The horse we choose to ride

All my horoscopes lately have a theme: "We know you want to get away, but you really shouldn’t, so try to just keep getting things done.  But not too much.  Try and relax.  But don’t go anywhere."

That’s not much of a theme when I blurt it like that, but that conflict seems to be the M.O.: a desire to escape, but a need to do the relaxing right here.  Of course all this comes before they get to the big meat of the tale, which is that this week is supposed to Suck. Like. No. Other.  There are all sorts of transits and shifts and oppositions, and then to top it off today the moon is "void of course."  I looked it up and it suggested this is a good time to do the mundane, errandish things you know you should do but have been putting off.  Of course, given that Pluto is stopped and about to do a HUGE shift of sign, and that Saturn is ready to, at long, long last, begin to leave Virgo and head for Libra (bitches, you can HAVE HIM) and Mercury is retrograde and Uranus is doing something stupid, too–well.  Let’s just say I’m REALLY looking forward to subbing tomorrow.

The thing I’m noticing is that most people are really, really pissy and/or cranky, and if you’re not in the thick of it with them, it’s pretty clear that this mood comes from their own actions or their own decision to be angry.  Best illustration of this is what happened to me on the way home from running errands: I was coming over the bridge on Main Street turning into Northwestern Ave, and there was a cyclist in the middle of the road.  I immediately recognized her as someone I know.  She was riding slowly and in the dead, dead center of the road, and when I made an attempt to pass her, she moved even further over so I couldn’t.  She didn’t turn left, but when I tried again to pass her, she signaled left, as if she would.  After two cries of wolf, I went around her as safely as I could, and waved, thinking she might recognize me.  I’m frankly surprised she didn’t have a heart attack in the street, she was so furious.  I was the recipient in that moment, I’m sure, of a tidal wave of rage from everything wrong with the world as she saw it, everything that wasn’t behaving the way it ought to, and knowing this woman, I’m sure there’s a long list.  Maybe she recognized me and I’ll get an earful later.  Maybe not.  What I know, though, was that it didn’t have to be that way.  And I ruin the whole thing by not being upset about it, just stunned by that much energy put into something that was bound to lose.  No, a bicycle doesn’t get to take charge of the whole road for over two blocks, and if you fake signal in the time I could have passed you, I’ll stop believing you.  It’s not an emotional game–I just didn’t want to stay behind her, and I didn’t have to.  

But this is where we all are, at least collectively right now. Everywhere I see news reported on the internet it’s in hyperbole, but then, the people making the news are pretty hyperbolic, too.  Everyone is so ANGRY.  Rage is dripping from the eaves, and you can’t even run an errand, apparently, without a tempest in a teapot.  Even in our house, everyone’s tempers seem so short, so easily blown up.  Every change of plan or need to perform an errand or job or task is a chance to stomp feet, grit teeth, or, when it becomes too much, snap off sharp comments or launch into invective.  Every phone call is an interruption.  Every need is yet another lead weight to bear.  And underneath the anger seems to be the hurt, the sense that the Universe has abandoned us, because how could it not see that we are hurting?  How could it do this to us?

I am not saying I am immune to this.  I’m not up on my dias watching the little people have issues: I’m having them, too.  My body, at the very least, is bringing pain back as a fashionable accessory.  I’ve got some hormone loose in the hoose, making me so flexible that on Saturday a rib went out literally as I sat on a couch and did nothing more aggressive than breathe.  My lower back is into the act, and my right arm rotated forward and out at my shoulder, elbow, and wrist.  This, combined with the fact that I’m wearing the same planets as everyone else, is making me testy, and my greatest problem right now is that when someone else is pissy I cannot, cannot stop from turning to them and giving them a scathing, "Shut the fuck up and get over it."  That doesn’t help, not at all, but it’s my version of the heart attack in the street: I have to bleed it off, too.  

Today I’m in mourning as well, because the drafting is over.  I now have two months of no new drafts ahead of me: I need to tweak "The Boys of Pleasure," polish SPECIAL DELIVERY enough to send it out to betas (speaking of which, I need some volunteers on deck to read some m/m erotica, 100k long), I need to get submission material ready for TSV plus hopefully integrate edits from the hired editor, AND I need to put a beta-ready draft of TEMPLE BOY together.  Plus I need to get my website ready (getting close), and do research for the poker-intense sequel to SD I plan to write for NaNoWriMo in November, a real challenge as I don’t even know the rules to poker and my main plot will revolve around it.  (I’m floating STRAIGHT FLUSH as a working title right now.  I’m not sure what I think.  Sometimes it sounds too much like a toilet, to me.)  This is to say nothing of the fact that I need to paint the garage door, the porch floor, the bathroom ceiling, seal the deck, dig up the flower garden, substitute teach as much as possible, and of course, keep us in clean dishes and clothing, and maybe sometimes, for bonus points, scrub a toilet and vacuum a rug.

What I know, though, is that despite all this, I feel really good, even with post-book depression.  I’m nervous about hearing back from Dreamspinner, and I’m as anxious as anybody else about money, and yes, it’d be nice to have the whole world feel like it were level and not titling rapidly back, forth, and sideways.  But the only part I control is me, and how I feel at the center of it, and this time, despite the chaos, my center feels pretty good.  Right now my shoulder hurts, a lot, but I’m drinking yummy coffee and I had the better part of half of a rotisserie chicken for lunch from Hy-Vee.  It tasted so good!  And it was only $3!  And I have the laundry started, and dinner ready, and a list of to-do things which I can easily achieve, and as soon as I post this I’m going to go reread something and then play Hoyle Casino because it’s the only way to learn how to play without losing money.  Yes, everything’s crazy, but we were able to buy–and pay for–Anna’s long-promised iPod Touch this weekend, and she loves it.  Yes, I need to do my exercises and haven’t been as good with it lately, but when I go to chiropractic, it works right away (even if it does make me sore).  And over the weekend I learned that at this point Vicodin is more trouble than it’s worth for the pain I have now, which feels like a huge victory, even if it does mean living with some ow.

I’ve had the iPod on random today, and while I was cleaning up the kitchen and sorting laundry this morning, Lucky Kaplansky’s "The Tide" came on, and when I heard the lyrics to one of the verses, it struck me, and I’ve thought of it as I’ve gone through the day trying to dodge buckets of rage. 

I was made to be a good girl
Carried buckets made of stone
Full of envy, full of sorrow
On a tightrope all alone

And all the time I was on fire
I burned with every stride
And now I see this anger
Is the horse I choose to ride

The problem right now seems to be to be that everyone is carrying those buckets of stone, even people who wouldn’t even try to be good girls.  People who love to be bailed out and people who have never asked for help are all helpless and stricken at the same time.  And right now, not even the gods are with us.  Right now, even the sky is against us.

This one, actually, I feel like I had the advance course on, this spring.  When I hurt so bad and I didn’t know why and everything said, "You have to do work, more work than you ever wanted or dreamed, and it might not do anything for you," and when this was true of writing AND just living day to day without pain, I was so furious.  It seemed so unfair!  I’d done nothing to deserve this!  Even at my shittiest, nothing I’d done warranted this kind of a response.  Where was the Universe?  Where were these forces of light?  Where was the love, goddamn it?  I remember how that felt.  I remember feeling it particularly in the little room that is my therapist’s office, never letting go as much as she encouraged me to, but feeling it so close to the surface, my own little explosion just waiting to happen.  Except I never did.  I used it, I guess, to dig myself out.  I focused on my body, and it did change some of that, but I think the bigger part of me affected was my mind.  

Right now I guess like everyone else I only get a series of angry horses to choose from.  Right now it’s almost impossible not to pick up the mantle of rage and blame, and since I’d like to remain human, I’ll cede to this.  But I’m not going to embrace this rage, and I’m not going to put everything handy I’d like not to deal with in there.  I can think of about fifty different things that could go wrong in this month that’s supposed to be full of it, and if they happen, I’ll be ready.  But I won’t let them destroy me.  Which, ironically, is the gift I got from that hell this past spring.  I really did, sappy as it sounds, find myself in the middle of all that hell.  

So bring it, Mercury, Saturn, Pluto, Uranus, and any other planetary body that feels like shitting on Virgos and anybody else on the planet.  I’m going to assume this is just something you have to do, that, actually, it has nothing to do with me, that you don’t simply exist to please and serve me, that the Universe is bigger and more important than bikes and cars and bodies and dreams of having a book career.  I won’t like that every day, but when I think about how many galaxies are out there, about the great rush of everything out there so far away we can’t even know if or how it affects our lives–well, I’m me, and I’m here, and this is the best I can do.  I will assume the same of you, and just try to hold on until you’re in more favorable aspects.  But, being Virgo, I’ll also be grateful for any lessons or use I can make of this, too.  Because that’s how I roll.

Amen.

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