Ermahgerd! Electricity! (ABC Wednesday, 2/12/14)

Thor's Wrath

Recently, Jesus gave Zeus the finger. Or, rather, Zeus took it.

There was a huge lightning storm over Rio de Janeiro and a bolt blasted the statue of Christ which looks over the city, knocking off one of His fingers. While you’d think that Jesus could protect Himself from such an attack, it’s probably not our place as mere mortals to adjudicate the MMA matches of the gods.

Lightning is a scary thing, electricity in its most feral state. Crackling death from above. Surprisingly, though, only about 10% of people who have intimate encounters with it don’t survive. Some that do are scarred with fractal maps in their skin, branching networks of sizzling branchwork like tattoos of evergreen fronds or ivy.

               

I’ve had a special relationship with lightning for years, starting, I guess, when I was struck by lightning when I was a teenager. I survived. I had no visible scars. I wasn’t even hurt, as far as anyone could tell.

It happened one stormy day. A friend and I were cavorting in the rain, chasing each other, jumping at the crashes of thunder, laughing our asses off. Ultimately, soaked and getting cold, we headed for his house. We splashed in, drenched, and his mother informed us that there was a tornado warning. Later, we found out one had touched down less than a mile away. She insisted we dry off, so we headed to the bathroom, and as we entered, a bolt of lightning crashed through the window (open, as his mother had forgotten to close it for the rain, so I think the lightning was riding the breeze as lightning can do). It went through my friend and me, knocking us off our feet, and scorched the floor under our feet.

We were incredibly lucky. Neither of us was hurt, though we were scared shitless and our ears were ringing. This amount of luck in a lightning strike is rare but not unheard of; most burn damage resulting from a strike is from superheated objects (like change in someone’s pocket, for example), and most deaths result from cardiac arrest. We were both young and fit, so if our hearts were spooked by the blast, we didn’t know it. We didn’t even go to the ER.

Of course, not all damage is visible. Brain damage is a common effect of lightning strikes and can lead to memory impairment, irritability, terrible headaches, even personality change. And, unsurprisingly, depression. And, as regular readers of this blog know, I have depression big time.

Through therapy, I’ve learned that much of my struggle is attributable to loss of my mother as a baby and familial abuse throughout my formative years. But it’s possible the strike contributed.

But electricity in the brain has also proven helpful in my fight. I’ve had two rounds of ECT (electroconvulsive therapy, aka shock treatment) in the past few years, the second as recently as last November and December. My depression is a stubborn, mean mother fucker and was highly resistant to everything we were throwing at it until we decided to sing the brain electric. Afterward, my short term memory is sort of crap (though it already was, as depression itself is hell on the memory), but my focus and motivation are remarkably improved. This strategic use of electricity blasted straight into my brain has been literally life-changing. The fact that you’re reading this now, and that I’m blogging again in general, is directly attributable to it.

So, thank you, Zeus, thank you Thor, thank you spirits of thunder and lightning. Thank you for not killing me years ago, and thank you for saving my life now.

E

I’ll return next Wednesday with the letter F. I hope you’ll stop by. I’m a writer and I post about a wide variety of non-alphabet-specific topics. Feel free to comment under my posts. If you want to subscribe to the blog, there’s a button in the sidebar.

Also, my adventure novel Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom is currently on sale to celebrate Valentine’s Day

For another fun ABC Wednesday post, visit the Carioca Witch here: Bringing Up Salamanders.

Find many more posts by others, and more info on ABC Wednesday, here: ABC Wednesday

The Creature from the Blog Lagoon (ABC Wednesday, 1/29/14)

C is for Creature

We all know the creature.

The monster. The dangerous thing, stalking, creeping, hunting in the silence of the night. Hairy, clawed, savage. Less than human…or is it?

For me, and many others who grew up with Universal monster movies, the word creature evokes the Creature From The Black Lagoon. Who, when you get down to it, is clawed and savage, but not so hairy. The Creature stalks and kidnaps the gorgeous Julie Adams, mesmerized by her preternatural beauty, no doubt with thoughts of ichthyological rape and scaly little spawn cavorting in the lagoon’s dark waters. The movie he’s in is undeniably a “monster movie,” but is he a monster? No. But he is, obviously, a beast, an animal, an inhuman thing. A creature. He operates on instinct more than thought, and in his case, because he comes into conflict with anti-instinctual man, it proves his undoing. Had he stayed hidden, not tried to woo, in his way, the beauty (a common failing among beasts), he would never have been harpooned, brought to man’s world, had his gills sliced off (a clumsy attempt to make a man of him), and ultimately killed.

Stories often warn us that this is what will happen if we let our creature side out. Our instinct. Our wild. Our Id. We aren’t animals, right? Never mind the blood and bile, our often maddening emotional lives, our wonderfully messy means of procreation. The fangs in our mouths, the hair on our pelts.

I’ve always been fascinated with werewolves, and themes of transformation often manifest in my writing. Often the transfiguration is into a wilder state, like the werewolf, rather than an “ascended” state. But is it therefore a devolution? Or is it an imperfect call toward wholeness? I believe we are at our best when we are comfortable with both sides of our nature, the primal and the thoughtful, the rational and the passionate. Be a creature and be a man. Be a creature and be a woman. Be complete.

Evolution isn’t a paved road away from the creature, it’s a forest path toward a better creature.

C

I’ll return next Wednesday with the letter D. I hope you’ll stop by. I’m a writer and I post about a wide variety of non-alphabet-specific topics. Feel free to comment under my posts. If you want to subscribe to the blog, there’s a button in the sidebar.

For another fun ABC Wednesday post, visit the Carioca Witch here: Bringing Up Salamanders.

Find many more posts by others, and more info on ABC Wednesday, here: ABC Wednesday

Tim Gets Ready To Fix America… [Updated]

As we enter the final lap of the presidential race, my mind is even more on matters political than usual.

That’s saying something, because I think about politics year round, every year. It’s not that I enjoy politics, because I really don’t. It’s just that they’re important, especially when we have only two parties, with power fairly evenly split between them, and one of those parties is on a fairly constant warpath to ruin everything we’ve accomplished in the past couple of centuries. That party, if you are dense, corrupt, and/or uninformed, is the Republican party.

On the other hand, the Republican party has almost simplified the job of being an informed citizen in America. Once upon a time,  issues had to be parsed carefully, and details debated, and the calculus of conscience exercised.  But in the past couple of decades, the GOP has arguably made that sort of effort pointless. Now, you can plot a pretty accurate course by just looking at a candidate or an issue and asking “Are the Republicans for him/her/it?” If the answer is “Yes,” odds are you need to be against him/her/it. Unless, of course, you’re filthy rich and don’t care what happens to other people, or you’re a religious nut who cares way too much what other people are doing and thinking.

This isn’t to say the Democrats are anything near what they should be, but if voting for a Democrat is like inviting a friend into your house who doesn’t like your dog, voting for a Republican is like inviting a crazy hobo with a machete in who promises to kill it and steal all your stuff.

If you argue that both parties are the same, you’re either what they call a low-information voter, too lazy or apathetic to actually pay attention to anything beyond the most superficial available information (Romney was more talkative than Obama in that debate, that must mean he’s a better candidate!), or you’re so naive and/or cynical that you’ve removed yourself to the wilderness of inaction or protest voting. When I see someone cockily post that, in their most wise opinion, it won’t matter who wins, I’m not impressed by their lack of awareness or their world-weary individualism; it’s kind of like watching someone try to eat soup with their fingers.

There is no perfect candidate. There are astronomically different levels of imperfect candidates, though.

Anyway, I come not to praise Democrats, nor to bury Republicans. Rather, in my next post, I want to offer up some ideas I think would greatly improve how our esteemed republic functions, and possibly save it from itself.

Or, rather, from us.

UPDATE: Bit off more than I can chew at the moment, so I guess saving America will have to wait. Maybe after November, when I know whether we’re still moving at least somewhat forward with Obama, or just saying “Fuck it” with a Romney presidency…

For A Muse… (Song of the Week, 9/5/2012)

O Divine Poesy, goddess, daughter of Zeus, sustain for me this song…Make the tale live for us in all its many bearings, O Muse…    –Homer, The Odyssey

Happy is he whom the Muses love…   –Hesiod, Theogony

The ancient lass pictured above is Calliope, daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne (the goddess of memory), and the Muse of epic poetry and writers. She was mother to the great lyre player and singer Orpheus, and creative inspiration to Homer.

Now, thanks to the loving craft of my sweet friend Nydia Macedo in Brazil, Calliope has come to live with me in the Byrdcave, to inspire me in my daily writing. Nydia, whose work you can see (and purchase!) on Facebook under the name “Carioca Witch,” specializes in handcrafting poppets and ornaments based in spiritual and mythological symbology. She researches her topics, finding appropriate colors and design elements to incorporate and herbs to use for scents, then brings her own artistry to the task of playfully evoking these ancient resonances through beautiful stitching. Each piece is a labor of love, and photos don’t capture just how cool they really are. I encourage you to visit the Facebook page linked to above and surf through her albums to see the variety of things she creates, from gods and goddesses to Christmas and Halloween ornaments to superheroes…

Yesterday, I received the poppet of Calliope that Nydia made for me:

She’s beautiful and will have a permanent place of honor in my home.

As tribute to sweet Calliope, and sweet Nydia, I offer this Song of the Week from Django Reinhardt, “La Mer (Beyond The Sea)”…

If We Shadows Have Offended…

So I lost another friend on Facebook.

He’s a writer, and a fellow pulp fan, and I’d enjoyed knowing and occasionally interacting with him. I liked seeing what he had to say, and what he had going on.

I knew he was a conservative, while I am not. The fact that he holds to certain ideas didn’t make me think less of him as a person, it just made me wonder how he could reconcile those ideas with observable reality. But we all have our filters and our failings and our blindnesses, and I hoped that he, and the many other right-wing friends I have, wouldn’t allow disagreement with ideas to lead to discord between us as people. That has happened, of course, and people have fled my friends list over such issues, and even issues more trivial. The game writer S. John Ross unfriended me and actually blocked me on Facebook for a single polite comment disagreeing with his opinion of Johnny Cash. Talk about the courage of your convictions.

My attitude is usually that a friend lost in this way is no friend worth having, and I tend to operate on the principle of “If I offend you, that probably just makes us even.”

But anyway, I hadn’t seen anything from this friend for a while, and I grew concerned that maybe he was having health problems or something. So I visited his page, where I found that we were no longer friends. I naturally suspected the reasons for this, but I sent him a message and asked why he’d unfriended me, telling him that if I had offended him it hadn’t been because I intended to.

This was his response: Continue reading

Sluts and Stuff

I just read “The problem with slut-bashing (or: I was a teenage dinner whore. kidding.),” a wonderful blog post by Justine Musk on sexual politics and language. You should check it out.

Here’s a piece:

In her book THE ART OF WAR FOR WOMEN, Chin-ning Chu writes:

“Women seem to have fallen prey to something I call the crabs-in-the-pot syndrome. When you cook crabs, you don’t have to place the lid on the boiling pot because the crabs keep one another from getting out. As one crab gets near the top and attempts to climb over the edge, another crab will naturally put it down in its own attempt to escape. As a result, all the crabs go to their collective doom.”

This is the problem whenever a woman defends herself by saying “I am not a slut.”

By declaring that you are not a slut, you are saying that some women are sluts; you are drawing a line between yourself and them. Except it’s a line that can’t actually exist, because all it does is reinforce the very idea that you’re trying to fight.

As soon as you buy into a reality that brands any woman a ‘slut’, you buy into a belief system that attacks femalehood itself. This includes you. You sacrifice someone else in your effort to escape the boiling water, but you can’t get out of the pot.