Forged in fire (aka, what doesn’t kill you…)

…makes you stronger.

And, ok. Fine. So the title is perhaps a tad melodramatic (you should be used to this by now. I regret nothing. 😉 )

Basically, this blog post was born out of minor over-use knee injury (note: I said minor) which, nonetheless, caused a bit of a freak-out on my part as a) I’ve never experienced anything like this in my knees (neck and back pain, yes. Knees, no.) and b) I’m a ballroom dancer. My knees are important. So are my feet.

So I find myself in the process of strength-training, since I don’t have the kind of strength in my knees that I need. And let me tell ya: the morning after the gym is pretty uncomfortable. As is the day after that. And I’m not used to it. I’m not used to using those muscles in that way. It will come, once my body’s used to it, but in the interim it’s hard. And I might be a bit of a wuss.

But there’s a larger picture here. Let me put it this way:

I AM A DANCER.

It’s a relatively recent discovery (though apparently my subconscious has been screaming this for years…) and it fits like a glove. I can talk all day about how much I love it, but in the end the only way to express it is to get on the dance floor and show you.

 

 

And to dance the way I want to dance – with strength, precision, ease and grace – will take time and effort and training. But because I love it, I’m going to do it. I mean, there really isn’t another option here. My instructor’s stuck with me, heh. This is too much fun, too much joy, too much wonderful.

So in the immortal words of…somebody-who-isn’t-me:

Suck it up, princess.

 

::Exits stage left, dancing a samba::  

The Sunshine Thingy (aka, silly questions)

Righty then. I was tagged by S. Hunter Nisbet to do the Sunshine Thingy. Also known as answering silly questions and providing some of my own. It’s a blog meme. So I’ll be tagging some suckers lucky lovelies to carry on the meme lest we all lose our way in the mists of the interwebs and what-else-have-you.

Let the games begin!

 

  1. Dost thou speaketh any other languages? If so, what is thine go-to phrase when people say “Ooh, say something in that language!”

I speaketh 3.5. Or, 2 + .5 +.5. Ish. I’m bilingual in English & French, speak a very rusty Spanish (I can get by) and a teensy bit of Russian. I know the Russian is still there, but it’s veeeeeeeeeeeeery rusty. Favourite phrase with which to impress people in Russian? “я немного говорю по русски” “Ya nyemnoga govoryou po-russki” “I don’t speak much Russian”. This is usually followed by “Вы говорите по-английски?” “Vi govoritye po-angliskii?” “Do you speak English?” 😀

Useful. Dat’s me. 😉

 

  1. Hast thine car ever run out of gas? What did you do?

Nyet. I ride a magic carpet. What do you take me for? Next!

 

  1. Didst thou go to university, and what was thy major or focus?

Went to uni. Did a BA in English Lit with a minor in Russian (aha! you say), then did a Masters of Library and Information Studies. I was going to be a librarian. It didn’t work out. Now I’m back in school doing an MLit because I want to teach English Lit. And I focus on the medieval stuff, though I am forced out of sheer necessity (i.e. I need the credits) to take a summer course about a bloody pretentious git of a modern playwright. After this course is over, he and I are never, ever, EVER getting back together.

 

  1. What is thine starter Pokemon?

I don’t speak Pokemon. I speak Myst and Carmen Sandiego. Still putting the “miss” in “misdemeanor” as I go. 😉

 

  1. Black thumb, or digit of greenest emerald?

Black. Only give me your plants if you want to murder them.  >:)

 

  1. In a world where thy eyebrows were, in fact, long enough to reach the brim of thine hat, dost thou trim them or let them be ala Gandalf?

Hmmmm….trim them. They’d just get in my tea.

 

  1. What was the first chapter book thou ever read, and why?

What. You want to think that far back? I has no clue. None. So to weasel my way around, the first chapter book I remember reading is The Secret of the Old Clock. NANCY DREW FTW.

 

  1. How many poems can thou recite at will?

1.5. By which I mean, I can recite parts of a poem. Macavity the Mystery Cat by T.S. Eliot (screw The Wasteland, and yes I just said that and no, I don’t regret it) is sheer joy. As the threatening rhyme in the opening chapters of The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson. That one must be recited with a thick Scottish accent. I do my best. *cough*

 

  1. If I say we must do something for the good of the many, not the few, thy answer will be:

Nyarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh

 

  1. What is knee high by the fourth of July?

Apparently the answer is corn. And yes, I googled that. No, I have no shame.

 

…and how would you answer? Comment if you feel so inclined!

As for the lucky ducks chosen to carry on the flame…I challenge Elaine Witt Nicole Wilson  Maggie Maxwell and Outtamylaine

I salute you all and ply you with cookies and tea. Your questions are below. You know the rest.

::cracks knuckles::

 

  1. You are stranded on a desert island. You are allowed one book, one CD, and one movie. What do you take?
  2. Favourite season? Why?
  3. Coffee fanatic or tea fiend? With milk/cream and sugar or without?
  4. What one place would you visit with that magical plane ticket? Why?
  5. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or Harry Potter? ::evil laugh::
  6. Black Widow or Catwoman? Explain.
  7. Milk chocolate or sinfully dark?
  8. Smaug: justified in defending his hoard against thieving dwarves or homicidal maniac?
  9. Dragons or krakens?
  10. You find a gold ring buried in your backyard. What do you do?

She’s beauty, she’s grace (she’ll punch you in the face)

Disclaimer: my thesis is about women in Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse texts and how awesome they are. So yes, I’m biased. What follows is the ramblings of a grad student in love with her subject matter and Agent Peggy Carter.

 

In my thesising today, I was examining the Old English poem Judith which is based on the apocryphal Latin Vulgate text. For those who don’t know the story, the Jewish city of Bethulia is being besieged by the evil general Holofernes. Long story short, the city is saved by Judith who uses her femininity to seduce* the general and subsequently cut off his head. He gets drunk and passes out in her presence.

An interesting variation on this tale is found in The Saga of Hrolf Kraki. Queen Olof pretends to go along with her evil suitor, only to stab him with a sleep thorn when he passes out, drunk, in her chamber. She then tars and feathers him and sends him off packed up in a burlap sack. I kid you not.

Then there’s Jael and Sisera. In the book of Judges, Sisera is a general attacking the Israelites. The judge at the time, Deborah, leads Barak and the Hebrew army to victory, but Sisera escapes. He arrives at Jael’s tent and she offers him hospitality, though he doesn’t know she’s a Hebrew. When he’s asleep, she drives a tent peg through his skull.

And I started noticing a trend. You’d think they’d learn. If you’re an evil general/king/person, do not pass out in the presence of a woman. It will not end well for you. I guarantee it.

Which brings me, perhaps in a not-so-round-about-way to Agent Peggy Carter**. This character means a lot to me***. Not only is Hayley Atwell a dream (I had the ridiculously amazing pleasure of meeting her at Comiccon last summer in a brief 10 second photoshoot, and it remains the HIGHLIGHT of my Comiccon experience), but the character is unashamedly feminine while still kicking ass. She knows her value and retains her moral compass despite all the war took from her. And I love that. And I love that the writers of the show understand that love and romance and happily ever after do not undermine that. With so much media in the atmosphere, it’s hard to escape the still-present message that a woman is incomplete without a man, or that she needs to look or act a certain way, etc. And here we have the brilliant Peggy Carter putting her fist through it all and saying You are enough. And when love does come calling****, she reaches for it as a whole person which makes it so much more beautiful*****.

And this is something I love about the heroines I’m studying, some of whom I’ve mentioned. They say loudly through their actions that They are enough and that they, as women, will get the job done. Any job.

As Shakespeare put it so eloquently, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

beauty

grace

face

(all gifs from: http://ctgraphy.tumblr.com/post/109153691032/fitzwich-inspired-guess-what-i-started)

 

Peace out.

 

 

*the OE text is rather uneasy with Judith’s sexuality in this regard and downplays it to a certain extent while the Vulgate makes no bones about it. Just fyi.

**If you’re not watching Agent Carter then what are you even doing with your life?

***As in, she’s up there with Eowyn and Jane Eyre, but those are whole other blog posts and I’ll get to them eventually. 😛

****In the form of the delightful Daniel Sousa. Talk about a beautiful love story. *melts*married

*****I was totally grinning and cheering like an idiot during the final moments of the season finale (um…sorry Jack). NOW I NEED SEASON 3 DAMMIT.

Adventure

Ah…adventure. I love that feeling. The feeling of the unknown that is to come the moment I step on the plane or set foot in another country.

Admittedly, I’ve been thinking about this more than usual because my seminar this semester is on the adventure novel. We’re into week three, and we started with a fantastic article by Georg Simmel called “The Adventure”. You can find the whole thing on the web, but there were a couple of points that really resonated:

We speak of adventure precisely when continuity with life is thus disregarded on principle – or rather when there is not even any need to disregard it, because we know from the beginning that we have to do with something alien, untouchable, out of the ordinary.

And then this:

No matter how much the adventure seems to rest on a differentiation within life, life as a whole may be perceived as an adventure. For this, one need neither be an adventurer nor undergo many adventures. To have such a remarkable attitude toward life, one must sense above its totality a higher unity, a super-life, as it were, whose relation to life parallels the relation of the immediate life totality itself to those particular experiences which we call adventures.

And the reason these points in particular resonated was that I saw myself in them. I’m a writer, I write of adventures. I feel adventure in my bones in this life. I need that adventure, that out-of-the-ordinary. And it could be as big as stepping on a plane or as small as heading to class or writing, knowing that this is leading me forward to…I know not what. But something. Though, as Bilbo learned, adventures are not all pony rides in May sunshine.

And yet.

Oh. And yet.

We’ve been to the Moon and back. We roam out among the stars. We dive to the depths of the sea. And yet we don’t know everything. We never will.

There is still Romance and Wonder and Adventure in the world, small and big. It’s what we do about it that matters. It is, after all, a dangerous business going out your door.

So if you’ll excuse me…

 

adventure

 

 

Life in revision

So…you know how when you’re trying to be strong and not nap because there are Things To Do?

Dude. Always. Do. The. Nap.

Trust me on this. You’ll thank me later.

Right. So. It’s been a while. I’m thiiiiiiiiiiis close to my last tutorial for the academic year (amen and thank you Jesus) and I’m hanging by a thread. As of tomorrow I’m on vacation for a week and a half. And my thesis and paper can just SIT THERE, nyah nyah.

Ahem.

And I’m into revisions on the novel. Oh revisions. Where do I begin? How can I count the things you teach me? Because there ain’t nothing like revision to expose the great huge flaws in one’s writing. My characters are standing there looking over my shoulders and they’re all like:

unacceptable_btvs

BUT. And isn’t there always? I’m also realizing that there might be (probably is) more to this story than the structure that has been imposed on it by yours truly. And that thought makes me a) excited, and b) significantly less frustrated than I was feeling.

Because revision is like this:

 

 

And on that note:

Ciao!

Grad student is destressing

Wow. Ok. So. It’s been a while.

In my defense, it’s been busy. But — wait for it — my thesis proposal has been accepted!!!! Aw yiss.

Of course this means I have to write the damn thing, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, savvy?

Anyhow, so there’s that and now my term paper which I’ve just started researching and my brain cannot brain all the time so I need Time Out.

And strangely that Time Out has taken me back down the Once Upon a Time lane. Ever heard of that show? Well, season 1 was BLOODY FREAKING BRILLIANT. Season 2 was ok — very flawed, but ok. Then Season 3 hit and it was ok, still very flawed, but ok…up until they killed off a very significant character by the name of Neal Cassidy. And then my care level just dropped because the series literally started to spiral out of control, and not in a good way. I’m watching season 4 now as it airs, but the internetz and my own writing got me thinking and so I started re-watching season 2. It’s definitely not as good as season 1, but it’s a hell of a lot better than what’s going on right now.

And as I’m watching…I’m falling in love with Neal Cassidy all over again. He was such an amazing character and killing him off was lazy writing. He had so much story left to tell: he had to be a father to Henry, he had to work out his relationship with his father, he and Emma deserved a second chance — their story was not over yet. Tallahassee and Manhattan remain two of my favourite episodes from that season — there was some damn fine writing there, and I still can’t believe the writers through it all away in the name of fan service.

Here was a character who was not whitewashed. We saw his mistakes and, what’s more, he admitted to those mistakes. He didn’t try to excuse them. He wanted to do better. He loved his son. He loved Emma and treated her with respect, giving her space, never forcing himself on her. He was a good man.

And this moment (S3) gets me every time:

Swanfire is everything.

It irritates me when writers take shortcuts. And Neal’s death was definitely a shortcut. He was a complex character, and the series, while definitely flawed before, is now that much poorer for his absence.