Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Painting and Whitewashing

EDIT for those who don't share my lexicon of idioms: There's a saying that goes, "Too poor to paint, too proud to whitewash." That means the person/group being described cannot do something properly and therefore refuses to do it at all, even if there is another alternative available. A family can't afford to paint their house with white paint, and is too proud to use whitewash instead, even if it would look better than leaving the place to wear down.

I'll admit it; I have a certain amount of respect for someone who, when faced with the prospect of whitewashing, absolutely refuses to do anything but paint, and then proceeds to make that work. I have respect for that level of determination.

-That, by the way, is my line between determination and stubbornness: can you make it work?-

But what really makes me smile, and something that I'd want in an ally as much as a friend, is when someone looks at all the options, notes that it would be most efficient to whitewash, and then proceeds to whitewash without another word. No complaints, no seeing if this will work when painting would be harder or whitewashing better or even, just doing it.

Pride is a deadly little vice. It says, "Look, you could do this...but you could do so much better." Of course, given that this is the verbal embodiment of pride, it's probably doing something like purring or smiling or laughing. Because what good's a voice representing pride if it doesn't have a bit of cockiness behind it?

What got me thinking about this was the following exchange, which I found on the Ain't Too Proud To Beg page on TV Tropes, which is, you guessed it, going to suck your time away into the shiny vortex that is Wiki Walk.
From Farscape
Crichton: Beg.
Scorpius: [instantly] I beg you.
Crichton: That's not good enough. Say please.
Scorpius: Please.
Crichton: Pretty please.
Scorpius: Pretty please.
Crichton: With a cherry on top.
Scorpius: [only one word behind] With a cherry on top.
Crichton: [Beat] Happy Birthday. Now, get out of my sight.
That just makes me smile. And think of an Eleanor Roosevelt quote, "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." The idea behind making someone beg in that situation is--and forgive me if I miss some of the context, I don't watch the show--either power for the person demanding, or embarrassment for the person begging, which is really just a specific fashion to gain the former.

And then...he decides it's worth it, and proceeds to do it. It doesn't hurt him, because he doesn't let it. Anyone who trots out the sticks and stones line is so naive as to be thoughtless, but the thing about words is that they don't need to hurt any more than hits do. One can dodge, one can block, one can turn the other people's momentum against them and suddenly have the upper hand. It's all in how one decides to deal with it.

Of course, wailing on the other person is a perfectly acceptable method if it works.

What? I said I had a great deal of respect for people who could whitewash, I didn't say anything about preferring it myself. Nor even being able to do it, really... It would be a nice skill. I'm trying.

Incidentally, this has been in my head for a while, and what finally got me to finish was this Harry Potter fanfiction, specifically this chapter (search "I have changed today's lesson plan in the light of recent events", and read to the bottom of the page.)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Words Start

Confidence is my chin jutting up slightly, muscles moving so slightly you don't see the muscles anymore, you don't see me do what feels like a smirk and a grin unless you know to watch my mouth. You just see the gleam in my eye, the welcome of the challenge.

Regret goes the other way, my head jumping back along my neck, my lips and cheeks turning into an invisible genuinely remorseful frown, my eyes tensing back in their sockets. But all you see is I draw back, my eyes turn hurt at my own ill actions.

Resolute is my teeth coming together and making the world's quietest clack, not even as loud as my bones cracking, my my abdominal muscles clenching without any feeling in my stomach, my body twitching closer to itself, tensing to spring or to strike. You see a line in my jaw; you see my hands clench into fists and my lips and chin turn down, if you are attentive you see my footing change.

Flirt is a smile, a little twist to my body, a genuine laugh and interest. You see my eyes sparkle with interest, you see my clothes shift, you see my hands move in a gesture even I don't notice.

Bittersweet is a twist at the mouth, a smile that reaches the eyes but doesn't touch them as a smile should, just turning them too sad, feeling something being lost as something else is gained. You see regret and knowledge, recognizing growth.

Hope is a true smile, everything goes up, my head, the corners of my lips, my cheeks, my body, my heart. You see my sparkle, from toes to scalp.

Despair is everything hope rises falling. I slump, I stop smiling, my shoulders drop, I look down. You see the air leak out of me.

Daydream is everything at angles, head this way, chest that way, arms bent at odd angles, on leg stretched and one bent, or both, or neither. You see me leave my body.

I feel; you see. You react; I see. I react; we continue.

Christmas is pine and fresh boxes, new plastic smell and metal touch, blue electricity that you find when you don't look, home and family.

Halloween is pumpkin pie and jack-o'-lanterns, mixing with the smells of home as everyone in the family gets wrist-to-elbow deep.

New Year's is laughter at the oddest things, traditions and traditions of starting new ones, staying up too late and making as much noise as you can with clackers and whistlers and bubblewraps we've saved through the years.

Thanksgiving is gravy, turkey, pumpkin pie, orange and brown and little accents of black that always show up for one reason or another. A napkin, a dress, a decoration, some early Halloween or something else.

Holiday was holy day, and sacred still.

I am myself, a singer and a writer and procrastinating and staying up too late and losing myself and finding her again. I remember not knowing I was a singer, and feeling so lost. I remember figuring out I was. I remember the talent show, when the night was mine, the day after, with Mr. H and the whiteboard, and getting out of running. I remember requests of boys and getting me, I remember getting told to go away, encouragements, and getting no reactions at all. I remember love inside my head and out. I remember figuring out the words for myself, after finding out the idea, long after. I remember my first shot at really writing, I remember the escape, I remember figuring out why I chose the name. Caydo was love and home, he was Cadence, coming to a place I knew the music fit. I remember finding those who were so different we couldn't get along, so different we had to, so similar we tried and bounced away and sprang back, so similar we even had the same plane and slope, no more than an inch apart but never touched. I remember the wadded-up pieces of paper and the tennis balls, and laughter at or with. I remember the insults, and finding out which ones were false. I remember figuring out which colors go with which, and still not knowing for sure with shoes, or socks. I remember learning to read because of a teacher's insult, her challenge. I remember when I've really cried, and when I've set myself free. I remember being passive, and I remember feigning it. I remember. So much. Kindergarten, exceptionally good but I didn't know it yet. First grade, exceptionally bad but I didn't know that either after a while, so many knew how good kindergarten was. Fourth and fifth, getting my challenge. Sixth, honor choir, school. Seventh, history with Ms. W, but math with Ms. DeW. Ninth, district. Tenth, district, state, regional. Eleventh. Sixteen going on seventeen. Fifteen going on twenty-five, always mistaken for five years or a decade older. Just being myself, not my age. Who I am, what I am, what I know, what I knew, connections I remember, hope, always, always hope. Even in the middle of tears, hope. Without hope was without tears, was just unbearably passive. Pushed around. Building up my skin to keep the anger inside, keep the knives in and out, then learning to let those shields down when I wanted to.

Life. Piece by piece, step by step. Running, jumping, dancing to somewhere where I can taste the air getting sweet and feel the shivers run through my spine.

Monday, October 4, 2010


When civilizations fade and even your last lingering ideals have turned to dust, you will look at the world and ask, "What did I ever do?" For everything will be gone, and it is only human to wish to see what you have done. To wish to see something with your name on it, your mark.

And the little girl will take your hand. She will take you to the chatting, smiling crowd. And she will say, "This."

You'll understand. "But happiness is fleeting. I can't have done any more than just made them feel better for a few seconds." Even if you have cured cancer, you will feel like this, if only for a moment.

The little girl will smile. "Silly. Happiness echoes. And people just keep adding noise!"

Then she'll skip off to another, while you stand in the smiling crowd until you go to someone or someone comes to you. It'll only take a moment. After all, after everything's gone, what else is there to do but get to know each other?

And you'll smile, and maybe you'll walk off. And maybe you'll become one of the little ones, going out and finding those who have been alone too long, learning how to see when someone just needs a moment. Or maybe not. In a truly infinite world...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

First Anniversary

What, really? You're still reading? I'm still writing? Aw, shucks.

I set this to go up automatically on the anniversary, so it is quite possible that this is as much of a surprise to me as it is to you. I don't really have anything special planned, but you never know when inspiration might strike.

EDIT: I, indeed, did not notice. Happy anniversary to my readers and me!
© 2009-2013 Taylor Hobart