Tag Archive: life


Bad girl’s death

“Don’t I rate a bad girl’s death?” – Chuck Wendig, Mockingbird

It’s cold, but at least the wind is dry.  Better than the wet nights, at least.  The wind cuts and moans, but it doesn’t suck the heat out of you as bad as sleet does.  It’s an unthinking mercy from nature.

Doorways are good.  They cut the wind down on three sides, and if they’re deep enough, all that’s left is a little skirl of breeze that doesn’t have the strength to bite by the time it gets to you.  Doorways are a place that’s almost inside, but usually not inside enough that anybody will bother to throw you out, if you’re careful about the doorway you pick.

Almost inside.  If you’re lucky, there will be glass all the way down the door, and you can push up against it and get a little trickle of heat out from the world that is really inside.  Inside seems like a foreign country now; one that requires passports and documents in languages you don’t understand, on paper you’ve never seen.  “Inside” is like “safe” – both of them are words that have a meaning, just not one that applies to you.  Option E, none of the above, because it just flat doesn’t exist for people like you are now.

Have to be careful which doorway you pick, though.  Nobody wants you messing up their porch, maybe doing something they wouldn’t approve of near their warm, safe insideness.  Getting chased off means losing heat, losing energy, losing a little more of things you don’t know if you’ll be able to replace.  Sometimes it means worse things.  Words like knives, blows that burn up more energy, more heat, more life.  Bleeding you out by making you expose yourself to air that hasn’t already been warmed by your body or by the door.

Tiredness is a poison and a warning.  It’s meant to make you seek shelter, seek food, so that the body can replenish itself.  Being tired and cold is supposed to tell you to warm up and get rest and fuel.  After a certain point, all it tells you is that you’ve failed again.  Failed to get inside.  Failed to get food.  Failed and failed and failed at looking enough like a good girl to make it through the door.

Some nights the failure is a frustration, an irritation, an inconvenience.  But if the failure goes on long enough, it gets dangerous.  Failure begets failure; if you can’t eat, can’t get warm, you look like a bad girl.  Too skinny, too ragged, too wild.  Then it gets easier and easier to fail, and you get closer and closer to failing forever.

It’s your own fault, you know.  If you’d just been a good girl, you wouldn’t have to curl up in doorways, scrounging heat and hoping to steal enough to get by.  Enough what?  Enough anything.  Anything that can be food or can be traded for it.  Food and warmth become your only goals, if the failure goes on long enough.  Anything that will stop the feeling of bleeding out through your skin.  Anything that will stop the gnawing inside, keep you from thinking even for a moment about how close you are to running out of energy completely.

If you’d just been able to figure out how to be a good girl, you wouldn’t have to go through any of this.  But you weren’t smart enough, weren’t fast enough, weren’t good enough even to pretend to be good.  Now you never will be.  Maybe next time you’ll remember to listen, to be obedient, to be pleasing.  Except for you, there is no next time.

There’s only the doorway, and a bad girl’s death.  Drawn up, curled up, hoarding your energy and trying to steal more, right until the very end.

Only bad girls steal.  That’s why you’re caught, almost inside and never safe.

It’s a bad girl’s death, and it’s all yours.

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.

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.)

The necessity of ruin

“He was willing to ruin himself for whatever he was doing.” – Richard Kadrey, Butcher Bird

 

“What would you pay, to do the perfect thing?  Even better, what price wouldn’t you pay, to undo the wrong thing?”  His voice was a hissing, buzzing monotone through the tracheotomy hole in his throat.

“I don’t know about all that,” the barman said, pulling a pint and setting it neatly on a coaster, five seats down.  “It’d have to be something pretty important.”

“Ah, but what *is* important?  How do you know?” He tried to chuckle, finger on the metal opening, but it just came out like angry locusts carjacking a VW bus full of bewildered robots.  “There are philosophers who will go on and on about how everything is important, or nothing is.  They’re not willing to make value judgments, for fear of being wrong.  You strike me as the same kind of man, if you don’t mind my saying so.  Value judgments are a necessity of knowing the value of living, my man.  They may make you uncomfortable, worried that other people will think you’re wrong.  Well, when you’re paying the price, you can afford to tell the people judging your judgments to fuck right off.  This ‘everything’ or ‘nothing’ or ‘I don’t know’ will be taken off into the dark and pulled apart, pieces going everywhere, before they’re willing to make a choice.”  He took a careful sip of his whisky, and grimaced with pleasure at the burn of it.

“I think you may have had enough,” the barman said, trying to be the picture of polite nonconfrontation.  The man was obviously a ranter, and there’s nothing like a drunk ranter to drive off the other custom.

“That’s something I’ve heard quite a bit in my time, you know.  That I’ve had enough.  That I should stop.  But you see, there’s still so much of me left.”  He held up his left hand, missing the two last fingers.  “Three left on that one, and all of them strong and dextrous.  Worth quite a lot, to the right person, in the right moment.  All I have to do is find that person, that moment, and give them what they need.”  His lips peeled back in a fair imitation of a smile.

“But I see what you are after, and I will give it to you.  Your level of customer is quite safe for tonight, and all future nights, from my distressing you.  Have a lovely evening.”  He set a few bills down on the bar, whisky half finished, and walked toward the door.

“Hey mister,” called the man with the pint a few seats down, as he neared the exit.  “What’s your name?”

“I’m very sorry, son.  I don’t know anymore.  I made a bad bargain for it, once upon a time.”  Again, the fair attempt at a smile.

“What’d you get for it?”

“A kiss, my man.  A kiss.  From a Lady whose name no human mouth can pronounce.  And with her kiss, I got the ability to make choices that other people won’t.  Not a good bargain at all, but no good mourning it now.”  He turned the knob, and slipped out the door with a quiet click.

Outside, he circled the building, and stepped into the dark and incredibly rank alley behind it.  She was waiting for him there, of course.  She was always waiting for him, if he went looking.

“Regretting our deal already, child?”  Her voice was the wind blowing leaves down the street, steam hissing through worn and untended pipe joints.

“Since the second I made it, ma’am, and you know it well.”  He stuck a piece of tape over the hole in his throat, and lit a cigarette with a long slow drag that whistled and leaked out into the night.

“You may stop anytime you like.  I will give you back everything you’ve given away.  No interest, even, on the loan of the ability.  I have always been generous with you, and your ingratitude will not change that.”

“And have everyone else lose what I get?  No, thank you, ma’am.  I’ll keep on, just as I am.  You’ll pardon my impertinence if it sounds like I try instruct you, as it were, but I would take great pleasure in telling you what I’ve learned, and what I keep on learning.”  He blew a smoke stream up and into the air, away from her.

“By all means, child.  It was your education I had in mind when I made you the offer.”  Can steam sound smug?  Can a wind condescend?  This one did.

“You gave me the ability.  You didn’t give me the soul to make the choices with.  And nothing I give away has even a fraction as much value to me as it does to the people I give it to.  Who am I, to steal from them in such a way?  So you can keep asking, and I will keep saying no, on until the day when I have nothing left to say no with.  And I will be proud of every scar, even though it makes me a monster.”

“Stubborn, and proud, and short-sighted.  We will see.  I will come again, and we will see.”  The sound and sight of her drifted away, leaving him alone again.

 

Well and well, he thought.  Alone is not such a bad thing.  And I can still change things.  There are worse things to be than a ruin.

Stars is easy.

“Stars is easy. People is hard.” – Granny Weatherwax, from A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

Disclaimer, because I over-disclaim everything by habit and preference: this is wandering far too much into personal territory for me, for something that is ostensibly a public forum.  All broad-brush statements here are about my personal experience.  Take what is useful for you and use it; everything else, feel free to adapt or ditch.  I am a strange and odd creature, and I do not expect that my experiences or lessons will necessarily translate well for other people.  But this is what’s rattling around in my brain today, and I will never get better at both facing the nasty things in my brain and practicing writing (fiction and non-fiction alike) if I do not put things down into words and expose them to the potential reactions of others.

I have spent a lot of time thinking in the last few weeks about how my life got to the point that it did.  I broke a lot of my own rules in the process of failing to make decisions for myself, and I have become very thoroughly irate with the self that was me a year ago, six months ago, three months ago.  I am extremely displeased with the things I bought into, the things I paid dear for in a coin that I cannot buy back: time, and honor, and worth of self and word.  I think I have finally figured out the second reason that I paid such dear coin for a thing that did not need to be paid for to begin with.

Stars is easy.  People is hard.  One of the things I like best about Terry Pratchett is that he has a very good grasp on the beauty and bravery and brilliance of the mundane.  That in no way prevents him from understanding that it’s not romantic, it’s not pretty, and it’s downright fucking irritating and hard work to live a real life, with real people, that contains drudgery and bullshit.  It’s a whole lot easier to buy stars than pay for people, because stars are pretty and sparkly, and you never have to look at a star and be irritated that it has morning breath, or that it didn’t feed the cats again, or that it can’t handle money worth a damn.  People are harder, because they are so intimately close; it’s harder to remember the things that made you love them when you thought they were stars, and a whole lot easier to be irritated by them because you can’t make them shine anymore, no matter how hard you try.

I spent so much time playing a superhero to myself, pretending that I was important because I could afford to pay for stars.  Who could imagine that someone who can afford to pay for things so pretty, so sparkly, so dazzling, is not important?  Things like high ideals, principles that have no practical application, imaginary goals that are always just another horizon away, that are never really attainable – when those things got in the way of doing the right thing by people, then I was buying stars.  They are lovely to hang on your cloak, when you are trying to cut a dashing figure.  But this is the real world, and a dashing figure in a cloak with stars on it looks good for a weekend at a convention, but ends up being in the goddamn way fucking up traffic when they try to get on the subway and yell at people for stepping on their hem.  Stars are all well and good in their place, but they cannot be allowed to get in the way of taking care of people.

Stars are easy because they are so far away – and at the end of the day, things that far away cannot be as important, as critical, as downright fucking necessary to a life based in reality.  People are hard, because you can’t keep them at arm’s length and pretend they are perfect.  They are more important because they are hard.  If I am going to be the person who lives at 11, genuinely and without affectation or hesitation, I have to remember that it’s about people, not about abstracts.  Abstracts are there to serve people, not the other way around.  Getting that backwards was the first thing I did wrong, and I can fix that.

Stars is easy.  People is hard.  I may be more Nanny Ogg than Granny Weatherwax on the outside, and I may sing the Hedgehog Song with verses of my very fucking own when I want to horrify the neighbors, but there is more of Granny in me than I give myself credit for.  And giving myself credit for being the person I work so hard to be is not ego, and it is not bragging, and I will damn well remember that.  Stars is easy.  People is hard.

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