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30 September 2012

Archer's book review: Fifty Shades of Grey

As much as I adore Archer, we don't always agree on things (gasp! I know, right?!).

When I read the Fifty Shades trilogy, I came away with a slightly different opinion of it than he did - though that difference was mostly in the nuances and degrees.

As a work of fiction, I found it intrinsically without value. However, it has extrinsic value as a statement on our (American) popular culture. I don't believe that's a particularly kind statement, by the way. I can't speak for the trilogy's reception in other countries.

That said, I actually enjoyed the read. It's superficial, but enjoyable until you look at it in an analytic light - even if some of that enjoyment comes at the author's expense, or is rooted in a sardonic view of the culture which produced and consumes this drivel.
My primary concern by which I evaluate a work of fiction is in the character development. In these books, I found the characters to be charicaturized versions of the popular views of stereotypical women - and men - which too many suburban wives (to make use of another stereotype) idealize but can't possibly attain - they're just too human, and that gets in the way (thank goodness!). I do see the value in utilizing those popularized versions of people, though, especially in the romance genre. After all, the point of romance novels is not to imitate reality. I think the author actually knew her target audience quite well, and developed her characters in the best possible way for them to be palatable for that audience. So, while I personally didn't find the characters particularly well-developed in their own right, they were perfectly developed for the author's purpose, which was to sell books.
... This post started off as a short little introduction to Archer's review of the "Fifty Shades" trilogy, so I guess I better get back to that.
After reading the trilogy, I begged asked Archer to read the books too, so that we could discuss my ideas about them and the social commentary which inevitably followed their popularity.
The following was his response. I laughed out loud, literally.
Fifty Tons of Utter Shit

I slog through this abomination of words, the fifty shades trilogy, and despair. Never have I met so doltish and annoying a protagonist as she.  She trivializes all womanhood with every syllable of her non-existence.  

Her boyfriend is elevated to genius by her moronic perception of his logical deductions as "magical".  At one point Anastasia interprets Grey's moody, multi-tasking, and generally active intellect as possibly afflicted with "multiple personality disorder," and this in a vastly successful businessman.  MPD is a devastating mental condition, crippling in fact, insupportable in any life requiring high function, memory, control, and structured task mastery.  She is supposed to be an "educated" girl.  This little idiot wanders around as a modern day Tartuffe, looking at all in the world as though for the very first time.  The naïveté, portrayed to the point of ridiculousness.  This Grey fellow, far from mysterious, merely appears to be a passably intelligent dude, horny, melodramatic, and somewhat kinky, in a pretty vanilla kind of way as millionaires go.  

The sex scenes in this book are banal to the point of anti-tumescence, the plot is utterly predictable, the premise is profoundly unimportant, the attempted moral rationalization of its hero (all this charity bullshit throughout his busy plutocrats life) is entirely corrupt at its base.  This is a book about banal decadence, about a stupid girl who gets a rich boyfriend, who wraps her arms around opulence, grousing and bitching the whole way, so no one will think her a whore for hitting the jackpot by yanking on the one armed bandit with her uninteresting little cunt.

These "works" are the opposite of literature; they do not ennoble, they debase us.  They make all who read them more stupid by allowing such trashy sentences into their brains.  They are an insult to womankind; they turn sex into a car commercial; they contort love into a horrible game of self-deluding sexist hypocrisy where women crave domination physically, all the while conspiring to crack the masterful spirit of their chosen man, to the point where the mystery and power that initially drew them is revealed, neutered and suborned by the mystical influence of their nasty little holes.

While this little trio of dime novels is quite a dollop of shit to be sure, the inevitable series of movies will drive all art to a new nadir.   While love and sex have been well fucked into whoredom for centuries by commerce and the churches, we will now toss kink, and the works of poor Thomas Hardy into the chemical stink of pop culture.

I predict that those movies will be the rottenest things in human culture.

I predict that their rottenness will drive, by comparison, the Twilight series, up into realms of near-tolerability, feat once thought impossible by all scientists and film critics.

The only benefits of this plague will be the sharp screams and luridly publicized emergency room visits of kink inept suburbanites maiming themselves in hilarious attempts to slavishly ape this latest trend in "sexy". That, laid at the feet of its author, once society turns its fickle, hypocritical back on this dirty little fad, will be her god damned comeuppance.  She will shrink, Shatner-like into a minor self parody, an impossibly wealthy pariah, devoid of talent, to be shoveled onto the reality show dung heap of ex-celebrity. 



A bit later in the conversation, with more information gathered, Archer had this to add:

Not surprisingly, the Grey trio began its odious life as a fan-fiction afterbirth from the actual Twilight series itself. Ana and Chris actually began their papier-mâché lives as amateur copies of the ridiculous Twilight couple.  Leonard cannot even be credited with originating this monstrosity, she just copied stupid and penned idiocy in the process. Trash begat garbage.


Did I mention that Archer can be quite scathing when provoked?

26 September 2012


Don't leave me alone with my thoughts.
They hurt me.

I'll go wherever you will go.
Just don't leave me alone.
The darkness creeps in, shadowing my edges as you pull away, overtaking me when you turn.
I'm not strong enough.

I know it's wrong.
I know my thoughts shouldn't hurt.
I fight them, always.
Sometimes I win. Sometimes I'm just so tired.

Sometimes the best feeling is blank.
Nothingingness is better than being carved like Picasso's sculpture; the blade of memories knows exactly where to slice, again and again.
So many mistakes.
So many wounds inflicted by my own ignorance.
So many wounds to rip open, again and again.

I'm not lost.
I know what's happening here.
Some days I can corner it, cage it in a little box in the bottom of my mind.
Some days I'm too dizzy and I can't find the key.

I need a little help.
Just hold me up.
Don't leave me alone.


Some days, I just need to write for catharsis - just get it out, out of my head so it will stop hounding me, stop the darkness from swallowing me.

[Italicized lines from "Wherever you will go" by The Calling.]

25 September 2012

s is for Sretya

A little over a year ago, I began a new spiritual path with the goddess Sretya. I didn't know much about her at the time. I still don't feel as though I know enough. There's precious little information available online, and less in texts which are available in English, and on amazon. She's one who has been relegated to the dreaded repeating paragraph, much-copied but never cited:

(doh-lya | sret-yah | srech-ah) goddess of good fortune and luck, bringer of joy and happyness, assistant of the household and welfare goddess Makosh. Sryashta is represented as a gold-curled maiden, who, just like Makosh, often spins golden yarn. Inside it she weaves people's fate or better - the good parts of their fate. Often Sryashta travells around the world and can appear before everybody - once as a girl, once as a boy. She would request a small favour, ask this or that and, if the man is good, helpful and respectful, she gives him good luck. If the man is peppery, unobliging or say bad words for gods, Sryashta turns her face off him and happiness hever comes to such person. Dolya is the East-Slavic variant of South-Slavic Sryashta."

That's one of the more robust versions, which I found here

More commonly, this is the precise paragraph I found: 

"Sreća (English: happiness, luck, also spelled Sretya, pronounced "srech-ah") is a Serbian goddess of fate.
She spins the thread of life, as an assistant to the great Goddess Makosh. Her role is the same as the Slavic Goddess Dolya, bringing luck to those Makosh smiles upon, except that she was also responsible for protecting the flocks and fields of farmers. Her name is also seen as Sreca, Sretja, and Sretya."

Yep, good ol' Wikipedia. At least that one cited its source... which didn't have any additional information, nor did it give any indication of its source(s). 

Le sigh.

At times, she seems to be conflated with a Domovoi...

Note where this blogger said Sretya (Dolya) lives. 

"Dolya (pronounced DOLE-yah) is the Slavic Goddess of luck. She is said to live behind the stove in the family home. When she is happy, she appears as a beautiful young maiden and bestows good luck on all the inhabitants of the house." 

To compare

The protector of the house. Every home had its own domovoe who dwelled behind the oven and who might abandon the house if he was not properly honored. The Domovois protected not only the human inhabitants of the house but their herds and household animals as well."

I have to wonder, after seeing these, if Sretya wasn't confused with Domovoi in both where she lived (behind the stove seems like a very unlikely place for such a mobile and happy goddess) and in her domain - note the barely-paraphrased wording describing her protection of farmers' production as repeated in the Domovoi description. 


Each of these, trying vainly to be a primary source, fails to cite their sources in any capacity. I'm not even necessarily looking for academic citations, just something  to indicate their legitimacy; even "my grandma told me so" would work. 


So here's a little of my own UPG/semi-educated guesses: 

Sretya is life - the nurturing side of fate. She is warm as a sunny day, but though endlessly kind, she does not suffer fools. Her mercy is in leaving, which she will do with a smile on her face, pity in her heart, and a song on her lips. 

She's difficult for me to work with, primarily due to my difficulties with negative thoughts. She's there, smiling at me, but I have trouble letting go of those things which keep me from being happy, and thereby keep me from fully embracing life. Obviously, it's worth the work for me to keep trying. 

I haven't yet found any literature referencing any sort of animal connections with her, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if she were fond of otters, dogs, or songbirds. 

22 September 2012

touching Archer

Just the other day, I told my child that sometimes, when you can't think of what to write, the best thing to do is to start talking. Then write down whatever you say. I'm taking my own advice, as I type this, right now.


Archer isn't here - but he's always here, his presence is palpable in my heart.
Still, I miss him, and I wish he were home. He has been gone so much lately (for work) that even when he's home, safe and sound in his house, less than 30 miles away from mine, I miss him. Suddenly, 30 miles seems like a very long way.

Time is precious; he always tells me that. His time is so precious, because he rarely spends it on the things he actually wants to spend it on. He would explain it differently, I know. That's my perspective, not his.

I'm coming to realize how precious touch is.

I know, from an academic standpoint, that touch is crucial to the development of infants and children, and for the well-being of people in all age groups. There are enough studies on that to fill a metric ton with citations alone.

Lately, I'm seeing a new aspect of the importance of touch in my own life, and specifically in my relationship with Archer. We've seen each other so little this month; he's been gone so much that I'm realizing how much I depend on being able to touch him. It's actually effecting my cognitive functioning. The other night, I was shopping for the birthday party after my class, and I was so fucking spaced out that I felt high, in a not-good way. It wasn't lack of sleep, or any other affect of physical lack/whatever. I just don't function well without him. That was an extreme example, but the echoes of that same sensation, that same slack in my cognition, have been present to varying degrees during each of his more recent trips. The extreme example just brought that to my attention.

This specific aspect of my depression - the inability to string two thoughts together - is usually an aspect dependent on my mood actually dropping quite low, and that drop happening in conjunction with some sort of panic or fear. It's as though this aspect is happening independently of the noticeable mood drop/fear increase which usually seem to cause it. Perhaps I'm wrong though - perhaps the mood drop is there, at least, and I'm just not acknowledging it. There's a certain emptiness that's not directly tied to his absence. It's the same flavor of emptiness that I've used in the past, to tell myself that the persistently sad feelings I had, were unimportant. As if ignoring them would make them go away. I suppose I thought it did work that way, to an extent. I'm not sure what to do with this information. I need to think about it some more, get Archer's opinion.


He comes home the day after tomorrow.
He doesn't need to be picked up,
but I'm meeting him at the airport anyway.
I need him.

19 September 2012

reading the cards

Thinking about something that happened last May... My friend the wandering wisewoman read my cards for me - with my own cards, with which she had zero familiarity. The experience forced me to change my approach to card reading, for the better.

She literally read  the cards, looking into them instead of at them; no recall, just the message itself in the art. She is all intuition, no memorization.

I've always been concerned with remembering what each card is "supposed" to mean, and had missed the point - that each card will tell you what it wants you to know, if you just pay attention.

My approach to card reading has changed, but so has my approach to spirituality. I'm far less worried, these days, about what the stories and lore say about my deities. I'm more prone to listening to the deities themselves. I'm more likely to listen to my own wisdom, as well.

The result? I'm working my way toward Happier.

18 September 2012


Another VA appointment.

I've noticed that everytime I have to go to the Tucson VA, I end up sitting in the parking lot for at least ten minutes after I leave, just waiting for my nerves to calm enough for me to drive. Maybe it's because they always want to draw blood. Fucking leeches.

13 September 2012


It's National Suicide Prevention Week.

Did you know that? I didn't, until today.
Somebody mentioned it in one of my psychology classes.


I fear suicide.

For me, it isn't something that's implausible, or something that 'only happens to other people,' and that makes it a very scary thing. I don't want to die. The thing about suicidal ideation that most people don't get, is that it doesn't necessarily go hand in hand with actually wanting to die. It can, I suppose, but it doesn't always. I know, because like I said, I don't want to die. But sometimes, the impulse is very, very strong.

As I experience it, suicidal ideation not a thought or a choice; it's not a willful desire for death. Instead, it's a primal urge or an impulse that must be controlled before it can be acted upon, all while I know that my control is imperfect, and I'm always afraid of losing the race.

I don't know how to make that make sense to anybody who hasn't experienced it.

Tonight I was looking at various online sources to get an idea of general pagan viewpoints on suicide. I was disappointed by what I found; but then, I usually am in topics that require sensitivity to handle appropriately. It seems pagans are human, after all.

I found what I often find in comments, editorials, and other opinion pieces: a lot of catch phrases, and not a lot of thought. Suicide is one of those topics we humans don't like to dwell on. So we don't give it much honest thought, even those of us who venture out to shape our own religions. Too frequently, judgement was being passed down on those who "choose suicide over coping with live's difficulties," (I am not going to link or credit that quote. Cope with it.) as though suicide were a choice, and not a symptom of a terminal illness.

Depression kills.

That should be a tag line, somewhere. Maybe then people would start realizing that mental illnesses (not just depression or other suicide-related illnesses) are in fact illnesses. Nobody chooses to be mentally ill.

I feel like this should be shared

I wonder if people would give suicide more thought, if they considered it part of an illness, rather than a choice. I wonder, if those people were pagans, what they would decide.


There have been four times in my life, that I can recall off the top of my head, during which the suicidal ideation was so strong that I felt the need to close myself away from anything dangerous; I didn't trust myself. There is nothing more frightening, than yourself.

There have been times between then and now, and between each of these events, during which the ideation was very strong, but these were the worst:

The first time, I was living with my step-mother. My father was there too, but he wasn't very involved. My step-mother was verbally abusive. I was a teenager, still unable to cope with the sexual abuse I had experienced as a child, and unable to cope with my step-mother. I spent those four years, particularly the last two, locked in my bedroom, to keep her out. During the worst of those times, I found ways to inflict pain on myself, and eased the ideations with that.

The second time, my child had been kidnapped by their paternal grandparents, and the police were unable to help. My divorce wasn't final, and the grandparents lied, saying that my child's father was living with them. Because my child was ostensibly in the care of the father, there was nothing technically illegal about it. Except, the father was living in a homeless shelter 75 miles away, when he had shelter at all. When the helplessness of the situation hit me, along with the realization that I had been betrayed by the grandparents (whom I had trusted, previously), I crumbled. I had nothing left. More than death, I wanted pain - physical pain to match the chaos in my head. I wanted the kind of pain that would end my life. The most lethal thing I had then was my truck. My truck, which wouldn't start. That truck saved my life. With the keys still in my hand, I began shaking with fear. I realized what I intended, and it scared the shit out of me. Ultimately, I didn't want to die. I stumbled back into my apartment, threw the keys behind the couch, and locked myself in my bedroom. Just like old times.
[I did, after a long court battle, get my child back.]

The third time was in the summer of last year. I had done something horrible; I had lied to Archer about another person I was dating. He was angry, and I didn't understand why I had done it. I was disgusted with myself, and he was furious, wounded, and vicious. Even then, in the early and tentative months of our relationship, I knew that losing my relationship with him would be the worst mistake of my life (and yes, I have made many, many mistakes). I was, perhaps, as low as I had been at that point in my life. It was worse, knowing that I was the cause of all our misery. I had recently been given a revolver (ironically - if this were literature - it was a gift from the person I had lied about, to Archer). I looked at that gun, laying there on my nightstand, and I began shaking from head to toe. My thoughts went into a chaotic tailspin; I was gibbering, internally. The urge to use that gun was almost overwhelming. I ran from it. I couldn't even pick it up to hide it from myself. I ran outside and sat huddled on my doorstep, Archer still yelling into the phone. Eventually, I went inside; eventually I hid the gun. And that day, Archer and I came to a somewhat better understanding of each other.

The fourth time was last Christmas. Specifically, the day after, when all the things I had held back from Archer came around to haunt me. That's putting it very mildly, but I don't know how to say it accurately because my memories shy away from the event. Essentially, Archer was, again, justifiably angry with me because I had never been completely forthright with him, and in the course of his attack, I was forced to realize how fucked up I was, really. That was the event that forced me to finally face the reality of the abuse I had experienced as a child, and all the implications of that abuse, all the effects it had on my life and my behavior. And in that moment, when I finally faced those things, I believed that my psychosis had caused me to sabotage the best chance I had ever been, or would ever be, given to experience a real relationship, with someone who actually loved me. The full force of those two aspects of my epiphany (if you will) shook me completely. I believed my relationship with Archer was over. Not only had I sabotaged it, but he was rightly going to end it. At the time, I thought that if he didn't, I would - because I could not face the possibility that I might hurt him again. That horrified me.

I was frightened, then, to tell Archer that I was afraid I would kill myself. I was afraid of how it would come across. He was already angry with me; surely saying I was suicidal would sound like an attention-seeking, or "poor me" technique - that was how my step-mother viewed my depression. But in that moment, I was more afraid of keeping information from him, any information. So I told him. At first he did get more angry, but then he stayed on the phone with me all night, just to make sure I was ok, and he kept track of my state until I could see a doctor.

I had mixed feelings about telling him, even after I did so. I was sure it would look bad, like I was trying to divert attention away from my wrong-doings. I was afraid it would look manipulative. It felt like a catch-22. It still does. Archer and I are still together, though, so perhaps that was one of some right decisions. Trust was hard to come by, for both of us, but we did find it, when we found our understanding of each other.


And I wish we lived in a time and place in which admitting to having suicidal ideations, for whatever reason, were not viewed as 'playing the victim,' attention-seeking, or manipulation of any sort.


I don't profess to know what if the souls whose bodies die from disease experience different afterlives than those whose bodies die from other causes. I doubt it, but I don't know. If anything, I think of those who have died of suicide as those who have lost the most critical race of this incarnation, and I empathize, knowing I could be one of them.


For more empirical information, check out this site:

05 September 2012

one heart

I am your Archer -
I am your Bones -
I will guide you true,
I will steel your stance.

I am your arrow -
I am your vision -
I will see your heart,
I will help you dance.

04 September 2012

my otter story

On Sunday, just a couple days ago, I took my child to the zoo. It was a ridiculously hot day, and most of the animals were napping in the shade or pools of water. A few of the more desert-inclined animals were moving around, but one animal was especially active: an African Spotted Necked Otter was playing in the water, looking for all the world as though he were having the time of his life. He had a log-shaped slide (it was actually quite a good replica of a hollowed-out log) and would climb up inside it, slide back into the water, barrel roll across his pond and come back and do it again. His companion, another otter, was dozing in a shady spot on land, but he was clearly enjoying being.

I felt a connection like a message being sent.

Life is what it is; revel in it, learn from it, don't let it get you down. Be.

Point taken.

q is for quixotic

quixotic - foolishly, impractically, idealistic

Yep, that's me.


I remember my mother telling me once, when I was 17 and we were in the middle of an argument, that I was an idealist. She said it as though it were a great shock to her, not necessarily a bad thing, just very surprising. I retorted that I was a realist, and not prone to cynical fantasies or damaging stereotypes. The argument was probably about one of my boyfriends. Or maybe it was about her boyfriends. I really don't remember. We both had poor taste, in very different ways.

I don't know whether I've really retained any of that certainty I had then in my own perception of reality. Some, perhaps, but not all. I doubt it would be for the best, if I had retained it all. I'd like to think that the certainty I feel is warranted. At times, I believe it is.

Just last night - or maybe it was the night before - Archer commented on my tendency to focus on the 'now' as opposed to a more broad way of thinking. I believe that 'now' is all we can really be certain of; the past is subect to interpretation and critically faulty memories, while the future isn't written. And within that narrow window of 'now' I believe we can only be truly certain of our own thoughts and perceptions, short those rare moments of complete trust, which afterall isn't truly proven. That leaves us with a rather small bit of certainty.

And yet, I'm more optimistic than not. I don't feel the need to be certain of reality, because I feel that we, as a species, are such a mixed bag - sometimes miraculously generous, sometimes horribly tragic - that it doesn't make sense to see only one side of us or the other. Truly, we cannot know any soul so well as our own, and the farther the relation the less we know. Thus we cannot truly comprehend what another soul experiences, or know whether most people are 'good' or 'bad'. But we know that if we do good things, we attract good juju, and vice versa.

So as long as I'm working on being a good person, I think my faith in a more idealistic experience of reality isn't so misplaced afterall.

It's possible that my perception of the world makes me quixotic. I'm ok with that. It's a good path to be on.


These are new thoughts; I don't think I've really given this aspect of myself serious thought since that argument with my mother, 14 years ago.

This line of thinking was inspired by an otter. More on that later.