Tags: adventure can be real happiness

Fairytale (Tin Man)

Writing Fail and Fairy Tales

With the recent pet drama and various additional stresses, I've not been getting much done in Writing World.

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So, since I'm thinking about taking a trip to Romania (perhaps with, perhaps not with my Romanian cousin)--and in part because I feel this urge to see the place where the Romanian fairy tales come from--I've been thinking about other visits I've made to the places where my culture's fairy tales came from. I was trying to parse the places I've been that felt magical/not-magical, when I realized, no, that's not what I was trying to get at (though that's part of it). I more meant to be talking about the places where you could see the fairy tale happening.

The Loire Valley, for example... the fairy tales are so thick there, you trip over them on the way to the next chateau. The light itself seems to create more stories. (I always thought Ever After did a tremendous job of capturing the light of the valley.) The whole area reeks of Perrault. The forest of Paimpont, likewise, stinks of The Lais of Marie de France, and I kept thinking we were going to run into Bisclavret any second as we wandered the forest that is almost certainly Brocéliande.

What I think I'm working through, though, is not how place informs story. I know it does, of course, but that's not what I'm getting at. I was thinking more how story informs place. In learning French in junior high and high school, I was attracted to Mont St. Michel because of the dragon story associated with it. But I never became a dedicated francophile the way I was an anglophile because I did not care for the literature that was presented to me in French class. Camus? Ionesco? Sartre? Not exactly fairy tale makers, you know? I enjoyed Moliere, but let's be honest, he's difficult for a beginning French student, and we didn't get to him until too late. Cyrano de Bergerac won my heart to France a little tiny smidge. But The Phantom of the Opera, in spite of the story, is actually a slog of a book in any language. (Or so it seemed when I was 13.)

I only ever read Marie de France and Perrault in translation (Marie in college, Perrault as kids do, as bedtime stories), but they were the ones that woke in my brain when I traveled to France, that helped me connect to the country in a way that I could not connect otherwise. Paris was a bit of a cipher to me--I don't like cities anyway--and the only parts I loved (as is usual with me and cities) were my times inside museums and cathedrals. But nothing I'd ever read and loved took place in Paris, either.

Compare this to Britain, where a thousand things I've read and loved take place--even simulacrums of Britain--like fake Wales in Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, for example--well, I felt immediately like I'd opened a magic box when I set foot in Britain. So what if Sherwood Forest isn't much of a forest? There's Glastonbury Tor, Stonehenge, and the tiny little moat around the Mayor's House in Winchester. You can read so much of the landscape as something special, when you're steeped in the fairy tales and the literature of a place.

So, Romania next. I'm light on the literature there, but have been heavy on the fairy tales for the past two years. Let's hope the finances work out!
Books (carriage steps)

Things I Think About When I Should Be Writing

-Where did I put that page of notes on Victorian madness and insane asylums? REALLY. It's been days since I started looking for it.

-Is it necessary to point out random connections when I talk to people on the phone? "Hey, my name is Merrie, too!" or (today, on the phone with an ILL staff member at Northern Illinois University) "Do you know rarelylynne? Because I do!"

-Am I overdrying my skin by taking too hot showers, or is it okay because I used that stinky, oily body scrub from Aveda that was in my Christmas stocking?

-Don't put that stinky, oily body rub in your Christmas stocking next year.

-Possibly also, stuffing your own stocking isn't really that fun, but I don't want to miss out on the cool Sharpies I buy for everyone else. Conundrum!

-Here's a page of notes on what constitutes a "proper English education": dress, conversational subjects, musical instruments, singing, dancing, speaking French. Possibly also: needlework, the getting up of fine linen and ironing. In addition to that, Jane Eyre was able to teach history, geography, and the use of a globe, plus grammar and writing. On my notescrap, I have also written "maybe arithmetic" but I don't know where I got that from. Most of the rest of the information came from Understanding Jane Eyre: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources and Historical Documents. Which I need to check out from the library again. Because I did not take adequate enough notes on insane asylums.

-The Herbalist's Apprentice, as a spoken phrase, is occasionally too easy to trip over. You have to jump in, and elide the sibilants or die trying.

-I am rereading some of Anne McCaffrey's romances with a more critical eye to the gender politics. And I wanted to wash myself. And I was actually doing the re-reading in the bathtub, so you see how bad that is. (FOR EXAMPLE: "He clipped one warm, strong-fingered hand under my elbow, and I have never been omre conscious of a square inch of my own flesh than that moment. As if he sensed my reaction, he removed his hand and gave me a quick searching look. 'It's a cup of coffee, Miss Dunn, not an invitation to rape!'" UHM, DUDE, DID YOU JUST CASUALLY BRING UP RAPE (as in you-and-me-time) WHILE TRYING TO INVITE ME FOR COFFEE? This conversation is OVER.)

-On the other hand, I thought this book was just lovely when I was younger, and thus I have faith that The Kids These Days are going to come through the Twilight-era just fine.

-I *seriously* could not love Cougar Town and Community more. Cougar Town *is* Scrubs, reborn without daydreams and internal monologue. The cast interactions have gelled so fantastically that it reads like a sitcom that's been on the air for years. Community is a bit more self-aware and absurd, but it's very emotionally truthful. Between those two shows and Castle, I could get by with watching only shows that start with the letter C, if I had to. (But I would be sad to miss Tabatha's Salon Takeover, which is mine and Kayla's new thing, because we love competent women who make people cry.)

-HEY! I just found my old collection of fortune cookies. (My current ones are: "Adventure can be real happiness" and "Use your instincts now." My old collection includes "Education is the movement from darkness to light." (I wrote beneath that one: "So is phototropism."))

-And THAT is a picture of the Bronte parsonage in snow. *grab* Need that for my Jane Elliott collage.

-I purchased STORY by Robert McKee on audible.com, and started listening to it today. And promptly turned it off, after screaming obscenities at it. Mr. McKee says that because we are all horrible, cynical people with eroded values who live and breathe by the code of relativism, that there has been an erosion of story. We can't get good stories from Hollywood because we don't have the morals to appreciate story. We can't tell good stories because we can't impart the values that people need to know.


Did I mention I was SCREAMING obscenities at my radio after this? Because, between Unitarian Universalism, anthropology, and a particular preference for the protection of civil liberties, I am, yes, deeply relativist in my moral world view. Cultural relativism, mainly--as long as it doesn't impede on individual human rights. Informed consent, mutual consent, and consent in general--as long as there's that, people should be allowed do what they need to do, and I should not be allowed to stop them. To me, that is the core of my value system, and my ethics system. (I think library-ness comes in there, too--the ALA Code of Ethics comes in there, too; I haven't worked in libraries for 15 years without that stuff seeping in.)

I promise you, my being what I believe to be a reasonable human being does NOT impede my ability to deal in story. Either to hear it or to tell it.


-Anger aside, I am going to a) start cleaning the basement tomorrow; b) buy a new heat register at the hardware store so we can stop baking our plants on the plant stand; c) schedule a massage.

-And d) finish finishing my damn book

-I got more and more anxious while thinking about going back to my new doctor, the one who was so terribly dismissive of my heel pain, and on top of that, when I asked to have a pelvic exam, basically said, "Why would you want one of those?" Like, dude. You're a doctor. AREN'T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE TELLING ME TO GET ONE? And also, she didn't care about any of my other bloodwork, even though my good cholesterol is too low, and other things. All she cared about was my vitamin D. So anyway, I got a recommendation from the fabulous redmomoko, and I'm going to go see her doctor. But not until May. Because that's how far out they're scheduling her. WHATEVER. NEW DOCTOR, YAY. Old doctor? NOT A GOCTOR! (tip of the hat to porphyrin and mrissa and Robin, there.)
Dark Tower


I'm experiencing that weird kind of contentment that comes when I am unsettled. I got a fortune cookie once, that I taped up on my desk: "Adventure can be real happiness." Just in case that curses me somehow, I have taped next to it: "Serious trouble will bypass you." (And on the other side is "Your wish is about to come true." (I have a lot of wishes, so that one is going to work for a while.))

In any case, some people can't be content while unsettled, but I find that I thrive on movement. I have my moments of peace, and enjoy them, but that kind of groove too quickly becomes a rut. I'm awfully rational for believing this, but: I'm a classic Aries. I excel at beginnings. (Except for when I'm writing them. Middles are more my forte there.) And movement.

I had some settling time recently. Some slow time. Some time holed up in my office with my book. (Gee, pretty much the whole year.) Lately, I've come out of my introversion-space and remembered that I like people and places and adventures. That adventure can be real happiness.

I bolted off to lonfiction's place to write amongst strangers on what basically amounts to a whim. I slotted in ConClave for no obviously good reason--none of my con-going posse would be attending. But it was all good. Strangers became acquaintances and acquaintances became friends. It's liberating to abandon the familiar, something that I forget all too often. But I always manage to relearn the lesson, just in the nick of time.