Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sunday Scribblings #277: Distant

This is a painting that in part inspired this scribbling. I include it for whatever it may be worth to your reading.

He had been away at sea for eight years. Eight long years, and now he was coming home.

Sean had been her friend since before she could remember. Their fathers owned adjoining land, not far from the coast and half a day's ride from Belfast. It was beautiful country - long green grasses, blue sea, blue sky, the smell of new growth, the touch of the winds, the sentinel ruins on the cliff watching over it all... When they were small, she and Sean would run through the grasses and meet at the low wall dividing their two properties. Some days they would stay there, balancing on the wall or playing games in the grasses. Some days they would run up to the old watch tower and hide among the crumbling stone, pretending to be king and queen of their own castle, or fair folk in their lair. Some days, when the sun was particularly warm and the breeze especially fine, the would hike the mile and a quarter to the sea, where they would splash in the water and pretend to hunt for kelpies - sea deamons in the shape of horses, whom only the bravest could ride. They would draw pictures or build cities in the sand, staying as long as possible until the sun began to set and they knew that their mothers would be frantic with worrying where their young bairns had gone.

When they where small, they thought that their adventures were a grand secret, their friendship unbeknownst to anyone else. She realized in hinsight that their parents were well aware of their activities, and even encouraged them - for their was nothing to make a body grow up strong like running in the fresh air, and nothing to make a soul grow up good like being with a dear friend.

As they grew older, their adventures continued - though with less frequency, as Sean had to begin working on the farm and she herself had to start "learnin' to be a right proper lady," as her mother said it. So Sean worked in the fields, sowing and reaping, while she set to her "book learnin'" and her graces and baking and needlepoint. But in the evenings, when the baking and needlepoint were done, and it was too dark to see well in the fields, they two would meet by the wall again, and this time their meetings really were secret. At first, they would set off on adventures again, usually to the old ruins because they were closest. After a time, they would more often just walk in the moonlight, talking and enjoying each others' good company. Sometimes he would play his pipe and she would dance. Sometimes they would both dance without any music at all. It was upon that little wall that he kissed her for the first time.

By moonlight, they promised their love. They wanted to marry as soon as Sean could raise a little money for their support. It was still all a grand secret.

The next week, he signed on to a ship as a sailor. He would see the world, and earn good wages, and in a year or two return to his beautiful bride to be. He departed Belfast with her kiss lingering on his lips and her words of parting ringing in his ears.

Eight years. He had been sailing for eight years.

The first two years had been easy to bear. Soon her Sean would be home, she would be his forever. Surely she could wait a little longer for that. The third year had been harder. By the fifth, she was almost frantic. Now, six years beyond his promised return, she had begun to despair. Had he found someone abroad? Some beautiful, exotic maiden in a far off, adventurous place? Had he found a new world, with better prospects, where he had decided to stay? Had he been shipwrecked, or drowned, or worse? And her greaterst fear of all - had he promised to someone else the beautiful feelings he had once promised to her?

She knew she was thinking too hard. Her mother said that women needed men because women often delt in possibilities, while men delt with the present, right as it was. Her mother was right, but it didn't help. She didn't have a man to tell her what the present, right as it was, actually looked like. She tried to remember Sean as he was, as she had loved him, and felt as though that person were miles and miles and years and years away. She didn't know if the person out their sailing the world was the same person she had let into her heart on the little stone wall. For all she knew, that person was as far away as their childhood romps to the ocean.

When she received word from the shipyards that his ship was coming home, she became terrified.

He was supposed to come into port tonight. She stayed at home, fretting. A storm was boiling in the heavens and on the sea, thrashing about the waves and the countryside, and she worried for the fate of his vessel. The wind howeld and wuthered around her family's little cottage, driving sleep from her thoughts. She sat at the window with a candle, staring out at the storm. The moors and ruins and grasses and hills were invisible in the driving rain. She wrapped a shawl around herself and waited, staring, unsure what she hoped to see. A lantern... a light in the other farmhouse... a call in the dark... anything.

In the few moments when she dozed, she was tossed into dreams of tearing sails, splintering beams, spinning helms, and flying ropes... He was so close, so near, but the storm! The storm! What would become of the ship? If it wrecked, would their be any kelpie to rescue him from the water? He was brave enough to harness one... it would not pull him under the waves to drown him, as they creatures did to the faint of heart. He would tame the sea... he must... he must... But the wind howled on... and still no sign... no sign...

When morning broke, a little bit of sun managed to force a path through the clouds, which were now weakened from the night's downpour and begining to disperse. She lay at the window, her candle burnt down to a stub, awake but motionless. Her mother found her there and held her for a time, allowing her to cry away all the hopelessness and pain that had settled over the course of the night. The little ray of sun have little comfort.

The mother sat up slowly as a sound reached her ears. Footsteps on the path outside. The daughter didn't move. She didn't hear the sound, still weeping where she lay. Then the cottage door swung open - just a little ways, and familiar voice called to her, tearing her out of her grief. She leaped to her feet and whirled toward the voice - just one word, and she knew. Just her own name - and all other words could be left behind.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Top 10 List #1: How I Know I am Meant to Be an English Major

So it isn't particularly magical, but I did find it funny to see how literature classes have been influencing me.


10. Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com are two of my best friends.

9. My vocabulary has gained me a reputation (in high school especially) for being a walking dictionary.

8. I've done copy edits on my own journal entries.

7. My puns are intended more often than not.

6. I write in dactylic tetrameter for fun (and if you know what that means, it's possible that you are an English Major, too).

5. I can speak fluent Shakespearean (in soliloquy style, pun and play-on-words, dialogue and banter, or sonnet - you name it).

4. I manage to find situational irony if half the situations I encounter day to day (just ask my roommates).

3. My summer reading list looks like my ENG 292-293 syllabus (including but not limited to Great Expectations, Wuthering Heights, The Merchant of Venice, The Great Gatsby, and Moby Dick).

2. The most exciting thing to happen to me in the last three weeks was the discovery of a topic on which I could write a really good thesis paper (Societal Origins of the Princess Story).

1. Reading Dickens, Twain, Joyce, Bronte (any of the three), Shakespeare - and/or any other writer that has a place in about 80% of the classical and contemporary Cannons - excites me to the point of rapture.


Well, there you have it. If it there was any doubt before, it is now dispelled. I am a literary fanatic. A novel enthusiast, a poetry zealot, a short fiction nutcase, a Shakespearean disciple - all of the above and more.

I don't think I shall be changing my major any time soon.

Thanks for reading through yet another example of my secret (and not-so-secret) craziness and eccentricity. Your patience and tolerance is much appreciated, as ever it has been.

'Til next time, my friends...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Rainbow Connection

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
and what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions
and rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they're wrong, wait and see...
Someday we'll find it, the Rainbow Connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

I'm sure most of you have heard this song before. I can't sing it or play it on the piano without having a mental vision of Kermit sitting in his swamp, playing his little banjo and singing to the trees and lily pads and spanish moss. It's a beautiful song, about magic and belief and beauty - exactly what we're all about here at Everyday Magic. And it's sung by a muppet. Does it get any better than that?

I thought of this song yesterday as I was driving along highway 40 to singles ward FHE. The day had been gray and heavy, threatening rain since we first woke in the morning. The promise of a storm, however, had been kept back all morning and afternoon, held in suspense by the overhanging ceiling of clouds. Finally, just minutes after my father had finished grilling our hot dogs on the barbecue, the sky finally broke loose. The storm didn't last long - perhaps half an hour before temporarily abating - but it was long enough to water the plants, coat the windows, and turn the gray driveway pavement two shades darker. Just after the rain retreated, I clambered into the family van and headed out for FHE.

"Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side...?"

As I was driving along the highway, I discovered that hanging overhead there was an enormous rainbow, stretching clear from the neighborhood I had just left to the other end of town (so if anyone asks me what's on the other side of the rainbow, I can say "Timber Lakes"). It was magnificent, a full arc of every color spanning the valley floor. I was probably a hazard to traffic, as I kept taking my eyes away from the road to glance at it again. The purple-gray clouds behind it and the vibrant green fields below accented its beauty and gave it a perfect background against which to rest. It was all I could do to stop gazing upon it in favor of the black asfault road in front of me.

"Rainbows are visions, but only illusions, and rainbows have nothing to hide."

Anybody could have explained it in science terms - an atmospheric phenomenon caused by water vapor and sunlight creating a colorful illusion - but it was magical to me none the less.

"All of us under its spell... we know that it's probably magic..."

It didn't last long - in fact, by the time I turned off the highway it had all but disappeared. Before it was gone, however, I had time to marvel at the number of cars that were driving straight past it - some even underneath it - and who's drivers and passengers probably didn't see nature's masterpiece hanging in the sky above them, just waiting for them to look up.

"Have you been half asleep, and have you heard voices? I've heard them calling my name..."

Take time, now and then, to open your eyes and look up from your life. You never know what kind of magic you might see or adventures you might find if you do. I myself discovered my own little Rainbow Connection yesterday. However, because it is you and your eyes and your heart, you may see something that I would never have discovered, something that is brand new and no one's in the world but your own.

What might your discovery be?

"Someday we'll find it, the Rainbow Connection - the lovers, the dreamers, and me." 

'Til next time...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

God Bless America

Eleven score and fifteen years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in many great conflicts, both at home and abroad, testing whether that nation, or any other nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

You will have recognized above a little of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, but with my own alterations for the modern day. On this July Fourth, I read in the newspaper that only 4.5% of the world's past and present population has experinced the kind of freedom that we enjoy here in the United States. So few... I never imagined how fortunate I was until I read that article - how fortunate we all are.

I can walk outside of my house at night without fear. I can go to bed secure in the knowledge that I and everyone in my home will be alive and well in the morning. I can speak ill of the president or the senate if I choose, and not fear that I shall be arrested. I, a woman, can attend any college I choose, provided that my grades are good, and become anything I want to be - scientist, doctor, astronaut, lawyer, mother, writer, anything at all. I can stand up with others in a public place and raise my voice in protest against what I believe to be wrong, without arrest or law enforcement brutality. I will not be killed for choosing my own way, or going where I want to go, or saying what I feel is right. That is liberty.

So few countries enjoy or have enjoyed what I have just described. In Nazi Germany, enjoying music or literature that was not German was punishable by imprisonment or even shipment to a work camp. In China, youth raising their voices against their nation's wrongs were gunned down while protesting in Tianamen Square. Very recently, Egyptian pilots flying bomber planes had to seek asylum in other countries in order to refuse their orders to drop their deadly cargo among their own people, who were protesting a tyrranical rule of government. Yet we here in American speak and act freely, without fear.

It has not come without a price. Thousands, even millions of men and women have laid down their lives over the years to preserve that freedom. Some continue to do so today, and for them we are forever grateful. Their final sacrifice has placed the American cause in a temple where the whole world can behold it, and know that it is something worth dying for, concecrating our highest beliefs far beyond anyone's power to add or detract.

However, the brave military servicemen are not the only guardians of our freedom. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought and died for this nation have so nobly advanced. The only way that this country can continue to house the kind of liberty we have thus far held dear is if her people resolve that those dead will not have died in vain, and that they will give their own full measure of devotion - their voice, their hands, and their hearts - to her cause.

If we can do this, then our God-given government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.

God bless America - land that I love!
Stand beside her and guide her
through the night with the light from above.
From the mountains to the praries
to the oceans white with foam...
God bless America,
my home sweet home!

And that He will my frieds - have no fear for that.

'Til next time...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

In Memorium

This is a little piece I wrote in response to a writing prompt. In honor of Kalem Franco and those others who leave the world early, before anyone is ready to see them go.

Dear Friend -

I don't know if I know you. As of right now, that is. I don't know whether we have yet met. If we have not, though, I am sure we will in the not-too-distant future. I do not konw who you are or what you look like or what sort of person you will be. I know only that I will love you, that you will be my friend... and that I will lose you.

I have thought much of this lately, as a couple of deaths have occured not to far from me, though not so close as to cause me immense grief. However, I know that I cannot go through life without at least once (and likely more) losing someone near to me. I write to you now, so that when, someday, that does happen, I might be a little more prepared to endure it.

I want to thank you for all the happiness you have brought (or will bring) to my life. I am a creature of emotions, and especially of emotional connection with others. Though I can be independent, I crave human company. The friends who I consider my closest companions are the ones who have given me beautiful memories to look back on - happy times spent in good company. Thank you for all the sweet memories, the happy moments, and beautiful dreams that will be ours to share.

I want to thank you also for shaping me into the person that I am. I have seen myself change as I have been acted upon by those around me. As I have surrounded myself by those who, like yourself, are better men and women than I am. Simply being with them, I find myself turning into something new - someone like them. And I like that person. I love being the person I am when I am with those I love. In the words of the poet, "I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you... Not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me." Thank you for your example, for your presence in my life - and for the person you believed I could be.

Thank you for the gift your life was, or has been, or will be - and for the strength and faith your death will bring. I know that I will see you again one day, and that we will be as happy then as we were on earth. I truly believe that friendship can be a divine relationship in itself - especially when those friends are encouraging and strengthening each other in righteousness, as I have no doubt that you will do. In the meantime, though we be separated, I know also that the veil is a thin barrier. You will be near, and we will be friends apart, just as we were friends together.

I love you, my friend - whoever you may be. God be with you until we meet again.

 Your friend,