Friday, May 29, 2015

"It's Just a Stupid Diary. Everyone Knows They're Full of Crap"

May is apparently Mental Health Awareness month. Of course, I don't pay attention to national-anything-days unless it's food related (well, hello there National Doughnut Day...I love you), and to be completely honest the days of the week/month are a little hosed in my head right now as I get used to a work-from-home routine...but I DO pay attention to The Bloggess.

Things have been upheaval-y for the past four or five months. Moved across country, separated, living alone (well, living without another human in the one is alone with two people-sized dogs) for the first time in...huh, first time ever. It's a lot to process, right? My go-to therapy for bad days is writing. Sometimes it's here (although that's only if what I write about follows the rules of my blog). Usually it's in journals. I have a journal addiction: they're my favorite purchases and favorite presents. I think I have eight blank or partially filled journals at any given time, but unfortunately I often don't write the good stuff down. The good stuff doesn't need to be purged from memory: I WANT those to float around in the mental file cabinets so they're available at will. 

The bad shit, the self-destructive lies and anger and attempts to kick out the asshole inner voice who drives the depression down a spiral of ickiness...that's the shit I write down. Emotionally laden writing, once out on paper (physical or digital) no longer pokes at my brainpan. That's both good and terrible: I usually can't quote my own creative writing, but I also don't carry emotional burdens overmuch if I've taken the time to fully purge them. Sometimes that takes a very long while: I didn't write anything significant for six months or so after the accident. 

I looked through a couple of the old journals as I was unpacking, and part of me thinks I should get rid of them. Someday when I croak, anyone looking at them will have a FAR grimmer picture of my life than the way it actually is since I hold the good episodes inside and only let go of the negative. There's probably some lesson on letting go in there...(seriously, STOP SINGING THAT GODDAMN SONG!). I've thought about burning them in a whole "be rid of the bad stuff" thing...except 1) never ever burn a book of any kind and 2) re-reading some of it was both helpful and hilarious. So far I've not done anything with them...I may want to giggle at the stupidity of myself at 20 again later, after all.  

I've been prone to relative depression episodes for as long as I can remember (I say relative because I've not been unable to work or needed medication, and I know many who have worse episodes than I). Mine are often tied to my energy levels, which becomes a self-fulfilling cycle of exhaustion causing depression which inhibits energy which causes worse depression...ugh. Maybe it's part of the whole creative cycle in my own brain: I often have a burst of writing energy after one. I don't know: it's just part of me, and over the years I've talked to a few people when it's particularly horrid. 

One of my best friends gave me this analogy, and because it helps me to remember it on a bad day I'm sharing it here (paraphrased). 

Do you know what vertigo is?
Do you know what underwater vertigo is?
When you don't panic...when you force yourself to be calm, think you way through it, it works out fine.

If you don' drown.
Some people are better at it than others.

Some people can FEEL their way back to the surface. 
Those who can't have to figure it out. 

For me, the key is not to panic and wait it out and I come back to myself. Sometimes it takes a couple of hours, sometimes a couple of weeks. I often think the bad ones that last more than a week are particularly more terrible for those around me than they are for me, because I know how awful it is to watch a loved one in a bad situation and be powerless to fix it. I'm sorry for that, and I love you for sticking it out anyway. 

I'm lucky that writing and patience and a receptive ear is usually enough. That doesn't work for everyone, and getting help figuring out the way back to yourself is never a bad thing. 

Not all this change has been bad or difficult: I know it'll irk my Houston peeps, but I'm ridiculously happy back in Minnesota. I see Han and Evil regularly enough that now Evil army-crawls in a really creepy-fast-horror-movie way toward me when I get to the house. And Han is all little-person now, although posting a picture of him on the blog will be rarer since he's in a no-pants-dance stage of attire.'s a family trait. 

Tonight I'm going to a coloring book party, which seemed fairly surreal yesterday as I asked the Barnes & Noble girl if they carried adult coloring books. Adult as in...coloring books for grown ups, not porn. FYI: Amazon has those, right along with zombie apocalypse and delinquent unicorn coloring books. Oh yes, my order is pending. I guess this "let's do 8 year old art activities, only with wine" idea is becoming a thing, and somehow making fun of it on Facebook last week turned into a whiskey/cake/coloring party tonight. And since the bearded, unwashed, hermit thing really doesn't work for me, I'm trying to remember that I need to get out of the house and see other humans occasionally. Sick-minded women with alcohol and markers should be a whole new genre of entertainment. 

I draw the line at coloring, though: I firmly believe Play-Doh and alcohol are a potentially terrible combination. I mean, have you ever TASTED Play-Doh? Gross...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mythic Monday is both late and a repeat...because I'm buried in boxes.

This one, originally published last fall here: Mythic Monday: Brownie seems apropos for the unpacking extravaganza. I don't have Lucky Charms in the house in Minnesota right now, but I DO have Honey Nut Cheerios, milk, and M&Ms...

Help Wanted: small brownish creature willing to help clean my house, ride the dogs around in the middle of the night, organize as necessary, and remain hidden. Payment: various foodstuffs including porridge (when available), honey, chocolate, and heavy cream. Lodging and privacy included. Tolerance for iron in the house required.

People, I desperately need a Brownie.

I spent a good chunk of my weekend organizing and cleaning, and it's completely true that those with children and dogs are just wasting their time on a wheel of frustration when attempting to clean. And therefore, tonight I'm lamenting the overabundance of iron in my house and the utter lack of Brownies, whom I'd GLADLY leave treats if one graced my home with her presence.

If you google "Brownie" you'll get a variety of tasty baked far as I know these do not clean. In fact, I've proven on many occasions baked brownies have a magical ability to increase pounds but absolutely no ability to clean. They are terribly underwhelming as domestic help, except for easing crankiness brought on by chocolate cravings.

No, I'm referring to the small Fae people-ish creatures who, in Scots-Irish folklore, are rather famously helpful in the home as long as they're properly cared for. Brownies are often considered a member of the Hob family (as in, hobgoblin, only benevolent): a small, shy creature who aids in household tasks if rewarded with food. Most often, porridge and honey, although those two options date back to the days when porridge and honey were pretty standard household fare. I wonder if Lucky Charms would work, or if it would just piss them off?

You do NOT want to piss off the creature who helps keep your house tidy and organized. Seriously. Bad things happen to people who abuse the Fae in general...particularly a human-like creature the size of a lemur who just happens to know ALL the secrets and ALL the places in your house to hide things.

Brownies traditionally don't have any interest in being seen: they're active at night when the family is asleep, and live in unused parts of the house. For a time it was custom to leave a seat open by the fire in the kitchen for the resident Brownie, in thanks for their protection and work (along with the ever-important food offerings, which are a must to keep your Brownie happy...I really can't stress the food thing enough).

Unfortunately, Brownies, like all the Fae, have a severe aversion to iron. This means burying a nail under the threshold of your front door or hanging a horseshoe in your home will keep brownies (along with the rest of the Fae) at bay. Oh, did you think the horseshoe thing was a luck attractor? I suppose it it was considered lucky to be passed over when the Fae are around, since they're somewhat capricious and not at always kind. I suppose it's the price to pay for keeping out kobolds, hobgoblins, and other nasties...but I DO sometimes wish modern homes were built without nails.

I need some household help, and I have plenty of Lucky Charms, milk, and honey to spare.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

If Those Who Forget History are Doomed to Repeat It, What Happens to Those Who Destroy It?

This is not a funny post.  I'm so goddamned angry* and sad, and so helpless to do anything it becomes a terrible, self-sustaining circle if I'm not careful. I recognize there is truly nothing I can do about this, and so I'm venting here because...well, because it's a place I can vent I suppose.

CNN is reporting today that ISIS has entered the Syrian city Tadmur; the modern overlay of the ancient city Palmyra. I got teary eyed reading it. Palmyra is one of my favorite historical sites. Yeah yeah, I know, most people have no idea what that means.On the heels of bulldozing Nimrud into dust (which also made me tear up), ISIS is continuing their apparent goal of wiping all historically significant evidence of life before their own disgustingly evil culture off of the world. 

I had goals, once upon a time, to visit those places "someday when I'm less likely to die there." I wanted to see the great Assyrian ruins, to be surrounded by some of the oldest walls made by humans. As of this post, Archaeology magazine has confirmed that Palmyra has fallen. I imagine it won't be long before bulldozers come out. I  know, it's a standard of war to destroy monuments. The Parthanon was used as target practice in WWII, after all. It just makes me terribly sad to watch the fall of some of my favorite historical sites from a world away.

I did a paper or two in college on Palmyra. I desperately wanted to visit the seat of the Palmyrene empire, the empire Queen Zenobia ruthlessly expanded into Roman territory in the late 200's, conquering modern day Syria, Turkey, Palestine, Libya, and eventually ruling Egypt. In 271 she was defeated and taken captive by Roman Emperor Aurelian. She was a cool lady. A badass. 

I think I've been fairly clear on this blog that I often root for the underdog, and I'm feminist in general...I'm a huge fan of Boudicca and the Iceni revolt against Nero in 69AD. She's one of my favorite tragic historical figures. I'm a fan of Cleopatra, although for different reasons (I recognize her talent for working within the Roman political system, using all assets available to her to gain and maintain her power for as long as she had it). I think Queen Zenobia is greater than both Boudicca and Cleopatra in her resistance against (and conquest of) Rome barring one detail: she allowed herself to be captured and was paraded through the streets of Rome in chains (albeit golden chains, if legend is to be believed) in front of the populace.

The Queen of an empire encroaching upon Rome was publicly defeated and cowed. Some legends say she was so beautiful and proud the Emperor secretly moved her to a private villa away from the city where she eventually married a Senator and lived out her days as a wealthy Roman matron with successful descendants. It's possible. It's equally as possible that she rotted in a cell and was quietly forgotten so she couldn't become a martyr to her people, the way Boudicca, Cleopatra, and Vercingetorix (people, you should be concerned that I can spell that correctly from memory) had become after their deaths. 

Obscurity, after all, is the ultimate punishment, and in Zenobia's case it worked to a large extent: if you ask someone on the street who Cleopatra was they'll likely have heard the name, at least. 

I wanted to see Palmyra someday. I still want to walk the canyon in Petra. I want to visit Jerusalem, and Babylon, see the pyramids, visit the Colosseum and Forum in Rome... all the ancient seats of civilization. I want to LEARN from our past as human beings.

I suppose I want a Zenobia or Vercingetorix to successfully rise against this force intent upon destroying everything in their path as "unholy" including women, knowledge, education, and history.
Because once they're finished enslaving Syria people and blowing up history, ISIS will move on into Israel, or Egypt. 

What happens when they try to bulldoze one of the Pyramids at Giza? 

*I'm focused on historical destruction here, because ISIS's systematic destruction and repression of women is something about which I cannot coherently blog, yet.