strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

thank yous and announcements October 31, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 1:46 pm


Ganesh, Remover of Obstacles, appropriately enough, checks out my book stash.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes, folks! I was tellng Aphra that this was the best birthday I’ve had since I was nine, when me and 30 of my closest friends got hyper on cake and ice cream and skated the Hokey Pokey at the local roller rink (that birthday rocked).

As you can see, I’ve added to my reading pile. Brazilian Sister came in to visit and we had a blast. Seeing her always does me good; we had some good long discussions, and I came to realize that what I’ve been dealing with this past year (if not longer), is some form of general anxiety disorder and depression.  The depression I was familiar with, and handling as best I could; but I was surprised to find it was anxiety underlying the depression. It’s kind of funny, because it’s a little bit like that moment when you first come out to yourself, and you think, “Oh. That’s what’s going on. Why didn’t I see this before? Everything makes sense now!” It’s almost certainly something I inherited from my mother, I’ve always figured she should be in therapy for anxiety anyway. There’s probably a physiological foundatiton for it—I’ve been hypoglycemic all my life, and whattya know, turns out hypoglycemia can cause anxiety and depression–in addition to lack of coping skills and emotional baggage.

I am, by the way, doing something all the above books say is a big taboo: self-diagnosing and self-treating. “You should always go to a professional MD first!!!” they shout, and I know they’re just covering their ass, legally speaking. But none of them offer any advice to those of us who can’t afford to go to a professional medical expert. I would really like to get some therapy to sort out my stuff, but it’s so completely out of the question right now.

But I’ve been reading up, and making some changes in my diet and my habits, getting some herbs, keeping up the yoga (thank goddess for it, otherwise I would have lost my mind a looooong time ago).  Also, I’ve decided to go home. My lease is up at the end of November, Brazilian Sister wants me to housesit for three whole weeks in December, everything’s pointing back to the midwest. And if I’m going to sort this stuff out I need to be near my friends and family, and the familiar. I’m convinced that living in the desert is exacerbating, if not a part, of the problem. You wouldn’t tell someone with Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder to move to Norway; likewise, this climate and landscape is really, really bad for someone like me. My home state may be a poor, back-asswards, conservative area, but it has real trees, and rivers, and clouds, and four distinct seasons. I find myself daydreaming of the river iced over, and pine trees capped with snow.

And, which is the point of this whole long ramble, I’ve decided to stop blogging. For the time being anyway. I may be back (if so, it won’t be here, it’ll be a fresh start). I may not. I need to do alot of private journaling right now, and blogging requires energy and time I don’t have. I won’t disappear; I’ll show up in the comments at Aphra’s place and hopefully my blogging friends’ as well. So, I will see you all around, but not here. Blessed Samhain, everyone.


in which Virginia Woolf says it for me October 16, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 12:16 pm

Before that I had made my living by cadging odd jobs from newspapers, by reporting a donkey show here or a wedding there; I had earned a few pounds by addressing envelopes, reading to old ladies, making artificial flowers, teaching the alphabet to small children in a kindergarten. Such were the chief occupations that were open to women before 1918. I need not, I am afraid, describe in any detail the hardness of the work, for you know perhaps women who have done it; nor the difficulty of living on the money when it was earned, for you may have tried. But what still remains with me as a worse infliction than either was the poison of fear and bitterness which those days bred in me. To begin with, always to be doing work that one did not wish to do, and to do it like a slave, flattering and fawning, not always necessarily perhaps, but it seemed necessary and the stakes were too great to run risks; and then the thought of that one gift which it was death to hide – a small one but dear to the posessor – perishing and with it myself, my soul – all this became like a rust eating away the bloom of the spring, destroying the tree at its heart.
– Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

And that about sums up my life the last couple years. I’m tired of it.

Because I may have got my license, but my life’s still chaotic, and I don’t know where I’m going to be living in January, and there’s so much I want to do but can’t because I’m too busy making a subsistence (I wouldn’t call it a living) on minimum wage, always a paycheck from disaster. And I’m at the point of wondering: what am I doing? Maybe I should have stayed in academia. That’s what I’m good at, reading, and thinking, and writing down my thoughts. Not this; I’m not clever and ruthless enough for life outside the Ivory Tower.

Also, I’m perpetually on the verge of the flu, but it never quite develops into a full-blown infection. Which is good, because I can’t afford to miss work.

But, there are some bright points. I bought Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Sheridan’s The School for Scandal  at the library book sale today. The world is a better place when you can read:

Guil: I think I have it. A man talking sense to himself is no madder than a man talking nonsense not to himself.

Ros: Or just as mad.

Guil: Or just as mad.

Ros: And he does both.

Guil: So there you are.

Ros: Stark raving sane.

And my birthday is on Friday. Brazilian Sister is coming in for a visit, and we’re going to go out for sushi and wine, and I’ll have nice weekend. So that’s something.


Andygrrrl, kung-fu computerized exam master! October 9, 2007

Filed under: holistic medicine,life — andygrrrl @ 2:35 pm

I just passed my national boards. I am, officially, a licensed massage therapist. I can put L.M.T. behind my name!

I’m going to sound incredibly cocky when I say this, but the exam has been the least of my worries. I’m that asshole who can sleep through class, cram for 15 minutes the day before and ace the final–a proper, essay exam. So a 160 multiple choice questions on a computer? Please. That’s almost insulting.

Which only means that I’m really good at taking tests. Always have been. Don’t get nerves, for the most part, and for whatever reason, my brain thrives on the typical exam environment (silent, prolonged concentration). It’s mostly a matter of logic, when it comes to standardized test, and an excellent vocabulary combined with a brazen bullshitting ability, for essays. Doesn’t necessarily mean I know shit. I can just fake it for the required couple of hours.

But I took that test, and I totally did know it all, so I didn’t even have to half-ass it.

Finding the testing center, now that was a challenge. I’m directionally impaired; I almost flunked the spatial ability pop quiz. 10 minutes before the exam started I was driving around in the wrong direction.

So now I’m here in Medium Sized College Town, drinking a latte at the bohemian student coffee shop, enjoying the sense of accomplishment and feeling oddly nostalgic around all the expensively rebellious undergrads.

I’m done with school (for the immediate future anyway). It’s sooooo nice.


Buddha Book Blogging October 2, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 4:49 pm


For a guy who claims to be pagan, my roommate has a lot of Buddhas lying around the house. Which is fine; if I’m going to be surrounded by images of male deities, the Buddha’s pretty cool (yeah, I know, the Buddha isn’t supposed to be a god, much in the same way the Virgin Mary isn’t supposed to be a goddess, but if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it’s probably a duck, you know?)

And I figure a guy famous for enlightenment would be a good person to help out with my book blogging. So this is what I’ve been reading lately.

I’ve only finished the title story in Gigi, and that was ages ago. But I haven’t forgotten it. It’s Colette, after all! Still, can’t read it without my dictitonary by my side, so I have to wait till I’ve got a spare hour and an alert mind (a rare combination).

I came home from the UK ravenous for some feminist thealogy, who knows why, so I got Carol Christ’s Diving Deep and Surfacing: Women Writers on a Spiritual Quest. Literary criticism meets feminist spirituality, as it turns out, as Christ examines the religious themes in Kate Chopin, Margaret Atwood, Adrienne Rich, and others. Must have this book.

I also decided to read Sue Monk Kidd’s The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from the Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine, or as I like to think of it, Baptist Woman Gets a Freakin’ Clue, which is kind of like Carol Christ (Ivy League thealogian) meets Oprah (you go, girl!). It’s nothing new or revolutionary, or even particularly challenging, but it’s not supposed to be really, and it’s more like companionship-reading, as I think of it: it’s comforting to hear the stories of someone who’s been there too.

Book of Shadows: A Modern Woman’s Journey into the Wisdom of Witchcraft and the Magic of the Goddess is also companionship-reading; I really liked Phyllis Currott’s Witchcrafting, which manages to be both a smart and straightforward intro to Wicca,  and knew I had to read her memoir. I’ve read this before, so I just picked it up to have it to glance at now and then. Books being the closest thing I’ve got, at the moment, to a coven or circle.

Which didn’t stop me from grabbing a copy of Marija Gimbutas’ The Language of the Goddess from the library as well; a balance of the academic and the reflective. It’s a pretty exhaustive archaelogical survey of prehistoric goddess figures and artifacts, more of a catalogue than something you sit down and read. But plenty of fodder for inspiration.

And in the midst of all this magic, metaphorical, literal, and historical, is Austen and Byatt (probably disgruntled at being in such company).  Sanditon was fun, but, as I told Aphra, it was like ordering tiramisu and getting a Twinkie. As far as Austen sequels go, Another Lady is one of the better writers out there, but when the first 10 and a half chapters are Austen herself, it just can’t hold up. So I had to make up for it with Persuasion as my official Austen Read of the year (not pictured, because I had to return it to the library, but it was the nice Everyman’s Library 1995 movie edition, with Anne and Frederick smooching on the cover). And now I’ve started on the fourth book in Byatt’s quartet of novels about Frederica Potter and her family; her utterly rational (and utterly British) intellectuals forever grappling with the irrationality of emotion. Thankfully you don’t have to read the novels in order, cause I haven’t gotten to books 1 and 3. A Whistling Woman begins with a character reading a Le Guin-type fantasy story that ends abruptly and unsatisfactorily (ooh, the symbolism, the foreshadowing!), and for all that she may present herself as the second coming of George Eliot, I think A.S. Byatt would be an incredible High Fantasy novelist, if she’d only let herself try something so disreputable and unacademic.

Now that I’m in the habit of waking up early (thanks, jet-lag!), I’ve found myself picking up Mary Oliver’s poetry while having my cup of green tea. I hesitate to describe Dream Work as nature poetry, because that always makes me think of Wordsworthian knock-offs and Hallmark sentiment, but it’s true nature poetry: raw and beautiful and sometimes brutal.

And certainly not least, Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’ Stardust. The movie was fun but oh how it can’t hold a Babylon candle to the illustrated book. Over a hundred watercolor paintings! It’s my bedtime story; it has all the wonder and awe of a children’s story with the knowlegde and wit of an adult storyteller.

And somewhere in the midst of all this I’m studying for my national boards…


What Aphra said September 30, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 11:27 am

I’m pretty much a mess too. I’ll be back to blogging when I get my head together.

 In the meantime, anybody got a job in the UK they wanna give me?


Sunday Sabbat blogging September 23, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 1:36 pm

Today is a day of perfect balance. Happy Equinox.


And yet Another country falls under the thumb of the global catspiracy September 18, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 3:07 pm

So I went to the UK looking forward to a nice long visit with Aphra, full of romantic daydreams — early mornings with a cup of tea, leisurely strolls down cobblestoned medieval streets, endless bottles of moderately-priced red wine…

As if the innocent naivete of my idea that we’d be getting up before 11 wasn’t enough (ha! with all the wine we drank? I think not), little did I suspect that I was walking straight into the tangled, impenetrable machinations of….THE GLOBAL CATSPIRACY!!!

::cue scary Phantom organ music::

It’s all because we were house-sitting for one of Aphra’s friends. It seemed like a good arrangement: we’d get some privacy, free lodging, and a chance to practice at being Crazy Cat Ladies (which seems to be inevitable, so we might as well get the hang of it now). I’ve always wanted a black cat, and now I got to pretend to have two of them!

Unfortunately Aphra’s friend has a prediliction for adopting…interesting pets. Aphra regaled me with stories of the previous cat, Ivan The Cat With Epilepsy. Ivan has since been succeeded by Millie and Oscar.

Now, at first glance Millie seems to be your ordinary, friendly, affectionate, plump housecat. Do not be fooled by this clever persona. Millie is, in fact, a friendly, affectionate, plump Bond villain.


Im in mi secrit lar cuncoktin eevil planz!

Millie is a brillaint mastermind who’s ultimate plan is to take over the whole house….mwa hahahaha!!


Pay no atenshun 2 teh cat behin teh kurtin!

Now I’m allergic to cats, but I’ve mostly outgrown it, and if they stay out of the room I’m sleeping in, they usually don’t bother me. So Aphra and I kicked her out of the guest bedroom and kept the door shut at all times.


Her Diabolical Majesty was not. best. pleased.

She would lie in wait outside the door, looking for her chance. We were woken up regularly at 6:00 AM to the sound of Millie yowling and digging up the carpet. She’d only be appeased by food and cat biscuits.

Once, we were just about to drift off to sleep…when there came a scritch, scritch sound in the room (and let me tell you, cheesy late night ghost-busting shows like Most Haunted may be hilarious when you’re watching them, but when all the lights are off and stranged noises start happening in the strange house you’re staying in…) We turned on the light. No Millie outside the door, for once. Scritch, scritch. No Millie behind the suitcases. Scccrrriiitch! I looked at Aphra. Aphra looked at me. We lifted up the futon mattress. There was Millie, purring up at us all innocently between the wood slats. I swear to god, she had a “Hi guys! Wanna rub my belly? Where’s the biscuits?” expression on her fuzzy cat face.

Turns out the Global Catspiracy extends to other cats, too. When she wasn’t harassing the humans, Millie was content to tease Oscar.


“Wait, what? What’s going on? Are you guys talking about me?”

Oscar is basically if Woody Allen was a cat. If he could lie on a couch and talk to his psychiatrist about how inadequate he always feels, he’d be there all day. He’s a paranoid feline ball of neuroses on anxiety medication. He’s the only cat I’ve seen who always has his eyes wide open with worry and nervousness. And Millie, Alpha Female that she is, bullies the heck out of him. She’s banished him to the ground floor, having claimed the upstairs as her personal kingdom. Poor Oscar spent most of his time cowering in a cubbyhole beneath the stairs. Aphra’s friend told us that Millie is a compulsive overeater (we had to feed her diet cat food) and Oscar’s anorexic. But we found out that really, Millie’s eating Oscar’s food. And little Oscar doesn’t even have the self-esteem to meow about it. Once we figured that out, we separated them at mealtimes, but Millie would sit and glare at Oscar through the glass door, which intimidated him so much he’d crawl back to his hidy-hole and leave his food untouched.


“Go ahead Millie, really, I don’t like cat food anyway, gives me heartburn!”

Of course, Millie’s not calculating for no reason. Her previous owner neglected her, so in her head, she never knows where the next meal is coming from, so she’s gonna eat whatever she can when she gets the chance, and if Oscar’s a total wimp, hey, is that her problem?

As for poor Oscar (that became his name, Pooroscar), what he needs is to be an only cat with a little old lady to spoil him rotten. Gradually Oscar warmed to us (although he always fled in terror when ever someone went up or down the stairs); he started to rub our hands and legs, and once or twice we even got him to curl up on our laps. He purred, but he stayed bug-eyed…just in case.

Cats, I’ve decided, are wierd.