Casa To Chez, Part I

So there have been big changes afoot at Casa Saintcrow. I’ve been hinting at them, fit to drive everyone mad, for, let’s see, four months now? And my blogging has sadly fallen off. It’s not entirely my fault, though.

Because at the hoary old age of thirty-six, finally, despite my ex-husband and the raging impossibility of everything, as well as the fact that I’m basically a freelancer…

…I bought a house.

I bought my very first house. The Casa is now Chez Saintcrow, all-new and improved.

This all started months ago when I went in to see a mortgage broker (and a very fine one, too) and said, “Can I afford to own a house? Do I have any chance of getting a mortgage? I WANT TO MOAN ABOUT MY DRIVEWAY AND ROOF AND I WANT TO LAY AWAKE AT NIGHT THINKING ABOUT HOW MUCH I OWE A BANK. HELP ME.”

After he dosed me with chamomile tea and laughed at me (very gently) we started crunching numbers. I’ve been working my ass off for this goal for years. And when the divorce was done and the dust settled, and I finally had some savings and had repaired my credit (because the ex, oh my GOD, but let’s not talk about that now, mmmkay?) and took care of all lingering Bad Issues from Said Divorce…well, I was actually in a pretty good place.

So I prequalified (which was amazing, seeing the amount of money someone would trust me with, but hey I wasn’t going to complain) and then looked up with big eyes and said, “Okay, so…what do I do now?”

“Now,” the broker said, “you find a house.”

“Oh.” I blinked. “That’s it?”

“That’s it. Get a realtor and find a house. And remember…” He fixed me with a steely glare, and I began to feel faint.

Christ, is there more paperwork? “What?”

“Buying your first house is the most stressful thing you’ll ever do.”

“Are you kidding? I have kids.” I laughed and breezed on out of his office, feeling ten feet tall.

I should have listened.

…to be continued…

Anxiety Dreams

Johann Heinrich Füssli 053

I dream in Technicolor, and I often remember them. Dreams stick in a little dusty file cabinet in the back of my head, and often I’ll incorporate them into stories, or they become the tiny bit of grit around which a story will build itself up in nacreous layers.

Last night’s dream offerings (at least, the ones I can remember clearly) were both pretty obviously anxiety-based. The first was a violently-yellow schoolbus out in the middle of a weed-strewn field, and inside there were hostages (children or not, I’m not sure) that it was my mission to rescue. I was driving up to the bus in a convertible (so not the proper vehicle for a rescue run) and thinking worriedly that I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do when I got there.

The other was of a homeless girl struggling to survive in France, probably via Breakfast in Babylon, who ended up being bitten by a vampire much less handsome than Max Schreck. She was desperate to figure out what to do, and at that point I realized I was her sister. She bit me, but there was no effect, and we went from place to place keeping her out of the sun and looking for a cure…until the other vampires showed up and I found out I was stronger and faster than I had been.

Still, it ended up with her getting staked. Not very fun at all.

So yeah, anxiety dreams. Dreams where I have to protect or rescue someone, but I’m unable to do so. If there’s anything guaranteed to drive me to distraction, that’s it. Although…that last one does have potential for a story.

In other news, it’s the anniversary of Jane Austen’s passing. I kind of feel like watching Colin Firth smoulder a little in that Pride and Prejudice starring him and Jennifer Ehle, who was the best Lizzie Bennett EVAR. The bit where he stares at her after she rescues his sister from embarrassment, my goodness but it makes me melt every time. *flutters a little* All in all, it’s probably a good cure for a night full of anxiety dreams.

Over and out.

Meaning And Discipline

Why I outta!!!!....Come any closer and I'll smash yer face
law_keven / Foter

I have been practicing forbearance as an art form lately. Really, if someone would have told me that adulthood was comprised of being calm and polite until one had a grip on the situation’s short hairs, then pulling hard while smiling sweetly, I would have been even more eager to get here.

I mean, I was eager for “childhood” and adolescence to be done anyway. To me, being a child/teen was being helpless, at the daily mercy of chaotic, unpredictable, and hurtful forces. Adulthood is the same, really, except having my own car keys and bank account gives me the illusion of being in control. As long as I have that illusion, I’m chilly. The perception of having some sort of say in one’s own life works absolute wonders, much as Frankl posits that finding some meaning in even the most horrific conditions can save a psyche. (Or, if not “save,” at least keep it from disintegrating completely.)

Anyway, I’m on the home stretch of a Major Life Change, and almost able to speak about it publicly. There will be hilarious blog posts in the future, I’m sure. But for right now, I’m exhausted and finally feeling like I have some sort of control over a situation, and it relieves a great deal of pressure. I’ve been using writing as a decompression during this whole thing, and struggling with the fact that one must have mental and emotional energy in order to write.

At different times in my life, writing has been confessor, framework, best friend, jealous mistress, lifeboat, parent, faithful lover, teacher, outlet, defense, weapon, and a million other things. The bare act of putting the words down, that mundane sorcery we take for granted, has been pretty much all things to me. The worst bit about the stress I’ve been under is some days, the words have to be chipped out of my cranium with a battle axe. Groping for a word, struggling to find any word at all, is one of my personal versions of hell. As the stress has receded, it’s gotten better–but the habit of sitting each day and refusing to leave until the words come, however molasses-slowly or blood-painfully, has been the only thing keeping me nailed to the chair so I at least get some of them out. This is why I harp so endlessly on the subject of discipline–if I hadn’t had that habit, God alone knows how painfully lost I might have been. It actually makes me shudder.

Anyway. Time to do, again. Hey, on a completely unrelated note, learn some new things about rabies! *shudders once more*

Over and out.

Freya’s Day

Wheel of fortune
Albrecht Dürer / Foter

As Friday the 13ths go, this one hasn’t been too awful.

Oh, there’s been bad news, bloody fingers, a bruise on my heel from God knows what, tripping and going sprawling while running, an incident involving clipping a dog’s nails that Did Not End Well (no blood from the dog, relax) and proof pages landing, the dog trying to eat the UPS man through the window (fortunately, that gentleman is used to us) and a certain amount of emotional upheaval.

So…just like a normal day, except it’s Friday. And I have not managed to get half the things on my to-do list done. As well as the protagonist of the current YA project being a closemouthed nuisance, it’s just been the type of day that one should have spent in bed.

Fortunately, though, the cat did not try to eat my arm this morning, I am not haunted, the weather is not nearly as awful-steamy hot as it has been, I am rereading Stephen King’s IT–hey, it’s a comfort read, don’t look at me like that–and there’s a Rejuvenation catalog to peruse and dream my way through.

Things are looking up.


Web of steel
kevin dooley

I find rollercoasters relaxing.

It’s the moment when you’re strapped in and the thing starts moving, before it even chugs up the big initial hill. A lot of people think the point of no return is at the top of that first hill before the plunge. It’s not. It’s the moment the straps and bar are clicked into place. From then, it’s useless to do anything but relax and settle in for the ride.

Once it’s all moving, the great bitch-goddesses of Chance and Physics are in charge. They don’t care that I’m fleshly and fragile, they are concerned with much weightier matters, so to speak. It’s like finishing a book–once one has the dominos set up (which is 90% or more of the problem) all it takes is a single flick of a finger; then you’re not in charge anymore. Preparation and physics are in charge, and they couldn’t care less what you think.

I am on this tangent this morning for a number of reasons–being caught in an emotional congame between two people and struggling free of it, Major Life Changes afoot, blah de blah blah. It’s kind of sobering to realize that I’ve been struggling after the point of no return. I think it’s because I’ve effectively lowered my tolerance for stress since the divorce. You know the old saw: you have as much stress as you can tolerate, and if you want to lower stress, lower that tolerance. I didn’t realize it had been done so effectively. Bully for me, yes, but also, oh my God, I’ve been fighting Physics and Chance, and I have about as much chance against them as a a flyswatter has against a machine gun. Sure, you can sharpen the handle, but it’s not going to do much good.

So it’s time for me to take a deep breath and sink back into the seat, look at the scenery, and marvel at the sudden dips and swerves. It’s all good. The frazzle along my nerves will go down, and things will arrange themselves the way they’re meant to.

Take your tickets, step up, take a look around. We’re all on a rollercoaster, one way or another. Might as well enjoy it, because if catastrophic failure happens and the whole thing comes tumbling down, it won’t matter anyway.

I suspect that is not as comforting as I meant it to be…

A Curious Calm

Chicago Loop lightning strike
doug.siefken / Foter

I’m not going to talk about anger today. For one thing, I’m smelling copper and burning in ragged spates, and that’s not good for anyone. For another, why bother? Suffice to say that sometimes anger isn’t ridiculous. Sometimes it’s a sign that one’s boundaries have been trespassed, and a call to arms. Piertotem Locomoter, and all. (Speaking of which, my Harry Potter character? McGonagall. I’d like to be Hermione, but deep down I know I’m more Minerva.)


It smells like rain today. There’s a dusty-earth, peculiarly summer aroma, trees and grass exhaling in expectation of moisture. It’s been a wet, cool spring, with periods of bright warmth. Prime weather for growing grass, for flowers to bloom…and for insects. The yearly sacrifice of bits of my precious fluids to the Mosquito Gods is well underway. Bees won’t sting me (I should tell that story, shouldn’t I. But really, bees won’t sting me. I’ve tried to get them to.) but if there is a mosquito within five hundred miles, it will come by for a snack. Never a gift without a curse, you know.

I want to head out to the beach, but getting dog and kids ready to go is a two-day odyssey in and of itself, and the very thought makes me tired. Besides, there are no storms now, and I really love the Pacific Northwest coast most in autumn when the filthy weather comes sweeping in. When it’s gray and nasty and cold and the wind goes straight through you, and the rain and the sand find gaps in you that you never knew existed. But there’s also a sense of calm to be found in the middle of the nastiest, ugliest weather. One is face to face with a thrashing being whose malice is not human or intentional (so it’s properly not malice at all) and there’s a clarity, a cleanliness to it.

Things are happening here at Casa Saintcrow. Good things, mostly, but even good things are stressful when they involve Major Life Changes. I’ve been away for a while, and I’m dying to share the awesome bits with you. But I have to wait and sit on it. I can sit on bad news forever, but sitting on good is pure torture. I just always want to share the happy.

The house is quiet, and there is a curious calm in my chest. May the rain be a balm today, and may the goddamn mosquitoes not find me for a while. Amen.

Anger And Teaching, Part 1

ViaMoi / Foter

Sometimes people teach you things about yourself. It’s never comfortable, because they show you things you don’t want to see. Frex, I pride myself on observing people. I am rather insufferable in my belief that I can observe and guess, or predict, especially those close to me. It’s one of the things that drives people crazy about me, I guess. Most of my friends just roll their eyes and gently deflate me, for which I am endlessly grateful.

Then there’s the times it comes out of left field, and I misjudge someone’s intentions, or misjudge someone, and that someone teaches me with all the finesse of a cosmic 2X4. Granted, sometimes that’s the only thing that gets through to my stubborn head. But still, ouch.

When it happens, there’s always a flash of anger. How dare you prove me wrong! How dare you do what I didn’t expect! It’s just as ridiculous as it sounds, but it’s anger nonetheless. That emotion is a sign for me–I need to stop, slow down, take a look at the lesson I’m being taught. There’s a clear crimson quality to the anger, with an undertone of yellow and a smell of burning paper, that means I’m being ridiculous. (This is different from the deep bruise-red-black of an anger that means my boundaries have been trespassed. That smells of copper and cigarette smoke, oddly enough. And that, my dears, is another blog post.)

Growing up around rageaholics, I am terrified of my own anger, because I’ve seen what uncontrolled fury can do. I get irritated, frustrated, and occasionally stomp and yell “WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE SO GODDAMN DIFFICULT?”…but then I push the bad feelings down, turn them a few degrees to the side, and usually figure out I’m being ridiculous. So the reflex of following the lightning flash of anger to its source and realizing I’ve been a halfwit is pretty well ingrained. Unfortunately, I resist seeing when I’m being unlivable.

Don’t we all.

The anger is a good teacher, and I usually end up being thankful to be taught, thankful to be reminded that I’m an idiot and I need to just stop…and listen. In every flash of anger there is a place of being taught, of allowing the difference between what we expect and what actually happens (as Jayne says, “Well, what you plan and what takes place ain’t ever exactly been similar”) to show us where there is room for grace, for laughing and shaking your head at your own folly and buckling down to be the best you can be, allowing the music to come in.

So. Thank you for teaching me this past weekend. It was uncomfortable as hell…

…but that’s the way it goes. Tomorrow I’ll talk about anger as a sign of boundary breach. I’ll bet you’re breathless with antici…pation.

*wanders off humming*