Vixeny goodness

Black Sheep

a walking barrel of contradiction monkeys

On Obedience, Submission, etc.
Vixeny goodness
Lately, this has been on my mind rather a lot. I've been thinking about writing something and submitting it to TBAT for Slacktiverse, something about how the focus on obedience and submission... basically fucks people up, probably with an emphasis on women-- the only initial reservation being that, although I read every post there, I comment once in a blue moon. The slightly more worrying reservation is that every time I start writing it in my head, it gets so personal I change my mind, both about publicizing it and about it being able to help other people. But I'll sketch something out here, and see if I can figure it out. After all, the more I find out about my childhood, the more I realize how much I have in common with other people raised in RTC households.

So here's the thing. I am, by nature, incredibly submissive. If you know me in person, you might find it incredibly hard to believe, though-- in a weird subversion, evolving Fundamentalist culture has beaten the submissiveness out of me. My family remembers it. My dad has jokingly told my sister not to worry about being a brat when she was younger, because obviously she'd look like one next to a goody two-shoes like me. I hate confrontation, always have, and as a child, I rarely questioned the adults in my world (which was very small).

See, here's how my siblings and I, and all the kids in our church, were raised. Obey. Obey your parents, for that is God's Will. Obey God, in all things. Submit to the authorities that God has placed over you; questioning that authority is disobedience in and of itself. The only time this is incorrect is if an authority gives you a command that is clearly against God's commandments-- and in that case, God's direct authority trumps the earthly ones. Over time, and talking to others raised in this subculture, I've learned that for a lot of people, this was what drove them to question. They asked questions, and got smacked down repeatedly, and this only made them question harder, and in the end, rebel. My older sister is one such woman. I am not.

Obedience and submission were overwhelmingly easy for me. Obviously, since I was a kid, fairly smart and active, I got into trouble, did stuff I shouldn't have, snuck around with my brother, etc. I'm not saying I was Elsie Dinsmore or anything like that. It was just that, although I questioned the physical world around me, I never even considered questioning authority. If my parents, or the pastor, or the church adults, said it, it was true. Always. If the Bible (KJV, of course) said it, it was true. Always. This was a fact of the world, as surely as the Sun came up every morning and rain fell from the clouds and mulberries were delicious. (We had a tree in our backyard. One of the happiest memories of my childhood is climbing that tree to sit and read, and daydream, and eat mulberries until the ripe ones were all out of reach.)

Then my mother lost her mind. She fell, so gracefully nobody noticed until it was too late, from average, run-of-the-mill RTC paranoia, into Paranoid Schizophrenia (and, as we found out years later, Bipolar Disorder). I'll skip over the more painful details of that. Most of it went over my head at the time-- I have a lot of memories that had very little meaning for me until I was years older. But suddenly, authority became pretty absurd. My siblings disobeyed because it was the right thing to do-- sneaking my father's ammunition and vital parts to his guns out of the house, to him, because they caught on much faster than I did and realized that my mother should absolutely not have access to that stuff.

This became a running theme. I was blind to the abuses of authority that were going on around me, because in my mind, authority was never wrong. My siblings, the natural questioners, the rebels, were always on the ball - they grasped that my mother was not in her right mind, and they acted to prevent things from going wrong. I did not. It wasn't until years later that the questions were catalyzed in my mind.

One of my mother's decisions was to enroll us in a private Christian school - she managed, if I recall, to get scholarships for the older three of us. This was a nightmare for all of us; we were the weird kids, the outcasts, the ones who never fit in. Even at eight, the feeling that there was something wrong with me came through loud and clear. But I was good at classes - I could read very quickly, and had excellent reading comprehension, and I grasped concepts pretty well. Even terribly broken ones, like "The world is 6,000 years old, and dinosaur bones/Mesopotamian culture can be used to prove it."

But in fourth grade or so, something changed. When I was much younger, probably six or seven, I'd read The Hiding Place, a book by Corrie ten Boom about her life, focusing on her family's efforts to hide Jews from the Nazis. I'd read it a few times since, loved it, and had certain parts memorized, so when it was assigned in class, I was ecstatic. There's one passage - one of the ones I'd memorized - about a failed romance in Corrie's life. She falls for a man named Karel, he falls back, they spend days walking in the garden, talking, and then she doesn't see him for a long period of time. The next time they see each other, he's with his fiancee; he tells her, "I can't marry you. My mother would kill me." Corrie is, of course, heartbroken, and her father consoles her not with the 'false words' that 'there will be another,' but with sincerity and love.

When our English teacher reached this passage, she told us that the point of it was that Corrie had gone against God's will by 'dating' a man not approved by their families. The point, she told us, was that courtship was the only Godly means of finding a spouse, and the heartbreak was God's way of punishing Corrie for disobeying him.

This made me unspeakably angry. I sat there, trying not to betray the thoughts in my head, which were screaming at how wrong that was. I'd been telling stories for years. To entertain my siblings, friends, or myself-- or simply because the story came to me and wanted to be told. To hear this-- to hear an authority someone who I trusted, lying about a story... it broke something in me. Worse yet, the story was about her life! This was a woman, brave, accomplished, truly amazing, and this teacher, who I trusted and respected, was lying about her life story.

I was utterly furious. I never said anything until years later, but it burned in me, and it burned through the walls I'd built up around 'authority.' My mother had been wrong, I knew, because she was sick, somehow, in her head. This made it different. But now, other things showed up. My dad said things that weren't right. He wasn't always fair. My grandparents, in whose house we were living, were not always right. The teachers protected the school bullies, because they were usually their children, even when they were blatantly lying. The teachers lied about stories. What else were they lying about? My father started dating, and he sometimes didn't come back at night. He didn't keep his promises. My grandmother lied to us about some things. Sometimes she was unjust. My grandfather was unjust sometimes. The youth pastors said things that I knew not to be true.

After a lifetime of trusting authority implicitly as an extension of God's Will, something inside of me snapped. I stopped obeying. I stopped submitting. I stopped trusting. Lesson learned: authorities always lie. People in power cannot be trusted. Everybody lies.

I intentionally went against the grain in highschool, and middle school. I was smart, and shy, so teachers liked me. And I hated that. They were liars! They said things that weren't true, they used their power to hurt-- freed from those walls, I now saw that everywhere-- and I didn't want their, or anybody's, favor. There were some exceptions - the music teacher, who talked about his experience playing in bars, and the biblical references in so much music. Our English teacher, who was pretty fair and sparked my continual interest in mythology. In highschool, things got worse. In classes where the teachers were honest with us, I worked hard and tried. In classes where I could tell the teachers didn't really care about questioning, truth, learning-- especially where they were openly dishonest or showed favoritism-- I actively worked to earn their dislike. I snarked openly. I asked questions, usually because I wanted to know the answers, but also because it drove them crazy. I did my work, and did it right, and so couldn't simply be failed. I was just a Problem Student.

In my senior year, for an English class that I loved, with a teacher who taught me, more or less, how to write, I wrote an essay about the role of Guildenstern, in "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead." I called it 'The Questioner,' and drew the conclusion that some of us in life-- such as myself-- could not help questioning, no matter what, even when the answers made no sense, even when there were no answers, even when the answers led to death. We questioned, or we died. We questioned even if we died.

In that respect, the breaking of that trust made me a better person. I like being a Guilenstern. It's important. It's not always fun, and it sometimes gives you a lot of enemies, but it's necessary.

A less enjoyable result of that is the loss of trust, and this is where Fundamentalist subculture seriously messes kids up. If you are raised thinking that all authorities are infallible, if you are trusting enough to believe that, you are screwed as an adult. Because someday, somehow, you are inevitably going to learn the truth. And it is going to hurt. And if you're lucky, you recover and realize that people are fallible, not malicious. And if you're unlucky, the lesson you learn is that no one can be trusted, ever, for anything. And no matter how hard you try to rid yourself of that, to be more trusting, it is internalized pretty hard. And no matter how hard you try, you now know that to submit to someone's authority, to obey someone, for any reason, is a trust. And you can't do it. You can't not question. Even someone you do trust, which is hard enough to find.

I can't figure out a conclusion to this. It ends on a pretty bleak note. My friends are some of the people I trust most in this world. One of them is a guy I work with, who has been my boss/supervisor for about three years now. He's one of the most trustworthy people I know, in most ways, and among my closest friends. And I still question every mundane thing he asks me to do. And I still find it hard to obey him. He says "We don't have time for that now," I look into the bag anyway, without even realizing what I'm doing. And then reality smacks me upside the head, and I put it aside. My brain's immediate response to 'obedience' is a visceral, snarling rejection. Same with submission.

Yeah, I doubt this is ever going anywhere but into my own journal. Fundamentalist subculture is fucked up, yo.

PS: This song is what originally triggered this memory, some years ago, and that's what eventually helped me connect the dots as to how, with the personality I have, I have become the spiky-haired, defiant, untrusting coyote that I am.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth

Various Things.
Vixeny goodness
1) I am monogamous. I am naturally monogamous. I was born this way. I don't want more than one person. I only want one person. I understand completely that other people are not necessarily monogamous. Some people have feelings of love for more than one person at a time. That's the way they were born. Fine, cool, great, lovely. Love is the important thing. Or happiness. Or whatever floats your boat, whatever, seriously.

But the next time someone tells me monogamy is unnatural, or puts fucking quotation marks around it, I am going to either punch them or call them a bigot. Probably the latter, because I'm a hopeless pacifist. (ETA: Seriously, it's just, how is this any better than claiming homosexuality/bisexuality/intersexuality is unnatural? I was </i>born this way</i>. Telling me I don't know my own orientation is bigotry, no matter which part of it you're objecting to.)

Some people are born with a natural attraction to the same sex. Some people are born with a natural attraction to the opposite sex. Some people are born with a natural attraction to more than one person at a time. Some people are born with no attraction to anyone at all. Some people are born into the wrong gendered body. Some people are attracted to both sexes, but only one person at a time. Some people are attracted to a lot of people.

I'm monogamous. I respect the rights of any consenting adults to do as they please. Polyamorous individuals deserve the same respect and rights as the rest of the world, this is a thing I believe. But that does not make my relationship invalid. Your attraction is not mine. Your kink is not my kink. Your relationship may be perfect for you, but wouldn't work at all for me. And vice versa!

Seriously, Can't We All Just Get Along?

2) I think Character is more important than Sex, in stories. (And I see the world in stories, often.)

Thus, I get really grumbly when I go to try and find a story that pokes at the characters and pulls on their motives and explores the nuances of their relationship... and it's just an excuse to see Hawt Sexorz. I mean, ain't nothin' wrong with erotica! I like the odd explicit ficlet. And, yes, I definitely understand the desire to write Taylor/Mira. I just am like "Woot, Wash and Taylor!" aaaaand every single story is about them hooking up. Which is all kinds of o.O if only because he's her commanding officer. So much Do Not Want.

I want to read a story about mutual respect and friendship and a long relationship of things other than sex between Wash and Taylor. IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK FOR. (Also? I really can't see Taylor moving on from his wife. In that one ep, he nearly slit his own throat over her. He's not the type to let go, and I think one of the stories did make the excellent point that even he isn't Taylor anymore. Taylor is a legend no one could live up to.

...Also I want to write a short 'fic that explores what happened in the episode with the Frontier Justice that I complained about. With a Vimes-type instead of Shannon. I like where Shannon is going, and I like that he did grow a spine later on. But I really, really do not like what happened in that episode. And I want to write an AU about it. And I think I will.

...I think that's it.

Hey, everyone. It's The Holidays. I'm tired, cranky, and it feels like every single thing I have done today has gone horribly wrong, except for the one thing this morning, when I changed my oil with my dad. That's a good thing!

Everything else has been a long, drawn-out event of Fail.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth

On Authority, Law, and Broken People.
Vixeny goodness
Spoiler Warning! Last week's Terra Nova, and this one.</span>

Cut for spoilers and length.Collapse )

I should make it clear that it's the characterization here that I'm raising an eyebrow at-- and not in a bad way. It's well done, so far, and I do like the dynamics set up, for the most part, and look forward to further watching the writers and actors do their stuff. But my head is going crazy with the fanfic interpretations-- I'm thinking about an AU Jim Shannon... very, very dark. Perhaps Taylor, too, but as per that last paragraph, perhaps not. Or not as much. We'll see!

Crossposted from Dreamwidth

Vixeny goodness
Okay, so, let me give you a timeline.

Saturday about 1pm: it starts raining
Saturday about 2pm: it is snowing, hard, flakes as big as my hand (and WET) no exaggeration
Saturday 3pm: things start closing, lights flicker a bit, roads are full of slush, sky darkens
Saturday 3:30pm: Sister calls from West Hartford, where her asshole friend stranded her
Saturday 4:30pm: We close at work and I go to pick her up. I shall copy-paste from the IRC

So I drove, terrified, all the way out to get her, around innumerable fallen trees, branches (seriously, there were entire trees down, also big huge branches), and entire lines draped across the road.
Then I picked her up and drove to a restaurant nearby.
(I know the owner fair well, she's awesome.)
And I did /not/ want to drive back on an empty stomach.
My car skidded two or three times when I tried to come to a stop. It was terrifying. Three times branches narrowly missed falling on our car, branches that would've stopped us in our tracks. One we saw fall on the line and throw up a flash and subsequent shower of sparks.
We got stopped by cops who'd blocked off a road twice and had to change routes. Finally we got to the restaurant, ate, dallied for three hours because I was hoping things would slow down (they didn't), and eventually headed out.
The ride home was EVEN MORE TERRIFYING.
The roads were damn near impossible to navigate, all the lights were out, there were lines across the road every block or so. But we finally made it home, and have been cursing the dark and lack of power since.
We got like, six inches of snow.
And I had to shovel it off my driveway.
And I've been carrying an obscenely heavy generator in and out of the shed and house to keep the basement from flooding for three days now.
I will be okay.
It's stressful, but that is life in New England. I'll be glad when power comes back.
This is seriously weird and unsettling.
There are autumn leaves scattered over deep snow and puddles of ice.
That is so weird.

So... no idea when power will come back on. I'm typing from a coffeeshop in Manchester, where they picked up fairly quickly. In another half hour or so, though, I'll pack up and head back home. Tomorrow I'll see if the campus is open and charge more stuff there.

Miss you all. Peace.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth

You know you're an Internet Addict when...
Vixeny goodness
Actually, although that's the title my brain came up with for this post, I'm not sure I agree. A huge piece of my life takes place online. The lion's share of all communication with my boyfriend (no, that word will never be easy to type, because my brain will never accept it. Boyfriend, it tells me, is a word that happens to other people. Such strange worlds, we make for ourselves. I'd also argue that it's a stupid word because, like most of this language, it's too vague. But anyway.) takes place online. The numerical majority of my friends are online. Home is where the laptop is.

Anyway. The title was spawned when I realized I'd rather skip filling my tank this week, and walk/not go anywhere requiring driving than have the internet bill go unpaid and risk losing wifi. Which may happen anyway, because I don't know if I can afford to pay it, and the busy season still hasn't kicked in, so my hours are shrinking instead of growing, and I'm at the point where I'm wondering if I should get a second job. But if I do get a second job, and then the busy season kicks in, I will be quite frankly screwed. And if it doesn't, I will miss job opportunities for the Christmas hiring season. There is no right answer!

For now, I'm just praying business picks up.

There are other things I'd like to talk about, but I don't know that I have the spoons to tackle the laundry list of insecurities that are whining at my coattails like leaden koalas.

So! This is my laundry list of projects!
Firstly: [personal profile] thulcandran , which is my new Dreamwidth for the ten-minute prompts I've decided to do every night. (Life promptly smacked me with emotional drama and guilt every night, of course.)
Secondly: Currently Without Link, my project to transcribe the over-a-century-old tome of Arabian Nights my grandparents gave me. It's from back when Muslims and Christians regarded each other as "Like us, but weird," instead of "Doomsaying Evildoers of Darkness, Kill On Sight." And it features djinni as characters in their own right, the spirits of immense power that they were in legends of old, rather than just Deus Ex-Machinas tied to a lamp.
Thirdly: The PPC NaNoWriMo project! Dann came up with a prompt/setting for this year-- every day, 3% of the world disappears. We're going to try and have a mini-anthology when all's said and done.
Fourthly: ...I think this had something to do with the chalkboard on my door, but I don't remember.

At any rate, I'm off-- gonna take some Autumn pictures before the season starts winding down. Crossposted from Dreamwidth

Writing, and Terra Nova.
Vixeny goodness
Habit to get into: gonna spend ten minutes a night on Write Or Die, before I go to bed. Five hundred word goal, for now. And then I'm gonna start a blog thing to put everything. No matter what I've written that day, no matter how late it is, every night, ten minutes.

One of these days, I'll learn to stop making decisions like this on the up side of the cycle. I'm not manic, so that's good. But this is one of those "Yeah! I can totally do this!" things that I just know is going to hurt like hell when it inevitably fails, and I'll start going crazy depressed into the "I couldn't even do this one thing, I am worthless," but for now, I am going to try it anyway.

My plan is that if I wind up with occasional continuity, to tag everything for canons and such. Anyway.

Here's what I wrote last night:

The Last DayCollapse )

DML mentioned that I should clarify subjects. The conversation between the captain, the engineer, and the AI gets sort of muddled. I remember being careful when writing that not to be too specific, because I was in an abstract state of mind-- but it does need fixing.

(Oh, also? I've become addicted to Terra Nova. Holy shit that show is awesome. And Taylor, ye gods Taylor is win, and just, yay. And the cast is diverse, which is awesome, and features women in kick-ass roles, not just supporting, and it is just all kinds of win. They really hit their stride this episode. The potential was there, the pilot and last week, but this one blew me away, straight up. Damn near cried a bit. And yes, totally fangirling Taylor, (in a nonsexual way). It's... complicated. And led to a personal epiphany which is way too raw for a post like this. But. That show. Yeeeeeey.)

Crossposted from Dreamwidth

For Love! ...and money. Well, mostly money.
Vixeny goodness
So I think, after NaNoWriMo and the month of editing thereafter, I am going to try my hand at writing a romance novel. Even typing that sentence, I have an immediate mental cringe. See, here's the thing. I know it's arrogant. I know it's presumptive, I know I'm oversimplifying, and I figure about one week into this experiment I may very well go "AAAH NO NEVERMIND THIS IS HORRIBLE," but I... um. See, I look at romance novels, ones that are laying around here and there, at my stepmom's house, in the library, in Barnes & Nobel, and I go 'man, i could totally write something way better than that,' and I have done that so many times. "dude! It's so formulaic! if that's all it takes, I could do the same thing but with better language and less cringe-y sex scenes, i've seen better stuff on Harry/Draco slash."

Like I said, there's a pervasive arrogance to it. But, uh. If I'm right? If I can handle that, if I can write a halfway decent romance novel, maybe even one that isn't horribly degrading in creepily pervasive ways, maybe something even empowering... man, that would be really cool. And maybe I could make some money off of it. Which would be really nice.

(If I am going to move out next summer, which I basically have to, and continue to take classes and go to college and so on, I really, really need to be making more money than I am right now. And part of that will change in November/December, I really really hope so, anyway, it always has in the past and up until August this was a good year, and I mean if things are looking really bad in the spring still, I can start looking for a second job again. (This time, one without a lot of 16-20 year olds who act like 14-16 years and think that hooking up with your coworkers/boss is totally acceptable, and think that life is better when you treat it like a soap opera.) But it would be nice if I could do something that kinda proves, to myself more than anyone else, that Yes, I Can Do This Whole Being A Writer Thing. Writing a genre I'm not super interested in would be even better for that, really, because it means I'm more likely to be able to cover subjects I don't care for in journalism. ...Right? Right! Totally.)

So yeah-- my situation right now, in case that paragraph was horribly convoluted (*checks* ...Yup.) and hard to follow, is that I'm going to class, working 30ish hours a week, worried about the future of the place I work at, and living at home. At the end of this school year, my dad is going to sell the house and move in with his girlfriend, my sister is going to college, and I can either go down with them, fifty+ miles or so away from everyone I know and my job and my school, or find a place to live up here. Which means that, unless I can glean substantial financial aid, I may have to start making really difficult choices about whether I want to take the course load that will get me to where I want to be, or whether I want to pay rent and eat. Unless I have a second job, or am making more money from something else (like a romance novel, for example). And if I have a second job, I may wind up choosing between the course load I want to take, and sleeping. Or gas money.

And, well, fuck. If I'm right, and not just being arrogant and rather ignorant, then I'd be getting paid for something that improved my skill as a writer, (otherwise what on earth is the point) rather then getting paid to babysit a heroin addict who routinely steals things from the kitchen, throws up in the garbage behind the prep sink, openly discusses her perception of her boss's sex life and how him and his partner getting married was Wrong and UnAmurrican ("It's different for you kids, in my day things like this were different" "HE'S OLDER THAN YOU ARE"), and is also my supervisor.

Yes. ALL OF THOSE THINGS happened at the last Second Job I got. Also two of the other kids who worked there were actually heroin DEALERS, sometimes to kids younger than eighteen, and everyone smoked pot (except me and like one other person) and one of the managers actually hit me with her car on the way home from work after smoking the joint she rolled on our back counter and one of the guys was thirty and hit on this sixteen-year-old who worked there all the time and thought our (afore-mentioned gay, married) boss was hitting on him ALL THE TIME even in front of his partner and the eventual general manager was a neurotic wreck who talked to everyone as though they were two-and-a-half (in tone, vocabulary, and frequency) and I just, no. Never again.

So! Gonna write a romance novel next year.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth

Obligatory Plug
(I am grumbly about plugging things, but this is a thing that I do think people interested should try.)

au_hogwarts is now open for public consumption; it is a RP community targetted for running and playing in a variety of AU games set in the HP world with any character, any time period, any scenario. If you have an idea you don't think would be able to support its own game, or some type of one shot RP, try it out here.

Belief, childhood, &c.
Vixeny goodness
There's a site-- Mark Does Stuff -- where Mark Oshiro reads/watches various media and writes up a review for what he's... watching/reading. He did Twilight, famously, first, because he was sick of everyone bashing it and wondering if it was all that bad (Spoiler alert: Yes. Yes, it is/was, and yes, when he was finished he agreed.), then moved on to Harry Potter, bitter and full of dark expectations, only to be delighted by the whole series. Right now, he's reading through American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

This is absolutely one of my favorite books, even one of my favorite books by Neil Gaiman, which is saying something. (This may be one of my best bastions against being called a hipster. I do not care, nor will I ever care, how popular Neil Gaiman is, he's still awesome.) Anyway-- Mark is going through the chapters one per day, squeeing in delight like so many of us have at Gaiman's work in the past. (I am amused by the fact that Firefox now recognizes Gaiman as a word.) But it threw me, a bit. I may comment there, at some point, but for now I'm too sort of shaky/shy to do it, so I'll put stuff here, instead.

Regarding Chapter Five:
I don’t know what Gaiman is doing to me at all, but I like it. I love that Shadow is at a point in this journey where everything is so bizarre that there’s really no point in actively challenging what he’s seeing or experiencing. And perhaps this is me doing that thing where I read into something far more than I should, but Shadow just submits himself to the experience, and I find that to be an intriguing subtext to me.

See... I don't quite get it. I will agree that giddy enthusiasm is the correct way to react to the book - any books of Gaiman's, in fact! He's bloody awesome! And I think a huge part of it is that he weaves this story so well, and writes it so matter of factly, that you find that willing suspension of disbelief is all but unavoidable. But...

This world, this world where the spirits and gods and ancestors and brownies and fae and piskies and ifrits are real? This world is not unfamiliar to me. And I am only realizing now that the reason for that has, I think, a lot to do with my upbringing. Y'see, the branch of Evangelical/Fundamentalist Southern Baptistish Christianity that I was brought up in never told us magic wasn't real. Instead, it attributed magic to the Devil, or 'familiar spirits,' and chalked it up very firmly on the Evil column. (Everything in the world, you see, is either on the Evil column or the Good column. That is the religion I was raised in.) When you prayed, you always prayed to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, because if you only said 'Jesus,' then your prayer might be interpreted by a demon who went by the same name. We didn't have books of mythology not because "They're myths, not true, and therefore damned lies," or whatever other Good Christian reason you might think of, but because the gods in those books might tempt us from Christianity, to graven images and/or idols, because that's what they were. False gods. There, very much present, very much holding some power, but not Our God, and therefore evil.

Everything that ain't human (or animal) and ain't Yahweh is in the Evil column, you see. Very firmly in the Evil column. (Even angels are untrustworthy-- the Devil, you know, can appear as a being of light. They're not infallible themselves, anyway.) But still there. I remember reading Aladdin for the first time, and understanding (and agreeing with) the titular character's mother, as she unleashes the djinn and goes "It is an Evil Spirit, my son, and you must get rid of it." (Being about ten years old or so at the time, I also sympathised with Aladdin, and had a spiritual crisis that lasted damn near six years on whether I would be able to resist such a temptation.) Later on, I changed my opinion. The djinn is clearly a sentient, sapient being-- the immorality here is not in his magic, it is in his enslavement. The evil in Aladdin's choice is not in his decision to continue using the djinn's magic, it is in his never considering if he should set the spirit free. But then, they often seem pretty evil in the tales-- but I don't know. I have a complicated opinion on jinni. I would love to find one someday and have a conversation with xir. (Hopefully not one that ends with "...Well, if you must behead me, can I make a phone call to my boyfriend first? Or an epic cross-country walk to bid him farewell? It's only fair.")


My point is, although I no longer believe that the entire spiritual realm between man and God is inherently evil... I do hold the belief that it's There. I don't think it's all awesome light and goodness, either, but I think the hold that realm has on my mind is very deeply seated. It was easy, very easy, for me to believe in Coyote. It was much harder to believe that he was not an evil being, another facet of the faceless, demon-bound EVIL that walks the Earth.

I don't know.

The point is, when I read American Gods, willing suspension of disbelief was only partly required, because much of what popped up was so very familiar to me. When I finally did get my hands on mythology, I absolutely dove in. I never realized that the characters became so real to me; I never fully understood why, but I probably heard their names on the List Of Enemies at some point, either from my father or my mother or our pastor. And although I don't believe they're all unambiguous Enemies, their being real is so very much intertwined with my religion that I doubt I could ever shake it.

Alright, I have probably hammered this point in altogether too hard. My next point, of course, is the difference between idols and idolatry, and... all of the above.

I don't worship Coyote. He is my brother. Annoying as shit, funny as shit, I picture him with an infectious laugh, singing rowdy songs and getting drunk off his ass because he can. And so, sometimes, to make him laugh, I sing rowdy songs beneath the stars. Or make jokes, lewd jokes and simple jokes and complicated jokes, and have a Secret Plot to mess with my boss's head by slowly adding shades to his rainbow of *sharpies, leaving bottles upside down, balancing on their caps, replacing all the pennies in the safe with wheat pennies, etc. (That last is a bit more complicated, and must wait until I have enough wheat pennies to pull it off. Which may take a while.) And when I am walking down a straight and smooth sidewalk and trip for no reason, I laugh, and when I am balancing on a fencepost on a slippery moonlit evening in the middle of nowhere, I laugh with delight whether I make the jump to the next gap or not, because who really cares if it's a joke or a triumph? They're both fun.

I believe that God has a sense of humor. I think a being like Coyote has a place in the divine order of things. I don't think it's blasphemy-- or even idolatry.

Idolatry, to me, is simple. Letting something that is Not God subvert the place of God-- whose law, most importantly, is Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself. Who told his disciple, Peter, that in order to show love to God, we must take care of those around us. Whose main issue with the Goats in the parable of the Goats And Sheep was that they did not feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison. (I would note he doesn't say anything about why they might be in prison. Apparently it doesn't matter whether they were guilty or not.)

So the most common idols I see are the **American flag, the dollar, and the ticker on Wall Street; my own idols are pretty easily selfishness and intellect-- I had a conversation with Andrew the other day about hierarchies in humanity (notably, how I have trouble following them), and he pointed out that saying no one has the right to dictate anyone else's life seems to assume equality of intelligence. I used to think the same way, but... not so much anymore. Being smarter than someone else doesn't make you better than them. At all. It doesn't give you the right to push them around.

Anyway! This has certainly gone on longer than I intended it to. Mostly I just wanted to kind of laugh at the fact that my strict upbringing made me more tolerant of Paganism and Druidism and Shamanism. (I'm not Pagan, or Druid, but I am Shamanist, which overlaps with both of those in some areas.)

Which would've horrified my mother.

I really shouldn't be snickering at that. *cough*

Anyway. Off to work!

*He's obsessive about those: "Don't use them! They're for signs, they're apart for a reason, I bought them myself." He's got the basic rainbow, but the company makes a lot more-- shades of pastel pink, and blue-green, and stuff. So I'm going to subtly slip new shades into the array until he notices and freaks out. Should be fun.

**I should clarify.

One day, an illegal Hispanic immigrant was walking down a hot desert road, when a bunch of punk-ass kids set on him, beat him, took his money, and left him for dead on the side of the road. He lay there dying, and a preacher walked by, saw that he looked like he might have been an undocumented migrant worker, and walked on the other side of the road, so that he wouldn't get caught in any kind of crossfire. Then a priest walked by, realized that the man might have been caught up in a drug war of some kind, picked up the hem of his robe, and kept walking. Finally, a former Marine who'd just gotten a day off from Border Patrol walked by, realized that the man might be in serious trouble, and, after biting his tongue about all the trouble he could get in for this, took him to a hospital and paid out of pocket to have the man treated, so that his lack of health insurance wouldn't be an issue.

I, um, I'll get off the soapbox and be off now.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth

Alas, no.
Vixeny goodness
So it's quarter to eleven, and I just had a shouting match with my sister (BUT ANYWAY), and I have to work a full shift tomorrow (it's complicated, I'm not sure how we're going to work out the timecard this week), but I have had this idea in my head and it won't go away and I don't actually own all the characters, so I can't do it anyway.

It would be amusing, though. The scene begins thusly:

Professor Freeman is in his office, preparing the lesson, or scrying for something or other - it's what he does. As he peers into the circle/mirror, the vision clouds over, and two vivid yellow eyes stare out at him with an unblinking concentration. After a moment, the apparition greets him in Arabic - a dialect that hasn't been commonly spoken for a few milennia, at least. It inquires, in tones about as honeyed as a roaring chainsaw, if he is acquainted with the young son of a djinni? Arrogant fellow, prone to biting off more than he can chew, more charm and cleverness than actual wisdom or care? Hair about this long, a couple long tooth-mark scars down his torso?

Freeman, being no fool, would most likely wonder why, exactly, the apparition was looking for this person, and what he would be doing by attempting to contact them?

Oh, nothing much, the vision clears a bit, and a reptilian-looking fellow steps out from the murk, staring unnervingly at the scrying professor with the intense focus of a honed predator. It's just that he happens to owe me a favor. If you do see him - his energy signal seems to be all over your location - just let him know Husam is looking to collect a debt*. Agreeing to this message, the connection is cut. Freeman makes sure his wards are set up and he will not be spied upon, and sets out to find Shihab, and possibly wring his neck.

The young half-djinni in question is currently in the library, having snuck in through the ceiling tiles as is his wont, and poring over old blueprints of biplanes. Freeman uses different tricks to get in, probably, and finds a Shihab-shaped shadow (in stealth mode, and therefore very difficult to see, unless you're looking carefully-- tends to appear as a trick of the light, due to translucency and absorbing light, rather than reflecting it) at a table, notebook and quill working away furiously. The student doesn't notice the other shadow until it's three or four feet away, and has decided, graciously, to clear its throat. Then he freezes - act natural, maybe you haven't been noticed?

Alas, no. "Shihab, have you been making deals** with demigods?"

's as far as I've gotten. It's too bad SDA went under; Dann playing Freeman there would be massively fun (and a great deal more convincing than I can pull off).

*How I would actually write this:
It will not be
of a troubling matter,
I think.

His energy is near to
your location,
which explains the misunderstanding.
if you happen across
his path,
I would appreciate your passing on
a message.

Professor Freeman raised an eyebrow. "I can do that. And the message would be?"
Tell my young friend
wishes to collect
his debt.
"If I do happen across him," for example, as soon as I can get the idiot in strangling range, "I will let him know."

Thank you.

**I think I wound up cutting this from the final version, but Shihab trades three favors for information he needs, after establishing that Husam will not 1) ask him for something lethal, like his life's blood, 2) ask him for something literally impossible, or 3) use this to enslave him. Crossposted from Dreamwidth
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