Letter #4: Of Sick Days and Snarled Feelings

Dear Moira,

I would have to say that the experience of wrangling an unexpected bout of flu makes me, sadly, not the right candidate for a dog exchange. Yours in particular sounds like a charming specimen of that long-forgotten sensation, “Energy”. It is hard to remember words that devolve emotions such as actual pleasure in aching muscles when huddled in a wool coat and blanket, tea mug at the ready in order to drown the next coughing fit.

Oh, right. This was a letter, not a monologue on the perils of common winter ailments.

I have had my fair of Jonah days recently, so I know very well how you are feeling. In particular, there is always this uncertainty in my mind, this veritable Night Vale-esque glow cloud letting off frequent and forbidding auras of low self-esteem, negative emotions and the occasional unexplainable jag of tears only assuaged with chocolate – which I am, sadly, lacking at the moment.

I find it gratifying, at least, to realize that a post I wrote to combat my own Jonah days, is now being peddled by acquaintances on Twitter as a decided way that they dismissed their own. In a way, that was what I needed to understand that these days are days when you are unraveled, when everything seems wrong, but someone else can use that snarled thread to mend themselves and, in their own way, wrap you back up the way you need to.

Like you said, I believe that at least aspiring to be content is a worthy cause. It is not the same for everyone, and God knows that it is not easy, but we must keep our knapsacks on and our walking sticks in hand as we move forward.

On the bright side of this dismal attack of the flu, I have been able to do a little reading – and, surprisingly, it helped to assuage some of my doubts about the looming recurrence of the Work-in-Progress I Will Not Even Have to Name. To sum matters up, a certain author I admire in terms of language and fairy tale situations is submitting her last book within her currently running series. That said, certain fans have organized a re-read of the first installment – and despite feeling as though this would be a Very Bad Idea, I pursued the challenge as well.

I was reading the book last night, and though I did have to pause and bite my lip at a particular turn of phrase, I realized a few things: there are aspects of the plot, the characters, their *cough* moral standards and what have you, that I dislike. There are flaws in this story. There are flaws in the author’s writing, which she is aware of, just as I am all too knowing of the mistakes and errors in my draft.

And yet, she keeps writing. She keeps her head down and she tries her best, and that is one trait I can admire her for. However, I realized (and I am aware this is a fact you’ve informed me of before), I no longer can hit myself over the head with this book – mentally, of course – for anything I find wrong with my own writing. It’s not perfect. Neither are my drafts.

And yet, both of us – this famous author and this girl huddled in a coat attempting to weave words together so her best friend does not take her sanity into question – we must persevere and put our words down on paper.

I suppose that should put an end to my stint on the soapbox. On to the list.

Touch: This woolly coat. I feel quite like a sheep at the moment, albeit a warm, possibly more pleasant-smelling sheep.

Taste: Soup, soup and more soup. At least it is palatable. I’ve been doing my best to pick out the leeks, though. They are of the frozen variety and thus rather bitter. I am utterly spoiled by fresh vegetables.

Smell: Is there something to smell? My nose begs to differ, ungrateful traitor that it is.

Hearing: I have spent most of the day thus far hopping from anime instrumental mixes to general lyric-less offerings. I am attempting to finish building a playlist for that Work-in-Progress That Is Spoken Of Too Much for Its Own Good, and have stream-lined it to be as wordless and non-distracting as possible from its predecessor.

Reading: I suppose I will finish the book I mentioned earlier, and then return to the pile that needs to be reviewed. I decided to stop reading a new release, pitched as a “YA Murder Mystery Satire”, which was ridiculously…disturbing. (Refer to my last update on the matter.)



P.S. Yes. Yes, it is.

P.P.S. This made me smile. I thought you might enjoy it as well.


Letter # 3: Wrestling Contentment

Dear Kaye,

Do you want a dog?  I have a very cute one, with charming manners even though she lacks most common ones.  I cannot tell you how many expletives I have whispered under my breath as I try and keep up with her clipped stride, while my neanderthalian boots slip and slide on black ice.

HAH.  I am now thanking my stars that I did not grow up in the same sandbox as you.  I hope your sandbox etiquette has grown more sensitive and refined since then.  Don’t want to end up at the ER because a few choice letters accidentally flew into my eye.  Of all the letters of the alphabet, I’d assume “k” would be the worst to try and get out of one’s eye.  Too many pokey-bits.

Oh Jonah days.   (…The memory of all of those Anne books gives such a weight to that expression that I only use it when I mean it.)  I’m having one today.  Today I am feeling like all communication with myself is done over a crappy phone or internet connection.  “Hullo?  Yes, this is I.  Just popping in for a moment to remind you to breathe.  What?  Oh, I said breathe.  No, not grieve, breathe.  No no no, don’t start crying – it’s all right, there there.  What?  I can’t hear you, you’re cutting out.  Maybe just go get some tea and rest a bit.  No, I didn’t say that you were out of it. . .”  You get the gist.  The only way I’ve been able to deal with it lately is to imagine (and this is going to sound ludicrous) that my younger self works alongside me.  . . . Well, not my younger self, but the part of me that can dream without censure, the part of me that was built through years of the encouraging influence of truly good stories, the part of me that doesn’t care so much about the end result as it does about doing the work because it is fun and that is why we were attracted to it in the first place.  The one that is honest-to-God content.  I want to learn from that person…or rather, I want to learn contentment.  G.K. Chesterton said in his essay, The Contented Man, that, “True contentment is a thing as active as agriculture. It is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it. It is arduous and it is rare.” . . . I have found that, on a daily basis, learning contentment is more like doing squats.  In any case I shall draw your attention to the fifth paragraph of the essay, since, along with the tenth paragraph (which I think echoes our sentiments about a certain *ahem* subject quite well). . . and since I’m nice I’ll put it in quotations here:

“Content” ought to mean in English, as it does in French, being pleased; placidly, perhaps, but still positively pleased. Being contented with bread and cheese ought not to mean not caring what you eat. It ought to mean caring for bread and cheese; handling and enjoying the cubic content of the bread and cheese and adding it to your own. Being content with an attic ought not to mean being unable to move from it and resigned to living in it. It ought to mean appreciating what there is to appreciate in such a position; such as the quaint and elvish slope of the ceiling or the sublime aerial view of the opposite chimney-pots. And in this sense contentment is a real and even an active virtue; it is not only affirmative, but creative. The poet in the attic does not forget the attic in poetic musings; he remembers whatever the attic has of poetry; he realises how high, how starry, how cool, how unadorned and simple – in short, how Attic is the attic.”

– G.K. Chesterton

I’d like to be that kind of content.  It is a daily struggle, but I think it is an admirable goal – certainly a better path than constantly lusting after what has not yet arrived in life.  In any case, I’m beginning to sound like a preacher and I can’t very well figure out how to end my sermon, so it is on to the list of favorites/not favorites.

Touch:  There is this pen that I got from the dentists, and it is the best ballpoint pen I’ve ever used.  It is amazing.

Sight:  Socially Awkward Poe.  . . .I’ll just. . . leave this here.

Taste: P.B. & J.  I’ve discovered that the combination makes no sense to me without milk.  It is the midtone that unites the shadows and lights.

Smell: . . .Dinnah.

Hearing:  Classical music mostly today.  Now it is Autumn by Vivaldi.

Reading: The Fox Sister webcomic.  Awesome stuff.


P.S.  Good grief is the memory of that still fresh in your mind?

Letter #2: The First Tentative Step (Ruined in Elegance by An Ineffective Stumble)

Dear Moira,

I well remember the years of the sandbox. Oh, those happy, idyllic childhood memories of the days when wet sand could yield lumpy mounds fit to rival Mount Everest, and questionably soggy pies fit for stuffing into a younger victim’s mouth when no one was looking (consider this a fit of wry nostalgia for a wicked deed never done, rather than a belated confession of a dark and troubled past).

Fortunately, one can look forward to virtual surfaces, where you do not have to worry about an unexpected rain shower ruining a masterpiece, or sand getting into a tender eye.

All this, merely to say that my shovel is at the ready, my sunscreen is applied, and I will try my best to not coerce you into eating gourmet meals held together by hose water and more than a little dirt.

Today is one of those most ominous days when it is hard to find something to be pleased about – Thursdays. I have a horrible streak with being able to find anything pleasant, or even motivating, on these days. My school project is still minimized. My book lies prone beside me, a few pages idly flipped through before it was unceremoniously left on its spine.

Well, I suppose there is some good in today. The spine hasn’t broken.

Touch: The comforting, albeit now lukewarm, surface of my tea cup. I made myself a brew of immune support tea (surprisingly decent tasting, in spite of the rather dubious name), and proceeded to ignore it as I hummed and hawed my way through a measly part of my homework. I doubt it’s salvageable now. But the tea cup remains pretty. I’ll have to take a picture for you one of these days.

Sight: I haven’t been able to indulge in any visual media, really, since the freedom of Christmas break – ah, break. How I miss you. However, I am gearing myself up to spoil some part of my weekend on some hoarded-away anime, preferably something with spirits and classic Japanese intrigue, since right now everything in my life seems to refer back to a certain work-in-progress. I also am debating the pros and cons of trying a series such as The Hour, The Bletchley Circle and Call the Midwife. Tumblr has betrayed me before.

Taste: A quick ramen stir-fry blend that Mom whipped up for a very late lunch. (Studies do not pity the hungry.) I can never have enough ramen. One of the critique partners has laughingly warned me that I will, sooner or later. I doubt it.

Smell: The lukewarm tea. It is judging me by its mere presence, silently counting the minutes that have passed since the last sip. Don’t look at me like that.

Hearing: A personal blend of video game soundtracks. I have yet to find anything else that fits my mood today.

Reading: A hodgepodge of this and that, as always. I have an ARC sitting on the floor that sounds unpalatable (three girls are finally contacted by their rich father, and decide to take revenge), Howl’s Moving Castle (which expired on its digital library loan and will have to be renewed post haste), Wintersmith by the dear Mr. Pratchett (same), and whichever of the copious library books I ought to finish so I can write up an appropriate review.



P.S. I hardly think our friendship is going to snap under the weight of unwatched Disney animation, if it didn’t after your *gasp* Chuck Norris joke back in the day.

Letter # 1 : An Inauspicious and Slightly Pretentious Beginning

Dear Kaye,

In the times before we grew to adulthood we had the sandbox.  Though my childhood is often a bit foggy to my memory, I can vividly recall the feel, smell, look, and sometimes taste of the sandbox.  Mine was a circular affair, and puke green after years of basking in the sunlight.  Five bumps protruded around its circumference in turtlesque anatomy, and I frequently had as much fun riding Hot Wheels cars down the hexagonal bumps of its cover as I did building sand-pies.  The sand inside was my landscape, free of “keep off the grass” signs and alarms that yelled “be careful!”.  The older I got the less socially acceptable it was to make mud-pies, but as providence would have it, you and I came of age in the dawn of the internet where the danger was more in the fact that your sandcastles might last for forever than be kicked down by a bully or washed out by rain.

In case I’ve stifled your brain with circumlocution, this blog is our sandbox.  I have some buckets and one shovel, so we’ll have to share, but I think we can build some pretty awesome sandcastles.  Care to join me?

Because I feel that this whole thing started off on perhaps on what might be a slightly gaudy foot, I thought we’d trade word pictures of what is making our day enjoyable (or otherwise). And because I am chronically addicted to lists…

Touch:  A nice warm blanket that was a Christmas gift from the Lad.  I have the heater on full blast, but VA has done something to my constitution and I am constantly freezing.

SightParks and Recreation.  The more I watch, the more I fall in love with this show.  It is one of the few TV shows that has me itching to buy it.  That literally never happens.  I can count on one hand the number of DVDs I own.

Taste:  A stir fry I made earlier.  Though yes, there is massive amounts of sriracha sauce in it, so it is doubtful my tastebuds are currently in working order right now.

Smell:  Lady Gaga’s Fame.  I trust that we know each other long enough for you not to tease me for that….oh who am I kidding.  ….Okay, just found out that apparently it is a unisex perfume.  HOW WAS I TO KNOW.

Hearing: Young The Giant’s Anagram on their new CD Mind over Matter.  It is beautiful.
Reading: The end of Pratchett’s Witches Abroad.  Which you need to read post-haste.  Reasons will be forthcoming.


P. S. You still have yet to watch Frozen.  I still have yet to watch Spirited Away.  I don’t know if our friendship can take the strain.