Magically Imperfect

Everybody thinks they’re right.

One of the best lessons I was ever taught was to remember that “people have a real hard time accepting that they’re not perfect.” That’s not to say that every single person is sauntering around the planet believing that they are true and unique perfection (there are some, but not all). What I took away from this lesson is: people have spent their entire, individual, respective lives, having to justify their actions to themselves and to others. 


I am a huge fan of Brian Kesinger. I love his work. I think these Star Wars/ Calvin & Hobbes mash-up reimaginings are wickedly clever and adorable.

This particular sketch struck me on a deeper level, though.

“Good” VS “Evil”.

Who is correct? Which one is the traitor?

Is it Rey, because she’s rebelling against a widely accepted form of government? Or is it Kylo Ren, because he’s forgotten his humanity and turned to less-than-ethical behaviors to assert his dominance?

It depends on whose history book you read.

Everybody thinks they’re the good guy.

I watched this incredible interview with a former United States CIA agent and she spoke of this same phenomenon. She urges people to talk to one another and reminds us that we’re more alike than we might be comfortable admitting.
Within this past week, Kat Von D and Jeffree Star have made a very public display of their “disassociation” from each other. I watched Kat’s explanation video first, and then watched Jeffree’s response video after.

Both videos are full of emotions and justifications. They are both SO sure that they’re the “real” side of the argument.

I have met both these celebrities. I’ve had one short interaction with each of them, separately.

I met Jeffree at IMATs in 2014:


And I met Kat at the Renaissance Faire in 2015:


It would be unfair of me to judge these experiences against each other. Both of them were friendly and pleasant. Obviously, they each took a moment out of their day to snap a selfie with me.

It’s difficult for their fans in this situation because with the volume of social media that washes over us everyday, we feel like we know both of them. I, personally, have spent a considerable amount of money on Kat’s makeup line. There’s a certain level of trust and loyalty that comes with trusting a makeup line with your face. While I have not invested in Jeffree’s makeup line, I enjoy his social media presence and makeup tutorials thoroughly.

But now this weird line has been drawn in the proverbial sand and their followers/ fans/ customers are left to make their own decision.

They both seem so sure. 

They are both very convincing. 

They are both talking to YouTube and not to each other.

Have you ever been involved with this kind of a catastrophe? 

I have. It’s hideous. 100% do not recommend.

I can’t imagine having my life vomited up on the internet for public viewing and commentary. 

Another factor that irritates me like a twisted bra strap is the fact that two professional, grown-ass adults are fanning an internet flame war during all the chaos and actual horror that is surrounding us on the daily.

Why the absolute fuck is this important?

(Spoiler alert: IT’S NOT.)

Did you read about the man who strangled his sister to death as an “honor killing“? Another person who thought he was right. He genuinely believes he was doing the right thing, because he thought his sister’s behavior on social media was beyond inappropriate.

I think the world needs to take a pill of the CHILL variety. Calm all the tits. TALK. TO. EACH. OTHER. Stop all your judgements and assumptions. 

Just stop it.

STAHP.

Learn from mistakes, patterns, and repetitive behaviors, sure. But don’t assume you know what’s going on in anybody else’s life or mind.

If you are willing to take a firm stance on one side of the line in the sand, I suggest and encourage that you do your research, compose yourself, and be ready to defend your stance, in case you find yourself painted into a corner.

The mindset these days is to just block and ignore anybody who confronts you. I don’t think that’s the solution. Questions are not answered. Concerns are not addressed. Conflict is not neutralized. 

Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. It’ll grow like a cancer and become something much uglier than it had been, initially. You don’t have to shoulder the responsibility for other peoples’ feelings, but just hitting “block” won’t necessarily solve the issues, either. And think real hard on calling people out, publicly. 


Nobody’s perfect. We are magically imperfect. Accept that nobody will ever agree with you on everything, always, forever. Learn, instead, how to listen, communicate, and coexist.

S.

Round 1: Miss Frizzle and the Roasted Bean

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Character: a Preschool Teacher

Subject: Going Off the Grid

Challenge: 2,500 words in 7 days

Late afternoon sunlight streamed through the windows stained with finger paint. Alice carefully placed her supplies in one of the many boxes stacked around the room. She hadn’t ever been paid very well as a public high school art teacher. Most of the supplies her students used were paid for out of her pocket. She always told herself it was a labor of love. A heavy sigh escaped her lungs as she paused for a moment to survey the room. Years had been invested into this room; into these students.

Her phone buzzed in the pocket of her vintage, thrifted cardigan (which still smelled vaguely of some unknown grandma). Alice finished filling the box with markers, craft paper, colored pencils, and various other odds and ends she had collected over the years. The packing tape dispenser let out a harassed groan as she swiftly pulled the tape from one end of the box to the other. She checked her phone.

It was Nick.

A flush rushed to her cheeks and tiny little butterflies erupted in her stomach. Alice hadn’t felt this giddy about a man since long before her divorce. She covered her mouth with her left hand as she scrolled through her text message thread with her right, as if Nick could see her embarrassment through the keypad.

“Hey. Just checking in. How you holding up?” his text glowed.

With one thumb she tapped back “Almost done.”

“You sure you don’t want help? I can be there right after work.”

“There really isn’t that much. Nothing heavy enough to justify you taking the 101 at rush hour.”

“Ok. If you’re sure. Are we still on for tonight?”

“Yes :)”

“Great. See you then. <3”

She shook her head at how elated she was when he sent emojis. Alice was in her early 30’s with a master’s degree and one divorce under her upcycled belt. She felt silly at the bursts of what her students called “all the feels” that Nick pulled out of her.

“Hey, girl!” a cheery voice rang out.

Startled, Alice whirled around to face her classroom door. Sauntering in was her beautiful coworker, Anna. Anna was a counselor and had the word “COMPASSION” tattooed on her somewhere that couldn’t be shown in public, though Alice was the only one at the school who knew that.

“Hey!” Alice responded with a tired smile, sliding her phone back into her pocket.

“You about wrapped up in here? I’m here to help. Look: more tape!” Anna lifted a bag above her perfectly coiffed head.  

“I’m actually done, I think.” Alice said, surveying the room once again. She had already taken down all the decorations that had wallpapered the bulletin boards and windows. All her drawers and bookshelves had been emptied and dusted. The desks had been wiped down of any residual paint, ink, paste, and “artistic expression” her students may have left behind.

“Were you able to get the tagging off that back one?” Anna walked to the previously heavily graffitied desk. “Teenagers express their art so aggressively these days.”

“Yeah, actually. I just re-primered it and painted faux wood grain to match the rest of them. The sealer coat is matte, too, so it should blend right in. If Admin doesn’t like it, they can spend the money to buy a new desk themselves.” 

“Ha. You said ‘just.’ You just did all that. Like it was the normal thing to do,” Anna winked at Alice.

“Whaaat? It’s totally easy. You saw the tutorial on my blog. I know you did, because you ‘liked’ it. It comes in really handy if you live in an apartment or something,” Alice laughingly justified.

“Yes, yes. Miss Queen of the Life Hacks.”

“I do what I can,” Alice curtsied.

“Although, today you look like Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. Did you ever read those books?”

“I did! I do?” Alice looked down at her outfit.

Her fit-and-flare dress was navy blue with tiny orange foxes printed on it. Her grandma cardigan sparkled with an antique broach she had inherited from her Nana. She wore wine colored tights and a pair of cream and chocolate oxfords that she bought because they reminded her of cookies. Alice had attempted to tame her naturally wild, curly, red hair into an up-do she hoped looked romantic yet effortless. Curls sprayed out from the back of her head and framed her face in a way that made her look at least 10 years younger than she really was. Her earrings were studs that were also owls carved out of rose quartz.

“Miss Frizzle? Really?” Alice laughed.

“If you drove away in a school bus that farted rainbows, I would only be a little bit surprised,” Anna teased.

“Well sucks to your assmar, I only have my jeep.”

The ease of their friendship had always come naturally. There was a hint of sadness behind their laughter today, though. Alice and Anna had been sorority sisters in college and had worked together ever since they graduated. This would be their first time not seeing each other practically every day in almost 10 years.

“Are you seeing Nick tonight?” Anna knew all of Alice’s secrets. She also knew how to lighten a mood when sadness or darkness threatened – one of the many reasons she was good at her job.

“Yeah,” Alice flushed again and attempted to suddenly be extremely interested in a drawer in the desk behind her.

“Are you blushing?!” Anna caught her.

“Come on! Don’t tease! It’s embarrassing,” Alice laughed.

“No way! Don’t be embarrassed! You’re adorable!”  

Anna pulled Alice back around to face her. “So this is a thing, now?”

“We’re just friends!” Alice insisted.

Anna’s chin tucked back into her neck, her head tilted to the side, and she looked at Alice over the top of her glasses.

“PUH-LEASE,” Anna stated.

“We are. He was a huge support for me through the divorce.”

“Weren’t you two friends in high school?”

“Yeah. We’ve known each other since we were kids. We’ve watched each other grow up and make lots and loooots of mistakes.”

“He’s divorced too, yeah?”

Alice nodded.

“Well that’s perfect. After all these years of knowing each other, you’re finally in the right place at the right time together.”

Alice thought about it. She knew she had always harbored a school girl crush on Nick. There was something about his energy that resonated with her. He made her feel calm and on fire simultaneously. But one or both of them always had a significant other. They were never single at the same time, so they had both accepted the idea that they were supposed to be “just friends.”  

Until now.

The idea of their friendship growing into something romantic made her skin tingle. Of course she was nervous. What if things didn’t work out? Would she lose her friend forever? Was it worth the risk? What if they got married and then got divorced? Then they would have two divorces each.

“WHOOOA. Earth to Miss Frizzle. Drive that rainbow fart bus back to reality.”

Alice cleared her throat nervously.

“Do we need to meditate tonight?” Anna asked.

“No. No, I’m ok. Really. There’s just a lot on my plate right now. This is all such a huge step.” Alice gestured to her empty classroom and all her boxes.  

“I know. But it’s the right choice. You were suffocating here. You need to spread your wings, girl. Spread your antique lace, vintage, hand-crocheted wings and fly!”

“I feel like you should be the one teaching baby yoga!” Alice laughed.

“No way. I only want responsibility for other peoples’ children when they’re surly teenagers. I have a way with them. I speak their language. Tiny kiddos make me nervous. That’s your niche.”

“I do love the little ‘uns.”

“What is this class again? Officially?” Anna asked.

“It’s called ‘Art, Movement, and Yoga’ at the new preschool across town. It’s a private school, and it has a brand new board of directors who loved the curriculum I wrote. They’re going to let me have my freedom with how I teach art. I don’t have to grade art work anymore. That made me feel like such a fraud of an artist. I hate it. Grading art means I’m teaching these kids that the way they see the world, the way they express themselves, is somehow incorrect. That’s not what art is about and it made me hate this job. This job that was supposed to be my life-long career.”

“You look like a preschool teacher, anyway,” Anna said, scanning Alice’s shabby-chiq outfit.

“And what is that supposed to mean?” Alice laughed with feigned indignance.

“Girl, it means you’re 30 and you own and wear overalls.”

“I love my overalls,” Alice pouted.

“Get out,” Anna stated with a vehement point at the door.

They fell into that comfortable whirl of laughter again. When the room fell silent, Alice let out a deep sigh that threatened to bring tears with it.

“Come on.” Anna said. “I’ll help you load your car. You have a hot date and you don’t need to have that sad, dreamy face on all night.”

Alice crossed her eyes and screwed her face up in Anna’s direction.

“Ah. Yes. Lovely. Much better.”

Alice parked in her usual spot by the Roasted Bean. She and Nick had found this place while he was helping her move out of the house she had shared with her, now ex, husband. He was already inside and she watched him quietly through the window for a moment.

He had an unassuming handsomeness about him. He was confident but not rude, slender and gentle but not weak. His glasses made him look like a book worm, but they framed his turquoise blue eyes in a way that made her stomach butterflies flap a little faster.

She checked her eyeliner in the mirror. She never even wore makeup but it felt appropriate for the occasion. New job. New life. Maybe a new relationship.

She slapped the mirror shut and flipped the visor back up. She took a deep breath and exhaled an effortless “ommmm” to bring her back to center.

The evening was chilly. It had rained on her drive over, so the black asphalt parking lot reflected the street lights and everything looked like it was covered in fairy lights. Her oxfords clacked as she walked up to the quaint, little coffee shop.

Nick was engrossed in a magazine about local and upcoming musicians. He didn’t seem to hear her walk up until she was close enough to touch him.

Before she could say hi, he spoke.

“Were you aware that the predominant influences for these kids today are all from the 90’s? Seriously, the 90’s music scene is considered ‘old school’ now. If that doesn’t make you feel old, I don’t know what will.”

“Well buy me a chai, grandpa and we can discuss these whipper snappers with further disgruntled old person-ness.”

They stood in line together. She leaned on him, slightly, but they didn’t embrace or hold hands. The timbre of his voice always sounded excited but still grounded – he was eager to discuss things he found interesting, but never preached or tried talking about things he didn’t know. He listened, too. Nick could talk for hours, but he always wanted feedback or other viewpoints that maybe he hadn’t considered yet. As a teacher, his openness to asking questions and learning new things satisfied her on a level that few others had reached. 

While they waited for their drink orders to slide across the counter, they quietly made fun of the various teenagers lounging about, draped over most of the seating.

“They’re like a plague,” she whispered.

“Do not allow yourself to come into contact with that chaise, my dear, should that young man vacate it, for you will most certainly contract his osteo-gelatino-sis,” he spoke in a fake, posh, English accent. 

They were able to tuck themselves onto a small couch that might have actually been an oversized chair.  

“Are we a safe distance from the melty-bones people?” Alice asked him.

“Quite so, indubitably.”

She smiled over her tea cup, then sipped gingerly.

“So! Today was it! You’re done. You’re going off the grid,” he said, encouragingly.

“I’m going off the grid!” she validated.

“I’m proud of you. That school didn’t let you work your magic.”

“Yeah,” she said. “I’m scared. I’m terrified actually. That was the big, grown-up girl job that you’re supposed to get after you finish graduate school, you know?”

“For sure. My grown-up girl job defines me as a person!” he teased.

“You have a very hairy face for a girl!” She reached over and gently scratched at his scruffy beard.

“Seriously, Alice. I’m proud of you. This is a huge step and only the bravest people let themselves take these kinds of risks. What’s that quote about bravery?” He disappeared into his phone for a moment.

“Ah-hah!” he announced after a few tip-tap-tip-taps. “The quote is ‘I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.’ Nelson Mandela,” Nick read proudly.

“So you’re a grown-up girl, and I’m a brave man?” Alice asked.

“It would appear so,” he shrugged dramatically.  

“Well, then we’re perfect together,” she said, without thinking before she spoke. She realized the depth of her words as they tumbled out over the mouth of her tea cup. She gulped at her too-hot tea. Her eyes watered a little at the sting of the spices in her drink.

“It would appear so,” he said.

He could only see her giant green eyes as she tried to hide behind her cup.

His voice was softer. His eyes were brighter. He leaned in a little closer.

She put her tea cup down. She waited. She had no idea what to say.

“I’ve been thinking a lot, Alice. We’ve been through so much together. You’re going on this new adventure, you inspire me every day, and you have been the embodiment of my dream woman since high school.”

She gulped at the air as if she was swallowing his statement whole. Maybe if she could swallow it; digest it; let it creep into her blood stream, then it would feel real. But she couldn’t, so it didn’t. It felt like a dream.

“Let’s be together, Alice. I want you to move in with me. You know it will work. I know this is a ton to throw on your plate right now, you have so much going on—“

She cut him off with the kiss she had been waiting to give him since she was seventeen years old. She poured all her love and feelings into that one kiss. She pulled away and their eyes locked.

“We’re going off the grid,” Nick said happily.

The Inspirational Couple

Alice was inspired by my amazing friend, Alicia, whose work and art and all-around creative amazingness can be followed @pigpigmentation or via her own website:

 www.pigpigmentation.com“Affirm Your Colorful Life.”

Nick was inspired by Alicia’s real-life husband, Art, whose real-life musical genius can be followed @arthurwebb.

P.S. 

I will never not find it hilarious that an art teacher married a man named Art. ❤️

You Matter.

What. The. Actual. Fuck.

What is happening in this world? Do we not have enough terror in the universe? Is there not enough heartbreak? 

All my social media feeds are flooded with hashtags telling me which lives matter most. Nobody can seem to agree. I hate watching the divide. I empathize with all sides. 

I am a single, white female. I understand why other white people get upset when they are accused of being racists and privileged. But I also grew up in Southern California, and have been raised in a melting pot of people of varying shades and cultures.

I never saw a difference between us.

It never occurred to me to classify anybody by their color because it didn’t matter to me. What do I care what shade of porcelain / olive/ suntan/ mocha/ chocolate your epidermis is? 

Are you nice? Are you gentle? Do you possess a heart of gold and excellent character? Can you make a mean cup of coffee? Spectacular. We’re friends.

I hear the resounding rage coming from the Black Lives Matter movement. I know I don’t understand the complexity and depth of that pain, but I stand with you because you are a person


The confusion occurs when people who feel excluded from the Black Lives Matter movement say “well I didn’t hurt you.”

No. Maybe you didn’t. But how else will things change unless their collective voice is heard? Accept that maybe you don’t understand life from their point of view. Maybe have a conversation.

Now the shooting in Dallas has occurred, and police officers have lost their lives. 

Now what happens? 

Where does it stop? 

We are in an election year with two people who remind me more of Hunger Games characters than actual politicians. We have to fix this problem amongst ourselves because my faith that they will take a real stand feels more like heartburn than confidence.

YOUR LIFE MATTERS.

I don’t give a good god damn what color you are, where you were born, how much education you have, who you choose to have consensual sex with, or which invisible sky god(s) you worship… 

You matter.

Everybody has been oppressed at some point in their life. Everybody knows the feeling of being invalidated, ignored, disrespected. Literally everybody. 

Focus on that feeling. Embrace it. Remember it and all the weird little twinges of pain it caused you.

You know that involuntary, knee-jerk feeling you get when somebody insults your mother? 

THAT.

Now listen to the people who are shouting.

Black lives matter. Police lives matter. Gay lives matter.

LIFE matters.

We are all of us confused, rotting, organic organisms spinning on a shriveling blue planet in a universe so large it gives me anxiety to contemplate.

Listen to each other. 

Love each other.

Give respect first. Lend your support when it is requested. Be tolerant. That means NOT blocking people from your life because they have different politics or values than you do.

Listen when somebody tries to educate you.

Pay attention. Be mindful. And above all:


I love you.

Yes, you.

Love is Love.

Last night, my sister and I attended a “BIG, GAY WITNESSING” for two of the most incredible humans I have ever met in my life.

Josh and Isaac (or #josaac2016, as we are hashtagging them) have been in my life since 2005, if my old lady brain serves me correctly. Isaac and I met singing Opera together. He’s tall, slender, elegant, and his golden heart radiates his entire being. You can feel his beautiful, graceful energy a mile away. 

I have only known him as a couple. Josh had already stolen his heart in a chance meeting at Starbucks. What a perfect, modern-day love story.

3 years ago, amidst the foolishness of California taking an embarrassingly long time to stubbornly decide to be on the right side of history, #josaac2016 seized an opportunity to get married in a brief window of repeals. It was small and simple – just immediate family. No party. No honeymoon. No flower girl. Just a cake and two simple rings, gifted to them. 

Last night was their 3-year anniversary, and they were finally able to have the fancy wedding they had always dreamed of. My sister and I were lucky enough to be in attendance. We were at a table that Josh aptly named “Drama Queens,” along side our Opera cohorts from all those years ago. The table included our director, Mark, who brought us all together; a man who has affected my life for the better, since I stepped into his voice class when I was 15 years old.

During the reception, the grooms gave a breathtaking tribute to the victims from the Pulse Nightclub Massacre in Florida. 

The wedding party scattered from the stage and randomly handed out tags with a name of each victim. 

Just like that. 

In less than 60 seconds. 

My sister and I sat next to each other and we each received a tag. 49 tags in a party of 120. 

No order. No choice. No plan. 

Just random selection. 

I was handed Brenda McCool, a mother of 11 and a cancer survivor. My epically beautiful sister was handed Antonio Brown, an Army Captain. 

Their deaths make NO SENSE. 

Josh somehow managed to give an incredible speech without collapsing in a heap of messy tears, like I would have, and honored each victim. I would like to believe they joined us for the party. It was a beautiful, heartbreaking, gut wrenching tribute. THAT is magic at its finest.

Last night was a perfect example of pure love, acceptance, understanding, family, and magic…

…and don’t forget music…

Josh surprised Isaac by coordinating the cast of the production of R.E.N.T. with whom Isaac just performed. They filed out from behind a curtain lighted in fushia and sang “Seasons of Love.” And we sang and we cried.

No matter what you do with your life, don’t forget to love. Even if you don’t believe in marriage or “traditional love,” (whatever that means) just share goodness and love and light. You, and the world, will be better for it.

In memoreum. 

To the left. To the left.

Heartbreak is a strange phenomenon.

People experience heartbreak is so many ways. Some cry. Some scream. Some eat. Some sleep. Or a combination of all of the above and more.

My life felt like it was turned upside down at the beginning of the year, right when I was actually letting myself feel the joy and hope of the New Year. I was ready to leave 2015 behind and move forward.

But then a proverbial Molotov cocktail flew into my heart. It shattered me and took everything I thought was “mine forever” away.

Despite having a beautiful, supportive, healthy childhood, I have learned to cope with pain, loss, suffering, and heartbreak in all its facets. You have to learn to cope so the pain doesn’t take you down with it.

So I packed up my life, and moved far away. I was scared, confused, and so, SO hurt. 

Most of the hurt was because I knew I was being lied to. I always know when I’m being lied to. What drives me craziest is when I know I’m being lied to, and I call the liar out, somehow I am the one being called names like “crazy,” “paranoid,” or “dramatic.”

Fuck no.

I listen to my heart, my head, and my gut. And when they all band together and sing in harmony, I know that I’m right. 

I hate being right. Sometimes I wish I really was just making it all up in my head, like a story. Blame it on my writer brain.

But I’m right. 

Today I finally say farewell to any hope I still humored. Any ounce of me that still hoped you might one day realize what you’ve done has evaporated, like tea left over night.

I refuse to believe people are inherently evil. I will always believe people are good, deep down. I will forgive mistakes because no matter what, people are imperfect. 

But once I’ve pegged you for a liar; once you’ve broken all your promises; once you’ve proven me right, please exit stage left.

If I loved you once, I love you still…

…stay the fuck away from me, though.

S

Coffee and Contemplation

As a Witch, an Empath, and a generally sensitive soul, I tend to feel life on a moderate-to-intense level on a consistent basis.  I can tell if you don’t feel good.  I can tell where you’re hurting.  Usually because it hurts me, too.  I can’t read your mind and I can’t always fix it or stop it, but I can empathize with you and at least reassure you that you’re not crazy.

Mercury completed its retrograde cycle and returned to its direct positioning on the 9th.  If you stop and listen, you can feel everybody take a collective sigh of “…fuuuucking finally.”  Retrograde is not the catastrophic phenomenon so many people make it out to be.  It has a bad reputation, but that’s not super surprising, considering it jacks up your ability to speak, think, deduce, organize, and plan.  All while messing with your cell service.  Even Google can’t save you during retrograde.  RUDE.

Now that Mercury is realigned and pulling down all the barriers it built up, my quiet Sunday morning seems just that much more peaceful… and with peace and quiet comes the ability to let my imagination and brain-conjuring return to its regularly scheduled programming.  This usually manifests itself as deep reflection.

This year has been rough.  In five months, my family has seen four significant members die – two from cancer, one from cardiac myopathy, and one from actually having the opportunity to grow old.  Any one of these losses is enough to pull a person deep into their own mind and heart to contemplate the delicacies of life and death.  Multiply that loss and heart break by four, each from a different direction of tragedy, and it’s enough to make anybody want to dig themselves a hole, climb in with a blanket and a bowl of soup, and adamantly proclaim “NOPE.”

Yesterday, my Sister Girl and I visited the Museum of Death in Hollywood.  It’s a fascinating place, to put it mildly.  It is not for the squeamish, the faint-of-heart, or Empaths, unless you are really good at compartmentalizing.  No photos are allowed, but honestly, as a believer in ghosts and spirits and hauntings, I don’t think I’d want to capture what might be lurking around that building.

MuseumofDeath

There is so much energy that absolutely bleeds out of those walls and displays.  It’s an incredible history and socio-economic lesson, largely due to the fact that death does not discriminate.  It doesn’t matter where you were born, who your parents are, how much money you have, how many vegetables you eat, or how many times a day you poop… we will all die.  The veil will lift and each and every one of us will pass through it.  What intrigues me most is how incredibly THIN that veil is.

Considering my Sister Girl and I have seen so much death this year, up close and personally, our decision to visit the museum can be categorized as solidly “Questionable.”  I think we needed it, though.  Neither of us forgot that everybody dies; neither of us had any false presumptions that our family is the only one to experience so much tragedy in such a short amount of time.  Somehow, though, I think we both came out of it a little more emotionally stable than when we entered.  And awkwardly hungry.  Because why the hell not?

I said it in a previous blog, and I’ll say it again here:  I’m not afraid of death.  I’m a Witch.  I believe in reincarnation and that energy never ends, it only transforms.  Death is a part of life.  Don’t misunderstand me, though.  I’m terrified of everything leading up to death.  My fight-or-flight gland is in full, working order.

Usually, blogs posts like this are supposed to end with some deep, thoughtful advice for its readers, but I’m not that presumptuous.  Everybody copes with death and the lessons it teaches in their own way.  When a very close friend of mine died in a motorcycle accident just days between our 25th birthdays in 2009, it motivated me to shake off my rut and reignite my life.  I left a stagnant relationship, and started taking care of my damn self, living on my own, surviving off the ramen diet, and putting myself through school.  That’s what I needed to do.  That was the lesson my friend taught me.

The four deaths this year are different.  For me, they are manifesting themselves in quiet introspection.  No tantrums, no curses to the heavens, no fits of hysteria.  Just sadness.  Quiet, personal, sadness.  Surprisingly, though, I haven’t cried as much as I anticipated.

The closest thing to advice that I will leave with you, is:  Do what feels right for you.  If you need to break shit, break it.  If you need to put photos up of your loved one, put them up.  If you need to pack everything away or move out of your home entirely, box that shit up.  Don’t let anybody tell you how you should or should not mourn.  Fuck those guys.  They might mean well, but literally nobody but you knows what will give your heart peace.  I got a tattoo.  I put up alters.  I’ve burned a loooot of sage.  I went to the Museum of Death and submerged myself in its entire concept.  Who gives a flying fuck if anybody thinks it’s the best decision.  As long as you’re not hurting anybody else in the process, do what quiets your soul.

Take your time as Mercury settles into its direct alignment, and let your communication receptors relax back into their normal function.  I will be spending my day drinking coffee, contemplating everything I’ve discussed here, and translating it into readable content for my novel.  I’m probably going to cheat a little and use this novel as my NaNoWriMo project, even though you’re supposed to start from scratch on day one, but I’m too excited.  I can’t drop this project and work on something else for a whole month.  I have too many ideas and everything is flowing.  I’ll at least play fair and not add what I’ve already written into my NaNoWriMo word count.  I’ll hit 50,000 the honest way… but more on that in another post.

 

 

Stingers and Stealing

What.  A.  Summer.

I celebrated my birthday.  My Godfather was diagnosed with renal cancer.  My tiny, furry family and I moved into a beautiful new home.  My hot man celebrated his birthday.  I passed my probation period through my promotion.  It’s mine now.  I celebrated my one year anniversary at my grown-up job AND my one year anniversary with said hot man in the same week.  My Godfather’s cancer sent him into what I have to describe as a free fall, instead of a health decline.  We lost him on August 24th.  He was 71 and one of my heroes.  He has been with me since the minute I was born.

Commence inner scared, lost, terrified, 5 year old.

Compacted with all this, we have not set up internet in our beautiful new home, so all my pages have gone dark.  Being a professional gypsy means the only reliable internet connection I can find is in whatever Starbucks through which I happen to flutter.

My writing has, admittedly slowed to less than a crawl, as well.  The idea I had (and still have) has a lot to do with death.  I didn’t think losing my Godfather would affect my progress with my story, but it stopped me in my tracks.  I’m not done being angry.

Within three months of his diagnosis, we had lost him.  I can’t help but get swept away in the waves of “could haves” and “what ifs” and “if onlys.”  I want somebody to blame.  I want this to be somebody’s fault.  I don’t know why, as it would do no good.  Having somebody to blame would not bring him back.  But there’s nobody.  This is nobody’s fault.  This is just a thing that happens.

A shitty, shitty thing.

He wasn’t a young man.  Despite knowing that people can live well into their 90’s and up into their 100’s these days makes me feel like he was robbed, but he lived a full life.

I’m not considering this dark period a block.  It’s a hiccup, and a big one, but not a block.  I still have ideas, I’m still jotting down notes, and I’m still dreaming up my story, scene by scene.

There are no excuses with writing.  The only way to produce work is to WRITE.

So with that, I leave you with the image of me sitting in Starbucks, typing furiously into my laptop, ranting at you, making funny faces because of the stinger injury in my shoulder, drinking a COLD pumpkin spice drink because summer refuses to die.  Feel free to visualize all this with me twirling an imaginary mustache.

starbucks

Water Your Brain Seeds

The streets are dark, wet, and oil-slick black. It’s been raining. The storm clouds overhead reflect a burnt orange color against the city street lamps. Inky velvet skies speckled with fairy light stars try to peek through the muck.

Words have so much power.  Writing puts substance into thoughts.  It manifests your visions.  Writing things down, whether it’s a thought, a poem, a story, a quote, the beginning of a novel, a grocery list, it doesn’t matter.  Ink to paper makes things come to life.

I wrote those lines above on Thursday.  It’s Sunday evening now, and yesterday morning, it started pouring.  Thick, soupy clouds descended, and all my fellow pluviophiles started dancing in their seats and lifting their noses to the sky to smell the air, like a pack of wild beasts.  Californians get weird if you take anything away from them for an extended period of time, y’all.

(If you didn’t already know, California is in a ridiculous drought.  We are pumping water out of the ground that is 20,000 years old.  The old joke that California would one day dry out, shrivel up, and break off the continent is looking less… joke-y…)

We were greeted with thunder and lightning and a beautifully quenching downpour, and all it made me want to do was keep writing.  The rain watered the idea seeds in my soul and I feel extra charged to pull them out.

I’ve been putting as many words as I can scribble down on paper as they conjure up in my head.  I keep a yellow notepad on my desk, out of site, so it doesn’t distract me during my daily responsibilities… but not so far that I can’t snag it back up if the characters in my story start body slamming themselves against my cranium.

I have so many ideas at once and I’m writing so fast so I don’t forget anything, that right now, my Word .doc is very confusing and disorganized, but I love it.  I’ve always been a start-to-finish writer.  I can write a train of thought and fully flesh it out from beginning to end (with accredited references, if you’d like), but this story is different.  So many characters and places are popping up and wanting their story to be told.

I’ll get to you all very soon, my creepies.  But for now, let’s take a moment to let my finger bones rest, and to listen to the rain.  Tell me your stories as we splash in the puddles.

charles-bukowski

 

Come with Me Now

Kongos – Come with Me Now

Inspiration can hit you at any moment.  You have to keep your eyes and senses open to it, because you never know how inspiration will present itself.

I drive.  A LOT.  Sometimes I listen to my iTunes, sometimes I’ll dust off a long-forgotten mixed CD, and sometimes I listen to the radio.

I laugh a little when people proudly proclaim “Ugh, I never listen to the radio!”  While I understand they’re trying to convey that they don’t want to be spoon-fed what the music industry decides we should be listening to, to me, it also tells me that they aren’t open to new ideas.

If I didn’t listen to the radio, I would not have heard the song linked above.

The first time I heard it, I remember my ear being tugged by the accordion.  Maybe it’s my insatiable love for all things Carnival and Cajun, but the accordion made my heart happy.  Every time it came on the radio, something about it instantly made me want to turn up the volume.

I started gradually learning the words, and finally SHAZAM-ed the song to read the lyrics.  The words to the song struck me as even more interesting than the music composition, and it kicked my brain into high gear.

Characters manifested in front of my eyes.  Like a music video, they danced to the music and made the song come alive as a story.

I HAVE AN IDEA.

It’s still in its very rough stage.  My next step is to start my story board and help these characters flesh themselves out.  I really like the feeling this song gives me and I know bringing these characters to life will make me feel even better.  They are already scratching at my skull and they have something to say.

I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still.” –Sylvia Plath

 

Carriers

Round 3 submission for the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge, 2015.

Challenge:  1,500 words in 24 hours
Genre:  Open
Subject:  A dying wish
Character:  Janitor

————————————————————————————-

The basement was dark and damp. Winter’s chill had settled in and it crept through the walls and into the floor and up into the bones of the house. Silence hung overwhelmingly – the silence that immediately follows chaos. Two figures stood in the vacuum of sound.

“This never gets easier.” The figure in the North corner spoke first. He was tall and angular, yet graceful. He resembled a marble statue, but his features were unidentifiable. His skin tone shifted with the light. His eyes appeared to have embers burning behind them that glowed like a fireplace being bellowed softly. He was Azrael, the Angel of Death.

“I know, but it is not ours to understand.” The figure in the South corner rasped. He attempted to expel centuries of smoke out of his lungs with one sharp cough, but his demeanor did not waiver. He seemed neither more comfortable nor displeased. He was covered in soot and one shoulder slumped lower than the other. He tucked the thumb of each large, calloused hand in his pockets while he waited. He was Charon, the Ferryman of Souls.

“Shall we, then?” Azrael asked.

Charon nodded solemnly. “What happened here?” he croaked.

The pool of blood soaking into the floor of the basement was still warm. Steam rose from it and evaporated into the prickling cold air. Azrael and Charon met eyes across the room. The embers behind the Angel’s eyes began to glow brighter until the white hot light engulfed Charon’s vision.

“Why are you doing this?!”

The voice of a young girl rang into Charon’s ears. He could hear her whimpering, struggling. Her tension became his own. He felt choked by anxiety. His arms felt bound.

“I told you, beautiful. I love you! I did this so we could be together!”

A man’s voice echoed over her sobs. He sounded unfittingly calm and happy. The girl’s fear was still gripping Charon’s spine. Somehow the light-hearted tone of the man’s voice only made the Ferryman more agitated. Charon snapped his eyes shut. Behind his eyelids, the image of the basement played out.

A man stood towering over a girl who was tied to a chair in the middle of the room. Her arms were behind her back. She tried to hold back her tears, but her face was streaked with dirt and blood. She had been in this prison for at least a week.

“I have a present for you!” The man turned. He was wearing faded, filthy, dark blue coveralls. The embroidered name tag on his chest said “Wayne.”

“I was gonna leave this on your car at the college Monday morning, but when I ran into you at the coffee shop that day, I knew I could save it for now.”

He opened an envelope and produced a store-bought greeting card. The glitter that had rubbed off inside the paper case floated down and dusted Wayne’s old work boots.

“My most beloved Sarah, From the moment I saw you, I knew you were the one. I know you feel it, too. I see the way you smile at me when you pass me in the hallway. I knew you really loved me, too, when you kept the roses I left under your windshield wipers. You told your friends you thought they were from Brad, but I know you were just pretending. I’ve understood that our love had to be kept a secret, because I could lose my job, but I don’t want to hide anymore. I’m a good Janitor, and I will find a job at another school. You are worth it. You are worth everything. I want you and only you, forever and ever. You are my dream come true, and nothing will keep us apart anymore. Nothing will ever come between us. Nothing. All my love, Wayne.”

Sarah sobbed uncontrollably as he slipped the card back into the envelope. Wayne’s face shifted from that of a love sick puppy to ice cold rage in less than a second. He was on her in a blink.

“STOP CRYING. WHY ARE YOU SAD? DON’T YOU GET IT?” His hands were closing around her throat, and her hair fell over his wrists. She began to cough violently, and she struggled to free her arms and legs from their restraints. When her eyes started to roll back into her head, Wayne released her.

“No, no, no. Nononono. Shhhh. Sh! Hey! Sarah? Sarah. Shhhh. Hey. It’s ok. I’m here.”

She slumped against him, her breaths labored and wheezing. He lifted her chin with his forefinger and began to pepper her face with gentle kisses. She shook her head back and forth to get her face away from him, but he reached up, and gripped her jaw in his hand. Sarah opened her eyes and focused intently on Wayne’s face. His hand softened slightly, and he leaned in to kiss her chapped and cracking lips.

Before he could, Sarah rammed her forehead directly into Wayne’s nose. There was one loud POP! sound. Wayne cupped his bleeding, broken face. His eyes were already swelling.

Sarah struggled with all her might to free her hands. She had been tied in one position for so long, that her arms and legs felt numb, but the ropes around her wrists had stretched out. She pulled one hand free and that loosened the knot enough for her to slip her other hand out.

Wayne’s blood trickled down her face, where it had splattered on impact. Her head throbbed. She worked at the ropes that tied her ankles to the legs of the chair. When the knots fell loose, she stood to run, but her legs were weak and she stumbled.

She heard him moving toward her, an angry growl surging from his chest. Wayne heaved his body forward at her as she tried to climb the concrete basement stairs. He caught her around the knees and they both fell to the ground.

Sarah’s head came down hard on the corner of the last step and her body went limp. Through his own pain and blood, Wayne panicked and began to move up her body to check her pulse. Her face was covered by her hair.

Wayne didn’t even see the camping shovel in her hand until the blade was buried where his neck meets the shoulder. Sarah’s grip held firm until well after Wayne had bled out. Under the weight of his lifeless body, Sarah succumbed to her aching temple, and slipped into unconsciousness.

Charon’s eyes fluttered back open. Azrael’s embers were dimmer, now. Charon put his fist to his chin, and pushed his face to either side until his tired bones had cracked audibly.

“Let us begin.” Azrael’s voice was gentle but firm.

They moved to the stairs where Sarah and Wayne still laid. Charon chanted his ancient incantations and Wayne’s soul lifted from his body. Charon dragged the soul by the back of the neck like a scolded animal to a wooden crate that looked as if it had been passed through fire a thousand times. He pulled rusty nails from his pocket and a hammer from a loop in his belt. With arching, heavy swings, Charon hammered the lid shut. He nodded when he was done.

Azrael turned his face to Sarah. He knelt by her side and waved a hand over her face to begin his own incantation. Charon and Azrael jumped when Sarah’s hand flew up and gripped Azrael’s wrist with the strength of a dozen men.

“…please…”

“Tell me, child. You are safe. He cannot hurt you anymore.”

Sarah wheezed. Her left eye was bloody and blinded. Wayne had cracked her ribs when he landed on her.

“…tell…”

Azrael did not interrupt.

“Tell… my… mom…”

They waited.

And waited.

“What is your wish, child?”

Sarah’s right eye tried to find Azrael’s face in the darkness that was consuming her.

“Tell my mom… that… I fought him…”

Azrael placed his left hand over her heart and his right hand over her forehead.

“I fought him.”

Her voice trailed off. Her eyelids sank and closed. The air in her lungs rattled out of her broken body. Azrael and Charon both bent their heads. Whispered incantations in the dark could barely be heard over winter’s low moan.

Azrael lifted his head and stood. Sarah’s soul rose with him. She stood, glowing and peaceful.

Charon strapped the crate to his enormous back. Azrael offered an arm to Sarah’s soul.

The Angel and the Ferryman gripped forearms.

“Until next time, old friend.” Azrael said.

“Don’t forget her request.” Charon reminded.

“Never.”

As the two carriers transcended, one above, one below, the faint sound of police sirens pierced the night air.