Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle (Studio Ghibli)
Howl’s Moving Castle by Studio Ghibli

Diana Wynne Jones’s adolescent novel Howl’s Moving Castle, is escapist literature, that demonstrates to readers not to accept the world as it is, seeing what could & might still be, rather than what was or must be.  The adolescent reader is assured that risk taking works out in the end when there is the ‘happily ever after’.  Jones’ happy-endings are successful because they are the logical conclusion for all the characters, given their fantastical adventures.  She writes in clear language, using characters’ actions to address characterization for her readers, assuring that they will have to get into the characters’ heads to understand motivations, which might not always be clear in the characters’ actions.

Howl’s Moving Castle is the story of female protagonist Sophie Hatter, who is skilled with a needle to make hats and dresses.  Unknowingly, Sophie is capable of magic, as she talks life into objects and convinces people to see things her way.  Born the eldest of three sisters, Sophie believes herself fated to an uninteresting future of running the family hat shop, after their father dies, and they learn the debt schooling the three sisters has put the family in.  To cover expenses, as Sophie’s step-mother can’t afford all three daughters to work in the shop, the two youngest daughters are sent out for apprenticeships.

The story begins with Sophie resigned to her dull fate: Working alone in the hat shop, Sophie’s younger sisters have left for their baking and witchcraft apprenticeships, while her step-mother spends the hat shop’s earnings.  That is until The Witch of the Waste enters the hat-shop, attracted by Sophie’s magical abilities & confuses her with one of Howl’s young lovers.  In jealousy and anger The Witch places a curse on Sophie that makes her into an old woman.  Sophie’s desire to break the spell and return to her rightful age brings her to the moving castle of Howl just above Market Chirping.  Being a crone, Sophie no longer fearing the rumors of Howl eating the hearts of young maidens.  Making herself useful as a cleaning lady, Sophie forces herself on the residents: fire demon Calcifer, apprentice Michael, and wizard Howl.  Sophie strikes a deal with Calcifer that if she can break the contract between Howl and himself, he will break The Witch of the Waste’s spell on Sophie.

Nico Finds a Body

As the first sun rose to mid-morning it winked over the skyline, Nico, with hands in her pockets, kicked a rock as she walked the shadowed streets of Plᴂtuo.  She passed a particularly dirty alley when a long deep barely audible moan came from a pile of trash.  Nico walked into the alley to investigate the origin of the unique noise.  In the silence she lost the path, but then from under the farthest heap came a burst of yellow and blue light.  Nico quickened her pace, knowing her destination, and then dropped to her knees next to the pile of trash.  She pushed the trash aside when there was another moan.  A man’s body become revealed under Nico’s efforts, and she began moving the trash quicker.  Had it been later in the day, surely, the sound would’ve been inaudible, she thought.  When the man’s body was completely freed from the trash Nico cradled him in her arms; he looked very familiar to her eyes.  Quickly, she looked around the debris for materials to create a makeshift cot.  There weren’t pieces large enough make a study vessel, so placing the body down Nico rummaged through her bag.  She pulled out three candles, placed them in a tight pyramid, and used a thumb flick to light them.  Nico said a quick prayer calling the refuse to gather under the man, lift him, and followed her back home.

Verve – Heather

I have been reconstructing the found family I had built for myself, which I unceremoniously tore apart.  I began with Heather, by reconnecting with her in recent months.  I had met Heather through my first boyfriend, Ben; she is his ex-sister-in-law.  When I broke-up with Ben, and other boyfriends, Heather remained a constant.  Often, she was a great deal more pleasurable to be around than who I was dating.

Heather is a hardcore reader and deeply empathic.  She is the type of friend that is always needed – a person who completely accepts another person as they are.  She’s the rare person that shares what she has, and the even rarer person who gladly gives up what she must to improve another’s standing.  Heather allows people to drop their masks and be their authentic selves.  In the instance of me, I found a person who shared my proclivities and smart enough to grasp references &allusions without explanation.  Heather keeps friends to her detriment – even if the friendship is one-sided or toxic.

It has been just over seven years since Heather and I had seen each other.  The fault in our disconnection is with me.  It was a dark time, and could no longer deal with people around me, so I pushed every support away from myself.  I was convinced I had to do everything alone.  A family never does anything alone.

 

Œn’s Bath

Œn Phyᶅx floated in the center of the bath watching amber ripple across the domed ceiling.  He stared through the illusion, occasionally sighing.  Eventually, Œn swam from the center and out of the bath.  In the gold-resin light, runes on Œn’s body danced across his mercury skin, dictating to two Céilophaïs to wrap him in a ᶄhiᵵon then pinned it over his left shoulder.  Œn’s zoster rose from the table near the water and wrapped its self around Œn’s waist, up his torso and down the right arm.  Rubbing his eyes Œn then motioned for the tarook, which had been next to the khiton, came into Œn’s left hand.  Œn motioned for two more of the Céilophaïs to follow out of the room.

In the hallway, Œn guided his Céilophaïs left before halting them.  Œn delegated three of the Céilophaïs to the roof to handle the spy by disposing of the body in Plᴂtuo because there a dead body isn’t of notice.  He took the remaining Céilophaïs to the library, where Œn sat in the center of the ᶄricᶅiniᶏ.  There he spread he placed nine tarook face down on the center table.  In a brass bowl, Œn lit a cone of bahroot and inhaled as he turned each of the cards face up.

Is This 34?

While I am glad my cousin has come out as gay and found a happy relationship – or good enough to move to a new state.  His actions mirror my own with Ben.  I’ve read that due to stunted social development, homosexuals truly enter identity development until they come out.  This means that learning to navigate relationship dynamics does not occur until the first relationship.  This explains the teenage behavior in grown men and women that I have seen.  What age am I behaving at?  Have I finally reach 34?

Life has been relatively quiet.  No drama – just work, and writing (which I need to do more of). There has been no emotional upheaval.  The most world changing event was moving apartments, otherwise it has been a plateau of slice-of-life.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad.  I do know it means when it all turns to shit, it will be a big heaping pile.

Verve (7/17-7/21)

As Joey and my correspondence broke down my romantic life became a deconstructed romantic-comedy.  Joey’s friend Ben swooped in and began talking to me.  we hung out and did dugs.  By the end of Spring Break, we were dating and by summer we were boyfriends.  Around Thanksgiving Ben wrote an email to my parents, telling them I was homosexual, and that he was in love with me.  I found out because my mother forwarded me the email.  I was destroyed.  I was humiliated.  Ben’s letter is a moment I have been internally living down.

I do not know why I continued to date Ben, and then drop out of college for him.  Ben was my first boyfriend.

One-night Ben had admitted that the only reason he had spoken to me was because he had a crush on Joey, and wanted to investigate who I was (what was appealing about me).  Ben had wanted me distracted so Joey would lose interest.  Then, he says, he began to like me and fall in love with me.  We were together for three years.

The relationship immediately after Ben was with Frank Maha.  I had met Frank through Ben, who was buying drugs from Frank.  In truth, Ben was cheating with Frank.  Later, Frank admitted to me that the reason for sleeping with Ben was so to break Ben and I up, so he could date me.

Topher Moore’s Death

Topher Moore squatted and peered through the translucent domed roof.  Inside was a large circular bathe that was filled by a stream from the wall.   There was a lone bather in the bath, which was flanked by six guardsmen, dressed in scaly armor.  The room was lit by floating orbs that lined the room.  The bather swam from the center and walked out of the bath.  His skin was mercury and decorated with swimming black rune-tattoos.  Two of the present six guards wrapped the man in a long cloth, and then a belt, which wrapped itself around the bather’s chest, and then down his right arm.  The bather motioned for two more of the guards to follow as they walked out of the room.

The remaining guardsmen dimmed the orbs as they made their way around the perimeter of the room.  Topher could see their lips moving, so closed his eyes and focused on silencing the ambient noise from the streets.  There was sudden hot pain in Topher’s left shoulder, quickly followed by two more sharp pains in his kidneys.  Looking down at the source of the pain Topher saw sharp blades protruding from his body.  Slowly he turned his head around to see that the blades weren’t from swords but purple cloth ribbons, which were extended from the three guardsmen that had escorted the bather out.

Ill-Equipped for Ethnography

For such a long-time Joey cast a constant shadow over my decisions and actions.  My life was in a holding pattern as I hoped he’d come back in.

Joey seemed to be the first same-age guy that showed an interest in me.  Prior to Joey, guys my age said was too geeky, too short, too thin, not thin enough, not gay enough.

Joey liked all those things about me.  He was sweet to me.  He was kind to me.  College’s manic pixie boy façade had paid-off.

In my memory, he was the perfect straight-laced rebel.  Edgy enough to be interesting, and clean enough to bring home.

That New Year’s Eve, through Joey and his friends, I was fully introduced to seedy and drug-fueled as normal.  I was introduced to the concept of frenemies by how Joey and his circle behaved toward one another.  A world where my façade got me accepted in and insulated me from; my silence and listening-skills gave the illusion of emotional investment.  In truth, my carefully designed masks had kept me the constant observe of life and not the actor, leaving me ill-equipped for ethnography.  I began seeing the catty duplicitous behavior and normalized it.  I gave myself permission to replicate their naughty behavior.

Eventually, I went back to school and Joey and my correspondence petered out, as he was always too busy to answer a phone.  As I waited for Joey to re-enter my life, I created disruption in my relationships, making myself always available but never alone.

Meeting Joey

The winter break of my 20th birthday I met Joey Antinore.  It had been New Year’s Eve, at club Tilt.  I had been standing watching the drag show when I felt the back of my ear get flicked.  I turned around and said, “Hi.”

Joey explained he was following an impulse and immediately knew the type of person I was dealing with.

“Alright.”  And turned back around.

Joey got my attention again by asking if wanted to roll.

“Okay,” I answered.

For the longest time Joey Antinore was the elusive ideal; the one ex that all potential suitors were measured against.  In attempting to write down our first encounter I came to the realization that there was nothing epic, template worthy, about the encounter.  There was nothing grandiose or particularly outstanding about the relationship’s arc.  In fact, the mental glorification of that relationship and its beginning is rather obsessive.

What was it about the whole scenario that became #goals?  I wasn’t particularly happy.  When I recall the relationship with Joey, what comes to mind is his habit of telling him something, then he vehemently disagrees.  These weren’t ideological differences, or rooted in arcane knowledge.  Rather, disagreements came over individual rights and basic operations of politics and humanism.  We’d part in the morning for our separate work, and then return to each other that evening with Joey’s mind changed.  This change of mind arose because he had talked to his co-workers, who told him that he was in the wrong; that I was correct.  That was the routine of our relationship: Joey respected only his friends and their opinions, and not mine.  I never fully understood how and why Joey could never just have faith that I’d know something, or respect my stance as having validity.

Path to Deeper Character

It’s been beyond joyous to redecorate – to create this new home a nest made of my life.  Having a residence free of memories and past lives means there is only me to defer to; the present is my only reality.  My history is riddled with opinions and directions of exboyfriends, family, and friends.

While I am thankful for the people I call friends and boyfriends and family, the route to meet them was not always preferable.  I had modelled my actions on the expectations of others, and strayed too far from what had been expected and planned by suburbia: a four-year degree followed by the appropriate entry-level job, then settle down.  For me it had been decided I was to be an English teacher.  I was foolish and left college for a boy.  I did some hardcore drugs and made reckless decisions because of boys; when weed was just find by me.  Eventually, I refocused on myself and returned to college through online courses.  I tried to be a teacher, but found working with people with developmental disabilities a better fit.  I thought I wanted to teach literature, but truly I wanted to teach literacy.

I don’t know if staying on path I would have been as happy, or if I’d have gotten to the same conclusions at an early point, but now my home reflects a better suited narrative, and a deeper character.