Elizabeth Gilbert says that memoir is actually far less intimate than fiction writing. Isn’t that interesting? Writers actually reveal more of themselves when they write fiction than they do when writing memoir. Because you get to write about the things that happened to you, I’m going to. But I’m not stupid. Naive yes, but stupid no. I know the legal parameters and consequences involved when doing that. And that is where my love of fairy tales comes into play.
Fairy tales have so much: good and evil, magic, mystery, adventure, romance. So I was re-reading the (horribly shitty) draft of the dark fairy tale I posted here a few months ago, and it does seem to have the basics of the story I want to weave. I haven’t had a lot of time to really focus on it lately. But I have some more quiet time coming up and I can give it more attention. I’m going to print it off, edit, make some plot and character notes, and off and away I’ll go.
Meanwhile, there’s the pool, and a possible trip to a cabin on a lake with my family, and about ten books in my To Read queue I want to get to. A busy, good summer ahead, with a couple of projects to keep me busy (always a good idea). My daughter and I are adding more fruits and vegetables to our diet and are going to take some hikes on local nature trails, do lots of swimming, and try yoga and belly dancing together this summer. What’s cool about having a 9 year old, I’m finding, is she can do STUFF now. I can share some of my favorite bad 90s rom-coms I love with her: Hope Floats, Music and Lyrics (okay fine that’s 2007, but BARELY out of the 90s), Notting Hill, My Best Friend’s Wedding, While You Were Sleeping, Muriel’s Wedding, Never Been Kissed…she’s already addicted to Clueless. And other movies that I just love with all of me: Forrest Gump, The Color Purple, Legends of the Fall, Practical Magic, Titanic, Groundhog Day, Edward Scissorhands, Braveheart, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Dances With Wolves…I mean, clearly we’ve got Movie Nights at Home covered.
I took her to see Solo the other night. Meh. And she slept through half of it. I think the Star Wars stories with female leads are simply better now. More Leia, less Luke. Why are movie dates so expensive?! $28 for two tickets, $25 for one popcorn/drink. Crazy. Movie night at home is so much better, plus less people to wade through and process. The theater we saw Solo at had reclining seats. The man sitting next to me took his shoes off and brought a blanket with him…I mean what?? Also, he used the arm rest between us. I vowed if he tried to use my shoulder as a pillow, I would poke one of his eyes out with an elbow. I am really really beginning to avoid strangers more and more. Other people exist in the world, and it is not all about YOU, strangers in movie theaters.
On the other hand, I can’t wait to take her to some concerts. And outdoor Shakespeare in a park! Or Shakespeare in general. And some plays. And some concerts she likes. I thoroughly enjoy my daughter’s company at these things. And I like talking to her afterwards, to see her perspective on what she experienced.
I feel like this is an incredibly bland, boring blog entry. It’s entirely possible it’s bland and boring because so am I these days. I am over drama and people who thrive on it. My last complete rage was Saturday, when that calmed down I vowed to never allow another human being to disrupt my inner peace like that ever again; I have spent the last 3 years being scared, crying my eyes out over a selfish person, and being made to feel used rather than wanted. I have said my piece, and I am focused on doing what is best for me now. And what do I want right now? I want quiet. I want peace. I want to work through my darkness and bring forth the light again. The best (and only way) I know how to do that is to write. And I write openly and publicly because I just do. This is how I’ve always done it, and I’m not going to stop because someone else gets their panties in a wad about it. I was advised, in the past, over and over: nobody owes anyone else a thing. And so I’m putting that advice to good use now and focusing on writing in a way that makes ME happy.
When I was writing blogs in 2014, I was completely able to do this…I never thought: is XX reading this?? Or: if I say this, could XX feel this? Or: who cares about this?? I just wrote. Because I felt like it. In my head, I created an imaginary person, someone I’d like to hang out with very much, and I wrote to that person. That was my audience: an imaginary person that didn’t actually exist, but if they did we’d be BFFs and they’d read everything I wrote and high five me. I’m having a hard time finding that person again. And the girl who wrote that 2014 blog.
My boyfriend says I sound just the same as I did back then. So maybe it’s that I no longer FEEL the same. I have been skittish since late 2015. Now my skittish is skittish. I like people (who don’t take off their shoes and bring blankets to movie theaters), but I understand the darkness of people now, and how their darkness can bring out your own. And what that does to a person. I know what it has done to me. I don’t feel like myself anymore. It makes it hard to find (an imaginary) muse, and to feel free as I write. Which, again, is why this may be my most boring, bland blog.
Oh wait! I thought of something to write about that’s not bland…can I say one more thing before I sign off (I’m not actually asking, that was rhetorical)?
Being a woman is scary. I once was followed for about 4 blocks in Midtown Atlanta by a man who “just wanted to talk to me.” There was no one else around and I made it very clear I did not want to talk to HIM. Yet he continued, and kept following me, until I reached the main road where a female police officer was standing on the sidewalk…I practically ran to up to her to ask directions to the theatre. And the man disappeared.
Online, I have learned there are men in the world who deeply hate women, and some of them hide this very well. Others just do it anonymously, the coward’s way out: the other day on the Internet, I had a scary man with a scary @ name retweet and reply and quote tweet some of what I said…none of what he was attacking me about had absolutely anything to do with him; it didn’t involve him at all. My real face and name is attached to whatever I say there, so I think it takes a special kind of coward to verbally attack someone from an anonymous account. The person I was interacting with was male…and he wasn’t attacked. So you can imagine what narratives my brain can run with on that. Whatever the case, male misogynists are on both sides of the political aisle, and they are all horrible people. I find gamers to be particularly plagued with this problem, and women are regularly attacked online for expressing emotion, opinion, or telling our stories. There’s a reason the #MeToo movement is so huge; women have been dealing with crap like this for eons. Don’t even get me started on what black women have had to put up with, still do.
I’ve read very well-written, thoughtful pieces by men about the hardships women face online…and then these very men are often discovered to be guilty of that which they have protested and judged. Men are interesting like that…is it their ability to compartmentalize so thoroughly, they can’t see the log in their own eye? I don’t know. I love several. I have a good handful of men in my life who are very, very good men, so this is not a diatribe against all men. I’m just stating what I have experienced at the hands (fingers?) of men on the Internet (100% on Twitter, by the way) and have observed happening to other women.
So I fight back verbally now. If I catch bad behavior by a man, I’ll call it out. I am ONLY interested in interacting with and hearing from decent men, who deeply and truly respect women. Men who quote Bible verses then retweet a porn video? Bye, Felipe, you’re one sick puppy. Men who write about protecting women online then go on the attack against one? See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya. My boyfriend hates blocking people; I don’t have a problem with it. Blocking and wall building are my two special magical talents, and I like to use them freely on that particular social media website. It is very very bad there. Very bad. I’ve said (20,000 times, I’m told) I hate that place and am leaving. I’ve even been encouraged to delete my account by certain icky men there. The fastest way to get me NOT to do something is to tell me to do it, though. But mostly I don’t because I was fine there for a very long time. I let one dweeb in, then another, then a true sociopath, Donald Trump gets elected, and BAM. Now I’m doing regular battle with bored psychos who hate women. Crazy. But I’m tough. I’M not quitting.
I know I could easily get rid of them by just quoting happy happy peace peace friendly cute puppy gifs and memes. Be completely boring. But I want to write again, and I’ve Google researched it: writers HAVE to have a Twitter. And, like Mara Wilson observed in her excellently written article about this particular website, I genuinely like SOME people there. It has brought me some very good people–two women friends and a lovely gentle soul in Los Angeles who writes poetry and has been quietly supportive for a steady three years of utter nonsense from me. I met a man I love deeply there. These aren’t just patient people, they are people who don’t seem to have rules or unspoken expectations for conformity from me to the friendship. And those are the best kinds. I find.
Where was I? I think I’m completely off tracked now…writing, dark fairy tale, 90s movies, weird theater people, misogynists on social media. I have no idea how to wrap this up. I think I just felt like typing thoughts out. And thus goes my brain.
Wait! Here. Here is a summary of my Memorial Day, 2018. I had delicious shrimp teriyaki and mango boba tea, bought sunflowers to foil the rainy day, there were sweet memories, and tie dye shoes were made (plus one shirt destroyed), and one crazy picture of the love of my life was taken – quirky gifts I am occasionally left to find when I open my phone.
I’m gonna be okay. I just need to be tough and THWACK! at the hyenas out there, and get to a point where I just completely and utterly and totally ignore their whining and yapping. But mostly: write. Writing always makes me feel better, even if what I write makes no sense to anyone else (secret: I’m not writing for anybody here but me) (…and an imaginary muse, if I can think one up).
Let’s try this anew. Fresh. I’m a big believer in fresh starts. Because fresh is awesome.
Allow me to reintroduce myself. This is my story and then I shall be off and running once more here.
I’ve been writing since Mrs. Tippie chose my story about an owl family and shared it with my 2nd grade classmates, declaring it “one of the finest stories” she’d ever read. Mrs. Tippie failed at teaching me how to borrow and regroup in Math, but she is one of the catalytic reasons I continue to express myself best via written word to this day.
Since then, I have written middle school sappy romances involving boy bands and various muscle-y superheroes and emo soap opera stars I desperately wished would love me. I have a stack of journals full of my progress (and many times DEgress) through life as a young adult to (as my 9 year old daughter calls it) a middle-aged woman. In 2005, I discovered blogging. Over the years, I have maintained (and abandoned) numerous blogs.
In 2015, I separated from my husband and my daughter and I moved to an apartment. I met two men who flipped my world upside down in bad ways, and eventually in 2017 I gave up writing altogether.
While I firmly subscribe to the belief that bad people do good things and good people do bad things, that we are all a mixture of light and dark, and I am certainly no exception, I’m also healing from some really terrible people I let in over the last few years. Whenever I’ve struggled with hard things and weird feelings and anger and sorrow and fear and just general “wtf is wrong with the world and other people??” thoughts, the one thing that always helped me work through icks like that is words – reading other people’s and writing my own. Because stories heal us. They connect and teach us, and help us examine ourselves. And they heal us. Even when they connect us to bad people. Those teach us, too. Because we are made of stories.
THAT is a brainful of a title for a mere blog entry, I apologize. But I’ve gotten my bathroom cleaned, my grocery shopping done, my job-work prepped for next week, and so I’m self-exploring today, and of all the overly dramatic titles I came up with, it was the most forthright.
Are you interested in a dark fairy tale? I’ve been working on it since this morning. It originally started as a navel-gazing, whiny reflection on a past hurt, a this-is-why-I-build-walls-dammit blog entry that got wieldy and really, really dumb. Then I suddenly felt like writing a dark fairy tale semi-based on it, and now here I am. It’s long and very much in shitty first draft form so some parts may be confusing or ramble-y with odd word phrasing and/or word choice. Occasionally my inner spell checker starts drunk-typing and writes pore instead of pour and the like. And you’d need some time. Do you have time? Are fairy tales super cliche? But I mean seriously, there’s a fucked up evil wizard and a betrayed sorceress in it and everything.
(…….seven hours later edit: I have to break this up into parts. I’ll post the other parts tomorrow and whenever I finish them.)
Once upon a time, there lived a sorceress. She was neither bad nor good; in fact, she really didn’t understand her magic or how to use it. In moments she did use it, it was simply to conjure a new fantastic flower she remembered once catching a glimpse of from an idea of a long-forgotten dream of a traveling, sleeping faerie nearby. Or she used it to sing to her bees, to encourage them to grow new trees dripping with inexplicable fruit that could feed armies, and soften long-hardened hearts with the sweetness of their juices. The Sorceress passed her time singing and dancing alone, sometimes in glittering garbs made from silk spun by fat worms under Harvest Moons, sometimes offering her pure, naked skin to the Sun god or the Moon goddess, glowing with their light as her wild dark hair teased and kissed dewy air.
Without inhibition or shame, she made fierce and free love to the gods and goddesses of wind and fire, rain and thunder, happily giving them her sighs and moans and deep throaty laughter with all the the other offerings from her Garden. Because though it was a hidden thing, her magical, mystic Garden, in truth the Sorceress had no known enemies. In fact, had one informed her of the reaches of her power, the Sorceress would have laughed a hearty laugh to hear of it, to learn she possessed magical skills that were near goddess-like. There were times, though, when she had quiet and thoughtful moments and tried hard to remember a Time Before, prior to when she’d arrived in her garden. She found she couldn’t remember being born, growing up, or how she had arrived to be in her garden. She could remember nothing except being alive and creating flowers and dancing and plotting with the bees, making love to her gods and goddesses choreographing grateful rituals of hedonistic dances for the abundance which sustained her. Because to the Sorceress, she was merely a gardener. She simply tended her plants with love, convincing the weeds by loving them to love each plant they grew near exactly as she did, that there was no reason at all for any living creature or plant in the world to kill or steal from each other; for the Sorceress it was simply impossible that anything in the world was incapable of living in beauty and harmony. And so in her garden everything flourished together with abandon because that was all she ever imagined and whatever she imagined passed into being.
Thus, whenever someone new and strange did stumble upon her and her home, she welcomed them into her garden without guile, bringing wine she’d pressed herself from dripping honeysuckle, feeding them enormous grapes from her own fingers, and wiping the juices that dripped from their corners of their lips slowly and seductively with her own tongue, teasing her guests until they squirmed with desire for her. The Sorceress would softly coax their deepest longings or dreams they’d long forgotten, from their hearts, then reach for either her flute or harp and quietly begin a song created only for her gobsmacked visitor, male and female alike, as she wove gentle tendrils of peace and love into his or her being, until they climaxed in waves and were exhausted and spent, drifting away on a patch of soft grass, with nothing but her garden’s soft, warm breeze wrapping them into a deep, satisfying sleep.
(I bet right now you’re going: Amy, the hell? How is THIS a dark fairy tale? That kind of starts further down, but not full-on dark until Part Two. Also: stop interrupting my dark fairy tale.)
Indeed, the Sorceress and her garden were legend. Both traveling peddlers and battle-scarred knights who knew of her and had somehow managed to stumble onto her mythological Eden would awake on its soft grasses at the edge of it at least once on their many journeys. Some would even pluck a rose or two as either a souvenir or proof or both, then boast of their fortune at taverns where they rested. There, still reeling from her touch, they would tell stories or sing songs or recite smitten, drunken poems of sleeping under her trees while being caressed by gentle, warm breezes even in the middle of frozen blizzards. They told stories of smelling sweet grasses and honey, of dreaming impossible images filled with colors they could no longer find words to describe. Some who’d woken and bravely wandered even further into her magical space often tried to detail, to anyone willing to listen, the swiftness of the sparkling tails that swept softly past their faces or behind their backs by the hundreds, and swore they felt gentle fingers tracing their brows, drawing mysterious and protective sigils onto their foreheads then their shoulders and chests and backs while a faraway voice hummed lullabies to them, sweet songs they recognized as the very ones their mothers had once sung to them long ago, while they nursed at full, silken breasts dripping with rich, sugary milk.
They’d hold up the souvenirs they’d stolen for their audiences, roses that never withered or died, that stayed ever red or white or yellow or pink, with ethereal glows that seemed to emanate deep from their stamens, as their listeners stared in slack-jawed disbelief, yet determined by an inexplicable pull to experience it all for themselves one day.
Eventually, though, the Sorceress’ visitors would eventually come to doubt their memories as they grew into bedridden old men, broken by war and life and thousands of nightmares they’d created for themselves out of millions of nightmares they’d cast upon innocents they’d pillaged and raped.
Surely their impressions were merely the dreams of lost, war-torn soldiers wandering long from home, building fantasies around themselves to mend mutilated minds gone mad from both the loss of innocence and the taking of it. They would die, mere shadows of the giant warriors they’d once been, now withered and bald and toothless and wrinkled old men mumbling fantasy stories of a Sorceress and a garden, their voices cracking and bitter and tired, weeping of their craving to return to its safe warmth, as they clung to a vague hope that the recollections they had of silky hair caressing their sleeping eyelids had, indeed, been real. They begged silent deities their ravaged bodies, now as dry as leather and forever covered in dank sweat that sat and crusted between their wrinkles did truly once feel soft lips trailing the entire lengths of their bodies, creating shivers that once sent their minds reeling in swirls of indescribable ecstasy. They would often cry out in their sleep into cavernous, black nights silent of echoes, nights that were ever increasing in their lengths, their bony fingers beginning to scratch at the corners of the the life and breath the old knights clutched at desperately, sobbing at the memories of feeling pleasures that now came to them in thin wisps, that they would never have again now that life was leaving their weakening bodies.
All the while grime-covered grandchildren wiped at runny noses as they sat spellbound on the floor near their grandfathers’ deathbeds, listening intently as they poked sticks into crackling fires and listlessly stirred boiling kettles of broth concocted for their dying grandfathers because it was the only thing old men could keep down, and their witch-like grandmothers had told them to do it and they knew their angry, lice-covered mothers would take the switch to them mercilessly if they didn’t. The children all knew these tales weren’t real at all, because the dead roses their grandfathers clung to were black and withered things, just like the world outside of them. Yet they were pretty tales to think of, and they thought maybe when they were bigger themselves they would escape this life and go out into the world to become bards or peddlers, and weave them into songs or stories to tell in front fires on their travels and perhaps earn an extra coin or even a kiss from a maiden they might pretend was their very own Sorceress.
There were, once upon a time in this same land,fretful wizards who saw the beauty and power of the Sorceress’ magic – they glimpsed, in the choking smoke splutters from their spell-castings, her enchanted flowers and streams of glittering waterfalls with mermaids that splashed in rainbow pools and unicorns and the elusive Pegasus of lore that ate from her fingers, that allowed her, and only her, to tame them and ride them, barebacked, into inky night skies glittering with stars and wisps of clouds, softly snorting as she combed their manes with her deft fingers, untangling the barbs and massaging their neck muscles of knots. The visions blinded the wizards, awoke lecherous lusts to understand the Sorceress and her magic, so they could use it in their own spells. The most talented wizards knew how to cast dark spells of furious magic that made them rich men, bringing creatures of mystic forests to their knees in supplication, and offering them fantastic treasures which incurred them favor and honor with kings and lords. Yet even their most powerful magic always seemed to lack the kind of true strength they suspected existed in the world, dominance that rightfully ought to belong to them, and only them. The wizards deepest needs were hungers that often matted far down in the nethermost caverns of the murkiest parts of their souls, the bottom of black abysses. So the wizards were never quite sure what their desires actually were, but sensed if they could just possess the right magic, the kind of power only known to gods and goddesses, they would finally be able to access their every need, wishes even their own souls were unaware of, and their dominance would be realized, and quite permanent.
The most dynamic and efficacious of these wizards was a very nondescript, gap-toothed yet unattractive, pale man who often woke paralyzed by fear and hate.
His name was Stephan the Forgotten, and he didn’t know it, but the hovel of a hut in which he existed touched the very tips of the Sorceress’ garden he’d begun to spend his every hour seeking fitfully, both awake and dreaming.
Stephan lived alone, his tiny pigpen of a home covered in soot from the constant fire that burned in the center of his one-room home, a black kettle on it always, filled either with Stephan’s dinner of bland stew or a foul concoction of a spell that Stephan would sell to lords and ladies, kings and knights, serfs and commoners alike…who he bartered with never mattered to Stephan, as long as he was paid and tales of his magical abilities were spread far and wide. His coffers were always filled either with gold or bread and, once in awhile, an oh-so desperate farmer in danger of being evicted from his own hovel, would bring him one of his somewhat comely but filthy daughters so Stephan could terrorize, torture, beat, and rape her of her virginity and innocence before discarding her in a village somewhere far from all she knew, to a life of whoring, which is all Stephan truly believed women were worthy of. Stephan did this regularly to the peasants of the valley in which he existed, from the village he lived in but also villages near and far, in exchange for a drop of dark hope from his kettle, a bottle to be drunk under a new moon after slaughtering a pig or a cow and bringing that as well to Stephan. In exchange, he gave them promised magic that next season’s crops would produce more than they had this season, and thus the lord would allow them to stay on a bit longer, continuing to eke out any bit of existence he possibly could, even though he would turn over almost all of it to the lord of the manor in the castle high above his pathetic existence.
For the kings and knights, lords and ladies, Stephan wove spells that shrouded their dreams with images of spices from exotic places, or promises of lost relics from the Holy Land, of triumphant battles that would win them the hand of a princess along with a noble title and all the land and riches that came with it. Stephan wove spells that gave them even more riches, even greater glory, bigger castles with deeper moats and the strongest weapons. In return, they filled Stephan’s hovel with jewels and gold coins he added to wooden boxes he buried in the dirt floor beneath his hut, boxes so spilling with rubies and emeralds and pearls that Stephan was constantly carving new wood into more boxes.
Ladies who found Stephan’s unusual looks strangely enchanting wove him intricate tapestries by their own hand. Some of these bore simplistic pictures of mundane life, others attempted to seduce him with bawdy depictions of ladies sucking the appendages of men who looked very much like Stephan, lying in amazing positions with their legs wide open to be probed with the men’s stiff members which were often the size and width of oak trees. These he hid away in piles in a separate, much smaller hut that leaned to the right which allowed the rain to run off it in rivers and kept the contents it sheltered safe and dry. Inside, next to the tapestries, were also dented goblets and shimmering fabrics and ancient coins with strange-looking rulers adorning one side…all from the Holy Land that a rowdy, drunken group of Knights Templar had once brought him, in exchange for vials of heady-smelling oils laced with spells of greatness and promises to make their seed the most virile, bringing them male heirs who would continue building their families’ wealth, ensuring their names endured for centuries, long after they were dead and forgotten.
Stephan had been proposed to by queens and princesses and duchesses and ladies-in-waiting. He had been offered the bodies of the fairest of maidens, had been kissed alluringly, with the supple and teasing tongues of widely desired beauties who possessed eyes of all colors, lashes as long as horse mane’s, and hair like sunshine or black as night or red as sunsets. But he denied them all, deferring politely and shyly, preferring instead to secretly release his vulgar needs into the holes that existed between the legs of the greasy-haired, dirt- and manure-covered daughters of the serfs who surrounded him.
For Stephan the Forgotten was completely and most utterly disinterested in love; his visitors would never know the story of when he was a young wizard just learning magic, of the day he’d met his witch, a wily and weak but pretty witch he’d discovered hiding in a nunnery, cloaking herself in holy water and crucifixes to avoid the villagers intent on burning her at a stake for her evil deeds. Rivulets of copper brown curls hid beneath her wimple and veil, utterly bewitching him the night she’d first let him have her, shaking them around her shoulders, covering her full breasts and taut, pointing nipple she would demand over and over he bite until she screamed in pain.
Soon after finding her, Stephan left the apprenticeship of the hunched over, acrimonious wizard who had already begun to bore him with his teachings of paltry, insignificant magic mere traveling peddlers used to steal petty bits of coins from their stinking audiences. He whisked his enchanting find away from the nunnery into a cold wintry night, after placing the nuns under a simple but long sleeping spell. Stephan believed the Witch’s words, wild promises she’d woven in his brain, pictures of a life filled with brawny lads and dutiful lasses she’d gift to him from her womb and a lifetime of fucking and magic and stealing from both the rich and the poor, which all left him dizzy with her hedonistic visions and completely, utterly besotted and seduced.
As they traveled from village to village, beguiling peasants of their food and what little riches they’d saved, Stephan and his witch plotted the kind of castle they would build together with their magic, magic they’d continue to learn and grow by their own cleverness. They dreamt of the power they’d cultivate and wield, together, over peasants and nobility alike. Stephan would lie with her under trees in forests, broken twigs digging deep into his back creating painful but pleasing welts as the Witch writhed on top of him, her eyes taking on a sharp hunger for something he instinctively knew had nothing to do with him. When she fell asleep under his cloak, her head resting on one of his thin, hairless forearms, he would spend most of the night just watching her sleep, his throat dry and parched from pleasing her, his eyes swimming in tears of disbelief, wondering how he’d fallen upon such a creature. He did not think he would survive without her, and could not imagine how he had reached the age he had without ever knowing she existed with him in the world.
Each time he thought of their couplings now, Stephan’s face contorted in pain and disgust. His devotion to the Witch had been stupid, his heart weak and too trusting. He’d taken her at her word when they arrived at the moat surrounding the castle of that region’s richest lord. The Witch promised Stephan she simply wished to visit the lord of the manor to enamor him, and relieve him of some of his jewels and gold. These were treasures they’d been seeking for many months together, the very riches they’d been dreaming of that would bring them so much closer to their destiny.
Three nights later, his witch returned, informing him a secret enchantment spell she had begun working on long before he’d rescued her from her villagers and the nunnery had worked. The grey castle’s lord had become enraptured with her, he had requested her hand in marriage, and she had accepted. Giggling, the Witch had then opened both hands so Stephan could see the lord’s dark and wet heart wiggling as it beat against her fingers. Then his witch had kissed his forehead, straightened his most errant lock with a bloodied thumb and forefinger, skipped a charming little dance to a ballad only she could hear, and she had spun away from him on one of her barefoot heels, the very heel he had licked with abandon a mere fortnight before. The Witch left Stephan stunned and alone, the now chilly and dark forest frozen and engulfing him, its small animals frozen too, warily watching him, their insides instinctively stinging with an ancient, inborn caution that caused their paws to quiver, their fur to stand straight up from its skin, and their lungs to cease their intake of air until the wizard moved and they knew in which opposite direction to run. Every living thing surrounding Stephan in that moment knew: this was a wounded Wizard, haphazardly trained, and one cast without warning into a dank cave of loss and despair, where the most dangerous of magic was always formed. Creatures as small as hummingbirds had only to make the fatal mistake of flying too close to one of these kinds of warped magic makers once to forever serve as cautionary tales that wove themselves into the genetic memories of each one of their descendants’ bodies.
For years after her goodbye, Stephan stayed where The Witch took her leave of him. His body and mind ached with rage and loneliness, desperate to touch his Witch just one more time, yearning to feel her blazing breath on his loins, to release himself one last time into the muggy depths of the nebulous and mossy cave between her legs. As soon as he could, one last time, he thought he might take his dagger and plunge it into her wicked heart as soon as the last drop of his seed left him and settled into her black, deceptive depths. Then he envisioned turning it on himself, to end his tortured existence, in the hopes they would end up together forever, somewhere in the abysses of the Underworld.
He decided to live in the trunk of the ancient oak under which she’d announced her betrayal. He carved out its guts with both magic and his own sinew, setting up an alter when he finished, dedicating it and his soul to Gwynn ap Nudd, god of fallen warriors and the hunt, but adding his own dark and wicked twist by infusing his offerings to the god with the rotting hearts of the forest’s reptiles and barnacle-geese for which he traveled for miles, once every three months, by foot and enormous, winged dragons he conjured from the fiery depths of Earth, until he reached the rocky beach pounded infinitely by furious, salty waves where the barnacle-geeslings hatched and he could capture, kill, and rip out their innards by the hundreds for the most evil of his blackest concoctions.
All for the perverse love of a corrupt witch.
After ten years had passed, Stephan finally not only understood but also accepted his love had been used, twisted to suit the Witch’s deepest desires and dreams. By then, he had conjured demons and the darkest of the Underworld’s gods. When visited by black magic’s most perverted goddesses, he always drew forth his dagger and lunged at them; all feminine energy was suspicious, lewd to Stephan. He had no use of it. His power had grown in ways he never once imagined it ever could; yet his witch remained impossibly steadfast to her dark lord in his grey castle atop the hill overlooking the shadowy depths of Stephan’s oak den. Each night, he slept in a chair he’d fashioned from twisted birch branches, which he carefully placed so he could stare at the window behind which he’d watch their bodies cavort, swapping sweat and saliva and the lord’s vile seed and the Witch’s foul secretions that leaked between her legs. Stephan sat, each night, watching every act of fornication, and his heart turned black. To be betrayed and rejected was hurtful enough. To know this clumsy bear of a mere mortal had such control over something that belonged to him, created a searing pain deep in his colon. He vowed to make the lord pay for his thievery, and his Witch for her treachery.
As his power grew, so did the blackness choking his heart. But his witch knew; for every night she watched him watching her. Her glittering, green eyes stared at Stephan with calculated consideration from under the lord’s thick, hairy back as the wide shoulders moved over her, back and forth. The Witch watched Stephan watch her; she stared back at him from over the lord’s muscled shoulders, a look of slightly bored but interested caution on her face, daring him to try it, daring him to kill her, and take her lord too.
Each night, Stephan silently accepted the Witch’s challenge again and again, his tortured screams keeping the nocturnal animals well away from his tree as he raced around its inside circumference, mixing dried and poisonous weeds and the bones of real and mythical creatures that killed with his bare hands then eaten their flesh and ground their remains into powders, forever in search of a way to do it, a way he could end her, and stop his pain.
The more powerful and clever he became, the more Stephan knew he would never be able to bring himself to do it. That meant her magic was far more powerful than his own, even as it increased with formidable darkness and evil, night by night, in all its increasingly dangerous power.
And for that, Stephan both loved and hated The Witch. He had never been so powerful, yet so weak.
After ten years of this, Stephan finally felt it was time. He could bear their nightly ruttings no more, could no longer breathe the rancid air of the forest around him. He gathered up his Book of Shadows, its pages covered with blood and soot and wrinkled from splashes of strange, wet mixtures Stephan had concocted seeking rage and revenge. He packed his most powerful and precious magical tools into skins he’d made from stags and bears he’d slaughtered by magic, pushed down his years of raging thoughts and vengeful plans, hushed them sternly as they protested, promising them they’d one day have their time again soon.
And then Stephan the Forgotten left. To start some a new life, promising he would forget her until he could make her his again. He took out a dark spell he’d worked on for three years, knowing from a nightmare this time would come, a binding spell to make himself as forgotten as she had made him feel the night she left. As he walked away from his oak tree, he could hear the Witch laughing at him. Coward, she whispered, Where go ye? Why leave now, after all this time?Pathetic chitty-faced afterling of a weak man. You’ll be back for more, eventually. The bile rose in Stephan’s throat, because he would be. But she was wrong; he would forget her until the time was right. He’d forgotten his boyhood, and his mother. He’d forgotten a dirty peasant girl he’d once fancied he loved for making him a man, and by leaving this haunted place, turning his back on the Witch’s obscene couplings with a man he could never be, he’d amass the riches they’d planned by himself. He’d forget she existed, but not what she’d done. And for a very long time, he did.
Until the day he arrived at a peaceful, strangely happy and well-fed, well-kept village of peasants nestled in a valley owned by a renowned Knight just home from, and made wealthy by, the Crusades, who was favored by the King, all of which was as far removed as could possibly be from his tortured oak tree, from his witch’s mocking laughter, from the shadows of her hairy lord’s grey castle. It was here, in this quiet little village, that Stephan the Forgotten, a most powerful wizard most studied and learned in the darkest of the Dark Arts, both indebted to and in command of demons and dark gods of the Underworld, decided to begin his forgetting and build a modest, straw-thatched hut from which to live and continue to grow his dark magic while beguiling the lord of the manor, his peasants, and every nobleman and lady who ever passed his way of their riches. And he chose to start his plan, to build his cottage at the edge of a garden he didn’t know existed. A garden with magic far greater than his, magic Stephan the Forgotten would one day attempt to harness, a garden he began to listen with great interest in as visitors began to frequent his hovel for his potions and tell him of, a garden that possessed a beautiful Sorceress with great power that could help him win back his Witch, a Sorceress who he lived for quite a very long time unaware was, in fact, living right in his very own backyard.
I’m having a hard time. Other than whatever drivel I stick here, I just don’t want to write. Not even poetry, to be honest. There’s a part of me that’s still pulled to it occasionally, but I’ve really just lost the heart for it now. Even here, I’m forcing it, and really all I’m doing (I feel) is coming here to bitch. Vent my spleen. And the only reason I’m forcing it is because my therapist told me to. I’m not going to keep up with an offline journal because I just don’t feel like handwriting anything out. I suppose I could just make this blog private and bitch-vent-type privately, but I paid for a domain/hosting service for a year, so no. The bottom line though, is: I’m not doing it for me, I’m doing it because someone else told me it would be good for me, so do it…and I did. (Story of my life.)
And it’s at a point where I’m kind of inner vomiting when I see people all excited about whatever they’re writing. I’m not vomiting at them…because I’m supportive, I want other people to write. I’m vomiting in general. I guess because of where I’m at emotionally with it, I’m happy for other people, but I’m just not in a space right now where I can really be anyone’s rah rah cheerleader about it. It’s kind of like…I used to work with this girl who desperately wanted to have a baby and nothing they tried worked. Finally it did, but then she miscarried. She gave up having her own child, and was sort of in this depressed/longing/bitter/checked out/angry sort of place. So when other women at work would announce they were pregnant, she was happy for them (how can a decent, nice person not be happy for someone else’s happiness?)…but she couldn’t bring herself to get them a shower gift, attend the shower, and be sincerely excited for them. And she’d get really really uncomfortable in conversations that started to revolve around any babies or incoming babies and excuse herself when the squeeing started.
Having occupied that depressed/longing/bitter/checked out/angry sort of place now for going on a good year or so, I completely understand her now. Different situation, different “baby,” but I get it.
I was much younger and a completely different person back when I knew her; I hadn’t been through half the crap I’ve been through now, and so whenever she’d excuse herself and leave or whenever she’d go weird about something because of the baby stuff, I’d be all: “Man, what’s Carla’s problem? She’s being kind of selfish and bitchy.” (Carla is not her real name.)
But Carla wasn’t being a bitch. She was dealing with real ick. Some people could look at Carla (and I was one of these “some people” as recently as 3 years ago) and go: Wow, what a negative thinker…chin up, woman up, Carla, get over yourself. And now I know: people who think and say things like that are either real judgmental jerks or they’re people who can’t see beyond their own nose. Or both. At any rate, they’re pretty clueless about whatever kind of psychic pain or ickiness the person they’re judging is experiencing. Or they’re the kind of people who just skim the surface of their emotional life, never really sitting down to do some hard drinking with their dragons, never getting to know them and know them well. They push their dragons down, down, down, until one day the dragon erupts…or they die never really confronting their own icks. They’re the kind of people who put an end date on the mourning/grieving process. They’re the kind of people who think in absolutes. They’re the kind of people who think “you can choose how to feel.” And some of my favorite writers are among those people, by the way. I disagree now. I think it chooses you, and you dance with it and drink with it until you feel done.
By the way: people who can emotionally skim through life are fine to invite to baby showers and have casual conversations with and even meet for dinners now and then to catch up on what’s been going on in each others’ lives, but you certainly don’t want to tell them your deepest, darkest secrets. Or invite them to your tribal ceremonies. Because they are not your tribe.
Sort of related side note example: Last night, I was having a moment, and I posted a meme onto Twitter. Some man (grrr…men! there is an extremely small group of you I can handle at the moment; the rest of you need to be so so SOOOOO careful with me during these days, I cannot stress this enough to you) came in and went “So don’t.” to what I’d posted.
LOL. Just…”So DON’T.” ????? Asshole.
Had this come from a woman, I’d have had a conversation with her, or just eye rolled and moved on–bitchy I get. Had it come from a man who had the privilege of getting to know me before the social media crap experiences and other icky life stuff had descended fully, I’d have had a thoughtful though tense conversation with him about male behavior in relationships. But this was just some rando. A man I didn’t know, who didn’t know me. Who’d never spoken to me, ever, had no clue what my story is.
You know what I do when stuff like this happens? I go visit their feed, I take a good look around, and then sit back and try to analyze the individual so I can thoughtfully make a decision to respond/not respond, and how to respond if I decide to…I try to decide things like: is this person just an asshole? or are they obtuse? is there some hidden motive behind why they’d say such a thing to someone they don’t even know on the Internet? are they a Trump fan (this would explain a LOT)? a men’s rights activist? bored? or do they have a death wish? or are they just like a lot of ding dongs on the Internet and just really, really judgmental and think they know when they actually don’t?
In the end, I decided he fell into the latter, the last category, the judgmental kind who thought he knew when he actually didn’t. And I saw he’s a writer. And had won some kind of writer award awhile ago. And who knows why he’s on Twitter, talking randomly to some woman out there who has never interacted with him, ever. And therefore, he and I probably don’t need to be connected on any level, for any reason. I chose to respond, sarcastically thanking him for his input (his mansplain-y like input), then soft blocked him…in other words, I kicked him out of my followers. So don’t follow me, if what I post is going to annoy you. Go. Away.
This is where Twitter gets really weird to me. Complete strangers who don’t know me or my story, who have no clue about me, coming in and making judgment calls about me and my life…which is fine, I certainly can’t stop them from having thoughts. But when you speak the thoughts out loud? THAT I can stop. Bye, strange man who thinks his opinion about me carries any weight. I see you and I are following one another; I have no idea when or how that happened and I guess I followed you back because I was still writing back then, but since I’m just shit-blogging now and don’t want to WRITE write anymore, then let me just fix this situation for you since what shows up from me in your Twitter timeline seems to bother you so much: Bye, Felipe. (that wasn’t his name, that’s a wordplay on the line by Ice Cube in the movie…never mind.)
At any rate. Every time stuff like that happens, my own Wall goes higher and I become even more reluctant to interact with other users there. I cannot tell you how incredibly cautious I am now whenever someone new follows me on Twitter or actually speaks to me, and I am very hyper aware of that whenever I decided to hit “follow” on someone else’s feed or talk to them. Because of my experiences with other people I’ve met via social media and the Internet, in that respect, I very much understand Trump’s need to build a Wall. The difference between his Wall and mine, though, is his Wall is the kind of wall deranged assholes build and mine is the kind of wall damaged people build. One is to keep different, The Other, out…one is to make sure the wrong kind of person doesn’t get through again. (Mine has a Secret Garden door, in other words…you just have to do some digging and thoughtful searching to find it. And you won’t, if you’re a sociopath, because I now know what to look for.)
Where was I? Oh, right. Writing. Attitude. Ick.
It’s gotten to a point where I don’t want to follow any more writer accounts on Twitter or anywhere else. I don’t read about it. I don’t want to interact with other people who are actively doing it. Great if other people are enjoying it, but I don’t give a shit right now. Happy for you, please forgive me if I don’t do any joyful jumping and stuff. Right now I’m busy drinking with my disgusted dragon, and our bartender is my distrustful dragon.
And if that makes you roll your eyes at me, then my anger dragon is vomiting fire in your direction right now. Go read one of your happy joy rainbows and positive thinking blogs instead of this one.
Or come for the train wreck process. Either way, I’m fine spewing into an echo chamber. It’s what I’ve always done.