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Hello, all four people who may see this. Yes, I'm finally posting an LJ entry. No, this is not a life update. This is an odd set of musings that I can't think of another venue for. I decided to actually post it purely because iTunes sometimes reads my mind.

No, I will probably not be posting anything else any time soon. I think it's a sign of what a weird head place I'm in that I'm posting at all.

 
So this is going to be a story about influences. For various reasons I've been thinking a lot in recent months about the things (books, movies, people) that have influenced my life, and I've also, for various totally different reasons, been realizing ways that I've been influenced that I never even noticed. So. In order of importance:

1) Cuba

I know, I know, it's cheating and obvious and doesn't count. But there's something very specific that I want to talk about, which is that it's really, really weird to grow up white in a family of Cubans. More than I ever realized, I'm a halfling. My mother's family has been in exile, in a very real, very bitter way, for fifty years and I've always been aware of that, while still being very aware on some level that it wasn't quite my exile, wasn't quite my fight, wasn't quite my anger. But on another level, it very much was--because I was still the one absorbing the aftereffects. Even before I knew about the way Castro betrayed everyone who fought for him, I knew that you didn't trust politicians. Just from the bits and pieces I heard of the way my mother and my aunts and uncles talk, I learned that the smoother someone talks, the faster they'll turn on you. I always knew, on some level, that my family was on hostile territory, in enemy country, that we were somehow different (and I loved that, I loved being special) that English was an encroaching force--but English was more my language in a lot of ways than Spanish ever has been. And, of course, I'm pretty sure that that's at least in part where my utter fascination with languages comes from. I actually realized a lot of this when I was at a Persian film festival with my Persian teacher, who started talking to a bunch of writers and one man who'd essentially just gotten off the plane from Iran, and they were talking half in English and half in Persian, about Iran and the regime and everything, and I was listening to them talk and realizing that they were exuding the exact same combination of bitterness and hope that my aunts and uncles breathe and it suddenly hit me how much that jadedness towards authority has seeped into my own views. Because, of course, the situations aren't so different--there's an oppressive, autocratic regime, resistance starts building, the people rise up--and then the movement gets hijacked, whether by Castro or by religious extremism. And, especially if you believed in the movement to begin with, the betrayal is so personal and goes so deep, that--well. Your grandchildren end up absorbing a bone-deep, semi-unconscious suspicion of the whole system that they can never quite justify--because the other half of them is steeped in the American dream, and has nothing about the government to complain about.

2) The Phantom of the Opera

Yes, this list is entirely ridiculous. But look, the music from that musical was all I made an effort to listen to from second through fourth or fifth grades, and I spent a good portion of...seventh? Eighth? grade obsessed with a book version of it called just Phantom and recently I've been singing it for comfort. To this day I can sing straight through probably twenty minutes total of patter from that show. I have a couple things I would like to thank it for: one, for presenting my much younger self with a story in which a girl saves a boy (and I'm aware that there are lots of gender role issues with that story. This is nothing more than a statement about what eight-year-old Clara got from that music). Two, for making sexuality seem not particularly scary at all. (Not that my younger self didn't have a lot of pejorative connotations on the word "sexy"; little Clara would probably never have associated "The Point of No Return" with "sex". But in retrospect, while little Clara learned a lot of bad things about explicitly phrased "sexiness", especially when the word was applied to women, the last part of that show presented a (different) kind of sexuality in a pretty positive light. I'm pretty sure "Phantom" paved the way for Kushiel's Dart many years later >.<

3) Song of the Lioness; also everything Tamora Pierce has ever written.

These books introduced nine-or-ten-year old Clara to the concept of gender fucking. That is all. Also: hey, maybe sleeping with (though ten-year-old Clara, despite knowing, technically, what sex was, was kind of hilariously oblivious to the fact that Alanna was sleeping with anyone. I had this wonderful moment when I re-read the books a couple years ago and went "OH. That's what "at night, Johnathan taught her about love" meant) maybe getting together with someone who makes you laugh and who you like being with and who you're compatible with is a better idea than getting together with someone who you love but whose life isn't compatible with yours, or with someone who is mysterious and strong and who you have MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF SEXUAL TENSION with.

4) The Young Wizards series

One: Words are magic. They can change things. See above-mentioned massive fascination with languages
Two: There are lots of gods and aspects of gods and gods are intimately connected with the structure of the universe but aren't necessarily all-powerful
Three: Christian mythology (like other kinds of mythology) does really cool things when you fuck with it a little because of how it sort of describes the world but has lots of holes in it but is fascinating.

^ all big parts of the way I think.

OK. Those are the big ones, I think. Obviously there are lots, lots, lots more. But I'm pretty much out of my weird head space, yay! and I should actually go do something with my day. Anyway. Comment if you feel like it :)  

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I think that being the product of a multi-cultural childhood has a lot more impact than many of us realize. Would say something more enlightening but can't brain.

One: Words are magic. They can change things. See above-mentioned massive fascination with languages
This forever.

I love this entire entry, btw.

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