naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (LMAO)
I need to clear these out of my working file, so . . . some quotes from conversations between Sargon and I. Some older, some recent. None are gaming related. We just talk like this.

"Fiend! Leave my pants out of your twisted vendetta!"

"Stop sniffing at that . . . head!"

"Oh, Fishy, you're so cu—DON'T SCRAPE YOUR EYE-BOOGERS OFF ON ME!"

"What do you get when you mix horrible and adorable? Fi—OW!"

"Yeah! Yeah! I am totally carving a pentagram into that goat!"

"It's too bad movies can't actually be, you know, killed." (Re: The Scarlet Letter)

"How fresh do you think that slime is, anyway?"

"Awesomite: it's made of ROCK."

"Pants! Pants are runcible!"

"It'll be easy. Totally easy. Like taking pants from a baby."

"Dr. Frankenstein really needs to simplify his monsterbation ritual."

"Frankenstein's just afraid his creation will show up to exercise his droit de monsteur."
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (LMAO)
I need to clear these out of my working file, so . . . some quotes from conversations between Sargon and I. Some older, some recent. None are gaming related. We just talk like this.

"Fiend! Leave my pants out of your twisted vendetta!"

"Stop sniffing at that . . . head!"

"Oh, Fishy, you're so cu—DON'T SCRAPE YOUR EYE-BOOGERS OFF ON ME!"

"What do you get when you mix horrible and adorable? Fi—OW!"

"Yeah! Yeah! I am totally carving a pentagram into that goat!"

"It's too bad movies can't actually be, you know, killed." (Re: The Scarlet Letter)

"How fresh do you think that slime is, anyway?"

"Awesomite: it's made of ROCK."

"Pants! Pants are runcible!"

"It'll be easy. Totally easy. Like taking pants from a baby."

"Dr. Frankenstein really needs to simplify his monsterbation ritual."

"Frankenstein's just afraid his creation will show up to exercise his droit de monsteur."

Hide

Aug. 27th, 2008 02:21 am
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Wolf Woman)
Sargon and I once took a training course at our zoo to become docents. We didn't finish, unfortunately, due to the fact that getting up at fuck-that-o'clock in the morning on a Saturday is not any fun at all, but we did see a lot of really nifty things.

One day the class was up behind the snow leopard exhibit, which is this huge artificial mountainside. We were at the top of the mountain, looking down at the back of the huge iron cage that encloses the cats. And there, right there, were both snow leopards, curled up against the fence and sleeping. They were so beautiful, and even sleeping and caged they had a force about them. Compelling. I looked at them and I hurt inside because of their beauty, because it was so close, because I wanted it in a way I could not fully articulate or even understand.

The guide talked to us for about ten minutes about big cats, facts and figures we'd need to know for the public. I was deaf. All I could see were the black spots hovering on a moon-colored pelt. I stood at the back of the crowd, edging closer and closer to the fence; I stole a touch, just a brush of my fingers across a tuft of fur sticking through the fence, the fur of the jaw between ear and neck, where it's so dense and thick it stands out in spikes. It was so soft I could not even feel it on my fingertips.

It was a stupid thing to do. There was nothing between me and the animal but some woven metal webbing; it could easily have turned and bitten or clawed at me. But I had no choice. It compelled me, and I had to touch it. I needed to. I felt this awful ache. It was all I could do not to slip my tiny fingers through the tiny holes in the mesh and just dig them in, push through the fur to feel the muscle underneath, the warm, living flesh. I had to tear myself away, grateful that my little crime had gone unnoticed by both guides and cats.

Later, they brought in some natural artifacts for us to look at. Among them were two hides. One came from their old male wolf who had died a few years back; he'd been pretty big, about 100 pounds, and his skin was huge. The other was from a fully mature female snow leopard who'd had to be euthanized because of a prion-related disease which burned through half the zoo's big cats in three years.

They showed us the hides right before lunch, and after everyone left I stayed inside, put Sargon on the door, and I tried both of those skins on. The wolf skin was wonderful. I wrapped his forelegs around my shoulders, felt the weight of the skin on my back. His proportions were different from my own, though, and the skin didn't lie quite right. I wanted a belt and a cloakpin. It felt barbaric, but not quite natural.

The part that . . . frightened me . . . was putting on the snow leopard skin. Because it fit. The length of the forelegs was the same as my own; they came down over my shoulders and down my arms, with the paws ending just at my fingertips. The head sat perfectly on my own. The hips were in the same place. And the weight of it was unimaginable. So heavy and so supple and responsive, almost still alive. The enormous tail, powerfully heavy, such a natural weight. I have never, ever felt anything like it.

And in that moment it all felt so right. All the annoyance and anguish and pain and nagging dissatisfaction with my stupid human form was gone. This was so much better. It was like some dreadful clamor had been silenced. It was a unique moment of quiet, and I've never known anything quite like it since.

I do have a wolf pelt, black and silver. I bought it secondhand from another artist and crafter. "I am moving and I can't keep this. It has to go." I wasn't feeding the primary market, and someone had to take it, so I did.

It's my little crime writ large. It, like the skulls, is a bit terrible – a live thing that isn't, anymore. I will, of course, respect it, love it, but it is a rather haunting thing.

Tonight I sit in this body that simply does not match what I am inside, I lay the pelt across my lap. The black guard hairs spring up, rippling as I move, the paler undercoat bunching and clinging to itself in spikes. I sit in my own skin, unsatisfied, and wishing more than anything that I could put the other one on and have my inside match my outside -- not just for a moment, but at will, and perhaps forever.

"Nothing about her is human except that she is not a wolf; it is as if the fur she thought she wore had melted into her skin and become part of it, although it does not exist."

— Angela Carter, "Wolf-Alice"

Hide

Aug. 27th, 2008 02:21 am
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Wolf Woman)
Sargon and I once took a training course at our zoo to become docents. We didn't finish, unfortunately, due to the fact that getting up at fuck-that-o'clock in the morning on a Saturday is not any fun at all, but we did see a lot of really nifty things.

One day the class was up behind the snow leopard exhibit, which is this huge artificial mountainside. We were at the top of the mountain, looking down at the back of the huge iron cage that encloses the cats. And there, right there, were both snow leopards, curled up against the fence and sleeping. They were so beautiful, and even sleeping and caged they had a force about them. Compelling. I looked at them and I hurt inside because of their beauty, because it was so close, because I wanted it in a way I could not fully articulate or even understand.

The guide talked to us for about ten minutes about big cats, facts and figures we'd need to know for the public. I was deaf. All I could see were the black spots hovering on a moon-colored pelt. I stood at the back of the crowd, edging closer and closer to the fence; I stole a touch, just a brush of my fingers across a tuft of fur sticking through the fence, the fur of the jaw between ear and neck, where it's so dense and thick it stands out in spikes. It was so soft I could not even feel it on my fingertips.

It was a stupid thing to do. There was nothing between me and the animal but some woven metal webbing; it could easily have turned and bitten or clawed at me. But I had no choice. It compelled me, and I had to touch it. I needed to. I felt this awful ache. It was all I could do not to slip my tiny fingers through the tiny holes in the mesh and just dig them in, push through the fur to feel the muscle underneath, the warm, living flesh. I had to tear myself away, grateful that my little crime had gone unnoticed by both guides and cats.

Later, they brought in some natural artifacts for us to look at. Among them were two hides. One came from their old male wolf who had died a few years back; he'd been pretty big, about 100 pounds, and his skin was huge. The other was from a fully mature female snow leopard who'd had to be euthanized because of a prion-related disease which burned through half the zoo's big cats in three years.

They showed us the hides right before lunch, and after everyone left I stayed inside, put Sargon on the door, and I tried both of those skins on. The wolf skin was wonderful. I wrapped his forelegs around my shoulders, felt the weight of the skin on my back. His proportions were different from my own, though, and the skin didn't lie quite right. I wanted a belt and a cloakpin. It felt barbaric, but not quite natural.

The part that . . . frightened me . . . was putting on the snow leopard skin. Because it fit. The length of the forelegs was the same as my own; they came down over my shoulders and down my arms, with the paws ending just at my fingertips. The head sat perfectly on my own. The hips were in the same place. And the weight of it was unimaginable. So heavy and so supple and responsive, almost still alive. The enormous tail, powerfully heavy, such a natural weight. I have never, ever felt anything like it.

And in that moment it all felt so right. All the annoyance and anguish and pain and nagging dissatisfaction with my stupid human form was gone. This was so much better. It was like some dreadful clamor had been silenced. It was a unique moment of quiet, and I've never known anything quite like it since.

I do have a wolf pelt, black and silver. I bought it secondhand from another artist and crafter. "I am moving and I can't keep this. It has to go." I wasn't feeding the primary market, and someone had to take it, so I did.

It's my little crime writ large. It, like the skulls, is a bit terrible – a live thing that isn't, anymore. I will, of course, respect it, love it, but it is a rather haunting thing.

Tonight I sit in this body that simply does not match what I am inside, I lay the pelt across my lap. The black guard hairs spring up, rippling as I move, the paler undercoat bunching and clinging to itself in spikes. I sit in my own skin, unsatisfied, and wishing more than anything that I could put the other one on and have my inside match my outside -- not just for a moment, but at will, and perhaps forever.

"Nothing about her is human except that she is not a wolf; it is as if the fur she thought she wore had melted into her skin and become part of it, although it does not exist."

— Angela Carter, "Wolf-Alice"
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (KILL! KILL! KILL!)
Okay, so. Purusant to this comment, I must now tell the story of . . . Rapemouse.

Long, long ago, we raised our own mice for snake food. There are many advantages to this, but it's not as easy as it sounds. A constant problem is finding a good male breeders. We finally found a burly white male who sired large, healthy litters.

This was not a problem with the established adult females, and all went well until we tried introducing some new females for fresh breeding stock after the older ones started getting tired. It was hard to find adult mice that year, there was a genuine shortage, so we wound up having to take mice on the very edge of maturity. Mouse tweens were all we could get.

Well, the young female mice started dying. They'd turn up dead, and we could see that they'd been bitten. At first we thought it was the other females bullying them. We separated out the larger females once they were pregnant, but it kept happening. This left only one culprit: the male.

It's common, when you put rodents together for the first time, for them to squabble a little. The male wants to fuck pretty much straight away and the female is frequently not really receptive to this. She pushes him over, kicks him in the face, runs away, whatever. The male mouse will pester and push, will be, in short, That Mouse, but he usually doesn't actually physically hurt the females. Rapemouse, though . . . he was super-special.

I heard some particularly awful squealing one day, and looked in the bin. I caught our male trying to fuck tbe newest small female. She tried to run away, but he was bigger than her and could hold her down. When she persisted in trying to escape, he bit her repeatedly on the back legs until she could not walk, then, as I stood gaping in gobsmacked astonishment, he fucked her.

Out she came. Examination revealed that she had been bitten before, several times. She died the next day, despite my efforts to help her. It was pretty horrible.

What to do? Our male was a fantastic breeder. We didn't want to kill him.

We wound up getting the biggest female mice we could find, these positively enormous blonde females as big as he was. They were perfectly capable of putting him in his place, and we didn't have problems after that. He remained a wonderful breeder until he got old and feeble and we had to give him an honorable burial at bullsnake.

The thing is, he was a really sweet mouse. Most mice, unless they are socialized – which is not as easy to do as people would have you believe -- are skittish, mean, and nasty. He was calm and sweet, and would let you pet and hold him. A very sweet mouse. Just . . . put an undersized female in with him, and he would bite her until she couldn't run and then rape her to death. Jekyll and Hyde. You couldn't tell what he was really like just from looking, and if you'd been forced to go on what you knew from your own personal experience with him, you might not be inclined to believe that he was so savage. I mean, it's not like he had a sign above his head that said "Rapemouse!" or anything. He seemed perfectly normal.

One moral of this story is that you can't always tell by looking what an animal -- or a person -- is capable of. Rapemouse looked exactly like all the other mice, and was generally quite charming. And in the end, it meant fuckall to the other mice he killed.

The other moral of the story is that people who idolize prey animals, who think of them as inherently sweet and helpless, have clearly never met a Rapemouse.

Mice are not all sweet little critters like Miss Bianca or Miss Frisby. They are animals. And in general, the behavior of fast-reproducing, large-littering prey species is a whole hell of a lot nastier than that of carnivores, who invest more time and care in their young. Me? I'll take wolves over deer any day.

If his species was anything to go by, Bambi's dad was a dick.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (KILL! KILL! KILL!)
Okay, so. Purusant to this comment, I must now tell the story of . . . Rapemouse.

Long, long ago, we raised our own mice for snake food. There are many advantages to this, but it's not as easy as it sounds. A constant problem is finding a good male breeders. We finally found a burly white male who sired large, healthy litters.

This was not a problem with the established adult females, and all went well until we tried introducing some new females for fresh breeding stock after the older ones started getting tired. It was hard to find adult mice that year, there was a genuine shortage, so we wound up having to take mice on the very edge of maturity. Mouse tweens were all we could get.

Well, the young female mice started dying. They'd turn up dead, and we could see that they'd been bitten. At first we thought it was the other females bullying them. We separated out the larger females once they were pregnant, but it kept happening. This left only one culprit: the male.

It's common, when you put rodents together for the first time, for them to squabble a little. The male wants to fuck pretty much straight away and the female is frequently not really receptive to this. She pushes him over, kicks him in the face, runs away, whatever. The male mouse will pester and push, will be, in short, That Mouse, but he usually doesn't actually physically hurt the females. Rapemouse, though . . . he was super-special.

I heard some particularly awful squealing one day, and looked in the bin. I caught our male trying to fuck tbe newest small female. She tried to run away, but he was bigger than her and could hold her down. When she persisted in trying to escape, he bit her repeatedly on the back legs until she could not walk, then, as I stood gaping in gobsmacked astonishment, he fucked her.

Out she came. Examination revealed that she had been bitten before, several times. She died the next day, despite my efforts to help her. It was pretty horrible.

What to do? Our male was a fantastic breeder. We didn't want to kill him.

We wound up getting the biggest female mice we could find, these positively enormous blonde females as big as he was. They were perfectly capable of putting him in his place, and we didn't have problems after that. He remained a wonderful breeder until he got old and feeble and we had to give him an honorable burial at bullsnake.

The thing is, he was a really sweet mouse. Most mice, unless they are socialized – which is not as easy to do as people would have you believe -- are skittish, mean, and nasty. He was calm and sweet, and would let you pet and hold him. A very sweet mouse. Just . . . put an undersized female in with him, and he would bite her until she couldn't run and then rape her to death. Jekyll and Hyde. You couldn't tell what he was really like just from looking, and if you'd been forced to go on what you knew from your own personal experience with him, you might not be inclined to believe that he was so savage. I mean, it's not like he had a sign above his head that said "Rapemouse!" or anything. He seemed perfectly normal.

One moral of this story is that you can't always tell by looking what an animal -- or a person -- is capable of. Rapemouse looked exactly like all the other mice, and was generally quite charming. And in the end, it meant fuckall to the other mice he killed.

The other moral of the story is that people who idolize prey animals, who think of them as inherently sweet and helpless, have clearly never met a Rapemouse.

Mice are not all sweet little critters like Miss Bianca or Miss Frisby. They are animals. And in general, the behavior of fast-reproducing, large-littering prey species is a whole hell of a lot nastier than that of carnivores, who invest more time and care in their young. Me? I'll take wolves over deer any day.

If his species was anything to go by, Bambi's dad was a dick.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Thane)
Yeah, okay, not the best idea ever.

Just now, [livejournal.com profile] bat_cheva arrived to pick up some artwork for the convention. I opened the door and she presented me with the day's mail. "You can has box!"

"I can has box!" I said. "I wonder what's in it! I don't remember buying anything!" Because my brain is like a sieve that way.

So I ripped into the package, pulled out a mess of newsprint and a plastic bag, and scowled. "What is this?"

Being me, instead of just opening it, I stuck my nose into the middle of it and inhaled.

When the mail regularly brings you dead things, this is a bad idea.

Bones that are clean but still fairly new often have a noticeable smell, especially if they've been sitting in the Oklahoma heat for hours on end. That was the smell that whacked me in the sinuses. Silly me, I'd forgotten that my shipment of deformed coyote bones was due to come in this week!

The smell is . . . pretty indescribable. Not a foul, rotting reek like flyblown meat, but a musty, throaty, yet high-pitched smell. Imagine . . . imagine the hot, chemical burn of hydrogen peroxide as it breaks down the proteins in blood. Layer that with a good dose of mineral dust, a touch of the bleachy twang of semen, a hint of gummy old rawhide, and just a little something extra, an indescribable je ne sais quois that says dead thing.

And it's a clinging, persistent smell, too.

I wonder if any of the great European ossuaries smell like that. If one of you has been to someplace like Sedlec or Santa Maria della Concezione et cetera, or any of the great catacombs like the ones in Paris, Rome, could you indulge me and tell me what they smelled like?

And can someone with a better understanding of chemistry than I explain to me why certain smells linger in the back of your nose and mouth, even if you are well removed from the source of the smell itself? I once handled a very dead crow, and the stench lingered in my throat well into the next day, even though I had showered twice and the smell was not coming from my clothes or anything I had touched. It was definitely up in my sinuses, because I could smell it even on the exhale.

So I've now taken out six bags of garbage, including the snake room trash and cat litter scoop bin, both of which I forgot to take out this morning and were revolting in their own right, and I've overdosed myself with the most potent BPAL blend I've yet found (The Devil, which I suspect contains civet and black musk, both incrdeibly persistent odors). I can still smell the bones, faintly, if I try.

They are outside in a closed bin now, and I will shortly go out and put them in the side yard where they can lay in the sun, the greatest of all deodorizers.

I am never sniffing my mail again.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Thane)
Yeah, okay, not the best idea ever.

Just now, [livejournal.com profile] bat_cheva arrived to pick up some artwork for the convention. I opened the door and she presented me with the day's mail. "You can has box!"

"I can has box!" I said. "I wonder what's in it! I don't remember buying anything!" Because my brain is like a sieve that way.

So I ripped into the package, pulled out a mess of newsprint and a plastic bag, and scowled. "What is this?"

Being me, instead of just opening it, I stuck my nose into the middle of it and inhaled.

When the mail regularly brings you dead things, this is a bad idea.

Bones that are clean but still fairly new often have a noticeable smell, especially if they've been sitting in the Oklahoma heat for hours on end. That was the smell that whacked me in the sinuses. Silly me, I'd forgotten that my shipment of deformed coyote bones was due to come in this week!

The smell is . . . pretty indescribable. Not a foul, rotting reek like flyblown meat, but a musty, throaty, yet high-pitched smell. Imagine . . . imagine the hot, chemical burn of hydrogen peroxide as it breaks down the proteins in blood. Layer that with a good dose of mineral dust, a touch of the bleachy twang of semen, a hint of gummy old rawhide, and just a little something extra, an indescribable je ne sais quois that says dead thing.

And it's a clinging, persistent smell, too.

I wonder if any of the great European ossuaries smell like that. If one of you has been to someplace like Sedlec or Santa Maria della Concezione et cetera, or any of the great catacombs like the ones in Paris, Rome, could you indulge me and tell me what they smelled like?

And can someone with a better understanding of chemistry than I explain to me why certain smells linger in the back of your nose and mouth, even if you are well removed from the source of the smell itself? I once handled a very dead crow, and the stench lingered in my throat well into the next day, even though I had showered twice and the smell was not coming from my clothes or anything I had touched. It was definitely up in my sinuses, because I could smell it even on the exhale.

So I've now taken out six bags of garbage, including the snake room trash and cat litter scoop bin, both of which I forgot to take out this morning and were revolting in their own right, and I've overdosed myself with the most potent BPAL blend I've yet found (The Devil, which I suspect contains civet and black musk, both incrdeibly persistent odors). I can still smell the bones, faintly, if I try.

They are outside in a closed bin now, and I will shortly go out and put them in the side yard where they can lay in the sun, the greatest of all deodorizers.

I am never sniffing my mail again.
naamah_darling: Still from The Last Unicorn animated movie of a springtime forest with a path leading through it. (Road Home)
Sometimes I think that if my life had a soundtrack, it would be Mannheim Steamroller's Fresh Aire I - IV.

Oh, I know that these albums are little more than Disneyfied classical with a godawful gloss of 70's pop synth, a beautiful and technically proficient version of the sort of thing you'd find on a generic "Romantic Interludes" album: the modern, the medieval, and the classical all thrown together in a softcore New Age orgy. I also know that, good as they are, they paved the way for the soul-neutered drivel that plagues metaphysical bookstores to this day.

But I grew up listening to these albums. They were my first introduction to music. Revisiting them brings back powerful memories.

I had scarlet fever in the middle of a sweltering summer. It must have been over a hundred degrees, and the inside of the cadmium-red Ford EXP was violently hot, but even smothered under my blanket and huggy pillow I was cold. The Dream was playing on the 8-track, and I focused on it while Mom drove me to my grandmother's house. I stared into the EXP's rearview mirror with growing fascination. Something huge was following us, scuttling just behind the receding treeline. We were being stalked by a giant crab. I had such a high fever I was hallucinating. I couldn't have been more than four.

A year or two later, I remember standing in front of the five-foot-high speakers the first time my parents played Fresh Aire IV. The G Major Toccata opened up like an assault. One hard slam and every hair on my body stood up. The massive push of the keyboards catapulted me into a storm of sound. It's still one of my favorite pieces, exultant and terrifying in its bigness.

The smaller, silly pieces were good, too. The Cricket, with its opening chorus of insects, its cheesy medley of synth chirps and sci-fi space noises, inspired me to draw pictures of an army of bugs doing battle with a battalion of toads riding on cats. Toads firing laser beams.

Midnight on a Full Moon was my favorite at the time, with its joyous notes chopped out on a toy piano to the accompaniment of exultant horns. At once powerful and absurd, it was my one-way ticket to a wild Russian sleigh ride complete with wolves, flying horses, and really neat clothes.

But most of all, I remember the buffalo.

We often took long car trips through the countryside when I was young. Our favorite destination was Woolaroc, the 3,500-acre ranch retreat of oil baron Frank Phillips. It's a wildlife preserve, museum, and gallery now, one of the absolute coolest things in Oklahoma. I spent hours of my childhood in a darkness full of guns, shrunken heads, and taxidermy, my parents lifting me up to look at paintings.

And after the mummy-haunted dark, the drive home through brilliant sun and song. The Osage Hills are beautiful in any season, but the mixture of woods and fields becomes magical in the height of summer; the heat raises gnats from the grass and the sunlight burns the green in every leaf to a shimmering gold. We would drive home with one of the Fresh Aire albums playing, and watch the wildlife.

A captive herd of buffalo roamed the grounds, and even half-tame they were terrifying beasts. They grazed near the roadside like the black-eyed prehistoric beasts they were, in their mats of unraveling hair. With their massive shoulders, sloping spine, and silly little tails, they seemed at once laughable and monstrous. They were always there; their breath and bodies steaming in the falling snow as they stood grouped for warmth, or rain streaming from their hides in April as they foraged for new grass. And in the summer, the thick smell of them would come through the air conditioning vents, mingling with the music.

Because of the drives, we came to call those four albums "buffalo music," and I still think of them that way; they are evocative of fearlessness and freedom and long summer rides in the car, of peaceable quiet as we rode wordless as the buffalo, the music the only speech we needed.

Later, I came to appreciate those albums for the imagery they suggested to an overflowing brain. Long after the toads and laser beams, Fresh Aire II became the soundtrack for the imaginary world I created with a dear friend. I still have a hand-drawn map of that land hanging in my living room. To this day, that album recalls what little joy I had in my teenage years, and all the love I had for a place that does not exist. I will write something set there someday, and I hope that wherever he is, Chris doesn't begrudge me that.

I've been listening to all four albums over the past couple of days. The music creates a perfect triad of nostalgia, sorrow, and pleasure. Nothing brings to mind my parents' presence more powerfully, most especially my mother; no music is more deeply connected to the good parts of my childhood; and yet even those good memories are now inverted.

It's not my favorite music but it's some of the most personal music I have. And even as it gives me pleasure, it causes pain. Pain to know that summer is gone, that those times of buffalo chewing in the yellow heat, of stories passed between friends, will not come again. I have become estranged from my companion and my inner homeland, my mother is gone. Death, time, life, have introduced a sharp note.

It's a dissonance, but it's a consonance, too, these differing notes of memory. It is beautiful to play the memories back all together, like a perfect fifth. But nostalgia can shift to sorrow, that one off note intrudes, and then I feel myself reduced by grief.

Here I am on the cusp of 30, between books, between projects, moving from one life to another. Transitioning. More adult than ever, still not quite there, I am caught between memory and my next movement, suspended in paradox. Restless. A diminished fifth; almost consonant, almost harmonious.

That's me, though, isn't it? Forever singing the devil's note, just a few steps shy of the divine interval.

That's all of us.
naamah_darling: Still from The Last Unicorn animated movie of a springtime forest with a path leading through it. (Road Home)
Sometimes I think that if my life had a soundtrack, it would be Mannheim Steamroller's Fresh Aire I - IV.

Oh, I know that these albums are little more than Disneyfied classical with a godawful gloss of 70's pop synth, a beautiful and technically proficient version of the sort of thing you'd find on a generic "Romantic Interludes" album: the modern, the medieval, and the classical all thrown together in a softcore New Age orgy. I also know that, good as they are, they paved the way for the soul-neutered drivel that plagues metaphysical bookstores to this day.

But I grew up listening to these albums. They were my first introduction to music. Revisiting them brings back powerful memories.

I had scarlet fever in the middle of a sweltering summer. It must have been over a hundred degrees, and the inside of the cadmium-red Ford EXP was violently hot, but even smothered under my blanket and huggy pillow I was cold. The Dream was playing on the 8-track, and I focused on it while Mom drove me to my grandmother's house. I stared into the EXP's rearview mirror with growing fascination. Something huge was following us, scuttling just behind the receding treeline. We were being stalked by a giant crab. I had such a high fever I was hallucinating. I couldn't have been more than four.

A year or two later, I remember standing in front of the five-foot-high speakers the first time my parents played Fresh Aire IV. The G Major Toccata opened up like an assault. One hard slam and every hair on my body stood up. The massive push of the keyboards catapulted me into a storm of sound. It's still one of my favorite pieces, exultant and terrifying in its bigness.

The smaller, silly pieces were good, too. The Cricket, with its opening chorus of insects, its cheesy medley of synth chirps and sci-fi space noises, inspired me to draw pictures of an army of bugs doing battle with a battalion of toads riding on cats. Toads firing laser beams.

Midnight on a Full Moon was my favorite at the time, with its joyous notes chopped out on a toy piano to the accompaniment of exultant horns. At once powerful and absurd, it was my one-way ticket to a wild Russian sleigh ride complete with wolves, flying horses, and really neat clothes.

But most of all, I remember the buffalo.

We often took long car trips through the countryside when I was young. Our favorite destination was Woolaroc, the 3,500-acre ranch retreat of oil baron Frank Phillips. It's a wildlife preserve, museum, and gallery now, one of the absolute coolest things in Oklahoma. I spent hours of my childhood in a darkness full of guns, shrunken heads, and taxidermy, my parents lifting me up to look at paintings.

And after the mummy-haunted dark, the drive home through brilliant sun and song. The Osage Hills are beautiful in any season, but the mixture of woods and fields becomes magical in the height of summer; the heat raises gnats from the grass and the sunlight burns the green in every leaf to a shimmering gold. We would drive home with one of the Fresh Aire albums playing, and watch the wildlife.

A captive herd of buffalo roamed the grounds, and even half-tame they were terrifying beasts. They grazed near the roadside like the black-eyed prehistoric beasts they were, in their mats of unraveling hair. With their massive shoulders, sloping spine, and silly little tails, they seemed at once laughable and monstrous. They were always there; their breath and bodies steaming in the falling snow as they stood grouped for warmth, or rain streaming from their hides in April as they foraged for new grass. And in the summer, the thick smell of them would come through the air conditioning vents, mingling with the music.

Because of the drives, we came to call those four albums "buffalo music," and I still think of them that way; they are evocative of fearlessness and freedom and long summer rides in the car, of peaceable quiet as we rode wordless as the buffalo, the music the only speech we needed.

Later, I came to appreciate those albums for the imagery they suggested to an overflowing brain. Long after the toads and laser beams, Fresh Aire II became the soundtrack for the imaginary world I created with a dear friend. I still have a hand-drawn map of that land hanging in my living room. To this day, that album recalls what little joy I had in my teenage years, and all the love I had for a place that does not exist. I will write something set there someday, and I hope that wherever he is, Chris doesn't begrudge me that.

I've been listening to all four albums over the past couple of days. The music creates a perfect triad of nostalgia, sorrow, and pleasure. Nothing brings to mind my parents' presence more powerfully, most especially my mother; no music is more deeply connected to the good parts of my childhood; and yet even those good memories are now inverted.

It's not my favorite music but it's some of the most personal music I have. And even as it gives me pleasure, it causes pain. Pain to know that summer is gone, that those times of buffalo chewing in the yellow heat, of stories passed between friends, will not come again. I have become estranged from my companion and my inner homeland, my mother is gone. Death, time, life, have introduced a sharp note.

It's a dissonance, but it's a consonance, too, these differing notes of memory. It is beautiful to play the memories back all together, like a perfect fifth. But nostalgia can shift to sorrow, that one off note intrudes, and then I feel myself reduced by grief.

Here I am on the cusp of 30, between books, between projects, moving from one life to another. Transitioning. More adult than ever, still not quite there, I am caught between memory and my next movement, suspended in paradox. Restless. A diminished fifth; almost consonant, almost harmonious.

That's me, though, isn't it? Forever singing the devil's note, just a few steps shy of the divine interval.

That's all of us.

Busy!

Mar. 27th, 2007 04:31 pm
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Pirate)
I have a moment of quiet, so I thought I'd make the most of it and pop in to make a non-business, non-auction related post.

It is so freaking gorgeous outside that my toes are curling. I mean it. The sky is full of great, billowing clouds, and it's alternately brilliantly sunny and pleasantly grey. It's raining off and on, but it's not a foul rain, it's clean and fresh and gentle. The wind smells sweet, like rain and earth and flowers. Every tree and bush is blooming: pear, lilac, wisteria, redbud. On my walk, I found a rogue lilac bush in an empty lot, blooming its fool head off. You would not believe the glorious smell, even if I described it to you. The pear trees are shedding their petals until it looks like the sidewalks are covered in green and white foam.

Days like this, I wish I could put the weather in a box to take out in the middle of summer or in the frozen throat of winter.

I'd be out in it still, but I twisted my foot last week and I can't seem to walk more than a mile before it starts hurting like hell. Sucks, but what can you do? And I can still walk that mile, which is enough to take me through all the really pretty parts of the neighborhood.

Things are busy. I'm very tired; Sargon's been sick, which means we haven't gotten more than four hours of sleep a night for about the past week. Last night I put him down with hydrocodone to kill his cough, and we both slept enough. I haven't been good for much, but if I get a couple of nights' worth of sleep I'll be okay again.

My apologies if this isn't exciting. There's more to say; I have a couple of small projects I've finished I want to show pictures of, there's a neverending font of BPAL reviews, and I have an intense desire to make another lecherous, fangirling post about Steve Strait and/or Ioan Gruffudd. But right now, it's back to the porn mines, then a quick update to MorningstarHall.com, and another couple of auctions.

Busy!

Mar. 27th, 2007 04:31 pm
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Pirate)
I have a moment of quiet, so I thought I'd make the most of it and pop in to make a non-business, non-auction related post.

It is so freaking gorgeous outside that my toes are curling. I mean it. The sky is full of great, billowing clouds, and it's alternately brilliantly sunny and pleasantly grey. It's raining off and on, but it's not a foul rain, it's clean and fresh and gentle. The wind smells sweet, like rain and earth and flowers. Every tree and bush is blooming: pear, lilac, wisteria, redbud. On my walk, I found a rogue lilac bush in an empty lot, blooming its fool head off. You would not believe the glorious smell, even if I described it to you. The pear trees are shedding their petals until it looks like the sidewalks are covered in green and white foam.

Days like this, I wish I could put the weather in a box to take out in the middle of summer or in the frozen throat of winter.

I'd be out in it still, but I twisted my foot last week and I can't seem to walk more than a mile before it starts hurting like hell. Sucks, but what can you do? And I can still walk that mile, which is enough to take me through all the really pretty parts of the neighborhood.

Things are busy. I'm very tired; Sargon's been sick, which means we haven't gotten more than four hours of sleep a night for about the past week. Last night I put him down with hydrocodone to kill his cough, and we both slept enough. I haven't been good for much, but if I get a couple of nights' worth of sleep I'll be okay again.

My apologies if this isn't exciting. There's more to say; I have a couple of small projects I've finished I want to show pictures of, there's a neverending font of BPAL reviews, and I have an intense desire to make another lecherous, fangirling post about Steve Strait and/or Ioan Gruffudd. But right now, it's back to the porn mines, then a quick update to MorningstarHall.com, and another couple of auctions.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Lucian Wags)
This exchange happened while Sargon and I were walking in the frigid midnight cold.

Me: Jesus Christ.

Sargon: What?

Me: I'm starving. And I'm freezing my ass off. And I'm starving. And I'm tired. And I'm fucking starving.

Sargon: Me, too.

Me: (Long, long stretch of wordless uphill trudging.)

Sargon: Ah, the silent camaraderie of suffering shared.

Me: Fuck camaraderie. I'm going to eat you!

The moral, apparently, is that when you've been married for ten-plus years, you move up on the chain of dialogue writers.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Lucian Wags)
This exchange happened while Sargon and I were walking in the frigid midnight cold.

Me: Jesus Christ.

Sargon: What?

Me: I'm starving. And I'm freezing my ass off. And I'm starving. And I'm tired. And I'm fucking starving.

Sargon: Me, too.

Me: (Long, long stretch of wordless uphill trudging.)

Sargon: Ah, the silent camaraderie of suffering shared.

Me: Fuck camaraderie. I'm going to eat you!

The moral, apparently, is that when you've been married for ten-plus years, you move up on the chain of dialogue writers.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Horatio Facepalm)
Boy.

Nothing makes you feel like a grownup like paying off last year's back taxes and forming a financial plan for The Future.

Nothing makes you feel like a stupid teenager again like getting all teary over an episode of your current favorite TV show. (Smallville Season 1, "Stray")

Nothing makes you feel like a little kid again like chasing fireflies and falling on your ass.

And nothing makes you feel old like getting a lust-on for the gorgeous new cashier at your convenience store who, conversation reveals, is technically young enough to be your biological daughter.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Horatio Facepalm)
Boy.

Nothing makes you feel like a grownup like paying off last year's back taxes and forming a financial plan for The Future.

Nothing makes you feel like a stupid teenager again like getting all teary over an episode of your current favorite TV show. (Smallville Season 1, "Stray")

Nothing makes you feel like a little kid again like chasing fireflies and falling on your ass.

And nothing makes you feel old like getting a lust-on for the gorgeous new cashier at your convenience store who, conversation reveals, is technically young enough to be your biological daughter.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (WTF)
Holy bajeezus dimple-bottomed fuck.

I finished the new box yesterday, finally. The long-headed among you will recall when I inadvertently ended up wearing most of a bottle of acrylic sealer a while back; I had barely a finger's width left in the bottle, and was planning on going to Michael's to get more just in case I needed it to complete the topcoat.

No ducks.

Yesterday started out grey, and ended up black. We had hail at noon, followed by torrential rain. This lightened to a general atmosphere of Utter Gloom for a few hours, whereupon a wall cloud some seven miles wide descended upon the west side of Tulsa and swept like a push-broom across town. The tornado sirens howled for half an hour straight.

Now, I am going to tell you that if you live here, you don't worry about tornados when the wind picks up. You worry when it gets still. Wind means the storm is moving away from you. Still air means the storm is either sitting on top of you, or that there is some sort of circulation going on up there. Every single time I have stood under a wall cloud, it has been still. The front end might have hail and rain, and the back end will probably have a hell of a bronco kick, but that middle part is always just still and calm and deep.

Yesterday I looked out the front door and it was absolutely still, the leaves hanging wetly from the trees. No dogs were barking, the birds were silent. The air was dead and limp as a rag. No rain fell. It was as though the world held its breath. My sinuses ached from changing pressure.

In the west, the sky was soggy grey, and wisps of dry white floss skimmed sluggishly through the leaden cloudbelly overhead, propelled by a wind I could not feel. Floss that, on closer examination, proved to be swirling in a clockwise direction. There were three separate areas of rotation visible from my front yard alone.

I literally cannot describe how terrifying that sort of thing looks, and yesterday was particularly awful to behold. The clouds raised and lowered tidally, like the breathing of some horrible beast. Whirlpools of cloud were forming up there, like mouths or eyes. I've only ever seen a nastier sky a couple of times in almost 30 years. One of those times was on the highway, when my mother and I passed into a downpour skimming just ahead of a storm that had already spawned five tornados. There was an awful stillness, then a terrible wind like a fist. Rain hammered down. We had nowhere to take shelter, had to pull over. It rained red mud on our tiny car, which shook with the wind. Red mud, and you could smell it. A tornado had picked it up and now it was all coming down. We'd missed it by very, very little.

So yesterday, I saw that sky, and it looked like the sky over that highway, and all my hair stood up, hackles from the back of my neck all down my arms and spine. My lizard-brain went apeshit with terror, and I backpedaled inside, dragging Sargon (who is not a native and is missing 13 years of experience with discerning a bad storm from a Bad Storm). We sat together and listened to the emergency radio, which helpfully told us that the storm was right over our house, and that we should probably be worried. I waited for the throbbing in my temples to retreat, ate some fruit, and hoped that my corner of the world would not be wiped off the map by an errant tornado. That's really all you can do: hope.

Tornados usually don't touch down inside the city, usually, but then the storms usually swing either north or south of midtown, too. My last house was on the north edge of town, and we got plenty of action. My folks' house toward the south bordered the I-44 tornado corridor, and we could watch the storms roll in over the river unimpeded. But here in midtown? Nah.

That's what I told myself.

Fifteen minutes later, I went outside, sniffed the air, felt the gentle wind, listened to the birds and the rustling of small animals, saw the high and fast-moving clouds, and declared it safe.

Is it scary living here? No. It's mostly like living anywhere else, only about every four or five years you have twenty minutes of badly-strangled panic when you're caught in the path of something nasty. And you get used to that. You get so that when the sirens go off (which could be for a single funnel cloud seen thirty miles away, or for one that's three doors down) you go outside in your front yard to watch the sky, and look left and right to see all your neighbors doing the same damn thing.

In our old neighborhood, which was so white trash the white trash people complained about it, we once went outside to check the clouds when the sirens sounded during a particularly malevolent-looking storm. As we stood there, staring up at the sky and trying to decide if it was going to kill us, a couple of barefoot Oklahoma hicks wandered through the ditch on the other side of the street.

By way of greeting, I presume, one of them asked: "Where's the tornado at?"

It don't get much more cornpone than that, friends.

I love this state. I really do. Even when it decides to scare the ever-loving fuck out of me.

So after that little adventure, and the toad-strangling downpour that followed on its heels, I went nowhere. I got the box finished, though, and mailed it off today. The remaining sealer was just exactly enough to cover it. There will be pictures once it has arrived at its destination, provided [livejournal.com profile] wispfox does not object.

In other news, I am preparing a Fish post, but I'm working on preparing a video clip before I go into the New Cute Thing that she does, because I realized in advance that you people would want video proof. It must suffice for me to tell you that she surpasses in cuteness the sum total of every other cat in existence. You might feel inclined to argue, but you aren't the one on the receiving end of this pan-galactic adorability.

Thank you all for your comments on my last post. It seemed terribly important that I say all that, even though I feel that it's a bit overwrought to say that little physical imperfections can fuck your headspace up like whoa, even if it's very true. And I wanted to share, about that boy.

The things that you share with me in return, the ways in which you let my words reach you, is what really amazes me. Thank you for that. My strip of sky would be smaller without it.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (WTF)
Holy bajeezus dimple-bottomed fuck.

I finished the new box yesterday, finally. The long-headed among you will recall when I inadvertently ended up wearing most of a bottle of acrylic sealer a while back; I had barely a finger's width left in the bottle, and was planning on going to Michael's to get more just in case I needed it to complete the topcoat.

No ducks.

Yesterday started out grey, and ended up black. We had hail at noon, followed by torrential rain. This lightened to a general atmosphere of Utter Gloom for a few hours, whereupon a wall cloud some seven miles wide descended upon the west side of Tulsa and swept like a push-broom across town. The tornado sirens howled for half an hour straight.

Now, I am going to tell you that if you live here, you don't worry about tornados when the wind picks up. You worry when it gets still. Wind means the storm is moving away from you. Still air means the storm is either sitting on top of you, or that there is some sort of circulation going on up there. Every single time I have stood under a wall cloud, it has been still. The front end might have hail and rain, and the back end will probably have a hell of a bronco kick, but that middle part is always just still and calm and deep.

Yesterday I looked out the front door and it was absolutely still, the leaves hanging wetly from the trees. No dogs were barking, the birds were silent. The air was dead and limp as a rag. No rain fell. It was as though the world held its breath. My sinuses ached from changing pressure.

In the west, the sky was soggy grey, and wisps of dry white floss skimmed sluggishly through the leaden cloudbelly overhead, propelled by a wind I could not feel. Floss that, on closer examination, proved to be swirling in a clockwise direction. There were three separate areas of rotation visible from my front yard alone.

I literally cannot describe how terrifying that sort of thing looks, and yesterday was particularly awful to behold. The clouds raised and lowered tidally, like the breathing of some horrible beast. Whirlpools of cloud were forming up there, like mouths or eyes. I've only ever seen a nastier sky a couple of times in almost 30 years. One of those times was on the highway, when my mother and I passed into a downpour skimming just ahead of a storm that had already spawned five tornados. There was an awful stillness, then a terrible wind like a fist. Rain hammered down. We had nowhere to take shelter, had to pull over. It rained red mud on our tiny car, which shook with the wind. Red mud, and you could smell it. A tornado had picked it up and now it was all coming down. We'd missed it by very, very little.

So yesterday, I saw that sky, and it looked like the sky over that highway, and all my hair stood up, hackles from the back of my neck all down my arms and spine. My lizard-brain went apeshit with terror, and I backpedaled inside, dragging Sargon (who is not a native and is missing 13 years of experience with discerning a bad storm from a Bad Storm). We sat together and listened to the emergency radio, which helpfully told us that the storm was right over our house, and that we should probably be worried. I waited for the throbbing in my temples to retreat, ate some fruit, and hoped that my corner of the world would not be wiped off the map by an errant tornado. That's really all you can do: hope.

Tornados usually don't touch down inside the city, usually, but then the storms usually swing either north or south of midtown, too. My last house was on the north edge of town, and we got plenty of action. My folks' house toward the south bordered the I-44 tornado corridor, and we could watch the storms roll in over the river unimpeded. But here in midtown? Nah.

That's what I told myself.

Fifteen minutes later, I went outside, sniffed the air, felt the gentle wind, listened to the birds and the rustling of small animals, saw the high and fast-moving clouds, and declared it safe.

Is it scary living here? No. It's mostly like living anywhere else, only about every four or five years you have twenty minutes of badly-strangled panic when you're caught in the path of something nasty. And you get used to that. You get so that when the sirens go off (which could be for a single funnel cloud seen thirty miles away, or for one that's three doors down) you go outside in your front yard to watch the sky, and look left and right to see all your neighbors doing the same damn thing.

In our old neighborhood, which was so white trash the white trash people complained about it, we once went outside to check the clouds when the sirens sounded during a particularly malevolent-looking storm. As we stood there, staring up at the sky and trying to decide if it was going to kill us, a couple of barefoot Oklahoma hicks wandered through the ditch on the other side of the street.

By way of greeting, I presume, one of them asked: "Where's the tornado at?"

It don't get much more cornpone than that, friends.

I love this state. I really do. Even when it decides to scare the ever-loving fuck out of me.

So after that little adventure, and the toad-strangling downpour that followed on its heels, I went nowhere. I got the box finished, though, and mailed it off today. The remaining sealer was just exactly enough to cover it. There will be pictures once it has arrived at its destination, provided [livejournal.com profile] wispfox does not object.

In other news, I am preparing a Fish post, but I'm working on preparing a video clip before I go into the New Cute Thing that she does, because I realized in advance that you people would want video proof. It must suffice for me to tell you that she surpasses in cuteness the sum total of every other cat in existence. You might feel inclined to argue, but you aren't the one on the receiving end of this pan-galactic adorability.

Thank you all for your comments on my last post. It seemed terribly important that I say all that, even though I feel that it's a bit overwrought to say that little physical imperfections can fuck your headspace up like whoa, even if it's very true. And I wanted to share, about that boy.

The things that you share with me in return, the ways in which you let my words reach you, is what really amazes me. Thank you for that. My strip of sky would be smaller without it.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Sultry)
Hanne Blank, also known as livejournal's [livejournal.com profile] misia, posted this piece today about the unique beauty of scars. I strongly urge you to read it, especially if you have any scars at all, or love someone who does. That would be almost all of you, I think.

I read it with a lot of joy, but also with pain, pain I've carried around for years.

I have no scars. I have been careful with my body and lucky in my life, and have never been hurt in an accident or needed invasive surgery. I hope it will always be so. My scars, all two of them, are in identical places on my hands, from very different accidents separated by more than two decades, and they are all but invisible unless I tell you where to look.

What I do have are stretchmarks, which are scars, they just don't get called that. I have always been heavy, but between twelve and thirteen I went from zero to 34 B in about eight months, and my skin just tore. Calves, thighs, hips, belly, arms. All over. The stretchmarks even covered my breasts, radiating out like jagged blood-colored slashes cut into white silk. Sargon, who was with me even then, called them my "lightning bolts of power" and touched them with love. They're old and silvery now, not the angry red-purple they once were, and I can bring myself to look at them and touch them without quite feeling that horrible twisting anguish that I once felt. But I still feel regret. The whole "you have the breasts of an 18-year-old" thing? I never had that, even when I was 18.

Other women speak with love of their stretchmarks, their sagging breasts. They see their scars as marks of valor. Their bodies are the very first thing that they give to their children, and in giving it with love many clearly find a kind of joy and acceptance that their younger selves would shun. These women are wise, and they are right.

But I don't have children, never will. From a certain point of view, I can't even claim to have gotten anything out of the bargain. My overzealous body outgrew its own silly hide like a hand-me-down, and I have nothing to show for it but this battered skin (long may it escape its rightful hanging on the barn door).

When Hanne wrote of the sad woman with her beautiful breasts and the stretchmarks that painted them, it struck me open-handed in the heart. Mine make me sad, too.

I've spent a lot of time hurting for the uncomfortable child-that-was, mourning puberty that came too young and brought with it no rewards but those I forced it to yield to me: touch, my compensation for being housed in a flawed body (This flesh is not perfect, but I will share it with you.); sex, my reward for a body that betrayed me with blood and pain every month (If I must bear the curse anyway, then I shall eat the fruit of temptation raw and salty from the palm of the devil himself.); knowledge, my reward for safely navigating the headlong rapids of teenage lust (Even if those who loved me never knew where I had been, I always knew where I was, and I never failed to return safely.).

I was a sad person as a teenager. I was lonely. I was told that I could never be blonde and thin, and I had been told that blonde and thin were what was beautiful. If you were anything other than that elite one percent of blonde, thin people, it didn't really matter what you did with yourself. Unless, of course, you wanted to bleach your hair and starve yourself, neither of which worked in the long run anyway.

I've spent a lot of time distancing myself from that lonely, bitter person. I've become wiser, healthier. I have begun to treat myself better. At last, I admitted that even if I couldn't have what I had once wanted, I could still make the best of what I have.

Would you believe that there are still days I would trade the canny gifts of experience for the gift of a body that had not been savaged by biology and sabotaged by helplessness? Yes, we all end up marked by time. But I would give much, much indeed, to have had those fifteen or twenty years. And I still kick myself daily for waiting so long to decide that my body was -- mostly -- okay.

The scars are more like lightning than ever. My husband loves them, and that is a very real thing. I hope that as the years go by, more of his affection will wear off on me. That I will learn to accept my sagging breasts, the gravel in my ass. If we could treat ourselves as kindly as those who love us do, we would be better served. We cherish our friends, gravel and all, and speak with love of those things that in ourselves we still despise as flaws. We see our friends with truer sight. But that is a lesson learned hard, if it is learned at all.

I will leave you with a final vignette, a sketch of a person I have never forgotten, and never will, because I am still in love with him over twelve years later.

There was a young man in my summer driver's ed. class who had been burned badly as a child. He was beautiful. Older than the rest of us by a year or so, and tall; thick black hair kept long, the rest of his skin a tawny gold except where the fire had kissed him pink. One side of his face and his left arm were covered with smooth, taut scars that looked raised but were, in fact, flat. The differing depth of the burns had left his skin irregularly thickened, like variegated marble. Nobody knew how far they went – they vanished down the collar of his shirt, up into the sleeve.

His eyes were bright and dark and hard, eyes that challenged everything he saw. To lock gazes with him was to stare into the face of the fire, and few people could do it. Hardly anyone looked at him because he really looked back. Hardly anyone spoke to him because they were afraid. His realness, his quality of being very present, were unnerving. I took the seat on his burned side and guarded it jealously. And I watched him constantly.

He didn't go to my school. I didn't know him. I don't remember his name, though I think it started with a "J." Jesse. Justin. Julian. It might have been Jeremiah.

I wish to this day, wish to god, that I had told him the reason I could not take my eyes off him was that I wanted to touch him so very badly. He almost certainly thought I was simply being rude, and I was, but I couldn't help it. I was spellbound.

I still admire his frank stare. "This is what I am. Want to make something of it?" I have no obstacle in my life, no quirk of my appearance, that approaches what he was saddled with, and I still cannot match the total flatness, the nakedness, that I saw in his eyes. The nakedness of an animal, which is what it is and doesn't question any longer. That leaves shame where it belongs – in the eye of the beholder.

I think of him, and I feel ashamed of my own pain. He was a truer heir to it than I, and though I am sure that it had changed him and I am sure that it bothered him a great deal, I also don't doubt that he had already dealt with and moved beyond more of his pain than I will ever experience in my entire life.

I wonder if he lay alone at night touching his smooth, smooth skin, right hand to left arm, feeling that same awful bone-bending sadness, that ache in his chest, that I felt at the same age. I wonder if he mourned his beauty, which had not even been spoiled by nature, but had been changed forever by an accident, a whim of fate.

I wonder if he regretted becoming the beautiful boy that he was. That seems terribly sad to me.

I wonder what color his scars are now. Have they taught him only of more regret? Or have they taught him something of love?

I hope he has found someone whose hands love his scars the way that my husband's love mine. For what he gave me, I wish him that much in return.
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Sultry)
Hanne Blank, also known as livejournal's [livejournal.com profile] misia, posted this piece today about the unique beauty of scars. I strongly urge you to read it, especially if you have any scars at all, or love someone who does. That would be almost all of you, I think.

I read it with a lot of joy, but also with pain, pain I've carried around for years.

I have no scars. I have been careful with my body and lucky in my life, and have never been hurt in an accident or needed invasive surgery. I hope it will always be so. My scars, all two of them, are in identical places on my hands, from very different accidents separated by more than two decades, and they are all but invisible unless I tell you where to look.

What I do have are stretchmarks, which are scars, they just don't get called that. I have always been heavy, but between twelve and thirteen I went from zero to 34 B in about eight months, and my skin just tore. Calves, thighs, hips, belly, arms. All over. The stretchmarks even covered my breasts, radiating out like jagged blood-colored slashes cut into white silk. Sargon, who was with me even then, called them my "lightning bolts of power" and touched them with love. They're old and silvery now, not the angry red-purple they once were, and I can bring myself to look at them and touch them without quite feeling that horrible twisting anguish that I once felt. But I still feel regret. The whole "you have the breasts of an 18-year-old" thing? I never had that, even when I was 18.

Other women speak with love of their stretchmarks, their sagging breasts. They see their scars as marks of valor. Their bodies are the very first thing that they give to their children, and in giving it with love many clearly find a kind of joy and acceptance that their younger selves would shun. These women are wise, and they are right.

But I don't have children, never will. From a certain point of view, I can't even claim to have gotten anything out of the bargain. My overzealous body outgrew its own silly hide like a hand-me-down, and I have nothing to show for it but this battered skin (long may it escape its rightful hanging on the barn door).

When Hanne wrote of the sad woman with her beautiful breasts and the stretchmarks that painted them, it struck me open-handed in the heart. Mine make me sad, too.

I've spent a lot of time hurting for the uncomfortable child-that-was, mourning puberty that came too young and brought with it no rewards but those I forced it to yield to me: touch, my compensation for being housed in a flawed body (This flesh is not perfect, but I will share it with you.); sex, my reward for a body that betrayed me with blood and pain every month (If I must bear the curse anyway, then I shall eat the fruit of temptation raw and salty from the palm of the devil himself.); knowledge, my reward for safely navigating the headlong rapids of teenage lust (Even if those who loved me never knew where I had been, I always knew where I was, and I never failed to return safely.).

I was a sad person as a teenager. I was lonely. I was told that I could never be blonde and thin, and I had been told that blonde and thin were what was beautiful. If you were anything other than that elite one percent of blonde, thin people, it didn't really matter what you did with yourself. Unless, of course, you wanted to bleach your hair and starve yourself, neither of which worked in the long run anyway.

I've spent a lot of time distancing myself from that lonely, bitter person. I've become wiser, healthier. I have begun to treat myself better. At last, I admitted that even if I couldn't have what I had once wanted, I could still make the best of what I have.

Would you believe that there are still days I would trade the canny gifts of experience for the gift of a body that had not been savaged by biology and sabotaged by helplessness? Yes, we all end up marked by time. But I would give much, much indeed, to have had those fifteen or twenty years. And I still kick myself daily for waiting so long to decide that my body was -- mostly -- okay.

The scars are more like lightning than ever. My husband loves them, and that is a very real thing. I hope that as the years go by, more of his affection will wear off on me. That I will learn to accept my sagging breasts, the gravel in my ass. If we could treat ourselves as kindly as those who love us do, we would be better served. We cherish our friends, gravel and all, and speak with love of those things that in ourselves we still despise as flaws. We see our friends with truer sight. But that is a lesson learned hard, if it is learned at all.

I will leave you with a final vignette, a sketch of a person I have never forgotten, and never will, because I am still in love with him over twelve years later.

There was a young man in my summer driver's ed. class who had been burned badly as a child. He was beautiful. Older than the rest of us by a year or so, and tall; thick black hair kept long, the rest of his skin a tawny gold except where the fire had kissed him pink. One side of his face and his left arm were covered with smooth, taut scars that looked raised but were, in fact, flat. The differing depth of the burns had left his skin irregularly thickened, like variegated marble. Nobody knew how far they went – they vanished down the collar of his shirt, up into the sleeve.

His eyes were bright and dark and hard, eyes that challenged everything he saw. To lock gazes with him was to stare into the face of the fire, and few people could do it. Hardly anyone looked at him because he really looked back. Hardly anyone spoke to him because they were afraid. His realness, his quality of being very present, were unnerving. I took the seat on his burned side and guarded it jealously. And I watched him constantly.

He didn't go to my school. I didn't know him. I don't remember his name, though I think it started with a "J." Jesse. Justin. Julian. It might have been Jeremiah.

I wish to this day, wish to god, that I had told him the reason I could not take my eyes off him was that I wanted to touch him so very badly. He almost certainly thought I was simply being rude, and I was, but I couldn't help it. I was spellbound.

I still admire his frank stare. "This is what I am. Want to make something of it?" I have no obstacle in my life, no quirk of my appearance, that approaches what he was saddled with, and I still cannot match the total flatness, the nakedness, that I saw in his eyes. The nakedness of an animal, which is what it is and doesn't question any longer. That leaves shame where it belongs – in the eye of the beholder.

I think of him, and I feel ashamed of my own pain. He was a truer heir to it than I, and though I am sure that it had changed him and I am sure that it bothered him a great deal, I also don't doubt that he had already dealt with and moved beyond more of his pain than I will ever experience in my entire life.

I wonder if he lay alone at night touching his smooth, smooth skin, right hand to left arm, feeling that same awful bone-bending sadness, that ache in his chest, that I felt at the same age. I wonder if he mourned his beauty, which had not even been spoiled by nature, but had been changed forever by an accident, a whim of fate.

I wonder if he regretted becoming the beautiful boy that he was. That seems terribly sad to me.

I wonder what color his scars are now. Have they taught him only of more regret? Or have they taught him something of love?

I hope he has found someone whose hands love his scars the way that my husband's love mine. For what he gave me, I wish him that much in return.

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