Monthly Challenges - Comments on submissions

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Monthly Challenges - Comments on submissions

Post by 222333 » Sat Jun 25, 2016 4:29 am

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Re: Monthly Challenges - Comments on submissions

Post by cindyrae77 » Sat Jun 25, 2016 7:23 pm

I would very much like it if Judi did a follow up fic to the one she has done in June. It was a great re-telling of the moment in the cave. Now we need more! How about it, Judi? Can I bribe your muse about "The Truth?" What comes after "Not exactly?' (And where can we fit it in, in another challenge?)- smile.

With love,

Cindy

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Cindy's "The price of tea in Chinatown" for the June 2016 Challenge

Post by 222333 » Mon Jun 27, 2016 3:12 am

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I want to say how impressed I was by Cindy's "The price of tea in Chinatown".
I know, it's not considered politically correct to single out a story, but I don't care, because I think each of us have a personal way of enjoying the Dream which is B&B, each of us have different favorite approaches and themes. I was thrilled to read a wonderful rendition of my own favorite themes in that story. I love B&B because it's a tale of human growth from an individual and from a relationship point of view. In Cindy's story "nothing" happens, and everything happens. The tea is just a stepping stone to the heart of what is B&B for me. The conversation, the thoughts, the dialogues - both the inner and the spoken ones - are wonderfully "right", plausible, even probable. They perfectly fit the characters and their journey to becoming what they are meant to be. Vincent is "my" Vincent, strong and aware of the value both of himself and of his world, and at the same time in awe at what he has met, humble enough to recognize it as precious and confident enough to be willing to pursue it. Catherine is credible - uncertain and determined, old and new, tentative and resolute - like someone who's trying to compose the pieces of her shattered life again, willing to make a better picture out of them, savoring the challenge and the new taste of unknown and inspiring goals.
Cindy is an excellent writer - and her objective excellent writing is especially to my own taste, short, dry, deep - so that those themes I love are displayed beautifully, each new line of her story a step closer to reaching that elusive "something" that is the B&B magic.
I had already found this special taste which I love in that other story of hers, "Notes", for the November Monthly Challenge - but this time it's even better, as in Notes we could enjoy a glimpse of Catherine's thoughts only, while this time we have the privilege of savoring the feelings of both lovers.
Thank you, Cindy, not only as BatBland owner, but as B&B fan.

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Re: Monthly Challenges - Comments on submissions

Post by cindyrae77 » Mon Jun 27, 2016 8:48 am

Dear Sobi,

Thank you very much for your kind praise.

For me, we see Catherine in the show, and we know the huge thing that changed her. (She was attacked, and rescued by Vincent.) But there are so many very intriguing pieces to her puzzle, and much that had to change for her, internally. (Externally, there's the scar she keeps, and the change in her job, but other than that, she wears the same clothes and lives in the same apartment, enjoys the finer things in life, and so forth.) The one clue we get in the pilot is that she says 'it's hard,' and we know from that same pilot when she's with Vincent, that she ISN'T sure if she has the strength, at first.

Cathy is wealthy. (Where the wealthy and powerful rule,) and wealthy people have a particular relationship with things like money and debt. (Debt is to be leveraged or repaid swiftly, but never ignored.) It's a mantra and system of thinking she would have been raised with. Pay what you owe. Pay extra, if you must, to avoid any indication of obligation on your part. Charles Chandler's little girl has a certain relationship with that kind of thinking.

Vincent is poor, yet doesn't view himself as such, and his life itself is a testament to the giving of others. He lives thanks to a combination of charity and compassion. As I have him tell her, those Below can't think in terms of 'payment' or 'debt' or 'owing.' (The strong would always be owed by the weak, the more able by the less able.) People who feel constantly in debt lose their sense of personal value. (How can I be worthwhile if I owe so much?) So it's not a metric he uses, for himself.

If Cathy is going to change, inside, there have to be scenes where we get to see her do that. That's what "Tea in Chinatown" was all about, for me, (Or at least what I tried to make it be about, and your kind praise lets me know I at least succeeded a little.) The show gave us precious few scenes where Cathy has an "Ah-ha!" moment. (We know she's compassionate, we see it with Eve at the party in the pilot.) But just as she realizes she and Vincent will need to learn to measure 'time in another way,' I think Cathy must have had a moment where she realized that she had to learn to measure 'value' in another way, too. Since your writing prompt was 'What happens right after the pilot, when do they next meet?" I thought that was a GREAT time to start showing our two characters enjoying (or enduring) that process. They're not 'steady' with each other, yet. But they're learning, and they're moving steadily TOWARD each other, if you get me.

Before Vincent reappeared on Cathy's balcony, I don't think she 'worried' about repaying him directly for saving her life, thanks to the incredible situation in which he lives. She's grateful, yes. But I don't think she's considering dropping a large check down a manhole cover.

But after he comes to the balcony, and then after he saves her, after she's aware that there is a bond between them... wait a minute. 'Don't I owe this man, these people, something?' Of course she does. The scene with Kipper always stuck in my mind. (That he was going to fetch tea, but 'it's going to cost you,' he tells Vincent.)

"What was the price of your cup of tea, Cathy?" It's the question that hangs over the whole piece, for her.

"You can't pay it back. You can't even think of it as a debt," comes the answer.

(Below, Winslow swings a huge sledgehammer while older, frailer Mary acts as midwife and cares for children. Which of them has more value? I don't know, but I know if they start keeping score over it, their community is likely doomed.) And for Vincent, who knows his very survival depends on the ideals of his home, (Help when you can, both in the accepting and the giving of it,) he can't hold with notions of 'you owe us' or he'd never feel clear of the debt, he'd have no self worth. "We all help each other" is his mantra, and how much 'value' does he think he has because of it? A great deal, yes?

This started out kind of simple, (and I didn't plan that it would go exactly where it did,) but it kind of snowballed on me. I hope I didn't try to do too much with it, even as I'm glad it made me 'look' and made me 'try.'

I had to have Cathy remember the exchange between Kipper and Vincent, (a liberty on my part, but a possibility). So that all the rest could ensue, and Vincent could make her aware of those two 'rules' everyone Below lives by. And maybe even tell her why those are the rules, a bit.

I tweaked canon a little and had her meet Wong (without Lin) before China Moon. He seemed the natural 'go to' for this sort of thing, since he's preparing something for Vincent to take Below, and in China, tea really is viewed as a sort of 'medicine.' (I had to read up. A certain brand is even given to a patient a few weeks before a major surgery, to promote healing.) So I figured Cathy's tea is just a bit exceptional, and Cathy has a date with trying to figure out how much she owes for it. As with everything, the more I looked and learned (about tea, of all things) the more the notion of writing all this out seemed natural. It's so silly where our inspirations come from, sometimes.

In the world Above, deeds and objects are paid for with money. Below, kindness and helpfulness are returned with, well, kindness and helpfulness. Our two characters have been raised with different 'currencies,' and the notion of 'value' ends up as subjective as notions about 'beauty' or 'time.'

(chuckling.) Oh. And she got a phoenix pin. Just because. Just because she's Cathy rising up from what she used to be, and a phoenix is a nice way to represent that.

Thank you very much for your kind words. As always, 'playing' in the tunnels is the best kind of play, for me. I hope to be able to do more worthwhile things in the future. The inspiration you and others give me cannot be measured, or said 'thank you' for, enough.

Maybe I, too, need to learn to measure certain things another way. (smile) -Oh, the lessons I am learning as I explore BATB.-

Hugs as ever,

Cindy

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