Friday, January 16, 2015

Slaying the Apathy Beast

Starting is the hardest part of just about anything. When you begin a journey you are full of hope but you are also full of trepidation. There are just so many things to do and think about that sometimes it becomes daunting and seems just to be much simpler to just not start anything at all.

Starting again is even worse. Not only are you plagued by the typical concerns of beginning something but now you have to deal with all the questions and doubts about why you stopped in the first place. The thought that perhaps you had somehow failed and having to consider if this time will be any different. It can be enough to make you give up before you have begun.

The world is littered with half written novels, partially painted pictures, mostly knitted sweaters, and projects doomed to never see the light of day thanks to anxiety and apathy. It always seems easier to stop or never begin that to fail or get bored with something, or at least that is what we all like to tell ourselves when we look back on the could have been in our life.

When I started this blog almost 4 years ago I was very determined not to let this become a project I regretfully set aside and looked back on longingly. I told myself I wouldn't allow myself to make the same old excuses that we all make when we let things fall by the wayside. I was going to do this thing because it was something I genuinely wanted to do.

Now here I sit looking back at the last year and I realize that is exactly what I did. I posted a total of 32 times last year and it has been almost two whole months since my last post. In the world of a short attention spanned blog audience that is forever (I know I counted).

I look back and I ask myself what the hell happened? Had I grown bored? Had I run out of things to write? Had I run out of time? Was it a combination of all of these things that made me set aside something that I used to enjoy so much?

If I am lying to myself, and you, I would say yes. It would be a lie though.

The truth is, I just haven't been here. I have no excuses, I just haven't bothered.

I have more than enough time. As I sit at my desk playing Candy Crush on my phone I could easily be cranking out blog posts. So obviously time is not an issue. I have plenty of time if I would just make it.

I certainly haven't run out of things to write about. If that ever happens I have probably run out of air to breath. My personal life is full of things I could be writing about and always is. We are having a new house built and that experience could have an entire blog devoted to it.

Personal life aside the world has been full of topics that are just begging to be written about. I mean you can't swing a cat without hitting an article about a dozen different hot topic issues from feminism, to the Interview and Sony cyber attack, to the tragedy of Charlie Hebdo, to mental illness, to a hundred other topics that have been in the spotlight. Material is certainly not an issue.

I suppose I have let apathy take a firm grip on me and have not been able to escape. I have made many attempts at breaking the cycle of doing nothing, but little has come of it. I have deleted more half written posts over the last few months than I would really like to admit.

So what does this mean for the blog? Am I giving up on it? No I most certainly am not. I still have far to many things to say, whether anyone is listening or not. Will I be posting more? Who knows. I am most certainly going to try, but you know what they say about good intentions.

Being honest with you my minions means that I can't keep lying to myself. I have to admit I have just been apathetic and lazy if I ever want to overcome this and get back on the path I set for myself. Sometimes it just takes saying it out loud.

So here is hoping that I have shoved the apathy monster back into its box for a while and I can get back to accomplishing that which I set out to do. I hope that if any of you are being sat upon by this particular beast that you can shrug it off and get started again. We are all capable of so many amazing things, we just have to get started.

Starting is hard.
The journey is worth it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Moments from working a Ren Faire

Working at a Renaissance Festival provides for some incredibly interesting moments in my life. Working retail at said festival  can make things just that much more interesting, especially when the shop I work for is a large and well known Pagan store. I find myself in philosophical debates over faith just about as often as I find myself trying to keep drunks from licking the display cases.
Here are just a few interesting moments from working in the shop this past weekend.


-Customer walks to the counter with a leather bound journal to purchase and hands me a credit card to pay for it.

Me: May I please see your ID?
Customer: I am old enough to buy a journal. Look they sold me beer *holds up his beer to prove he is of age*
Me: *Raises eyebrow at him*
Customer: *looks confused for a moment before look of realization comes across his face* Oh...you want my ID to make sure the credit card isn't stolen. You weren't carding me for the journal.
Me: How many beers have you had this morning?


-Two customers looking at the statues of different Gods and mythological icons.

Customer 1: Why do they have two Poseidons?
Customer 2: They don't. One is Poseidon and one is Neptune.
Customer 1: Aren't they the same person?
Customer 2: Not exactly. One is a Greek God and the other is a Roman God.
Customer 1: So same God, different name?
Customer 2: Pretty much. Like Hades and Ares, both gods of the underworld, one is Greek one is Roman.
Random customer eavesdropping: Wow you really killed that smart vibe you had going there for a minute.
Customer 2: What?
Random customer: Hades and Ares are both Greek. Hades rules the underworld, Ares is the war God. Pluto is the Roman God of the underworld.
Customer 2: *looking flustered* Whatever *walks away with customer 1*
Random customers friend: Dude how they hell did you know that?
Random customer: *shrugs* I watched a lot of Xena as a kid.


-A man in his mid 40's and his mother are looking at rings and he has the typical wide eyed reaction to me in a bodice.

Man: How do you get your boobs to do that?
Me: I get dressed?
(The mother referred to me as Big Bada Bosom the rest of the time they were in the shop much to her sons dismay)


-Two middle aged women looking at the jewelry in our case and see the tray of silver pentacles.

Woman 1: Are those Jewish?
Woman 2: Stars of David?
Coworker: The Star of David has six points, these have 5.
Woman 1: So are they like evil devil worship signs?
Coworker: No not really.
Woman 2: Well why do they always show it in movies when evil devil worshipers are doing stuff?
Coworker: Well Hollywood tends to like to use symbols people don't understand for whatever they like.
Woman 1: So it isn't evil?
Coworker: Well you can take it to mean whatever you like, but typically no, not evil.
Me: A five pointed star in a circle is meant to be a sign of protection and peace.
Woman 1: Oh I like that.




Friday, November 7, 2014

An Ending Place

I am a consumer of stories. Ever since I was a little girl I have been practically obsessed with tales of things outside of myself. I suppose it is a side effect of an over active imagination. Every story I come across id just fuel for the fire so to speak.

I am not really picky about the format my stories come in. I am just as happy to pick up a book as I am to turn on the TV or go out to the movies. The rather impressive collection of books and DVD's in my house is proof enough of this.

I am also not really a genre snob. You will find a little of everything on my shelves. High fantasy books sit happily next to leather bound classics, which are in turn nestled up against my collection of paranormal smut. If you look at my movies shelves you will find Bram Stokers Dracula sandwiched between Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog and Easter Parade.

As a lover and collector of stories there is one thing that I find so incredibly vexing that I have actually lost sleep over it; unfinished stories. There is nothing worse than having an author stop writing a book series for whatever reason or having a TV series cancelled before the story has ended. I have actually been known to watch shows I don't particularly enjoy or books I am not fond of just to see how the story ends. So you can imagine how distressing I find it when a series I enjoy doesn't ever get its ending.

Early on in my relationship with the husbeast he introduced me to the Wheel of Time book series. I believe at that time Robert Jordan was somewhere around book 8. Jordan was one of those authors who took his time writing each of his books. He wasn't as bad as George R.R. Martin is (or so I am told, I don't read those books) but it was enough to make most of his fans overly anxious.

I stopped reading the books around book five because it had gotten to the point that I needed a flow chart to keep the characters and their past lives straight. I was still interested in the story though, so I would have the husbeast just tell me what happened in the other books to satisfy my need to know. It was a system that worked well for us.

Robert Jordan sadly became ill before he had finished the series and all of his fans were left terrified that he would pass away before he had finished telling this epic tale. Luckily for us he managed to write out several key chapters for the last few books as well as audibly tell the end of the story to his family and another author so that the story could be finished.

While the Wheel of Time got its ending, there are so many other stories that will never have an end. Authors die unexpectedly, shows get cancelled, or any other number of things happen that cut short well loved stories before their time has come. We the audience are left to forever wonder how the story might have ended.

Sure I could just use my over active imagination and write my own ending to the story. That is always an option, and it is one I have employed on several occasions. It is never really satisfying though. I am always left to wonder where the original author or creator would have taken the story. I want to know what they intended for their creation.

While book series that end prematurely are often times because the author has passed away, TV shows and movies are often given an early termination because ratings do not please the financially concerned executives that give them life. I wish, in this situation, that there was a place where the writers could go and just tell the fans, no matter how small the fan base is, what they had intended to do with the rest of the story.

I would love to see a place where the answers to the pressing questions that are left behind are answered. I mean most of the time when a series is cancelled there was some form of cliffhanger at the end of the last season. Farscape fans were horrified by the last episode of the last season and until Peacekeeper wars was thankfully made their last image of the story was incredibly unsatisfying and disturbing.

Not every series is going to get that wrap up made for TV movie. Most series are just going to leave you wondering if the character that was left bleeding on the floor of a basement actually died, or if the bad guy was ever caught, or if the boy actually gets the girl. Most cancelled series will just leave you full of disappointment and questions and that is sad.

I know some writers don't want to tell the ending of the stories without actually telling it. Just blurting out the ending without actually creating the story in some medium seems wrong to them, which I can understand to a point. This still does not stop me from really wanting them to just tell the ending anyways because in a way I feel that their audience deserves it, but more importantly the characters deserve it. I try not to be one of those demanding sorts of people who expect things of others but seriously don't start a story and then leave people hanging.

Alas a magical database of the endings to unfinished stories will never be. Characters will forever be left in limbo and questions will forever be unanswered. I will have to be content with the endings that I created in my own mind and move on to the next story.

Thankfully there are always more stories.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Illusions of Time and Reality of Love

We measure our lives in time. Whether it be the smallest second or decades we only know this unit of measurement for telling how long it has been sense an event has occurred.

The problem with time is it is not accurate. Sure you know technically how many minutes or days have passed but when was the last time when you were waiting for time to pass that it felt accurate?

We have all lived through the two hour second or looked back on a single year and were unable to fathom how you could do so much in just a year. Time really is just an illusion.  It is what we do in that time that is real.

Today, for me, 10 is the number that matters. Ten years to be specific. Ten years which marks almost 1/3 of my life. Ten years which encompasses so much more than that measure of time can describe.

Ten years ago today I said I didn't care about pretty dresses or girlish dreams. Ten years ago I said that all the fluff and trappings didn't matter.  Ten years ago I said the only thing in the world that was important was being married to my husbeast come days end; and it still is the only thing that matters.

Since that night ten years have passed but I am here to tell you that it has been so much more than that. Truly I feel that a lifetime has passed in this time. I can not wrap my brain around how we have shared so much love and so many adventures in such a short amount of time.

I know there are people who would argue that a decade is a long time. Surely in an age of famous celebrity marriages that last barely a month ten years really is a lifetime. For me though it seems like a drop in the bucket.

This last decade has been hard at times but more often it has been good. Together in this time the husbeast and I have gone on many great adventures, done many scary new things, and laughed enough to power the world for ten generations to come. I don't know how we managed it all in just ten years.

What I do know for certain is that time might not seem real but everything that has happened is certainly the real McCoy.  It doesn't matter how long they took it just matters that they happened.

You say ten years. I say an immeasurable lifetime.

To my love, my friend, my husbeast; here is to this lifetime and so many more to come no matter how it gets measured.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

An Open Letter to Everyone Everywhere

Dear Everyone everywhere,

Where have you gone?

I find as I look around myself you are nowhere to be found. I can remember a time when you were so vibrant and real, living in the world with such enthusiasm for life. You were always creating such wonderful ideas, joyful music, and even melancholy prose at times. I could never miss seeing you as you would not be hidden by even the largest of shadows.

Now you are gone. Now you seem to simply exist on the surface instead of being an active part of this fragile fleeting thing we know as life. You have been reduced to shared infografics, marginally accurate personality quizzes, and cat memes. Your original content has been lost in some faceless algorithm which now defines you more than a poorly thought out profile bio.

Even when we are together you are not there. You are trapped behind a wall of pixels and the shackles of free wifi. The non goings on of a society of robots takes the foreground to reality. An electronic thumb symbol has replaced a genuine smile or simple touch.

I watch as you lose your empathy and grow your narcissism with every vain selfie that you vomit up. You try and show yourself to the world by removing yourself from the here and now with every snap of the lens and Instagram filter.

Perhaps I am to blame as I too have disengaged. I am just as guilty of hiding behind the home row on my keyboard eagerly awaiting the next bit of digital voyeurism to come my way. I too have found the safe malaise of what we have come to accept as life.

I want to be better, I do. It is just lonely here now. You have all gone away and I am not sure you even realize it. I miss you.

Please come back to me and to the world. Say your own words instead of puppeting back the seemingly profound words of others. We have stopped creating anything new, and it is destroying all of us. Make your own music, write your own stories, be your own philosopher.For your own good. For the good of the future.

Start living again. Do not be a slave to your job and to your life; live it. Even if it is only in the small moments, live it. Make the most of everything you can because it will all be gone far too soon. In the end you won't lie waiting for your last breath thinking of silly cats, annual incomes, or whether you are thin enough. You will remember a gentle kiss, joyous laughter, painful tears, and smiling faces.

Make sure you have a full lifetime of these things to remember.

Please come back to me, I promise I will be a better person.

Sincerely,

Me

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

All You Need is Love

After my last post on friendship I had a very dear friend of mine come to me with a request to write my next post on the subject of love. I enjoy getting requests and a good challenge, as well as adore this friend, so I happily agreed to write the post. Love, after all, shouldn't be a difficult topic to write on. I have plenty of practical experience so this should be a no brainer.

I should seriously learn to not underestimate the depth and breadth of a subject. I have been pondering on this post for almost two weeks now and I still haven't come up with a satisfactory answer to the question of 'What is love?'.

Here is the problem; love is complicated. I think that love is perhaps the most complicated simple subject in the world. I could give you the Webster definition of love but after reading it I realized that it is completely lacking in accuracy. It makes the whole concept far too simple to be a true definition of what love is.

English uses only one word for love, which is a problem in some ways. We use context clues, inflection, and adjectives to determine the type and severity of love instead of mucking about with multiple words to mean love. Most other languages do the opposite and assign a different word for different types of love; Sanskrit, ancient Persian, Eskimo, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Arabic, and the list goes on. 

What all of these languages point out by having multiple words for love, is the fact that love is very complicated. There is not just one type of love. The love you have for your significant other is different than the love you have for your children, or for your parents, or for a friend, or for a book series, or for your pets, or for those really cute sling back sandals, or for cheese.

When it comes to love of a person  you can love someone but not be in love with them, which adds an entirely different layer of complication into the entire love scenario because loving and being in love are two different things completely. Of course it is hard to explain the difference to someone who has never actually been in love with someone before. Quantifying the concept of being in love will typically leave you with analogies to bright lights, fuzzy feelings, butterflies in your stomach, radiating warmth, contentedness, and joy, but nothing truly concrete.

So what is love?

Love is unpredictable. Love is messy. Love is caustic. Love is terrifying. Love is one sided. Love is fickle. Love is fleeting.

I bet those were not the things you were expecting me to say. Allow me to elaborate.

Love is this ridiculously complicated emotion that has no real rhyme or reason to it. You feel love towards people and things generally because they make you happy and feel comfortable and good. This is a wonderful thing. The problem is that just because you love something or someone does not mean that your affection will be returned. It is a total crap shoot.

Whether it is love for a friend, a family member, or a lover, there is absolutely no guarantee that they will love you back or that their love will remain true. This is why relationships end; people fall out of love all the time. Those warm happy feelings that we initially have for people can fade over time. They call time a test for a reason people; not everyone passes that test.

This is a very sad truth about love that you have to be willing to accept. It is not all sunshine and lollipops and if you don't accept that, you will someday be in for a very rude awakening. At some point in your life you will feel the bitter sting of lost love.

And that is enough from the cynical realist side of things.

Once you move past the downfalls of love (which I desperately hope you can move past them) you are left with all the good happy things. Love is a wonderful thing that fills you with joy and happiness. At its most basic form, that is all that love is; happiness. Loving someone or something means that they make you happy. Easy peasy.

I had a friend in high school who used to get freaked out when I said I loved him. It was the truth, I loved him. I was not IN love with him, but I loved him none the less. I come from a family that is very big on loving people and letting them know that you love them, so sharing this affection with others is in no way weird to me. He wasn't from such an open background.

We finally came to the conclusion that there is love (with a lower case l) and then there is Love (upper case L). Lower case l was designated for love of a friend and far less serious (in his mind). If you used the upper case version of the word it was more romantic and toward being in love with someone. He was comfortable with me saying I love you once we gave it strict definitions. In the end I would just say 'little l' and he would get the idea.

Some people don't choose to designate the feeling they have for their friends as love, and that is fine. Again I was raised in a family where loving your friends was just what you did. I heard the words 'I love you' so constantly that it is second nature.

It never devalued the term to me though. Just because I love lots of people does not mean that the love is any less. I do not have a certain quotient of love that I have to dole out in a lifetime. If I choose to love lots of people the love won't thin out and become smaller. True I might love some people more than others but that is just dependent on our relationship.

Love is also not something that is made less valid with time or distance. There are people that I love without question that I have not seen or spoken to in years. Love has no set expiration or use by date, it is not a dairy product. Much like friendship does not have to be constantly engaged for the friendship to remain valid, neither does love.

Love still is not always going to be reciprocated. I have friends that I love dearly who would not share that sentiment with me. They would say they are fond of me but love is not the emotion they would choose to describe our relationship. This is perfectly fine. I have no intention of defining a word or an emotion for them. It doesn't change how I feel about them though, that isn't how it works. I can love them even if they don't love me back.

So love is a risk, and it can end terribly, and cause pain and a whole host of messy problems, but love is completely natural and totally unavoidable in the end. Despite your best efforts love is something that will creep in when you are busy doing other things and slap you upside the head so hard you see stars. You can deny it all you like, but it will be there.

In the end I have come to the conclusion that love is not something you should define or control. It is a force that defies words and logic and simply exists. The best we can do is embrace love, cherish love, accept love, and try and find it in as many places as possible because in the end love is the most wonderful thing in the world.

In the immortal words of the Beatles:
In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Friendzone

The question has been raised to me of late as to what makes a friend. When it was first posed I thought the question was a little silly. What do you mean what makes a friend? How can you not know what makes a friend? It is one of the most basic and prevalent relationships most people have. Still I decided to sit and ponder on the subject and found that the answer really wasn't all that simple.

First of all everyone's definition of a friend is different. It is an incredibly subjective term seeing as how different people need and want different things out of people. With that in mind I started with a broader look at what a friend is supposed to be.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary the definition of friend is as follows:

1friend

noun \ˈfrend\
: a person who you like and enjoy being with
: a person who helps or supports someone or something (such as a cause or charity)


The first definition makes things really simple. Someone I like and enjoy being with. Going through a quick mental list of people I call friend I find that they all fit that description. I mean sure there are times I don't enjoy being with my friends, but that is part of being human. No one likes any one person 100% of the time. 

The second definition I do not think was intended to so much refer to an actual personal relationship. I think it is more meant to cover things like 'Friends of the Arts' or other such titles. Still it is a good definition to apply to friendship on a personal level as well. If a person is your friend it should be someone you are willing to help and support and vice versa. 

So there we have the basic definition of what a friend is; someone you like and enjoy being around and are willing to help and support when needed. One would assume that this works both ways in a friendship but we all know that is not necessarily true.  Sometimes being a good friend is a one way street.

That is where the thinking got a little more difficult; being a good friend. We have already established that simply being a friend isn't particularly hard or heavy on requirements, but what about being a good friend? Shouldn't that really be what we are looking at here?

So what are the qualities of a good friend? The dictionary doesn't have an entry for good friend so I was on my own for filling in that definition. This is where the subjective part of the process really comes into play. What I consider to be a good friend might not fulfill another persons ideas of a good friend.

Do you have to talk to your friends every single day? No. Hell I only talk to the husbeast every day because we share a bed. I have friends who I love dearly and would give an internal organ to and I haven't spoken to them in months. I have friends with whom the bulk of our interaction involves liking one anothers Facebook posts. 

This does not make us any less of friends. Constant interaction is not required for friendships to be valid. What matters is that when we are together we enjoy being together and are good to one another. What matters is that we are there when we need to be.
For me a good friend is a good listener. When I need to rant and vent they are a person who will sit quietly and let me get all the vitriol out. They will allow me to say my fill without interruption. They never make me feel burdened for wanting to ramble on and on about whatever it is I need to get off my chest.

My friends and I have a phrase we use when someone starts to vent "Do you want me to fix this or just let you vent?". Sometimes you don't want your problem analyzed and fixed. Sometimes you just want to scream about it until you feel better. Good friends can do whichever you need at the time.

At the same time they shouldn't be judgmental. They should try to understand where I am coming from as much as possible and be as supportive as they can be. We don't have to agree on everything or have the same ideas and beliefs, but they shouldn't be there to make me feel bad or guilty about who I am or what I believe and think. 

They should be someone who is willing to help me in my crazy schemes or be the voice of reason when I get too out of control. They should be willing to try and talk me down from my total crazy when it is needed. Good friends help keep you out of jail whenever possible, or at least are ready with bail money when necessary.

They should be willing to help in any way possible when they are capable. No person is superhuman and can help everyone with everything all the time. We don't have the money or emotional fortitude to see all of our friends through every crisis. Sometimes we have to prioritize our helpfulness and a good friend knows that this isn't selfishness it is just life. They know that you are giving as much as you can at that time. 

After much reflection these are the basic things I came up with. I am sure there are more things on my list, but these seemed to cover the high points. I know that they also sometimes seem a little contradictory, but I think that is again part of human nature.

I am not always the best of friends. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by life and I can't manage much of anything in the good friend department, but we all have moments like that. That is when we need our friends to be good to us knowing that when we are out of the slump we will be good to them. 

Friendship, like any relationship, is a growing shifting changing thing that requires attention and effort. All relationships are work at some point or another. No friendship is without its rough patches, but the good normally outweighs the bad in the long run.

Good friends are a precious commodity. They are people you should not take for granted or write off too quickly. Friendship is a two way street and that is all too often forgotten.

When it comes down to it though, a friend is just someone you like and enjoy spending time with. Remember that, and the rest should fall in line.