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Hands

I'm looking at my hands on the keyboard, the hands that are, so much, the way I speak. Words written down, with pens and pencils; school work and university work, childhood stories and poems, the Star Trek fanfics I wrote as a teen, and the files and pages of the research that built my PhD -- and the drafts of the final work. The chapters and scenes from the novel I was writing at 14 (epic fantasy); at 18 (shapeshifters and clans and cold mediaeval politics); at 20 (the obligatory university novel). The short stories I finished and those I did not. The painfully-typed pages of my first complete original short story and my undergraduate dissertation. The sonnets in English and French that no-one sees. Articles and papers. Letters and spoofs for newsletters. The four notebooks that hold Valdarrien and the ten that are the two first drafts of Living With Ghosts. The word-processed drafts of these, typed up on an Amstrad PCW. Lecture notes and, later on, lectures. Drafts of my academic books. MY editions and translations of The Annals of St Davids and the The Annals of Boyle with all their accompanying notes and analyses, the great unpublished underside of my academic career. The typed versions of the two novels and the non-fiction. The manuscript of The Welsh Kings, the first thing I composed fully on a word-processor. Emails and blog posts. Later drafts of the novels (and the bones of Warriors of the Wind and Sweet Nightingale, left abandoned. The Grass King's Concubine. Musketeers and Nest, and the half-written The Drowning Kings. Two drafts of A Fire of Bones plus the one in progress. Words from fingers, words translated through the movement of my hands.
I talk with my hands: my PhD supervisor commented on this regularly. When I think out loud, when I talk, my hands draw pictures in support.
A few years back, I found myself behind a person who had hearing loss in a queue at the supermarket. She was talking to her friend, several lanes away, their words signed clearly across the intervening space, untroubled by noise. It was like watching magic at work. I cannot speak so clearly with mine, except perhaps via pens and keyboards.
Hands that clean and cook, hold, caress the cats, embroider, empty washing machines, carry bags and cups and trays. Hands that work.
I am looking at my hands.
My hands translate my words, but my words --written down, held between covers, on screens -- are silent unless looked at. My words can be ignored or not, as each individual chooses. My words can be judged, read or unread. "I don't read books by women." "I only have time for important books." "I don't like that kind of thing." Everyone has a right to choose what they read. But choices come with baggage. Choices are framed by societal definitions of importance and significance and value, by prejudice and bigotry, privilege and position. "I don't read books by women." My words are qualified in their value by my race and class and gender and age and sexuality. My words are only welcome sometimes. And as I age, the requirements pile up. Work in silence, do not be seen, do not ask to be seen. The weight of them loads my wrists and fingers, makes it ever harder to write my words, my words that do not deserve to be seen.
I am looking at my hands, that carry trays and sign chits, put up signs and make hot drinks, my hands that serve others, have served others, year after year, at work, at home, at cons.
My body, these days, is for hiding, as is considered proper in our culture for older women. No-one wants to look at *that*. My written words are judged, by some, by my age and appearance. They don't need to read me to know what I think, for older women are a uniform class. Our bodies, like our words, are not worthy.
My hands, though. My hands are always welcome, as long as they serve. As long as they work for others. My hands and the hands of so many other older women. My hands carrying trays in Green Room. Older women's hands looking after grandchildren and paying for teen children's treats; cleaning up after spills and administering comfort in conflicts. Caring for the sick, the young, the old, doing the background work, silently, silently, silently.
Our hands over our mouths, knowing our place.
CIMG3320

Skirt of the day: blue batik print.

Comments

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
princejvstin
Feb. 12th, 2015 12:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing this, Kari. This was potent.
cathellisen
Feb. 12th, 2015 01:06 pm (UTC)
feels, I have them.
sartorias
Feb. 12th, 2015 02:34 pm (UTC)
Many years ago, when I first read L.M. Montgomery's journals, I came across a passage after her grandmother finally died. L.M. folded her grandmother's hands, saying "Their work was done." That has stayed with me ever since; I thought that after my grandmother died, and now, when I look at my own aging hands, I see myself in their place.

Thank you for this post.
la_marquise_de_
Feb. 12th, 2015 02:59 pm (UTC)
I was thinking about my own mother, who has fretted about how worn her hands look as long as I can remember. They work hard: I think they're beautiful.
pennski
Feb. 13th, 2015 05:57 pm (UTC)
It made me think of my Grandma.

Thank-you for this.
talis_kimberley
Feb. 12th, 2015 03:48 pm (UTC)
This is extraordinarily powerful. Thank you.
(Deleted comment)
la_marquise_de_
Feb. 12th, 2015 07:08 pm (UTC)
Yes, of course.
(Deleted comment)
joycemocha
Feb. 12th, 2015 04:02 pm (UTC)
Yes. This. Thank you for writing this.
cmcmck
Feb. 12th, 2015 04:16 pm (UTC)
la_marquise_de_
Feb. 12th, 2015 07:08 pm (UTC)
That's a lovely image.
coth
Feb. 12th, 2015 05:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you Kari.
mevennen
Feb. 12th, 2015 06:40 pm (UTC)
Yes, thank you!
(Deleted comment)
la_marquise_de_
Feb. 12th, 2015 08:12 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes! I need that flamethrower, too. Some people....
birdsedge
Feb. 12th, 2015 09:41 pm (UTC)
Eloquent hands.
history_monk
Feb. 12th, 2015 11:56 pm (UTC)
Eloquent indeed. Don't ever be quiet, Kari.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 13th, 2015 02:32 am (UTC)
Good hands.
(Deleted comment)
la_marquise_de_
Feb. 13th, 2015 09:10 am (UTC)
:-) It happens!
xenaclone
Feb. 13th, 2015 07:51 am (UTC)
la_marquise_de_
Feb. 13th, 2015 09:17 am (UTC)
That's a nice set of photos: thank you.
deborahjross
Feb. 13th, 2015 09:15 pm (UTC)
I love your hands! Mine have the same general shape, only my knuckles are bonier.
la_marquise_de_
Feb. 16th, 2015 03:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you! That photo isn't great: my hands are a lot more worn that that in the flesh.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 14th, 2015 07:03 am (UTC)
I love you. You know that, right? (This is ADM, who for some reason isn't properly logged in)
la_marquise_de_
Feb. 16th, 2015 03:11 pm (UTC)
Hug
anna_wing
Feb. 16th, 2015 09:52 am (UTC)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Angela_Merkel_hands.jpg

Hands are also used to take and hold power.

Regular application of hand cream is useful. Also those white gloves that Japanese, Korean and Chinese women wear to protect their hands from the sun, those are very good too.
la_marquise_de_
Feb. 16th, 2015 03:13 pm (UTC)
I get through a lot of handcream. With lipsalve, it's the product I'm never without.
anna_wing
Feb. 17th, 2015 02:14 am (UTC)
I should start carrying it around too, now that I'm getting older. The hand product I'm never without is sanitiser, which tends to dry the skin if used too often.
queenoftheskies
Feb. 19th, 2015 01:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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