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30 April 2012


Last night, Archer brought tears of... gratitude? relief? to my eyes.

It was a mixed wave of those, and also pain, for the memories surfaced and for what I knew he must have been feeling, even though he felt it vicariously.

I knew, because I have felt it for as long as I can remember. And for as long as I can remember, I have tried to shield the people around me from that pain.

Ok, backing up.

Early in my relationship with Archer, he noticed a particular expression that I often had on my face. He thought - with good reason - that it was the face of calculation, even coldness, in the worst times, and shyness in the best times. Charitably, perhaps, he called it my "shy face." In fact, it was the face of my depression. I say that unequivocally because even at my worst - even when I was actively trying to hide my self from Archer, and his "calculating" assessment was accurate - those were the times when my depression was at its height. And, I know that at those times, there was nothing more powerful in my being or more obvious on my face, than the pain I felt. That's important, because I remember.

That is the way of a downward spiral: you can see yourself sliding, but the disgust - loathing, even - that knowledge generates only makes you slide faster.

He and I have come a very, very long way together over the past year. The journey nearly killed me, but when my spirit was closest to Hela's table, Archer brought me back - despite being justifiably furious with me at the time - by staying awake with me overnight, and talking me through until dawn. We made a plan, which included me seeking psychiatric help (thus began the saga of the VA). I would argue, though, that the plans we made for our treatment of each other were actually more important than the plan to seek better psychiatric care. I was already on (somewhat ineffective) anti-depressants, and though I needed better care, what I needed most (whether I knew it or not) was his understanding. And even before his realization last night, he knew me better, saw me more clearly, and sought greater comprehension, more than any previous person in my entire life.

There are people in my life who have wanted to understand me; my mother comes to mind. Her desire to understand could probably be equated to desperation. But the greatest effort, without ability, is fruitless. If there was anybody else who has ever had some deep insight into who I am, they never demonstrated it. There has never been real evidence of anybody else realizing the extent of my depression.

In their defense, I did hide it rather well.

I never wanted to burden any other person with the pain I felt. I never wanted them to feel what I felt.
...I would not wish this on my enemies.

So last night, when Archer called me, and explained his realization that the face he thought of as calculating was actually a sign of depression, and he explained how heartbreaking that realization was for him, it made me cry.

And still, I can't quite untangle the emotions that overcame me in that moment.

They were happy and tragic, sweet and bitter, loved and aching, and down to my bones.


The Bones and her Archer; the Archer and his Bones... I believe our souls know each other, and I wonder how many times we've met before.

28 April 2012

some days

some days aren't so great
and aren't so bad

some days
i'm just pensive
taking in
taking everything in

some days
are sadder

some days
i'm just an observer
the world goes by
to a faster tune

some days
my drum is slow

and it's not so bad
but not so great

27 April 2012


[A little knowledge is a dangerous thing...]

My art history class is coming back to haunt this blog.

That last chapter on the power of art has been gnawing at me, and I recently came across the word "iconoclast" being used to describe someone as a non-conformist. I would like to know how that word went from describing a person who destroyed art which didn't conform to religious ideology, to describing a person who is a "non-conformist."


I can kind of understand how it could have happened, I think, but it irks me. And I'd like to know for sure but that probably isn't really possible.

Ok, Art History 101: Iconoclasm was the cultural war within the then-newly-officiated Christian church, which pitted traditional artists who used iconic images in their religious artwork against the Byzantine emperor (Leo III, in 726) who banned icons in religious art. The iconophiles were those who sought to preserve the existing iconic art (or even create new pieces), and the iconoclasts were those who followed the emperor's orders to destroy all iconic works of art.

So, I can see how iconoclasts might have seen themselves as destroying (a heretical) tradition, which could then lead to "iconoclast" being construed as as person who rebels against tradition... except, that makes my brain hurt. They weren't destroying 'tradition' for the sake of being unencumbered by it - they were destroying things which didn't conform to a new, more restrictive set of rules. They were enforcing a greater conformity by destroying works of art.

Imagine if a modern ruler decided that there should be no graphic representation of Jesus, and set out to destroy every work of art that contained a graphic representation of Jesus' face. We would not call that ruler's henchmen "non-conformists" who rebelled against the restrictions of tradition, as though their work were something brave or praiseworthy in any way. We would call them... well, a lot of bad words. In my personal opinion, the destruction of art should be considered an international war crime.

The iconoclasts lost that war, by the way.

And now people are using "iconoclast" to describe themselves as non-conformists, without the destructive connotations?


I do get it, really. If you look up the word "iconoclast," most of the definitions you get say, "i·con·o·clast ( -k n -kl st ). n. 1. One who attacks and seeks to overthrow traditional or popular ideas or institutions. 2. One who destroys sacred religious images."

(So, if you pretend that definition 2 has no bearing on definition 1, then you're all set!)

Or something like that. And who - besides word geeks like me - is interested in etymology?

All that aside, the discussion of this topic got me thinking: what does art mean to pagans?

The philosophical crux of the conflict between iconophiles and iconoclasts rested on their differing theories on the power of art, and the nature of gods.

Iconoclasts opposed the use of icons because it was thought that worshippers would focus more on the image than on the deity represented (Jesus, in their case); worshippers were supposed to worship Jesus, not his picture. The use of icons in religious art, for them, was a form of idolatry.

Iconophiles thought that the deity was inseparable from the deity's image, and thus any honor given to the image, was thereby given to the deity. Again, in their case the divine being in question was Jesus.

What do we, as pagans, think?

So many of us use statues, statuettes, and any of a myriad of material representations of divine energies, that I wonder where we all might stand in this debate. I'm certain, by the way, that not one of us would stand in precisely the same spot as any other, but I wonder where we might each stand, as individuals.

Personally, I use icons to help me concentrate on whichever aspect of the divine I'm seeking to communicate with at that time. I would not worship a painting of a horse, but I might use it to help me focus on Epona, for example. And, the care I take in creating that painting could be a form of worship, so that honor might indeed be conferred to Epona. If I had a good luck charm, I might ascribe a certain amount of power to that item, which might then make me an idolater by definition. Fortunately, I don't consider idolatry inherently bad. Of course, there's a wide gulf between honoring an image and worshipping the same. Perhaps that's really the key. Intent, I think, makes all the difference.


This blog post is part of the Pagan Blog Project, and was inspired by... well, actually it was inspired by my art history class, but then it conveniently fit into this week's letter, which was I.

Also, it's important to note that my information
on iconoclasm and all related academic-y topics,
not otherwise linked to a source in this post, came from
Janson's Basic History of Western Art, Eighth edition, 2009.

26 April 2012

art lessons

Art is life. Life is art. Faith is artistic.


Remember the negative space; my highschool art teacher taught me that. He is one of the few high school teachers whose wisdom has stuck with me through the years. I can still picture him, though I don't remember his name.

The negative space is important; it's that space around the subject of your art piece. In my case, it's the space between the subject and the edges of the canvas, and I think about it in every piece I do.

Like in this one:

I really wanted to give the impression of laying down, so I put the body on the bottom, and placed the drips so they would draw the eye further down, leaving all that space above for dreams.

(Ignore the watermark, by the way. It's not on the painting.)

Negative space - space that is unfilled, but important in its emptiness.

In my life, I need more negative space. I need more unfilled space, because it's important. I need to schedule unscheduled time, time in which I can just... be. We remember, as parents, that children need unstructured play time as part of their developmental requirements, but we forget that adults, too, need to just relax sometimes. It's good for our mental health. I don't do it enough.

Today I was thinking about all the gods and goddesses I've researched, over the years. I set out, as a teenager, looking for one or two (or however many, really) deities who I thought I could really get to know. I didn't wait: I didn't leave any negative space. It wasn't until I stopped looking - overwhelmed by mundane life and unmotivated to continue my spiritual questing - that deities began showing up in my life.

Go figure.

I've always remembered my art teacher's advice when I wanted to create art. Now, I try to remember it in my daily life.


I'm gonna go ahead and count this as my "A" post for the Pagan Blog Project.
Since I got a late start 'n all.

And if you're interested, check out my other paintings. Link is on the right side of this page, just down a bit. "Art by Eala." Go ahead, I'm assuming you're curious. Plus I'm doing a giveaway this month.
Who doesn't love free paintings?!

Why yes, yes that was, in fact, a shameless plug. Thanks for noticing!

23 April 2012

update, re: medical war

I made it home, largely because I stopped by Archer's house on the way. He's the good kind of medicinal. My arm is still... off, but not painful anymore, and it's mostly awake. It's more like an ache now. I can handle that. Tomorrow I'll call my primary doc, leave a message I'm sure, and hear back from him soon-ish I hope.

I hate being broken.

medical war

I lost a battle just now.

It's my body versus me.

I'm at the VA hospital. I was supposed to get a nerve test done on my right arm, because I'm losing function in it, and basic tasks - like writing - are becoming painful. I had no idea what the test would consist of, until I got into the neurologist's office and she explained it to me.

There are two parts to the test. In the first part, she would put electrodes on my arm and shock each of the 4 (5? I don't remember) nerves to be tested, with progressively escalating intensity. The second part involved putting tiny needles in my muscles and having me flex and relax those muscles, with the needles in there.

I got as far as the fourth shock on the first nerve.

Which, by the way, was less than halfway through the series planned for the first nerve.

By the second shock, I had tears in my eyes, but I thought the pain was just 'making my eyes water.' I thought I could handle it. After the third one, I wasn't sure. Then after the fourth, I realized I was frightened, and that the fear would only intensify the pain. And I realized I couldn't do this alone. I was crying in earnest by then.

Walking out to my car, I passed a parked motorcycle and realized that by the time I can afford to buy another bike, I won't be able to ride it. By then, my hand might be useless.

It took me four and a half years to convince the Army and the VA that I needed this appointment, and six months for the VA to actually schedule it ...and I couldn't do it. I had to walk out, with the testing barely even started.

I'm probably going to have to convince them to re-schedule it. Unless I can find another way to test those nerves.

I don't even really know what, exactly, they were looking for. "Nerve function" seems so vague to me.

My fucking arm doesn't work properly. Do they really need a test for that?

I need to go home. But right now, I'm sitting in my car, in the VA parking lot, waiting for my right hand to return to the waking world so I can drive safely.


22 April 2012

Spring into Fitness Check-in...Weeks 2 & 3, last week... well. Let's just move on, shall we?

The past two weeks felt more like a month. I've been struggling with my depression, and breaking even on the better days. The new meds that the psychiatrist ordered for me haven't come yet. So the Water goal of better managing my depression has been very challenging. I have been more conscious of my diet, though. Meaning I'm trying to eat well, to better facilitate happiness over depression. I'm trying to get enough sleep, and generally doing ok with that. And overall, I'm ok with where I am in this part of the challenge. I'm taking more care to notice when I'm feeling down and to differentiate between the general feelings of depression and the feelings which are symptomatic of depression (for me, those tend to manifest as irrational fears, often associated with equally irrational fears of abandonment). The positives are this: my growing understanding of my self, and of my fears, is leading to a greater level of self-awareness, which in turn makes it easier for me to accept (read: not feel guilty over) the fact that I do get depressed. So when I'm down, I'm less likely to spiral further downward. Summarized assessment: I'm holding my own in the emotional context, and still making minute, but noticeable, progress in the cognitive context.

Fire goal (exercising)... I totally fell off the wagon on this one, this week. The weather was inhibitory for horseback riding on both the days I had scheduled to go (way too windy - makes the horses spooky, which can be dangerous). I was feeling so down and over-scheduled (bad combination), that I completely, flat-out failed to go hiking. No points for this. Better luck next week.

Earth (housekeeping, housewarming)... Week 2 was not so good. Week 3 was much better. I got so behind on housekeeping in week 2, that it made my depression worse. Which probably isn't really saying all that much. But it did bother me. So this past week, I got totally caught up on laundry and planted flowers in my front yard. I'm very pleased with myself on the flowers' behalf. I also de-scheduled two of my days this week and spent those afternoons cleaning Archer's house while he was gone. That was far more rewarding than I had expected. Which is saying quite a bit, because I had expected to enjoy doing that for him. I had been looking forward to it, even. I had expected something like this: he would notice that I had cleaned, appreciate it, and hopefully spend less time stressing out over and cleaning his house, which would hopefully mean a more relaxing weekend for him (which doesn't happen nearly enough). What happened was this: he noticed, was absolutely thrilled, and spent zero time stressing out over or cleaning his house, and had a remarkably relaxing weekend, and spent the majority of the weekend just hanging out with me. Win! I think I might make this a habit. Seriously, there were zero drawbacks.

The other bonus occurred to me just as he was leaving today, when he thanked me for taking care of him. I hadn't really thought of it in those terms, though it seems obvious in hindsight, and that's important because he has taken care of me immeasurably. Even from the most practical, mundane perspective, his help to me has been literally immeasurable - I lost count months ago. Spiritually... well, I wouldn't be capable of writing this, or anything in this blog, if not for his catalytic hand. So for him to thank me  for taking care of him... that was big, for me. I have felt so indebted to him, more in the past several months than ever; it was relieving to know that at least in some small way, I'm beginning to return the favor.

Air (prioritizing my schooling) - this is going well. The semester's nearly over, and in the past two weeks I've only missed two classes - and that was to take Child to the state testing, which was unavoidable. No skipping classes for this one, and I'm staying caught up. Also, I've increased my efforts at finding scholarships and grants so that I can actually afford the gas to get myself to school.

Spirit: I'm growing, and that's good. I'm learning every day, and coming closer to the lessons I need to learn (see here).

Mundane Goals: I fit into my skinny corsets (and shirts)!!!! WOOT! Not quite into the skinny pants yet...

20 April 2012

Hela Half-Rotted

Hela Half-Rotted, Lady of Death, Seer of Truth

She has been working on me for a long time, without my knowledge. Whether my ignorance was for the better or worse, I'm sure it was necessary. Regardless, I've come to recognize her over the past several months, and am gradually becoming her devotee as I realize just how deeply my life is connected to her.

Early in my life, I experienced something that warped my spirit, "killing" my soul as it existed and eliminating my opportunity for innocence. For much of my life, I have been half-rotted. I knew, and I didn't know. I knew I was "slightly neurotic" - I feared being alone, I had a love-hate relationship with sex (I tended to seek out sex which was more emotionally painful, masochistically), and I felt very much detached from my body in ways that seemed abnormal, even to me, though I didn't know how to change them. I was the only adult I knew who had to have a light on to sleep - and the closet door closed. I had, to put it succinctly, abandonment issues. Well, have.

My tattoos are, in a sense, a way for me to connect the important moments of my life with my body, to integrate my body with my soul. They are a way to feel the catharsis that connected me to my body that is my own, and my own in a healthy way. I don't need anyone else's participation - in a spiritual sense, even the tattooer is a facilitator, not a participant in my internal experience of the tattoo.

I had ups and downs with all these issues, predictably, but the lowest point was 2011. Pretty much the entire year. Behaviorally, the lowest point was that summer. Emotionally, I hit rock bottom on the 26th of December. (Yes, there was a specific event. No, I'm not going to go into that right now. This post is hard enough to write as it is.) I had heard of Hela at some point earlier in 2011, and was vaguely intrigued, but her lessons just didn't seem to apply to me (yeah, right). In November I started to see the connections. I started to see how my fears were twisting my reality. By the end of the year, I was experiencing a new type of soul-death: the kind that opened the doors which had always been there, hiding in the chained recesses of my heart. The kind of doors which, once opened, showed me myself.

'Truth shall set you free,' indeed.

The months since have been hard, but less hard than living the way I had been living, by far. I can honestly say that I am happier now than I have been since I was, perhaps, four years old. Maybe, this is the happiest I've ever been. Equally honestly, I could not have made it to this spiritual place without having gone through what I did.

I see the hand of Hela in my experience, an experience that saved my life.

In gratitude, I'm paying attention now. I feel her influence when I look at myself critically - not creating faults, nor shying away from those elements which I fear or dislike, but allowing myself to simply see truly who I am. With clear sight, I can accept what is good and change what is not. (Or at least I can work toward changing that which isn't good. Behaviors are easy to change; the fears which once caused those behaviors take a bit longer, I'm finding.)

I am learning to look at my half-rotted side as a lesson learned, something that is, but not something that defines me as a whole or that shapes my future.

This site has been of great value to me in my search for information about Hela.


Incidently, the "bones" nickname came a few years ago, and really gained momentum as a direct result of Archer's awesomeness. I didn't connect it with Hela until very recently. That's a different story.


This post was inspired by Hela, the Pagan Blog Project, and the letter H.

18 April 2012


Music makes my world go round.

This song reminds makes me think of Archer, and the way he has loved me from the beginning.
It took me a while to catch on.
That's putting it very nicely.


I'm feeling very quiet tonight. Still a bit down, but not at the bottom. Just, quiet.

17 April 2012


Feeling very low-energy.
Kinda just want to go to bed and sleep in tomorrow until dinner time.
Maybe until Friday.

Can't do it.
Have to completely change my plans for tomorrow so I can take my child to a test for school, which was scheduled a month ago but I completely, utterly, forgot the damn thing. So now instead of getting up at a moderately reasonable hour and going to my classes, I'll be getting up at an ungodly hour, and waking the child (who is not a morning person, either) so we can drive half an hour to town for a damn test. And I'll miss my classes.

AND, I miss Archer.

He's out of town for work. Which sucks. I mean, really sucks. The bright side is that it won't be for long. By this weekend, he'll be home and I'll be in those strong satiny arms again, looking at those ridiculously intense eyes again.

Yes, I said satiny. He has the best-feeling skin of any person I've ever touched. ...did I mention that I miss him?


It's bedtime for Bones.

16 April 2012

art history = dangerous

My online art history class is about to invade the blogosphere. You'll see why.

Each week we have to respond to a forum question. Yesterday, we were given an choice between two questions:

Choice 1: The iconoclasts changed the art of Byzantium for over a century. There are other examples of artistic expression being the victim of censorship. Can you think of any? Is art dangerous? Why do you think art is seen as having such influence?
Choice 2: Discuss the history and beauty of Islamic art and architecture. What aspects of Islamic art do you like? How does Islamic art reflect Islamic culture's knowledge of science? What's your opinion of not allowing depiction of people or animals? What does Islamic art say about Islamic culture?

Choice 1 caught my attention with "dangerous." Choice 2 offers an opportunity to answer the same banal questions this chapter would elicit in every single art 101 class ever (or 107, in this case). Guess which I chose? To be fair, I ended up answering parts of Choice 2, also.

'Can you think of any examples of artistic expression being the victim of censorship?'

...uh, duh...

But my favorite part of the question is, "is art dangerous?" Ha! Well, yeah! If you're, you know, threatened by freedom of thought.

My actual (in class) response follows:

There is no form of artistic expression which has not been subjected to censorship at some point - concurrent or not (even children's books!). Of course art is dangerous! It challenges people's conceptions, changes the way we perceive things and holds a mirror to our own humanity for better or worse. Many times, people don't care to see the 'worse' parts, or even to see a perception that contradicts there own. When those people are given an ounce of power, censorship happens. Art is seen as being influential because it is. What we see changes our neurochemistry. Maybe only infintismally, maybe too little for us to notice, but maybe not. The fears of tyrants ride in the art of the bold.

Islamic art represents, in my opinion (and among many other things that it represents), an explicit cultural recognition of the power of art over the human mind. They knew that art could change how people thought about their god, and they acted to prevent that by incorporating their artistic guidelines into the mores of their religion when their religion was still in its infancy. That's a highly effective method, especially in collectivist cultures because the welfare of the group is more highly valued than the welfare of individuals, and individuals are less likely to question rules set by the authority figures of the group. Had Islam's natal culture been more individualistic, it may not have worked.

13 April 2012

h is for horses

I love horses. I always have.

I love their energy, their smell, their soulful eyes and quiet hearts.
When I was young, I drew horses on everything. I was obsessed as only young children can be (that is, without it being labelled a mental illness).  I learned to ride on my dad's old ranch horses.

I don't know if I can really describe that feeling. The connection between the rider and the horse - the feeling of a common goal with an absolutely honest spirit, one willing to carry you along so that you might feel the wind on your face and the power under your hands - that connection is exhilarating.

Horseback riding is an effective form of self-therapy, for me. It's nearly impossible to be unhappy on horseback. (It's also good exercise, as I recently learned!)

In ways, there's a strong parallel between horseback riding and motorcycle riding, which has a similar exhilaration.

Yes, I do have a point. And yes, I'm getting there.

With all this love of horses, I haven't drawn or painted one since... well I don't know how long. Since I was very young. And, while I once had a strong interest in following a path with Epona, over time that faded into the background, obscured by the activities of more involved entities.

Last night, I completed a painting that had me stumped for several months because it was of a horse. I didn't want to even start it for the longest time. I had this vague notion that I would never be able to do justice to the spirit of a horse, and so I didn't even want to try. I don't do realism in my paintings, generally. In fact, I remember the one, single painting I have ever done that attempted a realistic feel. It was in high school. I painted a raven on a cross, foreshadowing a bloody orange sunset. The raven's feet were the most difficult part. They took days. It actually turned out rather well, in my opinion, but I just haven't gone that route again. With the painting I did last night - a pegasus - I didn't want a realistic scene (seriously, those have been done to death in the world of horse art), but I did want to capture the feel in such a way that some small doses of realism were necessary. In the end, I enjoyed the challenge.

Better yet, the end product inspired me to seek Epona again. It's time to talk to the Journeyer.

This blog post was brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project and the letter H.

12 April 2012

check-in: Spring Into Fitness, Week 1

Week 1 check-in for Spring Into Fitness

WATER {Improving how I manage my depression}
I'm tallying my Water goal as a win this week because I made very important progress in my depression management. I did not make significant progress in studying elemental water, though perhaps being more aware of my emotions counts in that direction.

Yesterday was fortuitous for my water goal: I finally had the psychiatric appointment I've been waiting for since January. The psychiatrist, as luck has it, seems to be a very likable and competent person. And, she's not condescending. That's my top pet peeve as a psychiatric patient. I hate when psychiatrists, or therapists of any degree, talk down to their patients. Don't assume that I don't know what's wrong with  me. I know what's wrong. I even know most of the methods that are used to manage it. Most of all, do not assume that having a mental illness means I'm less intelligent that you are. (I might be less intelligent, after all, but don't assume that depression equates to slow cognition.)


So anyway. What I want from a therapist is honest input from another perspective, an educated perspective which should have something of value to add to the dialog. I can get that from this particular psychiatrist.

The bad part: because this psychiatrist works within the VA behemoth, she's grossly overbooked. Picture this: in the region where I live, there's probably hundreds (a conservative estimate, I'm sure) of veterans who need psychiatric services. Guess how many psychiatrists there are? One. So my next appointment isn't until August. As Archer phrased it, "Two appointments a year is not therapeutic."

The consolation: because this psychiatrist recognizes the disservice her scheduling difficulty does to her patients, she encourages them to call her or her (one) nurse as needed, rather than waiting for appointments. Not much of a consolation, but better than nothing I suppose.

The conclusion: I won't be depending on her for therapeutic appointments. That's unfortunate because she seems to have an almost intuitive understanding of depression that goes beyond what might be learned in schooling. Perhaps she has experienced it herself. But whatever the cause of her comprehension, I think her input would indeed be valuable. On the brighter side, she was willing to tweak my medication in a way that should increase its effectiveness while also decreasing the stimulant effect of the medication (which tends to keep me up later at night than I would like).

AIR {Raising the priority of schoolwork in classes I need, but don't like}
I did well on this. I was previously behind on my anatomy homework, but I am completely caught up now, and even slightly ahead. Class itself is still ridiculously annoying (more on that later), but I'm not skipping class anymore and I'm turning in my homework ahead of time. Win!

FIRE {Getting in shape - zumba and hiking}
Meh... I'm a little disappointed in myself in this category, though on the win--fail scale, I probably broke even. I have to put zumba on hold. It makes me a little sad, but I just can't afford to buy sneakers right now. So I'm altering my plans. For exercise, I'm going to continue taking a walk or hike once a week (which I did do, this week).

I'm also going to count as exercise something I started doing about a month or two ago: horseback riding. (Wait, let me rephrase that. I learned to ride when I was 6ish, I think, and have ridden probably over 1,000 miles in my life. So I'm not new to riding. I'm just new to these particular horses and the 'exercise rider' arrangement.) I started riding to help her keep her horses in shape (and to get my horsey fix!), but I quickly realized that I hadn't worked those particular muscles in quite a while. It's funny, I never understood why people said horseback riding could be good exercise, when I was young and doing it all the time. Now that I've been away for a bit, and am only riding once or twice a week, I feel it!

The new plan, then, is this: hike/walk at least once per week, and ride at least once/week. I typically ride for about 2-3 hours. I haven't had a typical walking distance or time, but I'm going to set it at at least one hour - however far that is. If I try to set a distance, my schedule will get in the way.

EARTH {Nesting completion, cleaning a little each day}
Some good, some bad. I finished the nesting phase in most of the house. The only room left, really, is my bedroom. Which is a freaking disaster area, because much of the stuff I couldn't figure out what to do with, got dumped in my room. I have to admit, though, when I closed my bedroom door and just sat down in my nice clean house - that was awesome. That was a win for the Water goal, too!

However, because I was gone over the weekend (more on that later, too), my house is no longer clean. I've been picking up here and there, but not enough to stem the tide. I'm going to have to actually spend next Saturday morning cleaning my house.

So... mundane goals?

I didn't actually set any of those. I don't weigh myself or measure myself normally, but I do notice when my clothes shrink or grow. It's not a philosophical thing, and I'm curious about my numerical weight, but it's just not a high priority so it doesn't get done.

But it just so happens that the nurse at the VA weighed me before my psychiatric appointment yesterday. So I know that right now, I weigh 174 pounds. And the jeans I'm wearing are size 9.

I'll take those numbers and go from there. If I have a mundane goal, it's to eat healthy food, no matter how good Burger King smells from the street.

Oh, and Broom points. Yeah. I'm totally confused about that whole equation, so I'm gonna skip it. At least for now.

Thou Art Goddess Challenge
I really want to do this ritual. I really do. As soon as I have time...

the walk

I'd show you the face
of a thousand years,
if you would hold my hand.

I'd show you the heart
of a broken life,
if you could see the child.

I'll teach you the ways
of a tangled soul,
if you will listen kindly.

My voice will stray
so stay right here,
and let your touch be guiding.

Our step so light
no footprints follow;
ahead is all we need.

10 April 2012

impending psychiatric doom - uh, appointment

I have my first appointment with the VA psychiatrist tomorrow morning. I'm a little nervous and I don't know why. It has been just over four months since I first started trying to get this appointment. (The VA is so damn slow.) Now that it's finally close, I'm not looking forward to it anymore. I wish Archer could come, but he has to be at work during that time. Why can't I just email the doc the link to my blog? (Yes, that was rhetorical.)


I can't sleep.

meeting my family

My family, from my perspective, is atypical in their interactions with each other. There's a lot of political maneuvering and implied chastisement going on. Despite that, they really do love each other. It can be hard to grasp.

If you meet my biological family, you are important to me. It's symbolic, though not for traditional reasons. I'm neither proud nor ashamed of my family, but I fear they will be misunderstood. By extension, that would represent a misunderstanding of me.

I want my lovers to understand me. It's important, perhaps because I so rarely understand myself. If they understand me, maybe they won't be so hurt or angry when I do some foolish and otherwise incomprehensible thing.

Understanding my family is one of the many keys necessary to understanding me. If you don't understand my family, that lock - and every connected lock - will never open for you. Thus, your connection with me will always be limited.

So if I have enough confidence in you to offer to introduce you to my family, take it - and take it as a complement. Because I wouldn't offer if I thought you wouldn't understand.

some sexy dark and bloody writing for Magaly

This is for Magaly's 3rd blogoshpere anniversary party.

13 April 2012 is the 6th anniversary of my divorce from Husband #1, who is my child's father. In fact, the 13th of April that year, the day the divorce was finalized, was even a Friday. Just like this year.

Since that day, I've been rather fond of Friday-the-13th's.

Anyway, my entry is below, between the marks:


Agitation fluttered like an October wind through fallen leaves. Friday's moon made its wane appearance just over the high rugged horizon. Sól was long gone, having ceded the night hastily, and early. The fire's breathe subtly pervaded the witches' murmuring, steadying their hands as they reached for each other. The circle closed around the fire and the murmuring faded, replaced by a steady hum; the newly-distinctive breathe of the fire quieted, patiently.

The words came the way condensation becomes clouds; a leafy baritone coalesced above the hum, sending eager shivers down spines like drops from a warm spring rain.

My god is a Hunter
wielding his bow of stars.
He follows me
reminding me
to keep my aim true -
as true as my words,
as strong as my arms,
as fulfilling as my heart.
My god is a Hunter
wielding his bow of stars.

A thick contralto, dripping with sap, rose to join the melody, contrasting the lyrics.

My goddess is a seer
one hand in life and one hand in death.
She knows my heart and holds me
one hand in life and one hand in death.

Steeping in the fire, the low hum dispersed into thirteen contrasting sets of lyrics, fragmented and whole. They found each other, just as the moon was cresting its short journey, and united - a forest of choral implications.

Earth my body
Water my blood
Air my breathe and
Fire my spirit

The surrounding trees rustled encouragement, and the song grew.
The mist caressed the witches' shoulders like a lover offering ease.
The breeze livened their cheeks, cheering their skin.
The fire raised its breathy whisper to a hopeful harmony.

A distant caw edged ever nearer.


I may add to this later. I'm not actually a fiction writer, in practice. This was the first fictional piece I've tried since I was a small child. - And it wasn't even what I set out to write.

No, I don't know what I set out to write. I frequently venture out without a plan when I write. Bits such as this are prone to result. Only, the bits are usually not fictional.

april agenda

April is National Poetry Month.

...and National Prevention of Child Abuse Month, National Mental Health Awareness Month, National Autism Awareness Month, National Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, National Jazz Appreciation Month, ... I could go on for quite a while.
Last Sunday - you know, the 8th - was Buddha's birthday.

But anyway,

I'm going to post some of my poetry this month, interspersed with your regularly scheduled programming.

For those of you who are in the know, Yes, this is one way I'm going to continue blogging while also putting more time in on my studies. It's one of my goals, see.

Chances are, I'll find an excuse to appreciate some jazz in here, too.

Fair warning, and all.

09 April 2012


And now, in the aftermath...
wishing I could sleep

had a great night -
friends, food, family, friskiness -

...disappears into the night,
falls away as my tires roll into the dark,
putting miles between us

... miles between us

pushing the emptiness forward,
drawing out that happiness

like a poison.


I wrote the above poem. Don't steal it without giving me credit. Thanks.


I wrote that in 2008. That was as close as I ever got to describing the descent into depression that happens when I no longer need to maintain a facade of happiness. It used to happen every time. It's less common now. I'm grateful for that, but I'd like it to go away completely.

05 April 2012


I get asked about my tattoos on a weekly basis, if not daily. I have ten, so far, and most of them are easily visible in a tank top. Each one is deeply meaningful, as was the experience of getting each of them. Every tattoo I get is a marker - a memorial - of something significant on my path through life. When I get asked why I get tattooed, I usually have some sort of flippant or dismissive remark - the real explanation would be inappropriately long-ish for the standard conversation, and I dislike talking about myself all that much. Especially with people who ask questions like, "doesn't that hurt?" That might actually be a valid question, in the end, but it annoys me. It speaks of an ignorance that I can't diffuse with a short answer, on a topic that I probably wasn't interested in enough to bring up. But, the questions are probably valid. So I'll give it a try here, when I'm not annoyed.

I don't speak for every person who has tattoos. I speak only for myself, though I understand that I'm one of many tattooed people who feel this way.

Why do I get tattoos?

I get tattoos to mark significant events or guiding philosophies that shape my life, like memorials that will be with me, wherever I go, forever. Admittedly, the cost of getting a tattoo is prohibitive, and there are more than a few I plan to get for events passed, but for which I have not yet been able to afford the tattoo. So unfortunately, the memorialization of these events does not always coincide with the actual event. That's unfortunate, in my experience, because the process of getting a tattoo is an ordeal which imparts the greatest emotional satisfaction - or the greatest spiritual empowerment - when tied intimately to the related event. But, I do what I can with what I have, and I have the ability to concentrate on the relevant event during the tattooing process. It's the best I can do, sometimes. That does allow me to incorporate my spiritual connection with the tattooing process, which otherwise might be too painful to be borne. The pain, then, becomes cleansing, as though the memorial were being cauterized into my flesh. It helps me to integrate my lessons learned with my body's memory; it shapes who I am, in the way that I chose.

For me, this is the Ordeal Path realized.

Why did I get that tattoo?

Each tattoo I have, has a story all its own. Some mark events, like my time in the Army or my divorce from my child's father; some mark my connections to other people, like the one which complements the tattoo I designed for my brother many years ago; some are statements of my core ethics, like the two on my spine which symbolize my spiritual path as it first appeared to me.

I have one which I regret getting. I don't regret that I got one for that event, but I do regret the shape I chose for it: it's Ex-husband #2's name. My next tattoo will be to cover that. More than covering the old tattoo, the next one will reflect what I've learned since getting his name tattooed on me.

gender panel

Later today, I'm going to participate in a panel discussion on gender non-conformity. The host emailed me a few questions I should be prepared to answer, and I've decided to post my thoughts here.


1. How do you identify with regards to gender?
2. How did you come to that gender identity?
Have you always had the same gender identity or was it different when you were growing up? If so, when and why did it change?
4. What do you want people to know about how you would like to be treated?
5. What do you want people to know about gender identity?


I commonly name myself as genderqueer, sometimes gender fluid. For me, this means if someone were to look at me through the lens of our social norms, they would see someone who sometimes acts in ways which fulfill feminine gender roles, and sometimes acts in ways which fulfill masculine gender roles. Internally, though, I stay the same, which is basically of neutral gender. So, looking at me through the lens of social norms, I am gender fluid. I consider myself genderqueer because that label doesn't limit me to being any single gender, or even being agendered.

My sex is (obviously, if you could see me) female. I have made peace with my body, via some surgical alterations which are not obvious from the outside. In general, but not always (Really, who wouldn't want to be able to pee standing up?!), I have been happy with my body's external shape (Boobs are fun too!). "Making peace" with my body represents a compromise between my female physiology and my mind, which rebelled against much of that physiology mostly because the mechanics of being female are all so damned inconvenient.

I'll address clothing here, too, because it's true that I pass quite naturally and easily as a typical heteronormative straight woman. It doesn't hurt that my primary partner is cis-male, with very masculine features. But, that's beside the point. Clothing: I prefer clothing that fits my body. I don't care who else wears the same stuff. This means I wear mostly feminine clothing because that's what fits. These hips are not going to fit into my boyfriend's jeans. Just ain't happenin. Which is a little sad, because I love the look of men's jeans.


I came to this identity in an unusually easy way. I didn't always consider myself genderqueer because I didn't always know there was such a thing. I thought I was just a strange girl who hated being a girl. That state of being didn't really bother me that much, though. Being a girl bothered me, but being bothered by being a girl did not. Does that make sense? I elaborated on this in a previous post, here. I had no dysphoria over my gender identity, I just did whatever I could to minimize the effects of my female physiology and went on with the rest of my life. So coming to this identity was merely a matter of discovering a word for that which I had always been.


Treat me as a human, because that's what I am. Be wary of assumptions. Don't tell me I can't out-rationalize you because I'm a girl - I probably will put you to shame. Don't tell me I should want to have more children because I'm a thirty-year-old woman with "only" one child - trust me, my child is deeply loved, but was not planned. I have zero maternal instinct. Raising my child properly is the greatest challenge of my life.


Gender identity is intensely personal, and completely nonpolarized. Very few people actually fit fully into either the "girl" or the "boy" box; most people do things that are "supposed" to be done by people who fulfill the "other" gender role. The human species does very little in a binary way; we represent an entire spectrum, with the majority of us falling somewhere in the middle, whether we realize it or not. Don't worry about what people call you - just be who you want to be. The path to happiness is in authenticity, not living out someone else's expectations.

04 April 2012

the third g for gods, guns, and governance?

Or, political leanings in Pagan Americans.

I'm in what feels like an unusual position, politically speaking.

I'm all for gods and guns!

I spent too much time in the military - as an armorer, no less - to not like me some guns. They're sexy. And fun.


I want any person to be able to marry whomever they want, in any quantity. I want the government to stop trying to tell me what to do with my body, whether it has to do with reproductive rights or drug prohibition. I think welfare has the potential to create a necessary safety net for our citizens - but the way it's administered now is almost more harmful than helpful. I am deeply spiritual, but the idea of basing our government on my religious practices, or any one's, is oppositional to my beliefs. I would love to see our government fostering sustainable energy sources the way that it currently fosters non-sustainable sources.

All this might place me quite far to the left, if I weren't also a proponent of relaxed gun control laws and a strong military.

I'd like to cut our Army's presence within our own borders, and globally. I'd like to see the military spending its budget on the soldiers' training and equipment, rather than on fool's errands.

I think that every citizen should understand and be able to own firearms - not because of any silly notions that doing so might reduce crime (it doesn't), but because, as Archer phrased it, "the government should be afraid of impinging the rights of its citizens."

So where does that put me?

I'd like to see the regulations which define legal marriage contracts become completely gender- and plurality-neutral.

I'd like to see 'gender' removed as a question from every single application, for anything. It should not matter, unless you're talking to your doctor (and they should be asking for both your gender and your sex).

I'd like to know that anyone, of any spiritual or religious path, can practice their faith, and will keep their faith out of public schools.

~ I suppose that, overall, I'm more left than center. ~

Oh, and I'm pagan, so... well, maybe that doesn't indicate anything, politicially. Except that I want freedom of religion to apply to my religion, too.

And the gods I most strongly relate to, are those who agree with my political views (though they've guided me in ways which have changed my mind in the past).

But... maybe just being pagan does influence my political leanings. It seems to me that being pagan would induce a certain level of care for our planet and for other humans which might lead many pagans down a slightly more leftist path than non-pagan citizens.

I have no data to support that, though when I googled pagan politics, the top responses were all pagan political blogs which were left-leaning liberal blogs. Are there any right-wing pagans out there? Just a thought. It does seem unlikely. What do you think?

This post is brought to you by the Pagan Blog Project and the letter G.

03 April 2012

the nature of anniversaries

Question: What is a loving relationship supposed to look like?

Answer: How many shapes can the human heart be?

The types of relationships possible are as infinite as the varieties of the human soul. Therefore, the greater puzzle picture - the shape of love - has infinite possibilities, too.


What does the moment love begins look like?

Anniversaries are vague in my mind. Which event signals the beginning of a relationship? My opinions on this are flexible and varied. It's not a high priority for me. I've rarely had the opportunity to celebrate anniversaries, though I have had a few.

This one - the one year anniversary of my relationship with the Archer - will be one to celebrate. But, it feels like a beginning, not a mark of one year passing in our relationship. I feel as though everything leading up to what we are now, was preliminary. Those were the trials we had to go through, in order to finally begin our real relationship. That, of course, is worth celebrating. And if I look at it as a culmination of those trials, which were necessary for us to come to this point and which happened to take almost precisely one year, that's certainly a reason to celebrate it as an anniversary. Still, the definition of anniversary in any context that doesn't include some sort of oath on a given date, feels nebulous to me.

Of course, that's not going to stop me from celebrating every moment I have with Archer.