this is how it is with me.
it’s the marking end of term & i’m deep in it. i mark at nights. it’s never really ‘fun’. poetry just takes a long time. like anything worth doing. you don’t begin fresh & write something amazing straight away. nevertheless, you might sometimes see something in these poems, a spark of talent or interest, & i always try to be encouraging in my comments, gesturing towards future endeavours or just ‘sticking with it’. i’m persistent even when it’s painful (sometimes not always the best way to be). i do willingly sign up for this stuff but it always feels stressful right at this point, this three week marking window, counting down how many i have to get through each day before the deadline. i remember it like this last year. but i guess kind of different. post 8.30pm, word docs open on the left half of the screen, gmail inbox on the right. feels like forever ago.
i really can’t afford the time but i need to wind down at night, even if it’s just between 11-11.43pm. a week or so ago i watching en episode of buffy the vampire slayer. i don’t need to go through the whole context of the episode, but there’s this brief moment where buffy looks over to cordelia, who is sort of being fussed over by a group of servile girls. they’re smiling & laughing, cooing over her dress, her nails etc. yet the way it’s presented in this brief moment is such that the followers don’t appear that servile. it’s a quick tableaux of loveliness, equanimity, happiness. buffy’s look right at that point suggests she wants something from that moment that she can’t have. obviously there’s a certain frivolity that buffy feels she’s lost, being a super-serious slayer & all, but it’s more than that. the visual (& verbal) language at this & other points in the show suggests being pretty & popular is something buffy wants & should be able to have. & that actively being concerned about that is not something to be ashamed of. it’s an ongoing interrogation: can she be pretty, smart, & strong?
it’s interesting because the idea of being the prettiest is something that comes up in my little girls’ roleplaying all the time. ‘just pretend i was the prettiest one at the dance..’ etc etc etc… when i overhear it i sometimes feel moved to engage with the game, question why it’s about who’s the prettiest, the most liked. but then it’s quite possible i don’t need to do anything (except get in on the roleplay? sometimes i’m allowed to be like, the adult ‘teacher’ if the scenario permits). people are concerned with beauty. we like looking good & we like that in others. you can express yourself by wearing a gorgeous dress just as much as by punching the face of evil. they’re not opposing parts of an identity. we can value intelligence & strength too. besides, i think you so quickly lose your stereotypical notions of what prettiness is. it becomes so nuanced, so personal & particular when you’re even a little bit older. a certain fall of hair, eye colouring, a habitual gesture, a nervous response to your words.. & notional beauty becomes just one small part of what really constitutes desire, the pull to closeness.
maybe i’m noticing more because i’ve only just got myself in a position to have my girls 3 nights out of 7. i was able to drop them at school this morning & tho i’m not too accurate on these figures, i think it’s been 6 months since i did that. it’s nice. they’re such complete princesses / marauding trolls. pretty little slayers both of them.
how are things with you?