All Souls Day
By Susan Firer
All Souls Day was the night
plenary indulgences were up for grabs
until midnight. (Plenaries
remitted "All the temporal
punishment due on the sins.") On All
Souls Day you could earn them for others.
One of the conditions required to acquire
plenary indulgences was: "that one be free
from every venial sin." (this is trickier
than it sounds, because once you know
you are not allowed one bad thought,
they all just flood in: naked teachers,
forbidden words, acts of vengeance.)
There was a prayer formula: a certain number
of Our Father's, Glory Be's, Hail Mary's
said, and you released a soul from Purgatory.
"Not that OUR family has any souls in purgatory,"
she always told me, "Just to be safe."
I pictured souls like Mary Martin's
Peter Pan shadow, but able to solo fly.
I saw them white, peacock ore iridescent.
It was always on November 2. (All Souls Day
is not a Movable Holy Day like the feast
of Corpus Christi, Ascension Day or Trinity
Sunday.) The church was always huddled in prayer,
(always more women than men) kneeled
in the pews' kneelers' leather give, like flesh
islands in the great, floating continent church.
At all times a few people coughed.
And the church was always beautifully candlelit,
votives lit like wishes at the plaster feet of saints
in every hidden church corner. The Host
would be out on the altar in gold
sun-ray monstrance, looking like the pure eye of God.
Thick incense swung from the thurible
was everywhere. (I was convinced it was God's own
breath that I whispered and coughed through.)
Tired from Daylight
Savings Time and school; I'd try to use school:
"Can't we go? I have school tomorrow!"
But she wouldn't even pause. She'd just
keep saying her prayers, her lips moving silently,
like she was lip synching the Supremes or Martha
Reeves and The Vandellas, the whole while elbowing
elbowingandpinching me to keep me
awake until midnight when the prayers would no longer
trade out souls. I was telling my Catholic friend
about all of this and she said,
"We don't believe in that anymore."
I said, "All Souls Day?"
She said, "No, purgatory."
And I was pissed, really angry:
All those All Souls Days on my knees,
hard, praying until I floated my child body,
praying until the whole church glowed,
praying myself limp. After hours
of prayer, when people finally left the church
no one's knees would straighten;
everyone's knees clicked like tumblers in
lock combinations, and everyone limped
out of church, crippled with prayer
and from dancing with the dead in snow
and incense, and candlelight, and I
just want to know, anyway, now
where do those who are not pure enough
for heaven, but not bad enough
for hell, and unbaptized babies
and all those who we were once
taught stopped over in purgatory,
where do they go? And, further,
what happens to a place, say a family, a marriage,
or purgatory when no one believes in it any longer?
But possibly, just maybe, the souls
of people you were or once loved but were
too young to pray out might still be,
just might be, trapped copper beautiful there,
waiting for cold-lipped prayer litanies
to float them scallop white all the way to heaven.
Enterprise review: "The Aenar". Probably gushier than the episode deserves, but having done the review round-up from "United" last week, it seems that most online critics are erring on the side of gush. I've never been in Trek for the scientific logic, and I must admit I'm not particularly fond of Pocket Books' versions of the Andorians so even if the ones on TV are rather too traditional, I can't be arsed to care.
Something I can be arsed to care about: undonne reports via a friend that Bernard Cornwell (whom I missed when he was in the DC area due to never having my life in order in the evenings) said that there may be another Sharpe movie! With Sean Bean! The script is for a miniseries but he's not sure how long it will be for US broadcast. I will take any Bean-as-Sharpe that I can get, so this makes me smile even if smiling may be premature.
fannish5: What are your five favorite relationships and why?
1. Kira/Odo. For all the ways in which they have nothing in common; for the fact that when they met, she was a somewhat xenophobic Bajoran and he was a shapeshifter with no sense of his true nature, nor his sexuality, and he was working for her bitterest enemy; for the years he loved her without even understanding the feeling before he understood humanoids enough to identify what they called love; for the ways they changed one another while still remaining very much themselves; for the ways they had to learn to make love which were entirely different from what their physical bodies craved instinctively; for the fact that they managed to fall out of love and detach themselves from one another without it diminishing the love, respect and friendship that they had had all along, years before they become romantically involved. This is as close to a perfect relationship as I can imagine, except that it had to end.
2. Winn/Dukat. For exactly the opposite reasons. Because they are equally selfish, ambitious and arrogant; because they have no scruples not directly related to their own power and sense of fair play; because they both believe in their own importance on a spiritual level, and would rather change their gods than change that belief; because neither one is afraid to seize desire and relish it, even when there are so many reasons it should be inappropriate, untimely, wrong; because in a perverse way they balance each other, equal each other, and end up destroying each other, yet it's so hard to believe that that's the end for them; and because this amorality, combined with their evident attraction for each other even when each wants to deny it, makes them incredibly hot together.
3. Eowyn/Faramir. Bet you weren't expecting me to say that of all LOTR pairings, huh? But as much as I love to speculate on Aragorn's relationship with his Steward, and as much as I like the idea that after the War of the Ring, everyone could afford to be happily experimental and polyamorous, there's still a basic inequality in a society that takes its titles and bloodlines so seriously. Being realistic, Faramir and Eowyn are a pairing that work for me on all sorts of levels. That he genuinely cares about her seems obvious -- he says that even if she were the blissful Queen of Gondor, he would still love her, and he is willing to be as patient as necessary for her to recover from the trauma she's been through. I know people make much of the idea that she was settling, or thought she was settling, but I don't think Eowyn was ever in love with Aragorn in a mature sense; he was a friend and savior at a moment when she desperately needed both, when the men in her family were too overwhelmed to be there for her, and along came this man who could be father, teacher, hero, confidant...of course she wanted him to sweep her off her feet. But would she ever have felt like an equal? She and Faramir have each seen the other pretty near to broken in the Houses of Healing, there aren't going to be any surprises about how weak or low they can be brought. You know that saying about how love isn't looking at one another but looking together in the same direction? That's how I see them.
4. Aubrey/Maturin. I've sung the praises of these two so many times that I'm almost embarrassed to do it again in this specifically romantic context, because what's between them is so much more than that. Without exception, before last year, whenever anyone said "oh, I don't really see the need to slash X and Y because their relationship is already so deep, it doesn't need sex," it always seemed vaguely homophobic to me, and dismissive of the power of romantic love, but with Jack and Stephen I really do understand. There are all sorts of reasons that physical love would be problematic for them, of which getting caught and executed is only the most obvious. In fairly significant ways these two don't seem to equate great love with erotic love, which is something Jack in particular enjoys as a pastime but never as an integral part of marriage, and which Stephen associates with humiliation and despair as often as not -- much of which is a cultural issue. I can't begin to enumerate here all the ways they balance and teach and care for and support one another in every other level of their lives -- financial, emotional, intellectual, musical. Bottom line, I don't care whether they were physically intimate or not; this is one of the grandest love stories I've ever encountered, all the more so because at the point where the narrative breaks off, it's headed for a happy ending.
5. Kirk/Spock. I don't think it's an accident that my first great fannish love is the couple from whom the genre of slash emerged. These two respect each other, they complement each other, they complete each other...they adore each other. Again, for obvious reasons, there's more gray than with the heterosexual couples about the delineations between friendship, love and desire, but even if one assumes that none of those "Kirk has to save Spock from pon farr" or "after attempting Kohlinahr, Spock gets in touch with his inner gay man" scenarios ever came about...deep down, does anyone really doubt that they could have? Is there anyone here who thinks Kirk would have let Spock die rather than having sex with him, or that Spock would have been capable of pushing Kirk out of his life just to be free from embarrassing emotionalism? Roddenberry himself wrote those controversial lines in the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in which Kirk announced that he'd always found his best physical fulfillment in women ("best", not "only"), just after Spock has planted upon him the most devoted term we've ever heard a Vulcan express. I don't care where Kirk sticks his schlong, Spock is the great love of his life and vice versa..."Not in front of the Klingons," indeed.
fridayfiver: Love Is In The Air
1. What is the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you? Decorated my college dorm room with photos from old movies and captions about me. Brought me roses and breakfast in bed on my birthday. Gave me an Evenstar pendant. I don't know! I am not really a traditional romance kind of person; I tend to think cut flowers are a waste of money, I'm not really into jewelry. How about surprised me with Phantom of the Opera tickets on our honeymoon even though we were already going to the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford and I hadn't thought we were going to the theater in Toronto? Or made me a mix CD of bad songs by Shatner and Nimoy called "K/Sing to the Classics"?
2. Who was your first love? The one I'm still with. Yeah, it's a pretty sad cliche but it's also true; we met quite young (I was 18) and I wasn't remotely in love with any of the people I dated before him. If we're talking degree of emotional connection there are other people I could count, but I did not have a realistic chance (nor, in all likelihood, a realistic interest) in a real romantic relationship; they were crushes from afar.
3. Chocolates, flowers, or something else? Books. But chocolates are never a bad idea.
4. Do you believe in love at first sight? I believe in strong attraction at first sight, but only time really tells if it's love or infatuation -- and if it's love, then it's easy to claim that it was at first sight, but time is the only real test.
5. What do you have planned for this Valentine's Day? I have a dentist appointment in the morning and then am having dinner with my family. My spouse and I agreed no fancy gifts because we'll be spending so much money to go to England in a month. (Speaking of which: I would like to thank Charles and Camilla for getting married when they are and not the week before, as I can only imagine the traffic nightmares in and around Windsor and Heathrow that might ensue. And I think it's lovely that after doing the fairy tale virgin princess thing and making everyone realize what a bad idea it was as a recipe for a marriage, he wants to take vows with a woman he has loved most of his life. I do hope Andrew Parker-Bowles is happy wherever he is, though.)
1. Would you rather live in a world with or without technology such as computers, cars, airplanes, bombs? That's a fairly loaded question given these particular choices of inventions, but I would still much rather live with the technology. For one thing, both myself and my kids would likely be dead in childbirth without the sterilization and surgical techniques that allowed me to have a c-section, and for another, the majority of technology that got non-aristocratic women out of the house in a lot of the western world isn't mentioned here (electric stoves, dishwashers, washing machines, electric vacuums, etc. etc. etc.) Without cars and planes I wouldn't have seen even a small fraction of the world that I've seen, and without the internet I would never have encountered nearly anyone reading this.
2. If you had to live without either heating in your house or air conditioning, which one would you keep? I'd move to a different house with a more extensive system of fireplaces for the winter, and keep the air conditioning.
3. If you had to own five dogs, what kind would you get? Why is this worded like it would be a bad thing? I'd get the five friendliest big mutts at the SPCA.
4. If the world had a front porch, what would you do on it? Swap books and watch the sun rise and set?
5. Would you rather live in a neighborhood where you know all of your neighbors by name, or where everyone sticks to their own business? Know the neighbors by name. I live in a townhouse development where we're all pretty close physically yet people stay out of one another's private schtick for the most part.
I saw this Seven Degrees of Separation meme in a couple of journals and just could not resist:
Go to your info page and find the seventh name listed on your friends list. Go to their info page. Find the seventh name on their friends list. Repeat until you are seven LJs from your own. (If you come across someone who doesn't have seven friends or the seventh friend is a journal you have already visited on this trip, randomly pick another name and continue).
Now, use the info page and recent entries of that 7th LJ to answer the following questions:
1. What is the title of this journal (NOT the user name)?
Welcome to the Caribbean, Love!
2. How many communities does this person belong to?
3. List any interests you share in common with this user.
lord of the rings, monty python, severus snape
4. List any friends you have in common with this user.
5. Where does this user live?
6. What is the seventh sentence in this user's most recent journal entry?
"Couldn't do without you!"
7. What is the first sentence in this user's seventh most recent journal entry?
"I'd heard this rumored (*tips hat to connielane and wahlee_98*), but now I've seen it from the pen of Terry Rossio, so I believe it. The name of the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie will be...DEAD MAN'S CHEST"
It interested me how many common names and fandoms popped up all the way through the process of this. I wonder whether facets of LOTR and HP really are ubiquitous on my friends list; I should see if I can figure out who has the most rare interests listed. What's funny is that I deliberately try not to list interests that are unique, because then nobody can click through and find me from them; I try to find a rarer angle on something I'm likely to have in common with someone, like harry potter fan fiction or feminist utopias.
On the former subject, though, I'm distinctly not feeling the Harry Potter fannish love this week. To some extent this always happens when I've finished a long story and I need letdown time to regroup and rethink...and in this case, I wasn't overly thrilled with the last bit, and apparently nobody else was either, which is fair enough but still depressing after so many hours of work. But in this case, too, part of the drain is definitely fannish politics rather than fic issues -- the enormous size and scope and frequent obnoxiousness of the fandom, and a sense that I have not had since my early days in Trek that in this particular sandbox (as in middle school) there are people to whom one is expected to suck up.
What's funny is that in the case of Trek, it tended to be the self-proclaimed fannish elders who were annoying -- "I was publishing a zine while you were still in diapers, young lady!" -- but in this case it's the young ones who are so certain of their hipness and brilliant contributions without which the fandom and Rowling's characters themselves would be nothing. Ah, I should be used to that, and I don't know why I care, but it does seem to affect who interacts with whom and how often. I keep thinking I've really clicked with someone, only to have her vanish for days on end to go play in some RPG or go play in another fandom or just go away for awhile, which puts me back to feeling disconnected from what I keep thinking are relationships being forged here. And then I don't know why I do this.
Tomorrow there's a parent learning day at my younger son's Hebrew school in the morning, and my older son slept over my father's house since my mother is out of town so they could bond and play poker, so we have to get up early for the Hebrew school thing, then we are all going out to lunch, and older son wants to get a haircut, and I have to write a couple of articles...does not look like I will be getting much down time. I am sure this is affecting my mood. Also, I want my LiveJournal memories back, dammit! I know everyone else is complaining about this but it's a real pain not to be able to access them! So sorry if I am a grump. *g*