Archive for February, 2014

Depression: The encroaching dark

I’ve been considering posting about this. It’s not exactly the sort of thing that makes for congenial conversation, after all. But, it’s more important than being a fun person to be around. And then again, I’ve always been extremely comfortable telling complete strangers far too much information about myself. It’s like the acronym TMI was designed for me.

I’ve been diagnosed with severe depression. I’ve had symptoms of depression for as long as I have clear memory. I was about eight or nine when I first took a sharp implement in hand and thought about using it on myself and before that, in earlier years, I prayed for God to take my life.

I was formally diagnosed in college. I’m a psychology major — how ironic is that? Actually, I suspect many depressed people go into psychology both intending to do good and because they have this subconscious or not so subconscious thought of self-medicating. Well, let’s just say that didn’t work.

I was initially very resistant to taking medication.

It’s commonly accepted that writers are often depressed, that our creativity is inextricably bound up with the miasma, that it’s almost a badge of honor. I’ll admit to having owned a black t-shirt with dripping red font reading: “Tortured Artist: No art without the angst.” back in college.

So I was both afraid of losing what made me interesting and because I had this idea that I was a worthless piece of shit if I couldn’t pull myself up by my non-existent bootstraps and just get over my depression. It took me about five years to get over my irrational hatred of medication.

In the interests of full disclosure: I’m currently on Wellbutrin. I’ve had therapy on and off for years, finally culminating in 15 sessions at 350/hr with a therapist who first came on to me inappropriately and then pretty much called me irresponsible for wanting to stop therapy and then refused to pass on my medical information and continue my prescription.

Why this level of detail? Because it’s the  circle of life, ahem, interconnected.

My personal experience:

The Wellbutrin is also prescribed for people who have ADD. Which I also have. Not surprising, as depression is co-morbid with ADD and vice versa. Nothing like feeling like an under-achieving failure all the time to boost mood and self-esteem. I’d talk about the female version of ADD and why the public view of ADD is so damaging to women who have it, but that’s another blog post.

The medication always leaves me feeling just a little bit hyped up. By a little, here’s a transcript of my chat convo with my boyfriend the first day I got back on the medication. Skip the blue box if you’re not interested.

Ekaterine:
I just feel really …wound up.
coiled, about to explode
so…wound up
I feel like I want to bounce all over the place.

BF:
I’d stick with it for a while. These must just be the initial side effects

Ekaterine:
but…i mean, fish oil and vit D were also helping
i dunno
….
bouncy bouncy bouncy
I feel like every thought in my head is just free-floating and …boucy bouncy bouncy
I’m not going to be any good for anything…

BF:
but you got a HELL OF A LOT of writing done on meds before
so I’m guessing that will return eventually

Ekaterine:
…hopefully…hopefully hopefully
you can stop talking to me anytime
i find myself kinda annoying
but I can’t stop the twitches. and I’m actually typing them out
so I can’t imagine what you think
twitch twitch twitch.

BF:
I’m sorry. I don’t find you annoying if that helps. I’m just worried about you.

Ekaterine:
that helps
it’s okay
my body and meds
it’s like…this crazy whirling dervish dance, except not quite as reasoned as that
no cooking today…
no knives
cackle
no flame
no fire fire fire fire fire
flaaaaaaaaaame

What this means is that because it’s a stimulant and I react strongly to any kind of stimulant, I take it right before I sleep so it doesn’t keep me from sleeping later on. Even so, I find myself drifting toward a 2 or 3am bedtime and being forcibly woken at about 8:30am because the amount of stimulant has reached a point where I cannot continue to sleep. As a result, if I’m not careful, I drift toward a state of constant exhaustion since I need about 8 hrs a night to feel functional. The being exhausted and resulting feeling of being drunk means although I’m more productive on the medication because of heightened energy, I’m not actually as productive as I want to be. Inefficiency then threatens to keep me up too late, which in turn perpetuates the cycle.

However, and this is what’s truly important:

I prefer the me who is on anti-depressants. I have more spoons. I am more productive and I actually get things done that I want done.

I have never found a decrease in creativity after being on medication. I would, in fact, argue that I am a better writer than i otherwise would be simply by virtue of being able to write and therefore (hopefully) improve. Also because one is greater than zero. Zero being my output when I’m not on meds.

Editing is easier. It still feels like being drawn, racked, and quartered, but at least I don’t stop because it feels that way.

It’s easier to interact with people. The little voice that tells me I’m not clever, witty, funny, charming enough goes away and leaves me alone. It is easier to brush off confrontations and not have it turn into the mental equivalent of a tornado whipping through all my thoughts and defenses.

I suspect, were I to start querying, it would also make that process not quite as suicide-making.

There is always a price. I pay for being a writer with exhaustion, a racing heart, and the faint bitter taste in my mouth. i consider it worth it and then some. The price isn’t always the same for everyone. For every person who’s had medication stifle their creativity and their lives, there’s at least another person who’s had their lives turned around. And it’s important to remember that you may need to try a couple of different medications before hitting upon the one that provides the most benefit for the least evil. One of my meds gave me narcolepsy and pretty much killed my thought of going back to school for my post-grad. Another one made it so I couldn’t even think about eating. I gave it up after realizing that I wasn’t happy or productive whilst nauseated and starving. Yet another one didn’t do anything except increase my heart rate to an unpleasant degree. It wasn’t until I tried Wellbutrin that I actually had something work.

Being depressed isn’t necessary to being a writer. It’s not necessary to being an interesting person. It’s not necessary, period.

 

 

 

Goddess in Waiting ch. 5

The scent of Death hit me as we crossed the threshold of the church. The richness of roses with just enough of chrysanthemum’s bite to undercut lilies’ cloying sweetness. Shadows clung to the corners of the room, skittering away from the brilliant sunshine flooding in from the stained glass windows.

I froze and raised an arm to block Raphael.

“Amarantha. So long apart and you hesitate to greet me?”

I sighed and walked forward.

A cloaked form rose from a crouching position beside the body.  He turned to face us, uncaring that his movements trailed the hem of his cloak through the pool of blood. His hair blazed against the starkness of his black cloak, the blend of russet and gold reminiscent of the dawn and a twisted counterpoint to the crimson at his feet. The billowy poet’s shirt he wore couldn’t hide the supple grace of his muscles as he moved. He wore it untucked over black leather pants so soft and worn they looked like cloth.

His beauty hit my gut like a fist. A thousand years I hadn’t seen him and I still hadn’t found another to rival him. Even the Morning Star’s beauty paled beside him and Lucifer was known for his bad-boy pretty looks.

I stopped three feet away. “Thanatos.”

His mouth curved in a humorless smile, his ice blue eyes severe. “So careful, my Amarantha. Do you not remember, the forced taking of maidens was never my gambit?”

Pain clenched around my heart. Pain that I thought I had left behind already. I did remember. The problem being I remembered far too much.

I asked, my heart in my throat turning my voice husky. “Do you forgive me?”

His body stiffened and the surrounding air turned icy.

I battened down disappointment and deliberately lightened my tone.

“Right then. In that case, we’re moving along. Can you show us his last moments?”

His eyes were far too knowing, as if he knew that I still carried a torch for him after a thousand years. “And what will you give me in return, my Amarantha?”

“What will you accept, Thanatos?”

He shook his head and laughed low in his throat. “Ah, no. Offer me something, my Amarantha and I will tell you if it will suffice. We shall not play this game again, you and I. It shall not be I dictating to you the terms of your surrender but your voluntary submission to me.”

I bit my lip.

Submission. The cornerstone of our discontent, something I could never give him and what he couldn’t be happy without.

His gaze fell to my mouth and his jaw set. “What will it be, Amarantha? The longer you tarry, the more his memories will deteriorate.”

“Will you accept blood?”

“You know there’s only one way I’ll take your blood, Amarantha, and it’s not from your wrist.”

I took three steps forward and rested my palms on his chest. His heart beat steady under my palm, its beat quickening just enough to be detectable.

He looked down at me, his eyes inscrutable and his mouth flattened in a grim line.

I lifted myself up on tiptoe and bit down hard on my lower lip as I raised my mouth to his. His arm came around me and hauled me up against his body. His mouth settled more firmly on mine. His tongue flicked against my lower lip, licking away the blood before he deepened the kiss.

Male voices started speaking, the sound muffled to a low murmur. I pushed against him, distracted, but he tightened his embrace and brushed his tongue against mine. Thanatos filled my senses with his scent, his taste, his aura and the unmistakable feel of his arousal. I closed my eyes and reached up to curl my arms around his neck.

Not willing to simply accept what I was willing to give, he swept in and tore down all my defenses. His hand fisted in my hair, tugging my head back so he could plunder at will.

Desire coiled in my core and my knees went weak. He’d always been my greatest weakness and I couldn’t resist him the way some women couldn’t resist chocolate.

He whispered my name against my mouth. “Amarantha.”

I snapped back to myself and looked up at him in barely concealed horror. Not again. It was supposed to be a simple kiss. Maybe not quite so simple with the blood, but it was supposed to be a transaction and nothing more.

The look he gave me was pure lazy sensuality, his eyes gleaming as if he knew my thoughts.

“It’s never going to be simple between us, my Amarantha. But I will allow you your temporary escape in return for the sweetness of your blood kiss. Not quite what I want, but it will have to be enough for now.”

I braced my hands against his chest and took a step back. His mouth curved in a small smile. We both knew that the distance between us was only because he allowed it.

“Show me the memory, Thanatos.”

He flicked a glance behind me. “You’ll want to be touching me for this, whoever you are.”

“There’s more than audio?”

“He was blinded before he was killed. I can place us in his mind for the moments before his death and perhaps his other senses will provide additional information.”

Thanatos extended a hand and Raphael took it. Honey gold skin against snow pale. 

He cupped my cheek with his other hand and the world fell away.

 

Worry pressed at the corners of my mind. Worry and fear. Cold sweat slid down my spine. Ice settled in my bones, already always cold because of Time’s harrying.

I looked down to see my gnarled, age-spotted hands shaking so hard I had to erase the last sentence I typed in onto my phone.

No. This wasn’t me.

I reached into my core and remembered, pulling forth enough of my memories to maintain my sense of self.

Losing yourself was always a danger when you entered a person’s consciousness and more so when it was a dying person’s last memories. Placing yourself within a dead person’s memories, that was foolhardiest of all. It was common for those who tried such a thing to be sucked into the dead person’s body, forcibly assimilated by the physical in search of the intangible. If not careful, you could find yourself with a whole new body. Unfortunately, since usually humans died for a reason, you could find yourself going the way of the previous soul in a hurry.

The doors of the church opened and the sharp acridity of sulfur wafted in. John Miller raised his head. Panic seized his breath. An explosion of light. Pain. And then there was nothing but darkness. John Miller shook so hard his muscles were on the verge of cramping.

He straightened his back and looked straight ahead, something I did not really expect from his fear before.

“What do you wish from me, demon?”

A low laugh. Dark and sultry, the sound wrapped around him like a courtesan’s perfume and curled deep. He tensed as arousal bit deep into unwilling flesh.

“I want the names of the Watchers under your care, good reverend.”

“No.” His hands gripped the phone so hard the plastic let out a squeak of protest.

A phantom hand wrapped around his cock. “Come now. I can make this hard for you or very, very hard. Is your silent god truly worth your devotion?”

“Heavenly Father,  I pray you sanctify me. King of kings, I beseech your protection against temptation. Lord of the Hosts, I entreat that you cast out all forces of evil, within and without…”

A phantom hand cinched around his throat, cutting off his prayer. ”Useless as it may be, I find blind devotion to be so very irritating.”

The hand around his cock tightened. Pain erupted as sharp nails scored his skin.

“Now, I will ask you once more, nicely. Where can I find the remaining Watchers?”

“My Lord, my Father, my Sovereign of all that is good and holy..” John Miller forced the words out as soon as the hand loosened enough for him to speak.

The voice sighed.

Just as the first wave of pain hit, I felt a tug on my spirit. More than happy to leave, I caught hold of the thread binding me to my body and slid back.

 

 

“Well. That was certainly different.” Raphael’s voice. Dry, with an edge.

I forced my eyes open. It felt like I’d been hit with a truck. Twice.

I blinked. I lay on a pew atop the cushions and my head was pillowed on Thanatos’ thigh.

Not good. I didn’t want to be this vulnerable around him.

Thanatos laid a land on my stomach and pinned me in place. “Don’t move just yet. Your spirit has not fully settled.”

“I’m not a newborn godling, Thanatos, that my spirit would shake free so easily.” I kept my words light but I knew that he was right to keep me prone. That one twitch let me know I was in no condition to be too careless.

“That lie is truly insulting in its transparency.” His voice was harsh.

“Thanatos…”

“What does he mean?” Raphael crouched beside me.

I stared at him. “Nothing of import to you, I’m certain.”

His brows drew together and his gaze lifted. “Since she’s being contrary, perhaps you’ll tell me.”

“The ties holding her to this earthly shell are weakening due to the body’s aging. If she is not careful, her essence could slip free.”

“That is bad?”

Thanatos exhaled. “Only if you consider having to wait two decades or more before she can finish whatever the two of you are doing bad.”

Raphael’s gaze snapped to mine. “What? Why would that be necessary? Your spirit cannot stand alone?”

Thank you, Thanatos, for letting the cat out of the bag. I was hoping to keep that secret a while longer.

I sighed. “No. It cannot. I can only do that when I am at home in the Netherworld. If I wish to take on living flesh, I must do it the old-fashioned way.”

He frowned. “Why would they place such a burden on you if you are such a minor goddess that you cannot even clothe spirit in flesh?”

Thanatos stiffened under me. He slid his arm under me and helped me to a sitting position, his touch firm but gentle.

“Didn’t we have this discussion? There wasn’t much of a selection. Sorry to disappoint, but what you see is what you get.”

“Do not dare put down my wife, Amarantha. I will allow many things from you, but this is one I will not tolerate. You were our first choice, before all the others. There will be no suggestion of anything else.”

I glanced at him in surprise.

He wasn’t looking at me. He pinned Raphael with a glare. “I will hear no complaints from you.”

The other god shook his head minutely. “That was no complaint but worry.”

He looked at me, a wrinkle appearing between his brows. “I thought your current guise was a whim. I assumed you would be able to shed this skin and manifest should you need to. This changes things.” He flicked a look at Thanatos. “Knowing that you’re bound to Death also changes things.”

My husband’s arm tightened around me. “How?”

“I will be much more mindful of her safety, for one.”

“And for the other?”

“Guys. I’m sitting right here. Please don’t talk about me like I’m an inanimate object.”

Raphael inclined his head. “I apologize.”

I didn’t wait for Thanatos to apologize. It would be faster trying to get blood from a stone.

“All I got from that lovely experience just now is that our adversary smells of sulfur. Did anyone else catch anything more useful?”

“He called it a demon and it smelled of sulfur. Could it be…”

I shook my head. “No. It’s not Lucifer.”

“You sound very sure.” His tone made it a question and not a statement.

“I know Lucifer and that’s not him or any of his underlings. Besides, he is beloved of Alexandros and his brothers. He Fell on their directive. He would not betray them thus.”

“Who, then?”

“The Devourer of Worlds.”

I looked up at my husband. “The Devourer of Worlds? What leads you to say that?”

“I didn’t just smell sulfur. I smelled something else. Something indescribable but which I have encountered once before. It was when I witnessed the death of a planet. There was this presence, a sensation of almost unbearable pressure, the air was suffused with this smell and then the planet was no more.”

There were some times when I forgot how much older Death was. He wasn’t a god created by the humans. He was here first, before any of us and he would outlast all of us. The only thing that could snuff him out would be the death of the universe itself.

His lips compressed and his eyes turned grim. “If the Devourer of Worlds has his eye on this planet, the battle we face may be beyond us.”

“We?”

His back, already ramrod stiff, tensed further. “You did not think I would let you face this alone, did you, wife?”

Oops.

I stared back at him, not quite certain what to say. It wasn’t as if we’d seen each other in a thousand years. More than enough time to declare a marriage null and void and more than enough time for him to lose whatever affection he once held for me. Besides, having Death on hand to fight the Devourer of Worlds wasn’t exactly what you’d call a dream team concept.

Raphael rose to his feet and leaned against the pew. “You know of our adversary. Do you know how to defeat him, then?”

“It all boils down to the evolution coefficient, doesn’t it?”

Thanatos nodded. “Yes. The Devourer cannot take a world that has ascended or is in the process of ascending. Once a world descends and the balance is tipped, then an opening is revealed to him.”

“But we’re not descending. We might be very slow about it, but the evolution coefficient has definitely been rising. As I pointed out to Raphael, we would be in violation of the pact between us and Gaia should that be the case.”

“The balance is always most precarious before a rise in the consciousness. With all that’s been in the global awareness lately, we are due for a jump, but that will also come at a cost.”

“One misstep and he has his in.”

“Yes.”

Raphael looked between me and Thanatos and shook his head. “This is turning out to be quite more than I thought I was signing up for.”

“Not quite your cup of tea, Raphael?” He arched a challenging brow and his tone carried the faintest hint of mockery.

“Quite the contrary. I haven’t had quite this excitement in eons.”

A male voice came from behind us. “I’m relieved to see that you all seem to be enthusiastic about the situation. You’re going to need that energy.”

Mikhail.

I sighed. Fan-fucking-tastic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fangirl

Warning: This is apparently not my week for well-reasoning, not insanely squeeing, calm reviews. This is another gush. You have been warned.

All right. So now Laura Florand just got another million zillion bonus points, which catapulted her straight into the stratosphere. Not that she needed it, because I mean, she’s going to have to stay in the stratosphere or risk being shot into outer space where it’s supposedly cold with no chocolate. At least in the stratosphere we can send up balloons or something. Wait, I think it’s cold up there too. Oops. Well. Balloons with sweaters then. 

Why?

She called out Fangirl as being a really good read on her blog.

I’m always a bit leary of recs by authors I love. For example, much as I truly, deeply adore Ilona Andrews, I think Ilona’s personal preference runs a bit darker and grittier than mine. I read a book she recced and it was excellent. It was really, really good — but I didn’t love it and I got a hint that she probably wouldn’t rec something that would grab my heart.

So you’re asking why if it was really good why I’m whining.

Well, because it’s a little bit disappointing in a way. Probably because I’m a diva writer and I get really frustrated by how elusive all of this is. The whole clicking with something. It’s like dating, except with lower stakes. Except monetarily but you know what I mean. At least you don’t need to apologize to a book if it’s a DNF. Something can be all about what you like, can have pretty prose, can have strong characters that resonate with you — and still not yank at your gut. So if I adore a writer and yet I don’t adore what they like — what does that mean?

Yes, asides from the fact that we are all special snowflakes with idiosyncrasies and things that make us individuals.

To me it just reminds me of how hard things can be. On both ends, you know? The writer wanting to put forth love and be loved. The readers wanting to love and be loved. It’s like watching speed dating. So much possibility and then it all turns to ash.

Anyway!

Back to the amazing and the wonderful.

Fangirl.

To be honest, part of what made this for me is that I don’t write fanfiction. I absolutely don’t get it. Which is why I love the prof’s take on it. I love Reagan’s response of “oh god, shoot me now, I can’t even watch”. I loved how the girls were very aware at how fanfiction is perceived and how crazy it all seems sometimes, and yet it was their world and their love and so they sank into it anyway. The funny thing is? I thought Cath’s fanfiction was way better than the supposed original stuff in the book. Miles and miles better. Not that that’s surprising. There’s a lot of truly amazing fanfiction out there that the original writers can only dream of matching. I just loved how Rainbow was really good about bringing both facets to life and presenting the two sides of the coin.

Which, by the way, Amazon reviewer who said Reagan is a mean, nasty roommate? Did you read the same story I did?

Cath. I adore Cath. Cath is me. Well, more afraid me, which is kind of depressing and frightening if you really think about it, but me.

Why do I write? To disappear. To escape. So I don’t have to be in this world anymore. So I can create something beautiful and amazing and wonderful and keep my eyes closed until I’m forced to open them.

I’m also an introvert. Not as painfully so as her, but I totally get the “please don’t talk to me I don’t know how to respond oh god oh god oh god”.

Also the fear. I get that fear. I cracked up about the “rapey” comment and that was it for me. I knew it would be nothing but beautiful for me after that and it was. Then Cath said something about the tip of the “crazy iceberg” and I was in love for life.

Fangirl is also …so very much a product of the now. Googling about your period. Having ten million friends and 99% of them you’ve only met online. That whole thing of being a big name in fandom. Where you can just sink into the online world and never come up again. And the story is beautiful because Rainbow doesn’t take the easy way out. It’s not portrayed as bad or lesser, just an alternative. Rainbow makes you understand why Cath is the way she is and then before you start nodding your head about how after all that pain it makes sense to hide away forever, she brings in Levi and Reagan.

(Reagan): “I feel sorry for you and I’m going to be your friend.”

“I don’t want to be your friend,” Cath said as sternly as she could. “I like that we’re not friends.”

“Me, too,” Reagan said. “I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”

It’s like watching Snow White being kissed awake. Exactly like it, in fact.

Cath is wounded and broken, but she owns her brokenness and she tries her best to cope with it. She’s not the stereotypical nerd girl who wants or gets a makeover. She’s sarcastic, funny, and she kicks ass even as she makes me want to pull her in for a hug. She’s more than a match for Reagan and that’s clear, which is a lovely thing.

All the little details. All the things that hit you in the gut. All the things Rainbow got right. Like the explanation of Cath and her twin’s name. An entire backstory about her family opens up and you get the picture but you only have two pieces of information. It’s magic. It’s absolutely awe inspiring.

By the way? I feel like I should apologize for how much I’ve thrown around the word “love” in these last two posts. I should find a thesaurus or something. I think I’ve gone beyond cheapening that word in the reader’s mind. But I do and there’s no other word for it. I’m sorry.

All the little details. Cath’s father mock-complaining that living with two shippers is ruining other movies for him because all he sees is the slash, all over the place. Reagan saying: “If God put me into your life to keep you from wearing a fucking tail, I accept the assignment.” The absolute sweetness of Cath reading to Levi.

Speaking of Levi? I get what Laura means by he does one of her least-favorite kind of screwups now and I just want to laugh because I know how Laura’s men would response to what happened then. They would never ever make the kind of mistake Levi did. It’s just not in them.

So now I’m going to go tweet more love at Laura about how much I adore her for introducing Rainbow to me. Hopefully I don’t scare her off with the crazy-affection-puppy-love. Then I’m going to go download all of Rainbow’s backlist. Then I’m going to try very hard to go back to writing my own stuff and not read all of them today. It’s only 4pm. It’s possible. As I said to Laura: “I inhaled it in one sitting. Didn’t come up for air or food and only answered the call of nature because it was screaming in my ear.”

Don’t judge, but I totally brought the Ipad into the bathroom with me.

Download the kindle sample at least. Try very hard not to fall in love with it. Then come back and tell me if you loved it or if you hated it or it left you meh.

The Chocolate Temptation

Warning: This is not going to be a well-reasoned, sane or calm post. This is essentially going to be me gushing about one of my favorite auto-buy authors. That said, I’m going to jump straight into squeeing.

I loved this book. I adored it.

I love all of Laura’s books because she has this disconcerting tendency to shove her hands straight into my ribcage, grab straight for my heart, and start manipulating it the way a master chocolatier might handle his art. When I read her books, it’s almost always a non-stop roller coaster of fear and vulnerability. I feel like I’m out there in the character’s heads, with my heart hanging out there for everyone to see, and I’m afraid, so afraid, that one misstep means that my heart is just going to go splat and they’d look at it like a mis-plated dessert and sweep it into the trash without a second glance.

I usually read her books on the edge of my seat, both waiting for and fearing every moment. I hold my breath, not quite believing, even as I do believe, that I will fall safely into warmth and love.

So, I’m Asian American. -ish. I was born in Taiwan and came to the US with my parents when I was two. English is essentially my 1.5 language. That might give you some hint of why Sarah spoke directly to and from my heart.

I finished The Chocolate Temptation today and I was almost trembling and on the verge of tears for parts of it.

Laura’s deft at handling emotion — she juggles heavy topics, hot sex, disarming vulnerability, and above all, realism of emotion and truth in a way that stuns me and holds me almost motionless.

Sarah’s background with her mother being Korean, the reality of her mother having fled from Korea to come to the Us for a better life, and Sarah’s many experiences with being the child of an immigrant, the green card child, having always to be an example of her race and gender, and all the beautiful, sad, painful, wonderful details of what all that means — Laura weaves them in with a light hand, touching just enough to shape and mold, but never in a way that feels forced or brittle.

I love that Sarah’s aware of her background and cherishes it and knows how it shapes her without it being the entirety of her being. I love that Laura touched on her being American and that’s how she sees herself without fanfare. I love the delicacy with how she paints a picture of just how we can be molded by our parent’s pain and sacrifice into who we are, from pain into self-inflicted pain, but how it’s not abusive but simply is. How there is no choice there. No choice for your parents and no choice for you and how that’s simply life. How perfectionism cuts deeply into yourself even as you embrace it both because you must and because perfection is what you always want to strive for because you understand what pain is and perfection is an imperfect balm for that pain but it’s all we really hate.

When I read Laura’s books, she keeps making me think that she has a direct line into all my secret fears. Being torn between a parent and the self and the feeling of having a perfectionist parent who you can never quite fully please. That need to escape, when you both love someone so utterly and yet you are so drained by the loving that you don’t know what to do with yourself. Being split between two places, not quite feeling at ease in either, desperately looking for home and so afraid of what love means in pain and sacrifice.

Laura was on my auto-buy list already, but she fully has my heart now because she’s put voice to the core of me in a more beautiful way than I’d ever imagined.

Thank you, Laura, so much, for putting this into the world.

 

Goddess in Waiting Ch. 4

“Alexandros.”

I took a page from his book and popped into Alexandro’s garden without waiting for him to respond to my telepathic knock, Raphael in tow.

He looked up from his laptop. Blue eyes weary, he sighed.

“You know.”

He didn’t acknowledge Raphael and I was in no mood to play at niceties.

“You couldn’t have warned me? What did you and Dawn expect, sending me off like that? Did you guys want the earth to be wiped? Did your triplet doing it once before make you more sanguine about it happening again?”

“Dawn doesn’t know. She doesn’t have this problem, with all of Inari’s kitsune that she can call upon.”

“Nice to know that I can put her back on my New Year gift giving list. So what gives with you? Why didn’t you say anything?”

He flicked a look at Raphael.

I half-turned. “No repeating anything that goes on in this conversation.”

Raphael exhaled. “I told you. I’m not here to function as a spy. Now, if you can deal with your cohort, we can be about our business.”

Alexandro’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t think I like him.”

“The feeling’s mutual, I assure you. You’re the reason the numbers are in such disarray and why this is necessary.”

“Break it up, boys. No time for that right now.”

I stared at my friend and tapped my foot. “Well? Raphael mentioned Watchers. What do you know of them? I thought your angels did your grunt work for you.”

His broad shoulders moved in what could be a shrug or apology. “There’s not nearly enough of them to go around. Used to be that you couldn’t walk over a patch of grass without one of the angelkin standing over it, whispering. Now? They’re spread extremely thin. The demons are gaining power as we hurtle toward the end of days and I need them on the ground, in battle, not sitting around transcribing deeds.”

I pinched the point between my brows. “We computerized that ages ago. You know that.”

This time, the movement was a definite shrug. “Actually, I don’t. We don’t talk shop, you and I. I did wonder on occasion how you managed to keep up with your exploding population, but it was always a passing query.”

I threw up my hands. “It never occurred to you to ask? What, did you just hide your head in the sand and hoped it would all sort itself out?”

“Amarantha. There are many things I will put up from you because you are one of my oldest remaining friends. However, do not mistake my tolerance for weakness. There were sufficient Watchers. Perhaps not enough, but sufficient. Then the computer age happened and I thought that the problem was solved. It’s only been very recently that someone has started killing my Watchers.”

“How recent?”

“Before, it was slightly below replacement rate, well within the bounds of normal Fate and death. In the last five years, however, a pattern has emerged. Someone is deliberately and systematically targeting them. They go through each city in sweeps, killing off some with every turn, leaving just enough so as not to cause an immediate uproar. Earlier this year, they’ve abandoned all semblance of covert activity and have begun a genocide.”

“What’s your solution?”

He slashed me a sardonic smile. “What makes you think I have one, Amarantha? After all, haven’t I been drifting this for these few millennia without one?”

“Alexandros.”

“Ever so heartless. No wonder your title is known as a synonym for ‘cold bitch’.”

Raphael stiffened at my side.

I only sighed. “Alex. How much of the brew did you drink?”

“Not much. Just half.”

With about fifty cups to the barrel I’d gifted him a thousand years ago and one cup sufficient to lay low even Ares, he was well beyond drunk.

I walked up to him and cupped his jaw. “That’s going to hurt, Alex.”

He turned his face into my hand and kissed my palm. “When does it not, Amarantha? Knowing what I did, that I sent you on that task, I couldn’t remain sober and keep what remains of my sanity. I’ve failed them, Amarantha, and I’ve failed you. How is a man supposed to live with that knowledge?”

Pain twisted in my heart.

I leaned in and kissed his forehead. “Fall, Alex. It’s past time.”

Tormented blue eyes raised to meet mine.

“You’ve put it off far too long and you’re losing perspective.” And sanity. I held those last words in my mouth and swallowed them.

“They’re in hiding. They know what’s hunting them is likely one of us and they’ve covered their tracks well. I could set angels upon their path, but that could lead others to them. The journals of those slain have been uploaded to the Cloud. I have Mikhail upon the trail of the killers.”

“Has he reported back yet?”

“He is following a lead.”

“Let him know your plans and Fall, Alex. I will take care of it.”

“My Watchers…”

I cut him off. “You won’t do them any good in your current state.”

If I didn’t get him to Fall now, while he was under the effects of the brew, it simply wouldn’t happen. The last thing I needed right now was a semi-sane, self-hating deity of his stature. If he went on a rampage….

Every so often, we needed to Fall to regain enough humanity to continue as gods. We would be reborn to an earthly mother and grow much as human children would, except much, much slower. The slow growth allowed for the gradual regaining of our godly memories without rising insanity.

“Always trying to take care of others, Amarantha. When will you allow yourself to Fall?”

“When I’m done with this ridiculous task you and Dawn set me, Alex. Now, will you go, or will I have to drug and push you?”

“I have informed Mikhail that he is seconded to you. He will apprise you of all he knows.”

“You will be safe, Alex?”

His mouth quirked. “I am not quite so far gone that I would deliberately choose a poor birth-mother. I still have some conscience left, believe it or not.”

I slanted my mouth over his in a brief kiss, erasing his cynical smile. “Don’t make me worry.”

The smile he gifted me then was one reminiscent of the godling who’d braided phoenix feathers into my hair thousands of years ago. “You always worry, my dove.”

He brushed his lips over mine. “I will be safe and I will let you know when it is time for me to return. In the meantime, speak to the Reverend John Miller in Arlington, Massachusetts. You know which one.”

Alexandro took a step back and lifted his goblet from the table. He raised it in a salute, then drank it down. His eyes closed. The cup fell from his hand. His entire body shimmered to light and fragmented into shards of rainbow.

A single feather floated down through the air. Crystalline, it looked as if it were made of sapphire filaments with a shaft of diamond.

I caught it in my hand and stared at it for a moment before tucking it into my pocket.

“Let’s go.”

Raphael studied me for a heartbeat. “To Arlington?”

“Yes.”

 

 

 

 

 

What would you do during your last seven days on this Earth?

Thinking on this question makes me realize anew that I’m really an extraordinarily lucky person. I have a vague bucket list of things I’d like to experience one day, but nothing of the sort where I’d pull out my life savings to do if I knew I was only going to live seven more days. 

So…

I think I’d write out my will first and update all of my beneficiary information. At this point in time, it’s likely to all go to charity. Specifically, probably to Doctors Without Borders. I’d set up notifications that would post to my online social media accounts informing people as to my death that would post the day after my supposed death day. Day after so I would have the chance to cancel them if a miracle happened.

I’d hire someone to clean the house and car, thoroughly. No sense in making grieving people clean up after your mess. Then I’d figure out where I wanted to die and pull out enough money from my retirement accounts and savings to cover it. Right now I think I’d want to find a quiet cottage somewhere in Scotland by the sea.

I’d have one last dinner party with all my friends and then I’d fly back to Taiwan to see my family.

Then I’d spend the rest of my days quietly doing whatever the fuck I wanted, alone. I’m thinking I’d need to find a pretty town by the sea. A place with coffee shops and restaurants with great food. Small boutiques to duck into and explore.

The interesting thing for me, thinking about this, is that right now I think I would like to die alone. I wouldn’t want to tell anyone that this was happening because I wouldn’t want to deal with their grief and their questions. At the point where I’m dying, then I’m going to make it all about me and part of that is I would want to be in a position where I don’t have to take care of anyone else and their feelings.

The only friend I have currently who I’d consider taking with me and letting in on the secret is Thene. I’m thinking that she’d be good for long  rambling walks, quiet meals at the local restaurants and being sane and sanguine about what’s coming next.

I probably won’t, just to spare her. I’m not sure that I’d be thrilled to be recruited to be someone’s companion for their last days before death and have to deal with the after details. Perhaps I’d walk into a hospital, day of, and let those who know how to cope with deaths of a stranger deal with it.

I’d write long letters to everyone I thought I would be leaving behind, in the hopes that I could alleviate their grief. I might or might not spend some of my time writing, since I don’t know how much I’d care if I only have seven days to live.

Part of me realizes that this sort of plan might sound very selfish. I’m essentially deciding that probably no one will have a chance to say a final goodbye and I’d be withholding information that I’d probably rail at someone else for keeping from me.

But you know what?

If I’m dying, then I don’t give a fuck.

You never know what’s going to happen in this life. I could tell you that I have seven days to live and the next day get the terrible news that my boyfriend was killed instantly in a metro accident. Nothing is certain.

I can only live each day to the extent where I will not regret having spent a day on what I spent it on.

I can only be as good a friend as I know to be and always say farewell to my friends and family with love and my best wishes.

If I’ve done that, if I manage that — then I don’t think it matters if there’s a final goodbye or not.

Besides, I don’t truly believe that it’s a final goodbye.

I believe in reincarnation. I believe that souls who are drawn to each other will be drawn to each other through time and space. There will always be another meeting, should you and I wish it. There will always be more chances for love.

 

 

 

 

 

Goddess in Waiting ch. 3

I’d barely settled myself on a rock and made myself comfy before he popped back in.

His gorgeous mouth was set in an unhappy line and his eyes snapped blue fire. “What have you lot been doing?”

I raised a brow.

He made an impatient motion. “Your Watchers have all but died out. Somewhere, down there, you have less than ten souls doing what should be the work of thousands, if not millions. Some of those reports appear to be highly questionable as to their provenance and some are clearly outright fraudulent.”

“You mean to say that you guys were going to wipe out my planet due to some errors in paperwork and red-tape?”

A muscle ticked at his jawline, his eyes frosty. “Do not you dare blame this on me. What have you been doing on that planet of yours that your Watchers are near extinction?”

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t know. For that matter, I wasn’t sure what the Watchers were or what they did.

Some of my confusion must have leaked through. He sighed in frustration. “Who decided you were a good candidate for this position?”

I shrugged, “There wasn’t exactly much of a choice in the selection. Also, the Watchers aren’t part of my purview. Why would I know anything of them?”

His brows snapped together and his eyes narrowed. “You have no Watchers? Then who catalogs the evolution of humanity and how?”

“That seems like an extremely inefficient and potentially error laden way of doing things. We tally up the sins and good deeds of every soul at death and enter them into the appropriate ledgers. At the end of every solar cycle,  we take the total and run that through Zhang Heng’s Theorem. We arrive at the evolutionary coefficient in that way. All of our paperwork is uploaded at the moon rise.”

He took in a deep breath. A vein pulsed at his temple. “You are a goddess of the Chinese pantheon.”

“Yes.”

He drew a symbol in the air.

The night sky blazed with sudden light. Rows upon rows of numbers and words scrolled up from the horizon.

“That explains why the accounts for your planet is such a mess. Do you gods speak to one another? I’m not going to ask if you cooperate with one another because I already have the sorry answer to that.”

I stared at the numbers, ran some quick calculations in my head, and cursed mentally

Alexandros. I’m going to put you in a world of infinite pain for this.

He had to have known. There was no way that he didn’t know that his numbers were spotty at best and completely missing in far too many places. He wasn’t the only offender, of course, but his high number of followers made him falling down on the job a much bigger problem. It was like taxes — a multibillionaire skimping on his return was going to be a problem. Someone barely making minimum wage? Not as much of a big deal.

“The order has been rescinded, for now. You are required to bring in documentation of your evolutionary coefficient and proof of it in seven solar cycles in order to maintain the reprieve. Of course, you will also destroy the tech before it becomes a problem.”

I raised my eyes to the heavens in search of patience. “Oh, for the days of having a proper enemy to smite and be done with. Death is so much easier than bureaucracy. At least with that one you knew where you stood at all times.”

“Any questions?” His words were prim and his tone prissy.

Clearly, someone didn’t agree with my barbaric notions.

I shrugged. “No. It was fairly clear. Straighten up a few millennia’s worth of messed up numbers, put a whole new bureaucracy in place for a couple of religions who won’t appreciate me butting in, and set up some sort of protocol to unify the world’s religions. Nothing to it.”

“Your levity seems inappropriate.”

“Honey darling, you have no idea. Either I can sit down on this here rock and start rocking and weeping, or I can indulge in a wee bit o’ sarcasm. I’m choosing the latter because I have a personal rule against crying in front of a man I’m not fucking.”

His eyes widened. “I see.”

“No. You don’t, and that’s fine. Just letting you know what the score is.” I stood up from the rock and stretched out my limbs, wincing with each little pop.

I inclined my head. Courtesy was courtesy, no matter how much I wanted to jump on his prim and proper ass.

“Thank you for reviewing the case and for gaining us the reprieve. Will I see you again when I come to submit the paperwork?”

His mouth quirked. “Yes.”

I nodded and was just about to shift when he casually added another sentence.

“I will be with you when you do.”

“What?”

“I have been tasked to assist and observe.”

I arched a brow. “Oh, no no no. No. I don’t do together. I don’t do partners. I don’t do guys, especially.”

He didn’t miss a beat. “How fortunate that you are not required to do me then. That wasn’t a suggestion or a request, Amarantha. My company is a requirement for your reprieve.”

He drawled my name, caressing the syllables with his deep voice.

I inhaled. “All right. We need to discuss this.”

“By all means.”

I ignored the note of amusement in his voice. “What, exactly, is your task?”

“It is not to spy upon you and the workings of the gods on your planet, if that is your fear. We already know that it’s a spectacular mess.”

“Then what?”

“Much as you may find it hard to believe, Amarantha, the Council does not set such orders lightly. There seems to be an inordinate amount of confusion involved in the situation and I have been seconded to you so that I may ensure that your planet receives as fair a treatment as possible. Should there be further extenuating circumstances, I might be able to garner more sympathy for your planet’s plight.”

I tapped my fingers against my thigh and considered him.

He didn’t seem to be lying and he didn’t seem to be a big honking scumball like that god from before, if a bit on the prissy side.

I sighed.

I just knew this was going to be another one of those things I’d regret. Not that I had a choice either way. “All right. Fine.Are you going to interfere?”

“In how you do your job? No. In how you deal with others? No. In anything not directly pertaining to this case? No.”

I sighed again. “Allrighty then. Let’s do this.”

I said it as if I had a choice.

 

Goddess in Waiting ch. 2

I fingered the piece of vellum in my hand. Golden numbers were illuminated against the heavy cream of the material: coordinates to a specific point in space. The meeting place of the gods. Closing my eyes, I imprinted them upon my mind, bound them to my spirit, and shifted. When I opened my eyes again, I stood in infinite darkness. Not a single star blinked against the velvet dark. My breath caught in my chest, ice crystals forming in my lungs before I remembered to stop breathing. I exhaled out what air remained, wincing a bit at the pain. I’d have cursed a bit to relieve the agony, but I didn’t want to give whoever was watching the satisfaction of knowing I’d done such a stupid thing. Silence spooled out, endless and daunting. There was a heavy, crystalline quality to the lack of sound in space, a mute reminder of how very small we all were, even us who claimed to be gods. I waited. It wouldn’t be a proper initiation without some hazing. And it wouldn’t be a proper hazing if they didn’t at least let me cool my heels for a little while. “So. You are the new one.” A male voice, deep and resonant. A star winked into existence right in front of me, its pale golden light blinding after the absolute absence of light. He didn’t even bother to turn down the luminescence a bit, knowing that I would have been waiting in the dark. Just goes to show how much of a tool this god was going to be. “Yes.” I blinked away the dancing lights in my vision and stared at him. Tall, blond, blue-eyed, and built like a brick outhouse — he had Zeus’ style down to perfection. He arched a brow. “Dainty little thing, aren’t you?” His tone made it clear that it wasn’t a compliment. I raised my brows right back at him. “We can’t all have something to compensate for.” Azure eyes narrowed, thick blond brows beetling for a moment before his expression cleared. “Here to represent that quaint little backwater planet about to be wiped, is that it?” “Yes. Whereas you’re playing doorman and escort, so why don’t you hop to it instead of wasting everyone’s time?” I hid my shock, taking refuge in arrogance. The last I heard, it was still in debate, not a settled fact. Ice settled around my heart and curled about my spine. I thought I was here to argue Earth’s case, but it seemed that I had been summarily summoned here to hear the verdict instead. A thin smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “When your planet is no more, I wonder if you’ll still be as sassy as you are now.” He flicked a glance over me, surveying, cataloging, and dismissing within the span of milliseconds. “A little old lady with a big mouth — there’s no market for that. Now, if you were a pretty young thing, I could consider giving you a spot at my feet, but…” I blinked at him and said in my most courteous tone. “If you’re quite done with your delusions of grandeur, perhaps we could proceed?” “Don’t say I was not benevolent, little goddess. Soon, you will regret your insolence and beg for my mercy.” I drew a circle in the air with my hand and tapped my foot. His smile grew. “I will enjoy breaking you when the time comes. I shall count the seconds, never you fear.” A chime sounded, a haunting note that hung in the air between us. “Ah, it seems that the bean counter grows impatient. Very well. On you go then.” He waved his hand and a corridor of light opened before us. “Till we meet again, little goddess.” I ignored his mocking bow and stepped forward into the light.   The weight of light pressing against my eyelids lessened. I opened my eyes, to a pastoral view unlike any I’d seen before. The grass covering the hill I stood upon was deepest indigo, the sky spring green with clouds of palest lavender. A bird with a wingspan taller than I was soared over me, shrieking its defiance. The scent of sun-warmed grass rose in the air, mingling with the scent of something else. Something masculine. I turned. He stood there, quiet permeating every inch of him, so still I could barely see the rise and fall of his chest. His naked chest. He wore only a linen kilt, belted at his waist with a golden cord. His feet, slender and fine-boned, were bare as well. Eyes the color of storm-tossed seas regarded me steadily from under inky lashes. His arms were crossed, veins cording under honeyed skin. Not so calm as he wanted to portray then. I placed my right hand between my breasts and inclined my head. “Amarantha.” He shifted to cross his arms over his chest with his palms to his shoulders, and bent his head. “Raphael.” “I see that there is to be no meeting after all.” Discomfort flashed across his eyes, darkening them further and his lips tightened. “No.” “So there is a verdict I have yet to hear.” “Yes. Your planet will be reset in twelve of your solar days.” The ice wrapped around my heart spread to my stomach and contracted. I fought to keep my voice even. “Reset? Such a clean word for such a bloody reality.” “It is the rule. Your planet has not ascended and yet it is on the verge of discovering faster than light travel.” “That is the rule. However, isn’t destroying the technology an option? Why so quick to jump to what should be a last resort? And without even giving us a chance to fight for the future of our people?” His face turned cold. He waved a hand at the sky, which immediately darkened to night. The stars appeared, more than I’d seen on Earth in recent cycles, and in a more regular pattern than our constellations. Raphael snapped his fingers and the stars came into focus and I saw they weren’t stars at all. Tiny, delicate script flowed across the sky and endless numbers scrolled alongside. “According to your Watchers’ reports, your people have not evolved in the last two hundred or so years. In fact, one could argue that they have chosen to descend instead. It is only a matter of time before your planet achieves true space travel. The collective consciousness has been wakened to the possibilities and it will be difficult, if not impossible to contain the technology. The gods have left their post and the people do not listen. What would be the point of giving your planet another year, perhaps two?” I closed my eyes, his every word a whip against my heart. “You will still be gods. Why slow the inevitable?” My eyes snapped open as fury rose to choke me. “You think that is what bothers me?” He gazed back at me, his eyes steady and cold. “The numbers do not lie, goddess. You and your people have abandoned each other to mutual destruction.” Where to even begin? It wasn’t that we’d abandoned our people. It was simply that we’d used most of our powers in the last great Cataclysm and henceforth made the pact that we would not, could not, reveal ourselves directly to the people any longer. I stared at the night sky, trying desperately to think of an argument that would support my case without having to admit to the truth. Then a number caught my eye, blazing bright against the dark before it disappeared. “Your numbers aren’t right.” “I beg your pardon.” His tone was frosty. “They are numbers submitted by your very own Watchers. I assure you they are correct.” I shook my head. “No. The numbers you have for the last few decades are absolutely incorrect. If the evolutionary coefficient was truly that low for the past few generations, considering the level of tech on the planet, we should be on World War Four right now. Your numbers do not bear out.” “It may simply be pure luck on your part.” No help for it. I had to admit to at least this one secret. “We have a pact with Gaia. Should the evolutionary coefficient dip below a certain number, she will commence cleansing as she sees fit. The number we have is significantly higher than the numbers you have on your report. This pact should have been entered into the universal consciousness in the Archive Halls under the code Sigma Jia Kaph Qop Tet Isaz.” The contract scrolled across the horizon even before I’d finished speaking. He stared at the writing for long moments, expressionless. I remained silent, knowing the look of a frustrated male with a bruised ego. “I will look into it.” He disappeared between one breath and the next, the stars winking out into oblivion with his departure.

Tokyo, Godzilla, and above all, fire, fire, fire.

I’m a bit of a pyro.

Especially when it comes to burning things. Bridges, in particular.

I was reading a book by Charlene Teglia, who is, btw, one of my new favorite authors on my auto-buy list. It isn’t just that her writing is funny and sexy, that her characters are amusing and alpha and hot, or that she has a great handle on the line between adventure and romance — but because her characters come up with some of the funnier ideas I’ve read.

In “Dangerous Games”, her heroine compares the hero to Godzilla.

In a good way.

Apparently, Godzilla is the tragically misunderstood hero of the Tokyo-ites,  who defeats other monsters to save them and causes urban renewal in the process. As Melinda put it, she wasn’t in need of nice; she was in need of urban renewal. Tokyo needed to be razed to make way for new construction.

More and more, I’m coming to realize that we humans are creatures of habit to the point where we often invite abuse and neglect.

Man cannot be an island.

Yes, that is true, but too often we take that to the extreme.

I’ve reached the point where, due what has happened in the last two years, I’ve come to the conclusion that in friendships as well as love, it is better to be alone than to be with someone and lonely.

A nine year old friendship blew up because we had different ideas of what it meant to be a friend and what support meant.

Another ten year old friendship is on the rocks because once again I’m being asked to set aside my personal morals and qualms in order to be a good and supportive friend.

Other relationships I have with various other people are also faltering because I’m getting to the point where I’m not willing to wait for Godzilla to come out and raze the city for me — I’m ready to fire the first cannon and set fire to everything in sight.

Those friends who haven’t quite gotten the note on general reciprocity?

Those bosom buddies who somehow always manage to make you feel small and not quite up to scratch?

Those who only know how to take and take and take with never a thought as to how they could lighten your burden and bring a smile to your face?

The promise-breakers?

The ones who are only ever around when the going is good and gone in times of famine?

The ones who message you in the middle of the night with their traumas but who don’t want any part of your dramas?

Those who think that their own comfort  and lack of drama is more important than standing up for a friend when they’ve been wronged?

I’ve done a fair bit of pondering and one question that keeps cropping up is: are these people really worth my time, energy, and money?

A family friend said to me once, “Get you out of that huddle of misery and spread your damned wings already.”

He meant that our lives were intertwined because of a mutual need for warmth and comfort but not anything deeper, that we were a nest of chicks shivering together to stay alive, and whatever relationship I thought I had with them was doomed to never survive the improvement of their circumstances.

I didn’t want to hear it. I was offended and upset and I didn’t want to believe it.

However, I’ve been thinking back to what he said this past week and I’m coming to the conclusion that he was right.

I only have so much time, so much energy, and so much money. How can I justify placing myself last when my resources are so very finite? Even second place is too far down the list when the person you value above all else doesn’t similarly value you.

It is better to be alone than lonely.

Life’s too short to spend upon those who don’t bring you true joy, those who don’t love and cherish you for who you are, and those who don’t understand you.

Sometimes you need to burn the world down around yourself, turn every single bridge and road to ash, before you can truly see yourself and where you need to go.

Bring on the torches.

 

 

Recovering (?) third-culture kid

Of course, my first question to that is: is that even possible?

It’s like saying that you want to heal the trauma of being born — sounds great on paper and then you really start thinking about it…

Cecilia Haynes wrote a post a couple of years ago which touched on the suggestions of “down with the label of a recovering TCK” and “down with the pity parties”.

I’m not going to presume her thoughts are still the same on the situation, so this post isn’t really so much a response to what she said as an exploration of my thoughts about being a global nomad.

Aside: I don’t really want to use the term TCK when I’m really not a kid anymore, but much as I love the sophistication of the term global nomad, I get this feeling that only having lived in three countries ever probably doesn’t really constitute ‘global’.

I recently saw an episode of Community where Britta tells everyone (paraphrase) not to get so caught up in frivolous excitement that they push aside their true grief over what is something that should cause sorrow.

And that’s sort of where I stand right now.

Yeah, I appreciate and pay tribute to what made me who I am: I don’t call it being born lightly.

However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a corresponding and equal darkness behind the glimmer of every mirror.

Saudade. The ever present, so-softly-lingering unresolved grief that is simply a part of who I am.

“The famous saudade of the Portuguese is a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness. ~ In Portugal of 1912, A. F. G. Bell”

I think that’s what makes it so insidious, why TCKs are more likely to have depression, why it’s usually seen more as a part of who we are rather than what we have.

It’s not a wild, passionate, keening sort of grief. It’s not even the quiet solidity of finding yourself in bed, aware of  the weight of every single ton of air above you and every newton of gravity dragging you down.

It’s not even really “Ragaouna Misr” all the time.

It’s simply a knowledge, deep inside, that there will always be pieces missing. There will always be something just out of reach and to hold something in your hand, you must let go of something else.

Everything has a price.

Of course, you can scoff and say that’s the way of life. How is that so much more tragic and sad than all of the other petty grievances being alive visits upon us?

I don’t think it is. I don’t claim it is.

I just know that for every move we did, it was like a little death.

It was saying goodbye to the possibilities of lives lived out there, of specific joys that would forever now be out of reach, of universes turned aside.

The BFF who is almost a sister/brother who would want you to stand by their side at their wedding?

Childhood friend turned lover then husband?

Best friend that knows you, every wrinkle of your nose, every glint in your eye, every story of your forming and being?

Getting to know your relatives well; actually being a part of the family rather than a treasured guest who is still a bit of an outsider?

Learning a city inside out, growing with it, and melting into its very heartbeat?

Having the solid assurance of knowing who you were, where you were from, and where your roots are?

Getting and maintaining a solid group of friends of the no-matter-what and call-to-hide-a-body type?

The bone deep happiness that comes from having only a couple of easily accessible comfort foods that don’t require Moriarty levels of handling to get?

I’m not saying it’s impossible.

But it didn’t happen for me.

Every time we moved: every time I lost friends who previously swore they’d keep in contact; every time I felt like the ugly duckling in my family because of how rarely I saw them; every time I put down something I wanted because it wasn’t portable enough; every time — all of it was the detritus of lives lost that could have been.

And so, saudade.

 

I was talking with my friend the other day and I think we surprised ourselves.

I was talking about how being back in Taiwan was really good for me.

Being in the majority.

Being welcomed ‘home’ by immigration rather than interrogated.

Being able to speak Chinese, think Chinese, be unabashedly, unreservedly Chinese.

Eating all the comfort foods that I love.

Being able to talk about acupuncture and Chinese traditional medicine as valid methods to health.

Simply being a part of myself that I am not when I am in the US.

 

She said she never knew, that she was never aware.

 

Now I can simply smile and say, “Saudade.”