Monday, August 22, 2016

The Night the Mermaid Reclaimed Her Voice

The night her prince said yes to another woman
The mermaid sat at the edge of the motel pool
Frozen by a late fall chill
The night he left her
The mermaid screamed into the burnt out streetlights
Testing the voice he’d once tried to steal
The night her prince said yes
She danced on broken ankles
Thinking how he never listened
All those days she used to yell
The night he left her
She plunged a knife in the pool to shatter the ice
She shucked off the trappings of the life he led
And dived naked into the ice cold chlorine
When the prince left the mermaid behind
The mermaid left man
With prayers for another soon-to-be-broken girl

When the prince said yes, the mermaid swam home

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

My Books Are at Barnes and Noble!!!!

I'm not sure if you're aware of this, because I somehow wasn't, but both of my books are available through Barnes and Noble! BN is way cooler than Amazon, and also it's where I work when I'm not writing, so you should totally order it here

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Monster, a Child

I know I’ve already written extensively on this subject (on a related note, stay tuned for next week), but last week I went to see Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, and, well. Here we are again.

The thing about the live action musical, first of all, is that it drives me nuts. I hate it. There’s like three new songs. The Beast is illiterate. Like, what? I know the matter of his age at transformation time is shrouded in continuity errors, but the most reasonable choice is that he was eleven.  Who doesn’t teach an eleven year old to read? Especially a royal eleven year old? This is Beauty and the Beast, people, not The Whipping Boy.

So I was, while mostly enjoying the experience immensely, stuck through the entire first half on that one little detail. Why couldn’t he read? He was eleven. He was eleven.

He was eleven.

He was eleven, in a gigantic palace, and he was the only one around to answer the door. Where were his parents? Where are his parents now? Why didn’t they teach him to read? Why didn’t they teach him to be kind to strangers?

He was eleven, and he was horribly cursed for being rude. Has this fairy never heard to stranger danger? Of course he wasn’t going to let her in. Newsflash: kids are rude. They’re also sensible, at least the ones not named Snow White. (Seriously, kid? The first two creepy old ladies you invited in when you were home alone tried to kill you, but surely the third is a nice one. I mean, come on. Really?)

When a creepy looking old lady knocks on the door, an eleven year old boy, home alone, is probably not going to want her to stick around. And who could blame him? He’s a child.

So now, having long since come to the conclusion that the fairy is the bad guy in the original novel, I’m beginning to have serious doubts about her in Disney, too. Fairy raises little boy, fairy wants to marry little boy, little no says no. Bam! Little boy is a monster now. Fairy approaches little boy, late at night, in a creepy disguise. Little boy does not react with kindness and maturity. Bam! Little boy is a monster now. I’m noticing a pattern, and it has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with her. (And with his mom, because seriously, lady? You leave your child with a pervy old fairy for years so you can fight a war. You try to prevent him from marrying the girl who saved him. You don't teach him to read. You are not around when he is terrified and newly monstrous. Get your act together. Your son needs you.)

Even in the versions where they try to make the Beast look like he deserved it, we’re still seeing him punished, if not for nothing at all, then at least in a manner that is nowhere near proportionate to his crimes. And the Beast is a victim. And the Beast is a child. Again, and again, and again.

Never trust the fairies.

P.S. The second half of the play was pretty much the most incredible thing ever, and the Beast was awkward and adorable and displayed traits consistent with someone who had been neglected and abused since childhood and was still very young, and long story short I kind of wanted to marry him, and also got glared at by lots of people when I couldn’t contain my squealing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Workshop Recording

So I just discovered that my university posted a recording, over two years ago, of the final session of a writer's workshop I participated in, where we all read the results of the class to an audience. Or parts of the results, in my case, since I sort of wrote a two hundred page novel.

So, here. Have a recording of slightly younger me awkwardly and nervously reading the first chapter of my unpublished novel Lindworm, a retelling of my absolute favorite fairy tale, which I will at some point rant about excessively.

It's quite a long video, as it was a decently sized class, but I start right at 44:00.

Hey Remember Back in October When Kristin Talked About Me on Tales of Faerie and I Was So Excited I Thought I Might Die?

(Over Here If You Don't)

Well, it happened again, and I'm still really, really excited about it.

Check out the link!

She's talking about my "And He Became a Handsome Prince" series, which is the essay that wrapped up my entire education, broken up into six pieces on this blog. You can find those pieces here, under the tag "Sem Paper."

Sunday, May 29, 2016

And He Became A Handsome Prince: Conclusion

            The focal point of the Beauty and the Beast story is always love, whether it be romantic or platonic, right or wrong, requited or not. Love, in all its forms, moves and shapes each character, both breaking them and putting them back together. When loving relationships take a turn in the wrong direction, the beast loses himself, his humanity, everything he once was. Clearly, he cannot be dependent on another relationship to return him to all his former glory, but neither can he do it alone. Humans are not solitary creatures, and it is the exile the curse demands, as much as the betrayal that causes it, which strips away the beast’s humanity. One cannot be a person when one has no other people to lean on. G. K. Chesterton is right in saying the great lesson of “Beauty and the Beast” is “that a thing must be loved before it is lovable” (3). Love is perhaps the most powerful force on earth, and this folktale type has demonstrated, for hundreds of years, how humans are shaped and defined by its use and abuse. To be a person, one must have love.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

And He Became A Handsome Prince Part V: The Transformation

            The most important thing to understand about the climax of every transformation story—the transformation itself—is that it does not apply only to the monster. There are many kinds of transformation, not all of them physical. In fact, even the most important changes undergone by the beasts are not physical. The previous three points in the story have been about the healing process, which has everything to do with deep emotional hurts inflicted by loved ones, and very little to do with growing unexpectedly froggy or furry. The beasts must learn to truly be human again; looking the part is merely a pleasant side-effect.
            Bettelheim points out that “The story’s essence is not just the growth of Beauty’s love for the Beast…but her own growth in the process” (308). The growth of the Beast, from happy child to broken monster to free man, is essential, but so is the growth of the Beauty, into someone who can love something like a Beast. It is clear that this transformation effects more than one person, whether it be physical or not.
            One of the most dramatic transformations actually occurs in a story with no literal monster—that of “Cupid and Psyche,” in which Cupid is merely mysterious enough to be suspected of monstrosity. Here, in this story with no beast, the physical transformation happens to Psyche, the beauty character. After the many trials she must endure in order to find her way back to Cupid, she is offered a sip from the pot of immortality by Jupiter: “drink to the end thou mayest be immortal, and that Cupid may never depart from thee, but be thine everlasting husband” (Apuleius 96).
            In both of the Scandinavian transformation tales used in this paper, “Kong Lindorm” and “East O’ the Sun, West O’ the Moon,” the final transformation is laden with religious imagery and implications. The white bear has technically already been transformed, maintaining his true form after his beauty’s betrayal with the candle. His trials, however, are not over until a final confrontation, in which she attempts to reverse all effects of that betrayal. The bear—or the prince, now—is about to be married to his troll step-sister, and it all comes down to proving skill in wifely matters. Specifically, he makes a deal with his stepmother that he will only marry whoever can clean a certain piece of dirty laundry for him. The beauty wins by washing tallow from his nightshirt when none of the trolls are able to, thus literally cleaning the mess she made when she violated the terms of his curse, the tallow having dripped onto the shirt from the candle she used to see his face. This has been described by Mitchell as a move that strongly echoes the Biblical scene of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, but also evokes popular hymns about all stains/sins being washed away. This association can perhaps be offered as an explanation for the few translations suggesting that only Christians are capable of laundry.
            The story of “Kong Lindorm,” following a Biblical pattern as it has all along, ends with the transformation and complete redemption of the lindorm. He killed and ate two women, so there’s no denying that he’s a sinner, but after his curse is broken by his wife walking him through the steps of the sacrament of penance, he gains not only a human form, but immediate forgiveness for all previous sins.

            In “The Beauty and the Beast,” the beauty agrees, after returning just in time to save him, to marry the beast. Her change of heart is not, as in many cases, due to having made the connection between her nightly visitor and her daily captor. Instead, she lets go of her dream prince, choosing to join herself with a creature who clearly exists, and has some affection for her. As she searches the palace for him upon her return, she realizes that she has missed him in her absence, and when she finds him passed out in the hall, she tells him, “I had resolved in my mind to kill myself if I had failed in reviving you” (Zipes 190). This is one of the greatest examples of a transformation in the Beauty figure; unlike those with forbidden lamps, she rejects her night prince in favor of a hideous monster who is there for her, really and tangibly, throughout the day, making her one of the only heroines who truly learns to see beyond appearances. Her emotional growth and development is impressive, much more so than the rather baffling twist that she has been a princess all along (197). Thus, the Beauty is transformed into a woman with new maturity, wisdom, and kindness, and the Beast is restored to his true form, in mind and body, fully healed. In fact, when the prince’s marriage to her is brought into question, he begs that his fairy godmother not “allow Beauty to depart! I’d rather you make me into the monster again,” proving that the healing he underwent through their transformative love was hardly about the physical transformation at all (196). Through loving and being loved, he has won back his humanity; it no longer matters what monster he looks like, so long as that remains.