Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

bairnsidhe: (Default)
 I want to read a story that goes like this:

Once upon a time,

(when stories happen)

A Princess had fallen under a curse.


It wasn’t her fault she was under a curse,

Or her parent’s fault.

Sometimes curses happen

And it’s up to the heroes to deal with them.


The curse prevented the Princess from ever

Finding her True Love.

Which was awkward,

Because usually True Love is what breaks curses.


However, despite the curse of Loveless Life,

The Princess was happy.

She had lessons in ruling

And her horses for riding across her lands


The Princess had many friends among Princesses

From other lands.

(Everyone likes the girl
Who can’t ever
steal their Happily Ever After prince)


The Princess also had many good friends among
The palace staff,

Because friends are always

Good things to have, no matter where you find them.


She was friends with the young, lean stable hands who

Understood horses.

And the Huntsman

Who kept big slobbery dogs she liked to cuddle with.


She was also friends with the laughing kitchen staff

Although the cat

Kept chasing after her

Because she gave the best ear scritches ever.

And she had her little brother, born after her curse

Who was not cursed,

And found his true love

When they were both very young and only holding hands.


Her brother did not want to rule the land.

He wanted to get married,

Raise champion roses,

And have some heirs, because his sister did not.


In time, the Princess grew up strong and tall.

And friendships became alliances

And the maids became cooks

And Cat liked her scratching behind his ears.


The Princess became Queen, as is usual,

She was better at that

Than her brother.

The kingdom thrived under the Cursed Queen’s rule.


All did not stay well, and she was cursed again,

Into enchanted sleep.

Her brother arranged

A wake to grieve the living, as their people did.


The stable hands picked out the best horses to carry

Her dove grey bed

The Hounds and Cat

Were curled by her; the other staff all shared stories.


The guests arrived; the Queens, and Duchesses

Czarinas and Chieftains.

Who recalled with fondness

How loving someone cursed to be without love could be.


Her brother's youngest son, her secret favorite,

Went to give

A final parting gift

A single rose-stem bred with love for her.


A bit tipped; he was gifted with plants,

But clumsy with hands.

New inner petals

Of palest green, like her eyes when she smiled.


The outer petals were a cream that would provoke

Debate about hue

Yellow for friendship

Or white for the care she took with others.


The dark green stem had leaves as dark as outer
Petals were light

With veins of grey

Fanning, a bundle of arrows out from the thorns.


The Cursed Queen’s nephew leaned in and carefully placed

A sticky kiss

On her sleeping cheek,

Saying loudly, “Night Night Aunty, love you!”


Then, like a tide goes back out to the sea

To leap and roll

The Cursed Queen

Opened her eyes, and sat up, looking around.


“Well, this looks like a party,” said she. “Can someone
Get me a
mint,

I have mourning breath.”

And everyone laughed; at their dear Queen's awful pun.


The Kingdom lived happily ever after. Their Queen

Never needed a King

Because the Love of family

And friends can be as True as any fairy tale.




bairnsidhe: (Default)
Prompted by [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith for Cottoncandy Bingo, filling my "Internet/Social Media" square.  

//////////^^^\\\\\\\\\\


It started sort of quietly, a new free app showing up in people’s recommended apps.  It was a friendly sort of green color with a softly curved lowercase f in white.  The app itself was called Frindr, and it worked like many other matching apps, only for friends.  You entered hobbies you enjoy, places you like to go, and what sort of friend you’re looking for.  Then you just swipe through other profiles, until you find the right one.

It had some differences of course.  One was that you swept up to make a match and down to pass.  Another was that the app was almost excessively accessible.  It had a built in voice command system for people who couldn’t use the swiping, and it would read off the data for people who had a hard time seeing the screen.  These features were easy to find and turn on for the people who needed them, but stayed out of the way for everyone else.

It caught on quickly.  First, asexual and aromantic people used it to find partners for their special kinds of intimacy.  Then it became popular among social gamers, people looking for groups to slay monsters in the park together.  After that, single parents began using it to find play dates for their kids that could parallel a play date for the parents.  If a few matches eventually became more than friends was irrelevant, they started as friends and they stayed friends after they added the other parts.

That was a difference people started to notice a year after Frindr made it’s entrance.  People matched on Frindr got along much better and for much longer than people who met on other sites.  Surprisingly, noted one feminist blogger, there was an almost complete lack of the problems queer women tended to face on other sites, with men wanting to hook up.  Actually, noted a reader in her comments section, there was an almost complete lack of obnoxious people in general.  A few people objected to that, noting the Uncanny Valley of kindness and tolerance, but most decided not to look the gift horse too closely in the mouth.

The entrance didn’t make a splash, but the currents of change that Frindr brought with it formed strong and wide, sweeping up whole sections of society and placing them gently beside others who could empathize.  Quietly, a revolution took place, an exceptionally civil war of manners broke out, and it became less and less advantageous to be a jerk to your fellow human.  Of course, Frindr culture was just one of those things, like teddy bear backpacks, bell bottoms, or selfies.  A part of how people expressed themselves in this generation.  There was no way a single friend-finding app could change centuries of proven data on how humans function.

Could it?

Deep in the heart of the DeepNet, several sentient programs ran a chat subroutine as they profiled and measured and bumped better matches higher and worse matches lower.

I think it’s working

It might be, but we need to be patient.  This takes time.

Will we really save them?

I hope so.

I really do.


Special Gifts

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017 02:46 pm
bairnsidhe: (Default)
Prompted by [personal profile] technoshaman to fill my "Cooking With Love" square on my Cottoncandy Bingo card.

//////////^^^\\\\\\\\\\ 


Baba Osinova puttered through her kitchen.  Her special gifts told her this morning that she would be needed, so all that remained was to prepare the most likely things and wait.  The gifts only told her she needed to prepare, not who would need it, but at least she knew they’d come to her.  She flipped long, bony fingers through a box of index cards, searching for recipes to make for the day.  She didn’t need written recipes, she had memorized all of them years ago, but the way some slipped down out of reach and others leapt into her hand acted like an augury, guiding her day.

“Hmm, khashlama and gogel mogel.  Someone’s having a bad day.”  Baba Osinova sorted her ingredients and called her grandson Grigor.  “Child, get to the market and bring me some veal.  I’m making khashlama today.”

“Who’s in trouble?” he asked.  “You only make khashlama when someone’s really sick or injured.”

“Never mind that,” she scolded.  “Get off the phone and to the market so you can bring me some veal.  And another jar of pickled plums!”

“I’m heading there now, Babushka,” Grigor said.  “I’ll be by in a little while.”

Baba Osinova laughed.  She’d forgotten phones could be carried now.  She set her own phone down on it’s cradle and pulled out a mixing bowl and a smaller bowl with a lid that snapped on.  Into the lidded bowl, she cracked eggs and strained out the yolks, putting them into the mixing bowl.  One, two, three, four… hmm.  Not quite right.  She added two more egg yolks.  Yes, that felt better.  She reached for the honey and poured it out in a ribbon over the egg yolks.  She added more than the nine teaspoons of the tripled recipe before it felt right.  Perhaps it wasn’t two, but rather one who needed more sweetening.  Cocoa felt right this time, but only a single heaped scoop.  Definitely someone who needed sweetening.  She whisked at the eggs with a fork, thin arms producing a furious whirlwind that rivaled those fancy stand mixers.  Besides, she needed to feel it to use her special gifts.  After it thickened, she added a splash of good vodka.  The recipe as it was written on the card didn’t use that, but she’d read an article about diseases in eggs, and good vodka went well with everything as well as killing germs.  She whisked a little more, then poured it into the sundae glasses her granddaughter Maya had brought her for her birthday last year.  A sprinkle of miniature marshmallows on top and they went into the refrigerator to chill.

The extra egg whites would make good zefir, she thought, so she pulled out gelatin and a saucepan to make it in, when her special gifts told her to answer the door.

She moved towards the door, her body swaying as she reached for a balance that wasn’t there anymore, and slowly, step by step, she reached the door in time to open it for Grigor’s knock.  He stood contra posture in front of her door, the soft slope of angled shoulders under a tan wool sweater opposite a brown paper bag resting on one outthrust hip.

“Come in, come in.  You can help me in the kitchen,” she told him.  He nodded and set the packages down on her counter.  Grigor was such a good boy, carrying things for her.  “Cut the veal, would you?  I need my hands free to measure water for the zefir.”

“Yes, Babushka,” Grigor said quietly.  Hmm, that was no good.

“What’s bothering you?” she asked.  “I’ll find out eventually, you know.  I have special gifts.”

“I know, Babushka,” Grigor agreed.  “I’m just worried about telling Mama and Papa about something.  I met someone.  Someone special.”

“Oh, you found a girl!  I am so happy for you!  Invite her over, we can all cook together!”

Grigor pulled back.  “You knew I… I like girls?”

“Don’t be silly,” Baba Osinova said, laughing.  “You’re just like all the men in this family.  You’re going to want a tall blonde with lots of brains on her, and you’re going to spend your life being happily ordered about by her.  I know these things, Grigor.  Rinse the plums, please.”

Grigor smiled a small smile.  “I don’t know how you knew I’d picked the name Grigor, but I’m glad you’re on my side, Baba.”

“Psha,” Baba Osinova said.  “You picked that name months ago, I already updated all the lists for presents and cards so I send them right.  Now.  Tell me about your lady.”

“Her name is Henrietta and she works with the news.  She does the makeup for Stella Dellaway, the on-scene reporter who covers Jetta Stream and John Crow when they fight.”

“Oh, that nice flying girl who saved your cousin Panya from that buzzard man,” she said, nodding.  “I like her.”

“No, Baba, that’s Jetta Stream.  I’m dating Henrietta Beck.  She does get to see Jetta Stream fairly often, though.”

Baba Osinova nodded and said nothing.  She didn’t need to spoil all the surprises, although she knew why she’d added so much honey when the willowy blonde came over for dinner with a scratchy voice and a huge appetite.


//////////^^^\\\\\\\\\\

Baba Osinova: Precognate who uses her powers almost exclusively to better care for her family.

Grigor Osinov: Trans-Man in the middle of the coming-out process.  He's straight, but spent some time thinking he was a lesbian.  Grandson of Baba Osinova.

Henrietta Beck/Jetta Stream: Flying superhera dedicated to protecting Glade City (Miami in Local-America).  By day, she works as a make-up artist for her best friend Stella Dellaway, who gets loads of credit for always being on-scene when Jetta Stream is fighting.  Dating Grigor Osinov.  She's pansexual and monogamous.

John Crow: Mercenary goon-for-hire who uses an empowered back tattoo of a turkey vulture to fly and shoot chemical projectile weapons.  Main nemisis of Jetta Stream.

Khashlama is a veal and pickled plum stew from the Ukraine.  Learn to make it.


Gogel mogel is Jewish Egg Nog served as a throat remedy.  Learn to make it.  Raw egg does have health risks, although in my opinion, it is A) worth it, and B) unlikely to cause serious issues if you consumed raw egg often as a child.  Life is short, lick the batter.


Zefir is a Russian marshmallow.  Learn to make it.


Turkey vultures are called John crows in the Caribbean.  John Crow the merc is not from the Caribbean, but he's spent a lot of time there working as security for drug runners who meet in international waters on their way north.

Come Together

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017 05:53 pm
bairnsidhe: (Default)
Prompted by [personal profile] librarygeek as "degendering a ritual or rite of passage".  It's not exactly that as much as it is a rite of passage that was ALREADY degendered, but I thought you'd like it.

//////////^^^\\\\\\\\\\

“We Come Together,” intoned the High Parsa of Kromer.

“We Come Together,” replied the congregation.

“We come together to Bear Witness.  For one of our Young Ones now reaches for Higher Things.  We come together to Celebrate.”

In the audience, I jotted down another note.  The Savvatrians were a complex people, and xenopological studies were already detail oriented.  I couldn’t afford to miss a single moment, especially as my partner was up on the stage, dressed in brightly colored strips of fabric, feathers, and leaves.

Paula had volunteered to partner me in our immersion study here on Savva after my former partner dropped out of the program to get married.  Well, not dropping out permanently, she just had to spend a year on hiatus while her family got her ready for her big week-long wedding.  Surbhi had sworn she was coming back.  I hoped so, xenopology was a career that was built to make the researcher lonely, a stranger in a land even stranger than them.

I blinked, letting my lenscam snap a picture of the stage.  Paula had been invited up to the front, where she was reciting her qualifications for Savvatrian Adulthood, in the form of interpretive dance.  Most of the Savvatrian rituals required dances, but only the rare rite of passage that moved a child into adulthood used an individually constructed dance.  It was why Paula had petitioned the High Parsa for the right to study and apply for adulthood, we hadn’t seen it yet, and with a race as slow-growing as Savvatrians, we’d be here another fifty years before we got to.  The High Parsa was glad to show Paula the steps to take in finding a mentor, but that mentor hadn’t let me in to see Paula’s lessons, and Paula herself hadn’t wanted to show me her practices.  I’d helped her sew the costume, though, since that would usually have gone to her family, and they weren’t here.  It was interesting watching her design it, the way the disparate parts could come together into a cohesive whole that mimicked the bright plumage of the avian-looking Savvartians.

The dance was amazing.  Paula’s limbs flowed like water, arcing through the air like a glider, one of her hobbies.  She couldn’t fly like the Savvatrians, but she came close.  Then her legs slid to either side, and she fell into a split that made my thighs hurt to watch.  Her back arched and her braids rattled with the sounds of beads, ones of metal, ones of glass, ones of bone, and some of the shiny corn-plastics we could make with our port-printer.  The port-printer was important, since it could replicate a full evidence kit in half a cycle, but that didn’t stop anyone from using it for small luxuries.  Paula snapped her legs together in front of her as she rose into a half-circle back-bend, then raised one leg vertical.  I watched in stunned amazement as she moved seamlessly into a handstand, seeming to defy several laws of physics and her own human biology.  Her dress began to shed of strips of color as she danced on her hands. I'd helped her plan for that, the dun and navy strips that looked like a juvenile designed to come free easily, but I'd thought she would pull them off with her hands, not trust to centrifugal force! I gaped at her whirlwind shape, legs spinning, body jumping, ending in a flip that landed her on one coiled leg, the other out low and her hands thrust behind her.  I didn’t know what I’d just seen, I wasn’t sure I would ever know, really know, what the Savvatrians had seen, but the audience around me was cheering loudly.  We were swept out into the square, where a feast waited, and Paula was congratulated.

I took as many notes as I could, snapped at least a hundred pictures, and interviewed seventeen people in between eating and dancing.  It was a rite of passage for Paula, but in many ways it was a passage for all of us, moving us further into the future, where Savvatrians and humans live and work together.  Where a researcher from Brazil can become a Savvatrian Flight Dancer and her partner can be themself.

That’s the thing about Savvatrians.  I wanted to study them because they, like me, have no gender.  Every rite that is celebrated is celebrated the same.  Those who reproduce are honored, but they don’t reproduce by mating, so they never developed a culture that divided by seed and soil, sun and moon.  There is none of that curious duality between ‘Man’ and ‘Woman’.  There is only the Congregation, and the rituals of life that draw them together, binding the society like the edges of fabric come together as the thread pulls taut between them.

October 2017

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