31 May 2011

Achilles (The Dog)

My sleeping puppy, Achilles. Don't let the picture fool you;
she's huge. She still lets me win when we wrestle, though.
I spent this morning being relatively productive. I got up a little later than I would have hoped—I had to cut my yoga workout—but I managed to sort lots of laundry, play with Achilles (our ginormous Greater Swiss Mountain puppy, now fully grown and weighing 112lbs), and catch up on the blogs I follow. Achilles is currently staring down some squirrels in the backyard who are ever-so-threateningly stealing the birdseed from the supposedly squirrel-proof birdfeeders. Sorry, finches. No luck today. At least the squirrels leave the suet alone for the crows and woodpeckers. I think they know better than to mess with them.

Achilles is absolutely hilarious. First off, she makes the funniest noises. She grunts and woofles and snorts much like a pig, and sometimes I swear she almost talks. Of course, she also barks a deep, rather intimidating bark (she does weigh 112lbs, after all), but she's scared of strangers and other puppies half her size. Whereas most dogs, you know, stand in between the "intruder" and the rest of their human pack, Achilles will hide behind our legs whenever someone new comes over.

Aaaaaaaaand I love that dog. She just came over and shoved her nose at my face so I'd give her a kiss. She's so darn cute! Between Achilles and my youngest (autistic) brother, who daily asks me if I love him and will I take him to Sonic for lunch so he can have an Ocean Water, I think my heart melts at least once every hour. I'm such a heartless *ahem* to everyone else, but my youngest brother and my dog know exactly how to get whatever they want out of me. I think they're the only ones in the world who get to see my sweet side, these days.

We spent Memorial Day at the lake with some friends. It was a lot of fun, as always, and I kept my tattoo covered whenever I was in the sun so the colors wouldn't fade. I also couldn’t go swimming, so the Virginia humidity and 93° heat was nearly unbearable. Of course, I'll take sweating in the sun any day over the crappy weather in New York. Just after a week down here, I'm already much darker than I have been in a long time. I hated how pale I got living in the Northeast. For the record, I do use sunscreen…I just happen to be a quarter Slovak and 1/32 Native American (or some measure to that effect); thus, I tan pretty well. I walk past a window in summer and get a shade darker. It's fabulous.

Well, no more time to blog until (possibly) this evening or tomorrow. I have a warrior meditation I did the other night that I would like to blog about, but I'm going to follow it up with a tarot reading first. In the meantime, I need to buy some more running clothes and test-drive some Toyota Camries. The car I've had since I was sixteen is fading rather quickly. The last trip down from New York with my entire life piled in the backseat and the trunk seemed to have taken quite a toll. Ergo, time for a new (well, new for me) car.

Until later, then, blessed be :)

28 May 2011

More Randomness. You've Been Warned.

My uncle helping me to adjus my
beret after my commissioning
ceremony post-graduation.
We were going to head out to the lake today—my father, mother, youngest brother, and myself—but the weather isn't cooperating. Thunderstorms + boat + swimming do not exactly mix. Instead, my dad is taking the cover off of the pool for the first time this summer and I'm staring at the trees in the backyard as I sit in comfortable air conditioning. The computer room happens to sit across from the woods and is full of huge windows, so I get to stare at the overwhelming greenness, still glistening from last night's rain, through the glass and white lattice. It's a nice view.
And yes, I know, I'm spoiled. We have a pool. My parents are well-off. I'm lucky. Sue me. I'm still very much so blazing my own path, independent of their influence or financial support, and that's exactly how we decided to have it. They told me, way back when I was applying for college, that the choice would be entirely mine and they would have zero input. They would offer advice if I asked for it, recommendations for the application process, etc, but they would not remotely dictate (or even have an opinion) on where I should ultimately go. So. I chose West Point, and my mother cried and then got over it, and my dad was proud but slightly confused. I finished up my time there and voila, now I'm a 2LT in the Army. I have a guaranteed job for as long as I want one, provided that I don't do something incredibly stupid like drink and drive. I also have zero student debt, which in today's plummeting economy is a pretty darn sweet deal. I'm definitely lucky. Anyway, my point is that my parents worked very hard for what they have, and taught me to work hard for what I want, so that's what I'm doing.

Moving back to my original topic—sorta—before I got distracted by the knowledge that my parents having a pool in the backyard (it IS an above ground, redneck-style pool, by the way, so don't hate too much) might ruffle some feathers. As it always does, seeing the trees in summer fills me with the urge to go run and frolic in the woods. Since I have zero obligations until July 10, I might do precisely that once my tattoo heals a little more. It's on my foot, so I'm somewhat limited in my shoe choice until the two-week babying period has passed. I'm very anal about taking care of my tattoos. They recommend applying an unscented lotion at least 3-4 times a day until all the scabbing is done, but I obsessively apply it every 3-4 hours instead. It's ridiculous. Of course, it keeps the itching nonexistent (which most people complain of) and really does help them to heal nicely. The one on my left back/shoulderblade turned out fabulously, and I was just as obsessive with my lotion application on that one, too.

I did warn you: I'm obsessed with my new tattoo. I'll probably comment about it in the next few posts until the "hey look what I got!" feeling wears off more. I still show off my first tattoo to anyone who expresses even the remotest interest in it, so no guarantees on how quickly that will go away. From what I hear, the "hey look what I got!" feeling lasts about a year…so maybe by next May I won't care about it as much and it will be just another part of my foot.

In the mean time, here's the agenda for the rest of my lazy Saturday:
  1. Let my very unhealthy lunch of pizza digest while watching Star Trek
  2. Lift weights (I would run but…still being cautious about my foot lol)
  3. Shower, get pretty, etc
  4. Play some guitar & work on those new songs I want to record
  5. Car shopping/researching (need a new one before I go to Missouri)
  6. Dinner with the family
  7. Unplanned fun time! Woohoo
  8. Then…start planning an epic ritual for the New Moon since it'll be my first post-grad Esbat!

27 May 2011

Latest Obssessions

Florence + the Machine "Drumming Song" video screenshot
I know, it's been a while. Since graduation, I've been all over the place. I had to linger in New York for a few days to be a canary-nun-esque bridesmaid in my BFF's wedding (I think at one point in the distant past, I had assigned her a mythologically derived name for usage on my blog, but then it was never relevant again and so I seem to have since forgotten it). I stayed with another friend who lived nearby for those few days, and mostly I spent my evenings bawling my eyes out over how much I'm going to miss all of my friends. You really grow close to people when you spend so much time for four years with them, and goodbyes always suck. Some of the people I cut ties with post-graduation—to include deleting more than a handful of numbers from my phone, although I'm remaining FB friends with most—but some of my friends, the ones I voluntarily spent time with outside of that time which was mandated due to training or administration or our jobs or classes, I do hope to see again. Many of my closest friends will be moving to Washington when I go to Texas, and a good dozen or so will be in Alabama learning how to pilot helicopters. Most of us also have long careers ahead of us. Hopefully, our paths will cross again sometime.

The relocation of all my stuff (and I seem to have required a lot of stuff over four years in New York) to Virginia has resulted in my temporarily misplacing some of my favorite toys. Namely, I haven't yet located my collection of candles and incense and crystals and other goodies I like to use in my practice, such as it is, amid the pile of post-grad paraphernalia. I think I remember which bag they were stowed away in, but there are so many of them and everything is so disorganized that I'm almost afraid to even touch the pile lest it collapse on top of me. Thus, in addition to being a bad blogger, I've also been a bad Pagan.

In positive updates, I have two new obsessions. Yes, that's positive. The first obsession is my new tattoo. I finally got my graduation present to myself yesterday afternoon! It's tiny and pretty and brimming with symbolism that only I understand. Well, except for those I've explained it to, anyway. When it's finished healing up nicely and all the scabbing and peeling is done, I'll post pictures and a detailed explanation. Until then, I'll just let this little blurb about my new body-art whet your appetite.

The second obsession is a fabulous indie-rock duo, Florence + the Machine. More specifically, I am obsessed with their album Lungs, and especially with two songs off of it: "Howl" and "Drumming Song." Both songs feature driving beats and primally charged lyrics, not to mention Florence's gorgeous vocal style. One of my best friends turned me onto the music shortly before we graduated, and I shall be eternally grateful to him for that (among other things). He's a stand-up kinda guy. Of course, I could be biased, considering he also follows my blog and just recently finished visiting me in Virginia :)

"Howl" is, hands down, my favorite song in the whole wide world right now. I've listened to it a solid ten times a day since I downloaded Lungs from iTunes, and I've already memorized every word on that album. These lyrics in particular from the song get me:
Now there's no holding back, I'm making to attack
My blood is singing with your voice, I want to pour it out
The saints can't help me now, the ropes have been unbound
I hunt for you with bloody feet across the hollow ground
And then, there's also these lines:
Be careful of the curse that falls on young lovers
Starts so soft and sweet and turns them to hunters
A man who's pure of heart and says his prayers at night
May still become a wolf when the autumn moon is bright
However, there are no good music videos of "Howl" as it was not released as a single, and the visual imagery of "Drumming Song" is absolutely breathtaking. Furthermore, the thought of dancing wildly in a church entered my own brain upon more than one occasion back when I still masqueraded as a good Catholic girl, so seeing Florence do just that so dramatically appeals to my sense of dreamy nostalgia. Thus, you can watch the video here on YouTube since embedding was apparently disabled.

And, in case you want to listen to "Howl" and happen to also like live performances, YouTube would let me embed this video:

18 May 2011

I'm An Idiot

I can be really, really stupid sometimes. I can also be a colossally bad friend. Last night was one of the unfortunate occasions when both my idiocy and my selfishness combined, potentially ruining a friendship. I feel absolutely terrible about it, but there isn’t anything I can do to make it up to her, and on top of that we graduate in three days. Any assurances of “it won’t happen again” are therefore mostly meaningless as there won’t be much of an opportunity. I’m just such an idiot. I tried apologizing this morning, but she’s not talking to me (which I completely deserve). What sucks the most is that she’s one of my roommates, and so the last few days we have together will be spent in bitter, awkward silence.

Unless she decides to talk to me long enough to let me squeak out an “I’m sorry, I’m a selfish dumbass but I love you,” that is. I’m hoping she will. I don’t want our friendship to end this way.

This week is so hectic. We have to wake up at 0430 every morning to have breakfast formation at 0455, and then we have drill for the various parades for several hours following breakfast. The time after we finish drilling (usually around 1000 or 1100) we’re running around trying to pack, close out our rooms, or out-process from the academy. Graduating as a week long process kinda sucks.

I still don’t have a whole lot to say. I promise I’ll post something meaningful after I graduate and actually have a few minutes to breathe, center, and let go.

16 May 2011

I've Been A Bad Blogger. Sorry.

Sorry for the complete lack of posts recently. I’ve been mad busy, and the few moments I’ve had free, I’ve had nothing to say. I still don’t really have anything to say. I’m graduating in less than a week (this next Saturday, actually) and then one of my BFFs is getting married (I’m a bridesmaid). My family is coming up Wednesday and staying until Sunday morning. So…since I don’t really have anything to say, and since I have far too much to do, I’ll just leave you my dedicated few readers (and the other random people who stumble upon my blog now and then) with a song: “Let Go” by Boys Like Girls. It’s a cover, originally performed by Frou Frou, but I like this version better. Enjoy.

05 May 2011

Bitter Blade

I wrote this in my history class this morning. I managed to pay attention, too. Promise. Anyway, I'm really happy with the way it turned out, from the rhythm and rhyming pattern to the imagery and the general content. It is, as ever, inspired by my endless drama. Enjoy, and do tell me what you think!

Cold the wind and dark the night
     as I tremble by your side
merciliess and unforgiving
     I hold your name
          you hold the knife
Standing on the edge, we balance
     careful not to careless cross
the line we drew in months gone by
     we can’t give away
          what we already lost
Sharp the blade, bitter the end
     more, but so much less, than friend
merciless and unforgiving
     the wounds we made
          we cannot mend
They say that healing comes in time
     but I grow colder every day
shivering against your chest
     the warmth you give
          I leach away
Cold the wind and dark the sea
     swimming on the edge of dreams
merciless and unforgiving
     there’s no more warmth
         you’re cold as me

02 May 2011

Beltane Jewelry Pictures!

Finally finished with class for the day, and I’m not sure if I’ll get to posting too much the rest of this week. I have to finish two more term papers by Friday afternoon, and both are on the Cuban Missile Crisis. One is approaching it from a negotiation standpoint for my Conflict Analysis/Resolution/Negotiation course, and the other paper approaches from a security decision standpoint for my National Security Seminar course. Thus, I’ll know a LOT about the Cuban Missile Crisis and President Kennedy’s decision-making process by the end of the week. Let the sleepless nights commence! In the meantime, I’ve added lots of fun updates to the blog, especially in the music section, and finally set up some new links to organize the lyrics in case you can’t understand what I’m saying, or just want to take a gander at the CD insert that accompanied Old World back in the day. I’ve been practicing some of the newer songs I’ve written—many of which have been entries on this blog—and I plan on recording some of the new ones this summer so I can finally release the second CD I’ve been working on, and maybe even a third, before going to Air Assault school. Anyway, if you’re bored, go check it out!

As promised, below are some pictures of the jewelry I made this weekend in honor of Beltane. First, the necklace I made Saturday night, titled Venus Spring. I used pearlized white glass seed beads, silver wire, silver chain, tiger tail, pink freshwater rice pearls, clear faceted crystal beads, clear stone, and plastic sew-on rhinestones in various shapes and colors (I know, plastic gets a bad rap, but come on—they’re adorable). It’s a double-strap lariat tassel necklace, so it fastens in the front by threading the chains and stone drop through the beaded loop:

Next, we have a pair of earrings fashioned Sunday evening, which I’ve titled Fires of Beltane for their flame-like inspiration. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a very high quality photo, but I can’t wait to wear them out somewhere this week. I used orange glass seed beads, dark brown mother of pearl, amber-colored faceted crystal beads, copper wire, and gold and red Czech glass beads:

I made the bracelet next, inspired by the jingle dance and the healing powers of water. I used bright turquoise thread, pearlized sky-blue glass seed beads, blue Czech glass beads in sapphire and cerulean, and a little blue plastic sew-on rhinestone heart. It’s also a front-fastening toggle similar to the Venus Spring necklace, threading the big blue spherical bead on the one end through the beaded loop on the other. I call the bracelet Rain Heart:

Finally, allow me to present the choker I made late Sunday night when I should have been writing a paragraph on common radioisotopes present in nuclear fallout. This one is titled Black Rose, for the center piece is a black metal rose, which I added purple sparkles along the edges to accent. The choker is asymmetric in design, as you can tell from the photos. It fastens in the back with a bead toggle through a leather loop. I used purple, blue, and green suede cord as well as turquoise thread, pearlized colorless, sapphire, and sky-blue glass seed beads, sapphire Czech glass beads, a tiny shell, and a bit of silver fabric paint to coat the exposed thread and prevent breaking. It’s funky, it’s a little weird, and I adore it:

Beltane And A Powwow

Fancy Dancer photo from here
Yesterday was eventful. First off, as many of you now know, we apparently killed Osama bin Laden. I’m going to go ahead and not post a reaction to that, because I’m pretty sure I’m technically not allowed to. So all I’ll say is this: it will hugely affect my future because of my profession, and I’m not entirely sure we as a country fully understand the ramifications this event will have.

Secondly, it was Beltane, although my celebration was somewhat informal and unorthodox even as far as my eclectic solitary Pagan-ness tends to go. I broke it up over the course of two days, and more or less just focused mentally on the spring and how I wish I could be jumping over bonfires and sneaking off to the woods to celebrate in a more intimate fashion. Alas, such will likely never be an option for me. Instead, I decided to tap into my creative energy by making a new necklace Saturday night, and then I went out with a few friends and celebrated in a very traditionally youthful fashion by hitting the local drinking hole. My friends knew I had a specific reason for wanting to go out and have fun and celebrate life in general, and the return of good weather in particular, but none of them really cared. Regardless, a good time was had by all present.

Then, yesterday, I attended a Native American Powwow! I could not stay for the entire time, but I did stay for four out of the five hours. I showed up maybe ten minutes before the Grand Entrance of Dancers and then stayed to watch almost all of the dancing. I toured the venders before I left and picked up a tiny dream catcher, fashioned out of pale suede and bright glass and clay and feathers, which I intend to hang in my car. As an artist, I have this problem with buying something I know I could make, but I decided I’d make an exception this once since it was so pretty and since I was supporting another artist. For a description of the dances I saw, I’ll resort to the informative pamphlet they handed out to explain what we saw:

Men’s Traditional Dancers combine drama and grace to tell their stories. Their dances are primarily those of the warrior hunting or searching for enemies. Regalia is made from natural material and is not as brightly colored as other dancers. Some regalia takes years to complete; some is handed down through a family and is over 100 years old.

Women’s Traditional Dance is sometimes called straight dancing. Like men’s traditional, there are many regalia variations. However, regalia is usually made from natural materials like buckskin. A colorful fringed shawl is sometimes carried over one arm, and an eagle feather fan is usually carried in the other hand. The female traditional dancer has a very dignified look. Her movements are slight but regal.

Men’s Grass Dance evolved from an Omaha warrior society. The regalia is unique because it has almost no feathers. Regalia consists of a shirt and trousers with fringe attached. Today, the fringe is made of long pieces of colorful yarn; originally the fringe was made from the long prairie grass native to this part of the country. Legend says, before beginning a powwow young boys were sent out to tramp down and smooth tall grass in the area of the celebration. They tied the grass onto themselves and imitated the swaying movement of the grass as the breeze blew across the prairie.

Women’s Jingle Dress Dance has been termed ‘jingle’ for the metallic clacking noise the dress makes when in movement. Traditionally, cones shaped from chewing tobacco lids were positioned on masterfully-designed dresses. Originally, the jingle dress dancers were called upon to dance for a sick or injured community member; the dance was revered a healing dance.

Men’s Fancy Dancers wear heavily beaded regalia adorned with brightly colored feathers. Many carry a dance stick, hoops or other items in their hands. Fancy dancers are known for their stamina, high jumps, quick footwork and beautiful regalia.

Women’s Fancy Shawl Dance is similar in style and brightness to men’s fancy dance. The women’s fancy shawl dance is the newest form of dancing and was first practiced by northern tribes. The principle feature of this regalia is the brightly colored shawl worn over the shoulders. The long fringe hanging from the shawl’s edges flies around the dancer as she jumps and spins to the music.
For more information on the dances and the group that put on the powwow, go here.

I remember sitting on the hill, soaking up the sunshine and wishing I’d worn a skirt instead of jeans so my legs wouldn’t be absorbing quite so much heat, while listening to the drums pound out a heartbeat. Some of the young female dancers were doing a jingle-dress dance, and so I closed my eyes and listened to the tiny bells dance like rain. It really did feel healing, at least to the spirit, and I was instantly happier and more at peace. However, the men’s Fancy Dance was definitely my favorite because it was the most elaborate and energetic.

After I completed the other duties and errands I had for the day, I returned to my room and made a few more pieces of jewelry, to include another necklace and a bracelet. I’ll post pictures of the latest jewelry in another entry.

May the creative forces of Beltane bless your life and the year to come.