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Loki, Skittles & Shakespeare 

You know, it's been a difficult week for a lot of people. I've found myself avoiding social media and then glutting on it. My solution has been a bit humorous: immersing myself in Tom Hiddleston movies. Hey, we've all got our thing, right? I even went so far as to purchase the box set of The Hollow Crown, which I highly recommend. I couldn't find it anywhere other than on DVD, but I have no regrets. This medievalist is very pleased. 

Of course, I also re-watched Thor: Ragnarok. As an unabashed fan of explodey Marvel films, I still think it's my favorite. I can't help but feel as if they finally got it right. And by they, I mean not Joss Whedon (and very much Taika Waititi). Loki is best when he's played as a trickster rather than the embodiment of evil and when Thor is best when he isn't taking everything so seriously. The comedic beats in that film are just so impressive, and yet they also manage some really cool drama in between. There may be a little scenery chewing, but it's all taken in stride. Even Hela gets her comedic moments. 

That said, if you're having a hard time right now, it's ok. Don't push yourself too hard. Make a list of the things that bring you joy and hold on to it. Put it in your pocket. Eat that piece of chocolate. Watch that trashy movie. Plant that flower. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind. To yourself, to others, to the future.
I'm having a giveaway for six copies of my heroic fantasy novella, Wothwood -- and you're automatically entered if you subscribe to the Zegedine. You can find more information about it here.

The Reading Situation 

After finishing Madeline Miller's books I wanted to go into some old school fantasy again. I'd read A Wizard of Earthsea over a decade ago but remembered scarcely a thing. So I thought I'd give Vetch a try.

The story is familiar to many, but apparently whatever I read went in one ear and out the other. Or in my brain and out... anyway. I'm losing my metaphors. This is the kind of book that I wish I'd read as a kid because I know little me would love it a lot more than adult me. Which is disappointing. It's got everything you'd expect in fantasy. Plus an archipelago! And LeGuin's writing is solid. But it lacks depth for me. Except Vetch. I loved Vetch.

That said, I'm going to see if I can get the eldest kid to read it. Maybe seeing it through his eyes will help. (I have also started The Tombs of Atuan, and I already like it better...)


On the Record

I'm still pretty stuck on Neko Case's Hell-On right now, so I thought I could highlight a record that means a lot to me. You know the kind of album that you put on and you're transported to another place, another time. Sometimes it's a warm blanket, other times it's a cold reminder.

Travis's The Invisible Band is that for me. And it's timely given that it was a birthday present from my godfather on my 20th birthday. Almost seventeen years later, I can still play almost every song on the album on the guitar by memory. And when I listen to every track (especially "Sing"), I'm sitting in the cafeteria at Loyola (college) University again, scribbling poetry and researching my future. My favorite tracks are probably "Flowers in the Window," "Afterglow," and the hidden track, "Blue Flashing Light." I've never managed to see Travis live, but they remain one of my all-time favorites. Fran Healy's voice just makes me happy. And a little sad. And sometimes that's the best combination, y'know? 
Not Everything is Terrible News
Claire Saffitz speaks to me in a big way. Finding out how to make things, anything, is endlessly fun. And I love her take on Skittles, the dread candy of our household. (Also, her gray streak is #goals. I'm considering letting mine just do its thing.)
“A brave world, sir, full of religion, knavery, and change: we shall shortly see better days.”

Aphra Behn
“Gods always behave like the people who make them."

Zora Neale Hurston
"You can be standing right in front of the truth and not necessarily see it, and people only get it when they’re ready to get it."

George Harrison

Hidden Women: Aemilia Lanier

In stressful times, I often find myself looking for women like me. That might sound strange, but I don't mean this in the literal sense. I mean, I like looking back through history and trying to find other women who wrote, created, and lived. So much of Western history has been diluted, covered up, twisted around, to suit a certain narrative (as I read recently, the term patriarchy isn't just about men, it's about fathers, and boy does that make your head spin).

This week I stumbled upon Aemilia Lanier. Somehow, though I studied a great deal of Shakespeare, I had no idea she was a candidate for "the Dark Lady" nor that she even existed. And wrote! Poems! Feminist poems! What's particularly intriguing about Lanier is that her life is documented due to her proximity to the English Court. She was a musician, a poet, and a writer, moving in and out of Shakespeare's circles. Her goal with her first publication was to find a patron, but alas, no one was willing to take her on. Critics today still can't agree about her aims: was she being satiric? Comedic? What's clear, at least, is that she found the treatment of women unjust, and was willing to put her reputation on the line to speak of it. And her writing remains behind. Not the same can be said for many other women, especially those not literate. I often wonder how many songs and poems women created that never found their way to paper.

I particularly like the "Description of Cooke-ham" which reads very much like Wordsworth, albeit centuries before.

What I'm Writing This Week

It's all about Time & Temperance (I said Masks & Malevolence in the last newsletter, but that one is already off to the editor). It was really hard to write this week. Really. I didn't want to do it. I just wanted to avoid anything creative. But slowly I started writing. And I got through a fight scene. And then I realized two of my characters are in love, and fancy that, it's just what I needed to get going. 

Last week saw a ton of research on the subject of St. Katharine's Docks in London, as well as the previous St. Katharine's Hospital and church. Et voila, all for this little exchange. 

It is a woman of middling years, not transparent exactly, but limned in a purplish-grey light. The apparition is very keenly dressed, and Nerissa gets the sense her finery isn’t a put on. She is actually wearing clothes, but they have somehow avoided deterioration for the better part of a… what, half millennia? If Vivienne were here she would know exactly what century to which this woman belongs, what with her wimple and her long, thick gown. 
You made it this far! Here's a reward. In case anyone else needs some therapy.
That's it for now! Thanks for being part of the Zegedine. Take some time to walk in the sun, look at the stars, and try something new.

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Natania Barron · PO Box 16293 · Chapel Hill, NC 27516-6293 · USA

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