Every month has a chance for romance, but there’s something about the shortness and sweetness of February, what with the increasing daylight in the northern hemisphere, and the lengthening of nights in the south, and the abundance of chocolates and roses thanks to Valentine’s Day, that sets a particular mood.
My husband and I celebrate our own meet cute this month – he went to a Valentine’s Day dance with a group of his fellow exchange students, and I popped in quickly after some sort of event (concert? movie? art gallery? I just can’t remember), and saw this guy with a million dollar smile.
It was late winter, and it was the season when Melly’s lake was soft and slushy during the day, and frozen hard during the still-long nights. It was an unpleasant time of year, but one that reminded her that spring would surely come, and she’d be swimming in the green bottoms all day soon. But now, there was nothing to do. She combed her long red hair and sang across the surface. She shut her eyes and let the waxing sun warm her lids and her tail fins, still covered in short winter-white fur dappled with black spots near the tips. Nobody but a complete fool would come out here today.
Her song was interrupted by the crack of ice and a yell for help; she sighed. One should not underestimate the number of fools in the world, she thought, and went to see who had fallen into the ice.
She swam across the lake, under the frozen ice. It was a young man in velvet and furs, and he was floating face down in the cold, cold water. Melly paused and thought of her mother.
“You must sing every day and keep in good practice. Your voice is your weapon, and with it, you will lure strangers to their death. Smash them upon the rocks, or they will surely steal you away from here and kill you,” Priscilla had said.
February, the shortest month of the year! The coldest two weeks of the year in my area; I’m sure some of our southern-hemi friends find it the most miserable hot days of the year. So short, yet so packed with inspiration for writing!
First up, Groundhog Day in the US. It’s come and gone, but if the groundhog sees its shadow on Feb. 2, it’s supposed to get scared, run back to its hole, and there will be six more weeks of winter. If it’s cloudy, though, the groundhog will play around, and there will be an early spring.
This reminds us that it’s fun to play with opposites in a story. Does our heroine have a terrible, awful life, and then get hit by a car, only to wake up as Queen of the Vampires (MaryJanice Davidson, Undead and Unwed)? Or does she have a happy, sunny life, suddenly get pelted with unsuitable suitors who make her life miserable, but after six weeks of BS (OK, six months or so), discover that one of the suitors loves her deeply and would rescue her wayward sister for her . . . and she loves him (Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice)?
I think Amanda Gorman’s poem at the inaugural (“The Hill We Climb” here at CNN) is going to revive an interest in poetry in the mainstream. She did an excellent job both in the composing and in the reading. I love her use of alliteration, and the striking images: “. . . Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest . . . .” And I really like the allusions, both the ones I caught, and the ones I only suspected. And the repetition? Yes, I like the repetition. I like the way it emphasizes her points, plays with the words and turns the meaning from one shade to another like a light show on a winter’s evening.
I have to admit, I’m picky about poetry, which feels weird to me because I’m very undiscriminating when it comes to prose. I can enjoy the back of a tissue box. Poetry is harder than prose. You have to read each word, and you often have to think about those words on many different levels. And so much of it is about depressing topics. But when poetry works for me,
I was surprised to see a romantic vignette this morning on Japanese TV.
A cute young salaryman was getting coffee, when a rich woman spilled a cup of latte all over him. I came in just at the point when she said, “You have some time. Let me buy you a suit.”
The young man was shocked, but persuaded to go to the suit shop. She picked several for him to try on, and like a Ken doll, he dressed and submitted himself for review. “This is fine,” he said about the first one, not caring. She sent him back to the dressing room.
“I’m a little embarrassed; this is a bit flashy,” he said. He came out in a subtly striped suit with a definitely striped dress shirt and patterned tie combination – it worked, but was not conservative. “Next,” said the woman.
Look, it’s been a rough 2020 for the world as a whole, and for many of us personally. I’m not here to tell you what you should or should not do. Except for this: you need to make room in your life for things you enjoy. Some of you are probably doing an excellent job of this already, while others may feel guilty about failing yourself on this as well as other things.
Well, first of all, stop feeling guilty about fun. It IS a luxury, no matter what people these days say. If you don’t find room for fun, well, that was life for millions of people all through the ages.
But . . . it is a delicious feeling to have a little fun when you’ve already got a lot going on. There’s no failing this quest – but there is winning this quest.
So, go ahead and read through my advice – and I’m going to tell you, making plans is really, really fun for me! I love giving advice, particularly if I think it’s good advice. But if it’s not for you, no hard feelings. You can comment about what does work for you, or go research a little deeper into methods that look more interesting. But I hope this will work for some of you (and I hope it will work for me, too).
The whole Fabulous Five Weeks of New Year Plan hinges on second chances and redemption. Maybe you don’t keep resolutions well for a whole year. This is a shorter-range plan than that. You only have to try for five weeks at a time. Then, the beauty of 2021 is that February 12 is almost
Happy Boxing Day, everyone! It’s the second day of Christmas as well as Saturday, which means for a lot of people, it’s a day off and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is starting to slow down.
Christmas isn’t such a big deal in Japan, although the merchants try to make it so. This year, most people worked; some kids got off school but only because Christmas fell on Friday this year and we lost the old emperor’s birthday in December now that the new emperor is on the throne. My kid and I had the day off, so I decided to make a Christmas feast on Christmas Day for the first time in, well, far too long.
To keep me company while I sliced and diced and boiled and roasted, I put on Christmas in Connecticut, a 1945 screwball comedy starring Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan and Sydney Greenstreet with Reginald Gardner and S.Z. Sakall. I wrote about it being my favorite Christmas movie back in 2017, and guess what? It still is!
Stanwyck plays Elizabeth Lane, a magazine writer who is scamming her publisher with fables of rural American womanhood – cooking, cleaning, shopping for antiques and even taking care of cattle. In reality, Elizabeth doesn’t
Princess McBride was a fairy. Well, actually, she was an actress in a car commercial (“The XVCalibre – it’ll whisk you away like magic!”). A starving actress, practically, who had just had a horrible day on the set. The sleazy director, Jason, was a yeller, the wardrobe mistress and her staff all quit at lunch, and then finally, after they finished, she found that someone had stolen her clothes. Jason sympathized, backed her into a corner and made her promise to have dinner with him, and then kissed her without a mask. He gave her ten bucks for cab fare. It cost fifty to get home, but she was so determined to escape him, she left the set, wearing the costume and the glittering amethyst jewelry of the XVCalibre Car Fairy.
So that’s how, two days before Christmas, she wound up taking the subway home. At least everyone on the train averted their eyes. She was trudging that final block home when she tripped over a man wearing a leather jacket and jeans, sprawled across the sidewalk under the broken streetlight.