29 July 2011

Touching The Fire

"Once More With Feeling" photo still, Season 6, Buffy
I touch the fire and it freezes me.
I look into it, and it’s black.
Why can’t I feel?
My skin should crack and peel.
I want the fire back.
~ Buffy, “Walk Through The Fire”

Because I’ve been rewatching, for perhaps the sixth or seventh time, the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer series (and, this time, simultaneously with the corresponding Angel episodes in the mix), and because after a lazy summer of vegging and regathering my sense of who I am and what’s important I can relate to Buffy’s perspective in this song (well, sorta)…I’ve decided to post a music video. Forgive the deployment of commas in the previous sentence; I get a little comma-happy sometimes, and you know how much I love those long sentences.

If you’re new to my blog, you may not realize the extent of my nerdom. If you’re a frequent flier roundabouts these parts, you’re well aware that my nerdom knows no bounds, especially not when it comes to any Joss Whedon productions. Firefly, Angel, Buffy, Dollhouse—I adore them all. I own the complete series of each on DVD. I’m constantly revisiting my favorite episodes. So yeah. I’m a nerd. Continuing on.

“Once More With Feeling,” which occurs in Season 6, is the musical episode. Yes, I’ve memorized every word off the soundtrack. I must have watched this particular episode twenty times, as it has always been my favorite for the way it showcases the diverse talents of the cast as well as the sense of fun it retained despite the heavy, dark material of the series (the sixth season is notoriously one of the darkest, although I consider the seventh to be the most epic). Anyway, this is not my favorite song off the soundtrack, but it’s the one that I’ve been humming in my head the most as of late. And now, I’ll let the song speak for itself:

28 July 2011

Still Trying

It's a little sappy, but I was suffering from severe sleep loss when I wrote it a couple weeks ago. While cleaning out my room in the packing process, I re-discovered the notebook containing this one, as well as several notebooks dating all the way back to high school and middle school. I'll be combing through the lyrics and poetry I wrote back then and posting the best ones (and probably some of the most ridiculous ones) here. Enjoy!

I don’t know how to tell you,
And now I’ll never have the chance.
It’s all dead and over with,
Can’t even call us “friends”
(though I’d like to be.)
The scent lingers in the air,
The heaviness of words unsaid,
And I’m the only one who feels
All the pressure caving in
(won’t you please listen?)

You were everything I wanted,
And I would have given up anything for you,
If you had only asked me to
            (You didn’t want me.)

I don’t know what to call it,
The almost thing we almost had,
And we kept it up for so long, that
The pain was real in the end
            (at least, for me.)
You said that you weren’t jealous,
You said you didn’t care at all,
So why won’t you even talk to me,
Like I’m some empty, ugly shell?
            (is that what you think?)

You’re still everything I’ve looked for,
And I would give up everyone else for you
If you said you wanted me to,
That you still wanted me, too.

I’m starting my new life now; I’ve got
A new car and a brand new tattoo.
And when everyone is around, I
Pretend I don’t miss you, but
You’re always in the back of my mind,
You’re the dream I keep in the dead of night,
And you’ll never know, you’ll never know
How hard I tried (not to love you.)

27 July 2011

Beginning To Let Go

The Stag, which I painted a few weeks ago
based on a dream-vision I entered in order
to work with some new totem energy.
I’ve been, as I am periodically prone to do, wallowing again. If you've read the previous entry, and noticed the lack of other meaningful entries, you've probably already figured that much out. The knowledge that I’m leaving my childhood home behind—and likely for good, this time—in addition to the various other things that have been going on has been weighing on my thoughts a lot lately. You know, like, failing out of air assault. That’s still bothering me quite a bit. Not to mention all of the other thousand things I've meant to get done this summer that have somehow slipped away. However, as I was reading the various blogs I follow today, I came across Thorn Coyle’s recent entry, which made me feel a little better:

“Most of us, I would hazard to guess, waffle somewhere in between: we take steps toward desire, and then retreat again to what feels like safety. We get to good enough, but not really satisfaction. We fly for a little while, maybe feel shot down, and have trouble moving forward again. We forget that failure means a chance to learn. People who don’t step toward desire never fail big, but they often end up failing by default. When we fail by default, there isn’t as much of a chance to start over, because there doesn’t seem to be any clear demarcation point where one phase ends and another one begins… unless we decide that today is the day we get up off the couch and try.”

Therefore, I can rest easier, if not easily, knowing that at least I tried. Many more people never even make the attempt, and perhaps in a few months or years or so, I’ll get the opportunity to try again. Next time, I’ll be ready. No obstacle course will stand in my way.

I still need to pack. I have a pile of things sitting in the basement that I never fully unpacked when I came home because I never really needed them (ex: winter clothes, books I’ve already read, etc). Time to sort through them and grab some boxes and bags and suitcases and figure out what I’m taking to Missouri and then Texas, and what I’m leaving here for an indefinite number of years. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to return to Virginia, and I’m going to miss this little state. One of these days I may tattoo a dogwood on my wrist to take a piece of it with me. I’m hugely going to miss this state. I love the mountains, the forests, the little mischievous squirrels who somehow end up inside the supposedly squirrel-proof birdfeeders.

The hardest part of packing is going to be choosing which books to bring with me, because I simply do not have room in my little car for the entirety of my collection. I’m something of a bibliophile, so picking and choosing what I will read again, what I haven’t read enough, what I need as a reference for my personal/professional/spiritual development, and what I’m really not going to read will be quite the ordeal. At least I already know some of the things I HAVE to take with me:

  1. The statue of Diana hunting that my grandfather carved back before I was born, and that I inherited after he died.
  2. Gregory the Gargoyle, inherited from a good friend. Thanks again, Werewolf06!
  3. My two guitars (one sage-green Fender Stratocaster and one Gibson Cascade), the various guitar paraphernalia that goes with them, my flute, and my electric keyboard.
  4. My new laptop, which I’m still completely in love with.
  5. And, last but not least, my newly-painted (by me) box of Pagan goodies I like to periodically use in my practice, such as it is. Expect pictures soon :)

26 July 2011

Another Letter That Will Remain Unread

How dare you.

Let me say that again, and louder: How dare you.

I know I’m not the best person in the world, and that my moral compass may not be magnetically aligned to perfection (see here and here, specifically), but I hardly deserve this from you. You know how I felt. How I would likely still feel, if not for the anger that is currently bringing my blood to a stinging boil.

I can handle you not wanting me. I get that. It makes sense. Relationships are inconvenient, especially in our line of work, and the Goddess knows how many colossal commitment issues I still carry with me. And certainly now, that any relationship or nonrelationship or arrangement or whatever would instantly translate to a distance-thing, I understand your reluctance, your hesitation. Refusal. Rejection. I’d even understand it if was simply that you didn’t like me.

I’m a tough kid. I can handle that part.

I can even handle your being busy, too busy to talk to me every day, or every week. A quick conversation here and there to catch up is fine. I’m not a needy person, and I’ve certainly never been clingy. I value my independence far too strongly for that. However, a word now and then goes a long way to keep me happy and content in a friendship, or whatever it is you want to call what we do and don’t have.

What I can’t handle is you leading me on, acting like you really want to see me again, like you can’t wait until we have an opportunity to spend time together…and then, when that last, golden opportunity finally arrives, you blow me off.

It was perfect. I didn’t even intend for it to be that way, but that’s how it happened. We had one evening, and then a day, and we could’ve talked and caught up and laughed and watched tv and chilled. But no. You completely and utterly sabotaged any chance that we might meet again. You saw that opportunity to see me, and you chose an alternative that both cost you money and sleep and didn't at all involve me. Further still, when a few unavoidable situations require that we share a public space, you won’t even make eye contact with me. It’s not even that you’re ignoring me, or that I’m simply not there or someone you don’t recognize, it’s like I’m literally someone it pains you to see—or worse—be seen with.

That part really fucking hurts. Pardon my foul tongue, but this is my damn blog, I’ll curse if I want to, and I’m royally pissed off.

And, of course, when I confront you about it, you give me an answer that just puts me to shame and makes everything seem pointless. You know, I really hate you sometimes, in a painful, heart-clenching kind of hate-that-isn’t-really-hate-at-all kind of way. It sucks.

Sometimes I hope against all hope that you’ll read my blog. Then again, it’s probably a good thing that you don’t.

Take care, my Stargazer. Merry meet and merry part, and sometimes, never meet again.

16 July 2011

Music As Magic...Again. Sorta.

So I’ve been musically and creatively very busy over the past few days. See, one of the fabulous things about now owning a MacBook is that I also now have access to garage band, which is an awesome music recording and mixing program. Thus, all those songs I wrote over the past four years but never got to turn into mp3s are now—slowly and a little shaky, I must admit, considering the software is not quite what I’m used to—getting digitally immortalized. I’ve already recorded, converted, and uploaded two songs (“Memory Wind” and “Orion”) to my SoundCloud website, and I’m finalizing the recording of another one (“The Search”) presently. Two and a half down, ten and a half more to go before I have the complete discography of my second CD, Woven Patterns Incomplete, ready to go. Shoot me an email if you’d like to reserve your copy now! Some of the lyrics to the other songs on the album have been posted in previous blog entries, or else under my poetry section, but most have not. Regardless, here’s a sneak preview of the CD insert that will come with:

1.    the severing
2.    angelus dixit
3.    orion
4.    so much for economics
5.    deafening, inevitable
6.    adam & eve
7.    memory wind
8.    bitter in voronezh
9.    a dreamer’s confessions
10.  amazon
11.  skywalker
12.  the search
13.  morrighan

A park in Voronezh, Russia
A cliffside near Kislovodsk, Russia

In short, I’m having a blast. Stay tuned for more examples of my ridiculous right-brained-ness to follow.

If you want to listen to the two songs I have uploaded as of last night, go here.

14 July 2011

First Failing

This is unfortunately what I will not
be doing this summer. Pic from
Some quick updates on my life, in order of their appearance at the top of my head. Just a forewarning, most of the life-updates are related to my job (Military), so if you’re not interested at all in that and want to skip this entry, don’t worry—I won’t be offended.

Anyway, so update number one: new laptop! Which I am presently writing my blog entry upon while sipping an iced chai latte in our local non-Starbucks café. My parents wanted to get me a kickass graduation present in return for not paying for my college education and my general awesomeness. Apparently graduating from West Point is a big deal or something. Whatevs. Anywho, they got me a MacBook. I’ve never owned a mac before, but I used to use one in my high school journalism classes, so relearning the mac process after four years of using a PC is proving to be an interesting process. For the record, I am absolutely in love with my new laptop. There’s lots of memory on it, and lots of RAM, so I’ll be able to record music to my heart’s content. Assuming I have a heart, that is. These days, it’s hard to tell.

Update number two: I failed out of Air Assault school. On zero day. This is a hugely embarrassing thing. Air Assault school, for those of you without a military background, is an Army school in which soldiers learn how to rappel out of helicopters in a combat environment. However, there’s a hell of a lot more to the school than that. It’s also incredibly grueling physically, to include little sleep and food and lots and lots and LOTS of exercise, and all the while NCOs are yelling in your face. Now, I can do lack of sleep (cue: recent college grad with more than a few all-nighters) and I can do lack of food (cue: I made it through SERE training two summers ago, and part of that school includes starving in the woods for about two weeks) and I can certainly deal with people yelling in my face for no real reason (cue: this isn’t my first day in the Army, after all). I’m also in pretty darn good shape, if I do say so myself, so I managed to make it through all the smoking (being dropped for various exercises like pushups, situps, flutter kicks, etc) and the two mile run.

What killed me at Air Assault was my complete and utter lack of coordination.

In short, the obstacle course—one of the two zero day requirements—was the death of my Air Assault career. There are nine obstacles in the o-course, and two of them are mandatory. I passed those two no problem (they don’t require a whole lot of coordination; just an indifference to heights and the ability to climb a rope). Of the remaining seven obstacles, you can only fail one and still be considered a pass for the whole course. Soldiers are only allowed two tries per obstacle. I’m a clutz. I have terrible balance. I fell off one too many times, off of one too many obstacles. Thus, they sent me home.

The upside of my failing Air Assault school, and of my being there voluntarily, was that I get extra leave…so instead of being home on July 22, I came home yesterday. Littlest Brother (and Parents) are thrilled to have me back. I’m glad to be home, of course, but…I hate being a failure. As a general rule, I don’t make a habit of failing. With very few exceptions (note: my love life), I accomplish everything I set my mind to accomplishing. For crying out loud, I made it through SERE school. Albeit it was with the Air Force, so it was fairly chill as far as SERE goes, but it was SERE nonetheless. If that term means nothing to you, a quick Google search should fix that in no time, and likely better than I could explain it. My point is that failing Air Assault—even though I know it won’t go on my record and no one in my unit will know, nor will anyone when I get to BOLC—really, really, really bothers me.

It doesn’t help the matter that Stargazer was there, and that he saw me fall off the two obstacles that caused me to fail. He’s still at Air Assault, kicking ass and taking names. He’s kind of a stud that way, and his military prowess is one of many qualities in him that I’ve always admired. That said, he’s also being a jerk right now, so I’m a little upset at him, too. That’s update number three.

Update number four: Before, during, and after my brief stint as an Air Assault candidate (you don’t become a student until you pass zero day), I reconnected with two West Point friends and realized that I like them a LOT. One I’ve known since our first year there, but we lived on opposite ends of the cadet area, so we never really saw each other apart from the class we had together plebe year and then the summer assignment we both had in Missouri. However, we have a lot in common that we never realized, and the entire time we hung out—she went to Air Assault with me, but with the heat and the smoking, she failed the run—we kept asking ourselves how come we had not been better friends. Both addicted to Buffy, Angel, Bones, and grunge rock. We also have similar opinions on relationships and men in general.

The other friend with whom I reconnected is a former love-interest, although demanding schedules and not meeting until our last semester at school made a relationship impractical. However, he’s turned out to be a great guy, and was an absolute life-saver. He drove all the way out to the camp where Air Assault school was to pick me and my other friend up when we failed out. Thus, the second silver lining to being a failure was getting two better friends :]

As this is getting pretty long, and I don’t want to dwell any longer on the emotional trauma of being a failure right now, I’m gonna pause my blogging and reread the story I still haven’t finished writing, despite having only two chapters left. Perhaps if I ever finish it, I’ll add a page to my blog about my various story cycles. For a preview, they are: Circle, Haven, and Guard. The first book of the Circle series is the one I’m presently writing. It’s called The Spinner’s Journey. Perhaps my next entry will be a summary?

05 July 2011

Tattoo + Firebird

Леонид Кошевой, Жар-птица
Finally, as promised, here is the explanation (and pictures at the end) of my new tattoo:

The word I chose to imprint permanently on my foot, Bellatrix, is—like my first tattoo—in Latin. It means "warrior," specifically a female warrior, as Latin is a gendered language (as opposed to English, in which apart from words like waiter versus waitress, most words only have one form regardless of the gender of the person they describe). Underneath and behind the text is an arrow, which is a symbol of long-distance (and especially cross country) running. As some of you may know, running is about the only sport I'm decent at, and I devoted all four years of my high school career to competitive cross country and track. However, the arrow in my tattoo has a dual purpose. It is also evocative of the hunt, and as one of my matron deities is Diana (Roman goddess of the hunt and moon), archery is also an activity I hold in the highest respect, and one I've dabbled in over the years. As an Army girl, I do tend to shoot rifles a bit more often than bows, but arrows are infinitely more elegant than bullets, in my humble opinion.

If you look closely, you'll notice the arrow head isn't quite a normal arrowhead. While the arrow itself—if it were real, and not a picture on my foot—would not pierce anything designed such as it is, the arrow head conceals a tiny crescent moon, which is another small, cryptic tribute to my spiritual beliefs. The tail of the arrow is also unusual (again, intentionally so), and while it would not help the arrow fly, it is a silent tribute to my choice of scholarship. The feather is shaped like a peacock feather, but the color of flames. As some of you may also know, one of my majors in college was Russian. I wrote my honors thesis in Russian on a specific topic of Russian mythology (Baba-Yaga); However, while feeding my mythological obsession, I also read and researched many tales concerning another persona from Russian myth: the firebird. Thus, my tattoo bears a firebird feather in the arrow's tail.

The firebird is a beautiful, mysterious symbol of femininity and freedom in Russian myth. She sings with a woman's voice and sometimes wears a woman's face, although she is a bird fashioned from flames. She guards a golden egg, which is both her perpetually unhatched offspring and the end-goal of many a hero's journey. Sometimes the firebird herself is the goal. Many heroes seek her, some even manage to find her, falling in love with her sad, beautiful song and then following her forever after, completely entranced. Fewer still manage to briefly capture the firebird, although she never remains caught for long. That is the defining characteristic of the firebird (often mistranslated as a phoenix): her eternal freedom. She cannot be caught, nor tamed, nor caged. No man can ever possess her heart, even though she leaves a trail of broken hearts her wake.

So that's what it all means to me. Warrior, Huntress, Runner, Amazon, Firebird, Pagan. All the things I believe in, all the parts of my identity, the roles I play and the banners I wear. And now, all of that meaning is artfully and proudly contained within a small tattoo on the top of my right foot.

Enjoy the pictures!

For more basic information about the firebird, go here.