A Lone Libertarian Walks Into a Bar

There’s a social event going on, and she’s excited to be there.  All the people she knows have filled their tables, though, leaving her to find a chair at a table full of strangers.  With strangers, you never know how the conversation will go.  She knows she shares religious and most likely sexual mores with everybody in the room, but politics?  The percentage of Democrats, liberals, and progressives in this crowd probably approaches 99%.  Any conversation could go wrong.

She finds a table, and slowly the conversation builds.  As the subjects trend into dangerous political waters, as they always do, she remembers to keep her mouth shut.  She thinks not twice, but perhaps ten times before offering any comments or asking any questions.  She starts to wish that the dinner and social hour were over already, that it was time for the loud music leaving no audio room for anything more than shouted one-liners that might be only half understood.

Suddenly, one of her companions at the table mentions a familiar name.  “Did you say Walter Williams?” she asks.

“Why yes, I did!”

She holds her breath.  Could it be? Cautiously, she probes further.  “Ludwig von Mises?”

The hoped-for response comes. “Murray Rothbard!”

Both of them grin excitedly now.  The masks are gone, the pretense is dropped, the danger is finally passed.  No more the fear, the anxiety.  They can speak openly now, heedless of the ears around them.  The names come fast and furious–Matt Gillespie, John Stossel, Friedrich Hayek, Walter Block, Ayn Rand, Rose Wilder, Frederic Bastiat, Ron Paul, Geoff Neale, Robert Heinlein, Milton Friedman–as they trade information and find agreement on so many things.

For one brief, shining moment, the Lone Libertarian is alone no more.  She has a companion, a real person who actually shares all of her views.  It is brief, but its impact is lasting, leaving hope for more to come.

Writing Ritual

This past weekend, my husband of twenty years and myself renewed our wedding vows.  Actually, we went a bit beyond renewal.  This was always intended to be the wedding we didn’t feel like we got.  The first time we got married, he was 19 and I was 18.  I had essentially run away from home to live with him in another state, and both of our families were absolutely furious.  Words were said, relationships were irretrievably damaged, and the upshot was that we had a last-minute wedding in Little Rock, where we were living, with very few people in attendance.  One of the things that hurt me the most was my father’s refusal to attend, and I had hoped he would be coming to this one, as he was at least half my reason for having it. (He didn’t.)  Beyond the family drama, though, we ended up getting married in a Presbyterian church using a standard ceremony.  Neither of us attended that church.  We only chose it because I had been baptized a Presbyterian, so we felt comfortable asking for that church.  I had originally had in mind some kind of more special, customized ceremony, or at least writing our own vows.  None of that happened.

So right from the start, we intended to have a do-over on one of our major anniversaries, and this year was it.  We invited everybody we knew a full year in advance.  We booked a hall, I got a dress together, my mom made a new wedding cake and cupcakes…and I wrote the ceremony.  I had some help with the words here and there from my wonderful priests, but the structure, purpose, and refinement was mine.  It ended up going wonderfully.  We were surrounded by twice as many friends as before, we got to say the words we felt in our hearts, we did nothing that felt forced or masking or in any way false.  It was absolutely the wedding we wished we’d had the first time. (And yes, I’ll post pictures as soon as I get finished sending thank-you cards and sorting the photos…one of those 42-odd things on my to-do list!)

Afterwards, I was surprised by how many people came up and told me they’d gotten all weepy during the ceremony.  I didn’t expect that.  I felt pretty self-conscious about writing the ritual up the way I did to begin with, and was a little nervous about showing it off, even though it came from the heart.  It got me to thinking, though.  I’ve written rituals off and on over the years.  I’ve done sabbats and esbats for myself and for my family, and I’ve devised and cast spells for protection, warding, pregnancy and childbirth, all sorts of things.  Out of the rituals and spellwork that I actually think through and plan out, I don’t think I’ve ever had one fall flat the way improvised things have done.

Maybe this is something I could actually be good at.  It’s an idea, and one that will sit in the back of my head for now as I try to clear out my current to-do list of commitments and promises.  It’s not something I ever really considered, though, and it’s kind of interesting to think I might have an unexplored skill budding.  It’s also giving me a little more confidence to leave behind the scripts of others and do more writing of my own.

Imbolc 2014

Although we normally celebrate Imbolc on the second of February, today is when all the rituals in the area where scheduled.  A nice, clear Saturday afternoon, with everybody free of other obligations.

Except on Hoth, where snow thwarts all plans.  The weather advisories started coming out on Thursday.  Friday afternoon saw Brenden’s wrestling tournament cancelled.  By Friday evening, the advisories had started warning of ice in addition to the snow.  At that point, my own church cancelled our planned Imbolc ritual, and the other main public circle in the area offered for folks to be included in absentia in their working to cut down on driving.

It’s gotten so bad that the local high school teachers have started saying they’ll have their tests on such-and-such day, “or whenever we have school next.”  Every night, Brenden asks about school before going to bed, and I’ve started waking up automatically at 5 or 6 in the morning to brace myself for that morning phone call and text message that school is cancelled.  I think school was open less than half the usual number of days for January.  Even Brian’s office told employees to work from home for the first time in the ten years we’ve been up here.  We’re in the middle of the current snowstorm as I write this.  We’re forecast to get another 12 inches or so next Tuesday, and there is even more snow coming next Friday or Saturday, just in time to mess with our re-wedding plans.

And in the midst of all this ice and snow and cold and shoveling and frozen toes and spiking energy prices comes Imbolc.  Imbolc started out as an agricultural celebration of the time when goats and sheep would begin lactating in preparation for the spring births.  In our modern Wiccan calendar, Imbolc is the day when we are reminded to look around us and see the signs of the coming spring amidst the worst of winter.  While the snow is blowing and the temperature is still dropping, we can see the days getting longer and know that the strengthening sun will soon melt our worries away.  It is a time to light our own candles and fires to symbolically lend our strength to the sun and warm the Mother Earth while she waits. It is a time to begin planting seeds indoors (or snow-sowing!) in anticipation of the time when we will be able to plant the seedlings in our gardens.  It is a time to think about what sort of year we want this to be, what next things we want to learn and create, how we want to grow, what goals we want to accomplish.

Today I sowed my first ever winter seeds1557453_10152588250129745_1657341247_n and placed the little greenhouse on our defunct hot tub.  The snow already covering everything makes getting a level surface a little tricky, so I expect to keep a close eye on its tilt until it is firmly resting on the flat cover.  Also today, I continued working with the new task website I found, getting more things accomplished in less time than I can remember doing in years.  Sometimes a change in tactics or focus is all we need to move forward!  Tomorrow, I’ll make cinnamon rolls, the spiral of the dough symbolizing the spirals of the Goddess and the year.  I’ll take up sewing again this weekend, starting with my wedding dress.  All in all, truly a time of new beginnings in our house!

A happy and blessed Imbolc to all, and may all find warmth and peace this season!

Yuletide

20131221 Yule altarToday is Yule, the Winter Solstice, shortest day and longest night of the year.  I just finished lighting our Yule candle, which will stay lit until sunrise while we keep vigil through the darkness.  Tonight, we will feast and make merry, drumming up happiness and joy to banish the darkness and sadness that surrounds us.  We celebrate life and love, friends and family, and come the dawn we will welcome the rise of the newborn sun with open arms, symbol of life, death, and rebirth, all in one.  For tonight is darkness’ last stand for the year.  Tomorrow the light will reclaim its power to push back the shadows, and daylight and joy will come back into our lives one minute at a time.

There are always rituals planned for Yule, formal circles with friends.  This year, our church elected to cancel our planned ritual in order to combine circles with Chris’ circle for a candlelight ritual in honer of her and Isaac.  An ice storm has interfered with our plans to join them today.  Both my regular church location and the one we were heading to today are more than an hour away, today’s location being down some smaller back roads.  Yule is probably the one Sabbat we have missed the most often since joining Crossroads.  It’s just too far for us to drive the bus in bad weather, especially when we have to leave the main roads and highways.

So instead I have made our own altar to go along with our Yule candle, calling in the elements and consecrating the area for the night.  Our vigil will be our ritual, as we celebrate light and laugh in the face of darkness, death, and despair.  For even the darkest hours must come to an end as the wheel of life turns, and we must remember that all souls will one day be reborn, even those who seem to have been taken before their due time.  Our home will be open tonight to all who dare to brave the weather to join our celebrations, and food and drink will be offered to all.

A Blessed Solstice and Merry Yuletide to all this December night.  Merry meet, merry part, and merry shall we meet again, living and dead.  So mote it be.

DNR

An article over at the New York Post on end-of-life care caught my attention this morning.  You really have to read through the whole thing to get the full impact of it.  The issues raised here resonate with me, in both my experiences and my beliefs.

There was a time when I would have told anybody to do anything necessary to keep me alive.  I think we all do at same point, as we go through that phase of feeling immortal.  I even left that instruction behind, along with others, the last time I went in for surgery.  I would not say that any longer.

Back in 2007, my grandmother died.  Her last years were spent in a flurry of progressively invasive medical care as one body system after another failed.  I thought for several years that she would die any time, and I would expect to get that phone call saying, “Your grandmother is dead. She died in her sleep.”  Instead, I would hear that grandma had a heart attack, spent time in the hospital, got more drugs, and went home.  Now grandma is in congestive heart failure, she had another hospital stay and got some different drugs.  Now her kidneys are failing, so she needs dialysis and more drugs.  She had strokes, mini-strokes, illnesses that turned severe.  It was one thing after another, and I’m glad that I was out of state at the time and couldn’t see her regularly.  The thought of my feisty, crafty, Betty Boop-loving, gumbo-cooking grandmother reduced to that state of living past her body’s time limit makes me very sad.

At one point, Grandma got so sick with what I think was a respiratory infection that she ended up in the ICU on a ventilator, and the doctors weren’t sure she would make it.  She did make it that time, but as soon as they extubated her, she said, “Don’t you ever do that to me again!”  (I wasn’t there, only hearing about it second-hand, but I can just see her face and hear her tone of voice when she did it…Grandma was PISSED!) I talked with my mother about letting her go, about letting her die peacefully instead of trying to fight it so hard.  It wasn’t our decision though, and I have to accept that my grandfather was not about to let go of one second with his beloved that could be gained by intervention.

I have other stories I could tell.  I could speak of the things I saw done to my mother when she was in Critical Care during her chemotherapy treatments, the indignities she suffered, the way every doctor seemed hell-bent on treating her as a statistic in their own subspecialty instead of as a whole woman with integrated body systems, the way it was so hard for me to get the information I needed to make decisions for her when she was incapable.  I could speak of the stories told by my friend Angel back in Texas about his experience with cancer in his teens, what it felt like to be resuscitated by paddles after cardiac arrest, how he never again wanted to be saved or rescued or placed in intensive care.

Ultimately, though, the stories will never be enough.  All of this comes down to our attitude toward death as a culture.  We have removed ourselves from death, banished Her from our perceptions thoroughly.  We mourn and cry at the deaths of those who have lived full lives and died at their due time, as if death does not come for us all in the end.  Death is never natural anymore; it always has a cause, and that cause is always preventable.  No death is ever acceptable.  We live in a padded-room society swaddled in rules, regulations, safety precautions, and securities, determined that life-everlasting must be possible if only we do all the right things.  Then, even after we die, we embalm, we entomb, we fill the bodies with chemicals and then enclose them in expensive, waterproof concrete grave liners, maybe even steel-lined graves, in the expectation that at least the body will never rot even after the spirit has left.

I may not be the gothiest goth you ever met, but I have regarded myself as goth for a long time for one simple reason: I accept and embrace death and the darker things in life.  I wish that society could come just a little over to the dark side with me, enough to bring balance back into our culture.  I’ll grant you your padded-room life if you want it, as long as you don’t impose it on me and my family.  In return, I’d like to have some respect for the end of life, the expected end we all face.  I still want to rage against Chris’ death and expect to spend a long, long time still coming to terms with it.  But I want grandparents to die at home, in their beds, surrounded by family, not in hospital filled with tubes surrounded by medical professionals and beeps and lights.  I want it to be easier for a terminal patient to say, “Enough!” and stop treatment, going home to die or even choosing to hasten death on their own terms.

And when old people die, I want to celebrate their lives and share memories with those still alive, not be expected to cry and mourn over something that is a perfectly natural part of life.

My mother told me that she wants me to scatter her ashes from the top of the Mt. Crested Butte ski lift when she dies.  I like that idea.  Myself, I think I want a green burial somewhere quiet and peaceful, or maybe an illicit burial in my kids’ backyard with a tree planted on top (then I can be a vicious libertarian rule-breaker even in my death!).  I plan to celebrate all the wonderful parts of my mother’s life when she leaves us for good, and I hope somebody throws one helluva wild party when I go.  No crying allowed.

Know Thyself, Redux

I got a prompting to re-examine myself in the light of recent events.  Specifically things surrounding Chris, but also things having to do with Kender and my religious community.  I need to take a step back, take a breath, and reconsider who I am in relation to promises and commitments I want to make.  I need to gather myself and focus on living true to myself and where I want to be.  Do I want to be Chris? No, I merely see things in her that I admire and would like to emulate.  Am I a religious leader? No, I don’t think so, but I do have a place there.

I am that one on the edges, the one who flirts with many paths, the one who takes unconventional steps toward my goals.  I am the one who yearns to learn and hungers to share my knowledge with others, to open their eyes to possibilities they might not have considered or realized were there.  Part of me longs to be just a molecule of water flowing along the river with everybody else, but part of me knows that I am also the rock in the middle of the water, breaking the flow, creating a hazard to travel, making waves, the thing that others watch out for.

Do you want to know why I hardly ever send out thank you notes for anything?  When I was younger, it wasn’t that I was ungrateful.  I just forgot, and forgot, and forgot, and then I was too embarrassed to do it when I finally remembered.  Over the years, that became the grand theme of it: too embarrassed to send thank you cards this year when I forgot all the years before.  My brain turns that into a general disregard for commercial cards and formal things, but there’s the root of it.  I’m just embarrassed of being a loser at the game of social niceties. But I’m not ungrateful.

Do you want to know why you hardly ever see me donating to charity or doing volunteer work?  Because I don’t like to be seen.  I’m afraid of being noticed.  I don’t know why.  There’s nothing to be embarrassed about there, but that’s how I feel.  I’m the one who wants to sneak an offering into a donation box when nobody is looking, rather than put it openly in the plate as it’s passed.  I’m the one who sends cash in unmarked envelopes.  I’m the one who leaves things on porches and hopes they’re found.  I drop things off without leaving my name.  I make anonymous tips.  I don’t sign my donations.  I don’t want to be noticed.  I’m just more comfortable in the shadows and on the edges, but I am always there for a friend.

As of this writing, my first post about Chris’ death has gotten 945 hits.  That number blows my mind.  I never expected it to circulate that far.  It was just me talking to my own quiet little corner of the net, thinking I was still hiding in the shadows, and suddenly a searchlight lit me up.  I think my consciously not posting everything here to Facebook since then may have been a reaction to that, my own way of slinking back into the shadows.

I want to live in harmony with the earth, self-sufficient as much as possible.  This is a genuine desire, rooted in myself, one that has been there for a very, very long time.  It is a desire that I saw reflected in Chris, and I saw her take steps toward it that I had not, and I want to move along down that path that she took before me.

I want to do more for and with my kids, and I don’t want it to be about buying them things.  Again, I saw that reflected in Chris, and she took steps that I haven’t yet.

I want to continue my personal growth journey through my religion and my faith because I want to find my happy place.  I want to find out how to stand on that piling no matter what birds shit on my head, no matter what ferry slams into me while docking, no matter what hurricane tries to blow me down.  I want to find that place in myself where I can know myself and be confident in that, and act from it.

Socially Acceptable Venting

I’ve been having a pretty tough day today with Kender. I’m taking advantage of the few brief moments here and there when he is silently pouting to type this out.  I need to get this out, even (or maybe especially!) on a bad day like today, because sometimes I feel like I have no voice.

We have made and still make a lot of alternative choices in our lifestyle and our parenting.  We chose to have children with a disabled parent.  I used medications to reset my hormones and restore my fertility instead of continuing to use fertility drugs.  We chose out-of-hospital births. We chose breastfeeding and cosleeping, cloth diapers and rags.  We chose to use convertible carseats  from the beginning instead of carriers, and slings instead of carriers and strollers much of the time.  We chose natural medicine as much as possible, with personalized vaccination schedules and avoidance of antibiotics.  We chose to homeschool, even when we found out our children had disabilities.

Every single one of those choices is outside of the mainstream, and so whenever we are having trouble with pretty much anything, those are the first things that people suggest we change.

It doesn’t seem to matter if the problem would even be fixed by the solution suggested.  To people who do not share our choices, our choices are the problem.

It reminds me of the problems that fat people face when going to the doctor.  No matter what their health complaint is, they are told the answer is losing weight.  I’ve been told this myself.  I’ve been told that I should lose weight in order to fix a medical problem that causes weight gain…now there’s an infinite loop for you!  Other people have been told to lose weight to fix anything from strep throat to broken bones.

If Kender were in the government school system, it would be completely acceptable for me to complain about the IEP process, about the school refusing to teach him Braille or to use a cane, about how many medications he needs in order to be nice and quiet and compliant, about how getting the schools to actually provide him with an education is a full-time job.  When we homeschool, though, we’re not allowed to complain about how expensive Braille materials are, or how difficult it is to contain him, or about being tired, or anything else.  No matter what my difficulty is, to some people the answer is that he should be in school.  As if somehow that would make all the problems go away, rather than magnifying them or replacing them with an entirely different set of unsolveable problems.

When our lifestyle choices are questioned, there is no consideration for our individual concerns.  There is no consideration for where we live, our past experiences with the establishment, our goals in life, our children’s unique needs.  Everything comes down to, “You are different, and you do not deserve any sympathy or help until you conform and become like everybody else.”  Every problem is reduced to some choice that we’ve made that is obviously the source of all our problems.

Fat and sick? You must become the socially-acceptable Not Fat before you can be treated for your health problem.

Libertarian and lost your job? You are not worthy of charity if you do not support government programs.

Homeschooling a disabled child? The only possible solution is government school.

Trying to find out what makes your child tick instead of medicating him? Sorry, does not compute.

Dealing with a difficult situation and have no support system? You need to change your religion so you can go to church and get help.

Do people who respond this way have any idea of how demoralizing it is to be told these things? How dehumanizing and impersonal it feels to be told that you, your personality, your preferences, your life, your SELF are the source of all your problems?

It’s no wonder that some of us draw into ourselves, that we withdraw from online message boards and real life support groups.  When every time we reach out, we are slapped in the face, eventually we are going to stop reaching.

Youth Groups

Last night, all three of the triplets were out of the house.  Brenden has gone on a weekend-long retreat with his best friend’s church’s youth group, and the girls were invited to another church’s lock-in.  It’s amazing to realize that they are at that age.

I remember being 14.  I remember 9th and 10th grade.  And I remember doing things with church youth groups, even though my family were not regular church attendees at that time.  I remember going to holiday events with friends.  I went caroling with the Mormons with a guy in my class, I went to a Halloween trunk-or-treat (probably one of the first of its kind, back then) at a fundamentalist church with my best friend, I even went to a couple of youth Bible study groups at another fundamentalist church with a guy from my programming team.  I remember how disconcerting it was to encounter so many of my classmates in these completely different environments, and to realize that these environments were home to them, although foreign to me.

The best youth group memories I have come from a trip I took around the state with the Crestview Baptist Church youth choir.  I first joined up with that group because of my friend Dawn, but it turned out I knew quite a few people there, even a boyfriend.  Of course I’m a sucker for anything that involves musical performance, and since they accepted me, I was in all the way.  In the summer of 1990, I think it was, the choir went on tour around the state of Texas, and I went with them.  We were gone for quite a while, traveling in a van-bus quite similar to my current family car, pulling a trailer behind for luggage and sound equipment.  We went all over the state, singing in churches and staying usually with host families.  I remember the family that had a hot-tub they let us get in.  I remember splitting up to go to our host homes at night, and reuniting with the rest of the choir at the church the next morning.  I remember making out with Doug in the back bench of the bus, hoping the choir director wasn’t looking in the rearview mirror right then.  I remember listening to Ray Lynch and Kitaro on my walkman while reading on somebody’s porch futon before going to sleep for the night.

I especially remember when we made it to Amarillo.  In Amarillo, we were meeting up with the First Baptist Church there, if memory serves, a typical Southern Baptist mega-church for the time.  For that stop, we stayed at a camp-meeting ground outside town, in a big building with boys and girls dormitories and bunk beds, a piano out in the main room that I would play sometimes, a typical Texas view outside that went on forever, or so it seemed.  In order to get to the camp, we had to drive past a stockyard, and the smell was absolutely terrible, even with the windows rolled up and the air vents closed.  The first time we drove past that stench, the other Doug in the front seat thought he needed some fresh air, and he rolled down the window!!! We never let him forget that mistake.  I remember that First Baptist of Amarillo had their own rec center, complete with cafe, basketball, swimming, even roller skating, and we got to hang out there with the local youth group for a few hours in the evening.

Now that my own children are getting old enough to be involved in these things, I wonder how my mother felt about me taking off like that with a church I’m not sure she ever even visited more than once, with people she really didn’t know.  I have a little trepidation about that myself, but I keep it to a low buzz because I know that these groups are generally safe, and I actually do know many adults in the churches even if I never attend.  I have a little more trepidation about them always being Christian churches and Christian youth groups.  When I did my time in youth groups, I had not yet found my religion.  My girls have, and Brenden at least has been raised in it, and I do worry about them being confronted in these environments about their beliefs the way they have unfortunately been confronted by even close friends in their own homes.  So far, though, there has been no conflict.  As I recall, these youth groups are more about providing a safe, wholesome outlet for socializing and having fun, rather than about proselytizing to outsiders, so I don’t truly expect much conflict. I can wish there were a pagan youth group that my children could participate in, but if wishes were wings, pigs would fly.  There just isn’t enough organization among pagans to provide that yet.  We would need the same kind of support these Christian groups have, with their own church buildings and large congregations.

I wonder what kinds of memories my children will make as they move through these groups.  It’s a step toward them moving out, really, a real chunk of them making memories and having experiences away from me and Brian, outside of the home.  It’s a step toward them establishing their identities apart from us.  I look forward to them doing more, and I look forward to someday hearing the stories they have to share, the memories that stick with them for years or even decades.

Cultural Appropriation

I’ve been hearing a lot this year about this thing called cultural appropriation.  Things that I have heard fall under this label include Westerners practicing yoga poses, anybody north of the border celebrating Dia de los Muertos without authentic hispanic lineage, people who work with gods or religions that don’t match their racial heritage, people wearing clothing or fashions that don’t match their racial heritage.

I see a theme here: people doing things that don’t match their racial heritage.

You may say, “Oh, but I don’t mean race! I mean culture!”  As far as I can tell, it’s the same thing.  And it’s really starting to annoy me.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so they say.  There are beautiful things in every culture, every religion, every part of the world.  Adopting a style of dress, a style of hair, even beautiful writing, when this is done out of a love of and fascination with the item, it is a good thing.  So what if that character or kanji is just some word in another language? The writing is beautiful, and the tattoo brings enjoyment to its wearer.  So what if that headscarf comes from a religious culture that many see as oppressive to women? It can serve a functional purpose and it can be beautiful as well.

There is a distinct difference between imitation or enjoyment and ridicule.  There is a difference between adopting a practice you admire and making fun of somebody for doing things differently.  I think most people doing yoga poses and routines see strength and flexibility as qualities they admire, and yoga as a means of improving those qualities.  The fact that they are not practicing the spiritual aspects that originally went along with the physical ones doesn’t detract from those goals, nor does it take anything away from those who do practice the spiritual side.  Most people wearing moccasins see a comfortable and functional pair of shoes that they want to wear.  They do not need to have Native American heritage to wear these articles of clothing and derive enjoyment and satisfaction from them, nor does that casual wearing take anything away from those who see moccasins as part of their cultural costume.

There is also a difference between cosplay and ridicule.  One of the things that bothered me this fall was the constant barrage of messages saying don’t dress up like this, that costume is racist, this costume is racist, etc.  The definition of racism is, “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” There is a difference between wanting to dress up like a Disney princess and thinking that Native Americans are an inferior race.  There is a difference between using costumes to portray a sad or scary event, like the murder of Treyvon Martin, and approving of that event.  (Because seriously, do you think all the little vampires also running around town really approve of drinking blood and killing and wish it would happen more often?)  Most people who dress up as Marvel-Thor have no interest in mocking heathens; they just see a fictional character they admire.  If darkening my skin to create the Sea Folk costume I used years ago is racist, so is wearing fake freckles to be Pippi Longstocking, or wigs, or any other change in physical appearance to assume a character…hmmm, kind of negates the whole point of dressing up to me!

Also along the theme of costumes, there is Halloween itself.  Every year, I hear witches and pagans somewhere complaining about all the wicked or ugly or whatever stereotype witch costumes, or even everything surrounding Halloween, calling them inappropriate because “real witches” don’t match the fictional stereotype that’s been used for the last hundred years in movies and theater and books (where are the people protesting the Oz franchises?), and because Samhain is a sacred holiday.  Whatever.  Little kids going around and trick-or-treating doesn’t bother me.  It doesn’t take anything away from my enjoyment of Samhain as a day for the dead and thinning the veil.  Those kids don’t have to have any knowledge of history, comparative religion, or anything else to enjoy their holiday and their candy and their cosplay and their fun with friends and neighbors.  That green-faced witch isn’t real, she’s a character from a book.

If nobody ever used anything that belonged originally to somebody else, things would never change.  And things always change.  Change comes, evolution happens not just physically over eons, but culturally over decades, or even faster.  My whole religion was derived from cultural appropriation, things taken from this tradition and that religion and this tribal custom and that family legend, all of it pulled together into something completely new.  Does that invalidate all of modern Wicca?  To me, it is a beautiful thing, that all these elements were able to come together and create a new whole that provides meaning and satisfaction for hundreds of thousands of people around the world today.

There is no such thing as a pure culture, one that has never borrowed anything from anybody else.  Every religion, every culture around the world has elements that originally belonged to another tribe, another set of practices.  Every time two tribes come together, commerce occurs not just in goods, but in people, ideas, fashion, gods, every aspect of life.  That blending and mixing eventually creates something new, when then will blend and mix with the next thing it encounters.  All of this is wonderful, and I never want to see it stop.

Dreams

I wanted to share my dream diary today because it was such a long series of strong images that stuck in my mind after waking up.  Before reading on, note that I watched Alphas last night before bed, along with reading Analog, and some of that most likely crept its way in here.  The Alphas show was about a drug that made the body indestructible.  Stories in Analog talked of nanobugs that would do the same.  One story combined nanobugs and digging for fossils.

I remember a building with elevators that were different and exciting.  Instead of going straight all the way up and down, the elevators would only go two floors at a time, and they did that really fast.  So going down from a tall building, it would be like riding a roller coaster.  You’d get in a whoosh down to the next floor, then wait for another elevator to open and whoosh to the next floor, until you got where you were going. I was riding these with one of my daughters in a big office building, and nobody else seemed to care about the cool new elevators. I think it might have been a medical office building.  I was trying to do some business there, but they wouldn’t let me or weren’t interested.
I left the office building and went to a park with the kids.  It was a wooded park with cedar trees and a circular amphitheater with wooden benches, like a park in Texas. There were cacti in box planters scattered along the benches.  The place was fairly abandoned, with the benches popping boards and belongings scattered everywhere.  I remembered coming there with my kids and another family of friends when they were younger. I found coats and toys, and everything I found was something we had had before and lost.  I started fixing the place up, dreaming of having people visit it again for nature talks or something. I was replacing boards, nailing down nails, driving large bolts that were sticking up out of the ground back into it so they wouldn’t hurt anybody. I realized that the ground was sandy, and in the middle of the circles was a sand pit with a few sand diggers buried so only bits peeked out.  I started pulling them out and uncovering them, like digging for fossils.  Every time I unearthed something, I would see some more peeking behind.  I started uncovering toys, not just sand toys, but other toys that looked like they’d been buried.  Again, everything was something that I recognized as having belonged to us before.
I started gathering things and going through the coats and clothing we’d found, and somehow there was a baby that we’d found. The baby was tiny, a premature baby with translucent skin and barely formed features.  I don’t know if it was a boy or a girl, because I remember how the clitoris would stick out at that age and almost look like a penis.  The baby was wrapped in a white cloth and may have been crying.  I thought of offering it a breast, even though I was dried up, maybe the baby would be able to coax new milk to come out. I needed to get the baby a diaper, and somehow I found one to fit it in my supplies. As I opened its coverings to change it, it pooped, a lot, newborn poop. I had to go find a rag somewhere to wipe it up, and I couldn’t find anything.  The baby was laying on the ground, and a young Liam almost stepped on it.  Suddenly we were indoors, because I needed a paper towel.  I needed something I could get wet and wipe the baby with.  I found diaper wipes somewhere, leftover from Kender I guess. I wiped up the baby and gave it a new diaper and went to wrap up the old one, but somehow the baby was still in the old diaper and I accidentally folded it up with the diaper. I opened up the diaper to rescue the baby, and folded the baby up in the new diaper and the white cloth with its head sticking out. I cradled the baby and remembered that I needed to keep it warm, so I kept it close to me, in my arms.
Next thing I remember, I was in a doctor’s office reading lab reports. I’d been involved in some kind of experimental treatments with this doctor, and they were running reports on how I was doing. The labs showed that I had a high level of some linalool compound, and that the baby was mine, and its condition was related to the drugs, and I must never take those drugs again for the rest of my life.  Then the report started to descend into gibberish, reading like rap lyrics or like it was written in ebonics or something, and then it got so I couldn’t understand it at all. I was trying to read it to Brian, and we were cracking up because it sounded so awful. I asked the office staff if I could please see the doctor himself so he could explain the results.  The doctor came, then said we needed to wait, pulled back a curtain to check on something, and left. The curtain revealed another room behind mine, where there were three bodies lying on stretchers and covered with sheets of wax paper.  One by one, their eyes opened, they sat up, removed the paper, and starting getting up and getting dressed, laughing and talking the whole time until they were gone.  I don’t remember this as scary, I just was bewildered.  The doctor came back and reminded me that the baby was mine, but because it was premature they wouldn’t help care for it, I was on my own. I started thinking of miracle preemies before the NICU era who survived in shoeboxes next to the fire, or being skin-to-skin, and I started trying to figure out how I was going to save this baby, who somehow seemed to be getting smaller all the time.  My belly started hurting, and we went to leave, and I found I was in the same office building I’d been in earlier, with the strange new elevators.  The parking lot of the building was turning into a campground, with the park and amphitheater across the way, and my mother was coming in with somebody else driving her trailer for her. Brian was saying we needed to deck out the van like some of the other RVs, and I said we just needed to get a trailer of our own if we wanted that. My mom asked about how the doctor visit went, and how long I’d been hurting, and I realized I’d been hurting since we were in the doctor’s office, and I wondered if I were having an ectopic pregnancy in addition to the strange preemie child.
After I woke up to see Brenden off to school, I laid back down and had even more strong dreams.  Images of being at a camping function and getting caught out in the rain with Brian, multiple times.  Having dinner at a friend’s house with guests I didn’t know, eating fancy food at a fancy table when I just wanted to put my feet up and eat with my fingers.
All of these images are still stuck in my head, hours later, making me wonder what on earth my brain has been up to.