...uh by which I mean I hope everyone had a happy Mabon if that's their thing. Team Judaeo-Wicca is now going to gear up for Simchas Toyre, and then take a nap until Halloween.
Quieter around here than it's been in years, though. And very early this morning/very late last night I sang for myself -- for my wife -- for no other reason for the first time I can easily remember.
She said I had a lovely voice.
It's still coming on October, though, so have some salt. Lots of salt. Salt is cheap.
(I wanted to write a whole long thinky digression about love and identity and partnerships and gender and skin-shifting and sex, but I think we're all better off I didn't.)
Basically, a commenter said -- and it didn't start out inflammatory, but its casual, callous tone was worse to me -- that there were "too many" same sex relationships in a book, and that same-sex relationships didn't "feel organic" in the world the writer had built (over the course of three books, I believe.) The commenter felt the author had "strong ideas about what [author] wanted to write about" and that the same-sex pairings, because they were neither depicted as Twue Wuv, nor ended tragically, magically, or diabolically -- in fact, they were just kinda casual the way things are in real-life YA -- were part of an "agenda" the author wanted to sell to readers.
I didn't join in the comment chain because it's about a month old at this point, and also because they've been warnin' me about my blood pressure for years now.
My kid is the daughter of a great romance. Why should I not reflect that in what I write? Why do we not get that connection, that magic, that serendipity of love in our narratives without it "pushing an agenda"? Why do the queers always have to do it Karenina-style? We don't all end up driven off cliffs, incarcerated, or in unhappy heteronormative cages.
On the other side of that coin, not every relationship is going to work out. Sometimes people cheat, sometimes partners drift apart in a desultory, friendly way, sometimes a pairing is more bread and butter when what you both wanted was laksa, and sometimes us queers are going to fuck around happily as people do and not think about the morning. When that happens, no one has to commit suicide. Or even take an epic road trip. I promise. It's fiction. Things can come up roses, as opposed to coming up herpes.
And may I say, of course the author had strong ideas about what she wanted to write about [sic, I'm pretty sure.] It was her own damn book. Books do not get written without strong ideas to drive them. We'd all just blog instead.
I suppose it could be said that visibility is my agenda -- mine personally. I've always written about same-sex characters, and usually there's been an element of contented romance (or okay, an element of porn). But mostly, I write that way because when I try to write about the straights, it sounds no end of dumb and I look gormless -- all out of gorms to give -- as a person who has ever seen the sun or felt an emotion ever or stubbed her damn toe. It's just not true enough for my writing if I'm trying to write something I don't know. And it sounds bad in my ear and I delete it. DELETE DELETE DELETE.
I never thought of it as an agenda before, though; I thought of it as a weakness in my craft as an author.
Now I suppose I'll have to get some goddamn buttons printed up.
Also, what is with the catastrophic new posting design on LJ??
How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,
Who shall live and who shall die,
Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not...
The wrong people die. It's always the wrong person who dies. When I get to that line in the unetaneh tokef, I think of my brother-in-law (the one I never met); I think of how immeasurably angry I would be, if I were my wife. If they were his days -- if they were ascribed and assigned to him -- why wouldn't he be allowed to reach the end of them? We're playing semantics with God now? They were his days. Shouldn't he still be in them?
Meanwhile, the neighbor who torments his wife and son, who is drunk, lecherous, and vaguely criminal, shambles home from the 7-11 and peels the cellophane off a pack of cigarettes even though they couldn't afford heat last winter (and this winter's looking pretty much the same). He lives. He gets to live.
I know there are holy uses for anger, just as there is transcendence in standing around all day being voluntarily hungry because it is our luxury and birthright to spend tomorrow hungry. (I am pretty sure if a horse had dropped dead in front of me in the ghetto on Yom Kippur, I would have given the fasting thing a big middle finger and whipped out the hibachi. Pikuach nefesh, don't you know.)
My observance, in my adult life, has been a combination of fraught and rote. I go to services because I do. I say the words because I know them. I usually feel genuine sadness -- repentance? -- during the vidui. This year, all I've got is anger, and that on my wife's behalf. Life is so weird.
Now I have four projects going, because that's completely appropriate. Do I ever finish anything? Hahaha, that's funny.
The insomnia isn't helping. I'm being visited by Spuckles, the Newfie of Dysthymia (ashlyme, he's Shuck's erratic, hormonal cousin. You can tell him because he's got a hankie tucked in his spectral collar) and pecking out maybe fifty words at three in the morning, which is super efficient, let me tell you.
I suppose the point of this post is that I hate the tug-of-war between mental health, adult life, creative output, and medication. When I'm unbearable as a human being and an asshole to my wife and kid, I can pull pages and pages from my veins like nothing. Whether they are good, useful, valuable pieces of art we could argue until morning; but at least the words come.
It's a thing.
Also, it's autumn soon. FIVE POUND BAGS OF SALT FOR THE ENTIRE READERSHIP OF THIS ELLJAY.
Otherwise known as, I always want to think the best of authors, I really do, but some people are really and truly just assholes who should not be allowed a piece of the big, sticky Battenberg that is the internet.
I am going over here.
I don't think I accepted myself as a poet until last year, though I have been writing (and winning things for) poetry since I began to write expressively in English, around age nine. So -- a long time. Oy. But in high school and college, instructors harsh and well-meaning nudged (pushed) me toward fiction; this is what you're good at. The other one you're not.
And I can write fiction; at least, I do write it. But I wanted so much to be a poet, because in the dark and terrible time of my life, some hospital book cart yielded to me (and I had them a very long time) Anne Sexton's Transformations and Adrienne Rich's Diving into the Wreck. They were not particularly good copies, they were early editions of both, young women by the time I got them as a child.
They were transformative and lifesaving. When I was older I could talk to you about Eliot (Oh, Jesus, I apologize to all the people I talked to about Eliot) and I still know too much of Prufrock off by heart; I added Stevie Smith and Sylvia Plath and Eavan Boland and Louise Gluck to my poetry shelf, and those poets informed my voice. (Marge Piercy, too, mostly in the vein of dear God let me never sound the bitter old woman like last year's etrog that is a Marge Piercy poem. )
But Adrienne Rich I carried with me, in my blue leather secondhand suitcase, through childhood, high school, college, and graduate school, and her words were my friends. I lost the books in graduate school, and I'm sure my wife would buy them for me again, but I don't need them because -- like memories you store up for when your dear friend is across the country -- I don't need the books to hold on to the words.
You cry when friends go; you can't help it.
A living friend (and a real poet and a lover of poetry, even poetry of the postmodern ironic sort I can't stand) says memory is all we can give the dead. I will remember Diving... and Midnight Salvage and I will pass my copies down to my daughter. And I'll close the door on this slightly maudlin obituary with, sure, why not, Anne Sexton, in Adrienne Rich's honor: A woman who loves a woman is forever young.
"The Cinderella jump rope rhyme was in actual use in the United States at least as late as the 1970s and 1980s: "Cinderella, dressed in yella/Went downstairs to kiss her fella/By mistake her girdle busted/How many people were disgusted?/One, Two, Three, Four..." Fast forward to nowadays, and put that rhyme in the hands of speculative poets and short-story writers and their friends. These are people with a lurid sense of humor, a color palette not limited to yellow, and a deep interest in imagining for Cindy some life-changing experiences beyond snake kissing and girdle busting. The rhymes found in Cinderella Jump Rope Rhymes were written in a collaborative freestyle whimsy, with each author adding a rhyme until a delightful series had been created. Add to that the illustrative powers of artist Adam Oehlers, and the final product was this little chapbook. Cinderella Jump Rope Rhymes shows you what a childhood pastime looks like when you dial macabre up to eleven. If playground fun got married to the genetically engineered child of Joss Whedon and Neil Gaiman, their offspring would be Cinderella Jump Rope Rhymes. Go ahead, nourish your inner Victorian orphan - or buy a copy for the Wednesday Addams in your life. Cinderella Jump Rope Rhymes is a Cabinet des Fées production. All proceeds will be used to support Cabinet des Fées and charities of its choice."
I was talking to a young woman recently -- the age I'm still inclined to call, in my head, a girl, meaning younger than me -- and when she spoke, the effect was of an Emily Dickinson poem on speed. Her thoughts--seemed interrupted--by a stream of emdashes-- as if she continually--had to breathe--before she was allowed--to say what came next.
(I don't mean to be cruel with that effect; indeed, I splashily overuse emdashes in my own writing and I tend to leave 'em if an author wants 'em when I edit. I just don't know how else to express it in print.)
It wasn't a stammer, and she was articulate at some times and not others. It wasn't a seeming nonneurotypicality cropping up, I didn't think.
"The minute I say something--I've thought--that was so stupid, and--I could have said it better."
Aside from being younger, she was of a similar, maybe superior, educational and socieoeconomic background. She had no reason to be intimidated by me. I just wanted to say honey, I know, and give her a hug.
(It won't let me embed, because it's set to a song that is somehow famous or something and YouTube picks up on that. But then at least you don't get the spoilers on your friends page!)
SPOILERS through Sherlock 2x03.
...All right, technically it may have been me.
But I'm not going to cop to it.
I'm not sure if I'm posting this to pique the general curiosity, or send the reading public away shrieking... (Fair do's: the image is from Costume of Nashua. I don't know anything about their business, but gingham AND birds AND ribbon falls, it's perfect.)
Since my workplace can see some of my Facebook, I did not post there what I am going to post here, which is as follows, and I quote.
Hey, Santorum, suck my electric-lavender silicone dick.
Also, this holiday thing is exhausting.
Also also, I will write something tonight! I have fallen down on the job.
Happy new year.