The Girl in Black

Se necesita una poca de gracia.

Monday, October 31, 2005

A formal shout out to all of my Pagan/Wiccan peeps out there

Blessed Samhain everybody!

Gosh I feel lonley. It's hard being the only witch on Halloween. (Yes, I know how silly that sounds.) Everybody else is running around to parties in costumes and hunting for candy and decorating with webs and spiders and skeletons and things and I...

I'm just not feelin' it anymore.

I used to love Halloween and all the spooky trappings. Skeletons were my big thing. And witch's hats too. Loved 'em. Loved it all. And then something changed. I don't know what happened exactly, but the magic just wasn't there anymore. Maybe it's the fact that kids don't trick or treat like they used to. Maybe it was just a natural outgrowth as I left the "cute spooky girl" phase of my goth days behind. Maybe it's just a part of how my interests shifted from fantastical fantasies to profound mysteries. I don't know.

I just wish that I had my old circle back, and that we were celebrating Samhain like we used to. I've been to some awesome Samhain rituals. Children with costumes and candy mixed in with their parents contemplating the deeper meanings of the season. Stories told around bonfires of Persephone's descent into Hades, and her return to the surface. Sharing cakes and wine with friends, blessing them saying "May you never hunger or thirst." Calling on The Crone, honoring her presence in our lives.

To me, it's not about dressing up anymore. It's about remembering and honoring the dead. Respecting the fact that death happens to us all in many ways, and many times over our lives and other lives. It's the end of the harvest season, the last one before the winter, when the earth grows cold and we withdraw into our homes and ourselves, awaiting rebirth the next spring. It's a time to give thanks to what our mother earth has given us over the spring and summer and autumn.

It's remembering those who have passed on, communing with our ancestors, lifting the veil between the worlds for one night and getting glimpses of faeries and spirits. Looking into our futures to see what the coming year has in store. Celebrating the wheel of life, the spiral path that we all tread.

And I haven't had any friends that I have shared this with since I left Savannah. Good Pagans are hard to find. And by "good" I mean ones that you mesh with, that you feel comfortable practicing with. I have a few Pagan friends, but I haven't felt the call to be in circle with them (and many prefer to be solitary anyway). I had something rare and special, and it's gone now and I feel very alone.

So I'll go home after work, light my solitary candle, and reflect on these things myself. I may be alone, but She is with me, and sometimes that can be enough.

Happy new year everyone. May you never hunger, may you never thirst, and may the next year be as good or better than the last.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Radical, political musings for the day

Be sure your sins will find you out...

I've been hearing the word "indictment" thrown around a lot recently, and for the first time since last December (or perhaps this past January) I decided to poke my head out of my little hidey-hole and see what's been going on in the world of politics.

I didn't find out anything that I didn't already know.

And basically what I already know is that in politics, when you lie you get caught. When I had heard the supposition that Valerie Plame's name had been leaked to the press by the Bush administration as revenge for her husband stating that there were, in fact, no plans for Iraq to purchase uranium and that the Bush administration twisted his words to say that there were, I figured it was true. And whether or not what happened was legal, the fact that all parties involved have been trying to cover it up is what is going to be their downfall. (Read a little bit about the possible indictment of Libby and Rove, and a little bit of backstory on why it's happening if you wish.) You see, I believe that the high-muckey-mucks in the White House right now are dirty, rotten scoundrels (and not the kind played on broadway by John Lithgow and Norbert Leo Butz).

I also believe that paying attention to political intrigue on a daily basis is bad for your health.

A year ago, I was caught up in the presidential race in a unique way. I was in a long term relationship with a Kerry staffer here in Orlando. In our apartment, CNN was on television 24/7. There were many alternately stressful and passionate late nights, several parties and meet and greets, lots and lots of beer and pizza, and a general disdain for all things Republican. But I ignored most of it, because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to believe.

I had been somewhat blissfully unaware of what was in store for America when Dubya was first sworn in after the 2000 election, but slowly I realized that something was rotten in Denmark (and for all you people who don't get the Shakespeare reference, I'm talking about America)... And since I didn't vote in the 2000 election (the resulting electoral college farce made me realize that maybe my vote did make a difference after all) I had vowed to be more alert in 2004, and actually give a damn. But after all the useless frustration, the hopeless anger, the crushing depression from defeat (trust me, you did not want to be in the "victory party" room on election night), I had to stop caring. What did it get me? Squat.

I have found that the miasma we call politics is rife with lip-service, double-talk, saving face, and media spin. Just like I've always thought. And, just as I've always thought, the media facilitates a lot of this. None of this is new knowledge. It's such a part of common thought these days that the media itself will actually comment openly about it, while they're doing it. It gives me that same sick feeling that I got when I went into Urban Outfitters and saw the trucker-style hat with the phrase "Insert Paul Frank Logo Here" printed on the front. *shudder*

And, in my opinion, the Democrats are no worse than the Republicans when it comes to playing political and media games. Only the current incarnation of the Republican party figured out the ingredients of the secret sauce that causes people to believe what they say, while the current incarnation of the Democratic party have been playing out the part of the wannabe kids that go and buy whatever outfit is on the mannequin at Express. Instead of setting themselves up to be the hip, alternative choice to the neo-Republican machine, they fish around for a platform to stand on based on what the neocons deem fashionable.

But honestly, I haven't been paying attention to them recently, so if anything's changed, please let me know.

I do know that there are always going to be people who claim that they have your best interests at heart when, in fact, they're just out to fullfill their own agenda and will tell you whatever you want to hear so you will let them do just that. We must accept this fact if we are to deal with politics on a realistic level. But I'll admit, it certainly seems like there are more "faces" than people out there right now, aren't there? And all the good people, the really good people (in both of the major parties) seem to get dragged through the mud time and time again.

Ultimately the solution isn't to "play the game." That's like giving aspirin to someone with a broken arm, merely treating a symptom and not healing the cause of the problem. Instead, I propose a radical solution that not everyone is going to understand: heal the minds of the people, and the country will heal itself.

It's the same idea behind solving the overcrowded prison problem. Figure out what makes the majority of criminals become such (social issues, educational issues, etc.), and eradicate those problems instead of just building more prisons to house the growing number of criminals.

Figure out why the voting eligible population is swayed to vote for people without their best interests at heart (or conversely are apathetic to the voting process), and fix those problems instead of trying to manipulate a system that isn't working anymore. The problem with being the loudest voice in the room is that someone else will eventually be louder, which leads to a room full of noisy conversations.

My theory is that most Americans are unhappy and feeling unfullfilled in life and trying to fill the void (as the media suggests that they do) with various opiates; entertainment, food, religion, shiny objects. Deep inside, they know they're unhappy, but they don't know why. And then a loud voice comes along and tells some of them why. Since they haven't figured it out themselves, and this voice is speaking very loudly and with much authority, they go along with the voice.

Or they don't believe any voice at all, and feel overwhelmed by all of those who do, so they give up altogether.

What has made America so unhappy? We, as a nation, are so unhappy with ourselves that we project our problems onto other nations, trying to "fix" them instead of taking care of ourselves. And we have been taught to be so wrapped up in ourselves that we refuse to see the larger effects our actions have on life as a whole.

The smallest thing can end up affecting the whole of society. For example, there are a lot of high-speed car crashes in cities and residential areas. Most people tend to drive only as fast as they deem "safe" subconsciously. But roads are built wide enough these days that 30MPH is really just an unheeded recommendation. So wider roads lead to more high-speed car crashes. But why are the roads so wide? Because of a mandate that all roads need to be built so that a large firetruck can turn around on them, and all firetrucks are now large. But why the large firetrucks? Because the firefighter's union claims that they must have a certain number of men on each truck, and this number reqires the large truck rather than a smaller one. (I got this example from Suburban Nation by the way. It's more specific than what I have given here.)

Because of short-sighted and selfish decisions caused by our various thoughts and beliefs, our mental, social, and physical environments are deteriorating, which causes fear, anger, and despair, which causes more short-sightedness and selfishness, which deteriorates our lives further...

Plots and plans to overthrow a government that were scrapped and caused an enlisted group of foreigners to be left hanging in an unfriendly climate ultimately led to the destruction of the World Trade Towers.

Be sure your sins will find you out.

And the smallest thing can affect the entire world.

I choose to first understand and improve myself, to get my life on an even keel. (I think I've been making tremendous progress.) And then I will fully be able to do good things for the world. And by these actions, perhaps those whose lives I touch will begin to improve themselves and their surroundings, and then they, too, will do good in the world. And the next people whose lives are touched will continue the cycle.

This is my current modus operandi, and this is why I don't do much in the way of political commentary in my blog, or even pay attention at the moment. Why say things that everyone else is already saying? Why speak the obvious problems when I would rather speak my mind about social issues I feel need to be addressed, or present unique solutions to my own life's issues that others might find interesting. (And yes, I enjoy posting about "mundane" matters as well. Can't be serious all the time.) But I would rather people take away the message that they can find genuine happiness and fullfillment, that they are not alone or unusual or "broken" just because of who they are. That things we consider common in life are actually problematic and/or serious.

And if I can reach out to at least one soul and inspire them somehow for the better, then I've accomplished something incredible.

That's my hope anyway. Writing for an hour or so during my lunch break doesn't lead to much in the way of focused, well-thought-out posting. (This post has actually been written over two days, and taken a little more time than it should have...) I suppose I'll have to back to college for something other than a BFA eventually...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Last night,

I dreamed my whole house was clean...

And so it is! Well, almost. My brother and his girlfriend (I wish I could just identify her as my friend, because she is...) came over today and helped me clean up the massive undertaking that was my living room. Gone is the coffee table and the useless vaccuum cleaner! They gave me use of their wonderful Dyson vac again (I had used it to clean my bedroom) and helped me rearrange my living room in a better format.

Wow, it's like, I have some fucking space in here for once! :-D

In other news, I am such an SNES RPG dork! Not only am I rockin' out old school with Chrono Trigger at the moment, I remembered that part of why I liked the game was that I had fallen in love with some of the music.

Has that happened to anyone else? You play some video game or other, with an 8-bit or MIDI soundtrack, and you get at least one song stuck in your head because you think it's just so damn beautiful? And then you think, "but...but...it's a video game!!! I'm not supposed to think highly of music from a video game!" This has happened to me with a few. I was such a dork in my formative years that I actually put a tape recorder up to the television to record parts of the soundtracks of my favorite RPGs. (Lagoon - OMG the music was amazing, Final Fantasy II - obvious, Arcana - again, fucking amazing!!!) But by the time I hit Final Fantasy III and Chrono Trigger, I was no longer inspired to do such silly things.

But then there was Secret of Mana.

There is some fucking beautiful music in this game. It was easy as hell to beat (I rented it and beat it over a weekend. Granted, I stayed up fairly late to do so, and didn't do much of anything else that weekend...) but it just stuck in my mind. It's one of those games that I'd play again, just to experience it. Kinda like Illusion of Gaia now that I think about it... (That water palace...OMG, I would play that game and save it just at that spot, it was so beautiful!)

Anyway, I found the greatest and bestest website ever! Here you can download MP3s of the entire Secret of Mana soundtrack, as it is now out of print.

Personal favorites (the only ones really worth downloading IMO):

"A Wish"
"Close Your Eyelids"
"A Bell is Tolling"
"The Oracle"
"Eternal Recurrence"
"A Conclusion"
"Prophecy"
"The Curse"
"The Legend"
"Still of the Night"
"Ceremony" note: this is a must have piece of music. There is nothing else like it anywhere, and seems way ahead of its time for a video game. This is the song that caused me to look for the SoM soundtrack in the first place.

So yeah, anyone know where I can get a used SNES and these RPGs again? Cuz IMO, the RPG genre took a turn for the worse once polygon graphics and complicated renderings came into play... (Except for Legend of Dragoon. That is a stellar game with actual plot and a fun way of doing battle. Highly recommended.)

Okay, I'm going back to Chrono Trigger now. I just hit a really sad scene that they actually made a little anime clip for in the re-release. It was very beautiful and sad, it made me vechlempt... Must...continue...game...

PS - No worky for me tomorrow! Yay! Thank you Wilma!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Random, girlish thoughts

Well, first off, my mother sent me one of those annoying "women need to protect themselves" emails with big bold type and all the "important" bits in red. The entire thing screams "BE AFRAID! THE WORLD IS DANGEROUS! STAY HOME!" or some such.

Emails like this bother me tremendously.

I do agree that there is cause for caution and common sense. Lock your doors at night, stay in well-lit areas, stick to public places with people in them, etc. etc. And if this email had a different tone to it, one that offered safety tips in a calm, practical manner, I probably wouldn't be so upset about it. In fact, I would read it and go "Ah. This is good information to know." But when I am being told with type that is the equivalent of wide, frightened eyes that because I am a woman the world is a more dangerous place, I can't help but send back a rant of a reply.

You see, my philosohy is very simple: If we as women act and feel like we are vulnerable because of our gender, then we will be treated as if we are vulnerable because of it, and we will be victimized. Oh yes.

This falls into a similar vein of various conversations I've had with random women and girls who tell me the same thing. Because I am a woman, I have to be doubly cautious when venturing out into the world alone.

My only thought is "Why should I consider myself any different from anyone else when my safety is an issue?"

It just gives me the feeling that these women are acting like crabs in a bucket, trying to pull me back down into realms of fear and distrust. I have never felt that the world at large is a dangerous place for me to be in, and so I have rarely encountered situations that made me feel uncomfortable to be in. There are a few exceptions, but I handled them in such a way as to protect myself.

So, to me, the bottom line is to be smart, just like everyone else, and to not let your gender stop you.

In other news, I have decided to act upon a compulsion I have had since my first relationship.

Ever since the idea of marriage has been presented to me, I have had this compulsion to wear some kind of ring on the appropriate finger. I haven't been able to understand it completely. I know it ties in to being with someone I absolutely adore, and a want of commitment and security, but these desires trouble me. They tend to lead me into a life I honestly don't want. So yesterday when I went to buy myself a new pentacle (my last one vanished, which was very appropriate actually) I spotted a ring that I knew I must have. The minute I put it on my finger, I didn't want to take it off.

And now that I have my very own "engaged to myself" ring, I feel somehow more secure. I feel like I won't have a desire for a committed partnership in the same exact way as I have in the past, for now that I am committed to myself, I can fall in love freely and without the need for something "more" from the person of my affections. This feels good. And the ring has a beautiful blue glowing moonstone set in it. A stone sacred to the Goddess herself. How fitting!

The funny thing about your "ring finger" is that it corresponds to a meridian in your engergy system that functions as a protector. It is the source of our "fight or flight" response. How odd that we have chosen this finger as the one to place a ring of commitment to another on.

Of course, now the ring finger on my right hand feels naked. I suppose I shall need another...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Meat Hangover

Brazilian style steakhouses rock.

Well, at least Texas de Brazil does. From the moment you walk in, and realize that this is one classy joint, to the moment you realize you can't possibly eat any more deliciously prepared steak/lamb/pork/chicken and then they bring out the desserts, you know you've had a good time. Well, pricey, but definitely good.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, this style of restaurant charges you simply per plate. You sit at your table with a little card that has a green side and a red side. There are lots of boys running around with various meats on huge skewers. If your card is flipped to the green side, these boys come over to you and offer you whatever meat they are carrying. If your card is flipped to red, they will leave you alone, unless you make eye contact with them or something.

Did I mention that Texas de Brazil (I have been to other restaurants of this ilk before) has some of the most delicious, tender, juciy meats I have ever tasted???

My friend Tony had recommended the place to me. And as I sat in my chair with my little tiara on (hey, it was my birthday after all) being offered tasty cut of meat after tasty cut of meat, I had to text message him. My note to him read "Hands down, bacon-wrapped filet mignon!!!" His response? "Meat coma."

Priceless.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Introspection...

Behind our building at work is a concrete staircase leading to the back parking lot. It is separated by a metal pipe railing that has been rusting at the base for some small time, looseing the rail to the point of being able to lift it out of the ground. Recently, maintenance re-attached it to the concrete with some sort of strange, ugly adhesive that basically looks like a temporary fix. One of my coworkers commented that perhaps it would last until the rest of the pipe rusted away.

It caused me to contemplate the quandry between using temporary solutions vs. outright replacement, and which situations call for what action. I know, it doesn't come off as deep on the surface, but for some reason I found it a profound thought. When it's time to press on, continue, keep something up vs. when it's time to let go, move on, replace. I dunno, it just seems like a good brain munching thought.

Another brain munching thought I've had today revolves around this pervasive feeling of emptiness and lonliness that has been hitting me periodically. Certain events outside myself give me a reason to be happy, and seeing my friends often makes me feel connected to the world, but too often when I am left to my own devices these days I feel restless and hollow. Until it occurred to me that when one has been going through stressful events where one's mind must be constantly working, it is difficult to switch out of said mode of thinking and rest.

Perhaps all I have needed to do is change my perception of things. Tell my brain that it doesn't need to be in hyperactivity mode, constantly looking for the next thing to do, another person to see. I don't even know how I got into this mode of thinking in the first place. Having quiet time to oneself can be one of the greatest pleasures of life.

*shrugs* One of life's mysteries I suppose...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Old Florida

Despite having hated where I spent the majority of my childhood (Ormond Beach, for those who don't know), I have realized over the years something important. Florida is in my blood, and will always be so.

I have been lucky enough to have been taken away from the shoddy tourist traps that are easily accessible from the major interstates, and into the wilds of true Florida. Old Florida. Forests of oak, underbrush of palmetto, beaches unsullied by cars and condominiums. The way Florida was before people got it into their heads that this was a premiere vacatoin paradise.

Florida is not Disney World. Or Universal. Or any other reason why most people flock here. (Well, I'm speaking mainly of Central Florida. South Florida is another kettle of fish entirely, as are the Keys.)

I can't explain it properly, but there's just something about seeing the unspoiled nature of the state that I have called home for far too long. There's also something about the older towns, the ones that never grew into the monstrosities of air-conditioned stucco that so many developers are attempting to create. Finding little out-of-the-way places with a mishmosh of Victorian and 1920's architecture, with a dash of 60's modernism thrown in for spice. Places that my parents have their memories attached to. Summerhaven. Palatka. Lulu. Interlachen. The Ichetucknee River. Places that some of my own memories are attached to.

My parents have a house on a lake in Interlachen. It's one of the most peaceful places you could retreat to. To get there, you drive through either a forest or along a highway sprinkled with some of these small towns. But some of these towns are showing the telltale signs of development. There is construction all along highway 20, roads being widened, a 24-hour Wal-Mart added. When Starbucks shows up then I'll know it's all over. (Don't get me wrong, I love Starbucks, but it is a sign of "progress.")

I don't mind growth. Civilizations expand, it's inevitable. But what developers in Florida have a tendency to do is to buy up huge quantities of this unsullied land on the cheap, raze it of any distinguishing characteristics, and then pollute it with cheap, cookie-cutter housing. They then sell these "McMansions" for entirely too much money, and run off with the profits.

Only sometimes they build in flood zones which buyers aren't aware of.

And sometimes these houses aren't built to properly withstand hurricanes.

And did I mention the landscape being razed of distinguishing characteristics? They prefer to work from a "clean slate" so all of the flora and fauna is wiped away, never to be replaced. Soon there won't be any of Old Florida left. Just an endless sea of identical houses with perfectly landscaped and mulched yards, mind-numbing cul-de-sacs, labyrinth-like street layouts leading to clogged "collector roads." No one will ever think of my Florida as anything but suburbs and amusement parks.

But the memories I have of how things were will whisper to my heart, and I will remember.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Memory Palace

So a friend of mine was telling me last night about how people are able to memorize and recall vast amounts of information quickly. One such method is a "memory palace." It's a place you create in your head, however you want, that you walk through constantly, enough to cement it in your mind. And then, when you want to remember things, you place things that bring whatever you want to remember to mind in your palace, and when you want to recall them you walk through your memory palace and find them.

That is, if I'm explaining it right.

The whole idea of this is fascinating. He was telling me about how the mind actually remembers better by movement and location, rather than just raw data. It's part of our oft-forgotten animalistic nature. Another piece of the puzzle is that the more we repeat something, the stronger the memory becomes, and once we have a strong enough memory of something, we can lay a short-term memory over the stronger long-term memory, and it will be that much easier to recall, because you are using a well-traveled neural pathway (how memories are formed) instead of creating a new one.

Pretty neat, huh?

Of course, the romantic in me just loves the term "Memory Palace." It sounds beautiful. Perhaps I shall make my own...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Woohoo!

I have just narrowly avoided overdraft fees! I rule!

I ended up spending a smidge more than I should have (breakups seem to do this to me), and when I went to check my finances yesterday I discovered that I had the exact amount of my rent available plus thirty five cents extra. I sweated it out through the rest of yesterday and today, but hey! The banks are done transacting for the day, and I get paid by direct deposit at midnight!

*I dance with a soldier's glee*

Tee hee. The check hasn't even been processed yet! But I shan't tempt my luck by spending what I most certainly do not have, even if it is just until midnight.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

What a long, strange week it has been...

So yeah, I um broke up with my boyfriend at about 3:30 last Wednesday morning. I realized I wouldn't be able to wake up for work, or even wake up in time to call in, so I ran off to Denny's with a friend until the designated call-in time. Took Wednesday off, felt frustrated and remorseful. Felt the same on Thursday, and sent an email to him on Friday. His response irked me, so I was rather miffed all of Saturday, and sent him a more tense email in reply. Got a response on Sunday that made me even more agitated, to the point of outright bitching. So then Monday morning I find an email that makes me so royally pissed I had to write a very long, angry email full of cheap shots that I had to edit before I could send off. This pissed him off, and he sent an angry response back, repeating the thing to me that had set me off in the first place. I get it Monday night, fly into a blind rage, send back a response where I type so hard that I nearly break my keyboard in half, and run off crying to my friends.

And then in talking to my friends I gained perspective, let go of the anger, went back home, and found him online. We talked some things through, and made up as best we could for the moment.

Now I'm just back to being sad, but we're friends.

Was this the fastest break-up/make-up ever, or am I just delusional?
 
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