I have been a writer since 1949. I am self-taught. I have no theories about writing that might help others. When I write, I simply become what I seemingly must become. I am six feet two and weigh nearly two hundred pounds and am badly coordinated, except when I swim. All that borrowed meat does the writing. In the water I am beautiful.
Kurt Vonnegut, “Introduction,” Welcome To The Monkey House
Minerva is the Roman virgin goddess of wisdom, crafts, the arts, and war. It is said she invented both music and numbers. She has roots in the Etruscan goddess Minrva, and as Romans became more heavily influenced by the Greeks, she became equated with the Greek goddess Athena. Minerva is one of the Roman Capitoline Triad along with Jupiter and Juno, and was born out of Jupiter’s head. She is typically seen with an owl, representing her connection to wisdom, and is featured in the seals of many educational establishments.
It’s a fitting name for Professor McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts and possibly the fiercest, most competent, and most dedicated educator of the Harry Potter universe. She also leads the battle at Hogwarts against Lord Voldemort in book seven, a perfect final moment for the goddess of war and wisdom.
“I’m not Yellowstone Park!” she said. “I’m not supported by taxes! I don’t belong to everybody! You don’t have any right to say anything about the way I look!”
“Good gravy!” said Fuller.
“I’m so tired of dumb toots like you!” said Susanna. She stamped her foot and suddenly looked haggard. “I can’t help it if you want to kiss me! Whose fault is that?”
Fuller could now glimpse his side of the question only dimly, like a diver glimpsing the sun from the ocean floor. “All I was trying to say was, you could be a little more conservative,” he said.
Susanna opened her arms. “Am I conservative enough now?” she said. “Is this all right with you?”
The appeal of the lovely girl made the marrow of Fuller’s bones ache. In his chest was a sigh like the lost chord. “Yes,” he said. And then he murmured, “Forget about me.”
Susanna tossed her head. “Forget about being run over by a truck,” she said. “What makes you so mean?”
“I just say what I think,” said Fuller.
“You think such mean things,” said Susanna, bewildered. Her eyes widened. “All through high school, people like you would look at me as if they wished I’d drop dead. They’d never dance with me, they’d never talk to me, they’d never even smile back.” She shuddered. “They’d just go slinking around like small-town cops. They’d look at me the way you did—like I’d just done something terrible.”
The truth of the indictment made Fuller itch all over. “Probably thinking about something else,” he said.
“I don’t think so,” said Susanna. “You sure weren’t. All of a sudden, you started yelling at me in the drugstore, and I’d never even seen you before.” She burst into tears. “What is the matter with you?”
Fuller looked down at the floor.
“Never had a chance with a girl like you—that’s all,” he said. “That hurts.”
Susanna looked at him wonderingly. “You don’t know what a chance is,” she said.
“A chance is a late-model convertible, a new suit, and twenty bucks,” said Fuller.
Susanna turned her back to him and closed her suitcase. “A chance is a girl,” she said. “You smile at her, you be friendly, you be glad she’s a girl.” She turned and opened her arms again. “I’m a girl. Girls are shaped this way,” she said. “If men are nice to me and make me happy, I kiss them sometimes. Is that all right with you?”
“Yes,” said Fuller humbly. She had rubbed his nose in the sweet reason that governed the universe. He shrugged. “I better be going. Good-bye.”
“Wait!” she said, “You can’t do that—just walk out, leaving me feeling so wicked.” She shook her head. “I don’t deserve to feel wicked.”
“What can I do?” said Fuller helplessly.
“You can take me for a walk down the main street, as though you were proud of me,” said Susanna. “You can welcome me back to the human race.” She nodded to herself. “You owe that to me.”
- Kurt Vonnegut, “Miss Temptation” Welcome to the Monkey House
I wrote an essay and submitted it to The Feminist Wire and they liked it enough to run it! I’m really excited about it! It’s basically some reflection on this past year working in a school as a feminist, and contemplating what kind of impact I am leaving behind with my students. Read it, if it pleases you!
"It seemed to travel with her, to sweep her aloft in the power of song, so that she was moving in glory among the stars, and for a moment she, too, felt that the words Darkness and Light had no meaning, and only this melody was real."
I had somehow never read this when I was in middle school, and after raiding our giant room of books at school I decided it was time. It’s so good! The sci-fi/fantasy world Madeleine L’Engle created was so beautiful and fantastic, all while including so many puns and plays on words! And I loved reading a book for young people with such a strong leading lady. Please drop everything you’re doing and go read it if you haven’t done so yet.
“One of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before.”— Joan Didion, “Goodbye to All That”