I decided to withdraw Part 1 of "Walhydra's White Slave Adventure." No problem with the story itself, but right now I don't feel like pursuing it.
I had started posting Part 1 late one night last weekend—as I now realize—in order to distract myself from my rising grief over moving Mom from assisted living into skilled nursing care.
Now the grief has broken through...or at least another layer of it has broken through.
I'm back on that tightrope I fell off of during 2007, when we moved Mom from her home to my sister's home, this time trying to maintain the balance between making the practical decisions and allowing the grief to hurt.
You all know about this in your own lives.
We are mortal.
Mother-Father God loves us and lifts us up.
But we are mortal.
Please see Cat's post Loss on Quaker Pagan Reflections.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
The final chapter of a serialized adventure Walhydra first published on The Crone Thread in 1996.Part 10: The conclusion
When Walhydra's on call beeper went off, her life did not exactly pass in front of her eyes. She was too high to be that coherent.
Instead, what passed before her eyes—in rapid succession—were several interesting variations on driving out to the prison at midnight, being caught stoned by the officers, being arrested, being fired, being put into prison....
All of this somewhat dampened the fun of the evening.
Doing rapid damage control, the Crone whispered loudly: "You're just stoned, dear. Remember? None of that has happened yet. Just be professional. Do what you know how to do."
"Um…excuse me," Walhydra said to the other guests.
"Show me your phone," she said to Dr. Bob.
"I'm okay," she said to Jim—who seemed also to be imagining her already arrested and in prison.
When Dr. Bob took her to the phone in the kitchen, Walhydra stared at it for a while.
Then she said: "Oh...uh... phone numbers. My memory's out in the car. I'll be back in a minute."
The gentle reader must understand that, around the time Walhydra turned forty, a cluster of memory chips began to burn out in her head. This meant that at crucial moments she would forget trivial details...like the name of the friend of twenty-some years to whom she was speaking at the moment…or the common, everyday word for...um... whatchamacallit...or phone numbers.
Walhydra's solution on the job was to carry a folder of numbers and rosters and names and policies. She joked that if she ever lost that folder she would have to resign.
Retrieving that folder was why she now had to go out to the car.
Have you ever walked outside from a warm delightful party in the middle of a frosty late December night with thousands of stars and a nice buzz on and a long strange residential street with your car somewhere on it and you know you came out here for some reason other than staring up into a black sky which goes all the way out to the edge of the universe and...um….
...um...oh, yeah...phone numbers....
"You're just stoned, dear. Do you job."
Somehow Walhydra got back to the phone before the century ended.
She laid out lists, numbers, notepad.
Thought about what she had to do.
Thought about how to punch the numbers on the phone....
"You're stoned, dear. Just make the call."
She made the call.
"Hello? You just paged me. Yes? Sgt. Who? Okay. Connect me with him."
Walhydra was using her Most Calm and Professional Voice. All business.
I am Virgo, and I know exactly what I am doing even though I am stoned out of my gourd and scared shi....
"Hello? Who? Oh, yeah, Inmate Q. He's threatening suicide...?"
Walhydra reeled with relief.
She had just spoken to Inmate Q yesterday and knew he was not the type to kill himself—or even to risk hurting himself. He was the type to threaten suicide when his debts to loan sharks on the yard were too high, and he wanted to hide out in lock up.
"Yes. I talked with him yesterday. He's not the type to...etc.
“Has he actually done anything yet? No?
“Okay. Put him on Suicide Watch in lock up. The shift supervisor has the forms. All you have to do is....
“Oh, sorry. Yes, I'm telling you things you already know...."
Walhydra noticed that being professional while stoned tended to make her do way too much step by step instructing of others. Sort of like "I'm the Virgo, and no one else knows how to do this exactly right...” carried to the nth degree.
"Thank you, Sgt. Who. I'm at Dr. Bob's house at a party. I'm going home now. I'll check back once I get home. Bye."
Walhydra stared at the phone, savoring having just escaped a death sentence.
"This has been a test," announced the Crone. "Had this been a real emergency you would have...."
"Thank you," said Walhydra.
"Don't rub it in," said Walhydra.
"I need to get home now," said Walhydra.
She found her way back to the dining room, where the various guests were taking their leave.
Walhydra very graciously explained her call and her own preparations to return home. She told them all how glad she had been to meet them. It sounded like a grand dame of the theater giving her farewell speech to her fans.
The real grand dames—and gents—nodded politely and went their separate ways.
As she swept around the room to gather up hubby Jim, Walhydra was filled with the vacuous exhilaration of having survived another incredibly stupid mistake.
"You don't think they'll find out you were stoned?" Jim offered helpfully. "You don't think Terry set you up, do you?"
Never suggest paranoid possibilities to someone who is already in an altered state.
"Uh...no. Terry's stoned too. Terry's my friend...uh...."
It took some coaching from the Crone, but eventually Walhydra convinced herself—and Jim—that everything was alright.
As they followed the other guests out, Walhydra and Jim stopped in the vestibule to say goodbye to Dr. Bob.
Beyond them in the living room, R. and D. still sat together in a halo on the sofa.
Even knowing that the veil of memory and desire had been closed across the scene, Walhydra longed to reach out. She struggled, vaguely, politely, casually, offhandedly, to show off some professional knowledge... without, um, seeming too, um... while Dr. Bob gently pushed her out the door after Jim.
She trailed after Jim, who, not being distracted by the entire universe revealing itself above them, easily found the car. She climbed in on the passenger side.
"Drive," she said.
[Sorry. Couldn't resist it.]
At home, familiar witchy safety rose up around them.
Walhydra called the prison to confirm that Inmate Q was ensconced in lock up.
She told Jim that everything was okay.
Then she looked at him. Really looked at him.
The reader will recall from early on that Virgos do not like to admit to their romanticism.
Walhydra looked at this man whom she had dragged along on the scary tightrope walk. She remembered how he had borne her witchy silliness with Cancerian calm. How he had glowed, the quiet Leo, and pleased and amused the other guests.
[Yes, Cancer and Leo. July 23rd is right on the cusp.]
How he had indulged and delighted Dr. Bob by spotting and laughing at the very obscure geometry joke.
Walhydra got all googoo eyed.
We will not go into the subsequent details of the evening. As another wise woman has observed, the Virgo is a lady in the parlor and...um, well...ahem. Suffice it to say that Jim, who is usually a morning lover, was kept awake for a while.
Is there a moral to this story?
The gentle reader is surely clever enough to recognize the obvious lesson about careless partying while on call. But there seems to be something deeper.
Does the Crone actually egg us on to test our maturity, our poise, our wits, with moments of seemingly reckless abandon?
Walhydra has decided she doesn't want to try this particular test again.
Nonetheless, when the Trickster steps forward to offer unbidden a magic brownie... or a job, or a move, or a relationship... there seems to be something about the Dark and Bright Path which says, "Take it."
To do so without eyes open, without calling in faith upon the Divine for guidance, is foolishness.
Yet to accept the challenge with the prayer, "Let me do no harm....”
Is that not, at least, sacred foolishness?
A note from the amanuensis:
I'm concerned that the final paragraphs of Walhydra's story and the comic style of the whole narrative may tend to gloss over the seriousness of what happened to me that night. Laughter is a legitimate defense in response to fear, yet one dare not in the process trivialize the dangers one laughs at.
If one rereads the story critically, one sees that at every turn I was faced with aspects of my own vanity, fantasies of self gratification, etc. These are impulses which ego usually restrains automatically, as part of my being a fairly mature adult. That night, however, I had disabled the autopilot, so to speak, when I ate the brownie.
I could have done any number of hurtful things to myself and others, ranging from embarrassment to disruption of relationships to professional dereliction of duty. It is the good fortune of all involved that, even in the midst of playing, I challenged my own integrity by calling upon the Christ and the Crone to keep me whole and to stop my doing harm.
The result of calling up these watchers was twofold. First, I saw moment by moment and with unusual clarity each of my foibles as it sprang into play. Second, I foresaw the hurts each might cause and usually managed to stop short of serious missteps.
The outcome was a pretty thorough "Virgo x ray" examination of my social self, showing me the whole range of vulnerabilities which I usually gloss over. Also, as the reader can see, the process was intensely challenging to my concentration, and not at all the enjoyable "free ride" I thought it was going to be.
Not to put too much of a damper on the fun: I do accept as a gift the ability to retell the story in humorous style.
Being able to laugh at myself has been my salvation ever since I came out of the gay, witchy closet. In fact, being able to laugh at myself repeatedly that night is what got me through the hair raising adventure.
My perpetual mantra in this life is a chiding yet self affirming one:
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Another chapter in the continuing the revision of a serialized adventure Walhydra first published on The Crone Thread in 1996.Part 9: The crisis
Walhydra was by now “in full weed."
This meant that it was very easy, failing a repeated act of will, for her to forget that she was stoned.
Which in turn meant that she easily mistook her flights of heightened perception as objective rather than metaphorical.
Will and intuition teeter-tottered back and forth, so that Walhydra—already a dizzy queen of a witch in her normal state—felt increasingly the rush of an amateur ropewalker on a high wire.
The gentle reader must remember, though, that Walhydra had put both will and intuition at the service of the Christ and the Crone before she ate The Brownie.
What's more, she was no longer just an irresponsible, would-be witchlet.
She knew the truth of the aphorism:
Maturity is the ability to recognize one's mistakesWalhydra decided that these facts gave her the witchy prerogative of finding perverse pleasure in the scariness of her high wire act.
as one is making them again.
For this particular phase of the party, the scariness was introduced when Dr. Bob pronounced his invitation to young D. to pass judgment on a newly discovered white wine.
People had been drifting back toward the dining room when Dr. Bob spoke. All eyes turned toward the youngling, who stood by the concert grand like a tenor awaiting his solo. As if fed by the spotlight, the 16-year-old blossomed into his role. He became more handsome, more poised. He even seemed to lose his baby fat.
D. delivered a concise, self assured critique which gathered nods from the people around him. Then he smiled—a gracious smile of innocence, which drifted only slightly into teenaged wariness before adults—and sat down.
Walhydra wanted to applaud.
[Note from the amanuensis: It should be observed that Walhydra has an educated layperson's palate herself and enjoys fine wines. However, she remains bemused and perplexed by wine critics jargon.
She can easily imagine the blurb for a certain red wine going something like this:
"An impertinent little merlot. It has subtle hints of blackberry, chocolate and peasants' socks, and no respect for authority."]
By now, meanwhile, with so much more material to work with, Sister Marijuana was quite ready to fabricate a delightfully amorous fantasy starring the young Mr. D. But Walhydra scotched it.
As always, Walhydra felt ambivalent over how easily she could be stirred to lust by a young man the age of her unborn children. Not distressed by guilt. Merely interrupted by the familiar ache of a longing she knew she would never pursue.
Beneath the delectable packaging, Walhydra knew, D. was a full-fledged spiritual being in his own right, one whose path only touched hers tangentially.
To bring him into her orbit would involve an immense bending of the space/time continuum. The consequences would also be immense—and damaging to all involved.
"Damn this Virgo x ray vision!" Walhydra muttered.
The voice of Nikki, Husband #3, teased in her ear: "But looking's free...."
"Oh, shut up!"
To distract herself—easily done in her current state—she decided to roam toward the entrance hallway, where she'd spied some elders gathering.
There she found M., the snowy-tonsured gentleman in the old cardigan, and T., the grizzled, shrunken Wise One. They were in communion with others of their generation. Walhydra hung around the fringes of this group, listening and hoping for a cue which might draw her in.
With these senior men were several women whom Walhydra had not noticed earlier. She realized that she had heard their voices from other parts of the house, yet they had been leaving "the men" to their own company for most of the evening.
One of these women was a benign-looking yet stately duchess in white. She received each comment with grace, and, when she spoke, seemed to caress her friends in reply.
Another, silent and formidable, stood like one of the famous Valkyrie, needing only her presence as armor.
The other women each had a clear role which the group loved and honored.
Walhydra listened politely to their conversation about subjects they seemed to have been examining for decades. When they broached a topic she felt she could address, she spoke up from her own 45 years of honest struggle.
The elders paused, acknowledged her comment agreeably and continued their discussion. Though she knew they meant no offense, it was almost more deflating than if they had said, "Run along, Child."
"Sometimes," she said to herself, "I wonder if I'll ever stop feeling like a barely tolerated, precocious child."
"Sometimes," she heard the Crone’s voice respond, "I wonder if you'll ever stop needing the grown ups to approve of you."
"Hmm,” said Walhydra, changing the subject. “I think I'll go sit in the living room."
The living room turned out to be another occultly weighted set piece. Walhydra took the one available seat—and then realized that she had poised herself at the nexus of a daunting maze of relationships.
To her right was the venerable concert grand. To her left, the almost as venerable—but far more impish—Dr. Bob. Dr. Bob in turn had one or two older friends to his left.
In the opposite left corner, young D. sat looking teenagerly in the halo of a table lamp.
Opposite right, Jim played Oak King on the wicker throne, his Yule red sweater glowing.
And, face to face with Walhydra on the near end of the sofa, sat R.
Here, in her ache for this one 26 year old, were all the Virgo conflicts of Eros versus Order, all the contradictory dimensions of Virgo integrity.
In fact, was R. perhaps a Virgo himself...?
Hmm. That had possibilities....
The next…um…stretch of time [who knew how long Walhydra had been stoned by then] involved a vertiginous conversation among the various parties in the room.
Walhydra was intensely aware of her longing for R. and—more disturbing—a stirring of undefined yet sorrowful memories.
She kept trying to say clever things to draw R.'s attention, interest...and desire. She wanted to impress him with her brilliant yet modest take on... um…whatever it was they were talking about.
But...losing track here...she was horrified of seeming to be trying to impress. And she didn't want him to really desire her, because she was happily married.
But...it would be nice to be desired….
Jim seemed alone in his corner. Not unhappy. Just out of the center of Walhydra's attention.
She looked at him.
For one horrifying moment she saw Jim's mother. Just as, in certain moments, she saw her own father in her own gestures or her own angry foolishness.
Then she saw Jim as Jim. Remembered how real he was to her. How whole. How unexpectedly just what she had wanted all along.
With that awareness, she looked again at R. and saw....
At the start of this story, the reader will remember, it was revealed that Walhydra left Lutheran seminary at age twenty-three to come out as a gay man.
Now we must tell why she went to seminary in the first place...and what loss sent its echoes down the years to this moment in Dr. Bob's living room.
As a college senior back in 1972, Walhydra had fought to stay closeted. Her struggle became that of Tantalus once—in the supposedly virtuous depths of Lutheran campus ministry—she fell in love with another young man.
He was a sweet, grinning, sexy pixie of an artist and tenor. He had a girlfriend, so he said, yet he clung to Walhydra as his best friend.
And he had decided to go to seminary.
The reader can connect the dots.
Horrible twist of fate: the Loved One decided at the last moment not to go.
Walhydra found herself a sincere and attentive Lutheran scholar, fully committed (she thought) to study in an excellent seminary...yet alone, in the closet and aching. Denial being the powerful force that it is, she had never let herself know that she was in love.
When, in her second term, a crush on one of her roommates finally drove her out of the closet, she quit school and fled back to her college town.
Only to be greeted by the Loved One.
Who had come out!
But who, for all their mutual affection, did not want to be lovers.
Fast forward to Dr. Bob's living room.
There sat R., the ghost of the Loved One, in all his beauty and gentleness and clever charm.
Walhydra had only recently unearthed that grief of twenty years past. Only recently named the wound she had carried, unacknowledged. And here sat this different person, half her age, stand-in for that first lost love.
What could she do but look back to Jim to find the present?
There's a coda to this piece:
People had gravitated back to the dining room. They ranged themselves again around Dr. Bob, who presided at the munchies table.
Walhydra noticed that the men were exchanging delightfully teasing banter with their host. They seemed able to say in a few words things which conjured up half a century of running inside joke.
The grand women came in from the kitchen and joined in this game.
Finally, something lifted Walhydra.
She remembered from their short yet quickly deepening friendship that she too was allowed to tease Dr. Bob. She saw an opening and tossed in her joke.
He laughed with delight. The elders laughed. Everyone laughed.
Then the turn passed to somebody else.
At this point, Walhydra realized that all through this badinage she had inadvertently blocked T., the Wise One, from joining the circle. He had said nothing. Merely let his presence seep into her Weed-mellowed consciousness.
She looked for a discrete moment to yield him her place.
Jim stood opposite her in the circle. As if fitting in the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle, Walhydra slipped across to him and gave him her hand….
…and there was a sudden, insistent beeping.
"What the hell is that?!" Walhydra wondered.
The Crone clucked.
"That, My Dear, is your beeper. You are on call at the prison. Remember?"
[to be continued]
[Note: Walhydra asks her gentle readers to help her identify the artist and original source of the "On the tightrope" image. Her own source does not give attribution. Thank you.]
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Oops!Part 7: The concert
Walhydra goofed in June when she published “The seduction” as Part 7 of this story. She just discovered that she skipped an intervening chapter, “The concert.”
Here it is, continuing the revision of a serialized adventure Walhydra first published on The Crone Thread in 1996.
Walhydra followed Dr. Bob's voice into a living room overflowing with guests.
In a front corner sat a rugged old grand piano, its finish dappled with age but its sound remarkably solid—since, as Dr. Bob said, "I just tuned it myself."
"Is there anything he can’t do?" Walhydra wondered.
With a Leo’s characteristic eye for social ley lines, Hubby Jim had poised himself benignly in a throne-backed wicker chair in the corner, directly to the right of Dr. Bob's piano bench.
Across a discrete stretch of floor from this throne was a sofa. D. sat on one end next to Jim. R. sat casually close to D., in a way that might be read either as polite or interested.
Walhydra took the obvious Virgo position: cross-legged on the floor, midway between her man and her fantasies.
The first piece Dr. Bob played was DeBussy's "Claire de Lune."
Walhydra had never doubted Dr. Bob's Julliard-trained talents, yet what a surprise when he actually began to play!
Walhydra was well familiar with the early stages of a pot high, when perception shifts in only the most subtle of ways, a kind of fine tuning of what one normally notices.
She also knew the paradoxical nature of Sister Mary Jane, that she grants both intense focus of attention and, simultaneously, split-second distractibility.
In this case, the effect was that Walhydra would be as if riding on each note of Debussy one moment, then notice D.'s slender fingers on the sofa arm, then flush with "chicken lust," then remember Jim contritely and turn to him, then hear the next celestial phrase of music, then glance at R....
Dr. Bob came to an end and met the applause with grinning modesty.
"When I was at Julliard," he said, "My professor told me to hear these opening chords as a church bell tolling midnight...."
"Then to hear the moonlight drifting in on the clouds…."
Walhydra was captivated by the magic of these inspired visual. Of course! Those were the sensations she had felt.
Dr. Bob continued his concert, each piece masterful as a composition and masterfully played.
The sacred weed continued her work as well. Walhydra felt as if every glance or move she made was noticed by the entire room.
Each time Walhydra’s eyes roved toward D. and her blood stirred, she would make a show of returning to the music or of looking at Jim. She did not dare to glance as far as R., her real quarry and doom.
"This is absurd!" she complained to herself.
Each slightest shift of attention was followed at once by a Virgo x-ray examination of associated desires and intentions.
Followed by the critical judgments of the on-board Virgo ethicist.
Followed in turn by distress, repentance and resolve to become virgin again.
"Ooog!" thought Walhydra. "Virgo and Lutheran! At least I'm not straight!"
The gentle reader should, of course, understand that this inner inquisition did not prevent Walhydra from indulging in the sensual ecstasy of Dr. Bob's music.
When he started his last piece, Chopin's "Pollonnaise in A flat," Walhydra felt every atom marching. The grand chords constructed themselves as if Shiva were dancing them out at the most primal level.
In the silence which followed, the listeners only gradually noticed themselves applauding.
Dr. Bob stood, gave a silly bow and spun through the archway between living room and dining room to land at his harpsichord.
"A little Bach to change the mood," he said.
“Is there such a thing as a little Bach?” Walhydra wondered.
Several minutes later, Dr. Bob stopped and grinned again.
He stood, indicated a table loaded down with food and beverages, and announced, "Now I'm going to get drunk."
[to be continued]
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
A note from Bright Crow: This continues the revision of a serialized adventure Walhydra first published on The Crone Thread in 1996.Part 8: The seduction
Following in her helpmate Jim's regal train, Walhydra levitated toward the munchies table, because she knew it was crucial that she replenish the daily dietary supplement of Fifteen Essential Taste-teasers immediately.
Terry and Mrs. Terry were waiting at the buffet.
Walhydra and Terry greeted each other with the time honored inane grin of veteran space cadets, the one that says, "You must be in the same orbit I am!"
Jim and Mrs. Terry rolled their suffering spouse eyes skyward in unison.
After Walhydra had sampled chocolate, strawberries, mustard swiss salami pumpernickel sandwiches, three cheeses, chocolate, two pickles, veggies in dip, raisins and...oh, yeah...chocolate, she followed her chemically-distracted brain through the house.
The brain led her from group to group. Sometimes it let her stand there mute, like a visiting anthropologist. Sometimes it let her join in on the conversation—usually without embarrassing herself.
Back when Walhydra was just a little witch, she used to hide inside walls or under furniture whenever she had to socialize with strangers. She had hated such experiences and longed for the magical personality to rise above them.
This, in fact, was part of how she became a drug addict. Marijuana distracted her from her shyness and exaggerated her sense of cleverness, so that she simply plunged in.
However, the dangers of this chemical cheat were compounded by their own feedback loop.
The cleverness was too entertaining. The imagined approval of audiences was too gratifying. With the lost shyness went lost attunement to social consequences. The faux pas, minor and major, were rationalized—cleverly and gratifyingly. The....
You get the picture.
Vacation from Lutheranism. Virgo ego without Virgo conscience.
Twenty years later, in the late 1990s of this tale, Walhydra now had genuine self-confidence and a mastery of small talk polished by over a decade of working with inmates, officers, counselors and bureaucrats.
She had learned the key trick to successful conversation with men: ask them about themselves.
With women—or with men who wanted frank conversation with equals—she now liked herself enough to be herself.
Bonus: she discovered that people found her clever and entertaining... without chemicals.
Given such rewarding maturity, the reader might reasonably wonder, then, why Walhydra ate "The Brownie."
The short answer is: it was offered unsought.
The medium-length answer is not really an answer but a description of her failsafe system: she had pointedly called upon the Christ and the Crone first, to teach and to guide...and to let her do no harm.
The long answer is...well, that is what Walhydra was in the process of learning at this party.
Eventually, arising out of the pleasant gabble of conversation, Dr. Bob's voice was heard to announce: "I can prove that a right angle has less than 90 degrees."
This being a gathering of Dr. Bob's intellectual friends, other voices muttered neither "So?" nor "Huh?" Instead, heads turned in bemused anticipation and people gathered into the dining room.
"Let me show you," Dr. Bob continued, turning to the blackboard....
He has a blackboard installed on the wall of his dining room!!!
Walhydra was delirious with amusement. It was such classic "Dr. Bob" that no one who knew him even blinked.
"We take two intersecting spheres...." He drew them.
"We bisect sphere A with a plane... and sphere B with a plane not parallel to the first...."
So far Walhydra—who had loved and excelled in math and geometry until she mashed her nose on freshman calculus—was following the sketched construction of the alleged proof of the impossible.
"We find a point X where the tops of both spheres intersect. We drop a perpendicular line from X to the center of the plane bisecting sphere A...and another from X to the plane through sphere B...."
[Editor's note: At this point the transmission becomes garbled.
Remember, first of all, that solid geometry class was 30 years ago for Walhydra. Remember also that she was observing all of this under the "guidance" of The Weed. Exact recall of logical processes is definitely NOT one of the gifts of The Weed.
The gentle reader will have to pretend from here on that the step by step proof is being described.]
As Dr. Bob continued, Walhydra noted the varying states of consciousness of others in the room.
Some continued to nod with ready understanding. Others seemed to be perspiring slightly as they struggled to keep up.
Still others—Walhydra and Terry, for example—shrugged to each other and shifted to enjoying the spectacle.
It was an elaborate and arcane ritual, conducted in an eloquent yet unfamiliar language toward unknown ends. Dr. Bob was clearly calling down power of a divine and mysterious sort. His fellow worshippers shared mutual delight in the magic he was creating.
Fortunately, because no one expressed scorn for or exclusion of the uninitiated, Walhydra and the other "laypeople" could enjoy the wave of delight without understanding its workings or source.
As it became apparent to Walhydra—even with her faulty math chip—that Dr. Bob was approaching the denouement, she also noticed something else.
Jim was glowing.
He stood in the middle of the semicircle round the blackboard. He was clearly following every move of this elegant geometer's trick, watching for the slight of hand.
At the pivotal moment, just before Dr. Bob got to the final steps, Jim laughed out loud.
Dr. Bob laughed back with delight, and the two appeared to be sharing some esoteric ecstasy, joined, to greater or lesser degree, by the other initiates of their tradition.
Even gentiles like Walhydra and Terry laughed, because they saw such unaffected pleasure radiating from those in the inner circle.
[Note: As Dr. Bob later explained, "Jim laughed because he saw where I was going."
Jim actually spent the next week or so puzzling over this "joke." He said he could tell that the proof was fallacious, but he couldn't quite pinpoint the false step.
Walhydra was intrigued by this glimpse into a different realm of magic from the ones in which she usually dabbled.]
After this demonstration, there was chatter and general amusement.
People wandered away again on their various orbits.
There was more food. Wine. More music. Joking and storytelling.
Before she returned to her exploration of Weed enhanced dimensions, Walhydra had a warm moment of gazing at her helpmate Jim. She was so happy to watch him shining by his own light and gaining the attention he deserved from this clever crowd.
And she had to give Dr. Bob credit for such a delightfully subtle seduction of her brainy spouse.
She wondered what else was in store.
[to be continued]
Thursday, May 21, 2009
A note from Bright Crow: This continues the revision of a serialized adventure Walhydra first published on The Crone Thread in 1996.Part 6: The “brownie”
Walhydra glanced around to find a short, bearded, Popeye-faced fellow with a wide toothy smile and a hard-as-rocks ex-Navy handshake.
"Terry! Alright! How are you?"
Terry's wife, whom Walhydra had met a week before, nodded hello, so Walhydra asked, "And how are you? How's the raccoon?"
Puzzlement. Then a grin.
Mrs. Terry worked for Rabies Control, and she had told Walhydra about a call from someone whose pet raccoon had bit him.
"Oh," said Mrs. Terry. "He claimed he couldn't remember which pet raccoon it was. So we couldn't take the head for testing…without killing all his raccoons, that is. We had to go ahead and pay for his series of rabies shots."
Walhydra was privately happy for the raccoon. "Oh, well...," she said.
Terry looked around. "Anyone else here from work?"
"Nope. Not yet."
Terry was one of the bright, comical crew Walhydra worked with in the prison psychiatric unit. He was ex-Navy and an ex-corrections officer who had moved up to prison dorm counselor and then to clinical counselor.
He and Walhydra had become unlikely friends. Unlikely because, as a witchy faggot social worker type, Walhydra was as far from Terry's brash, high-rolling macho style as you could get and still have you-know-what between your legs.
Fortunately neither of them had prejudices sufficient to blind them to competence, intelligence and a good sense of humor in a colleague. More important, they shared that blend of utter irreverence and no nonsense compassion which is sacred to correctional staff "lifers."
Then there was their unnamed Goddess connection.
One evening when they were both at the prison on late shift, Terry had told Walhydra about the roses he was raising. He went on to talk about bird watching, animated with delight in the rare varieties he could report having seen.
As they trekked up the hill toward the parking lot, a red-tailed hawk suddenly burst forth from the juniper tree right in front of them and climbed the air to settle on top of the prison cafeteria.
Terry and Walhydra never spoke of this event to each other again, except in the most mundane terms. Silently, though, Walhydra understood it as a token of their unnamed brotherhood.
When Dr. Bob originally joined the prison treatment team, Terry became one of his favorite antagonists.
Terry had just returned from his annual gambling week in Las Vegas, and he and Dr. Bob had gotten into a debate over luck. Terry was explaining to the other staff how to watch for and ride the runs of "good" and "bad" luck on the roulette and craps tables.
Dr. Bob—of course—kept interrupting with his convinced rationalist's splashes of cold water about probability theory, random events, etc.
"Bob! Bob!" Terry finally shot back. "Ever been to f___ing Vegas? No? Then shut up!"
Dr. Bob just grinned, as he always did when challenged. And did not shut up.
They were inseparable sparring partners ever after.
Meanwhile, back at the party....
Once initial introductions had been made all around, Walhydra began to explore.
She checked briefly on spouse Jim to be sure he was happily socializing rather than in wall flower mode. Then she made her way toward the kitchen.
Here she met Dr. Bob's daughter in law, whose name she was embarrassed not to remember.
But, never mind.
The important thing was that, with no signals having been exchanged, they both recognized silently that they had always known each other, and that it needn't even be remarked on.
Daughter-in-law had that wonderful Venus of Willendorf shape. It was a shape which represented for Walhydra both the most comfortable and the most awesome form of Goddess power.
They liked each other at once, without having to say so.
About this time the imp raced into the TV room adjacent to the kitchenette and zapped the TV, to the channel for an animated dinosaur fantasy movie.
"My son," Venus of W. explained, unnecessarily.
"We've met," said Walhydra, also unnecessarily. As if that cosmic event might not have happened.
Venus nodded that she understood that Walhydra understood who and what her son was. They both smiled.
Terry was at hand, skulking casually and signaling for a private exchange.
"Do you still...you know...'smoke'?" he asked suggestively.
"Well...." Walhydra felt that adrenalin rush of unlooked for sacred moment about to happen. "I haven't in a long while."
"Listen," Terry stage-whispered. "I've got 'brownies' for you...and Jim...if you want them."
Now, it has to be explained that Walhydra was not a 1990's retro hippie, but one of the original made in America, 1960's models—granted now somewhat cleaned up and house-broken.
Walhydra also acknowledges that she more or less "threw away" ten years of her life as a pothead. This was a biographical detail which she did not hesitate to disclose to her inmate drug addict clients, who pretended that "Pot doesn't count."
She did not hesitate, either, to call herself a drug addict. Only gave thanks that pot had been "enough" for her—and that she had learned to get a spiritual high without chemicals before she moved on to more dangerous drugs.
This meant that, over the fifteen plus years since she quit smoking regularly and stopped keeping a stash, Walhydra had gradually been able to return the Weed to its proper status as a sacred plant, to be used only on rare occasions for sacred purposes.
Walhydra's rule of thumb was that she never sought the stuff out and only accepted it if the place, the time and the people were "right"—according to the leadings of the Spirit.
Spirit was leading.
"Well," she said, "Jim doesn't use the stuff, but I'll be happy to. Let me just warn him first, so he'll know what's going on...and be ready to drive me home later."
Jim looked dubious.
Walhydra did not take that as a "No." She did reassure him as honestly as she could that everything would be all right. Then she stepped aside to prepare.
Mother Father God."Ahem...," she thought to herself. "Perhaps that was a bit heavy, but it feels right."
In the name of the Christ, I affirm that this is a safe and blessèd gift from you, for celebration and for the working out of your desires through my life.
Guide and enlighten me. Guard that whatever arises, I do no harm to others or to myself.
I thank you for this gift.
In Christ's name I affirm that these things are already accomplished according to your will.
And so it is.
In a side room, Terry handed Walhydra the eucharistic brownie. They grinned and parted—after Terry had giggled and said, "I ate mine an hour ago, and it's kicking in...now. Primo!"
Walhydra now wandered to the refreshments table, casually hoping no one would notice that there were no other brownies there.
She smelled that memorable burnt odor, which was usually enough to make her look around hungrily—recovering druggie or not—whenever she caught a whiff of it on the prison yard.
She tasted the bitter, dry tang of the herb, in what the uninitiated would have mistaken for a spoiled batch of brownies, a waste of good chocolate.
Synapses and neurotransmitter receptors were not fooled, though, and they perked up at once. Oooooh, yesssss...!
"Time for my concert," Dr. Bob called from the ancient grand piano in the living room.
[to be continued]
Friday, April 24, 2009
A note from Bright Crow: This continues the revision of a serialized adventure Walhydra first published on The Crone Thread in 1996.Part 5: Introductions
Dr. Bob's New Year's Eve Eve Party had a number of purposes.
It was first of all an opportunity for Dr. Bob to get his family together. It allowed him to give his ailing wife a visit with their younger son S. and S.'s wife and seven-year-old boy.
This year in particular, the party was also a chance to gather the members of the now defunct Rational Thinking Society of Columbia (RaTS) for a reunion. The RaTS were a sort of unofficial Mensa for genius IQ folks who were too anarchistic or libertarian to be bothered with the official organization.
They met for years, usually under Dr. Bob's leadership, but eventually decided to disband due to dwindling activity. Their obstacle was that—contrary to their own anti-establishment predilections—RaTS was an incorporated body in the State of South Carolina. They still had a few hundred dollars left in the treasury, and they weren't sure what they could legally do with it.
Following much debate, it was decided to get a gift with the money for Dr. Bob, their first and last president. What they chose was a CD collection of the entire Wagnerian Ring Cycle.
This conveniently also gave Dr. Bob—who actually likes Wagner—a chance to enjoy repeating Mark Twain's two famous observations about the composer:
- Wagner's operas are mainly contests to see who can hold a note the longest.
- Wagner's music isn't really as bad as it sounds.
Finally, Dr. Bob enjoyed any occasion to introduce his favorite orcs to "polite society."
Contrary to Walhydra's earlier impression, it turns out that R. was actually an orc-in-recovery, whom Dr. Bob had first met when R. was about 15.
R. had been one of those rude kids of great potential who was failing all of his classes—until he and Dr. Bob were nearly capsized at sea while sailing in a hurricane strength storm.
"That," said Dr. Bob, "was when R. must have made some strong promises to the God he doesn't believe in. Ever since then he's been making a remarkable success of himself."
Oh, yes—and of course the party was also so Dr. Bob could play matchmaker for R. and D.
"I'm going to help these two curious young men do a little R & D of their own," he said innocently.
Walhydra glanced heavenward, checking cautiously for thunderbolts.
Dr. Bob's house sat in a huge bedroom community on the edge of Ft. Jackson, Columbia's biggest "industry" and the largest Army training base in the so called free world.
BTW, Walhydra secretly marvels at how many witches and craftspeople she has found hidden in the midst of the accidentally international enclaves around military bases.
Quaker though she is, she understands that some Army people are actually discreetly schooling themselves in the sacred path of the warrior, in the best sense of the warrior vocation—even if they do have to pretend in public that it's just Kung Fu.
When Walhydra and Jim got to Dr. Bob's house, they found a cozy place which looked as if it had been lifted 200 miles inland from the outer sand dunes of Folly Beach.
Dr. Bob drew them right into the living room and began introducing other guests, most of whom were apparently RaTS. They heard more voices from the den and the kitchen and knew the crowd was growing.
(They also heard an indistinct scuffling behind them which they could not identify.)
The first guest they met was T. T. was a somewhat portly, deferential man in his late 60's. He had a neatly trimmed snow white beard and tonsure, and he wore a brownish cardigan sweater.
Walhydra's GAYDAR was beeping ever so slightly, but she reminded herself that not every mild mannered, elderly gentleman was necessarily gay. Even if he was a friend of Dr. Bob.
They shook hands.
(Walhydra felt something poke her lightly in the back. When she turned she spied a giggling head of brown hair disappearing around a corner.)
The next guest was M. He was an upright though slightly grizzled and shrunken man of 80 or so.
Because Walhydra was a bit distracted by her Virgoan eagerness to show off in company, she didn't immediately recognize that she was being presented to an elder of the Wise Ones. That awareness would come later.
For now, she merely shook hands with M., who nodded silently and stepped aside.
(Something poked her again. This time she spun quickly to flash a grin at the giggling seven-year-old imp behind her. The imp brandished one of those rubber dart-shooting, personality disordered toys, the sort which can't decide if it's a prehistoric animal or a robot warplane. Then the imp vanished.)
Dr. Bob was gesturing toward the sofa. There in a cone of lamplight sat D., who nodded politely.
Because she had filled in Dr. Bob's stories of this paragon with her own fantasies, Walhydra was a bit disappointed at first. D. had a pleasant though not handsome face, dark hair, dark eyes. Too much baby fat yet for Walhydra's tastes.
However, there was a somnolent sparkle behind D.'s gaze, something that was cool and cautious yet boundlessly inquisitive. They exchanged carefully nondescript greetings and smiles, and Walhydra turned to the other figure on the sofa.
Here is where the real trouble started.
The stories Dr. Bob had told of R. conjured him as someone for Walhydra to desire and fear. Fear because of her desire.
"I don't want to make my old mistakes again," she always tells herself.
After all these years, desire still wants to possess.
"It's easy enough to brush it off as 'intellectual hornies' when I'm just admiring a beautiful boy on the street. But when there he is, face to face with me, exchanging names and hands...."
R. was extending his hand.
Walhydra recognized a bittersweet, startlingly discerning gaze, which declared with immediate though gentle certainty: "I'm sorry that you desire me so much...."
She took the slender fingered hand. "Yes. I'm Michael."
That was all.
(Except that the imp fired two more rubber dart rounds.)
[To be continued]
Friday, March 20, 2009
Walhydra insists that she will not come back again as a Virgo.
It's not just the remarkably unfair bad press Virgos usually get: all that second-fiddle stuff about chastity, service, efficiency, fussiness and anal retentive obsession with hygiene and order. Pah!
Walhydra could write a textbook on Virgos, but probably only other Virgos would believe it.
Her epigram for Virgo would be: "Abnormally conventional."
The problem, she says, is that Virgos have high powered x-ray vision. They see through every form of social convention—whether they want to or not. No religious or cultural or political system, no popular expectations about morality or etiquette or gender role, etc., can claim absolute value under such scrutiny.
"If only we didn't have to have these sensitive egos in the way," she laments.
That's the catch. The same person who has this penetratingly critical and transpersonal view of human life also wants to belong, to be liked, to be admired and loved.
It's a highly emotional, almost entirely private struggle for balance between personal integrity and the longing for what seems available only by conforming to social expectations.
To cope, Walhydra laughs at herself as much as she can—the only real remedy for life, as most of you dear readers know.
One of her favorite laughs is that bit about Virgos being neat, organized and efficient:
"The truth is Virgos are expertly lazy," she explains. "Efficiency is about finding the most practical way to get something done with the least amount of work."
Maynard G. Krebs is Walhydra's life long hero.
"My desk is always clean? Of course, dear. All my unfinished work is neatly filed away! Coded according to how long I can possibly put it off before I have to do it!
"Granted, I'm great at triage. That just means that what other people really need—whether they know it or not—gets done first.
"I hate tedium. I hate having to redo anything. I really hate incompetent or unprofessional behavior that sets back or undoes the work.
"I hate wasting time and energy, when I could be sitting on a hill in the sun, fantasizing. If only I could leave my job every day when my work is actually done...."
But what about service?
Walhydra doesn't joke about that—well, not much. This is where that x-ray vision really comes into play. And, in ways that are sometimes very painful, she is obliged to turn it on herself as well.
"The greatest service I can give anyone is to help her see past the conventions and expectations she lets keep her from her own Original Self. There's little more sublime to me than seeing sparks of that light beginning to glow.
"But, whooeee, do people fight against it! Me included."
This brings us back full circle to the reason for Walhydra's declaration at the start of this chapter. It has to do with the most misunderstood aspect of the conventional portrayal of Virgo.
"Who the hell decided that being a Virgin had anything to do with not having sex?!"
Walhydra is adamant about this.
"Being a Virgin is about being an utterly independent woman, beholden to no man—for anything!
"Why do they think the Virgin Mary refused to tell who the father was? Who did all the work of bringing the Holy Kid into the world—and, for that matter, of seeing him out again?!"
Since Walhydra is a man in this incarnation—granted, a queer one—she's the first to admit this isn't about male bashing. It's about sex having nothing to do with ownership—of any sort.
As she says:
"The most absurd part of that warped Virgo caricature is the bit about being chaste, sexually circumspect, etc. Balls!...um...or whatever.... Virgos are gourmets of the sensual. We would love to try anything—and anyone—we haven't tried before."
[At this point JimJim, Hubby #4, is getting a little nervous. But, Walhydra hastens to remind him, Virgos can be ruthlessly faithful, once they decide to be.]
Walhydra's most favorite ever portrait of Virgo is a greeting card someone once gave her. It shows a gleeful little piglet, running through a meadow on its hind legs with only a carefully draped ribbon to conceal its "rude bits."
Hubby Jim, who knows Virgo's secret nature, loves this card too. He is careful not to say teasingly to Walhydra, "Take off your clothes," when they are in public, because Walhydra always starts to unzip at once.
Virgos are confirmed exhibitionists. Even if no one at all notices because they are being so discreet.
"But," Walhydra continues, "there are always those damned conventions and expectations to bollocks things up! I'd love to just walk up to that gorgeous young man at the next table—the one who could be my son—and say, 'I'd like to....'."
[Due to moralistic conventions beyond our control, we are unable to continue the audio portion of this broadcast. Please substitute an illicit fantasy of your choice.]
"If Virgos ruled the world, that boy could accept or reject the compliment without offense, without it meaning anything about his 'orientation' or mine, without any expectations other than mutually agreed upon pleasure.
"Doing 'it' would still be a sacred act, of course. But it would be up to the Goddess and the God—not to convention—to give it its meaning. For us it might just be heavy breathing and a happy exchange of...um...fluids."
As you see, the Virgo dilemma, according to Walhydra, is that compassion for her own ego and those of others demands that she be circumspect. Where there might be any doubt about intentions or expectations, she does without.
Of course, the gentle reader may be remembering the paean to Hubby Jim back in Part 3. All of that is true.
It's not her own monogamy Walhydra objects to. Before she "got it right" this time around, Walhydra had no idea how blessèd are the mundane and spiritual gifts of a monogamous commitment. Provided, that is, the two parties have their eyes open, keep their hearts free from all false expectation—and know how to fight fair.
Walhydra has no regrets.
It's just that she some times longs to experience that other evolved Virgo choice: being polymorphously perverse.
"Probably," Walhydra concludes, "I'll end up as a Virgo over and over again."
She shrugs. "At least it's not boring."
Now, about this party....
[To be continued]
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Walhydra has the most wonderful helpmate, Jim. Jim is a rare gift which kept crossing Walhydra's path for years till she finally smacked herself in the forehead and accepted it.
They first met in 1965, when they were both closeted queer boys in high school.
In 1977, when Walhydra returned from "the North" and moved in with Husband #2, there was Jim, living next door.
When Walhydra returned to Columbia again, this time from her years overseas with her witchy, Isle of Wight Husband #3, she moved in with Jim and Jim's ex, Randy. This was when Walhydra was in grad school and "too busy focusing on studies to have a relationship."
[Not to mention, too confused after three "love at first sight" handfastings to jump in again without looking a looong time first.]
In 1985, Walhydra finished her internship and moved from Columbia, SC, to Charleston, to work as a drug counselor.
[Interesting work for a former Deadhead fellow traveler.]
Jim came to visit Walhydra, and, her eyes now having been opened by the joy of finding her secular vocation, Walhydra said, "Why had I been running from this boy?"
Two years of long distance loving later, her supervisor (a blessed person in her own right) said, "I hate to lose you... but you've GOT to move back to Columbia and be with that boy!!!" That was when Walhydra started doing time in the men's prison as a social worker.
Walhydra and Jim already knew who squeezed the toothpaste in the middle (Jim), who was the housekeeping bitch (Walhydra), and who was the kitchen witch (both of them... taadaa!).
Given this head start, it only took a few years with a good marriage counselor to discover how to mesh Southern Baptist cathartic guilt and swallowed anger (Jim) with German Lutheran doctrinal purity and mental hygiene (Walhydra)... and how to fight fair.
[Walhydra loves to tease Jim in their favorite coffehouse by looking up to the door and saying: "Hmm, that boy looks JUST like my fifth husband!"]
Now, Jim is a warm, empathic, compassionate Quaker sort. He chuckles and teases Walhydra about her crystals and incense and lunar phases... but he gets "googoo eyed" when she waters the 36 houseplants (in their two room apartment) or talks to the cat.
Jim has a humorous online "ministry" giving support and encouragement to other "recovering fundamentalists" and confronting homophobic flamers on AOL. He's also a brilliant scholar, for whom mathematics has the genuine power and beauty of religious music.
[Walhydra insists upon noting that she herself is NOT AT ALL a victim of math anxiety. It was only because of that freshman calculus course of 300, with the German professor who spoke no English, that she had to retire from the field and join the functionally innumerate. *Ahem*]
It was early in his friendship with Walhydra that Dr. Bob—with Walhydra's collusion—began to court Jim as a fellow math lover.
He would send Walhydra home with "humorous" math puzzles.
["Haha," said Walhydra. "It's all Greek...etc."]
He would offer Jim his online bulletin board phone number. Finally, he sent, as a Yuletide present, the following puzzle:
For any prime number n greater than 3, n squared minus 1 is divisible by 24. Prove it.Jim was delighted, pondered for a day or two, and then sent back a written answer, which Walhydra, faithful carrier pigeon, relayed to Dr. Bob—understanding the message no more than any carrier pigeon does (just feed me and pet me... coooo?)
Dr. Bob sent back effusive (but honest) compliments on Jim's clear and elegant proof... and the hook was set.
[Walhydra promises to send Jim's proof... or, rather, make him send it... to anyone who is actually curious about it. Really.]
When Dr. Bob offered the New Year's Eve Eve Party invitation, Jim was glad to join in—especially when Walhydra told him about Dr. Bob's matchmaking.
Walhydra, in turn, looked forward to finally introducing the "mythical Jim" to all the work colleagues (also invited) who had heard her bragging on and bitching about him.
On the night of the party, Jim dressed up in his comfy casuals, with the Yule red cableknit cotton sweater—hey, he's a Leo (well,Cancer right on the cusp).
Walhydra (true Virgo) did her usual black on black layers, with whichever crystals had called out "Me too!" concealed in various pockets. Together, they aimed their Toyota southeast and headed for Dr. Bob's place.
Note: We promise we will actually eventually get our dear readers to this party. Please be patient. Thank you.[To be continued]