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Hard Lessons Lately — We Ain’t Learning

BACKSLIDE

In less than two weeks, Minion and I will be celebrating 4 years of marriage.  Though, really, it still feels like every day is already a celebration for us.  I guess in that respect, most folks would probably consider that makes us effectively still newlyweds.  And maybe we are.  I don’t know when that feeling wears off, but maybe it’s the side benefit of marrying your best friend, the person you’re most comfortable with, and the one you most want to spend all your time with.  If that’s the case, maybe it will always feel that way for us.  I hope so.

But we haven’t done much to make a big deal about our anniversaries since the first one.  That year, my gift to him was a “Congratulations, Papa!” Father’s Day card along with a copy of my test results, showing “we” were becoming three.  I don’t think I’m going to be able to top that for a while.  And, of course, every anniversary since has been with a little one in tow, and not a lot of time or sleep in our lives, so we just haven’t been making that big of a deal about them.

Our 2nd anniversary — our first with Firebird — was the first time someone in public mistook us to be our baby’s grandparents.  It won’t be the last, I’m sure.  Not much we can do about that, though, except to laugh at ourselves, and be grateful Firebird keeps us young at heart.


In some respects, I feel like being married has changed so much about me.  Not just in the sense of who I am now, but even who I thought I was.  I don’t think I realized before how much “sex appeal” had been such a vital element of my own sense of self.  And, I’m not saying I can’t be sexy anymore — it just isn’t as important these days as it once was to even bother to try.  I guess maybe I don’t come across like an obvious “catch,” now that I’ve been caught.  I have Minion to thank for that, and I make sure I do.  Often.

Minion thinks I’m sexy.  He calls me his “Pretty Mama,” after the
Eagles hit, “One of These Nights. He says he always felt a connection to that song, searching for that woman in white, and he found her, in me.  That’s as sexy as I ever need to be.  These days I don’t have to care what anyone else thinks about my sex appeal.  Minion’s opinion is enough for me.



Minion naturally creates a nice “safety buffer” between me and the rest of man-kind.  I like that.  I’m so grateful not to have to be “out there” in the meat market of the single life.  When I was dating, I wouldn’t say I had a great perspective on men in general.  I imagine that’s fortunate, because if I had, I’m sure the perspective wouldn’t have been favorable.  At all.

But you can’t really judge an entire gender based on the limited frame of reference you get in pools of options available to ladies seeking male companionship.*  (*And even gals who are not, as prowlers and players are not great at “staying in their lane,” and many seem to think all women are “fair game.”)  I expect the types of men most women are constantly barraged by “out there” are most likely not the best cross-section of the male of the species to fairly represent men as a whole.  Or at least, one would hope not, anyway.

I contend, if you’re looking to settle down (for the record, I wasn’t, and didn’t think I ever would, when I did), you’re better off looking a little closer to home than putting yourself “out there.”  Lifelong partners are best made from lifetime friends, and “out there” is a crazy place.  You’d think most men must see themselves as hammers, the way they act like their primary function is pounding, and every woman just needs to get nailed.


I’ve never formally come out and said
# metoo, partially because I’m not looking for sympathy, partially because I don’t want to be seen as just as statistic, but mainly, to some degree, because I figure it pretty much goes without saying.  If you’re living as a woman, in this culture, we can probably all just safely assume # metoo, in some respects.  And then some, for some of us.

I won’t go into details.  They aren’t relevant now.  But it was enough to have impacted my development, my adolescence, my adulthood, and possibly even my perspective on my place in this world.  That kind of trauma can be consequential enough to significantly color every aspect of your life.  It was enough to have created deep-rooted, inveterate patterns, putting out signals like a homing beacon alerting victimizers, manipulators, gaslighters and abusers to take advantage.  Enough that those patterns were difficult to break free
from.  Enough that I lost at least 15 years of my life to trying.  Enough that breaking free took getting into my 40s, and finding someone exactly opposite of everything I’d ever been drawn to.  Even enough that when I was pregnant, I desperately wanted a girl.

That’s why Minion and I determined we had to know beforehand.  I was so emotionally invested in having a girl, it was imperative I find out with enough time left in advance to become enamored with the idea of bringing a man-child into this world.  I figured if there was any chance I was going to be disappointed, I didn’t want it to be on the day I delivered our bundle of joy.  Shortly after I got the news, when I was still trying to adjust to it, I had some private time with my Mom, who helped me to put everything in the right perspective.

Mom asked me why I wanted to have a girl.  I told her, because this world is so complex to navigate for little girls, and even still more so for women, I wanted to be able to help guide my baby from infancy through the danger zone of culturally institutionalized social conditioning, chauvinism and misogyny she could not escape, into becoming a strong, independent young woman able to stand up for herself and make her own way in life.  I wanted to be the force that would protect her, the way I hadn’t been — the one that saved her from having to endure what I went through.

What my Mom told me in response that day changed my life.  She said, “Honey, if you bring up a little boy to become a strong, independent, kind and loving, respectful young man able to think for himself and stand up for what he believes, even when it goes against the flow... you’ll save a lot of little girls.”  In that moment, I began to realize some small semblance of scope of the magnitude that task truly carries.  I cried tears of relief and gratitude then, for having been raised by such a wise and loving maternal figure.  And from then on, I could hardly wait to get to work on what will surely be the greatest responsibility of my life.


Pregnancy is an emotionally turbulent time, but the issues looming before you are immense, and even without hormonal upheaval, it shouldn’t be any surprise when your reaction to them becomes overwhelming.  I remember the day I was on my way to work, about six months along, when I had to pull over on the side of the road just to cry, because, during one of the many “conversations” I had regularly with my internal mini me while driving, I realized, I was absolutely, completely, totally, head-over-heels, madly, crazy, bonkers-in-love with the tiny little creature growing inside me — my sweet little baby boy.




Last week, a billionaire investment guru at a wealth management summit lost a $6M contract to backlash and outcry over disgusting sexist comments and other generally offensive remarks, when a number of CEOs in attendance were willing to break the secretive code of silence at the exclusive event in order to expose his crude behavior as unacceptable.

I’ll say that again.

People of power at a Billionaire Boys Club summit banded together to draw a line in the sand and say,

This is not okay,”

. . . about one of their own.


It’s historical.  Groundbreaking.  Momentous.

It’s inspiring, and potentially a positive catalyst for change.


But even so, sadly, it’s only barely a drop in the
bucket.


A brave 16-yr-old girl stands up before the United Nations to say, “
How dare you” to a collective of powerful leaders more concerned with maintaining the wealth of antiquated fuel sources than about its impact on this planet, or the health and well-being of our children.  She is mocked, ridiculed, and threatened with violence and even death for speaking the truth, by the types who believe god would never allow his people to have a negative impact on their surrounding environment in the land he promised to them.  She speaks of science, and the need for change for the future.  They attack her looks, her clothes, her behavior, and her mental health.

This is not okay.


Leading this affront is the Gossamer-In-Chief, who left the climate summit to attend a gathering of religious zealots seeking government sanctioned “freedom” to impose their version of morality on this abomi-nation.  Whether or not they will be granted the power to exercise their “right”
to restrict and deny the basic rights of others will be determined by a group of conciliators as divided as their domain.  They are supposed to represent the best among us, blameless and above reproach.  But their number includes members confirmed amid the scandal of sexual assault, where actions spoke louder than words, and told the world, it’s not that we don’t believe brave women willing to speak up — it’s just that we don’t care.

This is not okay.


This
month, a former white police officer was sentenced to prison for killing an unarmed black man in his home.  He was sitting on his couch, eating ice cream.  One might be tempted to call a singular case of accountability in an ocean of impunity a promising breakthrough.  But two days later, the principal witness in that case was shot and killed, execution style, in the mouth — a tactic generally reserved for snitches.

Just yesterday, not 35 miles from the same spot, an unarmed black woman was
shot to death in her home by a white cop.  Shed been up late playing video games with her 8-yr-old nephew.  Police had been dispatched to her location in response to a wellness check, based on a report from a concerned neighbor that her front door was open.  In Texas.  In 70 degree heat.

This is not okay.


Stories like this make me want to close my eyes and wake up from a nightmare, to believe these things dont happen in the land of the free, that they would never happen here.  But thats not the reality we live in.  So we have to be prepared.


Our mixed-race boy will grow up having been firmly ingrained to uphold the laws of the land, and always keep your nose clean.  And when you’re unsure, when you’re scared, when you need help, reach out to your family, your friends, your neighbors, your community, your own.  Folks who get you will be there to support you.  But whatever you do... never, ever call the cops.

This is not okay.




We’re making some progress, I won’t discount that.  It just isn’t enough.  Not by a long shot.  Not when for every ounce of ground we gain, regressive forces are working to oppose justice, inclusiveness, and the basic human right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

These days, it feels like every time we wake up, some new
societal corruption has arisen to pivotally drive home the point that our rights don’t matter.  The law doesn’t matter.  Women don’t matter.  Our children don’t matter.  Love doesn’t matter.  Science doesn’t matter.  The environment doesn’t matter.  Sanity, reason, logic, and critical thinking do not matter.  The future doesn’t matter.  Humanity doesn’t matter.  None of us matter.



We’ve got a lot of issues in front of us right now.  Really.  The world is a mess.

The road to fixing it is not going to be easy.


But when, finally, titans of industry are willing to take on and fight with other titans, that’s a good start for all of
us.  And perhaps, even, in a world where the illusion of wealth and the power to maintain it is more important than anything else, and nothing makes sense anymore, maybe a battle between giants is the only way to ever achieve real change.  So maybe we need to keep making them take notice.


Keep
speaking your mind.  Even if your voice shakes.  Keep them paying attention.

Let them know we are the
majority.  We are outraged.  And this is not okay.


It’s a deplorable tragedy that we as a people have regressed to still be fighting the same great battles hard fought for in the 60s over basic human rights.  Back in the days when protesters were crusaders for peace and love, and champions of the oppressed, and Peter Paul and Mary immortalized, “
If I Had a Hammer,” it seemed then like there was hope for the future.

And yet, here we are.

Again.  Still.

So, if I want my son to grow up in a world worth living in, I’ve got to pick up my hammer and get to work.  Because everywhere I look, everything’s a nail.


We’ve got a hammer of justice
We’ve got a bell of freedom
And we’ve got a song to sing
about the love between our brothers and sisters
All over this land.



LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 3 - Topic: EVERYTHING LOOKS LIKE A NAIL
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Casualties of Contact

MOMENTUM

I have brain damage.

Don’t laugh, I know it comes across like a joke, and I can be pretty lighthearted about it at times, but I’m not kidding.  On March 6th of the year 2000, a Ford F250 carrying a trailer tried to pass me on the left before I was able to complete a left turn.  Evidence at the scene shows the driver wasn’t even braking, he was actually accelerating.  Presumably to get past me.  On the left.  As I was turning left.

I don’t remember the impact.  I don’t even remember the truck.

It was a bright, crisp, sunny Minnesota spring morning — one that should have been the start of my first day at a new job.  I’d been hired to be the office manager of an apartment complex in Brooklyn Park (which I did become — a few days later than originally planned).  A 2BR unit came with the position, so I was scheduled to settle into the community, but as I hadn’t moved yet, and I’d already given up my old studio, I had been staying with my ex for the weekend.  This would be my first time driving to the job from his location.  I’d left his townhome in time to be there, with traffic, about 20 minutes before my schedule began.

This was before everyone had GPS at their fingertips.  I had a cell phone at the time, but not as many of them were as smart then as they are now, so I’d printed out a Google Maps set of directions to show me the way.  I hadn’t memorized the steps, though, and you can’t really very well consult a paper while you’re driving.

I made a wrong turn.

I realized right away I was headed in the opposite direction, but quickly saw a wayside stop to my left I could turn around in, so I signaled, checked my mirrors, looked over my shoulder, and began my turn.  I had no idea what was coming for me.  It all happened so fast, I never even saw it.


The 250 in Ford F-250 stands for 2.50, or 2½ tons.  That’s towing capacity.  The actual weight of the vehicle itself is 10,000 pounds, or 5 tons.  Add to that a trailer, minimum weight of 1,000 pounds, and whatever its load was, up to 1,500 pounds (the remaining balance of the 2.5 ton towing capacity, minus the trailer), and you have anywhere from 11,000 – 12,500 pounds bearing down on me at greater than 40 miles per hour.  (I suppose I should be grateful it wasn’t a higher speed road, or I might not be here to tell this story.)

At the pace a Cheetah runs, I was shot by a 6-ton bullet of heavy duty metals and raw power.

I was in a Ford Escort.  I never stood a chance.

The impact folded my car in half.  The frame closed in on top of me, splitting my head open, leaving an 11-inch gash from the top of my skull to the base of my left ear.  It took 18 staples to hold my scalp together, and, as I understand, it took 6 police officers to hold me down while they did it.

I wouldn’t know.  I wasn’t really there.


You see, the brain is a funny thing.

You may have heard it said about humans that when threatened, all of us have a natural animal instinct for either fight or flight.  If you ever want to find out which one you are, all you really need is a good hard knock to the noggin, and then to somehow get the idea you’re in danger.  Trust me, it won’t take much to convince you at that point.  Effectively, a major head trauma, or traumatic brain injury (TBI), if it’s severe enough, can cause you to become, well... feral.  Anyone or anything that comes at you is perceived as a threat, and you respond to that threat based on instinct only, according to your natural inclination towards fight or flight.

Turns out, I’m a fighter.

If you’ve ever pricked your scalp, you know how much protection the brain gets not just from being in the helmet of your hardened skull, but also from the cushion of blood surrounding it.  Ever seen the movie Carrie?  Yeah, it was like that.  I was mostly only bleeding from the head, but I was covered in so much blood, it was impossible to know for sure where all of it was coming from.

Emergency procedure for first responders in a crisis situation involving blood loss is to secure the patient, and begin cutting clothes off, to minimize further muscle and/or bone damage and/or blood loss, and to determine the source of the bleeding so as to begin to stop it.  I was strapped to a gurney, and ratcheted down at 4 points, while the EMT diligently tended to my wounds.


***I don’t remember any of this, mind you.  If I’d been in a position to remember it, I would have had some presence of mind about what was happening to me, I could have been spoken to like the rational adult I am, and I could have been made to understand I needed to be still and cooperate, to let the people trying to help me do their jobs so I could heal properly.  That wasn’t where I was in the moment, though.

I was an animal being attacked, and fighting my attackers tooth and nail.  Six police officers had made sure I couldn’t move, and then secured me safely in the ambulance.  I don’t think it took six because I’m that strong, although the body has incredible adrenaline reserves, and can be stronger than any of us could imagine in the right circumstances.  But I suspect it took that many hands to keep me steady so I wouldn’t be hurt.***


Because I couldn’t move my arms and legs, but was still frightened and combative, I aggressively landed the only blow I had left open to me.  With my teeth.  On the medical attendant’s arm.

He could have smacked me, he could have held me at bay, he could have taped my mouth shut.  But he was otherwise occupied.  Trying to save my life.

He didn’t know there weren’t any other major damages, or that he wouldn’t uncover a limb concealed by my clothing and find a bone sticking out.  He just knew I was absolutely drenched in blood from head to toe and he only had seconds to make sure it was stopped as quickly as possible.  From his perspective, the clock was ticking, and he never lost focus.

Not when I bit him.  Not when I chomped down harder and burst capillaries and drew blood.  Not even when I took a chunk out of his forearm.  He wiped my body down, and only then, once satisfied I was stable, did he address the blood loss I had caused him.

When we got to the hospital, they rushed me to emergency, and the paramedic had to go in, too, to see about his own battle wound.  They stitched him up, then ran blood tests on both him and me to make sure I hadn’t given him some horrific communicable disease, like an STD, or even AIDS.  I can only imagine how stressful the wait for those results must have been for him.  I wonder how much pacing he did that night, or what tough calls he had to be make?  And yet, even so, this man had the empathy and concern before he went back to the next step in the routine of his own life to come check on me, and make sure I was okay.


Somewhere in the world today, there is a man — at one point a paramedic, if not still — walking around with either a permanent scar or a skin graft from an injury I inflicted upon him in a moment of crisis, as he labored to save my life.  I never knew his name.  I can’t picture his face or tell you anything else about him — other than, I’m certain he is an angel.

I know people who are sympathetic about the guilt I carry over doing that to him tell me I shouldn’t feel bad, he understood what was happening to me, and he didn’t hold it against me — he was just doing his job.  But that doesn’t make it any better.  When the grace with which he handled it is naturally how you respond, that’s more than just a job.  It’s a calling.  And a person with that kind of love for humanity who answered such a call is surely a saint who doesn’t deserve what I did to him.

Twenty years later, I still can’t tell his portion of this story without tearing up.


Scraps of fabric deployed from the steering wheel airbag are most likely what kept me alive that day.  I never could bring myself to look at pictures of what was left of my car.  I’m told it was so mangled, first responders had to pry the twisted metal open with the jaws of life to get me out, like peeling sardines from a tin can.  According to my ex, the wreckage of the crumpled heap remaining was the kind that, if seen on the side of the road, would cause one to think, “Nobody walked away from that.”  But I did.  Though, with a few less brain cells than I’d had starting out that morning.


That was my FIRST encounter with TBI.


Four years later, on November 22nd of 2004, I was involved in another vehicular collision, except this time, I had no vehicle to be folded in on me.  I was run over.  While crossing the street.  In a well-lit crosswalk.

I know so much less about that incident.  Funny enough, it was also my first day at a new job, but this time, I’d finished my shift, and was on my way home.  I had taken the bus, as I’d been between cars for a brief spell, after
Kasey kicked the bucket not too long prior.  

It was past rush hour.  I’d just ridden into town after a stopover at the Mall of America, where I’d lingered for a little longer than I might otherwise normally, because the end of the year was fast approaching, and I love the look and feel — the sights, sounds and smells — of retail shopping during the holiday season.  It was the last stop for my route, only a few blocks from the home of the friends I’d been staying with for the previous few weeks since I’d left the last managing contract.

I remember the bus pulling away from the curb as it dropped me off.  I remember the streetlight, and the road ahead of me.  The rest I can only bring to mind in flashes — fuzzy bits and pieces of bright lights between periods of darkness and confusion, like after you’ve been swimming at night in a chlorinated pool, when the lamps are ringed by a rainbow haze.  Next thing I knew, I was on my back, there was a lot of movement close to me, and noise around me, but I couldn’t see, and felt I was floating aimlessly through a thick fog, like trying to wake from a bad dream.  Some people were calling my name.  They sounded angry.


***I remember being somewhat confused about that detail, recalling it to others later.  I’m told, after checking your ID, first responders will often say your name loudly and sternly.  They find more people wake in reaction to their name when it seems like someone is upset with them, apparently.  They tell me, since I only remember that brief moment in all the commotion, they were probably doing a sternum rub to try and bring me out of unconsciousness.  I don’t remember feeling that, and I don’t know anything else until the next flash at the hospital — suddenly becoming very aware while projectile vomiting in the middle of a grand maul seizure, brought on by a subdural hematoma, and encephalitis.***


What I’ve been able to cobble together about that night is spotty, at best.  It seems an impatient driver, intent on getting around the bus quickly, pulled out without seeing me, and struck the back of my left calf, which threw me to my knees in the middle of the street, my left knee taking the full brunt of the impact with the pavement, followed by my head.  My kneecap kaleidoscoped into fragments of stained glass floating around inside the joint.

At the hospital, when I was finally myself again (a day or so later, I think), doctors warned I wouldn’t walk again.  But I believe strongly in the power of mind over matter, and I was having none of that.  I told them, “Watch me,” and got out of bed on my own.  Nurses had to scramble to try and keep me down, as I was attached to a variety of tubes, but I was faster, more determined, and not as worried about hurting me.  Funny enough, I’d had a sense of urgency because I thought I was headed to the restroom, but the pressing sensation I’d been feeling, as it turned out, was a catheter.  That was an unpleasant realization.  And the experience of having it removed, even more so.

I was unsteady on my feet, but at least I was moving of my own volition.  Then they told me it would be some time before I would walk normally, if ever.  But the prospect of convalescing in a hospital bed while insurmountable bills racked up was unappealing, to say the least, so I had to take my chances.

I had suffered an abrasion under my chin, two black eyes, and the damaged leg distended to as far as it is possible for human skin to swell, stretching until my normal olive complected undertones were as bright white and shiny as a softball, with the hairs on my leg sticking straight out like a pincushion.  I couldn’t bend the knee, so I swung the whole leg around in a jerking motion, slungshot by my shoulders, hips and back muscles.  I was such a frightful monster of misery, when I hobbled like a tweedled-twin onto the bus, people would get up out of my way from the front seats reserved for the infirmed.  I’m sure I looked quite the sight, but I was able to reassure folks, it didn’t actually hurt.

You see, the brain is a funny thing.

Just like how the brain keeps you from being able to bring up the memory of the impact — I would imagine because it’s likely the most terrifying experience you’ve ever endured, and some subconscious subroutine in the back of your mind says, “Nope!  Sorry, you don’t need that, and you can’t handle it,” and then, *yank!* your brain just poofs it out of existence for you.  It’s still floating around in your noodle somewhere, but you no longer have access to it, like an encrypted file on a secure system you don’t know the password for.

It’s the same thing if you’re in enough pain — at least the type brought on by a sudden, unexpected trauma, anyway.  It’s a kind of shock, actually.  Your brain knows you’re in more pain than your conscious mind can handle, and more than you can function through, so it just shuts down your pain receptors while you heal.  It’s crazy, really, because you don’t actually start feeling the pain until a few weeks later, which is in fact a sign you’re getting better, and your brain knows you can take the full load now.  Then it flips the switch back on, and you get hit with all the pain at once, just at a smaller dosage than it had been previously.

I’ve been through this not once, but twice now.

I remember in physical therapy after the 2nd concussion, as the therapist worked over my legs, twisting my calf up toward my shoulder in a manner that shouldn’t even be possible, I winced and groaned in discomfort.  The masseuse suddenly exclaimed excitedly, “Oh good, you ARE human!”  I was confused at whatever she could possibly mean by that.  She told me, as a sports therapy specialist, she very often has to work over professional NFL linebackers who would cry like a baby if she dug into them with only a small portion of the strength she had to use on me.  It was her job to make the patient feel her digging in, so she knew it was working, and knew where to concentrate her focus.  Half the time, I’d been using the comfortable hour on her table to pass out and take a much-needed snooze.

In the end, though, I did heal, but with some scar tissue — including a weird ring of calcium deposits around my left ankle that sort of looks like I’m wearing an anklet under my skin (!), and a couple of other faded spots I’d have to point out for you to see.  I do walk mostly normally today, too, except with a stiff and sore knee that sometimes takes a minute to work properly whenever I get up after sitting for long periods, and aches whenever it’s about to rain.  They say that’s because of the fluid in the damaged joints expanding and contracting at abnormal rates under changes in barometric pressure, compared to what it should be naturally, as a result of the damage.


The physical impairment was overcome quickly enough, and eventually became just a blip in my rearview mirror.  An impactful one, to be sure, but I was able to put it behind me.  The brain damage, though... that’s had more long lasting effects.


After the first accident, “therapy” consisted of hooking me up with a skull cap attached to a medusa-head of wires and electrodes, and having me feel “happy” when a monitor of brain wave patterns I was tasked to watch made an even-toned sound, but try not to be stressed when it didn’t.  I didn’t really understand most of that.  Apparently, it was designed to serve the function of helping me to help the brain heal itself, as much as possible, which is pretty much all they can do at this level.

When I say, “at this level,” what I mean is, between these two major head traumas, I’ve dropped a total of 47 IQ points, and that puts me in a unique category for getting help repairing the damage.  And, in this case, unique = not much.  The summary I was given more or less amounted to:

             “Most people who’ve lost 47 IQ points would be drooling on themselves and unable to put their pants on.  You’re still a genius.  There’s really not a whole lot we can do to regain the upper levels of higher functionality.  Mainly, our purpose is to retrain people how to put their pants on.”

             “...So, what you’re telling me, Doc, is... my star just doesn’t shine quite as brightly as it used to any more, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it?”

The neuropsychologist wouldn’t have put quite that spin on it, but... kinda, yeah.


One caregiver was particularly tickled to have me as a patient, though.  His is a relatively unique field, and he was something of a pioneer in it, so having a high functioning guinea pig like me to poke around with was an exciting experiment.  He always made sure he was in for my appointments, and oversaw them personally.  He often asked me,

              “So!  Just what are we going to do with all this genius, anyway?”

I was 25.  At that point, I still hadn’t figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I told him so, and he tried to help me think through it.  What was my degree in?  I didn’t have one.  He was floored.  I admitted I never got one because I couldn’t afford it.  He said with my smarts, I should have schools offering to pay me to go to their school.


***Funny, I didn’t remember that portion of my secondary educational experience involving institutions of higher learning tripping over themselves in a mad scramble to get my application.  I must have missed it while I was overwhelmed with the stressful and challenging distraction of violent and abusive conflict at home resulting from the power struggles of being raised by people with contrasting convictions who’d been total strangers to me until late childhood expecting me to toe the line of meeting their ideals for my life.  Any thought beyond “escape” at that point seemed like such a pipe dream, I never even bothered to take the SATs.

In fact, with everything else going on, I missed so many classes, I barely graduated high school.  I finished early by testing out of most of my classes (at the advanced level, to avoid any administrative pushback), so I could move out on my own, and wouldn’t have to listen to any more ultimatums beginning with, “As long as you live under my roof...!”  That felt like a challenge to me, with what I took for an easy enough solution, so I got my diploma, and, problem solved.***


I’m sure the Doc meant well, but it seemed to me like a lot of pressure to live up to, and I never felt more like a complete waste of potential.  ...Except perhaps for at the passing of each of the twenty years since, during which I’ve taken a lot of other wrong turns, and have yet still failed to secure my degree.  I don’t know what he was hoping for me to be able to accomplish as a result of my QEEG sessions, but I’m guessing everything I’ve done with my life since... probably wasn’t it.

And maybe I shouldn’t let it bother me that much, but being the only one in my family without a degree is still something of a sore spot with me.  After all, what have I done with all that genius?  What do I have to show for it??  Who am I, anyway???  The longer I dwell on those kinds of questions, the more depressing the answers get, so I make a point not to live in that space.


Eventually, the insurance coverage for the brain damage therapy dried up, so I quit going.  I had been fortunate, because it was much more extensive treatment than I could afford on my own.  (I hope you’re never in a position to learn firsthand the reality that medical procedures paid for by automobile insurance claims after an accident amount to significantly better coverage than most medical insurance plans, but, if you do, make sure to take full advantage of every procedure offered to you for as long as you possibly can.)

Therapy and treatment did what it could, but it only went so far, and I still suffer the after effects, which mostly amount to a faulty short-term memory, and struggling with words at times.  For the most part, these symptoms primarily only manifest at points of high stress, like when I’m extremely tired, or overworked, with maybe a little too much on my plate, or burdened with overwhelming emotional issues.  Amusingly, if it should ever come up that I have an appropriate cause to mention these issues to others, the response I generally get is something akin to,

              “Are you kidding me?  That’s just a typical Tuesday for me, and I can’t even call it brain damage!”

I guess maybe I should count my blessings.

The brain really does have an amazing capacity to heal itself, though.

I’ve learned to get around the short-term memory issue by developing a lot of basic coping mechanisms to help me navigate the regular routines of my life.  (Which reminds me, I need to put together my pills for tomorrow.)  And, it seems I’ve managed to naturally and effectively replace the function my short-term memory normally performs with my long-term memory.

Which means, I very often retain a lot of useless detail unnecessarily.

But, it’s also become a semi-adept partial synapse cleanup service.

After a while, my brain will periodically do a random data dump, and expunge old memories my subconscious somehow determines are no longer useful to me.  Fortunately, to date, it has been most often relieving me of baggage I’m happy to do without.  So far, this mostly results in forgetting I’ve seen less than stellar movies.  Unfortunately, my brain hasn’t figured out how to also rid me of the memory that I ever wanted to see such movies in the first place, thus resulting in me occasionally having to sit through terrible flicks I wish I’d never seen on more than one occasion.  I’ve had the displeasure of having to endure Last of The Mohicans three times for that reason.

Minion and I have a term for the effect of this phenomenon — we say “I put it out of my mind,” or “I lost that memory to brain damage,” used most commonly in reference to memories we are glad to be rid of.  This is how conversations about TBI usually start, when I make a casual reference like that, and someone takes it as if I was kidding.  Sometimes, I’ll confess the truth.  Other times, there’s no point.  I just go along with the laugh at my own little inside joke.


The word problems are a bit harder to manage, and require a little more concerted effort on my part.  But, I’m grateful to have been a creative type before this, and an avid reader, so when I can’t think of a word that’s escaped me, I’m able to take a few moments to mentally flip through an internal thesaurus until I come up with another one that means more or less the same thing.  Most of the time.

Sometimes, that specific word I can’t find somehow feels like the absolute perfect option, with no others being quite the right fit.  Then it becomes a puzzle I have to solve, and there’s a blinking red light in the back of my mind that can’t be turned off until I do.  So on occasion, I’ll be in the middle of a sentence, and just suddenly stop in my tracks, my eyes searching, my head shaking.  It’s hard to continue in that situation until I have a secure handle on what I lost.  It’s frustrating for me, but I imagine it’s likely also baffling for anyone else who has to endure it with me.

I try to keep those episodes to a minimum, as at least in those cases I still have a conscious choice about it.  At that point I can either choose to engage in the struggle — and describe the nature of the word, hoping to stumble upon it; or just let it go and select another.  Or, I could also redirect to a completely different thought pattern entirely as a way of accomplishing the same tangential goal, and forge ahead.  It’s another coping mechanism, but it challenges the intellect, and that’s more than functional, it’s expansive and empowering, if you look at it in the right light.

I tend to try and keep myself basking in that light.


The worst of it is what happens when I’m completely drained of energy, either mental, physical, emotional, or any combination thereof.  If I’m very stressed, I might occasionally stammer, getting hung up in my words, having a hard time getting them out.  I often joke that my tongue tripped over my eyeteeth and I couldn’t see what I was saying.  It’s best to be as lighthearted as you can, in the face of such social hiccups, but it isn’t really much of a laughing matter when you consider this particular symptom means I’m spent, and I don’t have much left.

But it gets worse.

If I continue to ignore the signs, and try to push through the stammer, the next stage is much less forgiving, or easily overlooked.

I stutter.

I’ve been fairly blessed there, too, in that I’ve mostly only ever exhibited this particular symptom in the presence of my husband, and the comfort of our home.  It’s the only place I’m ever that completely rundown, as by that point I’d given everything else I had to the rest of the world, because that’s what it took, for whatever “it” was that needed to be done day.  Somedays, “it” is just getting through the day.  But I’m mostly blessed because I am married to someone so kind, so understanding, so loving and giving, that he knows, by the time I am in full blown stutter mode, I need a kiss, a glass of water, and to be put to bed for some rest.



You see, the brain is a funny thing.

Sometimes, it has a way of letting you know it needs you to recharge, and if you’re not going to do it yourself, then it will completely shut you down, so it can do it for you.  The older I get, the more I appreciate this “quirk” as more of a “safety mechanism” than a symptom of brain injury.  It’s helping me.  And the more I need it, the more I’m learning to be okay with that.


In fact, there are a lot of ways this whole experience could be considered as much a blessing as a trauma.  Did you know, IQ only measures one or two types of intelligence, but there are at least nine categorized, quantifiable intelligence types?  A person’s IQ may give you some concept of whether or not they can effectively read and comprehend, perform basic math, and memorize and follow instructions.  But it might not reveal whether they can play an instrument. 
Paint a picture.  Tell a story.  Grow a garden.  Pack a travel bag.  Climb a mountain.  Run a marathon.  Comfort the hurting.  Consider their place in the universe.  Recognize when they’re ready to make a change.

There is so much more value in our lives outside of our ability to take and pass standardized tests.



Life IS a test.

Whether or not we’re passing is to be determined every day.  But we’re the only ones who can decide for ourselves.


One interesting outcome from the QEEG was learning my creative nature may be inherent to the abnormal way my brain works.  As it turns out, when at rest, my brain wave patterns will naturally drift off into occasional spikes of theta, or the state the brain achieves during REM sleep, which brings an entirely new, and much more personal meaning for me to the concept of “day dreaming.”  I’m just a regular Walter Mitty, I guess.

I suppose, though, the ability to dream in the day while I’m fully conscious may just be the natural counterpart to the ability I’ve had for years to lucidly control my dreams while sleeping.  Come to think of it, I don’t believe I ever had that particular “superpower” before the TBI.  But not since as I was a child have I had a nightmare some lucid characteristic of my semi-conscious hasn’t been able to step into and take control over, altering the story like a director rewriting a bad script.

Just like my brain did for me with the injuries.  It’s almost like those traumatic moments of pain and fear jarred loose some innate protector inside my brain that likes to safeguard my consciousness, and once it got a taste for doing so, it’s just never stopped.  Here’s hoping someday, all that effort will have been worth it, for some greater purpose.

But maybe there doesn’t have to be any grand predestined calling in my future for this all to have meant something.  Maybe it’s enough for it to have just helped me be a better person.  Learning to rely less on my intellect, and more on soft skills — my more “human” side — has made me a better coworker.  A better daughter.  A better friend.  A better wife to my Minion.  A better Mama to my Firebird.


I want my baby to be smart.  He’s only two, but it’s hard to ignore the unmistakable signs that he may already be the kind of scary smart that amounts to more than we know how to manage.  He might even end up smarter than both of us.  But I hope not.  Because I want him to be happy.  And I think that takes a healthy, well rounded balance of multiple forms of intelligence.  I hope I have the skills needed to be able to teach him that.  And I guess it’s a good thing his name means both surviving, and balance, because in this life, he surely will need both.


As far as the degree goes, I’m determined at some point to cross that item off my list, so my son will never be able to make the argument, “But you don’t have a degree, and you did okay!”  My son will have a college education, because I refuse to be the example he follows in that particular wrong direction.  If there are any advantages to taking a lot of wrong turns in life, perhaps one may be so others can benefit from your experience, and avoid also having to take those same wrong turns.  I may have ended up okay, but getting here wasn’t easy, and I don’t want that long, winding, aimless path for him.  I’ll do what it takes to show him a better way.  And that means making sure I take that road myself — brain damage and all.


So yeah, I’ve dropped 47 IQ points over the course of a lifetime.

Or, at least, at one point, I had.  For all I know, I could come up with completely different results today.  After having these experiences, though, the whole concept of “intelligence quotient” doesn’t mean nearly as much to me as it might have at another point in my life.

I’m still technically a genius.

But mostly, I’m smart enough to get through the day.  Smart enough to land the next contract.  Smart enough to keep a roof over our heads, the lights and heat on, food on our table, gas in our car, my husband happy, my critters fed, and my baby entertained every day by learning new things.

What else do I really need?



LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 2 - Topic: LIVING RENT FREE IN YOUR HEAD
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A Charge to Keep

A SACRED COVENANT

I’ve never been much for promises.  Probably from growing up in a devoutly fundamentalist household that staunchly drilled into me the concept of, “let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no.”  I haven’t held onto everything of that nature I was taught, but some of it has a way of digging in deep, and tends to stick.  From that perspective, it’s better not to make promises than to break them.

But we all have to engage with ourselves in certain negotiations in order to get through our daily activities.  It starts out as a promise, until it becomes a pattern, and then a habit, and then a routine.  That’s how we survive the craziness that is this life.  Even so, on most occasions I need to employ tips and tricks to help me keep my promises to myself.

Like putting together a pillcase of prescribed vitamins before I go to bed to ensure I remember to take them in my lunch for the next day.

(Which reminds me, I need to do that now — hold for a moment, please.)


. . . Or learning to use the power of words — even spoken only in my own head to myself — to send my subconscious the right message — such as, I will” do that thing I intend to, rather than, I really should, leaving my lizard hind brain to automatically fill in the unspoken, “...but I wont. My doctor gave me that one... possibly a little outside the scope of her medical license, but shes seen me through a lot... I’ve come to value her full service brand of caregiving.

. . . Or being privileged enough in my career to only choose the kinds of jobs where I can set my own flexible “core hours,” so I can be depended on to get the job done, but I’m not expected to be at the same place at the same time, day in, day out (which is fortunate for me, as monotony is a natural human habit I can easily fall into, but its really not a very good fit for me).

. . . Even buying or renting a home or a car, or having a credit card, or, effectively, anything on contract, for that matter, is essentially a promise to pay an agreed upon amount at a predetermined time.  I keep a multi-colored GL coded scheduled calendar in a macro-enabled spreadsheet database to help me keep track of maintaining all those promises.  (Fortunately, I work in accounting, so that level of OCD comes second nature to me.)


But there are at least a couple ohter, more significant resolutions I have made in the course of my life that still stand out...


Marriage —
that bwessed awwangement— for example, is a lifelong vow, and the “trick” you get to help you keep your shared promise, ideally, is a partner equally dedicated to the same commitment.   Minion makes it easy for me, though.  He’s such a keeper, I’ve encountered multiple pouty ladies spouting various levels of partner-envy, with comments such as, “I wish I had a husband who... (amazing thing my loving guy does for his lucky girl).”


But I have another trick, too.  I discovered shortly after Minion and I said “I do” that there’s such a thing as “wedding band dermatitis,” aka “ring rash.”  To get around the symptoms, I planted the tiny, velvet-lined, heart-shaped silver box that carried our rings on our wedding day (in a small pirate chest, borne by a 4-yr-old “knight”) at my bedside, where my Celtic dragon engraved tungsten carbide matrimonial adornment rests for the night each time I lay my head down until I get up, giving me the chance to make the same decision again, every morning of every day, or every time I leave our home, when the act of putting on the ring once more allows me to effectively say “I do,” all over, with just as much assurance as I did that first day.

Really, though, I feel like the fortunate one to have this condition, since most people who wear a wedding band all day every day never bother to take time to think about what that means, because it just gets overlooked and becomes forgotten.  Instead, I get the chance to consider the greater impact on a daily basis, and for me, that’s perfect, as I’ve never believed love is only an emotion, but rather, a decision, and a commitment, followed by action.  When I say I love my husband, that’s exactly what I mean, and that’s exactly what he gets.


I
made a handful of promises that day... to cherish always the past we have shared, to relish in every present moment, and to eagerly seek out the future we will create together, whatever it may bring, come what may; to take my friend, my lover, my companion, and my equal, to have and to hold, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, in triumph or failure, through thick and thin, to honor, and to keep, faithfully, forever.

I stood before my friends, my family, my beloved, and my God, and I swore to uphold my VOWS to our family.

My
Dread Pirate Captain, I said I DO” then, I still do now, and I always will — today and tomorrow, from this day, until my last day.



The resolution that followed, though, perhaps the biggest of my life, came nearly two years later, in the smallest of packages — just under 6 pounds, to be more precise.  This is not a promise commonly made by many 40-somethings, but for me, it helps to keep me young.  There are advantages and disadvantages to being an older parent, obviously, but I like to think I’ve been around long enough to have gotten most of the classic mistakes of youth out of our way by now.  Which isn’t to say I won’t be plenty full of middle aged blunders, going forward, to be sure.  But I hope, knowing who I am at this point in my life, and having come through so much to get to that solid place, this bundle of joy, now two years enriched in our lives, will grow up able to faithfully believe I mean what I say when I pledge my love and devotion to his wellbeing and best interest.


Our culture doesn’t have a habit of making vows to our little ones.  But our responsibility to them is even greater than the resolution we offer to our mate.  I want him to trust me, and to hold me accountable for what I tell him to be true
.  So I’m not afraid to make promises to my baby, promises I know I can never break — not without being in the wrong, in his eyes, in my family, and in my life.

Since before he was born, I have been so resolved, and to this day, I remain resolute...
•  ...to always be present
•  ...to love unconditionally
•  ...to lead by example
•  ...to teach with integrity

•  ...to grow continuously

...and SO MANY MORE.** Because my baby is worth it.


My
little one, my heart, I said so then, I still do now, and I always will be; today, and tomorrow, from this day, until my last day, I am...

...Forever yours.

—Mama



LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 1 - Topic: RESOLUTION
This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.
If you have enjoyed this entry, please feel free to speak your piece, share the love, and pass it on...
                                                                                                            ...and thanks for stopping by.

*Full text of Vows to my husband can be found here:
From This Moment On — A Pledge to My Dread Pirate Captain On Our Wedding Day

**See the baby contract in its entirety here:
A Mother’s Pact — Maternal Vows of Love to Our Newborn Child

This is a good year for coming home.

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It was a short vacation...

...and I guess it's over now, cause Idol has sucked me back in once more.

As in my previous attempt, earlier this season, I'll be playing as myself,

but writing from the misfitmama17 family journal.

Hope to be more successful this time around!  :)

Never Need a Reason

Conspiracy

Conspiracy, I tell you.  That’s what this is.

All part of some bigger plot — some grand scheme to keep me out of LJ Idol.

No?

Crazy?

Okay, maybe.

But that’s what it feels like.

I write here because I don’t write anywhere else.  And I love to write.  I just never otherwise find make the time.  LJ Idol gives me the excuse discipline to knuckle down and actually get it done.

It’s the deadlines.

And the sharing.

Especially in an environment where I know people will bother to read it, and one or two might actually even care.

And, oh the stories!  You’re all such great storytellers, I can hardly wait to see what else you have to share each week.


I had an intro.  It was in my head.

...I just needed to get it out, get it onscreen, get it to you...


But...

But there were doctor’s appointments, and doctor’s appointments, and more doctor’s appointments... and did I mention doctor’s appointments?

...And then there were tons of trips to Walgreen’s... it took me forever to get down the right combination of vitamins.  Turns out I’m mildly anemic (Iron!  Vitamin C!  Magnesium & Calcium!), and have a severe vitamin D deficiency (apparently, it’s not normal for natives to spend 6 months out of the year without ever seeing the sun, and a pasty complexion that allows you to pass for white is NOT necessarily a good thing!), and there’s not enough DHA in my prenatal...

...I finally got it all figured out, but now I’m taking 12 pills a day.  I had to buy a special case, for morning, noon, and night doses.  I feel like an old person.  Or like my minion husband.

...But MAN!, It’s a lot of WORK being pregnant!


...And, ultimately, I got screwed out of writing my intro.

But...

          but, but, but...

...But I still want to write that intro!  That idea, it’s a great idea!

...And it’s still screaming in me to get out!

But...

...But I missed my opportunity.  And now the moment has passed.

*sigh*


I had an idea for Week 1.  It was in my head.

...I just needed to get it out, get it onscreen, get it to you...


But...

...But Thanksgiving weekend, you know...

...it was my turn to coordinate the dinner.

...That’s no small project when your family is 25 bare minimum if everyone shows up, and then add 10 additional outsiders imposed guests invited by the in-laws, then having to find recipes and buy groceries for making 6 – 8 extra dishes on top of what you’ve asked everyone else to bring to be sure there’s enough to go around, because you can’t expect your own family, much less the unknown wild cards to show restraint — not that Thanksgiving is a time for that — but then there’s a handful to whom the financial burden would be too great, so you’ve got to keep that in mind, not to mention dietary restrictions for Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and vegetarianism (oh, and let’s don’t forget pregnancy!) to account for, and, and...

...well, you’ve got no small project, lemme tell ya.

...But, MAN!, It’s a lot of WORK being the only girl in the family, the sole heir apparent to taking over the responsibilities of the grand matriarch, Hospitality Queen!


...And, ultimately, I got screwed out of writing my week 1 topic entry.

But...

          but, but, but...

...But I still want to write that entry!  That idea, it’s a great idea!

...And it’s still screaming in me to get out!

But...

...But I missed my opportunity.  And now the moment has passed.

*sigh*


I had an idea for Week 2.  It was in my head.

...I just needed to get it out, get it onscreen, get it to you...


But...

...But I’d been working the last 6 months at a really terrible job...

...a horrible, soul-sucking nightmare of a post at least 3-4 levels below my skillset, where I was being paid less money than I’d made for any contract in my field over the last 10 years...

...where I’d agreed to work because the position was supposed to have gone permanent within 90 days, and after 20 years of contracting, I was already thinking about settling down even before the baby, so I assumed the low rate was just an introduction to allow me to establish my value to them, after which we would negotiate terms for a reasonable living wage before making the deal...

...where the person who was responsible for me being there
to whom I officially reported was so absentee I probably saw him a total of 5 times in 6 months for about 10 minutes each, tops...

...where at least 2 other people with no authority over my work found it necessary to periodically hassle me over the kinds of minutiae you might bother an entry level employee at a fast food joint about, not a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience...

...where I was sardined into an 8’ x 10’ office which was shared (yes, that’s right, I said they put TWO desks, and TWO giant 4-drawer lateral file cabinets into an 8 x 10 sqft cubby) with a 63 yr-old imperious curmudgeon afflicted with THE WORST, most ingrained case of narcissistic personality disorder I’ve ever come across, who was completely incapable of going 300 seconds without muttering to himself TALKING to himself OUT LOUD (there was nothing the least bit under his breath about it... in fact, I’m pretty sure he was generally trying to get attention), or making some other, more annoying sound (he was constantly humming or whistling, but never an actual tune... if there’d been anything of a musical nature to it, I might have hummed or whistled along, but, no, it was mindless, tuneless, structureless semi-musical noise, somewhat reminiscent of being potentially inspired by something resembling music)... who was so insistent upon hearing the sound of his own voice that he was constantly running out of breath every time he spoke (not exaggerating.  EVERY.  DAMN.  TIME.) because he was so busy making sure no one else could possibly get a word in edgewise that he was trying to rush through every sentence without ever taking a breath so no one had the chance to break in... and he actually SUCKED on his own SPIT.  LOUDLY.  (Sorry.  Hard to even write that without squirming.  Seriously.  I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.), laughed at everything he said (YES.  EVERYTHING.  EVERY – SINGLE – SENTENCE was punctuated by the most ridiculous fake guffaw you’ve likely ever heard), and talked so loud on the phone (which, by the way was FOUR FEET from me) he could be heard at the FAR END of the building... who seemed to think he was the only one at the company who knew anything at all, and that everything about the way operations ran would be so much simpler if only they’d listened to him the 80 millionth time he’d been telling them what to do from the get go since the first time and for the last 20 years he’s been there, and who was otherwise pretty much completely negative and passive aggressive about everyone, and everything in general — except me, of course, because I guess he figured out pretty quickly that I actually knew what I was doing, and apparently, the last 5 people in that position did NOT.

...(I guess that’s what happens when you hire someone overqualified.  You get to see how things might work if you were actually willing to pay someone with useful skills to do the job, rather than plucking the next random luck-of-the-draw yahoo from out of whichever fly by night employment agency happens to cold call you next, and hoping they will sit in the chair and bang on the keys long enough to eventually accidentally write the collective works of Shakespeare)...

...where 90 days passed, and then 120, and then 150, with no conversation about me being hired on (to which I would have had TWO conditions... besides a salary not meant for a teenager, I’d need MY OWN OFFICE!!!), each one with us having to tighten our belt to the point of living off credit cards, to the point that I could no longer afford to wait, and had been looking for a new job...

...(which, by the way, I had been doing for a while, and was also doing during intro week, and week 1, as well, which takes a lot out of you, especially when you have no time to write for Idol look for a job while you’re working, because you’re doing the work of three people, and you could sit at your desk for 10 hours straight, from 7AM to 5PM, with no break for lunch, just a sandwich at your desk, and occasional trips to the potty, once you finally realize that your leg has been shaking for the last half hour because you were trying to get to a good stopping place to stem the tidal wave of oncoming work that never slows down from crashing over you, and the phones are constantly ringing off the hook, because the place is short staffed, because they’ve gotten rid of 4 people in the few months you’ve been there, and there are only 22 employees in the whole place to begin with, and almost everyone is related to each other, and the owner bought an entire company in Alabama just to give his nephew something to do, and now they’re closing it down, because the nephew couldn’t get it done, so now those phones are rolling up here, too, and hey, would you mind while you’re at it, since you have such a nice phone voice, going ahead and answering the phone, too, cause everyone knows that purchasing and accounts payable doesn’t really require so much attention to detail that you can’t also handle and manage the additional distraction of 16 interruptions per hour)...

...and I’d had a few phone interviews, and at least a couple in person, and I’d gone to the trouble to have my minion husband courier hand written thank you cards with a chocolate attached to the interviewers the morning after (man, I REALLY wanted out of that job!!!), and a week had gone by, and then two (one of which was Thanksgiving week), and then nearly three, and I’d almost given up, when I decided to write one more letter of continued interest, and popped it off, to find out the next day...

I GOT THE JOB!!!

...which was GREAT news,

...BUT,

...every night that week, there was something different to be done toward my background check.  There were forms to be filled out, and a cup to be peed in (they can’t legally divulge anything other than whether or not I’m on drugs, right?  I mean, my pee being nearly orange or green, depending on the time of day because of all the dang vitamins doesn’t count against me, and, they’re not allowed to reveal that I’m pregnant, right???), and videos to watch, and signatures to get notarized...


...But, MAN!, It’s a lot of WORK leaving a miserable, lousy, teeth gritting, mind numbing grindstone, and getting hired to your dream job!

...And, ultimately, I got screwed out of writing my week 2 topic entry.

But...

          but, but, but...

...But I still want to write that entry!  That idea, it’s a great idea!

...And it’s still screaming in me to get out!

But...

...But I missed my opportunity.  And now the moment has passed.

*sigh*


I had an idea for this week.  It was in my head.

...I just needed to get it out, get it onscreen, get it to you...


But...

...But my minion husband works from home.  He works from home, and we only have one car between us, so when we go out on the weekend, he drives.  He drives, because he otherwise never leaves the house, so he likes to be in the driver’s seat, because he otherwise never gets to drive the car, because I have it for work, and I let him, because I like to be in the passenger’s seat and to be driven, because I otherwise have to drive myself everywhere (and, man, it is getting harder and harder to buckle that seatbelt!), and I like to just relax and let him think he’s in charge take care of me sometimes.

...So I found out this weekend that the reason he:

• busted not one, but TWO tires (count them – uno, dos) two years ago — the SAME exact tire on the same exact wheel on the same exact pothole in the same exact place on the same exact day of the week at the same exact time exactly one week later,

...and...

• wrecked my front axle (YES.  HE managed to BREAK my front AXLE in TWO) on a pothole the size of a MOON CRATER about a year ago (which, btw, I’m STILL making payments on... I was fortunate to have been working at the time at a car dealership which agreed to let me make payments on it... which was about very nearly the ONLY thing worthwhile about working at that place!)

...and...

• drove my 2001 Buick (this is a vehicle with the ground clearance of a tortoise) over a speed bump the height of a pair of shinkickers (this road block was clearly intended to completely incapacitate all intruders), thereby busting the driver’s side strut assembly

...is because apparently, he has low NIGHT VISION (he says his mother had it, too.  Cause THAT makes a difference???).  THIS I learn after 3 years of social acquaintance, plus 3 years of cohabitation, plus 1 year of marriage, plus
$1,850 in CAR REPAIRS.  (Mind you, this is an older vehicle that could actually USE a fair few preventative maintenance car repairs here and there, to keep in her in good shape.  This is upkeep, however, she is NOT getting, because we are busy living hand to mouth off credit cards, and spending $1850 in car repairs we don’t need.)

SO, I’ve been having to ride the bus this week, because there was a snow storm on Monday that filled up the shop where we normally take the car, and we couldn’t get in until yesterday.  That’s to MY BRAND NEW JOB THAT STARTED ON MONDAY. 


It’s a half hour commute by car with no traffic, 50 minutes with traffic.  But, on public transit, you can never just get from here to there.  No.  You have to go from point A, in to the spokes of the wheel at point L, to get back out to the outer rim at point B.  So, I leave the house at quarter to 6 in the morning to walk 10 minutes in sub zero weather to catch the bus that takes me to a transit center where I stand outside for 15 minutes in sub zero weather until I can get on another bus that takes me to another transit center where I stand outside for another 15 minutes in sub zero weather until I can get on another bus that that drops me off 10 minutes from my office at quarter after 8AM.  Then I work for 8 hours.  Then I walk 15 minutes in sub zero weather (and do that whole scenario in reverse) until I reach my house at quarter after 7PM,

...completely exhausted,

...with just enough energy left to eat a lovely, hot, home-cooked meal my minion husband has prepared for me, and then fall into bed, if I don’t have anything pressing I have to first (like call a tow truck to bring our busted wheel tire to the car shop, for example).

There are 1,000 steps from the corner where the bus drops me off in the morning to my office.  But there are no buildings or trees to block the wind.  And it beats me.  Sideways.  But I’m counting steps, and I make it.  THREE DAYS IN A ROW.

There are only 500 steps from the corner where the bus drops me off at night to my driveway.  But it’s all uphill.  And the sun has long since gone down.  (It’s winter in Minnesota.  The moon lights the way for most of my morning commute, and watches over the evening trip the whole way home, also.)  And I’m PREGNANT.  I get winded GOING UP STAIRS.  (This is apparently normal, I’m told... my physical therapist says she gets winded just reading stories to her 2-yr-old.  She's 10 weeks farther along than me.)  At 200 steps I have to take a rest, and struggle for breath.  At 300 steps I have to take a rest, and try not to cry.  At 400 steps, I can see my house, and I just want to BE THERE, so I push through.

And my minion husband is there waiting for me, and he has CLEANED MY ROOM.

...and I remember why I love him.




...But, MAN!, It’s a lot of WORK being a one car household!

...And, ultimately, I got screwed out of writing my week 3 topic entry.

But...

          but, but, but...

...But I still want to write that entry!  That idea, it’s a great idea!

...And it’s still screaming in me to get out!

But...

...But I missed my opportunity.  And now the moment has passed.

*sigh*


Yes, I have been screwed at every turn at nearly every weeknight opportunity there has been to write so far, and no, I don’t have time to write at work, and sure, I could have maybe tried to do some writing on the weekends, but between the busy family holiday schedule, and the fact that my husband works nights, and I work days, and I only have about 2 hours a day of non-scheduled time I can use, because being pregnant means I otherwise require more rest, our quality time together is at a premium, and neither of us wants to spend it in front of the computer.


But...

...Here’s the thing.  The moment hasn’t really passed.  Minion and I are still going to have a baby in 6 months.  And I still want to say all those things I have in my head to share with our unborn child.  I’m just not really doing so great with deadlines right now.

So, this is not goodbye.  It’s just... not the place for this.

I’m going to continue writing.

I’m going to put out that intro, giving insight into why this is important.

...And that explanation of how we came to name our child, and what it means for the future of our progeny...

...And that appeal to my kid to know how, when, and who to trust...

...And that story of that time I did that stupid thing, with the warning that our offspring should try to avoid the same mistake...

...And whatever other notions the topics inspire me to say to our baby, and quite a few others that aren’t even spurred by the topics, because when you’re pregnant, especially, a week is most definitely only 7 days, and every week, something is different, the world has changed somehow.

And it only roller coaster from here.


...So...

...If you want to stick around for the ride, friend my baby mama account, misfitmama17.  I’ll be around.  Minion (mamas_minion) will still be writing.  He’s having a baby, too, but, I’m doing most of the work, so, he’s got a lot more time than I do!  ;)

You might see some of the posts in the home game, if I’m so inclined, or if I get enough requests to share.  And, maybe, if I’ve got a good rhythm going, I’ll come back for SCI.  Because the only win that matters to me, in the end, is the health and wellbeing of our baby.

Until then...

Peace, love, and joy to all.



LJ Idol | Season 10 • Week X - Topic: SACRIFICE
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Perception IS Reality

BLACK LIVES MATTER

I’ve been reading the “also” or “too” vs. “only” debate about the “campaign slogan” of this movement for several weeks now, across multiple sources online, and I haven’t weighed in, because I know that when I first heard of their tagline, my initial, knee-jerk, emotional gut reaction was to think, “Now, hey, wait a minute . . .  Blacks aren’t the only minority being marginalized in this country . . .

•  Women are still struggling to fight against proposed legislation
    that would set back rights for half the general population
    to a time before our grandparent’s generation, making us
    little more than indentured servants to our male counterparts,
    effectively reducing us to glorified baby-making factories,
    better seen than heard.

•  Native Americans in every corner of the nation are having
    the sacred ancestral tribal lands that support their culture
    and sustain their people stripped from them with the stroke
    of a pen, as if the ink on the treaties that “gave” it to them
    had dried up and disappeared, like dust in the wind
    with the passage of time.

•  Homosexuals who simply want to have the same freedoms
    the rest of the nation takes for granted are still having to fight
    for basic HUMAN rights, even after the passage of laws
    that have already granted it to them.

•  Latin Americans are disregarded as subhuman.

•  Jews are generally distrusted.

•  Asian culture is ransacked, twisted, and appropriated, as is
    anything else that white America finds shiny and somehow valuable,
    and nearly every person of non-anglo descent, with non-euro-
    heritage is expected to assimilate, homogenize, speak OUR language,
    blend in, melt away, and disappear into the collective “US.”

•  Most other cultures are barely given a grunt of recognition,
    and every religion — or even, a carefully chosen lack of religion —
    that doesn’t align with the majority is dismissed as irrelevant,
    while efforts of multiple controlling powers blatantly seeking
    to turn our government into a THEOCRACY — in order to thereby
    *legally* allow for mass discrimination of ALL non-conforming
    ideologies — are hurtling U.S. citizenry at an alarming speed
    toward our very own American
CRUSADES.

•  The middle class is disappearing as the working class continues
    to plummet towards or even over the poverty line, while our
    legislators — predominantly very old, mostly white, mostly male,
    mostly millionaires, who *cannot possibly* have ANY understanding
    of the common man — grow fat on the spoils of lying in bed with,
    and licking the boots of corporations whose leaders have put such
    a distance between themselves and the labor force that established
    their wealth, that they steadily drive us all to the brink of a
    modern day
French Revolution.

Surely the issues of all these downtrodden should be considered just as much of a priority?

Don’t ALL lives matter?”

... ... ...

Those WERE my first thoughts.

But then I thought of the position that the BLM movement was taking, the justification of their indignation, and the righteousness of their cause, and I dismissed my first response as the rumblings of insecurity bred from white-passable privilege (which isn’t quite the same as white privilege, but close enough in nearly every respect that makes a difference).  I considered that maybe, if even I, with my circular thinking, logical minded, generally objective perspective — having to skip a beat, take a breath and check myself before reaching a more supportive conclusion — could nearly find my own impressions lumped in with that of the ignorant masses, then maybe the phrase *COULD* benefit from a minor clarification in wording...?

You see, in my head, I knew the saying didn’t mean *ONLY* BLACK Lives Matter, but, to reach through to the hearts of people who need most to get this message, maybe it could use a touch of tweaking?  A bit of help to make certain that what it did mean came across effectively...?

Perhaps:


Black Lives Matter, TOO. ( ??? )

or maybe,


Black Lives ALSO Matter.   ( ??? )

You know?  Like, let’s go ahead and get the air cleared up front, in case, God forbid, someone not in support of this movement should mistakenly assume that people who want to be free to LIVE as the rest of us do are somehow asking for more than they deserve, or attempting to encroach on anything someone else already has.

... ... ...

Oh, I’m sorry, did that come across as ridiculous?

Maybe even a little bit racist???

Yeah, it did to me, too.  Even in my own mind, I couldn’t defend that thought, so I got to thinking about it even further, and the conclusion I came to, I can neither think, nor speak, nor even write about without a lump in the back of my throat, and tears swelling up in my eyes.

... ... ...

Once I got my head screwed on straight, I realized, there is absolutely NO value in anyone who is NOT black sitting around on any social media site with anyone else who is NOT black having any length of discussion about whether this saying can or can’t be misinterpreted, or should or shouldn’t be modified for the sake of clarity.

Because...


Black people KNOW what they mean.

And, more importantly...

THEY HAVE SAID IT.

The question should NOT be about whether or not this saying needs ANY further clarification.

It DOESN’T.

There IS NO **implied** “ALSO.” There IS NO silent “TOO.”

The word “ONLY” is only in your imagination.


Black people are standing together collectively, screaming at the top of their lungs like Whos on a speck of sand in a thistle, to TELL the world simply that BLACK LIVES MATTER.  Not because they matter more than anyone else’s.  Not even because they matter “just as much” as yours do.  But simply BECAUSE they matter.  And you and I, from a place of privilege, can debate til the cows come home what else surely *must* be subliminally included in that statement, or what other, additional message clearly must be either meant by it or derived from it, because we are so far removed from a world in which such a statement needs to be made that we cannot even relate to the concept enough to understand it.  The fact remains that, telling the world our lives matter is NOT, and never has been, a necessity.  It is a **foregone conclusion.**

Over the course of more than 4 decades of water under all my crossed bridges thus far, I have never had to INFORM *anyone* in my existence that MY LIFE matters, because everything about my 40-some years on this terrestrial plane has demonstrated to me, it’s just assumed, EVERYONE KNOWS.  And that is because,


I’M NOT BLACK.

You see, that’s why this issue can’t be compared with women’s rights.  Or gay freedoms.  Or religious privilege.  Or social injustice.  Or any cultural stigmatism.  Because they’re NOT the same.

... ... ...

People who’ve emigrated here from another way of life carried with them their shared history and their family name, their traditions and ethics, their hopes and dreams of a new world, and their intentions for what would be passed down from generation to generation after generation in this land of safety, asylum, freedom, opportunity, or whatever other promise of the American Dream brought them to our borders.  But the same can’t be said of blacks.  What is their shared culture heritage?  Slavery?  Oppression?  Marginalization?  Displacement?  DisenfranchisementSystematic, institutionalized injustice?


You can say all you want to that black people have fought for and won their civil rights.  Sure, we have an African American in the White House.  And we could probably even call him a Kenyan American, if he wanted us to, because we know where his lineage originates.  But his wife, Michelle, she’s from... what, Chicago?  If you take most any person in this country who is black and trace their family tree, where is it going to lead?  We throw a continent in front of the name “American” for people we identify as “black,” because the whole of that vast, expansive land mass across the ocean is the closest most of us can get to knowing who they are or where they’ve come from, as if labeling an entire group of people “African American,” will somehow provide unity and conformity, like it’s some sort of nationality or ethnicity — as if that would give them back the shared cultural heritage whites stole from them.  But the truth is, all “blacks” really can be certain they have in common is that they are darker than some of the rest of us.  As if that’s all that really matters.


We who like to think of ourselves as caring and compassionate, as understanding and objective, as loving, and liberal... we know that nothing about any human’s way of life should be boiled down to no more than a byproduct of a person’s skin tone.  But, we also know that, sometimes, it does.  More than anyone else in this country, it is “blacks” who have grown up never being allowed to forget that ugly truth, because of all the lifelong ramifications that automatically comes along with having that skin tone, despite *every* effort of every civil rights leader.  We stand beside those who would labor against this unfortunate reality, and we offer our voices to the outcry, and our efforts to the work that is still needed.  But we can’t know this need the way they do, because we haven’t lived the reality they have lived—the reality they must still face, every day of their lives.

That reality is, black people aren’t fighting for rights.  Or freedom.  Or privilege.  Or better wages.  Or justice.  Or equality.  These very basic HUMAN needs might ALL be desired, and even necessary.  But the luxury — the privilege — of being able to seek out those bare necessities is not right now priority number one on the agenda of most black people these days, because there is an even MORE *pressing* objective.  Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness can be discussed later, at such a time when the house is not on fire.

Black people are fighting to LIVE.  Black people are fighting just to SURVIVE.  Black people are fighting FOR THEIR LIVES, because they’re NOT being allowed just to LIVE as you and I do.  The first and foremost of those truths we hold to be self-evident, that our Declaration of Independence defines as endowed to us by our Creator, has not been achieved for Black people.  The right to LIFE — a Constitutional guarantee for ALL — is one that was never fully bestowed upon Blacks.

Black people are fighting to be able to walk out their door and NOT worry, just as you and I do not worry, that in the course of going about their everyday lives, that they might be KILLED — just for being black.  They are fighting to live in a world unrecognizable from our own — a world in which, if such a terrible tragedy were to occur, it would be such a rarity as to garner main stream media attention, and it would be met with both national outrage and
swift justice.

•  Black people cannot be certain, as you and I are every day,
    that they can walk down any street in this land of the FREE,
    and not be shot in the chest at point blank range, a mere
    few yards from their own door to safety, for the heinous
    crime of
“looking suspicious,” because of choice in wardrobe.

•  Black people cannot be assured, as you and I would be,
    that in the course of trying to intervene in a fight,
    they might not be accused of such a minor crime as
    would barely warrant so much as a ticket for a white man,
    presumed guilty on the spot, and subsequently
CHOKED to death.

•  Black people cannot go to work, as you and I would,
    confident in the knowledge that they will not be
   
SHOT IN THE BACK at their place of business because
    someone WHITE mistakenly had the idea that something
    about their job was not entirely above board.

•  Black people cannot drive an automobile, as you and I would,
    in their own familiar neighborhoods, to their family homes,
    knowing that they will arrive safely at their destination
    without being mistaken for someone else, SECRETLY followed,
    stalked by a PLAINCLOTHES officer in an UNMARKED vehicle,
    and shot
multiple times through the back of their own car.

•  Black people cannot, as you and I might, simply walk to the
    grocery store with their family and a handful of friends,
    without being
attacked without warning by a rogue battalion
    of NON-UNIFORMED police with military grade assault weapons.


•  Black people cannot peaceably live wherever they can afford to,
    as you and I do, if
where they can afford to live is public housing,
    without concern that their residential facility will be meticulously
    patrolled floor by floor, IN SEARCH OF A CRIME IN PROGRESS — a zealous
    pursuit assured to turn up perpetrators guilty of being black
    in the
unlit stairwell of their own tenement building, which of course,
    naturally provokes the instinctive reaction to shoot to kill.


•  Black people cannot hang out at the mall, as you and I might,
    or even
relax in their own homes, as you and I do,
    nor even
sleep in their own beds at night, as you and I will,
    satisfied that they can
answer their own front door,
suffer a life-threatening health condition, have a malfunctioning brake light,
walk down the street with a white person, or even just
go about their normal daily routine, without fear of being
searched, beaten, maced, smothered, tazed, bombed, or shot,
over a case of mistaken identity, bad information, because someone
 got the numbers on a house wrong, because some eager beaver is
showing off for the reality TV film crew, or because someone
happens to match a certain description — one that need not go
 any further than “black.”


And so, black people are resorting, in anger, in fear, and in desperation, to telling the world that:

***BLACK LIVES MATTER***

...because the realities black people must face every day suggest to them that

THE WORLD DOESN’T KNOW.

... ... ...


In just under 7 weeks, I will stand before my God, my family, my friends and loved ones, and I will promise my life to the man I love.  And when we raise our children, they will be Native American and Irish, as well as Moroccan, East Indian, and French.  But it doesn’t matter how many colors go into making up their skin tone, because to the rest of the world, all they will be is BLACK.

So I will have to train my son when he learns to drive, to never go above the speed limit, and to always keep his license valid, proof of insurance in the car, his tabs up to date, his headlamps and taillights functional, his muffler in good working condition, and wear his seat belt, in the hopes that he doesn’t go around with any avoidable reasons to get pulled over.  I will make sure he drives a car that isn’t too flashy, but not too rusted out, either.  And whether he is an athlete, a band geek, a mathematician, an artist, a musician, or a science nerd, I will teach him to dress in a manner that could never cause him to be mistaken for a common criminal.  I will train him for the inevitable day when he is pulled over for any reason, or, more likely,
for no reason at all, to hold out his empty hands, palms up, to show they are devoid of wallets, cell phones, pocket knives, pill bottles, or broom handles, and to be cooperative, deferential, and polite.

I will train my daughter to speak her mind, and to protect herself, but I will make sure that she presents herself in attire, in demeanor, in word and in deed respectably, and that she knows how to make her insights known without allowing for her intelligence, her personal pride, her sense of fairness, her understanding of what’s right, and her general grasp of basic human decency to be deliberately mistaken for belligerence, rebellion, or sass.  (This will be especially hard for ME to teach her, because she will be MY daughter, and I’ve never been very good at that, myself.)  I will teach her to show the proper deference — say Yes Ma’am, no Sir, etc. — in situations when she is vulnerable to persons in authority with the power to abuse her, and to smile so hard her teeth hurt, if that’s what it takes, even if she has to choke back tears.

I will do this for my family, not because I want them to get a good grade in class, or to be allowed onto the football team or the cheerleading squad or the band trip or the school play.  Not because I want them to get a leg up with their boss, or climb another rung on the corporate ladder.  And not even because I want them to be decent, respectable citizens, though if that’s an added bonus, I’ll take it.  But I will train my children to do what needs to be done to keep them safe in this world, because every time they walk out my front door — regardless of anything else I might desire for their future, and no matter what I may think of whatever they might do outside the realm of my protection — what I will want most of all, is for them to COME HOME.  I hope that everything I have been through in my life up until that point will have prepared me to be up to the challenge of raising black children.  And I pray, every day, that all members of my household will grow up in a world which will have at some point learned,

BLACK LIVES **DO** MATTER.



Trayvon Martin  |  Eric Garner  |  Ousmane Zongo  |  Prince Jones  |  James Brissette  |  Ronald Madison  |  Akai Gurley  |  Jordan Baker  |  McKenzie Cochran  |  Tarika Wilson  |  Aiyana Jones  |  Yvette Smith  |  David Washington  |  Walter Scott  |  Jeremy Lake  |  Shem Walker  |  Carlos Alcis  |  Robert Davis  |  David Washington  |  Luis Rodriguez  |  Dante Parker  |  Alberta Spruill  |  Aaron Campbell  |  Joseph Burke-Monerville  |  John Adams  |  James Blake  |  Amadou Diallo  |  Rekia Boyd  |  Freddie Gray  |  Rumain Brisbon  |  Abner Louima

The Queen Is Dead

Penance

Some in this world seek to be kingmakers, but not I.  Being the power behind the throne of a mere mortal empire was an objective far too limited for me, though not because my head was ever turned toward any loftier aspiration.  No, not for my own ambition, but because it was my destiny to be the creator of a god among men, to give rise to the ruler that would unite the kingdoms as one dominion under all the heavens, so did I do all that I have done in her name.

The signs have been foretold since before there was time, and I, my Goddess’ humble servant, Kerian Gillivray, feeble Eidoli of the Penumbral, lowly Keeper of Secrets and Twister of Fates, worthless though I may be, for reasons I cannot hope to fathom, I alone was chosen to bring to fruition her divine plan, to stir into action her hallowed intent.  The whole of my existence has been a mission unto her service.  It is the sole purpose behind every seemingly happenstance, insignificant incidence which brought about the trivial circumstance that led to the instigation of my very life, and it is because of this and nothing more — this consecrated calling, this divine duty — this is the reason I yet draw breath upon this plane.

I was bred for this.  I was born into it.

So how could I have failed her so miserably?


I had thought I would be lost without Vaghdystra, Mother of Darkness, Mistress of Voracity, but I now see it as a test of my commitment that I should be tasked to continue on the path she set forth, to carry out her mission to which she appointed me, though to do so in these dark days without her ever present guidance as I once discerned it.  It’s no great surprise that she pulled away from me, though I will say naught against any action she may take against me for my abysmal failure, my principal regret in life.  It is just for her to have done so, and it should be expected, because of her most deserved disgust with me, for allowing the offspring of her chosen to be felled, and for destroying one of her elite.

I only pray that she may grant me an opportunity to make some small form of reparations — even as pathetic as any attempt may be — however she sees fit.


This is not how it was supposed to happen.  She wasn’t even supposed to be there — no one was!  Why had she taken up guard of the nest?  It is not their way.  Wyvergen do not sit upon their eggs, as if they were birds of the air, or titans of the deep.  There was no call for her to be there.  The enchantment cast upon the royal guard served no purpose if I was to encounter her royal majesty herself.


I did not know, you see, that the Queen Mother — she who was placed upon this worldly throne of power by the Goddess herself — Aryaeth Querangyn, the Golden Glory of the Veridian Isles — who  had once before lost the fruit of her love’s passion to a vengeful infidel — that she had vowed never again, that she would not be moved from her perch of protection.  I did not know, you must understand, that I would find her sleeping there, curled upon those gold and silver eggs, or that her noble talons would be wrapped so tightly around that most reverent of prizes, the Mazarine itself.  I could not have known, believe you me, that she had charmed the lair with an anti-deception incantation that would be impervious to cloaking or illusion, rendering invisibility magic useless, or surely I would have come more prepared.

And the Goddess, in her great wisdom and mystery, had not chosen to show this to me.

I cannot fault Vaghdystra for this I must not, for only she can comprehend her ways. But I can be certain, surely, that my deity, my sovereign, my liege, could not have meant for the mother of her chosen to die, and for mine to be the hand that wielded that final blow, where so many others had failed against the fierce Queen’s great might, for to believe otherwise would simply be unthinkable.  My fate was established before I came into being, and had been handed down to me since before I could speak that I would be ordained to become a companion to the Champion of the Goddess, the future of Endërrim Dunia.  I could never have foreseen that to do so, I would have to first be responsible for her own mother’s death.


I would be punished for my transgression — oh yes, and most severely, never fear that I have escaped justice — though perhaps not nearly as harshly as I deserved... perhaps the worst is still to come.  Know you this, though, that when in the good graces of my Goddess, I was once a supreme master of sorcery, brandishing nearly immeasurable powers of necromancy and kabalism, yet not by my own virtue, no, but through the invocation of Vaghdystra’s glory.  But I forfeit that power, on that gruesome night.  I sacrificed it to the work of my Goddess, to do the terrible deed that had to be done.


When I snuck into Castle Praenago, to steal the child of prophecy, the spawn of the Goddess’ chosen, as Vaghdystra bade me, and found the favored royal there, because of the Queen’s enchantment, I could not conceal myself, nor could I hope to stand against one of the most powerful fighters the realm has seen in generations.  And yet, more importantly, neither could I not disobey the will of my Goddess.  I could not leave without that which I’d come for, and so I had to do that which cannot be undone.

She would not suffer her offspring to be taken from her while she yet drew breath, the Queen, and so, only one of us could leave that room alive.  And we know, you and I, which of us came out...  I am the only one left who can tell this tale now, and I speak of it with humility and in disgrace.


The fact that she had left such a horde of Eidoli in her wake had suggested to her people that in her final battle, Queen Aryaeth had been imbued with the essence of the Goddess Vaghdystra herself.  The Queen’s death had become legendary among the citizens of her kingdom, for the sheer number of bodies it had taken to overtake her.  And perhaps, it was a fitting tribute to one so deserving that it should be so.  The legend only serves to honor a fallen hero’s memory, while exalting the magnificence of the Goddess, as the idea that she would intercede for a beloved subject adds to her power over the masses.

But they could not know how wrong they were.  They can never know what a cosmic blunder this was — what a great wrong to the Goddess, and the natural order of the universe — or how it should never have been thus.  Would that it could be so, that I might feel the full force of their justified wrath, perhaps to put an end to my own suffering, but if I must continue to serve the will of the Divine, then I must bear this shame alone.


The population of Praenago, in their desperation for an explanation — any way to make sense of their kingdom’s great tragedy — had grasped at straws to interpret what they’d found, scribbling in the dust, scratching at the dark of what little they knew to form some semblance of reason out of this horrific loss.

The royal palace guard could only have surmised how it had gone down based on what was left when they had come upon her.  The basis of their assessment, though, was only the aftermath, the remaining evidence, of what had actually occurred.  Their queen slain, surrounded by a swarm of dead Eidoli, their numbers so great as to be almost unimaginable — they could not have guessed that but for the queen herself, the dead they had found there had been already dead.


I tell you this truthfully, so that you may grasp the magnitude of what transpired — I didn’t take a mob of cultists with me from the Penumbral when I set about to carry out my commanded errand.  I went alone, expecting to abscond alone, undetected, with my prize, leaving everything else as I found it there, undisturbed, never the worse for the expropriation to my Goddess.

But she was there — Querangyn, as her people say — resplendent and ruthless, and when she found me, she drew upon me, as one would expect a mother, a warrior, and a Queen to do.  I couldn’t very well simply ask her to hand over the most sacred of her unhatched, the crown jewel of all Wyvergendry, nor did she much care to hear anything I might have had to say.

I required an immediate distraction, and one that only a conjurer could bring about, if I was to fulfill my purpose.  I reached out through the veil between planes, summoning into the Penumbral, and retrieved a soulless form from the Ilunpaen to command it, wordlessly directing it to set upon her.  But it wasn’t enough.  She dispatched it with such a swiftness, it might as well have been made of smoke and mirrors.  So I brought forth again from the netherworld a small host of the undead, charmed to follow my bidding, for the sole purpose of distracting this uncommonly forceful fighter long enough for me to abduct the paragon of her brood from within her clutches.  How could I have known how fruitless an effort it would be?

She was savage and skilled so far beyond the half of what had been told that one could not even see from where she stood how any could have ever imagined her to be any less, so little did this godlike figure resemble the stories that preceded her, that paled in comparison to the conqueror that she was.  She put them down by the dozens, and I struggled to keep a barrier of lifeless bodies in motion between us, I almost couldn’t pull them fast enough.  Wave after wave of exanimate poured through the veil, and just as quickly as they did, the offal of her rampage flew about, scraps and fragments of corpses piling up as she tore through my undead forces with the rage of a rabid animal.  I was certain that she would do no less to me, but I began to fear that I would empty out the whole of the Ilunpaen before battle fatigue had even begun to slow her, and then I would be left with nothing between us to prevent her from doing so.

There was blood in her eyes, the stench of death in the air, and a kind of wanton madness about her; enough that I prepared myself to meet my maker.  Yet, as surely as I was convinced that I was about to die, still, I could not help but to be in awe of her strength, her dexterity, her pulchritude; and there was a bliss to it — an almost peaceful acceptance — so tantalizing I very nearly gave in to it, to have gone to my Goddess having been struck down by the force of her chosen, for here was the embodiment of my Goddess at work!  This exquisite, deadly creature represented the transcendence of Vaghdystra’s plan, the perfection of her artistry in action.  It is truly little wonder that this marvelous specimen was chosen to be the bearer of the Champion, the deliverer of the Dark Majesty’s own progeny.

And I killed her.

Is it any wonder that I now scorn every breath that passes through my lungs?




Even admiring this masterpiece of life as I did, though, I knew I could not abandon that divine plan.  I could not allow my reverence to distract me from the task at hand.  When it became clear to me that the collective body of every entity that had ever died in all of Dunia would not be enough to stay this hell-bent mortal, I knew I had to resort to deeper, stronger, crueler, more pernicious alchemy.


I will not speak of the witchcraft I used, out of shame over its mortifying nature, an evil so debauched and devastating that it should be wielded only against the most heinous of foes, and never those who would be naught but collateral damage.  I will not tell you how I sapped this regal regent of her energy, how I drained her of her very lifeforce, and watched as she battled through its effects, even as she weakened.  I cannot tell you this, for I could not bear for none but me to suffer the burden of full knowledge, the true depth of this horrific woe.  I had hoped I would not have to see her meet her end.  I held on to my faith in the Goddess, that she would not let her chosen fall, that the Queen would but collapse under the pressure, and I could escape with my quarry, as was my mandate.

If she had relaxed at all, if she had ever slowed even but a little, the diabolism would have only temporarily taken her consciousness, lulling her into a catatonic coma, from which she would have awakened in but a matter of hours.  But, Aryaeth was born a fighter, and she could be nothing but.  She would not stop until every enemy had been slain, or until the blood seeped from her veins.  But it was not blood loss that took her from this plane.  It was sortilege, at my behest, so I could take from her that which belonged to her, which was borne from her, and forged by the Goddess we both serve.

In the end, with great sorrow, I pried it from her lifeless claws.

But not without great cost.


The constant stream of augury had weakened my thaumaturgic reserve.  I could barely hold my hands up.  And yet, that was not the end of it, nor the last need there would be for powerful dark magic that night.  Oh, how I desperately long to say that was the worst of it, as surely that was the most terrible sin I’ve ever committed, but there was yet more collateral damage from this unending nightmare in that accursed place.

In the course of the continuous assault, a number of the royal ovules had been broken by the fracas.  But four, miniscule compared to their cyaneous denmate, remained intact.  And that, perhaps, may have been the most damning blow of all.  I had left them without a mother, their father out terrorizing across the countryside, to return Goddess knows when, if at all, and I could not even be certain he would have known about this cluster of his seed.  And I certainly didn’t have the resources back at the temple to raise more than the Wyverken I’d been planning for throughout these many long decades of preparation, pending the signs leading up to the fulfillment of this cherished ancient prophecy.

I took with me a few of the Eidoli Anedad of the Ilunpaen still standing under my control.  Those few that had not fallen by the hand of the stricken would drop back into their naturally dead state once I had retreated from the morbid scene.  I ensorcelled the Anedad to carry the eggs into the nearest surrounding villages — four of them, each in different directions — the undead not resting until they had come to the door stoop of a Wyvergen home — and only that which displayed by its banner its service therein to the Goddess — upon which to leave their precious package.  Once their mission was complete, their purpose served, they would simply return to unanimated corpses.  Thus, four true offspring of Ferrant and Aryaeth, unbeknownst to anyone, would be taken in to be brought up by other Wyvergen houses while I disappear with Nadira, of the Bazylaethne line, to cultivate her development in the ways of Vaghdystra, hoping to take this secret to my grave, the weight of it so heavy upon me.

But I did not escape unscathed.

I have sworn to give my all in the service of my Goddess Vaghdystra, but in bringing about the death of her chosen, I have done so, for by this action I was cursed, my powers smothered, drowned in the blood now on my hands, drained by my abhorrent act, and depleted by the correction of its consequences .  I know that in time, Goddess permitting, I will regenerate my power, and recuperate my losses.  Perhaps it is fitting, then, too, that my power shall only grow as I train her Champion to grow in equal power, as she commanded.


The truth of the matter is, I know the prophecy will be fulfilled whether I am a part of it or not.  A worthless creature such as I could not even be counted significant enough to derail the will of Vaghdystra.  If it doesn’t happen in this manner, it will be done in another.  The Goddess will find a way.  So I would not presume that she would keep me alive simply because she needs me.  Vaghdystra needs no man or beast.

But it is her punishment that I should be forced to live with the pain and shame of this regret, that I should continue in her service, faithfully, dutifully, despite this great sorrow.  I must persevere, through the pain of misery, through the sting of bile in my gut, through the hatred that I feel against my continued presence on this worldly plane.  Because I know, too, that she will not let me die.  I have wounded her so deeply, it is my retribution to be denied a worthy death.

And I must accept my fate.

My sole purpose now is to fulfill Vaghdystra’s wishes, and perhaps to one day prove to her that I might once again be considered worthy of an honorary death... a hero’s death.  My greatest wish is that at some point I will have met her challenge, and she will allow me to die, perhaps painfully, perhaps by her very own hand, or the hand of fate as guided by her, for my sins against her.

And because I know that the Goddess will not reward me for my transgressions with the glory of a warrior’s death in battle, for that reason, I can be fearless when I fight for her Champion, when I defend her temple, when I face insurmountable odds.  My Goddess has pulled her voice from me, and I do not blame her for this.  But I know that to give up on this mission simply for finding myself without her direct influence as a guide would mean certain failure and defeat at my very reason for being, and that is simply not an option.  To give up now, would be sacrilege and blasphemy.  The possibility of abandonment is simply not even thinkable.


In the grand scheme of all things under the heavens, come what may, I will escort Vaghdystra’s Master Plan unto its end.  I will safeguard this holy cerulean bundle, as we journey back together to her new home at her waiting palace in the Penumbral.

She is my charge, my mission, an occasional thorn in my side, and the quintessence of my life’s purpose.  She is the future of all the world, where all be united as the family of the Goddess.

And, lowly as I may be, I her humble servant, will become all things to her until she needs me no longer.


                Keeper, Master, Trainer,

                Guardian, Protector, Confidant,

               Entertainer, Puppet, Companion,

               Worshipper, Follower, Slave.


Long live Nadira, Champion of the Goddess.  Long may she reign.


It has been a fortnight since, and she is among us, coming into this cold and cruel world harshly, as do all offspring without a mother to bring them forth.  She is resting now, bundled in my pack, under the stars, as I stoke the fire to keep her warm.  We would travel in the Penumbral, away from prying eyes, curious questions, and search parties, but the time for her to adjust to its dark nature is not yet upon us.  For now, she needs the light of the sun and the moon to nurture her. 

I watch her as she flutters and whimpers in her sleep.  I wonder what she dreams of.  She is growing so fast, already taking my hand and standing.  She trusts me, implicitly, I suppose only because she does not know I have taken her from the only family she had known.

But, I am bringing her to a greater family, with a deeper, stronger bond.  She is the spawn of the Goddess, and she will be raised in the house of the Goddess.  We are yet a dozen moons away from her new home, but Vaghdystra has blessed our holy pilgrimage, and has been keeping us safe.


She is so large for her age.  Wyvergen should stand a kovat tall at seven sun cycles, but after only three, her crown was already tickling my chin when she hugged me.  Soon, she will be running, and before long, her stride will be so much lengthened than mine that she will be faster than I can catch her.

There is so much to teach her, so much she must learn, and yet so much I must shield her from.  I am certain that the Goddess was right to put her trust in me, as she chose me for this, and I will not second guess her.  I only pray that I will not fail her again.



Slumber now, little hatchling, for soon you will be grown,

and when you have come into your own...

...the world will be yours
.



LJ Idol | Season 9 • Week 27 - Topic: OPEN
This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.
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Then No One Shall

Ascendance

In Days of Darkness, when the Mother of Majesty
  bears upon the Realm of all who live
  the Coming of Endless Night,
  From the Bosom of Blood, A Champion of her Progeny –
   a Sapphire borne from Silver and Gold –
  Will raise the Kingdom of Dragons
   within the Cradle of Man
   to reign eternal upon the land
.”

...A prophecy, known among the children of Vaghdystra, bred from dragons and men, since the time of the Basiblis Wars, all but forgotten for over 2,000 years, to all but the most devoted of believers, and those dedicated to the ancient wisdom of the Wyvergen ancestors. 

It has became legend, told at bedtime to children — as stories of heroism and promise to the faithful of the Queen of Darkness, as tales of warning to her enemies.  It would impact the lives in this chronicle more profoundly than any of them could have imagined or foretold.




In those days, rule of Wyvragen kingdoms passed naturally from each reigning sovereign to his or her heir, but maintaining the monarchy was not always a given for the line, nor even a simple task.  Leadership was determined not by blood, but by whomever had the greater power and will.  For this reason, Wyvergen kingdoms were often in turmoil, regularly undergoing many rapid and often violently brutal changes from one crowned head to another.  And yet, there remained many among their peoples who believed that the Bazylaethne tribe was the only true clan with a proper claim to rule any Wyvergen kingdom by birthright, as theirs is the only legacy whose lineage can be traced directly to the Time of Origin, when Vaghdystra herself created Dragons from Men.  But, it was mostly a moot point, since a true kingdom of Wyvergen had not been seen in centuries, due to their dwindling numbers and diminished social status in the known world as a result of the Basiblis Wars.

This is the story of their rise to power. . . 


*****


Ferrant the Silverskin, of the clan Bazylaethne, was born to modest means in a small, provincial hamlet within the barely chartered colonies of the Eastern regions.  He quickly became known to his family and the greater community as Ferrant Aldrik (which means ruler), for his natural inclination to take charge, dominating by power and might first the siblings of his clutch, then the other children of the countryside, and even a few fearful full grown citizens.  Despite his imperious disposition, as he grew, Ferrant was well received by most, well-liked by many, and respected by all of the locals of his and nearby neighboring villages.

Yet still he wanted more.

His kind, the Wyvergen, had been nearly decimated by the Basiblis Wars, their numbers scattered few and far between throughout the known world.  Ferrant took his companions from among those varied creatures who settled the outer territories along with his family, but knew that his people were destined for better than scavenging among ruins, and longed for a day when they would once again know power, and rule with great might.  Ferrant sought greatness for himself and his clan, a kingdom of Wyvergen, the men of Dragons, the chosen of his Goddess, Vaghdystra, Creator of Dragonkind, Architect of the Dragon peoples.




*****


Ferrant’s dream of power was as good as any, and young growing males should have something to strive towards, so he prayed to his diety, Vaghdystra, the Mother of Dragons, the Queen of Dark Majesty, to give him a life filled with conquest, a stronghold for his people, and a kingdom to call his own.  Vaghdystra, intent on the advancement of her chosen Wyvergen, received his request with intrigue, and responded by showing him great favor.

When he reached adulthood, Ferrant set out on a journey for adventure, and found just that.  Guided by the hand of fate granted him by the Goddess, Ferrant came upon a settlement of Wyvergen, where he found a kindred spirit in the beautiful and tempestuous Aryeath, also of the Bazylaethne tribe.  The two fell for each other like it was preordained; there was no grave they wouldn’t plunder, no temple they wouldn’t burn, and no rival they wouldn’t kill for one another.  They were instantly enchanted, and after a smattering of facile triumphs, easily overthrowing kings and empires together, they made a pact with one another and a covenant to their Goddess, and became mated for life.

Their travels through the Eastern regions became legendary.  Ferrant, with his gray exterior, his chrome armor, his shining blade, glistening with the glint of sun and the sting of fresh blood, became known as “The Silver Sword.”  Aryaeth, more copportoned of scale, had a style for destruction that was almost a graceful kind of dance... she was soon dubbed “The Golden Glory.”  Their horde, a loyal pack of dedicated Wyvergen and faithful mercenaries, wanted for nothing as they ripped across the Veridian Isles and over the Ankali Range, hopping from cay to peninsula to continent, their trail of arrogation indomitable on either land or sea.  Together, they ravaged everything of value, power, or pleasure when the tore through.  Dripping in victory and in spoils, they shared a great admiration, love and respect for their leaders, whom they called “Silver and Gold,” because everything the deadly duo touched turned to treasure.

Ferrant claimed every newly conquered citadel for Wyvergen in the name of Vaghdystra, setting up a Pantheon therein to honor her, and establishing a fortress with a Wyvergen Commander-in-Charge at every new post, leaving behind enough affluence for everyone stationed to rule with the power of an iron fist, and to live out their days like kings.  And yet, even thinning their starting ranks as they pressed forward, their numbers never dwindled.  They were sought out by every pirate, rogue, and ranger with a spirit of adventure and a love of battle, spreading carnage and amassing wealth in their wake wherever they went, as the allegiance and devotion to their traveling band of conquistadors only grew.


They were invincible. 


*****


After a particularly fruitful sweep of a dazzling palace, the most magnificent they’d yet seen, Aryaeth relayed to Ferrant that she was heavy laden, and it was time to nest.  Her followers rejoiced.  Having been like a fighting mother to so many of them, their battle-tested regent / proven heroin became known among her people as Aryaeth Querangyn.  Ferrant determined to settle his newly growing family into the dominion they’d just defeated, renamed it Raltakun Praenago, with himself as King and Aryaeth as his beloved Warrior Queen, and took a band of brethren to subjugate the masses at the outer perimeter of his new domain in order to fortify their new stronghold.

Before they returned, however, an enemy dissenter, a Basiblis remnant of the previous regime, snuck in through secret passageways in the castle not yet fully known to their new inhabitants, and destroyed the unhatched clutch of The Silver and Gold King and Queen while the royal party slumbered.  Ferrant returned in time to catch the culprit, but not before every last Wyvergen egg had been demolished.


The vengeance that Ferrant exacted in his rage upon that guilty party who’d robbed him of his heirs is one that will be whispered of for generations to come.  The infidel was flayed alive, his finger and toenails ripped off, his eyelids removed, his bloody body skewered by spikes driven through his thighs and biceps and hung up to dry in the relentless, blazing, unforgiveable sun.  His screams of agony could be heard for miles.  For weeks while he hung there, he begged any passersby to kill him.  But all feared the wrath of their new ferocious and fiery tempered king, and none would dare act against him, nor would any have wanted to give succor to the beast who had so gravely wronged their beloved leaders.


Ferrant turned the bastille upside down and inside out to fully comprehend every subtle nuance of its structure down to each brick and stone, and the tiniest last nail hole of every nook and cranny within the castle walls, so that none could ever again pass through at any point without full knowledge of the palace guard.  Still, Aryaeth could not be consoled over her loss.  She fell into a deep, brooding silence, hardly bothering to emerge from her bedchamber; she would suffer none but Ferrant near her, and even then, she barely let him talk or touch her.  She could not forgive herself for not being at the royal nesting lair to defend her eggs.   She would gladly have ripped to shreds with her bare teeth even the smallest fly that would walk across their delicate shells, had she only been there to shield them, but instead, they had been left alone while she slept, with no bosom to tend them, no blade to guard them.  There was no absolution for a mother who did not fight for her young, she said.


Ferrant was beside himself to know how to please her, and for the second time threw himself upon the altar of Vaghdystra and prayed for guidance.  Vaghdystra’s response was to demonstrate to him how to give his bride love and security, showing him a vision of himself raiding the surrounding and far off lands to fill his kingdom’s storehouses with treasure to strengthen his refuge against future foes, enough to outlast the longest siege against the heartiest enemies.  He saw his triumphant hoard winning caches of fortune unmeasured, so expansive as to be incomprehensible beyond his already accumulated masses.

She also showed him a passionate vision of conceiving the next clutch with his love, but, unbeknownst to Ferrant, that was no vision, but Vaghdystra had entranced him, and she herself had come to him in the embodiment of his mate.  And so, the Goddess of Dark Majesty, Mother of Dragons took into her own flesh and blood the Bazylaethne seed of the powerful conquering hero of her people, Ferrant Aldrik, The Silver Sword, and with it and her own divine ovum, she conjured a single enchanted spawn within her loins.

She then rousted Ferrant from his erotic haze, directing him in a wisp of inspiration to carry out her dream induced instructions, bewitching him with an aphrodisiac pheromone so potent and robust his bride would be powerless to resist, so, not believing that he had yet done so but in a fantasy, he made love to his mate, who became once again impregnated with the strongest line yet known to Wyvergen kind, as well as the charmed semi-deified spore that Vaghdystra herself, present in spirit, passed into the surrogate Bazylaethne womb of Aryaeth Querangyn, The Golden Glory.


Upon the following morrow, Ferrant, still enthralled with a divine sense of purpose, kissed his bride and crept away to the spoils of adventure, as his vision had ordained, intent on bringing home a paragon of riches for his Goddess and his Queen, as his holy mission dictated.  Within a few weeks, word arrived to his fighting troops on the front lines that the kingdom once again rejoiced with his family over the clutch his reigning consort had borne, a fine collection of silver and gold specimen, and, most notably, one solitary cerulean egg, larger than that of the greatest giant ever known, darker than a royal jewel, deeper than the ocean blue, shining more brightly than a dying star.

Ferrant was addled.  Could it be?  Had the ancient prophecy been borne at last upon his time?  Was he in fact to be the sire of the Chromatic Cobalt, the Wyvergen Deliverer?  Had the love of his life brought forth the Herald of his Goddess’ Majesty?  He could hardly contain himself.  He left his army where they stood and raced back to his home.  If he’d have had wings, he’d have flown.  The weeks of his journey back felt both like the blink of an eye and all the fleeting sands of an entire lifetime.  But nothing could have prepared him for what he found upon his return.



*****


Ferrant arrived at Castle Praenago to find his people in great distress.   Once again, the royal nesting lair had been destroyed, but this time, the crown jewel, the fulfillment of the prophecy, had been stolen.  And, worse.  Far worse.  His one true love, his companion, his partner, his consort, his Queen, had been slain.  They’d found her in a pool of Eidoli blood, surrounded by a mob of slaughtered bodies.

The number of the fallen astounded even the heartiest of weathered warriors.  Never had any known in the history of war the stand of any one combatant against such insurmountable odds.  Not in the bloodiest battles recorded among Wyvergen, nor man, nor any known entity had any living creature withstood for so long, taking out so many, in the face of such a relentless onslaught.

And even so, her battered, beaten, bruised and bloodied form showed that she’d not been felled by blade nor tooth or claw, but by an unyielding barrage of magic, the sheer power and force of which could hardly be fathomed, that she could even see or breathe, much less wield a weapon and continue her path of destruction to protect her eggs.

It was suspected by her people that in that moment, the Queen’s bombarded body could only have been powered with the strength of the very Goddess herself.   The tale of her last stand to this day among all peoples of the known world who’ve heard it has become the universal symbol of a mother’s undying ferocity in love and devotion to protect and defend her young.



*****


Ferrant, believing that no outside force could have broken into the castle, thought the massacre to be the result of an inside job, and set about to execute the whole of his palace guard.  His frenzied paroxysm of violent fury could so scarcely be subsumed, those near him nearly believed he would explode from within.  But, a wily servant, newly having worked his way into the employ of the royal castle from the most recent overthrow of this alcazar, one Basiblis Dronall Volrethien, spoke up against such madness.

Dronall pointed out to Ferrant that the invaders were Eidoli, of the Penumbral, and that their passage into this realm could only be achieved by magic.  He referenced the murder of Ferrant’s beloved as one of magical forces, not of brute strength.  Ferrant realized of course it couldn’t have been any of those he trusted.  Dronall further proffered that only the enemies of Vaghdystra could have executed such a heinous crime against the most elite among the chosen of the Dark Queen.  He implied that no matter its physical defenses, the castle could not be secure from enemies of this sort, and proposed that only magic could fight against magic.  He humbly offered his meager services to the king, simple trifling parlor tricks, he professed, a few mere potions and spells, he would gladly surrender his eternal submission to project the majesty of the Kingdom of the Silver Sword.

Shaken by grief and distemper, in a daze of shock, Ferrant, scarcely aware of his surroundings, agreed to Dronall’s assistance, and left the scene, mumbling incoherently.  It was the last time his people would see their leader in his right mind.



*****


What Ferrant did not know, was that Dronall was no low level magus, but a Master Warlock — of the Demonshade, and that he did not serve Vaghdystra, but Darwyrdios, the Lord of Destruction, Progenitor of Demons.  His magic was powerful, malicious, and deadly.  He knew of the prophecy of the Dark Queen’s progeny, as well as what the ramifications would be to his race of people, and to his own house, and he had recognized the signs that pointed to its fulfillment in Ferrant’s family, his history, and his destiny.

Dronall was an outcast from a dynasty who had enslaved a moiety of Blethine, and through decades of practiced wizardry while still in his family’s good graces, he had acquired the skills of the cognalescants.  Dronall had learned to focus the sound of his voice so that he could both mark and manipulate his target when he spoke, as well as attack his will at such a subconscious level that he wouldn’t even feel the intrusion on his senses, as Dronall’s magic latched on to his very lifeforce, and slowly drained it of its essence.

It was in this manner that Dronall managed to obtain Ferrant’s agreement and cooperation; it was in this manner that the caitiff rose to power second to the King himself, as Chief Advisor to His Majesty; it was in this manner that Dronall Volrethien enslaved the mental facilities of the Silver Sword, and it was in this manner that the black sheep of the house of DeSouzza controlled Ferrant Aldrik of the Bazylaethne line, the kingdom of Raltakun Praenago, and the growing Empire of Wyvergen.




*****


Under Dronall’s manipulation, Ferrant retreated deep into the castle, failing to go forth and conquer new lands, refusing to tend to the duties of his kingdom, neglecting the needs of his people.  Dronall become his mouthpiece, and spoke on his behalf, saying the heavyhearted ruler could not bear to know that when his love had been murdered, she died suffering alone in his castle while he was away from her side, and so he could not bring himself to ever leave the presence of the spirit she imprinted on the castle walls with her blood in the most glorious combat ever witnessed this side of the heavens.

Nevermore seeing him, but hearing only rumors that at night he roamed the empty halls she last tread, his people came to know him as Barkarne Ferrant Aldrik, and prayed to Vaghdystra that on some sunny day his lonely soul might know peace, and that he might restore his people to their former dignity and grandeur, for under Dronall’s usurped authority, they had come to know naught but misfortune and misery.


Dronall informed the citizenry of Praenago that their leader had ordered every available resource go towards an exhaustive manhunt, an unwavering quest to all corners of the known world for the safe return of his missing kidnapped offspring, Nadira, the Sapphire Wyvergen, and he imposed and brutally enforced a hefty, stifling tax throughout the land to secure infinite funding for his intractable crusade.  It was believable to the King's subjects that he would spare no expense, leave no stone unturned, to return the stolen treasure that had cost the queen mother her life, but, in reality, it was Dronall himself who squandered the treasury to his own ends, pandering, pressuring, and politicking, making back door deals with other territories, even those the Wyvergen would know as enemies, and driving the peasantry and nobility alike into abject poverty.  Though, none knew the truth or the extent of his underhanded dealings.

With the freeflowing fountain of Praenago’s prosperity dried up, the mercenary hoard who’d loyally served the king in battle and in conquest made to flee the realm, but were met with opposition from Dronall’s military guard, made up of enchanted gollum and undead soldiers.  Those fiercest and most hardened fighters managed to escape with their lives.  Those who were not put to the sword were sold into slavery to the enemies of the kingdom, or whichever peoples offered the highest bidding, including some which had met defeat at the hand of the king’s forces.  Eventually, even the best of the most dedicated Wyvergen houses retreated from the oppression of the Basiblis tyrant.

For a while, it seemed Vaghdystra no longer smiled upon the silverskin ruler of her dragonmen.  But, that is not the end of this story, and this would not be the fate of the Bazylaethne line.  For somewhere out there, a seed sown had yet to be nurtured, cultivated and grown... upon its development, that little sprout would change the face of history for all creatures under the sun...

...but that is a story for another day.




LJ Idol | Season 9 • Week 26 - Topic: CRABS IN A BARREL
This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.
If you have enjoyed this entry, please feel free to speak your piece, share the love, and pass it on...
                                                                                                               ...and thanks for stopping by.

Roster

CAST OF RELEVANT CHARACTERS

Barkarne Ferrant Aldrik  (Status Unknown)
Bar-CAR-Nay • FAIR-ahnt • ALL-Drick:
"Lonely Gray Ruler" 
Wyvergen King  (Bazylaethne lineage – Known as "The Silver Sword")
Sire of Nadira / Mate of Aryaeth / Ruler of Praenago



Aryaeth Querangyn (DECEASED)
ARE-Yəth • CARE-engin:
"Fierce Noble Mother of Dark Power"
Wyvergen Queen  (Bazylaethne lineage – Known as "The Golden Glory")
Mother of Nadira / Mate of Ferrant / Ruler of Praenago



Khacyei Ibarhan (Status Unknown)
KHA-(like Khan)-Chay (like chain) • EE-bah-Ron:
"Brave, Observant/alert/vigorous Devoted Noble Spirit Warrior"
Wyvergen Ranger
Hero of/Mentor to Nadira



NADIRA Bazylaethne
Nə-DEER-ah • BAH-zill-LAYth-knee:
"One who is rare and hard to find Royal Fire"
Wyvergen Ranger
Vaghdystra's worldly kingdom heir apparent



Dronall Volrethien
Drone-ALL • VAHL-rəh-Thane:
"Stranger/Counselor Stolen rule of the people"
Basiblis Master Warlock, Demonshade
Advisor to/Destroyer of King Ferrant / Usurper of the Throne of Praenago



Kerian Gillivray
CARRY-ən • GIL-(as in fish)-live-Ray:
"Dark Servant of Judgment"
Eidoli (of the Penumbral) Invoker/Sorceror
Religious Wizard of Vaghdystra / Servant of/Spiritual Guide to Nadira



Raltakun Praenago
RAHL-tə-Koon • Pray-NAH-Go:
"Realm of Dragonmen"
Location – Wyvergen Stronghold
Place of Nadira's birth / Kingdom of Nadira's parents/Khacyei

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A Karmic Sandbox

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