Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist


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Beautiful People: Agnetha

I’m editing her first adventure at the moment, so I think it’s appropriate that I tell you a little about my favourite – and first – protagonist via the Notebook Sisters and Further Up and Further In monthly meme.

I turned my attention to the question of names – and my realisation was bitter. Inwardly, I cursed at the simple word Leonard. And how joyful I was when toothbrush-moustache came through the double doors, clutching his informative clipboard of the random facts nobody wanted to know.

Oh, hai, Agnetha King.

She could totally be Stitch.

1) What does your character regret the most in their life?

I suppose Agnetha’s greatest regret would be that she never got to know Josh Craig as much as she thought she did. You know? That realisation that you’re never going to see someone again and suddenly every little thing of theirs becomes the most important thing in the universe. She finds it difficult to conventionally make friends, and so losing one best friend is a blow to the soul, definitely (soul being my word, not Agnetha’s). Students her own age are moronic and self-centred, but maybe later she’ll regret never making those close friends when she had the chance.

2) What is your character’s happiest memory? Most sorrowful memory?

I guess Agnetha’s happiest memory (or one of; it’s very difficult to pin-point one exactly, and thus I’m going for the most obvious in answer to this) is one she reflects on in Of Jackets and Phones: when she first meets Josh Craig in the corridor of her school. It’s that kind of electricity that warms one’s soul (“cue the pyrotechnics, Steve!”) and that connection of knowledge and self.

Her most sorrowful memory? When she loses him. That exact moment DI Leonard says those words died in suspicious circumstances. It influences a lot of her future actions, though I’m not sure that’s a good thing when it interacts with the facets of her already-personality, such as the petty kleptomania*. However, as we’ll later see (when I get around to writing it), she plays with the ring she steals from his house before making any massive decisions, as if she wants to channel Josh and his good heart.

3) What majorly gets on your character’s nerves?

Her mother and brother. They don’t quite get her love of unwinding mysteries and trying to crack puzzles. Although (by the third book) she no longer talks to her father, she might get her logical mind from him, whereas her mother and brother are more…simple and down to Earth. They take things at face-value.

4) Do they act differently when they’re around people as opposed to being alone? If so, how?

Agnetha, especially as she gets older, has to subdue herself around others. Her personality does almost a complete flip. In OJAP, she’s definitely a ponderer on the inside and bolshie on the outside, a rebellious little fourteen-year-old; by OOLE, the third book in the trilogy, she’s a lot more of a thinker on the outside, and has to hold in her own opinions when in the working world. Agnetha’s finally learnt that authority is (not so much) out to get her. At least she’s not pulling punches and pulling pistols on people by the time she’s eighteen!

5) What are their beliefs and superstitions?

In Of Jackets and Phones, Agnetha has yet to have a religion, but she is fourteen and teetering on the brink of depression, so that’s acceptable. However, she believes in fatalism and this influences her pessimistic view of life.

6) What are their catchphrases, or things they say frequently?

Whilst Agnetha doesn’t have a definite catchphrase more than fidgeting habits, she does tend to make the most facetious of remarks. A couple of times in OJAP, she makes references to mystery writers (as per a little satire I’ve attempted to weave), including one of my favourites, Colin Dexter, whose Inspector Morse books are (coincidently, I promise!) set in and around Oxford.

She’s also kind of a compulsive sorter, since physical ordering things allows her to mentally reorganise without using up conscious energy.

7) Would they be more prone to facing fears or running from them?

Running from them, most likely. Whilst physical fears – such as her claustrophobia and facing off against villains – and, actually, one of my favourite scenes from the middle book, Of Moscow Mysteries, is the final fight scene between Agnetha and the antagonist – she seems to face, her inner fears and her emotions she runs from. And those inner demons quake her very shoes.

OMM concept drawing of the fight

OMM concept drawing of the fight

8) Do they have a good self image?

Far from it. I’m not sure if I’ve kept the phrase, but in the first draft, Agnetha studies herself in her bedroom mirror and complains about her blemishes as “a battleground, marks against the perfect snow-white blanket of youth. I’d always been a pale child – a tan never stayed on my skin more than ten minutes.”

9) Do they turn to people when they’re upset, or do they isolate themselves?

Similar, in fact, to #4 and #7, she isolates herself because she’s an introvert and goes so far as to even mock those who are dramatic or possibly overdone in their emotions. She’d never turn to people because she can’t rely on people, though she does occasionally turn to her rabbit, Cinnabun, when she wants to be listened to without interruptions.

10) If they were standing next to you would it make you laugh or cry?

Am I allowed to offer ‘cringe’? Agnetha is likely to make me laugh and cry simultaneously. I can imagine her tossing out her blonde hair and making up some hodge-podge remark as she studies her nails.

*I am well aware that this is probably a linguistic oxymoron.

AgnethaIllustrated_AlexB


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‘The Relationship’

I wrote this poem on Wednesday when this photo I took the same day inspired me.

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Your sweat and the last refrain of melody and the closing thorn,
It pierced my heart before I’d even known
How to spell out your amour.
In these moments where I curse and scrawl your words over and again,
True realisation is my enemy and enmity
Swells within me, a bitter
Leftover of our poison,
A poison for shelling our mind, enriching our souls.
We know better -
Well, you have your moments of standing by the window – and
Trilling the forlorn tune
(I remember you passed it to me,
Via piano keys
The day you realised
I only play strings)
I’ve kept my mind from the countermelody:
I hum that tune to myself sometimes.
We plucked youth from out of each others hands;
Quite why I didn’t expect the thorns
Ploughed from regret
Nobody factored but you, with your silent
Hands. Bled, I did, and cried as we signed ourselves
Away. Into a word neither
Admitted was our harmony bed.
Your sweat and the last refrain,
And I cut my thorn-decked flesh,
Eyeing your hesitance, knife-point.
No wonder salt lies on the scared.


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A Thought for Today: Bunny Bennett’s It Gets Better Video

I may be a cis-gender heterosexual and mostly-heteroromantic woman – and Pride month isn’t particularly a well-announced thing here in England, so I didn’t really know about it – but I wanted to share with you this video by steampunk performer Bunny Bennett.

Yes, it’s an old video, but the band Steam Powered Giraffe has really inspired me these last couple of months, in imagination – and self-confidence.

“Maybe you’re just tired of all the hate in the world.”

One thing I’ve learnt in my year at uni, something much more valuable than Heidegger’s continental approach to considering the world’s existence or how the brain acts on sensation signals, is that the world and its opinions are not narrow. They are not the product of a Catholic girls school (take from that what you will; I’ll only say that the opinions of your school-friends will always be unrealistically petty). Life is not the sole opinion of your parents; you can have your own views, beliefs, loves and that’s more than simply acceptable.

Laws are there for a reason – to keep us safe – and, although political correctness has veered off the helpful track, opinions are not the same as laws. You can feel one thing and act another, and, yes, that doesn’t have to necessarily be a bad thing. Hate and love are not spectra, and, yes, it is possible to feel hate but to show love and turn the other cheek.

The Steampunk community rules!

As Bunny says in the video’s description: “This video isn’t just for the LGBT community. It’s for everyone and anyone that needs it. We all go through tough times. We all have seemingly impossible odds against us.”

I have a friend who lives down the corridor from me, a beautiful, charismatic girl who happens to dress like a 40s pin-up because that’s the kind of fashion she loves. She gets flack, but we all get flack. Everyday. It’s the life we live. Yet, that’s no reason for my friend to stop being pretty with her looks or for me to deny that I do enjoy NeoVictorian and modern NeoVictorian (wearing non-Victorian shirts and trousers but jazzing them up with steam accessories like belts and bows and frills. I love frills.).

And your start is to start loving yourself, and forgiving yourself. We all do silly things and feel arguably silly feels, but beating yourself up for how you feel does no one any good.

I know – this post is comprised of nothing novel. I just wanted to share this beautiful video from a beautiful amazing woman.

Well, life’s too short, so share the love. You know it is. You know it is. Don’t do things that you shouldn’t do, because that’s bad. ;)

 


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Happy Solemnity of Peter and Paul

In the Catholic Church calendar, today celebrates the Saints Peter and Paul, martyrs and evangelists of the faith. These two men are great role models of following God’s call even if it means stepping away from what one has come to know. It should be no surprise, then, that their feast is one I know well. On their day is when I have given my faith the greatest of overviews.

I realise I don’t share much of the hymns to which I listen, but YouTube is pale in comparison with witnessing the melodies first-hand and singing them. However, today’s psalm and gospel acclamation lyrics are too beautiful not to share, even in part:

From all my terrors, the Lord set me free. I will trust the Lord at all times, His praise always on my lips. In the Lord, my soul shall make its boast; the humble shall hear and be glad.

They’re very give-all lyrics. One must trust that God has set the right path for one to follow, even if the road ahead is not clear of issues and obstructions. Peter and Paul knew this well – and they eventually died rather than renouncing their faith. That’s amazing.

This year’s feast is particularly poignant for me, as it’s my first as a full Catholic consuming the host, since being confirmed at Pentecost after my conversion. We’ve come far, but we’ve still got a lifetime ahead to trust where understanding must fail.


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Photo of the WeeK: Red

I was very tempted to leave ‘insert squirrel here’–

Indeed, yesterday, I was compared to Dug–

because of the amount of little fluffy mammals I’ve been watching on campus. Instead, however, the flowers win out again (perhaps I take too many pictures of flowers, hmm?), and these two wonderful Poppy heads are from the Harris Gardens on the University of Reading campus. With a vast variety of climates and grounds one can get lost in, the Gardens are definitely worth a visit if you’re around.

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I was also experimenting and added a solarise effect to the camera – the result was too gorgeous not to share!

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Featured Image -- 2666


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The Art of letting go

Alexandrina Brant:

We all know that letting go is a painful, cold-hearted kick to the gut. Here, Loretta Andrews considers letting go and God. The first few paragraphs especially rung true for me.

Originally posted on Loretta Andrews:

Is God a nice God?

Is ‘letting go’ a brave act of surrender or merely giving up?

They say the hardest choice you’ll ever face is whether to walk away or try harder, but what if someone else gives up before you.  Do you let them walk away? Or do we grab hold of their leg shamelessly losing all self-respect and let them drag us a long as they try to get away from us? Do we even have a choice?

I’m pretty sure there is an art to letting go.  I’m pretty sure I don’t have it! In fact I’m certain I’m absolutely rubbish at it!  It says a lot about me I guess.  I am fiercely loyal.  Ask any of my friends, they know full well and from experience, you mess with one of them I’d personally rip the face of the perpetrator if they wanted me to…

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More Creative Quotes

Another ‘creative’ quote from my manuscript, this time from Aidelle’s side of the separation. Of regrets and chilling thoughts of being away from him.

(It’s larger – and the picture was, sadly, more cumbersome than my previous, horizontal photos – therefore, I have to say, the quote carries less elegance than the other, but I still thinks this brings a certain bundle of ‘feels’ when I read it. I highlighted some of the phrases that have stayed with me throughout writing.)

WTCB_Aidellequote1


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Poem: Fingermarks on the Glass

Summer_n

Too many drinks make a hazy head –

A thin line ‘tween clarity and peering through a traffic of images

For the harmony of your tenor,

For a stupid, goofy grin

We both once shared.

In drabs, our souls drip away;

Though the clear transparency of your tone

Mingles with my opaque dossier,

One look is not as simple as one glance used to be.

Reliving through a blanket shell,

The “mirror darkly”, the apt quote,

Now feelings fracture the edge of new circumstances.

I collect them in a decanter,

You see, for my pleasure

At reconvening evidence, pocketing it

Like copper coins. You abandoned

Your place at one whisper –

Hold on to sailors’ hats! He’s done it again! –

Yet, simultaneously, you crept away

Into a veiled concept like a spice element amongst my dew,

Performed a tidy show for all the eyes,

But neglected my introspective, skip-a-beat type care.

Instead, I play with the remains of my alcohol.

I thought I heard a strain of some lyric once –

In the dark, that sound might be you –

Or it was a simplified version of hope,

Threaded by some Demon

With a promise of a sweeter success

With a headache.

Forget the chorus and the organ

Or the “operas and musicals” in mountains of my taste;

I want to hear your solo,

And the lightness in your cocktail accent,

And your questions – unimposing for now –

And every word, unspoken, that will follow.

An affair of the soul, indeed!

If flirtation begins, the thirst must be quenched;

If one eye closes, it must be opened by the other.

I drain the last of the second cup,

And the memory of your smile

Is nothing more than fingermarks on the glass.

~

If I took a sip for every thought of you…


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Phillip Laments

Because Phillip is very poetic in the midnights of our sorrows.

A quote from my manuscript. I thought I’d go fancy and edit one of my photos to include it. Thanks to my friends from the Quidditch team for their posing.

WTCB_Phillipquote1


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Anger in Itself is Not Bad

I’ve always had a problem with anger, both on the sense of my short temper, and in my reactions to it. As a child, I was frequently berated for it, and, as such, I conditioned myself to expect that it was wrong inandof itself. Anger = punishment.

I believe that is the root of the depression and constant sadness that haunted me as a child, and trailed behind me as a youth. Anger is the monster that turns us into carbonated drinks or makes us eat away at ourselves, turning our anger inwards. I was one of the latter types. My hate = my fault = my punishment, you see.

As my RCIA leader said very wisely: “the feeling of hating one’s own anger is more likely a trick from the Devil.”

Now, I’ve been taught different. It’s not the anger that is the human sin, for we are flawed and we experience emotion as part of that fundamental flaw, but what we do, our actions, that make our sin.

In our RCIA session this week, we are still discussing Jesus as Word and Flesh and meaningful existant; we read through extracts of scripture and broke them into our personal and general interpretations and what we liked and thought difficult about them, be that giving when we have little to give, or being humble when the world around us is bold and self-loving.

I am blessed for having been there, for that discussion made me realise something that, though I’ve slowly become accustomed to, I’d not fully accepted: I am allowed to be angry with other people, I am allowed to be displeased and offended.

I’d understood that idea when I began to forgive myself (and this, I believe, must have been shortly before or after I made the decision to become a Catholic), but I’d never felt it.

The spirit entered us that session. I am so thankful that my eyes have been opened to this.

To finish, a thought considering the Pharisee and the taxi collector: Salvation cannot be earned.

(In a related, apt post, today is the eighteenth of February, which is the annual day of self-harm, depression and that lot. People are gathering, telling tales and supporting each other over those bumps in our lives. The Light shall come.)

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