Open Journal: Nothing is Forever

Over my birthday weekend, I dyed my hair. The color doesn’t like to just stick there. I sleep with a towel over my pillows to protect them from stains. Scratching my head leaves my fingertips blue. It’s kind of a weird tradeoff for looking like a boss.

red-leaf

I’ve been asked whether I’ll go on to dye my hair other colors, in future. I really don’t know. I don’t even know how long I’ll hang onto the blue I’ve got before shaving it back down to black.

It’s a temporary color. It could be gone at any time.

*

My day job is technically a temp position.

The workload’s been a bit sporadic, lately. Some days, there’s plenty to keep everybody occupied for a full shift. Others, things slow down to a crawl. I’m the type that’s big on diligence and reliability, so unless I’m instructed otherwise by my higher-ups, I’m there either way, working with what I’m given with the best attitude I can muster. Makes the prize all the sweeter when I’m sent home with a surprise half-day.

If and when the day comes that there’s just not enough work to go around, I may be one of the folks that get let go. Part of me goes, “Oh, no! But… money!” (Since, y’know, the darling book babies only bring in so much, at this point.) The rest of me isn’t that bothered about it. It’s a fine job for now – close to perfect, in some ways – but I wouldn’t want to get stuck doing it for the rest of my life.

*

I used to think I wanted to make books for the rest of my life. (During my heavily depressed episodes, the thoughts went more like, “I want to make books until it kills me,” or, “I look forward to being done making books so I can die.”)

There’s still a list of stories I know for certain I need to publish before calling it quits. Beyond that… I don’t know for sure. I’ve still got words in me. I doubt I could or should ever fully turn my back on playing with them. I only wonder if playing so hard over the last few years has burned out my passion, or if I maybe need a season of pursuing something else. What else? I haven’t a clue.

keep-calm-and-find-a-new-dream

*

“So, you’re back from Germany. Where are you going next?”

Again, no clue.

I knew when I went that Germany wasn’t to be my forever home. In part because a “forever home”, however sweetly it’s meant when used it reference to adopted pets and such, is not a thing. There is no forever, in this life. That comes with the next. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

That aside, I want my long-term, settle-down home to be in England. Or Ireland. Or San Francisco. Someplace that calls to my heart in a language I can fluently speak. (So, es tut mir leid, Germany, but that means you’re right out.) As for the exact “where” and “when”, I don’t have any answers.

My future is a big, blurry question mark. My present is just me, pushing through day to day.

It’s not a condition I much enjoy. But on the bright side, I know it’s not forever.

A Thing Isn’t Beautiful Because It Lasts

Up after another too-short night, made shorter by a cold smothering shut my sinuses. This is a morning for tea.

A mug of green with honey – my mug from Tirzah that calls me “aunt” in German, so near to what I go by with my treasured baby nephew. I don’t like the taste ohne Zucker (without sugar), but this is better for my condition, so I endure, knowing better is to follow.

A pot of loose-leaf – Tirzah’s pot from me. It pours out prettily pink and smelling of almond cookies – or, I joke, of cyanide. A momentary smile for pleasant thoughts of murder.

We take to the couch and light a rose incense stick, standing upright in a mug of its own. My NaNoWriMo mug, a had-to-have purchase for the minstrel-esque muse on the side.

The flame burns down, the smoke curls up – drifts and dances and hangs in the air. It appears as a magic fog, or perhaps like a soul’s departure. Wouldn’t it be a sight to burn such a stick in an open casket at a wake?

Sitting and sipping. Character chatting. Bracing our spirits for household chores done in a blink. Time for a walk.

* * *

Patches of clean, airy blue peek through the overcast sky. A sprinkle of rain, there and then gone, though the ever-changing clouds remain.

Scarlet gestures at the world before us. “You’d think it’d be gloomy, but it’s not.”

Sy’s head shakes in agreement. “Too bright through the gray, and the ground too green.”

Variegated greens and browns and purples. Always purples, like the work of a character – (none of you have yet met him; let’s call him Gilbert, since it’s his name) – who makes art through me, some nights. I don’t much care for the current coloring book fad, but his artist’s vision sees the possibilities in the pigmented pencils and the blanks between the lines. With my hand, he’s managed masterpieces. And with his eyes, we walk and see the subtleties of wood and leaf and sky. We joke that it’s nature imitating his art, but really, Gilbert just does beauty like God.

(Samples of Gilbert’s work)

* * *

We choose the road not taken. With so many paths running like veins between villages, we can easily find a new walk every time. We cross the street, then cross a field, nestled half-wild in the hills.

A cloud of birds rises in unison, then – for no reason we know – divides in two. Bigger, blacker, crows or ravens hop and flap and hoarsely caw. We’ve seen then form clouds, too, some evenings, filling the sky like some strange omen. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see a corvid perched upon a branch or roof. It’s their town; we’re just living in it.

Shaggy horses stand a fence away – majestic as lions, with the sturdy nobility of dwarves. We unofficially name the black ones Thorin Oakenshield. We exchange greetings with a Thorin as we pass, blowing at his nostrils while he politely sniffs.

“A pleasure making your acquaintance,” we say in parting.

A gracious bow of his great head. “The pleasure was mine.”

Such a gentleman. (Assuming he was male.) Nothing like the horses just up the road from our house, who always glare as we pass like we’re bringing down the neighborhood.

* * *

The paths curve up, down, and around. We take the forks that most appeal to our whims. Some days, some walks, the paths are busy, full of people, their bikes, their children, their dogs. But today, we are blessedly alone – just two girls and their closest imaginary friends.

We head further into the unknown, never fretting that we’ll truly lose our way. Tirzah’s smartphone aside, all roads eventually lead to another road big enough that there will be signage. Unfettered by fear, we wander freely. Unbothered by rain, we ramble on. Unheated by the further cooling of the air, we’re not sorry to find ourselves on the path back home.

Back on the familiar side of the street. Back to the neighborhood horses whose stares seem almost tolerant today. Back to warmth, the riddance of wet boots, and hot cocoa – salted caramel, and just the ticket to tide us over ‘til dinner’s been made.

We’re startled to realize (and equally pleased): This has been a really good day, all through. Mugs raised in a toast of contentment, all the sweeter for the knowledge that it cannot last forever.

The Old and the New

My New Year’s Eve with Tirzah

Walking through her German village – (our German village, I can say for now) – our latest heated argument punctuated by the battle sounds of fireworks.

Staring at the bursts of color in the foggy sky, my expression sobbing while the tears refuse to fall. It’s been a wretched day.

Is this how the old year ends? I mourn. Is this how the new begins? In painful misery? I don’t want that kind of year. Not again.

Maybe a bottle rocket will shoot me.

* * *

Meandering back down a side path. Stopping to stare at a tree – bare except for water droplets glittering in the smoky glow of a streetlamp. Silent music, melancholy beauty.

“That tree is Allyn-a-Dale,” Tirzah says, then looks to the flamboyant sky. “The fireworks are Will Scarlet.”

Will’s laugh through my throat. “Yeah they are.”

* * *

We – the hosts and the host inside of them – take a seat on pathside boulders. Embracing the mists like we’re born of them. Craning to watch the comets erupt.

“It’s hard,” Will says for me, eyes on the showers of light, “when someone who might otherwise be a happy person just… can’t, a lot. It’s like a flu of sadness. You try to drink plenty of fluids, try to get your rest, but all you can really do is let it run its course.”

Through Tirzah, Sy nods. “In her way, your author gets sick as often as mine does.”

“It’s pathetic.”

“It really is.”

Will arches a brow. “Take bets on which of ‘em dies first?”

Sy puts his money on my death; Will goes the other way. Winner’s author gets custody of the dead one’s characters.

Like that hadn’t already been agreed upon.

* * *

Back to the house for a New Year’s toast – she, me, her husband makes three, classy glasses of wood-flavored whiskey for all.

I snap pics of her in her hat and sharp jacket, Gandalf’s pipe balanced at the corner of her mouth. She raises the glass. “Happy New Year, old sport.”

“Mm, yes, I say, rather, *bluster-bluff*.”

She laughs at the toothpick I swirl in my drink and contently chew. “Who needs wood whisky when you can have whisky wood?”

A masterpiece of a movie, thanks to my sister’s Netflix. (“The Illusionsist” – you seen it? You may wish to.)

Always cold, but – with three top layers, a beanie, and T’s ski pants over my jeans – almost warm enough.

Always at risk to feel sad and angry and scared that life will swallow me and my inner fog whole, but for now – through the wee hours – happy enough.

* * *

I expect the year will be much like this.

Happy ‘til I’m not, sad ‘til I’m better, my people and me weathering it all like we do.

It will be hard.

Bits will be glorious – pockets of silent music in the mist.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/517280707171823674/
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/517280707171823674/

Open Journal: Everyday Magic

[Note: My brain’s still not decompressed enough to try conveying the experience of my European river cruise in a blog post. But I’m more-or-less settled in Germany now, and it’s a stage of life I’ll want taken down for posterity. So here’s a glimpse into my day-before-yesterday.]

<<<>>>

Walked out to the forest with some Stranger Than True friends in the hope of maybe getting some highly important, “Outlaws of Avalon”-related photos.

We didn’t find the shots I wanted.

Instead, we found magic.

Lots of little everyday magic.

The way the early-fading light hit things.

The many-shaded piles of clouds.

The snow-globe fall of hail, fine as salt.

The rise of smoke like fire-mist from a chimney.

Moss and wood and leaves and stone and stair railings.

A painted sun on an old barn door.

The blue, blue sky reflected in a window.

Shiny glass panes billowing like bubbles waiting to be.

The dance of a willow.

Puddles on the cobbles.

The smell of old rain.

Unexpected incense in the exhaust of a passing car.

Will Scarlet, every few steps: “Stop. Look at that. Wow.”

“Guys. I’m GLAD.”

His heart was worship, and mine was right there with him –

glorying, in wonder at all around and within me.

A fruitless walk, perhaps, but in no wise a wasted one.

(Pictured above = The post-walk view from my window and balcony. Not pictured here = The brilliant moon that rose soon after. #ISeeYou)

Proceed With Caution

Welcome to the Stranger Than Truth Club Minutes, featuring conversations between me and my closest group of friends – one, my IRL bestie, the rest… a little reality-impaired.

“But what we lack in so-called reality,” Will Scarlet inserts, “we make up for in awesomeness!”

Fact, that.

The way of it is, the Stranger Than Truth Club takes people from all walks of life, universes, times, and species, and brings us together through beautiful, ever-evolving, cross-plane friendships.

I wish I could give you a glimpse into our insightful, loving, hilarious, open community. Unfortunately, I can only give you transcripts of our idiocy.

And so without further ado: Truth is stranger than fiction. We are—

Stranger Than Truth 02

StT Prompt

Lute: “You will not win.”

Sy: Try me.

Lute: Wouldn’t you love to.

Danielle: You talking to Will?

Sy: Yeah, you’re thinking of Will.

<<<>>>

Allyn: “My voice may break you”?

Danielle: Well, I mean, it may.

<<<>>>

Bruno: I feel I should be wearing so many.

Tirzah: What’s the biggest one?

Sy: “F*** off”?

Bruno: Pretty much.

<<<>>>

Tirzah and Danielle: [bickering heavily]

Edgwyn: Warning label for you two: “It’s only fun until it’s not.”

<<<>>>

Bruno: And then there’s Kitten’s: “No, seriously, f*** off.”

Sy: “F*** off or get f***ed.”

Tirzah: What a couple. What a beautiful— no, just what a couple.

<<<>>>

Robin Hood: All my brain is giving me is this stupid clickbait ad that’s like, “Sheriffs hate him! Use this one weird trick for saving the peasantry!”

Tirzah: “This one weird trick turns the gold of the rich into food for the poor!”

Will: “This man turned outlaw! You won’t believe what happens next!”

Tirzah: “Find out what King John doesn’t want you to know!”

<<<>>>

Will: Was that the TARDIS??

Tirzah: I’m getting a cookie.

<<<>>>

Tirzah [re: Marion]: “Warning: Married and faithful.”

Will: DAMMIT.

<<<>>>

Allyn: I feel like Will doesn’t need a warning label. It’s like in nature: A color that bright, you just stay away.

<<<>>>

Will [re: Little John]: Isn’t nature like, “He’s that big, just stay away”?

Tirzah: Yeah, bears don’t need to be bright.

<<<>>>

Danielle [re: Edgwyn]: “Warning: He’ll love you too much.”

Edgwyn: I don’t want you to be warned away, though. I want to get you.

<<<>>>

Danielle: Warning for Little Allyn. … Nobody warned us.

[Long, messy conversation ensues]

Tirzah [summarizes]: “Warning: Hot mess.”

Danielle: That covers it.

<<<>>>

Tirzah [re: Sy]: “Extremely dangerous in general” seems to suit. “It’s sharp! It’s explosive! It’s dynamic!”

Sy: It’s even flammable.

Danielle: Aaaaugh, I just remembered he’s our leader!

Sy: You should see the power behind the throne.

Will: Why, who’s back there? OH, GOD.

Sy: Him exactly.

<<<>>>

Will [re: Danielle]: “Warning: Basically, run.”

3 out of 12 Doctors agree.
3 out of 12 Doctors agree.

Sy: “Warning: This smile can mean absolutely anything.”

Danielle: “Warning: This warning will soon cease to apply.”

Tirzah: You know what they say around here: “If you don’t like the mood, wait five minutes.”

<<<>>>

Danielle [mutters re: Tirzah]: “Warning: She touches weird stuff and doesn’t bother to wash her hands.”

Tirzah: Spiders are neither filthy nor weird. And anyway, that’s a warning only you would need to have.

Danielle: I would have liked that warning, yes.

Will: “Warning: Scottish.” “Warning: C.S. Lewis is her spirit animal.”

Tirzah: What the hell?! You people are just listing things about me!

Will: “Warning: White female.”

Tirzah: Assumptions!

Tirzah: “Warning: Not suitable for the closed-minded.”

Danielle: …Why are we friends?

<<<>>>

Hey, readers! What’s YOUR label? Warn us in the comments!

Lily-White; Conservative

Welcome to the Stranger Than Truth Club Minutes, featuring conversations between me and my closest group of friends – one, my IRL bestie, the rest… a little reality-impaired.

“But what we lack in so-called reality,” Will Scarlet inserts, “we make up for in awesomeness!”

Fact, that.

The way of it is, the Stranger Than Truth Club takes people from all walks of life, universes, times, and species, and brings us together through beautiful, ever-evolving, cross-plane friendships.

I wish I could give you a glimpse into our insightful, loving, hilarious, open community. Unfortunately, I can only give you transcripts of our idiocy.

And so without further ado: Truth is stranger than fiction. We are—

Stranger Than Truth 02

<<<>>>

Tirzah: Hey, D, check this out.

As seen on Facebook, captioned: “A police officer helping a KKK member suffering from sunstroke.”
As seen on Facebook, captioned: “A police officer helping a KKK member suffering from sunstroke.”

Danielle: Well. Hmm.

Tirzah: Yeah. Mixed feelings on this. And in case you think, “Maybe the caption lies…” Nope, there’s a swastika on his shirt.

Will: That’s hard to wear, these days. And hey, how ‘bout those sneakers in the background?

Danielle: What about them?

Will: I dunno. We were talking about clothes. Seemed a natural segue.

<<<>>>

Danielle: Well, dude. Stay hydrated, and don’t be an ass.

Sy: That’s a “go and sin no more statement” if I ever heard one.

Tirzah: You should comment that.

Danielle: I don’t like getting involved.

Will: I’ll comment it!

Danielle: Dude. Why are you always catering to her?

Will: Because I’m a caterer.

Sy: “Will Scarlet’s Banquets and Catering…!”

<<<>>>

Will: Should I comment it straight, or should I insert an adjective or “stop being a racist monster” or…?

Tirzah: Eh, accurate, but I’m not sure it fits the original tone of your comment. “Bigoted ass”?

Will: Could just say “bigot”. That’s pretty much synonymous with “ass”.

<<<>>>

Will: I’mma look for synonyms. *opens dictionary tab* “…Illiberal, brassbound, intolerant, small-minded, unenlarged” (oo-er)… “Lily-white” and “conservative” are related words, huh? Doesn’t pay to be pale.

Allyn: Now that’s bigoted.

<<<>>>

Clearly a racist.
Clearly a racist.

Sy: If this doesn’t get you girls comments, I don’t know what will. You may even get angry comments, or people misconstruing everything! *claps hands in faux delight* You’ve never had those before!

Danielle: Once you start tagging things “KKK”…

Stranger Than Truth

Welcome to the debut of the Stranger Than Truth Club Minutes, featuring conversations between me and my closest group of friends – one, my IRL bestie, the rest… a little reality-impaired.

“But what we lack in so-called reality,” Will Scarlet inserts, “we make up for in awesomeness!”

Fact, that.

The way of it is, the Stranger Than Truth Club takes people from all walks of life, universes, times, and species, and brings us together through beautiful, ever-evolving, cross-plane friendships.

I wish I could give you a glimpse into our insightful, loving, hilarious, open community. Unfortunately, I can only give you transcripts of our idiocy.

And so without further ado: Truth is stranger than fiction. We are—

Stranger Than Truth 02

Sy: So, we’re opening up the floor to the entirety of this imaginary realm. Who’s the likeliest to fill up the air?

Tirzah: That makes it sound like a radio program.

Bruno: This would do better as a radio program.

Sy: But then people would have to learn how to distinguish between our voices, and there are really just two girls talking.

Will: Yeah, we can barely decipher it, some days.

Sy: They just need to become Robin Williams.

<<<>>>

Will: The problem with radio is you can’t see our faces. This should be TV.

Tirzah: What kind of show would it be?

Will: Some sort of old-time variety show? Ed Sullivan kind of thing?

Allyn: You only know The Ed Sullivan Show from “Bye-Bye, Birdie”. You don’t even know what it’s about.

<<<>>>

Tirzah: I think we’d make the most sense as an anime set in a high school. Somebody’s undead? No problem. Somebody was an assassin once? No problem. We’re just all doing our geometry homework. Don’t mind the personifications of nature, they come and go.

Little Allyn: Our teachers would have a difficult time calling roll. Some of us are the same person.

Sy: Yeah, that should get addressed early on. Gentle readers, please note: We have duplicates. Don’t ask why. The reasons are varied and complicated and we’ve forgotten some of them.

<<<>>>

[Conversation devolves into bickering between the authors re: sentence arrangement]

Will: Anyone timing this? How long did it take before they started sniping at each other?

Allyn: Oh, I’d say a good hour, all told.

Danielle: That’s not bad time.

Tirzah: You know how group projects be like.

<<<>>>

Will: How long before the rest of us start bickering with each other, I wonder?

Sy: As soon as someone calls you old. Or tells Allyn he has pride issues.

Allyn: Are we really going into that?

Sy: I’m sorry, are you too proud to go into that in a public forum?

Bruno: And just like that, they decide to tackle the deep issues.

Tirzah: Leave it to Sy.

<<<>>>

Allyn: I really don’t want to do this. Can we not?

Will: He called me old! We can talk about you.

Sy: I didn’t say—

Will: YOU IMPLIED IT.

Allyn: Calm down. You’re distressing me.

Lute: Be gentle with Allyn. He’s a Highly Sensitive Person.

Allyn: I just don’t want to be talked about, and I don’t want Will yelling.

Will: You can’t have it all.

Tirzah: *breaks into Adele* *follows up with Ke$ha*

Tirzah: No! No! You’re painting me in an incorrect light! That makes it sound like that’s the music I’m into. It’s just that… appropriate lyrics were appropriate!

Danielle: Okay, speaking of music, it’s about to play the end theme. Any last words?

Sy: What is our end theme?

Tirzah: Why don’t we have an end theme? Ga-a-ants?

Lute: I have one. You just can’t hear it.

Danielle: You would.