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Of Tigers and Feathers – Day 76

I’ve always loved the song “Colors of the Wind”. Today I fell in love with it a little bit more when I realized that, like so many other things, it could be extrapolated further.

Or I could be stretching. I’ve been known to do that. But I’ll stretch regardless. Yoga, after all, is good for the soul.

Sometimes when I fall in love, there’s that immediate need to tie things down, to possess, to be certain of each and every single inch and moment. There’s the desire to melt into the other person, to meld, to create something new that was never before.
Sometimes, when I fall in love, I forget that the object of my affection has their own agenda, their needs, edges that might not align with mine.

I forget, that when someone says “love”, they might not mean the same thing I do.
I forget, that when I expect, when I tighten my hold, the only person I end up hurting is myself.

Sing me a song, a lullaby, a dirge.
Remind me to slow my dizzying spin through space, pause, and listen.
Remind me, that the condensed water of a soul can keep a man alive.

I’ll wander the paths of you, hidden and sunlit. If my bare feet should pick up thorns and sharp stones, then I’ll hear your spirit and know.
I’ll taste the wine-ripe fruits of you, tart and frost-sweet. If I should remain unsatiated, then I’ll reach within my own spirit and know.

Even should tomorrow be fire and earthquakes, thunder and sweeping tides,
I curl within my eyrie, secure and warm.
Even should tomorrow be filled with birdsong and a cornucopia of delights,
I only need enough to feather my nest and leave the rest for you.

Remind me, not to count the worth of what I receive, but to weight them in joy.
Remind me, not to measure the tears I’ve wept, but to raise those Fated scissors.

I’ll climb the sycamore, perch in the branches, and let the eagle tell me of where he’s been.
Places far away. Winds filled with the scents of adventure. Everything sprawling under his wings, beauty and terror blurred until he chooses to focus.
I’ll beg him to teach me his secrets, of how to arrow in on my prey and soar above everything else.

Remind me, that my circle does not break simply because a link has fallen away.
Remind me, that I am loved by more than I could ever imagine.

I’ll curl up with the wolves, nestle in their warmth, and let them tell me of the moon.
The ebb, the flow, the haunting call of the nature within and without. The howl that is loneliness, a declaration of self, a warcry, a summons of my brothers and a song to Spirit.
I’ll beg them to teach me how to run as a pack, how to bow to Alpha, how to become Alpha when the old one falls under sharp hooves, how to play with the pups, and how to howl so that my tribe may find me.

Remind me, that the land dies when it is owned and lives when it is seen for what it is.
Remind me, that there are more colors in the wind than we can know, more songs in us than we could ever imagine.

Of Tigers and Feathers – Day 5

Nothing much happened today. Mostly because I spent about 90% of it asleep due to a cold and whatever else ails me. I’ll try to parse out the guilt complex that threads through the notion of marriage and the reality of chronic illness later. Again, on the don’t ask don’t tell of relationship negotiations.

I was thinking about something someone said the other day, about how our generation is too selfish. The way this came up, was because she was talking about how her twin sons were content with each other for companionship and didn’t want to get married and provide her with grandchildren. According to her, her sons had told her that they saw no need to get married because she took care of the household and they were perfectly fine with just each other for their emotional needs.

It was fascinating, because I’m so used to the concept that having children is inherently selfish, in terms of consuming resources, in the sense that you are bringing a life onto this world because you want it.

But no, this lady was lambasting our generation as a whole for being too self-absorbed, too spoiled and selfish for children.

And I have to think – is that truly so bad?

There are way too many shitty parents out in the world, people who have kids just because their culture, their parents told them to, people who have kids because they don’t have a choice. Isn’t it a good thing that these two guys aren’t running out and knocking some chick(s) up simply because their mother wants grandbabies?

Isn’t choice a good thing?

More lessons from Monkey and some dredged up thoughts

I read this by Felicia and thoughts came spilling out. Thoughts that I had not really registered as True and Valid and Worth Noting until the avalanche came crashing down years later.

It seems to be an ongoing refrain, a song I wish I could stop singing, the earworm that I want to excise and decapitate so it will never trouble me again. The issue of living insufficiently within myself. The question of how a person who thinks and rethinks and stares in blind fascination at her navel can be so oblivious. The mystery of feeling things and thinking about them, but never arriving at the logical conclusion.

If I could draw, I’d sketch a picture of a woman, curled in on herself, head bent, neck exposed, unwitting of the sharp blade coming at her from behind, of the spear poised in front of her, because she is too rapt in herself.

People want to read about your dark times only in the past tense, only when you’ve made it out to the other side and you are gleaming and dressing your wounds. There is so much talk, so much desire for that which is real and authentic, yet we see time and time again how people are rewarded for their artful representation of a coveted life. People want their darkness in manageable doses (that one book everyone reads/movie everyone sees) because possibly they have so much (or little) going on in their lives that they don’t want the burden of someone else’s grief. Rather, they reach out to light so religiously they don’t realize when they’ve been burned and blinded by it. – Felicia Sullivan

and

It’s hard, really fucking hard, to see the constant stream of posts that speak to how everyone’s life is so! fucking! awesome! when my life is anything but, but their life isn’t my life and there’s no joy in comparing myself to others and what they chose to edit and project out into the world, so all I can do is keep attempting, keep doing, keep working, and keep being my most honest self–even if it’s not as attractive as the world would want it to be. – Felicia Sullivan

It’s actually why I went from being a devout follower of food blogs and loving cooking to …the person who fiercely resents being asked to cook and who hasn’t really read a food blog in years.

I used to be all about the food blogs – I loved everything about it, how food molds us and how we in turn manipulate food and memories in an unending cycle, how it was a window into someone else’s life, how inspiring and warm and cozy and lovely it was. It was inspirational. This, too, you can do at home. This, too, you can do to create a home. This, too, can be bliss that you can own and savor.

And then one day I quit the whole thing cold-turkey because all of the silken cheer was suffocating. I didn’t have a wonderful husband or a precious baby and my dreams scattered in tatters around my broken feet. Of course I didn’t realize it then. Hence the questioning bewilderment by now-me to then-me: “how did you not know? how does one not know that the shape of your life isn’t how you envisioned it to be?”

Because, of course, the triggering was when almost all of my favorite food bloggers weren’t just happily married, but when they were reveling in the joy of anticipating motherhood. Yes, also, I’m apparently really slow sometimes, but mostly I thought it was because they were moving onto a phase of life that wasn’t accessible to me and so I drifted away, thinking that I would return later.

Later never came.

Now I realize that it was because I simply couldn’t do it, couldn’t pretend not be both completely disbelievingly envious and ashamed that just as I couldn’t do puff pastry from scratch, nor could I shape my life into something as adorable and photogenic as those macaron-lives they turned out by the dozen. Even their trials seemed like distant fairytale obstacles, just a plot device certain to be overcome by the deserving, even though I’m sure they didn’t seem that way for them.

I wasn’t doing something that I wanted to be doing. I was living a life that resembled what I wanted on the outside but turned out to be stuffed straw on the inside. I was drowning under the weight of fear and inertia and never twigged to it.

I don’t think I can do it still. I haven’t gone back to a place where I can truly enjoy cooking, grocery shopping, or the minutiae of feeding myself.

Cooking still reminds me of unrewarded and unappreciated emotional labor and broken hearts. All the loved ones I fed, hoping to nurture, hoping to be fed in return, begging in my silent passive aggressive way to be loved. All the time and energy and resources sank into something so terribly ephemeral as a meal, as the hope of love, as a wish for home.

I never used to understand how people could miss a meal, how they could knowingly skip eating, but now I find myself resenting the effort required to eat well. I find myself begrudging of that very basic of needs.

It’s unhealthy and I know it and I suppose now the only thing to do is to work past it.

That said, I think I will have cake for dinner. Cake that someone else baked and that I paid for.

Because another lesson of living within myself is realizing when I’ve hit a wall and I’m standing with my nose to the brick right now.

It seems a bit ridiculous, and that’s a thought I need to dig out of my brain, that it’s ridiculous that I feel exhausted even though I barely have to worry about adulting enough to carry myself through life, which might be another facet of guilt I should excise. I haven’t done my steps. I haven’t written. I am stressed over the interview next Thursday. I am apparently not going to cook or clean my room or anything vaguely responsible.

And I’m not going to.

I found myself on the verge of tears on Friday because I couldn’t do the trilled R or the French R and I had barely written and I’d barely done my steps and I had been cranky all day without knowing why and I just wanted one thing to go my way. One thing. And no. I still couldn’t do my Rs and I resented all the meal times that my parents wanted me to be present for, both cooking and cleaning up after and and and and and…

Yeah no.

Cake for dinner. I will walk around the living room and read if I feel like it. I might go to bed early despite having spent most of today asleep. I will cosset and cherish the fuck out of myself and never  try not to wonder if that’s all there is. Because it is all there is at the end of the day.

You arrive in this world with no one. You leave this world with no one.

Why is it so impossible to accept what should be gratingly self-evident?

I have myself. I have cake. I have a quiet night in because my parents are leaving for a class at 4pm.

It will be more than enough.

January 2016: an overview

A life is so-oft composed of numbers. Numbers that circumscribe. Numbers that set you free. Numbers that adulate. Numbers that undulate (mostly those pertaining to weight). Numbers that name and shame and circle like piranhas in the dark.

Don’t bleed. Never bleed. Not in the dark. You don’t know what’s hiding out there.

So, in that vein, that open vein,  let’s see how the numbers fall.

It’s only the 30th, yes, but I’m starting to embrace what it means to live with what I have and what I have access to. Tomorrow is my grandmother’s birthday, and so it will likely be an all-day whirlwind of social social social social interactions nibbles bites interlaced with vague urges to alternately throw myself out the closest window or to shut myself into the bathroom and quietly turn on the steam bath and wash away everything and step out and say fuck you all.

Ah, positivity. I do so well at it.

I slept all day today and it’s hard to breathe but I have enough brain cells to rub together for an overview now at 10:30pm, so let’s do this now rather than hoping I have the energy to do it tomorrow.

Excuses. I need to stop explaining, stop with the reasons, stop with all the little self-nibbles. No is a full sentence. So is a statement of intent.

Assuming no steps taken and no words written tomorrow, I will have an average of 1312 words and 9216 steps per day for January. Highest number of steps was 16000 and most words written in one day was 3287.

There was one day where I took 300 steps all day and three days with zero words written.

A month. In numbers.

The earlier part of this month came easily. Maybe I coasted on the high generated by the multitudes who were excited by the start of a new year. Maybe I glided on my own enthusiasm.

The numbers started tapering off on the 16th, with the first zero coming on the 24th and the other ones following closely.

Back to affirmations. Back to positive dreaming. Back to the drawing board to create a mirage to walk toward.

To be fair, the latter part of this month involved odd nights where insomnia hit hard and days where my brain felt like it was in pea-soup fog and my heart just wanted to rage like a too-tired toddler on crack. Tantrum and tantrum and tantrum until I’d broken everything and then maybe I could find myself in the shattered remnants of the world.

There were moments when I curled up on myself in bed and wondered if this was how 2016 was going to be, just another straggling knock-kneed nag unable to keep up with the herd.

But as Esme said:

But this bout of illness was a reminder, I believe, not of how stupid it is to be hopeful, but how moving through our lives, and through suffering, is a part of our hopefulness, and is a part of the most resilient aspects of ourselves. That I will keep looking forward to my better days and ride out the hard ones is a testament to the stubbornness and tenacity that has kept me going through difficult times so far. I haven’t given up–not yet–because I’m damn stubborn. Chin lifted. I am willing to present as a goddamn mule.

And so: being sick didn’t “ruin” my 2016. My 2016 is still wide open and ahead of me. I’m still going. I’m still doing great, according to my requirements of what it means to live a good life.

Hope. Because even though it is that cruel thing with razored feathers, it is all there is some days.

Jody speaks of when healthy isn’t an option and how to learn to love a chronically ill body:

I also see a body that is still standing. It is a body that is broken on a cellular level, and it struggles to provide for its basic needs, but it keeps on struggling. It hasn’t given up, and so I haven’t given up. I do not fight it anymore — it does its own fighting. Instead, I nurture it. I wrap it in love and compassion, and I recognize that my body is doing the best it can. And, while its best won’t win races or even qualify as “healthy,” it’s good enough for today.

In terms of learning to accept our bodies, there is no such thing as healthy or unhealthy. There is certainly no magical line that constitutes value and worth. Our bodies are our vessels, and loving them and ourselves means treating those vessels with care. I eat well and minimize harm today because I love my body, not because I expect to change it. Through time, I have learned to find beauty in my body’s refusal to give up, but I also recognize that eventually all of our bodies reach their limits. There is beauty and grace in acknowledging and accepting that, too.

Esme’s word for 2016 is alive. Mine might have to be grace.

The inherent grace of my life, where I am fed, clothed, sheltered in all sense of the word, and have access to medical care. Where I am loved and cared for, no matter how that love and care manifests.

The grace to bend, to submit, to acknowledge that which I cannot change, what I can, and what isn’t worth battling over.

The grace of knowing there is always that ultimate no and the grace in being able to say “thank you, not today” and mean it.

 

Submission and safewording to the universe

I was thinking the other night, about my vague and unrealized interests in BDSM and started wondering, as Thene once asked, how much of that was curiosity and how much of that was genuine interest.

In the end, does it matter? Maybe, maybe not. Because let’s go slightly past the flesh and think about what it means when taken to its logical conclusion.

The thing is, it’s a beautiful thought. Or can be.

The ideal is theoretically someone who both takes control of you and is yet in service to you. Someone who knows your hard limits, cares enough to push you just enough past the point to ecstasy without harming you, someone who has to pay close and careful attention to your every shudder, every whimper, every flinch, so that they may best gauge how to serve your needs and desires. Someone who knows what you like and is committed to giving it to you, perhaps giving just a little too much, to take you beyond the edge into sweet oblivion, but with a net to catch you and bring you safely home again.

And if you move into the other aspects of domination and submission, the idea of someone committed to helping you be a better, purer version of yourself. Discipline when needed, praised when warranted, and of course, above all, someone who is completely all about you and your journey into that sweet place where you can think of nothing at all, close your eyes and simply be.

It’s a beautiful thought.

The reality, of course, is questionable.

Extended to its logical (?) conclusion, I started thinking about the universe as the ultimate Dom.

Saturn, Lord of Time, Master of Karma. Pluto, Lord of Death, the Underworld, intuition itself, king of insight. The Destroyer. These forces in service to the Universe and to us.

Of course, all of this is by nature spoken from a position of privilege. Enough privilege that I’m not sure how far or how deep this analogy can go before I start twitching. Much like my discomfort with the privilege inherent in the notion of laws of attraction and the thought of people choosing every single thing that happens to them. The idea of Earth as a school is all fun and games until you really start taking a good hard look at what is happening in certain places of the globe. Yes, let’s carry everything to its logical extension, but by golly, I don’t need to be comfortable with it.

But let’s talk about the fantasy, shall we? Sometimes the only way to explore a concept is in isolation and in the best possible circumstances. Kind of like trying to pin down a quantum…?

Dare I say yes? (but I already have, because clearly I’m here and not dead)

And what is my safeword? (scene-ending. session-ending.  =Death?)

And what is happening as correction and therefore cannot be safe-worded out of versus something that is meant for the experience and can be? (do we see my intense discomfort with connecting non-safe-wordable-shit as “correction”? here is where the analogy goes to tatters for me.)

…wrenching the mind back to the perfect circumstances analogy schtick…

But, with that thought, there’s something liberating there. (snide voice: yes, there’s usually something liberating about privilege…)

If this entire thing is for my pleasure and my edification (theoretically) and everything goes only so far as I allow it to (still running up against that whole privilege thing…), then there is something supremely liberating about knowing there is a safeword there.

What is it anyway? Pondering.

Safeword out of the dysfunction part of my relationship with my parents.

Safeword out of the relationship that wasn’t working anymore.

The correction bit regarding my health that I haven’t been able to safeword out of yet.

….

The thing is, it’s a novel thought for the most part – the ability to say no.

Yes, you’re allowed to change. Yes, just because something was this way for a longest time doesn’t mean that it needs to be eternally that way. Yes, you’re allowed to move on. Yes, you’re allowed to tell someone that what they’re doing is hurting you.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

And the flip side of that, of course, is: no.

No to being put on the spot for extra emotional labor.

No to saying yes to authority just because.

No to staying in relationships where I’m not a priority.

No to people who just aren’t that into me.

No. No. No.

If I believe. If I allow myself to believe. (hard, really, again with the tattered analogy)

Then I can believe that most things happen for a reason. I can believe that I allowed most of the things in my life to happen to me. I can believe that these experiences were perhaps necessary, that perhaps I needed them to grow into myself.

Perhaps I could have learned an easier way. A better way.

Perhaps I can console myself that it would have been a slower way.

Perhaps I can console myself that I might not have learned anyway because I’m terribly stubborn.

But if I allow myself to believe.

Then I can believe in safewords, in the ultimate grace of a Universe that is watching and won’t give me more than I can stand, in my ability to take and stretch and bend and submit and finally break out of myself into something purer.

Maybe.

Maybe I believe in fairy tales.

 

 

 

So much easier this way. Almost like cheating, except…I deserve it

I was just thinking tonight, how much easier it is to love myself single.

One entire wall of my room is window and at night it turns into a massive mirror.

I see myself. Endless glimpses of myself. I can’t get away from me, in fact.

Getting ready for bed. Sitting at my tiny desk. Looking up while blow-drying my hair. A side-ways glance when thinking while reading.

And I don’t mind it.

I’ve always had an odd relationship with mirrors.

For the longest time, I startled when I looked into a mirror because I wasn’t expecting what I saw.

Never.

I don’t know what I expected.

It wasn’t as simple, as …dirty-clean as thinner, paler, differently colored hair or eyes or more delicate features or shit like that. It was this visceral jerking back of “wait, what’s that?”, this sense of seeing something that wasn’t expected, that the me in the mirror wasn’t truly myself at all.

Now, though, I’m settling into myself. I look up and the face looking back at me is expected, is pretty to me, the smile intimate and familiar.

It’s easier, now.

I like my body more now that I don’t have to worry about someone else liking it or wanting to sex it. I like it more now that it serves only me, that the only person who gets affected by my cycles of mood and menstruation and energy is me.  I like it more now that it doesn’t feel like a traitor to the cause of being a better example of femininity.  My body serves me and only me and that’s fine. I’m a kinder mistress than anyone else has ever been to me and it’s wonderful.

And no, it’s probably not fair to anyone, much less myself,  that I feel this way.

But I do. And I’m single. So I suppose I should revel in it while I do.

Or maybe it is fair.

Dante whispered in my ear today, “Test me, baby. Test me all you like. I won’t back down and I won’t flinch because it’s my privilege and my duty as yours to make you certain of me.”

And Thryn said softly, “It wouldn’t really be love if I could tell you why, would it? If I could parse it, if I could lay out exactly why you’re home to me and why I dream softer with you and why the only shelter I’ll ever need lies in your eyes and your arms… then it wouldn’t be love. It would be a transaction, a business merger.”

I’m falling in love with myself. With this body that tries so hard. With this heart that will not quit. With this mind that amuses and dazzles. With these senses that open up entire universes to me.

I’m falling in love with Love.

It feels almost like cheating. This effortless joy, untainted by sly glances hinting at inadequacy, unmarked by insidious “buts”, just mine.

Aedrian takes my hand in the dark and shushes my worries. He knows what it’s like to feel like your love isn’t enough, that you could love enough to shatter yourself and shred your heart and it wouldn’t take up even a dust mote’s space in the universe, but he’s willing to try.

Could I do any less?

Let’s play on easy mode for now. Hard mode will come along sooner rather than later.

 

Treading softly upon the self

I tweeted yesterday (with more txt speak, of course, since, Twitter):

That moment, twelve days into 2016, when you realize you’re beating yourself up for breaking your New Year’s Resolution… to stop beating yourself up for stressing out.

*laughs*

Oh my goodness. It really was funny when I realized what I was doing. Funny and sad, yes, but funny just the same.

I was going to do a “first week of 2016″ overview, but it was only day five when I thought of it and then I blinked and it was the ninth. So when I re-thought it and decided the first half-month of 2016 would do, except today is the 13th… I decided to just go ahead and write it anyway.

Thirteen is a nice, solid, much maligned number anyway.

So how’s 2016 treating you thus far, babe?

So far, the numbers are pretty positive. I’ve made my 10k steps on almost every day, except for one. I’ve written more than a thousand words every day, not including journaling. And I’ve been mostly getting to sleep and waking up at very reasonable hours.

There were a couple of nights of weird insomnia around the solar term Little Cold, but that’s hopefully behind me now.

If 2016 were a guy, I’d say that the first date was very promising and he seems like a gentleman, albeit one that keeps me up nights thinking about him. Definitely second date material, though I’m still observing.

*laughs*

To continue the dating analogy, I have also realized that in the end it really does circle around to myself. Something I was thinking about yesterday, at the tail end of my period, when I realized that I was being immensely grumpy for really no good reason at all…

Was it because the period was a physical symbol of yet another month without conventionally approved growth, because it was a sign of missed opportunities, because I was secretly hankering after baby-making?

Or was it because I was upset that I’ve only been doing a thousand or so words a day when I really wanted to be doing something spectacular like 3 or 5k?

Or was it because I was feeling sick again and it’s been seven freaking months and for fuck’s sake?

Or was it because mom and I had another reprise of the relationship talk and I was feeling uncertain and sore?

Or was it just the hormones balancing out and the slight fever getting me down?

I have no idea, but really, the why doesn’t actually matter, because none of those things were worth being grumpy over. I was comparing myself to others and that shit needed to stop. Stat. I was fretting over what would happen when/if my parents cut off the gravy train before I was ready. That shit needed to stop too. I’ve survived. I will survive. No sense in borrowing trouble.

I made word count. I made step count. My cycles are getting more regular. Anyone who’s complaining just needs to shut the fuck up.

I realized, too, that part of me was uncertain and wiffly-waffly because of the way things ended between me and some of the people in my past.

I realized that I thought that I, in a way, didn’t deserve love, or wouldn’t receive the love that I wanted, because I can be a judgmental, high maintenance bitch I have high standards. Standards that so many people have looked at and told me that I was delusional for holding to. Standards that people have told me will lead to me crying alone into my porridge when I’m shriveled and cold.

And then I realized that I was wrong. And everyone who told me that it’s better to settle than to be alone was wrong. And everyone who looks at me with pity because I’m alone is wrong. And every person who tells me that one of these days I’m going to regret everything is dead wrong.

Because I won’t let it happen. I won’t, because if I die trying, I’m going to have the most wonderful love affair with myself for the rest of my life.

Something I reminded myself of yesterday:

Life isn’t about the end. Not truly. It’s not about who you leave behind, what your legacy is, or what people whisper about you after you’re rotting/burning.

Because you won’t care when you’re dead.

Today exists. Am I happy today? Will I regret spending this day this way if I were to die tomorrow?

Today is a journey, a potentially amazing one from the moment I step out of bed to the moment I fall into dream, back in bed.

If Today were a journey, would you regret what you’ve seen and done or no? If no regrets, then why worry about what the sum of days will be at the end of your life?

I didn’t do all that much in Barcelona, even though I knew it was possibly a once in a lifetime trip. We visited the cathedral that looked like (from the outside) some kid had gone nutso with popsicle sticks and papier mache. We walked around some. We visited another cathedral. And we went to the beach.

That’s it. More than a week, and that’s all I remember.

Mostly, the beach. Lying on the sand. Swimming nude in the ocean. (oh god, tits are fucking buoyant in sea water) Learning to accept my body and not take shame in it. The deliciousness of Iberico ham on croissants with a fresh fried egg on top. Having mangos that actually tasted like mangos for the first time in years outside of Taiwan — in Europe. *big eyes*

I don’t regret any of it. Maybe I could have seen more. Maybe I could have tried out the nightlife in Barcelona. Maybe I could have pushed myself past my comfort zone.

But in the end, I would probably go back and just do the same thing because I’m me and my health was that way and the beach was amazing.

So it’s all good. All that money spent. That once in a lifetime chance.

No regrets.

I told my mother I wasn’t ready a couple of days ago. She was worried because I’m 29 and the clock is ticking, the fuse is burning, and soon I’ll be considered an old maid rather than an eligible maiden.

I told her that I was still in a tentative position. I still have to work on my boundaries, my ability to say no, my incessant need to please and soothe. I still have yet to recover fully from all the emotional labor I did for the past eleven years and the bitterness of how very futile it all turned out to be. I still don’t trust, not really.

This particular crab has withdrawn into the sea, into the deep, and is working on building that shell. Maybe that’s going to be a problem because crabs can only mate when they molt and this might be the wrong time to be growing a hard shell, but if it’s so then it’s so.

As I said to myself:

It’s all right if I’m single for the rest of my life, because it might take me a lifetime to fully understand myself and to court myself the way I deserve to be courted. Might as well get on it, stay on it, and perfect it. And I can’t do that as easily if I’m distracted by a guy.

Better to figure things out this lifetime, work on polishing that self-esteem, build and maintain proper curtain walls, and fully realize and implement the art of loving the self first. Because I don’t want to do this again.

If being single this lifetime is the price to pay, then so be it.

Maybe I can let my next lifetime off the hook.

Song for this moment: Galileo from Indigo Girls

The affirmations continue.

I am worthy of love.

I am worthy of being loved the way I need to be loved.

I am worthy of being loved the way I want to be loved.

I can do this.

I can realize my dreams.

I can heal.

I can move on from the past.

I can forgive. I can even, gasp, forgive myself.

I will not say no to love. I will not say no to bounty. I will not say no to joy. I will not say no to all the good things in life that the Universe grants me. I will not close my eyes to Love.

I will say yes to hope. Yes to Love. Yes to forgiveness. Yes to myself. Yes to sleeping in when I need it. Yes to that extra snack. Yes to the nap in the middle of the day. Yes to being a cat in human skin if that’s what it takes.

Yes? Yes. Yes!

It’s day 13 of 2016 and I’m just fine.

Touch yourself with gentle joy. Speak to yourself with tender love. Step softly upon the self that carries you. Listen to the small voice within you. See yourself with sweet clarity. Hear the comfort that comes from deep within, the voice that says just one more step, one more, to the light.

 

 

 

The allure of billionaires, in terms of spoonwork

As a reader and writer of romance, it’s interesting to watch the millionaire romance novel trend. Oops, billionaires now, sorry, because inflation.

(never mind that Thene has assured me that inflation hasn’t really been an issue in  recent ever)

One iteration of the rich-man-swoops-in story that’s been very interesting lately is the prevalence of the “I can’t do it on my own and you’re the only person who can save me” narrative.

There’s the waif who just graduated with some (often stereotypically useless) degree, who has student loans out the wazoo, and who has problem keeping herself alive and making rent. Suddenly, the rich man deus ex machinas into her life and he falls in complete and utter devotion to her despite the reader’s bemusement.

The mind-boggling aspects:

This woman has no friends. Like, none. She shares her apartment with no one (no wonder she can’t make rent) and there’s no one who could possibly bail her out, float her some rent, or heavens forbid, allow her to crash on their couch for a while. Of course, my take on it is: don’t trust a person who has no friends. There’s usually a reason for it and you should run away. Fast.

This woman often doesn’t have the slightest clue as to how to survive. I’ll forgive the ridiculous degree (women’s studies, anyone?) and massive student loans because that’s just how the two thousands have gone. However, why isn’t this woman temping? Why isn’t she working as a barista? Why is she clinging onto this idea that she’s going to be able to use her degree in a job that will pay the bills long past the time when she should have woken up and smelled the shit sandwich she made for herself? For that matter, why do all these heroines live alone? I lived in a house with six other people to keep expenses down at one point and I have never lived along in an apartment in my life for financial purposes. And the ten million dollar question is why is this billionaire who is supposedly really intelligent and competent attracted to this woman who is apparently failing at life?

Seriously. Suspension of disbelief just doesn’t work. And I’m not saying this from an elitist snob standpoint. Look at who Mark Zuckerberg married. Look at who Steve Jobs married. Look at Melinda Gates.

Honestly, guys. I know this is escapist fun, but really? This sort of Cinderella narrative is actually damaging because even the Disney princess had friends. Sheesh. Stop furthering the notion that women don’t have or need friends and can be perfectly happy and fulfilled with only her beloved rich hubby as a companion for life.

But let’s not talk about the women anymore. Let’s talk about the m/billionaires and the damaging narratives there.

I’ve noticed that a lot of the men simply outsource almost all of their spoonwork. Other than amazing sex with a zillion orgasms per night with their hugely awesome cocks, that is.

Need a gift? Throw diamonds and shiny shit at the love object. No need to think too hard when diamonds are a girl’s best friend, right?

There’s always a maid and/or chauffeur, so no worries ever about who leaves the dirty dishes in the sink or fights over why you don’t care enough to take me to the doctor’s office.

There’s room service or a housekeeper who makes the most amazing food.

The little woman needs to get dressed? Personal shoppers to the rescue! You never have to go along on a shopping trip (unless it’s for lingerie) because you hired someone to do the gruntwork of finding the nice things and then sitting through the trying-on torture.

Anything broken? Money will fix it! Even if/especially if you broke it in a fit of a rage. Appliances never dare to break down around you, but if they do, then there will always be some 24/7 person you can call to make the issue go away. In fact, why even bother with appliances? Just buy new clothing for every day or send it out to be washed professionally. You can afford it, after all.

Need to travel? Private jet with showers all the way, baby. No need to worry about travel stress or setting up a comfortable itinerary or being a considerate travel companion when you can just spend all your time in the air having sex.

….

Right.

If you read carefully between the lines of what’s going on, there’s almost no thought to the m/billionaire’s supposed devotion. He snaps and things that the heroine needs just happen.

This is especially interesting when one considers the studies that say men still don’t do equal amounts of housework in the home (but they think they do!) and that women are still expected to take on more childcare responsibilities (to the point where house-daddies are kinda sneered at and more than one father was accused of being a weirdo perv when sitting at the playground watching their kids).

The questions I’m left with:

  • why are we (many of us female) romance authors perpetuating the myth that women do not have or need friends? For that matter, what the flying fuck is up with the “I have no female friends, but I have a gay bestie who serves as my maid”? That’s just not right, guys.
  • are we indirectly perpetuating harmful social expectations and cultural mores by these narratives where the solution to men not doing enough emotional labor is to simply marry someone who can afford to outsource all of it?
  • now that we’ve bravely moved into the frontiers of romance where m-preg is a thing, can the daddies who do primary child-care please stand up and step out? If not, why the fuck not?
  • is the allure of poly relationships partially a female response to lack of male emotional labor? In that “welp, if I’m fucking three guys, surely ONE of them will do the dishes and cook dinner” sense? And if so, guys, maybe the solution is to write heroes who do the fucking spoonwork and heroines who refuse to deal with a guy who doesn’t put out.
  • when so many conflicts center around “there’s this bitch who’s after my man and refuses to take no for an answer”, coupled with the heroines have no friends narrative — what are we actually perpetuating here? The myth of scarcity and “all women are in competition with each other” is simple bullshit. Again, isn’t the solution to change things so that more men are good catches rather than trying to kill each other for the few men who somehow grew up being taught about spoonwork?

So okay, I hear y’all who are screaming “it’s just escapist fun! why so serious?!”, but I can’t agree. Not anymore.

And in fact, you can’t scream “I’m just writing/reading what I like and it doesn’t matter” and complain about romance novels being derided as bodice rippers and soul-rotting brain candy at the same time.

More than one scholar has posited that if you track romance novels tropes and themes, you will also track shifts in cultural expectations and social mores. We have come a long way from pro-pseudo-rape masquerading as love and there’s no reason to stop now. Writers and readers have always been at the forefront of change; now is not the time to drop the ball.

Write the world you want, sure, but how mindful (and effective?) a writer will you be if you don’t question the impetus behind the drive and tease things to its logical conclusion?

 

 

 

What you want and what I want

…is to be seen.

shadowscapes kings 1

 

I drew the King of Wands today as my daily card. Fitting, really, because I’d just been talking to my mother about husbands and so such and I like the KoW best out of all the kings.

Golden. Charismatic. Warm. Fearless and all encompassing. Creative, with a flair for life.

Thene prefers the King of Cups and said that she knew one. “A kid who knew what he was doing.”

I consider him. Wise. Patient. A listener. Calm arbiter of justice and mercy. Quiet.

Her husband, M, has many of those qualities, in fact.

We both don’t like the King of Pentacles as much. I wonder how much of that is our experience with a man as the sole source of bounty? Thene comments, “I guess I am just not that interested in what the King of Pentacles is selling. Personally.”

I think him both too inflexible and sweet, too single-minded.

I like the King of Swords fine. “Be wise, be just, do what needs must and crush some skulls if necessary”, but then again, I’ve always identified with the Queen of Swords myself.

Even as I would prefer to be the Queen of Wands.

I like the QoS, but I fear that she can just as easily be an obstacle to happiness as for. Thene: “I have never got the impression that the queen of swords perceives happiness as a reasonable or even attainable goal. she is Not About That.”

I don’t know as I agree. I just think that the QoS’s idea of happiness might be a bit cold for most. Perfect justice. Perfect logic. Perfect black and white. Perfect knowledge.

I think that’s why I like the KoW, myself. The QoS needs the KoW to draw her into the sunshine and have fun. The KoC might just sink into mutual angst-fury with the QoS if they’re not careful.

 

 

 

August YNAB analysis

Without further ado:

August YNAB

 

So. Books. Still a problem. Obviously.

Me, in pained accents: “Katia, what am I going to do with you?”

Entertainment was not too hot either. Kev got me into playing Fallout Shelter and I totally went and got some microtransactions going. *sigh*

Me: “You know, self, there’s only so much you can play the depressed card, right?”

Total outflow was $189.58, so technically still within bounds, but meh.