The Case Against Harley Quinn

cue William Dozier voice over**

It’s daytime in a city that is not Gotham. A woman sitting in her car, talking on her phone notices the all black everything car in front of her in the pickup line. Early 00s Emo music leaks from the heavily tinted windows. In the middle of her conversation, she notices the red stickers adorning the corners of the back window.

The red outlines of a mask.

The diamonds made of four smaller diamonds.

And the words, in blazing red, “Daddy’s lil monster

And the vanity plate for the car that read:

Harley Q

The woman stops her conversation and rolls her eyes in dismay.

I have been a Batman fan for as long as I can remember. And it’s not even that I fell into Batman in a logical way. Because of who know why, there were no comic books for me. My love for Batman started through TV shows.

I remember being little, like really little, when we got our first satellite dish. This was early to mid-90s so that thing was like NASA dish big. We couldn’t get cable in our corner of the woods so that giant metal dish was how we were able to watch TV. From somewhere out in space it transported television waves to our trailer in the woods. Among those signals and waves were glimpses of Adam West and Burt Ward running around in masks and mantles, defending Gotham from equally silly dressed villains as the Caped Crusaders.

It was those campy POW! BANG! episodes with their animated intros and costumed villains that pushed me to the door of the Batman fascination. But it was something else that would lead me down the rabbit hole.

In Batman: The Animated Series, all the campy characters I came to love got deep and dark origin stories. Batman became broody, Robin became troubled, Catwoman became more than just a sexy lynx, and Joker, well Joker got even weirder. And with that weirdness, came a new toy. Joker got a sassy little side piece named Harley Quinn.


Harley Quinn as she appears in the DC Animated Universe

The character Harley Quinn was created just for TAS. And she had quite a bit of a backstory. I’m not going into it in depth, because while I am a fan, I am not a Batman savant. The main thing about Harley Quinn that you do need to know is this,  

She was not the Robin to Joker’s Batman.

She was not his sidekick.

She was not his partner nor was she his love interest.

While it was true that  Harley was in love with her “Mister J”, it was not a balanced love. It was a disgustingly dangerous, violent, tragic love that would make even Shakespeare scratch his head and mutter “what the fuck” before crumpling the paper and throwing it in the fire.

You see, Harley wasn’t his girl. Harley Quinn was Joker’s greatest victim.

And that’s what makes me so mad when I see people idolizing their relationship and hero worphsiping Harley Quinn.

The relationships between Harley and Joker was not one of those “ride or die” Bonnie and Clyde type stories. Harley was nothing more than a toy to Joker. He used her. He abused her. And throughout all the horrible things, she kept loving him. Their relationship was a classic example of dysfunction. Had it been two normal people instead of two fictitious villains in facepaint it would have been clear. They would have been the textbook defination of an abusive relationship then. But somehow, the allure of Gotham seems to erase the all the warning signs for the most casual of fans.

So when women place this relationship on a pedestal because both parties involved seem to have some mental issues, its a slap in the face to anyone who has suffered abuse. Glorifying an abusive relationship, even if it’s from a comic series, normalizes the idea that it’s okay to get treated like shit. It adds another voice to the crowd yelling that all we have to do is love our abusers through their rough spots. Just keep calm and carry on. It spreads the lie that a woman can only be a good woman when she stands by her man. It digs the graves for all the people who stay with abusive partners until they are only able to leave by caskets.

Furthermore, the idolization of Harley Quinn undermines the seriousness of female mental health. It really fucks with the idea of what it’s like to be a woman and have a mental illness. Harley was created using the Crazy Bitch model and hasn’t strayed much from it in the years since. While the mental well being of villains is always questionable, having so many people willing taking up Harley as their role model is a little disconcerning. While it is easy to see that mental illness is apparent in the character, that does not mean that she is the poster child for every person that has dealt with their own issues. Harley makes big usage of the word “crazy”. Women who struggle with mental illness have long fought to distance themselves from that term. So having a whole group latch on to the identity of being that sort of “Crazy Bitch” is damning for all of us.


Harley Quinn as she appears in the fifth volume of Suicide Squad 

She is also is the personification of the idea of action without consequence. For a long while, it has been popular for people to act as if their mental illnesses (whether real or imagined) give them a free pass to act recklessly. Harley Quinn is the living embodiment of that. And while that might work in a city full of neverdowells and millionaires in batsuits, in the real world, whether we struggle with illness or not, we are responsible for our actions. Being able to pass the buck and blame might work for some blonde pig tailed tart from Gotham but for us here on Earth, not so much.

I’m not trying to victim blame the character. My issue is that this hero worship of “Daddy’s Lil Monster”. It’s all wrong. It’s all misplaced.

Harley is not the woman to be following. Just becuase she is an attractive loud mouth does not make her an idol. She is not a strong woman. She is a wounded, brainwashed, victim of Stockholm Syndrome.  In real life, she would be the woman you’d want to be helping. She’s the girl you’d want to cheer for as she got her life together, not use the leader whose philosophy you’d use to build your life around. There is nothing #GIRLPOWER about Harley Quinn. She is a tortured victim of an uncaring man. Her wounds do not make her wonderful. She is not a spirited phoenix rising from her ashes. She is the forgotten doll melting in them.

While we are at it let’s face it, let’s have a word about the misplaced people who enter into the “expirecine-making” part of the fandom. Those people who idolize Joker and Harely that hard often are wee bit deliciousnal about the severity of their bravado. They not a career criminals. They are not a mobsters or mastermind badasses. Their self-styled personas of being “psychos” are usually as flat as the Faygo left on their nightstands.

It’s really easy for them to think that their mundane existence is somehow equal to the fantastical fictional escapades from Gotham. It’s easy for them because it has to be. Their lives, which are normal, are boring. And there’s nothing wrong with that! There just are some people who can not accept that normal and boring are preferable to dramatic and hyper emotional. Those people that live with the chronic need for drama are usually the ones who love the comparison to Harley. And each and every time, they somehow both miss the point and prove it perfectly.

There are much stronger women in the Batman canon to look up to. Selina Kyle/Catwoman is a damn good start. Everyone in Gotham is flawed. The whole city and it’s inhabitants are dark, dirty, shady characters. No one within that world is really worth being called a hero, much less an idol. (Yes, this includes Batman) So while the character of Harley Quinn might be good for what it is, she is fabulously horrible at being a role model.

**If you are wondering who William Dozier is, here’s your answer. William Dozier was the executive producer and lead caster for the Batman series from the 60s with Adam West. Watch a clip of it on Youtube, and often you will hear and lovely voice narrating the beginnings actions of the episodes. That was William Dozier. His voice is often the one I use in my head to set scenes.

Book Review: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara

I didn’t pick up I’ll Be Gone In The Dark because I read true crime books. Out of all the genres of books in the world, true crime is one of my least favorite. I’m not a practical thinker. I’m not one for procedures. It’s hard for me to stick to the actual and not lose interest when strategies and laws and formalities start getting explained. When things get analytical, I nope out.

That’s not to say I do not love the genre in other forms though. I’m a child of the Unsolved Mysteries, American’s Most Wanted Generation. I love true crime TV shows and will spend hours watching documentaries. I absolutely love true crime podcasts. Most of my podcast feed is true crime in nature right now.  And I’ve spent a good chunk of time scrolling through online websites and forums devoted to crimes and cases, suspects and victims. But with the exception of The Devil In The White City, I haven’t touched a true crime book in years.

That was until I heard that a comedian/actor who I’ve been fond of for a long while had lost his wife unexpectedly. We’ve had some close calls recently, so the fear of losing my husband is forefront in my mind.(I’m a nervous wreck and worry all the time, so  what’s one more horrible thing to worry about right?)

As I was following that story, I found another story, tucked inside it.

It was a story about a woman who ordained herself a writer as a young teenager and was inspired to slip into the world of true crime by the nearby murder. It was about a night stalker whose 12-year campaign robbed the residents of a section of Califonia of their sleep, sanity, and in some cases, their lives. It was a story about dedication to clues and advances in science and about never giving up. It was a story about a serial killer who was obsessed. It was a story about a woman who in chronicling that obsession, became obsessed herself.

That woman was Michelle McNamara.

And her obsession was the Golden State Killer/ East Area Rapist/ Original Night Stalker.

One of the first things I said to my husband after I started reading it was “Holy shit, Michelle McNamara was a hell of a writer.” The story of the Golden State Killer (a name McNamara coined herself) is interesting on its own but has enough dates and location changes that it could read like an entry in the most boring of textbooks.

McNamara makes sure that doesn’t happen. Her ability to take police report data and turn it into a narrative that as intriguing as any classic whodunit is almost magical. She weaves the horrible crimes committed by the EAR (one of the many names for the Golden State Killer) with not only stories of the victims and neighbors, but about the officers, detectives, forensic scientists, and online sleuths that spent years if not decades on the case. She focuses not only on their methods but how the case affects them as people. How the case seeps into the pores of their careers and forever leaves a mark on who they are as people.

She doesn’t leave herself out either. She cast the lens as sharply on herself as she does the killer or any other side character in the book. She is not afraid to show her faults or the dark side of what an obsession like this does to someone. Her devotion to bringing justice is on full array, and so is it’s price tag. Tales of events left and anniversaries forgotten show the impact McNamara’s devotion to justice had on her life.

Just like the reality of her devotion, the details of the crimes are not sugarcoated either. Taken straight from victim statements and police reports, every detail of the heinous crimes of the Golden State Killer is put on display. His actions, and inactions, are laid out not as a case study but rather like a really great episode of Law and Order. The retelling of the horrible events almost feels like fictional stories sometimes while you are reading. Then it hits you. These horrible things happened. This isn’t a scripted show. This was an actual period in time when one man terrorized an entire section of California. And then, years later, mentally perplexed so many people all over the world.

That’s one of the things that kept making me have to put the book down while I was reading. I would get so invested in the story that when the people of the book would reach out and connect with me, it was like a slap in the face. McNamara stopped being just an author. I felt like I knew her after reading the book for a very short while. I felt like I was there, researching and writing along with her, as the book unfurled. So when every so often, the Editor’s Notes would start a new chapter, my heart would pause. Those would be the moments when I would have to remember that the woman I’m reading isn’t sitting on the other end of the keyboard, or at her home with her daughter and husband. She’s not on a book tour or getting ready to do interviews for the upcoming HBO documentary. She also not relishing in the fact that the man that did all the horrible crimes that her book was written about was finally apprehended.

Michelle McNamara passed away in 2016 before the book was even finished. In 2017, in the closing of the book, the editors who pieced together her work to create the finished project vowed not to stop until they got his name. In April of 2018, Joseph James DeAngelo was arrested for being the suspected Golden State Killer, thanks to new DNA information.

This story is still growing and evolving. And I feel that we owe it to the victims and their families as well as Michelle and hers to make sure we see it to the end.



My Own Personal Spring

As you can tell by the amount of pollen that’s decorating the cars now, it is officially Spring.

And other than seasonal allergies, I’m pretty stoked about that.

With the rebirth and reawakening of the world around me, I feel a reawakening inside my creative-self as well. Which after the last few months, is a really good thing.

Life has been difficult, to say the least. My husband’s health problems continue to plague him. As a caregiver, I’m beside him as he deals with the highs and lows of the battle. (He has diabetes that swings wildly. It’s funny because it’s true.) My youngest son, My little Doodle, is struggling in school and at this time is on a waiting list to see a developmental pediatrician. After a lot of testing in school with the school psychologist and his personal pediatrician, there are concerns that he may be on the spectrum. We are almost functioning on a reduced income. So yeah, life is difficult. And when life gets difficult, you go into survival mode. And for me, the first systems that get shut down in survival mode are creative and spiritual. Flying on autopilot requires all only the most necessary systems to run. And I’ve been on teetering on autopilot for a while.

So my writing, creating, and connecting had all stagnated throughout the winter. Writing was like pulling teeth, but I did it. I’m not sure how much was good, but it happened in a slow trickle. My connection to my Craft really took a hard hit. I was lazy, I was mindless, I was spiritually tired. So there was a lot of motions going through, but not a lot of actual thought and feeling behind them. Mostly because I didn’t have a lot of actual thought and feeling left.

But with the shift in the seasons, I’ve felt a shift in me.

And a lot of it has to do with a wee little snake.

Saturday past, we got the front lawn mowed for the first time of the year. I was a little sad because we had a patch of clover growing that I was for, some reason, totally in love with. A few hours after it was done, I was taking Jake, the dog, out for a much need bathroom break. And really, it was a nice break for me too to get away from the loudness of the house. Do you know how loud three kids can be? They are freaking loud.

Anyway, Jake is off doing whatever dogs do when they are done doing their business, and Im looking at the newly cut grass. And there, not far from my shoe, zipping through the leaves that we never raked up, was a deep reddish brown little snake. (I use the little in meaning width only, the little guy/girl was about the length of my forearm.)

I’m immediately mesmerized. I watch it for a moment, sure that it’s going to disappear into the ground and our meeting will be brief. But no! It doesn’t hide away. It stays out, enjoying the Sun no doubt. With Jake still busy shoving his big snoot into something snootable, I squat down to get a better look at the snake. Not even the audible protest of my knees scares it off. It turns and moves towards me for a bit, while I spit out the best babytalk I know. And trust me, my babytalk game is strong. And for one second, I swear the little snake and I have a moment. We inhabit the same spot, the same Sun, the same warmth. We share something. I don’t know what it is, but we share it.

Jake hears my cooing and decides it must be for him and starts trotting back over my way. His leash is still in my hand so I move away from the snake as it moves away from me. I rise to my feet as my big doofus comes closer and I use the leash to guide him away from the area the snake traveled and he was none the wiser.

And this isn’t the first time that I’ve had a run in with a reptile in my front yard that’s reconnected me to my lost self. A year or so ago, I happened upon the big black snake that used to inhabit our lot.

S/He was in the middle of eating a bird when a sudden rain shower lowered it’s body temperature and caught it in a pickle. That encountered was memorable, because not only did it involve a big freaking snake, it involved me waking up.

Just like the encounter on Saturday did. They both happened in the beginning of spring. And just like snakes shed their skin when they outgrow it, I’m finally able to shake off the binds of a Winter that held me too tight.


Since then, and I know it’s only been since Saturday, but I feel awake. I feel like my own personal spring has happened. I’ve been able to feel like I’ve been refreshed in my abilities to create and just, breathe. There’s air around me now and in it possibly. There’s room for my magick and my practices. There’s room for my knowledge. And there’s room for me to create.

This doesn’t mean my load has gotten any lighter. My husband’s illness is still here. My son is still struggling. But I am whole. I am more than just a caregiver, a maid, a housewife, and an errand handler.

I am a writer, a witch, a mother, a reader,  a healer, and all the other things hidden inside this meat suit.

I am not bound by a season of darkness. I am not bound by skin of a certain shape.

I am awakened. I am refreshed.

I am ready to begin.

And that is what Spring is for.

Beginnings. Regrowing. Reclaiming.




On Thoughtworms and Mother Wounds

For the last few days, there is this bit of audio that keeps playing in my head. It’s a quote that’s stuck on loop. This often happens to me a lot. If for others the tendency to get songs stuck in your head is called an earworm, my head is one of those little styrofoam cups of nightcrawler for sale in gas stations and bait shops. This is not as fun as the chorus to SOS by Glorius Sons (seriously, listen to this song).

This is a quote on repeat. There is no hook, there is no musical accompaniment. Its just words. And they won’t go away.  I can hear it as clear as day, over and over no matter what I’m doing, no matter what’s going on, no matter whatever else I’m blasting in my ear canals to try to cancel it out. It’s in there, burrowed down deep inside like a parasite.

It’s my mother voice, nasal and deep fried and tainted yellow by cigarette smoke snarking

You see your Hell here on Earth.

pawel-czerwinski-1440118-unsplash

As I’ve said earlier, religion was never a strong point in the household I grew up in. My father was a lazy Methodist. My mother only cared about God when she could use the idea as a means of punishment. So they were Christian in nature but not knowledge. They knew what most ignorant Christians do. In the way that anything other than what they say and what they believe in is wrong. So, people of other races, religions, sexualities, nationalities, etc were wrong. Now we didn’t attend church or pray as a family, but as kids we weren’t allowed to say “bad” words (butt, suck, hate) or cut our hair. And good ole Mom used to brag that she knew more about the Bible than the Jehovah’s Witnesses that would come to my great grandma’s house.  Which is funny because growing up the family Bible was always located in the back of the trailer in the cabinet above where the washing machine was. The laundry detergent spent more time with it then she did.

The core of this is that while she may have put on airs about it, she was not a Godly woman. She was not a woman of Christ. And by that same token, she was not a learned woman either. So her view on where you found your own personal Hell was not as philosophical as it may have sounded. This phrase that she was repeating in front of baby me, enough times to burn it’s way into the core of my memory, was not a lesson in being responsible for your own actions. Or for being aware of what your actions create. It was nothing so beneficial. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

It was a trip wires laid across the field of my childhood. It was the passive-aggressive moanings of an unhappy woman who regretted the decisions she made. It was someone who didn’t want to be there and wanted those around to know that they were the reasons she still stayed. My mother had made her own Hell, and I was a part of it. And no matter how good my grades were, no matter how good my behavior was, and no matter how much I loved her, I couldn’t make Hell any better. And she kept letting me know.

eyeboard

My issue with the phrase is, as a mother (and trust me, I know the annoyance of using that phrase) why in the world would you use that as arsenal against your own children?i understand there is no making sense of abuse caused by untreated mental illness. I understand there are just people who shouldn’t be parents. But somehow you’d expect that sort of nihilism to be either explained or sugared if it was going to be force fed to children right?

The other thing that is troubling me is that I can not get this out of my head. I do not want to have this woman and her issues taking up any more space than needy in my already cluttered mind. Usually, the only way to rid myself of an earworm is to listen to the full song. Recently, it was “X” by Poppy. I got it stuck in my head and then listened to it a few times and boom, it was out of my head. (At least, until now cause I’m totally listening to it again.) But I can’t do that with a quote from someone I have no interest in communicating with.

Also, it’s kind of hard not to see the world as a being a little bit of Hell right now. Maybe its not coincidence that I started hearing it around the time of the Christchurch shootings. Part of me is wondering if maybe the old bag is right? Maybe we make our own Hell. Despite her own ideas about the afterlife and her facade of belief, is it true that the worst torture we can face is being alive? Is living the ultimate punishment? Is this world the worst place we can be? What’s better than here?

I don’t think I need to go into why giving thoughts like those even a second of time is dangerous. Thinking this world has gone to shit and there’s no relief coming doesn’t leave much room for growth. It doesn’t leave much room for living. It doesn’t leave much room for anything. And that’s not true.

cheerful-close-up-coffee-208165.jpg

 

There is room for love. There is room for life. And there is room for all the good and bad things that come with living. Living is not a punishment. Yes, sometimes it’s hard. And sometimes there are things and people that make it worse, but being alive and being free and being HERE, is not hell.

The idea of Hell, with it’s demons and torture, has no place in our existence here on Earth. We can make decisions. Good or bad, they are all part of our story. We can make better ones and change our path. If we need to be better, we can try. We don’t have to turn our pain into poison to try to sicken those around us.

Look, I’m just shy of my mid 30s.  I feel that I’m almost too old to keep picking at this mother wound. For what it’s worth, it’s smaller than it’s ever been. I feel like it’s got some nice scar tissue forming on it now. I got to test it’s thickness out not too long ago with a chance Wal-Mart encounter and it did just fine. But every once in a while, the damn thing itches. This must be one of those times. Hopefully, talking about it here will exorcism this thoughtworm from my brain and make it go away.

You do not see your Hell here on Earth, Dear Readers. Your existence is not hell. Please believe that. It is the wonderful, messy, beautiful, scary, amazing, thing it is. And it and you are not a bother to anyone. Don’t listen to any entity that makes you feel otherwise. 

 

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Mercury is in Gatorade or Some Shit

I know, I know it’s silly and potentially lame, but it’s hilarious right?

Every time that image comes up during a retrograde, I laugh myself silly. And by ‘laugh myself silly’ I really mean snort heavily through my nose and either one of the children or one of the cats at me funny and judgey.

And if you want to listen, I will tell you why.

In this big landscape of witch life and metaphysical living, there is so much seriousness. As all religions do, we take ourselves seriously. As we should! Our beliefs have been second classed and ridiculed for as long as we can remember. They’ve been turned into a sideshow and a running gag, a source of amusement and ticket revenue. And for some of us, they’ve been, scarlet letters that have led to discrimination, punishment and not even that long ago, death. So I fully understand why carrying the old ways are so heavy.

So it must be that heaviness that gives me a giggle when something that pokes fun at an idea we put stock in, like Mercury Retrograde, comes around. Maybe my humor is misshapen in that messed up “I grew up in the 90s” sort of way. Maybe I’m a little callous. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism. Maybe a laugh is a laugh and we should take them where ever we can get them. Who knows what’s wrong with me, in the words of the Prophet Lady Gaga, “ I was born this way, baby.” What I do know is that as of March 5th Mercury is in Retrograde again and all jokes aside, that can kind of suck.


So that being said, what’s the deal with Mercury being in Retrograde? What does it all mean? And why are people so afraid of it? I’ll explain ( and throw in my two cents since I know you’re just aching for that, too)

Astrology, while not my strong point, is something that I do love and respect. Like a lot of you, it was my first taste of divining. Our study of the celestial bodies and their positions and their effects on our lives is so much a part of everyday life you’d be hard pressed to find a newspaper that didn’t carry some sort of astrology report in them. Retrogrades, however are a bit of a step up from basic horoscopes and sun signs.

The big bad Mercury retrograde happens when it passes by earth in its orbit around the sun. Being closer to the Sun than we are,  Mercury has a smaller journey than we do. Because of this, it passes us three times in one year. For us down here looking up, it appears that Mercury is moving backward during these times. That is what we mean when we say that it’s entering retrograde. It’s not actually reversing itself in the sky, it’s just taking an alternate direction. This quick passing is what causes swift and turbulent energies to shake up our flow down here in our Earthly living. And oh, boy does it. This time, the event will last from March 5th to March 28th.

It’s long been held that Mercury retrograde is a time where things get a little screwy. Communications have a way of getting polluted, plans have a way of getting corrupted, and ideas have a way of getting infected. Basically, we all get thrown off our rockers. That’s why during this time, it is wise to not only watch what you say but watch what you do.

Contracts, leases, job offers, and other important business/official papers should probably not be signed. Big and heavy conversations? Those need to wait too. I’ve read that you both should and should not undertake mechanical and technical work. I’m not sure which is the best advice, but I hold true to the idea that if something can break or fuck up it’s probably going to during this period. So maybe tend to the things you love to keep them in working order and keep them from coming down with the Retro Blues.

This goes for your body as well. Your physical and spiritual/emotional self can be wrecked by the effects of a retrograde. Be well. Take time for yourself. Give yourself space and allow yourself the distance you need to keep yourself from exploding over things that don’t deserve explosions. Allow others the same provisions. We are in relationships, not a war.

With that being said, I would like to stress this. And I’m going to say it real loud for those people in the back.

YOU CAN’T BLAME YOUR SHIT ASS ATTITUDE ON THE RETROGRADE.

Yes, it’s stressful. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. But just like before you knew about the path of the planet Mercury you are 100% responsible for your own actions. So don’t be an ass and try to blame it on Mercury, ok? Own up to your own shit. You don’t have to be a ray of sunshine all the time. Just don’t deny your rain clouds and thunder when someone calls you on them.

If we believe in our personal powers we must be responsible for every aspect of them. We must honor ourselves as well as our actions. All of them! Not just the ones we are proud of. So we can just blame an unattached, fleeting outside source when we want to act a fool. We can’t go around half-cocked and then just willingly cast blame on something we know can’t be held accountable. Dollars to donuts, the lot of us aren’t werewolves. We don’t just change because something in the sky chances too.

So as this Retrograde wears on remember, it can and will probably affect us. It may make things go a little wonky. But ultimately, we are in charge of ourselves. We have to make the decision not to let the disruptions of the energies around us control us. Our flow might get fucked up, but we will be okay.

It’s just Gatorade after all, right?


Grocery Store Talk

Before we get to the main attraction, a little State of The Union type update (minus that insanely annoying Cheeto colored man)

Oh Dear Readers, where oh where have I been?

Here. I’ve been here. Stuck in the same muck that has rendered me as creative as a white crayon on a white piece of paper. The first two months of 2019 have stunk. It’s like a holdover from whatever sticky spiritual substance made the end of 2018 feel like cement has seeped into the first few months of this year. It’s like a hangover that just won’t quit, no matter how many cheeseburgers and aspirin you have.  It doesn’t help that it’s rained almost every single day and I feel like I haven’t seen the sun in half a damn year. The brief time I spent in the Pacific Northwest had more sunshine than we’ve had recently.

I’m still taking my antidepressants if you are curious, and I guess they are still working. I can not fathom how hard life would be right now without them. I’m guessing without them, instead of just feeling uninspired and stressed, I would be crumbling and ruined either always or never asleep. For now, I’m functional, I’m performing, and no one is writing complaints about my behavior anywhere yet. So there’s that?

I’ll take small victories where I can find them.

Now, as they say, on to the show.

I was at my local grocery store ending a quick toilet paper and energy drink run when I pulled my cart towards the checkout lanes. It was Sunday morning and the church crowd was just starting to get out. And by that I mean, the old ladies with their hair all set were just starting to bum rush the store.

I made a quick pick as to which lane I was going to take and skirted my cart to the 12 Items or less line.  Which just so happened to be headed by a cashier I knew in that small town kinda-sorta way. I’d gone through his line a few times and made random chit chat with him about random shit before. The last time it was about Adventure Time and how awesome and not okay we are with the show ending. (How did that conversation even begin, you ask? Well, I have an Adventure Time purse. And a daughter named Marceline.) He is a cool dude and always good for a laugh. A stranger that makes an everyday occurrence a little more fun.

That day was no different. I placed my items, more than just the TP and energy drinks of course, on the belt and waited my turn. As the customer in front of finished up, I greeted Cashier Dude with a smile. We passed pleasantries back and forth while he scanned my first few items. Then he asked if I’d like my ideas packed in my bag or the store’s plastics. Having only brought in my purse I was caught off guard and responded with a “Wait, what?” Seeing as how the purse I carry (which was a wonderful gift from an even more wonderful friend) is big enough to haul groceries in, the confusion was easy to understand. We shared a laugh over the humor in carrying Italian sausages in your purse and my admittance that I was going to be thinking of that for the rest of the day. It was a lighthearted fun interaction that made a mundane task a little bit better.

Then, while I was looking for that one specific plastic tab on my keyring full of plastic tabs to scan for some sweet discounts, it happens. Cashier Dude looks at me while doing the international hand sign for necklace and says,

“I like your..” and then a pause..”…um. Hey, are you Wiccan?”

Of all the questions in all the grocery stores in the world, that was not the one I was betting on having asked of me.

But you best believe I was going to answer it. Right after I remembered what necklace I was wearing. It’s such a normal thing for me, I kind of forget it’s there. But around my neck, I wear a necklace with a pendant that was a gift from my #bestwitchforlife and a small silver pentacle. So when my fingers got to my necklace I realized exactly why he was asking.

“Nah, I’m Pagan. Wicca is just not my thing. It’s not for me.”

And here is where the worry kicked in. While I am truthful in my beliefs, I do not want to be disrespectful to others. We have enough heat from God’s crowd. We don’t need infighting and wand measuring. So, going by my intuition I knew that Cashier Dude had some stake in The Craft, but I didn’t know exactly how he took his tea if you get my drift. And while Wicca really is NOT the shoe that fits me, it could have been for him. So my feelings on what I see as faults in Wicca were not to be discussed there in the fluorescent-lit grocery store.

Cashier Dude chuckled and responded with a knowing nod and said, “Yeah, Wicca is  like that.” Then we shared one of those looks that translates roughly into “Shits cray, right?”

Before we could delve deeper into the conversation, the card reader started telling me that it had read my card and prompted me for my PIN. Then he was handing me a receipt. He thanked me for shopping, I thanked him for cashiering and we wished each other a great day. And off into the rainy day I went. With smiles all around, the moment was over.

But it stuck with me. First because in this area, there’s not much conversation about religion that isn’t about the Christian God. The last time I was asked about religion at that store it was by a Jevohah’s Witness. (Who was such a sweet lady!) The time before it was by a Church of God fellow (Who was also a very sweet person!) My point is, this is the Bible Belt. Christianity is THICK here. We have more churches than schools and although their flavors are different, they all have the same main ingredient. And like the lactose that keeps me from being able to enjoy all the flavors of ice cream, it’s the one that keeps me away. It’s not my jam, it ain’t my thing, I want none of it even though its everywhere and on everything. Not saying that I hold it against anyone that does. Everyone is free to practice what they want. It’s just the predominant religion and lifestyle here.

Second, to have someone agree that maaaybe Wicca isn’t the end all be all of the Pagan experience is a home run in my book. Once again, I am not trying to drag Wicca through the mud. But still, having someone agree that the Rule of 3 Ain’t For Me feels good when for a long time you’ve been feeling like the odd kid out. I’ve tried Wicca and while there are things from it I do like, I just can not see myself as following that path. Which is why I always try to vet the classes that are offered in the workshops and meetups in the area. While we can always learn from each other, there are some things I’d rather not have to unlearn.

Also, just having someone to talk to about it, in person, is nice. Even if it was a brief, it was nice. So many of my witchy, Pagan friends are online (Hell, most of my adult friends are online). Being able to talk about beliefs aloud without getting the condemnation to Hell talk immediately was more powerful than the contents of the energy drink I purchased. Especially right now. I’m kind of treading water in my day to day life, if you can’t tell. So for the Universe/Goddess/Whatever to drop this moment of  “HEY YO!” on me out of the blue was nice. It was a little wake up to remember what is important in all the bullshit and not forget it.

And to top it off, the whole encounter got me to sit down and write this all out for you Dear Readers. So for that alone, it was worth it.

We never know when these chance encounters are going to change our lives. That is why we have to be open. That is why we have to allow ourselves to be aware. And that is why we, above all, have to listen. Trust me when I say, living in the middle of your own isolation and worry will add to both.

Ever on, Dear Readers, ever on. Let’s enjoy the journey and try to experience life. And above all, let’s not forget what’s important. (And don’t worry, I’ll be holding myself to these standards too.)


Boomerang

She might be tiny, but her voice, especially at such an early hour, is not.

“Mommy! Can you spell DOUGH-DOUGH SIGWA on my Ken-dal?” she yell-asks with just a bit of budding Southern accent in her adorably electric, and often ear-splitting, 4-year-old voice.

“Dough-Dough Sigwa” is actually JoJo Siwa and if you haven’t been introduced to this piece of saccharine sweet, ultra bright, hyper AF pop culture money machine, let me introduce you.

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JoJo Siwa is a 15-year-old dancer, actress, singer, and Youtuber who started on the Lifetime show Dance Moms (not as a mom, but as a kid, duh) and then branched out to create her own brand. That brand now includes a personal vlog, a clothing and bedding line, and a singing and acting career. Her Youtube channel is her go to HQ where she shares her everyday life blogs about her love for her family, her touring schedule, and her obsession with crazy hair accessories. It’s also where she releases her music videos. And that’s what lead to her to being introduced to our house. Because apparently, her songs complete are bangers for the 15 and under crowd.

The one that gets the most play our house is the song “Boomerang”. It gets played multiple times a day. MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY.

The lyrics are uplifting, positive, and talk about persevering no matter what hardships happen. It’s about not caring what people say about you and living your truth. It’s about always coming back no matter what life throws at you and never letting anything get you down. It’s a true hype anthem and really is a good song that breeds positivity and self-love power. 

And it really is fun to see a 4-year-old rock out to.

But in all honesty, I really, really, dislike that fucking song.

It’s so bubble gum sugary pop that I’m pretty sure my ears are getting cavities every time I hear it. While the message is exactly what I feel little (and big!) girls and boys should be hearing, my inner music lover is kind of grossed out by the mass-produced auto tuned side of it.

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I won’t lie. I’m no music saint. I’m not one of those hipsters that likes to tell you that I only listened to it before everyone else started liking it but hate it now and can also detail how your favorite band sold out.  I’ve listened to my fair share of shit music too. But this stuff makes me feel the same way Britney and N’Sync did when they first came out. Like it’s catchy, I get it, but so is the fucking flu.

But that’s the point for things targeted to the under 15 demographic, isn’t it ? It’s all about this shiny new thing and how fast you can get these young people to fall in love with it. As someone who is way older than anyone in that bracket, all of it sounds like hogwash to me.

But me not liking it, doesn’t mean I can’t respect it.

My daughter digs this stuff. And I’m sure thousands of other people’s daughters dig it too.  JoJo Siwa has 9 million subscribers. That’s 9 MILLION!!  And she has a Nickelodeon deal and a tour that is coming near my house in June. ( I will not be telling the young JoJo fan in my house though because tickets start at $121 and gods have mercy, that seems like the most expensive hell I can think of.) So either she or someone who is in charge of her team has some serious hustle.  And on top of all that, her music and videos promote positivity. There’s no hate mixed in there. It’s uplifting, believing in yourself, straight up power.  And that’s what the younger generation needs. Hell, that’s what we all need.

We all have to find places and things to recharge and uplift ourselves. I reread Witch by Lisa Lister, carry around rocks, and listen to 90s grunge when I’m feeling drained. (Note to self: Put on In Utero and read that book again, you’re still running low). My husband likes to go to the range and fire off some rounds. We all need these things that give us our center and bring us to our happiness. And if for my little miss that’s singing and dancing along with this brightly colored decked out 15-year-old wholesome pop star, then so be it.  I can put my taste in music and aesthetics aside and just let the kid have fun.

Let’s pull a page out of Marie Kondo’s book on this one.

Hold this music in your hand.

Was it meant for you?

No?

Then let it go back to who it was and let it bring joy.

It’s not your’s to shit on openly so keep your mouth shut.  

 I will not destroy the happiness of another just because I don’t dig it. It is not some weird power trip for me to flex my better taste muscles on those who like things I do not. It’s not about what I like. It’s about what brings joy to others.  I am not a slayer of joy, and you shouldn’t be either.

There are sometimes that keeping your opinions to yourself pays off. This is the lesson all these annoying things our children love can teach us. This is the lesson we should willingly be able to learn from them. They are often as much as our teachers as we are theirs. This is one of those times. 

So Little Miss is going to keep her JoJo fandom strong. Every day, just like she sings in her song, JoJo is going to come back like a boomerang, and I’ll get to hear it again and again and again. And it will irk me. And I could put on headphones and listen to a million other things. But then, I might miss getting to hear my Little Miss learning how to sing and dance along to a song that makes her heart light up. And that brings me joy.

So I think I’ll keep that.

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Lessons From The Road

I feel like there’s a lot you learn about yourself while driving in the middle of the night. As the lines in the road speed by and your headlights wash across exit signs, the road strips away the ignorance and pride from your plane of knowledge and reveals to you the truth.

The things you’ve just assumed and hoped were always true start to unravel and in those moments of dead air between the songs and the station identification breaks,  you can see where the cracks have always been. The reflection you catch in the windows is your own, but it shows you as you truly are.

You’re a mess. You’re scared. You’re out of your element and you really wish you had someone there with you. You can still see your crown, so you know you’re still capable, but you’ve noticed it’s slipped. You’re unsure. Most of all, you’re feeling less than you.

The road tells you these things. The destination not so much.

 

The Crown Slips

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Such was the case for me one night at the of the beginning of this month. After a day of being sick, my husband was taken by ambulance to the emergency room. Let me just state, one more time for the Universe to hear, diabetes fucking sucks. He has Type 1 and for some reason, his body decided to flip out and slip into diabetic ketoacidosis. As we have three children at home and are in the middle of flu season, I was stuck. I couldn’t go with him in the ambulance. I couldn’t follow behind with the kids in tow. On our previous trip to the local ER a year previously, I had learned that when the security guard says no one with children is allowed back to where the patients are, he really means it. And no amount of yelling and crying will convince him otherwise.

So I had to sit at home and wait for childcare to come before I could go and catch up. When I finally was able to join him, I was a wreck. I do not handle not knowing things well. Knowing that he was ill, possibly even gravely ill, and there was nothing I could do, drove me crazy. It was in that interim that I felt the crown start slipping.

 

I was at the mercy of those who I had asked for help. From the EMTs that transported him to the hospital to the ER workers who were working on him to the family members I called in tears, I was indebted to all of them. I had bent my knees before them and asked of them their service. I felt helpless. I felt powerless. I felt needy. I felt like a bother. And to their credit, the hospital workers and nurses, the EMTs and staff never once made me feel this way on purpose. They were just doing their job. They were pleasant and kind and gave me so many words of encouragement.

When I finally arrived at our local ER, I found out the process to transfer him from our local emergency room to the closest regional Veteran’s hospital had not only already begun but had been approved. After an hour or so, he was placed back in the ambulance and taken off to a waiting bed in the MICU at the VA hospital that was an hour south of us.

I said my goodbyes while he was being loaded into back of the ambulance and walked myself to my vehicle. If I had ridden with him, I would have been stuck away from not just my kids and my dog, but my home and all my other responsibilities. Just because my world hiccupped doesn’t mean that it stopped spinning around me. So driving myself down would allow me to drive myself home when I needed to.

So I did what I had to do. I got in the truck and I cried. I cried and cried and cried. And then I stopped, pulled up Google directions, and drove off into the night.

 

The Road To ReCoronation

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There’s a pair of owls that live on my street. I’ve seen them cuddling each other while sitting on the tree behind my house. Sometimes, I hear them calling to each other during the evening from different trees in different yards. Sometimes, the crazy birds hoot during the day, when I just assume they should be sleeping. No matter where they are, no matter what they are hooting about, they make me smile. They make me feel like I’m at home. They make me happy.

But honestly, I as much as I love them, I am not one of them. I am so not a night owl. So my drive to the hospital was extra complicated. It was well after midnight when I left the ER in my city and the place I was going was, according to Google, an hour and six minutes away. Maybe it was my worry. Maybe it was my fear. But at some point, being awake well past my normal prime didn’t seem to matter. I’m usually going to sleep with the chickens. On that night, while taking the back roads that lead me to the Interstate, I was one with the owls.

It was this time alone that allowed me to think about everything that was going on. It gave me room to evaluate what was going on in my life and how I should handle it. The wheels and the road were just rhythmic enough to zone me out to a state of thinking where I was able to assess what was and what was yet to be. I was also able to face the reality of the shallowness of the pool of physical, local support my family and I had our feet in. These revelations were neither positive or negative at that time. Like the shadows my headlights created on the trees that lined the roads, they just were. The emotions from them would come later, when more time could be assigned to them.

I’m not going to incriminate myself and talk about my speeding on the way down there. But for the most part, the stretch of Interstate I was on was pretty empty. And I was lucky enough that none of South Carolina’s finest were working that area that night. I made it all the way into the single digit exits for the city and found where I needed to go. With it being the early morning hours, I was able to find parking and somehow found my way into the back emergency entrance of the VA hospital.

It was then, when I crossed that threshold, that I felt the crown straighten. The kind lady at the desk helped me direct me to the elevators and soon I found my way to the floor and then the room where my husband was.

I’d like to say it was a joyous reunion and that the night was one of those magical nights where the love of the couple overwhelmed whatever sickness was happening.  It was not a Disney movie type night. It was a night in an intensive care unit with someone who very ill and his significate other who was very worried. Nurses were in and out taking blood and doing glucose checks. There was vomiting and pain. There were machines beeping and malfunctions. And needles. So many needles.  And when there was sleep, it was fitful and separated by tubes and bed rails. For me, it was in a hardbacked chair with a pillow and a blanket kindly brought by a nurse who might have actually been more than just a human.

But we were together. I was there when he needed me. And even when he didn’t know I was there, I was there. And slowly, the crown righted it’s self on my head. I was fragile and unsure, but I knew what to do. I wasn’t helpless. I was able to step outside my fear and do my best for the ones I love. Even if that act was nothing more than holding a hand, rubbing a leg, or getting more ice chips.

 

Ever After

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Now because all of that happened, the rest of the first weekend of February was pretty much a shitshow. There were trips back home, trips to get the kids, frustrations about feeling like I was not getting what I help thought I should be getting. It was hard you guys. Being separated from where I felt I needed to be and expected to keep just pounding along like life was normal was excruciating.

But what could I do? There’s no option for curling up and crying until the hard parts are over. Slowly, the minutes turned to hours, the hours to days and after more worrying that I’ve done about anything worth worrying about, we got the notification. After recovering enough to be moved to a normal room and having his levels be normal for 12 or so hours, it was time for him to come home. So that evening, it was just a process of loading up the kids and making the drive down.

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It was a lot different this time. I was a lot different this time too.

The road didn’t hold the same amount of self-reflection in the daylight. Even though the sun had managed to slip out of the sky while we were driving, the car was filled with too much excitement, relief, and still nervousness for there to be any meditative feeling. It is a known fact that when you are traveling with children in the vehicle, any drive becomes less ‘Oprah Super Soul Sunday’ and more ‘Mad Max Fury Road’.

After getting turned around in traffic and entering through a non-entering way, we finally were reunited. And with him entering the car, it was over. The lessons we learned were not.

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While his health is paramount here, there is a whole stream of things from this I learned about myself. I learned about the holes in my circle and the need to fill them. I learned that I need to believe in myself and my abilities more. I am responsible for so many people, wallowing in my doubt is just not an option.

Sometimes shit is going to go down and I’m going to be the one who is going to be one to hold it together. Whether I want to be the one or not. It’s just what it is.

I can’t rely on the road to remind me of that.

I have to wear the crown and all its weight in it’s full glory.
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Imbolc-less

As I’m sure you all know by now, I am not the best when it comes to keeping up with rituals and holidays. Not just Craft related, I even suck when it comes to, for lack of a better word, secular holidays. Case in point, the date of Thanksgiving always eludes me. As do the dates for Memorial Day, Easter, and Presidents Day. I know they are holidays but damned if I remember when and doubled damned if I know what to do for them.

So I hope you will forgive me if I don’t write you a refresher course on Imbolc.  I know that it is important and has major significance as it marks the halfway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox and is one of the eight Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year. I know it is often seen as a women’s holiday and is one that centers around the goddess Brigid, especially in the Wiccan tradition. But this is nothing that you can’t find out via hundreds, if not thousands, of other sources. Most, if not all, will be written much better than this, I’ll bet. But for me, it’s just not something anything I’ve ever been about.

Imbolc had never called me the way other holidays have.

I don’t know if the weirdo kid in me was just predestined to feel more comfortable with Samhain once I fully learned about it or if the end of the year is just something I prefer.

Maybe its the timing of the year that makes Ostara feel right. I’m not sure.

And Yule, well it’s Yule!! Even if I say I don’t get hyped for Yule, I do.

But Imbolc? It just doesn’t work for me.

I know that’s not much of a thing to boast about but, maybe that’s just another part of the beauty of being an eclectic witch. You find what works for you and use it. When something doesn’t, well you can leave it behind.

The key thing to remember however is that just because one thing is not your scent of incense doesn’t mean you get to ruin it for others. With being on this grand adventure of eclectic witchiness comes some responsibility. Just because it’s not right for us, doesn’t mean those that feel it is are wrong. The converse is also true. Just because our path is roomy enough for some spiritual pick and choose doesn’t mean that those that stick to a more narrower version can gatekeep and try to keep us in their lane. It’s a two-way street, and if we all check our egos, it’s one that’s big enough for all us.

When the sticky parts of something as personal as religion and spirituality are discussed it’s hard not to be defensive. And for those of us who have lived for years in a society that has always made us have to be prepared to protect ourselves, we tend to walk around with our fist clenched. But when it comes to being honest, open and understanding among each other, it’s time to unclench those fist and listen. We have enough enemies. We don’t need infighting to pick apart what those on the outside would celebrate seeing undone.

So, me not being into Imbolc isn’t a big deal. If you are, that is awesome. I hope that your Imbolc is amazing. Whatever it is you have planned, I hope it is wonderous. I hope it is beautiful and brings you happiness. (And if you are going to share it, I want to see!! I might not be doing anything, but I love seeing others doing their stuff. I’m a pro selfie/picture sharing person. If it makes you happy, share it with the world. I want to see it!)

While a whole lot of us in the Americas are frozen right now, being reminded that Spring is on the way isn’t a bad thing. Knowing that the thaw is on it’s way is something to look forward to. Enjoy whatever makes you feel good inside and fills your heart.

You do you, Dear Readers, you do you.

The Blood Moon Eclipse

Excitement abounds!

Tonight is the night of the Blood Moon Eclipse!

Overnight from January 20th to the 21st, the Moon, who happens to look a bit larger thanks to its Supermoon status, will turn a bloody dull red color as it slips into the Earth’s shadow. The event will be visible in North and South America. Parts of Western Europe and African will also get to see the event as well.  

According to the site TimeandDate, for me, the partial eclipse will start at 10:33 pm with the moon getting a little red. The party will really begin around 11:41 pm when the total eclipse starts. It will reach it peak around 12:12 am and from there on start to decrease.

(Short unsolicited plug for that website: Just plug in your zipcode and boom! It will tell you the times, direction, altitude, and give you a nifty animation of the eclipse. And if you are boxed it, there are links for a live stream of the event so you watch from home. I stumbled upon via a google search and it looks to be a really handy tool.)

I am pretty psyched about the eclipse.
One, because duh, it’s a moon event. It’s pretty common knowledge, witches love moon events. I’m totally one of those “Hey look at the moon!” type people.

And two, it gives me something to look forward to, and a small goal to set in the continued effort to make myself better.

Staying awake at night is one of my current struggles. I have never been a night person, but recently? It’s like a hundred times worse.

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I don’t know how much of it is related to emotional exhaustion and how much of it is actually being tired, but once it gets dark and we get the kiddos to bed, my brain pretty much shuts off. All of my evening plans get canceled and I end up pre-sleeping on the couch before I shuffle off to bed to sleep some more. And to top it off, that sleep isn’t even restful! It’s frustrating having a sleep schedule that rivals that of a retirement community when you physically have a lot to do and so many ideas you want to accomplish.

So this rare occurrence gives me something to strive to stay up for. Unlike the 20/20 on Jim and Tammy Bakker that I really wanted to watch that other night, I really feel I can achieve this.  (Listen, they were local and it was a huge scandal. Tammy Faye and her full face of makeup can never be forgotten. Also, I love stories about disgraced pastors. It’s a guilty pleasure I will never feel sorry for.)

My plan tonight is pretty simple. Seeing as how I’m more of a play it by ear witch than a ritual specialist, I plan to just spend some time observing the Eclipse. I’m going to take out some of my crystals out for charging, burn a new palo santo stick, and, until the cold makes me too uncomfortable, recharge myself under the Blood Moon.

While I am not an astrologist, I do accept that the eclipse and the full moon are agents of change. They are symbols that everything is in flux and that sometimes we have to be open to the shake-up of cyclic nature of the world around us. They are a reminder that all things, all ideas and more importantly, all struggles, are temporary. We are forever changing and experiencing growth. And if the Moon can travel into the path of the Earth, and change her color, while in the middle of her shape changing dance, we can change the things about us that we are struggling with.

And I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty damn inspirational.

I hope no matter where you are Dear Readers, you take advantage of the Magick of the Blood Moon tonight. Even if it’s from indoors or online. Whatever you need to replenish and replace during this amazing event, whatever you need to heal or fix, I hope the Moon and her special event provide you some support and clarity.