"Ordinary life does not interest me. I seek only the high moments. I am in accord with the surrealists, searching for the marvelous." ~Anais Nin

15 November 2017

Poetry Wednesday #61

I'm bringing back Poetry Wednesday!  For a while anyway.  The next several weeks will feature poems I wrote in middle and high school for my creative writing classes.  Some of these are really quite good.
by A Vahanvaty from Dubai, UAE (Creepy Doll, Barnaul, Russia) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
This poem I actually have a date on: May 3, 1996.  So I would have been either a sophomore or senior in high school (I skipped my junior year).  It was originally typed on a typewriter, believe it or not!  There's a note at the beginning that reads, "inspiration-- short story "Miriam" by Truman Capote" It makes sense.  That creepy little tale was a favorite of mine.  Again, I'll try to recreate the formatting here.~AJ

       Miriam

Left alone

     Husband dead, gone. . . an old woman

Who doesn't realize that she is

     Lonely

     Beautiful young girl

          With almost white hair

And large eyes

Knowing, knowing

     Old eyes

Knowing, knowing

And pretty silk dresses

"What's your name, girl?"     "Miriam."

14 November 2017

Hollow

By Oleg Alexandrov [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I pulled a Tarot card today and it was The Tower.  Not a very good sign, right?  The Tower has actually been coming up again and again in my readings for myself.  I've got this Tarot app on my kindle and it comes up there too.  It seems to be a theme in my life right now.  I'd say it's probably been a theme for a couple of years now, actually.

Generally, The Tower represents sudden, catastrophic, and unwelcome change.  It is a card of destruction, yes?  And a card of warning.  Yet, my life is so horribly the same.  Always.  For years now.  There is no change.  There has been no change.  My efforts to force change have come to naught.  My life is is stagnant, foul and rotting.  What the rot touches, it destroys, and it has touched everything.  Over the last several years, I've watched as everything in my life has been eaten away.  Nothing has been spared: not a hope, not a dream.  Everything withers and falls away.

Today I got the "you're not good enough to hire for this position" call from my workplace.  I was up for a recently opened full time position—one in which I would have been brilliant.  I interviewed and was rejected.  The rejection wasn't a surprise.  After six years of being searching for a full time job, I go into interviews (when I get them) fully expecting to be rejected for the job.  I mean, the hope is there, but I'm no longer surprised by the rejection.  Though this particular rejection was truly unsurprising because yesterday my boss asked me to cover a shift at the of December.  She wouldn't have done that if I'd gotten the job.  Deductive reasoning.

The Tower, representing catastrophe, has been my constant companion for years and years now.  So long now that catastrophe, though still traumatic, is no longer sudden for me.  It's no longer unexpected.  Everything I touch, everything I care about, everything I hope for shrinks from me.  It's like it knows that my touch is toxic and will cause it to rot and wither.  I had hoped–not having a lover, not having a husband or children, nor the prospect of such–that I could have a satisfying career.  I do not have a satisfying career.  It's been six–almost seven–years and I do not have even the beginnings of a satisfying career.  I no longer believe that is going to happen for me.  I don't think it's meant to be.  At least not in the library.

Perhaps I am not meant to have a job.  But then how will I survive?  Right now, with the meager wages I bring in from my part time job, I have to be supported by my parents.  Without them I can't afford food or shelter.  Even with them I can't afford myself. 

I now owe $58000 in student loans.  It keeps going up.  I'm on an income based repayment plan and can only afford the $30/month I pay them now.  If I had to pay the entire amount I wouldn't have money for gas.  I clear maybe $1000/month.  Maybe.  Of that, $300 goes to car payments, $300 goes to paying off my credit card, $100 goes to car insurance, $100 goes to health/dental insurance, $50 to gas so I can get to work, and the remaining goes to miscellaneous expenses such as food, phone, the occasional hang out with one of the few friends I have left, car maintenance, or any one of a thousand incidentals.  No wonder I have panic attacks.

I made a grave error when I went to graduate school.  It's one I can't fix, one I have to live with, but how?  How?

I have to figure that out.  I have to find a way to make money outside of a regular job.  I have some tentative plans for next year.  Plans I sorely need to flesh out and put in action.  It's a gamble, what I have in mind.  A huge gamble.  High risk, and a maybe okay reward—the likelihood of a high reward is so low as to be nonexistent.  I am afraid.  I am so afraid.  I can't afford to fail.  I am literally gambling with my life.  Like, if this doesn't pay out, I don't see myself surviving.  Not for very long, anyway.

Gods!  It sounds dramatic, but I don't mean it as such.  I'm just . . . operating without a safety net, and my plans–tentative as they are–require cutting my last lifeline.  If I don't learn to fly before hitting the ground, well, SPLAT.

11 November 2017

I will remember – Three Poems for Armistice Day, 2017

General Lipošćak visits 26th infantry regiment of Royal Croatian Home Guard on the Eastern front, 1917.
[Public Domain]
I am keeping my tradition of posting poetry to honor the war dead on Armistice Day, but I'm also switching it up a bit.  Instead of posting just one poem, I'm posting three: one from a British poet, one from a German, and one that I just like that doesn't really have anything to do with war.

This first poem is by British WWI poet Wilfred Owen–one of my favorite Twentieth Century poets.  He died mere days before the Armistice was called. ~AJ


Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began tor trudge.
Men marched asleep.  Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod.  All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime–
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, chocking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

__________________________________________
This next poem is by German playwright Ernst Toller.  He survived the war, though not unchanged.  And he didn't survive long.  He was exiled from Germany in 1933 when the Nazis came to power.  In 1939, after learning that his brother and sister had been sent to a concentration camp–did I mention they were Jewish—he hung himself.  

Spring

In spring I go to war
To sing or to die.
What do I care for my own troubles?
Today I shatter them, laughing in pieces.

Oh, Brothers, know that young spring came
In a whirlwind.
Quickly throw off tired grief
And follow her in a host.

I have never felt so strongly
How much I love you, Oh, Germany,
As the magic of spring surrounds you
Amidst the bustle of war.

__________________________________________
The final poem was written by Antun Branko Šimić, a Croation poet who, as far as I can tell, had nothing to do with the war.  He did, however, write extensively about death.  Šimić lived a total of 26 years, from 1898 to 1925 when he died of tuberculosis.  I'm going to post both the translated and untranslated poem below. 

Warning                                  Opomena

Man, be careful                                Čovječe pazi
not to walk small                             da ne ideš malen
under the stars.                                ispod zvijezda!
                                                             Pusti
May your whole body                    da cijelog tebe prode
be filled with                                    blaga svjetlost zvijezda!
the dim light of the stars!  
                                                              Da ni za čim ne žališ
To have no regrets                          kad se budeš zadnjim pogledima
when with the last glance               rastajo od zvijezda!
you part with the stars!                   Na svom koncu
                                                             mjesto u prah
In your final hour                            prijedi sav u zvijezde!
instead of dust
pass whole to the stars!

            –translated by Božica Cvjetković

I wish very much that I knew enough Croatian to translate the poem above myself, but I don't.  Truth?  I literally only know one word of Croatian that I'm sure of: teta/tetka or aunt (depending on whether it's your father's sister or your mother's sister).  It's on my list to learn more.   

Enjoy another picture of General Anton Lipošćak.  I don't think he's an ancestor of mine, though we share a last name and are both Croats.  But even that much is kind of cool.  Here in the States, it's a rather uncommon last name–everyone who carries it is related in at least a distant way.  I don't know how it is in Europe.

General Lipošćak served in the Austro-Hungarian Army in World War One.  He even had a unit named after him, Gruppe Lipošćak.  He died in 1924 at the age of 61.

08 November 2017

Poetry Wednesday #60

I'm bringing back Poetry Wednesday!  For a while anyway.  The next several weeks will feature poems I wrote in middle and high school for my creative writing classes.  Some of these are really quite good.
Edward Crawford returns a tear gas canister fired by police who were trying to disperse protesters in Ferguson, Mo.
 Aug. 13, 2014. Robert Cohen / St. Louis Post-Dispatch via Zuma Press
This is such an iconic image.  The strength of that man at that moment.
I want to say the following poem was actually written before high school.  I think in 7th or 8th grade. This would have been in 1993 maybe, '94?  I know it was after the '92 LA Riots, but only a year or two.  This was actually a really exciting find for me because I remember the first several lines, but not the rest and it's driven me crazy for decades!  It was originally written by hand on notebook paper, and I will try to recreate the vagaries of my handwriting and strange capitalization in my transcription below–it means something, you know? Anyway, enjoy. ~AJ


Lifetimes of Lifetimes
covered in STEEL
don't Believe
What they say is real
Life is Life
and widows cry
Who are you
to do and die
What is lost
can never be found
ALL is buried
deep underground
where the worms
wiggle and eat and crawl
The sons of daughters
Fall and Fall
Lost within her
deep despair
Old women pull
the young one's hair
Death is Death
and will live on
Until the coming
Of the sun's bright dawn
Nothing matters
and time moves on
that is the way
the world works.

02 November 2017

To Forfeit and Disperse; To Pursue and Connect

Utagawa Kuniyoshi [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This totally came up when I googled "too much stuff."
Next year is going to be a busy year for me.  I'm already in the planning stages.  More than, actually, as I'm due to start one of my 2018 projects new long soon (like within the next three days), and another shortly after.  Since the majority of both projects—I'm thinking long term here—will fall within 2018, I'm counting them as part of that year's project.  I'm taking a page from Ivy Bromius' book and breaking all of my goals into smaller actionable tasks that will ultimately help me accomplish my big goals.  I'm hoping this'll make it easier for me to stay on target, so to speak.  I bought a fancy fucking planner that is supposed to help me do all that.

Let's hope it works.

One of the things I'm considering, and have mostly decided to do, is getting rid of all my stuff.  Well, most of it anyway.  That is a huge project, one that means going through boxes packed in the basement, and looking at almost everything I've ever owned then deciding whether to keep, sell, donate, or toss.  Then arranging yard sales, ebay, and craigslist in the spring and summer, getting a donation truck to show up, throwing out everything that doesn't fit, and organizing the rest of it.  It'll be worth it, but I've a feeling it'll also be exhausting.  I mean, I own upwards of 1000 books (rough estimate) alone.  Not to mention all the other crap I've collected through the years, or what my mom kept from my childhood.

I think it may be easier to make a list of what I don't want to get rid of, to be honest. 

Anyway, I'll have to see if I can fit it in.  Getting rid of all my stuff.  Yikes!

My other projects are more personal, focusing on health, wealth, and, well, magic.  Right now, I'm going to hold them all close to the chest as they're sensitive and neither fully realized nor formed.  And I'm feeling superstitious.  There's a lot of learning, breaking down, and planning involved between now and launch day.  And as for the projects I've either already started or am due to start soon?  Well, I'm feeling superstitious with those too.  There's something inside me warning that if I talk about them before they're further underway–or even completed and successful–that I won't ever get them done.  So you don't get to know what I'm doing/have planned.  At least not right now.

Though, I will say, that one of the things I did today involved looking over my budget and deciding that I have enough expendable cash to become a Rune Soup premium member.  It's something I've wanted to do since Gordon launched the program, but for some reason I kept talking myself out of it.  "Can't afford it," I'd say, "I'm in debt to my eyeballs."  One of which is very true and the other only relatively.  My debt hasn't gone away, but I can prioritize some things over other, and if it gets to be to much I can quit. 

I suppose that's a big part of what this upcoming year will be about for me: prioritizing what I really want to do, then setting things in motion to get it done.

I'll keep you apprized of my progress—even if I don't give you the specifics of what I'm doing.

That's all for now.  I'll write again soon.

01 October 2017

Movement: a Post in 8 Acts

via Giphy
First: Happy October everyone!!!  This really is the best month.  Cool nights, warm (but not hot) days.  No one looks at me funny when I display my witchy accessories.  Halloween.  It's all just fabulous.

Second: As of today I've gone four full weeks without a cigarette.  I'm super excited about it!  Seriously.  I've been trying to quit smoking for years and I've never been this long without before.  I won't say I've kicked my addiction, but I'm pretty sure I can refrain from here on out.  Yay!

Third: Still no luck on the job front.  Hiss!  I continue to rethink my desire for a real job.  I mean, I need one.  Desperately.  But as job after job passes me by, I become more and more convinced that it's never going to happen.  So I need another option for making a living.  So I need to start actively pursuing other options for making a living.  It's going to be hard and I'm terrified that I'm going to fail, but what other options do I have?  And until I succeed in my "other option" I need to continue applying for real jobs.  Blah.  I hate that life's so complicated.

Fourth: Moving the odds on the job front in my favor a bit is the fact that my local county library system is opening up a new branch and will have LOTS of jobs open for application at the end of the year.  Also working those odds is the fact that the city library for which I work will be having a number of full time jobs open up at the end of the year due to retirements.  Possibilities abound!

Fifth: Despite the fact that I just ate nachos made by my younger brother, this month I'm focusing on cleaning up my diet.  I really want to feed myself a mostly plant-based diet of minimally processed foods, you know?  I feel better when I do.  Plus, I want to lose some weight.*  I'm also thinking of starting intermittent fasting for spiritual purposes, but I haven't decided on that yet.

Sixth: I've decided to go deeper into my spiritual and magical practices.  Actually, I've been working on this for the past few months and I've come to something of a crossroads.  Now it's time for me to take the next step** and start actively becoming who I want to be.  So I'm taking a greater, more active*** hand in my life and recovering much that I've lost to depression these past almost two decades.  I will no longer sit on the sidelines of my own life.

Seven:  Even though I'm basically broke because my uvula thing last month caused me to lose nearly a week's worth of work and thus a week's worth of pay, I managed to come into some spending money today so I purchased the Samhain Ritual Vault and some Flying Ointment from Skelton Key Shop.  I'm pretty excited about it, and already have plans for use.  The bath bombs in the Vault won't do me any good since I don't have a tub, so I'll gift them to friends that do.  But everything else will come in very handy.  I'd like to subscribe to Moon Box as my two best friends also subscribe to it, but I'm not confident I can afford it right now.  Maybe next month.

Eight: My memoir writing class starts this Tuesday!  I'm prepared.  Mostly.  I'm excited.  Also extra hours mean extra pay in November.****


*Okay, I want to lose a significant amount of weight, but "some" will do to start.
**This is the overall theme to my life right now.
***I guess the keyword here is "active"
****Yeah, I only get paid once a month.  Have I not mentioned that before?

06 September 2017

Uvula


First, I thought you'd enjoy the song.  I know I am.

Second, I got my computer issues worked out.  Turns out I needed a new cord.  The cheapest option.  Made cheaper by the Apple Store employee who helped me and replaced my cord for free due to the fact the cord that broke was relatively new.  How new, you ask?  Well, as I told the employee: "I don't know, I think I bought it last year."

Actually, I would have purchased a new cord.  I gave him my credit card and everything.  But his little hand-held credit card scanner died just as he was inserting the card.  He went to the back to get a new one.  Came back with a new scanner.  Fiddled around with it, then hemmed and hawed over something in front of me for a while.  Went into the back again.  Came back with a different box.  Had me sign a thing. and gave me a new cord.  Yay!

My computer just needs to last through me getting a full time job and paying off some debts.  Then I can get a new one.  Pray for me.

Third, normally I'd be at work right now.  Normally I'd be just one the front desk at the library, and looking forward to (1) a chance to sit down and play on the internet for a bit, and (2) interacting with my regular Wednesday night patrons.  I'd also be thinking of all the things I'd have to do when I got off desk at 7:00 and able to go back to my desk to do more of the work for which I was hired.  Normally, I'd be doing this.

However . . .

Man, I'm sick as fuck.  We're not really sure what I have.  Something akin to Strep Throat, but I tested negative for Strep.  At least on the rapid test.  But whatever it is, it's annoying as fuck.

Seriously.

This is not an illness that makes me think I'm dying.  I'm not in a lot of pain.  I'm not feeling particularly miserable (except boredom).  I'm stuffed up.  My throat hurts.  A little sore in the joints, but not too bad.  None of that is really bothering me.  It's cold stuff, you know?  Expected when you're sick, and not as bad as it feels like.

What's driving me crazy is that my uvula is swollen.  I can feel that little fucker drooping on the back of my tongue.  It's AWFUL.  So awful.  I feel like I'm going to choke on the damn thing.  It's hard to breathe, difficult to swallow, and feels really weird to lay down on my back (then I can feel it on the back of my throat).  But maybe the worst—though I didn't think this earlier today—is that I'm on a freaking liquid diet until it goes back to normal.

Now, I'm not exactly hungry per se, but I really, really, really want solid food.  I was not prepared, mentally, for this fast.  I want solid food.  I keep having to pee, and I have to "eat" like every two hours to keep from being ravishingly hungry.  I keep thinking of burgers or pizza or pasta or something that I can chew.  Something that will fill my belly.

It doesn't help much that my period's coming up and I'm always a bit anemic and craving red meat beforehand.

I'm so hungry.

I'm so bored.

I'm so hungry!

I'm so, so hungry.

I also want a cigarette, but that's another matter.  One that's haunted me since Monday.  (Only one day late).

I took a steroid to reduce the swelling, and an antibiotic for infection, and an order of a liquid diet until I can properly swallow without choking, and another order to skip work again tomorrow because I'll still be contagious.  And all I really want to do is eat and be around people.

This sucks.

Oh well, I'm going to watch The Lord of the Rings trilogy and try to convince my mom to buy me ice cream.  Wish me luck and a speedy recovery!

I really, really, really, really, REALLY, rRrEEeeAAAllYYYY want to eat tomorrow.

01 September 2017

Mercury in retrograde strikes!

Colors of Mercury 
Image Credit: NASA / JHU Applied Physics Lab / Carnegie Inst. Washington
Usually I don't notice the affects of a retrograde Mercury.  So much so, in fact, that I've been fairly skeptical of just how much impact the stars and planets have on our lives.  I just haven't seen much value in the study of astrology.  I'm less skeptical now.

You see, I'm writing this post on my kindle fire because my laptop is no longer taking a charge.  Yay!  As of yesterday my laptop battery is at 70% and, well, like I mentioned earlier, not charging.  I've an appointment to take it in on Tuesday and I'm really hoping that whatever is wrong with it is a relatively easy (and cheap!) fix.  I'd be writing on my parent's computer, but it died a couple of weeks ago (at the beginning of this retrograde, actually).  Double yay!

Hey, at least I still have my phone and my kindle.

Still, this sucks.  I really can't afford to get a new computer until I find a new job, and though my mom has basically offered to purchase a new computer for me I am just not comfortable having her do that.  She's old, she feeds me, and right now she's letting me live in her house for free (well, for access to my Netflix subscription, but you get the picture).  I'm a grown-ass woman and shouldn't have to rely on Mama for everything.  I mean, I do, of course, because no matter how grown I am I'm still broke as hell, but I don't like having to rely on her largess.  Here's hoping (1) my computer is cheaply fixable, and (2) I find that elusive full time job soon.  I really hate being such a burden.

As right now I have nothing better to do (it's really annoying trying to navigate the interwebs on my kindle and I've been trying to cut back on my phone time), I've been thinking about the details of my life.  Trying to find small changes I can make to it to improve it.  Well, that and looking at my previously broken vows and promises to myself, my friends and family, and the gods and spirits that I honor and occasionally make promises to.  Promises that, at the time, I fully intend to keep.  Unfortunately, that rarely works out.  I don't really know what happens, but somewhere in the middle of whatever it is I'm doing with those aforementioned vows and promises my attention gets lost and those promises get broken.  It's silly and stupid and careless of me, but it's also very, very human.  I mean, how many of us keep our New Years' resolutions?

That's what I thought.

Anyway, it turns out that most of my broken promises are things that I really, really want to do.  You know?  They're actions that would improve my life and maybe make me like myself a little more.  And a lot of it is simply stepping up things that I'm already doing or trying to do.  It's just s matter of taking those things a bit more seriously.

So I thought I'd do something like a "boot camp" for the month of September, and maybe jump start some of my longer term goals.  To that end, here's what I'm doing for the next 30 days:

  • Quitting smoking on the 3rd.  I actually picked the 3rd to do this weeks ago when I decided to finally and for real quit smoking.  It works out best for me because Labor Day gives me three days off work in a row, and I know from past experience that the first three days are the days when I'm most irritable and not fit to be around other humans.  This way I'm only going to be around family, and I'll be able to retreat to my bedroom when I find them completely maddening (which I will).
  • Yoga every day for at least 10 minutes.  Right now, as poor of shape as I'm in, I think 10 minutes is probably the most I can do.  My friend Leanne and I are participating in a challenge of some kind that she found on Instagram.  I promised her I would do this so I will.  Besides, I rather like yoga.
  • Walking every day.  This I actually started in July and managed to do almost every day for about a month (barring inclement weather, of course), until a series of storms drove me inside and I didn't pick it up again.  I was actually considering throwing in some jogging to get more of a work out, before ruining everything by sitting on my ass for the last several weeks.  So, I'm starting over from the beginning.
  • Finding an exercise that I can do indoors to replace walking when the weather is terrible, and adding it to my daily routine anyway.  I'm hoping to make whatever I land on for this a regular addition sometime around the middle of the month.  I'm thinking maybe 30 minutes of cardio step, since I have a step I got a few years ago.  It's time again to get some use from it.
  • Daily meditation, at least 10-15 minutes, to clear and organize my thoughts.
  • Daily language study.  I am determined to learn Irish.  Determined enough that I study on a fairly regular (though not daily) basis anyway.  I'm stepping up my studies!  If this goes well and I think I can handle it, I'm going to pick back up with Mandarin Chinese in October too!
  • Eating a healthier diet made up of real food that I cook/prepare myself.  Lately (as in the last several months/years) I've been eating nothing but highly processed crap.  It's ridiculous!  I'm not going to worry about calories or fat or carbs or anything like that, but I am making a commitment to eat more vegetables and fruits and food I prepare myself.  I'm also going to be watching portion control since I WAY overeat.  I do want to lose weight.  I am going to lose weight.  Plus, I've noticed that I think better (more clear, and less depressive) when I eat a healthier, more balanced diet.
  • Journalling.  Every day.  At least a page.
  • Properly cleaning my teeth every night.  I do this on a fairly regular basis anyway, and of course I brush my teeth every morning as well.  My "proper cleaning" includes brushing, flossing, and mouth wash.  Right now I sometimes go weeks without doing all three.  That's got to stop.  I am going to floss and use mouth wash every night this month.  I'm fairly certain I have 3 cavities right now, and I can't afford ANY until I get that elusive full time job and have dental insurance again.  I'm determined that my teeth don't get any worse until then.  (Another reason to cut back the sugar and nutritionally barren crap food.)
  • Weekly offerings and prayers.
  • Weekly tarot readings.  Did ya'll know I've been reading tarot for nearly 27 years?  I've let my practice fall to the wayside, mostly, I think, due to depression, but I've been feeling the need to pick it back up.  So I am.
  • Weekly and daily rituals.  Larger and small, respectively.
  • Practical magic. Just to help with my odds.
  • Write.  It's what I actually want to do with my life (career-wise) anyway.
  • And I have a loose goal of applying for 30 new jobs, but that really depends on the jobs that open up, you know?  Still, I need to apply for a significant number of jobs, even if I'm unsure of the exact number.  When I get my computer fixed I'll rebuild the database I destroyed in a fit of pique a few years ago as I closed on 1000 jobs applied for and denied me.

So that's it.  So far.  That's my list of stuff to do this month.  My little things to make my life better.  It's a nice mix of a continuation of things I've been doing, things I've been planning to do, and things I used to do and have wanted to pick back up.  I think they're small and doable and not overwhelming.

Wish me luck!

04 August 2017

Tell Your Story, Man

The Adults (my great grandparents): Joseph and Sopia.  The children: Sophie, Katherine "Kitty", Anna, Mary, Barbara, Zora, Daniel (my grandfather), Mildred, Josephine, and Frances "Vinny."  Not featured: Elizabeth "Betty" who was not yet born.  Based on my estimated age of the eldest daughter, Sophie, who was born in 1904, I think this photo was taken in 1920 or thereabouts.
For the most part I find people to be interesting.  For the most part.  I think everyone has a story to tell about themselves and their lives.  This is the type of history that I enjoy: the history of people, the personal, the relatable.  The stories of my family.  The stories of your family.  Stories.

In that vein, I'm developing a memoir writing program at my library.  The program will run every Tuesday night in October, with four weeks of writing and storytelling assistance, and one final week of filming one of the stories the participants have written.  I'm pretty excited about it, and I really, really hope this program is successful because I'd like to see it expanded.  I have dreams of creating a regular podcast or web series around the program, and running the classes through much of the year.

Oh!  And can you imagine a book?  I can.  I think it would be nifty.

My program planning is mostly finished.  The only things left for me to do are the final touches: creating handouts, working out which of the myriad of topics we'll focus on, and figuring out how to use the freaking green screen at the library.  I'm working mostly from Lois Daniel's How to Write Your Own Life Story, and incredibly helpful book on memoir writing, which I love.  And I'm having a really great time figuring out the how of this, going over some of my old writing assignments from yesteryear, remembering the styles and encouragements of my teachers, mentors, and professors.  I'd forgotten, I think, how much I enjoy the business of writing—I love it more than anything.

Which brings me to myself and my writing.  I have really been sadly neglecting this hard-won skill.  I mean, yeah, I have a natural talent for language use and storytelling, but that gets me nowhere if I don't actually work at it, and I used to work at it.  Now, I'm in a state of atrophy, but I'm not so far gone.  I just have to remember, and remember to work.  So I guess that's what I'm going to do.

At one point I wanted to make writing my career, and you know what?  I still do.  It's time for me to actually start seriously pursuing that career.  No excuses.  What does that mean for this blog?  Not sure.  Because I want to actually sell what I'm writing, I'll not be posting it here.  Most publishers want first rights, you know?  But I will post some stuff (and maybe more often), and I'll try to keep you apprised of what's happening.  The two people I know who actually read this blog sometimes complain that I don't update it enough, so I suppose that has to change.  (I don't know how my suspicious number of French readers feel about anything, I just know that I'm getting an oddly large number of hits from France.)

So that's my plan.  I'll keep you posted on my library program and my writing progress and whatever else I feel like blogging about (because, really, this blog's about me).  Below is my list of possible memoir topics, and, um, I'll let you know as I figure more out.

Oh! And I almost forgot: I'm still looking for a new job.  As much as I now enjoy the library, it still isn't the place for me.  I've got no room to grow.  And I'd really like to have relatively normal hours—and full time hours with all the benefits that come with those (medical, dental, retirement).  So, if I find a job before October?  I'll take it.  I plan on leaving enough notes that one of my coworkers can step in.  Or, if I can swing it—and this is my preference—I'll still teach this October class after my regular workday.  It'd be nice if the library will still pay my regular hourly wage for it, but I'm not expecting that.  If I have another job to pay the bills, I can volunteer.

On to the list!

Possible memoir topics include:

  • Birth
  • Childhood
  • Parents & Grandparents
  • Accomplishments
  • Where were you (significant historical events)
  • Religion
  • Relatives
  • Romance
  • Turning Points
  • Children
  • Technology
  • Holidays
  • Politics
  • Pets and Animals
  • Traditions
  • Immigration
  • Memorable Moments
  • Places
  • Failures
  • Jobs
  • Creative Arts (how music, theater, dance, movies, paintings, etc) affect your life
  • Hobbies
  • Wars
  • Fashion
  • Teachers (in school and out of it)
  • Food
  • Lessons (that you learned or that you have to teach)
  • Natural Disasters
  • Et cetera, et cetera

12 July 2017

Heat

by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I do not like the summertime.  No, that's not precisely true.  I like the green and growing things, fireflies, the sounds of crickets that sneak through my window at night.  I like seeing the birds that gather in my neighborhood, the squirrels, the foxes, and other wildlife that venture into my suburban neighborhood (truth, they do that in all seasons).  I like the fruit and vegetables, garden-grown, which are much easier to access and that actually taste like something.  I like most of the aspects of the summertime.

I don't like the heat.

The last two days it's hit triple digits here on the eastern end of Kansas.  It was 101ºF (or 38ºC) today.  One-Hundred-and-Freaking-One Degrees Fahrenheit!  So early in the summer too.  This does not bode well for August, that's for damn sure.

It's exhausting, this heat.  And here it comes with a humidity that seems to suck the moisture from your bones and throw it in the air.  It's hard to breathe.  It's hard to move.  It's hard to think.

I don't do well in such heat, and long for the summers of my youth when 90ºF seemed stifling.  I would not want to live anywhere hotter.  And feel sorry for those that do.

Air conditioning helps, but in some ways it makes it worse too.  The house smells . . . different.  We can't open up the windows and air it out.  Of course, we don't do that much anyway.  My father hates nature and can't tolerate anything that reminds him of it, even a gentle breeze.  I know, it's weird, but what do you expect from a man who hates music?  He worships the television, though.

It's strange here in the summertime.  The air is wet, it's like walking through soup, but the ground is dry and cracking.  If I had a garden maybe it'd be better.  I'd have a reason to water on the regular, and mulch to keep the soil from drying out too much.  Maybe next year.  I need to start it soon.  Sooner than soon.

In other news:

Another disappointment on the job front.  It's farcical at this point, really.  Now I'm hearing things like, "You haven't had a full time job in years!" as reasons for the joylessness of my search.  Well, yeah, because no one will freaking hire me!!!  Whatever.  I'll try again tomorrow.  As always.

I've been negligent in my correspondences.  A letter writer by nature and preference, I've fallen behind and have lost a letter I began to my best friend weeks ago.  Sorry, Leanne!  I'll catch up.  I promise.

My allergy pills are useless this summer.  That could be because allergens are more prolific, or the St. John's Wort I take to manage my depression is interfering with them (which is one of the side effects of St. John's Wort), or simply because I've been taking them too long (which is one of the side effects of being me).  Whatever, I'll deal.  At this point my mental health is more important to me than my physical comfort, so there's no way I'll stop the herbal help right now.  OF COURSE it could be that my allergies aren't all that worse at all, but I've had a sinus infection.  After the horrible experience I had last week, literally not being able to breathe through my nose, and having the inside of my face feel incredibly, painfully swollen, I'm guessing it's the latter.  It's cleared up–for now–but I'm determined to succeed in quitting smoking to better my chancing of avoiding such a feeling in the future.  Wish me luck!

Except for the few days in which I could barely breath—seriously, it was awful—I've started meditating daily.  It's nice.  It's something I need to keep up.  I have to be very careful because I have a tendency to lose interest in things, or get distracted, or get frustrated and just give up.  Which is probably why I have at least a dozen novels in various stages of completion, but none–not one!–even close to being done.  I've got to change that, get better, focus.  Hoping regular meditation will help.  Plus it just takes the edge off life.

'Bye for now!

04 July 2017

Toil and Trouble

By cjohnson7 from Rochester, Minnesota (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I suppose it would be appropriate, since it is July 4th, to talk about my country, but I am so thoroughly freaked out by the politics and the malignant nationalism (read: white nationalism) that I find I don't have much to say.  I don't understand the attitudes of people who don't believe in a living minimum wage, or health care for all, or rights for anyone who is not a rich, white, cisgendered, heterosexual, Christian man.  Those people scare me.  They scare me more than anything.  And they especially scare me because so many of them have power—as in actual governmental power.  Nor do I understand the folk that voted these fuckbuckets into that power.  The lies they must tell themselves.

So though it is the 4th, I will not talk about how much I love my country, because I cannot.  I am both disappointed in and frightened of (and for!) my country at this time, and, at this time, I'm not sure my feelings will ever be repaired.

Instead, I think I'll simply go on talking about myself and my life.

Let's get on with it, shall we?

Actually, things are not that bad.  I mean, yeah, things are objectively horrible, but I'm in a pretty good place right now.  I'm now been taking St. John's Wort for three months, and I can feel a marked change in my outlook and my ability to handle problems.  This is good, because I keep having problems (e.g. my phone horribleness last week, and my continued inability to get a job).  Whereas before the St. John's Wort I'd be a panicked wreck for at least a week after having to buy a new phone, with it I just bought the damn phone and adjusted my budget for the coming months.  And, yes, I do mean months.  It'll take me at least two months to absorb the cost and get back to normal, even with the extra hours I was lucky enough to be offered for the month of July.  Oh, well.

Also, I'm now able to do more than one thing a day.  Huzzah!

However, I'm now noticing all the things I've left undone for the last decade or so.  I don't know how much is just gone, ruined beyond repair by my neglect, but I'm hoping to save a lot of it.  Now, I'm not talking material possessions here–though there is some of that too–but the more ephemeral connections, strengths, and skills.  I'm having to relearn things I once knew, things that once came naturally to me.  It's frustrating work, made more difficult because I'm still struggling in literally every other aspect of my life.

It's terrible hard work rebuilding when you don't have solid ground to build on, you know?  My life is so unstable still, but I have to do something.  I have to try to build, to create some semblance of life.  I can't just sit around waiting to die, but it seems that I've forgotten how to move.  Mostly, I'm trying to focus on finding my way out of this hole I've dug myself.  It's easier now, and I'm thanking the St. John's Wort for that, but it's still hard.  I can't allow myself to think of the dreams I used to have which are lost now.  That's still enough to break me.

On a positive note, I had a job interview last week.  I couldn't say how it went.  I'll be very disappointed if I don't get this job, though.  It's in my field, and something I could very much enjoy.  I find I have to stop myself from saying, "I doubt I'll get this job."  Which I suppose is a bad sign.  But when in the last 6 (SIX!!!) years have I had luck with jobs?   I'm afraid that if I allow my hopes to rise and I don't get the job I'll be crushed.  However, I know that if I remain pessimistic and am offered the job I'll be pleasantly surprised.  I would so much rather be pleasantly surprised.

25 June 2017

Incommunicado

By Biblioteca de la Facultad de Derecho y Ciencias del Trabajo Universidad de Sevilla [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia
My phone is broken.  Like, broken broken.  I'm not even able to turn it on.  I have a new phone on order, but I likely be without phone service for about a week.  This wouldn't be such a big deal, except I have something like a dozen active resumés and job applications out there.  Not that I think I'll get a call from one of the offices or libraries to which I've applied—history has shown otherwise—but it could happen!  So:

ACK!  ACK ACK ACK!!!!!

It's no big deal.  It's a very big deal.  Well, it's highly inconvenient at any rate.  And I didn't need the added expense.  Seriously, I just got my credit card down to a manageable amount, and have been fantasizing about paying it off entirely within the coming month.  AND I have taxes on my car due shortly.  AND insurance.

Oh, how I wish that my phone could have held out a little longer!

It's fine.  I'm fine.  I'm annoyed, but I'm fine.

I was a late adopter of cell phones—let alone smart phones—I can go without for a bit.  It's still surprising how much I rely on the damn thing for everyday life.  It keeps my schedule, my contacts, my passwords, my life!  Now I have to go back to the way things were before I broke down and got the damn thing in the first place—relying on my memory!  Or my paper planner and address book.  Whichever.

Maybe this is a good thing.  Maybe I can use this time to break at least part of my addiction to technology.  I've actually been thinking about getting rid of my phone for a while now.  Not seriously, of course.  Just in that way we think of the mythological simpler past, you know.  I don't particularly like my life being dictated by technological connectivity after all, but must needs and all that.

So for the next week I'll be living life like it's the year 2010.  I've got my eReader, my car, and my computer to meet my tech needs, and my parents landline if anyone needs to get a hold of me.  Yikes!  Wish me luck.

09 June 2017

Time Running, Running Time

by Sandstein [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Time is a funny thing.  It ties us up, swirls around us, and moves constantly on, on, ever on and back. We can't escape it—to do so we would cease to be as we are.  We would cease to be.  Keeps us spinning, time does.  Spinning round and round and round.  Constantly moving, trying to escape the past, the future, our inevitable deaths.  Perhaps just trying to escape.  Time also finds us trying desperately to hold on to the past even when it would be healthier to let it go.  And trying desperately to grasp a future that may never be.  It pushes and pull us.  It tears us apart and brings us together.  It both heals and causes wounds.  Yeah, it's funny alright.  Funny and tragic and oh, so human.

Sometimes it feels like I've always been trying to escape.  What?  I couldn't say.  I don't really know.  There are a lot of things about myself I don't know.  A lot of things I'm not sure I ever knew, and maybe more that I've lost over the years.  Of course, there's also things that I know but I just can't access any longer.  And things that I know, but I can't admit.

How much of my life is time-locked?  How much of myself will I discover or rediscover in time?

Discovering and rediscovering myself is part of what I'm trying to do this year.  Figure out where I want to be and how to get there.  Figure out who I am and who I want to be and how to reconcile the two.  How much time will this take me?  How much of me will time take?  My whole life, is the likely answer to both those questions.

I suppose it's time to start working.

05 June 2017

Wonder and Possibilities

The Meeting of Oberon and Titania by Arthur Rackham [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I realized today that I one of the things that I've lost through the years—whether from depression or the cynicism that comes with age, I'll never know—is my sense of wonder.  That I used to be able to look out upon the world with both wonder and expectation is something of a surprise to me, as I feel as though I've always been the way I am now, you know?  But I remember, sometimes, the wonder and the awe that I once found.  I remember the feeling that anything was possible, everything was possible.  And then something happened and I lost it.

How did I let that happen?  How did I let my life dull?  How did I let my future become something that I wasn't looking forward to seeing?  I just don't understand how I got so lost . . .

It's time to reclaim that sense that I once had.  I'm not entirely certain how to do it, but I'm going to try.  I have to try, because, for me, with wonder comes both joy and possibilities, and I so desperately need both in my life right now.

So how do you find wonder?  I'm starting–as is appropriate for a librarian–with books.  This summer I'm going to reread my favorite books from my youth.  Books I haven't read in years.  Books that made me look at the world a little differently, and made me notice things that maybe I wouldn't have noticed otherwise.  Books that changed my way of thinking about things.  Books that are filled with hope and joy and magic, at least for me.

Of course reading is not enough.  I'm going to have to do as well.  So, I'm going to explore things I haven't explored since before I wandered off to university and learned to dissect the things I loved and write about the process.  That means writing, drawing, Shakespeare, faery tales, dancing, hiking, people-watching, yoga, and music.  I was a fair hand with a violin until my last year of high school when I quit because I couldn't fit orchestra into my schedule.  I also used to draw and doodle.  And make up stories about people I saw on the street.  Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  And while I have no violin and no way to afford it or the lessons I surely need now, I do have a penny whistle I bought on a lark about 10 years ago, and have been meaning to learn how to play.  Also expect more poetry to show up here, though probably not on so regular a basis as my Poetry Wednesdays from a while back.

I'm going to work on things like storytelling (that is: the telling of tales aloud), and languages (Irish and Mandarin), and make a concerted effort to be positive.  Maybe I'll take my queue from the Queen in Alice in Wonderland and try to believe in six impossible things before breakfast.  Mostly, though, I think I'll focus on what makes me happy, letting my sorrows wither from lack of attention.

I have to believe that life will work out for the best, and things happen for a reason.  I have to believe that my luck will change for the better.  I have to rediscover my dreams and find the path I abandoned for whatever reason so long ago.  To do otherwise would have me withering, and that I cannot tolerate.  I refuse to be crushed by mundanities.  I will find my wonder, my path, and I will live.  No more of this surviving crap, it's just not cutting it.

This is going to take a really long time, isn't it?  Crap.

31 May 2017

Of Rainbows, First Loves, Friends, and Broken Bottles

Mavrica [Rainbow] by Andrej Jakobčič, Julij 2004 via Wikimedia Commons 
From the summer 2000 to February 2002 I dated a boy who'd end up breaking my heart.  Well, him and literally all of my friends.  Actually, it there were a number of factors in the breakage of my heart which included loss of the boy, my abandonment by my friends, and the onset of massive and clinical depression.  It was a whole mess.

Anyway . . .

From the summer 2000 to February 2002 I dated a boy who'd end up breaking my heart, and I've been trying to tell this story ever since.  Tell it without judgement or recriminations.  Tell it and let it go.

I can't say for certain that it was love I felt for the boy.  This is something I've struggled with actually.  I can't say that it was love, because I'm honestly not sure it was.  I liked him a lot.  He was smart and fun and a fabulous lover.  And what I felt for him may have been something like love, but I'm not sure.  It certainly hurt when we broke up, and I don't think I've ever quite gotten over it, but I think I could have—would have if other factors hadn't interfered.  It definitely damaged my ego—I'd always been the one to end my relationships before—but is a bruised ego the same as a broken heart?

I don't think so.

To me our relationship was magical.  Or maybe it was just that that time of my life was magical.  I was newly clean.  I was having fun with someone who shared my interests.  I never thought too much into our future, mostly because he was up front with the fact that we didn't have a future.  That was fine with me.  In 2000 I was 19 and not looking to get married.  Plus, it was very clear that we had two different visions of our futures.  He wanted to move back to the big cities of the East Coast, and I had vague fantasies of small town living.  Too many people in one place makes me claustrophobic, and I wanted to live somewhere I could own acreage without spending millions of dollars.

I still believed that I could grow up to become a writer.  I'd write frequently, jotting down ideas for stories, outlining novels, creating characters I thought were interesting.  I should have paid more attention to myself, because, looking back, depression was already eating into my brain.  I always had some excuse for why I didn't pursue writing, why I didn't finish the story or start writing the novel: I was too green; I needed to learn more; I was too busy with school and work or whatnot.  I think already there was that voice inside my head whispering that I would fail, so why try?  It just wasn't nearly as loud as it is now.

I'm scrambling desperately to regain some of that belief now, and put it into practice.

So this boy and I spent most every weekend together for the better part of a year and a half.  It was nice.  He was friends with all of my friends.  My best friend had actually dated him for a while.  It didn't cause us any drama because she was the one who first suggested that we get together, he and I. She was right, too.  We got along famously.  Though it probably would have been best if I had broken up with my high school boyfriend before sleeping with the boy, but what are you going to do?  I broke up with the high school guy almost immediately thereafter, and that relationship had basically already ended anyway.  We just hadn't gone through with the formalities.

That first summer I would visit the boy in the house he'd rented with my best friend, two of her ex-boyfriends (not including the boy), one of their girlfriends, and this really hot former Army officer who was getting his teaching degree.  We'd sit out on the porch, the boy and I, and watch the storms pass through that midwestern college town.  If you've never seen the violence and the beauty of a midwestern thunderstorm, well, you're really missing something.  That first summer and fall was unusually stormy.  Following the storms were rainbows.  I don't think I've ever seen as many rainbows as I did while I was dating the boy.  I know that after we broke up, it was years before I saw another one.  More than a decade, really.  My eyes and my heart just weren't tuned to them, I guess.

I took the rainbows as a sign.  Of what, I couldn't say.  Or maybe I don't want to.  No, to me they were another bit of romance to top off my new and much better relationship, my new and much better self.  I was where I was meant to be at that moment.  I was happy and infatuated and, yeah, a little bit in love.  Why is that so hard for me to say?  

He took my rainbows from me when he left.  Or maybe I gave them to him.  I don't know.

There was a brief thunderstorm today that left a rainbow behind, long and fat and beautiful.  I stepped outside in time to see it in all its glory, and watch it as it faded.  I also saw the whisper of another bow above it.  That reminded me of this, and I knew that it was time to write it up and let it go.

The house didn't last long, just that first summer.  When autumn came, my friend went back to her dorm, and the boys moved into apartments off campus.  I helped the boy move, hauling boxes of books up stairs and into rooms.

Our whole relationship was lovely to me.  Until the end.  Which, I have to say, I saw coming.  He grew distant.  We talked less.  The sex was still good, not as kinky as it had been, but that was it.  He didn't degrade me or insult me, he just withdrew.  And I didn't know how to handle it.

I made myself smaller thinking that would help.  It certainly had with the other guys I'd dated.  They had enjoyed it being all about their wants and needs, which made it easier for me to leave.  It didn't work that way with the boy.  He simply continued withdrawing.  Ultimately, I think it made it easier for him to leave me, and harder for me to handle it.  Because somehow, this time, in making myself smaller I managed to lose some essential piece of myself in the process.

So that weekend in February 2002 I knew what was coming.  I knew it.  I just didn't expect it quite so soon.  I was actually hoping that we could last another couple of weeks since my birthday is in early March, and I was hoping for a present and a nice time at my party.  Didn't happen, of course, but that was my hope.

Saturday was what had become typical for us.  Small talk, fucking, sleep.  Inconsequential, average, a little bit awkward.  I was afraid that I was losing him.  I was right in that fear.  There was nothing I could do that would stop him.  Truth, that weekend was not very memorable.  Except for Sunday.  The day the boy told me he didn't want to be with me anymore.

We made love that morning.  It was slow and sweet and lingering.  His way of saying goodbye without words?  After, my body still warm with him, though we were both dressed, he used his words.  It hurt.  A lot.  I was shaking so much I had to lay down.  So I lay there on his bed, alone, and tried to act like it was all okay.  I was fine.  Yes, I still wanted to be friends.  It was fine.  I was fine.  I couldn't breathe, but I was fine.  Then I left.  I tried to cry on my drive back home, out of town, but I couldn't.

I don't remember ever shedding a tear over him.  I wanted to, though, most desperately.

So, that cracked me, but I didn't shatter.  Not until a few weeks later.  

My friends were set to throw me a birthday party at the house I was moving into with my best friend, the girl who had first introduced me to the boy.  The boy was planning on attending the party.  I could be cool, no worries.  Except my best friend, just days before the party–my party–told me that I shouldn't come.  The boy was bringing his new girlfriend.  Like, what the fuck?  Wasn't it supposed to be my birthday party?  I went anyway.  Forewarned, I didn't make a scene.  That's not really my schtick anyway, you know?  But that conversation we had, her disinviting me to my own party, added another crack.  I was getting fragile.

I shattered about two months later.  

I'd moved into the house.  I was sad still, over the boy.  I was working a new job in which I didn't fit.  My best friend made it clear that she didn't want to deal with my sadness, so I didn't mention it and it festered.  That festering gave voice to my depression, and I was lost.  A cracked bottle barely floating in a sea of made of unshed tears.

And then she asked me to move out.

And I shattered and the pieces of me sank into the deep dark.

My mom told me recently that my friend told her that she was frightened for me.  That's not the message I got from my friend.  What I got from my friend was that she valued her friendship with the boy more than her friendship with me.  And I now I think that both those things could be true.  Because she didn't try to be my friend afterwards.  She never called or emailed or checked up on me.  Nor did any of my other friends.  I lost them all, but she's the one that hurt the most.  I didn't hear from her again until the next year, weeks before I moved to Alaska.

She invited me for drinks in that midwestern college town.  I went, hoping that maybe I could find my friend again.  I didn't.  She apologized, but it didn't mean anything to me.  I was numb.  I didn't feel anything really.  We went to see the boy in his new apartment, and it was awkward and awful and I didn't feel anything for him either.  I just kind of wanted to leave.

So I did.

I've been trying to suss out my reactions to them ever since.  Depression, man.  

I've had a really hard time making friends since then.  In fact, I've only made one.  I've not dated since then either.  I've not had the stomach for it.  I have a really hard time trusting people, trusting myself, believing that I'm worth anything.

I'm working on it.

I think I've found most of my pieces, and some buoyancy, though I've not yet broken through to air.  I'll never be what I once was, but maybe I can find some bit of life yet.  Maybe I can repair myself into something that can steer to shore.  The cracks will always be there, the jagged edges, the missing shards, but I have to believe that I'll be able to find dry land and leave behind the sea.

I just hope it happens soon.

27 May 2017

In which I obsess over my inability to afford to buy a human skull on a whim

By Sklmsta [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
I'm going to tell you a secret (that is not so much a secret):

I really, really, really want to own a real human skull.

It's not that strange.  It's not!  Lots of people want to own the skulls and bones of humans and other animals.

So I want a human skull.  Preferably male, and also, I think, Asian.  Why male?  I don't know.  Like I seriously couldn't give you a reason on that.  But Asian?  That's because I've been looking at skulls and reproduction skulls online and the ones that appeal to me most have been Asian.  Weird, right?

African and European skulls are attractive as well, but for some reason male Asian skulls appeal to me the most.  The next most attractive skull, at least to me, is the female European skull.  Again, I couldn't tell you why.  Maybe I'm just weird.  The skull in the picture here was formerly a male European, for reference sake.

Now, I am neither skilled nor educated enough to look at a skull and tell you what race or sex the person was.  I say I find male Asian skulls the most attractive only because the skulls that have appealed to me have turned out to be male and Asian.  Read from that what you will.

I will probably never buy a skull for two reasons:
1) Skulls are expensive!  And I don't have enough money for necessities, let alone an extra $2000+ to spend on human remains that will likely end up being a really morbid dust catcher.
and
2) I don't know that I'd get along with whatever bit of spirit remains with, well, that bit of remains.  And I don't think I'd be able to cleanse the skull of its spirit, you know?  Don't know that I'd have the heart.  Don't know that I'd have the skill.  And I don't know that you'd be able to get a spiritually neutral skull.  I mean, I'd like a spirit tied to the skull, but one I called rather than one that came with it.  

Which is why if I ever get a skull, I'll probably end up buying a museum replica—and, really, I'm most worried about the money.  Speaking of which, Bone Clones offers these adorable scaled down skull replicas.  They fit in your hand!  Also, much cheaper than a full sized replica, and much, much, much cheaper than a real skull.  I want the set.

Maybe someday I'll be able to afford to buy a real human skull, one that is complete with mandible and teeth.  I hope so.  Maybe not.

How do you create change?

By Krzysiek.W [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
This is a question I've been pondering for some time.  How do I create change in my life?  It sounds simple enough: you make a decision and work towards it.  But in practice it's so hard.  I make promises to myself at night that I forget during the day.

So, how do you create change?

My guess is slowly and with great difficulty.

I've made some decisions in the last few months, now I just need to follow them through—keep working even if I stumble, even if I fall.  I just need to remember and keep working towards my goals.

Don't you think?

***   ***   ***   ***   ***

In other news:  I'm feeling particularly crafty, so here soon I'm going to start working on a project I've been wanting to do for some time.  It involves scrimshaw—which I really need to learn to do better, my last scrimshaw project didn't turn out particularly well.  It was okay, I guess, and I know what went wrong.  I'm not particularly artsy, and this project kind of requires it, so that's going to take some time.  It's also going to be rather expensive to buy all the bone discs I need, so that's going to take some time as well.  Unless I miraculously find a job or a way to make money some other way—I'm working on that, by the way.

So, what's the project?

Making Weirdin.

What are Weirdin?

Weirdin are divinatory tools created by fantasy author Charles de Lint (one of my favorite authors) for his book Moonheart.  In the book they're carved bone, but scrimshaw is more my style.  Plus I want to add some color, not a whole lot, but some.

I'm also going to need to paint a reading cloth.  I'm thinking silk.  It's a simple design, so that shouldn't be too difficult.  Not as difficult as scrimming 61 double-sided bone discs, at any rate.

I'm also thinking that I'm going to make a set in wood.  That should be faster.  Burned, not carved.  I've more talent for sketching than for carving—which I have no talent for whatsoever.  The wooden should be done by the end of the year.


And then, I still have no idea what I'm going to do for my family's winter holiday craft exchange.

31 March 2017

Figuring out my life

ShiFeng Waterfall by Weihao.chiu [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Man, it's been a while.  Sorry for that.  I just needed to spend some time away, not paying attention to life much at all.  Still no joy on the job front and that's a pity.  But I've managed to get a better handle on my meager finances, and should have my credit card paid off months earlier than expected.  Yay!

Not much else has gone on.  Nothing really to report.  I'm still here trying to figure out my next move and going nowhere.  Frustrating, it is.

I'm going to pick back up with blogging and my other writing here soon.

That's it.

04 February 2017

18 January 2017

Joy? No Joy. Joy?

Aurora over Kansas by Lane Pearman,  A rare occurrence indeed.
So, no joy results from my interview a couple Fridays ago.  Too bad.  I can't say I wasn't expecting it.  Though I can't say that I'm not massively disappointed either.  I wanted that job.  I really, really did.

Oh, well!  Moving on.

Today, shortly after receiving the dreaded email of rejection, I was called for an interview.  Yay.  Subdued yay, because the job is low paying, possibly part time (though maybe not), and not anywhere near the "professional" position that I need.  Applying for it, I couldn't help but think that I was giving up.  That they called me so quickly, I can't help but think that this job, and jobs like it, are all I'm ever going to get.  There seems to be an inevitability in this, you know?  It's work that I have been trying so hard to get away from, work that I spent tens of thousands of dollars on my education to avoid having to do, and yet . . .  This is what I'm most likely to get.

It's fine.  It's fine.  It's fine.

I need the money.  Desperately.  I'll have to continue working at the library, which is a pity, but, right now, it can't be avoided.  I don't mind the work itself.  I actually kind of enjoy it.  What I mind is what comes with it: low pay, crappy hours, the disrespect masked by the assumption that you're uneducated/stupid/too lazy to get a "real" job, etc.

Blah.  I'm being too negative.  I'm actually grateful for the chance this job brings, and a little bit happy that they've called.  I was beginning to believe that I was completely unhireable.  Two interviews in as many weeks goes a long way to prove that thesis wrong.  So, yay!  Maybe I can find a job after all.

And here's some big silver linings about this job (if I get it):

  • Health insurance
  • More money!  Along with my library job, I'll be able to:
    • Pay off most of my debts, especially my credit card!
    • Buy a new bed!
    • Get some new clothes!
    • Do things, like, go out to dinner!  Or even a movie!
    • Rebuild my savings!
    • Buy new bookshelves!
    • Get a new phone!
  • I can dye my hair some funky colors, which is something I've wanted to do for YEARS now.  Seriously, the hair is a big thing for me.  Check out Ursula Goff's website to get an idea of what I'm wanting to do, especially "galaxies," "oceans," and "jewels."
If I'm able to get at least something of a set schedule, then maybe I'll have some free time.  That's not guaranteed, of course, but a girl can dream.  I just hope that I won't be roped back into going months without a day off.  That way lies madness.  

So, this is a good thing.  Maybe.  If I get the job.

Once I get my debts paid off, I'll think about quitting the library.

I'll have to make time for both writing and studying.  I'll have to prioritize it.  I've been wanting to make a living writing forever and haven't ever really believed I could, but I'm not doing too good a job making a living any way else either.  Now's as good a time as any to really follow my dream.  Maybe I won't have to get a "grown up" job after all.  Maybe I'll be able to transition to writing with the help of this job possibility.

That would be good.

If I get this job, then I'm going to dye the crap out of my hair for my birthday.  And maybe next year get that tattoo I've been wanting.  (It's a simple compass rose).

Bright side, bright side.  I'm feeling good!

15 January 2017

To Ponder & Forgive

I got this picture from Pixabay.  Nice, right?
My mother once told me that depression was anger turned inwards.  I believe her, and not just because she's my mother and I love her so much that I've practically deified her, nor because she has a psychology degree, but because it makes sense and I am so very, very angry with myself.  Almost always.  Sure I feel sorry for myself sometimes, but mostly there's this simmering anger focused on every mistake I ever made.  And I have made a quite few mistakes, some so monumentally large that I'll feel the effects of them for years to come.

I've been thinking about this, and have come to the conclusion that I need to give myself a break.  I'm not perfect.  I can't be perfect.  I can't make the correct decision all the time.  I'm doing the best that I can now, and I did the best that I could at the time.  I need to let it go.  I need to forgive myself.  I need to stop obsessing about things I cannot change.  I cannot change who I was; I can only work on who I am and who I will become.

So I got fat.  So what?  I did it, there's no denying that I did it.  I can't go back in time and not get fat, but I can work to lose weight now.  I can work to get back in shape.  Sure, it would have been easier if I'd changed my eating habits and started working out again back when I first started to gain weight, but that didn't happen.  Instead I ignored it as much as I could, then I wallowed in grief and self pity, then, when I tried to change it, I'd grow frustrated with how difficult it was to do things I once found easy like run, or dance, or aerobics, or yoga, so I'd quit and go back to wallowing.  It was incredibly self-indulgent, and it resulted in me gaining more weight.

I quit dating 15 years ago, give or take, and that was a mistake.  It was a conscious decision on my part.  Or, at least, it started that way.  I needed time to get over both heartbreak and a bruised ego.  Then heartbreak again, as my friends left with my lover.  I needed a break, time to heal.  I should've newly single time to better myself, to fix the things I wanted to fix about myself, like the aforementioned weight gain, but I didn't.  Maybe I couldn't.  I don't know.  It would have been better, easier, if I hadn't lost all my friends at the same time.  What can I say?  They liked him better, and they weren't very good friends.  But I lost them too, and so I withdrew and indulged and wallowed.  I didn't know how to ask for help, or truly recognize that I needed it.  I dealt with being abandoned by my friends by withdrawing further.  I should have been braver and stronger.  I should have said, "Fuck them!" and gone on to make new friends, have new lovers, but I dealt with it the way only way I could at the time.  I survived.  

Getting a Master's in Library Science was a terrible decision.  It was, there's no denying that, but I didn't know it at the time.  I thought it was . . . safe.  It wasn't what I wanted to do, but I didn't have a clear picture of how I wanted my future to turn out.  I knew it was something I'd be good at, and I'd had several people, including most of my family, telling me for several years that it was something that I should do, and I thought, Why not? I could be a librarian.  And I could, except I can't.  I didn't know that library jobs would dry up.  I didn't know that a million other people had the same idea I did, many of whom have much more passion for the profession than I.  I didn't realize how hemmed in I'd feel, how desperate, when I couldn't find a job.  I didn't even think not finding a job was a possibility.  I just wanted something steady, something professional, something wherein I'd be treated with more respect than retail.  Who knew that it'd make me feel more miserable and more worthless than retail?  Who knew that I'd spend years applying for every full time library position I heard about in the Northern United States, including Alaska, and that those ~1500 resumes and carefully crafted cover letters sent, and applications filled out would result in a grand total of three interviews, and zero offers?  I didn't.  I couldn't.  So I did the best I could at the time.  I really did.  That it didn't work out is not my fault.  Not really.  It was just a conspiracy of bad timing.  I really thought that I was making my life better.

I don't know where I go from here.  I have no real vision of my future, but I've got to forgive myself for the mistakes in my past.  Those mistakes make up the foundation of me that is my past.  They can't be undone.  I have to forgive myself.  I have to, in order to heal and live.

I don't know where my life is going.  I don't know what I'll do next.  What I do know is that I need to stop being so angry with myself.  I need to stop being so self-destructive.  I need to forgive and grow and learn and heal.  One foot in front of the other, these are the steps I need to live.