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Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

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Mercury's Daughter
dante/translation
catvalente
It is now the Year of the Rat.

Admittedly, that does not sound promising. But it is, in the Chinese Wheel. Promising. And because of Palimpsest, my New Year was less renewal than the advent of a hell of a lot of work. So it's appropriate, I think, that I'm feeling the New Year now, as the rat peeps out, so to speak. Still New Year, different Year. Not 2008. My friend, the Rat.

See, I don't talk about it on this journal much, but the last couple of years have been an insane road for me, and the last year was one of grief and loss and depression. Darkest days, no joke. Divorce, moving to a new country, a new state, the ugly loss of my first post-marriage relationship, a frenzied publication schedule--mainly I've just been bunkered, waiting for the next blow. Only in the last few weeks have I had any inkling that maybe there is no crushing blow in store, maybe the rest of my life is starting, and I've done enough penance to deserve some happiness in it.

Part of me wishes I had done more than just finished a book. That I shouldn't feel so much as though right this second I have a chance to turn my life around and reinvent myself, just because a deadline has passed. But I have three finished novels in various stages of the publication process, I have time to relax for the first time in years, justbeast    and I are doing really well, I've bought dishes and a table a bed that are mine, that are the exact ones I want, our house is beginning to feel like ours, and for the first time since I moved to Ohio, I feel like this is here and now and I have to build a life, not just hold on until something passes, be it pain or deadline or breakup. I am alive, and I have to start acting like it. I must become more awesome, as a wise woman said at World Fantasy. This kind of awesome.

Only thing is, I'm not really sure how. It's quite hard to meet people in town, and our social circle has shrunk due to disapproval, breakup fallout, and a fair shake of intolerance. Not to mention I don't know anyone into whose acquaintance I was not grandfathered by justbeast  or grailquestion. I work at home, I don't know the city too well.

I'm taking little steps. zoethe    is teaching me to quilt. I'm starting glassblowing classes on Tuesday, inspired by regyt   . I'm going to do all those things you said I should, slowly, one by one. (I also joined OKCupid, though that has been less than effective in meeting anyone.) I've been keeping to a strict workout regimen, and I'm going to put pink streaks in my hair. I got my nipple pierced. I'm trying. It's hard work, getting reborn. I'm going to swim and spear-fish naked in Lake Erie a lot come summer. I'm going to try to be warmer and more open and less frightened of things. I'm going to go dancing more often. I'm trying, and it's hard. I feel too young and too old. I feel invisible most of the time. I'm lost. But I'm trying.

The funny thing about Pinocchio is that he never really figured out how he became a real boy. The Blue Fairy just smiled at him, and he had bones and blood and a sell-by date. He never got it--he had to fight through whales and crickets and donkey ears and hell and heaven just to be real.

He thought he earned it.

But he stole it.


It's a hard and bloody battle, just to feel like you belong to the world. You have to sneak up on living in the dark and hold it while it squirms and changes shape, hold it long enough that it starts to believe it's yours. And the fairies, when you find them, don't wear blue and they don't smile much. You have to go to the ocean to steal your heart and the Marionette Theatre to steal your voice and Pleasure Island to steal your cunt. It's a quest and it's a heist and it's a saving throw, but I want to be a real girl, and if it kills me, I'll find a way. Me and my Rat.

I may end up with donkey ears. I'm willing to risk it.

Even with donkey ears, you'd still be really cute.

;)

"I am alive, and I have to start acting like it. "

I hear you loud and clear. Here's to a wonderful Year of the Rat and ones after ...!

Here's to the Year of the Rat. And here's to flesh-and-bone, donkey-ears or no.

Also: glass-blowing lessons? Oh, man. I want. To take. Them with you. I want to take them! (grins) Have a fabulous time -- just watching glassblowers demonstrating at the Ren Fair has always been miraculous.

Just wanted to post, since our icons are the same. :)

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I wish we lived closer, too. Maybe in March, we'll make the stars align.

Reading your journal has been a calm pleasure for me as of late. For the first time in a long time it is nice to see in words the thoughts I have a hard time expressing myself.

It's quite hard to meet people in town, and our social circle has shrunk...

I completely understand why it is a challenge. Even after 31 years, I still feel like a guest to this city.

I know saying, "me too," is trite and unnecessary, but I can empathize with almost everything you've said here. In some ways it's kind of depressing (Why *am* I going to do tonight... other than sit alone?) but it is also comforting. To be known and understood, even in anonymity, is a beautiful thing.

I wrote something here once. I emailed it to you instead. You're already more courageous than I, apparently.

I feel exactly the same way as you. Only I didn't even have the courage to Email her.

Have you ever read Franz Kafka's The Castle? What you're looking for sounds a lot like what "K" was looking for in that novel—to learn society's rules despite their nonsensical nature (well, at least some of them), and to be accepted despite all the bureaucracy the "system" puts in our path.

We're very much in a similar place right now, although I find myself internalizing it on livejournal while you blaze forth in glory. Maybe I will find the openness to follow soon-- but filtered.

I wave at you from my path, parallel-yet-not to yours, and flash some arcane symbols of good luck and good grace.

Glassblowing... awesome!! I made some torchworked/blown glass ornaments at the holidays and was thrilled with the process and the outcome.

Transforming is a hell of a thing. Last may I picked up my dogs and as much as I could cram into my car and moved across the country. 3000 miles away from everything I thought I knew... and I haven't been this happy in a long time. Maybe ever. It hasn't been easy... it hasn't been painless... but it's been good for me. Some days, I'm like a whole new person.

The transformative process is hard, and no-one should tell you different. I have transformed myself and moved thousands of miles twice now, and am about to do it again. It's painful and joyous and full of fear and there is now way out but though. But you know this. You are engaged in the process and there is a light that shines out from you as more and more of last-year's skin falls away from your new self. You'll do beautifully because you are already doing beautifully, even if sometimes all you can see is the distance between here and your goal. But the beauty of goals like transforming yourself is that there is no one moment when you can say "I have arrived" and then you stop. Because at that point you stop living.

I know I have only met you the one time at WisCon, but I felt an immediate connection. You make me wish I lived in the same city, and that's a pretty neat trick since I never want to live in Ohio, ever.

You are a real girl. You just need to believe.

It's so funny how things synch up sometimes. scathedobsidian and I were just talking about Pinocchio last night and how it terrified me as a child, specifically Pleasure Island, because I had been trained that it was the personification of all evil and hedonism is the worst trait a person can have.

You're very real. In fact, I think you may be one of the realest people I've ever met.

Well, maybe you and I can go get donkey ears together. ;)

Okay, the glassblowing, yes, utterly awesome. But what got me?

I'm going to swim and spear-fish naked in Lake Erie a lot come summer.

You are rocking the Amazonian huntress thing! And the idea that you could go from shaping glass with your hands and breath to spearing fish is just ... Mythic, really. This Rat heartily approves, and I've no doubt you and yours will do wonders this year.

You sound like you're able to be happy again. I'm so glad.

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A day belated, but since you are celebrating now, Gong Xi Fa Cai!

I really think that rebirth is a process that is not sudden, but is actually a never ending series of little changes. I was thinking about this recently due to a quarter-life crisis (I turn 25 on Sunday and I STILL am waiting tables at the same restaurant and am substitute teaching. College degree opening doors my ass). From the sound of it you are already moving in the direction you want to go. You have friends, you have a burgening writing career, you are taking on new creative activities, you are working to improve the health of your mind and body, and you are trying new things like the naked spear fishing in Lake Erie (the fact that the lake caught fire once not-withstanding), and you are making a home. You are actively trying to improve life and to mold it into the form you desire; this alone puts you leaps and bounds farther down the stretch than most people.

The meeting new people thing is hard. I myself tend to be rather reclusive and would often prefer to sit in my room and read, draw, or write than go anywhere that involves people. The fact that the career path of "writer" is an intensly solitary profession probubly doesn't help this much. However, it sounds like you do have some good friends, and that is nothing to sneeze at. Also, meeting new people via current friends can lead to new friendships.

So yes, steal yourself from the oceans and temples. Battle dragons and demons and reshape your world until it conforms to the images in your mind. Hunt down fairies hiding deep within the secret places of the world to grant your wishes. Become "more awsome," because, from what I can tell, yer already on your way.

I am now going to go eat some of the Thai food I made for myself last night. Mmm dinner.

the fact that the lake caught fire once not-withstanding

I know I am a Clevelander because I can say with indignance now: dude, that was totally the river, and it was a really long time ago. The lake was just declared ecologically dead. No big. ;)

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