Archive | November, 2017

On Decluttering

19 Nov

A few months ago I finally pulled all my WIPs from my old computer, and spent an enormous amount of time reading through and sorting them out. It was a ton of fun. It was also a little surprising, because I didn’t hate most of them! I was baffled, though, because I remembered writing quite a bit more on most of them. I spent a lot of time looking for them: searching every conceivable turn of phrase through every device, swearing, moping, and feeling REALLY MAD about having lost all this stuff, but today it finally dawned on me to check my old journals. I dug them out of my hope chest, and lo and behold, I found everything I’d been looking for. I just never typed it. Some of this shit is really good! There’s at least two novels in here! I’m so excited!

And that, gentle readers, is why I’m never throwing anything away ever again.

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I’ve Been Thinking: Healing and the Feminine Semidivine

18 Nov

Been thinking a lot about Christmas today.

(I will warn you that this post is suuuuper wobbly, and the title is the most coherent part of it).

I always loved Christmas. It was my favorite holiday, aside from my birthday, for most of my life. The last sixish years it’s been wrapped up in a lot of really terrible feelings of sorrow, regret, exhaustion, severe anxiety. It has brought meltdowns, breakdowns, vaguely suicidal tendencies, and crippling depression, but I still cling to the idea that I love it. I hate the cold and the dark, so I’m super into a celebration of light. I hated school when I was in it, so hey! Vacation. I love giving and getting presents.

Mostly, I love Christmas music. Like, a lot. A lot. 

I was a choir nerd, a band geek, a theatre jerk, and a preacher’s kid, so for me Christmas music usually started in September, and I was lucky enough to be exposed to some really astonishing seasonal music. Shit you don’t hear on the radio. Deep cuts, if you will. I still love Christmas music–I make a lot of money every year as a professional Christmas caroler. I just released a Christmas CD, which I recorded in June. When I’m very, very stressed out, I find that 16th century sacred choral music will help me calm down a bit. Today I started building a couple of Christmas playlists, and as is probably to be expected, I ran into Mary Did You Know, aka “Mansplaining Christmas: The Musical.”

TO BE CLEAR: Mary was aware, this song is theological garbage and downplays her bravery and intelligence in the interest of glorifying “innocence,” but I’m not here to bitch about it.

Despite it being crap, it’s been stuck in my head all day (with the exception of the four hours I spent listening to different versions of Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence). Fortunately it’s not the only Christmas song about a woman. Most Christmas music about a woman–granted, it’s about a woman giving birth, which I was never interested in, but Christmas is ultimately Mary’s story. Joseph is totes a good dude, and there’s a lot more room to talk about him, and Jesus obviously has a featured role, but the heavy lifting goes to Mary (and Elizabeth, to a lesser extent). And as it gets dark outside and my uterus continues its cycle of bloody revolution, I find myself thinking about what kind of person would be able to handle being Mariam without losing her ever-loving mind.

Joan of Arc was my favorite saint growing up. I wrote several reports on her. I had several of her medallions. I didn’t grow up Catholic, so why did I have a favorite saint at all? More to the point, why was my favorite saint one who didn’t live to see her 20s because she was burned at the stake? I don’t know. I’m into dramatic epics and always wanted to believe my life has a big, grand purpose, and I admire bravery. As I lay here almost paralyzed by fear and indecision, I cannot imagine what sort of person would be capable of being Jehanne.

I’ve been thinking a lot about those two ladies today. The focus on their virginity never sat well with me (I get that a spontaneous virgin birth is miracle, but the centuries of veneration has very little to do with miracles and everything to do with purity culture, and TO BE CLEAR that’s bullshit), but otherwise they always struck me as pretty great. “I know what I’m here to do, I’m going to do that thing with aplomb, and none of you will stop me. This is who I am. I’m good enough for The Big Guy, it can be good enough for the rest of you bastards.”

I admire people who know what they’re meant to be doing. I used to know, or think I did. The last time I had to make a decision (what to get in my burrito), I panicked for almost a full minute.

Anyway, today I’ve been thinking a lot about them.

I kind of fell apart when my grandmother was dying, and I haven’t been back to church in years. The last time I was in church I wept so hard I almost hurt myself. I grew up in church: singing, ringing, reading, teaching, eating, wasting time in my mom’s office, stealing communion wafers, skipping youth group to write fanfiction in the bathroom with my bestie. We were there twice a week, every week. I read the book twice (including all the begats), I did my research. I put a lot of time and thought into what I believe. I still believe, but believing hurts. I’m not worried–I was for a while, but then someone reminded me that God is big enough to comprehend even the most incomprehensible anger/grief/fear/pain, even the pain I can’t comprehend myself, and will still be there. It hurts less. But it still hurts.

I’ve been thinking a lot about incomprehensible grief, and courage, and being loved. I’ve been thinking about the aspects of feminine divinity that are missing from too much of mainstream Christianity, prompting generations of worshippers, desperate to see ourselves reflected in our God, to shift a little divinity to a thousand female saints.

While I wait to think about God some more, I’m thinking about these two women. Girls. Lady-persons. I’m just thinking about femaleness as strength, of femininity as expressed in two totally different but equally valid ways. I fought for years against the idea of God as solely male, because 1) I want to see myself truly reflected in the God I believe created me in Its image, and 2) it’s theologically questionable, and 3) sometimes I need a father, and sometimes I need a mother. And a crazy bachelor aunt.

Sometimes I need a couple of ladies who take no shit and give no fucks and walk confidently into the future. So as I get ready for Christmas, whatever Christmas means to me this year, I’m thinking about them.

My Friends Say Nice Things About Me

13 Nov

I’m a little better than I was, but not by much. The holidays are creeping up faster than I had anticipated, and the holidays are a rough time. My maternal grandmother died a few days before Christmas several years ago, after having been diagnosed around November the year before, about a month before my paternal grandmother died (keeping up with all this?). The memory of Christmas in the Cancer Ward is strong to this day. And of course, it’s dark outside and it finally got cold. So regular depression plus seasonal depression plus holiday depression plus sweaty palms and cold fingers, blah blah blah, it’s just generally not a great time. I’m behind on stuff, I’m sad and fragile and snappy, I’m deep in the cycle of self-sabotage, you all know this song.

Anyway, into this come my friends, who are my forever source of wonder and light. A lot of them have been saying nice things to me as we work on projects–all the Kickstarter rewards (except the ones that require travel) have gone out, so we’re awash in joyful tidings about that, plus some other things that I’ve been working on. I thought I’d go ahead and document some of them for, ya know, proof against future “nobody likes me” moments.

“For the past week I have had a dreadful cold, can’t sing, no energy, general misery. It was into this befuddlement that I received your CDs and tote bag. I felt wrapped in the love of friends!!! The lightest of blue bag with the musical notes inside was beauty to the touch and eyes, and the music felt like hugs and smiles and laughter. You dropped a load of beauty into my grey, and I love you both for it!!!”

“today I got a little weepy over coffee explaining to K how you helped me survive this terrible summer, and then we both talked about the ways in which you’re superior at supporting people when they need it most, and K said, ‘biscuit is the best person I know for meeting a person wherever she is or wherever she needs to be without making that person feel deficient or like a weirdo.’ And it’s so true.”

How awesome is it to have CDs of your own sister? I am so lucky to have such a beautiful and talented sibling. I love listening to her sing, and now I can whenever I want!!!” (plot twist: this one is from my sister.)

“I love you so hard.”

There are so many others. I could never keep track of all the ways that my friends and family have helped me or held me up, all the wonderful things they have said about me. The last two or three days there have been a lot of exclamation marks coming my way, which is especially helpful, because I’ve been unable to manufacture my own for a while.

On the roughest, coldest days of early high school, when the pressure of continuing to exist felt like it was going to rip me in half, I would carry around a cassette tape (!!!) of the Newsies soundtrack*. I’d put it in the pocket of my jacket and cling to it when everything around me and inside me was chaos and I was ready to fall apart. In middle school, it was a copy of The Hero and the Crown. In elementary school, it was a battered old Trapper Keeper with a grey kitten on the front. In college, it was my purple cabbie hat. I’ve always carried little talismans in my pocket. This feels like putting my friends in my pocket so I can find them when I need them**.

It’s good to have people around who love you all the time, but especially when you don’t love yourself.
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