The Viking Invasion of the Buffet Line

It started out simply enough.  Closing ritual for ConVocation was over, Sarenth had planned to do a rune reading for me, all our other friends started making plans to eat lunch out and invited us along.  It sounded great, and we figured we’d just do the runecasting in the restaurant after eating and getting more grounded.  (Because nobody’s going to notice anything strange about that…but anyway…)

Bear in mind that, leading up to this, I had been getting poked all weekend.  My stomach picked that weekend to really and truly pop an ulcer and cause constant pain and gas and panic attack feelings.  Workshop meditations got interrupted.  My High Priestess recommended a teacher to me (“You’ve just got to go to one of her workshops, even if you miss mine!”) who then opened her workshop with, essentially, a blind joke.  I kept leaving my badge and other things up in my room.  Cigarettes got broken.  Beer and wine got spilled constantly, even though I wasn’t drunk (sometimes before I had a single drink!).  By Saturday evening, I had started intentionally just spilling my drinks a bit on the table before I drank them, so I could get it over with.

The plan on Sunday was to go to a buffet that I had never heard of.  Our friend said it had Chinese food and Mexican food, and it was huge.  She gave me directions, but I really don’t function well on directions given to me orally in a strange town when I can’t even point to the hotel I’m staying in on a map (I just follow my GPS to get there!). I couldn’t even spell the name of the place from what they were saying, so finally I got her to spell it out so I could punch it into my phone’s GPS.  It pulled up a result right away, I showed it to her, and she said, “Yes, that’s it!”  Sarenth asked to ride with me, since I had the GPS and he was also unsure of the area.  Everybody scattered, the others leaving directly for the restaurant, Sarenth and me and the girls to pack up his drums first.

The first thing we noticed leaving the hotel was the roads.  Absolutely horrible, terrible, awful, I have never in my life seen roads that bad.  There weren’t potholes, there were bloody SINKHOLES.  There was one place where it was supposed to be a two-lane ramp from one road to the next.  The entire width of the road was just nothing but craters, leaving nothing to be seen of the stripes on the road.  The cars in front of us were single-file and meandering all over the road, trying (and failing!) to find a truly safe path through.  The truck immediately in front of us was towing an empty trailer that bounced several feet off the ground no matter how slowly he went.  When it came to be our turn, we slowly swerved from one side of the road to the other as I tried to navigate the minefield.  I saw a little red sports car come up behind us, obviously thinking we were just slow and he was going to go around.  Then we saw the Gap Chasm looming ahead of us, stretching from one side of the road to the other. Upon seeing it I wondered briefly whether turning around and giving up was a possibility.  I eased into it, and the car actually stopped and needed to be gunned a bit to get each set of wheels over and beyond.

I didn’t see what became of the poor sports car.

About this time, we noticed that the estimated time to get to our destination was showing 30 minutes.  This seemed a bit much for something that was supposed to be “right up the road,” so we tried texting our friends to double-check the destination.  They never responded, and so we headed onward, over potholes that threatened the tires and slippery ice patches that tried to throw us off the road, reminiscing the day and weekend at Con.  When we finally got there, Sarenth went on in to find the table everybody else was at while I paid for myself and the girls.  As I was signing the receipt that committed us to that restaurant, with a line building behind me, we figured out the news.

We were at the wrong restaurant.

Apparently this buffet that neither of us had ever heard of was a chain with half a dozen restaurants scattered throughout the greater Detroit area.  Everybody else had gone to one that was, indeed, right up the road from the hotel…in the opposite direction.

We were hungry, and we were obviously never going to get to the other restaurant before everybody else left, so we decided to cut our losses and just eat where we were.  Perhaps it was that decision, that realization that our lunchtime fate was irretrievably diverted because we were too stupid to find a restaurant, that unleashed the floodgates of hilarity.  Whatever it was, the laughter started pouring out, louder and greater the longer we ate.  We laughed over how much meat to put on our grill plates, and how confused the grill chef was at our requests. We laughed at the girls knocking their chairs over and Caitlin getting blue teeth from the Superman ice cream. We toasted our gods and laughed at how incredibly silly the whole thing was.

The whole time we were laughing out loud and eating plates piled with meat, we were surrounded by a packed restaurant full of very nice Detroit families who looked like they were on their way to or from church, with nice dresses and hairdos and suits and ties.  The place was full and getting fuller.  There was a line out the door by the time we left.  As we were leaving, I started to notice that we were getting some strange stares.  And when we finally got out the door and back into the sunlight, the last straw hit me.

We had gone out the in door.  Quite clearly marked, the out door was separated from the in door and line by a long wall.  We had marched past that entire in-line, laughing and giggling, obviously going out the in door.  I could just see the thoughts going through their heads: “What on earth is wrong with those crazy white people?????”  And if they were looking at us funny for just laughing and doing silly things…how big would their eyes have been had we gone ahead with the runecasting there in the restaurant?!?!?!

We lost it.  Just completely lost it.  We were already laughing so hard we could barely breathe as we got into the car.  As we pulled out, I noticed that two guys had followed us out and were still staring at us from their car in the next space over, and the laughter intensified again.  It was all “Hail Loki!” as we got back on the highway for the hotel, with me laughing so damn hard I probably should have pulled over.  We wondered what it would look like if we did get pulled over, and started laughing all over again.  Even having three different cars at three different times try to sideswipe us didn’t stop the laughter.  We didn’t stop laughing until we got to the Sinkhole Slums near the hotel.

It just fit in with the rest of my weekend, and poor Sarenth got to come along for the ride!  The Viking Invasion will live on, in our personal history books at least.  What a way to wrap up Con!

Another Con Is Over

I am the one outside the circle, keeping the rhythm for the dancers.  I am the one wandering around the dance floor, never quite joining in.  I am the one laughing out loud where others do no more than whisper.  I am the one who will listen and comment without quite joining in.  I am the singer, the reveler, and I may appear alone, but grab me without my permission and there will be consequences.  Come and join me, though, and we’ll have a grand old time.

It’s that time of year again.  Time for another swift kick in the arse from my god.  Time to go back to the real world with all the knowledge gained at Con, to leave one set of friends and head back to another.  I’m too tired to say more tonight, other than that it was a wonderful weekend.  Don’t let me forget to write about the Viking invasion of the buffet line, though; it was epic!  Also, I picked up some great artwork that I just can’t share online.  You’ll have to ask for it in person.

Gender Nonconforming

It’s odd that it took a Facebook update for me to find this one.  I was scrolling through lists of the available options in the new “custom” gender box when I saw it.  Gender Nonconforming.  Well, what the heck is that, I thought?  Once I went and looked it up, I realized that once again I had discovered a label for myself that I didn’t even know existed, yet which somehow fills a void.

A little background for those still learning about these terms, from my understanding of them:  Sex is the biological and/or physical sex of a person.  Genitalia and genetics are the determining factors here. Gender is more of a social construct, and encompasses how a person thinks of themselves and how they express themselves to others.  A person can have one physical sex but feel they have a different gender, making them transgendered.

Facebook’s new gender options are much bigger than this, of course.  They include terms like cisgendered, where a person’s internal gender matches their physical sex, intersex for those who feel in between or whose bodies are not clearly defined, androgynous and agender for those who feel their internal gender is not clearly defined, and many more.  I’ve been hearing and learning about these terms for years, but I imagine the influx of options might be confusing to some.

Then there’s me.  My sex is female, from my head to my toes.  My gender is also female.  I love being a woman, physically.  I feel at home in my body, with all its luscious curves, and I revel in its sexuality and power.  I have loved the ability to give birth and nurse my babies, and I wish I could do it more.  There is no dysphoria here whatsoever.

Social expectations are another matter entirely.  I have felt disjointed and disconnected from other women since I was a teenager, maybe longer.  I see “American woman” as this thing that I just don’t understand or identify with.  Major plot points in movies and books that revolve around typical female behavior are a source of frustration.  I could offer some pretty superficial examples, such as not getting the concept of name-brand purses and matching shoes, not being interested in painful clothing and footwear for the sake of fashion (or, really, the whole concept of “fashionable”).  It goes beyond that, though.  It gets into the way I feel more comfortable around boys and men, in general, than I do around women.  The way I would prefer to build visible muscles than try to sculpt away visible fat.  The way I feel more comfortable in a frakking topless bar than I do at a Tupperware party.  The way I am more likely to identify with butch and tomboy characters in film and literature than the femme ones.  The way all-female groups tend to violently reject me, as though I am some kind of infectious virus in their midst.

I’ve toyed with the idea of identifying as butch in the past, but ultimately I don’t think that’s where I belong, either.  I have too much swish.  I love long hair and softness and long skirts.  I may prefer using pockets to a purse, but I’m always thinking of ways to attach those pockets to a skirt instead of relying on jeans.  I may prefer boots or sneakers to heels and ballet slippers, but I tend to pair them with skirts and tunics and ruffles.  I’m more likely to be submissive than dominant in any given relationship (and boy does that make things interesting when I get paired up with another sub!).

Then along comes this new (to me) term: Nonconforming.  That’s what I’m looking for!  It’s like being handed the term bisexual was when I was 22 years old.  There’s a name for that? Wow!  It gives me a nice little bench to sit on, where I don’t have to be boxed in with anybody I don’t fully identify with.  It gives me a little esteem boost, takes away some of that “I don’t belong anywhere” feeling.  It neatly encapsulates the way I am a female, the way I feel comfortable physically as a woman, but I don’t always feel comfortable with other women.  Nonconforming.

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!