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23 August 2013


Someone asked me an unexpectedly great question the other day: 'what symbols are you drawn to (in your spiritual path)?' It's unexpectedly great because it seems like an easy, superficial sort of question until you think about it. Then you realize it's not so simple, or so superficial. Or at least I did. Anyway, here's my response.


So, ten years ago... holy shit, no, more like 20 years ago - good gods I'm getting old... when I first started on the pagan path, I would have said (immediately and without a lot of thought, cuz that's how I rolled then) that I *totally* was drawn to the pentacle and pentagram. Mostly because I started out as a Wiccan, and they - especially the pentacle - were what I knew of as the "Symbols Of Wicca," much as the cross is a Symbol Of Christianity. I thought about is that way - caps and all - because I thought such things were Really Important.

In hindsight - and this is totally a tangent, btw - I think that sort of thinking was/is part of the cognitive legacy of having been a Christian for the first 12 years of my life. The put Caps on a lot of their Ideas. Know what I mean? Anyway, the more I broke with the underpinnings of Christian theology, the farther I got from that sort of thinking. 

Hmmm... the following will make a lot more sense if you know this about me: I'm on a shamanic/Heathen path. I am not Wiccan.

These days, I pick symbols that have personal meaning... which is probably about as clear as mud. So, let me give you an example: Ravens are strongly symbolic to me, and I'm very close to them in the sense that they are a totem animal for me. (There's a kinda long-ish story behind that, which I'd be happy to tell you, but it's totally another tangent so for now I'll just move on.) As a totemic animal, I see them as symbols but not *just* symbols; I have to incorporate all the *real* things about them, too, in order to work with them effectively.

When I work with my gods (I'm a polytheist), I use symbols that are meaningful to them. My 'patron goddess' - if you will - is Hel (aka Hela), so skulls/bones/dead things, but also signs of new life and transition like the remains of bird eggs and nests, or the shed skin of a snake, are all symbols of her. Working with Odin, I use runes, Ravens, Horses, or maybe even a bit of Jack Kerouac's writing... all depends on how I'm approaching him. So the symbols I am drawn to in my work with the gods are dependent on which god I'm working with, and what's important to both me and that god.

19 August 2013

bad days

Just start writing. Just start writing... if I just start writing, then something will have to be said, right? Something will appear on the page. The screen, whatever. Something will be said. Even if I can't predict what it'll be. Something.

So I'll just start writing.
And writing... But what if nothing's said? What if I can't think of anything to write? Then I'll just keep writing.


I need a job. A real job, that can get me through the next year. But not just get me through. I want to be able to drive to the next town to see my boyfriend without asking him for gas money. I'm sick of it.

- I wrote that yesterday morning. It was somewhat prophetic.


What a miserable fucking day. 

I was down yesterday, no doubt. I got an email right before bed the night before, from my landlord, saying my dogs had been causing problems and he was tired of hearing about it. I hadn't heard about it at all, so I didn't know what was being said. I went to sleep - eventually - worried, stressing over the unknown. I had weird, unhappy but not-nightmarish dreams. In the morning I got the whole story about my dogs. 

Just one dog, really: my boxer, Roxy. She's a cranky old bitch, to be perfectly honest. When I leave the house she has to be locked in her crate. Otherwise, she'll get into the trash. If she were to get outside unsupervised, she'd wait on the front porch until a dog smaller than her shows up, then shover her way out the gate to go all alpha-dog on the poor thing. Other than that, there isn't much in life that inspires her to get off her butt. She's a great cuddler, if you don't mind 70 pounds of dog in your lap. Well, a couple weeks ago, she got out. My son had gone into the house while I was at work, let the dogs out of their crate, then left the house, leaving the front door wide open. So Roxy got out. And when the neighbor came out with their little terrier, she terrorized them. Because she's a bitch. And I just found out about all this yesterday morning. There was much apologetic-emailing done. I'm trying to set up a face-to-face meeting so I can apologize in person. Bah.

BUT yesterday was going to be a great day! Because I was picking Archer up from the airport in the afternoon, and DAMMIT I MISSED HIM. So I drove to the next town, where he lives and where I was dropping off my son to be babysat, did the dropping off of the son, drove to Archer's house to pick up his vehicle (because he much prefers to ride in his own when he gets home from any trip, and my truck didn't have the gas to get to the airport, which is about 90 miles away)... and realized that I'd left his keys at my house, 30 miles in the wrong direction. I had to drive all the way back to my house, then back to his, before I could drive to the airport. Which, of course, made me late to pick him up from the airport.

I am so very, very sick of the way my brain doesn't function. 

And when Archer was so kind to me about the whole thing... I lost it. Cried like a baby. Well, maybe not like a baby. I managed to avoid actually blubbering. Barely. I don't know what it was... some sort of mix of relief (that he wasn't yelling at me), guilt (because I fucked up again), and ... something painful that told me he deserved better treatment from me.  Better planning on my part. 

And when he said (nicely) that he thought it would help me if I planned things ahead better than I do, it was another stab; I knew that already - why can't I just do it? What is so wrong with me, I thought, that I can't put that good advice to use?

I took him home and got back into my own truck, then went to pick up my son. As I was waiting for him to find his ever-missing sock at the sitter's house, I tried to think about what I was doing for the rest of the week. What would I need? The extra trip between towns to get Archer's keys from my house had burned through my gas, and I had no cash. This meant I would have to ask him for some. So I did. I called him back and asked him for gas money, the same evening I was late picking him up from the airport. Because I'm classy like that. FML. More guilt, and... more kindness from Archer. Who, by the way, is far better known for his temper than his patience. 

The moral of yesterday's story: Archer loves me - he isn't going anywhere, despite my... issues. And that's how I was able to sleep last night without tossing and turning. 

I found this on facebook.

17 August 2013

I did not die.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glimpse on the snow.
I am the sunlight on refined grain
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awake in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quick birds in circled flight
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there, I did not die.
- Mary Elizabeth Frye, 1932

Hel has held my hand, and led me back again. I'm more alive than ever; I hadn't known how dead I was. Half-rotted, half-dead; that part's gone now. Stepping back, now, into a life I've never led. It's a little disorienting.

Today I painted. It felt so good, I didn't want to stop. I wanted to get really into it, but I was wearing my nice clothes - meaning, the ones that don't yet have paint on them (well, now they do, but they didn't when I started, dammit). I put the paintings on the wall of the gallery next to my older paintings. They looked disoriented, too.

I smiled on my way home from the gallery. I smiled all the way.

14 August 2013

lynch mobs for the mentally ill

It happens all the time. Someone breaks the social contract, and the mobs descend like mad dogs, ready to run 'em outta town. Sometimes, they literally want them out of town. Sometimes, the result is just social ostracization. Either way, that person is outta here.

A man camps out on the mountain near my town, on BLM land that's never patrolled. He comes into town, asking for work to feed his wife and kid, who - if you ask him - are on their way to Bolivia. Or they're waiting in El Paso for him to send money. Or they're just around the bend. It doesn't matter: he believes everything he says, even the things he screams. No matter that he's screaming into cars as they pause at the stop sign where he stands. People in town share pictures with each other on Facebook - his piles of trash near where he camps, his dead dog who's still around - plenty of speculation about how the dog died. No food, no water, tied to a tree - at least that's what they say. It might be true. In the picture, the dog has been dead for a long time, a slow meal for scavengers. It's fucking horrifying. Others report being attacked by him. Stabbed, even. Have they called the police? No clear answers on that one.

The mob formed online. Someone wanted to write a petition to get him removed from town. Others didn't care how it happened, they just wanted him out. 'He's a danger - get him out of our town!' No thought for his humanity; no thought for his free will or right to self-determination; no thought, even, for the next town in his path.

I said, "A petition against what? To do what? I get that he's a danger/etc, but what exactly is a petition supposed to do? Run him out of town with its 'official paper'-ness? I don't know the guy, but he doesn't sound like his mental faculties are all there. How about finding out what we can do to get him the help he seems to need?"

Another individual and I found the information on how to get the man help - to have him undergo mental health screening and potentially be hospitalized either voluntarily or by court order; I asked if anyone would be willing to write a statement about the man's behavior. They wouldn't have to do anything else. I'd submit the application for them. So far, silence. 

It was hellfire and brimstone until someone stepped up to offer another solution, a solution that recognizes the man's humanity and his affliction. Mental illness and the behaviors is causes are not personality traits. Mental illness is an illness, which means it can potentially be treated. There are so many physical ailments which alter behavior, but we excuse those. The next step is to recognize the physical nature of mental illness, and treat our ill accordingly. 

living happy

I slept so well last night. It was awesome. I didn't even mind waking up, because I felt so good.
I haven't cleared off my nightstand yet. Who has time to do these things? But I did get a good workout in yesterday evening, and at bedtime I turned off my gadgets and my light, and just laid down. And went to sleep.

Ha! Take THAT, insomnia! Consider your ass kicked!

You gotta understand, this is a whole lifestyle change for me. Without Major Depression riding me into the ground, I can live my life the way I've always wanted to... except that I've never been able to before, so I don't actually have any of the groundwork done. I have all the wrong habits, and I'm trying to change that. For years, I've been starting my day by fighting tooth and nail with myself to get out of bed, then dragging ass until, oh, 2pm, barely getting anything done.

This morning, I woke up smiling and gave my bouncing (literally) boy a big hug and some breakfast. Then I drove us over to the park so we could ride our bikes (he's not quite ready, in his opinion, for riding around town just yet). It was a short ride because I didn't have much time before I had to get ready for work.
That's HUGE. Before, I wouldn't have taken him to the park unless we had hours to spend; the short amount of time we had would have been too big an obstacle for my depression-ravaged brain. Today, I knew I had to just do it. And I was excited to do it. We're going again this evening, for a bit longer.
Life is good.

13 August 2013

attack of the Insomnia!

I had a month of no insomnia after my surgery. Then I got to spend a night with Archer (squeeeeeeeee!), and now I can't sleep without him. The beginnings of finding pleasure in having my bed to myself have been usurped; I know, again, that there's something better in this world. It's a lot harder to sleep without him, after sleeping with him.

I'm not going down without a fight, though.
I have habits that keep me an insomniac (I had lots of time to think about this at 3am this morning), like reading in bed and all the distractions of my cluttered nightstand. I'm going to clear off my nightstand today. Tonight I'll do my reading in a chair, or maybe on the couch, and turn off my internet - endless potential distractions, there - before going to bed. I'm thinking about doing a bedtime meditation, too, if I can figure one out.
Let's see if that works. 

12 August 2013

Dolly (aka, Bones' version of the Little Match Girl)

She's small, a crone in reverse. Hunger has thinned her cheeks too early. Her eyes shine through, bits of burnished gold in her red-dirt face. She blends in, almost, with the stone wall standing beside her. The recess of the church doors sheltered her from the wind, but she was already covered in the dust it carried, and the crowds of people were too far away. Their gloved hands hold light cloaks around their faces, their eyes clench tight and downward and their legs swing fast; wind and dust herd them homeward.
The little girl clutches a scrap of fabric and long-gone stuffing.
"Don't worry Dolly, you know I'll always love you. I wouldn't do this if I didn't have to. I'll buy you back someday, when I make it big. Everything will be alright. Everything will be ok. You be good now." The words echo like tumbling stones in her skull. Take them apart, and they'd make no sense, but she knows they mean Good Bye. Her eyes strain against the swell and she crumples back into the recess. Her shoulder against the faded red doors, she balls up her body and shoves her fists against her eyes.

Thick, crusted dust doesn't want to let her eyelashes part when she wakes. She tips her face forward, carefully grooming her eyes til they can open without dirt falling in. The wind has stopped. The streetlights are on. She can see this, but can't think it. Her hand reaches across her body to touch the door - Locked. A flicker of an expression passes beneath the grime - she knows all about Locked Doors. Her hand drops and her body shivers. Her face stares into the dark, into the wind that isn't blowing anymore.

Faces laugh in the dust, swirling around the grand table - wasn't that always there? - so much food - she'd never seen the like... laughter howls between meals - cheering is ludicrous but they do it anyway - is that your family? - 

A sound - far away - tickles something inside her - no! Don't go! I want to -
"Sugar can you hear me? What're you doin' here? Ain't nobody in there. You hear me child?"
- it gets closer, louder - it's the sound of a gloved hand on her shoulder -
"Where's your Mama, Sugar?"
- Mama - Everything will be ok. You be good now... You better listen when I'm talkin' to you!
Thin shoulders jump and her body cries out - 
"Oh child, I didn't mean to give you a fright! Where do you live, Honey? I can walk you home. Ain't right, a child out here alone, and you sick-looking like that. Where's your home at? We'll get you there and everything will be alright."
Her startled eyes take in the strange adult - a woman, a painted women, a woman who looked nothing like her Mama, but seemed to have all Mama's words wrapped up inside her. 
"Well, child? Where d'you live at?"
Expectant eyes bore into her; her own frail eyes break their dam and tears make ruddy streaks down to her chin. 
"Oh, oh Honey, I'm sorry. It's ok. It's ok, don't cry Honey, I'll take you to - well, I'll take you somewhere safe. Will that be ok? Come'on, let's get you somewhere safe. Come'on." Moving quickly, the woman gathers the stunned girl into her arms and strides away from the church as though she carried nothing more than a mouse.

11 August 2013


It's Sunday morning, and I'm not stressing out over the next essay that's due. Oh, I needed this. I can envision a year without that particular stress. A year of no homework. If only... but a week and a half is what I get. And I'll take it!

I'm really enjoying the work-play-only thing I've been doing this weekend. Of course, the fact that it happened to be Pirates of the High Desert Weekend here in Bisbee helped. A lot. So much Awesome!

There was a "Hair of the Salty Dog Pub Crawl" this morning, to close out the piratey weekend, but I skipped that in favor of breakfast with Archer and Bear at our favorite weekend-breakfast place.

I'm not scheduling the rest of today. I'd like to get some writing done. I'd like to get some painting done. But most of all, I'm going to get some relaxing done. No schedule, no demands. Because tomorrow I have things to do, work and errands, and I'm taking today for all it's worth. 

07 August 2013

a-l-m-o-s-t there

My creative juices are flowing and I'm craving some uninterrupted writing time... or painting time... or crafting time. Any of the above would be great. All three would be spectacular.

Just a few more days of school work, and I can do it.