Deep Change, Therapeutic Magics

Hypothetical reader(s): “Wow! The climax of your latest novella, ‘The Self-Construction of Couch’, was really something! How did you come up with the magic system used to send your dragon protagonist through time??”

I’m glad you hypothetically asked, friend(s)! Like much of the stuff my ‘Big City, Little Magics’ stories are made on, I based Couch’s renovative journey on aspects of my actual life – in this case, my exposure to a little magic (and by ‘little’, I do somewhat mean ‘massive’) magic known as Transformational NLP.

But I’m really not the best person to talk to you about that. If you want to hear from someone better informed, allow me to introduce (and interview) my most beloved friend, Tavern Duncan!

*

What even is Transformational NLP? (as asked and answered on Tavern Duncan’s website)

Tavern: NLP, or Neuro-Linguistic Programming, seeks to offer a user’s guide to the human brain.

Transformational NLP takes a more holistic and flexible approach than more traditional iterations, respecting the vast complexity of human experience, recognizing that creating deep and lasting change takes more than a recipe book of techniques, and honoring the original value of maladaptive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

We use precise questions and physical anchors to create new neurological connections, working with your inner landscape until the path to your desires becomes the path of least resistance.

How did Transformational NLP come into your life?

Tavern: It all started with my next sibling up, who walked this path long before me. They didn’t hasten me into their footsteps, but when my life was at a point of particular despair, they gifted me a book – Money Magic, by Michelle Masters, who was trained by NLP Marin – and I grabbed it like a lifeline. When the book wasn’t enough to do the trick for me, I decided to attend a 2-day course of the same name. (“It didn’t work? Try  it harder!” is probably not an ideal way to approach my life, and it’s certainly gotten me into trouble before, but I lucked out in this instance.) In-person practitioners brought NLP to life in a way a book simply can’t. 30 days after the course, I had a new job in the location we wanted to live in. 30 days after that, we were unpacking in the apartment of our choice.

I kept taking NLP Marin’s courses whenever I could afford the time and money, and everything in my life – professionally, relationally, psychologically – kept improving. That trajectory definitely… took a nosedive when the pandemic hit. But NLP had positioned me to survive it, in a way I genuinely might not have without it. And now my trajectory is recovering from the trauma of the pandemic, even while we’re still very much in the thick of it.

What motivated you to go into this field professionally?

Tavern: NLP Marin extended me a unique opportunity to take one of their biggest courses, The Core Competencies of Communication and Change, on a payment plan I could afford. Unlike the little 2-day or evening courses I’d done before, this 100+ hour training is their practitioner certification course. I wasn’t planning to be a practitioner when I started – I just wanted the tools, to use for myself and for, well, you. 🙂 But it wasn’t long before I realized that, not only do I have a knack for the work, I find it deeply satisfying and exciting.

Having earned my NLP Marin certification last month, I’ve continued on to their Master’s course even while I begin my practice!

Who is your target clientele?

Tavern: On the one hand, I’m naturally inclined to want to help people whose struggles have been similar to mine – namely, neurodivergent and/or queer people dealing with trauma and/or anxiety. People who feel overwhelmed and desperate, like the treadmill of life is too fast and too steep – I would feel honored to help that treadmill slow down and even out, to give them a chance to breathe.

But I’ve enjoyed working with people struggling with work/life balance, addiction, procrastination, perfectionism, and relationship issues – basically, I’m happy to work with anyone who doesn’t like their current experience, or wants an experience they’re not having!

How does a session with you work? (as answered on Tavern Duncan’s website)

Tavern: My sessions are an hour and a half long and conducted via Zoom – and we dive straight into the work of change!

We’ll talk about your current experience, determine what you would like to be different, and find ways that you, your habits, and your brain can get on the same page about creating your desired reality.

(I might ask you to do a few odd things, like hold your eyes in a certain direction, squeeze your own arm at a certain time, or exercise your imagination.)

We give the effects a month to get settled – even when your mind is past ready for change, the body needs time to integrate! – then we can have another session.

Many outcomes can be reached within 6 monthly sessions, so that is my recommended course, though you would be free to opt out sooner, or keep going for as long as you choose.  

Now that you’re officially open for business, what are you most excited to achieve?

Tavern: I really look forward to being a part of people’s journey to better. I feel like I’ve found my true work, in a way I haven’t felt with any other job, or even with my art. I want to wake up looking forward to working with people, and go to bed happy that I did. I am most excited to turn this practice into a way of life!

*

Thank you, Tavern! – on behalf of both Couch and myself. ^_^ If any readers of this blog post feel that there’s an overlap between what they would like and what Tavern has to offer, I encourage them to visit Tavern’s website – ReachDeepChange.com – and, well, reach for the deep change they desire.

‘Til next our paths of transformation traverse,

~ Danielle

Thoughts from the Weekend

(Photo via Unsplash.com)

*

It’s putting our selfhood aside for the sake

of the customers’ right to be wrong

Indentured service to

neo-feudal lords

Too broke for excitement?

It pays to be bored

We tick to their clocks

we dance to their tune

They say ‘jump’ and we

shuffle so high

Boss makes a dollar,

and you and me? Well,

after taxes,

I figure we’ll see

*

And then it’s the far side

of the crawling rush

The key in the door,

our smells in the walls

The shucking of clothing code compliant,

the shimmying into our not-quite-pajamas

The sounds or the silence

that our ears have craved

The sprawl of us

over the space ours to claim

The words to be shared

in unmixed company

The night stretched as long as we dare

*

It’s labor for The Market’s benefit

(At least this gig comes with full benefits)

The spending of our finest resource

(time)

in exchange for pretend paper

wired to the bank

These are not your friends,

but Company Family

sans real companionship

or chosen blood bonds

Talk of the weather and

/that/ supervisor

That look ‘cross the floor

is all that you share

*

And then it’s the one

who will dream alongside you

A lazy morning with no rush until tea

Last time, ‘twas the shore

Shall we now to the forest?

Or shopping (eyes only)

or buying (we’ve earned it)

A book ‘neath the sun

and the moon in the blue

A moment of nothing

but wind in the green

You show me a joke

and I tell you a story

Tomorrow, let’s do it all over

*

It’s do what we must so as

to make a living

And then it’s the living

we do in between

It’s full- or part-time waking hours

asleep

And then, love,

It’s back to the real world

*

– “A Living, A Life” by Deshipley

Thoughts from a Mote of Light

As written to myself, this week past, in the wake of just one more 2020 thing…

* * *

Today, a revelation:

*

The world is a great and terrible;

So it has always been.

*

It gets worse, and worse, and worse.

And it gets better.

(It’s… a mood.)

*

A dark sun blinds

As sure as any other,

If you stare.

*

Hurt, fear, and sorrow

Have a lengthy half-life,

*

And hope’s a song too easily forgotten.

*

Therefore,

My dear, you must

Turn from the void

Whene’er you can.

*

Remember motes of light;

The taste of strawberries.

*

Keep a record

Of the right things in your sphere,

*

So when the dark comes crushing down,

You’ve lost the tune

And cannot move your gaze,

*

The truth remains

In reach

Where you can find (if not believe) it.

*

Give the you

That has a broader view

The chance to testify;

*

The you that,

Given time,

May yet return

*

Just long enough

To add a bar or two.

“So Mote It Be” by Tirzah Duncan

Thoughts from the Shadow

This past Wednesday (September 9, 2020), I – like so many in California’s Bay Area – woke to darkness.

And stayed there.

Unlike anyone else among the ogling locals, my head and heart carried Allyn-a-Dale.

In the hour or so between arrival to my jobsite and clocking in for work, my minstrel and I paced the waterside, gazes upon the ominous shadowscape that would go on to fill the day’s news cycle. Past 7am and, thanks to the smoke of numerous wildfires, it looked like night, but murky. Orange. Malevolent.

My words alone could hardly do it or our visceral reactions justice.

But, naturally, Allyn’s can.

* * *

Where the Shadow Lies

The sun – O woe, the sun! –

Is sick in bed;

It cannot rise.

It stays inside a foggy blanket,

Choked on smoke,

Beneath a shadow lies.

*

I peer through morning

Dark as dusk,

Mist red before my eyes.

I thrill and fear

Whatever’s next,

Here where the shadow lies.

*

I quicken my steps,

But where to run?

How do you flee the skies?

My world to darkness falls again,

And daylight feels a lie.

*

O winds above,

Please blow the haze away;

I beg you try.

Free land from fog and fire

And this dim that terrifies.

*

I watch and wonder,

Wait and worry,

Hush my spirit’s cries.

Our later dawn will brighter be,

Beyond where shadow lies.

*

I’ll not let shadow frighten me.

Where it falls,

There I rise.

(My phone wouldn’t take a photo without trying to compensate for the lack of natural light, so here’s a pic that more accurately represents the morning’s view.)

Thoughts from the Cage

In “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”, I wrote:

“I’m fine. I just… I don’t belong here […] I hate this place, I hate being trapped! I want to be able to go out and do things! New and exciting things all the time, not the same places and faces day after day. I had that!” he moaned. “And now what do I have?”

* * *

In my journal this past week, I wrote:

Tirzah has asked of me, for her sake, that I [temporarily, while she gives herself to family] be fine. And so I keep my insides quiet. Hold feeling at a distance. Hide away inside of Avalon. (Am rereading my darling trilogy. Am remembering while I fell so hard in love) […]

What is it I’ve missed so much about the Outlaws books? The stories themselves? The people (of course)? The person I was when I wrote them?

“I miss who I was, too,” muses Allyn. “In the better parts of ‘Marriage’ and ‘Legend’. Before Will’s absence broke me.”

“I miss the process,” Will puts in. “The finding of the stories, and living them on paper. Even when it sucked. It’s… what we’re made for.”

I know. Me, too.

* * *

Aladdin_Trapped

* * *

A month into international lockdown, I wrote:

Let’s run away and keep on running

Our leaping hearts leading, breath falling behind

Air frittered away in gasps of laughter

In living faster, racing our colors past all of the lines

 

Higher, farther,

Our inner world lies vast

Haste now, waste not

A dream that may not last

Before your soul’s stuck fast, let’s run away

 

Let’s drive away and keep on driving

Miss me with an exit, we’ll escape beyond

Cruise to the edge of new horizons

I don’t mind our riding this adventure ‘til the wheels fall off

 

Knowing nothing

Of all that lies ahead

Leaving long gone

The everyday we dread

Before your light’s snuffed dead, let’s drive away

 

Let’s steal away and keep on stealing

All the precious little moments that are ours to take

Share out a cache of mini magics

While we have it, out like a bandit’s just what we’ll make

 

Diving down for

Our treasure sunken deep

Lost then found, all

They said we couldn’t keep

Before your power’s asleep, let’s steal away

 

Let’s feel alive and keep on living

Let’s fall down and fail and keep forgiving

Let’s last the night with the light of the moon

Let’s not stop now, we’ll be out of this soon

* * *

To the Me who penned that song, I write:

‘Soon’ won’t come soon enough.

Thoughts from the Fog

(I’ve been largely wordless for a while, but just lately, whilst scribbling to myself, found a way to answer my lifelong least favorite question: ‘How are you?’ So this, among other things, is how I’ve been.)

*

Fog gets me.

One thought, while driving toward the city: How something insubstantial as fog can make something so there be not there. The Golden Gate. Aged. Iconic. Large. Unmistakable. And yet, sometimes, invisible. Disguised in sky stuff.

(Much like the moon. Kin, maybe, in their souls. Or both just made much of by those who love them.)

Another thought: This place is wonderful. But this place is of America the Terrible. But is this country rotten, or this nation? Or its leaders? How much blame upon the people, how much on the powers that shouldn’t be?

People are awful. Some of them.

People are wonderful. Some again.

Our best and worst are leagues apart and held in single hearts.

This people and place are built of everything.

I don’t know how to bring that back around to the fog.

*

The thing with this pandemic is it makes it hard to find new things to say.

After all these months (has it really only been a few?), it’s just the same old problems over again. Even the new issues are mere reboots of what’s been wrong all along.

This country does not look good naked, and all but the occasional face covering is coming off now.

Some folks are paid to talk about it. Plenty will do it for free. Or for change. But what does someone like me have to add? I’ve seen no more and know no better. All I can do is echo the obvious.

As for other topics… what? I’ve read a book? I’ve watched a show? The light and the water danced beautifully on the bay this morning? It’s nothing to mark the days with. Lack of routine turns to sameness. The new normal is nothing is normal.

Twenty, thirty minutes in a line spaced six-ish feet apart for fifty bucks’ worth of socks.

Remember when we’d browse the mall for fun? Killing time before the times killed us. Making mini memories before yesterday was March and today’s August and what can we point to in between that felt like living?

There’s a version of hell that looks just like this. Probably more than one.

How’s this for bringing it back to the fog: I’m feeling lost in the blur. My existence, my reality, there then not there. Invisible Golden Gate. I’m forgetting myself. I’m a blank-eyed stranger. I’m alone in my own skin, and my skin is a bus heading out into nowhere, empty save for me, yet still crowded with the thought of people who used to inhabit these seats and might want to later, so let’s not get comfortable, legs crossed tight against imagined space invasion.

I’m social distanced from my own heart.

A soul in quarantine.

The virus knows more than one way to steal your breath.

PhotoFunia-1596471104_2

In Which I Have a Lot of Books (and Sometimes Even Read Them)

Once upon a day in the apocalyptic era that is 2020, I read a post by The Story Sponge featuring one of those fun blogging games that likes to make the rounds – namely, the “Do I Have That Book?” Challenge.

And then I forgot and did nothing about it, because my insides have become a wasteland ravaged by anxiety re: current events.

Then I came across the post again, because I’d had the good sense to keep it in my inbox, and – pleasant surprise! – this time, my muse awoke from its coma long enough to help me scour my bookshelves to see if I had enough qualifying titles for a proper play-along.

For the results – (including several very pretty snapshots of books of all sorts) – read onward!

<<<>>>

Do you have a book with deckled edges?

At least one! The dark, brooding, and super-Shakespearean “If We Were Villains” by M. L. Rio.

If We Were Villains

Borrowed it from the library, gave it 5 stars in my heart, and laid hands on my own copy. Will surely get around to re-reading one day.

Do you have a book with 3 or more people on the cover?

Although one could argue, based upon the trio of novellas within, that there are only two people on the cover, we’ll play illustrator’s advocate and call it seven. Behold, “Penric’s Progress” by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Penric's Progress

I didn’t know ‘nerdy young person has to learn to navigate life while playing host to and becoming friends with a tangle of strong personalities who need to ride his/her body to interact with the material world’ was a genre unto itself, but – with both this collection and my own “Inspired” novels sitting on my shelves – apparently it is! Penric and Annabelle Iole Gray would have much to chat about, I’m sure.

Do you have a book based on another book?

I’ll do you one better: A book based on a musical based on a book! “The Complete Phantom of the Opera” by George Perry.

Complete Phantom of the Opera, The

I believe there’s actually a copy of the O.G. “Phantom of the Opera” novel by Gaston Leroux somewhere in the house, too, though I’ve not yet read it.

(*quietly cracks up at the use of the term ‘O.G.’ in the context of Phantom*)

Do you have a book with a title 10 letters long?

A tricky ask, but ignore the subtitle, and I found one! “Over the Top” by Jonathan Van Ness.

Over the Top

The first acquisition in my literary Queer Eye collection, soon followed by the respective memoirs of Tan France and Karamo Brown, and Antoni Porowski’s gorgeous cookbook. Still waiting on the existence of a memoir and/or interior design book from Bobby Berk. Y’all lemme know if you’ve heard anything about that.

Do you have a book with a title that starts and ends with the same letter?

Now see, I could’ve used Tan France’s memoir (“Naturally Tan”), but I didn’t want to feature two Fab 5 titles back to back, so I chose instead “Thorn in My Heart” by Liz Curtis Higgs.

Thorn in My Heart

Is also one of the few titles one could place in the “Do you have a romance novel that reimagines a Biblical love triangle in 18th-century Scotland?” category, so bravo.

Do you have a Mass Market Paperback?

Every title I own in Brandon Sanderson’s “Mistborn” series fits the bill. Pictured here, the last in the series’ second threesome, “The Bands of Mourning”.

Bands of Mourning

…Which I’ll totally have to start reading over from the beginning, because I made it partway through before setting it aside for literal years, and no way in Scadrial will I remember any people, places, or plot that went down.

Do you have a book written by an author using a pen name?

Is it a pen name if it’s just literally your name, but you wrote your previous books under a different name that was… also just literally your name? We’ll say ‘yes’ so I can go with “Fortune’s Pawn” by Rachel Bach (which I have not only read, but have reviewed on my blog!).

Fortune's Pawn, 02 probably

Do you have a book with a character’s name in the title?

Almost the whole of my Robin Hood collection could claim that distinction.

Robin Hood Collection

Be it Robin’s name or Will Scarlet’s – (or, in the case of the relevant novels I’ve written, Allyn-a-Dale’s) – these books like to call themselves after the legendary characters within them.

Do you have a book with two maps in it?

I couldn’t think of any books of mine with multiple maps, so I semi-cheated by using one of my gal’s books instead: “Invisible Armies” by Max Boot.

Invisible Armies

Never thought I’d feel the need to say this, but thank you, Tirzah, for your lifelong fascination with history and warfare. It has at long last come in handy for me.

Do you have a book that was turned into a TV show?

I’m… not sure. Would you accept a TV show that was turned into books? If so, I present the Diagnosis Murder series by Lee Goldberg.

Diagnosis Murder

I’ve always loved a murder mystery. And if those mysteries star Dick Van Dyke as a fun-natured doctor-detective, so much the better. (Also pictured here: A couple of Monk titles – i.e. another murder-mystery-TV-show-turned-book-series by the same author.)

Do you have a book written by someone who was originally famous for something else? (Celebrity/athlete/politician/tv personality…)

Again, setting aside all my Queer Eyes, this time in favor of “Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You” by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Gmorning, Gnight

…Y’know, that guy famous for, what? Some roles on TV, creating and starring in a couple of Broadway musicals, writing songs for Polynesian princesses and lightning lamps in Depression-era London… Nothing major.

Book illustrations by Johnny Sun, with whom I’m not as familiar, though a glance at his bio shows that he has done/is doing A LOT as well.

Do you have a book with a clock on the cover?

It might be in pieces, but that assemblage of gears and Roman numerals on the “Mechanized Masterpieces” anthology definitely looks like a clock, right? Yes, good, I thought so, too. (Also both read and reviewed on my blog, babyyyyy.)

Mechanized Masterpieces, 02 probably

Do you have a book of poetry?

A browse through a secondhand bookstore got me this little treasure: “Old English Ballads: Selected and Arranged for Use in Elementary Schools” by John A. Long.

Old English Ballads

Are all of ye olde poems inside about Robin Hood? No. But are several of them? Yesssssss! Have I bothered to sit down and read them yet? Mind your business!

Do you have a book with an award stamp on the cover?

I’d originally planned to showcase this one in answer to Do you have a book with 3 or more people on the cover?, but changed it up because, while “Penric’s Progress” has a crowd on its face, it lacks the Newberry Honor Book seal proudly displayed upon “The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog” by Adam Gidwitz (with illustrations by Hatem Aly).

Inquisitor's Tale, The

A humorous and deeply thoughtful novel, suitable for middle graders and so-called grownups alike. I highly recommend.

Do you have a book written by an author with the same initials as you?

Ignoring all the books that have my actual name on them, let’s go with “The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Setterfield – quite possibly the first literary book for grownups I ever loved. I really must get ‘round to her recent latest novel, “Once Upon a River”, sometime. We’ll see how soon my library can hook me up.

Thirteenth Tale, The

Do you have a book of short stories?

Quite a few. Selecting one more or less at random, here’s “Clever Gretchen and Other Forgotten Folktales” retold by Alison Laurie.

Clever Gretchen

Grabbed secondhand during fairytale collecting phase. (‘Cause hey, for all I knew, I’d have another 27 Wilderhark Tales to write and would need all the source material I could get.) Have yet to read it, but surely … surely … someday.

Do you have a book that’s between 500-510 pages long?

Ooh, toughie! I flipped through a number of my books and couldn’t find anything that fits those exact parameters. But if you leave out the author’s note at the end, queer historical romp “A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” by Mackenzi Lee ends on page 501.

Gentleman's Guide, The

(Not that I would ever leave out the author’s note. I’m a very cover-to-cover sort of reader.)

Do you have a book that was turned into a movie?

How’s about “Ivanhoe” by Sir Walter Scott? I have neither watched the movie nor read the book, but a quick online search confirmed my assumption that such a movie must exist (because don’t most quote-unquote classics of Western literature?), and OF COURSE I’ll read the book eventually. It’s got a guest appearance by ROBIN HOOD, for Sherwood’s sake.

Ivanhoe

Do you have a graphic novel?

Just the one, I think: “The Veligent” by Melody Peña.

Veligent, The

Read and loved it way back when it was more than a fantastic collection of digital pages shared by the author/artist online, and checked in on her every couple years or so to see if I could someday acquire it in physical form. Happy day, I finally got to help Kickerstarter the hardback into being! (And got a magical little Poad™ figurine as a thank-you. ^_^)

Do you have a book written by two or more authors?

Any number of my short story collections could claim this one. Just because I love me a feywood-esque, I’ll choose “The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest” edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.

Green Man, The

And it’s just as big a surprise to me as to any of you that I have, in fact, gotten around to reading this one! Miracles abound! Don’t ask me if I remember the details of any of the stories!

<<<>>>

High five, muse o’ mine! We actually made it through the whole of this blog post without getting squished under chronic existential dread. And if you, lovely readers, have felt likewise inspired to share your bookshelves’ contents – or have thoughts/opinions/feelings on any of the titles I’ve featured today – share all with me in the comments!

Until next the blogging bug bites,

~ Danielle

A Tale of Two Galleries

We walk into the gallery. Outside, a horsehead sculpture, smile charmingly smug. Inside, acrylic whimsy stretched in magnificent detail across every wall.

She greets us upon entry, compliments our outfits, follows our progress from frame to frame. She talks, she talks, she talks.

“Where did you get your coats?”

We forget.

“Well, coats are great. Now put your coat money toward a thousand-dollar painting.”

Probably a thrift store coat, in at least one case. Hardly a comparable expense.

“Yeah, my daughter’s a thrift shopper. Wears her finds to galleries in Europe. You can buy that painting in hundred-dollar installments, you know.”

We really can’t afford—

“You’d just spend it on food or something, otherwise.”

We really don’t have the space—

“I live in a studio. I had no money, once. Anyone can come up with excuses not to invest in a painting.”

Uh-huh… Ooh, we would live in that painting, if we could…

“You can. If you buy it and put it on your wall.”

(What part of ‘we have neither the money nor the wall area’ is she not hearing? Where does one hang an artwork they skipped on rent to obtain?)

We’re tuning her out, now. Finish our browsing. Purchase a small something to gift a loved one, no thanks to her. Wonder if she really believed that she had ever been like us; and if she was, which path do we avoid so as never to become her?

*

We walk into the gallery. Statuary looms. A four-foot frog, a large-as-life lion, a dark metal horse rampant, all in a cunning and costly clutter.

He points out that the tiny figurines we’re eying in the back-corner cases are such-and-such a price. (Inexpensive enough that we could buy them, exorbitant enough that we couldn’t justify it.) We give him fair warning that we’re too broke for this place, just dream shopping while on a sightseeing jaunt.

“Oh, where are you from?”

Not far, as of recently. In fact, one of us is employed just a few minutes away.

“Nice place to work.”

It is, at that. One of us keeps up the chatter (it isn’t me), while the other (it is) crouches over a bronze – a girl stretched on the ground with a book ‘neath her nose.

He watches from behind the counter, nonchalantly digs into his lunch, asks with mild interest, “What’s she reading?”

To our delight, a half-legible page reveals its heart with an ‘Open sesame’ –the tale of Ali Baba! – and just as magic, one half of our two hearts (mine) falls in love with the girl and her reading. No point looking at the price tag, though. Still no money, no space.

Our other heart half (hers) leaps at a statue of two golden otters, large and sinuous, the usual cutesy take on the creatures eschewed in favor of predatory power.

He – (somehow also like a predator, stately and sensual, but lately fed and therefore less a threat) – marvels at my other half’s impassioned otter rant. “Are you an interior designer?”

No, she’s just got a lot of feelings.

Nearly out the door, we pass a dish fashioned of translucent waves and the undines who dance among them. My eyes, on it, full of longing. Her eyes, on me, all affection. His eyes, on her; his words, to me: “She’ll get it for you.”

She would if she could. She will when she can. Someday, when we’re wealthy, it’s here we’ll return, for readers, otters, undines.

As for paintings… well. We’ll see who’s doing the selling.

Gallery of Us_PhotoFunia-1583632441
A gallery of us, living rich lives on the cheap.

Home, Dear Home

A sigh from Gilbert, the elegant one, as he sips at tea and gazes out from the couch, ‘cross the deck, o’er the trees. “It feels like Germany.”

That’s what our hearts said when first we saw the place.

The open house for the apartment was scheduled for a November noon. Tirzah and I arrived with many minutes to spare, and so elected to walk a bit up the hill from the house. And it looked of Germany. Smelled of Germany. Stirred our souls the way a ramble through little German woods and villages ever did. We’d been aching, ever since we parted ways, for the best of our old German home – my inner Gilbert missing it dearest of all. Now here was a piece of it, in Marin County by the bay.

And inside the apartment itself, all was fresh and light and – (compared to our little guest house in Fresno) – spacious. For Tirzah, at last, a proper kitchen, complete with a full-sized oven, a functional dishwasher, counter space. For me? Oh, just everything, everything. Even the things less than perfect called out to be mine.

We had other appointments in other apartments, and sensibly scheduled more, striving to go into them all with open minds. But this first place we toured was the one we wanted. This, we said, smitten, was Crush House. This was our house.

If we could only convince the reticent landlords that we’d be able to make good on the sky-high rent they demanded.

*

A yip from Galliard, the man-puppy de France, as he bounces at the windows over the bed. “Oh, ho-ho! Look you – it is deer!”

It is always deer.

Doe Out the Window_copy
The deer without

The evening we received the keys (inexpressible thanks to the friend of the landlords who’d run the open house and advocated for us every hopeful, fretful step of the way), we stood out on the deck, breathing excitement in and gratitude out, when a step sounded in the underbrush below. We peered through the dark, alert for… what? A man-sized person? A horse-sized dog? Instead, a doe, roaming the yard with nary a care for our voices nearby.

The night before we moved in proper, just transferring the bulk of our luggage from our Airbnb in preparation for the real thing (more thanks inexpressible to the lovely lady and her sons who shared their home with us during that limbo week in between a hotel and the new beginning awaiting us), a shadow walked the road mere paces from our carport. Into the streetlights, a stag – perfectly aware of us, and rightly confident that we would know better than to threaten his progress.

The day we labored our boxes, bits of furniture, and gargantuan mattress up the steps, around the front stoop, into the house (there really is no expressing how thankful I am that this neighborhood’s scenic hills defeated neither us nor the U-Haul that was in no way designed to navigate such a steep, narrow, winding way), a mother-and-fawn duo watched from various vantages. The doe’s bland stare conveyed silent judgment. It was becoming increasingly clear that the herd ran this territory, and they weren’t of the opinion that our presence was adding much community value.

*

A cough for attention from Will Scarlet, the man, the myth, The Most™. “I notice that we have yet to put up our John Barrowman pictures.”

There’s a lot of art we’re still wondering how to work onto the walls. A bit of furniture we’re still wanting to gather. A good deal of progress, however, has been made on both fronts. The aforementioned couch was a vital thrift store find. The papasan chair in our bedroom corner, scooped up for free from the curb while driving back from a day visit to San Francisco. The cubby shelves in our bathroom, purchased from the Target just a parking lot away from an invigorating waterfront walk. Deck table and chairs, obtained via a community app recommended to me while carpooling with a seasonal coworker. Massive desk-and-bookcase unit in the living room… well, the whole of that harrowing tale can be found on my Twitter.

Gazing Out After the Morning's Rain
The deer within

As for art, pieces of us and what we cherish are everywhere. We even managed to arrange sufficient lights, knickknacks, reindeer antler headbands, etc., to bring a sense of Christmas into the space for December. All this while juggling, for the first time: Gas-and-electric bills; internet account ownership; renters’ insurance; a work-to-home commute through actual, ridiculous rush hour traffic. Next-level adulthood is a lot.

But we’re making it happen.

On the days we feel strong and the days we feel weak. Whether we’re acing it or barely scraping by. When dragging ourselves up to alarms that sound before the sun, and while settling down with a plate of leftovers and a comfort Netflix session. This is the miracle we’re making. Our little Germany. Our house of deer. Our imaginary roommates with their cheers, complaints, and constant commentary.

Ours, all ours.

In Which the World Scrambles to Catch Up

Robin Hood looks up with a smile and wave from his seat at a coffee shop table. “Danielle! Good to see you again.”

I settle into the seat across from him. “Right? It’s been too long since last time.”

“Just a bit over a year now, I believe – with that so-called coffee shop a mere set on a stage, you portrayed by the Merry Men’s minstrel, and my crazy cousin directing the show.”

“Yeah, well,” say I, recalling fondly, “Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre skits are fun, but take a lot of brain energy to script. Easier just to hang out with you one-on-one in some quiet corner of imagination.”

Robin nods, sipping his beverage. “So, what’s new?” His eyes sparkle through the aromatic steam. “Or might well I ask, what isn’t?

I loose a long and multilayered sigh. “So, so much is new. To start with, remember how excited I was last year about landing that Amazon fulfillment center job?”

“Weeping with delight, if I rightly remember.”

“Mm. Well, the weeping remained,” I say grimly. “Turns out the job’s demands and culture are not, shall we diplomatically say, a good fit for me and Tirzah. Work-related injuries led to her resignation, and I was eager to follow before my own body and soul broke down beyond repair. But until she or I could find another job, I needed to stay where I was; rent for our adorable little home wasn’t going to pay itself, alas.”

Robin’s hum and crinkled expression radiate sympathy. “That sounds like quite the unhappy burden to bear.”

“It was,” I acknowledge, “but for Tirzah’s sake, ‘twas borne voluntarily. Her body and soul needed to know they were in a safe place for recovery before she could fully face the challenge of finding something new.”

JournalQuote_AlreadyASuccess
From my personal journal, Oct. 18, 2019

“Was the Fresno job search better, this time around?”

I’ve only just been served my tea, and I almost snort the first mouthful out my nose. “As desert-dry as ever. Sometimes I’m amazed there are two employed folks to rub together, in that city. Tirzah did come across an extraordinary opportunity elsewhere, though. And by elsewhere, I mean San Francisco.”

San Fran Magic Triptych

Robin’s brows rise. “You love that city.”

“I do! And the idea of moving there…” I break off, speechless with overwhelm. “It would have been magical. But she didn’t get the job.”

“Oh, luv…”

The time-honored nod of a mourner accepting condolences. “That was really hard – to have hopes fly so high, then come crashing down. But it served a purpose. It raised our gaze. We realized that if we aspired to live in or near San Francisco, there was no point continuing to apply for jobs in Fresno. So we centered our efforts on the Bay Area. Even visited there again, at the start of my birthday month, to help cement our intentions via a neuro-linguistic programming conference.”

“Neuro-linguistic…?”

NLP, for short. Any case, we were dreaming big and striving hard for— huh.” A retrospective pause. “It felt like a slogging eternity, but I guess this chapter had its beginnings in July and is in the midst of coming to a close. I’d sort of dared the universe to get me free of Amazon by my birthday.”

“…And?” Robin prompts, when I leave him hanging.

“That’s the day T and I drove three hours, one way, so she could have an in-person interview at an assisted-living facility.” I smile. “And she got offered the job on the spot.”

Robin’s grin could outshine the sun (*cough* nobody tell Raeóryn *cough*). “DAR-ling!”

31 years old

I wriggle with joy. “That was a Wednesday. They scheduled her to start on Tuesday. That gave us less than a week to pack up and move out – which we managed, like the legends we are, though it would’ve been worlds easier,” I say pointedly, “if we’d had a legendary band of outlaws physically present to lug boxes and furniture into storage.”

Robin shrugs his apologies. “You know we’d have been there if we could. Same for when you’re ready to move in somewhere new. Which will be… when?”

“Not entirely sure yet. It’s hotel and Airbnb life, to start with, because Tirzah’s job alone won’t provide income enough to reassure any potential landlords of our financial stability.”

“Ah. So it must wait until you’ve found a job, too.”

A casual sip of my tea. “Oh, I’ve just done that.”

“YOU—?!”

“At a children’s museum. The day before drafting this blog post,” I say, smirking to keep from squealing. “That was a Wednesday. I’m scheduled to start—”

No.”

“Yep. Tuesday.”

JournalQuote_RealMagic
From my personal journal, Oct. 28, 2019

“One week and a whirlwind apart,” Robin marvels. “’Twould seem you’ve got a strong share of magic to work with, after all.”

“’Twould indeed,” I murmur, weary and wonder-filled, tired and twinkling with hope. “It’s been a ride-and-a-half, Robin Hood, but I think it’s taking me where I need to go. Where I want to go, even. I can’t wait to see which blessings land in my lap next!”

“If things carry on at the rate they’ve been,” says Robin, raising his drink in salute, “that wait may not be long at all.”

San Fran Magic Diptych