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selva oscura
16 May 2019 @ 02:07 am
so i get it
you want to know the time,
i respond with the bible
three times over
triggered by a rosewater-soaked madeleine.
lesson learned!

you’ll take your comments
about the weather
over the broadcast.

i must possess
some degree
of self-restraint

or not. you know,
it’s best not to engage
someone like me
without a proper dowry
of engagement,
at least a promissory note.

if i said i kept a running list
of the hypocrisies and failures
of people like you, would you
pity me for being small,
withdraw your attentions
from my negativity,
or become aroused?

one of those, i suspect,
if not something else entirely.

i’m always forgetting myself.
selva oscura
15 May 2019 @ 03:19 pm
january 11th, 2005
i'm going to talk to you now about steam radiators. they are a defining presence in a room. at three feet tall i could tell you something about commanding a space from the corner but who's to say if that command is active, elected, something to be questioned, or if it is solely ceremonial.

the radiator must have something to say, but it does not speak my language, nor do i not speak the radiator's language. the language the radiator speaks is one of squeaks and hissing and growls. you'll forget about a radiator until it starts its muttering. i got something to tell you, it might be saying. i just don't know what it is. the room is transformed in that little frustration. you thought you were here alone? there's always another opinion about that, be it the opinion of your muttering radiator or the solicitation calls that keep ringing your phone. "do not hang up," the phone will say, if you pick it up; "this is not a solicitation." another solicitation, you'll mutter to yourself, radiator-like, full of hisses and growls, and hang up.

i had a steam-powered radiator in both iowa dorm rooms, the exhausting fifties pastiche pink tissue box and the carpeted, historically significant and haunted accordingly, room with a prime view of the tar-papered first level roof. with regard to that second radiator especially, i will tell you it is a lot more human in presence than central heat. in your own world. thinking you are there alone. thinking long iowa thoughts. suddenly the radiator stirs, stirs into banging, bangs around, whistles some uncanny little song, and starts heaving sighs. a human awareness, in its way; one that seems to enjoy a good startled pencil-tip snap from the room's sole corporeal occupant and subsequently heats the room in a reluctant, almost cynical fashion. i wasn't supposed to be here today.

mostly, i kept the radiator shaft shut. all the way. if i turned that crank just a millimeter, that 10'X17' haven would become an unimaginable hothouse perhaps only livable to my contemporaries versed in homegrown menageries of rhododendrons, exotic lizards, and/or closet weed. so i'd crank the radiator and once i'd sweated out my last fever i'd crank it shut again, soon to find myself shivering. my eventual strategy: i'd open it that hothouse millimeter and crack the window to whatever degree would counterbalance. yes, here in iowa we open our windows in the dead of january and no, we wouldn't (couldn't!) have it any other way.

sitting on my bedroom floor, xena on the television. sweet patchouli, bless my soul, in the incense bowl. sorting through my latest acquisition of CDs from my beloved fiercely independent underground orpheus who makes up the three year interim between check clearing and product delivery by sending me the exact opposite of what i (probably?) ordered. the hidden costs of closet weed! wonder how much of a buzz i could get off these liner notes? wearing the fixer-stained "love will tear us apart" shirt and jeans that sure do remember when with every tear and white-threaded fray. a little concerned.

maybe i've hit a loop.

music: bowery electric - black light
selva oscura
10 May 2019 @ 05:12 pm
december 10 2004
no psychotherapy for a few days, alright?

i need to write about something other than the workings of one part of an entire system that needs expression. expression, as a whole. wanna write with my knees for a while. say hello, collarbone. thumbnail, speak! why do you always break a few hours after i observe you at your most beautiful? maybe i've intuited the coming break. admire ye thumbnails while ye may.

windrose order in today. boxes and boxes of fragrances, of perfumed and perfuming goods in contact with themselves, pressed together until that sweetness merges into an indefinable, sickly sameness that permeates every surface, every paper and cardboard, all that stabilizing styrofoam. it almost seems to weaken the fibers: cardboard buckles from the scent. i am, hands and jeans and sweater sleeves, permeated, too. light my tip, blow out the flame, and let me smolder, some days. walk past dad in the garage when i get home, without even needing to turn: judy's home from work! windrose's note is amber dhoop that lost the battle (but won the war.) everything remembers the amber, it's windrose's alamo. there's also sort of a synthetic rose flavor about, maybe in honor of the company name, an olfactory re-enactment of that cheerful bouncy logo printed on the catalogue cover. incense from india orders tend to be overwhelmed by the harsher notes of their most popular charcoal dips: "sin," a musky sort of perfume floral; "lotus blossom," grape scented suntan oil; and that horrible blasted coconut that overwhelms everything. there's an abrasiveness there, an almost chemical smell. it swells shut my sinuses. it makes both my ears sound like crinkling cardstock. sage spirit, of course, has a dried herbal sage-y sureness about it, but they are different from spirit dancer sage in that sage spirit has this unpleasant high-pitched comment it makes, i wonder if it is the cedar? spirit dancer's flagship product is that white sage they grow in great lots*, i think that must have something to do with it; the other vendors supply more desert sage, sage possessing the violence of surviving in the desert at its core.

each of our vendors has a different quality about them. even if they sell the same products, the feel associated with them, the scent and touch: something indefinable is changed, from the source.

twitch in the ear, inside my head sounds like earthquakes. i'm rubbing at the shell, i'm poking at the mouth of the cave. the next spasm rumbles: what's going on, in there? something's not real happy. something's not quite right.

december 14th
eleven days, then, until ben is here: almost to the single digits. single digits: almost to the toes, we'll say, this-little-piggy territory, there's a hand in it, though, yet.

[box for waiting: open hand, palmistry diagram except perhaps with constellations. poem in japanese about waiting. five days to the hold:]

am i running out of words? i always saw words like rabbits in breeding season: let loose a few and you'll have a hundred by morning. now i've found myself stammering even in here, where i am not normally inhibited (and so cannot say this is a matter of shyness?) perhaps i am analyzing the ink-worthiness of that endless psychoanalysis i criticized myself about the other day. maybe i'm just transitioning again: two journals full in a little over a year after years and years of not writing a thing between blank book covers might indicate transition, the spring days stretch to a languid summer: but i am tired of all this leaving of spring i must keep doing, i want my words to always be wild, fecund, beautiful if a little unruly. maybe i'd do better to say i'm always transitioning through the seasons, that perhaps i've changed now from an autumn of self-reflection and evaluation to arrive at winter: seeds below for some wanton wild spring in a time not too long from these darker months.

i'm just frustrated, with the fallow periods. it seems like i've been one for so long.
* wow, i wrote this a long time ago. i'm not sure spirit dancer is still in business (i might have heard something about a wildfire) and in the fifteen years since i wrote this, ethically sourcing salvia apiana has become increasingly difficult (but it's not listed as endangered, yet.) white sage has served me dearly over the years. now, she needs more humans to better understand the politics of white sage and maybe retrain some behaviors. for the record? there's a bunch of other kinds of sage out there, much of it easier to grow (so i've heard) and rosemary, juniper and marjoram make excellent alternatives for smudging that i've come to prefer in certain circumstances. also: if you're into that wildcrafting scene or thinking of getting into it, read this entire article twice, please.

music: vas - sevdama
selva oscura
my brain is strange and unsettling
sometimes i just leave it that way

ritual instructions: gather
  • your body (clothing optional)
  • private space where you may work unobserved and uninterrupted, to specify
  • in order of preference: a dark room/a room that can be reasonably darkened/an opaque scarf/your eyelids
  • a candle (one with a meaningful personal history preferred*)
  • some manner of purification (breath, storm, dirt, weeping, rosemary, juniper, sage, palo santo, egg, rattle, singing bowl, bell, salt water, florida water, black tourmaline, metal consecrated toward this purpose, emphatic gestures, intention spoken in a commanding voice)
  • an image related to you if not of you
  • anointing agent (blessed water, holy smoke, properly diluted (!!!) essential oil, condition oil, perfume or nearest approximate, voice)
  • a moment in time when your sister will probably not attempt to call on the house line and contingencies should this occur, because it very possibly will, you and she are connected on many subtle levels; she has a number of the very capacities driving you toward this behavior: just a lot of very different application methods
  • a moment in time
  • a mirror

  • put your phone in airplane mode. unless you plan to use your phone's technology to document some aspect of this ritual (i frequently record) put away your phone. i understand. it is an act of faith. i understand. who knows who could be calling. who knows what the president might do. put your phone away, regardless, please. you will be reunited shortly. comfort yourself with the knowledge: this is a magical act.

    enter your space. prepare your body. perform those tasks you perform to initiate ritual: purify, ground and center, make circle. take charge of the space. return your attention to the task. return your attention to the task. return your attention to the task.

    light the candle. notice the flame. be with the flame. gaze at it. stare at it. look at it. what's the difference? look at it with your eyes focused. look at it with blurred vision. look at it with your eyes closed. how does it change? move from side to side, tracking the flame. move from side to side, not tracking the flame. examine the flame's boundary: where does it end? examine the flame's boundary: where does it begin? after looking at the flame for several seconds, close your eyes and witness the remainder of that flame as it disintegrates. experience this flame as another awareness in the space with you. understand that you are not alone.

    with that knowledge, take up your image. be with your image. gaze at it. stare at it. look at it. what's the difference? look at it with your eyes focused. look at it with blurred vision. look at it with your eyes closed. how does it change? examine what separates you from this distinct image: how are you different now? examine what bonds you with this distinct image: what remains the same? after looking at your image for several seconds, close your eyes and witness the remainder of your image as it disintegrates. what do you notice first? what do you release, last? what do you anticipate seeing when you again open your eyes? experience this image as another awareness in the space with you. understand that this distinct image possesses its own distinct life cycle, that this image will experience things you will never experience, that you have experienced things this image will never even know about. think of what has happened since the inception of this image. consider the memories that surface in this process. choose one such story and tell it to your image. after you are finished, listen for and give voice to the story with which your image responds.

    understand that you are not alone.

    using the anointing agent, bless yourself. anoint the top of your head. anoint the bottoms of each foot. anoint any place in-between that you feel called to anoint. remind yourself you are loved. remind yourself you are remembered. thank that which brings you to this blessing and at least begin to forgive, with any trauma-necessitating qualifiers, something that may have taken you from it. name names. or: don't.

    take up the mirror. this might be difficult. acknowledge the difficulty. forgive the difficulty. remember the flame, here in the room with you. remember your presence, here in the room with you. do you want to understand your reflection in the mirror in the manner you understood the flame and your image? do so. do you not want to understand your reflection in the mirror in the manner you understood the flame and your image? don't. the important function for this moment is to experience the mirror's reflection as another awareness in the room with you. the important function for this moment is to remember that you are not alone.

    acknowledge and thank the flame, then extinguish it, meditating for a moment on how the energy shifts. if the room is dark, proceed. if the room cannot be darkened, cover the mirror with the scarf. if you could not source a scarf, close your eyes.

    covered or uncovered, your eyes closed or open, gaze into the mirror. open yourself to the function of reflection. understand that it is happening despite the obfuscation of your vision: if you in the darkness of this space is not being reflected, then the scarf. feel for the action of reflection in space and time. know it is there. how does it feel? what does it mean? what words come to you, in this intermediary space of seeing and being seen? speak those words. speak this truth. speak it until you have spoken it through.

    when it is time, return. thank everyone and everything that needs to be thanked. wriggle your toes. breathe in awareness. speak your name, three times, out loud. remember what you've most recently eaten. go eat something else. when you're ready, retrieve your phone and check in with the post.

    TRANSPARENCY MOMENT: this ritual is very much like rituals i have done and even borrows parts from other workings (for example, i've engaged in variations of that flame witnessing exercise since i was 14), but i haven't technically performed this ritual yet. i intended to describe an experience i had on beltane (may 1st) but it crumbled in my hands (true to form!) so i dropped into that failure, trance wrote for an hour and came out the other side with this. i expect to run it in the next couple days; this may inspire modifications. wouldn't it be funny if one of my readers tried it before me? almost as funny as finding out i actually have a reader!**

    i know, i know. understand you are not alone

    *i have a lot of these
    **BWAHAHAHAHA (sob)
    music: tunnel singer - rememberance
    selva oscura
    27 April 2019 @ 03:23 pm
    november 6th, 2004
    how the pages slip from between our fingers. words and words and words and words. we pile them up, when the pauses get threatening: tell me what you were going to do say again what did you follow me did you hear my question me i said don't question me you have no right to question your questions are not valid only mine answer my question you don't deserve the space you need to answer and

    no wonder i'd fall into silence for months at a time. just so you know, i've been working on things, but what works for me may not work for you. there's a comfort, of a sort, of a means, to letting the reins slip, to letting the next word come. instead of saying: i will talk about this now. you may anticipate a certain level of coherence and at least late secondary school vocabulary. i will steer fiercely in this direction until it makes so much sense it makes even less sense than intentionally free form mindstreamofconscious silly babble, and

    i will fall back into myself from three miles up. feel the strings snap, the rubberband's twang. oh, give me a day or two to quit rattling; i'll be more in myself than i ever have been, at least i suppose, from my three miles up looking back down. there's always another word to put after the last. whether it is the right word or not.

    mood: oddly resonant
    music: the tunnel singer - sea stars
    selva oscura
    26 April 2019 @ 07:24 pm
    and could really use a few hours in a sensory deprivation tank

    mood: twitch
    music: not sure i like it
    selva oscura
    22 April 2019 @ 06:45 pm
    on balance, i think it's fair to say that i am one of the most patient people i've met.

    i'm still nowhere near patient enough to be a pharmacist.
    mood: dear god
    music: deuter - khumbe
    selva oscura
    all of a sudden this afternoon i find my instagram feed full of ads for weight loss products
    selva oscura
    14 April 2019 @ 03:26 am
    i wonder how long it will be until i’ve surrendered my weight in diagnostic materials.

    in summary, the results of my breast biopsy were negative. thank you to everyone who reached out to me in any and every way during that mind fuck of a week after several weeks of mind fucks.

    cancer is a goddamn mind fuck. so you know. in case you didn't. as if you couldn't. goddamnit.

    april first, we went to my hospital’s breast care center. in the waiting room, they gathered preliminaries. had me sign the day’s latest stack of releases. do i want to name a spokesperson? for the sixteenth time since 2012, i name ben as a spokesperson. they called me in and showed me, as a patient, and ben, as my spokesperson, to my first exam room.

    to the clinic, i wore mock surplus utility pants from the target men's department, stable on my hips but not continually in meaningful contact with the flesh of my legs. these are currently my favorite pants, you see; they are some twelve years old, you see; they are falling apart, you see; i do not know what i will do when they become unwearable. they might be unwearable now? i try not to wear them outside too much, if only to prolong their dwindling lifespan. it’s a challenging discipline, as these pants are ideal for walks. my phone fits easily in the side pockets. the fit is loose so it doesn't look weird when i carry my phone, and i can also stow my keys. wearing these pants, i do not need the flagship gender identifier of a purse - in fact, i don’t need any variation of carrying sack to slow me down or strain my shoulders. what i need to carry goes right in my pockets. i have a place for tissues, and they're less likely to get all tangled up in a tight opening so that i only realize tissues have been sticking awkwardly out of my sides halfway through an appointment for which i care about things like snotty tissues sticking out of my pants. for the appointment i'd stashed my lotus seed mala, figuring i might want breathe a cycle in an in-between place. i didn't, but it was good to know it was there. on a hunch that i was not going to like pulling a fitted crewneck shirt over my head immediately after the procedure (also: for a week and a half afterward), i chose a black button down from my chain retail days: i was right about the shirt, wrong about my hair. there’s always something. i’ve been pinning my hair up with these miniature butterfly-style clips since my trip to canada. they do not make for good exam table hair. braided elastic would have been better.

    strip to the waist, the clinician told me in my first exam room. take off everything, including your bra, and change into this. she handed me a teal smock i'm convinced she picked special for me. the color looked downright smashing in contrast with my fresh blood hair. were it not a front-opening radiology smock i had to vigilantly clutch shut with my hand, i might have asked where i could get one for myself. still, these smocks were my favorites. at some point i developed a relatively strong opinion about which radiology clinic has the best smocks. i don’t know what that means, but it clearly means something.

    in my first exam room, the clinician took my blood pressure, then walked me out to the hallway and stood me on the scale. why isn’t anyone saying anything about my current relationship with the scale and how, in recent months, i have occasionally regarded information gathered from one with mild alarm? shouldn't i be chastised? wouldn’t i be chastised if the numbers were going the opposite way? labeled, at least, the big chart penalty, i suspect at least as fun as how the first page of all my paperwork autofilled by the clinic for two of my major fields of concern will eyefull you with the sexy words "cancerous" and "goiter?" the weight loss, i'm not sure what to do it about it. i'm struggling with feelings of guilt and persecution. i feel like i have to make excuses for it, and it is happening because i am suffering.

    also, yeah. so i’m also kind of

    hot. right?

    so, confession: this is not a comfortable situation for me. i can’t even say i’m not occasionally pulling on a camisole, skin tight jeans and indulging the random “look at me now, asshole” fantasy, nor can't i say that some of my invented scenarios are elaborate, at least to scale with some of my wounds, but hey, it's for the exclusive benefit of the full length mirror. i could never emerge from my apartment so prideful and exposed. my body is not a weapon or a rate of exchange and i will not reduce her to such. in reality, i wear mostly men's clothing in front of other people, and i wear it mostly at minimum one size too big. i wear mostly men's clothing because i do not trust women's clothing, which is frequently expensive, flimsy, and, in my experience, poorly engineered to provide the types of services clothing should provide, such as: a reasonable place to put my house key and smart phone, which is roughly the size of a small notebook. sometimes it's nice to carry around a small notebook and pen, as well or instead, and i can reasonably do that. women's clothing is unpredictable; all of a sudden the cool kids could be teasing you about some feature that you latched on to (or that happened to be trending during some long ago time when you had money to splurge on trendy clothes) when it was "fashionable," like how assholes started shaming boot cut jeans on the exact fucking day i found boot cut jeans that looked damn good on me and i know, envy, envy, it is the devourer of souls, the annihilator of dungarees.

    put it blunt: sure, i like dressing up like a girl from time to time, but most of the time when in women’s clothes i'm just biding my time until i can get home, put on something warm and sturdy and feel like myself again. in part i wear men's clothing as a method of working on my ability to trust men, in part i wear it because it is more cost effective. primarily, i believe wearing it helps me hide from men. men have noticed i was slender before, you see. quite a number of times that did not go very well for me.

    facebook update from 2013: “whenever someone uses an unfamiliar word to describe an item of women's clothing, i just assume it means 'ugly pants.’”

    up on the three computer screens in the exam room, my look book of worrisome imaging. there it all is, just up there on the screen. for the first time, really, i can look at all of it: the pictures from march, the pictures from september and august. pictures from a few years earlier than that. i wouldn't look at first. angry, scared, something. powerless. ashamed. hours earlier i'd lain awake in bed trying to not deliberate between my options at a positive result that privileged options: if i'd get a lumpectomy, if i'd consider a mastectomy, if i'd do only do the affected one or if i'd do both, if i'd get reconstructive surgery. maybe i’ll get genetic testing to decide about a mastectomy, i thought, and then oh my god, stop. i didn't sleep very much. this is where i am, not where i could be. not where i'm going or where i have been. this is the moment i am in. this is the moment i am in. in that moment, i looked at the profile of dense tissue surrounding the finding in my mammogram. it struck me, how much it looked like nebula. my vision blurred over. i thought about sitting on the floor.

    then the nurse came into the room and did three things a healthcare professional has never done before:

    1) walked me through the basics of how to read a mammogram,
    2) asked me detailed questions about my mother’s cancer: what happened? what do you know about her diagnosis? how was she treated? how has she been since? has anyone in your family had genetic testing?
    3) she verified my self-exam technique, talked to me about genuinely productive frequency (“once a month is a good measure, but some of my patients go a little longer than that - every two months is better for some women. it is possible to do it too much,” she said. “you want to find a good balance. if you overdo it you might not be able to track a significant change.” then she tried to teach me how to detect the finding with touch; i couldn’t find it, but it made me feel something, something i’ve never felt with regard to this issue:


    this is mine. this belongs to me. over the course of explaining what she felt was going on, it became apparent that she doesn't entirely agree with those conclusions reached by the previous clinic. she told me she would be comfortable scaling back to a less invasive approach. six-month sonogram check-ins. i’d been doing that. i’ve done that before. the primary factors here: my family history and the 4mm of growth.

    there is a tentacle of this story i am not telling, and it involves the appointment i had at another clinic in march. a clinic to which i will not be returning, in fact. the appointment that scared me so bad that fear fueled me right through to this moment, where i look down at my shoes, i sport new balance sneakers to avoid a narrow path and think about what she is saying: and i really fucking think about what she is saying: and aspects of that appointment pile up and emotional detritus from the last eight months have been leaching into the soil and i want to walk away, but the appointment is made, the tools are ready, and the thing is?

    i need my life back from this specific question.

    i need to do it. not knowing has gone too far. some of it goes back to distortion from the haze of fear that wouldn’t start to disperse until a few hours after i’ve received a negative result; some of it is something bigger, something propelling me forward, something i need to know. that i can do. that i am able to do. that i am able to confront, at last.

    i said goodbye for the moment to ben. the nurse walked me to a private waiting area where i stuff my shirt and bra at the bottom of a composite board locker and wait through two other patient waiting room interactions and several minutes besides. i answer questions about jewelry and bathrooms. yeah, you’re going to want to take that off for a mammogram, but maybe don't leave it in the locker, maybe put it in your purse. they want you to bring in your purse. down the hall, turn right and look up, the sign will guide you from there. (i hope. confession: i am terrible at giving directions. of course i am, i can’t tell left from right.) i read a four page article in a stinky rifled cosmopolitan about women traumatized by the love waits movement. i turn a page to discover a tutorial you can (helpfully, passive-aggressively?) give to your man about cunnilingus. it is heavy on ikea-style illustration and not, in my estimation, particularly helpful. the perfume samples start making me nauseous so i drop the magazine back on the table. i fan out the other magazines behind it. i arrange the magazines like an escalator. i line up all their corners in a neat simple stack. i wish i’d brought a book. in the waiting room alone, sitting on an otherwise empty couch, i stare at the empty couch in front of me and wait, clutching closed my smock.

    to a degree, until last night, i was still fidgeting with magazines in the waiting room. to a degree, until last night, i wasn’t acknowledging the gravity of what i’d done. what i’d decided to do. what i did.

    i do a little purification rite when i'm getting ready to shower. i grab my jar of sage from under the altar, pull out a single leaf and put it in the clay flower pot saucer i use for smudging. i ignite the sage and wave the smoke around myself, trying to direct it where and how it is needed. if i’m in need of an especially thorough purification and really feeling on the ball, i’ll augment with karma moffett’s ocean bowls or a good field recording of rain, but ben was listening to bowery electric in the next room and that felt right, in the moment. as the sage winked out i sat there blinking, realizing something, understanding it in a new way.

    i did it.

    i did one of the things i was most afraid of, regarding an issue that has repeatedly, several times over the last six years, dropped me into healthcare-flavored emotional paralysis.

    i did it even when i had a reasonable out.

    i did what i needed to do to reclaim my body from cancer’s goddamn mind fuck.

    from healthcare’s goddamn mind fuck.

    from the goddamn mind fuck of my own fear.

    for the time being, this one time, i did it.

    so can it gently fade into the background, now, for a few months at least?
    selva oscura
    26 March 2019 @ 05:05 pm
    then there's the still-unscheduled biopsy for The Thing In My Right Breast. at least today, it was not for lack of trying.

    called the breast center at the hospital where i had my thyroidectomy, recommended to me recently by a recent survivor. they don't do biopsy. got transferred to their associated radiology clinic, they wanted me to give them specifics about the requested procedure that i could not give without looking at the database i'm pretty sure they were looking at while we talked. got transferred to a different branch. they were confused about different things. got transferred, finally, to the branch i don't exactly want to do a biopsy at but fine, if they can get me in and we can get this over with so i can maybe start living in my body again some time in the foreseeable future? but apparently, this isn't just something you can just schedule? you have to talk to the clinic's "biopsy coordinator."

    she was in a meeting.

    the scheduling person requested i call back in a half hour. i asked which number i should call and she told me, "oh, just the one you called originally." not able to keep the sob out of my voice any longer, i said okay and hung up without explaining i had no fucking idea what that number was, as i'd been transferred more times than years i've been alive and i just really want to get this fucking thing scheduled before i go catatonic about it, which is a real risk, here.

    forty-five minutes later i called the phone number posted on the webpage for my not-first choice branch and found myself explaining the whole situation* again to a new scheduling person on the clinic's general scheduling line. after waiting on hold for several minutes, i was told the coordinator would be in tomorrow morning at seven and requested i call back then. i should just use that same phone number, because their branch

    does not

    have a direct line.

    i mean... what.

    so yeah, that's not... making me feel like this is a normal thing that almost every woman goes through at least once, maybe more than once, and it's almost always "totally fine." i'm finding that this is what a lot of women cancer patients are told, it's almost always totally fine, until we are told we have cancer.**

    correction: it's how a lot of women cancer patients are handled.

    and i'm sick of it. i am so fucking sick of being handled as a woman cancer patient. i am so fucking sick of being minimized and marginalized by the only institution i can turn to for accountable help. talk to me about what is happening. tell me what is actually going on. don't shove a bunch of pink "awareness" crap over the documentation of what is going on in my body. and let me schedule the fucking appointment you told me it was no big deal to schedule with less than four calls in under two days, dig?


    * the whole situation being: "hello, scheduling person. i need to schedule a biopsy."
    **then we don't have any tools to deal with the reality of our not totally fine situation, because almost everybody in our immediate experience, friends! family! doctors! only ever tell you, only ever insist on believing themselves, that it will be totally fine, which is more handling. sometimes it isn't totally fine, sometimes it's totally horrible, and what would actually be helpful for us to hear (from the people who love us, so long as they mean it) is no matter what happens, i love you and will be here for you.
    music: dark mood
    selva oscura
    24 March 2019 @ 03:22 am
    september 9th 2004
    today i went to the arboretum after work. what will i do, without the arboretum? let's not think about it. it's getting darker, faster. today the arboretum had a presence its not had for me before. i parked my car and walked loop four: sometime i will start at noon and walk all four loops. the fourth loop is new, and it's sort of got its own opinion about how the arboretum works. you walk out there and the colors are different. tonight winter desolation was hinted at, something in the graying shadows. oh yes, there were benches, signs, niceties. but the fourth loop hasn't forgotten her brutal wilderness, yet, and she wants to make sure you are aware of this. what am i saying?

    i walked down the one trail. scruggles and wood. i walked down another trail. deciduous green, backlit. shadows and green, sharp contrasts. the path scrapes and crackles. found a bench, started whispering to myself about cicely and jared. because they were out there in the fourth loop today, but far older than jared, at least, could have been. cicely, at jared's funeral, how the trail leads into the chapel. mulch dissolves to a red velveteen runner. cicely looks into the tangle of roots erupting at the bottom of a fallen tree to see what looks like a white veil, really a nest of tent caterpillars. cicely and jared followed me out into the thicket, one of those perfect cusp-of-autumn thickets, the thick dying grasses bowed over themselves in multitudes. queen anne's lace too scattered to make its usual texture, instead conflating itself with occasional woodsmoke. again, that hint of blue winter light around the edge of things, tungsten tinge, or maybe evidence of a print fading out with the years. eventually all will be silence, this blotchy white rash breaking out over the season. i loved that moment and i moved on from it too fast. like i do. something pulls me toward the ground. makes me want to lie with outstretched arms. hair full of dirt and grass, i'd tumble down the slight incline. maybe not, though, since there's a road. i left that moment and moved on to the next. cicely in the church opens her prayer missal. pressed the page flat, takes her pen from her pack. "i can't believe him," she writes in her journal, and writes some more. jared stumbles back into the scene and the argument ensues. he's dropped without telling her, without checking with her first, without offering to share. he's testing her. he needs to know. she's angry. she's tired of being tested. she needs him to figure out what he knows already. he is wise with LSD. "i don't know who you are, today," he tells her, shaking his head with great concern. "i can't believe you," he says, his echo unrealized. i wonder. did she pass his test?

    when will i ever not be writing this book i'm not writing? and oh, the sex, arguably the whole reason i'm throwing this funeral, why have i quarantined it so? wondering: where are my stories? i'd come up with ten of them in a day, sometimes. i'm so afraid that i'm not losing the ability to write but not finding the ability to engage a reader - and the path breaks for a road, white painted bridge marking - and there's this stranger behind me, not too clear where he's going, he's got an ancient collegiate sweatshirt and a flaming neon green fanny pack - and he takes the path i am taking, walking up fast behind me, too fast, uncomfortably fast, shooting up hopefully imagined flags in his path, and what do you do? out in the woods alone, car far away, maybe i should run the other way? but he's intent and i stop to the side and fidget with my water bottle,* look at the collapsed trees there in the woods, give him a good head start to conceal himself somewhere ahead of me so he can jump out next time i'm standing with wide blinking eyes, widely spread fingers, my mouth hanging open?

    have i mentioned my flannel, hardly a reliable defense against biting insects and also too hot to deal with for long passages, at least until i took it off for a minute and found myself shivering? i have ten bug bites, the majority of them in a slightly curving line at the place where my neck curves into my shoulder on the left side. the other couple are on the right, the largest mirroring the largest on the left. one small one on my scalp. so, eleven bites total. my collar hangs loose around the back of my neck. it's september and i'm in no mood to surrender black camisoles. one or two buttons done up on the flannel, mostly it's held close by my bag's strap. could it be the rosewater? it could be some conspiracy of my already vulnerable chemistry and corn syrup. let's venture it's something like that.

    10 september
    i want to feel warm. i want to feel safe. i want to, for a day, for a week, feel comforted and secure. i want to feel like what i intend to feel like when i pull my hands up into the sleeves of an oversized flannel work shirt in early september and curl up by the open window in the cool dark for the night. i want to feel secure in my skin. like i belong here. like i did before. like i've never been allowed.**

    *[small confession regarding personal abuses of smart phones, also there's a reason the stainless steel water bottle i've carried since 2010 could double for a nightstick]

    music: vidna obmana - isolation/refuge
    selva oscura
    i look into the mirror. a stranger’s face flashes in the glass. the woman’s face is green and gold, rooted and primal, alarming to glance. she is crowned with roots and jewels, donned in strange finery. i must not have seen such an image. i turn away and the image vanishes, confirming my guess, but then i’m seeing her face again. over mine. instead of mine. i am fearful of the face. i don’t understand why i am seeing it. it disappears from my perspective. i am again relieved, but slightly less so. i decide to distract myself with another task and feel certain the mirror will return to normal mirror behavior if i don’t let my eyes catch it from the side. even as i strategize, i see the image a third time and am overcome with fear: then i realize i couldn’t possibly be seeing what i think i am seeing, that it must be a dream and riding on that last startle i wake up, then wake up again, then wake up again. awake but not awake yet, awake inside the dream, i puzzle in a bed i didn't fall asleep in about how i could ever manage to write down such a dream. i wonder how worthwhile it is, to write down such a dream when i’ve written it down so many times before. in the dream i was in layers of waking and dreaming and documentation; it truly felt like i must have already written this dream down. [dream (concluding fragment), 3-28-2018 3:40AM, at a hotel in the northwest chicago suburbs]

    yesterday's spring equinox ritual, culminating in a dialogue with that face in the mirror:

    writing myself awake.

    the shape of it, i know the shape of it. the shape things will take. the shape of things to come. shape it out of nothing: we are as we are, we are what we are, no more, no less: shapes cut out of that swatch of oblivion, what we are before waking, that is who we are before we remember the shape of, the shape of, the shape:

    beauty has been made into an obstacle. it was supposed to be a beacon, a calling out to the beloved; to bring together, to couple in divine ecstasy. instead, now, it is a gate through which only a few may pass. instead, now, it is a facade with nothing behind it, an unattainable, unsustainable, ultimately meaningless metric intended to isolate and wound. instead, now, beauty has been reduced to the consumer commodity of physical attractiveness. physical attractiveness cannot be maintained. beauty simply changes form.

    what is beauty? do we know how to see it? do we know what we find beautiful, or are we being told? who is beautiful, and how is that beauty received? is an experience of beauty acknowledged as a gift, or is it expected as a parasitic entitlement? is an experience of beauty acknowledged as a gift, or is it used to take something away? when we name someone beautiful, is that simply one of the many names we give them, or is it the only name we allow? do we negotiate beauty by abandoning it to itself? do we limit beauty to one unsustainable moment's perfection, or do we allow it to evolve?

    in the dream, you recoiled in fear when you saw my reflection in place of your own. in waking reality, you recoil from your own reflection. where is beauty in this equation? if you will not give beauty to yourself, how can you give it to anyone, at least not in a way that is ultimately destructive? gaze through what you are afraid of seeing in your mirror. know it is there, if not necessarily in the way you are afraid of it.

    self-hatred is a warding.
    it keeps you from your own magic.
    it cuts you off from source.
    source longs for you as you long for source.
    source longs for your return.

    3. the green woman, from the wildwood tarot, mark ryan & john matthews, illustrated by will worthington. sterling, 2011.

    looking into your own eyes, what do you remember? do you remember the words of a beloved (you are allowed to have more than one), do you remember the words of a song, do you remember anything at all? memory is an act of worship. it is a holy offering. it is a form of sustenance, a path out of oblivion, a way to keep oneself this side of eternity. it is our oldest ritual, and, like beauty, it can be turned against any of us at any moment in time. be wary of any mortal who wields memory as a weapon. to control. to chastise. to limit and shame. they have lost the path. they have forgotten who they are: or they never gave it a real thought in the first place, a greater evil than overt acts of sabotage: apathy. those who are not living for something are not living for anything. when the time comes to cross over, there will be nothing left of them to cross. they will end. they will cease. they will not transform. they have chosen to end themselves.

    memory is something to live for. live for it. live through it.

    memory is an act of worship. it can, however, also be used to wound: and, sometimes, memory itself is a wound. when it hurts to remember, we must remember more. not necessarily of what wounds us, though that will be part of the process eventually. we must remember why we remember. why memory is our birth rite, our source, our most revolutionary act. we live in a time of forgetting. we live in a time in denial of time. we live in a society that exploits a romanticized notion of memory for profit but ultimately delivers nothing worthy of remembering. costly experiences that will only build craving for the next costly experience. beauty and memory have been distorted, have been abused, have been depleted in the service of the wealthy oblivion of an ugly few. who are you in a world like this? what do you see when you look into your own eyes?

    fear can be a tool. fear can be protective. fear can be a warding, keeping you away from your true path. fear can block out the space around what your path truly is: fear can tell you who you are. what you need. what you desire. like beauty, like memory, the nature of fear is not one thing or another. like memory, like beauty, what matters is not the existence of fear, but how fear is interpreted. what are you afraid of? how does your fear demonstrate who you are? who you've been? who you will be, moving out of this moment and into eternity?

    fear shapes us. it is one of our core influences. it brings us to who we are, just as sure as it takes us from who we might be. what if, instead of letting fear direct our behaviors, dictate that which we will and cannot do, we learned to dance with it? what if we let fear shade the landscape, allow us to see things we might not have otherwise seen, experience the world in a strange and distinct way? what if we simply stayed with our fear as a loved one, not an antagonist, not an executioner? fear of, fear of, fear of what?

    all the things we remember, fearfully. all the fantasies we construct under the guidance of fear. the stories we tell ourselves. the limitless possibilities of things that can go wrong. fear is a creative irritant. fear can be a healing poison. will you sit with fear today, for a minute, will you let your fear have its say instead of trying to repress it, minimize it, silence everything in service of silencing fear? what has fear given you? can you iterate those gifts of fear? dance with those gifts. dance with that mystery. find beauty in the memory of fear.

    music: jeff greinke - metal from the sky
    selva oscura
    14 March 2019 @ 03:59 pm
    found these scraps bundled and tucked into the pages of journal six, between entries from august 2004, right up against the edges of my twenty-ninth birthday. it is very much something i would have written against the edges of my twenty-ninth birthday, though i don't entirely remember writing it outside of the physical act. i remember walking over to the rogers building on my break, considering a monologue that would combine memories from two cold summers in my experience:

    the summer after my first love (i wanted to at least be her best friend, but she wouldn't let me that close) tortured me by enticing my relentless eighth grade crush (a dancer i'd sat next to at lunch two years earlier) to fall in love with her, instead. he'd write her letters and give them to me to give to her. she'd read me his letters out loud, as if i hadn't read them already, xeroxed them, maybe, burned up the copies in a brass bowl behind the garden shed: the cost of my services. they "dated" (like an eighth grader in a public school and a ninth grader attending a private catholic school in another county) for two agonizing months over the winter and never exactly broke up. this may have been related to my quietly withdrawing my messaging services after she made me sit next to them in a darkened room while they kissed and then made me listen to all her other friends gush about what a beautiful couple they made after he went home. it was true. they did make a beautiful couple. what's more, they made a publicly acceptable couple, a crowd favorite, an episode of the fucking wonder years, unlike any variant of relationship involving me. i'd been stalling on processing that experience, in large part because it essentially burned clear all my landscape of all accumulated romantic options, inaccessible though they might have been, and there are an awful lot of pre-authorization forms for me to fill and properly file in the identification of a new love interest. it seemed like a lot of work, this being any example of the sort of outcome i could anticipate.

    then, all of a sudden, the first couple weeks after school let out, she moved away.

    it had been coming from a long ways back, but at the same time it felt like it just happened. all of a sudden the woman i loved was just... gone. i wonder about the root system to that move, and i don't. i believe, now, that there was trauma in her history, trauma on scale with my own, maybe bigger? definitely bigger, from what you could see. that might have to do with the reason i loved her: we'd been broken in resonant ways. we understood each other. we helped each other, at least until she boomed my not-boyfriend.

    over the course of those three months with the miraculous sunsets (mount pinatubo, not mount st helen's) and my mother's escalating depression, i negotiated an emotional reckoning for which i was not remotely prepared. real fucking grief. unholy grief. unchecked grief. grief that kept me up all night. grief i could not claim, for what felt like intimate betrayals by two of my closest friends, neither of whom i was supposed to feel that way about. there was a housing development under construction outside our subdivision and i'd walk there with my mother's SLR; not a piece of machinery i had any idea how to operate, but i was fifteen and not about to let that stop me. note the icon: it was from one of those rolls.

    the summer immediately after that, also cold, my friend the dancer was hospitalized for his first suicide attempt, my relentless eleventh grade crush turned into an exceptionally painful lou reed concept album inventoried in the import section of a record store where i couldn't even afford domestic releases, and i realized - i really understood - that the reason my parents weren't pressuring me to perform better at school was because there was no way in hell they could afford to send me to college. my cognitive issues and family obligations made it nearly impossible for me to do the kind of work i'd need to do to get accepted to the right school - obtaining sufficient scholarships? figuring out a work study program? learned helplessness does not provide a lot of tools for overcoming learned helplessness. that's kind of the point. the overculture benefits from a certain percentage of its population getting crushed by the overculture: so i let myself get crushed. i buried it. i considered doing something rash. crashing the car. running away. joining a cult. starting a cult. getting pregnant. falling in love with another woman. earnestly complaining about my circumstances to an authority figure who might be able to offer some meaningful insight. for reasons, flimsy reasons, iron clad reasons, reasons both noble and hopelessly insincere, i couldn't do it. i dropped the ball bearing down the stairs and let it roll away.

    in 2004 i can't say i was ready, yet, to look at these variables square, so i looked at them from the side. narratively, i made my story into that of a stranger. it was a stranger's story, if i'm honest. that stranger i woke up in bed with every morning.

    so here are these three quarter-cut scrap pages i found today in journal six. they are presented with minimal line edits for clarity. i wrote them fifteen years ago in the basement of the rogers building in green rollerball ink. i lost the thread of what i thought i was writing any number of times so that i could start drawing out the thread of what i needed to write some years later. that's the thing about writing that fails in the moment: it might just be building in to what you will need to write some years down the road.

    cold summer

    walking through the housing development being built the summer after mt. st. helen's erupted. glorious sunset. girl with camera. streams of light, reflected back up in pools of fallow rainwater. the hum of the power generator at the edge of the subdivision. (watched her mother put vodka in her morning coffee.) something in the distance, out in the woods. she remembers how this was a meadow, remembers how last summer she ran through sunflowers and rode to the mailbox with a letter for her friend (at camp) each day. what does she see? what does she think she sees? what does it turn out to be? there is nothing, no sound, but the crunch of her sneakers on the limestone path. she leaves the path, walking through long grass.

    sound seems to stop in this spot just outside the treeline, in the falling light. i'm not sure what she finds yet, but it's not what she expected. she realizes, however, that she has been called here, that something or someone is waiting for her, that she has been brought to this moment for a reason. what is that reason? finding the point to the story. having a reason for the structure. my life is surrounded by hollowed out shells, rituals without purpose, boxes and bowls i cannot fill. i buy books i do not write in. i fill my space with so many places to store - ideas, precious things, meaning - and yet there is no meaning, no purpose, no value to put in them. i take the day off to do things and i do not know what to do with them. what is the point? what is the reason? what am i doing with my time, my resources - my shell?

    if you lifted your ear to my life you might think the roar you heard for an ocean but it is actually the rush of air through empty chambers. i started doing this because i thought i had something important to say or at least some means of making people i care about or could care about happy, find insight, find something themselves. really i feel like i am empty, like come down to it and what am i left with but diversions, what do i have to say but empty anecdotes from people who don't face this void, people who have some vision to work toward, who have some real message they want to convey. what is in the woods for my girl? is it death, waiting for her there? razor blades and rapists? or a fairy castle, a white horse, a valiant prince? maybe it's neither here nore there, maybe it's a rotting out pile of wood, something that really isn't the first thing you think of when you thing "impetus for change," "growth incurring crisis," more it's like my life, something that could have been useful that is instead rotting away in fallow waters. i am so tired of this. i am so sick of having no idea. no plot. no vision. if i don't have direction, there really is no future, the needle tangles up it's cargo behind it and snags the fab ric full of little holes. wasted the fabric, wasted the thread, the needle goes on, like i always do, same today same today, same today same today same same same same samesamesame so that's what i center around, the absence of a center. how do people live like this, with this void, with the apathy, with the fear? how can i be happy, ever, facing this emptiness every day, this pointlessness, this ambitionless flailing in the fading light? you want a direction, you want to love, you want something you are willing enough to commit your life to. you want things to grow, in the summer time. by the cold window, smelling the cold in the air, through the jewel osco parking lot with the distinct sensation of pending snow. sometimes it's so close to the surface sometimes it's so close to your fingers but it won't come, but nothing changes. but you return to your same today same today same the plot of the story is the absence of plot, the approach to nothing, the way the figure standing by the closet was just a sheet draped over a lamp.

    maybe they've ripped apart the house to take out the asbestos, like us last year. she could return to the empty house in the dark with the ball bearing she trips over on her walk in the development. she brings the ball home to the empty house and walks through feeling this emptiness feeling this nothing feeling the frail void of this second story she puts her faith in so firmly every day. rolls the ball on the floor. in the pit of the sunken living room concrete. across the kitchen floor, walks up the stairs, rolls it off the balcony. ball bounces, once, twice, several small times, and rolls away.
    music: lull - slow fall inward
    selva oscura
    realized shortly after publicly posting my most recent no-longer-public post that i was engaging in the behavior patterns of a triggered person. that happens sometimes. sometimes it's just my body reacting to the idea of other people reading my writing and i need to play that edge a little more, so i played it. it either fades after a few hours or i escalate. i belched for a little while, chewed up my lower lip. i took down my hair and pinned it back up a little too tight. took down my hair, pinned it back up a little tighter than that. when i caught myself starting to claw, that's an uh-oh line i'd rather not cross with regard to a livejournal post at this moment in my history. i friends-locked the post. i wrapped myself up tight in a blanket. i breathed a mala. then i trimmed my nails.

    observation: i have a vivid and active imagination.

    benefit: sure can help with the art and the writing!

    challenge: anxiety management, whoa dog!

    every boon has its price. i've made such a habit of injuring myself with my imagination it isn't exactly a mystery that i have so much trouble staying focused on visualization in my magic practice. my body recognizes the movement and responds: are you trying to do this recreationally? why?

    so i triggered myself by posting a piece speculating on the triggering potential of a new media release. does this qualify as meta-triggering? have i initiated myself into the deeper mysteries of triggering? ouroboros! ouroboros! might i now qualify for david lynch’s “trigger inside a trigger inside a trigger inside a side of raw beef dressed up like a lumberjack” master class? not that there are any spots left. we are a global culture triggered to the extent of rattling our teeth fully clothed in the empty bathtub.
    music: tryshe dhevney - bright silence in c#
    selva oscura
    03 March 2019 @ 01:55 am
    you can’t control grief.
    grief does what grief needs to do.
    not in a way like: yeah, you suck it, i’m grief
    nobody tells me what to do
    i’m going to that underground music festival
    and i’m coming back with a scrotum piercing
    and you go ahead
    you try to stop me

    as much as we might want it to be so simple
    it is never so simple as:
    if that’s how you’re going to be, grief,
    you are grounded for two weeks.
    no television. no phone.
    your father locked your bicycle in the shed
    you will not get it back
    for two weeks. you will only leave the house
    for school and church.
    now you go to your room, grief,
    and you think about what you’ve done.

    this isn’t a matter of discipline.
    you cannot discipline grief.
    try and die. walking dead, at least.

    love is grief
    grief is love

    some might say it’s a shadow manifestation
    i see it more as the root: what draws love
    up from mystery, from the darkest places
    and channels it into purpose and structure
    a reason to continue
    a reason to recover
    a reason to learn to be as you are:
    a being in grief.

    you can’t control grief.
    you shape grief a container.
    you witness it as it needs to unfold.
    you tend grief.
    you tend yourself grieving.

    you make this offering
    you accept this offering
    as an instrument of the divine
    as the song of the divine.
    music: syntonic research - environments 4: gentle rain in a pine forest
    selva oscura
    the wind bellows, the wind shrieks. the wind squawks the bathroom ventilation fan into a frustrated monologue about unimaginable things. our apartment: three stories up, on a hill, no remaining shield from the wind after they took down our beloved sheltering pine in 2015. i had no idea, no idea, no idea how bottomlessly exhausting it can be to fall asleep to wind wailing, to wake in the night to wind wailing, to wake in the morning to wailing, whining wind in a perfectly still room. not until we moved to this space.

    just after dawn, just after synthroid, i ignite a stick of balsam incense, securing it in the cast iron koro on the coffee table. i light a seven day vigil candle i’ve dedicated to a current working. after fighting with the butane torch and owning that the wick is too long to be lit as-is by a responsible magic practitioner,* i find the wick trimmer and trim the wick. softly reciting the intention, i light the candle. i return to the bedroom, placing the candle on the altar. the flame is low, the wick too short, which is ideal. i put on dark muse, adjusting the volume on the speaker dock slightly louder than i normally would at this hour. “the red room” plays, cycling repetitions of echoing voice. the circle is cast. the space changes, the space deepens, but the wind is still in dialogue with my inner tensions. i put on a hooded sweatshirt and pull the hood up over my head before climbing back into bed. i weigh myself with blankets. i bury myself, trying to muffle the sound, trying to convince myself it’s a sonic environment i’ve found something like comfort in before. i stare at the candle, the only accountable source of light in a slowly brightening room. i don't sleep. i can't sleep. ben sleeps, breathing in shifting tides.

    after he leaves for work, persistent gusts of 50mph wind are my only companion. the bathroom ventilation fan is a desperate catastrophe, but it’s only noise. i try not to get worked up about it. i chastise myself for getting worked up about it. it’s only wind, after all. i’m indoors. i’m three stories up. on a hill. there are things that could happen, wind-related mishaps. but i’m high up and sealed in and as long as i stay this way, most of them are unlikely. the wind doesn’t stop. we have a lot of windows. the wind doesn’t stop. i’m from the midwest. the wind doesn’t stop. there’s a sensory component, a constant irritation, an irritant, a creative irritant, an irritating irritant. i want to walk, channel some of this irritation into motion, but advisories advise against outdoor activities, at least until the early evening when the wind once again starts observing city speed limits. i’d really like to avoid any harsh confrontations with airborne tree branches, you see. anyway, the wind bites this time of year, and i’m not up to date on my rabies vaccinations. at 50mph those teeth will tear right through even a very good scarf.

    i drink ginger peach ceylon with probably too much honey from the shino ware mug, unconsciously gravitating toward interior walls. i try not to get worked up about it. i chastise myself for getting worked up about it.

    it’s only wind, after all.

    *a component of my current pathwork has me questioning my relationship with the title “witch,” so, for now, “magic practitioner.”
    music: the tunnel singer - lost
    selva oscura
    13 February 2019 @ 11:48 pm

    i thought that was pretty good, for a re-entry entry. i remember feeling so hopeful when i wrote it, but then i stopped. again. oh god, it hurts, this thing called writer's block, and it hurts because i am doing it to myself. i know i am doing it, understand? what i'm not getting is the mechanism i need to reroute. i sabotage without realizing. i paint myself into all kinds of corners. this is because i am caught up in an unsupportive cycle. several unsupportive cycles, perhaps. this block is a form of self-injury. i need to decide to pull out of it, yes. in order to do so, sustainably, i need to be strong enough to bear my own weight once i'm out. so: time. recovery work. coming at the problem with different approaches, some of them not viewing the matter as a problem but a situation that might benefit from a different approach.

    from 2018's spring equinox ritual, possibly one of my last public invocations for the foreseeable future: i may not be very strong today, but i am strength.

    one of these days i'm going to catch on to my own magic.

    music: saint germain - rose rouge
    selva oscura
    12 February 2019 @ 11:42 pm
    oh god the misery of blood work limbo, especially the annual TG count.

    i forgot about that.

    i mean no i didn't. i have not remotely forgot about that, not for a second. so much of my post-diagnosis experience is basically the grinding repetition of never forgetting that.

    sometimes it's nice to pretend.
    selva oscura
    08 February 2019 @ 02:24 pm
    back to the beginning of it, back to the beginning, back to the beginning again. always this same story with you. this same beginning, here each morning, when i walk out of our pitch black sleeping chamber and into the nearly always temperate morning light; the in-between, where i go about my business of eating, eliminating, and anticipation; and then the end, molten at your touch, contemplating nothing, incapable of contemplation, rumination, or assessment. there will be time for that come morning, when i cover my eyes against that sudden shock of light and open our chamber door. how do i even get from one place to the next? i've never once stubbed my toe or bruised my hip on a nightstand and i'm sure there's something like that in here because i've used it, it's where we keep the handcuffs and the blindfold you inexplicably insist on me wearing inside the drawer.

    i know. i know that's how you feel about it, and i'm grateful for the information because i really don't have very much to go on here, i don't know altogether that much about you. i mean, yes, i got the note with your sizing and color preferences, thank you, and i think you might favor some kind of strange feather cape, as i've felt you wearing it a number of times. but that's what i know. it's almost all of what i know, if i didn't also know you in a biblical sense.

    the phrasing is strange to me as well.

    i have no idea what "biblical" means. it might have something to do with what zeus dons the costumes of swans to do to maidens.

    you know how i feel about it.

    we will see. he will have his day in court

    or he won't. so often, they don't.

    i was thinking maybe we could make a compromise in the form of a sitting room? you know, subtle, natural lighting. maybe some spot lamps, so i could read before bed, sometimes? i wouldn't ask, but it really is my favorite time to read. i could always wear my blindfold when you are in the room with me, or maybe you'd even trust me to wear - blinders? that way we could - i could -

    i know.

    i know.

    are you really so terrible to look at? you certainly smell divine.

    okay, well, if you're going to sulk about it.

    i know there's not anything to be fixed here. at least, i believe you when you say that there's not anything to fix. i'm not trying to fix anything. i'd just like to explore bonding with you over some activities that don't involve blindfolds and handcuffs, like maybe we could play parcheesi?


    cards against humanity?

    right, well my sisters could join us if

    sorry! sorry.

    no, i just forgot. couldn't you enchant a deck so it was like we had a third player? or maybe one of the teacups, like that time

    right. never mind, you're right. you're always right. let's talk about something else.

    i don't want to talk about that.

    i don't know. i need something. i need to figure something out. something is out of alignment. something isn't right.

    if i knew i wouldn't be sick of not knowing.

    i guess i could be sick with knowing, instead.

    i haven't got any idea. i don't know how you think i'd get one. ideas aren't abundant here, like most other things. maybe there's a relationship between a lack of ideas and a surplus of resources? it's like summer vacation when you're still in school. you always think in may, i'll have so much time! i'll be able to do so many projects! and then all of a sudden it's late august and all you've done is read v.c. andrews books and babysit. all that having so much time seemed to do for me was make me neglect the time i had. there was so much of it. all i could really do with it was neglect it.

    are you even listening?

    sometimes i wonder.

    mood: talking to myself again
    music: tryshe dhevney - you have wings
    selva oscura
    27 January 2019 @ 01:33 pm
    eurydice writes her name at the top of a page in her journal and stares at it for much longer than she'd expect to be able to stare at a page with her name written on it and nothing else.

    could be a few minutes.

    could be days.

    eurydice stares at her name until she can close her eyes and see it in negative. who, eurydice thinks, watching her name dissolve into the backs of her closed eyes. who? this seventeen year old catastrophe of incident and emotion? this gathering of regretful need and insatiable aspirations? does eurydice have a soul?

    she considers herself, again, as orpheus's girlfriend. she remembers that boundary, such a safe place to land. it was a satisfying form of definition, she acknowledges: sharing the person she believed she wanted to be with someone who wanted her to be that person. it was somewhere to put her identity. it was someplace her identity seemed safe. she supposes this is why she could not keep her relationship with orpheus: it made her complacent with regard to the question of who she was.

    who is eurydice? who, again, has eurydice become? she stares at her name. four syllables, it took her a year longer to be able to reliably spell it than her elementary school instructors thought it should. in fact, they brought in the special education consultant, hoping to get eurydice’s interminable set of exhausting and undefinable problems out of their classroom. unfortunately, over the course of the consultant’s interaction with eurydice, it became apparent that someone possessing a phd in learning disabilities couldn't spell or pronounce eurydice’s name either. eurydice taught him how to do it. she sat down across the table from him and fleshed out her clever mnemonics with a blue crayon on yellow construction paper while her teacher stood there watching, sweaty and slack jawed. the consultant left with a dirty look, another 45 minute drive each way to terrorize a second grader who taught herself to read and already had the vocabulary of a eighth grader, but later that day eurydice couldn't remember if y or i came first again and she was so ashamed of herself her she forgot how to tie her shoes.

    when she met orpheus, she thought for sure she'd never remember his three syllables but making it into such an obstacle meant it never became a problem. anyway, their names seemed to go together, she felt. they connected, they complimented, they made a sort of eight syllable song: orpheus and eurydice. orpheus later confessed that he'd felt equally intimidated by eurydice's name and vehement refusal of its most obvious diminutive: dicy. no, she shortly pre-empted. do not call me "dicy." dicy eurydice had been a sixth grade taunt. small and heavily qualified mercy that by middle school, the vocabulary was lost to those unrhymed obscenities preferred by adolescents. it didn't matter which taunt she might have chosen, given the choice of taunts: she was never afforded such a choice and was just happy to not have to deal with both at once.

    all the same, it was orpheus who found a diminutive in what she felt was an absence of reasonable diminutives: orpheus who gave her "rue" with their first kiss. she found "ore" shortly thereafter and that was it: they defined each other, they gave each other form, they called one another out of the formlessness of their younger selves.

    now again, these months later, these months down a slippery slope of whatever it was eurydice had expected to be by this point in her life, eurydice stares at a page with her full given name written out on it and nothing else.

    "you need to be yourself," her grandmother told her, that awful day when she got home from school with awful gossip and couldn't stop crying and couldn't explain why. "you need to be who you need to be," her grandmother said, and eurydice wondered who exactly that was.

    because: it could be any number of variables from here to there, from now to later, singular or multiple, unscented or made to order. could be anything, any combination of, the either or the or: or not really, because it is what it is and that's really all it could ever be. what was that, again? does eurydice have a soul?

    what eurydice meant to say when she instead said nothing was that her opinion on the matter was important. her opinion on the matter deserved to be heard, and heard by someone who was actually listening. she just wasn’t entirely sure, yet, what it was, her opinion. she definitely had one, though.

    people forget or they don’t know or they won’t find out because generally, in this day and age, people are not taught or even encouraged to listen. to anyone, not even themselves, especially not themselves. more or less, that’s the truth eroding our will to continue as a species. we live in a system where the privileged few profit mightily from the majority not cultivating the ability to listen to themselves or anyone else. because of this, many people neglect that aspect of abuse recovery where the recovering person begins to identify themselves as a person again and needs a few trustworthy people in their daily experience to help them integrate this work in a meaningful way.

    when you’ve been repeatedly knocked out of yourself by being victimized; when your value has been repeatedly depreciated as a means of harvesting it from you, at least ruining it enough so that you won’t have it either; when strangers won’t respect you as a human being, when other human beings try to force you into a reality where they can revoke your humanity in order keep thinking of themselves as decent folk who deserve nice things in spite of their abuse:

    when strangers act as gatekeepers to the idea of being human, getting yourself back from that? it’s not a switch. it’s a slippery uphill climb on unstable terrain. there will be landslides. regressions. implosions and worse. you need a good belay, someone anchored to meaningful perspective, someone who unequivocally affirms your humanity, even when, especially when, you have been trained in several extremely effective methods of denying this yourself.

    it wasn’t exactly that orpheus became abusive by the end, not overtly, not exactly. it wasn’t like he ever targeted eurydice directly. it was more that he stopped serving as her belay and became resentful of the consequences of that.

    [there's more, but wow, it's hard.]

    mood: true stories
    music: nasa & the voyager spacecraft - symphony 1