Brewing

I am monumentally angry. Outrageously angry. Seething. My innards are burning black. I feel psychically paired with Vesuvius, circa spring 79 AD.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading books about 9th century Saxon England. But maybe it’s because I’m finally letting myself get a taste of what’s REALLY been going on in my head, something that I have pushed down and let go for so long that, instead of passion, it’s revealing itself as a simmering rage. Or maybe I’m just tired of pretty much everyone and everything that stands in my way.

I must go west, and I must get to high ground. I feel like I’m straining at my tether here, and it’s nearly set to snap. Something’s up. Something’s wrong. Or maybe something’s finally right. Maybe this is what it feels like to stand at the edge of freedom.

Just hope I can get out of here before I snap, or before it floods again. Whichever comes first…it’s all up to the Fates now.

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Home/Body

TV

My apartment is pretty small – just a little over 400 sq. ft. It’s still the perfect size for me, even though having the three cats makes me fidget a bit. They have plenty of surface area to explore, though, which gives them considerably more “floor space” than I have. They can climb anywhere they’d like, and they take turns sitting on the fridge and looking out the window, or sleeping on top of the kitchen cabinets, or exploring the shelves in the closet. I don’t mind, and let them go where they will. The only reason I’d ever want to move into a bigger apartment would be to give them more room to roam, so to me, allowing them free reign to explore every level in the apartment is completely worth their mental and physical health. One day we’ll move into a place where I can build them all sorts of tunnels and trees and hopefully an enclosed porch where they can watch the birds of a morning.

But this post wasn’t meant to be about their health, though it is entwined with mine, for better or worse. I came here thinking about interior design and modern living. I came here to talk about turning my living room into a home gym.

When I moved in a little over three years ago, the apartment was partially furnished. Straight away, I got rid of anything that looked cheap or was a space-waster (with the landlord’s permission, of course). The only things that I kept, out of necessity, were the mattress in the bedroom and the couch in the living room. The mattress is its own post – I dream of completely revamping my bedding and turning my bed into something akin to a spa experience – but today we’re going to talk about that damned couch.

The living room is minuscule, and the couch is HUGE. It’s a three-seater, deep and overstuffed, and takes up most of the only full wall in the room (the other three walls all have doors – the front door, French doors to the bedroom, and the walkway into the kitchen). With the doors being where they are, the layout of the room is rather forced. The couch takes up a wall, and I set up the television and media center just under the lip of the kitchen counter. That means that I don’t get to add seating to the kitchen counter, which is OK, but not ideal. There’s very little floorspace still available, which is pretty annoying.

When I had a boyfriend, this setup seemed necessary, though I often dreamed of selling the television and having a TV-free home. I never felt comfortable telling him that, though, because as a writer, for him TV was life. This is not to say that I don’t also enjoy watching television – I get caught up in binge-watching shows the same as the next person. And I love my horror movies, and my BBC, and documentaries, and movies about food and traveling. It’s just that I’ve started to realize how much of my real life is being stolen by screens. I am hooked up to a computer for 8 to 16 hours a day at work, and I write this blog on a computer, and when I don’t have a computer open, I’m on my phone or a Kindle or watching Netflix on my television. It’s just daunting. I want out.

And what’s funny is that I’ve turned on the television twice in the last two weeks, or however long its been since we broke up (three weeks? I’d be a shit annal-keeper, though I guess that’s what I am, in a way, the Annals of Anna, as predictable and bland as they might be). I’ve been reading, working, sleeping, and hanging out with my cats. I’ve been thinking. I’ve been planning. Now it’s time for action.

Bottom line is that the couch has to go. I don’t have the strength of will yet to toss the television to the curb, but I can very swiftly turn my living room from a TV-watching station into a gym and craft room – a place to inspire me to be myself, rather than to cater to the whims of others. I want to imbue it with feminine energy, and intensity befitting of my true personality, the one I seem to keep constantly tamped down.

Long ago, I worked for an interior designer who explained to me that the living room used to be centered around the hearth, for warmth, for community. Now it is centered around the television, which provides no warmth, and essentially allows us to pretend we’re part of a community without having to engage in any of the messiness of actually talking to one another. I’m tired of having the television be the center of my home – so I’m going to move the idiot box over to the corner. I’ll get a futon that takes up less space and allows for guests to stay with me more comfortably. I’ll install bar stools, and use the kitchen counter as a craft station. I’ll use the floor space for a new elliptical (I’ve been dreaming of a replacement for my old Tony Little Gazelle for years now), and a yoga mat. I’ll still be a homebody, but I’ll be bringing magic and intention back to my sphere.

Sweet Smoke

Incense sticks in pagoda

Incense prayer sticks in Thien Hau Pagoda Hochi Minh Vietnam, via Buddha Weekly. Click here to read about recent studies on the positive influence of incense on mental health.

Another thing that I have just rediscovered is how much I love incense. The first memory I have of incense is in early high school, going to my first proper vintage shop, somewhere around Jacksonville, NC. It was the late 90s, and I was obsessed with the late 60s – music, clothing, culture, politics, I read everything that I could get my hands on. I dressed primarily in vintage duds, though everything I owned came from the thrift store in my town, and cost pennies compared to the stuff in this fancy vintage shop. But what my local thrift store didn’t have was ambiance – and this place was swimming in it.

I remember that there were lava lamps, and beaded curtains, and even one of those chairs that looks like a giant hand. The whole store felt like it fell off the stage of the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. Even though everything was priced far beyond my reach, they had some very nice things – tiny mod dresses, genuine go go boots, a threadbare original Chicago t-shirt. But most important for this story, they were burning Nag Champa, and a lot of it. The air was thick with smoke. I was with my dad, and as soon as we walked into the store, he gagged a little. Meanwhile, I swooned with happiness. I don’t remember buying my first box of Nag Champa, but it couldn’t have been long after that. I burned a stick of it as often as I could, though my mom would usually complain that it bothered her sinuses.

When I burn incense, I want several sticks burning in every room. I want the smoke to hang in the air, to permeate my clothes, to fill my lungs with its heavy sweetness. My dream of incense is of Buddhist temples, with hundreds upon thousands of fragrant sticks, all burning at once, 24-hours a day. I want my life to be littered with beeswax candles made by monks, and giant, sappy sticks of incense, with singing bowls and velvet curtains, embroidered in gold. I want quiet afternoons, dappled sun dancing over my cats’ sleepy faces as they lounge on the porch, inspecting the crows who scold them from the yard. I want the mountains in the distance, the magic words always at the tip of my tongue.

I love incense, and yet I don’t burn it the way I want to. Or I haven’t been burning it the way I want to, anyway. It’s another one of those things that I just gradually put aside so as not to offend, just like my cinnamon toothpaste. It’s always too much for people. There’s always the excuse of sensitive sinuses, or an aversion to scent, or just plain disliking the idea of incense. And yes, I adore going overboard. But so fucking what? Why don’t I get to have what I want to have? And now that I am alone, just myself and three cats, we have our nighttime ritual – three sticks of incense, two candles, and a nice, long, one lady three cat cuddle fest.

Aside from my insane work schedule, life is pretty awesome right now.

Cinnamon Girl

I really like cinnamon toothpaste. Cinnamon and clove, cinnamon and fennel, double cinnamon, whatever – I just feel like my mouth is cleaner after I use cinnamon toothpaste. I’m also very particular about my toothpaste, but you’d never know it. For some reason, when I’m in a relationship, toothpaste is the first line of defense to fall.

Well, that’s not exactly true. It’s not like there’s ever even a skirmish over it. Basically, as soon as someone writes their name in my dance card, and I just naturally assume that they will hate cinnamon toothpaste, and go out and buy a decent, respectable mint toothpaste that very day. Mind you, I keep some things sacred – I prefer a paste to a gel, wintergreen to peppermint, no weird colors, lots of scrubby texture and/or special whitening power promised on the box. Yes, I am a toothpaste snob. But, as I’ve realized this week, I naturally assume that my tastes in pastes will neither be appreciated, nor tolerated, by someone who wants to brush their teeth at my sink now and then.

Isn’t that sad? Not only do I willingly give up a thing that I typically find considerable joy in – I give it up without asking, and with no idea of whether I’m right or not. I automatically assume that my choices are invalid, and that I should make way IN MY OWN HOME for the obviously superior (and completely imagined) tastes of my visitors. My head is reeling at this. It’s one thing to be amenable to others, another to be a good hostess, another to take the desires of those we love into account. It’s something completely different to assume right out of the gate that you are absolutely in the wrong and must change a fundamental portion of your hygiene routine (something that wasn’t broken) to suit someone else’s tastes.

Ugh. So. I didn’t realize all of this last weekend – not yet. I just woke up with a mad desire to go and get new toothpaste, even though I still have half a tube left of some pretty decent mainstream mint. The urge to get new toothpaste grew over the course of the day, until I couldn’t really concentrate on whatever else I was supposed to be doing. So I dropped everything, went to the co-op, and bought the exact thing that I’d been dreaming of – cinnamon and clove toothpaste, with activated charcoal and bentonite clay. It’s black! It’s so fun to use, and it really does work. My teeth feel very clean, and my gums feel less irritated than they typically do. If you’re interested, check out My Magic Mud (no, that’s not paid placement). Along with the toothpaste, I bought a new mouthwash, cinnamon and neem. A tiny swig goes a long way, and caps off the whole tooth brushing experience quiet well.

There’s no real end to this story. My breath is warm and spicy, like my heart, like me. It has inspired me to look at other belongings I own, and products I use, and consider why I use them, and who that serves. How else have I been capitulating? Who else have I been bowing down to, needlessly?

Being Macha

I’ve had this image in my head all day, and just have to get it down. Like many of the most important things in my life, it’s ephemeral, at best. I keep snatching at it, trying to tug it down from the clouds and into firmer being, to make itself fully known. Maybe if I write about it, something will make more sense.

First off, it’s not just one thing, but a strange, moving mixture of things. There’s the warrior, the crow, the crone. There’s night, and anger. But a righteous anger. A feminine anger, held in check but also fostered by ancient knowledge. There’s a wall in my throat and another in my right abdomen. Also, in a dream: an open door, a bloody arm, a plan (but what?).

I realized today that though Elen might be the goddess I seek to embody, Morrigan is the goddess who seeks to wield me now. And there’s no harm in having multiple guides, of being multifaceted. Even peace seekers require warrior hearts. As long as I see their truths, and mine, and make clear my intentions before treading the path, all will be well. But I am caught inside my own walled city. To survive this, I must lay siege to whatever seeks to hold me, to take myself back. Part of me will have to die for the rest to flourish.

macha.png

“Macha” by Thalia Took, available as a prints on her Deviant Art site. Click here to read more about Macha, an aspect of the Morrigan, on her gallery page. While you’re there, definitely check out Thalia’s amazing art of other world goddesses.

Me, Myself, I

Working on an idea, but I’m only 10% of the way there. So we’ll put down what we can, then work with it as new thoughts come.

The idea is this: I do not know me.

This isn’t to say that I have amnesia, or that I’ve been living under an assumed identity, without free will. I have had my run of this place since 1981. And if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I am by no means basic, thoughtless, devoid of personality. Even so, there is a large part of me that just wants to fit in, to be liked. So when I do happen upon someone who likes me, I tend to let them call the shots, so long as it doesn’t hurt me. I just don’t feel that arguments over trivial matters are warranted – and when it comes down to it, much of life is trivial.

But all of this need to be agreeable in all things has led to a problem. Much like Jane Austen’s character Jane Bennet, in Pride and Prejudice, I so often capitulate to the whims of others that I find it hard to define what my natural likes and dislikes might be. Now that I’m single, and on my own 24/7, I am starting to listen more to my inner voice. It’s scary how often my initial thought on any given subject is “But what would X think?” or “How will I ever find anyone to love me if I do Y thing?”

It’s scary, but also funny, because the REAL me has an overabundance of balls, and tends to be screaming from the back bays that X can go fuck himself, and anyone who doesn’t think I’m amazing for doing Y can join him. I’ve just spent my entire life putting that person, the loud, brazen, angry weirdo, in the closet. So much of my life I spend being quiet and meek, good humored, sensible, a peacemaker. But the real me is something else.

The other night, an old acquaintance from college came into town, and asked me out for a drinks. He was staying at a fancy English-themed hotel, the kind of place that has afternoon tea. We were there well into the evening, so I had scotch instead of a nice darjeeling. After he went up to bed, I stopped by the ladies room, then left the hotel. I walked out with a tiny trashcan in my purse (yeah, I carry a big purse). About two blocks away, I rethought my trend towards kleptomania and brought the trashcan back. It was an intelligent decision. Who wants to go to jail for stealing a $10 trashcan? But I’m still disappointed in myself for not having the guts to keep walking. Not because I really give a shit about the trashcan, mind you, but because stealing it was something that I wanted to do, and for ONCE in so very long, I didn’t care if it impacted anyone else. I wanted it, so I did it. And then I realized that it was selfish and shortsighted and someone would get in trouble for not spotting the theft (yadda, yadda), and I walked back to the hotel and replaced the stupid trashcan.

Anyway, this is all to say that I can only want what I want for about two blocks when I’m drunk. Had I been sober, I wouldn’t have even tried. I wouldn’t have tried to want. I would have wondered what someone else wanted. The bartender, perhaps. The bathroom attendant. The front desk person. The cab driver I hadn’t yet met. Any number of people that I never see, but who still hold power over my life – my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles. The only way for me to get anything done for myself in my life is to actively flip an emotional switch to “off” and cut anyone I love out of my daily existence.

So, I guess I did figure something out, after all.

Anyway, I’m just exhausted and scared. I am 35, and still don’t feel like I have control over my life. Not because of the fates, but because of everyone around me. Because of you. And it’s not your fault, obviously. I just need to find a way to figure out which voice is really mine, and which one is the imaginary voice of the world that I need to reject.

Sunday Meditation

I am single again, after 11 years. What does one do?

Well, to begin with, you toss all of the ex’s belongings in a box (carefully, as they are mostly books, and we adore books here). After that, you decide there’s no more reason to have any free hours, so accept any and all offers for extra shifts. You now have no time to consider heartbreak, as you will be way too tired. Despite the extra work hours, though, it is important to not neglect daily conversations with the online therapist. Therapy is doubly important when attempting to recover from the sadness and confusion of being dumped, and also hoping to not make any of the mistakes of the last two relationships ever again.

Next up, we consider the rest of life. What are we doing with ourselves? Is one happy and/or fulfilled now? How long has it been since one was happy and/or fulfilled? What can one do to be happy and/or fulfilled? Figure out the best extra-curriculars, where they can be found, and how to incorporate them into your life. Spanish lessons? Yoga? Kirtan? Flamenco? Long walks? Textile art? Starting a new writing project?

Don’t forget to call up any and all close friends. Everyone needs to know what’s going on with you, even if you’re a solitary witch and don’t much like talking about your problems with anyone other than the online therapist. Be honest. Tell them you can’t talk now, but want them to know you love them and you want them to feel included. Some of your friends will offer advice and love and make you feel like a superstar. Others are like you, and will be relieved to not have to talk to you too much about gooey life bullshit, while still being able to offer you moral support from afar. Members from both teams will offer you chances to get out, try new things, and buddy up in new ways that will boost your ego and keep you from eating your weight in Talenti.

Make a plan! Make two! Make a ton of plans to do all of the things that strike your fancy. Life is not over. It’s actually about to get a lot more fun, because you know what you can do when you’re not dating a prospective life partner? I’m just going to leave you hanging on this one. I’m sure you can guess some alternatives.

Travel. Travel is sexy. (Plus, travel is the only thing you really adore, so why not do more of it?)

Reassess your underwear collection. If you’ve let it slide over the past few years, drop some serious cash into an underwear drawer renovation. You deserve every inch of it, and how amazing it makes you feel. I mean the drawer renovation, you perv.

Don’t throw yourself out there immediately. There is time. But don’t remain on the shelf, either. There’s no use punishing yourself any longer than you’ve already been punished. Remember what you’ve seen thus far – your breakups have historically been a reflection on the people who didn’t love themselves enough to have anything left over for you. Don’t follow in their footsteps. You are full of love – be greedy with it for awhile, and spend it on yourself.

Have an amazing life, beloved.

PS. This is dedicated to my squad of badass bitches. I’m a lucky, lucky girl to have a world full of amazing friends. ❤