Posted in Literature

A Glimpse of Nastiness in Chaucer’s Work

In my last post, I presented a riddle (I thought for sure my dad would say something considering he was the one who read the description on Google for me but no, nothing):

I am the eye that weeps the most when best pleased.

What am I?

Anyone who knew could comment and I promised to reveal the answer in my next post.

As promised, the answer is… A vagina.

Or I suppose you could say a penis considering one of its names is “One-Eyed Willy.” I would’ve accepted that answer as well.

What do you win? Nothing except the knowledge that people being nasty these days isn’t new at all. This kind of nastiness dates back till probably forever.

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Ever heard of Geoffrey Chaucer? The Canterbury Tales? Chaucer is one of those authors who are taught in school (high school and college) alongside Shakespeare and such. His work is so old that his English doesn’t even look like English anymore. Many people will look at Chaucer’s work and say it’s written in Old English but that’s not the case as professors will tell you. It’s actually written in Middle English and is just different enough for most people to need a translation when reading.

How is a vagina nasty? It’s not. But it’s a subject matter that can be deemed “nasty.” Crude. Vulgar. Rude.

Most people think that classic literature is boring because the subject matter has nothing to do with the interests of today and because it’s taught in school and anything taught in school is boring. And because the language is different.

Well, language differences aside, if you sit down to actually read this “boring” literature, you may be shocked at what you find.

The Miller’s Tale in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is filled with crude matter. Get a translated version, it’s easier to read. Then you can read about sex and crude jokes. Don’t believe me? Here’s my own translated and paraphrased version of the end of the tale:

Absolon stood under the window outside the carpenter’s house and called out to Allison, the carpenter’s wife, to come to the window. He says he loves her, but she calls him a fool and says she loves a man who’s better than him and to leave her alone so she can sleep. He mourns that she will not love him and begs her for a kiss before he leaves. She asks if he’ll go away if she gives him a kiss. He says he will so she tells him to get ready, but in a quiet voice says to Nicholas (her lover who’s with her in the room) that she’ll do something to make him laugh.

Absolon, in the meantime, is thinking that the kiss will lead to sex. Allison opened the window and told him to hurry before the neighbors saw him. She stuck out her naked butt and, it being too dark for Absolon to see clearly, he kissed it. He pulled back at once because he felt it was rough and hairy and knew women didn’t have beards.

Inside, Nicholas and Allison talked and laughed about it. Absolon heard every word and his love for Allison was replaced by hatred. He went to a smithy’s and got a red-hot poker with which he returned to the carpenter’s house and once more called for Allison. He claimed he had a gold ring for her if she would only come again to the window and kiss him. But Nicholas had gotten up to pee and went instead to the window, thinking to try the joke himself and have Absolon kiss his butt too.

He stuck his butt out of the window but it was still too dark for Absolon to see so he asked her to speak so he knew where she was. At this, Nicholas let out a thundering fart that blinded Absolon but he was still ready with his hot iron and struck Nicholas’ butt with it. Skin came off where the poker hit him and Nicholas screamed for water and help.

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There’s, of course, more to it than what I’ve written but I’m not going to tell the entire story of The Miller’s Tale. Go read it for yourself!

Especially interesting is the original language at the very end:

“And Absolon hath kiss’d her nether eye;

And Nicholas is scalded in the tout.”

Her “nether eye.” Hm. I’m actually on the fence on whether or not I’m amused with that way of describing it. I’m actually trying to figure out if Chaucer was referring to Allison’s vagina or her butt hole. Maybe the beard was the pubic hair? Maybe she had a hairy butt? There are hairy butts out there after all. The original lines were,

“Dark was the night as pitch or as the coal,

And at the window she put out her hole,

And Absolon him fell ne bet ne werse,

But with his mouth he kiss’d her naked erse

Full savourly. When he was ware of this,

Aback he start, and thought it was amiss;

For well he wist a woman hath no beard.”

And “tout” I’m also not sure about. The copy I have says it means “breech” but is that another way of saying “butt” for what lies under your “breeches” or “pants?” Or are they referring to the butt hole? To have the butt hole burned…Ouch! That seems way worse than the butt cheeks.

huh

This makes me remember my Chaucer class in college. The professor was a bit…eccentric but in a good way, not in a crazy way. He taught us how to read Middle English and even tested us on our pronunciation and fluency. Some of Chaucer’s work was interesting, some wasn’t. Just like everything in life. After a while, the novelty of reading Middle English wore off and my brain began to hurt like in all my classes. While I majored in English, my concentration was NOT in literature for I am inept when it comes to analyzing it and I get bored rather quickly.

I’m sure if I put hours of thought into this quandary and actually looked up information that professionals have slaved for years to accrue, I’d know what I was talking about. But I don’t have hours of internet time to look that sort of stuff up so I suppose I’m presenting it because it was on my mind and thought it might give you something different to think about and perhaps look into.

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Posted in Personal

Spiffy Information

Whilst researching Norse culture, I learned something spiffy. Well, I’ve actually learned a lot of spiffy things but this one hits super close to home. Like, my own grandmother kind of close.

smelly_fishWhen my dad’s mom was alive, she would say that fish and company start to stink after 3 days. I think it’s a good idea to remember when visiting people because I feel pretty much the same way. With relatives I like and am used to, I can go for longer than 3 days but for everyone else I get tired of them around day 3.

What does that have to do with Norse culture?

I was reading Viking Age: Everyday Life During the Extraordinary Era of the Norsemen by Kirsten Wolf and she says,

“…No one must try the hospitality of his friends too hard, but instead move on, for by the third day the loved guest is loathed…” (pg. 70)

Don’t visit someone longer than 3 days. “Fish and company start to stink after 3 days.” WOW!

So I’m thinking this is a family saying that links my grandma to her Swedish heritage (her family emigrated to the U.S. from Sweden when she was a baby). And that cultural note of keeping visits under 3 days can be traced all the way back to the time of the Vikings or even before. We’re talking, like, maybe before 790 A.D. or C.E. as the book says. If anyone knows what C.E. stands for, please tell me.

That is totally AWESOME!! For me it’s like a connection to the past. This saying of my grandma’s (one which I use as well) connects me to the past. The ANCIENT past. Something people practiced before 800 A.D. is still in practice (or at least in thought) today. By me and my family.

I know this is totally Nerds-ville for most people, but I’ll happily set up residence in Nerds-ville to keep that direct line to the Vikings.

I just thought this was super cute. What?? A fish hat!!

stinky-fish-3

On another note, my grandma had another saying that I like to remember: “What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is my own.”

She was a wise woman, my grandmother.

I’ll end here with a riddle. If you know the answer, please comment. My next post will reveal it.

I am the eye that weeps the most when best pleased.

What am I?

Posted in Personal

Side Effects of Researching Norse Culture

So lately I’ve been getting my nails dirty writing my Norse story. Does that happen to anyone else? I doubt the guys care but, ladies, do any of you get dirt under your nails after you’ve been typing on your keyboard? It usually happens when I work for at least 30 minutes. I could’ve literally taken a shower right before sitting down at my computer and my nails will still be filthy by the time I’m done. There must be hidden dust and dirt in the keyboard.

9A funny thing happened to me the other day. When I’m not writing about my Norse story, I’m thinking about it or thinking about Norse culture and myths or thinking about the show Vikings from the History Channel or reading about any of the above. Or I could be obessing over Blogilates which is completely different. Does it sound as if I’ve become a mite obsessive?

Maybe I have. After all, I did dream the other night that my camp was being attacked. My friends and I scurried to get our axes and join in the battle to defend ourselves. I remember a feeling of fierce honor and enjoyment as I grabbed my ax and ran off to join everyone. I wanted the honor of battle and of killing my enemies.

katheryn-winnick-stars-as-shield-maiden-lagertha-in-history-channels-vikingsWhen I woke up I didn’t feel fear at having been going off to my potential death or disgust at having wanted to kill people. That savage thrill of it all was still with me. I still wanted to pick up an ax and growl and yell at my enemies before trying to whack off one of their arms.

vikings-3-475x316If reincarnation is real, then I hope I was a Norse woman or man in a previous life. Awesome. Just awesome. I mean, I have no doubt at all that it was an awful life. I mean, lice, wild animals everywhere, blood feuds, starvation, severe cold with no central heating… But still… Awesome. If I was a woman back then, I’d totally want to be someone like Lagertha from the History Channel’s Vikings.

imagesWho wouldn’t want to be her?? She rocks!!! On another note, her hair rocks too.

So, side effects… I’m lusting after being a viking. And has anyone seen Ragnar from that Vikings show? Yowzah! What a man.

Posted in Personal

Back from my break

I didn’t give any warning that I was taking a break from my writing blog. That’s because I didn’t know it myself until weeks went by with me writing nothing. They say, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” Well, it also flies when you’re ignoring it.

It’s a new year now and I’m ready for a new start. You might notice that my fitness blog (Fitness Freak) is up and running again as well. New year, new me.

This is not a New Year’s resolution. Well, it is kind of but it’s not. I resolved to get my act together and get working again. I was feeling down that I wasn’t getting any bites on Night’s Treasure (though I’m still waiting on one agent who has the full ms) and wondering if I was wasting my time and what I was doing blah blah blah. The usual writer angst that comes and goes and you learn that the only thing you can do is deal with it until you can work past it. Whatever.

A couple days before New Year’s Eve, I sent out 2 follow-ups to some queries that should have gotten replies a while ago. One wrote back the next day (yay for not having to wait!) apologizing for the delay and explaining my ms got lost in the pile. But! It had positive news in it as well. It got short-listed to be looked into further…and then got lost in the short-list pile. She ultimately decided against it because she could only take on a few new projects, but that’s okay. Good news is that it was set aside to be looked into further instead of just being rejected outright.

Yay!

The other I’m still waiting on, but I have high hopes of being rejected…er…getting a response later this week. Maaaaaybe next week.

Needless to say, this is frustrating. In the beginning I thought getting a rejection was awful. It ripped me apart that first time. Now, however, I’m fine with getting a rejection letter. I have learned that rejection by silence is worse than anything because you’re left waiting…

and waiting…

and waiting…

every

day

for a reply that you never get. That is leagues worse than the actual letter of rejection.

So it makes me feel better when I do get a response. Yay! Someone’s paying attention to me!

In order to get past this frustration, I’m moving on. I’ll continue to send out queries for Night’s Treasure because I know there’s going to be someone out there who takes it on. I’ve gotten enough promising rejections to believe that. Yes, “promising” and “rejection” can go together.

At first I thought I would continue work on the rewrite of my original manuscript, Trick Or Treat, and I did start writing on it yesterday after reading some of the initial rewrite. Oh boy. Did the rewrite need another rewrite. Ugh. I didn’t trash it because there’ll be info in it that I’m sure will be helpful later, but I did start a new file to start over from scratch.

However, I was reading my son his bedtime story last night (Superheroes Storybook Collection…Thanks, Catwoman! He LOVES it! This is the 2nd time we’ve read the entire thing through and we’re going to start on the other massive book collection today for a 2nd time as well. Love ya!) …….

Uh…Lost my train of thought. As my dad and I joked yesterday, “I’m stuck in the state of confusion because my train of thought left.”

Anyway, one of the stories I read to Mini Me was about the Avengers and Loki trying to destroy Thor through the Hulk. It’s fun but hardly accurate Norse mythology. Still, it put me in the mood (as it always does) for Norse mythology. I wrote in some of my query letters that my next planned project was going to focus on Norse mythology. What a butt of me if I proved myself a liar. But I still wasn’t any closer to coming up with a story for it. About 2 years of thinking and reading and I was no closer than when I started.

Culture notes were getting in my way.

After getting totally sidetracked by watching Poirot after the story, I went to bed and closed my eyes.

BAM!!!

My eyes popped open and proceeded to dry out as the beginning of the story played itself out in my brain.

It was awesome.

I need more culture notes to solidify the idea, but I think I’ve got it. The Vikings History Channel show inspired me. In ancient Scandinavian culture, when a woman gave birth, she presented the baby to her husband. If he accepted it as his own, he’d hold it and give it a name. What I don’t know is what would happen if he didn’t accept it. And thus my heroine is born.

Now I need a Norse female name and I don’t want to do a repeat of Svea which is what Sophy was originally named. Oh yeah, and a title. I’ll call it Norse for the time being. I’d call it Ice and Fire but it’s clear to everyone who knows me that I’m obsessed with Game of Thrones and that series’ name is A Song of Ice and Fire so that’s a no go.

I started writing this morning and haven’t gotten much but it was enough to get the ultimate beginning down. And if I want to juggle everything else in my day then I can’t spend more than the morning at my computer. Besides, it hurts certain muscles/tendons to sit at my desk for so long. Can’t do it. Won’t do it.