It’s the “Old Notebooks” series, where I read back through the fantasy stories I wrote as a kid and mock myself mercilessly in order to mitigate my mortification!
PREVIOUSLY IN THE “SCRIGGLY” NOTEBOOK: Jordan had a good cry about her dead mother and her abusive father with Robert the Beautiful Stable Boy. No making out happened, despite my hopes, but I did formulate the theory that Robert and Jordan are carrying on a secret romance, which Jordan won’t talk about in her diary because she is trying to protect Robert from the jealous Prince Alex, who likes to read her diary like a creeper. (I’m 100% sure that this is probably all true and exactly what my Little Self hoped I would get out of this story). Also Jordan decided to teach Isabel how to draw because, surprise surprise, the five year-old is not exactly Da Vinci. Oh, and it rained. I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next. Let’s find out!
August 10, 10,223 B.C. – Thursday
It’s still raining! It’s been pouring since Monday night! The horses are getting restless. They want to go outside and run, instead of being cooped up in these stuffy stables. I feel pretty much the same way as the horses. I feel isolated from people in here.
Aw, Jordan, you’re not isolated. You’ve still got your make-out buddy Robert with you!
No one comes to visit us because no one wants to ride horses
while itsin the middle of a hurricane!
Hey Jordan, here’s an idea: LEAVE. Seriously, why do they have to stay in the stables constantly? Can’t they leave once the horses are taken care of? In my experience, caring for horses usually does not require you to be with them in the stables 24/7. Surely if the stable people are that anxious for fresh company, they could find fifteen minutes here and there to stroll over to the palace and chat with the cooks or something? Or are they required to spend all their free time standing around by the stall doors, hoping someone will show up to take one of the horses for a ride, sort of like roller coaster operators at an amusement park that no one goes to anymore?
I hope it doesn’t flood. If the rain doesn’t stop soon, it will flood. Luckily the palace is on a large hill overlooking the city. But think of the people in the city! It may be flooding down there as I write.
Yeeeaaaaahhhhh, if the palace is up on a large hill overlooking the city, and you’re worried about it flooding up there, then I’d say it’s a safe bet to assume there’s some flooding going on down in the rest of the city. Especially in the outskirts where all the poor peoples’ huts are. They’re pretty much screwed.
But oh well, no time for worrying about poor people who might be drowning and/or becoming homeless as we speak! There are much more interesting things to talk about. Such as…
Isabel is improving on her drawing.
OH GOOD. THAT’S SUPER.
Ana is giving me singing lessons as of today. She says my voice is strong and loud and beautiful if I can get on the right pitch. Her voice is loud and powerful and right on pitch. I wish I could sing like her.
From now on, I’m going to imagine that Ana is played by Idina Menzel.
Oh, yeah, and by the way, Jordan continues to be a cheap knockoff of Ella from Ella Enchanted here. This wouldn’t be as obvious unless you were freakishly familiar with the book, like I am. But, well…
The next morning, Music Mistress led us in song, and singled out my off-key voice.
“Ella does not notice that there is more than one note,” she told everyone. “Come here, child. Sing this.” She played a note on the harpsichord.
I wouldn’t be able to. I could never carry a tune… I sang the wrong note. Music Mistress frowned.
… My next attempt was much too high. One lass covered her ears. I wished her an earache.
Music Mistress played again… I hit the note. She played another. I sang it. She played a scale. I sang every note. I beamed. I’d always wished I could sing. I sang the scale again, louder. Perfect!
Again, it’s not as obvious unless you are really familiar with the book and also already know that I was obsessively in love with this book when I was this age. But since I am me, and I remember being obsessively in love with this book, and I am also clearly still in love enough with it to recognize the similarities… it’s pretty shameless. Amusingly so.
Also, look, these people have tons of free time! They’re doing drawing lessons, and now singing lessons! Next they’ll be taking pottery classes and swing-dancing and Japanese. They have time for all this stuff, and yet they don’t have time to ever leave the stables and go make friends with the gardeners or something? Are they imprisoned in the stables?
… They are, aren’t they?
Jesus, Prince Alex, just feed them all to the sarlacc and get it over with already. I can’t handle all this suspense.
August 12, 10,223 B.C. – Saturday
It hasn’t rained this much in over 100 years! This is the 5th day of rain. There are no breaks. It never even calms for a little while. It just rains steadily, day and night. It’s getting worse.
I’m starting to think this rain is supposed to be an omen or something, but I’m not sure of what.
… Come to think of it, it sort of reminds me of the journals in Myst, actually! And considering my nearly-lifelong love of Myst, I’m sure that’s not a coincidence.
Okay, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Myst GO PLAY IT RIGHT NOW! (For reals, RealMyst Masterpiece is available on both Steam and GoG, and so is Riven. Go buy them right now. I’m serious. Go.)
Anyways, MOSTLY SPOILER-FREE SUMMARY: the games are about this guy named Atrus and his super-dysfunctional family, who come from this ancient race of people called the D’ni, who can make these special books that transport them to different universes. (It’s all actually a lot more complicated than that, but I’m trying to stay focused here.)
In the first game, you (the player) discover a bunch of Atrus’s old travel journals, which he wrote while exploring some of these other worlds. And in several of these worlds, rain was often an omen of change. One world called “Stoneship” was a beautiful idyllic place where it never rained, but after Atrus visited, it suddenly began raining a lot, and the island began to slowly sink into the ocean.
Another world called “Mechanical” was a peaceful utopia where the sky was blue all the time, until suddenly one day the sky turned dark, heralding the approach of an enemy fleet that destroyed the citadel and left it mostly sunken into the sea. And in another world called “Channelwood,” a heavy rain began to fall one day and inexplicably wouldn’t stop, and the whole lower level of the village began to sink into the water.
Yeah, there was also a theme of islands sinking in that game, which…
OH MY GOD. WAIT.
IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE FORESHADOWING FOR ATLANTIS SINKING???
Hahahaha, it is, isn’t it? This is a precursor to the sinking of Atlantis!
Hey! That’s… huh. That’s actually cool! I can’t believe I didn’t guess that right off the bat. Good job, Little Me! Have a cookie. *sends a cookie back in time*
LITTLE ME: “Hey! There’s suddenly a random cookie next to my bed! Wonder where that came from?… Hm, oh well! Nom nom nom.“
August 13, 10,223 B.C. – Sunday
The water is getting too high. People in the lower part of the city are having to be rescued. People in the higher part are evacuating. Queen Eleanor and all the princesses (Sarai, Susanna, Samantha and
SunnySkylar) have already evacuatedevacuated.
SUSANNA. SAMANTHA. AND SKYLAR.
The only thing that makes this better (or worse?) is that I almost wrote “Sunny” and then changed my mind. Because apparently even back then, I sensed that “Sunny” was utterly ridiculous as an Atlantian princess’s name. Too bad I didn’t rethink any of the others.
Susanna, Samantha, and Skylar. SKYLAR. I—I can’t.
You know what, I think this calls for one more facepalm.
Well done, Hiccup. Thanks.
Atlantis City is not the only place being flooded. Some of the higher servants (like ladies-in-waiting) are evacuating too. Unfortunately, since we’re the lowest position of servants, we’ll be evacuated last. Most of the men are staying to help everyone in the city.
BECAUSE WOMEN ARE BASICALLY USELESS AHAHAHAHAHAHA AMIRIGHT? 😡
Yeah. It’s really awesome to see that Atlantis’s evacuation policy is pretty much the same as the Titanic’s.1 “Let the (rich) women and children go first, while the manly men dutifully stay behind to die manlily in a manly manner, because man. And as for the poor people… basically just keep them out of sight and don’t let them bother the rich people who are hogging up all the lifeboats.”
Oh wait, did I say “awesome”? I meant THE OPPOSITE OF THAT.
*Sigh* Okay, just so nobody gets upset with me over this: the men who sacrificed their lives to save others on the Titanic were heroes, and obviously their deaths were a terrible tragedy. Being willing to die yourself in order to save the lives of people you love is one of the most noble things anyone can do. My problem is the societal attitudes towards men and women that 1) put women in the same category as children (i.e. weak, helpless and burdensome), 2) tell men that they have to be the ones to die in that situation, they have no choice, just because of their gender, and 3) deny women the choice to stay behind with their husbands, or even sacrifice themselves to save their husbands, or contribute to rescuing others in any way, even if they want to.
Think of it like this: in the movie Titanic, Jack and Rose end up in the freezing water with a piece of debris that only one of them can float on at a time. Jack chooses to stay in the water and freeze to death so that Rose can float on the debris and survive. That’s a noble and sad thing to do, right? But now imagine if it was flipped around. What if Rose had chosen to stay in the water and die, so that Jack could live? Why doesn’t anyone tell that story? Is Jack’s life not as valuable as Rose’s? Does Rose not love Jack as much as he loves her?—No. Of course Jack is as valuable as her, and of course Rose loves him. But if Jack survived because Rose froze to death to save him, then EVERYONE WOULD HATE JACK. Everyone would criticize Jack, calling him weak and cowardly and selfish for letting Rose die in his place—even if this was what Rose wanted. Because everyone sees women as the weak ones who need saving, and men as the strong ones who must die to protect them.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at this same situation but with a very different relationship: a mother and a child. The child’s gender doesn’t matter, but let’s imagine this is a pretty young child—say, under ten. The mother and child end up in the freezing water with a piece of debris that can only support one of them, just like Jack and Rose. It would be expected that the mother would stay in the water and die so that her child could live, right? If the mother hogged up the driftwood and left her child in the water to die, everyone would hate her and call her cowardly and selfish. And they’d be right to do so. But why? Well, because children are weaker than adults; they are more helpless; they depend on adults for protection. This is the nature of parent-child relationships.
But if Jack had lived and Rose had died, people would have reacted to Jack the same way they’d react to that mother who survived at her child’s expense. Which puts Rose in the position of the child. Rose is the weak, helpless, dependent one who does not have the power to save herself or anyone else. The problem is: THAT’S NOT TRUE. Rose is not a child; she’s an adult just like Jack. She’s not helpless, she’s not dependent, and she does have the power to save both herself and other people. Pretending that women must be treated like children is not only condescending and depowering to women, it means that men always have to be the protectors and rescuers, and are never allowed to be protected or rescued themselves without being seen as weak and unmasculine. It means that men become the expendable gender.
And that’s why I have a problem with “women and children first.”
Of course, all this is really beside the point anyway, because both Jack and Rose could have lived if they’d just taken turns.
OK. Carry on, story.
Alex is staying with King Nathan(I suppose I should call him Prince Alex, but no one can read this book anyway, except maybe Ana).
Noooooo Jordan! Don’t joss my theory about you having to hide your steamy love affair with Robert from the spying eyes of the jealous prince! *sigh* Nope. Nope. I don’t care. I’m sticking to my theory. I’m just going to imagine she wrote this in here as a ploy to make Prince Alex think she doesn’t know that he reads her diary. Yeah, that’s it.
LITTLE ME: “Big Me, what the heck?”
LITTLE ME: “You are completely missing the point here! She called him ‘Alex.’ Not ‘Prince Alex,’ just Alex! Like he’s a regular person!”
LITTLE ME: “And she did it secretly in her journal where no one could read it!”
LITTLE ME: “Don’t you get it? She likes him! Their relationship is evolving!”
ME: “Okay, yeah, I can see that. But why?”
LITTLE ME: “What do you mean, why?”
ME: “I mean, what brought this on? Has she actually interacted with Prince Alex at all since he hired her back in Mu Province? If so, she hasn’t written anything about it, which I can only assume means they haven’t talked at all. So why suddenly drop his title now?”
LITTLE ME: “B-because, she… um… she likes him.”
ME: “Yeah, but why?”
LITTLE ME: “Dude, because she just does! That’s how the story goes!”
ME: “Ah. You mean because he’s the Inevitable Sexy Prince, so she has to like him?”
LITTLE ME: “Exactly!”
ME: “Even if they’ve barely talked and he has no personality to speak of at all?”
LITTLE ME: “Yes—wait, what?”
ME: “Nah, I got it. Don’t worry, it’s cool. Here, have another cookie.”
LITTLE ME: “But—”
ME: *shoves cookie in Little Me’s mouth*
Seriously, though. I’m kind of expecting the next page of this notebook to be all covered with little hearts that say “Mrs. Alex” over and over again.
Prince Adam is staying too.
YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT THE QUEEN AND THE PRINCESSES AND ALL THE OTHER (UPPER CLASS) WOMEN LEFT… BUT THE EIGHT YEAR OLD BOY STAYED???
😡 😡 😡 😡 😡 😡
Ooooooooohhhhh, Little Me… look. I know we were young, and we didn’t really get feminism back then. But you are seriously making me sad right now.
You see this, everyone? This right here? This is what’s called “internalized misogyny.” It happens to a lot of us, and it’s not just something that happens with women. It’s basically what happens when you grow up being constantly taught that you are not the norm, you are not the default, you are not the hero—you are the excess, the prize, the prop. You belong on the sidelines. You are weak. You don’t get to participate. And if that’s all you ever hear, you just sort of accept it as truth, unless someone or something comes along to make you start questioning it. You accept it so much that you never even think about it: it just becomes part of the fabric of the world. Cats hate dogs, apples fall downward when you drop them, and eight year-old boys are less fragile and more useful than grown-ass women.
This is beyond facepalming. This calls for some headdesks.
And you know, much like the ridiculous classism we saw earlier with the mansions made of diamonds (and which we also see here in how the people are evacuated in order of social class), this really wouldn’t be such a bad thing if there was at least some comment about it. If it was presented as a problematic aspect of traditional Atlantian society, and Jordan was all, “Hey, y’know, this makes no sense! Grown adult women could actually be very useful for helping people out in a flood, yet they’re being sent away, while the eight year-old boy who can hardly do anything and will probably just be in danger is staying here? All because he has the right type of genitalia? I mean, what do peens and vajayjays even have to do with this situation at all?!?!”
I could deal with that. I’d even be happy with that. Heck, even if Jordan just made one offhand mention that this is kinda stupid, I’d be satisfied. And Jordan as a character would probably go up quite a bit in my esteem.
But no. Jordan has no comment. Jordan just shrugs and says:
I hope the rain stops soon.
Isabel has joined Ana and
myme with our singing.
Umm… Jordan? The whole city is flooding. Don’t you think the singing lessons can wait?
She has such a very high-pitched voice, it’s so beautiful, but she is too loud and shrill when she sings. Ana is helping her with it. We learned a new song today. It’s a beautiful love song called “Asoon da Naminka Fay.” or, in Naryphn, “Always be there.” I
ba lewlove it! It’s so soft and beautiful. Of course it’s amazing how Ana could hear us singing over the rain. Isabel’s art is improving too.
Uh. You guys. THE. CITY. IS. FLOODING. o_0
1.↩ It would, uh, probably be pertinent to mention here that I was also a pretty big fan of James Cameron’s Titanic when I was about this age. That’s, um… that’s probably relevant.