If I may be frank...

I miss blogging.  Not a day goes by that I haven't missed it.  I can plead preoccupation, busied rush of other obligations, and plain forgetfulness. All of these wouldn't be dishonest, and single motherhood with a preschool-age whirlwind like Little Owl leaves me more than a little scatterbrained and on the trembling edge of exhaustion even on the best days. Any parent who would claim otherwise would be dubious at best.

But really, that's not it. Well, not entirely. A few years ago, I received a comment on this blog from Little Owl's other parent. I never approved it for posting because it was pathetic, overly dramatic, and in essence a suicide note. Knowing that this person had established a presence on my blog (not that I ever really hid this blog, but you know what I mean) made me feel exceedingly unsafe expressing my deepest thoughts and feelings.

The rule of iGoddess has always been "absolute honesty, always." I still live my life by this principle.  It has cost me tremendously, and I've lost a lot of friends because of it. But I will not back down from this principle.

However, I ceased feeling safe here. Quite the opposite. What used to be my safest emotional haven had become a platform for vulnerability, and not the good or healthy kind. I just couldn't bring myself to blog here anymore.

I have since attempted several times over the years to establish new blogs. Anonymous blogs. None survived. I longed for iGoddess. For the connections I had grown here (yeah, I'm looking at you, Mitch, lol, among others). For the history. For the tone I had struck here that I simply could not duplicate elsewhere, despite my best efforts.

I still don't quite feel safe. But I can no longer deny that I need this. I need to blog. I need to feel the sure sense of reaching out, of tossing my message in a bottle with the sure knowledge that someone, somewhere, will find it on some distant shore. I can no longer survive in isolation, and I am isolated. There's no one I can really talk to, no one I have to lean on. Since my dad's death I have no family. I have no friends who could give anything more than, "I wish I could help" platitudes. I no longer feel heard, and have forgotten what it feels like to be seen.

And so I am back here. To iGoddess. Talking out to the universe, hoping there is an ear that will hear.



It looked just like I remembered it.

And yet not.

It loomed before me, in silent rebuke. Yet I knew the Temple would never judge, never scold. The rebuke --and the cowering-- were all in my heart

The rustle of dried leaves across stone as the breeze pushed deadfall along the paving stones ahead of me sounded like the rip of snagged fabric. Of dry skin scraping across pumice. Like a snake shedding old skin.

There was not a soul to be seen. Not a single red-footed priestess, nor a vulture in the sky.

I opened the doors to the Temple, fully expecting the hinges to creak and groan from years of disuse, but the doors swung open with the same perfect balance they always had, with not a squeak of protest as well-oiled hinges gleamed, as well-polished as the great door handles.

"Think you the only visitor to the Temple?"

I spun around, and the old priestess raised an eyebrow. Her skin was brown as a betel nut, as wrinkled as the driest raisin, lips pursed in that way that belied a mouthful of missing teeth. And yet she spoke without any trace of a lisp, though her voice creaked as much as I had expected the hinges to. Her red robes swept along the floor, hiding most of her small frame.

Tired now, weary in a way I had never been before when visiting these hallowed grounds, I simply raised my eyebrow back at her. "Considering this entire place is within my own mind, yes, I think myself the only visitor to the Temple."

She chuckled at that, shaking her head. "Such youth, to be so headstrong still." But then her eyes gleamed. "And yet finally showing a hint of wisdom, that your backbone is straight and tall now, speaking thus to a pomegranate priestess."

"To an equal?"

She inclined her head. "Perhaps."

"My feet are red," I said. "Perhaps I did not record it, as I have every visit in the past, but I do clearly remember a priestess telling me --laughing at me, as you all seem to do-- that my audacity in staining my feet was the only way to be a priestess. No one can tell me I am a pomegranate priestess except my own self. My feet are red."

She pointed. "And you still have the scar." Her finger traced a line in the air, straight down, and my hand flew to my breast. It was not visible on the flesh, but in spirit I could still feel the scar from the vulture goddess' crescent blade splitting my chest open with my beating heart open to the sky. I remembered that pain, and it was as nothing to more recent pains. Pains that split my being, with my soul open to the infinite void. Pains that chopped me off of my family tree, with no roots to take in the coolness of the earth or drink in the rains, no leaves to feel the warmth of the sun, a kiss of the breeze. A dead branch.

"Why did you come?"

"I don't know."

"It's been calling you."

"The Temple?" I paused. "Yes."

"You come when you are tired. Confused. Why do you never come here when there is joy? You could see it as others do, then."

"No one comes here but me."

The priestess laughed.

Now I was getting impatient. Why did they always laugh? When they weren't intimidating me, anyway.

"You said I was the only one who came here."

"You said that."

"This place is my invention, in my imagination."

"Yes, and no. Why are you here?"

"I don't know. I just know it's been too long."

"That's partly true."

I sighed. "The Dream Incubation Chamber."

She stared at me, silent.

"I misused it before, I think. I wasn't Dreaming to learn." Heat rose to my face suddenly, and burned in my chest. Burned along the invisible scar in my shame. "I was trying to Manifest, not Dream."

The priestess shrugged. "Partly true. Dreaming is manifesting. You were trying to force the Pattern instead of learn the Pattern."

Wasn't that the same thing?

"No!" Her rebuke cracked like a whip against the walls, the echo sharp in the ear. I hadn't spoken aloud, but she still heard. It never seemed strange here, in the Temple, the way thoughts and reality and the unseen and unheard were meaningless. It's only later, writing it down, that the lopsidedness ever really stands out. "Not the same thing! Now you're just being lazy."

"Fine, I was being lazy," I said, feeling my ire rise. "I wanted answers for once, not more questions."

She narrowed her eyes. For some reason, it was only then that I noticed the form and thoroughness of her own priestesshood.

Most priestesses had the red feet. Some had red palms as well, but those were extremely rare. I had only ever glimpsed one such. Some, the truly harsh, were bloody all the way up their calves, the hems of their robes perpetually dripping fresh blood that stained their calves and shins and feet. Some had the patterned dots and whorls whose meanings were still a mystery to me.

I had at first thought this ancient priestess' robes to be red. Looking more closely, the horror and revulsion swept over me as realization rose like gorge in the back of my throat.

The richly red priestess robes were not cut of draping cloth. It was a curtain of human flesh, flayed and draped into the appearance of robes. The spatter coated her face and neck, the splatter pattern looking as if it sprayed upward as she hacked her own clothing.

I blinked again, staggering back, and the old woman in beautiful, flowing red fabric stood before me once more.

"I hate when you guys do that."

She blinked up at me placidly. "You do it yourself. Who do you think I am, to enjoy wearing my robes?"

I frowned at her, not comprehending. "I came to walk the Dream Incubation Chamber," I said, heart beginning to beat faster.

"How can you take even a step, burdened as you are?" She shook her head. "You think you have lost so much, until your arms are empty but for a very few things. But your shoulders drag beneath the weight of so many skins. All of the dead things you clutch, the dead weight you carry, wearing the skins because in your mind you still are these."

Reeling now, for the first time I looked at this horrible priestess. Really looked. And I saw the same round head, the high cheekbones and flat face, the broad nose. I saw her bottom lip had the scar from when a dog had bit her lip and split it into two when she was only three. I saw the beauty mark on her right cheek, and the other on her neck, that only one girl every generation inherited on her mother's side. As recognition dawned on my face, she laughed again, and almost against my will I recognized the way her right eye scrunched up more than her left when she smiled, the way all on her father's side did.

Goddess! Was this what I was? What I would be in the Temple? This horrible, flesh-wearing priestess, drenched in blood from head to toe with the harsh laugh that carried no mercy?

"It is part of you, yes," she said. Then she waved her hand dismissively. "Oh, I know you wish to become like one of the warrior priestesses, one of the vultures with the bones in their hair and the curved blade, and the dripping hems. Even as the peace and healing priestesses fascinate you with their blood marked in pretty pictures upon their skin.

"Instead, you get me."

"Not if I have any say."

"Oho!" she laughed. "So we have a fighter, after all."

Damn it all. Some people get babbling brooks or dreams of some dead relative coming to give them words of peace and comfort. I get my toothless crone self, draped in flayed human skin, laughing at me.

"I thought the pomegranate priestesses were enlightened," I said. "I thought their blood was an expression of their wisdom."

Crone me raised an eyebrow. God. How could I have not noticed the snark in that gesture? "And was there not wisdom today, seeing me?"

"Nothing good," I muttered, but only because I'm stubborn.

"The Menstrual Temple of the Funky Grail is all-where and nowhere. All time and outside time. Sometimes, if you have very bad luck --or very good luck-- you meet yourself here." She paused, and her dark brown eyes squinted at me, the gleam in them malicious and dark and terrible. "When you go back, if you still condemn me to wear this infernal, dripping, stinking robe the rest of my life, I will never forgive you." She jabbed me in the chest hard with her wiry finger, and the scar along my chest burned straight back to my spine. "You know what you have to do."

"I don't think I can." It was on my lips before I knew that I was even going to respond.

"Well, now there's a bit of truth," she muttered. "No more difficult than lugging this around all my life, and maybe less!" Out of nowhere she pulled out the terrible curved blade I remembered all too well, and swiped at my neck as she cried, "Go!"

I jumped back with a cry--

--and found myself jumping back from the door to the Temple, yanking my hand off the handle as if burned. The clear, cloudless blue of the autumn sky dazzled overhead. The dry leaves scraped along the stone path.

I knew what I had to do.


and the phone just rings

is there anybody out there?

what do you do when there is something, something big, and there is literally no one in your life you can talk to? oh sure, plenty of ones to listen, give platitudes, try to their best ability to be supportive (and there is reason to be thankful if there is even one person like that in your life, let alone plenty) but no one for this.

not for this.


There are no words

my dad is dead.

i haven't posted much the last while. i think i just don't have the kind of time to spare that i used to, when i blogged here daily. sometimes multiple times a day. not that i don't love it, and not that i don't think about blogging all the time. i still compose entries in my head. i just don't have the time.

but this might be a little different. everyone keeps telling me that writing it all out might help me. i've avoided it because i didn't want to make it real. i really have no words for just what i'm feeling, because it's more than pain. "devastated" sounds too dramatic and too loud and too shallow for what i'm feeling.

i swear, it was just like in the movies, when the main characters are having a Moment of Perfection, and they look at each other and smile, and suddenly everything's in slow motion: their joy, wind blowing through their hair, love and happiness and contentment in their eyes, smiling at each other, music so perfect...


we did. we smiled at each other. we had hugged each other upstairs. i was cleaning my bathroom and Little Owl was jumping on the bed. my dad came home, said hi, looked great in jeans and one of his cream-colored mexican button-downs, the kind with woven/embroidered designs in two stripes down the chest on either side of the buttons. i forget what the design is called, but i can see it in my head.

we hugged. he'd had a great day. it was friday, and he was planning on going salsa dancing with one of his friends. he was going to take the motorcycle to get a tune-up so it would be ready when my brother flew in from moscow the next day. i'd follow in my car so i could drive him home, and was planning on suggesting on El Pollo Loco for dinner. the weather had been perfect for SoCal: sunny and flawless blue, warm for june but not uncomfortably hot. even the humidity was down enough that i didn't feel the pressing need for the air conditioner. just the open windows and breeze, with the ceiling fan, was perfect.

it was perfect.

fucking perfect, godfuckingdammit.

it was a perfect day. we smiled at each other. we hugged. i told him, "happy friday." he'd had a good day at work. i'd had a good day with Little Owl.

it was a fucking perfect day.

dad put on his helmet and was backing the motorcycle out of the garage. we smiled at each other. then i bent to buckle Little Owl into the carseat. i was kissing her --as she always wants after i finish buckling her in-- and heard the motorcycle zoom at top acceleration. i saw him zoom in my peripheral vision, through the rear car window.

i heard a crunch behind me. a loud crunch.

somehow, i have no idea how, i went from crouching in the car to standing outside it. i saw the motorcycle on its side,  a huge dent in the neighbor's garage wall, my dad on his back in front of it. seeing my dad's feet, him on the ground  not moving...but it was his feet for some reason that punched me in the face.

at first it didn't even register what i was looking at. i blinked twice before i realized this was really happening. but somehow all of that happened in the fraction of a second. my phone magically materialized in my hand as i ran, calling for my dad, dialing 911 with fucking shaking fingers. my hand was fairly vibrating, i was shaking so bad.

even as i did, i kept expecting my dad to blink a few times, and then sit up and shake his head like, "whoa." i swear i kept waiting. but even as i was waiting, i was thinking, "what do they do in those medical shows in situations like this? oh yeah, they use the person's name."

so i started calling to him, asking if he could hear me. one of my dad's neighbors showed up about then, and i asked if he had a pocket knife to cut the strap of my dad's helmet. it seemed to be cutting up under his chin right where the jugular sits, and i figured that would help.

when i saw only one eye creep open, and both his eyes start swelling --not eyelids, but his eyes-- i knew it was bad. his tongue stuck out a little, and stuck out a little more. it was an "oh shit" moment. lying there, head lolling to the side, one eye closed one eye partly open, eyes swelling, tongue sticking out of his mouth...

even as i waited for the ambulance i knew my life would never be the same. i was so terrified in that moment, and i also felt like an utter piece of shit for being so selfish to even think that and i knew i was shit for thinking it, but i was also just so fucking terrified, because life would never be the same. if my dad recovered, he would never be the same person he was only two minutes ago. just google "TBI" one of these days: Traumatic Brain Injury. my dad was already gone.

and if he died?

...oh god.

less than two minutes later, the cops and ambulance showed up. i swear, it was less than two minutes. dad's house was about a mile from the police station, and maybe half that for the ambulance. my dad's heart was thready and weak when i checked it, but by the time the police checked him, his heart had stopped.

i remember spinning around, shouting "FUCK" as loudly as i could, and by the time i finished my spin, i was focused and had my game face back on.

too many years of practicing my poker face so i wouldn't get abused any further. comes in handy.

my dad's neighbor was trying to get me to go inside, to focus on Little Owl, and to otherwise keep me away from the scene. i called him on it. it was seriously pissing me off.

my sister --my best friend-- wouldn't answer her phone. i called my cousin to see if she could watch Little Owl. couldn't get a hold of her either.

the neighbor pissing me off actually offered. his wife and daughter, a bit younger than Little Owl, came over to help.

by then there was a crowd of neighbors.

i followed a couple minutes behind the ambulance.

i couldn't get a hold of anyone for hours, waiting there in the emergency room waiting room. when one of the nurses took me aside to a private room adjacent to the ER, i wanted to throw up. i knew it was bad.

either that or my constant pacing was bothering people. not that i cared.

a doctor came in, red-orange curly hair, gentle tones. she offered to sit with me.

i knew it was bad.

when the other doctor, the head of Trauma and the one who oversaw my dad's entire case, invited me to sit down, i told him, "only if everyone else sits down. otherwise i'll stand." when he just stood there, eyes wide, hands at his waist and still but poised as if he wanted to fiddle them. just looking at him, i could tell it was Really Bad. i was braced for him to tell me my dad had died or that there was nothing they could do.

it was the "we'll do everything we can, but it won't be enough" look. i knew it.

and as the day progressed into the following morning, just like when i was kneeling at his feet by the bike, waiting for him to open his eyes, i was waiting for him to wake up so they could move him out of the ICU.

one day turned into three --and i hadn't slept, eaten, or sat down at all-- and three days turned into a week, and i got the very squirming, very sure feeling that this wasn't going to resolve itself.

not after the way that Trauma doctor had looked at me.

surprisingly, my siblings were all being mature and cooperative. we had established a schedule that i believed was working: we all took turns watching Little Owl --since i was the only one who had children that needed to be taken care of. my other siblings either had the luxury of being without children, or had their spouse at home watching children. every third night, i came home to take my turn being with Little Owl. it was working.

nobody told me otherwise. and every time i asked, everything was just peachy.

so when i announced i would be spending the night at the hospital again, with  my younger sister, my older sister telling me, "so Little Owl will be alone," was just flabbergasting.

who the fuck says that? for fuck's sake, she's three years old.

so i went home, completely angry that no one was communicating. if there was a problem, i had made it more than clear they could just tell me. in fact, i even said, very plainly, that i work better with and respect when you can tell me something, no fluff or beating around the bush, to my face. i'm a big girl. i can take it.

apparently they couldn't. not only did no one tell me they didn't want to watch Little Owl anymore, but no one called, texted, or came by for four days. i was left alone --without even a goddamn update about my dad's health-- for four. goddamn. days.

i had to get a friend from church to watch Little Owl so i could go to the hospital.

and when i got there, someone had erased my name from the white board. you know, where it said SPOKESPERSON: DELENA now said SPOKESPERSON: DOUCHEBAG BROTHER.

so they were muscling me out completely.

i erased it and replaced my name. after all, it was my motherfucking signature on all of my dad's paperwork. all of the financial responsibility, the legal responsibility, the everything. it was my motherfucking name on all of it, so it goddamn well would be my name on the white board.

the next time i was able to get to the hospital, four days later --after a friend drove all the way from Portland to watch Little Owl-- my name was deliberately left off altogether. the board read: "okay to give information to these people:" and everyone was listed --even my bipolar, fucking-crazy sister-in-law...but not me.


that night when i came to spend the night with my dad, my younger sister --my best friend-- was there.

her: "what are you doing here?"
me: "being with my dad."
her: "are you staying all night?" *very hostile inflection*
me: "yup! have fun!" *smile*
her: "well, i'm leaving." *again, hostile and disgusted tone*
me: "good!" *smile*

she followed me into my dad's room, blocked my path as i tried to walk around the foot of my dad's bed. it's really narrow between the hospital bed and a set of drawers for equipment and supplies. it was literally just wide enough for my hips. she blocked my path.

when i tried to walk past her anyway, she grabbed my head and shoved it. teeth bared, lip curled, putting all of her strength and weight behind it.

that's when i shut down. hearing things like, "we don't want you," and "you're a stupid fucking cunt," and "you're fucking insane and need to be on medication" from my best friend, the one person i would have trusted at my back, trusted with my life, trusted enough to gamble everything --even Little Owl's life-- that she would be the one person in the world who would never betray me as long as i lived...

the accident happened on june 27th. two weeks from june 28th, my father died. my siblings finally admitted what i had been trying to advocate the entire time: my dad's wishes were to never be on machines.

the entire time i was there, it was so easy to push any of my own thoughts and desires out of existence. what my dad wanted was all that mattered, and what he wanted was not to depend on machines. the prognosis was, "in six months to a year on the respirator, we'll know more about what his recovery will look like." this was mainly because my dad's brain injuries were so incredibly severe. it's called "shear injury." look it up. it's fucking scary.

overwhelmingly fucking scary.

my brother and sisters wanted to wait. to my older sister, a year didn't sound long to her. to her. not to my dad, but to her. and oh, she couldn't live with the guilt thinking that she killed him. my brother wanted to wait and see, and didn't have any problem ignoring that dad didn't want this, and only consider dad's wishes after exhausting every other option. my younger sister, formerly my best friend, admitted she didn't have the life experience and was going along with everyone else.

"everyone else" apparently meaning anyone not me, because i'm a fucking insane piece-of-shit cunt who needs to be on medication, and that my entire family thinks is a useless idiot.

because even my aunt --my dad's younger sister-- questioned my "mental competence" when i stopped to consider the weight and dangers of one procedure over another for my dad, because apparently "stopping to weigh the pros and cons of the dangers of these procedures" looked unmistakably like "hesitation."

but she pointed right at me when one of the doctors walked in and asked who was in charge.

two-faced bitch. i'm too much of an idiot to handle things, so you'll question me but refuse to step up and take any of the responsibility? fucking really?

fuck her.

fuck all of them. especially the ones who wanted me to just shut up and "understand" them, to keep the peace, but were quick to accuse me of making waves. no, i just made it inconvenient for them to treat me like the fucking idiot doormat they wanted me to be.

or the cousin that spread lies about me, and actually emailed my publisher on facebook to tell her my birth name, and to tell her that i "burned myself all over my body and bragged about it, and is that normal?" of course, given my policy of airing all of my dirty laundry, sins, and faults, so that they can never be used against me. and given that i'm actually really close friends with my publisher --and that she visited me in the spring of last year and stayed a week-- she already knew the real story behind everything, unlike my douchebag cousin.

so she told my cousin where to go, and that if "blood is thicker than water," then maybe my cousin should shut her damn mouth and actually listen to what i had to say. did my cousin listen? no. she just kept right on trying to smear me, make me sound crazy, and try to sound all fucking saintlike, telling my publisher that, "we're here for her [meaning me] when she wants the correct help."

got that? the correct help.

fuck her. fuck her face, fuck the ground she walks on, fuck her children, fuck every stupid goddamn self-righteous breath she takes.

crazy idiot piece-of-shit cunt who needs to be on medication. my best friend said that to my face, with a smooth-faced, superior expression. and it rolled off her tongue, as if she had already said it so many times it was habit. which sounds remarkably (read: exactly) like what she used to say about the crazy russkie of a sister in law. (who actually has borderline personality disorder, and probably bipolar and/or histrionic personality disorder, because goddamn she's sick, and my degree is in Psych, so i kind of know what i'm talking about)

i was still wondering why the hell nobody even told me they were tired of watching Little Owl and why they saw fit to stop talking to me instead of tell me, and apparently things had already escalated with them to the point where my little sister --my best friend-- saw fit to try to physically intimidate me, chase me into my dad's hospital room, and shove my head.

so the accident was june 27th. my dad died two weeks from june 28th. i hadn't heard from anyone in my family since four days before that. whatever day today is, however long that is, no one has spoken to me, texted me, called me, emailed me...nothing.

not even to tell me when or where my dad's service was being held.

i'm apparently not even worth that. i imagine they're glad they don't have to pretend i'm part of their family anymore.

i didn't just lose my dad. my dad was taken from me. i lost everyone i'm related to.

i just can't have a good life. i dared to take life by the balls, walk away from a bad situation, claim my self-respect and sovereignty. i was getting healthy, making plans, doing well. i owned it.

and then fate threw my dad into a wall and killed him.

threw my life on the shitpile.

everyone keeps pouring this bs on me about how "family is more than blood," and "given them time, they'll realize that crisis made them crazy," but A.) easy for you to say family is more than blood. you're not the one who was just shown how not-valued i've been, how much of a non-entity i've been to these people i thought loved me (extended family included, not just my fucked up immediate family). and B.) you don't know my family. what's that saying? fifty-thousand germans can't be wrong? yeah. it doesn't matter when it happened. they're going to be convinced they are right, and since all of them outnumber me, i'm the one who will always be crazy, always be "the one who was crazy," (according to my mother), and they will never have anything to do with  me ever again.

well, not unless i come crawling back and admit that i wholeheartedly agree with everything, and spend the next decade proving that i'm not just saying that. and some of that proof will involve not only putting up with how much like shit they treat me, but not speaking up at all, and thanking them for treating me like a third-class citizen, and in general licking their ass and begging for more opportunities to do the same.

my dad died. i was the only witness, and i won't even go into the problems i have with PTSD, hearing the motorcycle zoom, the crunch as he was thrown into the wall behind me, the sight of him lying there with his eyes swelling and tongue sticking out...over and over and over, like a broken record that's been going for weeks nonstop...

no, i won't even get into that.

and i won't even mention going three days without food or sleep, rarely even sitting, to the point where my ankles were as thick as my calves because they were so swollen. i won't go into dealing with that crisis alone. pacing in the ER alone. sitting in that tiny adjacent room alone. staying home with Little Owl for four days alone, not knowing anything that was going on.

because apparently none of that was supposed to affect me, and i should have considered how hard my siblings had it. y'know, flying in after all the shit had already gone down and the scent of blood was cleaned off my dad. i should have considered how hard it was for them to see him lying in that hospital bed.

fuck delena. who gives a shit she saw the whole thing, made the 911 call, heard the police say his heart stopped, dealt with every tiny and major decision regarding my father's survival alone? apparently i was supposed to handle that flawlessly, and not say anything about it, because anything less is weakness and i'm just fucking crazy.

because everyone else had it harder than me, and how dare i make it about me?

i won't mention that i still have no appetite, that i've lost so much weight my clothes are all baggy. even my "skinny jeans" that i had bought back a year before i had even met Little Owl's sperm donor? yeah, those not only fit better than they did the day i tried them on, but they're getting loose.

i can't care about anything. i can't manage any real emotion beyond a vague frustration, or fleeting mirth as long as it's superficial. other than that, i really just don't care. i give no shits about anything.

i lost my dad, and i lost my entire family.

let that sink in a moment.

my. entire. family.

all of them.

cousins, aunts, uncles, siblings, second cousins, grand-aunts and grand-uncles. everyone by marriage who was now a part of the family i loved as family. my family's so huge i can't even keep track of who's related to whom and how. they're all either uncles and aunts, or cousins. that's it. i'm mexican. we breed like rabbits.

i have a huge family.

wait. scratch that.

i had a huge family. i have no family now.

i meant nothing to them, ever, if crisis brings out the real person. i never meant anything. they muscled me out. i'm insane. i'm a piece of shit. i'm a cunt. i'm crazy and need to be on medication. just how worthless do i have to be that they discussed kicking me out of my dad's house among themselves?

kicking me and my three year-old daughter out of the house my dad wanted me to live in. that my dad had flown to Indiana where we were living and invited me to come back home and live with him, and rebuild bridges and heal everything that still needed healing between us?

was i the only one who gave any kind of crap about what my father wanted? surely i couldn't have been the only one who loved and respected him. he wanted me there. he wanted Little Owl there. that meant nothing to them.

i can't even feel like an orphan. my entire family is still out there. i'm just unwanted.

given everything, i can't even begin to describe the pain i feel. the depth of heartbreak.

i just...i can't. there are no words.

there just are no words.

i love you, dad. between us, we healed everything that needed healing between us. we were happy. we lived in peace. we achieved peace. how many people can ever say that? you were my friend. i miss you so much. i love you, dad.

beyond that? i'm just empty, and yet full to bursting with...something that hurts so much i'm still just numb.

Dad with Little Owl, on a gorgeous Sunday walk at the park

Dad singing "Ella" with the mariachis. I got my voice from him, and he had a wonderful voice.
Loved to sing, and the mariachis loved him. 


On Upheaval

Some of you may already know this, and others are only now finding out that I've recently relocated.

Talk about massive upheaval. All of it was for a good cause, and I'm very glad to say that I love where I am now. So much has happened in the two weeks since I left the midwest, and it's ironic that as much as I use imagery and description as an author, the only thing I can compare it to is like popping a really massive pimple. You know, the kind that you just squeeze even a little, and it bursts all over the bathroom mirror and you have to get the Windex before your mom screams at you because she just cleaned this bathroom and what, were you raised in a barn?!

Seriously. In two weeks I've lost eleven pounds, fixed my plantar fasciitis that I've suffered through since January of last freakin' year, changed my self-image, love looking in the mirror, regained the ability to smile and laugh, and bought a punching bag.

Dude! Me! Meek little pacifist me. I talk a lot, because that's all I really need. Hate violence. Who needs it when you have the ability to reduce someone to their butthurt little inner child in ten words or less?

Well, unless you're a spider, in which case fuck you, I squish you dead.

But yeah, punching bag! Really great for the lats (mine were screaming bloody hell the next day, which was awesome), and really great for repressed rage. Lemme tell you, I thought that shit was buried so far down that only the cold tentacles of the Eldritch Gods would find it in the murk. Nope! One, two, three punches on that thing showed me a shallow, hastily-disguised trap door leading right to it.

Funny thing is, the more I unleash on that Everlast, the more familiar I get with all that formerly-buried shit, the happier and freer I become. I know this sounds like kindergarten "Duh!" type shit, but seriously, in twenty years I have tried just about everything you could think of. Anything that any number of counselors, articles in psych journals, self-help books, and doctors could think of. I thought I was going to have to either die with this shit festering, or live long enough to end up on the 6 o'clock news up in a bell tower with a sniper rifle.

Somewhere back there, I turned a corner. Somewhere back there, I finally learned how to say "fuck that shit" and stick to it. I've even stood up to my dad and very clearly said, "This is my boundary, and you may not cross it. Stop it." And I didn't retreat; he did. That was a transformative moment for me, lemme tell you. Since then, I haven't quivered even once in any sort of confrontation where before I would vibrate worse than those massage chairs they slam you in when you go get a deluxe pedicure.

Somewhere back there, I literally stopped caring about what they think, what they say, how I might come across. I stopped letting my obligations rule me. Hell, I stopped looking at them as obligations because the only fucking obligation I have is to Little Owl. My light, my life, my joy, my preschooler-going-on-teenager.

I used to love upheavals. They were my heaven crashing to the ground, burning the old to fertilize new growth. Somewhere, I stagnated. Somewhere, I gave away my power (again) and tried to be a good little homemaker and fit myself into the person I thought I wanted to be. The person I thought would make my inner child happy. The person I thought would recreate my home as a child with all of the Cleaver Family wonderfulness we used to have, without all the Married-With-Children and Three-Faces-of-Eve crap that went along with it.

Turns out that isn't who I am at all, no matter how good my brownies and sewing skills are. I realized my only responsibility is to be the best example for my daughter, to teach her what being a true, strong, courageous woman really is all about. And in order to do that, my highest duty, then, was to be absolutely true to myself and unafraid to own it. In fact, I'm now afraid to do any less, for fear of teaching her to limit herself.

When it was just me, I could be as weak-spined and full of shit as I wanted. But now those large, hazel eyes of Little Owl are looking up at me, and I can't afford to be anything less than the badass motherfucker I really am.

Holy shit. I'm rather awesome.


The Most Unlikely of Answers

I don't know how long I wandered.

There comes a time, when you are alone and wandering, when you realize you are lost. There is fear. Anxiety. Worry you will never find your way out. The unknown stretches before you. How long will you wander before you find your way out, or someone finds you? No idea.

Then the thought comes: Oh god, I'm going to be lost forever.

I think my fear of being "lost forever" has been one of the most powerful driving forces in my life.

How many times had I shown up for work at one of my many dead-end jobs and just been struck with that visceral clarity --when my ears buzzed with that high-pitched whine, my vision became superhumanly sharp, and time slowed almost to a full stop-- when I realized "Dear God, I'm going to be doing this for the rest of my life."

My responses to this realization have ranged from immediate resignation to frighteningly violent nausea.

I liken it to my other constant realization, one which has been so constant I can almost consider it a defining characteristic of my not-self: "This isn't who I am."

Whenever I stood quietly and let someone verbally abuse me. When I said, "no thank you" and my boundaries were violated anyway and I let them for the sake of peace and not looking like a tantrum-throwing brat because my graceful no was ignored. Whenever I was mistreated at work. Whenever I smiled and played along at stupid family gatherings for my spouse and realized nobody there gave a shit about who I was anyway. Whenever I cleaned, or cooked, ran errands, kept the house running smoothly, or did anything I could to warm the hearth in the home I was trying to build, and had to sit and listen to what a lazy, worthless piece of shit I was.

It's amazing how nearly identical the two feelings are. The only difference between the two is that the sharp, encompassing panic of "I'm going to be lost forever" has fermented over time into the quiet resignation of "This isn't who I am" when there is no visible escape.

Not a very enjoyable experience, this one. Looking about the ruins of my beloved Delenaland, I wondered which had brought it to ruin: the sharp and mindless panic, or the slow erosion of resignation?

Perhaps both?

Perhaps panic had blasted it apart, and erosion had caused the ever-present dust and the worn edges of the rubble.

As I sat there digesting these things I would've rather not faced, there was a flicker at the corner of my eye. I turned just in time to see a...shape...a blur, meld into a pillar. I raced after it.

"Hello? I know you're there!"


Two more days passed just like that, chasing something that wasn't there.

I was sitting in the fading light and singing softly to myself, trying to remember all the lyrics to Rhinestone Cowboy, when the faint scrape of dust on stone came to me from somewhere behind me and to the right. I ignored it and kept singing.

Well, I really don't mind the rain,
and a smile can hide all the pain.
But you're down when you're ridin' the train
that's taking the long way...

Again from the corner of my eye, I saw the stone take form. Or maybe form came out of the stone? Or maybe it just came out from its hiding place behind the stone. At this point I didn't care; it had evaded me for so long, I really couldn't remember how many weeks I'd been in the chamber.

I finished Rhinestone Cowboy and launched right into I've Got You Under My Skin. I was never very good remembering songs; I could hear the melodies of thousands of songs in my head. Once I heard it once, I knew it forever. But lyrics? Yeah right.

All these new songs I liked, I couldn't sing on my own worth a damn. The only ones I remembered were from when I was a kid, and later the Broadway and musical hits I'd performed in my show choirs.

So I ran through what I remembered. And I ignored that flicker at the very corner of my vision. And for some reason I sang what I could of Fire and Rain. About sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.

When I was done, the dark had almost completely fallen. I lay where I had sat all that time, knowing nothing would come out of the dark and attack; nothing had in all that time, and nothing would.

Daylight came a few hours later. Everything about me was still, as it had been every single day before. With nothing else to do, I got up to continue wandering, knowing that at some point I would come out of this "Holy crap, I'm lost" feeling into the "I'm not lost, I'm right here" mentality, where time and place forgot to be significant anymore.

About fifteen paces from where I had spent the night, there was a flat rock about two paces long and one wide.

And upon that flat surface was the first sign of life other than my own I had ever seen in this place: two narrow, oblong strips where the dust had been cleared. And by the edge, mirror images of a half-moon mark. Like prints in the dust.

Like butt prints in the dust, to be more precise. The half-moon marks were probably hand prints where my unseen company had rested their weight, fingers curled over the edge.

They were small, whoever they were. And they had sat so still there was no smudge in the prints. No shifted weight, no fidgeting. Just those perfect little butt prints.

I sighed. "How come I can never get the exciting stuff others get, huh? They get flaming bushes or talking birds, good fairies and unicorns. I get butt prints."




For every world through which we navigate on a daily basis --the worlds of spouses, of parents, the workplace, the patient, the artist-- there are two in which we exist simultaneously: the outward, literal world of the physical senses, and our version of it. However we interpret it is a world of its own.

So every day, there are hundreds of billions of worlds overlapping every moment of every day. 

I call mine Delenaland.

Not very original, I know, but there it is.

And Delenaland is built like a city of concentric circles, with a great outer wall and Out There beyond it. I reside, naturally, at its center. Not because I believe I am even the center of Delenaland --which I am not-- but because to be anywhere else would bring me closer at one side to the outer wall, which means anything in the Out There would have an easier time reaching me from that side.

Maximum protection, relying on the walls-within-walls that break up Delenaland into segments.

There is the Out There, where everything not Delena-approved resides. This includes strangers --both those with the potential to harm as well as friends I have not yet made-- as well as anything I have either rejected for the good of Delenaland or have not yet encountered.

Within the outer wall, passing through the first gate, are things like acquaintances whom I tolerate fairly well, people in my life I have no reason to reject (yet), concepts I might not agree with wholly but still recognize at least a spark of merit, and places I have visited at least once. Most things make it through the first gate and no farther.

This is okay.

If something or someone can prove its merit being a step above Tolerated, it moves within the second gate to The Somewhat Trusted. This is where fewer people reside, those who show they are trustworthy with the few bits and pieces I give them --over the course of two to three years, naturally. This is also where concepts reside that I now have an obligation to buy books and invest in further research, beginning the process of whether or not to incorporate it into my worldview. Concepts make it through the second gate fairly easily, particularly compared to people, for whom the journey takes years if they make it at all.

This is the place where most of my friends reside. They don't share in the innermost details of my life, but they know the general gist. They only gain access to information after it has become de-classified. Most will live out their lives here. At least until they fuck up. 

Through the third gate, and within the innermost wall, is the heart of Delenaland. It is a tiny cottage sitting within a hedge maze, and only those who already understand the secret of the maze solve it. This is where the gifted-yet-stupid ones get caught: merit enough to make it through the third gate, not enough wisdom, experience, or intelligence to comprehend how to get through the maze. For those who know, it is very simple.

Only one has been born within the heart of Delenaland: Little Owl. The other, the oldest resident, has been there so long she's watched the walls go up and remembers when the fortress-city of Delenaland was a rolling, open plain where all were welcome. She is my younger sister.

It is very, very rare that someone can travel from Out There to the cottage in less than ten years. In the history of Delenaland, one has made it in less than a year, and her miracle is because she came to the gates speaking the language of the city and taught me things about Delenaland I didn't even know. She is mother, aunt, sister, and friend, as well as surrogate grandmother to Little Owl. She's rather famous in Delenaland, though she laughs at the recognition, as only someone who could breeze through the gates would be.

Within the heart of Delenaland, nobody's place is ever secure until they pass the Twenty-Year Test. That is, they must maintain worthiness of dwelling in the cottage without betrayal for twenty years. The record so far is eighteen years. Of course, this was also back when the rules were much more lenient. The next closest record is five years.

Another thing about Delenaland: the gates only work one way. All exits lead Out There. There is no gradual falling from grace: there is only the immediate stripping of citizenship to Delenaland. Most times I don't even tell them they have been deported, either. Outwardly, nothing has changed. They just slowly begin to realize keys no longer work, the layout they used to navigate the cottage gets them lost, and I do things but they cannot see the external forces contributing to my actions.

To them, it suddenly seems as if I am talking, laughing, and dancing with thin air. What once made sense now resembles madness, and they call me a fool and they call me crazy. What they still don't see  --the poor idiots-- is that they are outside the gates and I am still perfectly sane.

I used to give countless chances for redemption. Then I began giving three. And then only two, because "everyone is entitled to make a mistake." At last, at long last, I have learned to give myself permission to not even wait for one transgression, but to heed my intuition and acknowledge the portents which herald a betrayal in the offing.

Some call these "red flags."

You see, the thing is, one of the greatest philosophies of Delenaland is that nobody who is worthy of earning passage through the third gate should be capable of the kind of crimes that earn swift response, and so the concept of "chances" should be a non-issue.

Some call me harsh for such swift and unequivocal judgment, as if I am not allowing people to "be human." These are also people who live with considerable amounts of shit and drama in their own lives. What they don't understand is that I allow people to be human all they want, but I can also dictate which behavior is accepted within my city. The sort of humans I want in the heart of Delenaland are not capable of narcissism, duplicity, or other base tomfuckery.

And while yes, the priestess acolyte within me recognizes the treasure in the trash and the bless├ęd, ecstatic numina within All Things, my inner vulture goddess also knows sometimes a thing's only numina is in its potential. Its only value is in the latent energy it offers as it waits to be devoured lest it rot and harbor disease.

Just as the vulture is a sacred converter, releasing the fermenting energies trapped within a corpse, some people's only value is in the lesson they provide of What I Don't Want to Resemble. Their energy has been expended, and any further time with them would only be hanging onto the corpse as it bloats beneath the sun.

Better to devour it as soon as it's dead, bless it, thank it for its inherent lesson, and move on.

What does any of this have to do with my journey within the dream incubation chamber?

Only this:
           As I navigated through the rubble and explored the terrain through the disconcerting days and nights within it, I became more and more convinced I was walking through the ruins of my own soul city.

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Night Falls on the Dream

Time doesn't work the same way in the dream incubation chamber as it does anywhere else.

There were no set days or nights, really. Shadows did not lengthen in the evening, nor did the sky brighten at noon. There was no noon, and no evening.

No morning, and no moon.

The sky just darkened, a slow dimming that was hardly noticeable until I realized I was squinting to make out things that had been easy only an hour or so earlier. Once I did notice it darkening, however, the light fell away in the blink of an eye.

In the absence of a moon and stars, there was a vague white-blue light with no source. It was just enough to see by, if one was very patient and sat to wait for their eyes to adjust.

Of course, that wasn't me.

I tripped over debris and skinned my knees. I bumped into pillars and walls until I finally found a sheltered corner to huddle in, my back pressed against the two sides as if that would be enough to protect me. For all I knew, Cthulhu's really pissed-off lapdog could be running around somewhere out there, or a really crabby tarentatek.

That would be fun.

Wishing for the priestess' ability to conjure fire with focus and the wave of a hand, I curled my arms around my legs, rested my head against the wall, and waited for light.

Perhaps I dozed, I don't know. All I know is I opened my eyes and it was a little easier to make things out.

That's when I saw them: eyes. Eyes, looking at me.

I blinked and they were gone.

I blinked again, rapidly as if trying to clear an eyelash out of my eye. They didn't return. Had I hallucinated?

Well, I was in a dream incubation. Technically, all of it is a hallucination.

Existential questions about perceptions of the mind all being hallucinations tried to distract me, but I rolled my eyes at my own inner narcissist taking herself way too seriously right now, and put it out of my mind.

Out of my mind. Ha.

It had happened so fast I almost didn't even realize what I was looking at. Eyes, right over there where a missing chunk of brick in the wall made a sort of window. And then nothing. Knowing that racing to the window would accomplish nothing, I got up and crept along the wall at my back until it tapered to nothing and followed the other side until I came around the backside of the corner where I'd spent the night.

I peeked around the corner. Nothing. Not that I was surprised, really. I followed along the other wall and around the opposite corner and peeked. Nothing. Even the ground right beneath the teenie window was undisturbed.


Searching my memory, I looked for any details that might've escaped me in the shock of seeing a pair of eyes in these ruins.

Both eyes had fit in this window, so I knew whoever it was had to be small. An adult head was too wide to look straight-on through the small hole. Aside from that, though, there was nothing else I could discern. In my memory, skin tone had matched the surrounding bricks, and it was too dark to pick out eye color or any other detail if, indeed, there had been anything else.

The height of the hole was high enough that I only had to bend over a little to peek through it. So...this being was either super tall and teenie --like some elongated alien-thing-- or it had other ways of getting around. But there were no signs of scuff marks on the wall, or of anything else around the area to give a hint as to how.

Not one.

By then, full light had brightened the ruins and the oppressive silence seemed less a thing alive. I knew better, though. And now I knew there was something else here with me.

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There is wisdom in Facebook

This just in, by me, on another friend's FB post about saying no.

"Perhaps, then, my goal should not just be to learn to say yes and no when and how I want, but to make sure I do not waver when the insensitive, narcissistic jerks of the world pressure me to serve their egos. And to be unafraid of the waves it'll cause."

Because I do. I cave in for the sake of peace, to be "Fix-It Girl," to make them happy at the expense of my self-respect, because I am able to compromise more than they are. Well, fuck it, and fuck them. If they can't hear my polite no, then I don't need to hear their petulant inner toddler.

My inner Vulture Goddess screeches her approval, and for now does not eat anyone's liver.


The Dream Incubation Chamber

As if being back on the grounds was not unsettling enough, I found myself stuffed inside the dream incubation chamber while still cold and dripping with snow.

"Wonderful," I muttered.

I cast about me, trying to get my bearings. There was light, but no real sun that I could see. It was just...light.

But not a bright and shining light. This was a vague and murky light, like the sun past noon on a foggy day after a raging brushfire. The light even shifted as if through smoke.

These were no ordinary ruins. If giants had built themselves a grand capitol and lived a thousand years in peace and prosperity, and then blown themselves to bits with smart bombs and avarice to find ten thousand years later, that would be this place.

The walls were too thick, the partial archways too high. The broken pillars staggered where they fell like so many of the remains at the Petrified Forest in Arizona. The same air of ancient completion hung heavy in the air, as if some great calamity had befallen this place so long ago and was now so completely over nothing would ever happen here again.

Everything had upon it a layer of grey dust. How massive was the destruction upon this ancient city that in some places no two stones sat one upon the other? In some places, only the fragmented side of a building still stood, or maybe part of a two-story building.

There was partial shelter, at least.

The silence was complete. I hated to take a step, my wet, bare feet making a soft crunching noise on the fine gravel and dust. It felt as if by making noise I would disturb the silence, and it would rise up and consume me.

A rock clattering against other rocks sounded off to my right, just behind me. In the silence, it was an avalanche.

I spun around. Only the rising dust told me anything had happened.

And then I felt eyes.

Though I was a returning supplicant to the Temple, I was still an acolyte. My skills and sensitivities were heightened, and I reached out with my senses.

Yes. There.

The subtle pulsating energies of a living body, the subtlest change of temperature in the air around me. Tiny eddies in the air as breath swirled in little currents. The smallest ripple in my surroundings.


I spun.


"I know you're there." It was a whisper. Even now, I hesitated to wake the silence.

Just what monsters had I brought with me into the chamber? Of all my inner demons, I had faced and slain the most prominent in the Inner Demon Tea Party and Imminent Fatal Gorge-Fest, where I had fed and fed and fed them until they ate themselves to death.

...But which had I missed?

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