Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Transition, A Moment of Clarity, and Space for Silence

|Credit: [x]|
First, Happy Thanksgiving.

I'm finding that it is important to remember how often we don't remember to let people know how thankful we are for them. We are caught up in our busy lives, and we flash our smiles, but apparently we need a holiday to tell people we appreciate them. As so many of  my friends have posted today -- being thankful doesn't need to be constrained to one day if you're careful enough to pay attention. I find that, for the most part, I am not always careful. So here goes:

I am thankful for the transition not only between fall and winter but of last year and this year. I am thankful for the difficulties I faced and overcame, because they have helped me see my strength when I thought it was failing. Part of this transition was also working incredibly hard to get here -- to this moment, to understand just how far I've walked on this path and  how much I've accomplished. I'm thankful for that moment of clarity which shows me what I am capable of when I feel I've lost my sense of direction. I am thankful for the silences filled with tiny noises that remind me that life completely goes on even if we are stuck. These things are encouragement.

I am thankful for my new home -- Oswego, and for the chance-in-a-million that I would find this college and move here. I have met amazing people, and each one of them I am more thankful for than I know how to express in words -- My mentor, my various bosses and coworkers across two jobs, my teachers and professors -- folks who allow me to laugh with them, regardless. I am thankful for my friends who I would not have met if not for this town or this school, all of us with eerily similar stories to share.

I am thankful for my old home, my extended family, my parents -- the friends I made, while I was in those awkward younger years, that still reach out to speak with me regardless of distance. My old town, and it's old river that flooded too many times with too many winters and  too many storms -- I'm so thankful for its teaching  me that even when there isn't much to be had, we still have each other.

I am thankful for the people I have met who are not connected to either of my homes -- for conversation, for strength, for a sense of determination that might baffle anyone else. A small thank you for teaching me what lessons you probably didn't realize you were bringing. A smaller thank you for crossing paths and threads and words over so much space and through so much circumstance. A whisper of a thank you to all of those people, fighting your own battles, and relating them to me so I can know your stories.

Each of us, in our connections with others, shape the world we walk in. And if that isn't something to be thankful about -- well, I'm not sure what is. So happy Thanksgiving. I appreciate you, even if it doesn't cross my mind to always state it so plainly -- I do appreciate you. All of you. Have a safe and wonderful holiday!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Abandon the Suburbs

Credit: [x]

I've been writing poetry about the places where nature meets suburbia. Lately, I've been rooting for nature.

Winter's approaching pretty fast here in Oswego. Although -- I mean -- some days, walking home from work in the afternoon, the sun gets pretty warm still. I am waiting for the trees to just be that explosion of fiery reds, oranges and yellows that I remember. But it seems to be that the weather's been so odd, that the leaves are browning and dying before they even get the chance.

Sometimes I wander around town. Lately, I've just been so exhausted, I couldn't even muster the strength to go around the block to my mentor's shop. There are days when I am so glad that I live here, where there's enough going on so close together that I don't need a car -- that I can mostly walk comfortably to almost anywhere I need to go. Then there are days where I just don't want to be around all this noise. You know what I mean?

I walk down Bridge Street and turn off of it a couple blocks away from my house. I find myself lately craving a walk home where I don't have to hear so many cars racing by me.
I want some time out in the wilderness, where your closest neighbor would be a mile down the road. I want a cozy house without loud music playing a couple floors above me. A cabin in the woods, perfect for the writing life. Just the kind of quiet a city certainly lacks -- and the suburbs are no better. I work a "normal" job, or two -- and an odd apprenticeship-job on the side, to boot. All to pay the bills and keep a roof over my head  and under my upstairs neighbors' feet and stereos. I'm not complaining in the sense that I hate what I have. I love it. I feel so lucky to be able to be here now. It's just kind of loud. I feel out of place sometimes. Like -- circle the thing in this group that doesn't belong -- type out-of-place. Like I really do belong in the woods somewhere, writing away.

I don't know if it is the weather that's sparked this sort of emotion in me, or the cars, or the connectivity we all have to our technology -- I have no idea. I do know that I wish for some times closer to nature than to the "real world." Is it escapism? Probably. But hey. Anyone who wants to escape away from the bustle of modern living -- you're a-okay with me. You and I both belong in the settings of fantasy novels.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

When a Bunch of Lokeans Take a Car Trip to Pagan Pride Day

| Credit: [x] |

Trust the process. It can be said that Lokeans live in a sea of chaos -- and not always a sea that stems from the source himself. So trust the process. That is what I kept trying to tell myself.

Except when the directions tell you to drive all the way back to "Sweet Road" (On Campus, near Culkin Hall) after being on the east side of Oswego already. And we do so anyway, because we are Lokeans and, deity aside, our acceptance of chaos helps us be both late and lost more often than we want to admit. Which is why the consensus was to follow the directions exactly, for fear of the consequences... 

Last Saturday was the annual CNY Pagan Pride Day, and the first one I'd ever been to. With my campus organization, we arranged to carpool in a first-come, first-serve manner, and so it happened that at least three out of four people in that car were Lokean in one manner or the next. A day that started with a wonky GPS and navigational system kept getting seasoned with a little chaos here, and a little more there -- until, looking back on it all, we found humor.

Kris, Candi, Kat and I decided that once we had recovered our sense of direction, it would be beneficial to stop for coffee. It was at the drive-in window at Dunkin Donuts that the next event occurred. Kris's phone rang, and she answered it just as she pulled around to the pick-up window. Her mom had called -- and us, being on the wrong side of the telephone, only got half the story.

"I thought you were camping all weekend!" Kris exclaimed, rolling her eyes with a sigh. Her shoulders slumped, and the poor cashier awkwardly held our food and beverages suspended in mid-air as the telephone conversation continued. "WHAT? No, why would I have the CAT!? I'm out with friends for the day!" And the chattering continued in this fashion, until nothing made any sort of sense. Kris hung up the phone, and finally took our order from the cashier.
"I left my consent sheets on the dining room table mixed in with my job applications, and now everyone's coming home early from camping to find them," she said. The car was silent as we tried to determine what the actual heck she was talking about. We were still stuck on the fact that her parents were home early, and had thought Kris the sort to leave with cat-in-arms on a weekend adventure. It was Pagan Pride Day, after all -- but come on now.

My cellphone GPS beeped every time Kris went even half a mph over the speed limit. As we were nearing the "motorway," -- as the British-sounding computer-generated voice liked to proclaim -- the speed limit changed to a much higher number -- and the GPS didn't realize this until much later. We contented with a loud, judgmental beeping -- wrong as it was to judge poor Kris, magnet of chaos.

It was only at the gas station bathroom down the road from PPD that Candi realized that our saga might just have a pretty funny title. We were given the "Bathroom Stick" by the station attendant, and on this piece of splintery plywood, a ring of keys that unlocked the bathroom, flew like a flag. Kris left the stick on the bathroom sink -- "DON'T LET THE DOOR CLOSE!" she announced -- "I HAVE LEFT THE STICK ON THE SINK. Let's not lock it in there." And of course, the door slowly began to shut as we all scrambled to get there first and keep it open. When all was said and done, it was Candi that said "See? THIS is what happens when Lokeans take a car trip!" and the realization was greeted with hysterical laughter. Yes -- this was the truth.

So the point of this pointless post? Acceptance of chaos does not always or necessarily mean that Loki himself is causing very minor things to happen. Our theory, all of us on that car trip, might be that in our acceptance of chaos, and in the honoring of the Deity that chose us, we can find not only humor, but lessons in even the hardest bout of unfortunate or awkward events. What did any of this teach us? To trust the process. We got to PPD at the time we wanted, and had a wonderful time -- all the while trying not to get lost, take cats with us, forget our paperwork...ect, ect... Probably these were lessons in not being married to a specific, rigid plan. To go with the flow. To trust that what happens will happen -- and to embrace that chaos in which full, colorful lives will thrive. So, our common Deity is Loki. Yes, he brings us some wild chaos. No, we absolutely didn't pick him. But in all things -- car trip included -- we can begin to understand what lessons that energy can teach.

Monday, September 9, 2013

On First-Time Marathon Tarot Reading


On Saturday, September 7th, I participated in an event called "Lakerfest," which was a cute, free on-campus activity fair that happened in Cayuga field. Lots of interesting things went on, all for free -- including some kind of raffle. I happened to be one of two tarot readers available to work that day.

I am the apprentice to the owner of The Fey Dragon in Oswego, and so we sort of went as a team. It's a good thing, too -- because we both saw at the very least 50 students a piece line up for tarot readings. Some went back in line to get a reading from the other. It was a little hectic.

But I was warned of this long before the event loomed over the horizon. I was told how much energy would be exchanged, how fast-paced the event would be -- how little time there was to disconnect, recenter, reground and reshield. It got overwhelming fast. I mean -- two days later and I am still exhausted.

I took a single break in four hours worth of ceaseless readings to ground out, drink water and feel the wind. But man, if I didn't feel as though I got ran over by some metaphysical force, than I felt nothing at all. You know that feeling you get when you're about to pass out? The color drains from your face? Or -- better -- that feeling you get in your gut when your phone bleeps because it's only got 1% battery left and you're stuck away from home for a long time still? That is exactly how it feels to do marathon tarot readings. The energy really depletes, and I am finding that it takes a lot to bring it back up. I don't wish to touch another card right yet. Each time I try, my hands shake as though I am lifting something much heavier than a deck of cards. But then again, isn't tarot always much heavier than we realize?

Part of me can still feel a weird sort of exchange happening, like a bit of me remained in the space of the tarot readings and stayed with the people being read. Though I could barely muster the strength to look at some querents in the eye towards the end of my four hour marathon-read -- I found myself recognizing a few students in the hallways today as I wandered to class and work. They looked up too. There was a spark of recognition there between us. Some students turned to their friends, pointing. "That's the fortune teller." Yes, that's one way to put it.

I feel out of space and time when this happens. I feel odd, knowing that they now know me. They have a title for me. Some are weirded out, but most are not. Why? I don't know. One person asked me if I had a degree in fortune telling. I answered that no -- of course not -- but I was working on my Creative Writing Degree. That's close enough, right? And they smiled. I was out of the loop. I've been the weird tarot girl since Freshman Year, but now A LOT of people see me in that light. I am not sure how to react to it. I want to correct them and say "Card reader." or "No, it's Katie. I'm Katie. Hello!" But at the same time, I like the mysticism of the words "Fortune" and "Teller" together in one breath. It's why the word 'sibyl' exists. It's etymology stems from a greek word 'sibylla' which meant 'prophetess.' Much like the word 'vala' and/or 'spækona' in Anglo-Saxon, and similarly, 'völva' in Old Norse. People are all at once in awe, frightened and fascinated by the terminology. They wonder how it is that I can know these things, without realizing that we may just all have the power to know these things.

I come out of this event with new experiences and a bit of a new perspective. I know I need to learn so much more. I know, looking back, that I have come so far since June -- let alone Freshman Year. (I am a pseudo-senior by the way.) I know a pitfall of so much energy being given and not allowing myself time to replenish. I know how fast hours fly while we sleep -- and I know how valuable a good rest is from other experience before just this. It is not enough in the case of this sort of intense work on a metaphysical level. But now I know. For future reference.

Reflecting on this, part of my brain is screaming "NO, I never ever EVER want to do this again!" but the rest of me says, "Well, I know. But we need to. This is our obstacle. This is our challenge." But I have to keep in mind how INTENSE the experience is, and better prepare. Sort out how I feel before hand and make damn sure I get where I need to be in advance of the next marathon read.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hello Oswego

A view of my desk and book case.
On Friday, June 7th, I moved to Oswego, right near campus. This is my first ever apartment, and a lot of responsibility now falls over my shoulders. It has been a really tough journey and still ahead there are more obstacles. I can't see very far down that path yet, but I know what I must do to overcome and make it through this year and the next. But, the point is that I made it here after all that struggle.

I found a job, I got an apprenticeship, and I'm out walking all over the place, making this new town my home. I've been here for college, but it's different when you live on campus. It's different, too, with this newness and uncertainty that is paired with having a place of my own. And my intention is to be as self sufficient as I can as I progress. I know times are tough, and I am privileged beyond belief to even be able to go to college. My hardships are nothing in comparison. But still I feel weird.
That's the whole of it. I feel weird.

I've been trying to put this more eloquently since the week after I arrived here to my new apartment. But I can't. Sometimes the right word isn't always as complicated as I think it needs to be. Now, I've had bills to pay for several years now -- that's nothing new. But the responsibility of rent and utilities? It's very odd to have bills like those with my name on them. It's so strange to truly have my own space too. Granted, my room is very small -- but I have a book case built directly into my wall. It's exactly what I needed! My bed frame is a dresser and a book case as well. I also was given a dresser and had a few tote-like storage drawers to work with too. So space is utilized well, regardless.

Ah -- I digress.
The weird part is, I am doing this all by myself now. I don't have a safety net because I've had to be my own. This is the real deal and very close to "The Real World" my parents have always told me about. I'm still in school, true enough. I'm still in school with a major that isn't valued by the society, true enough -- and that's a post for another day. So where is this real world? When the semester starts, I will be working two jobs, going to school full time, leading the organization that I founded, and working on a tarot apprenticeship. Then there's daily care for the apartment, including cooking all of my own meals. Strange. Weird. Odd.

But the thing is? I know I can do this. A lot of challenges are staring me right in the face, but still. I know without a doubt that I can do this and survive the next two years, no matter how difficult. I have to. It's that simple. I've gotten so far, and I will not give up now. And hey, if this isn't the real world? Well. What doesn't kill ya, right?

Hello Oswego. I'm so glad to be here, and I face the challenges before me with a smile.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mermaids: The Body Found & The New Evidence on Animal Planet

|Credit: [x] [x]|
...were wonderful mockumentaries. I really love the concept behind them and yeah I agree that it’s all about humanity’s impact on the environment and our general inability to coexist.

But if you want to think outside the box a bit — who is to say that co-evolutionary aquatic humanoids couldn’t have ever existed? So we don’t really have proof, but I like the idea — it’s like believing in aliens. We have no “proof” of them but, the universe is large. And they did say something I’ve heard before both of these shows — we know more about the surface of the Moon than we do about the bottom of the ocean.

And on the mythology? Yes. Seafarers forever across many cultures (some of which may not have ever made contact or perpetuated cultural diffusion whatsoever) have stories about half-fish women, sirens, mermaids — the like. Sometimes they’re good — sometimes they’re bad. Again, even these stories kind of warn humanity about their inability to coexist.

I think the important part brought to attention in "The New Evidence" is the fact that governments, despite the fact that there are marine mammals (I'm talking whales) that can be harmed by such work, will still drill for oil regardless of the safety and health of animals in the areas they wish to drill. Again, this is a finger pointing to the state of affairs -- a point in time where we as a species use people and value things, as the saying goes. We use and abuse and pollute our planet. SO IF a new species was even discovered -- would efforts be made to conserve them? Or would the quest for, say, oil -- would that still take center stage?

I, as a writer and a witch, want to believe in actual mermaids -- but this wasn't compelling enough for me to suspend all disbelief. The CGI ... well -- I wish they had better effects artists, to say the least. I understood the whole program and the follow-up as more of self-commentary on humanity than a debunking of mythology. As I scrolled through Tumblr, I kept marking ones that states similar things and said aloud "EXACTLY!"

I think it's perfectly fine, too -- to believe in mermaids and to entertain the theory of co-evolutionary aquatic humanoids. As I stated before, it's like believing in aliens. Anything is possible, and as a witch -- I confirm in my own mind that anything is possible indeed. It depends on worldview and perspective. I don't think this mockumentary was based in tons of hard, cold, science-y research, no. But I think the theory is there. That's the thing about Sci-fi. There are theories, and where science can't make proof appear, writers come in make some up for story's sake. For making new answers to the "what if?"

I’ve been writing a lot of pirate fiction since about mid-semester, and this sort of thing was just the inspiration I needed to create more monster-esque Sirens. I like the idea of these creatures not being able to morph at will between a human form and a "water snake" form, as I have written. I like the idea that they would be purely aquatic and aggressive towards humans -- without magic, but without explanation, too. Monsters to people of a time long past -- say, to the pirates on the Caribbean seas.

I am a writer, at the core of me. So -- I love stories. Simple. So even though these programs had the world in a tizzy, I think the concept of Government’s involvement with ecological matters and how we, as a species in general, have not been careful about existing amongst other life on this planet is a wonderful message. Sometimes it takes a damn good fictional story to make people start to think about more important, underlying themes, though.

More links of note: 

Animal Planet's Page for the show: [x]
Huffington Post's comment: [x]
IMBD Pages: [x] & [x]
NOAA's Bloop Signature: [x]
NOAA's "Are Mermaids Real?" [x]
NOAA [x]
Ocean Conservation Research [x]
Marine Conservation Biology [x]
World Wildlife Fund (Whales) [x]
Fish and Wildlife Conservation [x]