the fowls or cows,
Fetch’d honey, kneaded cakes of wheat,
Brought water from the brook:
But sat down listless in the chimney-nook
And would not eat.

Tender Lizzie could not bear
To watch her sister’s cankerous care
Yet not to share.
She night and morning
Caught the goblins’ cry:
“Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy;”—
Beside the brook, along the glen,
She heard the tramp of goblin men,
The yoke and stir
Poor Laura could not hear;
Long’d to buy fruit to comfort her,
But fear’d to pay too dear.
She thought of Jeanie in her grave,
Who should have been a bride;
But who for joys brides hope to have
Fell sick and died
In her gay prime,
In earliest winter time
With the first glazing rime,
With the first snow-fall of crisp winter time.

Till Laura dwindling
Seem’d knocking at Death’s door:
Then Lizzie weigh’d no more
Better and worse;
But put a silver penny in her purse,
Kiss’d Laura, cross’d the heath with clumps of furze
At twilight, halted by the brook:
And for the first time in her life
Began to listen and look.

Laugh’d every goblin
When they spied her peeping:
Came towards her hobbling,
Flying, running, leaping,
Puffing and blowing,
Chuckling, clapping, crowing,
Clucking and gobbling,
Mopping and mowing,
Full of airs and graces,
Pulling wry faces,
Demure grimaces,
Cat-like and rat-like,
Ratel- and wombat-like,
Snail-paced in a hurry,
Parrot-voiced and whistler,
Helter skelter, hurry skurry,
Chattering like magpies,
Fluttering like pigeons,
Gliding like fishes,—
Hugg’d her and kiss’d her:
Squeez’d and caress’d her:
Stretch’d up their dishes,
Panniers, and plates:
“Look at our apples
Russet and dun,
Bob at our cherries,
Bite at our peaches,
Citrons and dates,
Grapes for the asking,
Pears red with basking
Out in the sun,
Plums on their twigs;
Pluck them and suck them,
Pomegranates, figs.”—

“Good folk,” said Lizzie,
Mindful of Jeanie:
“Give me much and many: —
Held out her apron,
Toss’d them her penny.
“Nay, take a seat with us,
Honour and eat with us,”
They answer’d grinning:
“Our feast is but beginning.
Night yet is early,
Warm and dew-pearly,
Wakeful and starry:
Such fruits as these
No man can carry:
Half their bloom would fly,
Half their dew would dry,
Half their flavour would pass by.
Sit down and feast with us,
Be welcome guest with us,
Cheer you and rest with us.”—
“Thank you,” said Lizzie: “But one waits
At home alone for me:
So without further parleying,
If you will not sell me any
Of your fruits though much and many,
Give me back my silver penny
I toss’d you for a fee.”—
They began to scratch their pates,
No longer wagging, purring,
But visibly demurring,
Grunting and snarling.
One call’d her proud,
Cross-grain’d, uncivil;
Their tones wax’d loud,
Their looks were evil.
Lashing their tails
They trod and hustled her,
Elbow’d and jostled her,
Claw’d with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soil’d her stocking,
Twitch’d her hair out by the roots,
Stamp’d upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeez’d their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat.

White and golden Lizzie stood,
Like a lily in a flood,—
Like a rock of blue-vein’d stone
Lash’d by tides obstreperously,—
Like a beacon left alone
In a hoary roaring sea,
Sending up a golden fire,—
Like a fruit-crown’d orange-tree
White with blossoms honey-sweet
Sore beset by wasp and bee,—
Like a royal virgin town
Topp’d with gilded dome and spire
Close beleaguer’d by a fleet
Mad to tug her standard down.

One may lead a horse to water,
Twenty cannot make him drink.
Though the goblins cuff’d and caught her,
Coax’d and fought her,
Bullied and besought her,
Scratch’d her, pinch’d her black as ink,
Kick’d and knock’d her,
Maul’d and mock’d her,
Lizzie utter’d not a word;
Would not open lip from lip
Lest they should cram a mouthful in:
But laugh’d in heart to feel the drip
Of juice that syrupp’d all her face,
And lodg’d in dimples of her chin,
And streak’d her neck which quaked like curd.
At last the evil people,
Worn out by her resistance,
Flung back her penny, kick’d their fruit
Along whichever road they took,
Not leaving root or stone or shoot;
Some writh’d into the ground,
Some div’d into the brook
With ring and ripple,
Some scudded on the gale without a sound,
Some vanish’d in the distance.

In a smart, ache, tingle,
Lizzie went her way;
Knew not was it night or day;
Sprang up the bank, tore thro’ the furze,
Threaded copse and dingle,
And heard her penny jingle
Bouncing in her purse,—
Its bounce was music to her ear.
She ran and ran
As if she fear’d some goblin man
Dogg’d her with gibe or curse
Or something worse:
But not one goblin scurried after,
Nor was she prick’d by fear;
The kind heart made her windy-paced
That urged her home quite out of breath with haste
And inward laughter.

She cried, “Laura,” up the garden,
“Did you miss me?
Come and kiss me.
Never mind my bruises,
Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices
Squeez’d from goblin fruits for you,
Goblin pulp and goblin dew.
Eat me, drink me, love me;
Laura, make much of me;
For your sake I have braved the glen
And had to do with goblin merchant men.”

Laura started from her chair,
Flung her arms up in the air,
Clutch’d her hair:
“Lizzie, Lizzie, have you tasted
For my sake the fruit forbidden?
Must your light like mine be hidden,
Your young life like mine be wasted,
Undone in mine undoing,
And ruin’d in my ruin,
Thirsty, canker’d, goblin-ridden?”—
She clung about her sister,
Kiss’d and kiss’d and kiss’d her:
Tears once again
Refresh’d her shrunken eyes,
Dropping like rain
After long sultry drouth;
Shaking with aguish fear, and pain,
She kiss’d and kiss’d her with a hungry mouth.

Her lips began to scorch,
That juice was wormwood to her tongue,
She loath’d the feast:
Writhing as one possess’d she leap’d and sung,
Rent all her robe, and wrung
Her hands in lamentable haste,
And beat her breast.
Her locks stream’d like the torch
Borne by a racer at full speed,
Or like the mane of horses in their flight,
Or like an eagle when she stems the light
Straight toward the sun,
Or like a caged thing freed,
Or like a flying flag when armies run.

Swift fire spread through her veins, knock’d at her heart,
Met the fire smouldering there
And overbore its lesser flame;
She gorged on bitterness without a name:
Ah! fool, to choose such part
Of soul-consuming care!
Sense fail’d in the mortal strife:
Like the watch-tower of a town
Which an earthquake shatters down,
Like a lightning-stricken mast,
Like a wind-uprooted tree
Spun about,
Like a foam-topp’d waterspout
Cast down headlong in the sea,
She fell at last;
Pleasure past and anguish past,
Is it death or is it life?

Life out of death.
That night long Lizzie watch’d by her,
Counted her pulse’s flagging stir,
Felt for her breath,
Held water to her lips, and cool’d her face
With tears and fanning leaves:
But when the first birds chirp’d about their eaves,
And early reapers plodded to the place
Of golden sheaves,
And dew-wet grass
Bow’d in the morning winds so brisk to pass,
And new buds with new day
Open’d of cup-like lilies on the stream,
Laura awoke as from a dream,
Laugh’d in the innocent old way,
Hugg’d Lizzie but not twice or thrice;
Her gleaming locks show’d not one thread of grey,
Her breath was sweet as May
And light danced in her eyes.

Days, weeks, months, years
Afterwards, when both were wives
With children of their own;
Their mother-hearts beset with fears,
Their lives bound up in tender lives;
Laura would call the little ones
And tell them of her early prime,
Those pleasant days long gone
Of not-returning time:
Would talk about the haunted glen,
The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,
Their fruits like honey to the throat
But poison in the blood;
(Men sell not such in any town):
Would tell them how her sister stood
In deadly peril to do her good,
And win the fiery antidote:
Then joining hands to little hands
Would bid them cling together,
“For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands.”

- Christina Rossetti

Happy Days

Sep. 20th, 2015 02:08 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I've been feeling better and getting the hang of things at college lately. I've become accustomed to all the bugs -- they don't freak me out as much as they used to, out here in the country -- and I've fallen into a nice little routine of classes, homework, chores, bus rides, and grocery store trips. I'm starting to feel more like I'm treading water instead of drowning in it.

I've also been making new friends!

I'm now friends with several people from my feminist club on Facebook. I have one girl's number and she has a car, so she's agreed to drive me to and from meetings so I don't have to walk all the way back to campus every Wednesday night. She seems pretty cool; she goes to drag shows and is just as private and determined to abstain from alcohol as I am.

There's a guy I've befriended in American Lit class as well. I have mixed feelings about him. On one hand, he's attractive, funny, charming, and seems very interested in me whenever we meet up with each other -- kind of flirtatious, you know? On the other hand, when we're not together he almost completely ignores me. He has a rather cruel sense of humor and there are some days when he just doesn't show up to class at all, or doesn't show up prepared. However, we also have each other's numbers -- I suggested we trade numbers, because come on, he's a hot guy, what if something happens? -- and we text each other sometimes.

Finally, there's a girl I've befriended from my fiction writing class. She already has her bachelor's degree and is married to a man about ten years older than her -- they met on a bus, she sat down next to him because he was reading and she wanted to know about what he was reading, isn't that adorable? -- but she's taking this class because she wants to become a novelist. (Her husband's a professor, so she can handle the unsteady income.) We hung out at the mall and had lunch the other day, and she seemed really cool: non judgmental, easygoing, and just as big a fan of casual clothes and casual, intimate hangouts as I am. We share the same dread of parties. I helped her pick out some hand lotions as a gift for her sister in law, being more versed in smelly stuff than her.

My sister is also making friends and she just went to a football game with a few of them the other day.

All in all, good stuff is starting to happen!
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Let's keep this short and simple. The Global Partnership for Education is having a meeting to decide whether to expand its goals to support funding for education for every girl through secondary school, as in the new United Nations Development Goals agreed upon by world leaders.

I think this is basically a no-brainer. More educated girls means a better world for everyone. That aside, when Malala Yousafzai asks you to sign a petition, you'd better shut up and listen. She's asking in her petition for us to sign to ask the GPE to expand their goals to include 12 years of education for every girl.

Here's the petition. I signed. Please sign if you agree:

https://www.change.org/p/stand-withmalala-for-girls-education?alert_id=mXhrkLotLl_4JLV5427kKhKnrCDvzVlO%2BiXPiD9TcSvIE8woKNkVQE%3D&utm_campaign=388640&utm_medium=email&utm_source=action_alert
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
Today, I took the bus back to campus in the late afternoon to go to the first feminist club meeting of the year at my university. I'd just been sick to my stomach that morning, and it was raining, and the meeting was during the early part of dinnertime, but no way was I missing this.

The meeting consists of about ten people, all but one of whom identifies as female. One of them is a guy, though. Also, one of them is Black and one of them is Trans, which I mention simply because it shows there is at least some diversity among the group. We all just sit in a little circle in the women's center, which is a dinky little room full of squashy armchairs and couches in the gym basement. And there, we talk about all things politically related, along with some other stuff that's not politically related.

Today, for example, we discussed popcorn flavors for our exhibit at a student fair. We then went on to talk about political stuff: Planned Parenthood, cultural appropriation at the VMAs, and Caitlyn Jenner. (One memorable quote: "If you're going to dress up like a trans person for Halloween, dress up as one of the trans people who died.")

There was a big feeling of acceptance. The leader of the group said that while she couldn't guarantee a safe space, just because she couldn't control other people's reactions, she could promise a brave space -- a space where it's universally acknowledged that not everyone's going to agree and speaking your opinion is brave. She also said she didn't want any shouting or name calling. One girl found out I dislike needles just as much as she does and she gave me a high-five.

In general, there was just a friendly, fun atmosphere. I was left with a good first impression. There was lots of jokes, snarking... Everyone seemed accepting of everyone else's opinions, and I got the general feeling that people were trying to be respectful. (Once, for example, another girl asked the Black girl there how she felt about dreadlocks in relation to cultural appropriation. I actually learned a lot about dreads I hadn't previously known.)

My sister went to the first meeting with me to see how it was, but she didn't like it. She's more conservative, like our parents, and she's also not very political. So she's not coming back with me, and that's okay, but I think I'm going to continue to go to meetings.

Hopefully I'll make some good friends.

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Hopeless Dreamer

March 2016

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