The One Handed Girl

This is an adaptation of the Swahili story.

He was sick. She had known that. So why, today of all days, did she leave the village? The messenger said it had gotten worse too quickly, but how much worse did he mean? The feeling of the ground pounded on Huruma’s feet as she sprinted towards her father. Her heart was pounding with fear. What if she didn’t make it in time? She raced through her village, barely aware of the scenes passing her. Her feet barely slowed as she entered the door, flying to his side.

“Father!” She threw her arms around him, weeping with joy that he was still alive and sorrow at the sight of his hollow face. She grasped his hand. “I’m sorry that I wasn’t here sooner. I should have been with you. I should have known.”

“Shhhh. It’s ok, my beautiful Huruma.” He paused. “My children, come closer.” Huruma was surprised to see her brother, Kiburi, step out of the shadows. His face was stiff as stone and his arms crossed tightly across his chest. “We know that I do not have much time left. You, my children are what I leave behind. All I have to give you is my property and my blessing. You must choose one.”

“Your property should all be mine” interjected Kiburi.

“My son, will you leave nothing for you sister’s care?”

“Father, your blessing is more than enough for me. You have protected me well. I have my pots and my garden. I will be fine.”

He gave her his blessing. The words filled her soul and brought tears to her eyes. She spent the rest of the night by her father’s side. It was near sunrise when her father finally passed away. Huruma had held his hand all night, while Kiburi had been asleep in his hut. When the time came, he was buried with honor, and Huruma and Kiburi spent the next seven days in mourning. The sun had barely risen on the 8th day that Kiburi finished moving into his father’s hut. True to his words, he sent over his servants to collect all of their father’s items from Huruma’s hut. She was left with nothing but her father's blessing and the few meager items she owned: a few garden tools, and a couple of pots. But she did not fear.

She set to work tending her garden. It wasn’t long before her pumpkins were ready for harvesting. Word went out through the village. Knowing her pumpkins and spices were the best in the land, the people came quickly to trade with her. Her brother’s wife Wivu sent her servants to trade corn for a pumpkin. When the servants arrived, Huruma sent them back with her largest pumpkin, having turned down the corn they offered. “Tell Wivu that I would not charge her for this. I wish her good fortune and wealth.”

When the servants returned with the pumpkin and the corn still in hand, Wivu sent them back for another one. But by the time they arrived for the second time, Huruma had traded away all of her pumpkins. She offered them spices and bid them to come back when the next harvest was ready.

Enraged, Wivo stormed to her husband. “Huruma denied me a pumpkin when I offered corn. She lives on our land, our generosity. You must do something about this parasite sister of yours.” She refused him the rest of the day and that night, urging him to punish Huruma. When the sun began to rise, Kiburi stomped to Huruma’s hut. He made such a commotion that it woke Huruma. As she stumbled out her door, she saw her brother lift her finest pot above his head and smash it to the ground.

The shattered pot mirrored her shattered heart. “Kiburi! Stop. What are you doing?” She grabbed his arm to try to stop the damage, but he kept going.

“I let you live on this land. I let you stay in this hut. But you disrespect my wife. You disrespect me. A girl like you has no right.” He smashed another pot.

“No, Please. I beg you. Do not do this.”

“You have left me no choice.”

“What did I do to you?”

“You know what you did, to me and my wife. Wivu looked to you as a sister and this is how you treat her. The wealth you have gained from these pumpkins should not have gone to you. This is not your land. This is not yours. It should be mine. I should have gotten father's land and blessing. You have no right to anything. I should cut the vine to teach you a lesson.”

“No, please!”


“Stand aside.”

Kiburi drew his sword. Without a thought, Huruma threw herself in front of the pumpkins, doing anything to change his mind. The blade came down, slicing through the air. Huruma cried out as the cut vine fell to the ground, and her right hand with it.

“You are no longer welcomed here,” Kiburi spat. “I want you gone by sunrise. Let’s see how that blessing helps you now.”

Huruma sat there, cradling her arm. The sobs poured out of her like a waterfall. Everything was gone. Every hope. Every dream. All of her pots. Her safety and security. Confusion clouded her head. Slowly, her sobs became whimpers, and she found the strength to stand. Slowly, she searched through her few belongings to find a wrap for her arm. It took her a few tries, but she managed to secure it. She pulled together her few remaining items, look a deep breath, and stepped out of her cottage.

The first night was the worst. She felt scared and confused. She could barely get any sleep, although she didn’t know if it was the pain in her wrist or for fear of wild animals. As the sun rose, Huruma's tear stained face grew determined. She thanked the stars that her mother had taught her how to gather wild plants for food and medicine. While she found a few berries and nuts, she did not get nearly enough to regain her energy. The sun set, and Huruma fell into a deep sleep. In the morning, she set out again to find more to eat.

As the sun set on the second day, she leaned against a tree. She was too tired for tears. She sat there, numb. Suddenly, the branches above her started shaking. She looked up, and there was a black and yellow snake slithering through the branches. Many people would have jumped, but Huruma was not afraid. She was too tired for that.

“Hello, sir. You are a sight for tired eyes.” The snake’s tongue flickered out of its mouth. “Look at that beautiful coloring. I must have been lucky to end up at this tree with you.”

“It wasn’t luck that brought you here.”

Huruma jumped. She looked all around her but no one else was in sight. “Who said that? I just heard your voice.”

“It was me!”

In the blink of an eye, the snake suddenly turned into a man. He was a jolly man with a kind face. Huruma jumped to her feet. “How did you do that?”

“There is no need to be afraid. I am Mwongozo. I was sent here to help you.”

“Who, who sent you?”

“There is no need to concern yourself with that right now. .”

Mwongozo offered his friendship. He helped Huruma learn how to navigate the world with only one hand: how to climb trees, carry her food, and keep her wounds clean. They spent many days together, enjoying each other's company. At night, Mwongozo would take his snake form, and they would both sleep in the trees. It was not the life that she was used to, or the life that she expected, but Huruma found peace in her new way of living.

One morning, Huruma awoke to a strange sound. She looked around, but Mwongozo was nowhere in sight. She moved down a few branches, and saw a man at the bottom of her tree. She paused but her movement had shaken some branches, and the falling leaves caused him to look up. Their eyes met.

“Why are you under my tree?”

“I did not know it was your tree.”

“What are you doing?”

“I was traveling home and injured my foot. I needed to rest. Although I don’t know if I can make it home."

She climbed down from the tree. “If I can climb a tree with one hand, you can get home on one foot.”

Huruma accompanied the man, named Sawa, on his journey, offering support when his foot would hurt. It was a long and slow journey, but Huruma did not complain. She quite enjoyed his company.

As the city rose into sight, Huruma felt nervous. She had never been to a city, but Sawa  assured her that she would find more comfort in the city than she had ever found before. Once they reached the gates, they were swarmed by a small crowd, all of whom were fawning over Sawa. He was whisked away, and Huruma was left to follow. When they arrived at the palace gates, Huruma stopped and watched the crowd fade into the grand doors. It was only when Sawa noticed her absence that he returned, took her hand, and lead her inside.

Sawa was a prince, and it was Huruma’s kindness and compassion that bonded the two. It wasn’t long before they were married. Huruma was favored by the people of Mbinguni. She spent many hours working with the people. The kingdom celebrated when Sawa and Huruma welcomed their first child- a boy they named Baraka. For that time, everything seemed perfect.

When Baraka was two, Sawa was invited on a great hunt with a neighboring country. He took many good men with him. It was in his absence that an unwanted visitor had ventured to the city. Kiburi had taken too much from the village, and what was once a strong people had withered away to a barren life. Hearing of the prince’s marriage to a one-handed girl, Kiburi went to Mbinguni and sought an audience with the king. He told the king that Huruma was a witch who had cursed their village. He said that her hand had been cut off as punishment for her evil and malicious deeds and advised the King to cast her away before she could do the same to the city.

The king followed this advice, and threw out Huruma and Baraka. While she feared for the safety of her child, Huruma set out on a journey to find an old friend. It did not take her long before finding Mwongozo lounging in a tree. He smiled upon the sight of her. The two friends fell quickly into their old banter. While it was not her home in the city, Huruma felt safe and fell into her old patterns.

“You must come with me for I have a special place for you.” He led them to the most beautiful pool of water surrounded by the most tranquil trees. The water was so clear that you could see every inch of the bottom. “Come, wash away your troubles.”

They splashed and played in the water, their stress and fears meling for a moment. Huruma turned to thank Mwongozo for his help and friendship. As she began to speak, she noticed the world was too quiet. She turned around and the clear water had suddenly turned murky, and Baraka was nowhere in sight. She panicked and started through the water to find him.

“Mwongozo, help me! Help me! I cannot lift him from the water alone!” she cried.

“Reach with both of your hands.”

“You know I only-”

“Reach with both of your hands.”

Knowing never to turn away the advice of her good friend, Huruma reached out her other arm, and as she stretched it out, her hands found her child. She pulled Baraka from the water, and held him tight, not with only one hand, but with two. She spun her child around, cherishing his face. When she made it back to land, she gave Mwongonzo a great hug of thanks.

“What would I be without you?” She smiled at him.

“What would the world be without you?” He replied. “But your journey does not end here. You know what you need to do.” Mwongonzo handed her a woven basket, and she got to work. Not too far from the city, Huruma built a small hut for her new family, herself, Baraka, and Mwongonzo. She spent her days hard at work, and her nights laughing and smiling with her loved ones. It didn’t take long for her garden to flourish, and for the people of Mbinguni to learn of her talents. Words spread of a beautiful young mother with the most delectable garden, and the King and Queen decided to visit, with Kiburi in their party.

As they walked into the garden, Kiburi felt a knot in his stomach. This garden looked too familiar. He tried to persuade the king and queen that the plants looked shriveled, but they were too captivated by the beauty to pay heed to his words. A little boy went running past them, jumping into his mother’s arms. The king and queen looked up and saw that mother was Huruma.

The queen gasped and ran to the girl and her child. “We thought you were dead.” Tears streamed down her face as she held Huruma’s face. “Husband, how can this be. This must be a miracle brought to us by the gods.”

Huruma offered up her tale of loss. From her father’s death, to the loss of her hand at her brother’s sword, to the king’s decision to cast her away. But among these events, she woven in a story of love, friendship, and family. The queen spun to face her husband, the fire apparent in her eyes. But as she went to scold him, she saw Kiburi cowering behind him.

“You.” She cried. Within two strides, she was inches from his face. “You have brought a curse upon our family since you have arrived. You have lied to us, abused our hospitality, and driven one of our most cherished family members from our home. You blame her for your misfortune, but look at the beauty she has created. The curse is not from her, but from you. Leave us. Pray that if we ever see your face again that we show you more mercy than you ever showed our Huruma.”

The queen embraced Huruma one last time, and invited her back to the city. As she was lead through the streets, more and more people joined the celebration. It was the noise that brought the Sawa to the door of his palace. When he saw the cause of the celebration, he ran to his wife and embraced her. The two wept with joy, kissing each other and their son. And so, the city celebrated for seven days the return of their princess. Huruma and Sawa worked hard to make the city a safe and prosperous place for all of their people. The city became a haven for all who needed a place to call home. And while there were challenges and obstacles, they lived happily married, together with their family for the end of their days.

Day and Night

Prompt: The Earth does not rotate. One side always faces the sun and is always day. The other side is always night. 

She looked up at the stars. Most people liked to eat in the Sun dome. It was warm and bright, and there was grass patios for picnics and a fake blue light to make the ceiling look like the sky. The temperature was controlled so it always felt comfortable. On special days, they'd set up a big stage for celebrations. But Alice preferred the outside. The air was cool, almost chilly. The darkness was a nice break from the bright lights in the compound. She knew they needed the lights to function, but they almost went overboard. The lights and the screens and everything inside was bright and jarring. Everything was artificial, fake. But the stars. The stars were hope. She knew from school that the stars were millions- no billions of miles away. But they were the closest thing she had to seeing the sun. And so she sat there eating her sandwich, staring up and etching their sparkle into her mind.

Phillip wiped away the sweat. It was hot out. But that wasn't anything new. The sun never set, so how could the farm cool down outside of rainy season? It was afternoons like this that Phillip wished he had been born by the ocean. At least they got cool breezes. But no. He had been born into the farmlands where technology wasn't allowed. The earth's rotation had started slowing down, then completely stopped, and chaos ensued. The world's governments banned together; it was a matter of all humans needing help. They had to find a way to feed and employe everyone, so most of the land in the sun was used to grow food, which meant they needed lost of farmers to work it. Once families were placed, it was hard to move out of your position. And so away he went, preparing this field to plant corn, the sun beating down on his body. He moved almost instinctively, until the whistle blew, signaling the change in shifts. He shuffled back to his single room cabin, closed all of the black out curtains, and let gravity pull him to his bed. Tomorrow he would start all of this again.

Alice woke up peacefully as the sun lights started to mimic sunrise. It wasn't a special day, but she arose from her pod with a spring in her step. It was a bit confusing, but she didn't mind. She worked in a distribution center, well in the processing center. She had a good desk job where she helped make sure resources were evenly distributed to the different compounds across the globe. And sure, it was doing good work, and she was lucky she wasn't in a factory or waste processing, but her desk job could suck the life out of her soul. So an extra spring was very welcomed when she arrived to her desk and saw the hundreds of messages waiting for her. She looked at the clock. Five more hours until the stars. 

Phillip was back in the field. He never used his days off. He didn't know what he'd do. Growing up, he had loved to read. He always had his nose in a book. He'd explore the moons of Jupiter, the depths of the sea, the top of chilling mountains, and treks through the barren dessert. He was an explorer, a detective, a millionaire. He could go wherever he wanted and be whoever he wanted. He was inspired and learned everything he could, took every opportunity that came his way. Anything to live like one of the characters in his book. But that had changed now. He didn't care for books anymore. They taunted all the things he couldn't do or see. So he went back out to the field, and did the same thing he did every day. And so it was with surprise that half way through the day, a man in a suit came up and asked Phillip to follow him. 

Alice was finishing up her work day when the notification popped up on her screen. It had a cryptic message, and having always been a perfectionist, Alice was afraid she had done something very wrong. She walked quickly with her head down, hoping no one would see her entering the office. When she knocked on the door, she was invited in. Alice took a seat, looked her boss straight in the eye and asked "What did I do wrong?"
 "Wrong?" she laughed, "It's quite the opposite. You've got an almost perfect record. I called you in to let you know that I put in your record to be considered for a new position at Horizon."
"That's very sweet but we both know-"
"They want to offer it to you." 
Alice's jaw dropped. Horizon was a special part of the globe, it was perpetually sunrise- or maybe sunset. Either way, they took the best of the best of every department and together, the group found ways to improve the world. The ideas and projects that came out of Horizon were legendary. They were the ones who developed most efficient way to clean the planet's water supply when it was polluted in the destruction. They perfect a distribution system to give all communities access to basic needs, education, and an opportunity to work. They adapted technology to the changes of the magnetic poles faster than any other company- and gave everyone access to it. They offered solutions to some of the world's toughest problems, and everyone wanted to go there. And in a week, Alice would.

Phillip scoffed. He was strong. They didn't name the position, and so it was probably a labor intensive position stuffed away in the basement. The man in the suit was very passive. He didn't make a face or react and Phillip thought it over. He decided he would turn it down. What good would it be to work at Horizon if it was just a different labor job. The man in the suit sense his skepticism, and began to talk about the benefits of Horizon. Phillip went to cut him off with a hard no. And then that little boy, the dreamer took over. When Phillip opened his mouth he simply said "I'll take it."

Trapped in an Airport: A story in facbeook statuses.

I was lucky enough to visit my sister in Dublin while she's away at Grad School. I very humorously (and exhaustingly) got stuck in the airport due to severe weather on the East Coast of the United States. The following is a record of my facebook statuses on the situation:


Nope. Nope. I don't want to go back. Get me off this plane! I've made a mistake!


Update: JFK shut down and my flight got cancelled. This happened after they boarded us. I guess you should be careful what you wish for.


Update: I've spent over 24 hours (with a 7 hour hotel break for sleep) in the Dublin airport. Today was a no go. Wish me luck for tomorrow.


Third day's a charm, right?


Third day was not a charm. Spending the evening seeing a show with my sister. Tomorrow, I try again.


GUYS! I'M LIKE 99% LIKELY TO GET BACK TO THE STATES TODAY!
...I mean... you know. Whatever.


You guys. I had no hope today. None. BUT not only did I get to the States, I managed to snag one of the last seats flying out to LA. I may be getting in at 2:30 am, but I don't even care. I assume this was due to all the prayers, good vibes, and crossed fingers sent my way. Thanks for hanging in there with me.


My feelings on airport terminals:
Dublin Terminal 2: so freaking cold, but great wifi.
Heathrow terminal 3: Warm but shit internet and very crowded
JFK terminal 3: Obnoxiously loud fire alarm, but good surprise company.
LAX terminal 5: why were ALL the bathrooms being cleaned at the same time?
Overall, would not recommend getting stranded in airports for 5 days again.


Before leaving, I gave my keys to Stevo's visiting friends, so I was keyless. This was ok, because by the original plan, I would ask Stevo to pick me up. Expecting to not make it on the last flight of the night, I ask Stevo what he's working the next day. He's working overnight until 5, then off the rest of the day. BUT THEN, I get on the flight that gets in at 2:30 am. So it's not ideal, but Denny's a block away is open 24/7. I get into LA, wait for my bags, grab an uber, and get to Denny's. It's closed. So it's 4 am, raining, and I'd been awake for 27 hours. I find out that Starbucks is open. I get there and get a hot chocolate. And low and behold, Stevo got off early and I got back to the appartment by 5 am.
Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no greater feeling than your own bed and a snuggly puppy.

I'm sharing this because it was a pretty basic story, but so many people felt the need to engage with me as it was happening. I think there is something special, even in the most basic of stories. 

An Untitled Fairytale

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away lived a prince. The prince was handsome and charming, smart, and kind, everything about the prince was perfect. The Prince loved his people more than anything in the world, and in return, his people loved him. There was only one problem: the prince lacked a bride. He had traveled far and wide. He held balls, galas, even markets hoping to find the right person to help rule his kingdom. But alas, no woman was good enough for his people. After years of searching, the Prince began to despair.

            And so, one stormy night, the prince fell into a deep bought of desperation. He snuck out of the castle, and into the dark forest to seek out the mysterious enchantress. Her magic was feared for miles around. He climbed over fallen trees and piles of leaves. The rain pelted his cape. He searched for hours, checking high and low, but he couldn’t find her. Then, as the light was starting to peak over the horizon, the prince stumbled into a clearing. Unsure of how he got there, he realized he had stumbled onto the enchantress’s cottage. It was wooden and moss covered, seemly empty and falling apart. The Prince began to fear, but his desperation drove him forward to the door of the cottage. He walked up and, with his knees shaking, knocked. Nothing happened. He waited a few moments and then knocked again. Still nothing happened. He put his hand on the handle and suddenly the door burst open, knocking the prince backwards. A bright light shone out from the doorway. It was so bright that the Prince could only make out the outline of the enchantress.

“Oh wise Enchantress, I have come to seek your help.”
“I know why you are here. The question is, are you willing to prove that you are worthy?”

 “I will do anything to find someone perfect enough for my people.”

A blinding light covered the meadow. When the light faded, there was a circular green light that swirled around the prince. The lights danced a few feet away and got brighter. Then suddenly a scream was heard. Then a thud. There infront of him on the ground was a girl. A plain girl, to the prince’s standards. And barely clothed. In her arms was a large dog. The prince found that odd. Dogs were rarely the pet of a princess.

“What the fuck.” She scrambled to her feet, not letting go of the dog. “What the fuck. Where am I? Who are you?”

“Fair maiden, I am Prince Christopher.” He bowed.

“What the fuck. I was just watching Netflix!” She took a few steps back, her head spinning around every which way.

“You came through the magic portal. I am here to get you to safety.”

“What the fuck?”

“You and your beast… Netflix you called him?... can come with me.”

“Why the hell should I trust you. God, what did I eat? This has to be a dream.”

“This is no dream, you are in the enchanted forest. But I can’t keep you safe here. We must head back to the kingdom to be safe.”

“Listen Topher, I don’t know who you are or where I am, but I don’t have any reason to trust you. I just appeared here out of nowhere, and I’m supposed to trust you?”

“Yes!”

“Not how that works.” The girl had put her dog down and started hurrying out of the clearing. “Come on, Wally.” The dog went bounding after her.

“Princess, wait! That’s not the right way!” Prince Christopher went running after her.

 The girl moved fast; determined to figure out what was going on. The dog bounded around the forest, sometimes ahead of her, sometimes behind. He was clearly having a great time while the princess looked determined and miserable. The Prince followed. This line up didn’t last long as the girl was in her pajamas and it was getting cold out.

“Ok, Prince Topher. You say you’re here to help me. So can you light a fire or something?”

Prince Christopher immediately took off his cape and wrapped it around the girl. “I hope this is warm enough, Princess. I never did catch your name.”

“I’m Brittany. And I’m not a princess.”

“What about the beast?”

“Tuppence is no beast. He’s a big sweetheart. But he is disappointed that you’re not lighting a fire.”

“I can’t light a fire here, it’s far too dangerous. There are creatures in this forest like you can’t even imagine.  Lighting a fire might attract them. If you’re weary and need to rest, I will keep watch for you.”

“I don’t know that I’d be able to sleep on the ground. Besides, don’t you need rest? You look like a mess.”

“I would rather keep you safe.”

And so Brittany  sat down and leaned against a tree. Tuppence immediately cuddled up next to her. She wrapped them in the cloak. It turns out magically being transported to a new world will leave you utterly exhausted. The cape, though extremely light provided the perfect warmth that even Tuppence couldn’t resist. And both were peacefully asleep within minutes. And so it was with a sudden and surprising start that Brittany awoke with a hand over her mouth and Christopher looming over her.

Prince Christopher signaled silence by bringing one finger to his lips. He slowly let go of her mouth and crouched down to the side. And that’s when she heard it. Loud and terrible footsteps could be heard, and while they were in the distance, they were quickly growing closer. Step by step, Brittany hugged Tuppence closer to her. Tuppence in return would give her a small singular kiss every few steps to give her courage. Then the laugh came booming through the forest. “Orges” the Prince whispered. The darkness started to get lighter, and Brittany could make out the flickering of the torches that they were carrying. They were getting so close. And then she saw them.

They were big and ugly creatures. Not cartoonish ugly, like Shrek, but truly hideous. They stood what must have been eight feet tall, with patchy white and gray skin. Their skin sagged in certain places and looked much to tight in others. Their faces were distorted, nothing seemed to line up. They carried clubs and torches with them. Brittany knew she was in danger and turned to look at Prince Christopher for reassurance. There was one problem. He was gone. Brittany did her best to use the cape to cover herself and Tuppence. The group was two trees away now, and Brittany could count three of them. And it was in that moment that they stopped and started sniffing the air.

“Do you smell that? That’s the smell of a campfire. I bet you someone is close. Looks like we might just get a real meal tonight.”

“Oh! I hope they’re nice and crunchy.”

“Forget crunch, I like when they’re thick and juicy.” Two of the ogres started arguing, while the third one stood there and kept sniffing the air.

“Shut up you two and help me out. It seems like there are many different smells.” The ogres paused and started laughing. “Looks like we’ll be feasting tonight! You two head North, and I’ll take the South. You know the signal for if you find something.”

“Not fair! Why do you get South?”

“Because I’m the leader. That’s why. Now shut up and get going.”

The ogres started walking in separate directions. Brittany relaxed just a bit, realizing they didn’t see her. Then something covered her mouth, and she jumped. Prince Christopher had appeared again. “Shh. We don’t have much time.” He whispered. “I’m going to need your help to defeat them. Luckily he sent the dumb two off together. It will be easy to trick them. Can you be brave for me? I hate to put you in danger, but it’s the only way we’ll get out of this alive now that they’ve got your smell” Brittany nodded and Tuppence licked her face. Together, they moved as quietly towards the ogres heading north as possible. They followed them for about ten minutes, until Christopher stopper her in a clearing. There they set up a fire. It didn’t take long for the two ogres to appear.

“Ho!” Shouted Prince Christopher. “Look my lady, we have found them! The great Ogres of the forest!”

“Come you two, sit by our fire. We have been journeying for days looking for you. You must be hungry and exhausted. Come sit while we prepare you a feast fit for your greatness” Brittany bowed to them. The ogres scratched their heads and looked at each other. They were confused, but something inside of them felt something they had never felt before. They strutted over to the first and sat down.

“Oh great, Ogres, please tell us your names.”

“Uhhhh. I’m Robert and this is Ted.”

Brittany was taken aback by their names but quickly recovered. “Are you hungry, my great sirs?”

Ted and Robert looked at each other. Ted spoke first. “We’re starving. Our boss has been making us walk all over the forest for days without even a rabbit to snack on. He insists we gotta feast on humans for our next meal. I’d settle for anything.”

“Yeah. We saw plenty of delicious things. We saw deer and squirrels and snakes.”

“Oh, I like snakes. They feel so good when you swallow them down.”

“Heck, we ain’t even stopped for water. I’m mighty thirsty too. But no. We gotta drink the blood of humans. I don’t even really like eating humans.” Robert started to cry. Christopher and Brittany looked at each other in surprise, but were even more surprised when Tuppence ran up to Robert and started licking away his tears. Robert started giggling like a small child, half heartedly pushing away the dog. “And who are you?” Tuppence’s tail was wagging like crazy.

            “This is Tuppence. He thinks you deserve a good snack right away.” Brittany said, looking at Christopher.

            “I could never eat this little guy. He’s too cute.”

            “Oh, no, no, no, no. you’re not eating Tuppence. Christopher here is going to get you a nice dear or rabbit. And I’m going to keep you company and hear all about your great adventures.”
            Christopher pulled her to the side. “What are you doing? If you feed them, they’ll be stronger and will be able to destroy you. I’m trying to keep us safe and you’re offering to keep them alive.”

            “Trust me. They’re not as bad as they seem. Go hunt. I’ve got Tuppence here to keep me safe.”

            And so Christopher begrudgingly went off to hunt, returning quickly with several rabbits in hand. Brittany had been right. She had been sitting talking to the ogres the entire time, and was finding more and more that they weren’t as fierce or as mean as they seemed. They had talked about everything from their favorite foods- neither of them had heard of salad but were willing to try it- to the shape of the clouds- Ted had looked up and seen a flower- to their enjoyment of playing with Tuppence. Brittany had shown Robert how to play fetch, and the rest was history.  Christopher was surprised to find them laughing together when he returned.

            The two ogres wanted their rabbits raw, but Christopher skinned and cooked the other rabbit for Brittany. He had also gathered some berries and nuts along the way for snacks. The group was having a great time, and then Brittany realized Ted was very quiet.

            “Ted, what’s wrong?”
            “I’m just having so much fun, and I realized Boss is gonna find us soon and get mad. And I don’t want to go back to following him. I want to play with Tuppence and eat that salad you were talking about and look at clouds!”

            “So why don’t you tell him no?”

            “Because in ogre world, you have to prove your stronger. If you’re stronger, then everyone has to follow you. And he’s very strong. Magic binds us to follow him until we can defeat him. It’s just part of being an Orgre.”

            “Well what if we team up. I bet we can beat him.” Declared the Prince. “I’ve fought many ogres before, and I’ve never failed. If we can draw him here, Brittany and I can hide in the trees, then get him as he walks through. And then once I’m the strongest, I’ll set you free!”

            And so they went about setting up for the Boss to show up. Brittany and Christopher hid in the trees. The ogres let out a strange loud cry. Brittany had no words to describe the sound, but after a few minutes, she heard the call come back from another direction. Soon, the sounds of the Boss running towards them echoed through the forest. He stepped into the clearing.

            “What is this? Why are you sitting by a fire? Idiots. There are not humans here.”

            “Boss, we”

            “Don’t interrupt me! I was on the trail of a human, and you pulled me away to find you lazy bums sitting next to a fire? And what’s that in your hand? Have you been eating without waiting for the feast? What is wrong with you? I swear I aughtta.”

            “Now,” yelled Christopher, as he and Brittany jumped out of the tree, knocking over the Boss and hitting him in the head with a club. The boss was knocked unconscious. Brittany and the other ogres tied him up against a tree, and waited. When he woke up, Brittany was the first willing to face him. She walked right up to him.

            “You no longer are the strongest, bravest, or smartest of the ogres. We have defeated you and you will give up your power over these two. They will not follow you. They will be their own ogres who can do whatever they want!” The Boss struggled against the ropes but it was no use. Brittany had been an expert knot tier in girl scouts. “Why are you so mean?” The Boss humphed in response. “You won’t be freed until you break the spell over them.”

            The Boss started to shrink into himself, afraid of Brittany’s confidence and excellent knot tieing abilities. Finally he said quietly “I am no longer the boss of them.”

            A breeze swept through the clearing, and suddenly Robert yelled “His name is Francis! I couldn’t say that before! Francis! The spell is broken!”

            “You couldn’t say his name?”

            “How would you like to be the strongest ogre with a name like Francis? No one would have feared me. And now no one will again.”

            “You know there’s more to life than being feared.” Said Brittany.

            “Like what?”

            Brittany gave a sly grin to Robert and Ted. “Have you ever heard of a game called fetch?”

            And so Tuppence converted another ogre to learn to love through the game of fetch. By the time the sun rose, the three ogres, Robert, Ted, and Francis, had all decided humans were pretty fun. They thought they might even stop eating them, if this is what they were like. They took turns sleeping and enjoying each other’s company. Finally, all three ogres had fallen asleep. Brittany thought Robert and Francis would never stop arguing over who got to cuddle with Francis. But now it was just Brittany and Christopher.

            “You know, you were awfully brave out there. I don’t know many girls who would face down an ogre, no matter how tightly they were tied up.”

            “You know, I don’t usually think of myself as brave, but it’s been a weird day. I was watching Netflix in bed, and then suddenly I’m in this whole new world. I can be brave because I have to be. How else am I going to figure out how I got here?”

            “Well that’s easy, Princess. I brought you here.”
            “I’m not a. Wait. I’m sorry. What?”

            “I brought you here. Well technically it was the enchantress, but I asked for you.”

            “You’re the reason I came here? So much for keeping me safe.”

            “Princess, I am keeping you safe.”

            “No, your actions literally put me in danger. I was safe at home. I was safe in my world. Here I’ve almost frozen to death, had to face down three ogres, and I have been traveling with the person who put me in that danger? This is not ok.” Brittany stood up and stormed away from the prince. She ran as fast as she could from the clearing, bounding through the trees and brush. The Prince, knowing he had to keep Tuppence and the ogres safe, sat where he was, staring after her in despair.

            Brittany ran and ran. She ran even though her feet were on fire and bleeding from the forest ground. She ran even though her heart was pounding and her breath was short. She ran to keep back the tears.  It wasn’t until she tripped and fell that the sobs came out. She cried for the world she lost, for the friend who betrayed her, and because she finally realized she had left Tuppence behind and had no idea how to find him. And so she laid there, crying for what felt like hours. Finally, she wiped away the last of her tears, took a deep breath and looked up. She saw no signs pointing her in the right direction. She stood up, brushed off her legs. She picked a direction that seemed the right way and started walking. It didn’t take long for her to know she was hopelessly lost. This time, instead of crying, she took a deep breath and found her confidence. She scanned the horizon and saw fire light ahead. She decided it was worth the risk to see if it was her camp. As she got closer, she saw that instead, it was a little old lady. There was a small cottage next to the fire. Brittany approached with caution.

            “No need to worry, young girl. This cottage is made out of wood, not ginger bread. You’ll be safe here.”

            “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I’ve gotten lost.”

            “There is no need to apologize. You look like you’ve been through a lot, and we witches get a bad rep. Come, sit next to the fire and warm up.” Brittany, who had been freezing without the cape gladly took up the offer. Embarrassingly, her stomach growled very loudly. The witch smiled. “I’m cooking some stew right now, but I have an apple if you’d like to snack on it.”

            “Are we talking poisoned or regular?”

            “I wouldn’t waste a good poison apple on some girl I didn’t know. There is no reason to waste perfectly good magic. I can take a bite first if you’d like.”

            Brittany was instantly at home. The witch seemed to have knowledge beyond this world, and the two sat and talked. Brittany helped stir the stew, and the witch only asked for company as payment for the food and shelter. They talked through dinner, and Brittany pour out the story of how she had arrived there. “I just wish I knew how to get home or who to trust, or even how to find Tuppence.”

            “Ah, my dear. You know wishes like that are how princesses get into trouble in the stories. Those type of spells have consequences, you know.”

            “I’m in a magical world away from all my family and friends and I’ve lost my dog. At this point, I’d be willing to take the consequences to know what to do.”

            “I can help. I can cast a spell over you where you’ll need true love’s kiss to wake up. If it is the Prince, you will know that here is where you belong. If he kisses you and nothing happens, then you’ll be transported back to your world as if none of this happened.”

            “What about Tuppence?”

            “He will go wherever you go.”

            Brittany agreed and the witch started on the spell. She brewed together strange ingredients into a cauldron. It was something out of a fairytale, and Brittany couldn’t help but stare with her mouth open. She blushed when she realized that. The brewing process took longer that she expected, and when it was done, the witch took a cup and dipped it in. The witch led Brittany outside where a magical bed had appeared. The witch instructed her to sit down on it before taking a gulp. When Brittany did, it tasted like a warm mint tea. She handed the cup back to the witch, laid down, and fell asleep.

            The witch used her magic to attract the Prince and the ogres to the place where Brittany lay. It wasn’t difficult since the Prince had been searching furiously since the moment the ogres woke. The magic led him into the clearing before the others. He immediately rushed to her side, and grabbed her hand.

            “Oh fair Brittany, all I wanted was to keep you safe and instead I pushed you into the arms of evil.” The ogres finally caught up to the clearing and stopped silently on the edge. “I can only hope that there is one way to prove my love to you.” And slowly the prince leaned forward to kiss Brittany. The whole clearing was holding their breath until suddenly a loud bark filled the air and Tuppence bounced onto Brittany and started licking her face. Brittany began to awake.

            “A true love’s kiss!” yelled Robert

            “But, but, how can you be awake?” The prince stuttered. “I haven’t kissed you yet.”

            “Tuppence’s love must be true.” Brittany smiled as the dog continued to pounce at her. “Isn’t it boy.”

            “So what does this mean for your decision?” The witch had quietly appeared next to the trio. “Your Prince did not kiss you and the magic will only work once.” Brittany paused.

“Princess Brittany, before you make your decision, you deserve to know the whole story. I am a Prince of a strong and fair kingdom. I do my best to serve my people. All I wanted was a queen wise and strong enough to lead with me. I could not find any person no matter how far I searched. In an act of desperation, I sought out the enchantress who brought you to me. I have seen your bravery your strength, your kindness and I know you to be the true queen my people deserve. Stay with me.”

            “How could I possibly leave my family, my friends, my life for someone I’ve known for two days? Christopher, you’re very charming and this is an adventure I could never forget, but I can’t give up everything I’ve known because you can’t find a girlfriend.” She turned to the witch. “I want to go home.” Brittany gave her farewells to the ogres and the prince, hugging each of them for longer than normal and thanking them for the adventure. Tuppence gave an especially sloppy kiss goodbye to the ogres, and bounded around the clearing one last time. When they were finally ready, Brittany turned towards the witch. With a burst of light, the witch opened a portal to take Brittany and Tuppence back to their world.

             The Prince continued to rule his kingdom, proving himself a fair and just ruler through his outreach to the creatures in the forest. He remained friends with the ogre trio. Though it took some time, the Prince did find a Princess in his own world that was everything he imagined in a queen. The two were married, and lived happily ever after. As for Brittany and Tuppence, they returned home and finished binge watching their Netflix show, cuddled together after a long adventure.

Never Lost - Just sometimes unsure

So for most of my career, I've followed the advice of others. I was told to get business cards, so I did. I was told to create a website, so I did. I was told I should brand myself as a creative empath, so I did. And while following these pieces of advice, I realized that I wasn't really being true to my loves and passions. I was trying to fit myself into a certain shape box. Instead, I needed to find a way to make that box fit me. 

So this post is me celebrating a bit of a personal rebranding. Yes, I still like the name "Not Lost" because the idea rings true to who I am. I will stumble, I will fall, I will even occasionally go backwards. But I'm never lost in my path for where I want to be. Even when there are multiple paths, I always seem to know which path is the truest for me. It's cheesy, but I feel like I'm never lost because I've learned to listen to my heart and my gut.  

My passion is stories. I love them. I don't care what medium- books, TV, movies, video games, etc. If it has a good story, then I want to hear it, tell it, share it. So as of today, I am using my website, not to follow the generic advice I've been given, but to truly put forth my best self!

Running away to LA

It's been quite some time since I updated. It was May to be exact. In that time, I've taken care of some personal concerns (ie the death of my Grandma), gotten my health back into shape, and delved deep into studying narratives. In that time, I also got a new job, moved to LA, and I'm ready to hit the ground running again. 

This summer, I've spent a lot of time having TV show ADD. I can't seem to stay on just one. Luckily shows like Game of Thrones and Rick and Morty have been airing over the summer, so I'm not just watching nothing. I've made a point to work my way through West Wing, and I've been watching a lot of cheesy movies, more specifically, Disney Channel Movies. Overall, it's been a weird summer that's reminded me why I love this industry: stories.

Stories come in all shapes and sizes and mediums. From a good song to a captivating podcast, I find that what I'm searching for isn't always the best technical feat but the best story telling. Sometimes a simple story can be just as satisfying as a complex epic. Humans react to narratives in specific ways. In fact, we remember things better when they're presented as a story instead of just regular facts. A story isn't just a story, narratives serve a function to the brain. I've recently learned about the field of narratology. I've started subscribing to academic magazines to learn more about the discoveries being made about narrative, which will help me shape stories as I move forward in my career.

So as the summer comes to an end, I raise a glass to starting new, starting energized, and going forward!

Running Away for the Summer

Hello there! It's been a bit since I've updated this website. Which I worry makes it seem like I'm not involved in the industry. But I am. I have done a lot of fun small side projects. For example, I was on set for Two in the Bush, which was a feature shot in 10 days. Yes, 10 days. Everyone was amazing and on track. I definitely learned a lot. Then I'm helping produce a feature called "Trick and Treat." I live in a different city than the main crew, so it's been an adventure and a lesson in communication. But I love everyone working on the project. 

The main reason I'm writing this is because I've decided that this summer I'm going to be taking a break instead of hitting the pavement. I'll be moving to LA in August, and I want to hit the ground running once I get there. So I'm going to spend some time catching up on my watch list and getting some sleep. I'm ready for some exciting new adventures. How can I be expected to produce exciting content if I don't also have exciting adventures under my belt? 

So if you are reading this, hang in there. I'm taking a break; I'm running away for the summer, but I'll be back with a lot more focus and stories. 

No one's character has subtle change like Gaston

It's no secret that I love Disney. It's basically my whole bio on this website. My mom was pregnant with me when she took my sister to Beauty and the Beast in theaters. So you could argue that it was my first Disney movie. I grew up on it. After my first break up, Beauty and the Beast was my comfort movie. When they announced the live action version, to say I was worried was an understatement. I wanted nothing more than for this film to fail. You can't remake Beauty and the Beast. And they all the trailers flouted how similar it was to the original. I was not having it.

Then I saw the movie.

It wasn't perfect, but I smiled through the first half hour. The changes mostly enriched the plot. Maurice's song was beautiful, changing the order of plot points gave more understandable development. The lavish scenery was almost it's own character. But most importantly, the casting was perfect. Specifically Gaston. And I would like to examine some of the changes they made with that character.

Luke Evans flowers.png

When first meeting Gaston, he talks about how Belle brings him excitement. She reminds him of the adventures of the war. Belle is to Gaston as books are to Belle. And he even doesn't mind that she reads in this version.

Don't get me wrong. He's an idiot. He's french and he doesn't know what "je ne sais quoi" means. BUT he's not so dismissive of those around him. He offers Belle flowers and asks to join her for diner. He respects her for having dignity. I actually felt sad when she said no, and I knew where the movie was going! 

He's clueless, not vicious. He wants to prove to Belle that he's changed enough to be with her. 

The song "Gaston" has some major changes too. The scene before the song is completely different. Instead of lamenting his own embarrassment, he's lamenting his love for Belle. He's not worried about how others view him. He's worried about Belle's opinion. In both cases, Le Fou brings together the tavern to celebrate Gaston. However, in the live action movie, we see Le Fou several times putting down money. Gaston doesn't have the overwhelming popularity. While the function of the money isn't quiet clear- is it a direct payment to get the villagers to sing? Is Le Fou just paying for everyone's drinks? it's up for interpretation- but it becomes obvious that society hasn't overwhelmingly accepted him. Gaston has an ego, but it's not as bloated as in the cartoon. Even after the song is over, Gaston is willing to humor Maurice with a trip to the woods, instead of completely blowing it off. 

It is in his journey with Maurice that we see the dark side of Gaston. Up to this point, he was an idiot, but he wasn't really evil. However, his willingness to kill to get what he wants reveals the darkness. It was a betrayal to the audience. He was dumb and a little self-centered, but he wasn't evil. He was even a little likable. But at this point, we've fallen in love with Belle. He's willing to kill the most important thing to her, and she had been able to sense that in him. Then, Gaston manipulates Le Fou to get the town to turn against Maurice. He relies on fear to motivate the villager to attack the beast, and then fights with a gun. The beast shows him mercy in the fight, and Gaston still shoots the beast from behind because no one else should get Belle.  

These changes give Gaston more of an arch. He's more human. The message of the movie has always been beauty comes from within. This take on Gaston takes that a step further. It's the core of the person, good or bad, that matters. A person can be decent, but who they are at the core is what matters. When put to the test, the Beast is forgiving. Gaston is selfish. And that is why I love this story.

 

 

This isn't relevant to the above comments, but I thought I'd provide a Beauty and the Beast fun fact. A lot of people think that the Beast is named Prince Adam. That is in fact untrue. The name came from a book published by Hyperion that was a retelling of the story. When looking at the official D23 records, the Beast has no other name. 

The Figures Aren't Hidden Anymore

As an aspiring producer, I find myself struggling with the role of ethics in my field. And as much as I love thinking about it, I don't get to discuss it very often. Most of my conversations lie in the technical aspects of film making. Don't get me wrong. I've cried in awe of lighting and sound design. But sometimes I wonder about the ethical responsibility as a creator. Then I had the great pleasure of watching Hidden Figures. This is the type of movie we need to be making: strong female leads, diversity, intelligent characters, a witty and relatable story, beautiful music. The list goes on. For those who may not know- and I don't know how you've accomplished not hearing about it- Hidden Figures is a movie about three black female NASA mathematicians during the race to get a man into space. 

The first and obvious praise is how well this movie handles racism. As a white person, I am very lucky that my skin color doesn't influence people. But I know it does. I've seen it and I've listened to it. As someone who is white, I felt this movie did a great job at explaining the role of racism. At no point was the subject handled with white gloves. It was real, both in your face and subtle, just like real life. From separate coffee pots and bathrooms to simple promotions and job hierarchy. Not everyone who started the movie with a racial bias ended up realizing their prejudice. The movie specifically addresses that some racist people don't believe that they are (If there was any doubt about my love for Octavia Spencer, it disappeared with that scene). With race being an important political topic, this was a great way to bridge conversations between different groups. As I was watching this, the theatre was mostly white. And there were gasps of outrage over every act of racism. It made racism more understandable to an audience who had never experienced that. I loved that they cast Jim Parsons and Kristen Dunst as two racist people. Audiences love both of them, so it felt even worse to the audience when both got in the way of the success of our heroines. Racism was more than the stereotypes. It wasn't just slavery. It wasn't just segregation. It was every day life.

My second favorite feature is that it was a math movie. With women. Growing up, I never considered STEM careers. I was always taught to think about things like ballerina or teacher. I loved science, but I never thought I could have that career. This movie not only praises a strong mathematical mind, it praises women in the STEM field. I was lucky enough to be taught about women's additions to different fields (Don't even get me started on Rosalind Franklin), but I can't remember being taught about a single female mathematician. The whole movie celebrated STEM. Engineering, mathematics, computer programming. The most pivotal scene was Taraji P. Henson's character being better than the computer and more reliable than her peers. These women weren't stereotypical nerds. All three were funny, beautiful, strong women. It was the woman who got the handsome man. It was the woman breaking boundaries legally. It praised people who liked math and science. It praised women as innovators and engineers. Little girls can point to real women who did this as inspiration for their careers. It opens new possibilities across the board. 

Film makers praise innovation in technical fields. Last year I heard non-stop about how The Revenant's filming was so intense that several crew members almost died of hypothermia. While that movie was gorgeous, there was a lot of unnecessary risk and overall that risk didn't have a lot of impact. I would love to see a surge in celebration for boundary pushing content. Hidden Figures did that on multiple levels. Inspiring a new generation to have STEM interests opens a whole new world of innovation and discovery. Discussing racism and women's rights in this format helps build empathy in less diverse communities. 

Movies like this make a difference for a lot of people. I can only hope that Hollywood sees the success of this film and realizes that pushing the boundaries in content is just as important as developing technical skill. As for myself, I'm looking for an excuse to watch it again.

A Wave of Appreciation

I have a very strong relationship to the Disney brand in my life. It's something I've been watching critically for as long as I can remember. That means when a new Princess movie comes out, I'm on top of it.

Princess and the Frog was surrounded by ad after ad of immature humor, but when I saw it in theatres my heart was full. So then I had hope for Tangled, and Frozen's international trailer was exciting. So when Disney announced Moana, I worried. There were too many hits in a row. This was going to have to be a flop. Moana was everything I could want from the newest Disney movie. Great music, but more importantly, putting their universal hero myth into an accurate culture.

Disney doesn't have any problems with representing European cultures. From matching time period- see Rapunzel's contrast to Mother Gothel- to occasionally matching local cultures- see Kristoff's design based on the Saami people. But in general, there is a lot of out cry when they go to say the Middle East with Jasmine or Colonial America with Pocahontas. The one time they ventured into Africa for a setting turned out to be a retelling of Hamlet. So Disney had some work to do to make me believe this was going to reflect Islander culture. I'm not the biggest expert, but my anthropology studies taught me a lot about different cultures. I was in awe of how many small things were included that made this movie a great representation of non-European culture!

One of the things I loved about this movie is that while there were some grass skirts, they weren't just stereo-typical. Moana's skirt included brown leaves with fabric around it.  The materials were things that would be found on the island. The beading on her shirt is made of small shells. The fabric is mostly shades of tan which would come from the local plants such as palm leaves or coconut fibers being sewn together. Where there is color, there are reds. The red would have come from berries. Even her locket is made out of a clam shell.

In Western culture, we express a lot about ourselves through fashion, however a lot of cultures around the world use tattoos in similar ways. From Grandma Tala's ray to Maui's personal stories, they portray the tattoos not just as random art but as significant parts of the culture's self-expression. Samoan warriors had specific geometric designs given in religious ceremonies. Disney brought in a Samoan artist to design Maui's tattoos to make sure they were designed in a respectful way. They stayed true to the culture and used that to develop the characters. 

Speaking of tattoos, not a lot of people realize Grandma Tala's tattoo had a double meaning. First it represented that she had a connection to the water, just like Moana. But then it connected to a common cultural belief. From Hawaii to New Zealand, Polynesian cultures all have meanings for the ray. The most common significance is that the Ray is a symbol of wisdom from spiritual guardians. The grandma acted as a constant guide to Moana both in life and death. It would have been easy to use another animal such as a sea turtle. The turtle is a symbol of life for many cultures, which wouldn't have had the parallel for the Grandma's character.  

Twice in the film, Maui demonstrates haka, a war dance dance of the Maori people. This dance has become more visible since the film Whale Rider, but is also been very easy to use in a joking manor. The animators treat it as a very serious and important part of the plot. Maui performs haka to enter the Realm of Monsters and before his battle with Teka. Disney could have easily put in a moment of confusion from Moana or Hei Hei immediately after these images. But both times, they stuck to being respectful instead of going for a cheap laugh. 

Sure, they pulled items out from different cultures instead of picking just one, but Disney is known for creating new worlds- look at Frozen's Arendelle. I could go on and on about all the small details, the cultural awareness casting, the use of pigs and chickens, the faithfulness to Maui's original myth. But instead, I'm going to end this by saying that it's great to see diversity on the screen. With fantastic music and talent, this is a must see for everyone this holiday season and for anyone looking for a little more diversity in their film life.