Dec. 19th, 2016

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It got colder again toward the end of last week; I'd planned to go for a run on Thursday, but it started snowing by the time I'd finished lunch and I didn't fancy going out and falling on the slippery asphalt. I did go for a long walk, though; I listened to a podcast while strolling around in the park and playing Pokemon Go, even sat on the swings for a few minutes. I had the whole place to myself for almost the entire time, with the snow falling more and less gently and a fog rolling in when I reached the crest of the hill, where you can see the city and the river below, and out into the mountains.

Then I came back, wrote some fanfic, and woke up to find that my hot water had frozen despite having set my faucets to drip overnight. My landlord couldn't fix it until the next morning, which worked out okay, and it snowed again. The CCSF finished up, and I think it came off rather well for the most part except for a few bumps in the road. For one thing, the scavenger hunt seems to have been too hard - probably going to extend the deadline a couple of days and clarify some things to make it easier. And I still have to code the prizes, which will be more or less easy depending on how complicated I decide to make them. I have a tendency to err on the side of 'does more stuff'....

Anyway, I got my hot water back, and Z and I re-watched Mulan, and I've been writing, so all in all, a good weekend.

I finished up the gen Phichit & Yuuri in Detroit fic, so that's been sat on the backburner for a couple of days and now I need to edit it. (I'd kind of like to get a beta for it, but after all these years in fandom, I still have no idea how you get a beta you don't already know in real life. Besides 'ask on FFA and hope someone answers'?) The other thing I've been working on wasn't even on my list; I just couldn't get over Yuuri's expression and pose in that scene where JJ is imagining the other skaters towering over him, so now I'm halfway through JJ dreaming about eros!Yuuri seducing him before the final. Brain, what.

As for non-YoI anime, I haven't been watching much this season, but I just finished episode 11 of the 2012 anime Uta Koi. I started watching it because I love the Heian period and it's a loose adaptation of the lives of Heian poets, but past episode 6 I've become fond of it on its own merits. Episode 6 was an incredibly silly and hilarious filler episode, and from then on the stories have somehow been more enticing to me. I think the poetry might be getting more to my tastes, perhaps that's it.

While I do have a couple of criticisms of it (why do all of the ladies have their eyebrows so low?! must they be attractive to modern audiences?), the show does a good job of portraying the isolation and lack of freedom the women of the age had - but that doesn't mean they didn't have agency. Sei Shounagon appears in three episodes and despite her outspokenness, still finds love - and not just once. She has two different loves in the series, and then at the end she moves on and may yet love again.

Episode 11 hit me especially because it addressed one of my problems with the series: all heterosexuality all the time. As the number of relationships in a series goes up, given a lack of homophobia that could explain their absence, the less and less I can suspend my disbelief if nobody is in a same-sex relationship. And as far as we can tell, Heian Japan didn't have a problem with same-sex relationships per se (the court sure had a lot of rules about relationships in general).

So, in this episode, Murasaki Shikibu shows up. Now, keep in mind I've read The Tale of Murasaki, in which she has relationships with women, and even written Murasaki/other Heian lady. (They used the language of love poetry while writing to each other. I would love to know where some western authors writing on the subject got the idea that this was 'normal between platonic friends. Super platonic. Not romantic AT ALL even though they're comparing themselves to ducks that mate for life and talking about how charming their faces are when uncovering them at night. Friendship!!!') The episode summary is about her and another girl being childhood friends. I'm prepared to be disappointed.

I'm not. The language is as direct as it gets for the other couples: Murasaki and her friend Kaoriko continuously praise each other as children - Kaoriko praises Murasaki for her unwomanly intelligence and her writing, and Murasaki praises Kaoriko for her strength of body and character. When they're older and Kaoriko is about to get married for the sake of her family, Murasaki thinks 'I really love you', and then they cuddle while clasping hands and lamenting that Murasaki isn't a man so they can get married to each other.

After they have been parted for a long time, Murasaki finally sees Kaoriko again, but only briefly and from behind, then writes her a letter. Kaoriko, who used to have a lively spirit, is struggling with raising her children and feels like she can't face Murasaki when she's become obedient to her husband, and doesn't reply. However, Murasaki, who has been struggling through the episode with writer's block and with what kind of story she wants The Tale of Genji to be, decides that she is going to make it a story about the strength of women, remembering how Kaoriko loved her writing so much, and manages to write the next chapter. Though she misses Kaoriko, she hopes that she will see the story Murasaki has written and see the message of strength she has put into it.

It was just - a lovely story mixing fiction with fact, about the relationships and power women could find when the first thing you read about them in this period is about how isolated they were, sometimes from even the gardens outside their rooms. And the premier woman author of Japan, not only being in love with another woman, but being inspired by her for and dedicating to her the famous Tale of Genji, though it's about a man who primarily pursues woman. This is treated just like the other love stories - tragic, perhaps, in their long parting, but no more so than most of the others. (For example, one man has to abandon a woman after she is arranged to someone else, though they both wish she wasn't; another chooses to let the woman he loves go in order to allow her to choose a career in the palace, which is her dream.)

...hm, while I'm home for Christmas, I should re-start my read-through of Genji. I never finished it the first time, and I'm sure I've forgotten all I did read.

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