Rinse, repeat …

So far, the new WordPress editor is driving me bonkers and is about to get slapped upside the head with my pimp hand after trying to stitch me up via Siri. 

Warning! Rant …

I spent the last four days trying to delete my Instagram account, which I started four days ago. Before that, I was forced to shred my Twitter posts, all 202 of them and delete my account. Long story short, Twitter is Babylon.

I have sworn that I would never use Facebook products ever. I had to go back on my word because I’m not able to travel overseas this year. 

Instagram’s software decided that my photos were professional-looking. I was prompted to upgrade to a professional account and pay for advertising. They then said that I needed a Facebook page (so they can mine my data and sell me ads). I declined because I wasn’t going to sell my artwork anyway, and their analytics are irrelevant. I was planning to post photos from my archives to establish some credentials. I wanted other artists to pay attention to me when I engaged with them. Instead, from the fourth post in, my photos started vanishing. Soon after, I was not allowed to react to stories, or comment on more than four consecutive posts. So I said, I’m done. Four days later, after several thwarted attempts, I finally did it.

I was miserable the whole time.

You have to understand, I study programming and machine learning so I know how algorithms work. I don’t believe that their algorithms are even-handed. Machine learning code requires human input and all of that “the algorithm changes constantly” nonsense you see in tech magazines, is shorthand for “our programmers are constantly re-drafting the code so that people who are not buying advertisements will feel compelled to do that”.  

I had zero followers and was getting suppressed. It is a clear sign that Facebook exists to sell advertisements. They don’t cater to anyone who refuses to add to their bottom line. I don’t have access to their servers, so there is nothing I can do to change their policy to help myself.

Please do not ask me about all of the accounts I visited in stealth mode. Oh, I spied on everybody: neighbours all the way to my former teachers, classmates, childhood friends, crushes, crushes’ crushes, uni friends, colleagues. People are so nice when they don’t know it’s me commenting.

One of my cousins, who is a fashion designer, sent me a lovely welcome audio message to thank me for joining her army of fans. In real life, her husband banned her from talking to me because I told my cousin she should not allow her husband to name himself CEO of her multinational fashion brand, which she started on her own. He has no business training, mind you. He claims on his social media accounts that he is naturally better at business because he’s a dude and men are traditionally the provider. It’s a very long story – and you can read about it at that link. 

I woke up on Sunday morning to a face full of the power couple in an Instagram live stream. Their marriage is amazing and perfect and stuff so they were cohosting a marriage counselling session with a very good-looking celebrity singer couple. I had to intervene after a guest complained that her man wasn’t ready to have children. She joked that her friend told her to take a sample of his you-know-what while he was sleeping. I quickly jumped in the chat to say that it was assault and battery. (If I had a partner kinda sorta joke that they would impregnate me in my sleep, there’d be no discussion about it: that would be the very end. Don’t say hi to me, get lost forever).

Of course the power couples ignored me. Because, they don’t have any knowledge about fundamental human rights. And why would they? They’re not really helping anyone, they’re building a brand.

 

Don’t ever change yourself

I finally did it. I finally gave into my deep-seated aversion to non-specific socialising. Blogging on WordPress, I had something to talk about: A photo, a piece of art, poetry, a short story or a reflection. I feel better relating to people in context and not simply blurting thoughts out into the ether.

an assortment of stationery cans, a few Disney Frozen and Heartful Fairy, colour

I deleted the Twitter app from my phone. That means I can only access my account from my tablet, my laptop, and every single computer at work. (There are about one hundred of them and I have administrator privileges.)

The thing is, and I know what you’re thinking – that one deletion is not a huge deal – but it’s significant.

What put me over the top was looking at a retrospective from a fashion blog sitting above a post about the World Food Program and other United Nations programs. The juxtaposition feels weird because I’m interested in clothes and I also want to help people.

Another issue that bothers me is that many communities are not being helped by these programs. They are facing food shortages; they don’t have access to clean water or soap. And these wonderful organisations are practically unreachable.  

I know this because I spent every day this month so far trying to reach them. An NPO asked me to help them out of a jam so I did the best I could. I composed emails and PSA copy, brainstormed ideas, edited an entire website’s content, looked up contacts, confirmed contacts, sent direct messages, and tweeted at organisations and individuals. 

One organisation made it very clear that they could help in limited ways, so that’s encouraging. Still waiting for a response. 

I read a PR blurb about another organisation sending food aid to a developing country. They assured me that as long as I contacted their office in country they would be fine. So I asked the NPO to do that. I’m hearing that the NPO can’t raise this organisation on the phone, nor receive any response via email or LinkedIn. 

This evening, I saw a PR blurb from the WFP saying they raised $3 billion to alleviate food shortages in the world. They were so concerned about the plight of displaced families. Does this make any sense? I feel like an alien sometimes – I have no idea what’s happening on this planet. Maybe I’m too naive and it’s time I grew up.

I’ll be spending much of Saturday brainstorming with the NPO about how to get a community with homeless children fed. There is food aid available but the official channels seem completely cut off from the communities that need help the most. And yet, they are somehow able to collect data from those same communities in order to raise funds. When I see all of this ‘Let’s help hungry children’ and ‘Donate now’ on their websites, my heart breaks a little.

How did you meet your husband?

Praia and Augustine

“How did you meet your husband, Praia?”

“It is a very long story.”

“Start and keep going until you get to the end. My brain is saturated with work stuff. Cleanse me with your tale of true love.”

“I met him in Bhutan five years ago. I was already in country for three months when we met. I was a field tech volunteer with the Yoon-Kim Foundation. I was involved with Xu Ming, the film director. You might have heard of him?”

“Who hasn’t?”

“He was there to film a documentary about the Yoon-Kim Foundation. My boss asked me to guide him and his crew high up in the mountains. He wanted to capture some nature scenes. It was pure lust. At least, for him.”

“What about you? What was it for you?”

“I thought he was the one. He was humble, thoughtful and attentive. While I was deeply infatuated with Ming, I met my husband. He was taking a year off after finishing an internship. He decided to be a volunteer medic in Bhutan  while looking for fellowships. Everything was platonic. We went on hikes, explored some parks, had picnics, took photos. We didn’t hold hands or kiss or anything. He had a girlfriend back in Canada: a commercial pilot.”

“Hot stuff.”

“I was crushed when I saw her photos. Former Air Force pilot, two engineering degrees, speaks five languages, double D cup, skinny as a toothpick, super long legs, the type of creamy platinum blonde hair you only read about. He won the lottery ten times over, right?”

“Depends on what he wants.” 

“Good point. But I never thought that at the time. Well, one day, while we were waiting for a ride to pick us up from a remote village, he looked into my eyes and said he wanted me to run away with him to America.”

“What?”

“I thought he was joking. So I said what you just said.”

“What did he say?”

“He repeated what he said.”

“What did you do?”

“I asked him about the genius supermodel genius. I didn’t care if he thought I was insecure. She was dynamite.”

“That happened to Ming?”

“A few days after that shocking declaration, Ming called me from Shanghai. Anyway, I told him I loved him and he seemed happy. But a day later, I texted him to ask if he was coming  to Bhutan to see me. He told me he had to  be in Kyrgyzstan for a location shoot for that big budget film.”

“Nothing unusual about that.”

“When I told him I missed him, he laughed out loud and called me a silly girl.”

Ahh …”

“Yes. I don’t remember what I said to him, but I felt stupid, thinking it was serious.”

“Then you ran into your husband’s arms?”

“No. The last thing I needed was a rebound fling from a non-thing. I found the most remote village in Bhutan and hid out there. I don’t think I showered for the first six weeks.”

“Rejection is pain.”

“I was ashamed and angry, and I took it out on myself. I believed that Ming was into me. It makes me cringe even now.”

“And then you ran into your husband’s arms?”

“Not yet. It’s a really long story. While I was outdoors rolling up tents one morning, my tablet lit up. It was Ming. He wanted to video conference but I had no makeup on, my hair was dirty and pinned up, I was in baggy pajamas, three parkas and mucking boots.”

“Sounds like you were having the time of your life out there.”

“Oh, I felt happy and free. Smelly, and … free. I looked at my tablet and for a moment thought about pressing the accept button. Let him see me looking destroyed.”

“How long was that moment?”

“It was long. But I chucked it in my bag and finished up my morning work duties. When I came home for my lunch break, I saw that I had a video message. Ming said he missed me and wanted me to fly to Paris to see him. He had an awards ceremony and wanted to bring me on the red carpet.”

“And?!”

“After what he put me through? He should have sent me an apology. I laughed out loud. I’m sure the entire village heard me.”

“Was it the kind of laugh you hear in movies when the villain realises he trekked across the universe, wiped out dozens of civilisations to retrieve a box, only to open it and realise it was empty the whole time?”

“Exactly. And I was laughing at myself. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He rejected me and there he was, begging me to drop everything and run to him.”

“Right? Was it a rebound summons?”

“Maybe? I didn’t think about that at the time. I remember thinking he was hideous. That’s when I finally took a shower. I had to scrub him off me.”

“Was it like waking up from a trance?”

“Not really. I think I started to feel better after accepting that I was being silly. He was  right about that. Now comes the part you’ve been waiting for.”

“Wait, I need more juice. All right… Go.”

“All right. So I’m sitting on the edge of my bed, after scrubbing a month’s worth of dead skin off my body. My hair is fluffed out and all over the place. I hear a knock on my door. I open it, thinking it’s one of the villagers …”

“Wait … it’s your husband at the door.”

“Yes. Accompanied by … genius supermodel genius.”

“Ugh…”

“She sparkles, by the way. I am sure it was the loads of highlighting primer she had on but let me say, she was the design template for hentai fantasy. She had translucent teeth, skin and hair.”

“Ugh….”

“They got a ride up to the village and wanted to ‘explore the area’.”

“How smug.”

“The way he looked at me though, you’d never believe he’d ever seen a woman before. I felt scared for a minute.”

“And, how did you react to the way he looked at you?”

“I pulled my ‘best bitch’ face and told them to see me at the village tuck shop after my work duties were done. It was only after they walked away that I realised I was wearing a pair of huge, neon yellow room slippers, a bright pink dressing gown, and no bra.”

“Please … stop. You met your supreme love rival, GSG, in a bathrobe?”

“And don’t forget that my nipples were poking through.”

“Crushing.”

“I face-planted on my bed. Anyway, when we all met up later, he was asking me if I was with someone. Like, a love interest. I thought he was looking for some sign that I wanted him, so I took a shot. I said that romance was elusive and that I wanted to run away to America, where I could meet people who understood the words coming out of my mouth.”

“What did GSG say to that?”

“She smiled sweetly, in her computer-generated-waifu way, and squeezed his hand. She was saying something inspiring, because she’s also a guru and totally into keeping it simple with her feather-soft complexion. But I could barely hear it because her engagement ring blinded me. It blinded me because it was that big.”

“Oh, no! Not again … This is not a romantic story, Praia. It’s a suspense horror thriller.”

“Believe me, a week later, I was this close to throwing myself off the side of a hill into a gully, when my phone rang. It was him. He was on his way to see me. I hung up.”

“How on earth did you both get married?! Wait a second. I need blueberry popcorn.”

“I’m getting there. When he shows up, we have a quarrel. The gist of it is that I ask him if he thinks I’d be grateful to let him get on me because he’s engaged to every otaku’s wet dream. I say I’m not interested in running away to America to get dumped. Not that I could even consider moving unless I had a job waiting.”

“Right on, babe.”

“So he pulls out a tablet with an electronic marriage license application. Downloaded it from the Canadian High Commission’s website. And filled in his part of it.”

“Where were you when this was happening?”

“In a staff lounge in the free medical clinic set up by the foundation.”

“So, he was engaged to someone else a week earlier, but he wanted to marry you right then, to prove he was serious about you?”

“It felt weird for sure, but I didn’t ask him about … GSG … because I was insecure and jealous.”

“But you signed the marriage license?”

“Yes. Two days later, the license cleared, we signed some forms and we were married.”

“So in other words, you really liked him?”

“I did.”

“Wait, you didn’t have a bash after you moved here.”

“Nope.”

“You must let me plan your wedding. I’m a disgraced ex-fashionista. I’ve got you covered.”

“All right! Go for it.”

( ◠ ‿ ◠ )

Have you made it to the end of this very long story?  This is a chapter from a work of fiction I’m writing. Reread a few chapters recently and I see there is lots of polishing to be done. Hopefully, time is on my side.

If you’d like to stay in touch with me on Twitter, this  is me: @dotjp_n. Or send me a message on this blog’s contact form. Have a great Tuesday.

Whose baby is it then?

Door knob, St John

An armada of chauffeured vehicles arrived in front of the house at around noon. Two angels emerged from one of the vehicles. Their facial muscles were paralysed after an emergency dose of botulinum toxin. And now, their stony expressions would be magnified by an irreverent chorus of waiting photographers.

One of the angels shrugged a white feather boa off her sequinned shoulders, and they both tiptoed to the front door. The other angel used her boa to swaddle the sleeping newborn she was cradling in her arms. Turning around, she held him so the photographers could do their part. Their editors’ instructions were clear: Bring back photos of a “sleeping cherub” to pacify family brand advertisers. The photographers obeyed, and captured the newborn’s face with wordless fanfare.

The first angel rapped on the door. She was here with a message.

“Ton, ton, ton…”

Indoors, a woman with meticulously disarranged hair was seated, palms down, on a sofa. Upholstered in green silk mohair, the sofa was on loan for a photo shoot. The woman’s vision went dark, and cold sweat from her palms stained the fabric. Covering her feet were three large tuffets of borrowed clothes. They were going to the cleaners and then on to her sponsors’ ateliers and boutiques. They would be retagged and sold as “new”.

One tuffet heaved and deflated as a publicist berated the woman for some issues arising from a recent event. Sponsor “feedback” was delivered daily. This afternoon, the message from on high was that French makeup brand d’Armant was displeased.

“You applied drugstore lip gloss over their matte lipstick. Influencers are tweeting about the distracting glitter instead of swatching the palette. Their artistic director is quite upset. Also, he said you should have used a stamp brush and their smudging technique to apply your eyeshadow. The lines were to be diffused instead of defined. Marketing faxed us this information sheet. It’s got illustrated instructions. Would you like to read it now? Also, also…”

A soft plume of blonde curls popped out of the heaving tuffet. Mommy wasn’t playing, so the little girl climbed up on the sofa. Obviously, mommy knew that the angel was a liar. Daddy did not make sperm. Therefore, secret weekend trips to Italy were needed to facilitate an immaculate conception. Some of daddy’s skin cells were harvested at a genetics lab in Naples. A reproductive specialist treated them with a brew of hormones and amino acids. Weeks later, daddy’s skin cells, now transformed into sperm, were injected into mommy’s ova. This medical voodoo cost €500,000, plus a generous €300,000 in bonuses to each of the three specialists who did the harvesting, reprogramming and implantation. It was a bargain, considering that the lab provided a private plane, bodyguards, and secure transportation on the ground.

“… Norman Kaas wonders why you wear the same black satin shoes to all of your evening events. He is lending you three pairs from next spring’s collection. The shoes must be photographed from specific angles when you’re standing, so make sure not to move around too much. And, and …”

Door knob, St Lucas

The first angel walked away from the door. Her eyelashes fluttered as if to fan away opprobrium. Without a doubt, her message would be shared with all the world. The other angel looked down at the newborn. Sunrays caught her sequin dress and threw puddles of light on the baby’s face. A still, small voice spoke through her earpiece, “One more photograph and off we go, Ms. King.”

Indoors, the woman endured scathing judgement from the design houses whose good names she was there to glorify. On TV, she was vaunted as a millennial Cinderella: a hardworking woman blessed with traffic-stopping good looks. She, or precisely, her face, womb, and ova, had been recruited to freshen up a bloodline. She was a master from afar. But caught in this gravity, she was the facsimile of every girl that envied her. The girls who envied her were ruthless and ambitious. They celebrated her “natural look” by smearing foundation on their bottoms before slipping into their bikinis.

The woman searched for a mundane detail she could use to calm herself. From among the borrowed clothes, an extra-long care tag drew her attention. The designer had published a short story, in serial format, on the care tags of a limited range of clothing. This particular tag read the ending:

(6) Now home, on a
different island, Elle
was e
ager to open
a letter that America
had sent to her.
On reading it,
her blood froze in
her veins.
America
wrote, “Your friends
are sorry but they
cannot give you
back your old life.”
Elle went into the
kitchen. There, she
held her long, dark
hair to a flame and
burned off her tresses.
Then, she gathered
them from the floor.
Mother always said
to tidy up.

Loki’s Daughter
100% Polyester
UK 8 US 2 Euro 36

Made in Isolation

Laundry care symbol wash at 40 C
Do not bleach
Laundry care symbol iron warm

Images: The doorknob photos are mine, taken from the front doors of a Roman Catholic church that was built in the early 19th century. The engravings read, “Joannes” and “Lucas”. Mundane laundry symbols, “Wash at 40 °C”, “Do not bleach” and “Warm iron”,  are from Wikimedia.

Kissing

Temple kissing

Her face was fully inside his mouth when she realized that his hands had clamped her head in place. One of her eyeballs plopped out and dribbled along the teeth lining his lower jaw.  As it settled into a jagged crater, the eyeball surveyed an astral grey amalgam of filling. A nerve ending in the retina swapped that image with the screenshot of a scene from Robocop. The tiny hairs in her nostrils weren’t quite so swayed. This was a human, and the tiny hairs proved it by enhancing the coffee stains and cigarette smoke emanating from his lungs.

Her right shoulder chipped in to help. Twisting to the left, it wrenched her face from his grip. Taking the hint, her left hand pulled open the door of her car. She had been standing with her back to it so she was able to slide in, gracefully, bottom first.

As she steered her car right, to exit the driveway, the man’s narrow body flattened out in her rearview mirror. His knees and elbows were still bent. His hands flopped down at the wrist. His tongue was stuck to the roof of his open mouth, as if he had been rudely interrupted, mid-hunt.

“Eat or be eaten” sustains the appetite for the short term. But human tribes, under threat, preemptively culled predatory populations (of animals and cannibals) so that they themselves could thrive. She wondered if this had happened to the dinosaurs before they went extinct.

Image: Lakshmana Temple depiction of couple kissing, dates back to 950 AD.

The Puppet Prince

Masked ball participant at Venice Carnival 2010

Sophie’s man was always fresh out of ideas. But he desperately needed a new roster of financial ventures to stay solvent. At the outset, his advisors found it difficult to tether him to a coherent idea. Thus, for his own good, his role had to be more “paperweight” and less “partner”. Occasionally, when hurled at an aide, his temper would do a lot of damage. Otherwise, Sophie compelled him to exist as a voiceless lunk.

The man’s lack of foresight had threatened to destroy Sophie’s childhood ambitions. However, she couldn’t simply chuck him to one side, grab a tiara and let that be that. This was not 18th century Russia. Yet, even in those days, serfs would not obey autocrats unless convinced of their right to rule.

And yet, it is 18th century Russia, though the serfs are tending to plots in unformed space. Tapping and scrolling, oblivious to bandwidth overheads, they tithe their landlords in views and clicks. Under Sophie’s influence, the landlords gather with advertisers and content providers at the private soirées she hosts. Grateful, they pay their dues in cash and kind.

Now, as then, the serfs assert the right to touch their rulers, and lash out if someone in power abuses their privilege. The man has an irrational fear of being stoned in public, so Sophie controls him by pointing out what he stands to lose. She does that by feeding him to the serfs, one intractable flaw at a time. Then, she makes the alternative easy to bear: “Let qualified advisors do the heavy lifting. Go along and do not interfere.” She accomplishes this task by training the man to be helpless.

It is breakfast time in the drawing room. As usual, a valet is spreading homemade jam on a slice of crumb-free toast. A mandarin tells the man when to start sipping his coffee. The pages of the morning papers are carefully screened and selected articles outlined in green ink. The same mandarin hovers nearby and murmurs a summary of each one into the man’s right ear.

Though somewhat soothed by the devoted scratchings of knife on bread, the man is in a strop. An item of blind gossip had been planted in the previous evening’s tabloid, and a copy “forgotten” on a coffee table outside the drawing room. He’d seen it on his way in. Someone had blabbed about that day last month when he was pouting about going outside for thirty minutes to cut a ribbon. The front page photo showed him wearing the tiniest frown as he was leaving the car. The sun was in his face, but no matter.

+_*

Image credit: Carnevale di Venezia, Italiana 2010 (Italy), photo by Anja/Edward N. Johnson, 13 February 2010, via Wikimedia.

Notes: Four years on WordPress. Time really flies. My archives are bursting and so was I. Big thanks to everyone who has made this loads of fun.

Strawberry Sea

Lords of the Fallen

Christian fell out of the wormhole and landed flat on his back. Overhead, his hovercraft exploded. The blast appeared to congeal as it was swallowed up by the singularity.

Within moments, shortwaves activated his solar plexus. The nerve endings shocked his heart into rhythm and his lungs billowed open. His first breath was a revelation. Air, in three-dimensional space, tasted sweet and astringent.

The first light of that morning prized open his pupils and flooded his eyes, enabling him to see his surroundings. He convulsed, fingers scraping at the ground, as his brain recalibrated itself. A phalanx of trees looked him over. Their leaves nodded lazily as they cast off the raindrops that weighted them down.

As a comic book hero, Christian’s circumstances were limited by whatever someone else decided to print. “I can’t live to my fullest potential because I’m using half my consciousness to act out roles other people have scripted for me.” An illustrator had scribbled those words near Christian’s mouth. They were cruel and ironic. Free will is nonexistent in two-dimensional space.

“There are advantages,” thought Christian, while battling a Bandroid in volume 91, page 316. “My victory is guaranteed.” Eight pages later, he changed his mind. “Please someone,” he pleaded, “write me a way out of here.” On page 326, someone drew him into our cryptic universe.

That was how he found himself stretched out on the eastern bank of the Ganges, dreaming of a strawberry sea.

+_~

Notes: Keep calm and rebel on, rebels. With special thanks to Lilian Wong for including me in her Twitter poetry campaign, which started on September 4 – @LilianYWong. Image Credit: Playstation Europe. Lords of the Fallen, via Flickr, used with permission.

Shame-free Romance (PG 16+)

 German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi doing the tango
Photo courtesy Chigirev

If romance were like sports, winning would be easy. A game has rules and a clear winner. But as Grace Dent elegantly states it, “real love with actual humans can be an arduous task.” That is why, if you’re bashful, like me, you will be appalled by the idea of approaching a person and saying, “Please, like me, please.” It seems pushy and even rude but lots of men and women do this with no fear whatsoever. I wondered if I was missing out.

Over dinner, a friend helpfully suggested that I try to be bouncy. I thought she meant I was to change into a thigh-split dress and hurl myself from a moving car.

 Rebecca Ferguson in Rogue Nation
Photo courtesy Business Insider

I liked the idea, as it is a subtle way of asking to be introduced. Until another friend explained that she meant I should mislead witnesses with a padded bra.

While my friends discussed these details, I recalled three attention-grabbing techniques favoured by women Glampions. I’ve seen these tactics in sports: The Wedge, the Lob and the Shirt Pull. They are 100% shame free.

Wedge | When a woman is talking to a man you want like, wedge yourself into the conversation with a tango style pasada, and body block. Slowly caress his thigh with your thigh, à la Gisela.

 Lonestar Rollergirls, Photo courtesy Wikipedia

Lobbing | Pretend to misunderstand information.  Lob a series of pointed and penetrating statements at your rival’s pride. For example, Fantastic Bachelor says, “Ai, you look lovely this evening.” Ai says, “Sorry I’m late. I stopped for gas.” You respond, “Oh, no! Go home and get over your case of bad gas, that’s happening right now, at this moment. Remember? You mentioned it in la toilette yesterday!” Keep at it until she evaporates.

Caroline Wozniacki at the US Open
Photo courtesy Fansided

Shirt pulling | Pull up your shirt and expose your tummy, on which you’ve scribbled your phone number. This may cause Fantastic Bachelor’s brain to short circuit. If it does, he will text you over and over until he passes out.

 Photo: London 2012 Olympics

All right. I’m not sure I’ll ever be 100% shame free. But the tango looks enticing. It is a contact sport and it has a very dressy uniform.

London, 1953

The intruder pulls me away from the closet door, believing I’m too frightened to react. But I am a woman with a plan.

One roundhouse kick to his chest fractures a rib. He reels backwards. His abdomen and chest form a ramp and I use it to vault over his head. Twisting in mid-air, I end the discussion, heel to jaw. He’s on a timeout.

His accomplice rushes in to assess the situation. My fists plough through his face. The concussion blinds him temporarily. Ax kick to the knee. He’s on the floor. I stomp on some fingers to disable a hand.

My bodyguards have finally joined us. They look shocked. (They’re also fired). I point to my wrist and say, “You were taking too long.”

I adjust my tiara and make my way to the banquet hall. Two hundred guests, most of them blood relatives, are waiting. My smile says, “Welcome to my coronation reception.” But to be honest, I am a bundle of nerves.

London, 1953 (Coronation Day)

Notes: Feminist Tuesday. Special shoutouts to Mek @ Work in Progress, the Artful Blasphemer and Bernadette at Haddon’s Musings. Thank you all very much for your support.

Photo: Claire Foy in “The Crown”, courtesy, Live for Film. Indie Rock song, Hold On, by OLSSON featuring Mapei, via YouTube.  

Minimal Lines

Minimal Lines - abstract charcoal lines in loops and stripes on smooth illustration board

Minimal Lines

Charcoal on illustration board (smooth – B4); processed

Keeping it simple. Not that my closets (nicknamed “Game of Throwns”) would agree, but I really am a minimalist at heart. The residue is from charcoal.

Have a great week ahead.

Madame Editrix,

Madame Editrix

Metallic paint and ornate rubber stamp on cardboard. Processed with handwritten font overlay.

Story
William Shakespeare’s manuscript for Romeo and Juliet has been scorned by an editor. To redeem himself, he stages the play for the Queen.

Script
Alas, and did my nostrils flare, to see a note; thine own words here:

“What strop is this? I ask, forsooth. This Romeo ballad’s not hooked. Thy fellow bards might pardon this. But “hit” for me, dear Bill, not ’tis.”

Her Majesty will be today, with noble court, to watch my play. What, and she’ll ask, lit fire in me? Please rest assured, I shall blame thee.

+_~

 

Wallis

Wallis Simpson photographed with former king Edward on their wedding day. She was a real feminist, unlike some contemporary feminists who pay lip service to the idea, mistakenly thinking that a strong woman is angry. Faux feminists wouldn't recognise an actual feminist if one stomped on them

The Merry Widow looked weary this afternoon. Her minders took note as they unearthed her body from a trough of pink salt. People said she was well-preserved, meaning it as a compliment. They had no idea how literal that was.

Despite the attention on spa Wednesday, she felt hollow. A long walk outside would have helped but her sponsors forbade prolonged exposure to the sun. They shuttered her windows. They gave her books, soft lights and sweet music to keep her subdued.

From the walls of her bedroom, the covers of Life and Time mocked her. “Parasite of international society has zero net worth. Ha ha ha ha ha!” Sponsors fetched her every three weeks or so. They shoved her in front of cameras to promote various agendas. They fed her milk and farm fresh produce. Only enough, and the nurse made sure, to maintain her trim figure. When she was younger, she had been ruthless about looking petite. These days, she always felt a little hungry.

It is possible to succeed and fail miserably at the same time. She was a strong woman with more ambition than decorum. There were two lessons she hadn’t learned. One, do not offend the wrong people, starting with her sister-in-law, Queen Elizabeth. And two, when you reach your endgame, stop. The high profile fling was a ploy for social deference. Instead, she found herself serving the establishment for the rest of her life.

~_~

Photo credit: Duke and Duchess of Windsor on their wedding day, June 3, 1937. “Los Duques de Windsor, un amor que cambió el rumbo de la historia,” via Hola magazine

Pandora

Sorry, faux feminist, no Cliff's Notes to help you decipher this one

Pandora stretched herself out on a parapet of black stones, under a pleasant copper sun. She was still dripping wet after bathing in the filtered streams of the lake. She felt safe, as her guardian was scanning the surrounding woods. He was cautious and ready.

Her facial muscles tightened, drawing her lips into a wide grin. She couldn’t feel them, but infrared radiation from the stones had already coaxed her cells back to optimal function. She had outlived the great grandchildren of her childhood playmates. Yet, her stunning features and sensual vitality suggested she was frolicking past her nineteenth summer.

She knew how to get along with the young ones. Honeybees had taught her that for healing, she could use venom and propolis. For nourishment, pollen. And for restful sleep, nectar. She’d spent years practising her craft.

“Yay, cat,” she said now, gathering up some of the stones. “That’ll have us for a bit.”

This was to be their last visit. A new settlement had welcomed her to stay. Pandora planned to age gracefully there. With the stones she would bring the young ones time. Time that was still firmly on her side.

🐝

Notes: Best wishes for healing in November. In this story, I present Pandora as a nomad and the world’s first naturopath, who created the myth to protect her anti-aging secret.

Photo: “Morning Beauty,” Alek Alexeyeva by Sølve Sundsbø (2009) for Vogue via Fashion Gone Rogue.

The Feast at Samhain

Three pairs of eyes, dusted heavily with shadows of Dior, beamed at the stage where a D-list “vessel” was just sold. The auction house, or rather, suite, was rattled by the combined assault of perfume, statement earrings and martini shakers. Plush carpets steadied the unquiet clacking of new Louboutins.

Up next was a down-on-his-luck A-list actor with perfect teeth, two ex-wives and mortgage payments of $60,000 a month. His nickname was, “Paper Tiger.” The auction proceeds, minus a 9% fee to the organisers, would net him more than he earned from his latest blockbuster film. He was a raw vegan, free of infection, drugs and alcohol. They could have called him, “Prime Meal.” His blood was that refined.

The auctioneer called the bid. “Vessel withholding one litre of highest quality, purest, untainted blood of Hollywood’s acting elite. Bidding starts at nine MILLION dollars.”

The actor’s pulse raced as all paddles clapped the air in unison. It was one past nine of the clock. The vampires would continue bidding for two hours and ten minutes.

🖤

Happy Halloween!

Photo credit: The three vampires are wearing Christian Dior Haute Couture – via Blogazine.

Poppet

Russian rod puppet

Poppet

Russian rod puppet propped in a corner, by a window. She was eight feet tall and I couldn’t resist her juicy lips. Wishing you an autumn filled with spectacular views.