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Nerdy Thursdays: “Wild Magic” & “Wolf Speaker”

 Nerdy Thursdays is a weekly blog feature.  It is here that I freely indulge my nerdy self and talk about books I’m reading.

Consider The Immortals, a series by Tamora Pierce.  These were the only books of the Tortall universe that I was lucky enough to start on before the age of 14.  So I got into Daine’s story much more than I’ve been able to ever get interested in Alanna’s et al.  From a glance at Goodreads, this phenomenon is apparently the norm.

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Of Backpacking Mishaps & Hectic Weekends

I’m catching a few breaths.  I had a wonderous, wild weekend.  Saturday night saw me as an extra upfront on stage out of town.  No one was more surprised to see me up there than me.  Its an occupational hazard when one has friends who are both charismatic & theater nerds.

I attended a baby shower that I’d put down the date wrong for  & thought was happening while I was out of town.  We had a gift mailed & thought we were so on top of things.  But it ended up being today.  we scrambled, got something together and went  in support of our friends since we were here.  I also made tons of food last minute for a hastily scheduled church potluck in honor of visiting musicians who put on a fantastic performance for us.  The theme of the weekend was…

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Foodie Fridays: Rosemary Potatoes

Potatoes & rosemary

Today is my first ever Friday in which I blog about food. I’m not a foodie. I think that carbs & starches are pure bliss. Spaghetti & garlic bread is my version of a perfect meal. It doesn’t really have to be distinct or unique in anyway for me to like it. The sauce can be home made from fresh garden ingredients & the noodles & bread home made from a secret recipe known only to eight people in the world (3 of them famous chefs). But I’ll like it fine if its not. Just thought I should admit that right off.  Now on to the fun stuff 🙂

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Nature Walk

Last night I attended an evening nature walk that was put on by the local fish & wildlife service.  A small crowd gathered in the woods around a group of experts.  The topic of the presentation was bats.  Tiny delicate creatures who sort of look like mice with wings & giant ears.  I learned that the bat population on the east coast has taken a huge hit in recent years due to a fungus from Europe.  Its called white nose syndrome and it makes the bats itch.  Now if they have to wake up too much from hibernation in the winter to scratch, they lose too much body fat and can die.  But just as recently as a few months ago, scientists have noted signs of regrowth in the east coast bats.  This is important news for bat enthusiasts who just like bats.  Its also important for cavers as some of the restrictions on caving might be lifted.  Its also important for anyone who… well.. eats because more bats mean less pesticides in our food.

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Behind the Curtain

You know how in “The Wizard of Oz”, there’s the image of the wizard looking larger than life and he says to Dorothy et al. , “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”?  Anxiety is a lot like that.  I talked about the monsters in a recent post on this but I didn’t talk about what the monsters are covering up.

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The Urban Wilderness

This past weekend, I packed up my things for a move back to my hometown.  The situation for my first attempt to move to the city ended up being less than ideal.  However, it did give me a chance to use some of my skills for dealing with anxiety that I have developed over the years  1.  Deal with the situation as is NOT how I fear it will be or in this case wish it were.  2.  Recognize behavior patterns and actions of others & make a rational  decision for my actions  & NOT analyze or try to “fix” anyone else’s behavior but my own. Read more…

Mastering Murderous Monsters & Other Childhood Tasks

As a kid I translated my generalized anxiety into monsters.  As an adult, I still do this but that’s a story for another day.

I was deathly afraid of owls.  Especially the one that haunted our downstairs bathroom.  Oh, the bathroom seemed empty of owls to the untrained eye.  But I knew that once I flushed the toilet, I had to be out of the bathroom before the toilet stopped flushing.  Getting out in time posed a particular challenge because I also intensely feared germs.  I therefore needed to feel I’d adequately washed my hands.  This all  meant tearing out of the bathroom as quickly as possible after adequately washing my hands, knocking over any hapless victims who happened to be in the hallway.  The kitchen sink was available for rewashing of hands as I deemed necessary. I believed that if anyone was still there when the toilet stopped flushing that a gigantic  owl would appear and eat the poor soul who didn’t know to get out fast enough.

Unlike normal kids who feared the Disney villains, I often feared the characters that others considered benign.  I would face Malificent any day of the week over King Triton.  When King Triton grows large and starts shooting lightning bolts at Ursula towards the end of “The Little Mermaid”, I felt a terror deep in my very bones.  I could never feel safe again until I’d invented a boundary.  I was therefore safe from King Triton unless I touched the  far wall of my room.  Touching it would result in his appearance and my fiery death.  I explained all this once to a friend who was over to play for the afternoon.

“Wow,” she said admiringly, “I wish I lived here.  The worst thing that happens at my house is my sister farting in my face.”  This would not be the last time, I got feedback that glimpses inside my anxiety- addled brain were considered fun for other people.

My friend’s voice adopted a pleading tone, “Can we touch the wall and see King Triton? Please please can we?  He won’t hurt us.  We’re pretty little girls.  He only kills bad guuuys.”  My refusal came not only from my fear that it would work but from the sneaking suspicion since I’d voiced the belief outloud that he would not actually appear.  We went outside where I refrained from telling her about the white spider who resided in the oldest tree in our yard who had the power to freeze time and would do so if we pressed a knot on the tree.  I was afraid that she would want to try that too.  So instead I showed her the garden that traveled through time and space if we went in and spun around until the world still spun when we stopped.  Today we entered a world with magicians and dragons.  We fought dragons with swords we’d stolen from a magician, found hidden treasure & knighted each other.  Then the garden saw fit to take us back to our world at oddly just the time that my mom was calling us in for dinner.

“You know,” said my friend, “I think the owl & King Triton are just like the garden.”

“What?”  I was miffed. The worlds the garden brought me too were where I defeated monsters.  The world I lived in was where I avoided monsters.

“You have to believe in it or its not real.  I only believe in this stuff when I’m around you.  But its ok.  I like it.”  I glanced at her with narrowed eyes. The monsters existed because I believed?  They felt very real to me.  The panic attacks were real & everything else was imagined.  But it would be years before I understood that on even an intellectual level.  I was quiet through dinner.  My friend went home. Evening would come soon and with it the addition of my night-time monsters: The guitar case in the living room that would open up to a thousand tiny fangs and consume children who forgot to tap the wall 3 times at night (therefore neutralizing the guitar case) before going into the living room, and the robbers who would inevitably break in if I didn’t repeatedly check that the doors were locked.  But today was different.  I was going to face and defeat them all like I had faced the dragons in another world with a friend just earlier today.  I went to the bathroom and flushed the toilet.  Then washed my hands thoroughly.  I stared straight in the mirror, stood tall, and waited to face death.  In the encroaching silence, I stared into the mirror expecting the owl to appear behind me at any moment.  Its evil yellow eyes staring straight into my soul. Its razor sharp beak snapping eagerly to devour my young, tender flesh.  But nothing but panic (racing heart beat, sweaty palms, impending sense of doom) and then…. a sense of relief.  A flood of euphoria followed by calm.  I raced to my room and brazenly touched the wall, I hadn’t touched in four years.  Drawings and awards from kindergarten still covering most of it.  Silence filled my room.  I raced outside and to the oldest tree in the yard.  The spider, I’d seen once was long gone.  I pressed the nob.  For one horrible moment, the breeze stopped and my heart with it.  Had I stopped time???   But then the breeze hit my face and it felt like freedom.  I ran inside and…. touched the guitar case.  Nothing again.  Wild with abandon.  I decided not to check that the doors were locked tonight.  Later at family worship, I sat with my brother.  In my pajamas, smelling strongly of shampoo and wet hair, I felt as if I were floating.  The words of the Bible washed over me & Joy radiated from me.

“You seem so happy,” said my mom.  I beamed.  I had not won.  I had simply gained ground.  I would continue to fight bogeymen all through my life.  But I did not know that then.  I felt happy and victorious.  It was one of the closest things I’ve had to a perfect moment.  I had also found a tool that would continue to serve me.  Sharing with trusted friends has been a source of healing and inspiration to me to this day.  I’ve never come this public with the darkest parts of myself before.  I’m hoping with this blog to sharpen my writing skills.  If you visit me on this journey and find a few magic swords to fight your own dragons all the better.  🙂  ©beckyofmoonlitoaks


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