If it's your turn to post a topic before the little four-day topic is up, post it anyway. This is just to assuage back-dating guilt and urges to skip sleep entirely when jet-lagged. Just write, already.
The matriarchial structure of the Order, largely a matter of convenience and logistical sensibility as the Patriarch of the realm was otherwise busy handling other organizations, nonetheless further heaped up evidence to the outsider that the symbol of the rose was merely a cosmetic nicety - a small-minded choice made by a small minded girl. It was only the centuries of history between such outsiders and the woman who had established the order that allowed such an injustice to her actual ability as a stateswoman, as a mage, and as a leader.
The symbol itself certainly touched upon the raw elegance of the flower, it's robust beauty, and it's proportioned, almost poetic shape. (Certainly the idealized stereotype of a Rose Mage had these traits as well, which required most of the public to ignore that there were male members of the Order as well.) Without these the order could've been called the 'Order of the Red Flower,' which didn't quite so well roll off of the tongue. The symbol itself included several other distinct aspects of it's token specimen, however, that were often ignored. The bloom itself was most certainly the centrepiece, even if the bloom itself were not centrally located. The simplicity of the five-petal shape held a certain bit of arcane symbolism in it, though this was largely accidental - more the design's clean lines and spartan symmetry were meant to remind the initiate that the simplest construction is responsible for the boldest and most revered of designs. The internally idealized Rose was a person of plain language, straightforward manner, and simple expression of self.
The stem of the order's Rose, rather than twining and twisting as many rose-based symbols were wont to do, was only slightly curving in it's path from the bloom in the top left of the field, to the bottom right of the field where it presumeably continued. The original artist found a way, mysterious as the order itself, to cut the stem off at the edge of the field without suggesting that the stem actually ended - another important part of the symbol. Even the awesome power and majesty of the rose, was supported by the thorny, basic root from which it sprang. Humility was not a popular trait in magi of the time, nor of the current time for that matter. This characteristic was one of the most distinguishing parts of the Order itself.
The thorns, often emphasized by other rose symbols were not stressed in the Order's version, though they were certainly present. It didn't take long for anyone who'd heard stories of the awesome destructive power for which the Order was famous to figure out what a thorn would likely mean - what they didn't expect was the defensive message within the symbol. Sure, a Rose Mage of any repectable rank could incinerate a few dozen foes in the span of time it took a conventional soldier to recieve and process the order to charge, but there was always stories of magi with such power running out of moral drive to not use such power. The only reason such tales persisted so often, and were re-told time and again was because such persons did exist, on a daily basis. The short-range, passive nature of the thorn reminded initiates to keep their tempers reigned in close to their stems - injuring only those stupid enough to carelessly impale themselves.
The stem itself was leafless, but abundant folliage made up the background of the field itself, carefully textured here and there whenever the symbol was fully represented. The background itself did not appear on many of the simpler versions of the symbol such as were used to sign and seal letters and such - but on this banner at the back of the hall it was brilliantly brought to a subtle sort of life in dark lines and rich forest greens. This was also more reminder that the rose was but the most prominent part of the plant-whole, and that the distinguishing characteristic of the mage - his ability to bend reality pretty much whenever he felt like it - was only healthy so long as the rest of the person was also similarly healthy. A blighted leaf blighted the whole plant. This, of course, meant that the Order frowned upon the customary forms of discipline such as denial of self that were popular in the more traditional Torban orders - but they weren't exactly as lax as the Elven Guilds either. Rose Magi were expected to eat well, exercise often, and live in society as normal persons did - and those who failed to maintain their health were dismissed from their arcane studies until they were deemed balanced and healthy enough to resume. This created a longer delay in Rose Magi achieving rank, compared to the Collegium, Guilds, or other Orders but the focus, for the Rose, was the self and the art as a tool, rather than the art, and the self as a tool.
Not depicted, but equally important, was how pervasive roses really were. And in truth, the occupation had demonstrated - here in this room most of all - that this was true of the Order. Roses could be found in all kinds of climates, in all kinds of soils, and in all manner of colors and patterns - each adapted to its unique home. Even the destruction of the once-iconic Evardeen had not done away with the Order.
There would still be a hope to liberate the homeland after all.
to gather together,
a picture is taken -
a token from O.
For food we are waiting
on H with the whiting
and A with the slaw
because O was too slow.
Envious N frowns
at devious D
as she steps in
the pee from his pet.
D's dog has its tail
cooling off in a pail
as it sings of a singe
that it won't soon forget.
A has just crashed
and U has been crushed
by the weight that S
weighs on T's scale,
which upset the still
that K balanced with skill,
which spilled hooch on the pooch
and burned off its tail.
Partying Y is now
parting for home,
and U puked in the sink
and it sunk.
L has since split
and now I could just spit
'cause I sipped from
the drink that U drunk.
M paid for a maid
for the fire, and I'll hire
a plumber before I get
much needed slumber.
The litter a letter leaves
around on the ground...
Next week's party
should be a real number.
...in other words
and hide it
or they'll smell it
for my compulsion
trace the line
define its definition
my position is unchanged
they've been tipped
the muzzle slipped
It's like impotence, you know? You're there, trying to make something really simple happen, like shaping your mouth around the flow of air out your mouth, and the harder you're trying, the less you actually accomplish. Everything extends into a hiss, or a pop-pop-pop, and all of a sudden there's a spotlight on you. It's just air; it shouldn't be this big a deal. But it is. And now, thanks to the relative anonymity of the Internet, you know one more embarassing story about me.
Air is all around me. It's close enough to vacuum to be,
but not enough for me, not for me.
So they say -
Air is pressing at my figure. It's softer than things that are soft -
feathers, blankets, whispers, grazes, and it burns, it burns.
In, out. In, out:
Air is there underneath my mind. Below the conscious, below the
hollering yelling screaming that is all the time, all the time.
It will be there tomorrow, so -
Air is nothing, it is something. An argument, a cigarette, a sex toy,
another time, a curve, a curve, a curve.
Today's topic: Air.
Today, rightshu will not be in a place where he can post a topic until after 7pm, so he asked me to post the following topic for him: weather. Have at it!
- The Psychic Newsprint slid slowly off the page and onto the toddler's pajamas. Its time had finally come.
- "Miss Halverson! Bring me my lunch time martini, and a fresh diaper! The European markets are about to close and I can't find my binky!"
- As little Timmy looked dejectedly at the classifieds, he realized that he was only qualified to mop the floors in a research lab. I knew I shouldn't have gotten my "degree" at DeVry, he thought.
- My parents had an unorthodox method of potty-training me. They forced me to put down newspapers, took my diapers away, and blasted air-horns at me when I soiled the floor. To this day, I can't open the Wall Street Journal without feeling the urge to poop. -- Dolly, Memoirs
- The warm glow of his skin illuminated the room, even though it was 3:30 in the morning, and he was reading the newspaper aloud while simultaneously translating the articles into Pashtu. "Thel," he said, "I told you we shouldn't adopt a kid from Chernobyl."
One of the things I learned was unexpected. You see, my plan was to do an exploratory cut-down latitudinally, across the short axis of my arm, so that I could find the radial artery, then cutting it longitudinally to ensure that the damage couldn't be repaired.
So I drew a hot bath, sat down in the water, gritted my teeth, held the knife to my wrist, and tugged. The first cut was like fire, opening up the skin and exposing the subdermal fat layer. Well, I reasoned, the skin is where most of the pain receptors are. The rest of this shouldn't hurt much at all, now. This, as it turns out, was whistling in the graveyard.
The subcutaneous fat layer went fairly easily: yellow, shiny, a little greasy. It actually was a lot like the chicken fat you see at the knob of the thigh. It slid aside pretty well, and I had to cut through muscle beneath that. This was just as painful as it sounds. Muscle is much tougher to cut than skin or fat, and it hurts to cut through it, especially when your knife isn't as sharp as it could be, because the fibrous tissue runs from the blade.
Eventually, though, I was through everything else, and when I rinsed the blood from capillary and small venous bleeds away, I could see glistening white bone, and near it, the radial artery, twitching with a surprisingly pronounced motion. Then, and here's the really crazy thing, I repeated the whole process with my right wrist (this time with the blade in my left hand, which meant that the cuts weren't as clean).
After opening both wrists to the bone, I took the knife in my right hand, slid the point under my radial artery, and raised it up a little, almost flush with my skin. It was agonizing to do this, but I was fascinated by the pale-pinky look of the blood vessel. I realized that I didn't want that motion to stop, so I called 911 for help, and the rest of it was an ABC after-school special.
Still, with all the things I learned that day ("don't fucking try to kill yourself" topping the list), one thing that really stands out is the fact that I have a higher tolerance for pain than I initially thought. You see, my father always told me that I was a bit of a sissy, and couldn't take even a little bit of discomfort. Performing exploratory surgery on my own arms showed me that I could stand up to the pain if I wanted it badly enough; I've kept the scars as a testament to that.
Well and truly, proper fucked.
Forget the 'WTF Mate' nuclear war. We're not that stupid.
What we are, however, is unmotivated. We really don't think for the long term at all. The same psychology that has the overwhelming bulk of us growing older without a retirement savings has the whole of us consuming, polluting, and paving with reckless abandon without wondering how we're going to be able to keep doing this ten years from now.
It's not anything that can be fixed, either. See, even if you and I suddenly become the most ecologically conservative people in the world? That still leaves, at latest estimates, about six billion six hundred twenty thousand six hundred sixty seven ninety six other people who will fuck it up for us.
Even if a few hundred thousand of us... hell, even if thirty million of us (a very large city) suddenly grew a brain we'd still be fucked. Our futures ruined by the collective will of humanity.
So enjoy the ride. It goes up, it goes down, and while the end is a bit rough, it's not so bad right now, and right now is all people give a damn about.
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.Back in high school, when I was living with my mother, I looked forward to my 18th birthday like it was some sort of perverse pivot point around which my life would do a perfect pirouette, turning me precisely 180 degrees away from how miserable I felt at the time, towards some undefined happiness.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When, in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes which impel them to the Separation.
My mother and I had a tenuous, uncomfortable relationship. She didn't know what to do with me - a straight-A kid whose biggest troubles were lack of friends and disdain for the lack of academic rigor in my school. My sister - a midling student with an alcohol tolerance most college binge-drinkers would kill for and a penchant for calling from the police station (though in fairness, usually because she accompanied friends who'd been picked up) - she was more mom's speed. Mom had been there. She knew how to handle those kinds of problems.
I couldn't respect her. On top of the not-knowing-what-to-do-with-me thing, she was addicted to a variety of substances, a couple in the legal range but most not even close. There were nights (and hell, days) I'd be afraid of her - either because she was acting threatening, or because her behavior on the cocktail of drugs and alcohol she self-prescribed caused her judgement to be potentially fatally lacking. I woke up in the middle of the night once to find a sinkful of vomit and both electric skillets plugged in and up, full blast; she could have burned down the house, no joke. One fourth of July, I didn't hear from her until four in the morning. She called, tearful because the police had caught her fighting in public with her boyfriend, and she was very high - if they decided to arrest her and drug test her, she'd be in deep shit. I drove the fifty miles to pick her up, and it was stiff-upper-lip time for me while she cried, either too high, too embarassed or too sorry for putting me through that to refuse my questions about her addictions.
I didn't respect her, and yet she was in a position of authority over me. That fact drove me completely insane. I remember, about a month before my 18th birthday, my mother said to me, "You're going to be 18 soon."
"I am," I told her, and rattled off the specific number of days until that would be the case.
She suddenly looked wounded. "You don't have to sound so happy about it," she said. The air was suddenly very heavy, and so was the subtext. What have I ever done to you? her eyes asked. And I know I just looked back at her as if to say, Are you stupid? You can't be surprised that I'm happy to be leaving.
I needed to be free of her, and if I'd had to write a formal declaration of my grievances, I could have at any time. And she knew it.
That summer, after I graduated from high school, I went to live with friends. I returned to live with her to get my affairs in order before college, then ran off less than a month later again to a school far, far away from her. Because of the way all of the college funding options work, though, I was technically still a dependent of hers.
Until four months later, when I got married.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.But I wasn't really independent then, either. I got married a month before I turned 19 - almost to the day. Looking back on it, the beginning of my relationship with my husband was sort of a train wreck. This time, the problem was me. I hadn't had a great friend - someone I could really count on - since elementary school. I'd never had an in-person date. My ideas about sex all came from the one previous experience I'd had. I was co-dependent as hell, completely insecure, and so unsure of myself that I appeared to many people to have no personality at all - I was so scared that if my husband (or anyone else) saw anything real about me, they'd leave.
These things take time to work through. My husband helped me get through that, my biggest fear - that I could scare him off by showing him who I was, or at all, for that matter. He stayed. I grew. It was good.
But at the same time, I started doubting the choices that had lead me to him. I knew I'd been co-dependent. I knew I'd been desperate for someone - anyone! - to accept me. I also knew that the path that I was on was not the one I'd chosen for myself before I'd gotten married; college plans were on hold, my job was dead-end, I wasn't pursuing anything I really wanted.
"Sam," I told him, one day, "This is going to sound terrible, and I want you to know it doesn't mean I want to leave you, but... I sometimes wish I'd had some time before I met you to get a little bit of me figured out."
I think I remember him being hurt, on some level. In all honesty, at that point I was at something of an emotional low because I wasn't pursuing any of my long-term interests; I did think fleetingly that leaving him would be nice, for some alone time.
I was wrong.
Somewhere along the way, since I've been out on my own and started taking responsibility for pursuing my own goals, I've figured out a few things. The first is that you don't always have to cut and run. My mother and I get along well, today. She's made a lot of choices that I think were bad, and a lot that I think were particularly bad in the light of her responsibility to her children, but that's a long time past, now. She's just a woman, now - great personality, tough as nails, too many scars and just enough self-awareness to keep her out of trouble.
The second is that being independent does not mean being alone. I sometimes wonder how different a person I'd be today if I'd never met Sam, but the idea that I could be better without him is one that hasn't occured to me in years. He's only enriched my life.
Independence can be had, even when your life is intimately intertwined with that of others. All that is required is strength of conviction, willingness to speak, willingness to act, and most of all, willingness to recognize when not to compromise.
It's more often than you think.
"Most of the 34th's armor will be on top of us by tomorrow afternoon," Luis reported listlessly. "I'd say we can expect them to pour through the eastern approaches, tanks up front, and just ride right on up to the gates. I mean, it's not like we have anything that could do more than give the crews a headache - those Abrhams might as well be indestructible for all we've got to throw at them."
It was the truth, too; but that didn't make it any more palatable. The 34th had allowed at least three platoons of main battle tanks be spotted on their way here from their distant camp - a camp far enough out that it took considerable resources to reach them by jeep and by salvaged pickup truck, but close enough that their AH-64s could've simply incinerated this whole valley if they'd so chosen. Bill wrote the fact that they didn't off to the scarcity of missiles and 30 milimeter shells, rather than any actual courtesy being extended to him by the remenants of Uncle Sam's weekend warriors.
This was the new reality of the world, when the chaos began, it looked like the police and national guard would've been enough to keep order but it only took a couple of years for infastructure to simply begin to fall apart faster than the military could keep it together. A cartoon published in one of the last newspapers to go offline, showed then-dictator General Hardy desperately trying to keep a New York skyline (which was made entirely out of wobbly stacks of fine china) upright while they spilled right over the top of him. No caption had been needed.
The whole thing wound up being self-fulfilling. The artist was incarcerated for Contempt, then died mysteriously. The rioting which had up until that point been a commonplace, almost daily occurance, became both pandemic and constant. Even the mighty military of the USA couldn't keep all those people at bay and still maintain control - there was just too much angry meat to kill, and not enough willing bullets to do the killing. Desertion quickly swept through the nation's defenders as orders became too desperate, too extreme, and the continent was polarized into those who had big guns, and those who hadn't. For a while, those who hadn't just hid and ran, and those who had fought their own civil war - an ugly affair given that both sides knew each other so well. Many factions tried to care for the civillians cought in the crossfire, but ultimately the battle was won by the side most willing to do whatever it took to survive - including feeding off of the civillian's meager attempts at rebuilding. It wasn't long before the polite soldiers were long extinct in any sufficient quantity to matter.
For the next few years the forces that were left spent the time quietly consolidating their new territory. At best estimates, 25% of the old USA was back under control of roughly six faction, each of which claimed to be THE legitimate American government. Of course, not one of them included anyone who'd survived from the Congress, or the Executive. (The courts had been amoung the first casaulties.) Two members of Congress had gotten together and formed a seventh faction, in Philadelphia no less, which held the most obviously consistent claim to the title 'American Government Reborn' but with nothing more than a few thousand partisans with bolt-action rifles and IEDs, it lasted all of a week according to survivors.
The only saving grace of the whole situation was that each of the six 'generals' (it was doubtful any of them had actually been promoted to the rank save by their own doing) were so convinced of their own superiority and soveregnty that they wound up in a stalemate, constantly having to vie against each other. Else they'dve long ago consumed the ashes of the old republic and built their own M.I.C. vision for the new one.
"I need thirty volunteers, in squads of five, sub machine guns, IED satchels, field kits and bush trained. The rest should prep the fields to be burned and salted, and the evacuation of the noncoms."
"Thirty on Three thousand, Bill? Why even bother?"
"These bastards don't want our crops, we offered to trade it to them for weapons and medicine. They don't want this land, they wouldn't know how to use it anyway. They just want control, they want /us./ And so long as we remain free, we're an insult to them and their whole way of life. So long as their missiles and choppers and tanks can't keep us in chains, they live in fear of losing their grip on the world."
"So.... we should just run, why the thirty?"
"Because if we just run, eventually we'll trip and they'll pounce."
"But if we feed ourselves to them thirty at a time we politely save them from the indigestion of eating us all at once?"
"Hey! I'm the metaphor junkie here, you go back to being cynical and pratical. I just can't let them destroy everything we've built here without making it cost them. Our food for their boys, that's the trade they want? Fine. I'll take their blood."
"You realize you're just a little psycho right?"
"If I'm wrong? You've my permission to shoot me."
All people travelling to England are encouraged to rub salt in a 200+ year old wound. When the customs agent asks you if you have anything to declare? Just puff up your chest and say "My Independence."
just to keep the scent of him around you during the day
He's borrowing alibis from air
Getting off early just for one more passion play
Every meeting finds another thing to share
And sharing a breath propels you somewhere, up, midair
If you think it can't happen, sugar, sit and listen for awhile
I'm here to teach you about a new way to love someone
More than something in common, something communal
All you have to do is borrow and run
(This is going to be a song, once I can sing. Fucking laryngitis.)
I still remember the first time. It was about a month after His death. I don't remember the exact date, but you can look it up in the papers.
The girl would have died if He hadn't borrowed. The man had already bloodied her lip and broken her wrist, and he wouldn't have stopped. But I was there, and so was He. And He borrowed me, and He made it right.
She had so little, and what she had was so wrong. And He returned more than she had before. Before, she had a life of fear; now, she has a life of hope. Before, she had her husband's addictions, and now she has his life insurance money, and a chance to start over.
Before, she had her husband's life. Now, she has a new life growing inside her. One that does not beat her, one that does not spend her life's blood on drugs. And one that is truly of her, not trying to make her its own.
I wouldn't have even seen them if He had not borrowed my eyes. Even if I had, I wouldn't have had the courage to act, if He had not borrowed my heart. And I never could have borrowed life, or returned life, had my life not first been borrowed.
But it has come to an end. They say I committed crimes. Crimes, they call them -- something they never were, even had they been mine to commit. Tomorrow I am to die, and He will not borrow again. I once wept at the thought, for there is so much still to borrow, and so much more to return. But tonight, He borrowed my heart one last time, and returned it full.
So although I know you must go, I'd like to ask one last favor.
I'd like to borrow something from you.
"I borrowed it."
The magic 8-ball tells me that all signs point to...
Magic 8-ball also says that I'll get my backlog of posting done eventually. Sorry, guys.
See, it was a story what done me in, way back when. I heard an old woman telling a story much like this one. I was young and full o' piss 'n vinegar, like we all was back then, and here was this old woman natterin' on about curses. I wasn't the type to barely pay her no mind at the time, but there was this feelin' like I should listen anyways, so I did.
Well, she told us about when she was a young'n, listenin' to an old woman telling a story, and how she was tranz-fixered her own self. Then she told of her life, travelling from town to town, telling stories what needed the tellin'. She said she'd go to a town and tell some stories and move on, eating what food they was kind enough to give her, and then move on to the next. Then she'd make a circuit back to the beginning. Sometimes when she'd visit a town she'd been in before, they'd tell her they was too poor to help her out again, and she'd move on by to the next town. Then come the next season, when she'd circuit on through agin, she'd find out about horrible befallin's in them towns.
Well, it wasn't 'til this happened a whole mess o' times over a whole mess o' years that she started gettin' a glimmerin' over what was transpirin'. See, the stories what she was gone tell, was the things what happened to the people! The town what was suppose ta hear the story of Jonathan and the Well had a sickness that came from poisoned well water! The town what was suppose ta hear about the Flame Girl burned to the ground! The town that would of been tole a horrifyin' tale about an ecscaped loony tick - well... there's some'll chalk that up to a bad crop o' rye, but when the people starts murderin' one each other in their very own beds until most everyone's dead, it leaves quite an impression, I tell you what. It was that there inceedent what made her start puttin' two an' two together.
So she realized that she'd done got the old woman's curse. These was the types of things the old woman had talked about all them years gone. She started realizin' that she ain't never wanted to be a storyteller before she'd heard the old woman talking, and after that it seemed the most natchurl thing in the world to want to tell stories. Then it seemed like the stories was simply achin' to be tole. She'd know just what story wanted to be tole each night... and on the nights when she didn't get to tell that story, something frightful would happen. So she wandered on and on, making sure to tell her stories every night, just to keep 'em from gettin' loose and reekin' havoc and whatnot. But she never tole her own story until the night I met her. Then, you know what she did? She up 'n died, she did! Right after tellin' her story. The ole bitch just keeled on over and croaked.
So, now it's your turn. I'm sorry I had to do this to you, but I'm powerful tired of this world 'n my curse. It's your turn now. Go on 'n make sure to tell the stories what wants the tellin', cause they'll find their way to be tole, with or without you... it's just a mite less painful if you does the tellin'.
And now, it's time for me to go.
"You're kidding, right?" she asked.
He shook his head. "I believe we could make a good bit of money on this deal."
She made a face. "Sure, but how many weeks of prep would it take? Not to mention the thing about the police not catching us afterward."
"Oh, surely you're overreacting," he protested. "It's a simple proposition, really."
"No," she replied positively. "A simple proposition would be 'let's go have sex.'"
A slow flush crept up his neck. "Oh, come now. You needn't be vulgar about it."
She sighed. And made a mental note: Yeah, okay. I'll need to be even less subtle next time.