ordinary life

And we’re moving

I began Hannah’s Scribblings version 2.0 because I had a mission. I had something I needed to do.

I had to find myself.

My late teens and early twenties were rough. Not nessecarily because of circumstances, but because of me. I’ve felt like an outsider my entire life, never quite fitting in, always on the periphery. It’s a strange thing: When you feel like all people are your people, then you belong everywhere. Which also means you belong nowhere.

I started this blog to find myself, to get over the hurdles and bumps I felt were blocking me from doing anything more than skating on potential. I think I started this blog to find peace with myself.

And I did. On this blog, I discovered the joy and woe of being a caregiver. I discovered that I am weird, but perfectly normal for my rare personality type. Honestly, I cannot truly put into words the validation I felt in learning about my Myers-Briggs personality type.

And I discovered, in my years with this blog, the church I have been looking for all my life. My soul has found its home in the stones of the Episcopal Church. Having never fit into any church because of both my love of ancient ways and modern freedom, of liberal politics and conservative lifestyle…I found a church to reconcile both sides of my soul.

I published my first book. I discovered that my writing truly does have the power to resonate with people. I learned how Pride only stifles my talents and that humility hurts, but it’s still good for me.

So now that I have found myself, now what? I feel like I have reached a conclusion of sorts; I found the door at the end of the labyrinth. And through that door I found another maze. I guess C.S. Lewis was right when he wrote:

“If you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.”

If finding myself and my vocation was a good deed, then my next task is to be what I have become. Easy to say, not so easy to do.

So I am saying goodbye to this blog where I have found myself. This journal is full and it is time to start a new one. This journey is over and my feet have already started the next one.

Thank you all for your support and please join me on my new blog at http://www.hannahhedges.com

They say third time’s the charm.

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Misunderstood Millennials

Misunderstood Millennials

Two days after the election, I found myself on my mother’s bathroom floor, trying to put words to the anguish churning within me. I had just seen the break-down of the vote, that showed that the majority of Millennials had voted for Clinton, but that Trump had the vote of the majority of the Baby Boomers. Then I had read a social media post from a person over 65 mocking my generation for our protests of the election of a man who believes global warming is a hoax.
I was shattered.
I am a caregiver, and I have sacrificed so much of my youth to care for my elders. I have given so much of my heart and my energy to making sure that the dignity of their sunset years is respected. And I am shattered by the blatant disrespect that so many (but not all) Baby Boomers hold for Millennials.
“One day soon, a lot of these people will have depend on Millennials to be their caregivers,” I said–or sobbed. “They will entrust us with their dignity and their bodies…so why don’t they trust us with the planet? The long-term environmental repercussions of this election will left to the Millennials to deal with. In fifty to a hundred years from now, when the environmental debt comes due…the Baby Boomers won’t walk this earth. But my generation will. We will be the ones who are stuck with a consequence that we voted against…and we are mocked for the horror we feel. We are called stupid kids. How is that right? How can I be okay with this?”

The next day, my mother published a post on her blog. Among her beautiful, raw words I found this:
“I am publicly apologizing to my children and the children of the world for an older generation who seem not care that we are leaving a desperately ill planet full of problems for them to sort out.”

And I am reminded that among those who come before me, there are those who have fought bitterly for the environment all their lives. I am reminded that they have been mocked and belittled for daring to turn their backs on what was easy and “making life harder than it has to be”. They have been made fun of all their lives, far longer than I have been called a stupid kid.

I say no more. I say enough. Preservation of the environment is not the stance of one political party or one generation. Climate change is not an opinion. Responsibility and sustainability are not optional.
To all those who have fought for my future before I was born, I say, “Thank you for your work.” I honor the sacrifices you have made and I promise, your struggles will not be forgotten. I am building off the foundations you helped to lay. Without your struggles, my future would be bleak indeed.
To all those who do not understand my passion and my protests, I say, “Thank you for your respect.” I get how I may seem strange, out of touch and consumed by things you do not understand. The life I live is so different from the style of your youth. I understand. But please do not mistake my passion for my future as a rejection of the memories you hold most precious. I do not believe that we should sweep aside the past, but I cannot live in the idealized dream of an age gone by. When I am your age, I want be able to enjoy the same beautiful planet you do now. I want to be able to go to the ocean without seeing large, floating islands of trash. I want to be able to walk outside without choking on air gone foul with pollution. And I want to be able to go to a zoo and not have to tell my grandchildren: “What you see in front of you is the last of its kind”. I just want the same things you have enjoyed all your lives and I know these things will not happen on their own. The pictures I see, of islands of trash floating in our waters, of the ice-caps melting, of dying polar bears…these pictures break my heart. They motivate me to vote the way I do, to think the way I do, to act the way I do. I want to grow old on a planet as beautiful as the one you have grown old upon. To do so, I believe there must be short-term sacrifices so that there can be a long-term future where my grandchildren can enjoy both a pristine natural world and clean energy.

So that is why I am standing up for what I believe in, why I am involving myself in the politics and direction of this country. And I promise I will still be there in the end for you, even if we do not see eye-to-eye. Even if you cannot understand why I am upset, I will still be there, as your compassionate caregiver. I will always fight for your dignity, even when you cannot. Especially when you cannot.
Trust me then and trust me now. I swear to you that I will always strive to be intelligent instead of ignorant, respectful instead of resentful, compassionate instead of cruel. All I ask is for you to listen to me, to hear me out even if you disagree. I promise to do the same for you.

To all those of my generation, I say, “Don’t give into complacency.” This is our fight now, this fight for the future of this fragile bouncing ball that we call home (God, I love Five For Fighting). We cannot afford to sit idle, to grow complacent, to sit on the side-lines. It’s our future, our planet, our lives.
We are the generation raised on Harry Potter and we have no excuse to forget these words that we absorbed in our childhood:

“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”

If we must be Dumbledore’s Army, then let us remember to seek out the Order of the Phoenix. Let us not forget the wisdom and struggles of those who have come before. I promise: not all of them are going to shame us for being young and full of passion.

And even if some of them do, than let us consider this our chance to prove, once and for all, that we Millennials are not stupid and self-absorbed. Let us be compassionate as well as passionate.

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The words I must say

When the nation is deeply divided and tensions run high, how can I express honestly what I feel?
I do not want to be yet another voice of division and strife, and yet I cannot swallow what I am feeling. To do so would be untrue to my personality, unfaithful to my principles. I cannot be silent. I cannot pretend to be okay.
I have written this post over and over again, swinging wildly in tone. I cannot hear anything else but these words pounding in my soul. So I will write once more; I will lay my soul bare in the hopes that maybe then I can move forward.
Freedom of speech is a glorious right and I ask the indulgence of everyone who disagrees with my position. Let me speak here, put down why I feel what I feel and as strongly as I do. I have and will continue to listen with respect to those who do not believe the same as me. I can only ask for the same.

I am in mourning. Every day since the election, I awaken feeling sick with dread.

I did not vote for Hillary Clinton because I particularly liked her and I do not pretend that she has never made mistakes. No, I voted for her because her platforms aligned with my values far better than Donald Trump’s.
In particular, I voted for clean energy initiatives, preservation of the environment, and the reduction of our society’s dependence on fossil fuels. I voted for the continued existence of the Affordable Care Act. I do not deny its flaws, but I will not leave unsaid what a great blessing it has been to my family. The Affordable Care Act has granted healthcare insurance to many Americans that were denied before, including those with autism and other developmental disorders. I voted for the equal rights and treatment of all God’s children, no matter where they were born, no matter what color their skin. No matter if they are Muslim, or even just from the Middle-East. Not every Muslim is ISIL. In particular, I voted for compassion on behalf of immigrants and refugees from tyranny. I voted for respect in the treatment of women and the marginalized, especially those who are LGBT. No matter what you believe about the spectrum of human sexuality and gender identity, I believe that we cannot forget that they are people too. I cannot believe that Jesus, who ate with the sinners, smiles upon those who treat anyone with hate.
And I voted against Trump in solidarity and support for all victims of sexual violence and harassment who have said that his mannerisms and attitude give them flash-backs to the worst moments of their lives. I voted against him so that young boys would know for absolute certain that sexual intimidation is not how to be a real man.
In short, I voted for the planet and all the peoples upon it, children of the most high God.

And then I watched as my nation elected the man who does not share my deeply-held values, a man who ran a campaign based on fear. A man who seems more interested in building walls than bridges; a man who seems to care more for the short-term bottom line than in the future of this beautiful, fragile planet.
A man who seems to care more for white male privilege than he does for the Golden Rule.
I am in mourning. I am not okay.

There is a poem I have been quoting to myself ever since the results were called. That’s me, a writer and reader seeking comfort in the written word.
I will quote it now, for all the marginalized and all those who also feel sick with dread for their future. In the words of Edna St. Vincent Millay in her poem Dirge Without Music:
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

I do not approve. And I am not resigned. To all the marginalized, to all who fear for their safety in this current climate of fear, I say this:
You are not forgotten and you are not alone. Not so long as I live and write.

The next major election is in two years. I will vote then as I voted this year, for the preservation of the environment and for the dignity of all people. In the meantime, I dedicate myself to those values. I further vow not to give in to hate and despair—I will not give anyone excuse to dismiss my words and opinions because I lost control of the passion and pain churning within me.
I will follow the example of my president and my presiding Bishop, Barack Obama and Michael Curry. I will make my protests in peace.
I serve Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and I uphold His Golden Rule and His gospel of mercy and love.
May God bless everyone.

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Bucky Barnes and the Scraps of Humanity

Spoilers throughout for Captain America: Civil War

 

I read in an interview for Captain America: The Winter Soldier that actor Sebastian Stan had based his performance as the Winter Soldier/Steve Rogers’s best friend in part from his observations of his step-father battle with Alzheimer’s. As someone whose job it is to care for people suffering from a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia…I can tell you, it really shows. This is probably why that character has resonated so strongly with me: I never was a Marvel fan or even a Captain America fan until I saw The Winter Soldier. Then I saw Captain America: Civil War and realized that this movie continued all the threads that had so completely pulled me into its predecessor…including everything that made Bucky Barnes so achingly familiar.

Perhaps the saddest moment for me in this surprisingly sad movie was when the bad guy was triggering Bucky’s programming…all while Bucky was trying desperately to get away from him, before Zemo could finish saying the words that would remove what little scraps of humanity Bucky had regained for himself. The look on his face, that raw desperation and frenzied panic: I’ve seen that look before. I’ve seen it many times. It has been my painful privilege to be witness to the moment when the switch flips between lucidity and confusion and I’ve seen that look of panicked desperation to hold onto themselves on the faces of my residents. And I’ve seen the look of profound guilt and powerlessness when they come back to themselves and count up the damage done.

One resident didn’t recognize me when I came in to check on her and scratched my face and my arms, yelling that she was going to kill me. I left the room and when I went back an hour later to check on her again, she was crying. You see, when her memory of who I was came back, the memory of what she had done to me didn’t leave. She was crying, begging me to forgive her and wanting to know if I still loved her.

I told her of course. I told her that what happened wasn’t her fault, that she hadn’t chosen this disease, that she hadn’t chosen to forget who I was. She hadn’t chosen to cause pain to the people around her. It wasn’t her fault.

“No,” she replied. “I didn’t chose this. But I did this,” she added, resting her hand on the scratch marks her fingers had left on my arm only an hour before. That is almost word-for-word the exact same conversation as in a scene between Bucky and Steve in Captain America: Civil War. 

It hit me like a load of bricks, because like me, Steve had no answer for that. There’s nothing you can say, really. You can’t deny them their pain anymore than you can deny them their humanity. You can’t affirm their agency and deny them the validity of the experience of losing their minds. Alzheimer’s and other traumas shatter people, their lives, their sense of identity. As a caregiver, or really just as someone who cares about them, you don’t want to diminish their sense of personhood even more.

And that was the second saddest part of this movie: watching Bucky in Romania, trying to gather to himself some scraps of his shattered humanity. Buying plums (which, incidentally, help to improve memory) and trying so hard to find again what it means to be a person instead of a weapon that happens to breathe. Particularly potent is the behind-the-scenes reveal by Stan that Bucky’s backpack, the only thing he takes with him when he runs, contains notebooks in which he has recorded every scrap of his life that he can remember, good and bad, things he’s done both of his own free will and at the control of others. Watching all that effort be disregarded by so many, unaknowledged and unappreciated; watching so many of the numerous characters be unable or unwilling to see the other, silent victim in the Winter Soldier’s crimes: Bucky Barnes himself. Watching, knowing that whatever peace he’s managed to find on his own is about to shattered.

If Bucky’s character arc in Captain America: The Winter Soldier was about the difficulty of free will over unquestioning obedience, as I suggested in my previous post on these movies, Captain America: Civil War is about the difficulty of choices and what it means to hold on to your humanity. Free will might start with a single choice, like, say, pulling a man who claims to be your old friend out of a river, but it is a choice that has to be made every single day for the rest of your life. To do the right thing, no matter how much pain it brings you. I don’t think Bucky’s courage in going back to Siberia, a place where his humanity was systematically stripped away, is acknowledged as much as it deserves.

Talk about following your friend into the jaws of death.

My residents may not march into battle, or fight Iron Man to defend their friends, but I see the same courage in their everyday lives. They live everyday in fear and dread of losing more of themselves to the disease…and yet they still struggle to live their lives. They grow attached to me, knowing they might forget me at any moment; they still struggle to be good people, even when they can’t remember the person they were before. They struggle to hold on to their shattered humanity, while so often their struggle and humanity are both ignored. We may not put them in cryostatis, like the Winter Soldier, but we do frequently shove them in a corner, forgotten. We forget to speak to them directly, to treat them like people instead of broken objects.

Broken people are people still and even the ravaged scraps of humanity are worth protecting.

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The one I’ve been dreading

This is the blog post that I have been dreading.
I’ve put it off for a long time, afraid to transpose thoughts into words…afraid of the finality of the written word. But it’s time and past, and so I will think it, and say it and write it.
My grandmother died last month.
One would think that, as a CNA, I would have a great deal of experience in dealing with death. One would think correctly: if there’s one thing I’ve learned in five years as a CNA, it’s how to grieve.
But all that experience feels like practice somehow, and I don’t mean to imply that I didn’t love those people dearly, that their passing didn’t and doesn’t hurt. It does, very much so.
This one hurts worse. This one lingers.

There’s a plaque that hangs in my room, bought years ago at a local Dollar General. It was cheap (only $12) and it rather shows. That thing’s been through hell in the varied forms of my turbulent teenage years and an EF-4 tornado…I’m not sure which survival impresses me more. I’m not even sure why I bought it. I hardly ever think about it, or even look at it…that is, until Grandma passed away.
Like I said, it’s a simple, cheap affair–perhaps even a little tacky: a small, square slab of fake stone decorated only with a spray of painted flowers and a quote by John Keats. The quote reads: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”

And that, folks, is my Grandma in a nutshell. I can think of no other, singular phrase that accurately sums up what she meant to me and all my best memories of her.
Grandma was a great lover of beauty, especially jewelry, home decor and food. She had the most exquisite taste and true talent when it came to combining shapes with colors. She had several pieces of what I call “iconic jewelry”, pieces she would always wear. One of these pieces, a gold ring set with two sapphires and a diamond, has had a profound influence on my taste: the first serious “for real” item of jewelry that I ever purchased was a gold ring with two sapphires and a diamond, set in the same order as Grandma’s ring, only with a more delicate band.
Apparently, the influence of that ring might not have been entirely accidental…as I found out on the day of the visitation. I noticed right off that something was missing: they had Grandma’s body decked with all her iconic pieces–except for the sapphire and diamond ring. I was quite distressed by this and even more distressed when I discovered the reason. Aunt Paula approached me and pulled it off her finger and gave it to me, along with a story. Apparently, Grandma had purchased that ring when I was born, telling Aunt Paula: “This is going to be Hannah’s one day.”
Well, that day turned out to be Friday, January 22, 2016…and Grandma, as much as I’ve always loved that ring, I do believe I would have preferred to wait several more years before claiming that inheritance.

Grandma, you will be sorely missed. Of all my family, you were one of the most accepting, both of Michael’s Aspergers and of my own prickly, contradictory nature. I knew how proud you were that I was going back to college, but I can’t thank you enough for never pushing me on the subject. Your grace with and fierce defense of Michael will alway be remembered with love and affection.
I love you and miss you so much.

Well, this wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. A bit more cleansing that plain painful. Oh, who am I kidding. I’m freaking, sobbing mess right now and I need to go blow my nose now.

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This isn’t about Star Wars, I swear!

…except that it starts with Star Wars. Sorry, not sorry.
So, I went to see The Force Awakens again, this time with a good friend. Even after seeing it five times, I was still glued to the screen…that is, I was until something jarred me from the movie and I looked over my shoulder. This was during the final lightsaber battle and I wasn’t very pleased about being distracted. I’m still not sure what is was (someone might have kicked my seat, or it could have been a noise) but I’m glad it happened. Whatever the cause, my attention was quickly arrested by the sight of a young boy, no more than six, sitting on his father’s lap. He was…the only word I can find is awestruck, in the oldest possible sense. His jaw slack, his eyes wide and almost unblinking, he just sat there drinking it all in.
I didn’t turn back to the screen. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the boy anymore than he could tear his eyes from the battle. Instead, I watched the lights wash across his face: red and blue dancing in perfect sync to the music. Flickering as red chased blue; flashing as blue struck back. Back and forth, mixing, separating, clashing again. Always two colors, each trying to shove the other off his face.
Until the end, when red sputtered out and blue alone remained, it’s triumphant light illuminating his awed face. The boy drew a deep breath–I think he’d forgotten to breathe during the battle.
Then he turned to his dad and whispered frantically: “Her friend’s gonna be okay, right?”
I turned back to the movie, but part of me lingered in that moment, still watching colored lights tell a story of good and evil on a child’s face.

On the drive home, I had the hardest time figuring out why this had affected me so strongly. It wasn’t just the fight, although I love to see an action scene tell a story of emotion. It wasn’t just seeing the pure awe of a child, although I love to see uncynical appreciation for a good story.

As it always happens, the pieces connected themselves into a whole right as I was about to fall asleep.
A few months ago, one of the priests in my church had taken a young boy around to all the stained glass windows, using them to tell the story of our faith. “Saints are the ones who let the light in,” she said. “That’s why we love stained glass so much.”
Watching that boy in the theater had been an inversion of watching the boy in the church. At church, the boy had moved from image to image, staring up earnestly as colored light poured them. In the theater, the boy had sat still, staring up in awe as colors reflected off the screen, as image after image moved before him.

Two expression, one theme. Two boys, the same awe.
Throughout history and across cultures, we’ve used colors and light to express abstract ideas. I’ve always loved stained glass windows and I’ve always loved movies. Before now, it had just never occurred to me to link the two; that a movie, at its very best, can be a rapid succession of stained glass windows.

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Arthurian Symbolism in The Force Awakens

I love mythology. I love mythology retellings. I even find the Prequel Trilogy to be more palatable if I follow it by reading The Star Wars Heresies.
In fact, this is why I love Star Wars so much–it’s steeped in mythology and symbolism and I love it. I love pulling out the threads of older stories.
I’ll be honest…I wasn’t quite expecting The Force Awakens to continue that tradition…let alone continue it with the symbolism of one of my favorite mythologies. Maybe that’s why I’m loving it more and more each time I see it–a count which stands at three–right now, I’d have to rank it as #2 of my personal favorite of Star Wars, right after Empire. The Force Awakens combines two of my favorite mythologies: Star Wars and Arthurian legends.

Spoilers ahead. If you have not seen the movie, get thee to a theater before thou readest!

 

 

 

The search for Luke and the absolute reverence with which he is referred to put me in mind of an Arthurian staple: the Quest for the Holy Grail.
I’d say the map to Luke’s location is the Holy Grail appearing in Camelot at the Pentecost feast: the search for it kicks off the plot and it is fought over by the worthy and unworthy alike.
The Force is the Waste Lands, laid desolate by a young knight who slaughters a guest, unlawfully uses Spear of Destiny–betraying and wounding the Fisher King in the process. Balyn kills the king’s guest and uses the Spear to wound the Fisher King; Ben Solo slaughters his uncle’s apprentices, betrays Luke and tries to claim the lightsaber by brutal means at Starkiller base.
Luke himself also functions as the Holy Grail, in that he is the object of the Quest. Everybody has different objectives for finding him: Kylo Ren wants to kill him, Snoke just wants him to stay hidden, Leia wants his strength for her war. Rey, in the end, wants his training. You could also make an argument that Luke functions as the Fisher King as well. He is, after all, found on an island overlooking the ocean and he’s taken an emotional wound in the side by Ben’s betrayal.
I’d probably say that Luke’s old lightsaber is the Spear of Destiny…which is the spear used to maim the Fisher King and is sometimes connected with the spear that pierced Christ’s side. That’d certainly fit this lightsaber’s history as Anakin used it to commit his first atrocities as Vader. It’s used to commit an act of great evil but is thereafter used to further the triumph of the one it wounded.

In the Arthur legends, the Waste Lands and the Fisher King can only be healed when a knight (Galahad) proves himself worthy to hold the Spear and and drink from the Grail, undoing the damage that Balyn did. So: the Force can only be balanced when a Force sensitive person proves worthy to follow the map, carry the lightsaber and receive Luke’s training.

I would say that Rey is Galahad the Grail Knight, albeit a rather reluctant version. Either way, she’s young, of mysterious and isolated origins, seemingly untrained but unbelievably talented, and draws out a
sword of tainted legacy. Yes, I know I’m mixing up the metaphor here by double-casting the lightsaber as both Balyn’s sword and the Spear, as well as Luke as both Fisher King and Grail. In my defense, I’m not the only one who mixes up Arthurian symbols, however: almost everyone gets Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone confused. And speaking of…

 

The Grail Quest is not the only Arthurian interpretation of The Force Awakens. A slightly better known one is also applicable. You could structure it with Rey as the young Arthur and the lightsaber is both the Sword in the Stone and Excalibur…although presented in reverse fashion. That is, Rey is first offered the saber by a mysterious and ancient female handing it to her out of the depths–water in the legends, but I suppose the basement of a castle works too. (The Falcon does dramatically fly over the water before landing at the castle, which draws on the imagery of the Excalibur legend, the boat that takes Arthur to retrieve the sword.)
Then Rey draws it out of the snow like Arthur drew his sword out of the stone. Both actions are presented as an impossible feat…Rey because of her lack of training and Arthur for more obvious reasons. Both acts prove the character’s worthiness: Arthur to rule, Rey to take up Luke’s legacy.

As a bonus point for Rey-as-an-Arthur-figure…just look at her name. Yes, it evokes Luke’s own name as they both represent light: Luke is taken from the Greek word for light and Rey puts one in mind of a ray of light. It also invokes the once and future king: as Rey is Spanish for King. King of light, as it were. Well, female king of light.

 

Another Arthur bent to the story is the one told in the backstory and at the ending.
Kylo Ren aka Ben Solo stands fairly well in the place of Mordred, with Luke as King Arthur. Now, this doesn’t exactly match up as Mordred is usually presented as Arthur’s nephew (check)…and as his son. (Thankfully, they didn’t go there. People still haven’t quite recovered from the kiss between unknown siblings in Empire.)
Anyway, Mordred brings down Camelot by unexpected betrayal, aspiring to usurp Arthur’s place as King. Arthur, taking a wound at the battle in which he kills Mordred (I did say this wouldn’t line up exactly), retreats to the magic-steeped island of Avalon. He goes to recover from his mortal wound, but before he leaves, he tells his followers that he will return in the hour of Britain’s greatest need.
In this, Avalon is the island Rey finds Luke on, Luke is the Once and Future King and Rey, I would say, is all of us, telling him “Time to wake up, buddy. Hour’s here.”

Nothing quite matches up in a one-to-one correlation…but then, that’s a sign of good retelling. Yes, it uses the symbolism of an older tale but it also can stand as a complete and compelling story in its own right. Influenced but not a carbon copy. That’d just be boring.
I am, thanks to Mom, fairly more Arthur-obsessed than the average person. It’s very possible that I’m reading too much into the movie (I’m quite good at overthinking things). But, as Joseph Campbell says, there’s only one myth in the world, retold in a thousand different ways. His works have influenced Star Wars from the very beginning, so I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to think that Abrams and Kasdan looked to mythology for inspiration. If so, they’ve done an excellent job of retelling Arthur in a galaxy far, far away.

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Fictional Happiness?

It should come as a surprise to no one that I’m very excited for The Force Awakens.
I can’t help it, it just makes me happy. Nor do I feel particularly apologetic for this excitement. It’s been a rough year and joy is always welcome in my life.
So yes, I’m the girl humming the Imperial March. I’m the girl who is the proud owner of a BB-8 shirt and three tickets to Star Wars. I’m the girl who jumps up and down in sheer joy when I see something Star Wars on the tv or the grocery store shelf. I’m the girl who is in love with BB-8 (just look at him…isn’t he the cutest thing ever?)
I’m also the girl with the biggest grin on my face. I am not about to apologize for my happiness or its fictional source. Yes, I know it’s “just a movie”. It still makes me happy–isn’t that real enough?
Some call it “escapism”…fleeing our stress-filled lives into a fantasy world. I’ve never seen it like that; I’m not escaping anything in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. I carry myself into the story…this means I carry with me the real world and all its problems. Stories–mine or others–have always moved me, have always been important to me. They are how I make sense of myself. I don’t have any perfect words to describe what it’s like to be me in the thrall of a story. There are no string of words sufficient to completely explain; I have to make do with imperfect words string inadequately together.

I’m never alone…and maybe that’s why I like time to myself. Stories aren’t beyond the waking world, they are behind my eyes. Closing my eyes is opening them onto that other world and whatever story is telling itself there. To be a part of a good story is an honor. Star Wars…well, the Original Trilogy…that’s a cornerstone, a touchstone. It’s one of the stories that has always been there for me; an experience repeated so often that it became, not rote, but ritual. No matter what was going on my life, I could always find myself in Star Wars.

So yes, I’m super excited for Star Wars and regardless of what the critics think of it, I am grateful for this period of delightful anticipation. Eager as I am to see the movie, I’m almost sorry it’s over.
To Disney and Lucasfilms, thank you. You’ve made me laugh and smile through a rough patch of this journey called life and for that, I thank you. It’s like balm for my soul to see my cherished friend from childhood given the love and respect it deserves.
So come on Saturday! I’m ready to discover new truths about myself, truths heralded in a John Williams score and illuminated by lightsabers.
I’m ready to be delighted by an old friend. Star Wars might be fiction, the joy it has brought into my life is real. And it’s being shared.

Categories: ordinary life | 2 Comments

Courtyard

I’ve always loved courtyards.

Like so many things in my life, this can be blamed on early and prolonged exposure to C.S. Lewis…more specifically, to his Chronicles of Narnia series. From an early age, I fell in love the idea of courtyard. I loved the way it sounded when Mom read the word aloud. “Courtyard”. 

I always thought it sounded like a promise. 

My love affair with courtyards was only strengthened by a series of picture books about the Eygptians, Greeks and Romans. All three presented me with images of a variety of courtyards. I decided that courtyards were special places.

I’m not a child any longer. Right now, I’m an adult, sitting at Ivy Tech. I’m waiting for my 6:00 pm class on Public speaking. There are many places to wait in Ivy Tech. Both buildings are chock-full of little lounges, besides the official Internet cafe and library, of course. I’m not a child any more, but I’ve rejected those options today. Instead I chose to sit on a bench outside. In front of me, there is a courtyard with a fountain centerpiece; behind me is a second courtyard, this one with a clock as its focal point. My bench is located in an open-air walkway that divides the two courtyards. 

It’s peaceful here, quiet, wrapped in an almost contemplative stillness that is enhanced rather than broken by the continuous splash of the fountain and distant traffic. People either sit like me, quietly enjoying the beautiful day, or they are scurrying to class. 

I’m an adult now, but despite all the changes in and around me, I still love courtyards. I still think the word sounds like a promise.

Categories: ordinary life | 1 Comment

A new car

Five years ago, I bought a car–a 1991 Pontiac Grand Am for $2,000.

To be completely honest, I hated it. It was nice in a new-almost-20-years-old kind of way, ran great, was built like an iron tank (for which I am exceedingly grateful)…but I just didn’t like it. That didn’t stop me from buying it; I needed a car and Mom said this was a good one. Up til then I had been sharing vehicles with Mom and Dad–it was time and past that I got my own. A friend told me not to worry, that I would come to like the car.

Shortly afterwards, on my second day of work at the first nursing home, the car broke down. That wasn’t a good day. There I was in Madison, stranded in a parking lot with a car that apparently thought belching out smoke from under the hood and refusing to start was great fun, and on top of that, I had forgotten to program my new work’s number into my phone. Like I said, not such a good day. But it sort of set a trend with the Pontiac–she’d break down frequently and I’d cuss at her, but despite that, I did come to love that car.

She was reliable (by which I mean that I knew exactly what to expect from her), hated Louisville and drive-throughs and sometimes intersections. Idling for more than ten minutes was a sure-fire way to overheat the engine. On the other hand, she was heavy and solid…the only thing that really put a dent in her was an EF-4 tornado and a big-ass deer bouncing over the top. Somethings would break and I’d learn what I could live without (like heat).

But eventually, all the little things just piled up too high. I was ready for a new car, one that got better gas mileage than 20 MPG, one that had heat, an engine that could idle safely, could go across the bridge without throwing a temper-tantrum, didn’t break down every 3-5 moths like clockwork, one that had a passenger side door that could open, a driver side door that could close all the way, a taillight made of more than colored strips of duct tape, and…well, you get the picture.

It took me months more than I expected, but I finally did it. Out with the old:
 
And in with the new

  

She’s a 2013 Kia Rio and I love her! At the dealership, I had to tell Mom to double check me on everything because I really wanted this one. Despite that, I stuck to my guns and my price limit and still ended up driving this beauty off the lot. Unlike the last few times I went used car shopping, I had an extremely positive experience–mostly because nobody tried to tell me that I deserve to lease a brand new vehicle or (incorrectly) assumed that Mom was the reason for my sticking points. This is, by the way, a sure-fire way to make me really cranky. Don’t tell me what I should want or assume that just because I’m not a “typical” 24 year old that I don’t make my own decisions! 

Anyways, the car. She’s gorgeous! She gets 35-40 MPG, all the doors open and close appropriately and I can go through a drive-through without overheating and dying! Plus, she’s got this nifty media hook up where I can listen to the music on my iPhone or iPad through the car’s speakers. Oh, and she’s got heat!

I’m in love!  

Categories: ordinary life | 4 Comments

A sci-fi high

My parents weren’t really big into spanking. And even when they did spank me, it didn’t hurt physically. Like, at all. It was embarrassing, sure, but it was over quickly.

I’m afraid to say that spankings really didn’t stay with me. No, of all my childhood punishments, there is really only that really stuck with me, really made me rethink what I had done and resolve never to do it again.

I was about seven, we were at Nana and Papa’s and we were putting in The Empire Strikes Back to watch.

Maybe I should mention now that Empire was then and remains to this day my favorite of the Star Wars. 

Anyways, something happened–I’m not sure what, but I’m going to take an educated guess that it involved the words “Hannah” and “no”–and I threw a world-class temper tantrum. I’m quite good at making a scene when I want to. Dad told me to stop or I wouldn’t be allowed to watch the movie. I can quote you word for word what I thought: he wouldn’t dare. It’s Star Wars! You don’t miss Star Wars!

Safe in this utter conviction, I proceeded with my tantrum. Dad proceeded to pick me up and carry me out of the room. I was astounded…though not quite dumbstruck, I’m afraid. No, my outrage was vocalized at extreme decibels.

“I want to watch The Empire Strikes Back!!” I howled. 

“You should have thought of that a minute ago,” Dad told me.

“We can watch it later,” Nana said, probably thinking that with me carrying on like that, nobody was going to be hear anything anyway.

“No, we will watch Star Wars now, she won’t,” Dad said firmly.

Maybe he should have said “you will watch it” and not “we” because he spent the next several minutes keeping me downstairs. I was quite furious at being kept from The Empire Strikes Back. It was cruel and unusual punishment and I was convinced if I yelled about it enough, Dad would recognize the utter injustice and let me back up to watch it. But the movie kept on playing without me. Unfortunately, I had watched it so many times that I knew exactly what I was missing. Luke was calling on the Force to retrieve his light saber when I gave up yelling and just sobbed. Han and Chewie were blasting the Imperal probe droid when Dad finally purposed a compromise: I calmed down and he would let me watch The Return of the Jedi tomorrow. I can tell you, the thought of this experience being repeated with another Star Wars stopped me cold. 

Even then, Vader was storming the Rebel base before I had quite cried myself out. No stubbornness was worth this, I thought. I resolved that, when Star Wars was on the line at least, that I would behave myself.

I actually had a point with this post. 

Growing up, Star Wars was almost sacred ground. Watching Star Wars meant everything was alright in the world…or at least that they would be, eventually. It was our chicken noodle for the soul.

Then it was 1999 and The Phantom Menace was released–and I thought: Okay…

Then it was 2002 and Attack of the Clones came out–and I thought: Wait, what?

Then it was 2005 and The Revenge of the Sith premiered–and I thought: Excuse me?

They were decent, shot through with sometimes horrible and sometimes great…but they were missing that Star Wars feel. I wasn’t sure they were soup and I definately knew they weren’t chicken noodle. In the last ten years, I have held on to my love of Star Wars, I’m proud to say. But I was a fan despite (or maybe to spite) George Lucas…because really, how can you so misunderstand your own story? Star Wars is about Luke Skywalker and the scrappy underdogs. It’s about the a Princess who can fire a blaster and take charge of her own rescue. It’s about loyalty and love from people who can’t properly speak to us. It’s about a not-so-selfish scoundrel with a not-so-reliable ship. It’s about a cute green thing smacking a stick against a cute blue and white thing. It’s about the warrior who won by throwing away his saber and putting his faith in his friends to do what they said they would do. It’s about the man behind the mask smiling at his son. It’s whatever I need it to be: rollicking good fun, witty one-liners or an almost metaphysical tale about how love is the greatest power you could ever have. It’s a safe place to hang my imagination and recharge. It’s part of my image of home.

It’s been rough, loving something so brutalized by its creator, so CGI-ed out of its soul.

Then it was 2012 and Disney bought Star Wars–and I thought: Can’t be any worse than Lucas.

Then it was 2013 and J.J. Abrams was named director–and I thought: He’s got a Star Wars soul.

Then it was April 2014 and the cast photo came out–and I thought: This could be something.

Then it was June 2014 and Harrison Ford broke his leg–and I thought: At least the Falcon’s real enough to break bone.

Then it was November 2014 and the first trailer came out–and I thought: It actually looks like Star Wars !

Then it was April 10th, 2015 and I bought the Original Trilogy on iTunes–and I thought: Can I really bear to be disappointed again?

Then it was April 18th and I finally brought myself to watch the second teaser trailer.

Now it’s today and I’m still on a sci-fi high the likes of which I’ve never been on before. I’ve heard Mom talk about how it felt to watch Star Wars for the very first time and I remember how that was the biggest disappointment in ’99–that I didn’t get sense of blown-away awe. I thought I’d lost my chance. I thought I would not get to experience that feeling myself. I felt cheated out of falling in love with something I’ve known all my life.

To quote Obi-wan, I was wrong. This is how it must have felt to be alive in ’77 and seeing Star Wars for the very first time. (Minus the hair, because ’70s hair was kind of weird.) 

Yes, Chewie, we are home. Star Wars is once again chicken noodle soup…because even if the movie sucks, I’ll always have that trailer. 

Now please don’t suck. Please continue to be chicken noodle soup. 

Categories: ordinary life | 1 Comment

Leather and glass

So, it’s been a while. 

Part of this is due to a crazy-busy, hectic, frantic work pace. Part is due to school work…and part is due to this.

 

   

I was in the mall one day, waiting for Dad to arrive (the mall being the closest indoor space with free wi-fi to the bus stop) and on impulse, I went in Books-a-million. I was not expecting to walk out with an Eco-friendly, fair trade, leather journal, but I did. 

Since then, I have been journaling. Not every day, but semi-frequently and always relating the emotions of the day. I’ve become so used to sharing my written words, through one form or another…but it is kind of nice to have an outlet just for me. My eyes only, raw as you like.

I have, however, missed this blog, so I’ve decided to pick it up again, and to also resume my fiction works and not just my nonfiction (which, I must say, has really taken off). Boundaries are something that I am coming more and more to appreciate, so I do like the distinction of having two different mediums. Leather-hound journal for private ruminations and glass iPad for public musings and stories. 

Well, that’s it for now, folks, but I’m back!!

Categories: ordinary life | 1 Comment

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