NEW WEBSITE

Hey there!

I’ve been meaning to start a new website for ages, and I finally got around to doing it. All my new posts are moving to melissabrinks.com, which is much more professional and has a nicer theme. If you don’t want to mess around with a feed aggregator but still want to keep an eye when I post, consider following me on Twitter. I post all my new writing there as it goes up and a lot of other things besides.

Perhaps some day I’ll set up a redirect on this page to point you in the direction of the new stuff, but for now, consider clicking over to the new blog and subscribing there. It’s nicer, I promise. Look at that Instagram widget, that lovely pink link text, the slow fade from white to pink. It’s neat.

Hope to see you there!

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Drabble 86 – Minauderie

Minauderie

I never learned how to flirt. Or at least, I don’t think I’ve ever actively tried flirting–it seems difficult. I don’t recognize when I’m being flirted with, either, unless it’s so blatant that it crosses the line from flirtatious to harassment, which drives me far past interested and deep into angry.

It’s a quirk I have to accept about myself. When I think back to all the weird things people have said to me over the years, I now realize that many of them were (bad) attempts at flirting. That guy who practically sat in my lap at a concert and told me we should sleep together? He probably didn’t mean it literally. The girl who winked and gave me her number in case I needed homework help? Probably flirting. That guy who named off bean flavors at the bubble tea place in a silly voice and kept smiling at me? I’m still not convinced on that one, but a friend told me it was flirting and I trust her expertise.

Even though I can’t flirt, or maybe because I can’t flirt, I find it fascinating how changing your tone, the way you move, the words you say, sends an entirely different message, like a language I just can’t speak.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

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Drabble 85 – Iktsuarpok

A good indication that a word might not be real is that, when you google it, all you can find is websites gathering words that can’t be translated into English. That’s definitely the case with today’s word, but it also raises an interesting question–is there such thing as an untranslatable word?

Certainly, we can’t translate iktsuarpok in a single word. We don’t have an equivalent in English. But we certainly have words for the experience; they’re what I use to define it below. The trouble with translation, of course, is that you can never be quite certain that you’ve accurately captured whatever it is. Language is more than just a concrete representation of a thing or abstract idea; there’s connotation and context and tone and all these other things that contribute to our understanding of a word.

To be honest, I know very little about translation other than that I’m forever interested in the way words do and don’t fit together when changing from one language to another. This ongoing question I run into about what is or isn’t a real world is as interesting to me as the words themselves.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

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Drabble 84 – Wight

Sometimes objects in my house rattle. I haven’t yet found a reason to explain this, but every few days a picture frame will shake a bit, or a plant will wobble while I’m working. This might have scared me in the past, but right now I just accept it as a quirk of my house. Objects shake. Floors creak. The blackberry bushes climb the fence. It’s our normal.

The concept of ghosts still scares me, don’t get me wrong. I don’t play with Ouija boards or dare spirits to show themselves, in part because, by daylight hours, I’m a skeptic. But every time an object shakes or I read a horror story at night, I wonder, and wondering is enough to convince me that I don’t need to know everything, actually.

So I’ll let my plants and picture frames keep wobbling. It’s like a little hello from beyond the veil, a reminder that the world is interesting and wide and mysterious.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

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Drabble 83 – Coruscant

When I was younger, I used to hide myself away. Not literally; hide and seek was usually, among my group of friends, a reason to scare one another. Somewhere in childhood I learned that I should be embarrassed of things, and I started speaking more softly, hiding my intelligence and curiosity, and dressing more like a tomboy because being a girl, to my understanding, was to be a lot of things that I definitively was not.

While the old instincts to be embarrassed still linger, I no longer try to hide myself. I wear my gender and all its hyper-feminine trappings proudly; I’m no longer afraid of lipstick or dresses or high heels, even as I recognize their patriarchal roots. I wear them because I like them, and because I enjoy the feeling of seeing somebody’s face change when they assume one thing about me from the way I look and discover another.

I had these things shoved on me because that’s what I was supposed to do or be like or enjoy, and I hated them. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve found that I like cooking and gardening and wearing pastels. There’s no harm in any which way you choose to present yourself or spend your time, provided, of course, that it’s you doing the choosing.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

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Marie Antoinette. Sofia Coppola. Columbia Pictures. 2006.

Drabble 82 – Quaintrelle

Marie Antoinette. Sofia Coppola. Columbia Pictures. 2006.

While I prefer things a little on the simple side, there’s something intensely interesting to me about opulence to the point of turning lurid. I wouldn’t want to live somewhere that looks baroque or rococo, but I’m fascinated by the ways that layering beauty on beauty on beauty feels grotesque.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never been rich that I find the ways that wealthy people spend their money so intriguing. I think of what I’d do if I had an extra thousand dollars per month and some of it is certainly self-serving, but gilded banisters and mother-of-pearl dishes are low on my to-do list, especially not together.

There is an assumption that, if somebody who is not wealthy has something nice, that they do not deserve it, that they should spend their money on something else, something practical. Luxury is reserved for the wealthy. That’s BS. The poor, the disadvantaged, the middle class, are just as, if not more, deserving than the rich. I think about this when I splurge and get dessert with dinner, when that small voice in the back of my mind says that I haven’t earned it, because I’m not worthy.

To that voice, I offer two manicured middle fingers and a smile.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

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A Good Narrator is Hard to Find

I maintain that the only thing more important to improving your writing ability than actually writing is reading. There’s something to learn from every novel or non-fiction work you pick up, even if it’s that infodumping is not a great way to handle exposition, or that starting too big makes it impossible to increase drama as you go. More importantly, good fiction, the kind that makes you envious that you didn’t write it, can teach you valuable lessons even when you’re not looking for them.

I recently read through Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief for the first time. It came out ages ago, but Z is last in the alphabet and I’ve been working my way through my bookshelf from start to finish for a couple of years. It’s the kind of book you want to savor, in part because it’s beautifully written and emotional, in part because it’s intense. I had nightmares reading it, and finished the book off with ill-contained, physically painful sobs.

There’s a lot to learn from it, too, not just from a human perspective, but from a writing one. I don’t want to diminish the importance of the emotional narrative, especially given our current climate, but I don’t think that to focus on The Book Thief‘s technical success is to detract from its emotional impact. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they’re inextricable. Continue reading