strange fire

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

my new philosophy of life February 22, 2007

Filed under: books,life,myth,Neil Gaiman — andygrrrl @ 1:20 pm

An inconvienence is an adventure wrongly considered. An adventure is only an inconvienence rightly considered.

A Chesterton quote from Neil Gaiman’s blog. I think he owes me something cheerful, since I’ve been feeling like the hapless protagonist of his latest novel (it’d be hard to be anything but hapless if your dad turned out to be Anansi the trickster Spider god). My life is not full of frustrations and inconvienences. My life just happens to be at that point about a quarter of the way into the novel when the plot starts getting tangled and complicated and you have no idea where it’s going to go next.

 

Dear Mercury: dude, what the fuck? February 21, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 5:26 pm

I work in reservations! You are totally kicking my ass! Up one street and down the other! Jesus H. Christ on pumpernickel toast! Cut me some fucking god-damn slack! Enough with the retrograding!

You both suck and blow,

Andygrrl

 

Dispatches from Planet Femina February 17, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 10:22 am

So the thing about working at Swanky 4-Star Spa and Hotel, it’s the most high-class job I’ve ever had. I’ve had to morph into Corporate Drone. Well, Hippy Corporate Drone; in this town, you can get away with flowing skirts and peasant blouses, as long as they conform to the black-and-white theme of work attire. But I’ve had to undye my pink hair, and remove my eyebrow ring (for which I still mourn). It’s mostly days of black slacks and white oxford shirts for me now; I’ll wear a tie to work, occaisonally, and I’ll have my Big Gay Socks (thigh-high rainbow stripes given to me by a girl I briefly dated) beneath my slacks. But it’s a good thing I have a great boss and coworkers, because I totally feel like an interstellar explorer trying to fit in with the local life forms. Boldly going where no crunchy hippie dyke has ever gone before.

It’s a boutique spa offering massage, body treatments (like herbal wraps), some Aryuvedic-lite services, and facials. So most of our clientele are upper-middle class ladies of a certain age who drop 400 bucks on eye cream and moisturizer without blinking. And then there’s their entrepreneur/real-estate developer/investment bigwig husbands, who all anxiously request female therapists only please. I had one guy on the phone, when I asked him if he’d prefer male or female therapists, laugh nervously, “No way I want some dude massaging me! Heh heh!” At which point I mentally cursed him so he’d pull his ACL the next time he’s playing raquetball at the club.

But part of the training is to actually recieve the treatments provided so we can sell them better. 9 bucks an hour and free Thai massage? Heck yeah. I’ll put up with bland bourgeouisie for that. So one Tuesday the assistant director looked at me and said, “It’s a slow day, why don’t you take an hour and get a facial?”

My reaction to that was twofold: first, I thought, “Holy moses. Best Day at Work Ever!” And then I thought, “Uh…what’s a facial?” And then I actually got nervous. It’s not that I don’t have my femme side, I dig nail polish and skirts and such; but it’s more of an indie thrift-store retro girliness. Low maintenance. Facials and manicures and makeup are my sister’s area of expertise. She’s the pretty one, I’m the smart one. She’s the blond one, the popular one, the straight as an arrow, church-going, wholesome one. I’m the bookish, hairly legged bra-less wonder. Even when I’m decked out in skirts and mary janes I look queer, cause that’s the point.

So I felt more than a little awkward in my fuzzy bathrobe as I followed the Marie the aesthetician (Quebecoise, doesn’t speak any French but still has a funny accent) into the facial room, a modern day alchemist’s labratory, with strange bottles containing mysterious liquids and elaborate, slightly ominous machinery, all in the pursuit of a face fit for Vogue magazine.

The facial itself was very relaxing (well, except for the bit where she’s squeezing all my pores. I can’t believe people get paid to do something like that), and not quite as intimidating as I thought. I think my awkwardness stemmed mostly from the knowledge that I was totally out of my element; this is an aspect of normative feminity that I’ve never experienced, and never cared to. I felt fourteen again, honestly, because I’ve never been comfortable in that kind of gender expression, that high-maintenance bourgeoise feminity. I humored everyone, and it was nice to just lay there for an hour and get paid for it. But it was still wierd. It made me think of junior high, when all my friends started to wear lipstick and I would daydream about cutting all my hair off into a crewcut.

It did make my skin look great, but it’s too much effort for me. I think I’ll stick to my homemade yogurt concotions and green tea leaves.

 

and now, on a more esoteric note… February 12, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 4:08 pm

Neil Gaiman, in addition to be a fantastically witty, hugely talented author, now tells fortunes.

First of all, THIS IS NOT A TOY. THIS IS A SERIOUS INSTRUMENT OF DIVINATION. It should only be used by those prepared to approach it with the proper sense of reverence and mystical awe, those among you who are emotionally and spiritually prepared to have the curtain drawn, and to come face to face with YOUR OWN FUTURE

How sad is it that I’ve actually met people in town who actually talk like this. They all have pseudo-Hindu names and talk about Light and Essence in capital letters.

However, I did as I was told, did some deep breathing, grounded and centered my Self, set my Intention, and asked Neil if I’d be able to pay my rent next month. He, in his infinite wisdom, replied:

I couldn’t be horrified, it was too funny.

Which was not entirely reassuring. I think I’ll stick to my tarot cards, I can make them mean whatever I want if I try hard enough.

 

the body electric

Filed under: holistic medicine,nature,poetry,the body electric — andygrrrl @ 2:55 pm

I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.

Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul? And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?
“I Sing the Body Electric,” Walt Whitman

I think this is going to be the first in a series of rambling, disconnected posts, because I’ve been meaning to write about how my studies in massage therapy and holistic/alternative medicine have altered my thinking and perspective about the body, the sacred, the physical, the mystical, the “natural” and “unnatural.” But it’s such a huge subject–my god, look at that list I just wrote–I don’t know where to start, of course. But I’ll get started anyway. Because I think I’ll figure out what I’m begining to understand intuitively if I write it out.

The program I’m doing here in the Southwest is really a bootcamp, a crash course in Western anatomy and standards and Eastern (and Western alternative) practices: pathology and tai chi, reiki and deep tissue therapy, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Cranial-Sacral techniques. And by now I’ve been working in the student clinics several months, learning how to be a healer, essentially. It’s a tall order and I know this is only the beginning of my education.

And when I’m not daydreaming in class (hey, you’d have trouble focusing on symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome too, if you’d been working 8 hours already), I’m sitting there thinking, “Wow.” Just a simple “wow,” because I find it hard to articulate beyond that. But holy crap, the human body is an amazingly elegant…..and here’s where I’m lost for words. “Machine” is absolutely the wrong word, and I’ll get to that eventually. “Thing” is too cold and objectifying. “Creation” brings up all these Christian resonances in my head, with their notions of a distant creator god and the sins of the flesh. “Artwork,” I think is the best one I can come up with. The human body is a work of art, with all those meanings of organic symetry and balance; Beautiful with a capital B, so much beyond superfical notions of aestethics. It’s perfectly evolved.

And I’m not talking about some classical ideal here, perfect proportions carved in marble. The 60-something woman sitting across from me is a wonderful example of how the body adjusts to external pressures while maintaining a very precise internal order. That’s what I mean by beautiful: the same beauty that’s illustrated by the mathematic fractals which outline the growth of a tree branch, the Divine Proportion (1.618…) found in both Debussy’s symphonies and the curve of a seashell.

Your body really is electric, incidentally. Connective tissue called fascia spreads throughout every part, even at the cellular level; fascia is made up of collagen fibers that consist of a crystal matrix that generates its own electrical pulse. It even glows under a blacklight. This connects every area of your body to every other area so thoroughly that you can’t affect one part of the body without affecting the whole–which includes your brain and mind.

I’m not sure really where to go from here without sounding too breathless, except that now when I see someone on the street, instead of (well, to be completely honest, usually after) thinking “Wow, that’s a truly hideous shirt. Did they get dressed in the dark?” I’m starting to think “Hm, looks like he has a nasty case of Upper Crossed Syndrome. Bet his back is killing him. And his heart’s wore out from working so hard, since he can’t breathe properly with that posture. I’d hate to see his blood pressure numbers…” I’m trying to learn to see the body not as a thing to be displayed for aesthetic reasons, to see beyond social markers and cultural cues of dress and so on. It’s similar to taking an ecological view of nature, seeing it as having intrinsic worth instead of resources to be exploited. Your body has its own wisdom, it’s more than a rack for displaying your wealth and social status. And it’s kind of appalling how hard it can be to readjust your thinking along those lines. But that’s probably the subject of another post.

 

a birthday poem February 10, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 8:56 am

I almost posted Carol Ann Duffy’s “You” , but then I thought that might be a little intense. And this one by Constantine Cavafy is a pretty good birthday wish. Hope it’s a good one, Winter. I wish I could be there.

ITHAKA
As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery,
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon – you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with your pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbours you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind
-as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvellous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

(translated from the Greek by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard).

 

she lives! February 5, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 12:03 pm

between the new job, school (this weekend we had two 8 hour cranial-sacral classes), and the disappearance of the neighbor’s wifi we’ve been, ah, “borrowing”, blogging–hell, email–has been something of an impossibility. But now I’ve got a day off, and I’ve been tagged!

5 Things You Don’t Know About Me

1. I know every word to every song in Les Miserables. In fact, the 10th anniversary concert in Royal Albert Hall was the first CD I ever owned.

2. My great-grandfather on dad’s side played professional baseball in the 1920s.

3. One of my secret ambitions in life is to be reading Stendhal’s Le rouge et le noir, in French, while on a train, just like Cate Blanchett in Charlotte Gray.

4. I have an ongoing fantasy life where I am the lead singer for a riotgrrl cover band and we do queer covers of “straight” songs, like Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” and ZZ Top’s “Sharp-Dressed Man.” I can never decide if the band’s name should be Andy and the Grrrls or Pussy Posse.

5. Occaisonally I secretly read Vanity Fair and Vogue at the library. I like the thrilling glimpse into the bizarre fucked-upness that is money and haute couture, and it makes me feel very punk and revolutionary in comparison. It’s like some wierd inverted snobbery on my part.