31 October 2011

Semper Idem

The Lament, acrylic on canvas, painted by
yours truly on 30 October 2011
This is just a little poem/song (haven't decided yet whether or not I'll ever set it to music) that I composed last night before falling asleep. It's pretty relevant to a current situation, and is the title translates from the Latin phrase "Always the same." You know how I love working in those classical references whenever I can, and this particular use of "semper" (always) has a double edge of meaning that will be only apparent to some...and that I'm totally not going to explain, haha, so sorry. Additionally, to your left you will see my most recent painting, which I have titled The Lament. This painting was inspired by some recent emotions welling up and spilling over, in this case rather than cry a puddle on the floor of a broken stage like the angel depicted is doing, I chose to spill out my pent up frustration in a series of songs and, well, this painting. Hope you enjoy both. Let it never be said that I wasted negative energies. I much prefer the method of tapping into frustration, anger, hurt, and melancholy as a muse and eventual release. Without further ado, allow me to present "Semper Idem."

Your silence speaks
      a novel of rejection,
just another in a pattern,
     I seem doomed to repeat.
You claimed you thought
     that I am worth the effort;
now you can’t even bother
     to talk to me.

When I reach out to you
     and try to make things easy,
you can’t even meet me
And so our dance continues,
     a spiral to implosion,
and I can’t take your silence
     one more day.

Quit being cold. I know there’s warmth
     inside you somewhere.
     I saw the spark smoldering
          not so very long ago.
Quit being numb. I know that you
     can feel again.
     Just speak the words that have
          been weighing down your tongue.

You told me that you
     still think I’m pretty,
that you want to be with me,
     but you just need time.
If you meant it, then
     the timing wouldn’t matter;
It will never be convenient
     in an inconvenient life.

Quit being cold. I know there’s warmth
     inside you somewhere.
     I saw the spark smoldering
          not so very long ago.
Quit being numb. I know that you
     can feel again.
     Just speak the words that have
          been weighing down your tongue.

Quit being scared. I know that I am
     intimidating; I’ve been told
     that now at least
          a hundred times.
Quit being sad. I know I can make
     you smile again,
     crack that pretty grin
          and make you laugh.

But your silence speaks
     when your words will not,
and it’s telling me that I
     should just give up.
If you won’t see the pain
     your silence causes me,
then there’s no point in
     trying to hold on.

Happy Samhain

The final musical installment in my week of halloween, and as if there could have been any other choice for this historic and epic moment, comes from The Nightmare Before Christmas. As it began, so shall it end. Enjoy the haunting and hilarious “This Is Halloween” intro to the movie!

30 October 2011

Dante In Russia

A photo I took near the base of Mt. Elbrus last autumn
Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We'll rise above these earthly cares

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

~Loreena McKennitt, “Dante’s Prayer”

As promised, here’s a song that, for me, really gets to the heart of what Samhain is all about: the thinning of the veil between the Here and the Other. This time of year I can feel the ancestors reaching from the other side, pushing the boundaries, straining to communicate with their descendants and pass on the knowledge and wisdom of the centuries.

McKennitt describes briefly the events as she was writing the song in the video below (traveling through Russia, reading Dante’s Inferno). Having done both activities, although not simultaneously, I can see elements within the song of its larger context. However, the way the song makes me feel—her haunting vocals, the melancholy strings—whispers Samhain to me all the way. Certain lines especially (“When the dark night seems endless, please remember me”) evoke words the ancestors call out from the Other, asking to be remembered and revered as they watch over their progeny. That’s just one of many fabulous things about poetry; it’s all subject to interpretation.

Without further ado, Lorenna McKennit, performing “Dante’s Prayer” live:

Zombies And Ghosts And Vampires, Oh My!

Fun movie! Hot cast. Pic from here.
I didn’t sleep at all Thursday night. We were finally released for the weekend Friday evening around 1800, and I took a shower & went to bed with the intent of getting up in an hour or so to post another video here and then meet up with some friends for dinner. However, we all went to bed with the intention of getting up, and then no one did. I slept straight through from 1900 until 0430 the next morning when the alarm I had forgotten to un-set started blaring, at which point I promptly decided “to hell with it” and slept until almost noon.

Then on Saturday, I just completely forgot for the day apparently that I have a blog, and that I was posting music videos of Halloween & Samhain themed songs. Instead, I spent the afternoon drinking tea, watching vampire movies (Lost Boys, Lost Boys: The Tribe, and Lost Boys: The Thirst), and making some final adjustments to my Xena-esque warrior goddess costume. Apparently I’ve lost a lot of weight since last October, which although a pleasant surprise, necessitated about an hour of sewing on the corset and skirt so they’d fit again. Pictures of this year’s wearing of the black “leather” armor will be posted here once my friends send them to me, as unfortunately they’re all on other people’s cameras.

Anywho, because I missed Friday and Saturday with Halloween music videos, I’ll post two now and then another one for Sunday later this evening. Enjoy! Today's selections come from Rob Zombie & My Chemical Romance.

27 October 2011

No Time

Sorry folks, but I just don't have time today to wax in any sort of direction. Today's musical choice: "Remains of the Day," from the movie The Corpse Bride.

26 October 2011

Buffy Versus Bridget? No Contest

Buffy will always be my hero, and
Gellar will always be Buffy to me.
Today was another hectic day, in a hectic week, in a hectic month, in a hectic year, in a hectic life. Perhaps one of these days I’ll slow down…and then I’ll likely get bored. I spent the better part of the day stressed, running late to one thing or another, and trying to print a 20page document I spent the last two evenings (and most of last night) writing. And what’s even better? I get to do it all again tomorrow, and Friday, and then for the first half of next week, too. Another 20 pages due Friday, and my hours are occupied from 0500 every morning (often earlier) to 1800 every evening (and sometimes later). But hey, at least I get paid for this, right?

In other news, my random illness seems to be responding well to the meds. I can tell my throat is still a little swollen, and it hurts still, but other than that I feel fine. That said, I’ve always had an unusually high tolerance for pain & discomfort, so things tend to be a lot worse than I think they are. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

Of course, as always, even when I have zero time to myself, or to read or write or paint or draw or sing or play my guitar, I manage to acquire drama. The recent drama is nothing new (see: Well, This Feels Familiar), and nothing particularly heart shattering, but sucks. Breaking hearts, and being broken in return. It seems to be a pattern. Anywho…I’m going to get back to the current episode of CW’s Ringer with Sarah Michelle Gellar (I miss Buffy). I’ve been trying to watch it for the past three days now, and something keeps glitching with the internet, making it take 20 minutes to watch 5 min of video and 10 min of commercials. The show is pretty good. I mean, it’s no Vampire Diaries, but it’s delicious all the same.

Now on for the real reason of the post: the latest installment in my Halloween/Samhain music videos! Today’s choice is Bette Middler’s portrayal of Winifred Sanderson in Hocus Pocus, quite possibly the greatest Halloween movie of all time. In my (occasionally) humble (but never wrong) opinion. Here’s Winifred, the lead sister, singing “I Put A Spell On You.” Enjoy!

25 October 2011

Being Sick + Song#2

Picture from here. Gotta love vamps with wings :)
Today was an adventure. I don’t get sick often, and when I do, half the time I’m convinced I’m not actually sick and that it’ll pass any minute now. This morning after our work out I had some sort of strange rapid onset symptoms. I woke up with a bit of a sore throat and a swollen lymph node, but other than that I was fine, until all at once I wasn’t. Several hours later I started shivering, despite it being 80 degrees outside and even hotter indoors. I also had massive headaches and by lunch time, I felt like I could pass out at any moment, so one of my friends drove me to the ER (nothing else was open), and turns out I had a fever of 102. One hundred and freaking two. Apparently, I really was sick.

So they shot me full of random meds & steroids & antibiotics, and apparently I’m supposed to be feeling normal in 6-8 hours. Yay. In the meantime, today’s Samhain song is from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 6, “Once More, With Feeling.” As Spike sings it to Buffy, and the song is called “Rest in Peace,” it seemed appropriate to add to my daily Halloween-themed ditties ☺ Enjoy. I couldn’t get a very good quality that was the video from the actual episode, but you’ll get the gist.

24 October 2011

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Oogie Boogie carved into a pumpkin. Pic from here.
My favorite holiday is quickly approaching. Even back when I was a devout Catholic, low these many (and by many I mean about 7) years ago, I adored Halloween. Once I began to research Paganism, mythology, and the ancient origins of commonly celebrated holidays, the end of October took on a whole new meaning for me as Samhain, the thinning of the veil. With only a handful of exceptions—to be precise, three years out of four of my college experience—I have made my Halloween costume, entirely by hand, since second grade. This year, I’ll be sporting my Xena-esque Warrior Goddess attire once again. I spent so long working on it last year (more on the construction here, here, and here) that it didn’t seem right to only wear it once. Unfortunately, however, I’ll be lacking the wolfskin cloak and bejeweled sword, as I accidentally left them in Virginia. Either way my costume will be awesome. I’m going to a party Saturday night to celebrate with some friends, which will be the debut of the costume, and some of us will be hitting a haunted house thingy too at some point. I can’t wait.

And because I love Samhain so damn much, and because this is going to be a hellaciously busy and stressful week for me leading up to that fabulous excuse to commune with the ancestors and access the energy of death and change, I’ll be posting a daily song. The first is “Jack’s Lament” from The Nightmare Before Christmas, one of my favorite movies of all time. Enjoy!

22 October 2011

You Know Where I'll Be

Look for me beneath the branches,
buried in the brittle leaves;
I’ll be waiting after sunrise for
     you to come find me.
I’ll leave my hair in tangles,
and I’ll wear your favorite dress.
We’ll live off air and sunlight,
     forsaking all the rest.

This is meant to be;
we are all we need.
Scarlet ribbons bind us,
     soul to soul.
The forest will keep us hidden
for as long as we require.
We’ll be the masters of our temple,
     treading into the unknown.

Look for me not in the starlight,
nor by the light of the moon;
I’ll be where the sun warms the moss,
     damp with autumn dew.
I’ll lead you into the valley;
we’ll walk hand in hand,
and when you finally find me,
     you’ll never be lost again.

This is meant to be;
we are all we need.
Scarlet ribbons bind us,
     heart to heart.
The forest will keep us hidden
for as long as we require.
We are the writers of our comedy,
     acting our own parts.

17 October 2011

Praise Diana!

Artemis. Picture from here.
Two weeks ago I had a profound Pagan experience, which I have been meaning to write about since, but something kept getting in the way. First it was a long weekend when I flew to the East Coast again to visit my cousin & her husband, then it was a week of hectic classes and field training preparation, then it was a weekend of field training…and now I’m back to a relatively normal schedule. Hence my having time to write melancholy & melodramatic song lyrics about losing myself in metaphorical rose gardens.

Something about roses and thorns never ceases to fascinate me.

Anyway, back to my profound Pagan experience. So. We had our land navigation test two Thursdays ago. Back when I first entered the Army, I had never learned how to use a map before, let alone a compass. Suffice it to say I’ve come a long way since then and have passed—with flying colors, I might add, NBD—all my recent land nav exercises. It was mainly because I finally, after five summers of scrambling through the woods trying to make sense of the contour lines, figured out how to terrain associate in conjunction with following an azimuth. It was a riot.

However, this last time was different. The course wasn’t particularly difficult, but the map was scaled slightly off the standard, which made plotting (and therefore, finding) our points more problematic. The scaling error between the maps they gave us and the tools we had to plot our points with did not effect my first point, so I found it right away. It only took about five minutes, actually, so I was quite pleased with myself ☺ The second point was another story.

So no shit, there I was, traipsing around some random forest in Missouri, enjoying the weather (pleasantly warm with a nice cool breeze, not a cloud in the sky) when I realized I had not remotely paid attention to how far I’d come from my first point, but that I definitely should have come across my second by then. Then I reached the boundary of the course, and realized I’d definitely gone too far. So I turned around and headed back the way I came. I walked around in circles for a while, because I knew I was close to my point, until I realized I was all discombobulated and my methods clearly weren’t working. It was a self-correcting course—the grid coordinates were posted on the point markers so we knew for sure when we found our points—so if I could stumble upon any point at all, I could re-plot a course to my specific point. I closed my eyes, centered and grounded, and offered a simple petition:

Goddess Diana, Great Huntress, Protector of the Wilds,
Guide my steps, lead me to a point. Any point. Please.

I took a deep breath, released it to the ether, and opened my eyes. Standing maybe twenty feet away from me, on the top of a small hill, was a doe. She stared straight at me through the thick foliage. I nodded my head to her, and she looked away in another direction. I walked in the direction she had indicated, and in less than a minute, I came across a point. After I plotted the new grid coordinates, I determined I was only about 100m off from the point I was looking for, so it was easy to find after that.

Later that afternoon once I had found all of my points and was starting the trek back to the camp we started from, I saw a hawk flying overhead. I smiled up at it, offering a silent prayer to my goddess for her assistance.

I love being Pagan.

Lost In The Vines

I don’t have a lot of time, but when I do,
I think of all the nights I lost on you:
the ones that took forever just to pass,
only to leave me lost again.
I don’t know what’s wrong, but that it’s true:
I could never love someone like you.
Though it hurts as bad as if I did,
knowing that you let me down again.

I’m tangled up in roses and in thorns;
these words are petals scattered in the wind:
pale and fragile, spoken yet unheard,
leaving no impression where they land.

I don’t know where you are, and losing you
feels something like forgetting what I knew
I should never completely let go,
only to fail myself again.
I don’t have a lot of time, but if I did,
I would search the sky, the sea, the land,
if only for a trace of where you went,
a whisper of where you’ve been.

I’m tangled up in roses and in thorns;
I never know what I’m supposed to say.
An empty, fragile shell of who you were
haunts my dreams each night, and every day
I’m wishing you were here, waiting to see
the wind lifting these brambles off of me,
leaving just the roses and the leaves:
then I can finally be free.

I don’t have a lot of time, but when I do,
I remember losing myself with you,
and though those days are hidden in the past,
sometimes I think that I am lost again.

03 October 2011

Well, This Feels Familiar

The air in here is starting to get thick;
I breathe and breathe, but nothing is coming in.
I thought I had it figured out, thought I knew it all,
but the light is growing dimmer behind these walls.

You were supposed to be something
new, but you are just like the others.

It’s easy to tell me what you think I want.
It’s easy to make promises and then forget.
The harder part is the follow-through (which I thought
you could do), but I guess I’ve just been fooled again.

You were supposed to be something
new, but you are just like the others.
You’re no ray of sun, no break in the storm:
just another man who still acts like a boy.

So I’ll keep writing angry lyrics,
spill my ink like so much blood,
until the words run dry as featherbeds
with hollowed-pillow skulls.
These boys who say they love me,
don’t understand what it means
     to be alone on a path
     that no one else can see.

Did you notice, dear readers, that the recent lyrics I’ve been posting don’t have Stargazing as a tag? Yes, in fact, I’ve moved on. Another month, another muse; or perhaps it’s the same muse I’ve had all along, just bearing a different name.

02 October 2011

New Art, New Musical Obssession

It’s the mission of modernity:
You’ll get what’s yours,
Until there’s nothing left over,
Until you get no more.

And it’s not what we’re owed,
But it’s what we’ve earned.
It’s closer than we realized,
And it’s time now to burn.

~ Kevin Devine, “Another Bag of Bones”

I haven’t done a whole lot lately to further my spiritual goals, which is unfortunate, but my creativity has been nothing if not active. The picture above is a painting I completed a few days ago, depicting Eyvind and Nessa from Juliet Marillier’s historical fantasy novel Wolfskin. Eyvidn is a Viking Berzerk warrior, whose people launch an expedition to the Light Isles (Marillier’s name for what is now Orkney), where Nessa—a priestess and a princess of the natives they encounter—and he eventually meet and fall in love. The story is, as all of Marillier’s novels are, much more complicated than that. However, they are one of my favorite fictional couples, and having recently reread the Saga of the Light Isles (Wolfskin and its sequel, Foxmask), I was inspired to paint them. I don’t normally engage in fan art, but I just felt like painting them the other day. So that’s what I did.

I’ve also been slowly but surely making progress on a sewing project. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with the finished product, as it’s not something I’m making for Halloween, and it’s too ornate and fantasy-adventure-esque for regular wear. In fact, I’m not even entirely sure what the finished thing will look like. It’s a dress, and it’s got lots of forest-green velvet, black leather, green cotton, and dark green snakeskin-print. Its elegant and functional, thus far, like something an Amazon Queen would wear both when running through the forest and when holding diplomatic discussions with some representative of the Patriarchy. As I don’t do a whole lot of those activities (ha!), in short, I don’t have a clue why I’m making what I’m making. I’ll post pictures when it’s finally complete.

Below are some pics of another painting I finished recently. I actually completed it in late August, but I painted it at the request of a friend, and I didn’t want to post it anywhere (neither here nor my fb artwork album) until he’d seen it in person. As of yesterday, I can finally post my pictures! So. I called it The Songwriter. Enjoy.

And, now that I’ve updated you on what I’ve been doing with my free time—what little of that I have—on to the purpose of this post: another musical obsession. Currently, the song with the most plays on my ipod is Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band’s “Another Bag of Bones.” The song itself is a commentary, so I won’t waste any of your time adding further comments on it here; let me simply emphasize that this song is absolutely awesome, everyone should hear it, and every time I give it a listen, I get chills. Check it out.