Saturday, 31 August 2013

Hindsight and Other Tricks of the Mind

We lost our eldest cat in the first apartment we moved to after leaving our house. The second-oldest cat died in the next apartment. When we decided to move again, I remember half-jokingly saying something along the lines of "So far we're two for two; I'm almost afraid of what will happen if we move to a third apartment."


In a short period before what happened with Fergus (yes, three for three), these things happened:

1) A Tumblr post came up in my feed, a photoset that I'd never seen before or since, of a selection of scenes from children's films that were heartbreakingly dark in retrospect. One of them, from a film unknown to me, showed an adult person looking at a child and saying, simply, "The kitty had to go."

2) There was a rerun of an eighth season episode of Bones in which one of the subplots dealt with Dr. Sweets' breakup with intern Daisy Wick. At one point Ms. Wick confesses her feelings to Dr. Saroyan, who tells her that they had something alive and vibrant which is now gone, and that the sadness she feels is because she's grieving that. When Daisy asks if perhaps it couldn't be brought back to life, Cam says As a scientist, have you ever seen anything come back to life and be as good as it ever was? She then goes on to counsel Daisy: So feel sad. Cry. You lost something wonderful, but keep moving forward. It'll get better. I promise.

3) I kept seeing, in my mind's eye, the 5 of Pentacles from the Tarot of the Cat People deck.
This is what my brain does to me.
Note that it depicts a wild-haired woman mourning the loss of her small striped cat, while the cat's spirit glows down upon her from what appears to be a stained-glass window above where she sits. (If I've never posted a picture of Fergus here, well, he was a small, brown tabby American Shorthair cat. And my hair isn't white, but left to it's own devices it's about as wild and poofy as that.)

Sometime later (afterward) I was dozing on the sofa, and in that threshold state between awake and asleep I saw him, reclining on the living room floor as he often had, awake and alert and looking at me; the vision startled me awake, though not in a bad way. I had dreams of both Warlock and Autumn after their deaths, in each case seeing them first as adults and then in subsequent dreams in kitten form, so perhaps the pattern will hold with Fergus as well.

Still, fuck my life.  :(

* * *

Addendum (some time after the above was written; I've developed a bad habit of not dating my hand-written notes):

I had another dream a while later. At one point, I was reclining with Fergus curled up on my chest, above my heart; the next thing I remember is being beneath a tree, holding him, and a woman--unknown to me but not unfamiliar, if that makes any sense--saying, very gently, "You have to let him go, you know."

"I know," I said, and I did; I recall feeling peaceful enough, if a little sad. I put him on the ground, and he ran off along a path/road leading out and away from where we were standing. At the far visible end of it he stopped, looked back at me, then turned the corner and disappeared from sight.

On another subsequent night, I dreamed I had gone to a park, and there came upon a kitten: a small boy, eyes still blue, coat of a dark plushy grey with white front paws. Near him was a large book, and when I opened it (of course I opened it!) I found a paper explaining that if I'd found him, then he was my cat, and outlining the responsibilities thereof. It read like some kind of cross between a cat breeder's kitten adoption contract and a "please take care of my baby" letter written by a distraught mother putting their kid in a basket on a random doorstep.

So what else could I do? I picked him, the letter, and the book, up, and took them home with me.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

On Second Thought

Actually, I don't really want to talk much more about it--"it" being what I would term pagan fundamentalism. I've talked myself purple on the subject in the past, for what good it ever did me or anyone else; it changed nothing, because some people will always be inclined to the my-way-or-the-highway approach, and nothing I or anyone else says or does will alter that one whit.

And I realized, while reflecting on what I've been reading lately, that I'm all right with that. I don't care. If some people want to be fundamentalist pagans, let them. It has zero impact on my life and my practice. Sure, when I was battling it first-hand in my trad wiccan days, it was difficult for me, and I came out of that with more than a few scars; but those days are done now, and those people and those attitudes have lost the power they once held. You can't take it away from me if I don't want it in the first place! The sound and fury emanating from people I don't even know and don't give a damn to know signifies less than nothing in the grand scope of my life. I won't attend their rituals or read their blogs or concern myself with their life choices, and they are cordially invited to do the same in regard to me.

Life is precious and life is short, so why waste it on bullshit witch wars? Ain't nobody got time for that.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Quick Thought on a Current Controversy

The pagan blogosphere (gods, did I just say that?) is lately abuzz with a new/old us-vs-them controversy, one that's been relevant to me since my very earliest days. I want to talk more about it, and I will, but I haven't the time right now to do more than say this:

It's as pointless to get angry with a non-theistic pagan (be they atheist, humanist, naturalist, etc.) for not perceiving and interacting with deity as you do, as it is to get angry with a colorblind person for not loving the color green like you do.

More later. I have work (of the tangible, objective, paycheck-earning kind) to do first.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Catching Up: Post #3

May 6, 2013:

Have you ever noticed how most of the dust-ups in pagan groups and communities are the direct result of some wizard who can't keep his wand in his robes where it belongs? (I believe I may have commented on this before.) It's not surprising, but it's still depressing and annoying, because it serves to illustrate just how far we still are from a truly egalitarian and utopian ideal, and how deeply the patterns of the dominant culture still mark our interactions. This is one of the main reasons I'm not a festival-goer, or much inclined to group participation of any sort, if you were wondering.

In my cynical moments (which I'll freely admit are most of them), I'm disposed to believe that nearly all religions exist at least in part in order to control, dominate and/or exploit sexuality--which typically is synonymous with female behavior. And it seems to hold no matter from which angle it's approached, whether the desire is to suppress or exalt; there's always someone who stands to benefit, and it's rarely the person who is the object of the attention. While the religious mainstream uses what has come to be known as "slut-shaming" as its preeminent female social/behavioral control mechanism, the countercultural faiths such as paganism tend toward what might be called "prude-shaming"--intimations that not going along with boundary-crossing activities makes one prudish, hung-up in "Judeo-Christian morality," or otherwise non-pagan in attitude or expression. Either way, it's a control technique, the sole aim of which is to coerce someone into transgressing their own boundaries and conforming to the exploiter's desire.And it can be blatant and obvious or subtle and insidious, but it's a persistent plague within our communities which tried so hard to counter the dominant culture's toxic response to sexuality that they ended up doing the same things in reverse. "Everything is permissible" is ultimately no more tenable, and no less dangerous, than "nothing is allowed."

Did something happen? Yes, although not to me personally, but it was related to a powder keg that I'd been idly expecting to see blow for years, and I'm really only surprised by the fact that it took this long for such an explosion (though there have likely been other incidents in the past to which I've not been privy). My only comment is to wonder aloud how personal boundaries can be maintained in situations that appear expressly designed to breach them. My only suggestions are, as usual, moderation and vigilance. I also recommend retiring from participation or association with any group or community that bears even the faintest whiff of possible sexual coercion, manipulation, or predation, though I realize not all of them are upfront about it, but there are--trust me on this one--always indicators. To state it metaphorically, if you think you see a duck, you can probably safely believe it's a duck, even if there are a dozen people earnestly assuring you that it is in fact an aardvark and it's only your monotheistic programming causing you to perceive it as a duck.

Be safe out there.

Catching Up: Post #2

(I hate to say it, but I'm disinclined to transcribe much of what I've scrawled out by hand these past few months. I will, however, give you a few bits for your entertainment, like this one.)

April 30, 2013:

As it is May Eve, it seems only appropriate to tell you all this, so that you may laugh at my naivete or cluelessness, whichever. (I facepalmed so hard at the realization that I think I left fingerprints on my forehead.)

So, yeah, you know that speech from the first chapter of Liber AL that goes "pale or purple, veiled or voluptuous"? Nice bit of poetry, that. Appalling that I never realized until sometime just in the past few weeks that it's talking about peen.

Yeah, I know, it's dick-obsessed Crowley, solar-phallic cult, yadda yadda--I know, OK? Pale or purple. Veiled or voluptuous. (Technically, those terms could also be applied to the clitoris, but since this is Crowley we're talking about here, I'm pretty certain it's cock he's referencing. Oy.) If I hadn't already dropped out years ago, the OTO'd probably kick me out for not grokking the obvious.

Anyway, I'm still way behind in transcribing handwritten blog posts, some of which were written in January. I'll try to catch up. We're moved now, and once the (literal) dust settles I'll start catching up in earnest.

For now, happy eve-of-Beltane, and enjoy your Maypole of choice secure in the knowledge that I do, at least, know what that means!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Catching Up: Post #1

(I promised you transcripts of the handwritten posts I created during January, so here's the first of them. I didn't date it, but I must have written it somewhere around the 18th(3) of the month.)

The big room was, well, a warehouse: huge, open, industrial, echoing. The occasional forklift rolled down the wide central aisle that divided the two groupings of workers. While I waited for something to do, for something to happen (what a day not to bring a book!), I counted the rows and the number of workstations. Seven rows per side, with an average of nine workstations per row, equaled approximately 125 worker-bees easing back into the workforce.

Deliberate eavesdropping was unnecessary. The wide-open floorplan and lack of privacy meant that all conversations were fair game for the casual listener. One woman near me was returning to (redacted) after nearly a year's furlough from her previous assignment. (The concept of these potential, unexpected layoffs filled me with dread.) A man down the row was talking of his coworker in a previous department, a woman with a degree in Physics who was nonetheless doing the same clerical job as his non-degreed self. Everyone, it seemed, was an exile, a nomad, a person displaced from somewhere else--some other career, some other life--who'd landed here out of some combination of choice and necessity, desire and despair. Around me I could hear other new hires weighing aloud the pros and cons of this next phase of their working lives:

* It's like a warehouse!
* This is nothing like where we were for orientation.
* The pay is good, though.
* How long do you think it'll last?
* I really wish I could find something permanent.
* I was out of work for (insert frightening and soul-destroying length of time here)

Because I'd expected to be busy from the start, I'd brought neither Nook nor book, and thus turned to contemplation to keep my fatigued self conscious until something work-related started happening. My ruminations brought me, very shortly, to the realization that, after my own lengthy time in unemployed exile, I was now simultaneously very fortunate and very stupid. Sitting there, bored and anticipatory and mildly desperate, I realized that I had something that the people around me did not, something probably most of them would have metaphorically killed for:

A choice.

Just days before I'd found myself in the unique position of having to entertain two possibilities for employment. I'd had two interviews with a place that looked very interested in me, but I was hesitant, unsure that I was interested in them. At the same time, I had an offer--this place--that got me out of my crappy low-paying late-night short-term temporary position and into, well, a potentially longer-term (up to a year, though I later discovered it wouldn't necessarily last) and far-better-paying temporary position, and one which would potentially lead to rehire or even something permanent someday. I jumped on it, because it seemed the better move--maybe more interesting, certainly better money, and there was no guarantee the other place would actually want me. I jumped on it, because up to a year seemed more secure than 2-3 months, and $13.50/hr made it easier to pay the rent and eat than did $9.50/hr.

(Sitting idle in the warehouse caused a certain shift in my perceptions.)

The day before, I'd gotten the call from the other place; they wanted me, but at a dollar and a half less an hour than what my newly-accepted place would pay me. I balked. I stalled. I told them I'd had this offer, and what it paid. The HR person said she'd see if the Vice President would let her match it.

What the what? I'd heard stories--little more than fairy tales to me, and with about as much real-world relevance--of people negotiating for higher pay, but I'd never done it. For that matter, I'd never successfully competed for a singular position, either. I'd almost always gotten placed by staffing agencies, and then usually as one of a number of people going in, cattle-herd fashion, to an assignment. Here in the warehouse was no different from that old pattern--me, among the masses--and yet, I was being shown a different way, a new paradigm. It genuinely threw me, was so odd and off-putting that I instinctively grasped for what seemed familiar without giving due consideration to what was really being put before me.

I'd sent a company my resume, which ended up being one of about a thousand. Of those, 20 were selected for an initial interview. Of those, eight were selected for a second interview. And of those, they wanted me. For a girl who'd grown accustomed to perpetually being the last one picked, that scenario was literally inconceivable, on a winning-the-lottery kind of scale. Perhaps it was the shock of even being given the offer that made me bold and unthinking enough to express the desire for more money; that they wanted me enough to accede to that desire, to meet me more than halfway, just floored me.

I balked. I stalled. I asked to be let to think it over. And in the end, I accepted the offer, even with my faint misgivings--what if I don't like it? What if it's grim and joyless and boring? But I accepted, because money and benefits and permanent and maybe, just maybe, if I beat out all those other people(1) then maybe there was a chance that I was the right person and it was the right place, at least for now. So I accepted, but since I'd already accepted the first offer, I had that to do until I gave notice; offer number two came literally during lunch hour of my orientation day.

And then came the warehouse, and the conversations of my fellow travelers, and the realization that I had what the vast majority of them likely did not: a choice. I could walk away secure in the knowledge that I had somewhere else to go. I could even have a gap of some days between this and that and know that I wouldn't starve, the rent would still be paid, no bills would end up late. And if that ended up being no more to my liking than this, there were possible options then, too.

I don't pretend to know the "nature of the gods," or even if such things have any existence or agency beyond the confines of our own minds; nor do I have much belief in "magic" as it is commonly spoken of, beyond acknowledging the utility of certain psychological tricks that are aided by the use of atmosphere and props. Looking back now, seeing the way this has played out from the panic-fueled freefall of early December to landing here unscathed (more or less) a month and a half later, I know many people of faith would be singing praises to their gods for seeing them safely through. I'm torn. I'm entirely willing to concede that the gods (which I'm fairly certain I perceive rather differently than do many or most) worked for/with/on me in all of this. Did invoking Anubis as guardian and guide open the way within me to see the right way to go, even if I questioned it? Did invoking Thoth as patron of scribes give me a confidence and assurance in my interviews that I might not otherwise have conveyed? I don't know, and I probably never will, and that's OK; that's a kind of uncertainty I can live with.

And at any rate, it certainly won't hurt to give them offerings in thanks. Just in case.


Addendum: I wrote the entirety of the previous post while on-site at the warehouse in question, along with anotherr short chapter of a story I'd let languish since back before becoming unemployed (you can read that here, if you're so inclined). There was no work for us, no access to the computers, and no training until those things were available, so rather than sit idle all day listening to my poor brain devour itself from boredom, I got out the notebook I'd prudently tossed in my bag this morning and began to write. My hand is sore and cramped now, but the exercise actually had a salutary effect on my handwriting, which these days is rarely used, and perhaps upon my imagination as well. With no other tasks to occupy me, and no access to the internet, I turned to writing to entertain myself, and I'm pleased by the result. In so doing, I took stock of my current situation, analyzed it, and came to better understand it; and to be more at peace with the decision I made, which I now feel more assured was the right one. The increased familiarity with handwriting, and the improved legibility of it, was a pleasant surprise. I no longer have the same ambition of creating a beautifully handwritten BoS(2), but it's still a useful skill, and a dying art in the modern world. Legible--let alone aesthetically pleasing--handwriting will be a standout feature in times to come, I think. Not to mention that I would like to use my pretty blank books as "commonplace books," repositories of interesting bits of information (like a Tumblr on paper, perhaps).

Also, the fact that I'm writing anything is reassuring; I had so few words for so long, and most of them were so dark and hopeless I didn't even feel like inflicting them upon anyone else, or even letting them see the light of day in print. It was depressing me further to even think about writing about the situation! I had written no stories of any kind since the previous installment of the one I linked above, "Breaking the News," which I published back around August of 2011, right before the company closed and everything got weird. (BtN is a humorous tale of Brennan and Booth telling various people about her pregnancy, and how those people respond. It was an amusement to pass the time during the summer hiatus between seasons five and six; we're now into season eight and that fictional fetus is now almost a toddler.) I was glad to revisit it, and I hope the people who still occasionally come upon it and comment on it will be pleased with a new chapter. It feels a little short, a little rough, and yet maybe a little better than I had any reason to expect it to be. That's encouraging in itself. That part of me--the writing part--is one I miss a lot. I'm glad it's still there and accessible.

As I write this, I'm still at my desk in the middle of this buzzing hive, but not for much longer. It's approaching 2:30, and I get off at 3. At this point, I've covered almost 25 5x7 pages, which probably nearly equates to a dozen 8x10 sheets. I've been paid a fairly high wage to write fanfiction and blog posts all day, so boredom aside I can hardly complain; it's a level of productivity I'm quite sure I wouldn't have achieved at home, where the internet's siren call would've had me posting Grumpy Cat memes to Facebook and scrolling through 70 pages of fandom-related gifsets on Tumblr. (Discipline, I has none.) When I leave here, I'm stopping off at my soon-to-be employer's to go over their offer package, and I suppose to finalize my acceptance; it's all being done in a manner to which I am unaccustomed, so I don't know quite what to expect. If all goes well, I'm not sure what to do after that...except to call HR here and tender my resignation.

(1) Assuming that what I was told was true, and not just HR hyperbole designed to serve the employer's purpose. 
(2) But never say never...
(3) I just checked; based on clues in the narrative itself, along with notes on my calendar, I can date this to January 17th, which (coincidentally) was the day on which I was supposed to be born.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Quick Update

I have a small backlog of handwritten posts that I need to transcribe here, and I will do so...eventually. For now. just know that things are all right.

Except for it being 40 degrees on the vernal equinox. That's not all right at all.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

What Makes A Pagan (and who decides)?

Factionalizing within a movement is nothing new, and perhaps the only thing surprising about it at all is that there are still people who are surprised when it happens. Beneath the umbrella labelled "Paganism" the most common divisions used to be things like Traditional Wiccan vs. Eclectic Wiccan, or Wiccan Witch vs. Non-Wiccan Witch. The current distinction seems to be developing between factions a bit more difficult to easily categorize and slap a label on, the scope of the split being, seemingly, farther-reaching and rooted both in practice and perception. Is it between the Reconstructionists/Polytheists and the Neo-Pagans, however imprecise those descriptors are? From some of the forms the debates are taking, I'd almost go so far as to say it's between the Literalists and the Figurativists, if I may be allowed the conceit of coining terms of my own. Those who view "the gods" as beings with their own agency and objective reality, and those who view them as metaphor, archetype or symbol. It's far from a new division, but people are becoming very vocal about it, as though it matters more now for some reason. Which apparently means that "Paganism" as a whole has developed to a point where theological battles are moving beyond the confines of individual traditions and into a larger arena. It also appears to signal a shift from orthopraxic to orthodoxic peer pressure in general (though perhaps that was always there as well).

I'm personally more the metaphorical thinker, comfortably agnostic and content with knowing, as the quote in my header states, that there are mysteries that I'll never understand, but that there are also reassuring constants in the universe. The gods to me are human faces upon larger concepts, ways by which we, in our limited capacity, can interface with the mysteries. This is a simplification (and possibly not a very good or coherent one) of my personal cosmology; and as you might imagine it has not won me any love from certain sectors. I'm not an atheist, though I may have more in common with them ideologically than I do with the hardcore true believers--the pagan versions of which baffle and frankly unsettle me almost as much as do their Abrahamic counterparts. If I call upon or invoke a particular deity to a particular end, I do so not expecting a result to appear from on high, but rather to manifest within me so that I might accomplish what needs to be done. (This works with fictional characters, too, but that's a tale for another time.) If I invoke Hathor to aid me in, say, becoming a better dancer, I don't expect to be automagically granted the sinuous grace of Rachel Brice--but I do expect to find within myself such characteristics as Hathor contains that will impact my dancing positively, such as beauty and confidence and sensuality. And, in "invoking" a deity, I absolutely do NOT mean being "possessed" by them or "becoming" them, though in certain cases such an invocation might produce a temporary overlay of the deity's chief traits onto my personality, for me to direct to a desired end (rather in the manner of what used to be known as "Method acting," though the comparison is imprecise). But that's it: there's no dramatic show, no blackouts or dissociative states, just--for want of a better term--enhancement. I think of it as applied psychology.

(If you haven't already denounced me, made a capslocked rage-post to Tumblr about what an asshole I am, or simply clicked the back button, read on.)

I read a lot of pagan blogs, both more traditional types and things like Tumblr, and I've been watching these seismic shifts without really saying much about them. Maybe it's a generational thing--I came to alternative spirituality long before the internet as we know it, and had been a initiate for about three years before I ever got online--but much of what I read from (mostly younger) pagans these days leaves me feeling like I should be calling myself something else. I see very little of me in what I read in so many places. I give honor to gods, and I practice ritual forms, yet I get the distinct impression that I do these things for very different reasons than do the vocal majority--who now appear to be rising up to declare my ilk as somehow unpagan. Nothing new there, of course, for me personally, but now I'm seeing it on a larger scale.

I am not "god-bothered" in the way some claim to be. I don't hear voices in my head or whispers in my ear. No nagging feeling that Someone requests or requires me to do specific things. I can go to the grocery store without "hearing" a deity ask me to buy Them chocolate bars or a particular kind of booze. I don't perceive a Calling to dress a certain way, grow my hair out or veil my head, take a vow of celibacy or make myself available to all and sundry; that's not the relationship I have with the divine. (Frankly, there is a part of me that wonders how many others really feel those things and how many just talk the talk because it seems the required price of admission, de rigueur behavior to be part of the subculture. But I do tend toward the skeptical.) My messages from the universe come through in far different ways, much more subtle ways, and I have to pay very close attention to catch them at all most of the time. It'd probably be easier to have a god-pal talking in my ear telling me exactly what they want and exactly what I'd get in return--but that's not reality. I'm wired a different way, and that works for me.

But is it pagan? Who gets to decide? Who gets to define the word, determine the parameters? Is it about belief? About faith? About practice? All the above? Is it an aesthetic, a worldview? The term itself is to my mind broad, amorphous, and thus leading to further descriptors to clarify minutiae of all those types. I'm hard-pressed to pigeonhole myself in that regard--perhaps because I'm more owl than pigeon.*

Broadly put, I'm intellectually Kemetic/Isian and philosophically Druidy/Neopagany. Indoors, I'm a spiritual Egyptologist; my practice is specific and liturgical and tends to require homework and the purchase of complicated books. Outdoors, I'm a druidess, armed with a harp and alert to the whispers of the winds and the voice of the trees. The dichotomy is visible, but normal to me. "Religious" form--liturgy, ritual, study--satisfy the intellect while "spiritual" form--music, story, sweet wild nature--satisfy the soul. The two coexist harmoniously in me, and I find them pleasing and satisfying. One may take precedence over the other at any given time, but the side in shadow is only momentarily quiet, never absent. This is what works for me--but is it pagan? I don't honestly know what else to call it; the language is imprecise. For now, pagan will have to do.

I don't have any answers, and I don't have any need to argue, unless the fight is brought to me. For now I'll continue to work with the term Pagan because I don't have anything better with which to replace it. It may be that the term Pagan as a general descriptor is on the way out because of its imprecision. If the definition really has become so broad that the word has ceased to have a definitive meaning, then it could be time to find new words (which may, in their own time, become obsolete as well). When you're mostly solitary, forging your own path, perhaps it doesn't matter as much.

And as Grace Slick once wisely said, "it doesn't mean shit to a tree."

*(This is metaphor. I am not otherkin, No no no. Don't even.)

Friday, 18 January 2013

Closer to Fine

I got the position of which I spoke in the last post--long term temporary, but four dollars an hour more than the previous temp gig--so the wolf has been banished from the door for now. Good thing, too, as this came about just as our unemployment benefits ran out. Timing is everything!

Don't get me wrong; our situation, while much improved, is still far from certain. It's stabilized a bit, but the long-term projection is still questionable. I'm afraid that this kind of fragile equilibrium might be the coming new normal, the end result of the "new economy" into which we've all been plunged (or been plunging), at first so gradually as to be almost imperceptible, until the momentum built sufficiently to start drowning us all a few years back. If that's the case, so be it; all I can do is try to learn to sail on rougher waters than the whole of my life experience thus far ever prepared me for, and that's not such a big deal, right?

Some of my most immediately pressing concerns having abated for the moment, I find myself relaxing out of hyper-vigilant, hyper-focused mode enough that other interests are getting room to breathe and expand in my consciousness again. I'm glad of it; I was weary of the things I loved and that gave my life joy and color being relegated of necessity to mere momentary distractions. That's a miserable way to live--although I know many people do, and for much longer than I have. (Bearability, which is not even a real word, is relative, of course, and "no big deal" to one is enough to drive another to suicide, so I won't indulge in comparisons or bother to castigate myself for making the proverbial mountains into molehills. We each discover our threshold, and learn to stay on the safe side of it as much as possible.)

Season 7 of Bones ended with Brennan forced to run thanks to the machinations of a brilliant serial killer who'd framed her for murder. To survive, she had to exile herself (and her baby) from everything familiar, everything safe and normal, all the things she'd struggled to attain, all the things she'd grown to love. She spent three months running, hiding, sleeping under the occasional overpass, working low-paying unskilled jobs, living always in survival mode and always watchful, never secure. The parallels I can draw are imperfect, but I can relate at least a bit to how that would have felt to her--which of course is one of the principal values of stories, in my opinion, giving the observer a connection, something to identify with, during the turbulent times of life. It is somehow heartening, at least for me, to see a fictional person experiencing similar things and surviving them; it's far too easy, in difficult circumstances, to end up feeling very alone in one's experiences, and having someone to relate to can be powerfully consoling, even if that person only exists on paper or a screen. Some forms of experience, of emotion, are universal; they appear different across cultures or times, but the underlying themes remain.

When Brennan was reunited with her partner during her exile, she admitted to him that she didn't think she could live that way much longer; the strain of it had brought her near her breaking point. He pointed out to her that she really had no other choice (beyond arrest and imprisonment for a murder she didn't commit) but to see it through until the circumstances changed. That is the feeling I came to understand as time dragged on and nothing changed, nothing happened to allow me to escape the exile of long-term unemployment and the pile-up of attendant unpleasant possibilities. But just as Brennan managed to survive, to maintain her sanity and not give in entirely to bitterness and despair, so did I manage to make it through the worst of things (at least the worst of it so far; no telling what the future will bring. I have spoilers for Brennan's upcoming trials, but not for my own). She had to discover and call upon hidden reserves of resourcefulness and strength, and so did I. As it turned out, I didn't have to leave my home, and if I do so in the future it will be by my choice as well as necessity. Brennan got to come home and I got to stay home. That's good enough for a start.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year, New Possibilities

It's been a good birthday, so I'm happy enough at the moment. I just finished applying for yet another potential position, one which I hope that I have a shot at; there are multiple openings, and I far exceed their minimum requirements, so I am cautiously optimistic (that's the only kind of optimism I'm capable of, in any case). We started the day with an appropriate first-footer, so there's that, and I've spent the day doing congenial things, so we're off to a positive start. Tonight it may be light a candle, burn some incense time, and maybe a little harp. I'm feeling a little more stable again, the way you do when you're skating and you narrowly avoid a spectacular fall; you regain your balance, and you're still a bit shaky inside, but you slowly start to trust the surface beneath you not to shift. That's where I am right now, and that's good enough.

2013? Challenge accepted.