tsubame: (wings)
Sunday, October 16th, 2011 02:14 pm
These days it feels as if people have fled LiveJournal en masse, and I don’t know where they’ve gone. Granted I’ve been missing myself for quite some time-- first because of the endless black hole that was my dissertation, and then it was off to Rome, and then I entered the secondary black hole of job searching. You would think that being unemployed would mean I had a great deal of free time, and you would be right. But it also means that I always feel guilty that I’m not doing enough to find a job, which means that even when I’m procrastinating I don’t write, because writing is Not Looking For a Job.

I also accidentally fell into X-Men: First Class fandom, and seeing as this is the first time I’ve been in an overwhelmingly huge fandom, I always have an endless backlog of stories to catch up on. While this has been helpful in getting me through the trials of the past few months, it has also once again brought to my attention that I am absolutely and completely addicted to reading. I’ve been reading books at what has become my customary pace, but the reading that I do online is vast and near-constant. I read until I can’t bear to focus on the computer screen anymore, and then I pick up the nearest book and I read that for a while. If I have no book I read whatever I can get my hands on-- cereal boxes, junk mail, old newspapers. My friends laugh at my inability to get through this or that TV show, but the truth is that unless it really grabs my attention, I would rather read.

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day. “I know you’re nostalgic for the Jersey shore as you used to know it,” I said, “bustling, full of people, full of life. But when we went there when I was a kid, everything was run down, boarded up, with grass growing through the cracks and faded graffiti on the walls. And I remember that Dad used to take me by Hoboken on the train, and he would warn me that it wasn’t safe, I had to stay close to him. When I started going myself when I got older it was the same-- a bit run down, a bit seedy, long past the bustling days of the Lakawana rail line bringing vacationers in and out. I would go to the Hoboken Farm Boy and buy this cheap, scented Chinese soap I liked, I would go by the old comic book shop, eat at the Karma Cafe . . . but now Hoboken’s gentrified, and the Hoboken Farmboy is a cell phone shop, and the comic book shop’s long gone, couldn’t afford the rent, and I can’t afford to eat in the Karma Cafe anymore.

“I still like Hoboken, but I loved it as it was-- the Jersey shore, too. I’m nostalgic for them as I knew them: abandoned, run down, dreaming of lost glories.”

xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx xOx


Ghazal, by Dilruba Ahmed )
Friday, January 21st, 2011 12:48 am
Photobucket

Some of my friends in front of one of the great trees of Koya-san in Wakayama-ken. It is the center of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, and it's . . . amazing. There are more than 120 temples there, and a lovely and tranquil graveyard that takes several hours to walk through. It felt like another world, up there amongst the peaks.

I wanted to put up this picture because my incredibly-PC-calendar (it has Thich Nhat Hanh quotes!) lists Thursday as Tu B'Shevat (the Jewish New Year for Trees). According to teh interwebs this is the date when the trees begin to flower in Jereusalem. Other than that I know nothing of the significance of the holiday, but I think it a beautiful thing that there should be a new year devoted to trees.

Of course, since I believe Jewish holidays start on the previous night at sundown, I guess this holiday is already over . . .

Behind which I ramble on insanely about Pandora Hearts. Replete with question marks, because every time I learn something in this blasted series I end up with 5 new questions. er. EDIT: FULL OF SPOILERS. I should have said that before, sorry. )
Tuesday, November 28th, 2006 10:19 am
Have finished a Clash of Kings at long, long last. Next project: the Amulet of Samarkand.

And taking care of business. Time to get those spent calendar pages out of my desk.

Shakespeare Calendar Quotes, Continued )
Tuesday, July 4th, 2006 04:20 pm
I just finished the Farthest Shore, by Ursula K. LeGuin. The contented, full feeling that one gets after finishing an excellent book runs through me now, along with the certain knowledge that I'll never write anything half as good. Even if I spend my whole life trying, and I will.

This is in preparation for the new Studio Ghibli movie coming out . . . well, I don't know when at the moment, but since the ad campaign has begun it should be fairly soon. I'm unreasonably excited about it.

* * * *


When I die, I will be beyond wishing, but in the meantime, this is what I wish for when I am dead:

I prefer to be cremated. The reasons for this are both practical and not. In terms of practicality, cremation saves the cost of a coffin and a grave plot, both of which seem overly and unneccessarily expensive to me. No point in spending that much money on something that's just going to rot away in the ground, after all. From another standpoint, there's a certain amount of appeal to giving one's earthly remains over to the bright purity of fire. I don't understand what fire is-- a chemical reaction, I am told, and yet it seems to have a presence that science cannot account for. A being that isn't explained by the triangle of ingredients necessary to create it.

As for what is done with the ashes, if scattering proves easiest, then that's fine. But I think I would like it if they were buried in some kind of biodegradable container, and a tree planted over them-- an oak, I think, as my house growing up was surrounded by huge, beautiful oaks. I don't require any other memorial, and certainly no huge and showy gravestone-- if there must be something, a simple stone or plaque with my name on it is more than sufficient.

Funerals are important to the living, and so I would like to have one, but I'm not concerned with the specifics. Again, I don't want there to be a great deal of expense involved. A Christian one is fine if my family would prefer, as long as it's open to everyone (I don't see why it wouldn't be, but just in case). As long as it provides the opportunity for my various family and friends to get together, share their memories, and say a symbolic good-bye.

Afterwards, however, everyone is required to go out and eat an awesome meal, party, and have a good time! No sitting around boo-hooing, I won't stand for it. Well, I'll be dead, but if I were alive (and dead at the same time, because otherwise there'd be no reason for boo-hooing) I wouldn't stand for it!

People are also required to be sensible about their partying and drink lots of water with their alcohol, because anyone who wakes up the next morning with a hangover will wake up to hear my ghostly and merciless laughter, too.
Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006 10:03 pm
See, you can say that money doesn't matter all you want when you're not worrying about how you're going to afford tomorrow's trip to the supermarket. I'm actually doing fairly well for someone my age, but I definately want to start moving on some of the suggestions in this article. My knowledge of economics is disgustingly small, but fortunately I have wiser heads at my disposal. But one always has to take the first step onesself.

The number of things I have to do to prepare for the future is . . . severely daunting, so much so that I sit around and do nothing. This needs to change. I have a thousand plans, but that means nothing unless I work to make them reality. Starting today. Right now, in fact.

. . . if I can manage to tear myself away from this book I bought . . . the Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova. Unlike the last bestseller that I read (the Da Vinci Code), this one actually has awesome writing and excellent, fully-realized characterization to justify its status. Not to mention the complex plot and page-turning cliffhangers (I just finished chapter four and I'm already saying this).

Livejournal, stop adding more userpics and start adding more mood-adjectives! The current choices are inadequate!
Monday, May 1st, 2006 09:55 am
To my great happiness, I bought a book of Japanese death poetry yesterday. Specifically I bought a book of poems written by monks or poets who died shortly thereafter, who wrote their poems with full knowledge that the poem they were writing was their last poem.

Such perfect knowledge of one's time of death seems improbable, but I've heard of it so very many times that I believe it fully possible.

And yes, owning this rather thick and morbid book fills me with happiness. I can't wait to read it. I find death fascinating-- not necessarily the mechanics of it (I will not be taking a course in forensics like my father did), but the philosophy of it, the psychological effects of dealing with it, the human reaction when faced with this final great unknown.

Today I found the complete text of a poem that I discovered in part some years ago . . . which is about death, what a surprise.

The Garden of Proserpine, by A.C. Swinburne )
Monday, April 3rd, 2006 12:55 am
I'm making astounding progress in terms of reading lately. I finished Essays Written in Idleness, and then I Am a Cat. Next I tore through Shinsengumi: the Shogun's Last Samurai Corps, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I suppose it whetted my appetite for battles and glory and tragedy, because now I'm flying through a reread of Katharine Kerr's Deverry books, and enjoying them fully as much as I did the first time (which was some years back, during high school). Daggerspell's behind me now, and I'm fast approaching the halfway point in Darkspell. Which means that soon I'll be placing an order with Amazon to get my hands on more of them.

There's much to admire about them. The setting is rich and realistic, a Celtic kingdom modeled on old Wales. The focus is on nobles and princes and the warriors that make or lose their destinies, but there's no shortage of politics to lend urgency to the battles. The magic is well thought-out and far from omnipotent. The characters are deep, each with their own motivations and involved histories. And it even has a race of elves that I can stand, and even like-- I can't tell you how rare that is, because normally I despise elves in fantasy books. They tend to be self-involved, arrogant, annoyingly perfect, insufferably smug, and so holier-than-thou that I pray for someone to come and take them down a peg. And no one ever does, more's the pity. If I lived with elves, I'd constantly be rigging low wires all over the place, just so that I could see them trip and fall on their faces.

Deverry has the Elcyion Lacar, and while they might have some of the above listed qualities, there's enough about them that isn't perfect that I can accept and even like them. No shining, pearly, unlivable cities for them-- they're nomads, traveling with herds of horses and living in painted tents. They may scorn human cities as cramped and dirty, but that's not surprising when they live in a vast open space and never stay in one place long enough for sewage to become a problem. Marvelous craftsmanship, yes. Superior technology? Hells no; they don't even have wheels. They use travois to haul their stuff. Beautiful? Yes. Graceful? Yes. Superior archers? Yes. Perfect? Not on your life. They feud and argue and sleep around just as much as the humans do. They're real, that's what it comes down to for me.

Trying to recall another set of elves I've liked . . . the Sithi, "the Peaceful Ones," from Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy comes to mind. They're a little closer to the classic annoying elves, but they still have enough reality to them for me to like them. Overall, I'd say the situation there was the equivalent of taking a scullion from a castle in barely-medieval France and dropping him in the royal court of Heian Japan. If the royal court liked trees a whole lot. Although I haven't read those books in a long time; perhaps I should turn to them after I finish with Deverry.

I liked the elves in Judith Tarr's Hound and the Falcon trilogy and accompanying books, largely because while they themselves were far beyond human, and had a good measure of perfection to them, they lived entirely immersed in the human world. They were fully human in terms of their personalities and their emotions. Beautiful and magical, yes, powerful, but by no means above or detached from that which is normal.

To put it bluntly, I like the kind of elves who can eat too much rich food at a feast and must spend an hour or two in the loo afterwards.

Perfect societies of any sort rankle with me; I could never accept Star Trek (a human society without money or exchange of any kind? Come ON) for much the same reason I can't accept most elves. Perhaps it's a failing on my part; elves are supposed to be a different species, and I'm always wanting them to be human. Which means they must be fallible, capable of pettiness and stupidity as well as breathtaking beauty. That a society should exist out of reach of those sins that humanity is constantly beset by is not a society that I can accept in my heart as true.

And come on, the tripwires would be an excellent idea. You'd laugh, too. And if the elf who fell over laughed as well, I'd swear blood kinship with him and buy him a beer down at Kuttaro. Or even some girly, elf-y fruit-flavored chu-hai. As long as he can put up with me teasing him for drinking the sugary stuff.
Friday, March 17th, 2006 03:12 pm
Regarding this article in TIME Magazine about James Patterson, and James Patterson's complaint about not being highly respected: how is it possible to respect an author who says of his next book, "I don't think it's terribly worth reading, honestly"?
Monday, February 27th, 2006 12:06 pm
found in my dictionary:

Mountains and rivers:
crossing one, then another,
from one lonely place
to endless lonely places.
Today I journey again.

I had a strange dream last night. It involved being at home and watching an episode of Inu Yasha on TV in which Sesshoumaru died. The next episode (it was a two-parter) was about the quest to bring him back to life, which involved strangeness akin the the plot of Diana Wynne Jones' Dogsbody, but I didn't get to watch it because I had to go take a gun away from my brother, and then I woke up.

I woke up to the news that Octavia Butler was dead.

I haven't read any of her books, no. But I've often seen them on the shelves, and thought about reading them. One of these days I will. She seems to be universally respected by other authors, or at least those I've heard mention of her from.

What I'm reading now is Essays Written in Idleness, by Kenko. Certain themes run throughout, but one of the main ones that he constantly brings up is the fact that death comes to all of us, and takes us unaware. That we do not expect it, we do not prepare for it, we always think of it as a far off event rather than a constant immediacy. Not surprising for a series of fragments and essays written by a Buddhist monk, but true nonetheless. I was pondering this earlier, and wrote a miniature essay of my own on our need to deny the lifetime companionship that is death for us.

I wonder, sometimes, what would happen if I died. Here, so far from my family, from the people I love most in all the world, and who are more important to me than any posession. And if something happened to me, or I went missing, how long would it take before someone noticed?

The answer to that question is about two days, give or take; my colleagues would wonder if I didn't show up for work. This was a more frightening question when I considered it while living in England; with classes only once or twice a week it would likely be fourteen days or so before anyone would have figured out I was gone.

I tried not to think about that very much, when I was living in England. Unfortunately it's the kind of question anyone who lives alone must consider at one point or another.

Because one day, we will all die.
Monday, February 6th, 2006 01:42 am
Loneliness is a maw, a vacuum, a solar riptide that no one else can feel.

I picked up the Golden Fool while I was in the bookstore today. It's easy to forget just how much impact that particular series had on me back when I was reading them two years ago. That I was quite literally useless with depression for two weeks after I finished the last one. Something about them was so visceral, they had such a hold on me, and when I finished the last one . . . I just couldn't do anything. I just lay on my bed and stared at the wall.

Flipping through tonight . . . I don't think I'm ready to reread them. Not yet, anyway. Not when just reading certain passages has so strong an effect on me.

I wandered through the shelves of books. There's always a large section of books on understanding the Japanese and Japan, which seems futile and insulting both to me. As if you could understand a nation full of people just by reading someone's book! As if the Japanese are a completely different species, an alien race, impossible for the uninitiated to relate to! As if the author has discovered The Key, and they're going to share it with you! All you have to do is sit down with the book and "the Japanese" will be laid out like a map before you!

There's only one way to understand people, any people any where. And that's by spending the time and effort to get to know them, to learn about their lives. That's by being curious and open-minded, by listening and paying attention.

Not that reading books won't help with this, but I think it's extremely arrogant and insulting of the various authors first to make the assumption that they Know The Japanese, second to put a group of people to which they do not belong into an arbitrary category with modes of behavior that said people have not defined, and third to preach to others what they should think about said group of people.

Shelves and shelves of books, on travel and architecture and poetry and history, on religion and myth and language. My inadequacy is a knife cutting away at the core of me. So much to know, and how little I know, and how lazy and lacking in discipline, ambition and desire leading only to the knowledge of my inadequacy and failure. Around and around and around.

And loneliness on the cold, bustling street, surrounded by flashing lights and all the impersonal lure of consumerism. Using items to define your being. Exchanging money for identity.

I don't tend to talk about my problems much. I think that the real reason for this is because I don't see them as having solutions, and there is nothing that anyone can do to help. Helpful suggestions are not helpful at all; they lead me back to the endless loop of inadequacy, and worse, they make me angry at the good intentions of another. Better, then, not to speak.

This too shall pass.

And the unbalanced scale of interpersonal relationships I hate as well, the sliding back and forth. I cannot stand it when people care about me, I am not worthy of it. Care too much, and I back away, unable to understand, unable to accept. I think I can only love that which cannot love me. The stars, cats, music and martial arts that I have no real talent for, poetry that pulls blood from the stone of my heart.

Love only those who can never love you back.
Thursday, January 26th, 2006 01:04 am
I want to write something lovely and poignant here. Barring that, I want to write some Emrys-story.

I shall do neither. First of all because I'm tired and it's late, and second of all because I want to read more of Kafka on the Shore. Blasted cliffhanger chapters.

Instead I shall post several haiku, none of which were written by me. No, these are my favorites exerted from One Hundred Great Books in Haiku, by David Bader. The book was my Christmas gift from Pam, and in the interests of saving suitcase space I typed my favorites into my laptop and left the book at home.

I typed all of my favorites save The Rise and Fall of Rome, which was just too bloody long.

Inadvertant joke, heh.

Oh, that the profound and sophisticated art of haiku should come to this . . . damn, but they're funny. )
Monday, November 28th, 2005 07:55 pm
An extremely interesting article on CS Lewis. Up here for my own convenience more than anything else, but some of you might like to read it, as well. Even if you have no interest in CS Lewis, the critic has a great deal of interesting things to say about imagination, myth, fantasy, poetry, magic, and all of that good stuff.
Saturday, October 1st, 2005 06:29 pm
Have spent a day that was either deeply unproductive or astoundingly productive, or possibly both. Have placed most of this entry behind cuts for the sake of not being horribly annoying. Don't expect me to make a habit of being considerate with my lj entries, though.

Lazy Saturday . . . )

Poetry . . . )

A small child is screaming bloody murder beyond my balcony. There is a gread deal of humanity crammed into a very small amount of space here; perhaps the greatest feat of those who live in this country is to create an impression of infinite space where there is in fact very little. It is not one that I can imitate, as my nature is given to clutter and overcrowding, a riot of colors and motion in a small space.

More poetry . . . )

Question and answer . . . )

The heart has reasons about which reason knows nothing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Plato having defined man to be a two-legged animal without feathers, Diogenes plucked a cock and brought it into the Academy, and said, ‘This is Plato’s man.’ On which account this addition was made to the definition: ‘With broad flat nails.’

Missing people . . . )

Found while re-organizing my bookmarks: the webpage of Heinz Insu Fenkl. I was perhaps a little in love with him while I was reading Memories of my Ghost Brother, and his page is very interesting to browse through. I especially recommend the links at the bottom, particularly if you are at all curious about comparative mythology.
Wednesday, April 27th, 2005 05:32 pm
Desparate for something else to do while ideas for this essay rearrange themselves in my head.

So, here's a brief history of all my email addresses and internet aliases. Because of course they all have stories. Come on, be enthusiastic! This is your chance to delve into the complicated workings of my mind, the morass of interconnected references and the mire of meaning.

I can see you're excited now. Why don't we start with the livejournal . . .

Livejournal Username: grey_damaskena

Why? Well, the first part, grey, is for numerous reasons. First, I really like grey as a color. I prefer "grey" to the alternative, which is "gray." The former implies a certain amount of softness in my head, a warmth that the harder, sharper "gray" lacks. It's the difference between a soft mist and the harsh, cheap smear of newsprint in my mind. The other reason for using "grey" is because I wrote a short story back when I was in high school that had Death as a main character (not Neil Gaiman's, no, though there were certain similarities. All art is derivative), and said character had grey eyes, which became a theme for the story. I thought it was really good at the time (it was the best I'd ever written, at the time. Hopefully this is no longer the case), and was quite proud of it.

The second part, damaskena, is the last name of my favorite character from Judith Tarr's the Hound and the Falcon trilogy. It's a truly amazing series of books, and I highly recomend them though they're a bit hard to find. They are, in order, called the Isle of Glass, the Golden Horn, and the Hounds of God. Historical fantasy. Amazing.

Livejournal Name: upside down

"Upside Down" is the title of my very favorite Tori Amos song. It's quite rare as Tori songs go . . . originally it was released on the Winter single, and has subsequently been included in a few other singles. Great song. When I hear her play it live, I will be able to die with my life completed.

Livejournal Friends page: blankets

Another reference to a Tori song (yeah, who's a geek?). The song is called Bells for Her, and it's from the Under the Pink album. The interesting thing about that particular song is that in an earlier verse, the word is spelled "blankets" and, later on, is spelled "blank ettes." I think the song is about the breakdown of a friendship; when the singer and the woman she refers to are friends, they are "blankets;" when they're arguing and the frienship is broken, they're "blank ettes." Thus it's a good name for the friend's page.

Internet Nomiker: Althea SaDiablo

The first name, Althea, is the first name of the character from whom I also lifted "damaskena." Yes, her full name is Althea Damaskena, or Thea for short. She's Greek, she's a shapeshifting elf, and she kicks everyone's ass (in my humble opinion). She has numerous good qualities which I would be wise to emulate, though I could never be quite as cool as her.

The second name, SaDiablo, is lifted out of another most excellent trilogy of books, Anne Bishop's the Black Jewels Trilogy. Another series that I really, really like. Titles are as follows: Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, and Queen of the Darkness. There is now another book in the same world, "the Invisible Ring," which I didn't like as much but still isn't bad, and a book of four short stories, "Dreams Made Flesh," which I quite like but haven't had time to finish (I'm on the story that has Saetan-angst, and watching him suffer makes me sad). Anyway, my favorite character in said books is Saetan SaDiablo (thus the earlier comment), and I would adore being a part of his family, so I cheerfully adopted myself into it by borrowing the last name.

AIM: Scryer1

This one's been with me for a very, very long time. I went through a bunch of possibilities before I finally found a SN; Scryer was not my first choice, but I appreciate the irony. Because sitting at a computer serves much the same function as scrying does: you can see far-off places and events or find out information by use of a flat, inanimate surface. Not all that different from looking into a bowl of still water or a mirror. But think of the Technomages from Babylon 5: they achieve what appears to be magic through the use of incredibly advanced science.

Email address: chibi_l_sama

I aquired this one while I was in college. The first anime I was ever into, and my number one favorite anime of all time, is of course Slayers. The top dog in the Slayers pantheon is L-sama, the Lord of Nightmares. Since I am a force for chaos and evil (at least some of the time), it seemed appropriate to my friends. But since I'm a student, I'm still in training and don't yet have full smiting powers. Hence the nickname Chibi-sama. Mess with me and I flatten you with a shovel, it's that simple.

Email address: ddraig_goch

Now defunct. The translation from Welsh is "red dragon." The red dragon is on the Welsh flag and is also famously referred to in Arthurian myth: as a boy Merlin has a vision of a white dragon and a red dragon fighting for dominion. I can claim about as many Welsh ancestors as any other nationality my ancestors may originate from, and Wales itself is of great interest to me.

Email address and forum name: WhettedKnife

I do martial arts, and have spent quite a bit of time training in knife fighting. The phrase itself is from a poem, "Sea Fever" by John Masefield. The text for said poem was initally sent to me by [livejournal.com profile] greensilkchai, and I really like it. I also have more than a passing interest in ships and sailing, not that I know much about either.

Forum name: CrownedinWood

A reference to another favorite character of mine, the Fool from Robin Hobb's Assasin, Liveship Traders, and Tawny Man trilogies (I'm not going to list them all, it's too much effort. Suffice to say that they're very good). Not a name I've used often, but I think it sounds very neat.

Title: Pirate Queen, formerly of Brighton

I first buckled swash back in freshman year when I played in my first game of Seventh Sea. See, I was on the pirate bandwagon before Pirates of the Caribbean (incidentally, #2 has finished filming . . .). When I was abroad, I felt it necessary to take a title appropriate for my traveling status. And since I was in a port town, a seafaring name was best. As I traveled, the title became more elaborate. I am now the Pirate Queen of the Something Something Yakuza, scourge of the Irish Sea and Ravager of the Northern Coast, currently landlubbing in Pennsylvania.

Right, that's all of them that I can think of right now. I have a bunch of other titles, most of them self-proclaimed, but I can't be bothered with them at the moment. That isn't really the issue at this point, though. No, the issue is, why the heck are you still reading this?
Wednesday, September 1st, 2004 05:13 pm
So, back at the old home uni, and already monumentally stressed. And studying Japanese like a mad thing, but I have a feeling that it's going to take more madness than even I posess.

I'm spending a fair amount of time by myself. Old friends are half strangers, and since both my roommates have boyfriends it's often like having my very own apartment. Except for the fact that everyone else's stuff is taking up shelf space and there's food I don't eat in the fridge. Well, nothing to complain of there, except that I can't make my computer grok the internet. Or possibly I can't make the internet grok my computer.

Reading Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein, if you weren't geeky enough to guess it from the previous two scentences.

The struggle to graduate on time begins. I despise beuracracy, but I can't get away from it no matter what country I run to. Depressing. I'd grab an electronic thumb and start hitchhiking, but according to the Guide it's about the same everywhere else in the galaxy.
Saturday, August 14th, 2004 11:20 pm
I've been doing a lot of reading lately. At least, a great deal more than I have in a while, pleasure-wise. I finished the War of the Flowers earlier today. Tad Williams' latest effort, and it was as absorbing as Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, though perhaps not quite as epic. There's always a certain amount of wish-fulfillment when a fantasy author writes a book like that, but he managed to keep it fairly well under control.

Book two was the Changeling Sea, by Patricia A. McKillip. Not a recent offering by her- I read her latest, Alphabet of Thorn, earlier this summer. So it was not her latest, but that really doesn't matter. She writes beyond time, and the beauty of her words wrings my heart. Always, inevitably. The only one of her books that I've picked up and haven't been entirely absorbed by was the Sorceress and the Cygnet, and that was so many years ago that I should give it another try.

The Changeling Sea was short, but held most all of the characteristics I associate with McKillip's books: likeable, deeply intriguing characters (in Alphabet of Thorn you end up astoundingly interested in a girl who has lived her entire life in a cavernous library translating languages so ancient they make Sanskrit look young by comparison. Most of what she does for the entire story is translate two books, one of which is a stock inventory), extremely poetic language, marvelous imagery, and mysterious and entirely magical magic that defies logic and explanation.

I find that many fantasy books quantify their magic, and in doing so the magic loses what to me is one of its main appeals- its mystic quality, the thing that puts it beyond normal ken. McKillip has yet to do that, and as concequence her books are a constant delight, an unfurling flower with a hidden heart. They leave things unexplained, but in a way that is deeply satisfying. Everything has a reason, and you know it, even if you can't fully understand that reason. You're not supposed to fully understand it. It's magic.

I wandered upstairs afterwards, having finished the book and won four straight games of Fluxx against my siblings (it's not entirely luck with that game, skill and practice do make a difference. But luck certainly helps). My cat was napping on the chair behind my harp, her usual place, and I stopped for a brief moment to wrap an arm around her and rest my head against velvet-soft black fluff. And listen to the hidden rumble of purr before I went along my way. My cat both likes and trusts me in a way that she doesn't the rest of my family, and it is precisely for the reason that I understand that she is a fiercely independant thing, that she must go her own way and have her own space. You can hold her, but not too tight, and not for too long. You must always leave her a way out. When she wants to get down, you have to let her down or you're likely to get bitten. Not hard, not maliciously, but as a reminder that she has her own mind and her own will, and it is not subject to yours.

So after a brief moment I stood and continued on my way, from the dimness of the family room to the brightly-lit kitchen, wishing that I could have held her just a little longer, wishing for a moment that she would permit such a thing.

How wonderful and precious to hold something warm and alive in your arms, to be given that even for just a moment.

That and the book just finished make my mind turn towards that which I do not think about, and the familiar tightness within my ribs.

All things change.

There are exceptions to every rule.

All generalities are false.

Some things never change.

You say that things change . . . never change . . .

No. No. I will not think about it, I will not take that path yet again, I will not waste my night in self-pity. Not the wondering, not the doubt, not that rootless longing for what I cannot seem to find. I have a life to lead, I have three lives to lead, and if not one of those lives promises completion, promises the fullness of all human experience, then so be it. I will ignore the disapointment in the eyes of those who want everything for me, I will look forward, I will continue on, I will not let this sway me from my course. Surely a life that will never be entirely complete can still be a good life, a satisfying life.
Thursday, October 16th, 2003 12:02 pm
"In that last dance of chances
I shall partner you no more.
I shall watch another turn you
As you move across the floor.

In that last dance of chances
When I bid your life goodbye
I will hope she treats you kindly.
I will hope you learn to fly.

In that last dance of chances
When I know you’ll not be mine
I will let you go with longing
And the hope that you’ll be fine.

In that last dance of chances
We shall know each other’s minds.
We shall part with our regrets
When the tie no longer binds."

Several people have likened the ending of The Book to being run over by a truck, and I think that's fairly apt.

Tears again? I wish I could cry.
Thursday, October 16th, 2003 10:48 am
Well. I did finish The Book. At 5 AM this morning.

Never has a happy ending so broken my heart.

Bittersweet is naturally what I preffer for endings, but this went beyond bittersweet, so far that I could find no satisfaction in it. I wanted to cry, and the tears were there, but I could not shed them. I could not lie still, I did not want to move for fear that it would hurt more than it did. I wanted desperately to sleep, but could not; restless dreams that mirrored my disordered thoughts lurked behind my eyelids.

I did, eventually, and woke feeling much the same.

And now I continue, but everything I encounter simply reffers me back. I sing songs to myself for my own comfort, old ones that I learned as a child. Songs I've learned since, that make me think of it all again, hoping that in them is what it takes to ease my mind.

And my daily life eases, like a comforting blanket, between me and the intensity of what I felt in a single day. There are people I must talk to, other words I must read, other things I must do, and that is the final cure to this tearing restlessness bound up inside of me.

Gods. Gods, gods, gods. Through nine books, I've been waiting, waiting, always believing that somewhere there was a future where they could be both together and happy.

I thought for a while, last night, that leaving him to his death would be better than this: that he must live with what they did to him, and that after everything they'd been through, they must live and die apart, who were made as one being.

But how could I be other than overjoyed? Because, after all of that, the ending was right. It was the only way things could have been.

It's over now. It's all over.
Wednesday, October 15th, 2003 04:28 pm
I've been running on adrenaline all day. My hands shake with it, my heart staggers, I could run forever and never, ever stop.

All day. Well, since around 10 this morning. Which was when I bought The Book.

Now I'm on page 340. Paused once to use the bathroom.

Hunger gnaws at my stomach, and I don't care; it simply doesn't matter to me. My eyes are beginning to realize what it is to focuse on things other than words. I am starting to realize, again, that there are living beings in this world, that indeed this world exists and is pertinent to me in more than just a background sort of way.

I guess that's how it is, then. Other people fall in love; I just buy books.

But in the reading is remembering, the knowledge of how I survived and ended up a fairly balanced individual (except, of course, for this book thing). Undoubtably the world would have been quite unbearable, once upon a time, had I fully been a part of it. But I was not. Instead, I was seeing something that no one else could, being someone no one else could touch. I was beyond it all.

Do you know how long it's been since I was able to do that? Since I could simply sit down and read, not for an hour, not for two, but for five hours, six in a stretch?

And in that, there is forgetting.

Not that any of that matters to me now. All I want to do is read. Not just anything- if that were so, I would be able to turn this incredible energy to the reading I'm supposed to do for class. No, no, and again no. I want to read The Book, I want to read it now, I want to read undistracted by any and all concerns until I reach that final period on that final page.

Oh, and I don't want The Book to end. Ever.