April 1st, 2011

Rainbow || Rainbow northern lights.

(no subject)

I suppose prepare for more rambles. Being on the precipice of graduation seems to inspire an incredibly rambling atmosphere in my mindspace.

I'm getting this feeling again, one I've had many times and have never been able to describe. It makes me pace and frown, or stop and laugh, or stare out windows and tongue my teeth, smiling faintly but too out-of-body to put much power into the expression.

The feeling... Hmm, well, it seems that at least for me, feelings come with these little Symptom Sentiments, that I can add up in my head to suss out what I'm feeling and why, so I may know what I must do (if anything). My Symptom Sentiments at the moment seem to be (in a rambling, disconnected manner) recollection of past sensations and situations that felt similar, and this idea that even from where I am in a my-world-is-about-to-change place (very Dr. Seuss-esque in my mindspace), these special feelings will continue to connect me to my past, present and future. The knowledge that reading a favourite childhood or adolescent book will always bring back these memories and, with them, feelings that can cross time - not make me feel 14 again, but allow me to remain 21 and separately feel what I felt at 14 in connection to my current life situation.

This time it has started from the temporary freedom of a post-dissertation, pre-exam-revision set of spring break days. But the feeling wouldn't have arisen had I not started reading parts of Tamora Pierce's 'Circle of Magic' series again (Sandry's Book at the moment) to collect quotes for my Rosethorn/Lark manifesto. It is delightful and connective! I must take great care in not spending the rest of my day(s) reading this material, as I have made that 'mistake' a number of times in my life with this series...as you are about to see!

I recall when I was 14 and in junior high, stumbling upon Tamora Pierce's Tortall universe ('Song of the Lioness', 'Protector of the Small' and 'The Immortals' series with more now) in the library . They made me realise that the stories I had read online and loved were fanfictions of her work (I was already well aware of fanfic) and picked up the 'real thing' immediately; I'm sure it must have been a 'Song of the Lioness' book as I remembered the name Alanna (and her eyes). I read through them like my life depended on it, through hip-fractures and algebra (simultaneous shiver, anyone?). When my parents witnessed my love of these books, my father (possibly with my mother's input) purchased more Tammy books, this time in the Emelan universe. I was too frightened to leave Tortall and step into a new universe; I let them sit unopened, to my parents' disappointment. I simply wasn't ready.

I recall my choice to go to an agricultural (vocational) high school instead of my town's ordinary high school, where most of my friends were going. I wasn't too frightened by those prospects, necessarily, since I've always enjoyed the loner phases before I make new friends (but I appreciate the friend-making process and friend-having stage as well). At that point I was gung-ho Animals, Animals, Animals - oh the Glorious Animals! ('Protector of the Small' was unsurprisingly a favourite of mine.) I'd admired a tree or two, but for the most part plants hadn't garnered my interests, least of all gardening. Then I met my plant science instructor Ms. Watson (or Chaenomoles Watsonii, as I later called her) and my life started changing. I opened the 'Circle of Magic' Emelan books, I'm not sure why, and Ms. Watson became my Rosethorn (cranky-but-loveable gardener and teacher character in the series); I began to notice plants, the value of soil and the world from a less animated point of view. I fell deeper in love with this universe than I had Tortall. Ms. Watson even looked just like Rosethorn's description (and not entirely unlike an older Nana Visitor). The books became a part of my life. (It also helped me with sexuality as Rosethorn and Lark have a rather subtly-written [main characters are children] but beautiful and supportive relationship; I was an out lesbian in high school, which sometimes wasn't fun. I loved reading about an older-and-settled relationship instead of the newer endless-passion stages - though I appreciate both.)

I recall taking classes in plants (landscape design, arbor work and chainsaws, floriculture, gardening, natural resources), animals (aquatic, cows, sheep, pigs, birds, small animals and many of the products that come from them all) and mechanics (tractors, woodworking, welding, metalwork). Emelan is a universe of craft magic; I suddenly felt at home. I was reading about Lark (kind spinner/weaver and teacher in the series) teaching Sandry (one of the four main special children of the series) to spin yarn as I was learning it in class. I felt at home. I felt as though I didn't need a Gift or to speak with squirrels because there was latent power in craft-working and having the ability to do just as much as be. Pruning the apple orchard, creating leather key-chains and crafting wooden stools became special to me. (If I remember correctly, '♥ Rosethorn & Lark' was pen-burned onto the bottom of one wood-working endeavour!)

I recall my dying hip and the constant feel of a wooden cane at my fingertips. It was painful, but I pictured myself as too strong to outwardly show it, and didn't let others see. I was reading those books (possibly Briar's Book / The Healing in the Vine, in fact - my favourite of favourites) when the time for my worst operation came and afterwards, when I couldn't speak because I felt broken and useless and helpless and would cry when I had to speak. My Rosethorn-Ms.-Watson gave me a hug before I left for April break (which is coming soon, and another reason all this comes to mind) and the bonsai I had had my eyes on. (Not a managed one, yet, just the starting tree - and just a Bradford Pear - but I loved it.) I became a plant major; when animal science attempted to snag me again Ms. Watson urged me to 'follow my heart' (unlike the animal teacher), and I realised my heart is a tree.

I recall sitting out in my yard on my trampoline - unable to bounce but able to sit with all my belongings - reading (and re-reading) Tammy's 'Circle of Magic' books while listening to birds call, rabbits scamper, mowers growl and the delicate whisper of breeze through the trees. I remember that feeling of peace and confidence that things could get better, that I could pull through, even when everything in my life felt shaky and uncertain. I had a new appreciation of the world around me, I had a Rosethorn and I had some serenity somewhere down deep in my heart. (And that was before I even came across Rachel Carson the next year. (; ). From there it's my high school story.

Today I am in my top-floor room in England with the spring breeze floating in through my open windows ("Oh, that feels great!" Roberts exclaimed of my breeze). I've been reading about Rosethorn and Lark, these characters (and 'people', to my heart) I have loved and valued for years. I'm feeling the peace again, the confidence that I can pull through, even if things feel shaky and uncertain.

So I'm sure that's much more than you needed to know about my life, but sometimes I have to revisit it all and livejournal has always been the best place for me to do that. I also just remembered that during spring break two years later (my junior year, when I was 17) I was preparing my mind for a hip replacement and flying to England to check out universities, including Uni. Reading (so there's always a 17-year-old version of me crutching and wheeling around here). (I was reading The Black Jewels series at the time; I can recall since it was connected to an important period in my life.) Now, three years later, I'm revising for my final exams before I head home - Stateside - again. April is also the month I originally fractured my hip and had my first operation, back when I was 14. And, now that I think of it, April may have been the month I was told (at 16) that the the big operation I had at 15 hadn't work and that I had to consider hip fusion (NO THANK YOU!) or a hip replacement (which they suggested I get at 21...and just put up with the diminished quality of life until then).

I forgot how heavy April can feel. Perhaps this is my April Feeling. I can understand why this would make me pace and frown, stop and laugh, stare and smile. The line of my Aprils is a pretty heavy and central line in my life. (And for a non-April connection, I met Tammy herself at Boskone Con [in my beloved Boston] for my 16th birthday; I was recovering from an operation to remove the pin from the long-and-hard April operation. I had learned to smile and speak without crying once more and had become a more Lark-like person without the requirement for a harder outer crust to keep my spine straight.)

I guess this feeling is my April Fools feeling. I am a Fool in April! (Fool in the sense that I am forever on a search for knowledge, experience and wisdom.) I am entertained by how I can always forget what this feeling is, until I sit down and think about it. Perhaps this time next year I'll remember this entry, and know it is my April Fools feeling? Or I'll write myself a note. (;

This is why I am so very pleased (more than I can express) to have heard back from my Rosethorn and to see her email signed "Chaenomeles", as it is a running joke for us. We learned Chaenomeles speciosa for our herbariums in plant materials. She wielded the stem-thorn at us like a sword and then had the braver students taste the fruit - talk about sour! We joked about my name being Kiwi, and my Latin fruit genus being Actinidia. At that time I called Mike Acer (Maple) and Laura a scientific plant-name similar to her surname. We asked Ms. Watson what fruit she would be and she thought about it for a moment. Then she decided: "I'd be Chaenomeles - Quince! Sword-stems and sour fruit." She later told us it made excellent jam. She became Chaenomeles Watsonii (Latinisation of her surname). And she told me later, privately, that ('of course') she would be an oak tree. (My email at that point was already 'serenity.oak' - ah, how similarities with those we respect and love can warm a heart, hmm?)

And now, silly Kiwi of 14 or 15 or 16 or 17 or 21, it is time to clean your room! No more dissertation to excuse you. Your To Do List is too long for dilly-dallying. What oh what would Ms. Watson say? (...she'd threaten me with endless floriculture design and chatty-Cathy 'oh is that a new line of mascara?' flori girls. I go, I go; look how I go...!)


Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.
[Rachel Carson]
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