As a Quirinelle housewife and mother myself, I can certainly understand your frustrations about not getting the recognition you deserve from the Pit, however, I must say, that I am not surprised that the Pit would not recognize what is certainly the most important work in Telluria or in Aristasia. Of course, just the fact that ours is the most important work is in many respects the reward we need, don't you agree? Maintaining high standards and giving our children love and orderliness in the home make such a deeply satisfying vocation. If ever you can cross over through the mist, you should visit us here in Quirinelle, where a small group of Mummies gather each afternoon while the tykes are sleeping and talk over tea and cookies, exchanging recipes and ideas for how to keep laces from wrinkling on frocks. What fun we Blondes have while the Brunettes are at the offices and schools! (but don't tell any of them, or they will start wanting to be the stay-at-home mummies). You didn't say if you were Blonde or Brunette yourself, but I am sure the other girls wouldn't mind a bit if you joined us regardless. One more word... I am so perplexed as to why you would consider your longing for something lovely and feminine to wear a trivial matter; but, there it is, I am Blonde Mummy, and I often am confused by many a thing that wings my way! Take heart, Dear Mummie of two (or more?!), and do find that lost tube of lipstick. You can't imagine how brighter lips simply brighten a day! Kindly,
ELEANOR BLAND (Mrs.)
I read your interview through the bleary eyes of a woman who recently committed what is undoubtedly the most feminine of acts: giving birth. We have an old word here on this side of civilization called feminist. For years I thought feminists really wanted to better the lot of women by giving them opportunities equal to those of men. I was mistaken, in that a large number of these feminists wanted to liberate women from the very things that made them special: from childbearing, from their natural aptitudes, from their femininity. You have well catalogued many of their lies. I still call myself a feminist, but only because there is no word in my language for a belief in maximizing human potential by balancing the forces of masculinity and femininity. We ought to do something about that. Which leads me to motherhood and the ultimate proof of the difference between men and women. I have a wonderful husband who is a genuine sharer of household duties. But here is the difference between us. Parenthood caused him to fixate on providing. He works harder in order to bring in more money, so all four of us can live well. His career prospects improve by the week. It's incredible. But I, who will not work this year, face questions about how committed I am to my job. And my mind is consumed in the details of the household. Who needs new shoes? What will we eat for supper? When was the last time I breastfed the baby? I can barely think about more worldly things. My husband, meanwhile, never considers the price of children's clothes. What each of us is doing is laudable and there's a splendid symbiosis. Together, we are both providing for the family. But society validates my husband's work with bonuses and opportunities. No one approves or even knows of my efforts. A final point, this one trivial. How I long for face powder and sweater sets and a great, curvy feminine undergarment! How sad it is that after one performs the ultimate feminine feat, one is temporarily too milkstained and large of hip to partake in feminine luxuries. I rarely get to the mirror to put on lipstick (my toddler hid my favourite shade), but whenever I do I will think of you, dear Annalinde.
Thank you so much for your warm welcome. How lovely you all are. I apologise for not giving a true description of myself - although the definition of Blonde and Brunette has me still wavering - truth be told, I vacillate between the two and perhaps could possibly be a redhead? I seek the general community's help on this most vexing matter. Perhaps if I were to explain that one of my truest joys in life is browsing through a fabric store, gloves off, and allowing the soft, delicate tips of my fingers revel in the sensations of pure silks and satins while I plan the latest over or under creation I will construct of such delicious makings. Why, the stays I wear today were the result of one enjoyable weekend blissfully combining colour, texture and trimmings into a slim-waisted, gartered silk-covered creation. And yet to slip into the chiffon robe at the end of a hard day's shopping, and to enjoy something smooth and yet piquant while relaxing on the sofa with suitable music soothing away any city-gained stresses - this also ranks as a joy and delight. Perhaps we could discuss the subtle differences between Blonde and Brunette? Would anyone care to join us?
NAME: Ariadne; SEX: Blonde; DATE OF ADMISSION: 15 January 1951; DATE OF DISCHARGE: 24 March, 1951
ADMITTING DIAGNOSES: (1) Acute Pit Affective Disorder with psychotic
delusions of impending matrimony; (2) Hysterical Pregnancy (3) Incipient
DISCHARGE DIAGNOSES: Same
CONDITION ON DISCHARGE: Improved
OPERATIONS PERFORMED: None
MEDICATIONS ON DISCHARGE: None
REASON FOR ADMISSION: This 27-year-old blonde ex-manicurist was admitted on 15 January of this year, suffering from acute Pit Affective Disorder (P. A. D.) with psychotic delusions that she was engaged to marry her employer, a Miss Symone de V., and with classic, first-trimester hysterical pregnancy. For details of patient's history, admission physical examination, initial plan of treatment, and so forth, please see my Admission Note.
HOSPITAL COURSE AND CONDITION: Ariadne responded to her treatment in mixed fashion. As regards her hysterical pregnancy, breast engorgement and abdominal distention rapidly resolved and the linea negra faded over one or two weeks. Follow-up physical examination confirmed that the uterine cervix returned to a firm, normal state. The patient threw herself in to all aspects of re-racination with unabashed, girlish enthusiasm, not matched, however, by substantive gains. That is to say, although she applied herself diligently to her lessons in elocution, penmanship, arithmetic, music, flower arrangement, drawing and so forth, Ariadne never appeared to improve. In other words, one cannot but conclude that Ariadne is virtually ineducable, though demonstrably much happier than on admission. That is not to say Ariadne's re-racination was a failure, not at all, (particularly as it impinged upon the St. Yvyanne staff) but the results of the various exercises and lessons were rather unique, and probably merit a special case presentation at the upcoming Congress of Aristasian Psychiatry to be held in Quirinelle in July. Without pre-empting such a presentation, however, suffice it to say that re-racination, as far as Ariadne is concerned, was not an adding of anything whatever, but rather a cumulative substraction, like the cleansing of a classical building that has acquired a patina of soot and weather stains over the centuries, but retains undiminished all its original beauty and grace, which shines forth with glowing splendour once thoroughly cleansed. As for music, Ariadne proves to be quite tone-deaf, incapable of mastering even the kazoo (the piano was quite beyond her, of course). Similarly, her penmanship remains abominable, not to mention her impossible spelling and her incessant use of malaprops. Ariadne is still unable to fathom proverbs on any interpretational level whatever: she understands them solely in their barest, most concrete sense, she has virtually no sense of humor for the same reason, (though she has the most delectable, silvery laugh), her computational abilities remain at the level of a rather dull seven-year old (if that advanced), and she still is unable to name more than six of anything at one time -- insisting that a week has only six days, omitting Monday each time without hesitation. Flower arranging was a similar disaster, as Ariadne has no sense of colour, symmetry or design. She attempts to combine, for example, long-stemmed chrysanthemums with violets and bluebells. This she accomplishes by deftly removing the longer blooms' stems (with her teeth) to reduce them in length to match the shorter ones. Ariadne appears equally fascinated by all colours alike, displaying no favourite, so rather than attempting chromatic themes based, say, on similar hues, Ariadne tries to include as much of the spectrum as possible in each of her "arrangements," producing works with no focus whatever. She displays a similar absence of sense of design in her embroidery and pastel sketches. Hence painting lessons were never seriously entertained by the staff. What astounds (and perplexes) all of her schoolmistresses, however, is that Ariadne appears serenely satisfied with her efforts, accepts criticism with elemental feminine grace, but invariably fails to apply it in subsequent lessons; she remains completely untroubled, no, even pleased, by the whole process and is apparently proud of the lack of tangible progress. She displays all the non-intellectual attributes of an excellent pupil in tone of response and facial expression, tilt of head, pursing of her cupid's bow lips, furrowing of her brow in rapt concentration, eager raising of her hand in the classroom (with an always incorrect or inappropriate answer) ... but with absolutely none of the substantive augmentation of knowledge or skills one normally associates with learning. Ariadne's peculiar behaviour has the unexpected effect of pleasing her schoolmistresses just as if she is their star pupil -- the St. Yvyanne's Punishment Register reflects not a single disciplinary intervention during her stay here, a unique occurrence at this hospital, nor was she even verbally chastised. Ariadne is frequently kept after class, not as punishment, it seems, but because she is slow in completing her work and her schoolmistresses appear to enjoy her physical presence while they are marking papers or preparing the next day's lessons. This practice has led to no little competition among the schoolmistresses themselves, each one avidly seeking Ariadne's time, as it were. And, sorry to say, the general quality of the schoolmistresses' prepared lessons has declined by a perceptible notch, and the overall corporal discipline of Ariadne's fellow schoolgirls has also diminished, though not for want of infractions. As Ariadne's psychiatrist, I must confess that her sessions with me follow a similar pattern -- she has gained almost no insight into herself (besides acknowledging that she had had delusions and had never been pregnant), yet approaches each session with wide-eyed, girlish enthusiasm; she appears always delighted to see me; our sessions tend to run much longer than scheduled, for reasons I have difficulty understanding, as it was quite evident from the outset that any self-insight was hopeless, each session rapidly degenerating into simple, femmey chatter and innocent gossip, with her silvery laughter like musical counterpoint. I must admit that I found these sessions rather refreshing myself, and looked forward to them with almost as much enthusiasm as Ariadne. My analysis of Ariadne fits no personality pattern whatever: she appears to possess boundless reserves of feminine innocence which produce an almost galvanic attraction on others: girls of both sexes are always around her at meals or in the common room, although she generally shows no special reciprocation to any one of them, responding alike to all girls, of both sexes, with no breath of favouritism, utterly unaware that she is the object of any special attentions. Ariadne's parentage is unknown; she was adopted at age two-and-a-half by a kindly couple from Exeter who knew nothing of where she was born. Although I have no evidence to support this hypothesis, I suspect Ariadne may, in fact, be a lost Aristasian, the result of one of those rare, unfortunate accidents involving interdimensional gateways and mists. Perhaps she had been at a picnic with her mummies, and had wandered off, got on the wrong side of a gateway perhaps, and somehow ended up in Telluria, abandoned. At any rate, Ariadne is unique, and, if not Aristasian, represents a forme fruste of a very Aristasian-like Tellurian blonde.
POST-DISCHARGE RECOMMENDATIONS: I have taken the rather unusual step (for this is a decidedly unusual case) of recommending to Ariadne's employer, Miss de V., that Ariadne not return to her former position just yet, assuming instead a temporary position at the Aphrodite Cocktail Bar, as waitress or bar keep. I believe Ariadne may benefit from being around girls her own age of both sexes in a congenial (but supervised) setting. Some of the St. Yvyanne staff are frequent patronettes of the Cocktail Bar; they prevailed upon me, notwithstanding my previous negative comments, to motor up to London with them on several occasions to spend some time at the Cocktail Bar. After observing the interaction among the Cocktail Bar's patronettes, and, (professionally speaking, of course), sampling its ambiance,, I must confess that that I find it a wholesome, racinating environment, particularly for a girl like Ariadne, (provided, of course, she lays off the gibsons). The Cocktail Bar management have agreed to take on Ariadne, having been duly informed that she will require fairly close supervision in the mixing of drinks and the making of change. She shall receive wages of four pounds six shillings a week, and shall reside in Elektraspace House where meals are provided. I shall therefore have professional reasons to visit the Cocktail Bar myself, on occasion, to assess this patient's progress. It would be a real loss to the advancement of Aristasian psychiatry were I not to continue to follow this very interesting case.
DR. EDYTHE SILVERTHORNE PHYSICIAN-IN-CHIEF
OLYVYA, ELEKTRASPACE BLONDE
Some one has described Aristasia as "one long conversation". Well, Aphrodite is rather like that. If you want to catch up on the conversation so far, the Archive is the place to do it.
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