My Forest

I think that someone should write a song about midterm time. Perhaps the song would be deceptively cheerful, starting out with a xylophone solo so amazing that you'd find yourself wanting to squeeze the nearest teddy bear. But if you do know what it's like to go through midterm, especially in the spring, it would not surprise if the song suddenly switched to drums and electric guitar. In a snap. Your ear buds might even explode.

When I say midterm, I don't mean simply a midterm test - a plot devised by your teachers and professors to give you something incredibly hard to go right before spring break. No. It's more than a series of tests. It's a space-time crunch where suddenly everything that you have been working on or are involved in freezes. You, though, are still chugging forward. There will be a collision, and it's not going to be pretty. The only way to prevent this train wreck is to sacrifice your sleep to the academic gods.

Which I just can't do. I'll take the train wreck.

There's still grading to be done for my students. Some recording. Midterm grades, as you know. I'll be reading a somewhat embarrassing story about my life at the nonfiction reading next week. And, hopefully, I'll be joining hands with a friend to launch a new project into the endless abyss of the internet.

Wow. Midterm indeed.

I have two writing-related projects going right now (not my Figment novels). One of which you'll find out about within the next two blog posts or so, and the other, hopefully a few months down the road. We'll see how it goes. But both projects, in their own ways, have to do with forests.

What do you think of when you hear the word forest? What's a forest to you?

I don't have any real life experience with forests. I've never gone camping. I can't imagine camping because I've never gone camping. I admire people who do. Sometimes when I'm driving to school, I wonder what it would be like to pull the car over and wander into the scrubby brush of Florida wilderness. We don't have those beautiful woods you see in car commercials. Actually, when I'm looking on the side of the road (the one road that doesn't have shops flanking both sides), the ground is usually covered in water. I'd have to wear some serious rain boots if I wanted to trudge in there.

My idea of a forest is totally built on fantasy. It's the image I prefer, the one I've gotten from my steady IV of fairy tales and pretty photos. It's the forest of Arden, straight from Shakespeare's As You Like It. It's the original Arden from Thomas Lodge's Rosalynde. I think I've spent many an hour reading and re-reading Lodge's 16th century book, marveling at the chivalrous heroes and surprisingly strong heroines as they all explored the forest and discovered themselves. A pastoral romance at its best, I daresay.

I've recently discovered another way to enjoy this more idealistic view of the woods; it's called mori girls. Mori means forest in Japanese. It is a fashion and lifestyle created in Japan where girls (mostly) dress as if they live in a forest. They usually wear long, shapeless dresses and many layers, preferring natural materials and colors. Mori girls wear little, if any, makeup (the most defining coloring their cheeks to imitate the dolls they owned as children). In spirit, these girls seek out the small enjoyments in life, living at a slower pace, and they make choices for themselves instead of for others. Well, there's a lot more to it then that. But we're looking at the tip of the iceberg.

(Last two pictures are from the Japanese brand called Wonder Rocket)

I truly wish that I could step out of the house like this. These pictures make me sigh. Truth be told, I've always been a t-shirt and jeans girl. I tend to admire other people for fashion, and, in recent years, have made an extra effort to collect some clothing that makes me feel, well, bigger and brighter. Reflective of the me on the inside. I have a few dresses that, when it does get warmer, I'm looking forward to wearing. I guess I just have to deal with my students staring at me, confused, haha. If I do ever make it to Japan, I'm saving my money. I want to come home with some of these mori-style clothes. I haven't seen anything in the grand USA that even comes close. I'm patient, haha.

There is something incredibly endearing and fascinating about this fashion movement. Hopefully in the futute I'll be able to blog about it more. In the meantime, I'd like to leave you with one more thing pertaining to mori girls. I good friend of mine (and brilliant colleague, haha) has just launched her own blog: Hello Enaam. If you have the time, please check out her first post about mori girls and, of course, larger issues concerning self-expression and freedom:

The video Enaam talks about sent my hackles rising (if I had hackles). Really. It's more than a little unsettling - a makeover show gone wrong. Poor Stacy and Clinton. I think even they would be shocked by this. What do you think?

Good luck with your midterms, dear readers!