Once upon a time, I read this guest post by Briana of Pages Unbound. I put in my two cents about sidekick protagonists, carried on with my reading, and proceeded not to think about it further for four months. But that post has been bouncing about my mind of late, for a couple of reasons.
The first is that Briana sought something that might not have existed. She wasn’t looking for help remembering that one book she read in seventh grade that focused on the sidekick for a change and also it involved the Brooklyn skyline somehow. Had none of us readers had any volume to suggest, we might have taken it as a request to create such a narrative for her.
The second reason I’ve been thinking about it is that this post highlights the benefit of human eyes and human minds when one is on the hunt. Google and other search engines do their very best to help one find a particular item or passage, and there have often been times when I could use such tools to find a song, a movie, a book of which I only recalled the haziest details. But if you don’t come up with the right search terms, or if your query gets too lengthy, it can impede rather than assist your progress.
Therefore, dear readers, I bring my concerns to you, and hope that you can help with one or the other of these things I seek.
I’m looking for…
…a piece of music.
I sang it in June 2001, at the Illinois Summer Youth Music choir camp. It is called “Canticle,” and I sang it as part of an all-girl ensemble led by some Canadian lady whose name eludes me. Tragically, I supposed that remembering all the words and most all of the notes would help me to find it again. I was mistaken. The text is Psalm 89:1 (or Psalm 88:2 for the Douay-Rheims folk) in Latin: Misericordias Domini in æternum cantabo; in generationem et generationem annuntiabo veritatem tuam in ore meo. No idea who composed it. No idea if it’s a setting of some earlier composer’s work or chant. Someone, for the love of my sanity, tell me this rings a bell for you.
…an explanation for why “capital” should be different from “capitol.”
Evidently I completely forgot this distinction in the years since my elementary spelling classes, but “capital” refers to the city or town which serves as the seat of government, while “capitol” refers to the building in which the legislature gathers. Typically heterographs don’t bother me, but I just. don’t. understand. Someone call the Inky Fool.
UPDATE: I have been informed that the legislative building was named, per Jefferson, for the Roman temple of Jupiter on Capitoline Hill. Thus far I am satisfied that the difference stems from an existing difference between the words in Rome, but there has been no further illumination of the difference between Latin suffixes or whatnot. Do feel free to ring up Inky anyway and see what capital he can make of it.
…a less-typical narrative.
This one’s a bit tricky to explain. Earlier today, I read this post (which, briefly, is the story of Susan Isaacs looking for love online, getting rejected from eHarmony because she didn’t fit into their algorithm, and eventually finding The Man on Christian Cafe). I’m not 41, and my fortnight on OkCupid is nothing compared to Susan’s litany of dating site attempts. When I reached the end, I was glad for her: she seems to have found what she was looking for, and it rounded out the story quite neatly. But it also rang a bit hollow because it rounded out the story so neatly.
This isn’t normally a criticism I raise, because I appreciate both romance and happy, tidy endings. I don’t recall ever complaining about the Prince marrying The Girl in any given fairy tale, or how relationships (and events more generally) shake out in Austen, Harry Potter, Stardust, or the Lord Peter stories. I don’t whinge about Dune ending with “History will call us wives,” or the end of That Hideous Strength. I don’t consider myself a feminist, and have never evaluated books on the basis of whether or not they pass the Bechdel Test.
But Susan’s story (and Hannah Coulter, and The Princess Bride, and any given article on Boundless) suggests that there is no other narrative, that no lady can ever be happy without The One, that the only ending possible is marriage. This ground has been trod by a lot of women in tiresome family-vs-career arguments, but the fact remains that I want a story: a different story than my usual fare, something involving a woman who is content with a different sort of happy ending. I’m looking for a female character who is content to live her life on her own, if only to show me that it is possible.
Surely one must exist; for all I know, there are dozens, hundreds, thousands of such stories that I’ve completely missed. And if not, my dears, please help me write one.