August 2002

August 7th

So, is this it? Marital bliss is one of us in front of the TV, the other in front the computer?

Then again, many people contend that it's the things you don't have in common with your spouse is what holds a marriage together. They are probably right. If I did everything with Alex, I'd probably get sick of him in short order. I just get the feeling that we haven't been together much, lately. 

I don't mean physically, of course. We spend plenty of time in reasonable physical proximity - as long as one considers the distance between the computer room and the living room as "close" Emotionally, we're pretty good. I guess. 

Oh, that's a telling statement. 

A couple of weeks ago, I told myself that I would start to treat my husband better, as I realized that I had been neglecting him for...long enough to feel bad about it. But I'm not entirely sure how I could do that - treat him better, that is. I'm trying to be more considerate of his needs, and more patient when he engages in those little habits that only become annoying after a few years' cohabitation. I know
he's patient about my little idiosyncrasies - as anyone who has watched me look for things in plain sight know too well. 

But I feel like I'm not doing enough. Although what I'm not doing enough of remains unclear. Hm. That's likely to be part of the problem.

For someone who is routinely accused of being oversensitive and too introverted, I'm certainly out of touchy-feely solutions for shaking out of a phase of marital doldrums.

Oh, it's not all bad - I say this before all my friends send me concerned little e-mails and start speculating on the state of marriage. Alex and I have shared a house for nearly six years - not long compared to a lifetime, but long enough for ruts to have been formed and fallen into. Stability is good - I think Alex and I have plenty of that, particularly following The Great Unpleasantness of 2000 - and the trick is determining what is necessary stability, and what is simply habit.

The ongoing sloppiness of Casa Cthulhu, that would be a habit. Our mutual friends are a source of stability. I don't need to go tearing apart the status quo from the ground up - destroy bad habits, not stability. Just a little tweak here and there.

Aw, hell, I don't know what I'm talking about. 

***

So, I've been talking off and on about a murder-mystery story/novella that I've got in mind. More accurately, I've got a handful of characters (a photographer, her ex-fiancÚ, an interior designer, etc) a setting (San Francisco) and a setup (murder at a wedding reception). Everything else is waiting on me to get around to it. 

I really should be taking advantage of this unemployed time to write, but I find it's tough to be creative when one is feeling wretched. I remember, within days of starting up at WTM, the ideas just poured out of me, so I've come to the conclusion that my creativity and my sense of security are inextricably linked. So, no quitting my day-job and living the Thoreau-life for me, obviously. But I digress.

I've got a handful of characters, a couple of useful manuals on writing for the genre, and a keen interest in making it work. If nothing else, it'll be something other than frickin' gamer-writing. Regular readers are no-doubt used to my summertime whining about "too much popcorn writing". In fact, I envision y'all reading this and thinking Is it August already?

I'm starting to think that if I can get a coherent outline together (one that doesn't eat itself before completion) I might benefit by gritting my teeth and finding a writing group to join. Super-duper ideally, a novel-writing course over at DVC would be just the ticket. Four months or so to get the project done and - with luck - some reasonably dedicated peers. However, I don't think I'm that lucky. 

I'm not fussy, really. As long as I can find a group of peers who are willing to encourage and criticize at the appropriate times, that would suit me fine. I've learned that I work better when I'm a part of a group - I'm no good at self-motivation and, besides, my selfish little black duck is going to want to share any work that I actually get done. 

But please, oh starved muse, spare me from a cloying mutual-admiration group like the one I stumbled across at the local B&N a few months ago. Politically correct, self-satisfied and they may as well have been wearing tee-shirts declaring But darling, I'm a writer on the back. I eavesdropped for a good twenty minutes and didn't hear a single critical word. If they were that good, they would have been signing their freakin' book at the store, not talking about it. Okay, maybe I'm letting my negativity get away from me there, but most of you understand, I know you do. 

Still, before I deal with any of that, I've got to finish my thrice-damned characters and get an outline that works, dammit!

There's nothing like a challenge, right? Yep, nothing like it.

 
Initial Question: How can I re-inspire myself?


Hsiao Kuo
(Attention to Detail)


Pi
(Joining, Supporting, Uniting)

Good fortune may be obtained by paying attention to minor details. Attempt lesser goals, practice moderation (but not excessive self-denial). Avoid overconfidence, bide your time and practice caution whilst solidifying your current position. You must depend on your own means - there is no outside help forthcoming). Be patient, and wait for a more favorable time. Bringing individuals into a group is beneficial. Inquire of the oracle again to see which area of development will be of greatest benefit. 

(Re-inquiry led to Kua 58 - true joy comes from within)

Initial Interpretation: "Big things are made of little things" - it's one of my favorite sayings, actually. Focusing too much on overall target ("i.e., "The Novel" or "Ambitious Costume X"). Need to nurture and cherish the details and creative process, lest one overreach, become discouraged and burn out. Focusing on the details of the process can be annoying as I'm not used to having to work at being creative. But I can only improve myself by being patient and painstaking.
Neither trigram is particularly strong or well-balanced. Hm. 
The hexagrams below are based upon the nuclear trigrams of the above. I extrapolated these as an experiment, although such an action can help clarify a subtle suggestion or trend within the initial hexagram.

Ta Kuo
(Excess of Power / 
The Preponderance of The Small)

Po
(Undermining, Overthrowing, 
Splitting Apart)

Too many excesses are being indulged. Too much of anything causes imbalances. If there is anything you can do to moderate the use of power and reduce the excesses, good fortune will be yours. 

The lake rises above the trees: The image of Preponderance of the Great. Thus the superior man, when he stands alone, Is unconcerned, And if he has to renounce the world, He is undaunted.
The dark forces have undermined and eliminated everyone except one good and virtuous person.

It does not further one to go anywhere. 

The mountain rests on the earth: The image of Splitting Apart. Thus those above can ensure their position only by giving generously to those below.
Further interpretation: Honestly, a bit of a stumper. The nuclear trigrams usually bring more clarity but, at this point, they aren't. Perhaps because that initial trigrams are pretty dam' clear. I'm particularly thrown by how opposite the nuclear trigram for Pi (Joining, Supporting, Uniting) is. 

One thing which is clear - as usual - is my all too-human habit of sulking and indulgence when in a funk - such as the ongoing unemployment funk. Too much time is spent doing foolish things - pottering around on the internet, etc - rather than being more constructive. I'm sleeping and staying up too late, and putting myself out of whack. The universe has provided yet another whack up the head with the Clue Stick.
Actions to take: Read those manuals! Spend time developing characters, or learning small steps of Ambitous Costume X, whichever happens to be preferable at any given time. Build solid foundations (technique, character, etc) before moving on to larger projects - such as outlining. Slow and steady stands a better chance of winning this particular "race". 

Actions to avoid: Comparing myself to others. Everyone started at the bottom, you just don't see that by the time they reach your field of vision.

August 11th

So, I was chatting with a pal the other day and - to keep the story as short as possible - he mentioned that he considered me a pushy person.

Pushy? Me? Foolishness! I thought.

I mean, really. I feel like I'm constantly scrambling to compromise, to stifle my own selfish impulses, to do the 'proper' thing. Okay, so a paragon of selflessness I ain't, but I find it almost laughable to hear myself described as pushy. Stubborn? Sure. Opinionated? No contest. But pushy? You've got to be kidding me.

A few moments' cogitation brought a likely solution to light. Pushiness is an active, outwardly visible thing - like being noisy - people notice it, remember it. However, when one is willing to be reasonably laid-back or otherwise easy-going, well, that doesn't stick in the memory nearly as well. Heaven knows I can recall my last hissy-fit more easily than I can remember my last heartfelt compromise. 

Or maybe that's just proving my friend's point. How embarrassing. 

I don't consider myself a pushy person. Far from it. I'm more often berating myself for being too forgiving, for being too gullible and kind, rather than too pushy. 

Then again, this particular friend of mine has only really interacted with me in a gaming context - five years' acquaintance, but I think we've only gotten together outside of an RPG or LARP about half a dozen times - and I would have to admit that if I'm going to be pushy anywhere, I would be confident enough to do so in the purview of an RPG. Maybe gamers are easy to bully, or maybe it's just because I feel like I know a tad bit more about gaming than, say, anything else in my life. Gods, lets not go there, okay?

(If only I had studied history, avoided dating a gamer, gone to the UK for university as my dad had urged. Damn, damn, damn)

***

I've hit the comfort-food zone of unemployment. Expect wailings about my increasing weight, shortly. I'm holding off so far, but it feels like a downhill battle. Darn Trader Joe's for having so many affordable snacks!

The baked "Kettle Krisps" are particularly delicous, and I can inhale an entire 800 calorie back in a single sitting. This is Not Good. Sigh.

***

Anybody got a winning lottery ticket to spare?

August 11th


I love my hubby, I really do, but yesterday I had one of those lurch moments. I got angry with him, then felt rather ashamed for being angry, then annoyed at feeling ashamed for not having an opinion in total agreement with my beloved. You know how it goes.

The situation was fairly simple. I had just spent the day with bellacrow and, at the end of the day, I received an invite to accompany her and her friends to Seidr - an oracular meeting apparently conducted in a Norse tradition (if I'm remembering aright). Attendees may ask questions of the oracle, with answers coming from deceased relatives or (at times) the Norse gods. Bella, bless her, saw the flicker of cynicism on my face and told me, with such obvious faith that, believe her, this stuff really happens, I couldn't help but be impressed by it - and quickly moved to rearrange my features into something more polite.

It sounded quite interesting, but I passed for two reasons. One, it sounded like something that I would need time to put myself into the right headspace for and a person who's in the wrong headspace shouldn't be at such events - out of politeness if nothing else. Secondly, after having talked about everything from wicca, to kemet, to shamanism with Bella that evening, I thought that all this might be of interest to Alex so, hey, ping me in three months when the next Seidr occurs, and maybe we'll both come.

Right, context is established.

So, I'm told Alex this, and mentioned Seidr and might he be interested in visiting? "Sure," he says, "but only to debunk it."

Lurch. Crunch. Huh?

I burned off 30 seconds in Purgatory by not saying. "Um, honey, aren't you studying shamanism? What's the difference between speaking with totem spirits and speaking with one's ancestors? How would you feel if I went to a sweat lodge to 'debunk' the whole process?"

I didn't say that. Not a word. But I thought it real hard.

So, if I am invited to the next Seidr, I'll be leaving Alex at home.

Speaking with Bella was extremely interesting, and knocked a few flakes of rust off the spiritual side of my head. I have every intention of monopolizing her time at some point in the future. Bella practices the kemet and in the Norse tradition, and I'm very curious to a) learn about kemeticism that isn't part of the Kemetic Orthodox/House of Netjer tradition and b) learn how she juggles two very different belief systems under one roof. That's just plain interesting, that is.

Initial Question: How can I best overcome cynicism?

Ta C'hu
The Taming Power of The Great
Meng
Youthful Folly / Inexperience

Growing in strength through restraint and perseverance. You will do well to assist others and undertake a major project. Study ancient heroes and familiarize yourself with great sayings of antiquity.

You are strong and ready to advance with comrades, but be wary of highly-placed opposition. It's better to restrain oneself, rather than to be stopped by another. Exercise caution, seek allies, benefit by taking a trip or starting a new project.

When an inexperienced person seeks guidance from an experienced teacher, they meet with success. If the seeker doubts the teacher and presses, the student receives no response. Through perseverance in learning, success is attained. Through thoroughness in all-that-is-done, character is formed.




Interpretation: This is an example of projection at its finest, I think. I threw the coins after writing the bulk of the entry, above, and so I think this combination/interpretation was almost inevitable. I will take this as the pleasant omen that it seems to be. As I've said before, divination rarely tells me something I didn't know already - it just tells me things in a manner that are hard to ignore.

Emotion - positive and negative - comes from within, and that includes cynicism. Only I can overcome that. Rather than trying to overturn years of habit, my initial efforts should be to restrain negative thoughts and actions - and consider the reasons for their origin - and thus open a door for  open-mindedness. Negative thinking can - and will - hinder spiritual development but that does not mean I should obliterate it entirely. Healthy skepticism is good, outright negativity is not.

Actions to take: Well, no duh, I'm going to be picking bellacrow's mind a bit, I think - but I've got to be careful to avoid that 'infatuation with that which is new' phase. And I'll start patching up my woefully inadequate knowledge of ancient Egypt. If nothing else, it'll help keep my brain from rusting shut during this intellectual drought. Otherwise, I'll do my best to avoid outside sources of negativity (love you, honey!) and argument for its own sake.

August 20th

A typical few days. Brain-rotting inactivity, interspersed with moments of brightness.

Today is a bright spot, as it Alex's birthday. There are so many days - too many - when I take him for granted. But I'm so terrified of falling into some god-awful habit of co-dependency that I can't seem to help treating my hunny in what is, perhaps, a cavalier manner. But I love him to pieces and the notion of not having him around makes my chest hurt. So, I won't be letting him go anywhere...

***

I've been - slowly and carefully - reading the Richard Wilhelm translation of the Tao Te Ching. It's fascinating stuff, but also very tricky to grasp and understand - particularly once the book is put down. It's all well and good to be grokking ideas when the book is open and in front of me, but the trick is in absorbing and retaining this material for the entire duration of time when the book is closed. 

Of course, the fact that Taoism seems to be up there with Zen Buddhism for ease-of-understanding is making things a bit tricky. My goal-oriented Western mind is having quite the time wrapping itself around, well, almost everything as I study the book. It's all incredibly interesting, and I can feel little bits of Lao Tzu clicking in my head as I read - which I consider a good thing. But I'm a long way off from any moments of sartori-like understanding.

But, as I say, the trick is holding on to those clicks when I'm standing in line at the train station, or buying groceries or doing anything other than studying. 

***

So, of course, the writing project is totally stalled. But I'm used to that, so it's alright. Besides, I'm harboring a slight hope that if I can unclog my spiritual brain sludge, other matters will begin to unfold more freely. One thing at a time.

***

Sigh, so many classes, so little money. The local adult-education center is offering a fistful of classes that are very appealing - conversational French, introductory Italian, Tai-Chi for Goofy Westerners, etc. But they cost a bomb, particularly the language classes, which are supported only by student dues. I don't have $85 to spare for a language class right now, which is a shame, as I would like to brush up my French. The Tai-Chi class is a lot cheaper, but the scheduling is very awkward - particularly when I start working again. 

There's also a class in breaking creative blocks, but I think it's more oriented towards the visual arts. Ah, well. 

***

I should be doing laundry. There are a lot of things I should be doing. But I'm not. And I wonder why my life is stalled?
August 22nd

I seem to have discovered my tolerance level for sitting in front of my computer. After about eleven hours, I get a pounding headache. Big surprise.

Life proceeds apace. I continue to sit in my rut whilst chewing out my liver over friends' perceived successes. Of course, I don't know or understand whatever turmoil they're going through at any given time, but the Little Black Duck in me doesn't care about that. Time to club the Little Black Duck with the I Ching, I think.

***

My brain has been saved from totally rusting shut these past couple of day by - you can see this coming - a gaming idea. Once again, Johanna's subconscious decided to kickstart things and handed me a nifty little dream about a live-action game set within Frank Herbert's Dune universe. Ideas have been bubbling from that point forward. 

If the game happens, it'll either be this fall (replacing Thirteen Days of Terror on the calendar) or in April of 2003. If you want to be on the mailing list, oh faithful reader, drop me a line. Incidentally, the game would be set long before the book/movie/prequel continuity, to avoid dealing with 25 players who want to be Paul Atreides, etc. So, keep that in mind.

***

Daydreamed of "running away" on the way back from a mediocre interview, earlier today. This happens all the time. I fantasize about selling everything I own (and then some) packing myself up and hieing off to new horizons. The whole husband/pet/responsibility thing doesn't enter into it because, heck, it's a daydream. Lately, it's been London. Sure, the cost of living is higher, wages are lower and the infrastructure of the UK seems to be in ruins (if the papers are anything to go by) but see heck..., above. Just bugger off back to the UK and find some job doing...precisely the same garbage I do in the U.S. For less money. Without any supporting network of friends and family.

My Sense O'Reality has an overpowering effect on my fantasy life. Although that is probably for the best. 

***

I'm still disgruntled about several issues, but none of them are anything to air in an online forum - personal matters of one stripe or another. I should be bringing these issues up with the other concerned party - my husband - but I rather doubt that that will do any good. It's nothing we haven't discussed already, nor do I perceive any major changes in attitude since the last time these issues were discussed. So I get to just sit here and simmer.

Well, it makes a break from cranial vapor-lock, I suppose.

July 2002          September 2002