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Book Review: Black Wolves by Kate Elliott

It’s been a while since I got into a dense, multi-volume fantasy epic. I ventured this one on the promise of lots of prominent, varied female characters, and it delivered on that as promised. Black Wolves follows the intersecting lives of a handful of people entwined in a multi-generation period of intense political and social change for a region known as The Hundred, with repercussions on neighboring regions and cultures. There is a slight look-and-feel of Asia to this secondary world, but not in a direct fashion, and the multilayered differences between the many cultures that are portrayed evoke something that is clearly itself and nothing else.

The scope of this epic becomes clear when “Part Two”, starting at chapter seven, lets us know that we are 44 years after the era of the opening chapters. A character who was a willful girl in the beginning is now a grizzled warrior, characters glimpsed at first have long since died, leaving us to deal with their grandchildren. I confess I had a bit of a “Wait...what?” moment. But it works, because the most dominant theme of the story is change. The sort of change that may be experienced over one lifetime, if the life is positioned just right, but that would be invisible on a year-to-year basis.

A story with this scope can’t really be summed up in a short review. We have cultures in clash with pre-modern (no gunpowder) weapons and the threat, but only rarely the reality, of magical interventions. We have kings and emperors and dynastic manoevering. We see the slow but relentless hegemony of an invading religion, when that religion is intent on dominance and understands the importance of infiltrating all layers of society. We see how multiple people of good will and honor can end up supporting entirely differnt visions of what is best for the land and the future, and struggling with the conflict of personal and political bonds. And the women. Oh my, the women. As pure water after a long harsh desert of male-dominated epic fantasies. We even have a solid sprinkling of women romantically involved with each other, where those bonds are just one more complication in their eventual goals.

If I had any minor disappointment in this book, it was that none of the characters utterly grabbed my heart and held it tightly. I liked them all, and want to see how they come to their eventual goals (or don’t). But the multi-focal nature of the cast made it a little hard to slip entirely inside any one head. You think you’re getting to know someone and then whoops you’re over there. It’s a function of the way the book is designed, so it isn’t exactly a flaw. But I’d like to have fallen head over heels in love with at least one of them.

At any rate, if you want a new vision of what epic fantasy can be, Black Wolves is the start of something great. And it would make a truly awesome multi-season tv series. Just saying.

BayCon 2016 Schedule

It's always interesting to see what, among the convention programming, looks like a good enough fit that I should put in a request to participate. (Also a gamble to see whether programming decides I'd be among the best fit to put on what I select!)

I discovered last year that, although I can list "work in the biotech industry" among my potentially relevant skills, I don't actually enjoy ending up on science panels that much. And conversely, although I've done a lot of research and experimentation with historic costume, I don't really do convention-style costuming, so I generally don't pick those panels. But somehow two of the costume-related panels at BayCon looked like I might have something to say, and programming agreed.

I've also quickly gotten tired of "Women in X" and "Queer 101" panels, though I'll take them if there isn't a better fit for my writing interests. But once again, there were some non-generic panels in that area that I was placed on.

So, with that introduction, here is my programming schedule for BayCon 2016, Memorial Day weekend in San Jose. Make sure to say "hi" if you're there (or better yet, drop me a comment and let's arrange to intersect--which is much better for calming my anxiety about wandering around on the fringes with no one to talk to).

Friday

Connections From The Past and How We Deal With Them
13:00 - 14:30, Synergy 5 (San Mateo Marriott)

Hey, that creepy ex-boyfriend just found me on facebook. Wow! That beloved, long lost buddy is at an SCA event. Oh... you're THAT Sally! The good, the bad and the chew-your-own-leg off aspects of people from your past and how they shape your present. Is it good or bad that Facebook puts us back in contact with people we'd never have seen again?

Panel: Colin Fisk, ElizaBeth Gilligan, Heather Rose Jones, Irene Radford

[I imagine this will be one of those "amusing anecdotes" panels. I can definitely think of a few!]

Saturday

Costume in Fiction - Creating the total package
14:30 - 16:00, Connect 1 (San Mateo Marriott)

Panel: ElizaBeth Gilligan, Heather Rose Jones, Denise Tanaka, Debbie Bretschneider

[No description given, but the panel title is pretty self-evident.]

​Marketing Ghettos
16:00 - 17:30, Collaborate 2 (San Mateo Marriott)

Just what is the difference between Dark Fantasy and Horror Thriller? Modern Fantasy vs. Alternate History?

Panel: Jay Hartlove (M), Heather Rose Jones, Kyle Aisteach, Irene Radford

[I imagine that, in addition to talking about how sub-genres get defined, we'll talk about the problems of being shoehorned or pigeonholed into them. Just ask me about the difficulties of everyone assuming I write romance, just because I"m published by a LesFic publisher!]

Sunday

Does That Come In Vanilla?
13:00 - 14:30, Synergy 4 (San Mateo Marriott)

There's an inherent assumption that polyamory or homosexuality come paired with kink. Why is that and is it a sterotype worth debunking?

Panel: Lance Moore Mr. (M), Heather Rose Jones, Tory Parker

[I kind of hope we pick up a couple more panelists because this is the sort of topic that would benefit from a diversity of experience. As soon as I get contact information for my co-panelists, I think we need to talk about which experiences we bring to the topic so we can see about recruiting. It's probably no secret that I'm on the "Please debunk this!" side of the debate.]

Monday

Historical Costuming- Make it Perfect or Make it Pretty
11:30 - 13:00, Convene (San Mateo Marriott)

Historical costuming frequently runs into a choice between modern aesthetics and precise historical accuracy. Panelists will cover a variety of views on finding the balance.

Panel: Jean Martin (M), Ms Sandra Durbin, Stacy Ferguson, Heather Rose Jones, Jim Partridge, Fr John Blaker

[This is definitely a topic that speaks to my own costuming background--in fact, one I've done programming on before, though in an SCA context. I expect both a lively discussion and a lot of agreement.]
Following the “moral accounting” scheme of plotting, it should be obvious that the element introduced in Chapter 6 “The Diamond Mines” is setting Sara up for her fall. After all, what greater moral debt could one accrue than to fall into the opportunity for the fabulous wealth associated with investment in a diamond mine? And what better example of how wealth and privilege breed greater wealth and privilege than to contemplate just who would be in a position to have an old school friend casually offer them the opportunity for such an investment?

As the story notes, it isn’t even so much the business aspects of the investment as the sense of glittering enchantment that the phrase “diamond mines” conjures up. Sara plunges into expanding on this image in her story-telling for her friends…and here she has an uncharacteristic failure of empathy.

Sara is perfectly capable of recognizing and disapproving of how hard the school scullery maid is worked. But in her stories about “labyrinthine passages in the bowels of the earth, where sparkling stones studded the walls and roofs and ceilings, and strange, dark men dug them out with heavy picks”, it never seems to occur to her to consider that her anticipated wealth will come at the cost of the sweat and blood and often lives of those “strange dark men”. Although we seem to be led to believe that the diamond mines are in India (where Sara’s father is), it’s impossible not to visualize the origins of the De Beers diamond empire and its founder Cecil Rhodes.

I don’t know that Burnett intended us to factor in that associated moral debt. Probably not, since the question is never really even alluded to. (And eventually when the mines retrieve themselves and the wealth is realized, the exploitative nature of the industry is never touched on.) This (although with the issues of orientalism) is one of the foundations for me considering my love for this story “problematic”. Stories about how virtuous people are rewarded with fabulous wealth rarely acknowledge that most sudden wealth is created at a great cost to some set of unfortuante people behind the scenes.

At any rate, it is in the context of the school Mean Girls stirring up jealousy of this new development in Sara’s life that they turn the “princess pretend” into a weapon and start taunting her with it. And this section of the chapter brings in two major bits of foreshadowing: Sara’s fascination with the French Revolution (showing her immersed in a book about the freeing of the prisoners from the Bastille), and a demonstration of how Sara uses the “princess pretend” as a self-control mechanism. I love that Sara isn’t automatically good. She gets angry and feels spiteful. She has self-centered impulses (as when she resents having to come out of her book to soothe Lottie). She responds to Lavinia with sharp words. But she brings herself back to her center by reminding herself that she is a princess, and princesses don’t slap each other like “gutter children” and fly into rages.

Sara has an oddly idealized image of what it is to be a princess—something that particularly comes out in her historical hero-worship for Marie Antoinette—but that’s a discussion for a later point in the book. Suffice it to say that the “princess pretend” is not about actual royalty, but about an idealized image that Sara has associated with the role of princess. Princess as a job, rather than an inheritance.
I've talked a lot about how much I've enjoyed letting Alpennia find it's own way in terms of plot. While nothing has been quite as unplanned as Daughter of Mystery was, I really enjoy having details of the story and characters surprise me when they pop up seemingly out of nowhere. But each book (whether written or simply in a detailed planning stage) has cast its filaments out into the void, and gradually they've started adhering to each other and sketching the vague outlines of an overall plot.

And because I need to make sure that I'm planting the seeds now for things that will happen a couple of books from now, I'm finding that my plotting-brain is anxious to get those vague outlines nailed down a bit more. This is a bit of a problem because there's no way I can talk about anything more than the vaguest parts of it without giving out spoilers for books I haven't even written yet, much less ones available to you to read.

When I first started using the line "or however long it takes to get to the revolution," it was half joke, half serious. It seemed logical--nay, inevitable--that Alpennia would have it's own bit of mid-19th century civic unrest, and that seemed a reasonable climax to head the series for in a general way. But when? Why? Who would be involved? How old would they be and what would they have experienced in the mean time? I was content to leave those questions to solve themselves.

And then I started noodling a character and scenario that I think I'll be building Sisters in Spirit around. And I started thinking about how long it would take for certain developments to work out that will be set in motion in Mistress of Shadows. And then I figured it was time to outline the general timeline of European political history in the 1830s to have a sense of when certain developments might be reasonable. And somehow it all fell into place.

I know what the immediate precipitating events of the Civic Unrest will be, and I know what sorts of issues drove unrest in other European cultures at this time and would be contributing forces. And the timeline of those precipitating events frames the possible timeline of the story fairly specifically. That timeline may allow for another book in between Mistress of Shadows and Sisters in Spirit or it may simply require some short pieces to fill in essential background for which there isn't enough substance for a novel. Or that would be awkward to do as novels in my current publishing context. But in any event, I know roughly when the series is going to end. (Roughly ca. 1835/6) And I know roughly how it's going to end. (Nuh-uh. You don't get any of that, except it involves a revolution-like-object.) And I know roughly who almost all of my primary characters are going to be--though there's always room to toss in at least one new character in each book.

And the tricky part now is going to be stopping here, and avoiding pinning down any more detail than is absolutely unavoidable. Because a lot of the joy of writing this, for me, comes in being surprised. In riding the crest of that story-wave as it builds up under the keyboard so I can catch the curl *just* *so*. But I can see the shore from here, and the gulls are crying overhead, and far out to sea there are a series of swells that will give us all one hell of a ride.
I tend to get twitchy around historical and literary studies that take at face value the…I don't know, "claim"? "assumption"? "understanding"?…that the "romantic friendships" of the 19th century (and earlier) had no erotic or sexual component, regardless of how much language and symbolism is involved that would automatically be interpreted as erotic/sexual if used in relation to a m/f couple. One of these days, the Project will cover Lillian Faderman's Surpassing the Love of Men and I'll probably have to have a full double-track commentary: one to summarize and one to critique.

The thing is: given the solid historic evidence that some of these relationships were sexual (cf. Anne Lister), such a position flies in the face of truth. (Though, to be sure, Lister's diaries are so valuable precisely because that sort of evidence is so rarely available.) But even more, this apparently obsessive need to deny the possibility of an erotic/sexual component on the part of modern researchers reinforces the position that there is something inherently negative about sex between women. That to suggest even the possibility (between women who are writing very passionately to each other and identifying themselves with the roles "husband" and "wife"!) is to besmirch their reputation. To lessen their literary or social importance. To slander their virtue. Such a reaction betrays the (modern) writer's lingering prejudices and makes their conclusions as suspect as those of the "find all the lesbians in history" crowd on the other extreme who turn every kiss into a certificate of sexual orientation.

* * *

(I explain the LHMP here and provide a cumulative index.)

Information about this collectionCollapse )

Zimmerman, Bonnie. “’The Dark Eye Beaming’: Female Friendship in George Eliot’s Fictions” in Jay, Karla & Joanne Glasgow (eds). 1990. Lesbian Texts and Contexts: Radical Revisions. New York University Press, New York. ISBN 0-8147-4177

As the paper’s title indicates, this is a study of both the depiction of friendships between women in Eliot’s novels, and the close friendships--some of them clearly romantic and passionate--she had with other women. These relationships fall solidly into the patterns and expressions of mid-19th century “romantic frienship”, focusing on the emotionally and intellectually transformative nature of the bond, but without any overt sexual element.

The language used--as we see in Eliot’s letters to Sara Hennell--is indistinguishable from what would be considered the language of romantic love if expressed within a heterosexual relationship. Equally relevant is the exclusive nature of the attention. During the period of her correspondence and friendship with Hennell, this romantic language is directed to her alone among Eliot’s correspondants. Eliot even uses explicit language of marriage when speaking of their bond: “I have not been beyond seas long enough to make it lawful for you to take a new husband, therefore I come back to you with all a hsuband’s privileges and command you to love me.... But in the veriest truth and simplicity my Sara, thou art vey dear to me and I sometimes talk to you in my soul as lovingly as Solomon’s Song.” Despite this marriage imagery, Eliot seemed to consider her relationship with Hennell as being no bar to contemplating heterosexual marriage.

The article then moves on to exploring the depictions of supportive female frienships in Eliot’s novels. As with Eliot’s own experience, these friendships supplement, rather than replacing, the characters’ relationships with men. And as Eliot’s career progressed (and with a new general suspicion of desire between women arising in the 1860s), there is a shift in both her personal life and her characters toward a “morbidification” of intense female friendships.

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Future Shock and the Stress of Change

This post is all about First World Problems.

When I was in junior high, my English class (or maybe it was Social Studies class -- the program I was in had them paired with the same set of students and we often had joint assignments covering both) was assigned Alvin Toffler's Future Shock, a book about (as the author summarizes) "too much change in too short a period of time". The book was published in 1970, so it would have been quite recent when we read it. My thoughts went back to that book as I sat down to order my new Apple Macbook Air.

I don't think it's just a sign of being an old fuddy-duddy that I hate the rapid pace of computer-interface change with a passion. The flip side of "always offer something new and improved" is that for 99% of my computer use, something old and half-assed works perfectly well. And what works best is not having to constantly learn new ways to do the same old thing. And change purely for the sake of change? Changing the visual appearance of my phone interface, or the layout of the program tool menus, or the names given to various actions? It's hard not to see that as simply messing with us just because they can.

I have a friend who's a professional computer usability expert, and it's fascinating to read him expound on the nuances of determining the "perfect user experience" and how such things are measured. But in many ways, the perfect user experience is the one where the means of the experience are unnoticed in the moment and the user can focus on the end result. It doesn't matter if an interface is 5% better than the previous one if what I notice is that it's 100% different.

But computer-updating future shock isn't only about superficial aspects of interaction. Every time I approach a major operating system upgrade, I cast my mind back to all the software I've had that was obsoleted by a new OS that wouldn't run it. For the big programs--the MS Office and whatnot--I shrug and shell out. But over the years I've picked up a lot of programs that I might use a few times a year, or that I might be waiting for the right opportunity to explore, that were turned into junk by an "improved" OS. Eventually I learned my lesson. I stopped buying marginally useful software. Now there's a way to support the larger software industry! Discourage users from trying new things and taking chances.

After the last time this happened--installing OS 10.7--I bit the bullet and started running a second machine with an older OS so that I could switch over for the occasional project. That's where I'm running Adobe Creative Suite 3, for those three or four times a year when I want to mess around in Photoshop or do a booklet layout in InDesign. That's where I'm running MacLink so that I can continue working through my old WordPerfect files and convert them to something I can actually use.

I approach every software update with an underlying terror that something I've found useful, something I've invested time in, something my creative output is currently locked into, will be snatched away from me. Something as simple as the data in the automobile data log app that an iOS update made completely inaccessible because the app developer had decided to abandon it. (Fortunately, a competitor was snapping up new grateful customers by offering to do the data conversion to port it over to their app.) Or something as complicated as the music software files for various songbook projects that I may never be able to retrieve. (Including some arrangements that I may not have other copies of.)

My response to computer future shock has been to hunker down, retreat, become conservative in my usage. Stick to using a few core programs for everything, even if it means using them in awkward ways. Always know your escape route. It's made me even more committed to avoiding any program or system where I don't have direct control over and access to my data. Cloud storage? Only to mirror things that live on my hard drive. "Rented" software that requires a wifi connection to use at all? No thanks. (I noticed that the current Office suite is really pushing their "rental" version with their own proprietary cloud storage. Fortunately it's still possible to avoid that.)

What does hunkering down look like? My current laptop is 6 years old. When I bought it, it came with OS 10.6. It was upgrading to 10.7 that sent me into a tailspin of "OMG I could lose access to all my work and programs!" So I'm still running 10.7 and the most current version (El Capitan) is 10.11. I'm a version behind on iTunes, a version behind on iOS. But I can't update those until I get the new OS. The problem with hunkering down is that the world doesn't stop moving. You drop your phone and have to replace it. It comes with an iOS that requires a more recent OS. You update your phone apps and the new version won't run unless your running the current iOS. In the case of my favorite Twitter client (TweetBot), it hit a built in "kill date" after which the current version won't even open.

So I figured that if I need to bring everything up to date, then I might as well do it with a new machine as well. (I'm delighted to have left behind my "three-year burglary-driven laptop replacement plan".) But now I'm spending vast amounts of time and energy making lists of my current programs, researching reports on whether they'll run under El Capitan, identifying whether updating the programs will require jumping to a rental/cloud system, and above all else, working with the expectation that I'll lose a week of productivity getting everything to play nicely together after the shift. It makes my stomach churn just to think of it. I'm making a list of programs to update after the purchase--just the core ones I use all the time. I'm probably going to bite the bullet and start storing more stuff on Apple's iCloud simply to buy space on the phone and tablet. (Though most of my music is ripped from CDs, so iCloud is useless there.) And Apple has a long history of jerking users around about cloud storage and accounts and whatnot. (Mobile Me. Remember Mobile Me?) But I'll keep my Dropbox for documents because it works the way I'm comfortable with and it's never betrayed me yet.

And in the mean time, being a belt-and-suspenders type of gal, I've decided to make a drag-and-drop backup of my personal files to supplement the Time Machine backup. Just in case something goes badly wrong. And I find that the old external hard drives that I used for offsite backup in my pre-Time Machine days no longer talk to the laptop. It isn't worth figuring out why or how, but since they have old backups on them, I'll need to destroy them before discarding them. What a waste. So now I'm trying to figure out how to turn my older Time Capsule into a plain storage drive so I can do the backup. It isn't obvious. Fortunately, the personalized laptop I ordered (always upgrade everything to the top of the line when you only buy a new machine every 5 years or so!) won't arrive for a couple weeks. That should be enough.

Well, at least they're only First World Problems and I don't have to worry about drought or natural disasters or the looming threat of despotic fascist governments. Oh, wait.

E-book Sale - This Weekend Only!

As I predicted, Bella has a sale on all their Golden Crown and Lambda short-listed books. 30% off of e-books, including The Mystic Marriage. So if you've been waiting to pick it up at a discounted price, here's a chance!

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Yeah, ok, lots of spoilers in this review because I WANT TO WARN EVERYONE NOT TO SEE THIS FUCKING MOVIE!!!!! This is the platonic ideal of the Tragic Lesbian Boarding School Story.

* * *

This is a series of reviews of lesbian-themed movies originally inspired by a request for recommendations of "good movies involving lesbian romances that don't end up with the protagonists deeply unhappy, dead, or both." To this set of criteria I’ve added the question, “Is the story primarily about coming out?” This set of index questions can involve some spoilers, but I will usually only hide them for new releases.

Many of these movies are not currently in print. I'll link each to their imdb.com entry for reference. But for those currently available, Wolfe Video [https://www.wolfevideo.com] is the go-to distributor for lgbt movies.

* * *

Lost and Delerious (2001) is basically Dead Poet’s Society with girls. Except with the Bury Your Gays trope more explicitly gay. There's also a strong Psycho Lesbian trope, in that a thwarted lesbian relationship drives one character to increasingly bizarre and violent behavior and suicide. Hey, I told you there would be massive spoilers. Don't blame me if you're still reading.

This movie belongs to the genre of hot-house boarding school stories, in which same-sex relationships bloom and are cut off well before their prime. Mary, the new girl at an upper-crust all-girls boarding school ends up rooming with two girls, Tori and Paulie, who are involved in a hot-and-heavy relationship. All three have problematic relationships with mothers: Paulie’s birth mother gave her up for adoption and she is currently trying to track her down and contact her. (When she eventually succeeds in locating her, the woman refuses to allow contact.) Mary’s mother died three years ago and she feels she’s being sent to school to make room for her stepmother. Tori’s mother is trying to make her over into her own image as a socialite. A running subplot involves two of the school's teachers who are widely rumored to be lovers.

While Mary figures out she’s ok with pretending not to notice the sex going on in the next bed over, the balance is upset when Tori’s sister barges in one morning when the lovers are still naked in bed together. Tori freaks out about the potential for being outed and throws Paulie under the bus, claiming she was the sexual agressor and that she (Tori) is perfectly straight. To support this, Tori takes on a program of public heterosexuality, sneaking out to date and have sex with a random boy, selected due to a chance meeting. When Mary chooses to be supportive of Paulie, she takes the risk of being labelled a lesbian herself.

There’s a subplot where Paulie finds an injured Harris Hawk and secretly rehabilitates it in the woods. (I will now forego discussing the logistics of bird of prey rehabilitation as the event is clearly meant to be Deeply Symbolic and practicality need not intervene.) Paulie is the hawk, a fierce wounded creature. She makes bold symbolic gestures, including a chivalric declaration of love in the library while wearing her fencing gear and carrying an epee.

But both the girls are terrified to name their sexuality. Relevant quote, “I’m not a lesbian! I’m just Paulie in love with Tori and Tori’s in love with me.” In a late night encounter, Tori confesses she’ll never love anyone but Paulie but that they can never be together.

Paulie has always played the role of Bad Girl, which initially masks her acting out of her emotional crisis. As in Dead Poet’s Society, poetry and Shakespeare and drama are the medium through which strong emotions are expressed within this shrine of classical learning. This framing drives Paulie to challenge Tori’s boyfriend to a literal duel on the night of the big school formal (at which all the parents are present) and to cut in when Tori is dancing with her father, threatening a confrontation where she declares her love. Tori, terrified, rejects her. Mary is having her own issues, as her father fails to show up for the dance and Paulie taunts her into confessing that she hates her father, using Lady Macbeth’s “Unsex me” speech, and then recruits Mary as her second for the duel.

They meet the boys in the woods with swords, and the duel ensues, but Paulie’s using an unblunted sword and actually stabs her rival in the leg. The scene cuts to Mary running across the field where all the students and teachers are gathered in a picnic to find Tori, and we see the hawk flying up, called to Paulie where she stands on the rooftop of the school. We see Paulie begin to fall, then see the hawk flying away, and we see all the girls staring up at the roof in horror. But Mary, our viewpoint protagonist, is ok, because now we get a voiceover about the lesson she learned from the hawk and how now she’ll always remember her dead mother’s face.

This version of Lesbian Tragedy (the plot that Emma Donoghue classifies as “Rivals”) always marks out the butch character for death while allowing the femme character to recant and be redeemed. At the beginning of the movie, I don’t recall there being an obvious butch/femme distinction between the Paulie and Tori. But as the emotional crisis progresses, Paulie’s presentation becomes more and more masculinized, culminating in her wearing a suit at the school dance, envisioning herself as Tori’s knight, and more explicitly with the “Unsex me” speech. Tori drags herself by force into a normative female role by her pursuit of a heterosexual sexual experience. So rather than their gender perfomances locking them into the fates of their respective roles, once those fates were set in motion, the gendered roles claimed and assimilated them.

Given the context of the inspiration for this review series, this is definitely a Do Not Recommend. We hit all the bullet-points: Tori recanted, Paulie came out and died, everyone is unhappy. This is the sort of movie that could convince an entire generation of young lesbians that they are doomed. The fact that movies like this are still being made in the 21st century is a crime.

Random Thursday: 2016

There is nothing special
About this year, these deaths.
Time passes; lives end.
I was five when Kennedy was shot.
My mother sent me to school saying,
"This is why the teachers may cry."
Years later she told me that I replied,
"Why is this death worse than every other death?"
Time passes; lives end.
Some in peace, some in violence,
Some in relief, some in triumph.
There is nothing special
About this year, these deaths.
When I was five, those who died
Were my parents' heroes,
My grandparents' companions.
They were old.
Old people die.
But for the lucky,
We live to see the day
When those who die are our heroes
Our companions.
It isn't right that they die,
Because old people die,
And we aren't old.
We can't be old.
Ask a five year old, "Who died today?"
Who died last month,
Who all the deaths were in this year of years.
A five year old will say,
"Why is this death worse than any other death?"
These aren't their heroes, their companions.
The lens moves on across the years and magnifies.
There is nothing special
About this year, these deaths.
Time passes; lives end.
Some too early; some too late.
Magnified by our attention.
We are lucky, who live to see our heroes die.
We live.

A crazy blogging idea

So I had a crazy idea about what to do with my Wednesdays after I finish the series on A Little Princess. I was thinking about how my Surviving Garments Project has been languishing pretty much since the point when I put the database online. (Which reminds me, I still haven't fixed it since GoDaddy changed their database server system and it went offline.) But anyway, I was thinking of maybe running a "garment of the week" item. It meets the requirements of being something I can put up without a lot of new research.

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