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In Life’s name, and for Life’s sake, I assert that I will use the Art which is its gift in Life’s service alone, rejecting all other usages. I will guard growth and ease pain; I will fight to preserve what grows and lives well in its own way, nor will I change any creature unless its growth and life, or that of the system of which it is part, is threatened or threatens another. To these ends, in the practice of my Art, I will ever put aside fear for courage, and Death for Life, when it is right to do so, looking always towards the Heart of Time, where all our wounded times are one, and all our myriad worlds lie whole, in That from Which they proceeded —

Next to the “I Believe” speech from American Gods, this is the closest I have to a formal religious creed. I was raised Catholic and I’ve identified as a transcendentalist for several years. Some people may notice a certain amount of tension between the two identities — a belief system that focuses on the Mass and a belief system that focuses on the individual finding God in his or her own way — and I’m aware of this. I like it. As someone who tries to embrace the contradictory aspects of her own personality, and not just try to force them all into alignment with each other, I appreciate the sensibility. Big chunks of my personality can be traced back to the ritual and hierarchy of my Mass-attending childhood; equally big parts come from my adolescent discovery of a way to find god in nature and other people.

But Catholicism and Transcendentalism ain’t got nothing on Diane Duane.

The title of this blog comes from “So You Want To Be A Wizard”, a children’s novel published four years before I was born, the first in a series of nine books (the latest was just published this past March).  They’re higher quality and better written than anything by Rowling; the characters are more engaging and the conflict between good and evil more nuanced. Things aren’t simple; there is no one enemy whose defeat will solve everything.

And wound through everything is the Wizard’s Oath — a promise to preserve life and all things living, to slow down the eventual heat-death of the universe, to stop pain if I can.

And that means my own pain too.

When things are bad with me I have to find a way to get through things. I’m accustomed to using structured forms to soothe myself, whether it’s pacing the same path in the kitchen or knitting or keeping the same half-dozen words from whatever scene I’m working on running through my head. The first half of my senior year at college was rough for me, with a broken ankle and a thesis that badly needed attention and a mental state all scrambled by some stupid girl. I was hauling myself through every single day with my teeth gritted and my shoulders stiff. I was tired and I was overwhelmed and I was hurt. I needed something to hold onto, to remind myself that there were people and a world and a whole wide universe outside of my own head.

And so every day I put my fingers to the copy of the Oath above my pillow and I said the words out loud. I said it and sometimes I cried with the ache of how hard it is to put aside fear. I don’t know if I believe in God but I believe in the Heart of Time, where we will be reunited with everyone and everything that we’ve loved and lost. So every morning for weeks, and every evening, I promised that I would look towards that place and away from entropy. I said to the one who stood behind me, Fairest and Fallen, greetings and defiance, and reminded myself that we are all equal in the One.

And it helped. It helped to find strength in something greater than myself, even if it was only something from a children’s novel. I was coping through ritual and creed, the only way I knew how. I wrote the Oath everywhere, including against the darkness behind my eyes. And slowly I came out of it. Slowly, it became easier to know that this was the right when to put aside pain.

This is how I worship. These are the words I say.

For Life. For Life. For Life.

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Originally written July 2010. I’m reposting it because it was very much a turning point in there-are-other-people-like this for me. Also I am lazy.

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I doubt many of you have heard this story.

I was working at the barn years ago – maybe 5, maybe more – with the radio on, by myself. I was probably telling stories out loud, under my breath, which explains why I missed about three quarters of the song that was playing, and the name of the singer. I was in what is now Burt’s stall – the first one on the left as you enter the barn.
So there I am, talking to myself, when the lyrics, in a female voice, penetrate my brain. And this is what I heard…

I kissed a girl / and I’d do it again –

For anyone who doesn’t know this song, this is riiiight near the end. The chorus repeats and then it’s over.

Me? I stopped mucking to listen. I was thrilled to the bottom of my closeted little heart. But I figured it had to be a cover of a song sung by a guy, because no way could this have been sung by a girl originally. This was before the days of OH EM GEEEE LOOK IT UP ON THE INTARNET. I know that sounds stupid, but I really wasn’t a big computer person at that point. So I wondered about it for a day or so, never heard it again, and forgot about it.

I figured I’d imagined it, because when I occasionally asked people if they’d heard it I got weird looks.

Anyway.

I was messing about on youtube today. It started with a Neil Gaiman clip from the San Diego ComiCon, then onto Tori Amos music videos… la dee da da. Then, under “Related” I found this…

Jill Sobule: I Kissed A Girl.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you, I was delighted.

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The Way I Blog

One of the ways, at least.

As I’ve mentioned before (maybe?), I work three days a week at a copyediting job. It’s pretty sweet. More to the point, I do a lot of my thinking while I am doing other things, something I know I talked about in “Where Do Greyhounds Put Their Organs?“.

This is a blog about what that process looks like. It has pictures.

I start with an ID card with my name on it.

Pretty basic. I took this on my kitchen table, this is why there is a pretty red back ground, is it not fabulousness? Keep in mind that I have to use this card all the time to get in and out of the building, and there is a lanyard attached.

And then I have a THOUGHT.

I run into an odd phrase in my proofreading; earlier in the topic it had read “female sex” and suddenly it starts reading “female gender”. So I write it down. It’s a reminder to stick this particular point into a blog I’m in the middle of drafting.

I go back to work and maybe an hour so so later my brain starts ticking over a story I’m trying to work out; I know that if I get a title and a first line I’ll be golden, but I can’t come up with one that both fits the voice of the character and the shape of the story cycle it fits into. And then it comes to me!

Well good, that’s sorted.

I don’t have any more thoughts for several days, so it just stays with two sticky notes. But today I am idly listening to RENT, and it occurs to me that there’s something really interesting going on with gender and Tom and Angel. So I write it down.

I also, in a very surreal twist, happen to be reading a topic on the human immunodeficiency virus. While listening – let me just repeat this – to RENT.

I write this down, giggling.

Then I remind myself that I really, really need to blog about how I am mad.

(Meanwhile I am also working, this is all spread out over days and hours, BY THE WAY, I totally do not just fool around, but this scribble and the next one are going to give lie to that.)

Part of the way I keep from going insane while I read articles on HIV and sarcoidosis and laser light treatments and Botox and other medical nonsense is to build tiny things out of whatever I have on hand at the moment.

Today it is a tower. Made of staples. Yeah.

So my playlist is finishing up and I realize how I’m going to be introducing the section on Tom and Angel in my Oh My God Gender What blog, because I have the tendency to want clever first lines, and I scribble it down.

After this I go home.

…and wonder what my coworkers think of me because I’ve just remembered this has been around my neck all day, god damn it.

So yes! Some of these are Upcoming Blogs, which you will just have to wait for. Hope this was as amusing for you as it tends to be for me.

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