Happy 2017, ya’ll!

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2016 has slogged itself off into oblivion and now 2017-yet another construct to help us wrap our minds around the strangeness of our existence-is the new kid in town. I cannot say that I am not relieved, though I do not like to rush away my life, or to wish for time to be so quickly behind me.

The allure of the new, though, is strong as ever. Shiny, chrome, sparkling. A blank page, an open road stretching ahead into something unknown…it’s exciting. I cannot help but hope for good things, and I aspire to make the most of the time I’ve been given.

I actually made some specific resolutions this year but in a quiet, note-to-self kind of way. They are more about quality of life than anything. Gestalt wellness gained through itty-bitty small steps of everyday self-care is the biggest of my goals. Writing, well…that one’s a given. And most of all, I want to cultivate gratitude in the midst of maelstrom and fair skies alike.

I know I can do this.

I will have so much good news to share in regards to my writing. Big projects are in the works for this year and hopefully the next, and I am working hard at coaxing some new worlds and their myriad characters into existence. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the gentle quiet of winter weather and am finding ways to incorporate creativity into a busy schedule. I hope that 2017 brings unexpected goodness into the world, and is a time of healing and peace. For anyone reading this, Happy New Year–may joy and light be yours, and may your new year be so amazing. <3

CAPTAIN’S SUPPLEMENTAL: HORRORBUG ATTACKS

Stay a while, friends, and I shall relate to you of The Battle of The Bug and how I ended up at home so early on a sunny Tuesday. I was sitting in deep contemplation (read: frustration) before a bank of Excel spreadsheets of a budgetary nature–a daunting puzzle, to be certain. I felt a mild discomfort in the environs of my left leg then suddenly realized that the strange crawling of my skin was literally something crawling *on* my skin. Thankfully I sit in a secluded back area so nobody saw me hike my pant leg nearly up to my knickers and also, nobody heard the strangled scream/yelp as I saw something about the size of a Palmetto Bug (aka, GIANT FLYING ROACH) skittering on my person.

accurate

accurate respresentation of what occurred; size to scale

Flailing ensued. Also, screeching and shuddering while the monstrosity crawled beneath the copier. I dragged the behemoth machine aside and proceeded to stomp on the bug, which skittered yet again, this time with a chilling sense of purpose and unfathomable speed. I stomped more. And more. I slammed it with a trash can. IT WOULD NOT DIE. I had noticed before WHEN IT WAS CRAWLING ON ME that it smelled peculiar in my office area–turns out it was TRAILING ITS UNHOLY STENCH over my person, the carpet around me, my recycling bin, and goodness knows what else. MORE STOMPING. I tend to count repetitive motions because I am me, and I lost track at fifteen–it was a mighty foe, and I will never forget its awful, hellish prowess. Finally, my desk area in wild disarray, adrenaline slamming through my veins, and my clothing covered in awful nightmare-stinkbug foulness, I watched it DIE. Suffice to say, my supervisor let me go home immediately and the proper people are being called in to address the situation. I’m assuming that means priests and exorcists, HazMat containment specialists, shamans, and people wielding blowtorches. I had to keep the windows open driving home. Clothes went straight into the washer, and I do not know that I have used that much cleanser in a shower, ever, in the history of all showers. I am itchy, but vindicated by the prospect of an afternoon of doing nothing but playing World of Warcraft, where at least the giant eldritch horrors I slay have the decency to drop loot. This is my story…let it be a cautionary tale of nothing terribly important, but awfully, awfully smelly.

Out of the blue…

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Monday has not been subtle in providing me a metaphor for itself today. As my good writer-buddy Cassandra Chandler is fond of saying, it’s not subtext when it’s text. Enter me this morning: I am reasonably sure I could not have looked any more put-upon and grim as I stalked out to my car to drag myself to work. As I navigated morning traffic, I noticed how quickly the thick, gray clouds of the morning skidded in the prevailing wind…how magnificently they formed and reformed themselves into cumulus out of shreds of stratus and cirrus, those high-skies, horsetail clouds that are harbingers of weather change.

Within a matter of minutes, the sky had cleared itself to a blue so bright it almost hurt my eyes. I realized that I too was lighter…I had put on music that made me feel hopeful, had (mostly) forced myself not to curse at other drivers or be a jerk in traffic (really, I am thankful to have a car at all, to have mobility and freedom—why treat it with such disrespect?), and I spent the commute centering myself, daydreaming about my next writing project as I’m en route to the Day Job. Out of the blue, Monday was its own metaphor: the world around me shapes and reshapes itself, changes in an instant so why can’t I? The subtle shift in attitude as I let go of the stress I was clutching like Gollum and that stupid ring (I mean really, it is kind of like that) led to a not so subtle change in mood and focus. Today was suddenly not a thing to be dreaded, but another opportunity to do important work, to celebrate being alive…after coffee, of course.

So, any epiphanies about making your world a better place that have hit you out of the blue in the last days? Here’s wishing you all a Happy Monday and a wonderful week ahead! <3

Self-Care First Aid

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I am not a doctor or a medical professional. I do not play one on T.V. I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. This is just me nagging you, and really wishing you would remember to eat breakfast.

All joking aside, the other day I gazed around where I sat with friends, talking and sharing, and I noticed that everybody in the vicinity–not just my loved ones–seemed tired. Legit exhausted. Now, this is not a post about the inner workings of the government, or the nuts and bolts of what went down last week. This is, however, about the aftermath. In light of change, of grief and loss, of anger, of trauma, of confusion or shock, or even media exhaustion and gestalt stress, one of the fist things we forget to do is take care of ourselves.

I’m ever so sweetly wagging my finger when I say this, but if you do not take care of yourself, then how can you hope to be the best and most capable you that you can be? Also, self-care is self-love. If you are feeling a dearth of hope, feeling unloved, unheard, it is not a panacea fix-all or a huge, earth-shattering revelation of fix-it-ness, but self-care can go a long way in reminding you that you deserve to live, breathe, think, feel. That you deserve to not just survive, but thrive.

That you deserve to be loved.

That said, here is a gentle little checklist for Self-Care First Aid. Again, I am not a medical professional–these are simply basic things we can do to better prepare ourselves to be out there in the world, making it a brighter place.

  1. Are you hydrated? We are water, water is us. And if we do not drink water, every system in our body feels it. Those of us who are blessed to have access to clean, healthy water…let’s make use of it. Our bodies, brains, and hearts will thank us!
  2. When was the last time you ate? Vehicles do not function without fuel. We don’t, either. Make time to give your body the kinds of food it needs to thrive. If you are too tired to cook and have the money to do so, don’t hesitate to look for quick meal options–it’s better than not eating anything. Nourish yourself, and you are that much closer to getting back out there and doing the most good.
  3. Sleep is not optional. That’s right–we break down without it. Depression, anxiety, waning awareness that can lead to accidents or miscommunications are all a bajilliontypercent (science) more common when you are operating on not enough sleep. Sleep can be elusive when the word is a scary place, but carve out time to hit the hay early and perhaps not look at a screen or watch any news in that half hour or so before attempting sleep. Put on soothing music, do prayers or meditations to ease your mind, and do what you can to be rested. You will be so much more human (in a good way) if you do.
  4. Move if you are physically able to do so. And by move, I don’t mean cross-fit or Iron Man races. I mean, set a timer on your phone to get up and stretch at work. Take a lap around your block. If you can walk, fast-walk the length of your building where you work, go hide in the bathroom and stretch, or take it a step farther and exercise, dance, take self-defense classes, or whatever else helps you feel vital and alive. All these things can generate happy-chemicals but they can also help us just feel more empowered, and any of that we can bring to our lives is a good thing.
  5. Be self-care/self-aware proactive. If you require medications or special care to be healthy and you can at all afford or manage to acquire these, be aggressive. Set up appointments even if you don’t feel like it, go to the pharmacy, shop, or ask someone to help you with any of these if you are not able to do it on your own. Give yourself the tools you need to not just survive, but eventually to thrive. You are worth it.
  6. Get up, get dressed, and if you can, get out. I mean this. If you can bathe, if you can drag a comb through your hair and put clean-ish clothes on your body, if you can feed yourself and get out to your jobs, your volunteer work, to playing with your children or hanging with friends or even sitting alone somewhere, alive and breathing–do it. You are showing yourself that you can. And knowing that you can keep living, keep breathing–that’s a really good start to a better life.
  7. Don’t do it alone. If you feel overwhelmed and have a willing and healthy friends and family network, ask for help! Chances are, someone else might need it too, and helping each other creates the best kind of positive feedback loop. If you do not know where to turn, there are crisis-lines, community centers, houses of faith and many other places available to help you orient yourself, to know how to even begin a journey to ‘fine.’ I know this sentiment is maybe cringeworthy or cheesy to some people, but asking for help is not weakness–it is the ultimate self-awareness, and therefore a great strength to know when you cannot or should not do something alone.

These are just a starting place. When you are hydrated and fed, rested, able to get back out into the world, you will be more prepared to face challenges down from a place of power–from a place of knowing you are worthy of your own love, and that you are capable of making at least your world a better place…a good start to helping the world at large. Much love to you all in the coming days. <3

Haintsong–a Hallow’s Eve Poem

Hello all, and happy creppy, spoopy day! I wanted to celebrate with a new poem I wrote while thinking about the woods where I spent so many youthful days rambling, dreaming up stories of valiant last stands against armies of evil creatures, the pines whispering all around me, the Spanish moss dancing in my path on breezes I could not always feel. *shivers* I don’t normally use much rhyme in my work and though I did not employ a strict form, this piece was a challenging little exercise in word choice. I creeped myself out a bit while writing it, so in the spirit of Halloween scaring-is-caring, I hope you enjoy! <3

haintsong

Haintsong

swish of pine needle, stir of fir

borrowed silk snags thorny branch

bare feet striking frozen dirt

thud of footfall, doesn’t hurt

 

run like the devil’s on your tail

and all the world’s on fire

run, she’s nearly through the veil

hurry girl you better run

 

spanish moss shapes an arch

breaths of night stir the fronds

swish of pine needle, stir of fir

all that waits for you is her

 

nowhere left to run my girl

there’s nowhere left to hide

the fire is licking at your feet

and the devil lives inside

*

she waits for me in a thistle-vale,

her smile of smooth old bones

an echo of a darker day,

rotting silks all turned to gray

 

she sings to me in night-time wind

in words all shades of gray

cathedral stone and charnel ash,

cat’s eyes and freezing skies

 

her promises are gossamers

laced with motley grays-

cold rain, mother’s hair,

shipwreck waves, mossy graves

 

she tells me I am like her now

creature with a life gone gray

clouded ice, mind of smoke

soul of lead, heart stone-dead

 

Horrorscopes: Fall 2016, Election Edition!

zodiacnWhy hello again, Starchildren! Here in the Northern Hemisphere of the planet Earth, it’s autumn…time for cozy sweaters, those first chilly evenings, the re-emergence of the Disciples of the Cult of PSL (pumpkin spice latte) into the unsuspecting human populace, and why yes, the Fall Edition of Horrorscopes! I have to say, this is an exciting time and this year is a special year—a year in which Americans cast lots to determine the fate of our people.

I͍̯̚ṭ̲̯̫ͩ̄ͫ’̸͕̜̭͖̏s͉̤̜̳̟̝̉͌̇͞ ̬̪͈̩͉͎͒ͮ̑̅e̺̜̬̺̱̻̍̽ͨ̏͗l͐̈̎ͧ́̈́ͫe̵̩̣͉͓̗ͯ͂ͫc̲͔̩̙͛ͨͧ͂ͪ͗̏t̴̺͖̟̰̬͖̐͗̇ͦͦi̠̓̓͟o̠̻͇̦̲̦̓ͨ͐n̮̆̌̆̄ͅ ̳̰̬̻͔̐̀͆y҉̹̤̣͚̹͈̞e͇̼̝͌̈́́ͪͩ̚a͖̝͕͚̞̦̋ͦ̃̑͡r͔̗̺͍̺ͫ͛ͨ.̢̪̌̂́̋̚̚̚

In this special edition, friends, we will look a little closer at the inscrutable skies and find out what the coming months will bring for each of you! Hold on tight…it’s going to be a wild ride!

All Signs:

This is one of those rare occasions when there is a message for ALL of you! With the onset of a new season and bigger still, a new season of change for the American people, remember that style cannot be underestimated. Dress for confidence—dress for success. Dress for the journey ahead, and be sure that your new wardrobe has plenty of pockets…you’re going to need them for hoarding food and resources, for hiding your shaking hands, for the utility of knowing you still have places within you the others cannot see. In relationship news, things will be more exciting than ever for each of you! Hug your loved ones, high-five or show them your affection by cooking a meal or making sure all of your vehicles are fueled, your wallets and mattresses stashed with cash and gold and silver currency, and that any and all batteries are replaced with new, longer-life models. And finally, don’t forget to have fun! In the face of the unknown, in the path of the storm, in the wake of all that is achingly new, painful and strange, embracing the unique ability to see humor in the whole of who and what we are is essential to a full life in the coming days, and a just dandy part of being h͕̘̮̹̱̰̤͘u̝͇͇̣̠̻͝m̨̦̟̹̩͢ḁ͎̩̙̻́͝n̛̮͙͝!

Now, without further ado, your Fall 2016 horrorscope:

Hamal, the brightest star of Aries gives light to its void as do all things which burn at their hearts and in their souls but do not trust to the hearts of stars to hold fast in the wake of what will be. Do not trust the orange titan Aldebaran of Taurus, though once steadfast; do not petition mighty Pollux of Gemini and the meteoric lights that tear through Janus’s domain. Do not strain your sights to distant, glowering Cancer or trust that Regulus, Alpha Leo and a legendary light will persist as what scouts the edges of our universe sends outriders, ever bolder and more clever, to pick away at what is known and bright. Virgo boasts Spica and Libra preaches her balance and in the wake of war, Antares marches beneath the banner of Scorpius but even he may now know despair and though the archer Sagittarius lets fly his arrows and wise Capricornus, quick Aquarius and subtle Pisces all rise from the Sea of Water in a show of timeless, beyond-ancient power, their lights flicker in a coldness not new but newly remembered, not alien but of our universe’s own heart.

*

It was the song on the legionnaire’s lips it was the arrows of Li Guang it was a Maasai victory feast it was the cry of Boudicca it was Artemisia’s ships set sail it was written in blood and ink and time it was the reverent chant around the Plains bonfire and it is now silence and the fires are doused and the Elysian Fields empty and the Valkyries turn their heads from this feast of crows for none are worthy of hallowed halls and guys, hey ya’ll, calm down because maybe it is a crazy joke. We’d call it whistling in the dark but that would imply that sound carries in the Void and we have no longer teeth or lips for whistling or the voices to laugh.

*

When She wandered the wasted plains in the unnatural winter, so many layers bundling her body that She tottered and slowed, a lump on the landscape, She sang to herself then She lost the words to songs so She began to speak and when her voice was tired and frayed She wrote in the dust with a withered branch:

ALL CANNOT BE KNOWN WHEN KNOWING IS NOT WISHED FOR. ALL CANNOT BE SEEN WHEN THE SIGHTED GOUGE OUT THEIR EYES. ALL CANNOT BE UNDERSTOOD WHEN MINDS ARE BURIED IN THE ASHES OF THE WORLDS THEY BURNED.

YET THERE WILL BE SOME WHO KNOW AND SEE AND UNDERSTAND AND IN THE LIGHT OF DYING STARS THEY WILL TAKE MEASURE OF WHAT IS LEFT AND NAME THE SPACES BETWEEN THEMSELVES AND THE PLACES THEY HAVE BEEN AND THEY WILL SEAL THAT KNOWLEDGE AWAY IN THE VOID AND WILL STAND VIGIL SO SUCH AN EXISTENCE IS NEVER AGAIN ALLOWED.

Then seeing her words She felt a sound rise from her chest, felt it bubbling up, pouring out, a raucous intrusion on her world’s silence and She laughed, She laughed until She collapsed into the dirt, weak from the joke of it and She lifted a bundled arm and wiped a gritted tear from her eye and She took a breath and knew how it would play out, how it begins again, and again, an ouroboros, a feedback loop, an assertion of being.

An assertion of life.

*

Will this year bring me luck? Money? Love? A journey by sea? What does the seer see for me?

The answer is no.
The answer is no.
The answer is no.
The answer is no and
The question
The question was
The question is
The answer and the question are
why?

*

Don’t forget, Starchildren, that autumn is a time of gratitude, of harvest bounty, of the warmth of family and friends. Do not forget to cherish these moments of light and warmth and love. Do not forget to be the best that you have it within you to be, to love with the radiance of a universe of stars.

Do not forget to be beautifully, humanly you.

Boot To Earth, Eyes To Sky

I woke up this morning feeling strange, and not an odd-but-interesting kind of strange. The thinkythoughts-noise rattling around my brain on this post-debate morning were tugging me so many different directions (and rightly so–there is a heck of a lot to ponder) and with the added help of stress, allergies and not having taken the greatest care of myself in the last days, I trudged through the first hours of the day in a funk.

20160927_101724-1I drove to a nearby park to get some writing done but before I realized what I was doing, I was parked, off the path, standing calf-deep in dewy grass (yes, I checked for ticks afterward, lol). Then I was walking through said grass towards a little swathe of prairie conservation. The ground beneath my shoes was spongy, monarch butterflies rose and fell on the lazy breeze, flowers nodded a-rhythmically, and a humming buzz of bumblebees blended into the noises of cars, wind, my own breathing. I just stood there for I don’t even know how long. I don’t think I had a thought in my head until I heard the whoosh of a bicyclist close behind me and startled back into the moment. I blinked and realized that the air smelled like cinnamon, probably because of the prairie grass–that I got no writing done, and didn’t care. That the sun was warm but the air chilly. That my shoes were sparkly with moisture that looked like little jewels. That here in this moment, my heart beat with insistence, reminding me that I live and breathe and think and feel.

I-live, I-live, I-live…

20160927_101446-1It might be trite to talk about smelling the roses, about taking time to look around and see the moment exactly as it is. It might be reductive, when the world feels like it is spinning out of all control and goodness and sense, to say, grind your feet a little deeper into that mud–really feel the concrete or sand or grass or pebbles beneath your soles, get to know the skin of the world you inhabit. To absorb its sights, its scents–to remind yourself that you live among its creatures, part of a complex ecosystem. That you live, period.

Boot to earth, eyes to sky. Amanda to Earth. My home. To quote Carl Sagan, who said what I want to say better than I could, this world is where “…everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there—on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

Sometimes, a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam is beautiful. Sometimes, I need to remember this.