Words Like Water

Thursday, April 4th, 2019 03:49 pm
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I speak with words like water
A babble-brook of sound
Rivers may roar and so I
Cry with white rapid speech

I speak with words like water
Damned and dammed behind
The lock of lips tied by anger
A dike sealed by fable fingers

I speak with words like water
Rusty tap ekes out a measure
Falling on parched hearts
Too little, too late to start

I speak with words like water
A geyser, a fount, a great cascade
The diluvian torrent of ideas
Wrenched free by ageless pressures

I speak with words like water
Seeking the path of least resistance
Seeping through imperfect foundations
Changing through stubborn flow

The Clockwork Heart

Friday, March 8th, 2019 05:41 pm
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Once Upon A Time, when such things happen, in a magical land that had seen stranger things, a girl was born without a heart. The girl with no heart was not born to a cursed royal couple, but to simple craftspeople in a moderately sized village. Her mother was greensmith who worked copper and fixed pots, and her father made and mended clocks. Once, in his youth, the clockmaker had done a kindness for a fairy, and so she came to them with warning of what would happen when his wife gave birth. Distraught at the idea they might lose their child, they made for her a clockwork heart. The clockmaker drafted the plan, and his wife made all the parts, and together they assembled a gleaming copper heart to save their daughter. She was born screaming, pink and perfect, and they named her Corretta. Thanks to hard work and a little bit of friendly magic, her clockwork heart worked.

Sort of.

Read more... )

Here There Be

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019 01:26 am
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Here There Be Demons
Lurking in the Deep
Slinking in the Shadows
On watch while all the people sleep

Here There Be Dragons
Guarding hoarded loot
Fanged and clawed and grumpy
But also... kinda cute?

Here There Be Monsters
Go patrolling the Dark
Fighting in the battles
That would tear mortal men apart

Here There Be Unknowns
The Psychopomps to Guide
And the Seers at their Sight
Because this is where

All the stranger things reside

They Named Us

Friday, February 15th, 2019 11:26 am
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Humans, as a species,
Packbond to anything
That will sit still long enough
And sometimes,
To things that won't.

They are a lonely People
Who look up
And out
And down
And everywhere
For other People they can
Be People with

They searched the skies
For years
For decades
For centuries
Hoping to find someone
To be friends with

When things started to look
Not so good,
For the Earth,
For Humans
For the chance to find others
They built robots
To do a job they could not.

They gave them metal bodies,
Silicon brains, and the directive
"You want to explore"
And they did.   After all,
They were built in Humanity's image

Maybe in a hundred years
Humanity will be gone
Maybe they will have killed themselves
Or poisoned their planet
And maybe when the People they sought
Arrive, they will find Humans long gone.
But they will find robots,
And ask them what Humans were like.

"Well, they built us," the robots will say.
"Loved us, sang to us, and named us:

Sojourner - one who visits and travels
Spirit - the sentient part of a person
Opportunity - a chance for progress
Curiosity - a desire to know
Insight - the power to understand

So they must have thought
Those things were important.

And they told us to tell you

Hello!"
bairnsidhe: (Default)
This isn't my usual fare, but bear with me.

I was struck this morning by the strange realization that I use loanwords from Appalachian and Ozarkan English, because the exact meaning I need isn't in so-called Standard English. There are untranslatable words from dialect to dialect, but in English those who don't speak the dialect the words come from often assume that the dialectical word is simply a poorly pronounced version of a word in Standard English. (I refrain from assuming anything about other languages and their users attitudes to dialects.)
Read more... )
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 In my search for filling and reduced carb meals (hello insulin resistance, my old nemesis, we meet again) I have stumbled on a fantastic recipe for guacamole that has protein but basically no carbs other than what you dip in it, which if you like raw veggies, can be basically none!

The following recipe is for one person who needs a hearty snack, since I only cook in two settings, alone time and feeding an army.  For army-sized portions, I'd say scale up with the avocados, but be aware not everyone will eat an entire avocado of dip, and maybe leave off one or two.

What you'll need:

1 avocado (ripe is best, but this recipe is forgiving in both directions)
14 ounces of mild cheddar or other preferred cheese (except Velveeta, it soups up and gets nasty)
1 lime
Salt and Pepper OR preferred spices
Sour Cream (optional)
Salsa (optional)


A sharp knife
A citrus juicer (optional)
A spoon for mixing
A microwave safe bowl

A microwave

Directions:

Cut the avocado in half, and remove the pit.  I like to do that by carefully stabbing the edge of the pit by the flesh of the fruit and prying up, but some prefer to whack a wide bladed knife into the pit like a kung-fo move, and pry from there.  It's up to you.  Once the pit is gone, cut the avocado, still in the skin, into half inch chunks.  You'll do that by dragging the knife in parallel lines through the flesh, scraping but trying not to pierce the skin, then again at a perpendicular angle.  Once you have the cuts made, turn the halved avocado cut side down over your bowl and turn the skin inside out, keeping your fingers at the edge and pushing with your thumbs.  This method gets you the most avocado for your effort, I find, although those of you who have more 'cado-cutting experience may use other methods.  YMMV.

Now, cut the lime in half LONG WAYS.  Yes, I know this feels weird, it's worth it.  Juice one half over the avocado chunks.  I like to use a citrus juicer when I'm squeezing a lime cut long ways, but some people hate the oblong-over-circle feel, and prefer to juice with the spoon.  Whatever works for you.  Ideally, what you'll get is half a lime worth of juice on the chunked avocado, and a halved lime ready to be cut into wedges.  Do that later, though, while the microwave is going.

Next, cheese!  I used cubed cheese, and haven't experimented with shredded yet, but I think both would work.  Regardless, you want your cheese mixed in with your guac-to-be, so not in one solid chunk.  The spoon comes in handy here.  You don't want to over-mash the avocado, but you do want the cheese tossed in, like mixing up a fruit salad, gently fold, don't mash.  Sprinkle in the salt and pepper you want while you mix, but really, really go easy on the salt.  My first go got oversalted because I failed to account for the salt of the cheese.  Next time I'll be leaving salt out entirely and trying a dash of chili powder and paprika.

Pop the whole shebang, minus spoon, into the microwave for about a minute or two.  Microwaves can really vary, so this is a feel-it-out thing.  I'd say stand near it while you wedge the lime half, and listen for pops of hot cheese.  Pull it before any cheese at the edges crisps up, and give it a good stir to be sure the temperature is mostly even. 

You can then garnish with the limes, sour cream, salsa, maybe more cheese if you're inclined to up the protein count.  Dip whatever you like in it, even a spoon!

Happy Eating!

Prayers

Sunday, February 3rd, 2019 02:40 pm
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Prayer has always been such.

Demeter, Lady of Harvests, bless our fields, which have lain fallow past the dry summer’s ending twice now.  Lady of grain and plenty, let my family have enough to eat, lead my children not into starvation. Please, Demeter, you know what it is to lose a child to Hades cold lands.  Please save us.

The concerns of mortality and morality, the burden of a life lived hot and fast, for humans are such strange and furious creatures.  Their lives are short, and for this they race, fitting as much in to the scant years granted them as they can bear. They push themselves to the edge of endurance and then past it, until their bodies give out beneath the weight of their dreams.

Hera, Goddess of wives and mothers, hear my plea.  I was young, not long from the halls of Artemis when I wed my husband.  He is kind, truly, honest and not like to beat me, but I have borne him three children, and two dead before they emerged.  This is my twentieth summer, and I think I may not live to see another child. My limbs ache, my head swims, and I can scarce stand the thought of my husband’s touch.  I beg you, Hera my goddess, end my suffering quickly, let me die before I carry another babe.

Humans, they never change, each generation has the same complaints, the same quarrels.  The old say the same of the young that their elders said of them, the young echo the complaints of their parents from a time before they were born.  The prayers of humans are like the striking of a string, a note that reverberates through time.

Hestia, I beg your guidance for I shalt kill my mother if she makes one more remark about my hair.  Hearth-goddess, grant me some measure of the patience that lets you survive your family, that I may survive mine.

The weaknesses of humans remain the same.  The art of cruelty has not come so far since their earliest days, the dark passions have never evolved.  Prayers for protection, similarly, have not changed. There is no need to improve a shield if the spear which strikes it remains the same.

Athena, Great and Wise, hear the call of your priestess.  I vowed to remain chaste, as chaste as thee, but that vow has now been broken by no action of my own.  I seek your aid in my defense, make me as terrible as Medusa, that no man may want to touch me again. Make me a Gorgon, hideous and awful to behold, but let no man look on me in desire.

Humanity continues.  Their prayers continue.  Rising to the sky on hopeful lips, falling to the earth in bitter tears.  The salt of ten thousand broken hearts weeping, has watered the fields where once grew forgiveness, and the prayers reflect the shattering of the sacred faith.  Some violations are too far, some hearts cannot be mended, and the balm for pain is found in prevention, and retribution.

Persephone, Dark Goddess of deathly mysteries and vengeance, aid me in my hour of need, for I go to kill a man tonight.  He has done me a terrible wrong, and my sister too, and I intend to send him to meet your husband before the sun has risen.  I cannot stand by and let him do this again, and I know in my heart he will not stop unless he is stopped. I offer you my soul in servitude forever in death, should you but place him in Tartarus to suffer for the crimes he has committed.  Give him the agony he has caused to me, to my sister, give to him the pain that he has caused so many women, and let him suffer it anew each time the sun rises. Punish him, Persephone, Wife of Death, Bringer of Fallow Seasons, Renewer of the Earth, I call on you to aid me with the chthonic darkness of the underworld, and ruin his soul for eternity.


Carried

Monday, January 28th, 2019 09:10 pm
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 Content Warning: Death, grieving, mention of plans for emergency ending of life, drinking as self medication.  Mind your headspace.

Read more... )

The Grand Faire

Thursday, January 24th, 2019 06:21 pm
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It was the week before the Grand Faire and the fairgrounds quivered with anticipation.  Raise your hand if you paused in the middle of that word. Yep, there’s always a few of you.  The Grand Faire comprises all aspects of fairs, festivals, carnivale, flea markets, and the Mos Eisley Cantina Scene.  It’s a brightly colored, deep fried and sugar coated, all bells and whistles, step right up sort of whizbang show. The groups that make it roughly divide by genre, although that doesn’t stop daring acts from trying the profitable waters of the no man’s land between traditional styles.  The burlesque acts spread particularly wide. It makes sense, nakedness is about as contagious as the predictable plagues that crop up every year: the flu, mono, smallpox, the clap, bronchitis, pink eye, you know, the usual.

Now the week before, that’s a special time.  All the performers are there, the sets are being finished, the elephants watered, but there’s no patrons yet.  Which means things can get a little wild. The grounds are mostly family friendly in the daytime, as long as you mind the signage and don’t mind the showgirls flashing a bit of thigh.  Of course, once the good little boys and girls are in bed, the naughty ones get to have fun. This year, the after hours party got a bit out of hand.  Someone decided it would be fun to have sex on top of the tiger cage and got a nasty case of cat scratch fever someplace rude. A newer group camped out on the border of Steampunk territory and the Society for Creative Anachronism managed to build a functional aether gun.  Impressively, they did it while drunk off their asses on Romulan Ale smuggled across the antique dealer’s zone in a vintage cooler painted with Undark by some now-dead Radium Girl. A dancer on a cyr wheel got into a fight with an aerial silks artist and the two rendered themselves mutually unable to perform solo.  They did manage to work it out and started a new act at the last minute. The new act was very good, although it required a temporary ceasefire at the paintball war grounds to let five circus strong men move them to the black leather tents of the exotically erotic shows.

The fun came to an abrupt end with the intervention of a government agency that preferred to remain nameless.  Men in dark suits with neat haircuts varying only an inch in length swarmed the grounds, taking samples of drinks and food and grease paint.  A large plane landed and disgorged a troop of identical GI Joes rendered in life size, with realistic coloration, and the steampunk inventors were escorted away while pointed questions were asked about things like permits, and the fairground manager got deeply uncomfortable looks on his faces.  It was the last great hurrah of the Grand Faire, and you really had to have been there.


Lingonberry Jam

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019 09:59 am
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“Why is there lingonberry jam in the fridge?” Steve asked, standing in the glow of cold air and eyeing the jar in question skeptically.

Jane looked up from planning the menu for their next seven degrees party, a family gathering bringing in seven degrees of separation from their own pairing.  “Because I bought lingonberry jam? Please tell me you’re not one of those people who stores jam at room temperature.”

“No, of course not!” Steve scoffed.  He pulled out the yogurt he’d opened the fridge for in the first place, and leaned against the kitchen counter to eat it.  “So where did you get lingonberry jam?”

“They sell it at IKEA,” Jane said, still deep in the intricacy of accommodating food restrictions.  “You know, in that little grocery section past the checkout. Impulse buy, but totally worth it.”

“When did you go to IKEA?  I would have helped you bring home whatever it was.”

“It’s fine, I went with Gary.  He needed a shower curtain and I needed a new desk chair for my office.”

“Desk chair?”

“Yeah, I got a Skjoor… Skör,” Jane trailed off on the word, weighing the benefits of continuing to try to say it.  “You know what, it doesn’t matter. It’s all one piece, and it looks nice. You wanna go up to my office and take a look?”

“One piece, huh?” Steve said smugly, a wry grin at the edge of his lips.  He’d been caught fair and square, but he didn’t mind.

“Well, yeah,” Jane said, standing to give him a hug and a peck on the cheek.  “I love Gary, but I needed a chair right then, and he’s not my handyman boyfriend.  But... I saw a really pretty shelving unit while I was there.”

“You want to go to IKEA?”


Story Seed Tag

Monday, January 21st, 2019 01:39 pm
bairnsidhe: (Default)
 I'm starting a new tag for short, snippitly bits that aren't long enough to qualify as stories, but might become them.  There's several reasons for this, the first of which is I need a place to put them so I can find them again.  Another reason is that someone else might be inspired by them, and I'm all for the propagation of more fiction.  If you're so inclined, anything in the "Story Seed" tag is free game to use as a jumping off point for your own work, no permission required.  Grab it and go, folks, grab it and go.  Thirdly, any story seed might also be something someone wants to see me write more of, and commissions are always open. 

If you like something in a story seed and want to see it grow into an actual story-bush, just tell me you'd be interested in buying an expanded version, and give me a budget to stay in for my rates ($0.02 US per word, on average).  If I wind up writing significantly more than your offer, I'll post your part, open the rest of the story for crowd funding, and we'll go from there.

Every so often, I'll "open the garden" for a Free Prompt Day and do some expansions just because I can.
bairnsidhe: (Default)

“So, when did it start?” the detective asked.  It wasn’t a harsh question, was actually asked in a light and friendly tone, even.  Mallory had to chuckle at that, considering her position.

“Well, I mean, it obviously started when the faery walls came down.  When we got magic back, and all that came with it. But as for what I think you want to know… it started with the gnomes.”

The gnomes had been a surprise, honestly.  So many things that came sideways from the sun weren’t anything like they’re prettied up modern image.  Elves were warriors, pixies a menace, and the unicorns… no, nothing seemed to be the same.  Then, Mallory found gnomes in her trash cans.  Cute, tiny, in pointed hats and velvet coats, like living garden statues trying to equitably divide pizza crusts.  Obviously, she couldn’t just let them go on starving on scraps, so she pulled out all the leftovers the four housemates had, heated it up, and laid out a little buffet for them.  They were grateful, and in exchange, willing to help with the gopher infestation Mallory had been fighting for ages. It turned out, however, that gnomes talk, and that’s how it escalated to other magical misfits, to an organized circle of favors that might, allegedly, be somewhat resembling organizations like the Mafia.  

But it started with the gnomes.



Errant

Saturday, January 5th, 2019 11:13 pm
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 Quest closed her eyes as she released the casket.  Her job as pall bearer was over, the few feet allotted to her cadre complete.  With a hero as influential and beloved as The Knight, everyone had wanted to carry their share of the grief.  She hadn't known Gale well, he'd been a senior hero even when Zita had been a lab assistant working off an apprenticeship to Chop Shop and zyr programmer, but he'd inspired her.  His medieval sense of chivalry and duty had given her the idea to call herself Quest, to identify with a search that would never end, answers as elusive as a questing beast.

He'd been her hero.

He'd been everyone's hero.

Quest felt the pain cracking in her chest, the tight shell around her emotions creaking like ship timbers under the grief swirling up around her.  She wasn't an empath by any means, not as a power anyway, but it was hard not to feel the weight of everyone reaching for a bulwark that was no longer there.  Her own loss was locked tight, numbed by force of will and years of training in the sort of mental self-control it takes to have a calm head when everything is exploding.  Others, not so much.

"God, you look like shit," said a warm, familiar voice.  She jerked to look at Dacia.  They'd agreed to avoid letting their private and powered lives get crossed, and this was a hero's funeral, and Quest was in uniform.  So, it appeared, was Dacia.  Nimbus was sticking close, a draping duster of shadow under the protective shade of a black umbrella, but Darkmatter's trademark anonymous androgyny was on display.

"What are you doing here?" Zita hissed, feeling her other identity, the one that she should be leaning on, slide back in irritation.

"Supporting you, and showing my respects."  Darkmatter tilted her head.  "The Knight was a good man, nobody doubted that.  He was strong, honest, fair... kind.  Do you know how few people are even polite to supervillains?  We notice when people care about us.  We miss them when they go.  It doesn't quite hurt the same, I didn't know him personally, but I can feel the loss.  And the pain on your face is frankly concerning, you look like me on a bad day."

"It feels like a sucking chest wound," Zita admitted.  "A critical part of myself is just... gone.  And I'm not sure I have a right to the feeling.  He wasn't my mentor, I'd barely ever met him, just seen him in passing when he visited the Sentinels when I worked there.  I hurt, but it feels... voyeuristic?"

"You feel what you feel," Darkmatter said flatly.  "But if you don't have a right to hurt, I have even less.  I never met him, he was just a celebrity to me.  I still miss him, though.  I want to read the Saturday paper and see another of his letters to the editor, I want to see a clip of him organizing another impromptu boffer joust on the internet.  I want to know he's there, making the world a better place."

Zita lost all grip on her own guilt over the imposition of her pain.  Her instinct to comfort and validate Dacia swamped the self-doubt like a badly made boat.  She pulled her girlfriend-slash-nemesis into a tight hug.

"Oh, and uh, there's one more reason I'm here," Dacia whispered.  "I'm doing a favor for a friend.  Help me keep people from freaking out."

Zita paused, wanting to agree without hesitation to her beloved's request, and wanting to question her nemesis on that rather ominous phrasing. She didn't need to, however, when a strangled roar erupted at the front of the procession.  A great, silver scaled, horned figure was snarling at Doyenne.

"Dragon?" Zita asked in confusion, tilting her head.

"It's not that surprising," Darkmatter said dryly.  "You would show up to my funeral.  He's known The Knight his whole life.  It's not friendship, but it matters."

Zita wanted to argue, to point out they had layers of complications on top of confusion when it came to their partnership.  Quest knew it didn't matter, but also that Darkmatter was right.

"Give way," Quest called up.  "Mediation team, give way."

They headed forward, people falling back in an orderly fashion.  She wondered at that, until she saw Darkmatter nod at a woman in an elegant gown of eggplant purple and silver.  Princess's empathy could latch onto a reasonable order like letting a mediation team through, giving her enough of a boost to calm the savage crowd.

"Helen, no offence, but you need to take a deep breath," Quest said calmly.  "You're in pain, and you're not being rational."

"He has no right--" Doyenne started, but Dragon cut her off with a strangely quiet roar.

"He has every right to anything he feels," Quest said firmly, staring down the unofficial leader of superheroes.  "Just like you do.  If he's here to grieve, we need to let him."

Helen Riley glared at her, then past her to Darkmatter.  "I suppose you're also on his side," she sneered.

"You've lost someone, so I'm ignoring the tone," Darkmatter said sourly, "but there's no sides here.  Someone is dead.  We all hate that fact.  We're all in pain.  We're all sad and angry and afraid.  We're all going for a swim in our worst emotions.  But Dragon and I are a bit less thrown by that, because we stared into our abysses long enough that they got socially awkward and backed down long before this happened.  You try to be good most of the time.  I think that's commendable, but it left you unequipped to step up and deal."  

"Stop tilting at the fucking windmill and do the right thing," Dragon growled.

"Maybe don't insult her to her face," Zita muttered.  Helen smiled, though.

"I deserved that.  I just miss him."

"We know," said Princess, who opened her arms.  Doyenne collapsed into the embrace of the anti-hera, and Dragon stepped deftly around the two.  Darkmatter put a hand on Quest's arm and guided her back to the casket.  Dragon positioned himself at one corner, Darkmatter behind him.  Quest stood opposite her nemesis, and Doyenne wiped her face and took the remaining position.  Princess let out a trilling chord, a sound that shouldn't be possible from a human throat, and the crowds filtered back, ready for the procession to continue.

They had a hero to lay to rest.

No Simple Highway

Friday, January 4th, 2019 04:35 pm
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 DING

The bell above the door rang merrily.
I looked up from the counter I'd been leaning on. 

The young man who'd disturbed the bell was staring,
disheveled and a bit bewildered. 
They frequently had that look, the new ones.

"Welcome, friend!" I called out.
"Sit where you like, I'll get you some tea."

"This isn't..."
He trailed off, eyes on some distant horizon
he would never reach, poor thing.

A dashed expectation can hurt like a mother.

"No, I suspect not," I told him.
He blinked as I set down a cup
of bottle green plastic, covered in scuffs,
and filled to the brim with sweet tea.
"It seldom is." 

"Where is this?"

"Where were you heading?"

"I mean, probably Hell.
If the preachers are right about it."

"That's no simple highway,"
I sighed.  My own cup joined his.

I traced the arcane map formed
in the scratches and stains of old Formica.
The diner table transformed by habit into
scrying glass, battle plan, and altar.

"Reach out your hand," I told him.
To his credit, he didn't need to be asked twice.
I looked at his palm, the deep callouses
speaking to me as loud as sunlight.
A man who worked with his hands,
who played a stringed instrument,
and bit his nails short enough to use.

"There is a road," I told him.
"One that can take you someplace better for you.
Between the darkness and the dawning,
between choice and challenge,
through places untamed and untameable."

"The road goes to... to the good place?"

"It goes a place," I correct.  "Good is up to you.
But yeah, you can get someplace decent...
I think.  But you'll be walking the path alone."

"Alone, I can do," he said,
"I just wish..."

"Yeah?"

"It's silly," he said with a grin.
"I left, all of my own free will...
Well, free will, some Xanax, and a bottle of Jack...
but all I want to do now is go home."

The grin broke my heart,
curse me for a sentimental fool.
A bleeding heart is not a desirable trait in a psychopomp.
We lead the dead on, we don't let them linger
and we certainly don't let our own hearts lead us.

"If I knew the way, I'd take you home,
but I only know the paths forward."

I noted his cup was empty.

"More tea, before you leave?"

"No thanks."  He smiled like honey.
"I get the feeling I have a long walk,
I wouldn't want to get caught with no rest stop,
If you get my meaning."

I watched him go, and the jukebox played a breezy,
mellow rock intro, familiar and bright as tie-dye.

"Oh, stuff it," I told the machine.
"Don't you look at me in that tone of voice."

The dearly departed will stop for directions,
a slice of pie, or a cup of tea.
The grateful ones may chat a bit,
with me or with each other,
but the work isn't over,
and it never will be... with any luck.
bairnsidhe: (Default)
 This isn't Muse News, although it may start out looking like it.

Recently (as in the past week) no fewer than five people within three degrees of separation from me have died.  Friends of friends, the wife of a beloved college teacher, a student of a friend of family, and so on.  I'm not in the direct path of the grief-icane, but many of my friends and family are.  It's brought to mind grieving and the many ways we do that. 

There's no "right way" to lose someone.

Some people cry.  Some people have flat affect.  Some people recall the good times often and with vigor.  Some people get angry.  These are all perfectly fine ways to grieve.  For me, creativity was my biggest grief marker.  At first, I lost it.  I had no ability to make myself tell stories anymore.  I was numb in the place that made things.  So I investigated destroying things instead.  I broke flowerpots, I tore up magazines, I nitpicked all the shows and books I'd loved into mental shreds.  Then something really interesting happened.  I started to repair stuff, and I realized fixing was itself a form of creation.  My broken flowerpot made decent kintsugi.  Those ripped magazines were perfect collage fodder.  And... all those problems I found in my favorite shows?  I wanted to do better.  I poured my heart into writing stories that were better, kinder, more realistic and more hopeful than what I'd found.  I wrote Ellie and the Magic Oak as a part of that, actually.  And as I repaired the things around me that my grief had broken, I found I was also helping repair my own broken heart.

The Point At The End Of This Post
- (by fall out boy)
So, why share this?  What's the point of this recollection if I'm not just doing a Muse News post?

Well, I want to honor the lives recently lost in my periphery, and I'd like to do so with writing.  I want to do a few days of hardcore writing sprints and I'd like your help to do so.  I'm seeking prompts on the theme of Loss (not necessarily death, but loss in all forms) for short fiction, poetry, scripts or screenplays.  Just plop your prompt in the comments.  I can't promise I'll get to all of them, but everything I write will be posted in honor of the dearly departed.
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 It's a bit belated, as yesterday was spent wandering the fairy hill that is IKEA looking for a new work desk for myself, but that's life for you!  At any rate, welcome new year and the new people it will bring.  I've got a few big goals for this year, and they may alter the format I'd previously used for my page, so I figured a nice Muse News post to clarify things was in order.

First of all, I plan to graduate in May with my BLA.  That means that the eleven year struggle is almost over, and I'll be able to do non-college things for a while.  It also means that until May, I'll be in a heightened stress state waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Positives and negatives, but overall something I look forward to.

Given the May graduation, I've begun planning for my 'not a uni student anymore' life.  The goals for that are to get a part time job and build up my resume, as well as do more original work.  My fan fiction is a stress reliever, but it's not going to pay my bills, and original work might someday if I put enough practice in.  To that end, I'll be using this page more, both as a repository for finished work, and as a planning/prompting/crowdfunding platform to expand my horizons.  The Muse News tag will be getting an extra workout as well, and if you don't care for personal anecdotes and internal writer monologues, feel free to skip it.

Chaos Out Of Order

Sunday, July 15th, 2018 11:35 pm
bairnsidhe: (Default)

Prompted and sponsored by [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith for the Crowdfunding Creative Jam. The theme was Chaos and Order, and there were some lovely image prompts left out where just any old trickster could get them...
<^>


Khromata didn't intend for it to get this far out of control. Xe liked chaos, not apocalypses. Xir magic wasn't even all that powerful, certainly not to cause... this.


"Take a deep breath, and tell me what you did," Darkmatter ordered. Khromata wasn't a minion, never had been, didn't have the mindset to take orders, but xe stilled at the tinny reverb voice. Darkmatter was a skilled villain who only ever caused just enough chaos, never too much. They'd handle this.


"I just wanted the Manic Mundies to know what it felt like. When you wake up weird and can't be not. I wanted them to get a taste of life on the queer side."


"So you cast a spell to level the playing field?" Darkmatter asked. Khromata nodded sadly. This was a bad fuck-up. People were flooding hospitals with panic about powers, and the flying heroes had been pushing themselves trying to catch jumpers.


"I didn't want to hurt anyone." Xe rubbed xir butterfly-shaped powermark, the birthmark xe had upon exiting an alien cocoon with powers. "I thought it might help them understand transformation."


"You gave an entire city power-dysphoria, gender-dysphoria, and a rainbow of non-straight sexual orientations," Darkmatter said flatly. "You should know best of all, transformation hurts. Caterpillars dissolve into soup in their cocoons, metamorphosis isn't a casual passtime."


"I realize that, now," Khromata wailed. "But I can't unflap the butterfly, it does what it does once it's out there."


"What about sorting?" Darkmatter suggested. "We can't make the transitions stop, that's like trying to halt a thunderhead, but what if you send a second wave out to confine the effects. Like sorting buttons from a random box into color jars?"


"That might work," Khromata agreed, waving up the light board xe used to draft spells, and summoning a map of the city, covered by the confetti xir butterflies had made of the people. "Sort by colors, those are types of change, red for super powers, yellow for gender bending, blue for sexuality. Secondaries for the overlap."


Now the map was gone, but the colors were less confetti and more a color wheel.


"What's that white stuff?" Darkmatter asked, pointing to a thickening line of pastels and shades of white at the edges.


"Oh."


"What's oh?"


"It's fading out already." Kromata pointed to a cluster of ruby that was rapidly turning more rose and floating to the edge. "The effects must not be permanent. I knew my powers weren't that powerful. I guess I got quantity in exchange for quality."


"Don't get cocky," the older villain warned. "You still have to go tell people it'll go away. The panic and chaos are what's killing people, not your powers."


"I'm a trickster villain," Khromata pointed out. "Why would they believe me?"


"They might not," Darkmatter said with a shrug that rolled a puff of cloud into xir face. "That's a risk. But you want to be out there saying it when it happens. Because people will ascribe you a motive in the absence of one. They'll tell a story anyway, just to sort their own experience in a way they can understand. You'll look worse if you let them do it alone, because they want to keep living their lives, and life is a process that makes order from chaos..."


"And transition makes chaos from order," Khromata said, finishing xir motto. "Although in this case maybe it's chaos... out of order."


<^>
Character Notes:
Khromata-- A chaos-powered Trickster Villain. Khromata's gender identity is "Mischief" and preferred pronouns are Xe/Xem/Xir.
Origin: An alien insect species resembling a cross of butterflies and ants attempted an invasion by targeting invisible populations for transformation into shock troops. The major super-groups drove off the invasion and severely injured the Queen, but afterward the cocoons broke open spilling super-powered homeless people with no connection to the person they instinctively want to obey. Khromata reacted by rebelling against any and all forms of orders, including social order.
Powers: Seemingly magical effects carried out by butterflies made of some sort of glowing energy. The area of effect is usually small, but a large butterfly can break into several smaller ones to expand the range or targets.


Terminology Notes:
Manic Mundies is a slang term for the reactionary sort of person who fears anything different, particularly superpowers. It derives from "Mundane" meaning an ordinary, non-powered person. Although Mundane isn't a negative term, Manic Mundie or Mundie is, since it implies added intolerance.

Power-dysphoria is similar to gender-dysphoria in that your inner self wants one state and the current expression is the opposite state. In this case a lot of cis-mundane people got given powers at random after butterfly bites, and it's driving them up a wall because it doesn't fit their inner selves. More naturally are the reverse cases, people who want powers but haven't developed them yet.

Trickster Villains are their own separate category in the world of SuperQueers, people who exist to shake the status quo for the same reasons people climb mountains (it was just right there!). Most Trickster Villains are considered less powerful overall, but not particularly trustworthy, which makes fixing the mistakes they do make harder. Contrast to Opposition Villains, like Darkmatter, who represent an under-served population or philosophy and attack the status quo for targeted change, or Cause Villains, like Tunnel Vision, who attack only certain groups who represent a threat to their cause. Opposition and Cause Villains are more trusted even though they're also more feared, since they can be expected to act a certain way.

You Say Yes

Friday, June 22nd, 2018 05:15 pm
bairnsidhe: (Default)
 Inspired by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer 's work Together With You (start the story here) and one line that really stood out to me.

<^>

It's not easy
To be known friends
With superheroes.

It's not comfortable
When people stare at you
Or even point, sometimes.

It's not fun
When they laugh
And ask you that stupid question.

"So have YOU ever saved the world?"

It's not easy
To tuck your anger away
Behind tight lipped smiles.

It's not comfortable
When they assume your answer
Is going to be a no, of course.

It's not fun
When you laugh too
And try to talk about anything else.

Because you know the answer.

It's not easy
To get a call in the night
That your friend is in the clinic.

Again.

It's not comfortable
When you get kidnapped
By some wannabe villain.

Again.

It's not fun
To keep the secrets,
And the trauma
And the nights crying
And the hidden fears
And the weakness
And the exhaustion
And hide all that away and laugh along with those idiots because you cannot tell them the truth and expose all that, because privacy maintains, and you're starting to feel like screaming that out at the top of your lungs
And you laugh and give the easy answer.

Again.

So when you go to your therapist
And you get to say it all
When your priest asks you
In the sanctity of the confessional
When you can safely say it
And they ask if you've ever saved the world

You say yes.

Never go Groping a Swan

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018 12:05 am
bairnsidhe: (Default)
 Another for [personal profile] stardreamer  to the tune of "What Can You Do With a Drunken Sailor?" about an altercation at the Wavering Reed, a bar owned by Cygna Lake, a former Swan Maiden, her wife Sheela Lake, a selkie, and their daughter Carmine.  Because my fantasy setting needs at least one drinking song and so far hasn't gotten one.

<^>

You hear what happened to the barkeep's daughter?
Hear what happened to the barkeep's daughter?
Hear what happened to the barkeep's daughter?
Early in the morning?

Well, I heard she was caught by the Boston Charmer
Heard she was caught by the Boston Charmer
Heard she was caught by the Boston Charmer
Early in the morning

Well, I know the Boston Charmer's an awful rake
I know the Boston Charmer's an awful rake
I know the Boston Charmer's an awful rake
Early in the morning

The barkeep's daughter's got no time for play
The barkeep's daughter's got no time for play
The barkeep's daughter's got no time for play
Early in the morning

So he tried to steal what he couldn't take
He tried to steal what he couldn't take
He tried to steal what he couldn't take
Early in the morning

[Pause, next lines spoken]
No!
Oh yes.
Did she?
Indeed.
Poor bastard.
[Resume song]

The Boston Charmer lost an eyeball
The Boston Charmer lost an eyeball
The Boston Charmer lost an eyeball
Early in the morning. 

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