Friday, June 24, 2016

The Summer Bucket List

Yea, all things live forever, though at times they sleep and are forgotten. 

Several of my friends have made summer bucket lists for this summer and Hannah and I felt it a good idea to join. I think Hannah is going to post a bucket list on her blog and while many of the items on the list are things we are planning to do together, my list does have a few different things that are 'Amanda specific.' I shall notate those with an asterisk. Because noting with an asterisk is fun.

This summer I want to do the following (in no particular order):
  1. Run through the sprinklers
  2. Go to Silverwood (at least three times!)
  3. Go camping
  4. Star gaze
  5. Be naked outside
  6. Spend time in a cave
  7. Complete my Camp NaNoWriMo goal of 25K words
  8. Play in Lake Coeur'd Alene
  9. Eat campfire food
  10. Hike Tubb's Hill
  11. Paint each nail a different color
  12. Read one fiction book
  13. Read one writing craft book
  14. Do an ephemeral art project such as body painting
  15. See a waterfall
  16. Do the Yoga DVD
  17. Learn how to fight (SCA style)
  18. Go to a hot srpings
  19. Test drive a car
  20. Get my passport
  21. Go to Canada
  22. Spend the night ghost hunting
  23. Go to an anime convention
  24. Go to the Planetarium at SCC
This list is subject to some change. Finances may or may not be available for all of these things so I might put on an alternate to certain activities. But these are the things I really want to do this summer as it stands now. These are the components of "Summer 2016." I'm hoping to have a few of these marked off the list after this weekend and the next. Some of these things I figure I'll do multiple times but they are still worthy of the list as they still take me out of the regular norm. I've been a busy person the last several years (MFA stuff, work, moving, more job stuff) and now I'm at the point where creativity and imagination are starting to stir back up. I want to live life more fully and right now the best way to jump start that is to tackle this list. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Aine of Knockaine

Believe something and the Universe is on its way to being changed. Because you've changed, by believing. Once you've changed, other things start to follow. Isn't that the way it works?

Side note: I just came back from the pool and hot tub. While I did rinse off in the shower, I still smell (and apparently taste) strongly of chlorine and chemicals. For some reason Narcisa is crazy about this flavor. It never fails that when I return from a pool outing she finds me suddenly incredibly interesting. For about ten minutes now she's been sitting in the chair next to me gnawing on the skirt of my swim suit and, occasionally, my arm. It's the sort of lazy gnawing that speaks nothing of challenge or play, just pleasure. She's such a hedonist.

This Monday is the Strawberry/Rose Full Moon (a.k.a. the Mead Moon). I've offered to put together a small ritual to be performed at a relaxing shindig at our friend's house. After browsing Moon Magick by DJ Conway, I've decided to honor the goddess Aine of Knockaine. This goddess is Queen of the Fairies. She's a goddess of midsummer, of fertility, and of love. She is invoked in the forming and keeping of vows (especially magickal vows), as well as in punishment for sex crimes. In researching her a little online I came across several blogs with posts concerning the Fairy Queen (Voices from the Dawn, Journeying to the Goddess, and and have formed the opinion that Aine of Knockaine is quite the bad-ass. 

In one story, the King of Munster rapes her but during the act she manages to bite of his ear, thus causing a deformity that makes him unfit to rule as King and pretty much ruining his life. As with most folklore/myths this story is an allegory: if you rape the land by taking what isn't yours to take, it will come back to destroy you in the end. I love this. I love the justice of it. Treat the earth with the respect she deserves. She is all we have on this plane. She is just as much a part of us all as we are all a part of her and it's nice to meet Aine, an avenging/Karmic angel, who defends herself and her lands.

For my ritual I'm going to include a variety of elements. Since Aine is the Midsummer Fairy and since the Solstice is the very next day I'm going to honor the Sun in addition to the Moon. And since I'm also focusing on the Strawberry and Rose aspects I'm going to make my own version of Shabartee Gulab (which is a rose and pineapple drink mentioned in DJ Conway's book) and this will serve as the ale part of 'cakes and ale.' For the cake part I'm debating on a sweet treat or fresh fruit. Also I'm going to use an onion in the ritual. I have missed group spirituality like this and can't wait for Monday night. I'm writing little pieces of the ritual here and there, though overall, I have found that just speaking from the heart in the moment is much more satisfying. Still, I'll probably have a few phrases and invocations to share here tomorrow. Until then, Blessed be.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dancing, Feasting, and Calling Down the Moon

True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked.
Erich Segal

I stayed late at work. When friend Rachel picked me up from work today I was angsty and upset and ready to have a little bit of a break down. She let me vent and by the time we got home I felt much better. This friend of mine, she is the Kettle Korn maker. Her business is Black Fire Kettle Corn and she recently made an Oreo batch. Delicious. Or, as they say in Japan, umai!

After we got back to my place, Rachel, Hannah, and I headed over to Mission park for a much anticipated induction into the Society of Creative Anachronism. The local group is the Barony of Wealdsmere in the Kingdom of An Tir. I want to do fighting with this group but just for tonight I did dancing and chatting. It was pretty goddamn exhilarating seeing all the people suited up in armor and beating the shit out of each other. Honestly it was like organized chaos and everyone was welcoming and happy that we were there. We ran into several friends. Hugs happened. Court dancing happened. Grand plans for drinking happened. Which leads me to now:

Here I sit with a wine spritzer beside me as Rachel watches over the foods in the kitchen and Hannah watches historical Chinese make up routines on YouTube. We're going to drink the rest of the blush tonight (it's a two-third full jug of bliss) and then maybe watch a movie, or wax philosophical. It's been a hell of a ride the past eleven days and I just want to relax with my crazy ladies and not think about anything having to deal with work. Except, uh...

The article about Danielle's Stitch and Witch group hit the paper today. It's a pretty neat article and I'm happy that our paper covered a Pagan topic. We have a huge "Religious Calendar" section filled with nothing but Christian events and services, but today we paid homage to our Mother. And I'm thrilled about it. I'd like to see more coverage. In fact, I'm contemplating writing an opinion piece about my religious experiences since finding my path and finding my Spiritual family here in Spokane, Washington. But that will have to wait. For now I'm focusing on the Rose/Strawberry Moon. Hannah and I have been invited to a friend's house on Monday. We'll be celebrating the full moon with food over the fire pit and fellowship. I'm going to lead a small Strawberry ritual, totally relaxed, and call down the moon. I've missed the Moon. I've missed focusing my energy on her.

Last thing: I learned about this thing called a Glitter Bomb. You can actually send an envelope full of glitter to an enemy (or friend) and when they open it up they'll enjoy a fucking mess to clean up, A mess that they'll find traces of for next several years. Glitter, as I have heard it called, is craft herpes: use glitter in the home once and you'll be stuck finding bits of it everywhere forever. Apparently there is also a way to send gummy dicks to your enemies. Less messy, but more kinky. And honestly I have a lot of friends who would love getting gummy dicks in the mail randomly. At the moment I'm pondering if sending everyone an anonymous bag of gummy dicks for Christmas would make Christmas shopping a total breeze. >_^

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Day 10 of the 11 Day Work Week and Ripping out the Throat of My Enemy!

I believe in the magic and authority of words.
René Char

Today was day 10 of the 11 day work week, ergo I only have tomorrow left and then I get to go to bed and not set an alarm. I'm excited about the generous paycheck that's coming but honestly I don't know that I would ever volunteer for this insanity again. On top of being my tenth day, it was also the day I got to talk to my boss's boss's boss (a.k.a. the big boss of all circulation). 

I was called into boss's boss's room for a meeting. The reason for the meeting: a horrid man called and I was lucky enough to take the call. He threatened to blow up the building (nothing new - many Pinch subscriptions flip their shit over the free publication and make similar threats) but then he threatened to choke the carrier and slash said carrier's tires. All because of one missed paper. Get this. The regular carrier on this route is immaculate and never misses anyone. This is the first time this subscriber was missed in over six months. And to make matters even better: we found out later that it was a sub on the route that day. All this because a sub, doing a very good job and making an honest mistake, missed delivery for jack-ass supreme. Anyway, we canceled the jerk's subscription and barred him from ever having a subscription again. We filed a police report and have informed the carrier to be extra vigilant, and today I made a statement to our organization and the powers that be because we may be putting extra rules down concerning this git. An unusual day for sure.

Yesterday I played DnD during lunch. I had to sort of finagle my lunch time in order to be able to play and it didn't make my supervisor very happy so I need to make a concentrated effort from now on to really honor my break and lunch periods. In the future, when we're better staffed, I think they'll put my Tuesday lunches at noon just so I can continue playing (I really enjoy playing) and I am grateful for that.
During play time yesterday our party made camp on a hill top. The weather was a little rainy and windy but not too bad. Our wilderness expert was keeping watch and saw some black figures leering over the sleeping forms of his companions. He fired an arrow at them and then they descended upon us with knives. They were short, muddy creatures that were probably goblins or something and one of them stabbed my Half-Orc Paladin pretty good. So, being prone and not having my armor or weapons at the ready, I grappled the fucker (I rolled a natural 19 for strength check) and then bit the shit out of his leg. When my turn came round again, I pulled him to the ground, (another natural 19), bit his neck, and ripped out his throat. Blood and sinew everywhere! Our DM rather enjoyed it and I think the other players finally got a glimpse of who I am as a player. It was hard to join in the middle of a quest and I don't know them all that well yet so I've been a bit shy, but on day 9... I had no choice but rip out his mother fucking throat. Somehow I was able to make it through the rest of the day.

That was yesterday. And today is over. Tomorrow is a Thursday. I didn't see an online pre-release of the Stitch and Witch article. I'm hoping that I see it first thing tomorrow though (since it was slotted for the Voice section). I hope it's dead slow tomorrow and I hope that all the subs and carriers do a good job tonight and in the early hours of the morning. I implore the goddess to soothe cranky customers and to keep me sharp when dealing with rough cases and to keep me quiet when dealing with bitchy douche nozzles. I actually really enjoy this job and want to continue performing well. Please goddess help me get through tomorrow. 

After work tomorrow Hannah and I are planning on going to fighter practice with the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronisms). So, in the end, regardless of how tomorrow goes, I'll get to end the day by beating people up with sticks. I couldn't ask for a better end to a very long and very odd 11 day work week. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Log-in List, Hiring Problems, and Stitch and Witch

Today was day five of the eleven day work week that I'm currently struggling to survive. The other day I sat down with a friend and counted how many log ins I use at work. At the time I think I told her I had 8 log-ins. But I greatly underestimated the log-in happy environment that I work in. For fun here are the programs I have to log into:
  1. My computer
  2. My phone (the physical phone)
  3. Voicemails for Circulation/Pinch/Online/and Carrier Lines
  4. My phone system that allows me to take calls
  5. The phone system that allows me to monitor everyone else who is taking calls
  6. The Newscycle Program for subscriber accounts
  7. Employee Time Entry
  8. Commute Trip Reduction Program
  9. Employee Self Serve
  10. Online Admin access
  11. The DTI system that allows me to create/modify ads
  12. The Putty System that I use for publishing run
  13. The New York Times site
There may be more. I want to say that this job has helped me with my memory but I reckon that it's only my muscle memory that's improved. My fingers work without my conscious will now. They whiz through the system helping to redeliver papers, process complaints, and even take payments. It is nice to feel so second hand with the system.

Yesterday marked my 8th month working at The Spokesman-Review. I've been a lead a little over a month, or close to two months. Feels a bit like a whirlwind. I enjoy it. I really do. Right now, however, I'm anxious for the call queue to chill out a little so that I can get my head all sorted out and enjoy doing a bit more one on one work with some of our reps. I really enjoy the people I work with and want them to do their best. Speaking of people at work: we are understaffed. We need one full time person and one part time person. Out of the last four people we've hired only one of them has worked out. The sadness is as follows:
  1. Hired and quit within a couple months
  2. Hired and didn't work out within a week
  3. Hired and doing fucking phenomenal! (Also has a beard)
  4. Offered employment, accepted, but things just didn't work out
Okay so here it is folks. Beards. Hire the ones with beards. 

Yesterday I hung out at Stitch and Witch. One of our journalists from The Spokesman-Review came to one of these gatherings last month and is writing up an article to be published in the paper in the Voice section. I'll be linking that next week as soon as it comes up on www.spokesman,com.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

She was an Old Soul

Her laugh, her voice, her words all spoke of something ephemeral and pure. She was all or nothing, a tome of fictional truths, a writer, a wife, a mother, a rock star, a wild woman, and a sensitive soul. An old soul. She felt like a child who had lived many, many lives and who had decided, "fuck this shit." She was small and lean with an enormous aura that stretched from some obscure Canadian Islands to the Floridian Peninsula. And she wrote grit. She tapped into her old soul, shucked away all layers of nicety, and wrung blood from the page. Big things. Uncomfortable things. Things that still make me a little uncomfortable. She wrote them all. She didn't have time to fuck around. She had a message. She had a moment. And she used her time to the very end, publishing "Pelee Island Stories" within the last nine months.

She was an old soul. She was so beautiful. She had the beauty and grace and fierceness... the sad, happy eyes half hooded with pleasure and mystery... that only comes from the lessons and loves of life after life after life. So many lives. And why did this one have to be so short? 

Tanya. I know you'll be back here someday in a different life, same soul, same beauty and honesty. New body. New name. You'll share your talents all over again. You'll raise some hell. Maybe raising some more kids. Maybe your next life will be longer. But I doubt there will ever be another life with this many people missing you, grieving you, and celebrating your memory. You left us on May 25th (a few days ago, seconds really, in the grand scheme of things). You were diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer on June 5th last year. Thank you for each and every moment you gave us after the diagnosis. Thank you for being there at my last residency and for graduating with me. Thank you for being an old soul, a dear friend, and an amazing and inspiring talent in my life. Peace, friend.

All the Pretty Cars are Going to Hell

And the god of transportation did look down upon us and laugh. "Your car troubles," he said with smugness, "shall be a lesson. Heed it well, mortals, lest ye ever take your working vehicle for granted again."

The last 30+ days have been filled with car death. Not even Optimus Prime was free of problems. For Hannah and I: May was bookended with flat tires. The first flat was the day before Beltane. It was raining. We'd just left the IEPG Beltane celebration and were heading to a friend's house to continue celebrating when the threadbare tire in the back let out a tremendous wet fart as it succumbed to the inevitable. I wasn't too worried. It was only lightly raining and I'm actually pretty handy with general car stuff. I got my jack and donut spare ready but didn't have a tire iron. Fuck. But we have good friends and two came to our rescue. Fast forward to the day after May. On June 1st I went to use our last little bit of money to get some chocolate for Hannah and I (as Hannah had made it clear that if I didn't get us some kind comfort snack she might murder me) and as I made my way south on Pines, I thought it would be a goddamn great idea to mate my front tire with the curb. The mating ritual began with a boom and ended with a 'ka-thud, ka-thud, ka-thud.' Again, thankfully we have great friends. Our friends who were married on May 1st (the day after the first flat tire) saved me this time. 

But let me derail a moment and chronicle the car problems between Optimus's flats: our friend's Ford Contour died when its timing belt lost track of time, my twinsy friends lost their boat of a car to a suspected dead alternator, and our Kettle Korn diva had issues with both her vehicles (the Smart Car tried to mate with a curb and was even less successful than Optimus Prime and her mustard yellow Truck has been in and out of the car hospital all month). In the few days since our second flat: the newlyweds who helped me out on June 1st had to be rescued from the Cosco parking lot when their hatchback made the death rattle, and a couple of hours ago (2 AM) we got yet another car call. Hannah and I just returned from picking up our poor stranded friend from the Sullivan Wal-Mart due to a dead battery situation. 

I'm going to be working about 12 hours of overtime in the next two weeks and I think I'm going to use every penny extra that brings me to get Optimus checked out and get him a new belt. If I'm going to be the bad-ass friend who rescues my darlings from parking lots around Spokane and Spokane Valley then I need to make sure my ride is a reliable one. Speaking of work, though, this Monday will be the start of an eleven day work week. Of the three people we recently hired only one of them actually worked out (and he's doing freaking amazing!) but on top of that the other Lead quit with only two days notice. Ergo we are mutha-fuckin shorthanded. I'm going to buckle in for this eleven day long haul and enjoy the overtime. At the end of it all I will start a new schedule working Sunday (5-1) and Monday thru Thursday (7-4). What this means for me is that I'll always have Friday and Saturday off which is kind of neat. Also it splits up the weekends between my supervisor and I so that neither of us have to work both days. The weekends start so freaking early and are such a mixed bag of insanity that it might be nice to only have to deal with it one time a week instead of back to back every other weekend. 

Side note to the above: my bosses are so sweet. The manager and supervisor had me come in on my day off to work on scheduling and make a plan to get us through the summer. When I got to the office they called me into a conference room and started the morning by giving me a present tower. They gave me a coloring book with pencils, My Little Pony stickers, Rainbow Dash knee socks, double stuffed Oreos, and a lovely card in which they both told me how much they appreciate me being there. It made me feel so freaking good. Yeah, there are definitely days when this job stresses me out and there are definitely customers that call in who make me want to scream, but I've said from the very beginning, I've never worked for a place like this before. I've never been able to put a local address for the 'corporate' office of my workplace on my taxed. I've never been so rewarded for work well done and I've never received such positive reinforcement. Also I've never had a job before where I truly believed the higher ups gave a shit about me. Not just about 'employees,' but about 'me' specifically. It's a neat feeling. And on that note, I'm going to get some more sleep.