Nicole-George

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I will admit, I never delved into graphic novels until I found Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.  If you know anything about me, I love middle eastern literature.  And Persepolis is a story about a Persian girl before and after the 1979 revolution.  It’s brilliant you must read it.

I then read Maus (well all of them - three in total).  This graphic novel is just as powerful as Persepolis.  It is about a Polish Jew who is a holocaust survivor.  Over the graphic novels the story of before the war, the war, and after the war is so touching and important.

After those graphic novels, I was sold on them.

Others that I have enjoyed in the past couple of years are

Blankets by Craig Thompson - it’s beautifully drawn, beautifully written and a love story.  Highly recommended.

Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir by Nicole Georges - memoir about a woman trying to find her identity.

Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi - author of Persepolis because it’s a really good book on woman, marriage, and the expectations we can suffer.

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol - a girl and her dead friend, need I say more

If you think graphic novels are not serious, or just for kids, I really recommend you start with Persepolis or Maus. Then enjoy them both for the writing and the drawings!

Our Boys (Washington x Reader x Smol!HamilSquad)


Prompts:
287: “This is… this is somewhere I never imagined I’d be.”
271: “Tell me a secret.”

Words: 6,301

A/N: (Okay, so basically how I write my Imagines is I have a randomizer that randomizes a list of names, and whoever’s name comes out at the top of the list is who I write the Imagine for. For prompts, I use a number randomizer to give me numbers that I pick out of the 390 Imagine prompts.

In this case, I picked GWash and the two prompts… And just gosh darn I really wanted to write something that included the smol!Hamilsquad. Keep in mind, I played around with the ages a bit. Smol Ham is 11, smol Laurens is 12, smol Laf is 11, and Smol Herc is 15.)

“George? Are you alright?”

(Name)’s husband let out a sigh, rubbing the back of his neck with uncertainty. “Yeah… I just… This is… this is somewhere I never imagined I’d be.”

The woman gave her husband a comforting smile, rubbing his arm as they approached the law office. “Don’t worry. We’ve prepared for this, we’re ready.”

“But what if they don’t like me? What if they don’t acclimate?” George fretted, furrowing his brows as he looked down at his wife.

(Name) let out a huff of laughter, quickly pressing a kiss to her husband’s lips to keep him from rambling. “George. Whoever we meet, whatever kids we take care of, they’re going to love you.”

The veteran gave his wife a small smile, feeling slightly convinced as they entered the office. They were greeted and directed to a young woman’s office, who smiled at the couple as they sat down in front of her desk.

“Mr. and Mrs. Washington, it’s wonderful to finally put faces to the names. I’m Nicole Wilson.” The young woman spoke, shaking the husband’s and the wife’s hands as she sat down in her chair and shuffled around with a couple files. “You’ve been recommended highly by several of my associates, and I think I can finally give you two an assignment.”

“That’s wonderful news.” (Name) answered with a smile, holding George’s hand as they sat next to each other.

“But, may I ask why you two decided to become foster parents?” Nicole inquired. “I understand it might be personal, but these are things I just need to know.”

(Name) glanced at George, and he gave her a nod to go ahead. “Well… I was never able to have children of my own, and George here is retired from the military.”

“I was a general overseas, but was given the opportunity to retire… I wanted to spend more time with my wife, and we wanted to help children who didn’t have a family.” George finished, giving his wife’s hand a squeeze.

Nicole smiled at the couple, nodding her head. “How very noble. Mrs. Washington, what do you do for a living?”

“I work as the local private school as a French teacher, and I’m head of the language department. George works as one of the coaches at the same school, he’s also the head of disciplinary.” (Name) explained.

“I see, so you two are around older kids?”

“We have neighbors, one has three daughters, and another has a son. We used to look after them when they were younger.” George replied. “We’re not strangers to either.”

Nicole gave a nod in understanding. “Well then, let’s see who you two are getting.” She pulled four files from her desk and walked around to hand them to the couple. “Now, I want to warn of both that this might be a troubling case. But, there is a group of four boys who refuse to be separated.”

“Four?” (Name) asked as her eyebrows rose in surprise.

“Are they brothers?” George questioned as he opened the first of the four files.

“Not biologically, but they might as well be.” Nicole sighed. “Their names are Alexander, John, Hercules, and Gilbert. Alexander’s biological father left him when he was a baby, and his mother died several years ago after they came to New York from the Caribbean. John lost his mother at a young age as well, and his father wanted little to nothing to do with him, so he gave him up. Hercules got separated from his family a couple years ago, and they haven’t been found. And Gilbert came from France with his mother, but she couldn’t support him by herself so she had to give him up and was later deported back to France.”

(Name) looked over the files of the children with her husband. She immediately felt her heart ache for the four boys. She looked up at Nicole. “Why are they grouped together?”

“Well, at one point they were all in the same foster home with one another about three years ago. They just grew close and they’ve been together ever since. No one has been able to break them apart.” Nicole answered. “Do you think you can handle these boys? They’ve been through some heavy stuff.”

George looked from the pictures provided with each file to his wife. “Well, (Name)? What do you think?”

(Name) looked at her husband, then to the four pictures. Alexander’s picture was of a boy with black hair that was slicked away from his face, his brown eyes dull. John’s was of a boy with tanned skin and freckles scattering his face and his tightly curled hair pulled away from his face into a tiny bun, his eyes were distant as they stared at camera. Gilbert’s picture was of a boy with slightly darker skin, his mess of hair pulled back in a ponytail, his dark eyes averting slightly from the picture. Hercules’ picture was of a slightly older boy, a knit beanie on his head and a frown etched into his dark face.

“I think we’re going to need to get a couple bunk beds instead of that one twin sized.”


“(Name)!”

(Name) looked up from the book she was reading on her front porch to see one of her neighbors waving to her. She smiled and put the book down, walking over to the picket fence where her neighbor stood. “Good morning, Philip. How are you this morning?”

The father laughed. “I’m well. The girls are off shopping with their mother, so I have the house to myself for a bit.” He spoke, looking over his shoulder at his own home. “I hear today is the big day, right?”

(Name) nodded. “Child Services are bringing the boys later, George is out shopping for something to make for dinner to welcome them.”

“Good… I know how much you and George want this. Plus, I’m pretty sure the girls will enjoy some new kids to hang around besides baby Burr.” Philip chuckled.

The young woman smiled, looking over her shoulder at the Burr residence. “Aaron is a sweet kid, and you know as well as I do his parents are good people.”

Philip nodded in agreement. “Very true. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, now. We’ll be more than happy to help out.”

“Thank you, Philip. That means a lot to us.” (Name) said with a smile. She turned her head to see a dark van begin to drive up the street, recognizing her husband’s vehicle. “George is home. I better help him.”

“Of course, you two enjoy the rest of your day.” Philip spoke as he turned away from (Name) and made his way back to his own house.

The wife watched as her husband drove in, giving him a kiss as he stepped out of the van and went to open the back of the van. “What all did you get?”

“What didn’t I get? I couldn’t decide between pizza, burgers, or spaghetti, so I got the makings for all of them.” George laughed quietly as he picked up several of the canvas bags, walking across the front yard to the house.

(Name) laughed at her husband, walking with him to the kitchen with bags in her own hands. She pressed a kiss to his cheek as she set the bags down. “I’m sure they like whatever we make. Plus, you’ll get to show off your grilling skills if they decide on hamburgers.” She said with a grin as she pulled away to put away the groceries.

The husband and wife went into their regular routine, putting away the food in its respective places. (Name) had bought more dishes and silverware to accommodate the new additions to the house. George had spent a couple days assembling the two bunk beds in the boy’s bedroom, fitting them with sheets, and assuring that there would be enough storage room for the four boys by the time they arrived. By mid afternoon, the couple sat on the couch watching the local news, (Name)’s head on her husband’s chest with his arm around her shoulders to keep her close.

“And you’re sure about this?” George murmured as he pressed a kiss to his wife’s head. “These boys, you really want to take care of them?”

(Name) nodded. “They need someone to, George. These boys need to know that they have someone looking after them.”

“I’ve heard that Hercules was known to be a rebellious teen. He might be troublesome.” George spoke. “Nicole did say he fought a lot with his past foster fathers.”

“Nothing you can’t handle, General.” (Name) spoke, taking her husband’s hand and bringing it to her lips.

“And what about Gilbert? What if I can hardly talk to him?” Asked George.

“George. You do remember I am fluent, right? There won’t be a communication problem between any of us.” (Name) chuckled, looking up at her husband as she placed her free hand on his knee. “We’re going to be just fine.”

The long awaited knock just sounded at the front door of the house. (Name) gave George a small smile and squeezed his hand before standing. He followed his wife in suit as they made their way to the door.

Upon opening the door, the couple was faced with Nicole, and behind her stood the four boys. Alexander stood close to John, fidgeting slightly as he kept his eyes fixed on the ground. Gilbert looked up at (Name) and George, silently sizing the two up. Hercules stood on the bottom step, holding three suitcases and a duffle bag on his shoulder.

“Mr. and Mrs. Washington, it’s good to see you again.” Nicole beamed as she stepped aside for the boys. “I would like you both to meet Alexander, John, Hercules, and Gilbert.”

“Um… Lafayette, Mademoiselle.” The young child corrected in his native tongue, anxiously rocking on his heels.

(Name) smiled lightly, bending down and meeting Layafette’s gaze. “Bonjour, Lafayette.” She greeted, inwardly chuckling at the surprise on the boy’s face.

“Why don’t we get you boy’s inside? We can get you settled.” George suggested as he opened the door wider so at the boys could walk in.

They lingered back, however. That was until Hercules walked up the steps, silently passing the husband and wife. John gently nudged Alexander, and the two followed Hercules. Lafayette followed close behind them.

Nicole gave George and (Name) a look of worry. “Are you two going to be okay? You only have to call if something comes up.”

“We’ll be fine, Nicole. Thank you.” (Name) answered, smiling at the young woman.

“We’ve got this covered.” George agreed, despite the uncertainty in his gaze.

Nicole gave the couple a nod, her smile still present as she turned and walked back to her car.

(Name) let her husband close the door as she turned back to the boys, smiling as they looked around at the sizable house. She walked over to them, drawing their attention. “How about I show you boys to your room?”

“Yes… Please.” Alexander mumbled, glancing up at the woman for a split second before looking back at the wood floor.

She smiled and nodded, beginning to walk down the hall as she led the boys through their new home.

She turned on the light, stepping aside so that the four boys could walk in. “There’s bunk beds for you four, so you can choose which beds you would like.”

“Dibs on a top!” John exclaimed to the three boys as he ran over to the bunk bed that was on the left side of the room. The excitement from the boy made (Name) smile.

“I’m bunking with John!” Alexander piped up, going over to the bottom bunk and sitting down on the comforter.

Hercules looked down at Lafayette. “What do you say, Laf? Top or bottom?”

“…Top.”

(Name) watched as Hercules walked around the room, placing the suitcases down by the two dressers. He walked back to his bunk, dropping his duffle on his bed. “Well… What do you boys feel like having for dinner? We have the makings for pizza, burgers, and spaghetti.”

The boys were silent, hesitant to answer before John piped up. “What do you recommend?” He asked.

“Me?” (Name) inquired, slightly surprised. “Well, my husband is an excellent cook on the grill, meanwhile I’m better in the kitchen. Spaghetti is actually a specialty of mine, if I do say so myself.”

John looking over at the other three boys. “I’m fine with that…”

“Me too.” Alexander agreed.

“And me.” Lafayette spoke.

(Name) looked over at Hercules. “Is that okay with you, Hercules?”

Her only response as a gruff “Yes.”

The woman nodded. “Alright, well I’ll go get started, and you boys can go ahead and get settled.” She spoke as she turned out of the room, leaving the four boys to themselves.


“What do you guys think of them?” Alexander asked as he opened his suitcase.

“She seems nice. The husband looks… Kinda scary. I guess.” John answered as he climbed up onto his bed, flopping down on his back.

“I like the madame, she can speak French!” Lafayette grinned as he sat next to Hercules.

“She said two words, Laf.” Hercules chuckled. “That doesn’t mean she can speak it.”

Lafayette pouted slightly. “Still. I like her.”

“What about you, Herc? What do you think?” John asked, looking over at the oldest of the four boys.

“I dunno… I try not to let first impressions dictate.” Hercules replied as he adjusted the knit beanie on his head. “We’ll just have to see how long this lasts… But no matter how long, we’re sticking together, okay?” He said with a grin, moving a hand and ruffling Lafayette’s hair, despite the boy’s protest.


(Name) hummed as she put the water on to boil. Smiling when she felt her husband’s arm moving to hold her by the waist.

“How are the boys?” He asked, kissing his wife’s temple.

“Lafayette seemed taken with the fact that I can speak French.” (Name) chuckled, lingering in her husband’s hold before moving to get a skillet for browning the beef. “John is actually a bit excitable. Hercules and Alexander do seem to be rather quiet.”

George nodded in response. “I see… But, so far so good?”

The wife nodded at her husband. “Yes. George… I know this isn’t like starting from the beginning, but we’re going to make this work, okay?”

The old general joined his wife, gently taking her hand into his and cupping her cheek. “(Name). I know… I’m sorry. I do want this to work, I’m just worried that something will happen. I know nothing will, but-”

(Name) pressed a kiss to her husband’s lips to silence his rambling. “I know, I know. We’re in this together, love. We’ll get through this.”

George met his wife’s gaze, smiling at her as he pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I know.”

The two moved apart to prepare for dinner. George got ready to set the table while (Name) worked on browning the beef. Just as George pulled out the plates, he looked up to see the boys coming back down the hall.

“All settled?” George asked the boys.

Alexander gave a slight nod. “Yes sir.”

George nodded, smiling slightly at the boys. “Would any of you like to help set the table?”

None of them answered, but Hercules stepped up and began to move the plates around the table. George took that as an answer as he went to get silverware. The other three simply looked around the dining room of the house.

(Name) looked out of the corner of her eye as she cooked to see Alexander and John wander over to one of the bookshelves that stood in the wall of the walkway between the dining room and the living room.

“You served?” John suddenly asked, turning to look at George who had looked up from getting cups from the cabinet. (Name) looked over to see that he had spotted George’s old army picture.

“Yes,” George replied with a quiet chuckle. “I served as a general.”

Alexander looked at the veteran in wonder. “That’s so cool… What do you do now?”

“Well, I’m a coach for a school a little ways away from here. We both work at the same school.” George explained, looking over at his wife.

John turned his head to (Name). “You’re a teacher? What kind?”

“I teach French,” She heard Lafayette gasp, which made her chuckle. “I’m the head of the language department as well.”

“I told you so!” Lafayette said to Hercules, causing the other two boys to laugh.

(Name) looked over at her husband, smiling slightly at him as the boys talked amongst themselves. George stepped over to his wife, getting napkins out of the drawer beside her.

“See? They think you’re cool.” She murmured quietly to him.

“Two out of four. Lafayette seems taken with you, however.” George replied.

The wife chuckled at her husband, glancing over to see Hercules join Alexander and John by the shelf. “Three down… One to go.”


Dinner went well. The boys seemed to enjoy the food, Hercules did too, despite his quietly picking at it. Throughout the course of dinner, the other three couldn’t seem to ask enough questions.

“So… Where are we going to go to school?” Alexander asked as he sipped his milk.

“The school that we work at is a middle, and high school. You, John, and Lafayette would be put into the middle school, and Hercules would be put into the high school.” (Name) explained.

“Would we see each other?” John inquired, wiping tomato sauce off of his chin.

“Well, Alexander and Lafayette will probably be put into the same class, and we can arrange that to happen if you two would like that.” George explained, looking over to the youngest of the four boys.

“… I would like that.” Alexander piped.

Oui.” Lafayette agreed.

“What about me and Herc?” John asked.

“Alexander and Lafayette are both in sixth grade, John, you’ll be put into the seventh, and Hercules will be put into the ninth grade.” (Name) answered. “But, both George and I teach both the middle and high schools. So we would be available to you boys during the day.”

A silence settled over the boys, none of them said a word of protest, or a word at all. (Name) looked over at her husband, noticing that he was looking over at her from across the table as well.

“For the record, our neighbors have kids that go to our school as well.” (Name) mentioned. “Mr. Schuyler has three daughters, and the Burr’s have a son.”

The boys didn’t respond, and the remainder of dinner was spent in silence.

George collected the dishes, and was pleasantly surprised when Lafayette asked if he could help at all. He brought Lafayette over to the sink and dishwasher, teaching him how the dishes were done around the house. (Name) watched as Hercules and John went to their room, letting out a quiet sigh as they left.

Wait… Where did Alexander wander off to?

“George, I’ll be right back.” (Name) told her husband as she began to search the home.

She was surprised to find the boy in her office, studying the many books that lined the shelves. (Name) walked over to join him as he looked over her classic literature section of the numerous books.

“A fan of reading, Alexander?” She asked, causing the boy to jump in surprise.

“Yeah… I don’t think I’ve seen this many books in one house before, though.” Alexander murmured, a hand moving to brush against the spines.

(Name) chuckled. “What can I say? I’ve always liked the classics. Plus, reading is just one of my favorite pastimes.”

“And writing is one of mine.” Alexander spoke, almost bashfully. “I was given a ribbon for best fourth grade essay a couple years ago.”

“Very impressive.” (Name) said with a smile. “I’m pretty friendly with the english department in the middle school, I’m sure they’d love to see how you write. You’d probably be doing a lot of it.”

The woman laughed quietly as she noticed Alexander’s face light up from the information. “You know, Alexander. You’re welcome to read any of my books, any time you’d like.”

“Really?” Alexander asked. “That’s okay?”

“Mmhm. George and I want you boys to be comfortable while you’re staying here. We’re more than happy to share what we have with you while you’re here.” (Name) spoke, putting a hand on Alexander’s shoulder. “Plus. It’ll be nice to have someone who enjoys reading as much as I do in the house.”

Alexander gave the woman a small smile, looking up at the shelf and taking several books into his arms. “Thank you, Mrs. Washington.” He said gratefully before he walked out of the office and to his room.

(Name) chuckled softly as she went back to the kitchen just in time to see George finish teaching Lafayette how to load the dishwasher.

“And that’s that.” George finished, wiping his hands on his pants. “Thank you for the help, Lafayette. It was very nice of you to offer.”

“I’m glad to help, Monsieur Washington.” Lafayette answered, giving George a smile as he rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m sort of used to it, I guess.”

“Well, any help is welcome.” (Name) spoke as she went to join her husband. “Let us know if there is anything we can do for you, okay?”

Oui. Merci, Madame Washington.” Lafayette said, giving the couple a small smile before turning to head to his room.

George let out a quiet chuckle as he turned to his wife, hugging her waist. “Did you find Alexander?” He asked (Name) as he kissed her forehead.

“Found him in the office, turns out he likes to read and write.” (Name) murmured, a grin tugging her lips upwards.

George laughed, meeting (Name)’s bright (e/c) eyes with his own. “That ought to make you happy, having another bookworm in the house.”

“Hey!” She laughed, lightly hitting her husband’s arm. “But… I think things are going well so far. They start school next week, if we just spend the rest of the weekend getting them comfortable, we might really have something here.”

The husband smiled at his wife, leaning forward and pressing a kiss to his wife’s lips. Upon pulling away, he began to speak softly to her. “I’m glad we’re doing this. And I’m glad that we’re making it work.”


“Alex, bro, you made out like a freaking bandit!” John exclaimed as he looked at the pile of books Alexander had picked out from their new foster mother’s office.

“I know!” Alexander agreed with a grin. “Mrs. Washington was really nice about letting me borrow her books, said I could borrow however many I wanted!”

Lafayette laughed as he climbed up onto his bed. “They both seem really nice, Monsieur Washington is actually really easy to talk to.”

“And damn can the Missus cook.” John hummed, going to one of the dresser drawers to pull out some pajamas. “Still on the fence, Herc?” He asked, looking over to the oldest of the four boys who was stretched out on his bed.

Hercules nodded. “Yup.”

“Hercules, mon frère, I think we might have a place here… The Washingtons seem really nice, and they seem to want us.” Lafayette spoke, looking over the edge of his bunk. “Give them a chance.”

“I’m giving them more than a day, Laf.” Said Hercules, looking up at Lafayette. “You guys remember that one house from like a year ago? The one we couldn’t even last a day in? I’ve learned well enough not to judge everyone by first impressions.”

The other boys glanced at one another before Alexander went to stand next to Hercules. “Just… Give them a chance, okay?”

The oldest for the four gave Alexander a grin, reaching over and ruffling the younger boy’s hair. “Don’t you worry, Alex. I’ll adjust.”


“Alright, guys. Time to go.” (Name) spoke as she grabbed the keys to the van. She watched as the men of the house quickly scrambled to get their stuff packed and their breakfast down.

Three weeks into the new routine with four growing boys in the house, and everything was running rather smoothly. The boys had grown comfortable in the home, even the reserved Hercules.

Alexander had already read almost half of (Name)’s personal library, Lafayette helped make most of the meals, and John and Hercules helped around the house. The boys had all gotten the school supplies they need from a shopping trip to the mall, and their foster parents even treated them all to a dinner out and a movie.

(Name) and George discovered John had a talent for sketching, and turtles for whatever reason. Hercules could actually be very passionate about something once he set his mind to it. The teen actually had an eye for fashion of all things. Alexander loved writing, as he had told (Name), but the husband and wife were both surprised at the amount of how much he could write and how beautifully he wrote. (Name) was pleasantly surprised when she realized that Lafayette knew his way around the kitchen, and gladly took the opportunity to include more French cuisine in the family’s diet.

So far, life was in a comfortable and steady pace.

The boys grabbed their backpacks and made their way out to the van, George joined (Name) by the door, pressing a kiss to her head like usual.

“I’m simply amazed at how easy this is now.” George spoke, watched as the boys debated about who got the furthest back seats or the middle seats.

“I told you this would work.” (Name) chuckled as she walked out with her husband, locking the door behind them. “Let’s get to work.” She told her husband before leading him to the family van, throwing him the keys. “Your turn.”

George rolled his eyes and went to the driver’s side door. “Alright guys, all in.” He told the boys. Soon enough, Hercules and Alexander were in the back row, while John and Lafayette were in the middle row. George and (Name) both took their seats and the drive to school began.

“So, you boys ready for school today?” (Name) asked, looking in the rear view mirror to look back at the boys.

Oui, but I am not looking forward to my math class.” Lafayette grumbled, letting out a yawn.

“Oh yeah, you have a quiz today, right?” George questioned as he turned out of the neighborhood.

“Yup.” Alexander affirmed as he looked up from the book he was reading.

(Name) chuckled, looking over at her husband. “Aren’t the seventh grade boys going through physical exams today?”

“If by ‘physical exams’ you mean me testing what the kids can do athletic wise, then yes.” George replied.

“I hope you’re up for the challenge, John.” (Name) said, looking over her shoulder at the freckled boy.

John grinned, crossing his arms over his chest. “Please. I’m gonna blow all those guys away.”

“We’ll see about that.” George chuckled. “Let’s just see if you can’t not embarrass yourself in front of the sixth grade, since they do have a P.E. class during yours.”

“Hey, that just gives us a chance to cheer John on.” Alexander said, leaning forward and nudging John’s shoulder from the seat behind him.

Hercules let out a yawn. “Just don’t embarrass yourselves too much out there, I have a rep in the high school I’m trying to uphold. I don’t need you dorks ruining that.”

“The heck kind of rep you got?!” John exclaimed. “You were complaining about how you couldn’t pick up a junior!”

(Name) couldn’t help but laugh as the boys talked, looking over at her husband as he continued to drive. Reaching a hand over, she gently rubbed his arm.


“Mrs. Washington! Your phone’s ringing!”

(Name) turned around from the whiteboard to see Eliza raising her hand, her head looking towards the phone that sat on (Name)’s desk.

Merci, Eliza.” (Name) spoke quickly as she went to answer the phone. “Mrs. Washington.” She said into the receiver.

“(Name), when the class period ends, I need you to meet me in my office.” She heard George speak.

The woman’s eyebrows furrowed. “Okay… What happened?”

“A bit of a scuffle during the physical exams. We need to have a talk with our middle schoolers.”


(Name) walked briskly out of her classroom when the bell rang, ending the period. She moved past students as they flooded the halls, making her way out of the building and heading to the gym. Stepping into the spacious building, she turned into a hallway and turned again into her husband’s office. George sat at his desk as he spoke to their three middle school foster sons.

“Are you boys alright?” (Name) asked, walking over to George’s desk and watching as all the boys looked in her direction.

“It wasn’t our fault!”

“Lee started it!”

Nous étions seulement cousin défendre!

“Boys!” George spoke sternly, effectively silencing the three. He let out a sigh, turning to his wife. “As I said on the phone… There was a scuffle during the exams.”

(Name) turned to the three boys, all three were averting her gaze. “What happened?”

John reluctantly looked up. “Lee… Charles Lee was being a jerk. So I shut him up.”

“By doing what?” (Name) questioned.

He fidgeted in his seat. “I… Might have pushed him into a basket ball rack.”

“And gave him a bloody nose.” George added.

“He deserved it!” John protested, standing up.

“Yeah!” Alexander agreed. “He was slandering you both!”

(Name)’s eyebrows raised in surprise, looking at her husband who looked just as surprised. “What did he say?”

Lafayette looked up at (Name). “He… He said that Monsieur Washington wasn’t fit to be a coach and that he should just go back to the battlefield where he came from… And that you should just quit teaching and…” He stopped, as if he was too disgusted to go on.

“Lafayette.” (Name) went over to the boy and kneeled to meet his gaze. “What did he say?”

“He said you were a horrible teacher… And said that if you wanted a job so bad that you could have just slept with the principle instead of marrying a coach… ” He mumbled, disgusted with the fact that he even had to repeat it.

(Name) felt her face heat up in embarrassment and anger. Looking back at her husband, she could tell that he was trying to control his own anger. She let out a sigh, crossing her arms over her chest. “Okay… That teacher thing I can understand considering he thinks that I purposely gave him an F on a test.”

She looked over at her husband who was standing from his seat and walking over to join his wife. “Boys… You know you didn’t have to do such a thing. We’re teachers, and we can fight our own battles.” George spoke as he leaned against his desk.

“We know… But you two have been so nice to us.” Alexander spoke.

“You didn’t deserve what he was saying. Either of you.” John agreed, looking up at the husband and wife.

“We wanted to try and give back.” Lafayette added, wringing his hands.

(Name) felt a small smile pull at her lips. She looked over at George, her husband just shook his head with a small sigh.

“You guys are good kids, you know?” He spoke, smiling at the three boys.

(Name) stepped forward and brought the three boys into a hug. She felt the three stiffen, but soon relax after a moment or two.

“Next time someone tries talking about me and George that way, please don’t resort to violence.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Okay.”

Oui.


A week had gone by since the incident with Charles Lee, kid got himself suspended for two weeks and a month’s worth of detention when he came back. The three boys didn’t get away scott-free, but they learned their lessons. Hercules wasn’t happy that he was the last one to find out about the whole thing, but he got over it pretty quickly after knowing that his three brothers were okay.

(Name) yawned, waking up from resting on her husband’s shoulder after a new family tradition: Family Movie Night. Every Saturday after dinner, the family would settle down and watch a movie that someone had picked. It being John’s turn, he decided on Avatar. At some point, George fell asleep, and (Name) followed in suit.

What surprised (Name) when she looked around, was that the living room was empty aside from her and George, who was quietly snoring next to her. She carefully stood as to not disturb George and walked down the dark hall. Upon peeking into the boy’s room, she smiled at what she saw.

Hercules was setting Alexander down in his bed, brushing his dark hair out of his face before tucking him in. He peeked up at John, who was snoring away in his bunk. Just as he turned to go back to his own bed, he met (Name)’s gaze.

“C’ome on, I think we should have a little chat.” She said quietly, motioning with her head for Hercules to follow her.

Hercules looked at his sleeping brothers before giving (Name) a nod, he was told and followed the woman through the home and to the front porch.

“Do you always do that when George and I fall asleep? Carry the boys to their beds?” (Name) asked, closing the door behind her and Hercules.

“I guess.” He answered with a shrug, leaning against the railing and looking out at the dark neighborhood. “I used to send them to bed in other foster homes… I guess I’m just used to helping them get there.”

(Name) nodded in understanding. “I understand… You’re a very responsible young man, Hercules.”

He huffed a laugh. “I got those knuckleheads in loco parentis… I want to be someone they can depend on.”

“And what about you?” (Name) asked.

Hercules frowned. “I depend on myself and my brothers…” He mumbled. He glanced at (Name) for a moment, but turned his head away.

The woman watched the teenager, a sigh leaving her lips. She looked up at the night sky. “Tell me a secret.”

“Huh?” Hercules quirked a brow at the woman.

“You tell me a secret, and I tell you one.” She explained, flashing the boy a smile.

The teen still looked uneasy, but he gave in with a huff. “I can’t forgive horrible parents… Parents who abandon their kids.” He began. “I can’t forgive Alex’s dad for walking out on him and his mom. I can’t forgive John’s dad for giving him up, I can’t forgive Laf’s mom for leaving him, and I can’t forgive my parents…”

“But without all of your parents… You all wouldn’t be brothers.” (Name) reasoned gently.

“That doesn’t matter!” Hercules protested, glaring at the ground. “We made it through Hell to get somewhere good… We made it through Hell to get here.” He murmured, glancing up at (Name) before averting his gaze. “Your turn.”

The woman chuckled softly, nodding. “George and I were never able to have kids of our own.” She began, giving Hercules a sad smile when he looked over at her.

“You…?”

She nodded. “I wasn’t able to carry a baby… George and I came to the conclusion that we either adopt or we become foster parents.”

Hercules stared at (Name) for a good few minutes before speaking again. “Why foster parents?”

“George knew what it was like to lose family members at a young age… He and I agreed that we don’t want any kid to feel like that unless we had a say in it… We wanted to help.”

The teen stared quietly at (Name), the woman met his gaze and smiled at him. She places a hand on his shoulder, snapping him out of his trance.

“I’m glad that we were able to give you boys a place you can call home.” (Name) said to the teenager.

“Yeah… We are too.” Hercules agreed. “First night, the kids were completely taken with you two.” He laughed.

“Were not!”

The two turned to the front door, which was now cracked open. Several hushed yells were heard behind the door, as well as frantic hushing.

“You knuckleheads are supposed to be in bed.” Hercules spoke as he opened the door, revealing his three brothers, as well as George who stood over them.

“Yes, but the ‘knuckleheads’ were wondering where their brother and foster mother went… Or where their ‘Mom’, ‘Ma’, and ‘Maman’ was.”

(Name)’s eyebrows rose in surprise, looking down at the three boys who were shuffling nervously. “Well, I’m glad that my sons were concerned about me and their brother.”

“We were.” Alexander agreed. “I mean… We knew where Dad was.”

“Yeah, you could hear him snore from our room.” John agreed, flinching when he heard George cleared his throat. 

“But papa got worried too when he didn’t know where you two were.” Lafayette piped up, looking up at (Name) and Hercules.

(Name) smiled at her husband, giving him a nod before patting Hercules’ back. “Come on boys, let’s get you all into bed. It’s getting late.”

It took a few minutes or wrangling and corralling, but the couple managed to get the boys into their bedroom and into their beds with the help of Hercules. (Name) stood at the door with George, smiling at the boys as they settled down.

“Good night, boys.” George spoke. “Sleep well.”

“We’ll see you in the morning.” (Name) promised.

“Good night.”

“G’night.”

Bonne nuit.

“Night… Mom. Dad.”

(Name) smiled at her husband, taking him by the hand and leading him to their bedroom. As George closed the door, (Name) wrapped her arms around his broad chest and kissed him fondly. “I love our boys.” She hummed.

George pulled away, smiling at his wife in agreement. “I love them too.”

Watch Pearl Jam's Humble Rock Hall Induction Speech

A quarter of a century after they released their 13-times platinum debut, Ten, Pearl Jam remain one of rock’s biggest bands. They had sprung into the world’s consciousness with a mix of aggressive and emotional songs and have since refined their palate in order to write expansive, transformative rockers. Their last two albums have reached Number One on the Billboard charts, and they’ve never put out a studio album that has charted lower than Number Five. Moreover, they still tour regularly – having once taken on the concert industry by challenging Ticketmaster – and they still play two-hour sets to packed arenas.

On Friday night, the band appeared at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to accept their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, following a speech by retired talk-show host David Letterman. The band’s current lineup – Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and Matt Cameron – all appeared onstage to make speeches marking the achievement, as did founding drummer Dave Krusen. Read the band’s full speech below.

Stone Gossard: Maybe the most important reason we came tonight is not to receivethis honor, but to honor those who have worked so hard for this band, to help it function. All of us can fill sheets of paper with themany names, of our loving family members, our oldest and dearest friends, our influences,our idols, our collaborators, our counselors, our contributors, the people who mediated forus and assisted us in countless ways. They disagreed with us, respected us, encouraged us, gave us shoulders to lean onand cry on. They [dealt with] boring paperwork, endless organizing, agonizing phonecalls, computer work, torturous floods, drives, terrible conditions. They’ve hung lightingramps around countless tables. Purchased thousands of tambourines. Changed tens ofthousands of batteries. And even vacuumed our rooms, all to keep this band living on. 

To all these people we give our most sincere and dearestthanks. Your hard work and love and dedication means that this award is as much for youas it is for us. We give our sincerest thanks toGeorge, Kerry, Liz, Simon, our manager Josh, Liam, Donny, Nicole,Kevin, Brett, Jimmy, Jimmy V, Andy, Sarah, Dave, Pete,Sonny, Larry, Jesse, Key, Dan, Tom, Peter, Mellie, Gary,Pharrell, Anna, Ellie, Mark, thankyou so much. Tim P, Rob, Ryan, Avery, Will, Barron, Jess, Christian, Ziggy,Janie, Betsy, Scully, Jacquelyn, Margo, Rod,Diana, Ryan. Thank you to all the incredible artists who have created all of our incredibletour posters. But even more importantly than all of those folks, we want to thank our fans. Whose belief inus has carried us through the times where we didn’t believe or we lost hope or we lost each other. Thank you so much to the greater Pearl Jamcommunity. Keep doing what you’re doing. We’re having so much funwatching you.And lastly, I would like to thank our amazing wives, my amazing wife, Vivian, her beautifulfamily, our beautiful children, my mom and dad, my sisters and theirfamilies. Thank you all for giving us this opportunity. 

Dave Krusen: I’d like to thank the Hall of Fame. Pearl Jamsaved my life. And to my family, my kids, I love you guys. Thank you.

Matt Cameron: I would just like to thank my, my muse, my girl,my one special lady, April Cameron. My beautiful children, Ray and Josie. I would like to thankmy parents for letting me practice drums in theirhouse for probably a decade or so. I really appreciate that. My brother and sister for takingme to my first concert, David Bowie, Station to Station, 1977. I would like to thank my brothers in Pearl Jam for inviting me into theirincredible [band]. We so appreciate the fans and the life’s blood thatyou give to our art form of rock and roll. Thank you. 

Mike McCready: Woo! That feels good. We’re in pivoting moments of the changingforever. I’ve had nine of these. But the first was in 1976. I was a boy scout. One day, ateleven years old, when my friends Danny and Rick told me about the rock band, Kiss. Iasked my parents for a guitar that night. I want to thank my mom, Louise McCready, for herlove and support for teaching me about Warhol, the Rolling Stones and dying my hair. Mydad, Roy McCready, thank you for giving me love and guidance and teaching me to trainmy mind, body and spirit. Thank you to my first band Shadow and for letting me practice five days a week for six years in their house. Thank you somuch.To my second band, Pearl Jam, you’re my brothers. I love you. I love you guys. I love yourfamily. You guys did it right, but we'reonly as good as the people that are around us. Our manager, Kelly Curtis, MichelleAnthony, Michael Goldstone, Nicole Vandenberg, George Well, Johnny, ChrisAdams, Brennan O'Brien and everyone at our offices. Our fan club, our road crew, andevery person that holds us up. 

I want to thank the Red Hot ChiliPeppers for taking us out with the band and to the manybands that inspired me. Many that inspired me. Cheap Trick, Queen, Bowie, Hendrix, theStones, Beatles, UFO, Kraftwork, Ramones, Brandi Carlile, the Kills, SocialDistortion, Muddy Waters, Sex Pistols, the Clash, and my new favorite band, ThunderPussy. My friends and family, a lot ofyou are here tonight. You bring me laughter and teach me how to live. I loveall of you. All my friends and family are here tonight. All of our fans, thank you for hangingout with us before we go. Thank you to my amazing wife, Ashley, for keeping it all together, keeps my work together. Ilove you. 143. And our kids, Kaya, Jackson, and Henry, you inspire me to be a better parent. Alright. Thank you. 

Jeff Ament: When I was 13, my uncle Pat gave me some singles, which was, the key to a well-respected man. This coincided with reading Death of a Salesman, in 7th grade class. After that I was put in a course never to be Willy Loman, which somehow correlated to a lifetime of playing bands, so if I seem a little bit nervous, blame Arthur Miller as I’ve never been very comfortable in a roomfull of seats. In 1983, I moved to Seattle, looking for my tribe. Other artists, musicians, individuals, hardworkers, skateboarders. I found a lot of these folks – many are still my friends. Imet Stone a month after moving to Seattle. At those first Seattle punk rock shows, I metStone almost thirty-five years ago, which ultimately led me to our band community. 

Beinghere with the band, who have become some of my best friends in the process, makingmusic and art, traveling the world, supporting causes and programs together, making smalldifferences, meeting great artists and creative minds all over the world. That’s a pretty greatfucking life. It’s an honor in to be part of a club that includes so many of our heroes – Neil,the Clash, Zeppelin, the Stooges, Cheap Trick – but the fact is that we were affected by bands that aren’t here. So many important bands that made us want topick up our guitars and right songs. But the very best part about tonight is that mymom, who gave me the keys to the piano and my dad, who taught me abouthard work and community, they’re here with my family. So this is for everysmall town kid who has a dream. Thanks to everybody who supports us and inspires us.You’re great fans. Everybody who works with us with the band.Kelly, George have been with us for 27 years, 26 years. Thank you. Love you. 

Eddie Vedder: You’re kind. Thank you so much. I guess I’d like to start by thankingall those who came before us. The tetrapods, the primates, thehomo erectus. [Laughter.] Without them, we would be so much less evolved. And here weare on our modern technology, advanced technology age and we’ve got a lot of evolving todo. It’s evolution, baby. Climate change is real. That is not fake news. And we cannot,cannot be the generation the history of the world will look back on and wonder why theydidn’t do anything humanly possible to solve the biggest crisis in our time. Anythingcan be obtainable. The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. This is proof. And I usethat analogy because, in regards to climate change, because it can be done, but here'sthe thing, we don’t have 108 years to wait. 

I’m lucky and grateful – two things I am every day. And I’m just grateful to be alive. And Ialso … I want to publicly apologize, you know, all of the, making our bandmates, making mybandmates suffer. For the singer who was flapping down the rafters and hanging off ofbikes and jumping off of balconies. They really didn’t deserve that. But, you know, they didn’t know that the person that they gave the job to, that their singer was reallyan Evil Knievel. But it was also about music. I swear, I used to be able to hold my wholebody up with one finger. But if the music wasn’t playing, I couldn’t do it with both hands. 

When I think about high altitudes, I think about my wife, Jill. Honey, I thought youwere sitting down in front. But, it’s so important, you know, especially if that kitegets way higher in the air, you really have to trust the person holding the line. And thatperson has to be loyal and believe in you and have to have the strength to reel you back, somy wife, Jill, I thank you. And … I’m looking forward to all our beautiful days on groundtogether. And I’m glad I get to hold the chord for you and you get to soar as you do.My two daughters, I’m trying to teach them everything I know, andthey teach me the rest. Which is more of than what I do know. And ifsomehow, some way, Chance the Rapper ever sees or hears this, I just want to tell him, mydaughter really loves you. And I also, Chance, want to thank you for all the great workyou’re doing in Chicago. That gives us all hope. 

I just love them more than anything, and that’s a lot, itsays a lot because I really love the Who! And the Ramones and the Band and Guided By Voices, and the list goes on because I listen to music every day of my life.And … a lot of that was in small apartments, when I grew up, we lived in some tight spaceswith my family, my mom and my brothers. My mom, she did really good parenting. Shewouldn’t tell us to turn it down, she would just kind of end up being fans of the bands thatwe were playing really loudly. And my brothers who I grew up listening to music withtogether, I always will try to play our songs and our new songs to them first. They’re suchgood brothers. They’ve known me long enough. They know when I’m pulling some kind ofbullshit. So they keep me honest and keep the records true.

You know, how lucky I was to meet Jack Irons. I'mworking as a crew guy in San Diego before my night shift,and I get to meet Jack, and it was the original drummer in the Chili Peppers. He also was amember of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame already. He’s here tonight. Without meeting him,none of this would’ve happened. I’m not in this building. I’m probably not evenon the planet. Jack, thanks so much. Thanks foryour friendship. Somehow when you’re so fortunate, you know, when you have a few drinks,and you’re taking that seat in the jump school or at the throne, is they’re all kings. We'reso fortunate. Every one of them is great. Matt Cameron’s really been the one. At a time when we didn’t know if – we weren’t sure what wasgoing to happen –  he had been able not just to survive, but to thrive.

I mean, he’s been one of my brothers. And he was going to end up receiving this happily with us orhis other group. So he’ll be back. He’s a great drummer.You are a great drummer! And Matt Chamberlain, Jack, who we got to play with this week for the first time in 25 years. It was great tosee him. He’s a great person. I really want to thank Dave Letterman for being partof our honor tonight. He doesn’t know, but when I used to work the midnight shift, fouryears of midnight shift – I used to get there 11 to 7 and there’s a small red TV on the securitycard, a small red TV and Dave was my copilot. Every weekday, every night at work for fouryears. And also, he’d have so many great bands on his show thatthey – I saw so many bands that Letterman influences. 

The first time on the Letterman show,and I’m just going to tell you my side of that quick story when I came into his studio and tookthe mic and sang, “Black.” He was doing it, “do-do-do do-do do.” He was doing that everynight for about three months. And I was always watching the show and it was starting tomake me fucking crazy. And then it started getting weird. I remember I smoked a little something. I’m sitting there,end of the night, kind of relaxing, and he kept asking, “Paul, when is this band going to beon the show?” “I don’t know. I haven–” “Did you call?” “I haven’t.” And he starts looking inthe TV. And I’m stoned. And Dave Letterman who was my copilotwith the security thing, he just looks into the camera like he’s looking into my bedroom …“Eddie? Eddie? Come here, Eddie.” It was fucked up. I thought the TV was talking to me. Ilost my mind.  Serious thought, you know, you might have to go to rehab. You'retripping balls right now. 

So last thing, we’ve been through a lot, this group, and if it weren’t for everybody outhearing about our music, if it weren’t for everybody out here who came to the shows … Those are the things that really kept us together when we felt theresponsibility to the music was bigger than ourselves or our own personal needs. We knew we were better together than apart. It was you. I love these people so much. I feel like maybe we’re about halfway there to deserving something,immaculate of this statue, maybe halfway there. But this is very encouraging. And we'revery grateful. Thank you. 

Find out five things you didn’t know about Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten’.

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July Book Reviews by Maia Kobabe

Playing catch-up here…

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

Fantasy used to be my bread and butter genre. In high school I’d barely pick up a book unless it had a dragon, elf, wizard, witch or sword on the cover. At a certain point I got somewhat burned out on the genre after too many books that felt like blatant Tolkien imitations. This book was a gift from a friend and I opened it a little uncertainly. Rather than a novel, I found this book is actually a collection of linked short stories each telling of one adventure of Geralt, a traveling monster-slayer. The author has a clear love of classic fairy tales- in one of the stories Geralt stumbles into a situation reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast, while in another he encounters a Snow White. Almost invariably the original hero of the fairy tale is in this re-telling the monster. Not all of the deadly beasts are familiar however- interwoven are creatures from Polish and Russian folk tradition which add an intriguing eerie strangeness. This book is the first in a long series and I hope to read more.

Sister Outside by Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde had the kind of mind and talent that only appears once or twice in a generation. I started this collection of essays directly after finishing Zami: A New Spelling of My Name and every page blew me away. I started with a library book but half way through had to go out and buy a copy because I wanted to be able to underline, circle passages, write notes and dozens of exclamation points. I can tell this is a text I will be returning to many times, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

A fast-paced coming of age comic in the vein of Raina Telgemeier. Astrid’s mom takes her and her best friend Nicole to watch a roller derby game in a rink in Portland and Astrid immediately falls in love. Her best friend, not so much. Astrid signs up for a roller derby summer camp and discovers how much work it is to master a tough, dangerous sport. Meanwhile she begins to feel abandoned by Nicole who chose to attend a Dance camp instead. What starts as a story of rivalry becomes instead a tale of how people sometimes grow apart as their interests change and mature.

Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home by Nicole J Georges

An emotional story of a decade long friendship between the author and a prickly, defensive, badly-behaved and demanding dog. Nicole adopted Beija at 17, and they were companions through many huge life changes. Nicole moved with her first love half way across the country to Portland, OR, began a career as an indie cartoonist, broke up, came out as a lesbian and discovered a shattering family secret. All the while Beija was was by her side, teaching her both how to show love and how to set up personal boundaries. Moved me to unexpected tears.

Shade the Changing Girl vol 1 by Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone

Loma Shade is a bird-like native of Meta, a distant planet with a lingering interest in the scraps of nostalgic Earth culture they’ve collected. Shade uses her boyfriend’s position as a security guard at a museum of Earth objects to steal the Madness Vest. She uses this to (somehow) transmit her soul to Earth, where she inhabits the body of a 16 year old girl, Megan. Megan has been lying in a coma after nearly drowning at a wild party with her swim team. Only her boyfriend Wes is happy about her surprise recovery- the rest of the team, and even Megan’s parents, fear and resent her. Shade struggles to understand life as an Earth high school student even as she struggles to resist the raw Madness that swirls from her transport, the Vest. This book is part of the larger Young Animals series from DC, but I read and enjoyed it as a stand-alone.

Tales of Ancient Persia by Barbara Leonie Picard

A solid introduction to Persian myths, from the pre-Islamic era. It follows the rein of many kings through generations of struggles with the neighboring empires of Turan and Rome. Highlighted are tales of Rustem, the renown hero who fought demons, dragons and many ferocious battles.

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi

A heartbreakingly honest story of isolation, identity, depression and mental-health. The author overcame years of destructive behavior before she was able to come out to herself and begin to find freedom and a sexual life as an adult.

Night’s Dominion vol 1 by Ted Naifeh

This story begins with a classic D&D set up… a thief, an assassin, a mage and a cleric meet in a tavern to hear about a job offer from a mysterious stranger. But what this story actually offers is a D&D flavored superhero team battling for the soul of a city. An army of undead, a corrupt government and a Batman-verses-Catwoman like rivalry unfolds over tiled rooftops, cobbled streets and in caverns deep under the ground.

Baking With Kafka by Tom Gould

I am endlessly impressed with the contents of Tom Gould’s brain. Each strip in this collection is funnier than the last. The stand-alone comics range over subjects from book hording, time-travel, zombie apocalypses, what Charles Dickens would do in the modern era, alternate titles for Moby Dick and of course Kafka’s cooking show. Hilarious and delightful.

Your Black Friend by Ben Passmore

An Eisner nominated short comic about race which should have won the award. Unflinching and timely.

4

Congratulations to Nicole Kidman for winning the Glamour Award for Best Film Actress! On June 6th, Glamour hosted their annual award ceremony and honored Nicole Kidman for her incredible work this year. She starred in films such as Lion, which earned her a nomination for an Academy Award, and most recently, The Beguiled, for which director, Sofia Coppola, won the Palm D’Or at Cannes. Coppola is the first woman in 54 years to win the Palm D’Or. Kidman has starred in  Sundance Film Festival films Birthday Girl, Dogville, Stoker, and Strangerland. Congratulations, Nicole!

 © 2013 George Pimentel/WireImage, © 2002 J. Vespa/WireImage, © 2015 George Pimentel/WireImage © 2013 George Pimentel/WireImage

2

(photos courtesy Veronique McMillan)

“I think you’re leveling up right now,” Leanne says, as we are walking home from class on a cool mid-March evening. It takes me completely by surprise.

Thus far my tournaments in 2017 have led to mediocre results at best, and my sparring in class is nowhere near where I want it to be.

So, I wonder, what the hell is she talking about?

****

There are so many types of soreness. This is something that I become more familiar with as the time in the gym and on the training floor increases. There’s the ache of hamstrings and quads that have not been stretched properly. There’s the dull ache of the shoulders that comes when holding out Ochs or trying to build strength in my dagger arm.

Then, of course, there’s the soreness that comes from other people hitting you with swords. There are bruises in the places you expect, but then there are bruises you can’t remember getting, hits to the head that will leave your face aching for days, and hits to your hands you just pray won’t break your fingers. The gear you wear might keep you from dying, but anything more than that is just pure luck.

Yet I keep going back for more. No gain without pain, or something like that.

*****

Slowly I start to see it, what Leanne is talking about, in class.

For the first time I consciously pull off a haupstucke technique in sparring - I know the guy I’m fighting is going to attempt an oberhau; I meet it with a zornhau and realizing that I’m not being offered any resistance, thrust straight forward.

Tim notices that I’m starting to use actual footwork when I fight him, and although I still get my ass beat every time we fight, on the whole our exchanges last longer and they don’t always end in his favor.

Slowly, I’m starting to lose the self-doubt that had been such a monster in January. Slowly, I’m starting to believe again.

****

I’m not sure I want to go to Shortpoint at first. Not because I don’t enjoy it, but because it’s a five hour drive each way for a one day event, which means that unless I get extremely lucky I’ll spend more time commuting to and from the event than I’ll spend actually playing with swords.

Wait. Who am I kidding?

There’s a sword event in driving distance and I have no other commitments that day. Of course I’m going.

It turns out to be some of the best fighting I’ve done not just in a while, but ever. I fight Josh and Kendrick and Nicole and George and Patrick and John (who says I’m holding center much better) and Jake (who encourages me more the longer our fight goes) and Travis and Charissa and Alex (we play around with literal spears, which is way more fun than you think it is), and in all of these fights I feel amazing.

There’s no tournament pressure here, and without the adrenaline dump the fights slow down. I can think about what I want to do and how to do it; I can figure out exactly what I’m doing in one context and teach it to others. I feel that sense of belonging, that sense that there is no reason in the entire world I cannot do this thing and I cannot be good at it, too.

*****

When I return to training, it’s with that Drive again, that Drive I’ve so sorely missed the first few months of 2017. I know what I can do if I push myself, and I know what goals I’m setting for myself this year.

They’ll take me to Baltimore and Seattle and Sweden, but that’s okay. That’s what I want. I may not achieve what I set out to do - but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to try.

It’s time to go bold, or go home.

anonymous asked:

Hi!! I was wondering if you know of any comics/graphic novels with queer ladies? I've been having a hard time finding any. Thanks!!

HECK YES ANON.

Some of my personal favorites include Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki, Dykes to Watch Out For and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, and the Lumberjanes series, which just got its first paperback volume.

But there are plenty more - what kind of comics are you interested in?

Superheroes? Batwoman: Elegy serves as the origin story of the current Batwoman, a gay woman named Kate Kane. The original team of the Runaways series includes a extraterrestrial lesbian named Karolina Dean, and the current team (Runaways: Secret Wars) features at least two queer women. Kieron Gillen’s run on Young Avengers introduced the instantly beloved America Chavez. Supercakes by Kate Leyh is a super-adorable story of super-powered girlfriends. I don’t know much about Sophie Campbell’s Shadoweyes, but it appears to be a darker take on superheroics with a cast of queer and trans teens.

Fantasy or science fiction? For sword fights and sorcery, try The Legend of Bold Riley, Rat Queens, or the brand new Princeless spin-off which just saw its first issue released this week, Raven: The Pirate Princess. I love YU+ME=Dream, a webcomic which starts as a high school drama then takes a turn towards surreal - you can read it online or buy the limited edition omnibus. There’s a whole world of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer comics - some better than others - featuring Willow Rosenberg and other queer ladies. The new queer-inclusive take on Jem & The Holograms is on comics store shelves now. Another pop-music themed comic - The Wicked & The Divine - features a pantheon of reincarnated gods plus lots of queer representation. Bitch Planet, a feminist satire in space, is getting its first paperback volume next month.

Manga? I grew up reading Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura, which were maybe my first exposure to queer people in fiction. I haven’t kept up with manga in a long time, but here’s a list of highly-rated yuri manga available in English, which includes a wide range of genres and intended audiences.

Memoir? There’s Spit and Passion by Cristy C. Road, Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag by AK Summers, Shadow Manifesto by Annie Mok, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney, Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole J. Georges, Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me by Sarah Leavitt, and On Loving Women by Diane Obomsawin. Alison Bechdel also did a follow-up to the aforementioned Fun Home called Are You My Mother?

Or maybe just a slice of life? For something fictional but realistic, there’s the long-running Love and Rockets series by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez - I’m not entirely clear on how Locas relates to the original series, but it seems to isolate the storyline of Maggie Chascarrillo, a bisexual, Mexican-American punk. There’s also Blue Is the Warmest Color, the graphic novel by Julie Maroh on which the film was based. While Rude Girls and Dangerous Women by Jennifer Camper might be as much wish-fulfillment as it is realistic, it’s a great example of early underground lesbian comics.

Happy reading!

Jimmy Nicol (stand in for Ringo during his bout with tonsillitis), John Lennon, and George Harrison from the book The Beatles Anthology, Page 139

“Of course, with all respect to Jimmy, we shouldn’t have done it. The point was, it was the Fabs. Can you imagine The Rolling Stones going on tour: ‘Oh, sorry. Mick can’t come.’ - All right, we’ll just get somebody else to replace him for two weeks.’ It was silly, and I couldn’t understand it. I really despised the way we couldn’t make a decision for ourselves then. It was just: 'Off you go.’ - 'But Ringo must come with us.’ - 'No, sorry, you’ll get a new drummer.’ As we grew older, I suppose, we would have turned round and said we wouldn’t go; but in those days it was the blind leading the blind.” – George Harrison quote