Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wouldn't You Prefer A Maiden Fair? Part 2

So, I'm back. As promised, I have dug up a picture of myself and am now going to attempt to write my own description as I would for a romance novel- trying to make me appear as lovely as possible. I won't lie, I tried to find a picture that made me look as attractive as possible- as though that will make a difference....

So- here we go. (Can I confess to being nervous?)

The sun shone relentlessly- infusing even the tangled vines of the underpass with a golden tint that lit them from behind and nearly set them ablaze. She stood there, looking at him intently, questioningly, as he approached her. Try as she might, she could not school her features into impassivity. A glimmer of uncertainty shone through her steel grey eyes as she watched him. Be calm, she thought. This is nothing to be nervous about. Even with the thought still echoing in her head she struggled to keep her brows from arching. She steeled herself and forced them into a thin line that would imply a calm demeanor. In spite of her efforts her eyes still glittered with the look of something soft and sweet caught in the sights of a predator at night.

Through the sheen of light reflected on his glasses he was unsure if the soft pink flush over her warm ivory skin was from the heat or from the anticipation that she must feel at him examining her so closely. Would she pass muster? Of course she would. Hidden in her lithe frame was a sureness that she could have what she wanted. She was what he wanted- and she knew it. Her lips were pursed- a perfect red Cupid's bow that was both a warning and an invitation to any man who would take what they could offer. For a moment they quirked at the edges- something had amused her. He could see it in the way she glanced at him- regal, untouchable and slightly snobbish- over the bridge of her nose.

There was a look about her as though she might turn away at any moment. Her thin frame was poised for flight. Still, there was a lushness...something inviting and warm in the way she was looking at him. There was an unspoken challenge in the set of her shoulders. From the way she held herself you could sense there was something inside- something trapped and waiting to break free. The wind caught her hair and tossed the long oak and cinnamon locks over her shoulder. It added to the wild and haunting look she wore. He found it irresistible. He could almost see the breeze pricking little bumps on her skin, dancing across the gentle swell of her breasts. Wrapped in silk, encased in luxury, she was impossibly out of place and somehow completely at home as the wind had it's way with her before leaving her to rest in the oppressive heat.


So? Accurate? I don't know. I feel awkward looking at myself this way. It might be easier with others. Still, I think I managed to sound reasonably attractive without me having to resort to outright lies on lengthy descriptions of my clothing. What do you think? How would you have described this photo? I'm all ears.

Wouldn't You Prefer A Maiden Fair?

With my book out on submission there's very little I can do with it at this point until I start getting feedback from the editor I submitted it to, and from my betas, some of whom still have the first draft in their hands. Like most writers, this means I can do one of two things- I can sit on my hands and pace the floor while I wait for feedback (I've been doing a little of that, I'll confess) or I can get to writing another book.

Of course, the book I have out is being pitched as part of a series. Honestly, I think its a great idea and I do need to get to work on book two. Some of that I have done already. I began plotting the outline of the second book and the scratch plots of the five that follow it. I've also began work on a massive family tree for the saga- a daunting task that I've stopped halfway through because I truly need to get a hold of several history books if I want to make the time frames as accurate as possible. And I do. But that means I need to be able to accurately place my characters in Prohibition, the Alaskan Gold Rush and some other really fun places. See, the idea I have is to cross several historical genres with this family saga. I think it would be fun.

I love historical fiction and while I do have a hard preference for Regency fiction (its the dresses, I think, and the Dukes) I am not opposed to other time periods. I've noticed that writer Eloisa James is really good about capturing other time periods. Her Desperate Duchesses series is set in Georgian England. Anyway, I like the idea of doing some of the time-honored  tropes, like Regency and maybe a good pirate novel. However, I started my series with an Elizabethan time travel novel, which is different from most historicals being published now. However, I think there are a lot of wonderful time periods that are completely untapped, and I want to see how they would work within the framework of a romance novel.

Anyway, before I get off on a completely different tangent than the one I set out on, I am, as sated, waiting on word back from said publisher and at a stand-still with editing until I hear more back from my betas. As such, I must find something else to do. For the last two weeks or so that has involved me doing research on the Regency period, which I know a little of- but not nearly enough, and spending the rest of my time watching movies (I've seen Pitch Perfect twice and watched nearly every video on YouTube related to the movie) and surfing the internet in hopes of finding something that will inspire me. In some small part it has worked. I have got a working outline. I have found music videos and clips that entertain me and make me feel like there is some hope for me as an artist of the written word. (I confess, I've found a couple of song lyrics by new artists that I like that I simply must find a way to reference in a book- this will of course involve me writing a contemporary novel- no worries, I have a series idea there too.)

In my quest for inspiration and distraction from my never ending list of things to research I have began to feel a little excited about this new book. One of the first things I do when I start writing a new novel is to start working with the characters in my head. I like to get a full visual of them before I start writing them, and by that time I've usually "introduced" myself to them and begun to get a feel for their personalities. This all goes into a notebook where I dutifully record anything that might have any sort of relevance to the book I am currently writing. Its here that I found something that gave me pause and nudged me into writing this post- however long winded and rambling it may seem at this point.

You see, I love to have visuals of my characters. This, to me, is extremely important in the writing of a book. When I read a romance novel one of the things I do is to actually take time to visualize what each person looks like to the best of my ability. Once I have the character cemented in my head I am able to let the action unfold in my mind without me needing to think overlong about the details. The details, you see, start to come naturally. This is the essence of good writing. When the author can carry a reader through the action without having to pause to remind them of the little things. This is especially important, in my mind, in the love scenes. Say what you will about them, but love scenes in a romance novel are necessary and when not properly written can ruin the mood of a book. I've read some that ruined the book for me entirely. My point is, if I have to go back and think of what the heroine and hero look like, or contemplate if "honey-wheat tresses" are blonde or a light brunette, it distracts me. If I already know, then I can move on and enjoy the scene itself.

Here's the thing- I've heard a lot about how romance novel characters are all the same. I hear some say that the women are impossibly perfect and that the men are completely unattainable. There's a lot of jokes, even within the writing community, about man-titty and bosoms and all of that. Granted, its tongue in cheek, and most of us use this is a reminder of how not to write a character- but we are aware of it. I've even seen a growing trend in the books being published (especially the ones I've read of late) where the author takes great pains to make the characters both beautiful and believable. I was thinking of this earlier last month when I was reading through the descriptions of my own characters and noticed that my male main character bore a striking resemblance, in description, to Robert Downey Jr. I did not do that on purpose. I promise. However, having noticed it, I discovered my re-read was much easier for me, because I could see him quite clearly. He was not Mr. Downey Jr. but I could see the resemblance and I think, for me (and hopefully my reader) it was easier to draw his portrait in my head knowing what I was looking at. I'm digressing, again. The point is, there's a lot of really great characters that I've been loving who are described in a way that makes them beautiful, but it is clear they are less than perfect. I really like that. And so to romance descriptions in general, where the thought occurred to me that I can write anyone as beautiful if I want to. Anyone at all. So I was thinking about trying it.

Of course, being vain, I thought about myself first. Now, despite what all of you very generous people tend to say about me, I know I am not a knockout. I am not what most people would call conventionally beautiful. I'm not ugly- don't think I'm saying that- but I do think I am about average. But if I actually took the time to write myself as a romance heroine, I think I could do an admirable job of making myself sound beautiful. In fact, I think I could do it with just about anyone I know. I could probably do it with people I don't know, just based on pictures. Now I have this theory, and I am dying to test it out. Can I really write myself- or anyone else for that matter- in a romance style and make them beautiful with words? I'm thinking I can.

So I am leaving it to you. I'm going to do a few posts, some with pictures included, and I will describe the person in the picture with the language and style I would use in writing one of my own novels. It will be a fun exercise for me and it will eventually, I think, prove my theory. If you would like me to write you up as well, let me know. I don't need a picture, I can do without, but if you want to include one I would be delighted. Most of you know my email, so you can send it to me there. Otherwise, I'll just wait for the fun to start. I'm off to hunt up a picture of myself to start the proceedings. Fun times.

Volunteers in the comments, please.

Your Description Loving Pal-

Monday, December 17, 2012

Through The Years We All Will Be Together

Yesterday I woke up with a raging headache. I cannot tell you how much of an inconvenience it was. Normally I would have done what I did first off, and that was call Sakura to see if he could come and sit with me, because I hate being alone when I am throwing up and so dizzy I am terrified I might pass out at any given moment. Normally, I would have done that and rested with him, knowing I was safe, until the headache passed. Normally.

But yesterday was my family Christmas party. That may not seem like a huge deal, but I had decided to go for the first time since Kitten and I got together. We went that first Christmas and then never again. It wasn't that I don't like Christmas with my family. I mean, okay, its always a little...different, with my family- but I always went before now. And Kitten wasn't the reason I wasn't going. It was personal, and I felt like it would be better for me not to be there. This year is different. Circumstances in my life have changes and made it to where I wanted to go, at least in some small measure. I'm on much better terms with my family than I was before, and there are a lot of other things going on in my families lives that make me want to be there.

I'm unsure if I've mentioned it here already, but last week my grandmother was in the hospital. They thought she was having a heart attack. She wasn't, thank god, and she was up and moving around much faster than I would have expected. This, however, put me in the mind of two things yesterday morning. The first was that I need to appreciate every moment I have with my family, because I am not guaranteed anything. The other was that if my grandmother had been in the hospital and was still going to family Christmas, then by god,- so was I.

So I spent a few hours struggling with nausea and my pain, patiently laying on the couch with Sakura, letting him feed me spoonfuls of anti-nausea liquid and sipping at tepid water. He helped me to struggle into a skirt and a long sleeved shirt and we headed off to the party. When we got there my family had already arrived, for the most part. My mom was at the store picking up last minute provisions and my brother came in shortly behind me. It was...overwhelming. At first because I always forget how huge my family is. I mean, we rent a community room because there is no house big enough to hold all of us. There were about 40 there, and I know we were missing a few people. The other thing was...well, my brother.

It was the first time I had seen him since the winter Kitten and I got together. Three years. He's changed. A lot. Appearance wise, he's taller if that's possible, or I forgot how tall he really is. He also wears much nicer clothing than he used to. His extremely long hair is gone (really long, like longer than mine) and he doesn't wear a beard anymore. And he was sober. Sober and clean. I haven't seen him that way since the both of us were in high school. Like a girl, I cried. It was embarrassing. He looked at me, hugged me, and then asked me why I was crying. I told him I wasn't, and he laughed at me and hugged me again. Then he told me he loved me. For the first time in a very long time, I believed him.

Of course, the happy reunion was cut short by me dashing down the hall. First, I needed to throw up. Too much emotion plus a migraine equals sickness. Then I wanted a moment to pull myself together. No such luck. My cousins and my grandmother and Sakura were all hot on my heels. Ah, the joy of family. Once I convinced them that yes, I was fine, they let me have a moment.

I spent most of the first hour sitting along the wall watching my family eat. Honestly, I wasn't very hungry because I was still feeling a little woozy, so I was happy just watching. Sakura and I chatted. I got a huge kick out of him telling me he was surprised that my family was so southern. Like, bless your heart, deep-south southern. Its true. I had never really thought about it before. But seeing my family, all of whom came by to encourage me to eat (because obviously Sakura wasn't going to eat if I didn't and we can't have a guest unfed!) bustling around the room and spending time together, it became very apparent that yes, my family might as well be somewhere in Georgia for how southern we are. And it was funny, too, to watch them try and get me to eat because they were worried about poor Sakura wasting away. It made me giggle, too, because I don't look too much like the rest of my family and my personality is very different from theirs. Sakura says he assumed my family would be more like a group of people from the eastern seaboard. That made me smile.

I was glad to see my cousins, whom I never see enough of. Lovey and her little sister Spurs were up from Oklahoma. I love seeing them. I got a kick out of Spurs, because she is such a little cowgirl, and I would never have guessed her for one when she was little. Now she's all grown up and sometimes I get a little misty eyes thinking of the two of them when they weren't so big. Now instead of talking about our favorite Disney movies or where we want to go on spring break we're talking about our significant others and our first experiences at strip clubs. Ah, growing up. I'm going to do my best to have them up to see me sometime this spring. I'm definitely going to visit them. I love Oklahoma. Plus any chance I get to see them is a holiday.

My younger cousins were there too, and by younger I mean, you know, in high school. (when did I get so old???) It was kind of funny to see them sitting at the table playing some sort of racing game on their smart phones. I remember when I was a kid we would sneak into the back room and play Nintendo when no one was watching. It brought back memories. All of my older relatives don't seem so old now. In fact, I was remarking it to Sakura, some of them are closer to me in age than my cousins. Its strange.

I was really happy when Kitten and Oscelot got there. They got off of work early so they could make it. I was able to introduce them to my whole family for the first time. I was thrilled. Everyone was so kind to them, and so loving. My great-aunt pulled me aside to tell me how wonderful she thought they were, and how she was glad to see I had found people who really, truly loved me. She said I had picked two women with very tender hearts and she was proud of me. It made me want to run out of the room crying again. I got a kick out of Oscelot telling me how huge my brother was. She's super short, so he looks like a giant next to her. It was hilarious. We got to take some pictures with the family, and that was nice. I can't wait for everyone to upload all of their pics so I can save them on my computer. I need a family album.

Anyway, it was a really nice time. I managed to sit down and eat some potatoes. My mom called me this morning and was horrified that's all I had eaten. She's bringing me over leftovers today I think. I got to watch my family interact with my chosen family. It was really, really nice. I feel better about this holiday than I have about any holiday I've had with my family since I was a child.

I hope that all of you are able to find something special this holiday.


PS- I'm adding some photos below, because I can. Ignore the fact that I look awful- I was sick, after all.

Here's me and Kitten and Oscelot. Nothing like a smiling family to make the holidays brighter, right? In the background you'll notice my two gargantuan cousins messing around.

Here's me and my mom and Punk. First picture like this in years. I'd like to add that last night my mom texted me to tell me thank you for coming. She said having me, Punk, the girls and Sakura there made it feel like Christmas for her, because she was with her family. 

This is my three female cousins. From left to right: Spurs, Colorgirl and Lovey. They are just the darn cutest things. I'd like to mention, Lovey and Spurs are my height. Colorgirl is just super tall. Super, super tall.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Faithful Friends Who Are Dear To Us Gather Near To Us Once More

Its December and time to look back on the year and see how I've done and what's happened to me. I'll confess, I hadn't even thought about it until I signed on to Facebook this morning and it was offering me the album of my Top 20 Moments of 2012. Most of them weren't really top moments. So I thought I would tote up all the things that happened to me and go through them. It was an interesting job down recent memory lane.

In January I started working on a lesbian romance novel. It ended up crashing and burning later, but it was a good start to me writing more than I had before. It was also a decent idea, which I will probably use some time in the near future. For the first time in years I got seriously ill with some sort of virus, an indicator that my body has finally stopped holding up on its contract to not get sick and just punish me with migraines. Kitten and I had our birthdays and nothing too epic happened when I turned a year older. I finally blocked my ex BBD on Facebook because he started up with his stalker like tirades again. I also threatened him with an Ex Parte, he hasn't shown his face since.

In February I saw the Memphis ballet, and was moved to tears. Kitten began contemplating the out of town internship over the summer, which she thankfully ended up not taking. We had Thanksgiving in February with our friends, the first in a long line of weird themed dinner parties over the year. I discovered the Warriors series by Erin Hunter and found out there's nothing like a book about feral cats to make you cry.

In March I started gardening for the season, most notably planting more roses and plotting out a garden for veggies and herbs in the back. I reorganized the books in my library, sort of. We went to Kansas City, MO to see Katie Herzig live and despite the fact that I had a headache, had a great time. I actually met her after the show and we got pics. Sakura and I began contemplating a formal coven structure as a result of friction within the coven. Kitten was hired to work temp at Casa Bueno and Oscelot was rehired.  Oscelot celebrated her birthday.

In April I had a period so bad I was hospitalized. Turns out I had a torn cyst. Shorty had her 21st and we had a great time out with her. Not much else happened.

In May I attended my first family gathering in years because my cousin Mustang had graduated high school. I began to feel really old about it. Beltane we washed in the may dew and had a good time. The coven began changes that would eventually become a more formal structure. Ties of friendship were renewed among some of my closer friends. I learned I am a planning sort of person. I also had the first of two fights this year that resulted in me losing a friend and me discovering that I can take the higher ground when I want to. Even if I don't want to.

In June I had my wisdom teeth out. I discovered the Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube and became obsessed. We got a new car, and by new I mean a 1982 Honda we call Vannessa. We wrote the coven bylaws, I met Felix, started seeing Auras on purpose and not accident. I memorized the Charge of the Goddess. I also met Sakura's mom after we sort-of formalized that agreement we'd made to move to the Rose City together soon. It became unbearably hot. We started conserving water for the gardens.

July saw us all over town. Flyguy and I had a fun time trashing a dress. We went to see James Taylor in concert and it was awesome. We went with Kitten's mom to Tulsa for a couple of days to explore art museums and learn about George Washington. I saw his teeth. No, they weren't made of wood. I had the second of my fights that lost me a friend. This particular one really hurt, but then, that sort of thing does. It got even more hot than it had been. Temps in the 100+ all the time.

August I bought a bicycle but didn't ride it much because of the heat. We threw a huge pirate themed party for Spice's birthday and had Christmas in August as well. I really, truly went to town on the bookshelves but only made it to M because I ran out of shelf space. It finally rained, finally. I went to the fair with my friends and had a blast. I hadn't been in a few years, and it was a wonderful time. I discovered we had skunk kittens hiding under our shed and that they were making friends with the cats on our porch. I put down Starkit, bless his soul, after he got hit by a car. I cried over him. He was adorable.

In September I quit my job and became a housewife. Best decision I ever made. I started working on my first romance piece for publication. I started working on costumes for our trip to the KC Renaissance Fair. I bonded with a couple of my cousins over hard times. I realized not all the crap I've been through has been for naught.

In October we went to the Ren Fair and had a great time. I came up with a brilliant novel idea. I made my first made from scratch cake and discovered I can bake so long as its complicated. We had a wonderful Samhain ritual at Kitten's moms and I felt really connected to my family. I discovered, at the same time, that I am allergic to pumpkins. I began quilting.

Last month I lost myself in the elections and in NaNoWriMo. I bonded with my wonderful beta reader KittyMammas and realized I am lucky to have access to so  many wonderful writers and a great community. I spent my first election night up all night since I turned 18 and discovered I have an awesome family who's willing to drag the couch into the library and watch live election streaming with me until 1am. I have spent a lot of time bonding with Kitten's mom, which has been great. I also spent Thanksgiving with my mom and grandma for the first time in years.

That brings us to now. Last week I got back on the submissions train and am beginning new work as a writer. I also went to see White Christmas on the big screen with friends and felt completely unashamed at my tears for the first time ever. It was awesome. Who knows how the rest of this month will turn out.

I'll say this- it has been both an awesome and really difficult year. I want to thank all the people who have supported me through all of this crazy. You've helped me grow in ways you'll never imagine. A special thanks to Sakura, Aravis, Swiss, Shorty and Felix for making this year unforgettable and bearable. You are wonderful people.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Take a Chance on Me

Hi everyone.

I wanted to give you a quick update about my life and the blog. No- I'm not going anywhere, you won't get off the hook that easily.

First, you'll notice I updated my blogroll. I've added some sites that I frequent and deleted some that I don't go to very often or that have become inactive. There's a lot there for writers if you're looking for some good industry information. I have to admit, this is as much for me as for you. I'm here often enough its nice to be able to click my own links to navigate myself around the web. I might point out in particular Big Pink Crayon, which is an awesome charity fundraising blog. I love what she's doing and I think its wonderful. Go donate if you have some spare change.

Also, I've started a new blog. This one is called Beguiled by Books and is a place where I'm going to review what I've been reading. A lot of it will be romance novels, which I know isn't entirely everyone's speed, but I've really gotten to where I read them most of the time. I love the genre and I think that there's a lot more that goes into it than a lot of people realize. That said, if you like romance, or books, you should come by and check it out.

I submitted my latest work to a publisher this week. I will hopefully be hearing back from them in the next couple of months. Unlike my last go, I feel like I have a really good shot at this one. I think its a well written book and it fits well with the publisher's style. We're going to see. This is the first time I've submitted to a publisher in response to a call for books rather than an agent. I'm excited and nervous all at the same time. This is a huge step for me. I'll soon be starting the second book in the series and the research is going to keep me really, really busy. Fortunately, I love research. I just wonder where I'm going to put it all, because the piles next to my desk are already looking pretty scary.

In personal news, I've had a terrifying week with regards to one of my friends. My dear friend Sakura had some really scary nosebleeds. After he took three consecutive trips to the ER, he finally hit paydirt on trip four and they figured out what was wrong with him. He had a posterior nose bleed and they had to cauterize one of the arteries in his nose. I spent a lot of this week worrying about him. He's so special to me, and I hate seeing him in pain. It was a relief when they finally got him taken care of.

In good news, my dear friend Bobcat got her tests back and she is now cancer free. I am so happy about this I could cry. She's such a wonderful, brave, amazing soul and I have felt for her through all of this. It was the highlight of my week to hear the good news and know that she is well.

I'm pretty sure that's all the interesting stuff so far. I hope you're having an exciting start to your week too.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Went Out Looking for the Answers

November is never a very kind month is it?

I've been so busy the last four weeks i can hardly think strait. Outside of the Thanksgiving holiday there's been no end to the crazy. Kitten missed it with my family because she had a nasty bout of the flu. That same week I pulled my back picking up trash in my bathroom and couldn't hardly walk. I was zombie shambling most of the last two weeks. I can sit up now, and walk better, but I'll be damned if it doesn't still hurt. Yule is just around the corner and I have done next to no planning for it. I did get some greenery up in my house and made a couple of wreaths, but that's been the extent of my holiday cheer so far.

I've spent most of this month working on my book. I'm sending it off to a publisher in a couple of weeks, and I have really high hopes for this one. I think I've got a really good chance at publishing now. I'm working diligently. I think I've spent more time at my computer this month than I have in the last year, and that's really saying something. On the up side, getting work done has inspired me and I have at least six more book ideas ready to roll. It looks like I'll be doing a lot of writing in the foreseeable future.

I've also spent a lot of time with Kitten's mom. She's been a really great companion these last two months. Its nice to have such a good relationship with her, especially since I was so intimidated by her when we first met. I feel better about myself when I'm around her now. I feel really lucky that she treats me with respect. Turns out we have a lot of common interests, too. So there's never any lack of something to talk about.

I've been especially happy because she has taken the time to learn about my religion and has asked a lot of really good questions. She knows the members of my coven and she looks at them as part of our family. Its really nice. I feel a lot more grounded than I have in the past and that's such a nice thing.

I haven't got a lot to say today, so I'm going to run off and keep working on the book. With any luck I'll be picked up by this fantastic publisher and I'll be well on my way to career as a writer. I hope everything is as exciting and interesting for all of you.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

You've Been So Kind and Generous

Right, so all of these people are on facebook writing these posts this month about how they are thankful for something each day. Now, I don't normally have a problem with this. I think its good that we're thankful. It does irritate me that they only do it for the month of November, because of Thanksgiving. I'm not saying what they're doing is bad. More that I wish people could say something they are thankful for every day, not just every day in a month. Its something that changes your outlook on life, I think, when you take stock of all the things you've been blessed with.

That said, I figure its about time I did another one of those posts where I talk about all the things I am thankful for, because I am a very lucky woman. I thought I would do thirty, since that's what everyone else seems to be doing, but I thought I would get it all out here at once, rather than updating facebook every day. Seems more efficient, and while I might not seem the type, I am all about efficiency.

1. I am thankful that I am alive. I have made a lot of really stupid decisions in my life which could have changed that, and I am thankful that I survived my own stupidity. I am also thankful that thus far in my life, I have survived all the illnesses I have had. I've not got great health, but I have some health, and a lot of days, that's something to be thankful for.

2. I am thankful for Kitten. There's not been a doubt in my mind since the day four years ago that I ran back into her that I am a lucky woman. She is a very supportive partner. She's very loving and she has a lot of heart. I have never met someone so courageous or committed to doing the right thing. She's incredibly strong and she has taught me to be a stronger and better person.

3. I am thankful for Oscelot. I really think sometimes I don't tell her enough how much she has taught me about myself. Through her I have been able to see how I have grown as a person, and also how much more work I have to do. I am also very lucky to have her as my own personal cheerleader. I've never had a person in my life who was so relentlessly  committed to my success, even when I was feeling like a failure. That's a huge gift.

4. I am thankful for Sakura. He has been the best and truest friend I could have asked for. In the last two years he and I have become so close. I've been very lucky to have him there, helping me along, teaching me. Without his support I would never have been able to learn to control my temper. I wouldn't be able to (actually, really, truly) meditate. I have, with his help, discovered the infinite nature of the universe. He has shown me what courage and love and friendship look like. And he has also shown me what the advice of a true and loyal friend can be like. I've never seen him flinch from telling me the hard things, and even when he is, he's always there to offer a shoulder. He's seen and taken care of me sick almost as many times as the girls. It means a lot to me to have him as a part of my family.

5. I am thankful for Felix, who has been a great addition to our coven. She's done so much (unwittingly I think) to improve me as a teacher and a mentor. She's a wonderful, beautiful person and a hugely inspired artist. She inspires me every time I speak with her. She's also a great person to just sit and talk with, or sit and write with, and I'm always thankful for her company. She's proved to me that yes, I can be friends with a girl because there are some out there who don't irritate me to death.

6. I am thankful for my improved relationship with my family. Things are never going to be perfect, but I've finally found balance there. As a result, I am at peace with myself and my past for the first time in my life. I have moved past my resentment, and learned to let my cynicism take a break...because of it I find my family is much more willing to give me a break. It works out for all of us.

7. I am thankful for the good health of my friend Bobcat, who has struggled this year with cancer. She's is such a brave and amazing woman. Her life changed, and her dreams changed so much when this happened to her. Through it all she has been incredible- if I can grow to have half the grace and humor that she has I will be a better person indeed.

8. I am thankful for my extended family, the one I have gained through Kitten and Sakura. They're wonderful people and I've never felt more supported and loved in my life.

9. I am thankful for my blogger friends. I never tell them enough, and I should. Aravis, Swiss, Mark, Flash- you guys have seen me at my best and my worst. You have loved me through all of it. You have talked me down when I was afraid, or upset. You have continued to post and tell me about your lives and it has given me the hope and courage and laughter to get through. The strength of heart that you have has been an inspiration to me, and there isn't  day that goes by that I don't think of you and thank deity that I have you in my life. 

10. I am thankful for NaNoWriMo. Now, before you laugh...this program got me started novelling properly. It gave me the courage to send out my first queries. It gave me the laughter and support I needed to realize that yes, I could be a novelist if I wanted to be. That's huge for me. This year it is providing me with an opportunity I will not pass up, and hopefully will have been the means of me finally getting my first novel published. That is huge.

11. I am thankful for the job I quit. I am. I learned a lot about myself and people. I came out of my shell. I have skills I would never have had if I hadn't worked there. It also brought me Spice, Shorty, Flyguy and Adidas, who through everything have been beautiful and wonderful friends.

12. I am thankful that I am now not working. I am now following my ambitions. Not many people have that chance and I am happy to have it.

13. I am thankful for my cats. They're funny, amazing little creatures who remind me every day how life can be an adventure.

14. I am thankful for my talents. I might not have many, but the ones I have give me joy and a sense of peace. Some of them are things I will never be able to use as a career, but they make me happy. Some of them will hopefully enable me to make a better life for myself. Either way, its a blessing to have things that give me joy in my life.

15. I am thankful that my family is able to provide for itself. There are so many people in the world who can't. Knowing that I will go to bed every night with a full stomach with a roof over my head is amazing.

16. I am thankful for cigarettes. Stop being indignant. I like them and though they aren't healthy, they give me pleasure and so I'm glad I have them. One day I'll hopefully stop. In the mean time, I am glad I have access tobacco that tastes good.

17.I am thankful that there are amazing artists in this world. People like Brandi Carlile and Katie Herzig, writers like Laurrel Hamilton and Erin Hunter and Johnathan Franzen remind me why this is a wonderful world to live in. They give me hope that there is more beauty and talent in the world than we thought there was. They give me hope that my generation might just make a mark on humankind that is more than ugliness.

18. I am thankful- despite my ranting- that I live in the US. There's a lot I don't like about my country. But there are many wonderful things about the place I live. I only hope that things can get better. In the mean time, we've got it pretty good whether we realize it or not.

19. I am thankful that I am not the person I wanted to be when I was eighteen. I had a lot of ideas about the world, and a lot of hopes for myself. I would have been an interesting person had I realized those dreams. I would not, however, be who I am now. And I truly believe that I am becoming the best person I can be. I am not yet, but I will slowly get there.

20. I am thankful for my grandparents. Without them I would have never made it. My grandmother gave me support and shelter and love when I thought there was none left to be had. My grandfather kept me from starving myself when I couldn't stand to look in the mirror and face what stared back at me. Both of them shaped my ideas about life. Both of them have given me strength when I didn't think I would ever find any. They have, and still are, one of the greatest gifts to my life.

21. I am thankful for friendships I have lost. Don't get me wrong, I am not always glad people leave my life. However, each time they do, I learn something more about myself. This last year I have had several people leave my life. I was sorry for it at the time, and looking back sometimes it still feels wrong. Still, the more I walk the path I have chosen, the more I see things clearly. I am happy with my decisions. Some of them, unwittingly, helped me to make some very hard ones. End the end time will tell whether or not I was right, but as of now, I am a very happy person who is still managing to hold on. And that makes me proud.

22. I am thankful for my religion. I won't preach. You know I don't do that. I will say this, my fully becoming a witch has totally changed my outlook on life. I am a different person now, and a better one.

23. I am thankful for my phone and my computer. Its another thing that seems shallow, but its also something that keeps me connected to the people in my life. That's important to me.

24. I am thankful that I am clean. It took a lot of will to get myself that way, and having people in my life who helped me was huge. I know people still that struggle with addiction every day and I am so proud and happy that it is something that I can move beyond. It wasn't easy, some days it isn't still, but the fact that I have spent over 12 years of my life free from addiction means everything to me, because it means I am in control of who I am.

25. I am thankful for all the silly, shallow, frivolous things in my life that make me happy. My underwear, my clothes, my hairbrush...I am thankful for the paintings and books in my house. I am thankful for nice meals and evenings out. I am thankful for being able to afford both glasses and contacts. I am thankful for warm blankets and candles and lots of cleaning supplies to keep my house nice and trips to places I love. Those are all things that are not necessities that make me happy. But I am thankful for them anyway.

26. I am thankful I have learned to love and respect myself. I used to not. I used to think that I had to make everyone else happy, and do what they told me. I thought I had to be perfect. I thought I had to be everything to everyone without thinking of my own happiness. I have learned that is not true. I have learned that I deserve love and respect too.

27. I am thankful that I have love in my life. There is so much love I can't even believe it. Its wonderful to be someone who knows there are people who think the world wouldn't be as great a place without you in it. That may be ego...but its nice all the same. I like to know I am loved.

28. I am thankful that I have the freedom to make my own choices. I have no one  in my life anymore who doesn't tell me I am able to do that. There is no one who makes me feel bad for wanting things, or having my own ideas or desires. That's not to say I don't have people who aren't willing to tell me how it is. Believe me, I do, but they are also the people in my life who understand my desires and wants and would help me to achieve them. Sometime that means doing it my way and sometimes that means getting their help- but in the end I have people who are supportive of my life path.

29. This is probably going to sound crude...I'm thankful for sex. Seriously. Through it I have learned so much about who I am. I have learned about boundaries. I have learned about what I can do. I have learned about love and loss and fear and trust. I have learned about simple pleasure. I have learned about healing. Sex, to me, is so many things and not all of them (in fact most of them) have very little to do with the act itself.

30. I am thankful for the life I have. All the things above this probably point to that, but it bears being told. I have not always felt that way. Fortunately for me, I wake up every morning and think of all these wonderful things I have listed- and other ones- and I am glad to be me. I know not every person can say that. I am quite a lucky woman. There are people in my life who inspire and encourage me. I have every hope for my future. I have everything I need and a lot of things I never hoped for. I am so blessed. I wake up every morning and know it. And if that's not something to be thankful for, I don't know what is.

I hope your lives are just as blessed as mine is.

Monday, November 12, 2012

We're Zany to the Max!

Alright, its time for another survey. This one is titled "50 questions you've never been asked" and I think its pretty close to accurate. I think I have not seen most of these questions on a survey before. So, here we go.

1. What's your favorite candle scent? I happen to like mullberry a lot. I also like anything that is rich smelling like plum or cranberry. I do not like candles that smell like cookies or something. Those things not only freak me out, they usually smell awful when you burn them.

2. What female celebrity do you wish was your sister? Um, I like Ellen DeGeneres a lot. I think I would relate to her. If I had to pick one young enough to actually be my sister, I think I would really like Jennifer Lawrence. She seems like an interesting and creative gal.

3, What male celebrity do you wish was your brother? This is a hard one, since I'm not into a lot of male celebrities. I mean, Elton John would be cool, but he's old enough to be my dad. I suppose I could pick Josh Hutcherson and have a matched Hunger Games pair, right?

4. How old do you think you will be when you get married? I got married when I was 27. I probably would have thought I would get married younger when I was a teenager, but then, what do you know when you're that age???

5. Do you know a hoarder? No, unless you count the fact that I have lots and lots of books.

6. Can you do a split? No. I used to be able to but I am not that flexible anymore.

7. How old were you when you learned to ride a bike? I think I was about seven.

8. How many oceans have you swam in? One. I've swam in the Atlantic.

9. How many countries have you been to? Two- Kuwait and England.

10. Is anyone in your family in the army? Yes. I have had several members of my family serve in the military, although none of them are on active duty now.

11. What would you name your daughter if you had one? Lydia Frances

12. What would you name your son if you had one? Bruce Alan

13. What's the worst grade you got on a test? Uh, an F? I've failed one before. I couldn't tell you the percentage.

14. What was your favorite television show as a child? Animaniacs.

15. What did you dress up as for Halloween when you were eight? I think I went as a witch that year

16. Have you read The Hunger Games, Harry Potter or Twilight? Yes, I have read all three series several times and I liked all of them.

17. Would you rather have an American accent or a British accent? It seems really pretentious for me to want a British one, doesn't it? They're cool and all, but I think I better settle for sounding like I come from where I live.

18. Did your mother go to college? Yes she did.

19. Are your grandparents still married? They were when my grandfather died.

20. Have you ever taken karate lessons? Nope.

21. Do you know who Kermit the Frog is? Of course I do.

22. What's the first amusement park you went to? Uh, I think Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo. There's pictures to that effect, anyway.

Here's where I gave up on the formatting.  

23. What language, besides your native language, would you like to be fluent in? Um, I'd like to speak French better than I do, and I need to learn Spanish, but I would really love to learn Cantoneese.

 24. Do you spell the color as grey or gray? Grey.  

25. Is your father bald? I don't know.

 26. Do you know triplets? Yes, I do. Or, at least, I know one of them.  

27. Do you prefer Titanic or The Notebook? Both are depressing, but I like watching Titanic just because of Rose's clothes. Shallow of me, isn't it? 

28. Have you ever had Indian food? Yes. I think its decent. I can't cook it to save my life though 

29. What's the name of your favorite restaurant? Um, I have a lot that I like. There's an italian place in my hometown called Avanzare. Its pretty good.  

30. Have you ever been to Olive Garden? Yes. My mother works at one.  

31. Do you belong to any warehouse stores (Costco, BJ's, etc.)? Kitten has a Sam's membership. So yes? 

32. What would your parents have named you if you were the opposite gender? David Wayne. I got off easy I guess. 

33. If you have a nickname, what is it? Panther. Alecya. Those are the one's I'll repeat.  

34. Who's your favorite person in the world? Kitten. No question there. 

35. Would you rather live in a rural area or in the suburbs? Or in a city? I want to live in a city. Portland to be exact. I suppose I could live with the burbs, but I don't want to. 

36. Can you whistle? Yes. Are there still people who can't???

37. Do you sleep with a nightlight? No. I have to have complete dark or I can't sleep. 

38. Do you eat breakfast every morning? Yes, although its not always what Kitten would call a healthy breakfast 

39. Do you take any pills or medication daily? Nope 

40. What medical conditions do you have? I'm hypoglycemic. That sucks. And I have migraines. Sometimes I suffer from a severe lack of common sense. Otherwise, I'm pretty healthy. 

41. How many times have you been to the hospital? I couldn't even count.  

42. Have you ever seen Finding Nemo? Yes. Its a good movie and I was mad I missed it in 3d 

43. Where do you buy your jeans? Usually at a thrift store.   

44. What's the last compliment you got? I can't remember? Wait- someone told me yesterday that I always look put together. That was nice, since I think I look like a mess most of the time.  

45. Do you usually remember your dreams in the morning? I try to. I especially try to remember the weird ones or the ones people I know are in, because I figure they're important.  

46. What flavor tea do you enjoy? Regular tea? I like Earl Grey. Kitten makes some pretty good custom blends though. I'll drink almost any tea... 

47. How many pairs of shoes do you currently own? Without going and counting, probably about 18-20 pairs, although I only wear about 6 with any regularity. 

48. What religion will you raise your children to practice? None. I won't have kids. But if I did, I would give them the chance to make their own decision once I thought they were old enough.  

49. How old were you when you found out that Santa wasn't real? I don't even remember. I must have been young, because I don't recall being devastated or anything. 

The last one was why I have a tumblr. Which I don't. So I guess it was 49 questions. Still, some interesting ones, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ain't That America?

Wow. Election Day is finally over. More than that- Election Night is over. What's the difference? To me, its like night and day. Sort of like yesterday I did community service by coaching a pee-wee football team and last night I watched the Super Bowl.

In my house politics are like sports when it comes to viewing. We're very passionate. I'm fortunate that both Kitten and Oscelot are as nuts as I am (though they have less stamina, I was the only on who made it to President Obama's speech) so we went to vote yesterday afternoon and then settled in for a big night.

As most of you know, I don't own a television. So our election coverage was watched via online stream from NBC News. Bless their hearts. I love them for it. Coverage started at six my time, so we ordered a pizza at about six and we drug our couch out of the living room and into the library. We set up some footstools and then settled in for a long, long night.

It was a long night too. Believe me. There was a good deal of time I was on pins and needles. We didn't get up unless they were going to a scheduled break. We didn't do anything unless we had the chance of getting out of the room (usually to the bathroom) and back again without missing anything. There was one point in the night when Gov. Romney and Pres. Obama were tied, and Kitten missed it so I trucked into the bathroom to tell her immediately. (What? Touchdown Romney? Damnit...)

As the night wore on we became more anxious. I was dying to get results on our local and state elections because we had a nationally recognized senate race. Fortunately they put us out of our misery about that around ten. The rest of the night was us, engrossed, as we listened to political commentary and waited for Chuck Todd to show us the numbers in the swing counties and then for Brian Williams to interrupt so we could watch them call a state and then put it out on the ice.

When they finally -finally- called Ohio for the President, around eleven or so, our house erupted in cheers. (You're not surprised are you?) and we had a victory dance with our cats. Oscelot went to bed, saying she would watch the speeches in the morning. Then the unthinkable happened. Gov. Romney wouldn't concede Ohio. What??? Surely not? So Kitten and I went back to the screen and waited anxiously as the results from every other swing state rolled in. Colorado and Nevada...was that enough? Then we heard that Miami-Dade was not counting any more ballots as of midnight. What???

Finally, finally, Kitten went to bed too, apologizing that she couldn't stay up later. Hell, I don't blame her. Both of them had to work this morning after all. So I cozied up with the cats and waited for Gov. Romney to make the call. And waited.

Finally, the call was made and I listened to Gov. Romney's concession speech. I'll say this. I never would have voted for him. But he was dignified, passionate and caring. You could see in his face that he was heartbroken. You could hear in his voice that he truly cares for America. And that? It made all the difference to me. He is a good man. I don't agree with him. But had I seen that man on stage all year, I would have liked him better.

His speech down, I only waited on my new president. I was anxious and tired- but I would not miss this. His speech, to me, was beautiful. It was not just rhetoric. It was not just victory. It was a call for unity. And that, my friends, is what I learned while I was watching last night.

A lot of pundits say there was no mandate. A lot of them say that the country is more divided than ever. What I saw was Americans giving their elected officials a hard rap of the butt and telling them to get back to work and to get it right this time. Nothing changed, and everything changed.

I had an interesting conversation this morning with Sakura's aunt on facebook. She's a conservative, and she asked if we could have a discussion about gay marriage because she didn't understand why it was such a big deal that it be called marriage. After the long discussion it turns out that we agree. She doesn't think a church should be forced to marry two people if they don't want to, neither do I. But she does agree that all people have the same fundamental rights. We call it a draw, because it all boils down to the semantics of the word. But today, for the first time, I saw someone from the right who was willing to engage in discourse about a controversial topic important to both of us, and saw us walk away with an answer we could both live with.

That is what needs to happen now. I pray, I hope, and I will that there will be this kind of talk in Washington. I hope that there is a clear sense that four years ago we elected a bunch of liberals and it didn't work. We swapped them out for conservatives in the mid-term elections. That didn't work. Now we have a nice mix, similar but different, and we're ready for them to lay aside the bullshit and the party politics and talk. I think last night was America saying maybe we don't always agree. What's best for me might be bad for you, but maybe we can find something that is simply good for all of us. I hope this time we will have the opportunity to compromise and become a more socially minded electorate.

I can hope right?

Oh, and for those keeping tally, because I was-

*First openly gay senator elected.
*First female handicapped war veteran elected
* First openly pansexual elected to congress
*Four states voted to legalize or decriminalize marijuana (I don't like it, but can't we spend money fighting drugs like meth for a change?)
* Three states legalized gay marriage and one voted to repeal a constitutional amendment banning it.

This is huge. HUGE. 

I can't tell you enough how excited I am. Or how exhausted. One of the highlights of the night for me was Sakura calling me at like, eleven thirty to celebrate with me. It was wonderful.

The game is over, let the games begin.

Thank you, thank you, to every person who went and voted yesterday. Today is a new day for all of us.

*NO SENATOR who publicly supported anti-abortion legislation for rape victims was elected.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Then Again It Feels Like Some Sort of Inspirtation To Let The Next Life Off the Hook

Tomorrow is election day. If you live in the United States this probably is not a surprise to you. No doubt even those who live under rocks will be well aware of it- all of the political campaigns will have surely found a way to get a flyer to you somehow. At this point I am relatively certain that however they might lean politically, every single American has got to be sick of the politics. This is the culmination of more than a year's worth of campaigning, mud-slinging, primaries, caucuses, debates, interviews and -don't doubt it- spin.

We, as Americans, are weary. We've seen it all. We've heard it all. If there is a single undecided voter left in this country today, I would be shocked. Seriously. At this point, I think it is more than clear that the country is wildly divided, and when you draw the line, or in most cases, when the line has been drawn for you, its not hard to see which side you fall on. But today, it's not just those elusive, coveted, undecided voters I am concerned about.

It's every voter.

Now, at this point, if you aren't registered to vote I imagine its either because you aren't old enough or you have such a sincere amount of voter apathy that whatever I say will not make a difference to you. You can read on if you like, but feel free to skip out here. Who I want to speak to today is every registered voter who comes across my blog. I want your attention, for just a moment.

I need you to go vote tomorrow.

No- you need you to go vote tomorrow.

This election, in my mind, is hugely important. I see, for the first time in my lifetime, a country that is wildly divided. We are standing at a crossroad. Whatever happens tomorrow, make no mistake- things are changing. Personally, I don't care for divisive politics. I hate that the right has moved further right with the assistance of the Tea Party. I hate that in response, the left has moved further left. I don't like this all or nothing choice we are being forced to make. Unfortunately, the line has been drawn in the sand. We have to choose where we're going to go. And this year, like many other years, there's not as much choice as we would like. But that doesn't mean we have no choice.

I've heard this election referred to as many things. Some see it as a referendum on President Obama. Some see it as a chance to "reclaim America". Some people think this is our chance to protect our moral ideals. Some see it as a way to protect freedom. I've been told that when we step into the voting booth tomorrow we are not choosing who we like, but who we hate less. We are not selecting a leader we feel our country can't live without- we are choosing the leader we can live with. I've even had people who are not voting tell me they aren't because they feel like their is no choice at all, no difference between the two men who are running for our nation's highest office. I couldn't agree less.

Regardless of your politics, tomorrow you are making a choice. You are choosing the course of human rights in this country. You are making a decision about a woman's right to choose. You are deciding how you think the finances of this country should be handled. You are making choices about how your brothers, sisters and children and grandchildren will be educated. You are deciding who makes the choice with regards to a person's healthcare. You are the one who is casting the vote to decide what support, if any, our grandparents, parents and even ourselves will receive in the years to come. You are making the decision that says exactly how much a person's religion should effect their government. You are deciding what foreign policy we will take with India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel, Russia, China and the UN.

Tomorrow, when you step in to vote you are deciding what taxes you and I pay. You are deciding whether or not you and I will have access to healthcare. You are deciding whether or not my grandmother will be able to afford the medication she needs. You are deciding where and what your children will learn. You are making decisions, not just for yourself, but for every person who is able to vote, unable to vote, or too young to vote. You are making a decision that will effect every single person in the state and country you live in. You are not just voting for you, but for every person you know. The choice you make tomorrow will effect all of us for the rest of our lives. Tomorrow you are voting for the greater good.

That's a lot of responsibility.  Fortunately, there is only one way you can fail, and that is by not voting.

There will be many people tomorrow who don't vote because they can't, and I think that is a travesty. There will be people who have no access to cars, or who can't afford the ID required by their state to vote. There will be some who can't get off work. There will be some who wanted to vote but didn't register on time. There will be thousands of people tomorrow who will want to vote, and who can't. You must go vote for them.

There is no doubt in my mind that this election, more than ever, your vote counts. If you don't believe that, you haven't been paying attention. There are at least three states that will have possible recalls because the margin of votes between the two candidates is less than a half a percent. A half a percent! In some cases that is somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 voters. Of all the people in those states, in this country, that is a drop in the bucket of votes. Yet tomorrow, every single voice in every single one of those states will mean something. Every person is Ohio, Florida, and Colorado will walk into a voting booth knowing they might be casting the deciding vote of the election- not just for their state but for the whole United States.

In many states, including the three I just mentioned, there have been election officials that have tried to stop or decrease hours of early voting. They have tried to purge their voter rolls. They have made it harder, in come cases for lower and middle class Americans, nearly impossible to vote. I am heartened to see that in every case there have been people who were willing to make a sacrifice and stand in line for four, five and in some cases in Florida up to nine hours to cast their vote. That is amazing to me, that these people see that their voice, that every voice, counts. It should never be an act of heroism to vote in the US. This year it is. I admire those people. Unfortunately, for every person who is able to take the day off, get a sitter for the kids, or has the good health required to stand in line outside for eight hours to vote, there is a person who can't. Those people are victims to an agenda that is neither mine nor yours, friend. You must go vote for them.

For my friends who don't have the privilege to live in a "battleground state" I urge you to go vote anyway. Every state is a battleground. Every one of them. I live in a Red State. I am a democrat. You better bet that every election for me is a battle. It is a chance for me to tell my conservative representatives that I am still here, and that they are still accountable to me and every other liberal that is not a part of their voter base. Because they are still making choices for me. If every single liberal I know who has given up the fight would rally and head to the polls, things could change. We could make our voices heard. We could become a "battleground" state. It is the fear and complacency of my generation that causes me the most pain.

I am tired of being told that my voice doesn't matter. I don't want to hear that the voice of my friends and family don't matter. I don't want to be told that I cannot possibly make a difference on my own. Let me tell you something- tomorrow I get one vote. Tomorrow Mitt Romney and President Obama get one vote. The richest man in America gets one vote. The poorest Hispanic mother gets one vote. We all get one. No more. My vote is equally precious as the vote of a person of greater or lesser standing than my. My vote is my chance to say that despite the odds, despite the opinions of others, my voice has just as much a right to be heard as anyone else's. I refuse to fall victim to the popular ideology that one vote and one person cannot make a difference. I refuse to fall into someone else's agenda by not following my own. 

I don't care what your views are. Maybe we have similar ideas. Maybe they are wildly different. Either way, tomorrow, your voice is important to me too. It should be important to you. Your vote, no matter who you cast it for, is an act of patriotism. It is an act of pride. It is an act of defiance. Tomorrow, you choosing to vote is your way of saying that you will not quietly let others make decisions for you. You are demanding to be heard. You are telling the world that you still believe that you live in a country where every person matters, where every thought deserves to be considered, where reason and rationality and the good of mankind can still be thought of. You are voting to tell others that greed and scandal and spin do not matter as much as the ideas and opinions you have. The parties in the US determine their platforms based on what they think you want to hear. Go out tomorrow and tell them exactly what you want from your country. The more we speak, the more they must listen.

I ask you, I charge you, to go do your duty tomorrow. The course of my life, the course of your life and the course of the life of every single American depends on it. Please don't let me down.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Time is on my side

Wow. Time keeps slipping away from me!

I'm sure most of you have noticed its November, which means it is National Novel Writing Month. I love NaNo and have done it for years. I have done some of my best work and met some of my best friends through NaNo and I couldn't encourage budding writers enough to try it out. But this also means that despite the fact I will be at the computer for nearly all of the month, writing until I am certain my fingers will fall off, that I will probably be really lazy about updating here. Not that I am really regular here, or anything, but it seems like I am worse during November.

Samhain went really well. My coven and I had a great time. We went to Kitten's mom's house for the ritual. We were house sitting for her because she was at a conference, and she suggested we might like to have ritual at ehr place since there is a massive back yard surrounded by trees and its really private. Not to mention her house is a bit larger than ours. So we took her up on the offer.

I'm not going to lie, hauling all of the ritual stuff over there was a bit of a challenge, but we had a nice time in the end. We even had a sleepover, so some of our coven members stayed at the house all night. We ended the evening after ritual with a nice dinner and a chat in front of the fireplace. It was a good time. We also got to eat my very first attempt at a made from scratch cake. I am a notoriously bad baker, I can ruin slice and bake cookies...but the cake was good! I am not suprised that as usual, the stuff that is harder to do is much simpler for me.

We did a really nice ancestor meditation too, and I felt very comforted to see many of my passed family members and several of my spirit guides waiting for me. It meant a lot to me. I always feel so close to them this time of year. They had been making regular appearances in me dreams, so it was nice to see them when I went to seek them, not just when they came to find me. That may seem odd, but I really do feel like the deep relationship I have with my personal spiritual guardians is an important one, and it gave me the grace and the strength to see where I am in my life and where I need to go next.

We also discovered, quite by accident, that I have a new allergy. I am allergic to pumpkin. Or at the very least highly intolerant. See, I never eat pumpkin except for in pie during the holidays. I thought that it was the stress of being with my family that was causing me to be so sick. We carved pumpkins a couple of days before Samhain and wouldn't you know, I got a rash that looked rather like the chicken pox on my arms and a raging headache. Huh. I would have never thought. Oh, well, as much as I enjoy the seasonal rule of our pumpkin spice overlords, I rarely indulge. I am looking at this as an opportunity to try new flavors of the season. That's always best, isn't it?

I'm working hard on my new novel. I think I've got a lovely plot idea and it seems to be coming at a rather fast clip. I have no illusions. Week two is looming, and I know how difficult it is to stay motivated. But I have a really great group of writing buddies, and they are all on the same train of love, support and a little bit of verbal abuse that keeps my Type A personality writing.

Alright. I might be able to sneak on later in the week. If you live in the US, be sure to go vote. Oh- and a reminder- if you vote a strait party ticket- vote for the president first, before you hit the "select all one party" button. The presidential race is separate. It would suck if you forgot to vote for our commander in chief by technicality. Especially if you are anticipating on waiting in the same long lines I am. I waited 3 hours to vote for our last election. This year I imagine it will be just as bad, especially since we have one of the big national senate races. Do your duty by your country friends. I'll be proud of you.

Lots of love,

Monday, October 22, 2012

Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue

I was sincerely hoping to avoid one of these this election season. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards. So here comes the preface:

This is a political post. I am going to state my political opinions herein. I am going to likely offend someone. I'd apologize, but I'm entitled to my opinion. If you disagree with me, that is okay. I am all about civilized discussion. If you want to be a stubborn, bull-headed pain in my rear and call me names, I will not tolerate it. Period. So lets get the names out of the way. Yes, I am a liberal, left wing, tree-hugging, witchcraft practicing, let's install a solar power generator to power my stove to cook my organic food, gay flag waving huge heathen lesbian bleeding heart liberal. There. See. I know I am. Let's get on to the civilized discussion.

Right. Its this time of year, well, every couple of years, and every four years especially that I find myself really irritated with the public at large and with the people who are politically active in general.Part of it has to do with the fact that I can't watch television without seeing a political ad. Part of it is I can't sit down to dinner without some politician or PAC or whatever calling me to tell me about the evils of the particular candidate on THE OTHER SIDE. Part of it is I have flyers in my door, pamphlets in my mail and signs stuck in my yard...I don't want any of them. I really don't. Here's why-

I am a grown ass adult who is capable of researching, fact checking and making my own decision when it comes to electoral politics. I really can. What irritates me is that most people are not. Most people don't know anything about their candidates when they go to vote their straight party ticket. That's their choice. If they want to vote the party line, that's okay. God knows, most of the time I do. Most of the time.

I find myself irritated though, because people start spouting off party or political rhetoric without any regard to fact checking, truth, or sometimes how they even feel about the issue. It pisses me off. Its especially bad on facebook. Really bad there. And I sometimes wonder how people have the nerve to post the shit they do. It makes them look like complete assholes, and ignorant to boot.

Take the current election as a great example. Now most of us know that the laws are actually passed by congress. Its true. Check the constitution. Its there, I read it about five minutes ago. Now, I have the utmost respect for President Obama. I think he is a good man, and I think he has the potential to become a very great president. Here's the problem- both with him and Former Governor Romney- THEY DON'T WRITE THE LAWS. I love a good debate. I think tonight's on foreign policy should be interesting, because President's do have an effect on foreign policy. But nothing gets my goat like listening to them tell me all about their job's plans and their social security plans and their medicare plans and how they are going to address my rights as a woman when the truth of the matter is, all they can do is ask congress to work towards a certain goal, maybe even propose those goals, but in the end they only get to sign the legislation that they did not write because it had to be written and sponsored and voted through both the house and senate before they ever get a chance to make that bill law.

I'm going to say that again for emphasis. Congress makes the laws. Congress sponsors and writes the bills. Congress passes the bills. If congress does not pass the bill the president never gets to touch it. NOT ONCE.

So why all the fuss about the Presidential Election?

Truly, I do think its important, because presidents get to do things like nominate supreme court justices- and those guys are on the bench for life. And they do have an effect on my day to day life. Look at Roe v. Wade, look at Brown vs. Board of Education, look at them taking up the matter of gay marriage on the high court level. I want those judges to be on my team, voting my party ticket, thank you very much. Now, do I want them to pay attention to the letter of the law? You bet. But when it comes to political interest, the law is flexible, and so is its interpretation. I want a president in office whose going to choose someone who has my rights in mind.

The president gets to pass executive orders too. And those are important and little spoken of. But they should be. If you want to see how much a president does on a day to day basis, look at his executive orders. See what it takes for a person to work each day to help run the federal government. A productive president has a whole lot of EO's.

Presidents are influential. They set the tone of an administration. They negotiate and handle statesmanship duties, which I appreciate because believe me, some of our members of the legislature don't need to be talking to foreign ministers. They just don't. I know, too, that if a president disagrees with a bill, they can veto it, and that's a lot of power.


I do. Believe me. Because the person that takes the senate and house of representative seats for my state is the person who is speaking with my voice. I want it to be my words coming out of their mouth. Right now, my senator is up for re-election. Her name is Clair McCaskill, and I honestly like what she does. I've followed her work, and her accomplishments since she was first elected to the federal government. I'm proud to have her from my state. She is currently running against a Republican named Todd Akin. You might remember him because of his little debacle on live television talking about pregnancy and rape. Obviously, I don't want this man speaking for me. If every single person who got fired up about presidential politics got fired up about their national and state legislative races, if they were truly informed, politics in the US would be wildly different. Mark me on that. Because the people who actually make the laws would be the ones we would be holding accountable. The people who make the laws would be the ones we are grilling about their policies and how they represent our choices and freedoms.

But outside of the obvious implications of the fact that most of the people I speak to about the elections have already formed their opinions, or don't care, or are so terribly misinformed about the political process in general there are some things that have been weighing heavily on my mind. And these are things, I will admit, that are probably only things that irritate me because I am a liberal. So bear that in mind. However, I'd like to point out:

The phrase "Gun Control" is not equivalent to "Lets Repeal the 2nd Amendment." I get really fucking sick of listening to people tell me the moment a democrat is elected that they're going to go bury their guns in their back yard so some crazy, mythic, black ops all Democrat mob can't come steal their guns away. Please. This sort of hysteria is the stuff that political campaigns dream of. They want you afraid and hysterical. Let me tell you something. I am a democrat. I own a gun. I own knives. I own all sorts of fun hunting toys that I will gladly make recreational use of and possibly make other use of if someone takes it upon themselves to cross my threshold with the intent to infringe on the autonomy of me or anyone in my family. You fucking bet I will. And I believe that's my right. BUT I also believe the state has the right to make sure that I am a sane, mentally competent person before they let someone sell me a gun. If they did, I would be a lot less likely to have to use my gun to shoot anything other than a squirrel, deer or paper target. And please, please spare me the drivel about regulating the types of guns being sold. You don't need an AK47 to shoot a deer. That weapon is designed to kill people in military combat. If you want one, join the fucking military. I'll wear a flag pin just for you. Seriously, I get so angry when people rant and rave about how we allow gang violence, and how cops get killed and how crime is on the rise and then they get all pissed off when someone suggests that maybe, just maybe, the socially responsible thing to do is make sure that gun shops don't hand out automatic weapons like they're candy on Halloween. I hate to say this, but you don't get it both ways.

Terrorism is not a political issue. Its not. Terrorism is shitty. It is. And it effects the way we run our country. But let me tell you something- there is no way to prepare for terrorism. There isn't. That's the point of terrorism. That they strike when you aren't looking, where you don't suspect, and the fear of them literally strikes terror into you. There is only one answer to "how do you feel about terrorism?" and that, if you are sane, is "terrorism is fucking awful." Here's what we should be talking about- diplomacy, international relations, how we are viewed by the rest of the world, who our allies are and how we deal with terrorists in a safe but humane way, because torture isn't an option. ( I assume if you're okay with torture, you've either stopped reading or are just plain punishing yourself. Or you're working up an awesome retort to my points) These things, my friends, are called foreign politics, and they're very important. And truthfully, I think most Americans forget that no, we aren't the only civilized country in the world. No, we aren't the only democracy. In fact, we're not even the best one. Sorry, that's the truth. I'm not saying I don't love living in the US. I do. But there are other places where the democratic process itself works better. I truly believe that the biggest problem with America is Americans. I get so sick of people saying shit like "We're America damn it. They should respect us." Why? Why? Because we make a lot of shit? Because we're a democracy? Because we have a huge GDP? Because our land mass is bigger? Fuck that. England is less than the size of my state and it has been and still is just as, if not more, powerful than the US is now. What do we do that makes us worth respecting. That's what I want to know. And frankly, none of the things that make us a country worth respecting have been election issues any time since I've been able to vote.  And truly, out of all of the "civilized" and "developed" countries- we're one of the youngest. We're still a teenager. And maybe, just maybe, it wouldn't be such a bad idea to take a leaf out of the books of some of the countries that have been around literally since Jesus was born. Just sayin'. (though maybe financial advice from Greece wouldn't be too sweet right now)

And Freedom. Sweet Jesus, Mary and Jospeh, I am so sick of hearing about freedom. Let me tell you why- the people I listen to who screech about freedom have every fucking freedom in the world. I am tired of Republicans telling me that I am trying to take away their liberties. Please, someone, explain to me how me being able to marry a woman, or have an abortion, or buy contraception, or get government assistance for health insurance takes away your freedom. Because I don't think it does. I think you disagree with it. Bully for you. You're allowed to. But let me explain: me having a freedom does not take away one of yours. You think gays shouldn't get married? Sweet. Don't be gay. Or if you are gay, don't get married. You think abortion is murder? Cool. Don't get one. You think that contraception is a form of abortion? Okay. Don't put your teenage daughter on the pill (and while you're at it, give her the abstinence talk, because you won't let her sit in on those family life films that explain about things like STDs) You are completely and totally free to do all of those things. Awesome. You not choosing to do those things is your right. It is also your right to think that I am going to hell if I am going out and having lesbian sex using a dental dam i picked up at a government clinic the week after I get an abortion.

Here's where my rights come in. Because I should be able to do or not do all of those things. I should. And the argument about whether or not I can do all of those things is almost always based in someone's religion. And its not mine. I promise you that. Because my religion says that if I am not harming someone, and it is for the purpose of my higher will, I can do it. And I know that's not the most common belief out there. Don't get me wrong. I like a lot of Christians. I think there's a huge bunch of moral, good ones out there. But the fact is, I don't want them using their faith to make laws I have to live by. Because its not my faith, and its against the law for them to dictate my moral beliefs. Period.

The problem is, everyone is so concerned about their "rights" but what they really mean is that they should not have to live in a world with people who have different ideas or moral beliefs than they do. That somehow, witnessing any other person doing something their religion or morals don't agree with diminishes the faith that they live by. Sorry folks, that means your religion sucks. And so does your faith. Because me, in my own corner, doing my own thing, has absolutely zero effect on you or your god or your religion. And if it does- if it truly does- maybe you should be having a talk with god, because one of the two of you got it wrong somewhere.

I'm all politic-ed out. Relieved, aren't you? I'll probably fire up again soon. But right now I have another debate to watch. Even if I have made up my mind. Its nice to be informed, right?

Constructive comments and thoughts below!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I will wash the dishes, if you'll pay all the bills...

I've been a housewife for almost a month now. It seems funny to me how the days seem to run together. I would swear I only stopped working a couple of days ago...but time has a strange way of slipping away from me. Over the last few weeks I have had a lot of people asking me how I like being a housewife. It seems to be the first question everyone who doesn't see me on a near daily basis asks me.

The truth is, I actually am really enjoying myself. I have to be honest, though, I think a lot of people are under the mistaken impression that I lie around all day eating chocolates and reading romance novels. That's only about a quarter true. I have been reading a lot of romance novels, but that's more because I am looking into them as a form of research rather than because I lack things to do.

My house is certainly much cleaner than it has been in the last four years. It never ceases to amaze me how I find that the second I turn around there is something else to clean. I didn't realize I am a compulsive cleaner up till now. But the first thing I did when I found I had spare time was start cleaning. Deep cleaning, mind you. I've developed quite the routine that way. There's already a pattern I have in place. Deep clean the carpets every Thursday. Vacuum every other day. Dishes in the morning. Laundry when the basket in the bathroom fills up. Fold and put it away on  Thursday...

But I've been busy with other things too. My life seems like it is more full than it was before, but truly I think I am simply making time for the things I was cramming into my space four hours a night before. I've been working on things for the coven much more frequently, I've filed my poor book of shadows finally, and its almost up to date. I've been working on ritual more frequently, and finding there is always something new to do or to learn.

My writing has been taking up my time as well. November is almost upon me, and I am going to churn out an entire novel in that month. I've worked diligently to plan the outline of the new book and where I want to go with it. I've already looked into possible publishers and I am back on the horse looking for agents that I might be interested in. I know I'm going to find the right one this time, and its going to go more smoothly, because I know what to expect. I've also got that short piece I've been working on. Some days it goes really slow, and I'm proud of five sentences in half an hour. Other days I sit and find that an hour's worth of work is another chapter down. Its refreshing to have time to write and to enjoy doing it.

I love being able to make dinner and have things ready for the girls when they get home. I like planning my day ahead of time. Its nice to have activities to do in my spare time. I've started working on a quilt for Kitten in my spare time. I've almost got all of the squares cut out. Its only a matter of time before I start piecing them together. It will be a fun winter project.

I feel a lot more refreshed than I had, although I've had a bout of bad luck with my health. I had a headache for nearly a week solid and then I caught a nasty 24 hour bug that put me down hard in the last couple of days. That wasn't so much fun. But then, as some of my dear friends have pointed out, my body is likely getting rid of the tension caused by many years of stress held in and not dealt with. The nightmares I had the first week or so that I was off work were terrifying, but they're down to a trickle now. I'm not having them as much as I was, and I assume this is a result of me feeling more secure and much happier than I did.

Don't get me wrong, there are days where I feel terribly annoyed that I don't contribute financially to our household. It irritates me to think that I am being supported by my ladies. But then, they don't seem to have a problem with it. In fact, they encourage me to rest, to write, and to take my time getting back together before I even think about looking for another job. Even Kitten's mom, whom I assumed wouldn't like me not working has told me that she thinks its better that I'm home, and that if I want a job I should wait until something perfect comes along. That way I can do something I love.

In the meantime, I am finding life at home to be pleasant. I am able to do the things I like without feeling bad about it. It turns out we really aren't loosing that much money, so the girls aren't worried at all. Sometimes that bothers me too, thinking that maybe I worked all those years for nothing, because when it comes down to it, no one is really missing my income. But then, I learned something from all of those years, so its not like it was all for naught.

I keep wondering when I am going to find that I am bored, or unhappy, or wishing for something else to do with my life. But truly, after a month, I've discovered that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing with my life. I am making my home a richer, warmer place for my family. I am building on the strength of my friendships. I am working for the good of my coven, without feeling I am giving it half attention, or that I am somehow lacking in my abilities. I am writing, for the first time, whenever I feel like it. I am writing for the joy of it. I am writing because I want to make it my career. And that feels good. Really good.

For me, it took a lot of courage and a lot of trust to let go of my job and come home. I was terrified. I was uncertain. But I am glad now that I did it. There are, of course, some things I wish I could change. I miss some of my work friends. I miss the active feeling I had when I was working. I need to exercise or I'm going to put on weight, I am sure of it. But then, I have more things to do than I did before. I don't see my lack of job as something that leaves me bereft. It has given me the perspective I need to move forward with my life. The insomnia is creeping back in, and don't think its because I am sleeping late. Far from it. I get up earlier now than I ever did when I worked at Casa Bueno. But I find I am not so tired at night that my only option is to fall into bed and go to sleep. I find my mind wandering. I don't mind too much, though. It gives me a chance to think of new things, and to let myself dream of what I want.

For the first time in years, I don't go to bed wondering. I don't go to bed worrying. I just go to bed. And when sleep comes, I'm not afraid. Not of the night or the morning, or the day that comes after. I don't worry about what happened during the day. I merely pass pleasantly on to my dreams, which are their own sort of adventure.

Yes, I think I like this very much. Only time will tell...but then, I have all the time in the world. Don't I?


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Charge of the Crone

Its not often that I post something directly related to Wicca on my page. Yes, I discuss it, but coven rules rather tie my hands when it comes to actually talking about the goings on of our day to day workings. However, I was working on the Samhain Ritual yesterday and I was looking for a Charge of the Crone to do for the ritual rather than the usual Charge of the Goddess. Unfortunately, I did not find anything that I truly loved online, and my resources outside the internet proved a little dull as well. So I took it upon myself to write a charge that I loved, that I felt was appropriate to the holiday and to the spirit of the Great Lady whom it was about. I was rather pleased with my results, so I thought I would share them with you. I don't feel that me posting this will reveal any coven secrets. So.

Hear Ye the words of the Crone, the dark goddess eternal, who has been called Cerridwen, Hecate, Inari, Morrigan, Kali, Grandmother, Wise Woman and by many other names:

Come my children through the dark of night and seek me. Though my face be shrouded in the veil of the new moon, my power wanes not. I am the wise woman, who guides you through your hardships and strife, the great midwife of your transformation.

Though you may face your greatest terrors, fear me not, for I bring you that which you need- for I am the source of knowledge eternal and the keeper of all secrets. And these be my gifts unto thee: strength and courage, wisdom through experience, and the excitement and freedom of lessons learned.

Seek these within thyself and there you shall find me also. Surrender your fear and ignorance- with my shining sickle I shall cut them away. Then shall you learn compassion and love and find completion of spirit. I wait for you to call to me to reveal the lessons within thyself- for behold! I am the balance of the scales of light and dark, the interim of life and death. From me all things dance forth and it is I who awaits you at the end of the spiral!

It probably needs a little more work, but I am quite happy with what I was able to do. It makes me feel wonderful to be finally connecting to this aspect of the Goddess, because she is possibly the most misunderstood and the most feared of all her aspects. To me, she has always seemed beautiful, and very open and welcoming. Maybe growing up with a house full of strong women has caused me to be less afraid of them, and more admiring. I like a woman who can take charge, who has great mystery and power within her. Having been forced to face the darker aspects of myself, having grown the way I have as a woman and as a witch, I suppose it is no shock to me that I identify with the Crone aspect more than others. 

I feel very blessed to have been able to have written something that I feel is a lasting tribute to one of the mot beautiful parts of my beliefs. 

I hope you enjoyed it. 


PS- any visitors, I am happy to allow you to use my work, however, in print, I would appreciate that you contact me first, via email, to obtain permission. Within your own personal work, of course feel free to make use of it. Bright Blessings to you.