Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year (But No Highlights Yet)

Well, the getting right with God is going well. I have a beautiful new Hindu altar, the previous altar has been cleaned and rearranged to within an inch of its life (and has already gotten the approval of CDHSarah, who was first to see it.)

The Wise and Sometimes Apparently Omnipotent Tish was right as always. The same night as the reading, I came across this line in Standing Alone In Mecca: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam, which was one of my Xkzule gifts from the aforementioned and much-beloved CDHSarah:

"...I learned that seeking forgiveness is a way to be compassionate with yourself about actions that carry emotions such as shame, blame or hurt."

It was yet another Kendo Stick Moment in a long line of many. I have a feeling it's not even close to the last, but that's OK by me.

So I am forgiven, because I have forgiven myself, and I feel better than I have in weeks. Even the pain in my back has lessened since I did what I felt had to be done to achieve forgiveness and compassion for myself. And (being a Discordian) it also had an odd and much-welcomed side effect.

As I mentioned, part of what I had been putting off was the massive job of moving, cleaning and reorganizing the altar and sacred space in my room. Part of my methods for that involve the literal cleaning of everything associated with the space -- statues are washed, or dusted if their finish will not permit an actual washing, the shelves are scrubbed, and all the odds and ends (jars, cups, etcetera) which reside there get a similar treatment.

Two and a half years ago, extreme financial straits led me to take on a series of roommates who were progressively more and more shady -- a guy who turned out to be an IV drug user (he was a diabetic and it took me a little while to realize that he wasn't just using his needles for insulin) and a freelance hooker being the worst of the lot. Around that same time, a pair of earrings my mother had given me which were of not-inconsiderable value disappeared. When I didn't find them during the move or the move that followed, despite searching every jewelry box, odds-n-ends container, and similar I own (or so I thought), I decided that they were most likely residing in the sale case of one of the many fine pawn shops in my former hometown. Every time I have thought of those earrings for that length of time, or been asked about them by my mom, a wave of negativity directed at my own stupidity and foolishness has washed over me, to the point that I felt physically sick with guilt and shame.

The one thing I never though of is the fact that, in any move, the altar is dismantled by putting the icons, tools and statuary in the lower drawers, which are always the first things I carry to the new residence. As I was looking for a new container for my sea salt, I noticed the Pueblo carrying pot (also a gift from my mother, from one of her trips to the Southwest when I was much younger) which for years has had my collection of foreign currency stored in it and has propped up one or more altar cards on the shrine since I first set it up.

You can see where this is going. When I looked down inside the pot, lying on top of my Mexican pesos and British pounds were the earrings over which I had spent so much time berating myself. They're not even damaged. Mahalakshmi, namostu'te!

Kendo Stick Moment, as I said, and a lesson in self-forgiveness I won't soon forget.

While on the subject of good fortune, namas also to the very nice member of the Metro PD who pulled me over on my way home from Cafe O2 tonight. He pulled me over less than a half-mile from my house on the cut-through road from CDHSarah's to my place because the red tape covering my rear taillight had come loose and too much white was showing through. He only checked my license and registration (good, because I won't be able to afford insurance until early February), didn't bother to actually run my license number or give me a ticket; he just told me what was wrong, admitted that the recent rain had probably caused the tape to come loose, asked me how far I had to go, and told me to have a nice night and be careful on the roads New Years' Eve, a caution I repeated to him. He didn't even follow me home, as some other officers have done to ensure that I wasn't lying about my proximity to home (my I.D. still has my parent's address, which is in a different county). I have a feeling, because of the time of night (right before the bars closed) that he was mostly concerned with ascertaining that I wasn't driving under the influence. The world needs more cops like that, and I hope he goes far and stays as cool as a member of the police force can be.

Interestingly, again, when I pulled out the registration for my car, a few other items from the glove box came with it, and once the cop had pulled off and I had returned my paperwork to its proper place, the Tarot card VALOUR (7 of Wands) was still in my lap, one from a damaged copy of the Thoth deck the Artist gave me so I could make art out of the remaining cards once they were no longer of any use as a divination tool. How the card got into my glove box (and into my lap, for that matter) when its fellows are all in a box on top of one of the bookshelves at the apartment is a Mystereee, but the card is now ensconced next to the Infant Jesus of Prague's holy card on the new shrine. I hope it brings blessings, both to the officer and myself, and that he will be safe from all the drunk drivers tomorrow night and come to no harm.

In other news, as tends to happen, the moving of the shrine has spawned other householdy projects, mostly the ones involving the ridonkulously large collection of books. Since I had to move two shelves in order to set those up and ended up with stacks and stacks of books sitting in the bedroom floor, I decided it was the perfect time to get around to the other major task I've been putting off: namely, getting the library in some form of order and unpacking those books which have been boxed up since October 2004 (or even longer, in a few cases, but those are mostly little-used textbooks that I won't unpack until I determine whether there's space for them).

At this point, I have three full-size and three small-to-medium bookcases in my 800-square foot apartment. Once I get the stacks of books which are sorted in small piles around the house and in front of other books on the shelves themselves sorted and in their proper places, I have a feeling each and every shelf in each and every bookcase will be full to bursting. The childrens' and young adult literature alone occupies the largest of the medium shelves, and after the "metaphysics" (everything from The Tao of Physics to Scott Cunningham, Dojo Wisdom to The Woman's Bible) shelf on one of the larger bookcases collapsed under its own weight last week, the subject been given its own, small shelf next to the shrine. Right now I'm fidgeting about with the proper sorting and categorization of the fiction, as well as seriously considering either a.) living in this apartment until I die or b.) hiring movers if I ever decide to leave it. How I packed these things up and moved them twice in one year is beyond me...and that's not even counting the thirty-odd books I have out on loan to various associates (not including those lent to people I've lost track of, which will have to eventually be replaced as finances permit) or the God-knows-how-many jammed in every nook and cranny of the van. Once I've got them all shelved and sorted, I've entertained the thought of actually inventorying them, but I have a feeling that would be both frightening and take a lot more time than I have. (Also, knowing me, by book #230 or so, I'd have come across at least 20 volumes I wanted to read immediately, and the project would end unceremoniously with me curled up in the bed with Deliver Us from Evie or some other nugget of goodness I haven't read in a few years.)

The cats are, as usual, a bit unsettled by the reorganization -- the kitten managed to get herself stuck between a bookshelf and the shrine yesterday no less than three separate times because of her refusal to believe that she couldn't exit from under the left-hand side as used to be her wont. The Eldest Kitty traditionally reacts most badly to changes in the furniture configuration, so she's spent most of the past two days hanging out inside the cardboard cat carrier and making various disgusted faces when she deigns to emerge. The other two are mostly concerned with finding new routes which will allow them to circumnavigate as much of the apartment as possible without ever touching the floor. (Since I'm convinced that the kitten, at least, flies at night once the lights are off, I don't see the fascination, but it keeps them occupied.)

So, all of us here are good. Me and the white bathrobe of comfy goodness are about to head off to bed, as tomorrow I have fifty gazillion NYE and non-NYE-related errands to run, a three hour shift to work before the party can commence, and have to burn off some more music for CDHSarah's Massive And Getting Bigger All the Time New Year's Eve bash, at which I plan to get truly plastered (for the first time in years -- CDH's husband has known me for going on five years and never seen me drunk) on my favorite drink, Jesus Walking on Waters. (Back in the day, I named, but did not invent, this beverage: credit for that must be given equally to the Artist and Doctor Spears.)

For those who may wish to add this excellent beverage to their own NYE libations, here's how you make it: get a double shot glass, one of the ones that looks kind of like an hourglass. (This is important, as I haven't found any other kind of glassware that produces the desired effect.) Fill the bottom of the hourglass shape with lemonade -- Purity works best, but isn't available outside Middle TN, so just be sure that it's a sweet and not a tart lemonade, or you will live to regret it. Float your preferred whiskey (Canadian Mist works best when using Purity, but, the recipe to fit yourself) on top in the top half of the hourglass. Toss it back like a shooter -- the difference in specific gravity will usually keep the whiskey on top of the lemonade, which provides the perfect chaser. Also, the lemonade usually has a high enough water content that, barring ridiculously irresponsible consumption, it tends to help you avoid the New Year's Day hangover. (It's also nice with pineapple juice in place of the lemonade, in which case it's called a Jesus Walking Along the Beach In Maui; however, the floating, shot-plus-chaser effect doesn't work quite as well with the pineapple. Makes a decent mixed drink if the float effect fails, though.)

However it is that you celebrate, do so safely and, whether you're drinking or not, try to avoid the roads. I want to see you all back here in the New Year safe and sound for the promised Highlights Reel, which will happen IF (and only if) I can get the computer to stop being such a randomly-restarting fidget midget. Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve, and see you in 2006!

P.S. -- Sars still has a few GBC CDs (and apparently some of the t-shirts) left. Before you miss out, you should go buy one. Or three. (The "GBC CDs" link is the link to buy; the other is my impromptu rave review/call to action.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Eh Bien, And So

First things's to a whole year of TFtHM. Feel free to sing a chorus of "Happy Blogiversary to Parce" if you're so inclined, and here's hoping we're all here together this time next year. At some point in the next few days, in honor of the Western New Year, I'll try to put together a highlights links reel of Year In Review, but no promises, as I've got a lot going on between now and then.

In other news, while the back has not entirely stopped its bitching and moaning (as well as causing one of the more amusing Chrimmus-church experiences of my life, about which I will tell you in a moment), the damage is not as bad as I originally perceived. After putting up with it for essentially 6 days, helped along by various muscle relaxers, pain pills and the ever-wonderful Midol and Midol-analog, I said to hell with it two nights ago and went for a visit to the kind and ever-blessed folks at Vanderbilt's ER.

They just built a new facility which meant that I barely had to wait at all (having 70 beds plus the children's ER right across the way helps with the excessive wait time). The nurse who checked me in and I had some giggles: I gave my usual "No, or we'd best page the Pope" answer to the question about the possibility of me being pregnant, which amused her highly. They've also added the question "Is anyone hurting you at home?" to the standard triage form, which, while it's not a funny subject AT ALL, prompted me to say "No...well, the kitten, but he don't mean to, he loooooves me," which led to a showing off of the bloody bruise he created last week when being chased by the Middle Kitty across my sleeping form, and a more serious discussion where we swapped war stories about dealing with abused and battered women (me from my stint as a deputy clerk). She was super-nice and complimented my Docs, which (since I was wearing one of my absolute favorite outfits ever) made me quite happy, got me settled into a room, and was openly jealous of the vibrating lumbar pillow that my sismilarly back-pain afflicted sister had thoughtfully given me for Xkzule. Come to think of it, several of the staff were fairly admiring of it, so, hey, sis, thanks. The thing's come in super handy.

All of the staff were similarly fab, including the doctors. The first one took a look at the hurty, did the normal pushing and "does it hurt here, does it hurt here, does it...sorry, ok", and had me bend to check my preexisting curvature. Her fear was that I had walking pneumonia, which can present with a similar pain, but she thought that because the pain was localized and I had no fever, that it was neither that nor a cracked rib. She got the attending in to be sure, though; he told me we could do x-rays if I wanted, but "You can ID right where the pain is coming from, you have no fever, your lungs sound mostly clear, and you look fabulous, so if you'd rather go home..." (I have carried that compliment around like a present for two days; seriously, if I look fabulous while braless in a hospital gown, either hell has frozen over or losing all this weight has made me significantly hotter than I thought. Or the doctor was just trying to make me feel better, but -- shut up and let me have my moment.)

So, apparently, I have pulled one or more of the muscles that connect my right scapula to my spine, which is why it hurts to breathe (or move, or stand, or bend, or scratch my ass...). They gave me some very fine pills and some of the massive, kick-ass ibuprofens, and I went to CDHSarah's for a night of somewhat blurry and all-seated revelry. We woke up and went to the Axis of Evil-Mart, for which I had been given a $50 gift certificate from the ParceRents, almost all of which went on new fabric -- I think I'm going to make a skirt and have enough black/silky/shiny stuff left over to make a new altar cloth, as well as some nice dark blue fleece for a new fall/winter ritual outfit, and some pretty gauzy rainbow stuff for a new headwrap.

Speaking of ritual stuff, as soon as I'm done here (which must be shortly, as time's a-wasting) I am going into the ParceRoom to, despite the protestations of my muscles, move some furniture. I went to see the Very Wise And Almost All-Knowing Tish today, because, as happens, I am in a strange period of mental freeze, some of which is probably due to Saturn being in Leo (and for those of you who care to, click the link about the Pope above and you'll see that I predicted this last December), but most of which has to do with the fact that I have absolutely NO IDEA what I want to do with myself in the new year. I'll do my own yearly reading quite soon, of course, but she tends to see things clearly and lay them out for you straight, it's always good to get a second voice of reason when you're in a state of confusion, and since we're buddies she also agreed to let me pay her for the reading at the end of the week when I can cash my check, since she had no appointments.

I'm not going to give all the details here, but -- after letting me know that yes, this rocky patch of mental weirdness is going to continue through the next six months or so until Saturn hauls his corpulent, fucking-shit-up ass into the next sign to bother them for a year and a half -- once it's over there are good things in the works. Much of the reading focused on the main issue at the moment: my upcoming court date, the outcome of which was not immediately apparent as the cards appeared contradictory. She laid a side spread, looked me right in the face and said, "Why is your magic not working for you?" (I love Tish with all my heart, but sometimes her level of psychic perception is not only a bit creepy but an actual pain in the butt.....not even the people who practice with me had really been aware that, except for very small things, I haven't been able to do the things I'm accustomed to doing as a matter of course for quite a long time, and have, to a degree, stopped trying.)

I told her. See, I did a bad thing a bit ago, the details of which I will also not disclose except to point out that it was "bad" only as relates to my personal relationship with Divinity, and not anything done to anyone else, about which I have had ongoing and lingering doubts and guilt. (And no, it had nothing to do with keeping or failing to keep the vow of celibacy, you perverts. When that comes to pass, I will shout it from the gee-dee rooftops.) She reminded me that "Thou art God", that we give our emotions and thoughts and human experience to God in exchange for the ability to create the lives we want for ourselves, and that the only reason God isn't talking to me the way God usually does is because I perceive myself as having not been forgiven for the original Very Bad Thing. "God hasn't forgiven you because you haven't forgiven yourself," she said, "and you know that, but knowing isn't the same as manifesting, so go home, go do the things to your tools and your space that you've been avoiding doing, get yourself right with yourself and God, and get your ass on this court thing, cause time's a'wasting and there's work to do." We talked a bit more about how to properly set those safeguards -- I don't want the arresting officer to get shot two days before the court date or anything drastic, I just want his alarm to fail to go off, for him to wake up thinking it's Thursday, for the evidence to get mysteriously misplaced, for his battery to die -- something benign, something that won't hurt him but will get me off scot-free.

In better news from the world o'Tish's reading, apparently once the rockiness has subsided and the court thing resolved itself, there is love coming back into my life (God be thanked!) and also a return of some kind to higher education, one that will actually lead to some form of material advancement. Because the cards themselves were so determined to focus on the major issues at hand (court and resolving the Very Bad Thing) that until those have resolved, everything else is very much in the realm of the general, and we'll look at the other once the big stuff has gone as it goes.

So, as soon as this is posted, I will go and bathe myself, disassemble every altar in the house, and recreate my sacred space -- a task I had been putting off for New Year's Eve, as it's also the New Moon, but was really avoiding for the reasons I've discussed. It will be difficult, and more so because my back is not liking the idea of moving the main altar (which is a two-piece hutch and not precisely lightweight). Then I will sit down and do the homework she assigned me. To help me, CDHSarah's ceremonialist husband has lent me his Seal of Solomon related to absolute success, which is on a chain around my neck, and his other seal related to intelligence, which is in my pocket as it requires repairs before it can be worn as jewelry, with instructions not to return them until court is over or I don't need them anymore, whichever comes first.

Oh yeah. I promised to tell you about the amusingness of Chrimmus-church, which I will do, not least because it gives me a few more seated minutes before the Massive Project begins. My parent's particular flavor of Christianity does not recognize Christmas as a religious holiday, but doesn't actively discourage its celebration. However, this means there are no special Christmas Eve services, and that Sunday service is held as normal, even in the rare event that it falls on Christmas Day. Oddly, this year I wanted to go (thinking that a friend I haven't seen in a while might be visiting his family, which was no dice, more's the pity), but was in ridiculous pain. So my wonderful mother gave me a very fine pain pill from her own stash of drugs-to-make-the-back-stop-hurting, and off we went to church.

I made it through Sunday School fine -- a bit sleepy, but I blamed that solely on being up until 2 am watching TV and trying to wrap presents without using the right side of my body. (I'm almost-but-not-really sorry that I won't be in Sunday school on New Year's Day -- my dad teaches the class I attend when I'm there, and they're going to study the fact that prejudice itself is a sin against God, which is a lesson I think more people need to hear.) 'Round about the beginning of actual service, however, I started feeling the woozy, floating feeling that only a very fine pain pill can provide. I made it through the announcements, the first prayer, the first 2 hymns, and then had distinct difficulty getting my eyes to open again after the second prayer -- not because I was trying to go to sleep, but because the muscles had decided that the VFPP meant they had no moral obligation to follow the commands my brain was issuing -- at which point I turned to my mother and said, "Give me the keys, I need to go sit in the car."

Bless her, she offered to go with me -- she told me later I had lost all my color and she was afraid I was going to fall out while walking up the aisle -- which I refused; I took the keys, went and curled up in the back of the Lincoln, and spent the rest of Chrimmus-church having a VFPP-induced nap, which I continued in my bed at home until the ParceSis, ParceBroInLaw, and ParceNephew showed up. God be praised! :)

So that's the news from here. Off to get right with God, y'all. Talk to you again before New Year's; hope your Xkzule was merry/happy/fruitful/full of yummy food. Namas'te!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Oh, JESUS! (And Not In An Orgasmic Way, Either, Dammit)

Oh, dear Lord. I probably shouldn't even be sitting up to write this, except that lying down is far more painful.

As I mentioned yesterday, when I went to bed last night I had a cramp (or what I thought was only a harmless and innocent cramp) in my back. As my back is the source of most of my Random Pain Pangs (tm Laurie Notaro), I thought little of it, just took a muscle relaxer, finished up a few things I had to do, and went to bed.

Within five minutes of lying down I was writhing in pain and actually yelling as I thrashed around in the bed. I found the least-painful position and did some deep breathing until I fell asleep.

I had three parties to go to today (as well as a present to buy and a sick friend to visit), and I kept feeling the twinge throughout the day -- not an acute pain, just a "Hey, over here" every time I moved, coughed, or breathed too deeply. That sounds bad, but anyone with chronic back problems knows it's not at all uncommon. I've gotten to where I simply ignore them most of the time. As I was told this evening, I should probably stop doing that.

At Party #1 a friend did a bit of work on it, and what had become a mid-level stream of "hey, I hurt" babble went back to an angry mutter. At Party #2 I took another half a muscle relaxer and spent most of the night leaning into the corner of the couch.

Party #3 was the only one not being thrown by close friends of mine, and due to the need to visit 2 other places, I got there once most of the shindiggery had ended. (In fairness, I had called the hostess and been told to come on over, as while most of the child-having folk had had to make their goodbyes, there was still a party going on.) It was Chelsea's Pre-End-Of-The-World party, a hootenanny she throws yearly on 12.23 in preparation for the end of the Mayan calendar on that date in 2012. Chelsea is one of the Silverscroll members, and she invited me to her party at the Yule celebration (although apparently both times when I talked to her on the phone, she thought I was another Parce she knows, hee), so despite the lateness, I felt compelled to go; I'm trying to broaden my circle in 2006, and all the Silverscrollians seem to be interesting people worth including in that circumference.

By the time I got there, the party had turned into a chill-and-talk-on-the-bed..2 young lesbians, Chelsea herself, a very nice girl and her husband whose names I would probably remember were it not for the fact that I have had a Percocet since meeting her, and Kate, another Silverscrollian.

I approve of lying down and having nonsexual cuddling, which is what we proceeded to do; we talked about this, that and another. After Kate and the little lesbians made their exit, however, the twinge turned without warning into the same horrendous, stabbing pain that had me sounding like a pain porn last night, this time making it difficult to even take a full breath. Greeeeeat feeling, that, to sit on the floor and whimper in front of people with whom you have spent less than 2 hours cumulative in all your life. Hyperventilating in front of strangers is so attractive.

Luckily for me, Chelsea (and the other girl, whom I'll call Cassandra as her name was something close to that, if not that itself) are both healers. After trying to stretch out the now-stabbing pain, which only made it harder to breathe, I ended up lying down and having hands laid on.

The muscle theory was quickly laid to rest, both because the muscle relaxers had failed utterly to relieve any of the pain, and because, despite my orignial categorization of the twinge as "a knot", she failed to actually find any knotting of the muscles when she attempted to rub ir out. "It's nerve pain from lack of alignment in your back, I think," she said.

In the course of the previous conversation the subject of health had come up, so both women knew that I have degeneration in my bottom two vertebrae, so their identification of that as the major break in energy flow was not imexpected. Chelsea imaged my back as a tree whose knots showed her the blockages, while Cassandra "saw" a nerve chart in green and red, but both of them saw some things that were quite impressive, considering our short acquaintance; Chelsea indicated that she saw no "roots" of energy flow at all in my left leg, which I found interesting because until a couple of days after I got the flu, that leg and knee had been subject to near-constant and unexplained pain that had gone on for over 2 months unabated. She also saw a "split" in the energy at precisely the spot where my shoulders usually cramp and burn.

When you deal with holistic healers, however, you get holistic advice, which can be embarassing when they're near-strangers. "You don't listen to your body much," one pointed out, "because you see it as separate from yourself, just another object." Guilty; I spend more time being irritated at my body for failing to function optimally than I do treating it nicely. "Some issues with respect," the other said. "You're proud of yourself, but you don't necessarily think that you're worthy of respect, and thus have trouble giving it, too." (My response to that correctly identified me as a reader of Ayn Rand.) All the while laying on hands, they gave me some advice about body awareness meditation. Chelsea went so far as to predict that my misalignment would, at least temporarily, correct itself within 48 hours, about which we'll see, and gave me some self-monitoring advice. "I can't completely fix it," she said, "not tonight. It's physical and emotional, I'd have to open you all the way up." As I know enough about energy healing to know what time and effort that entails, I understood completely why she hesitated to do that this evening.

It's hard to learn from strangers (although, since she invited me to her next full moon party, I don't think she was as embarassed as I was by the fact that I had spent most of this party lying on her bed and gasping in pain every time I tried to fill my lungs to capacity.) It's especially hard when the learning is about things close to the center of yourself -- your body attitude, the ways you relate to yourself and your world, your faults, essentially. But if you want to be healed, even if only for a little while, you have to take the deeper stuff with the surface. I've never known a real energy worker who didn't work exactly lke that.

However, the Perc has completely kicked in, I'm nodding out in my chair, and I have a feeling that despite the fact that my back is still not happy, I won't be able to avoid sleeping once I lie down. I apologize for any typos I may have missed while touch typing under the influence. If I don't write again before it's over, Happy Festivus. (That said "Jappy" to start with, hee.)

Is it too late for me to page Santa and find out how mice I'd have to be to get a back that works? Oh, well. Have a very Chappy Hismus and a Hairy Maunakah, y'all.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Make The YuleTide Gay

Happy Day-After-Solstice, Loyal Readership. In honor of...yesterday, I'll keep my promise to tell you about Yule.

Last Saturday was Spiritual Co-Op Yule. Like Samhain, about which you did not hear because of my absence from all things Internet, it was held at one of our local UUs (Unitarian Universalist churches, for the uninitiated.) It's a pretty little church relatively close to my neighborhood, that I would probably attend were it not that on the rare occasion that I am actually awake on a Sunday morning, I usually spend that time at temple, instead. But it is a beautiful church, so much more so many other churches let the pagans use their space instead of freezing outside? So a thankful WOO to First Unitarian Universalist, to start.

I almost didn't go to Yule. Last Saturday was our purely secular Day of Shopping, Nails & Movies, where myself and my 2 best friends from high school got together, got manicures (a gift from Design School Homie), randomly ran into one of our favorite high school teachers at the nail salon, spent vast amounts of money at the Green Hills Mall (for those non-natives in the Loyal Readership, GHM is somewhat upscale and pretentious, but has recently come to include one of the only non-chain bookstores in Nashville that is not primarily a used bookstore, Davis-Kidd, and one of the better movie theaters, hence the choice), got the Worst Service Ever in the new instore restaurant at the aforementioned bookstore, and went to see The Family Stone, which I really enjoyed, despite the fact that I am not generally a fan of either the Christmas movie or the family movie. It was no Royal Tenenbaums, but I liked it a lot.

But my beloved CDHSarah was going to Yule, and even the nonreligious High School Homies pointed out that if I expect anyone to show up for our Beltane next year, I need to get out and represent. So, full of Xkzule joy and with fabulous nails -- light blue/purple candy paint -- I rolled down the road a piece to the UU.

The group hosting had some familiar faces, but it was the first time I had encountered them as a unit. At least as far as I was concerned, they hit this one out of the park.

They did potluck first, which I skipped due to the day of eating and movies. When it came time for ritual, they had us line up against the rear wall of the church, at which point one member began singling, beautifully, a vaguely familiar song that I later found out was one she had arranged using a passage from The Red Tent. She led us around the sacristy (I don't know what the Unitarians call it, but you get the idea) and when her song was done she started one of the better-known neopagan elemental chants, the exact words of which escape me at the moment, in which most of the participants eventually joined in. As the line passed back around into the rear of the church where the ritual area was prepared, Heather, one of the coveners, smudged each person.

Quarters were called, in the usual fashion, marked only by the fact that each covener addressed his or her quarter in an original manner -- one hailed a Watchtower, one gave a Namas'te to the spirits of Fire, etc. The bulk of the ritual was a reenactment of the birth of the Moon and Sun, complete with blanket bundles representing the infants which were passed from hand to hand. (The cuteness of CDHSarah explaining in a stage whisper to our friend's four-year-old "That's the Baby Moon" is indescribable.) We were reminded of deep roots, of the need to care for one another, of all those home-hearth-and-family things that are representative of the Solstian holidays in nearly all traditions of which I'm aware.

So I met some pagans I like, did some networking, got invited to yet ANOTHER party scheduled for tonight (I'm going to three, including that one). This one is an End of the World Party, prepping us for 12.23.2012 and the end of the Mayan calendar, being thrown by a healer whose business card quotes the "By their works you shall know them" verse from the New Testament, which I think is awesome. Also, I got to actually have a conversation with the aforementioned Heather, who is super-cool and also, apparently, a friend of LadyA's. It was awesome, and I enjoyed it, and I'm ten times more hyped for Beltane now than I was before.

In more recent news, I spent last night with my Hindu teacher, since her drum circle went until 12:30 am and we sat up talking for 2 hours after that. So I woke up today instensely happy, as sleeping in the shrine room and waking up looking at Kali and the great view of the woods will do that. This afternoon, I hooked up with Army Husband Buddy to pass along his present for shipping; we went to Baja Burrito, went and hit up Mad Mod and Pre To Post Modern. At the latter I found a classic pinup-girl ashtray and a funky blue and green striped throw for the ugly-but-comfy green chair, which made me quite pleased despite that fact that, after a short Goddess & The Moon visit, I had to go to work.

Going into work at 6 pm is such a demotivator -- by that point I'm having a natural low and would rather do anything except be responsible. But tonight was pretty good, as I got to give the kids of the Second Most Evil Bosslady in the World their presents...Where the Wild Things Are for the three-year-old, Harold & The Purple Crayon's 50th anniversary hardcover edition for the one-year-old. And the 2ndMEBitW got a lamp ring-style diffuser and some lavender essential oil, in the hope that the aromatherapy will chill her ass out.

The purchase for her went like this: go to the Body Shop to get lip crap for self's cracked and bleeding lips, because the Body Shop has the best lip crap ever. (Got the Hemp Chanvre this time, as they have no kiwi-related flavors this time of year.) Have vague thought in head of getting something beauty-and-health related for 2ndMEBitW, combined with fervent desire to no longer be making single yearly trip to mall, which cannot end until present is purchased, as book I planned to get her (Don Miguel Ruiz's Four Agreements) she has read and, apparently, absorbed no information from whatsoever. Upon approach by cute and earnest salesgirl, tell her you need a present for $10 or less for a total neurotic. Shoot down her suggestion of a traditional diffuser with candle on basis of 2 children under three and accompanying fire hazard issues. Seize on her suggestion of lamp ring and lavender oil as thoughtful and of benefit to self as well, as changing table for 1-year-old is in the bedroom where gift would likely be used and lavender more pleasant scent than ones usually emanating from there.

However, 2ndMEBitW did redeem herself by giving me a Christmas bonus, so I regret in small part my Scroogish thought process during gift purchase...but only in small part. I celebrated by going to Cafe O2 and giving Kara her new ba-gua for the front door of her new house, which made me super-happy as I managed to find one of the ones with the concave/convex combo mirror, which is the best thing for front door use.

So it's been a great day, but right now I have a random back cramp and my bed calls. Happy belated Solstice and early Christmas, guys. Talk at you soon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Maine Is Full Of Good, Folksy People Such as Myself

in which I totally fail to shut my folksy piehole

Word of mouth is everything. Click the link, and buy this CD.

Disregard the handlebar streamers; the new Girl's Bike Club CD is the best thing about Xkzule this year.

My ET and I have been telling y'all forever about how cool everything Sars says is, and especially her pearls of wisdom regarding the mysterious, ineffable, inexplicable comedy that is the Girl's Bike Club. There's a reason one or the both of us has announced the posting of each of the recent installments as if bringing those tidings of comfort and joy that certain people won't shut up about at this time of year. The written version was brilliant; the audio is transcendent (in comedic terms, at least; I can't promise it will cause you to be assumed bodily into heaven, but there's at least a passing chance.)

I missed the shirts when she had them available. I got the CD yesterday and, as yet, have listened to nothing else. It costs $10 including shipping, it's the best thing you'll hear before the year ends, and Sars sent me a really nice response to the congratulatory email I sent her for the incredibly quick pre-Xkzule shipping and the subsequent near-pissing of the pants upon first listening to it. So, should you do as I command you, you'll be buying DIY art from a pair (for Wing Chun, who cocreated Television Without Pity, plays her part with aplomb) of professionally snarky female writers who serve to mock pop culture intelligently and with unflinching honesty...yet who, in real life, are genuinely happy that you like their art, and are cool enough to thank you when you take the time to say so. Seriously, your indie cred will jump right through the roof. This CD will make you cool.

OK, so if you aren't already cool -- which you are, Loyal Readership of Five or Six, At Last Count -- this CD will not provide the necessary mojo. But seriously. If you want good artists in the world, you have to support them. Go read the essays. Go buy the CD. If I'm wrong, you're out $10. If I'm not, you are laughing your ass off. In either case, Sars can pay the vet bill, Tomato Nation, This Is Not Over, and TWoP (not to mention Fametracker and Hissyfit) keep on turning, and I can keep reading all of them, thus getting out my rage at the suckiness of much of everything in a positive fashion, instead of simply expiring in despair at the continued presidency of GWB. That way, maybe I'll be alive to vote the Anything But This Ticket in 2008, to place the decisive vote that casts the current cast of characters out of their high places and positions of power.

In short, the fate of the world is in your hands. Just click.

******I realize I didn't tell you anything about why it's funny, what's good about it -- and I'm not gonna, because any attempt to explain the GBC concept falls flat like Simon LeBon post-blow dart, and y'all just need to trust me (and Sauce, the twin who has the t-shirt), shell out your $10, and be prepared to bask in the funny.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Letters & Sodas

I want all that stupid old shit
Like letters and sodas.

Liz Phair, Fuck & Run

So, the year in review.
I had a job. I lost it, but I had another job so it was OK. I went to a pagan festival. I had no phone, had a phone again, lost it, got it back. I started studying a new religion. I lost some friends and made some different ones, and one of the most important ones up and went to Baltimore, presumably to return for visits.

I'm still a celibate. After this calendar year ends, that may be different. Because, like Liz Phair, I want a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. Actually, the latter would be preferable.

You do a lot of thinking when you don't have distractions. I figured some things out over the past year and a bit.

I have never had a casual relationship. Honestly, I've never "dated" by most people's standards. My life breaks down into two categories: one-night stands and long-term boy/girlfriends, complete with the requisite long and agonizing breakups.

So I'd rather split the difference....the whole "meet someone, take them home, sleep with them" thing was never really my bag, and I'm just not up for a hugely complicated and committed thing right at the moment...although if one developed, it's not out of the question. But for the moment, letters and sodas sounds about right to me -- and dinner. Dinner would be nice. Eating with CDHSarah is nice, but she has a husband, and eventually it gets old fishing around for someone to accompany you so you don't just take your book to dinner. Again.

So, here's looking for a boy/girl of appropriate orientation who likes books, dinner, letters and sodas. Because it's awfully hard to get drinks out of the girl who doesn't.

I may sound like a loser (OK, I do sound like a loser). But at least now I know what I want. Happy New Year, y'all. Next time I'll tell you about Yule.

For those of you who may be wondering, the Little Kitty reappeared in the house, by magic (or because the maintenance guy put her through the door I left unlocked, but until he confirms this I'm going with the former theory), two days after she originally disappeared. She's fine. Actually, she's sleeping on the skirt I plan to wear to Christmas church service, so I'm about to have to move her, but she's A-OK.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My E-Mail To Bill O'Reilly

Saw this on TINO. Normally I wouldn't give Bill O'Reilly the time of day, but, inspired by the other brave TINOers, I wrote (and sent) my own letter of interest to Mr. O'Reilly, the text of which I now submit to you.

Dear Mr. O'Reilly --

Allow me to respectfully submit my qualifications to be added to your "enemies list". I assume that it has not yet been posted on because of the enormous number of persons eager to stand and be counted. I would be delighted to be added and present the following as evidence of my worthiness:

1.) I am an Independent who voted for John Kerry.
2.) I am a religious pacifist who finds both the death penalty and the war in Iraq signs of our moral decrepitude, and our failure to feed the world's hungry as the same.
3.) I am not a heterosexual, do not believe in the special "sanctity" of heterosexual marriage, and know lots and lots of good gay daddies.
4.) I believe in civility in discourse, that certitude leads to corruption and decay, that constantly questioning in order to refine has been and remains the heart of the American ideal, especially as it affects our interpretation of the Constitution and other seminal documents written by the Founders.
5.) Speaking of those guys, I do not believe they were Christians; they were Deists. Therefore, all "this is a Christian nation" arguments appear specious and irrelevant to me.
6.) I love Islam, finding in it, as much as any faith which I do not practice, a valid path to union with the Divine.
7.) I think Al Franken and Molly Ivins are both lovely people, very intelligent and funny.
8.) Although I would not, personally, have an abortion, finding it inconsistent with my personal and deeply held religious and spiritual beliefs, I do not oppose the free access to abortion nor think that it should be either the decision or the concern of anyone but the woman in question.
9.) I don't think there's anything wrong with performing the Vagina Monologues in a high school.
9.) If for no other reason than Joseph McCarthy being the guy who thought it was necessary, I don't think the words "under God" belong in the Pledge.
10.) I don't believe George Bush was legitimately elected President, and think history will show that his years in office resulted in a more divided, weaker, and corrupt America.

These proofs may be enough; if not, please feel free to contact me for further proofs and letters of recommendation.


Signed my real name to that. Would do it anytime.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Because "Shake It Like A Cholera Victim" Didn't Catch On

Well, I'm back. For good, ostensibly. After 2 hours with the really, really nice Comcast guy, we finally figured out that we had to unplug the router and plug it back in.

I lied. We didn't figure that out; we called tech support. But I have an Internet and a phone.

I also have a flu, and the smallest kitten is outside, somewhere, having French leave. So I can't produce a scintillating return post, so much as "hold my hurting sinuses to keep them from falling out" and "look out the French door every 3.5 seconds."

I am back, though, and upon a return to greater wellness will be more voluble. Good cat-back vibes, please?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Xkzule Letter

Hello, all.
To further irritate the religious right, I have now determined that the season traditionally associated in America with quasi-religious holidays which all focus in one aspect or another around family/presents will not be called Chrismahaunakwanzaayule, my last years' takeoff on the Verizon wireless commercial that left out the oldest of all the solstice observances. If they don't like "Xmas", "holidays" or "season", let them get a load of Xkzule, the new moniker for the season I am going to be discussing. Every place you see this non-phonic string of syllables, just plug in the name of the observance you'll be observing around the end of December. Yes, it's ridiculous, but so is the current state of affairs on cable news, which I had the (mis)fortune to watch last night; the "War on Christmas" is not news. Fighting about how best to wish that people get through the winter without killing each other in a northern-hemispheral fit of seasonal affective disorder is like fucking for chastity. There is no war on Christmas; it's a smoke screen to keep you from noticing the real war that's damaging America's values, people! But, pre-rant and gift advice, first, a status report.

Reconnection of my very own cable modem, which I tend to worship as Devi on that day, is imminent; waiting on the bank to do its thing with funds availability, and then for ComCast to get their hind ends to my house. When I have an ETA from the latter, I will tell you guys, but not hold my breath.

In the meantime, I am shopping like a Tri Delt on steroids.

I am not really a shopping person most of the time. I always know what I want, and go and get it, without dilly-dallying overmuch to see what else there might be. I get that impulse out using the searches on Amazon,, and eBay. And there's that money thing, too.

But the festive season of consumerism is nigh, and I have the lovely feeling of having all my bills settled or in the process of being settled until the New Year. Which means I have some cash to throw around this holiday. And I love, love, love to give presents. It's the best kind of being bossy: "I bought you something I know you'll love and wouldn't get for yourself: now, enjoy it!" And I genuinely do try to get people things they will enjoy and not impose my taste on them. With one exception: books.

I am a book pusher. Not everyone on my list gets books, but it's a near thing. The two year old nephew? Is not getting another piece of plastic shit, nor is he being shopped for at any place with -Mart or R'Us in the suffix. Along with (at last count) five of the other people on my list, his Xkzule gift is coming from Ms. B's Used Books, the best little used bookstore still fighting the tide of things with A-Million and Dot-Com in their suffix.* And I love the latter, if not the former, but seriously; if you want to have independent bookstores, you have to use your dollar there, especially around Xkzule. This public service announcement brought to you by the Ministry of Completely Obvious Yet Often Overlooked Facts.

Since he's not old enough to read and my sister doesn't read the blog, I'll tell you what he's getting (and what the library is getting also; link goes to Pamie's library drive info, which you can use to support Oakland, your local, or even a random library picked off Amazon's published wishlists): Where the Wild Things Are and Harold & The Purple Crayon, which is on its 50th anniversary edition. Nothing like the pure classics. And, because they were so cute, I got him a pair of frog house shoes.

I'm considering the adult members of my family with some trepidation, because they are hard, hard, hard to buy for. And, even though my sister and brother in law are expecting another fetus, I don't want to cop out and get them a baby present. They deserve something for them. What, is the question; I've about exhausted the options over the past four years, and one of those years I got them, at their request, a Home Depot gift card because they were remodeling the kitchen.

Mom is simple: she gets a teapot from me every year, I found a glass ornament at a vintage repro place that is almost identical to one I broke the Xkzule I was seven, which is just the right level of sentimentality for her, and I'll find her a devotional book of some kind. Dad is impossible. Last year I got him some small present and donated a book in his name, which I may do again.

Our big plans to procure a new Xbox for our friends' husband in Iraq didn't go, so he's getting a huge box of candy and magnets (don't ask me; he asked for them and now we're on the hunt for the coolest magnets possible) and DVDs and crazy stuff, because pretty much all his friends here are sending his presents in one giant box. My buddy in Iraq would approve of the Xzkule phenom, because he's just an atheist who likes presents.

At the very least, although I doubt any other great happening like the war ending or America collectively coming to its senses will occur this Xkzule, two things will happen; the people I love will be happy, lots of them will be reading, the library will have new books for children to read, and there will be more goodness in the world, on whatever microscopic scale.

And, since I have money, I've bought a few things for myself; new murtis, a new book on Vajrayogini, a new headwrap, and a hanging to put over my window. That last was absolutely necessary, as there is a draft from that window right onto my bed. Everything else was pure, unadulterated joy at having money for things other than gas, food, rent and cigarettes.

Here's hoping you have fabulous joy in the preseason, and that I have Internet before the New Year. Namas'te!

*I don't know why it's coming up as LA Citysearch; Ms. B's is in Hendersonville, TN.