Week, Story, Pursuit

I have decided I will not leap like a feral wolverine upon the fresh new week. Instead, I will pursue it like a stoat, steady and fixated, until the arbitrary sevenday drops dead of exhaustion and I may feast.

…I may have been watching a lot of Casual Geographic lately, can you tell? In any case, I’m more comfortable as a pursuit predator anyway. I may not be awfully fast (save for when I’m teleporting to save a toddler or a dumbass canine from Bad Decisions) but I am patient, and there’s plenty of endurance lingering in this ol’ wreck.

Anyway, welcome to Monday, everyone. We were at dinner last night and my daughter obliquely referenced Edmund Pevensie’s taunting of the Telmarines. I commented that Edmund being known as “the Just” was as close as CS Lewis could get to admitting he admired the Jesuits, then I laughed like a loon and both kids looked at me like I’d lost my mind.

Which happens rather a lot, but it doesn’t mean I’m wrong. I always wanted to write a story where Aslan was the Big Bad, Jadis the White Witch and Edmund were the heroes, and the other three Pevensies were kind of bumbling impediments except for Susan, who is awesome no matter which way you slice it. And it is my firm headcanon that Susan never forgot Narnia, she just knew her homeworld needed her more. Because let’s face it, Aslan is a complete, humorless, psychopathic, unjust, incredible dick and I wouldn’t want him yanking me around more either.

Any Christian allegories have a difficult time covering up the sheer maliciousness of their sky god, especially in the Old Testament; really, the problem with allegory is that it lays bare a great deal of what one wants to hide as well as the truth one wishes to distill and reveal. I always suspected Lewis wrote ol’ Screwtape more to convince himself than anyone else. Tolkien seems to have viewed Lewis as Treebeard, taking so much of “the long view” as to be paralyzed with indecision; on the other hand, an Ent’s crisis of faith or confidence might not be visible to even an elf walking alongside through shadowed woods.

November was supposed to be the month I wrote the second book of A Particular Series, or at least 50k of it. Alas, it was not meant to be, but at least I think I’ve resurrected the damn thing. It took a lot of work, a lot of dry-heaving over my office wastebasket, forcing my recalcitrant body to the task. Of course my meatsuit is taking revenge at the moment. Apparently I will patiently coax any creature except my own stubborn self. Regardless, today is for stepping back into that world; this trilogy is having a difficult birth. Misunderstood by everyone but its mother, I suppose. I have to have some kind of faith it will all come out right, that it will reach the people who need it.

Sometimes I admire Lewis’s faith. Sometimes I pity his loneliness–always waiting for someone else to rescue one, instead of building a raft of whatever trash is to hand. The problem with the waiting is that the bones of those who waited in vain are silent; it’s only the “saved” we hear from, confirmation bias at its most absolute. I want the skeletons to stand up, to take their murderers and betrayers to account.

These are the things I think about on a Monday morning while my coffee cools. When I finally down the dregs, Boxnoggin will be waiting for me to make breakfast, beside himself with joy at the prospect of crusts and walkies. To him I am the changeless elf, a sorceress who can make light with a flick of her fingers, a goddess who provides kibble, warmth, direction. Makes me wonder if the gods see humans as we view dogs–they don’t make good choices, but they’re loving. Look how I dressed mine up! Oh, ouch, I can’t afford to take this one to the vet…why, oh why, are their lives so short?

I can’t decide if we make stories to escape the confines of the world, or because our world is so impossibly beautiful. Porque no los dos, right? In the end, what matters is the transmutation, the act of creating, the act of love.

So I lope after this week, reserving my strength, following tracks in sand as the wind rises, noting broken branches which speak of my prey’s direction and speed, discerning slight scuffs on bare rock. I hunt this arbitrary division of time, moving through other universes written into being by people long dead, creating my own out of the infinite multiverses lingering in my own bones and breath, the stories lined up around the block waiting for their chance to speak through me.

As I pursue, so am I pursued. That chain is infinite too.

But I’m done with coffee now and Boxnoggin is prancing down the hall. The hunt is afoot, and so I must be as well. See you around, my beloveds.

(But Aslan’s still a dick. I SAID WHAT I SAID.)

In Shadow, Green

Finding a way, again.

A jumble of boulders on one of our usual morning-walkies routes is always good for a thought or two. Boxnoggin agrees, although his “thoughts” are mostly of the let’s pee on it variety. He’d climb the entire damn pile if I let him.

Anyway, if you peer back into the shadows, you’ll see green on the left side. Yes, even in that deep crevice, things are living–not just lichen, but actual plants. As late as October they were dead straw, hiding from the heat; now, after a few good rains, they’re happily growing in semi-darkness.

Makes all my own problems seem smaller, I must confess. It feels like I’m jammed in a dark crack, reaching vainly for any scrap I can grab; thankfully, I have opposable thumbs and can move into sunlight. (Always assuming I don’t hiss and melt under its touch. Heh.) Life is still forcing its way into the crevices, taking advantage of every inch. Hope is not some evanescent, helpless waif–she is a Valkyrie with blood in her mouth, scraped knuckles, double black eyes, and bruises all over, spitting a tooth as she rises once more from the floor.

We’ve reached another Friday. It promises to be a good one, but either way it’ll be the weekend soon. I hope you have a fine one, beloveds.

Imperfect Strategy

A clear chilly Tuesday–not quite cold, but getting there–has dawned. I staggered into the kitchen to make coffee, a George Strait song playing inside my head, and decided I had to use Ronnie Milsap to clear things out. Milsap reliably works if I have a country-themed earworm, and has ever since I was a kid.

I don’t even know. I’m wired weird, but we all suspected as much.

Our state does mail-in ballots, and everyone in the house is of voting age and registered. We all went through the paper voter guide last week, went to our different rooms to fill in little boxes, and I took the sealed envelopes to the local ballot box since I don’t trust USPS with deJoy still in charge. (Why has that man not been booted out? Why?) There were pickup trucks parked nearby, and I watched each one carefully, ready to get the fuck out of there if right-wing goons appeared.

It was a sobering experience.

Now we wait–always my very favorite thing! I hate not being able to do anything while danger creeps nearer. I have little to zero hope, of course. Every time I’ve dared to hope over the past six-seven years, I get kicked right in the teeth. I’m done with that.

So, today will be spent trying to keep myself occupied with work. The new cover for Spring’s Arcana, the page proofs–seventy-five of them knocked off yesterday, only 293 to go–and wordcount for the NaNo novel, correspondence, other things to keep my fingers busy and my heart from hurting. It’s an imperfect strategy, since my heart will ache no matter what I find to keep myself busy with, and working will be like swimming against a riptide. Still, I’ve got to try.

The alternative is even grimmer.

Be gentle with yourselves today, my dears. We’re all reeling after years of historical-grade shocks. The wonder is that we’re all still trying to work, sparking and hissing with static, desperately transmitting and receiving despite All This. I think we all deserve a cuppa and a pat on the back, not to mention a nap. And possibly a whole box of cookies.

Que sera, sera, and all that. At least we’ve got each other, and a few stories to tell around whatever small, wan fire we’re clustering for warmth. It’s my job to tell the tales, no matter what else is going on. And it’s also my job to walk Boxnoggin, who could not care less about human politics. He’s got other concerns, and would very much like me to do something about them.

Needs must, when the devil drives–or when the dog needs a ramble. Off I go, my beloveds.

See you around.

Welcome, Great Pumpkin

Happy Samhain, my beloveds. It’s the first and last day of the witch’s year, and there’s already a bowl of candy on the kitchen table. I did roll out of bed and straight into eight complex tasks I had to accomplish before I was allowed to make coffee–one of which was taking Boxnoggin outside for his usual wake-up loo break. He is Quite Put Out that it’s so damp outside, and the wind flirting with the cedars also touched his rump, at which he gave a startled leap and looked at me as if I were responsible.

To him, I am a near-incomprehensible all-powerful goddess, so clearly the weather is some kind of terrible chthonic joke I’m playing on the world. I wish I had even a sliver of the might this poor dog attributes to me; I could do so much with it.

But the heat pump has been turned on, the bed made, Boxnoggin’s brekkie (ignored for the moment, until I head to the toaster) set out, a multitude of other preparations finished, and I can sit to absorb some caffeine for a few moments. Poor Lord van der Sploot is going to despise walkies today, despite begging for them the instant I finish my coffee. He’s going to give me so many reproachful looks, I can just tell, and when we get back home he’ll need a towel and a treat to mollify him.

Last night I finished absorbing an ancient battered paperback of Dick Gregory’s No More Lies, which was a well-written, engaging, truthful, and difficult read. Engaging with American history–cavalcade of genocide, enslavement, and robber-baron enrichment that it is–pretty much always nauseates. If you have any empathy, that is. Nothing in it was a surprise, though I did learn a few details about some specific events I hadn’t known before, and in Chapter VII, I came across one of the best passages I’ve ever read in a history book.

Although repression is a futile solution, it is a legitimate reaction. All men have the basic right to be afraid, regardless of how wrong, how degenerate, or how insane they are.

–Dick Gregory, No More Lies: The Myth and the Reality of American History

It’s very kind to attribute cruelty, bigotry, and misogyny to fear instead of just sheer sociopathic cruelty. I think fear is always a component to varying degrees, though most of it is simply that many people are comfortable with being cruel and even enjoy it when there are no consequences. A steady, swift application of social disapprobation and financial penalties for being a bigoted dickwad would do a great deal to correct and deter most fascist fellow-travelers; unfortunately, our entire society is set up to reward such behavior instead.

The level of espresso in my mug is dropping, and my tissues are soaking up the caffeine like dry earth gratefully swallowing the autumn rains. I suppose it’s time to think about brekkie, drop the leftover toast crusts in Boxnoggin’s bowl, get out the trench coat, and go for a damp ramble with the dog. I’ll be cooking all day, except for if/when I manage to squeeze in an extra livestream–I think I might read Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart to you madcaps, since it’s my favorite of his short stories and I haven’t cracked open my Compleat Edgar Allen for a hot minute. (I’ll probably hit Twitch this afternoon.)

Rain on the roof, all the high-fructose corn syrup we can handle, a day completely off because for godsake I’m not working on Samhain, and tonight we’ll burn wishes for the upcoming year on perfumed joss paper…my dance card is full.

I hope you have a blessed day, my dears. I wish you a pleasant holiday.

Boulders in Finery

A green velvet robe.

A week ago these rocks were covered in shaggy, drought-crackling grey. Now, they’re lush with soft growth. You can see traces of the dry time in brown patches, but the balance has tipped and now they are wearing their winter coats.

My soul has been expanding with the regular autumnal rains. (Finally, my gods.) All the smoke is washed out of the air, though I’m still coughing a bit. Boxnoggin is annoyed with the damp upon his delicate paws, but he’s all in favor of the longer rambles since I can finally breathe while we’re outside.

All in all, it’s beautiful–and my favorite holiday of all is coming up. There are a lot of less-than-ideal things going on right now, certainly. But at least there is moss on the boulders, rain in the air, spooky decorations everywhere, and the peace of knowing the season’s finally turned.

The witch’s year is almost done; we’ve survived another turning. We all deserve a pat on the back–and maybe a bit of our favorite candy.

Happy Halloween weekend, my beloveds. I hope you have a grand one.

Smoke, Fog, Music

Dawn hasn’t quite begun yet, though the east is greying rapidly and an insomniac bluejay–probably Ed–gave a sleepy screech or two while Boxnoggin was out for his morning potty break. Heavy fog hangs between the trees, weighing down the dry dust of drought summer, and gasping earth is waiting for real water. There’s no petrichor, merely the smell of almost-damp leaves and wildfire smoke. Somewhere in the neighborhood sprinklers are running; Boxnoggin’s collar jingles as he patrols the house, making certain all is as it should be.

I have coffee. My eyes are dry and grainy; my entire body aches. There’s only a few more days to wait for rain. I’ve made endurance a centerpiece of my coping mechanisms, and this is the drawback; I’m not sure I’m gonna make it. I keep expecting a sudden shift in the wind, a tornado of fire sweeping up the street. I’ve been braced for the worst since mid-2015, and while the situation hasn’t met my very darkest imaginings (yet) it’s stayed at such a pitch of awfulness in so many ways. The fillips and refinements of agony in reality put paid to anything a poor benighted writer could come up with.

(Still mad I took the respiratory plague out of the first few drafts of Afterwar. That’ll teach me to trust my instincts.)

Now a pine flicker’s joined Ed the Gentleman Bluejay. I’m sure Stede is around somewhere–probably stuffing his face at the sunflower feeder, since that seems to be his overarching goal in life next to hanging out in the rhododendron under my office window and screaming at his boyfriend. The rest of the Bluejay Krewe seem to have gone elsewhere; ever since the smoke thickened we haven’t had an afternoon with seven-eight-plus jays in the yard. It’s a little quieter, though Ed and Stede try to make up for it by yelling their tiny dinosaur heads off with a passion.

I’m tired, though I just got out of bed. Going back in seems the best idea in the world, but there’s work to do–prepping for NaNoWriMo (funny, last year I was doing Klemp’s book for NaNo, and said book will be out on the 21st), getting Hell’s Acre situated, and various other things. My head is still ringing from the Cold North revision. Seems to be taking longer and longer to bounce back these days.

Fog. Smoke. Endurance. Such are the things today is made of, as summer’s last fingertip is pried from a throat. Shoes keep dropping, a mountain of them achieving tsunami height, and I keep waiting for more to thud down. The birds have quieted as the east continues to lighten, but there’s a rustling as squirrels begin the morning laps around the sea of branches.

After a while the pain becomes merely background noise. Boxnoggin still expects his walkies–though not quite yet, since the damp is mounting. The words still have to flow, the edits still have to be made, the proof pages still need to be eyeballed. The bills have to be paid and the children hugged. There’s so much more to give, though my barrel is scraped-dry empty.

Ah well. Only a few more days to wait for rain. I’ve made it through every other year, this one should prove no different. Onward, inward, upward, excelsior, and all that.

Welcome to Tuesday. Take a deep breath, finish the last gulp of coffee, and let’s endure another siege of sunlight. It’s painful, naturally…

…but the alternative is worse. We’re still here, still fighting. Grab a shoe, grab a bucket, any weapon will do. Let the noise rise and fall as it pleases, there’s music underneath.

Today, through the smoke and the noise, we dance.

Survival, Temerity

Life…uh, finds a way.

The only green things (that aren’t dusty trees or watered lawns) are weeds at this point in the year. These broad-leaved fellows are everywhere, along with dandelions and thistles. I also enjoy a good thistle–there’s one I am carefully not mowing down in the front yard–but this year, these guys are out in force and I wonder about them. The nice red heart to their broad fanlike leaves, the fresh green when so much else is dust and yellow-dry…

I’ll probably find out it’s some sort of hideously poisonous, invasive plant. Which will just make me love it more, I’m sure. Gotta find the beauty wherever one can.

Life is short. Be a weed, flourish in the cracks. It’s okay to have the temerity to survive.

Go forth and enjoy a lovely weekend, my dears.