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Castles made of sand

They say the sand eats everything.

Over and over, they say the sand eats everything.

It eats the mountains, nibbling at their toes with tiny sharp teeth while the wind scrapes at their tops, endlessly screaming its discontent.  It eats anyone unfortunate or stupid enough to stay in it too long, or too still.  First the clothes, or the fur, or the hooves, or whatever is most exposed.  Then, accelerating as surely as gravity, it peels away everything else that is exposed.  It eats through skin and flesh and, eventually, bone.  It eats steel.  It eats wood.  It eats and eats and eats, an endless susurrus of destruction and consumption.

And yet, the keep stands.

No one questions it.  No one talks about it.  The keep just… stands.  The sand blows up to it, around it, and it hulks, impenetrable and imperturbable.

I think I found out its secret, you see.  I had to go there to find out.  I had to brave the sand of half the desert, and sneak my way past the great cat that haunts the shadows around the keep itself, and find my way to the very pits of it to discover that secret.

It’s made of sand.  The sand hasn’t eaten it, because it’s already been eaten.  The walls are grainy and black and hard – it’s all just packed in sand, smooth and tight as ever you please.  The further up you go, the tighter it’s packed, so it looks and feels just like stone by the time you get up to the surface, much less above ground level.  But down below, you can feel it, and you can see it, if you bring light.  It’s all just sand.

I wonder if the people who stay here know that?

And, I have to admit, something didn’t seem quite right.  The walls, down deep, were so grainy that they practically crumbled off when I brushed at them.  I went and looked around the outside, and the foundations are all pitted and crumbling.  It looks like the holes are getting bigger – like the sand that holds everything up is blowing away into the rest of the desert.

But I have to be wrong.  The keep stands, after all.  And if there were something wrong, I wouldn’t be the first person to notice.  Someone would have done something by now.

I mean, they’d have to.  Wouldn’t they?

The taste of blood

“There were so many things I wanted to say.  Things like Thank you, or even, I love you.

Because I do.  We are lonely creatures, we hunters.  We have to love each other.  We are the only ones who understand, the only ones who will ever understand.”

Lilith Saintcrow, Angel Town

 

It’s just the taste of blood, that’s all.  A little trickle, down the back of my throat.  It wouldn’t be so bad, if I could stop it.  I could stop it, I guess, if I really put my mind to it.  I can do anything, if I put my mind to it just right.

I just can’t seem to do it, this time.

It trickles, and tickles, and burns in the back of my throat.

I hope it was worth it.  I hope she got away.

Neither one of us expected anybody to be there.  We expected to get in clean, get out clean, and get paid, that’s all.  It’s not so much, for us.  We’ve been a pair so long nobody would ever even think about seeing one of us without the other.

I wonder if she got out clean.  I hope so.

That taste burns so bad, and it won’t go away.

I knew something was wrong when the alarm went off.  She was supposed to have taken care of it, and nothing like that has gone wrong in a good long while now.  She’s so damn good at her job I’ve stopped even thinking about it.  She’s my partner, my good right hand.  She’s the only one I’d trust my back to.

But then there was the shrieking, and the lights blaring, and I wasn’t even close to the payload, much less to getting out.  I screamed to her, screamed hard and loud as I could.

Get out, I said.  Get out and get clean.  I’ll be right behind you.

I’ll be right behind you.

I guess I wasn’t, after all.

The sirens are getting closer, and they’re going to pack me off, because I can’t get this taste out of my mouth.  Lucky shot, from some damn automated system.  Should have seen it coming.  Should have been watching my back.

I hope she listened.  I hope she got out.

The only way tasting this is worth it is if she got out.

I mean, we’re partners.

Hungry skin, cold heart

I can’t get up.  Maybe in a little while.

I’ve been saying that all day.

Hungry skin: it’s the place inside you where you would do anything, give anything, be anything, to have someone want to touch you.  Just for a minute.

Cold heart: it’s very Heinlein.  Humans laugh when it hurts too much to cry.  This is the place past that, the absolute zero of no movement, of mistrusting one’s own emotions and reactions so deeply that no response is possible.

It’s a helpless place, a needy place, a wanting place, an unattractive place.  It is out through the pass, walking the shores and picking up shiny things, hoping they’ll show you the way, not caring if they make you stronger or stranger, because any change at all might help.

Hungry skin, cold heart.  I’ll get up, in just a minute.  There’ll be a reason, and I’ll find a way.  Any minute now.

Last words

(Author’s note: y’all know I’m not a verse kind of person, but this challenge spoke to me, so I will speak back to it.)

 

Last words

razor keys
revolving keys

You wrapped my fingers
around them
tight, so tight

Keeper of shadows
the last shadows
of words
ever spoken

I will keep the faith
I will keep the faith
I will keep the faith

by blood and bone
and pain and shadow

I will keep the faith

I will hide the shadows
your words cast

and protect the light
your life has left

you are missed
your faith is kept

Every human mind

One must get rid of the idea that educated and intelligent test persons are able to see and admit their own complexes.  Every human mind contains much that is unacknowledged and hence unconscious as such; and no one can boast that he stands completely above his complexes.

Dr. Carl Jung

 

Every human mind believes that it knows everything that is important  to know about itself.  Here’s the secret: we’re wrong.

That thing?  You know, that thing you think that you’ve  successfully distanced yourself from, that you’ve decided not to become, that you’ve worked so hard not to be, that you’ve spent years or decades denying and reviling and excising from yourself?

That’s not a secret to anybody but you.  Everyone else already knows.  They see it in you every day.  You are the only one who doesn’t realize that it is a part of who you are.

Here’s the corollary to that secret: it’s okay.  They already know.  They love you anyway.  They want to be around you anyway.

Today’s lesson, O Best Beloved, is that you are loved because of who you are, not despite it.  Stop fighting.  Stop denying.

Listen to the unconscious mind, which knows the things you are shouting at it to shut up about.  It’s very often smarter than you are.  It knows things about you that everyone else does – why don’t you want to know them?  Why deny yourself that information, and that acceptance?

Be who you are, as fiercely as you can.  Be all of who you are.  Stop being ashamed of the parts that don’t fit neatly.  Stop trying to make yourself into someone else.

I promise you this: if you will stop trying, so will I.

Sleep tight.  You are loved.  It’s okay to be loved for all of who you are.

Some time ago, The Fabulous Lorraine posted a thought about being on fire.  For that, I owe her all the mangoes she can eat, ever.  Let me give you just a taste of what the poem she quotes is like:

Lo, blessed are our ears for they have heard;
Yea, blessed are our eyes for they have seen:
Let thunder break on man and beast and bird
And the lightning. It is something to have been.

 

It is, truly, something to have been.  Without it, there would be no knowing what beauty is.  So we try things, and hurt ourselves in the trying, sometimes.  We fuck up.  We do what seems right at the time.  We do what seems fun.  Whatever.  And then, we hurt.

So how does it reflect on an author, when that author is willing to hurt, to injure, to maim, to torture, to kill a character? Or to make up whole new things worse than death, just to do to them?

I will do terrible, awful things to the people I write or write about.  I am a bad person.  I feel no remorse for forcing them to live through things that no sane human being would survive.

It is something to have been.

Who am I, to deny them freedom?  Freedom of choice comes with freedom of consequence.  You can’t have one without the other.  It doesn’t work.

Put it another way: these are the things they must experience, to become the people they will end up being.  Stealing their pain, their anguish, their hurt is only denying them a part of life that is true, and instructive, and necessary to form a child into… something very else.

So I will not cringe from doing genuinely awful things, to characters and readers alike.  I realized that, the day I knew I had written someone that all of us know, that all of us like, someone who had the potential to be everything and to make the world, if not entirely right, at least a vastly better place.  He had the right, the responsibility, the privilege to live and to take pleasure both in living and in making the world a better place to be.

Naturally, then, just as he realized what he might become, I murdered him.

I say it that way because it is my writing.  It is my hand holding both the quill and the sword, and I refuse to shy away from being responsible for the genuinely terrible things I’ve done.

But if I hadn’t murdered him, nothing would be the same.  He needed to die, both for himself and for everyone around him.  So at least it wasn’t a truly pointless death.

I don’t mourn him, because he still lives in my head, where time is whatever I want it to be.  Even if that weren’t the case, I’d still have murdered him.  It was a painful task, one that needed doing.

Truly, it is something to have been.  To deny my characters the right to fuck up, to get hurt, to be strange, to learn by mistakes – to me, that denies them the right to be people, and not puppets.

One more quote, then I will stop:

The puppet thinks
it’s not so much
what they make me do
as their hands
inside me
that hurts.

Charles De Lint

The boy who married an eagle

Was just thinking about Dr. Clarissa P. Estes.  I write a lot about women, and a lot of my writing is influenced and informed by her astounding brain.

About a million years ago, she did an audiobook about men – The Boy Who Married An Eagle.  Seems to me it’s pretty hard to find these days (being circa 1995 and released on cassette), but if you can hear it, it’s probably got things to say about being a man that will change your views, as she has mine on being a woman.

Go hunt, go gather, go write!  Love to you all, women, men, those in between and those who are something else entirely.

La loba

I go out into the dark desert all the time now.  I still keep track of when it should be her time, la loba‘s time, just as the sun begins to fall deeply behind the mountains, taking its rest.  But when there is no sun anymore, what does it matter?  I go, and I go, and I go.

No supplies, no packs, no animals for this traveler.  Stepping from the scrub out into the cutting wind that howls across the desert, seeking invisible prey, I go.  I pray that if I am lost enough, desperate enough, last enough, la loba will hear my cries and take pity on me.  If I am lucky, she will sing me back together, so I can be a whole creature again.  If I am very, very lucky, she will sing flesh onto my bones, so I can be what I once was; so the wind will be forced to keen around me, not through me, and I can go home.

Because, of course, I can never go home unless I am a person again.  Everyone knows this.

 

I have gone out of the safety of the forest and into the desert a thousand times, a million times.  Every time I wake, I gather legs underneath me and walk.  It is the only task I have left.  I must find la loba, or convince her to find me, so that I may be whole again.

Sometimes I find creatures, torn and left naked and fleshless in the sand.  They are sad, pitiful things, and if I do not help them, the sand will eat even their bones, so nothing is left.  So I will hold myself this way and that, making the wind sing through me, and let them come together again, and be something whole, if not quite the same.  They say thank you, la loba.  I tell them, over and over, that I am not la loba, and please will they put in a kind word for me if they see her.  And they put their heads to the side, thinking I am crazy, and say yes, yes, of course.

I have not found anyone to help for a very long time.  It is lonely and alone, in the desert, but I pass the time learning the song the wind is screaming.  Maybe, if I can find la loba, she will give me ears to understand the wind.  Will I warn its prey, or help it hunt?  I do not know.

 

There is a place, on the far side of the keep, where the wind is loudest and nothing grows.  The sand is bold and carefree there, lapping right up to the foot of the sharp mountain stone.  I twist my ribs, my arms, and convince the wind to sing  a little fire onto the sand; just a few flames, to warm me and to tell the dark where I am.

Soon I hear footsteps in the dark sand, and a sliding noise.  Who would be out here, in the barest part of forever?  Who would come here but me?  I only spend time here when I have almost given up, and I am thinking of letting the sand eat my bones where no one will find them.

“Come, child,” rasps a voice like two wooden sticks out of the dark, “let an old woman share your fire.”

Shocked is not the word for it.  There is no word strong enough.  “Of course, lady,” I say politely, bobbing my head.  “What is mine is yours.”

She comes shuffling out of the dark, dragging a canvas sack that is gray with age and almost empty.  She is chuckling, a hollow sound like water in the back of a cave.  “It seems to me that what is mine is yours, also.”

“How do you mean, lady?  I would take nothing from you that was not given freely.”  I am afraid, now.  This search is all I have left; her mercy all I have to hope for.  What have I taken from her?  “If you think I have taken something of yours, please, have my apologies.  I will give it back, if I can, and do anything in my power to make amends.”

“How does one make amends for the theft of a name, child?  They call you la loba in the wild places, now.  They hope for your mercy in the dark.  You did not take it, but it is yours now, and no argument.  They know me not, hope for me not, but your mercy is their prize.”  She chuckles again, full of merriment.  “You are the only one left who hopes for me, and I came to see you to find out why.”

“Well… well, because, la loba, that is why!  Because, I beg you, sing me to life again, so I can be free and whole!”

“Who teaches the sand to shift?  Who teaches the wind to sing?  Not I, child, not I.  I came to find you, and to seek also your mercy.”

“M-mercy, la loba?  What can something like me do for you?”

“SING, child!  You know the way of it.  You see these bones creaking together, and you know how to build me a new life out of the sand that eats everything.  Sing, so you can have my sack, and we can both be free.”

 

There was nothing to say.  What to do when la loba, keeper of my dreams, comes to me as the keeper of hers?  So I twist my bones, careful, careful, because the wind cuts wild and high in this place.  She sighs like an old tree falling to rot, and collapses flat on the sand.

I am petrified, terrified that I will get it wrong, that she will be trapped and I will have no hope left.  So I keep bending the wind, squeezing it up between my ribs and out my mouth, forcing it up to a wild ululating wail of freedom and pain.

La loba‘s bones shift, and her flesh runs like water over the new shape.  A wolf, black as sand and glinting in the stars, shakes itself all over.  It dips its head to me, and lifts its muzzle to howl along with the screaming descant that the wind and I are creating together.  I feel strange, powerful, raging at the death of the world, for just a second.  Then the wolf’s howl dies away, and it runs off into the dark, invisible and soundless.

 

I do not go back to the scrub anymore.  There is no need to hide to sleep.  The sand covers me well enough when I do not want to be seen.  They still thank me, the creatures I find.  They call me la loba, and praise be to her singing.  I bid them welcome, and tell them that they owe me only one thing for rebirth.

“Tell the mountains,” I tell them.  “When you see the mountains, warn them that the wind is coming for them.”

So, here’s the skinny

Because if I don’t update you guys, there may be a riot. ;)

Found out Saturday gallbladder had huge bag o’ pus behind it. (Yum.)  Found out Sunday it was coming out (organ, pus, and all).  Surgery Monday.  Today is my second day home.  I am whole (save a few precisely-placed puncture wounds and an adjusting empty cavity in my thorax), and should be up and about by the end of the week.

Thank you, all of you, who came out of the woodwork to wish me well.  All your wishes have kept me safe, healing rapidly, and healing mentally from being so thoroughly betrayed by my own body.

I am okay.  Love to all of you.  Miss you, and looking forward to being in touch (or back in touch, or newly in touch) with all of you who went out of your way to send kindness, laughter, and love into a moment in my life when I needed it most.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  People like you are the reason it’s worth getting up in the morning, and baring my teeth at the day.  Thank you.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt (common attribution – if someone has factual backup for a better one, I’d love to know)

Here’s the thing.  We’ve already stuck ourselves in a ghetto – look at how we all congregate to the kink-friendly, open sites, and many of us put a sharp delineation between kink life and real life.

Well, fuck that.

I am kinky, and queer, and a raging cunt, and probably one of the simultaneously funniest and most offensive/abrasive/irritating people you will ever meet.  I am myself, with no apologies for the content of my character, unless it’s something that I am trying to uphold and failing to achieve.

Remember, there is a difference between judging someone’s activities, and their person.  A first hand example, that will speak to many of you in the Florida area and other places:

I knew a girl.  She was a lovely girl, quite bright, and determined.  The thing holding her back was her addiction.  She got hooked on some very nasty shit, very early in life, and it became both a physical and psychological crutch.  There came a day when she needed to dose, badly.  She told me so, and asked me if I wanted to leave.  We were in a conversation, and sharing parts of ourselves that don’t see a lot of light.

What are you, crazy AND addicted? I asked.  (our relationship made this a joke, not an attack.)

No, she says, I just don’t know if you want to see me do this.  I don’t know what you’ll think of me afterward.

Let’s get this straight, says I.  You’re an addict, and you must have an external chemical dump in order to keep your brain in order.  Well, welcome to the club.  I’m a crazy motherfucker, and if I don’t keep my meds on schedule it can go bad in a hurry.  Just because you take your meds differently than I do, because you get them a different way, doesn’t make you less than me.  It doesn’t mean I don’t want to know you.  I already know you – seeing you going through your daily routine isn’t going to affect me any more than watching you brush your teeth.   It’s part of the ritual that gets you by.”

And as she got spoon and tab and needle ready, I told her the very short version of my own wrestle with that particular demon, which goes on to this day.

So I watched her shoot up, and she was afraid, even after, that I would think differently of her, or not want to be her friend/confidante.  “Listen,” I told her, putting all the sternness in my voice I could manage,” You were my friend before, and you’re my friend now.  If you tried to shoot me up, it’d be different, because you know I don’t want that.  But you’re a grownup, same as me, and I have no right to judge what you do with your own body, your own mind, your own life.  You know, rationally, that it’s not the best decision for you right now.  But it’s not my decision.

“All I can do is give you the best, most unbiased information I have, and hope that next time, maybe the consequences will be enough to help you make a healthier decision.  If and when you ask me for help, then I have right to try to convince you to do the right thing for yourself, and the people who still love you, unconditionally – those people you can ask to help, who see the junk and still can’t stop loving the girl underneath, even though they may have tried, time and again.  Until then, it flat fuckin behooves me to keep my nose here where it belongs, and my trap shut about things that are quite certainly not my damn business.  And anyone who wants to flap their gums about it learns the very first time not to do it around me.  End of story.”

And she laughed, and finished her process, and I watched over her while she cried with pain and relief,  vulnerable.  So agreeable, so malleable, so obedient while the drug coursed through her, carrying her on its broad white back to places I couldn’t and wouldn’t go with her, not anymore.

There are some things you just do for people you care about.  No cops, no hospitals, no sentencing them to incarceration in a system with too few staff, too many inmates, and no time to try and help, just to keep the arrest record looking right, and the comfortable people’s happiness level just above the place where she might be able to apply for a real job, with real hours and steady pay.  And, no need to look over her shoulder every time a car slowed on her block.  And I wrote her a letter.

“You may or may not read this, but I can hope.  Following is a list of little shit, baby steps that helped me try to climb a little way out of where you are.  You’re unhappy with where you are – the first thing, the only important thing to remember is that you, and the people you love, deserve the best of you.  The worst is inside that needle, and we both know how bad it is and how good it feels.  This is my contact info.  When you’re ready to try one of the other roads, let me know.  I will always be here for you.  I love you, little sister, and all I want is to show you what I’ve learned, without having to go through it all the hard way. I love BOTH the person you are, and the magnificent star you may become.  No matter what happens, you are loved.”

I do things that a lot of you find bewildering, unpredictable, or downright offensive.  I’m not sorry.  I don’t ask you to participate with me, where you are not comfortable.  I refuse to feel culpable for your emotional state anymore.  You do not have the privilege to shame me.

So I say this: Be not ashamed of who you are, who you want, who you love.  Be not ashamed of what you want or don’t want, what you don’t know yet whether or not that you want at all, or maybe sometime.  You get what I mean.

Do not give power to the people who would make you less than you are, you beautiful and complex human being.  Do not cut off your arms and legs so that you’ll fit neatly in their comfort boxes.  They aren’t worth it, because somewhere there is a person who wants all of you, intact, so that they can frolic within without about around between and inside the whole person who is you.
And I say this to you, the makers of boxes: please, I beg you.  Stop cutting off the arms and legs and heads and hearts of the people I love, or wish I knew well enough to extend the hand of human love to.  I ask nicely, because you are people like me worthy of civility, and of a chance to change. Be aware, though; I will be here, and I will be watching.

But there’s a plus side to that, too.  You, the makers of boxes, are not evil, any more than I and my loved ones are.  You don’t know any better, because no one has shown you how to love someone who doesn’t fit in a box.

Here’s a dirty little secret: none of us fit in boxes.  You are cutting just as much off yourself as anyone else when you try to regiment the inherently entropic human experience.

Hold out your hand to me, and to us.  We love you, no matter where on the path you start, or which path(s) you choose.  There will be someone to take your hand.  Even if it’s not who you expected to be, not someone you want to partner with, accept the hand.  It leads into a bigger, brighter, more diverse world than you ever imagined.

Come play with us.  We have a fierce joy that we only want to share – no strings attached.  We want you with us, happy and free and fierce and loving.  Come talk with us, play with us, teach us, learn from us.  We will find love in similarities and differences, and together we will create something new from the still-blazing embers and fires of the old.

You are loved.  Every piece of you.  Whether you are a box-maker, a box-dweller, or a box-smasher, you are loved for every fallible inch of yourself.  Do us the favor, the kindness, the lovely joy of showing us who you are, so we can love you more deeply for the complex and fascinating creature that you are – or want to be, or might be, or desperately want not to be, or wish you could be but “know” you can’t.

You are loved.  Deeply, and without hesitation.  Every part of you, every strange fractal vision and equation, becoming more complex the more deeply you explore – all of you is loved.

Welcome home,
– Motley

(Post script and polite request: Please feel free to take any piece or the whole of this and link/like/love/dry-hump/repost with attributing links.  If you’d rather repost outside the walled garden, please do! An almost verbatim copy of the text can be found at my regular blog. https://motleymayhem.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/take=-pride-in-your-complexity If you patronize FL.com, I will be happy to provide a direct link via email or fmail.  Please, if you choose to do any of these things, link back to either here or FL.  If you can, I implore you, tell me what you ignored, what you hate, what you wouldn’t mind seeing more of.  If I don’t get feedback, I have no idea whether I’m doing any good, or just ranting in the dark, alone.)

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