Brave Old World

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Anxiety sucks. It feeds on itself, narrowing my world, driving my social circles smaller and smaller until it’s just me, work, and my beau. Those closest to me get this, and have put up with my fluctuations over the past decade. I haven’t been very good with my limits… and from an outside view it looks like I went from LIFE OF THE PARTY to pleasedon’tlookatme, ican’ttakethescrutiny.

This is why learning my limits and listening to what my body is telling me is a good thing. The swinging motion isn’t going to go away completely. It is a part of me to be madly social, and then need some alone time to process all I’ve taken in. But it’s nice that I am learning to ride the wave, floating down the river all Tao of Pooh like, instead of drowning as I fight the current.

So of course, now that I’m reaching some sort of parity, I have to go and stir up the waters again. Evidently it’s the learning to float that I love even more than the floating.

Time to return to LARPing. (Here’s an explanation for the uninitiated.)  What better way to push my social limits and combine my love of crafting random things? I’ve been out of the game for… 5 years? So, to say I feel rusty is an understatement. But I can return to college after 13 years, I can totally do this.

I mean, I don’t get to wear elf ears for college.

I really do love the elf ears.

You can count on my next posts being about getting over my jitters, defining my character, and best of all… putting together my costume.

I promise to try not to wait 4 months between posts.

And sometimes, I wish I were Catholic.

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It’s been a crazy and sometimes heavy week for me. I’ve got another writing project that is really taking up my creative mojo. So, just to make sure I’m not neglecting my little experiment, I thought I’d drag out something I wrote a couple of years ago that still makes me giggle.

Normally, someone dies… you write about their death… and their life.

I think we all know that I am not normal. So instead, I’m going to write about an obsession of my life, Catholicism.

I was raised in a Free Will Southern Baptist home. My mother was raised Methodist, but that was not something that was discussed openly. You know those Methodist, they’re just one step away from being papists. Being raised in an environment where ritual was the devil and veneration of the virgin Mary and any such ‘saints’ was considered idolatry at its finest… is it any wonder that I developed an obsession with all things Catholic? Besides, as everyone should know, orgasms taste better with a rosary shoved in your mouth.

Prior to my Japanese school girl obsession, there was my little catholic school boy obsession. Hey, when you’re growing up in the south east, the idea of altar boys is pretty exotic… and totally fell in line with my overriding need to seduce and corrupt. Oddly enough, yes, I have married one Jesuit trained catholic school boy. But, I can hardly say I’ve corrupted him. It was a mutual corruption of acceptance.

I’m rambling. I do that. My point.

Yesterday I attended my first actual Catholic… thing. Was it a mass? A funeral mass? Something. Catholics have names for every bloody thing and I can’t remember them all. I’m too busy asking John why people keep bowing at the front of the church. And why does that priest have a throne? Wait… I shouldn’t call him priest? Monsignor? Jesus fuck… too much shit to keep straight.

On the Monsignor. I liked the guy. He seemed genuinely concerned and loved filled and kind. And when he spoke, if I took out all the references to his God and Church… then I could really get behind his message. But, I had no fucking clue what a Monsignor was. So, I asked Mr. Jesuit Trained. His response? “He’s a level 10 priest.” And yes, that did actually explain it all to me.

On baptism. Catholics sprinkle and call it a baptism. In the world I grew up in, if you didn’t come up choking from under the water, you didn’t love Jesus enough. But that priest… Monsignor… slung his little tiny water sprinkler mace around and called it a second baptism. It was a right pretty speech and a nice bit of ceremony… but all I could think of was teaching those altar boys how it’s done by holding their heads under water in the fountain. By the way, crazy baptismal fount (aka Jesus’ Eternal Water Fountain)… made me want to pee the whole time.

On altar boys. I don’t know. I thought they’d be sweet and cute. Likely to lead me to dirty thoughts about confession booths. But first of all, they were baby boys. Hey, in movies they aren’t THAT young. And… they were creepy. Seriously. Creepy. Their expressionless faces. The way they moved without direction or seeming thought, just silent and obedient without any of the usual signs of life in a kid their age. I found it utterly unnerving. C’mon… just shuffle one foot. Something!

On the magic book of spells. That’s what I’m calling the book the Monsignor carried with him and read from. It was not a bible, that’s for damn sure. But the cover was pretty and he was always marking the page he was on with one of those ribbons. And all I could think was, “He’s checking to see if he memorized enough Cure Lights for the day. He may have to convert one of those to Sanctuaries.”

On speaking in unison. Catholics LOVE speaking in unison. And I am not talking AME church testifying or calling out. No, hive mind speaking in unison. Every time I thought I’d caught on to when to speak, they’d do something else to totally throw me off. How do you know when to say “Amen” and when it’s “Oh lord hear our prayer” or some other random thing? They busted out the Lord’s Prayer at one point. Great, I thought, I got this one. I know it. But then they stopped before the end… and THEN threw a Hail Mary in there. At that point, I was fairly sure there was a sign over my head that said, “Girl without lips moving is Baptist.”

On the Eucharist. Whoa. There was some crazy shit going on there. Kneeling before taking bread out of a box. Singing a song to the bread. And when it was finally a communion with real wine (Welch’s Grape Juice has always been the taste of Christ’s blood to me), no one drank it! Thankfully, I didn’t have to cause a scene or be a hypocrite… and instead of taking communion I was simply blessed. I’m pretty sure that means I will burst into flames if I step inside of a Baptist church now.

On transubstantiation. This led to me making a totally inappropriate comment to John during a funeral mass. Or really, during any mass. “You know, I’ve taken communion before… but I’ve never tasted the actual body of Christ.” Fighting back the giggles between us was so hard. And then saying ‘Body of Christ’ stuck that damn song from South Park in my head. Faith +1!

On kneeling and bowing. I get it. God is really cool and we should kneel to his coolness and bow before the image of Jesus twisting horribly on the cross. Except… listen… God doesn’t live at the front of the church. And the kneeling… well… listen, my mother slapped me once for the way I took communion, tilting my head back like I was giving Jesus head and loving it. So, it’s no wonder that while in the middle of all that damned kneeling for God… it was all I could do to fight the urge to put my knees shoulder width apart, head up, eyes down, shoulders straight, wrists crossed at the small of my back. That… is how you really tell God that you love him.

On the censer. You know, I always thought this would be one of the coolest parts of mass. The priest swinging this cool censer about and the scent of incense filling the church. But, I also always imagined that the incense would smell… different. I don’t know, like Baby Jesus burps or something. But instead, it just gave me flash backs to smoking up in Shawn’s basement and playing Playstation all night. Dude, who let the hippies into mass?

On the hymnal. Which they referred to as a song book. Oh dear god! I thought white Baptists sounded unhappy when singing. At least their hymnals are full of blood and gore and the fear of demons. But this was… Eddie Izzard, Dressed to Kill, making fun of the C of E.

Now, I am certainly not knocking Catholicism… at least not any more than I knock any organized religion. But the culture clash was just leading me to amusing observations. And, my presence there and John’s growth away from the church, led him to view things as an outsider for the first time. I think it really clicked on a personal level for him, what Protestantism was about. It reminded me that though I’ve grown a whole hell of a lot… my roots are still my roots. And it made for a long interesting (and stupidly funny) conversation on the ride home.

Do you need assistance…

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My weekend was productive, if not totally introverted. The beau had a research paper to finish, so I curled up on the couch with a series of Ken Burns documentaries and started a cross stitch project.

I haven’t done any sort of cross stitch in years. It’s an odd sort of hobby. When I say, “Oh yeah, I totally cross stitch,” even I am surprised that I am not 80 years old and milquetoast. And the choice of patterns out there only backs up these assumptions. The biggest reason I haven’t stitched in years has to do with not being thrilled by pictures of kittens, crosses, or butterflies that took me days of work to complete.

But if I am honest, the quiet, careful, orderly progression of a cross stitch pattern does wonders for my stress and anxiety levels. It was just a matter of finding a pattern worth my time. So, as I searched for a get well gift for a friend, I hit the jackpot.

I don’t know why I never thought before to scour etsy for patterns. But once I did, I found this awesome shop, weelittlestitches. She has a collection of pixelated patterns that I fell in love with. And they were perfect for getting back into a cross stitching groove. So as I learned about The West, I did this:

supertroopers 003 

If you’ve never seen the insanely stupid (and yet still at times funny) movie Supertroopers, then this will mean nothing to you. If you have… then you are wondering why one of those guys is not in the bearfucker outfit, because that would have been brilliant.

The answer is that bearfucker would deserve his own pattern, all by himself.

The other awesome, but totally off in my own head thing I did this weekend was to read The Bloggess’s new book.

If you don’t read Jenny’s blog, then you should. And if you haven’t read this book, either do so… or stop talking to me. It’s brilliant, funny, insightful, and all sorts of other book reviewy things. But primarily, it is honest… right down to calling itself ‘mostly true.’ This is a terribly witty and self aware woman. I adore sharing in her insane mind.

Especially since I find so much of myself there as well.

You can’t say Happiness without saying Penis

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After some emotionally charged dialogue with a friend, this tension breaker ensued over gchat:

Me: <insert penis joke>

Scot: That’s better than <insert penis, joke>

Me: I don’t know…

Scot: In my mind inserting a penis joke is better than joking about a penis insertion. Usually.

Me: In your mind, sure. But, in your butt…

Scot: What, what?

Happy Friday everyone!

The Experiment Begins

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My therapist tells me that I am good at attracting friends. Well, not only at attracting them, but engendering warmth and generosity from them. I’m sure this is all survival mechanisms from my childhood, mixed with a fierce streak of loyalty to those who treat me with love. But I remain eternally surprised when one of my friends makes some insanely generous gesture out of the blue.

Such as offering me and my beau tickets to a 3 day scifi/gaming convention, and a hotel room, and gets us in to the celeb stuffed banquet.

I-Con is a… well, it’s a sci-fi/anime/gaming/living la vida nerda convention. There’s a bit of everything… even furries. It’s been going on in Long Island for 31 years now, and this was only my second time attending. But we had a blast.

Friday night was mostly spent trying to get our shit together. We got a lay of the land and headed to our first event. It turned out to be the only event we hit that night, but it was well worth it.

Cosplay Burlesque is… well just that. Cosplayers dancing and taking off their clothes. The dancing ranges from glorified stripping to obviously well trained and highly choreographed pieces. And I love that the girls range from stick thin to curvy fertility goddess. Sadly, all the boys (at least in the show I saw) were on the thin side. But EVERYONE had the best attitude and showmanship.

CAUSE NO ONE WANTS TO SEE BORED STRIPPING.

And how can one be bored when you are dressed as Daryl from Walking Dead, combining fighting zombies and getting naked? A blood covered, wonderfully gyrating Cassie Hack from Hack/Slash was another favorite. And their Amy Pond did some amazing gymnastics using a chair for counterweight.

Saturday was our panel day. There are so many panels at I-Con that I could not get to everything I wanted. In fact, I think we sat through perhaps a third of what I wanted to see. There just wasn’t enough time for everything. We managed to get to two panels on publishing, and one on world building.

There was a lot of valuable insight into getting published, tons of good advice. And it was interesting to hear perspectives ranging from small co-op publishers to large publishing houses like Macmillan. But hearing from actual authors was my favorite.

Confession time: I am not a hard sci-fi reader. Nor am I fantasy reader. I read tons just… I’ve usually been a bit of a snob about my lit. So when I read the names on the World Building panel nothing really stuck. It was just… people I’d never heard of.

The names David Weber and Charles Gannon did not yet mean anything to me. They were two of the most engaging people on the panel. And a lot of what Dr. Ganon had to say about writing and academia resonated with my husband’s experiences. And I think it is impossible to be in the same room with David Weber and not feel that you are in the presence of a powerful and interesting mind.

So when we showed up at the banquet that night, John pointed to their table and said… why don’t we sit with them?

Awesome #1: They did not mind a couple of strangers sharing the table with them at a convention where they were not only special guests… but Mr. Weber was receiving an award for being awesome.

Awesome #2: We only stopped talking when they were breaking down tables around us. Dinner was long over and Weber was misty eyed as he recounted stories of the Bolos, a line of sentient tanks.

Awesome #3: Babylon 5. I got to discuss the merits of my favorite sci-fi series of all time with two sci-fi authors. I squeed a little in my pants. I got to have an intelligent discussion about the merits of particular plot lines without having to have that long discussion where I end up apologizing for the acting in season one and keep stressing, “But the story! The story is amazing!”. They already knew.

Awesome #4: As we were finally leaving, John let some smartass comment about his writing aspirations slip to Dr. Gannon. This led to a brand new discussion, filled with life changing insight and a healthy dose of mentoring.

We had planned to attend the masquerade ball later that night and get stinking drunk. Instead… we curled up on the bed in our hotel room and reworked the general plan for the rest of our life. We made sure our priorities were still lining up. We discussed writing and children and ate crackers in bed.

Well, wheat thins.

All because a writer took the time to offer some of his experience and insight to the aspiring writer that is my husband. Well, the life assessing was because of him. The wheat thins were my fault.

Over the course of the weekend, I set two little goals for myself.

First, to finally start this blog. To just shut up and do it. I’ve been thinking about it and not doing it for too long.

Second, to begin putting together a seriously badass steampunk outfit. I do not want to go to another con without some righteous costume to wear.

So here we go. On with my little experiment to get me writing again. To keep me writing. And to help me put some of those things from my inside voice on the outside.

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