why leaving is the thing to do

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because sometimes the soil is loved just as well when under the toes of memory

sometimes being there means less the presence and more the weight of love

and sometimes love is something I do best when standing far away

sometimes when we commit to each other – we only break further away

because I never thought I would become a Wanderer

my pride towards this land, my land, never made me wish to grow Outwards

but I am a hollow stem that will not grow on fertile earth

and you – you are further away when I am close to you

say, did you not find all that you sought in the place that coaxed your flourishing?

I did. I found it all. it was my heart that I found lacking.

it is not the pain that makes me run – and nor is it the pleasures

it is the absence of a Search to drive me to exultation.

call it running away. call it an exposure of my lavishness

frame me, maybe, as a wild maenad, unaware of privilege

no. I simply cannot stay. this place

has loved me almost violently

and the gaping space it saved for me was almost isolation

it turns out I am a creature that thrives best under starvation.


The Malfoy Case is complete, Marius (my new fic about Marius Black, a Squib involved with East End gangs in the 1940s) has begun, a new chapter of The Tisroc and the King is on the way, and me… I’m moving to Lithuania!

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Half-Dwarves in Narnia and the Colonial Mestizo

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“Doctor Cornelius!” cried Caspian with joy, and rushed forward to greet his old master. Everyone else crowded round.

“Pah!” said Nikabrik. “A renegade Dwarf. A half-and-halfer! Shall I pass my sword through its throat?”

“Be quiet, Nikabrik,” said Trumpkin. “The creature can’t help its ancestry.”

The book Prince Caspian, fourth in The Chronicles of Narnia novels by C.S. Lewis, opens with a lonely Prince yearning for stories of the mythical Old Narnia – a civilization eliminated by his ancestors, the Telmarine Conquerors, who perpetuated genocide when they invaded the country, demolished its buildings, and destroyed its society. Prince Caspian believes these tales to be fiction, but when his new tutor, Doctor Cornelius, admits that he himself is half-Dwarf, the truth of the Telmarine invasion is exposed.

The Telmarines are clearly depicted as conquerors that in many ways mirror the European invaders who colonized the Americas in the 16th Century, but the similarities between Telmarine Narnia and the colonized Americas do not end there. Through Doctor Cornelius’ struggle to conceal his Dwarvish features from humans, the rejection he faces even from the Dwarves in Old Narnia, and the strangely passive role he plays in the Narnian rebellion, it is clear that Doctor Cornelius is a perfect example of a disadvantaged segment of colonial population: the mestizo, reviled by both the conquerors and the conquered.

Doctor Cornelius is introduced to the reader as a character who clearly manifests the characteristics of a Dwarf, but presents himself to Telmarine society as fully human for the sake of avoiding discrimination, even death. Under the reign of the Telmarines, even the mere mention of Old Narnia is punishable, and the survivors of the invasion hide in the shadows.  “I’m not a pure Dwarf,” Doctor Cornelius tells Caspian. “I have human blood in me too. Many Dwarfs escaped in the great battles and lived on, shaving their beards and wearing high-heeled shoes and pretending to be men. They have mixed with your Telmarines.”

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The Liebster Award!

Something wonderful happened last week: this blog was nominated for a Liebster Award by Laura at Caledon Acres! Thank you so much for thinking of this little blog and its stories. It’s wonderful to know that they’re being enjoyed. I’m very happy to accept it… and to answer all the fun questions that come along with the award!

(I don’t think I’ve ever said this, but I find any sort of questionnaire irresistible. I used to spend hours on those quiz websites, doing quiz after quiz until I forgot who I was.)

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11 Questions about Me

  1. How did you arrive at the name for your blog? Well… it’s my name.
  2. If all forms of the name had already been taken, what was your second choice? I called my tumblr ‘the glittering grey stars’… it’s from a poem I wrote (yeah, I’m self-centered) where I used that to describe neurons that are struggling with life problems.
  3. What or who inspired you to start blogging? I knew I had to do it, since I wanted to be an author and all authors have blogs. At least, that’s what all the tutorials say. But it’s turned into a great place to get a summary of who I am and what kind of content I like to produce.
  4. Describe yourself in three words. Optimistic, goal-oriented raccoon.
  5. What is your biggest fear? Looking back on my life and being unhappy with the choices I made.
  6. What is your own personal favorite of your own blog posts, and why? SixI love Six. But Mzungu Town is the non-fiction piece of which I’m the proudest.
  7. Where did you spend most of your life, and where are you now? Paraguay. I’m now back, but just for a little while.
  8. What is a “big” blog that you enjoy and why? Probably Trout Nation. I just can’t stop myself from reading detailed reviews of extremely problematic books. And her tips on writing and plot have really helped me, while being very entertaining.
  9. What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? It’s extremely long. But it’s also extremely good… and you can find it in this post. I love envisioning life as an eternal search for something that transcends us.
  10. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your fresh-out-of-school self? You’re going to be more than okay.
  11.  I am all about bloggers helping other bloggers. Help us help you. If someone wanted to show your blog some love, what would be your preferred method — a Facebook share? Sharing on Twitter? Subscribing to your blog? Commenting on your blog? Submitting your posts to Stumbleupon? Or something else? Let’s all read their answers and try to make that happen. Any sort of publicity is welcome! But Twitter, Facebook and likes are my favorite. Leaving comments on my work is also a really nice thing to do.

11 Random Facts About Me

  1. I have fanfics lined up as far as 2018. I even have outlines for them.
  2. I never actually thought I would be a Person Who Travels. I always knew I wanted to study outside of Paraguay, and maybe do a year of service somewhere else… but all the travelling it seems that I’ll be doing really comes as a surprise.
  3. A weird side-effect of my moving back home has been the inability to catch up with shows I missed. Instead, all I do is watch shows I’ve already watched.
  4. I don’t believe in writing Lord of the Rings fanfiction. I just don’t believe that it can be done well.
  5. There’s a song called ‘Noviembre sin ti’ that me and my friends only allow ourselves to sing in November. We REFUSE to sing or hear it on any other month.
  6. I was bitten by an Aedes Aegipti mosquito last week and I don’t have dengue yet, so I guess it wasn’t contaminated.
  7. If I’m ever unable to have a cat because of the size of my apartment, I will adopt a chinchilla.
  8. The Last Coven was inspired by the city of Posadas, in Argentina.
  9. My best friend has been my best friend for over 16 years.
  10. Moddi is possibly my favorite artist of all time.
  11. I have been writing novels for a long time… but I still haven’t discovered The One: the novel that I can truly dedicate my life to. Right now, I’m still exploring.

Nominated blogs

There should be at least five blogs here, but the truth is I could only think of these three as worthy of an award. That makes them all the more special! They’re my favorite.

  1. Cleansing Our Misconceptions: a blog by my friend Ruha Matin, whom I know in real life. It’s full of passionate, in-depth posts about feminism, human rights and various social issues. She’s covered all sorts of subjects, and she writes in both English and Spanish.
  2. The Old Shelter: Sarah maintains a blog full of really interesting info, pictures, videos and fiction about the 1920s. I started reading her posts during NaNoWriMo a few years back, and going through her blog is like plunging deep into the 1920s!
  3. Heed Not Steve: I feel so calm when I read the posts in this blog. I found Silly Old Day ridiculously adorable. Steve’s work is quirky, short and profound.

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The Boys in the Soccer Field (and what they did there)

20160124_164046We meet them in an empty soccer field: a dusty rectangle between a maize field and a house abandoned in mid-construction. There’s some confusion as we try to figure out a place to sit – the dirt is still somewhat damp from the morning’s drizzle – but then most huddle together on the dirt with their backs to the brick wall of the roofless house, a few others perched on what would have been the windowsills. One skinny boy climbs up and down the walls, his feet finding protruding bricks. The smaller children sit cross-legged, knees touching, giggling intermittently. The rest of them are mostly boys ages 11-14, and all eighteen of them have determined expressions on their faces. Lua, my Tanzanian friend whom I am visiting, and I, sit down facing them.

A sweet-faced boy with a seemingly permanent smile explains their dilemma. The neighborhood kids want a new soccer ball – as we speak, two boys are unsuccessfully trying to patch up the old one, using two sticks and the force of their fingers – but they don’t have the funds to buy one. Lua translates quickly, since my Swahili is still much too weak, and we ask them if they’re interested in carrying out a project.

They look at each other, excitement and hesitation battling in their eyes. “What sort of project?” they ask. Already a boy in a purple shirt, one of the older ones, looks skeptical. He speaks up, unsure about the support neighboring adults could offer, doubting the commitment of his friends. “Why don’t we just all put in some money and buy it?”

“But not everyone has enough money,” another boy points out, surprising everyone with his insight. “And then some will have more of a right to the ball than others. There might be arguments. It’s better if we do something where we can all participate.”

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to return

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The air of what once was is tingling. It shimmers through the fistfuls of iron clasped in the bus, the calls of the youth in their soccer teams, in the eyes of a distant lion.

I appear, now, as a traveller. On my first night, the street was like open arms. She displayed to me her lights like a mother’s ornaments — even through the window’s glass I knew the feel, I knew the scent.

There is some memory of our ancestors, still blurring in the hidden corners of our veins. If science states that at one time a girl with a different face from mine roamed this land — or one much like it — then I am inclined to believe it. Sometimes, when I visit quiet places, places where the air runs soft, hugging the edges of the stones like it is afraid to let go… I think I watch her walk before me. I think I find her footsteps in the sand, a mark that some things never change, a mark that this is less an introduction than it is reunion.

When I sit among the dusty paths and the wind whips around me, I think I can glimpse trails of those who are now gone. I feel as if, if only I could harness it, this feeling might let me gaze into the foundations of the earth. Perhaps it is in lands like this, where stories stretch out beyond Man, that our ancestors remain: in the shifting leaves, in the quiet moments between conversations, in the dust particles that float in the wind.

The cities are different. The people too — we have shed all recognition of each other, but sometimes children keep it. Sometimes, inside their eyes, I find my own.

Sometimes, the mountains stare back.

Why does it not feel like I’m a foreigner
but rather
that I have, at last, returned
and found within my home
a thousand years of change to mourn?


 

The Malfoy Case is at Chapter 26, now!

I finally posted my first work for the Mad Max fandom: Erosion (which is inspired by the erosion pillars in the picture above).

Mzungu Town: A glimpse into the post-colonial recovery timeline

My friend grasps my arm as we cross the street. I’m st20160110_171843ill struggling to understand cars driving on the opposite lanes from what I’m used to. A man shouts, laughing as he calls out to her.

“Don’t touch Mzungu’s arm, the white will rub off on you!”

Mzungu means ‘white’. It’s a new name I was given in this country, one that marks me as rich, and possibly as proud. It has people surprised when I give up my seat to the elderly, and has them staring at me as I pass.

I’m not even white. Perhaps half of me is, but only one fourth of my bloodline is somewhat European. The other fourth is Iranian. The rest of me is Hispanic. But here, the contrast is striking. My name is Mzungu, and I have never been so famous.

When I step off the bus, the merchants murmur “Mzungu” between themselves. When I board a bus, a man looks through the window: “Marry me, Mzungu.” Children wave at me “Hello, Mzungu!”.  A man passes me on the street,  a tune playing on his phone. He presses it to my cheek. “Listen to this, Mzungu!”

Is this what people feel like, in other countries, when we stare at them for being different? I suppose one could easily twist these experiences into some sort of discourse on the supposed existence of ‘white oppression’. But that isn’t what this is. The context here is different than in North America or Europe. It is a framework built by hosts of the colonizers themselves, sometime in the past. The perception of wealth, even where it may not necessarily exist. Someone, at some point, has taught the masses that Mzungu means rich. That Mzungu means proud. That Mzungu is different.

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Between Two Years

Well, 2015 is over, and so much has happened! I haven’t had time to post anything before now, but I’m currently in Tanzania, so I’m starting 2016 in a completely new continent.
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Highlights of this year have been:

  1. My service in Haifa and Akko. Though it began in June 2014, this year has certainly been the most challenging segment of my service in the Holy Land, but also the most fruitful year of my life. I’ve made some unbelievably amazing friends, and I know what I want to do with my life from now on.
  2. Publishing ‘Rules of The Altar’, my first story ever published in a magazine! Knowing that I can achieve that has encouraged me immensely, and confirmed my aspirations to be a published author.
  3. Participating in the QLFC. We made it to the semi-finals and then lost (by 1 point!), but the friends I’ve made and the wonderful plot ideas I’ve been able to explore thanks to the challenge have changed the way in which I view fanfiction, and helped me discover my own strengths and weaknesses in writing. I now have fifteen new stories in my portfolios on AO3 and fanfiction.net, and the knowledge that writing a story every two weeks is well within my abilities.
  4. Getting healthy. My brain is now in perfect working order, and it’s amazing to know that I can be comfortable and happy in my own skin at last. I’ve learned not to be ashamed of what I’ve been through, and learned how I can help those going through similar experiences.
  5. Travelling. I’ve been to Poland, Ethiopia and Tanzania. I never imagined I would go to any of those places at this point in my life, but somehow I was able to!
  6. New fandoms. Ok, maybe slightly less meaningful than the other points, but Mad Max: Fury Road, The Force Awakens, Sense8 and Jessica Jones have given me new faith in what can be done with movies and shows.
  7. This blog. Hey, I didn’t forget about it again, did I?

What to expect in 2016!

  1. Me, travelling even more! And more unpredictably, maybe! I’m going back to Paraguay at some point and then going to either the USA or some unknown location. We’ll see.
  2. A conclusion to The Malfoy Case! It’s been going on for almost two years now, and I’m hoping to conclude it by its anniversary.
  3. The beginning of Mariusmy crime fanfic novel set during the Blitz, which follows Marius Black’s life as a Squib and a criminal mastermind in Muggle London.
  4. More of The Tisroc and the King. I’m hoping to finish it this year but I’d rather not make any promises!
  5. More opinion pieces both here on my blog and on other sites.
  6. Perhaps some new original short stories? Definitely new blog posts about my experiences here in Africa. We’ll see!

 

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What are you planning for 2016? Is there anything you would like to see more of on this blog or in my writing?