Victory Today

This is part of my series on stories. You can read an introduction here.

Star Wars Victory
Original image here

December 17 was the culmination of literally years of anticipation: my husband and I got to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In preparation, we re-watched the series with friends (trying out the machete order), and had a Star Wars party for Return of the Jedi, complete with epic food puns and an amazing Sarlacc cake by a friend. Once the day finally came, I was not disappointed; I thought the newest episode in the saga lived up to the massive hype and my high expectations. Continue reading

The Grief of Fall

This is part of my series on stories. You can read an introduction here.

fall death

This time of year brings to mind the poem “Spring and Fall” by Gerard Manley Hopkins. In this poem, the speaker asks a young girl named Margaret why she is crying over the falling leaves, though it seems that she cannot explain herself. He remarks how at her tender, inexperienced age she is so sensitive to the changes around her and grieves minor matters the same as adults grieve great tragedies. He warns that she will see much worse things in her life, and grow cold and hardhearted; she will no longer be moved by things as insignificant as dying leaves. She will, however, continue to grieve, and grow in understanding of the reason. The narrator tells Margaret that though what she weeps over will change, the source of all grief is the same – she weeps over death, knowing one day it will take her as well.  Continue reading

Regeneration of the Self-Centered

This is part of my series on stories. You can read an introduction here.

Original image here
Original image here

The songs “The Crane Wife 1 & 2” and “The Crane Wife 3” by The Decemberists are a beautiful retelling of an old folktale. The story is narrated by a lonely, poor man in the midst of a long, cold winter. One night, he finds a crane crippled by an arrow in its wing. He takes pity on the distressed bird and nurses it back to health, after which the bird flies away. Shortly thereafter, a woman appears at his house; they fall in love and are married. Though they are happy together, their poverty persists and their circumstances turn dire. The wife says she can save them by weaving cloth to sell, and begins to work on her loom in a room alone, hidden away from her husband. As their fortunes turn for the better and their wealth increases, the man’s greed begins to take over. He is no longer content with the company of his wife, but forces her to work to make them more money. He does not notice that the cloth she produces is stained with blood, and she is wasting away. He finally sees her at the loom and realizes she is the crane he saved and the cloth is made from feathers she plucked from her crane form. Upon her true form being discovered, the crane flies away and the man is left alone to live in guilt and regret.

While the story alone is heartbreaking, the music allows us to feel the emotions more deeply – joyfully warm at times, hauntingly mournful at others. We feel the man’s loneliness, the bird’s pain, and their sweet love, followed by her despair as she works, and his grief at losing her. In its most basic form, it is the story of a man who is given a great blessing for a kindness done, but loses everything when his greed causes him to forsake his blessing. It is a love story gone all wrong; there is not a happy ending. It is a story of self-centered love conquering other-centered love. Continue reading

Grace for the Best of Us

This is part of my series on stories. You can read an introduction here.
If you would like to read today’s short story, you can find the full text here.*

O'Connor Assault of Grace
Original image here

“Revelation” by Flannery O’Connor introduces us to the prim and proper Mrs. Turpin, the epitome of a Southern lady. Mrs. Turpin is extremely pleased with who she is and enjoys comparing herself to others. “Sometimes [she] occupied herself at night naming the classes of people.” She quantified and ranked their value: non-white people on the bottom along with “white-trash;” above them, the various levels of white people, like herself, ranked by increasing wealth and status.

We meet Mrs. Turpin doing this in a doctor’s waiting room. She is surrounded by people from various walks of life and sorts through them, determining that the dirty “white-trash” people and ugly girl that glowers at her the whole time are undeserving of her attention. She deigns only to talk to a pleasant, “stylish lady” she determines is of her own worth. As these ladies talk, expressing their smug contempt for the lower classes, Mrs. Turpin gets swept up in how glad she is that she is not one of those lowly people. Right as she exclaims how grateful she is that Jesus gave her “a little of everything and a good disposition besides,” she’s suddenly hit in the face with a large textbook by the ugly teenager. The girl, named Mary Grace, then jumps across the room, throttles Mrs. Turpin and tells her, “Go back to hell where you came from, you old wart hog.” Continue reading

Seeking Authenticity

This is part of my series on stories. You can read an introduction here.

Authenticity While We're Young
Original image here

I recently watched an interesting indy film called While We’re Young.* It follows Josh and Cornelia, a 40-something couple working in documentaries, who re-examine their life after meeting a 20-something couple. Josh, who works in non-fiction and holds authenticity in high esteem, is shown in contrast to the ironic hipster culture, represented by the younger couple. One pointed caricature in the film highlighting hipsters’ ironic way of life is a young woman wearing t-shirts that say “Some college I never went to” and “Some crappy band.” Continue reading

The Beauty of Stories

I entered college as an ambitious aerospace engineering major with the goal of working for NASA, doggedly pursuing my childhood dream of being an astronaut. But between physics, differential equations, and calculus, I quickly discovered I needed to find a new dream. I spent the summer after my freshman year agonizing over what else I could do with my life. Unable to decide what career I wanted, I chose to pursue something I enjoyed and I would figure out how to make a living later. I loved to read, so I became an English literature major. Continue reading