Writer’s Boot Camp Day 20

The theme today is to not seek chaos, which is great advice and something I have been working on for a while now. The author specifically meant people who bring chaos into your life, who waste your time and emotional energy.  I don’t have many chaotic people in my life anymore, because I need all my time and emotional energy, I don’t have very much to give away.

Today was full of chaos, an early PT appointment, starting a new position at work.  The logistics of doing work and PT was difficult, add into that internet issues.  All of these things were unavoidable.

I have to go to physical therapy if I’m ever going to walk without a cane,  which is my top priority right now. I want to walk normally if possible. I would love to maybe, just maybe be able to dance or even run again.  I had to stop going to PT for a few months because I couldn’t afford it (insurance would only pay for so many sessions) and then when the new year started I was in the busy part of tax season.  I did as much as I could at home and made some progress, but a few months ago I stopped getting better. PT is a must, even if it causes some issues at work.

My second priority is work and making money. I used almost all of my saved personal time off during the gap between assignments so that I could still get paid.  I can’t afford to miss much time. I will miss an hour on Wednesday for PT, and at least a few hours next week. I still have my side job and I hope to maybe sell a few stories in the coming months.  All of that could add up to enough money to pay my bills. 

I got off work at 8pm tonight,  made dinner and watch on an episode of “Altered Carbon”, meaning I didn’t start on this until around 9pm.   

I’m supposed to look at my life and see where I can get rid of some chaos.  Today the biggest source of avoidable chaos was Facebook. I woke up at 7 am, which was over an hour before my alarm.  I could have used the extra hour to start on the writing, work on my side job, clean, exercise, meditate, read, garden.  Instead, I literally stared at my cellular communication box for over an hour. I worried about shit I can’t change, felt indigent for people who I hardly know, was interested in things that have nothing to do with me.   I read and liked posts from people who are not actively part of my life, who don’t read my posts, who probably don’t actually like me. I get upset about that at least a few times a month. That is chaos I could do without.    If there is one thing I have certainly learned in the last few years it is that no amount of attention or caring can actually make someone interested in you. You can’t buy love with love. Love is something you have to be ok with giving away.   Nothing you do, nothing you say, no amount of emotional energy you give other people will assure that they will love you. It doesn’t work that way.

It is fact that love and caretaking don’t have a great return on investment.  People who I took super good care of when they needed me were not around nearly as much as they should have been when I was hurt and needed them.  But a few people I hardly knew helped out and were amazing. You just never know. I guess my rule should be don’t give anyone, ANYONE, time that I’m not willing to lose.   My health comes first, then my cats, then my job and my money (don’t give anyone money you need either) and then my writing. Everyone else can have my attention when I have time, or if they want to offer to do something with me/for me that is acceptable too.  If you want to buy me dinner or help me with a project I’m more likely to be available. If you want my help, sorry, not anytime soon.

I have unfriended a lot of the worst people in my life, dumpster fire drama queens and kings who are always in the middle of an emergency.  Or people who are super passionate about something as an excuse to argue. I don’t have time to argue philosophy with anyone. There are certainly a few more people I could cut out, and plenty who I am very carefully only being “acquaintances” with.  

I would like make some grand vow to not get on Facebook, but I know my limits and right now that isn’t going to happen.   I am very, very lonely when I wake up in the morning. Going to Facebook gives me the illusion that I’m not alone. I don’t know if I could get out of bed if I didn’t have that.  I have to pretend that I’m connected to a large “community”. This isn’t to say I don’t have friends, I do, I would say probably significantly more close relationships than the average person my age.  I am booked most weekends pretty much start to finish. It’s just the first 2 hours of the day when I don’t have a spend the night friend when I feel alone. I’m a mammal, I have to accept the limitations that come with that even when I don’t want to.  

That was a lot of time spent talking about sources of chaos.   Almost 50 minutes! We will call that freewriting and journaling. 

Now I have to work on poetry because there are only a few days until that is due.  

Total time writing tonight is 1 hour 49 minutes

Writer’s Boot Camp day 13

I don’t know how to do what the book wants me to do today.  I think I might be confused. The way the book is set up there is a short chapter for each day and then sometimes it tells you to turn to exercises at the back of the book. Today is titled “Writing Meditation” and it says “Now it’s time to slow down a bit.  This would be a great time to Recharge. Turn to page 215 and then come back here for the guided meditation” But the exercise on page 215 involves taking a day of rest or unplugging for 24 hours and then write about it. But if I took a day of rest right now I wouldn’t be able to do today’s assignment.  I thought this was supposed to be 30 days straight of writing.

Also, I’m going, to be honest.  I don’t even understand the concept of a day of rest.  How the fuck does that even work? I keep a daily task list of all the things I do every day,  on a day of rest would I just not do any of those things? Would I not do my exercises, or take vitamins? Who feeds the cats?  Who feeds me and washes the dishes? What do you even do on a day of rest, do you just stare at the wall? Do you read a book or watch TV?   While I was injured and I couldn’t do my chores and tasks I got super, super depressed. Putting the little checks on my list is sort of the only reason I get up in the morning.  I feel like taking a whole day off and not doing that stuff would be super stressful, because I would have to do it later.

I guess when I go on vacation, away from home I am not doing most of my tasks.  So it can be done…but why? I’m willing to give it a try I guess, but I don’t think now is the best time to take a whole day off.  But then again, it might be the only time. I should be starting back to work soon and I am going to be starting to move in June if everything goes according to plan.  Once work or the move starts I can’t take a whole day off. Could I instead take a long time one day off? Like 4 or 8 hours? I think I could manage that without guilt.  

Is it fucked up that the idea of not doing stuff for a day makes me feel sick levels of guilt and anxiety?  I’m not actually doing anything super important as it is. I’m not lying to myself about this, I know I mostly do my own made up list of busy work.  I feel “productive” with all my little tasks if I don’t think about it too hard, which I am now, and starting to question why I’m even alive. I think this is getting into a personal journal or talk to a psychiatrist territory, moving on.  

So, I’m not doing the exercise today,  but I am as a compromise I’m going to put on my to-do list “Day off”  this will be a day when I do my body upkeep stuff (15 minute PT, eat, take meds) and my most important household stuff (Feed cats and Do dishes) but other than that I will not do anything.  I’ll get food delivered. I’ll not write, clean, or do “high-value tasks”. I’ll spend a good solid 8 hours watching TV or something. Moving on.

The next part of today’s assignment was reading a sort of guided meditation and then writing about a time when you felt free, happy or at peace.  

 

The Beach, at Night

I’m on a beach,  it’s near sunset or night time.  This isn’t one specific beach or one specific date.  It’s all the times I have ever been on a beach, alone or nearly alone from sunset to sunrise.   

It’s a night in Hawaii, sitting the sand, looking out to the black waves, which are louder than the music behind me from the Monona Surfrider Hotel,  the music, and the waves sound right together, natural. I had been feeling hurt and ignored when I walked out to the beach, but the sound of the waves and faint music pull the pain out, leaving my soul silent.  

I’m a child,  we’re staying on Tybee Island.  I’m standing on the pier by myself,  it nearly high tide. The place where I played and searched for shells just hours earlier is gone, under the waves that crash against the wooden legs, shaking the pier.  There is no one to hurt me here. No one to judge me. I have never felt so completely alone before, so amazingly free. I think about stepping off, into the water, giving myself to the waves.  I don’t do it, but I realize that I could and that gives me comfort. On some of my worst days to come, I’ll look back at that night, half wishing I had joined sea, but more so reminding myself that it’s still there,  it’s always there, always waiting. If I really, really need to get away she is waiting, ready to receive me. There is a place I can go, that never changes, that always will accept me. I guess, that makes it home?

It’s sunset, near the north shore of O’ahu.  We get to the beach just as almost everyone else is leaving.  The only other people are two guys down the shore fishing and an old lady with lots of cats who lives in a tent near the tree line.  Aside from them it just me and my husband, we have had a nice day, a perfect day. With sea turtles, peacocks, weird local honey and tiny bananas.  We are both tired and happy. He wants to leave, to go back to the hotel, but he indulges me this time, letting me do something that I really want, even if it’s a little stupid and inconvenient. I am so happy.  The sand here is deep and hard to walk on, the changing area far away. I have a sarong in my bag, I put it on and strip out of my clothes under it. I walk to the water, and take it off quickly, before jumping into the burnt orange water.  I swim alone in a tiny tropical bay as the last rays of the sun fade. The only light comes from the windows of multi-million dollar homes in the distance. Those people get to see this water every day, but I wonder how many of them have ever skinny dipped alone in it?  Right now the whole ink-black ocean is mine. The moment is perfect, my life is perfect.

It’s two hours before dawn when I hobble up the sand, using one crutch.  It hurts a lot, but I don’t say anything. My injured leg doesn’t like the shifting uneven ground or the beach plants that try to grab at my support.  I’m afraid of falling. I’m tired, we have been up all night. My boyfriend drove me 6 hours away from home so I could watch the sunrise on the winter solstice.  I feel grateful and oddly melancholy. We reach the beach to find it totally deserted, the only sound is the waves. There are lights in the distance, lights from the hotel behind us, but not so many that I can’t see the stars.  It’s not as cold as you would think, but cold enough. I sit in a camp chair, wrapped in a flannel blanket and wait for the new sun to be born. I feel like I’m at the edge of the world. I feel hopeful, maybe the worst year of my life is going to end this night. Maybe the sun will dawn on a new world, where I don’t hurt all the time, where I don’t feel trapped and afraid all the time. Maybe the darkest part of my life is over.  And maybe not, at that moment it’s enough to listen to the song of the waves.

I have others, but I don’t want to do this all day.  I love the ocean at night. Someday I’m going to live near the sea, someday I might die in it.  

That’s not all!   Today is going to be a long writing day!   Now the book wants me to pick a card from the prompt stack.   I had been wondering when we would start using the cards.

Prompt “How do you define living on your own terms?” 5 minutes

Money.  It’s all about money, that is the only possible freedom.  And I hate that so much it burns inside. But I accept it, because I can’t change it, that is our world.  I have spent my whole life needing others, obeying others, bowing down because that is how you live. To live on my own terms would be to have enough money to pay all my bills, to have my own home, to have enough money for food,  healthcare and medicine. If I had twice that amount I could travel, I could see the places I have dreamed of, I could be the person I wish I was. I’m not submissive by nature, but by nurture. I learned subservience equals survival.  

I still need to do my WIP writing.  But short break first.

I did some edits my friend suggested on the story I finished yesterday and then did some research on my next story, but not any actual writing it yet. 

Total time today 2 hours 13 minutes

 

Writer’s Boot Camp day 9

Today is about stretching,  reaching outside of your comfort zone as a writer.  Writing in different genres or formats than you normally would.

I want to start this by thinking about I write.   When it comes to fiction I write horror, fantasy and sci-fi,  or some combination of those three. I’ve done sci-fi horror (check out Treacherous Nature for “Red, in Tooth and Claw” which is a sort of sci-fi psychological thriller, maybe fantasy horror thing).  I’ve done fantasy/horror, and even some fantasy/sci-fi. The mixing of these three genres is my jam. I am also pretty good at adding stuff to them. I’ve done steampunk, which is sort of just historical sci-fi, sometimes with a touch of fantasy thrown in. I’ve written a lot of historical horror.  I do Weird Western which is fantasy in the old west. But as far as fiction goes I very seldom step outside of those entirely. I might have never written a story that takes places in the current time, with normal people doing normal things. I guess the closest I’ve come to that is something like “Dream Girl” which is still horror.

I write plenty of non-fiction, but mostly first person, journal or essay style, about my life, opinions or experiences. Lot of topics, including homesteading (which I don’t do anymore, currently), cosplay or writing.  Like I’m doing right now, this moment. Y’all, I am writing about how I write about myself writing in a post where I write about myself writing…..deep.

I write a fair amount of poetry.  My style of poetry is something best described as “whatever the fuck I feel like”.  If it appears to have a real style, that is probably purely by coincidence. I’ve seen a lot of Shakespeare, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I write in iambic pentameter sometimes, but I don’t try to, at least not in a very long time.

The book has me list out some genres I would like to try.  So far I have come up with:

  1. Cozy Mystery – I’ve been reading a lot of those recently, as a divorced woman with cats, who likes to read, cook and write every heroine in these books is a representation of me.  They are pretty much as comfortable to read as the name implies.
  2. Mystery in general -I like reading them and figuring out whodonit, but I’ve never gotten the knack of setting up the clues, leading the reader to put things together.  I tend to just throw narrative at my readers like hacky sacks. (Plot device to the face!!!!!!!!!!!, Duck! here comes a character development!)
  3. Realism – or whatever you would call a story that takes place here and now, with normal sorts of people living life.  (hmmmm….I think I would call that boring…)
  4. Literary Fiction – this is a confusing term, which might be meaningless honestly, but like porn, I guess you know it when you see it. However, I think one must first have a patron before one can write literary fiction, and maybe one requires a drug or alcohol addiction.  If anyone wants me to seriously give this a try I will require donations totaling at least $400 and half a bottle of Percocet.
  5. Youtube show scripts, because that sounds fun.
  6. Erotica – from what I can tell sex sells,  and this sort of writing makes money and isn’t super hard (hehehe get it?).  I could do it under my phone sex name.
  7. Romantic Fiction – again, this is a good money making genre from what I’ve heard.  I tried to write a romance novel about a werewolf once I think…I wonder if that is around here someplace.  
  8. Stand up Comedy-  I have tried to put together a stand of routine in the past, but not seriously,  I should give that another go. I’m super funny, and short, and odd looking. I think it could be a thing.  

The assignment is to research one of these genres for a few minutes every week and then give it a try.

20180510_135938It just so happens that I have the most recent issues of both “Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine” “ and “Mystery Scene”. Yes, I really do just have them on hand. I buy short story magazines because I like short stories and I want to keep up with the markets I would like to publish in.  I buy writer’s trade magazines because it makes me feel motivated and like a legit writer when I do it. No, I don’t ever get around to reading either, because who has time for that? I guess I mostly buy them for the much longed for Future Kitty who is a full time writer and needs these things for important businessing.

However today Present Kitty is going to use them!  Hosanna! (fyi, I always assumed this word meant “Yay!”  but in a fancy old-fashioned Biblical way. However it has something to do with praying for help, which isn’t applicable here, but I’m going to leave it because I know you wanted me to lay this knowledge down, also, because I still want it to mean “Yay!”).  

I’m going to grab a glass of water and read one mystery story and one mystery trade article.  BRB

I’m back

I read the short story “10,432 Serial Killers (in Hell)”  by Emily Devenport and a biography “The Remarkable Lives of Anthony Boucher”.  

I think I’ve read something by Emily Devenport before or listened to a podcast she was in, not sure, her name is familiar. Check out her blog, if you want to know more about her work.  The story “10,432 Serial Killer (in Hell)” was fun and charming, the main character was pretty adorable.   I enjoyed the story. This is an example of a story that makes me a little confused as the perimeters of the genre “Mystery”,  as the story told us right away who the bad guy was. Does “mystery” just mean stories involving crimes or stories told by characters who are cops or private investigators?  I’ll read another Mystery story in a day or two and see if it has anything to solve. If not, then maybe I can write in this genre without being good at actually forming a “mystery” to solve.   This was a pretty straightforward narrative with elements of fantasy and horror.

The article I read was about Anthony Boucher,  the writer, critic, and editor, who co-founded “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction” back in the 1949 and was one of the organizers of the Mystery Writers of America.   He wrote a lot of short stories, a few novels and was involved in all parts of the mystery, sci-fi and fantasy industry in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Bouchercon, a big annual Mystery convention, is named after him.  I should go to this, as it’s in St. Petersberg this year, which wouldn’t be hard for me to get to if time, money and work allows.

At 2 hours and 9 minutes so far today.

Now I supposed to work on writing in the mystery style for 15 minutes.  I don’t even know where to start. I feel like I’m going to be staring at a blank screen for the next 15 minutes….

I actually worked on this project for over 40 minutes, because I came up with a good character.  But most of the time was spent in research, not writing. Research is a time consuming, but important part of writing.  And part of why my paid work averages less than $1 per hour income.  :-/

Wow and Hosanna!  I have been working a really long time today and I’m still not to the daily slog to work on my WIP.  Being a writer is hard.

Timer is at 3 hours and 20 minutes when I finished working on the current short story.  I was working on a pretty rough, triggery scene in my WIP.  I might have to take up the drinking or drug habit after all.

I am ready to be done today.  I’m going to edit this as fast as possible and post it.  Sorry if there are errors.

Final time today is 3 hours and 45 minutes.

Spring Cleaning with the KonMarie Method

For spring cleaning this year, I have started reading the book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo.   It’s a book about, well, tidying.  For me this time of year is for cleaning, which normally means lots of scrubbing and washing everything I can get my hands on, pulling out the stove and scrubbing under it, climbing on top of things and cleaning the places no one ever sees.  There are a few problems with that method this year. Since my injury, I have some pretty big physical limitations that I didn’t have last time I did spring cleaning, with no husband or roommates there is no one to help and due to of having a more than full-time job I have less time than I normally do.  The other reason I’m doing the KonMarie method instead of my normal method is that she is promising lifelong tidiness.  While my normal method sure does make everything clean for a while, it doesn’t make things more “tidy” long term.  It doesn’t make cleaning for the rest of the year easier.  It doesn’t actually make my house all that much more pleasing.   Also, I love the word “Tidy”, it has always been one of my favorite words.  TIDY, TIDY, TIDY!!!

life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up-2The idea behind this method is that you go through everything you own and get rid of the things that don’t bring you joy.  Then you organize and arrange the remaining things in a reasonable and pleasing way.

This is also the perfect time for me to start on this method because it takes about 6 months and I moved in about 6 months.  The KonMarie method will be a great pre-moving event.  I can pair down my possession and pack up the things I am keeping at the same time.  My friends Issa and Lee got a ton of boxes to me on Imbolc to start packing things.   I started reading the book the evening after the Imbolc ritual.

The first step of the KonMarie process is figuring out why you want to tidy.  “I want a clean house”  or “I want to be able to entertain without feeling too stressed to clean” isn’t enough.  You must ask yourself lots of questions to get to the root of what it is you really want from your space and why.   I have come up with two answers after several days of thinking about it.

  1. I want to live in a home that is classy and fun.  I want my guests to walk into my home and feel ease and joy, but I also want them to think “wow, this place is clean, smells nice and is pleasing, Everything I see is of high quality, and reflects Kitty’s personality.  Kitty must be doing very well for herself financially and emotionally”

Why do I want this?

Well, when I was a kid I was very poor.  When I was little we lived in a shitty single wide trailer without running water in coal country of Pennsylvania.  It was cold and dirty there, broken down cars and a moldy shack littered what might have been a very lovely woodland clearing. Everything was always covered in black coal dust and smoke.  When I was 7 my mother left my father and we moved someplace that I thought was like a palace.   We lived in a brand new double wide!  With a garden tub!  But looking back I know we were still poor.

As a child, I got teased for wearing used and ugly clothes.  I was often brought to tears because the other kids said I smelled bad, which now actually seems petty unlikely, I showered every day and my mother was a bit of a clean freak, but also a smoker so I don’t know, maybe I did smell bad.  I guess I’ll never know.  Once I realized how poor we were I wanted to never be poor again, I felt angry and ashamed that we were poor while so many other people were rich.  This started me having a lot of self-hatred and anger about poverty, but that is another post.  Anyway, I didn’t want to be poor and wanted to change that.  I now know this isn’t something you have a ton of control over, but I have done what I could.

I think I had just about reached “middle class” financially before my husband left me last year.  But I never felt like it while with him.  When we were doing things with his job I felt like I was super rich.  We stayed in nice hotels, we went to cool places, I met important people and ate fancy foods.  All of that was awesome, during those times I felt happy and important like my life was going the right direction, like I could do great things. During those times I got a little overconfident about being someone important myself someday, like a writer. All that opulence made me work hard and being someone great.    But at home we lived in a house that was a mess inside and out, that was full of cheap shit and clutter no matter how hard I tried to fight that.   Living here I have felt like sometimes all I do is clean, working 10 hours a day at cleaning to still wake up to filth.  Yes, I get that there are some emotional issue and compulsive disorder things going to be dealt with there.

My ex-husband had many good qualities, but wanting a clean and classy home was not among them.  He grew up nearly as poor as I, but with a family that was less concerned with cleanliness, quality and what other people thought about them, which my mother was obsessed with.   He is the type of person who doesn’t mind living in a house that needs painting, who doesn’t rush to clean up trash in the yard or tidy the house. And that is ok, not everyone takes joy from the same things.  I, however, take joy in a clean home and yard and in being able to entertain guests.

He is gone now which makes me sometimes feel totally broken with sadness even after so many months, sometimes super angry, but increasingly zen I guess.  He left me, he had his reasons, that sucks.  But it is in the past and I had no control over it happening.  It wasn’t my fault he left,  but picking up the pieces is my responsibility.   I have to deal with that shit and move on.

I am still living in “our” house, but soon for the first time in my life, I will be living in “my” house.  A place that is 100% mine.  A place that will reflect only my personality and values.  I value quality.  I value joy, art, and beauty.  I value cute things, colorful things, and stupidly adorable things!

I’m not wealthy now, I’m not even middle class with just my income (about $25,000 a year if I keep doing well).  But, I would rather have a few nice things than many shitty things. I will be getting rid of all the low-quality and joyless things before or when I leave.  This part of my life, this home is dead and needs to left alone to decay.

My new home will merge the aesthetic of a fancy spa and a candy store. There will be many candles and fresh flowers, cute candy jars for art reasons, pastel furniture, lots of bright white filigree, antique china, stuffed animals and doilies.   It will be glorious,  like Honeyduke’s from Harry Potter if managed by a Jess from “New Girl” and owned by Jackie O.

  1. I want my home to be a place where I can feel free to relax, engage in any activity or work on any project of my choosing when I am alone.

What does this mean?

20180212_141516_Film4To my left as I type this I have my piano keyboard.  It is covered in mail, clothing and dust.  I want to play the piano at least a few times a week, but I can’t because of effort and guilt.  It would take time to clean all the stuff off and put it all away and once I started cleaning I would probably just keep cleaning.  If I did stop and try to play the piano I would feel guilty, because for me playing the piano is something you do in a clean house.  Knitting is something you do in a clean house.  Coloring is something you do when you have done all your chores.  Even reading or being able to relax while watching T.V or taking a bubble bath is for people who are done with tasks for the day.   I can only let go and truly enjoy my inside hobbies when my space is clean, but because I don’t have a great system my space is seldom clean enough for me to relax.   I have tried to take all the things I want to do off the “for a good Kitty only list” but after years of trying I have decided to give up on that, and instead find a way to feel like a good Kitty.

I theorize that If I can get things in order,  only having to tidy for 15 minutes a day then I will have more deserved free time to do the things that matter to me.  I guess we will see if that’s true.

With these two very introspective, complex and personal reasons to tidy my home I feel confident that I can get this done.  I’ve already made a list of 80 categories that I need to evaluate, pare down and organize.

20180211_152203_Film4I have done the method for two categories so far:

  • from 24 to 18 blankets, throws and duvets
  • from 44 to 31 types of tea.

 

I will try to post here as I work on this so you can see my progress.

Imbolc

I did a ritual at my house this past weekend.  I had reservations about doing Imbolc, or doing it at “home” anyway.  This isn’t my home anymore, or at least it’s becoming not my home.  I’m trying to emotionally distance myself from it, to make having to leave my home of over a decade hurt less, but in the end, I decided that since I am still here, it is still my home.  The place I live is the only place to do Imbolc.  So, that decided, I invited my friend’s over and did ritual.

The main thing I do every year on Imbolc is get ready to clean.  I buy any cleaning supplies I am low on, I get a new broom and bless it, I start my spring cleaning.  I did all those things, going to target the day before and getting new dishcloths, a spray bottle, so many great smelling candles and other supplies.  I spent the morning of the ritual making the ritual space clean, renovating the fire pit and trying to dry out the wood a little after all rain.  I went to Lowe’s and got a few supplies for the working as well. IMG_20180204_162102

Once my friends had arrived we did a short, fun and casual ritual.  Wine was drunk, cookies were eaten.  The new broom was blessed (which I must admit a new broom feels pretty wasteful since I can’t really take it with me when I move in 5 months).  We planted flowers in little clay pots and talked about the things we want to “grow” in our lives this year.  It was a nice afternoon, full of friendship, laughter, and love.

We went to my favorite sushi place, Kura Revolving Sushi Bar, for dinner after.   https://www.yelp.com/biz/kura-revolving-sushi-bar-doraville-2

It was a nice day.  A good way to start the transition from winter to spring.

The next day I started cleaning, but in a totally not actually having done any cleaning yet sort of way.  I will explain that in my next post! 20180207_232231_Film4 (1)

First Rays

This year’s solstice was amazing! I watched the first sunrise of the new solar year over the ocean!

burn 2017This was something I had been wanting to do for years but it never happened for lots of reasons, like money, other people’s interest level, and my own motivation to make it happen.  This year, however, I wanted it bad enough to declare that I was doing it even if I had to drive up by myself and sleep in my car. Someone who cares about me paid for everything as a Yule gift, because even though I’m working I’m not in a good financial place yet.

I had to work Thursday, December 21st until 7 pm, which was several hours after sunset.  That presented a little bit of a problem, but I was able to take a short break around 5:30 pm (thank the Kitty Goddess for work at home jobs!) to light last year on fire in my ritual area.  I lit a yellow candle with the last of the sparks of 2017.20171221_171710_Film4

As soon as work was done I gathered my things, made the candle as safe as possible in the car and started the 5-hour drive to the coast.

It was a long drive.  We talked as much as we could, we listened to some of Terry Pratchett’s “Hogfather”.  The first few hours were ok, but on the dark, empty country roads around 1 a.m, the night started to feel pretty creepy.  We were definitely in the slasher movie zone.  That neon red smiling “Piggly Wiggly” sign is not a friendly sight on Darkest Night in “I don’t remember where” South Carolina.

Once back on the highway everything took on a real dreamlike feel, good thing I wasn’t the one driving. Thankfully we made it to the hotel around 2 am. As soon as I opened the car door I could hear the ocean, but not see it. The air felt more humid and smelled of the sea. The plan had been to set up most things in the hotel room and only go down to the beach for the sunrise.  Oddly enough, no one was in the lobby, so we couldn’t check into our room. Plans change.

We took ourselves and the magical sun holding candle to waffle house for about an hour.  I ate hash browns covered in cheese and sang pop songs,  maybe this should be a new dark night tradition.  After that we drove around the old fancy parts of Charlson, the only car around, looking at the gaslights, French accents and the tastefully extravagant Christmas decorations on the ridiculously expensive mansions.

Dark beachAround 4 am we went back to the beach, parked in the garage under the hotel we were booked at, the only one on Island of Palms.  I changed into my ritual dress in the parking garage, got all the ritual supplies, mixed rum with a nice wassel from Trader Joe’s and made it to the beach a little before 5 am.  Which was barely on time surprisingly, given that sunrise was at 7:18 am.  The sky was totally dark to the east as I started to set up, but within minutes of getting there, I could see it lightning to grays and pinks.

 

I did most of the same general ritual steps I would use at home, but this was very different from previous years.  My normal Yule crew of the last 7 years or so wasn’t with me for one.  Erik, who normally does a runic divination for us and runs the bloat, which is the  “boast, oath and toast” part had moved to Massachusetts last spring,

So this year I read the tarot cards instead, just for me.  It was a quick reading and I didn’t get much out of it, but maybe I need to take some time to explore the reading further.  Lori wasn’t there because she was celebrating her anniversary of her secret wedding.  The other person who had been there for every Yule for the last 10 years isn’t part of my world anymore.  It didn’t make sense to invite anyone else this year.

It was just me and someone who is new to my life as of about 10 months ago, and who had never done Yule or maybe any pagan ritual.  Mostly he watched and took amazing pictures, but he joined in some.

We did boasts.  I’m proud of myself for how I managed to deal with the extremely bad injury that I suffered in March, damaging 3 tendons in my left leg and breaking two bones.  My friends were there for me and helped where they could, but mostly I did it on my own.  I learned to live alone, sleep alone, do my grocery shopping alone and function as an independent adult while in a wheelchair and on crutches. It was maybe the hardest, most badass thing I have ever done.  I’m down to just a brace now when I go out and I can deal with the pain.

We did oaths.  Going from running three times a week to being unable to even walk without assistance, plus the depression that I have been dealing with has meant I’ve gained almost 20 lbs in 9 months.  That is not good for my recovery, the extra weight is hard on my tendons.  And it’s not good for me emotionally.  I started losing the weight for a bad reason, to deal with an emotional trauma, but by the time I was running it was about me. About being strong, about owning my body, about pushing myself.  I’m probably never going to run again unless I’m being chased by something that wants to eat me, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up being strong, fit and happy in my body.  My oath was to get back down to the weight I was the day I broke my leg, 154 lbs.

We did toasts.  I toasted my companion.  10 months ago we were strangers.  Two weeks after our first date I broke my leg.  He has gotten to know me at probably the lowest point in my life, and yet he had been the most amazing friend I could ask for.  He has seen me at my very worst and chooses to stay.  It’s been an emotionally awakening to be around someone that good.

We drank, at each phase.  And maybe I drank between phases.

As the sky turned pink, I wrote down things I wanted to give up on tissue paper and watched them burn before hitting the sand.   Drank a little for the passing of each of those.

I was silly excited as the sky lightened to almost daylight brightness but the clock said we were still 10 minutes from sunrise.

I was holding my breath, staring at the lighted area when in the time it takes to blink,  the sun was reborn.  Seeing that tiny, beautiful dark orange, burning sliver of life peeking over the water brought tears to my eyes, and not just because I dumb enough to stare at the sun.  That moment felt exactly the way I had imagine it would for all of these years.  The stress of planning it, the mad dash after work, the drive, the cold, the pain of my leg walking up to the beach, it was all worth it.  Maybe everything else was too, everything that finally brought me to this place, on this morning, for this miraculous moment.

I always joke about protecting the spark on the darkest night and bringing it back like to my friends on Facebook, and they said thank you. This year’s was the same in that regard. What was different was a stranger who was staying in the hotel saw what I was doing and came down at the end and told me it made her happy. I have always felt like I’m doing something, connecting to something on Yule night.   I know, of course, I don’t bring back the sun, but pretending I do gives me a nice easy goal to accomplish every year because I know that the sun will rise with or without me, that the earth turns whether I’m alive on it or not.  This last year, there were so many times when I almost wasn’t anymore.  There were so many moments when I didn’t want to feel any more pain when things were just too fucking hard.  There were so many days when I was just too damaged, hurting too much and so very alone.  There were so many days when I thought the darkness was going to last forever, but even the longest night has a dawn.  I’m so glad I got to see this one.

I lit three candles repenting virtues I want to focus on this year.    We did “maybe you never hunger” eating the cookies I made and sacrificing others.  We did “may you never thirst” drinking some more spicy, applish rum drink and pour some out for lots of reasons. I sat in the new light, unfiltered by houses, trees, other people and started my new planner for 2018. I swam in the ocean in late December and worked on my tan.

I felt happy, productive and a little tipsy. I get a lot done before lunchtime some days.  Which was a fabulous place btw, but restaurant reviews are a different post.

 

 

 

I made sure that the sun was reborn this year. A bright, beautiful one. Hopefully a good one.  You’re welcome. Most of these photos were taken by and belong to P. Travis.

Solstice Eve

Figuring out the right day for solstice this year was hard,  it could have gone either way.  It could have been December 20 going into December 21,  or December 21 going into December 22.   I decided since both nights are almost exactly the same length that I could pick the one the worked best for me.

I have a day job now, started a few months ago.  Taking two days off would have been difficult, but just one day I can manage.  I could have probably done it without taking a day off if I was doing the ritual the way I normally do,  staying up all night, tending a fire in my backyard ritual area.  However this year I’ve decided to do something I have been wanting to do for a decade.  I’m going to watch the first sunrise of the year from a beach on the east coast.   

I’m not going to have to find the perfect spot in my yard, where I can see around my neighbors houses to maybe possibly see the sun.  Even then, it is at least an hour after official sunrise before I get my first glimpse at the fresh new sun.   I’m not going to have to worry about what my neighbors think as I stand out in the front yard, holding a candle and singing the Beatles “Here Comes the Sun” at 7 a.m.  

This year, I’m going to see the sun the moment it comes up, I’ll see the first perfect rays hitting the water, I will be the first person touched by the sun. I’m so excited to be doing this!  

20171221_121421_Film4Today before work and during breaks I have been getting everything ready.  I made some neat sun swirl sugar cookies flavored with orange juice for the ritual tomorrow morning.  I have winter wassel and rum for libation.  I have a basket full of candles, tarot cards, tissue paper and pens.  I’m almost packed,  I even brought a bathing suit, because it’s supposed to be 65 degrees tomorrow!  

Last year my solstice night was horrible and lonely,  and this year has been hard.  Maybe those two things have nothing to do with each other, maybe they do.  Either way, I want to start this year right.  If I cry tonight, this time they will be tears of joy!

 

 

Goodbye 2017

The only way my celebrations make sense this time of the year is if I think of everything from solstice night to new year eve as one big festival.  

From Thanksgiving to now is a time for reflection, thinking of the things I’m thankful for, or the things that sucked.  It’s the time for going over mistakes and successes.   

Tomorrow starts my New Year.  I’m going to spend the whole night awake Thursday night, on the beach, waiting for the sun to rise.  That will be a quiet night, for thinking about the darkness, for wishing for the light.  With the dawn it is the New Year officially, but it’s a festival season.  From Solstice morning to calendar New Year’s  day is the Yule festival, with gift giving, putting together the new planner, overeating, visiting friends and family, making plans and resolutions and going to parties.  

With the end of the festival on New Year’s day is time to get busy and make things happen.  

 

I wrote a poem for 2017

I’m angry.
I get a few seconds of fuzzy innocence in the morning.
Safe, pain free, warm, purring
My first thought of the day is “mmmm…”
My second is “Fuck!”, as I remember who I am and when I am.

It’s 2017, I’m angry.

Most days I don’t cry.
Most days I don’t scream out in pain and fury.
Most days I calmly get up and pee, seething with rage.

I hate my ex as I brush my teeth.
I hate my house as I splash water on my face
I hate my age as I put on moisturizer.
I hate my fat as I get dressed
I hate my leg as I painfully clump down the stairs.

I eat too much for breakfast, sweet and decadent,I feel like this should make me happy
It doesn’t.

I drink 16 oz of water and take vitamins, fucking life affirmation or some shit.
Life sucks, being well be hydrated and full of expensive chemicals can’t make it worse.
At least I’m worth as much as my component parts.
You could have sold me for scrap instead of tossing me in a fucking landfill, your loss assholes.

I am so angry deep inside. Road rage level angry.
Fuck you up, find you and beat the shit out of you angry.

Instead I do PT, and imagine how someday I can be strong again. I can run again.

I ran a lot last year.

2016, I was ashamed.

I was ashamed because I was afraid to say no, so I ran to escape that failure.
I was ashamed because I was violated, my body didn’t belong to me. I tried to shrink until all the nasty parts were gone.
I imagined sexual assault lived in my fat, that it could be burned away.
Shrinking didn’t work.

I never got fast enough, small enough or far enough away to feel unashamed.
I drank a lot of tequila, that helped.

Oh well. I don’t feel ashamed now, I guess the fire of my hate is hot enough to burn away shame. Neat.

Enough about the past,
It’s 2017
I’m angry.

I knit angry, making beautiful beaded lace with breakup gift yarn.
I look calm, as I check my planner, mark off my tasks. If you were watching me you wouldn’t know my secret, like the Hulk, I’m always angry.

I’m angry as I read, angry watching tv, angry as I cook, angry scooping cat litter.
I’m angry while at work, angry while I drive, angry when I’m smiling, laughing, spending time with my friends.

I’m not angry in bangs and screams.
I’m not angry in explosions.
I’m not angry like a bomb.
Not angry like a man.

I’m angry like a woman. Who did her best and was never enough.

It’s the proper ladylike anger of an educated, responsible divorcee rebuilding her life.

I’m appropriately angry in the kitchen,
Slow , silent, scalding steam until the pot boils dry

In 2018 maybe everything will have burned away
I’ll be empty.
The heat will die and I’ll cool.
In 2018 I’ll be empty and clean.

Count Down to Dragon Con – 4 Days

I know I over extended myself on the cosplay this year.  I think I could have managed one really good costume,  but not three.  I’m afraid that all my cosplay will look unfinished and rushed.   Oh well, might as well just keep working at it and everything else, because if you have to be alive one might as well be doing things.

Today I worked on Imperator Furiosa’s crest belt.

20160829_124941I haven’t done much leather work,  it’s been a hobby I’ve tried to stay away from because it’s costly and I already have enough hobbies.  However a little bit of leather working was necessary.  Since this piece is supposed to look a bit rough I decided that I might as well give it a try myself instead of asking my leather-working buddies for help.  My first step was cutting out a rough circle of black leather and using a rotary punch to make lots of holes along the bottom.

20160829_131133After enough holes had been created I started cutting chain to attach. I thought that her belt crest only had one type of chain, but I was wrong.  It is mostly silver/chrome colored and off a similar design to what I got a few days ago at the craft store, but there are a few different types thrown in. I had a gold look chain in my supplies, but I would like a few other types.  I’ll see what I can find tomorrow.

20160829_141015Polymer clay is always not one of my hobbies. Sculpting is something I’ve never had a knack for and to be honest I really sort of hate doing it.  I don’t like the feel of the clay against my fingers, I don’t like trying to shape it into the shapes I need.  I get easily frustrated working with clay.  I did the best I could and I came up with something similar to what Furiosa was wearing, but not very similar.  I’m hoping no one looks to close, and also that the flame points don’t break off.  But this is a pointless dream, I have never made anything of polymer clay that didn’t break.  One must accept impermanence, to do otherwise causes suffering.

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Some black and oil slick colored nail polish and a silver paint pin made it look a little better.  After cutting up a few belts I temperately attached everything with super glue and then started trying to sew it, using a big needle and waxed thread.  I had to stop before it was finished because my household is asleep and I feel an awl and mallet are needed to finish.

Hopefully I can finish this tomorrow before switching back over to the gin fairy.  Will I ever get back to working on Negasonic? Or is that one just not going to happen?

 

Dragon Con Countdown – 8 days

The Gin Fairy cosplay is coming together.   I spent a few hours today on the overdress.  I’m not much of a seamstress and I seldom make garments from scratch, but I’m pleased with how this is turning out.  I’m hoping to finish the overdress tomorrow and then decide if I have time for anything else on this one.  I love the sleeves! I might make several of this design in different fabrics just for these dramatic flouncy sleeves.

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Two blog posts in two days!  I’m a superhero!