Last night I woke up from a wine/Theraflu coma, my throat drowning in mucus. I stared into the dark for a while until I padded into the kitchen to drink seltzer, finding Jow out of bed and watching some podcast, half asleep on the couch. I took Nyquil and tossed and turned until I finally fell asleep, dreaming of ghost spiders that my mother didn’t believe existed and my sister would smash dead on my back when she found them. My mother had a large jeweled tarantula spinning an intricate web outside her door. She knew that spider existed and v. calmly said that she wasn’t bothering anyone and leave her alone. I awoke to Jow snoring, the breath right strips off his nose, the sky gray. I gave up the ghost of sleep. I can never sleep this close to the Solstice.
Perhaps, this year, much like me, the heart of the dark finds you calm. The stillness in the dark. All of your Exiled machinations are marching along – decoded letters, smuggled money from friends, a whispered word in her ear. You have learned to live with the hand your goddesses have given you this year. At least there are cloven oranges, a little butter, some beeswax candles, your favored ladies, good embroidery floss still. No one can keep you from dancing and singing, even if it’s cold and grey. Even if the fire is small. After all, that’s what your stolen furs are for, Sister Queens. We wait to see where the Wheel will bring us this year. We have come to understand what we need to endure at our lowest to find ourselves triumphant again. The Wheel turns. We turn with it. Stay strong, my Sisters. We never know when we will need that strength.
Open your heart. Do it because it hurts. And we are not afraid of pain, sisters.
Heart Openers for Long Winter Nights:
- Find the glamour. It will come for you in places that may seem unexpected to others, though not to you. I knew, walking through the door that I would make everyone nervous at the Hogswatch party at first. For some reason, with age, no one remembers the other part of my twenties – the part where I played White Wolf games with my best girl friends every Sunday and pick up D&D if I was desperate, all of us watching Buffy and Angel, the dresses we would buy and make for Renaissance Festivals, late nights at Rocky Horror, the books we read, the movies we watched. But I knew the right things to say to the girls at the party and before I knew it, they were shyly sliding up to me to talk to me about this or that. With geek girls, it’s different. You want to gently show that you speak the language. If not their dialect, the mother tongue at least. Not to prove yourself, but to show you aren’t there to be a judge. They like a little bit of glamour, so they can quietly compliment you – wear a fiercely shiny skirt that looks like you’ve talked a mermaid out of many of her scales. You will make the hostess nervous, as she’s been to many of your parties. You can settle her. She didn’t know you in your twenties, that this is like home, with spare spindles and fiber, champagne, St. Germain, venison stew, salumis and cheese, a silver lingerie-esque drawer filled with the most beautiful sweets from SuperMoon, everyone laughing and talking and squeezed together in the cozy Hobbit burrow, bookcases strewn with figures, comic books, game books. Because this is glamour too.
- Make offerings. Everyone likes to be remembered this time of year and you don’t want to get lost in the dark before Solstice.
- Fix a small situation. Under my eyes has become a serious situation. It looks like I’ve been up all night smoking cigarettes and drinking tequila which feels particularly injurious when I have done All the Things and Slept Enough. So fuck that. I’m into looking my age, but like I should look good for my age damn it! So I got Pep Start because I’d been using a sample so I have empirical data that it works, FlashPatch because if I’m watching Housewives (or lately, what Jow and I call StassiJax), I may as well feel better about the state of my face and in the morning I use Garnier Clearly Brighter because it works if I do the other stuff on top of moisturizing.
- Be present in your body. I have not been losing weight which also feels injurious since I’m so good during the week that surely drinking some wine and eating some stroopwafel ice cream sandwiches should be easily forgiven. So I’ve been feeling not great about that since I haven’t lost the five pounds from Sicily or the additional three pounds I put on just because food is delicious and exercise is annoying. But the thing is, it also feels good to have my body be, well, useful. I’ve been terrified about doing small group personal training at my gym because I haven’t done anything like that since pre-Sicily so, you know, I’m a withered husk right now physically because bodies are cruel and if you don’t keep up with it, your body is like, whaaaaaaaa? A box step up? Surely you jest! Look at this bounty the couch offers! Moving is for suckers, friend. You are prosperous af! Sit down! And like, your body is a lazy fucker. At least mine is. But I gathered my courage and it was just me for my first class which was really great because one of my trainers could really help me get my form back in order and answer my fearful questions, but I did the whole workout and I was jazzed af about it. My body can still do stuff! All is not lost! I can get it back! And when I took off my clothes to get in the shower, I thought I looked like the goddess of sex. I didn’t lose weight, nothing had changed, but I felt present and capable in my body. I was psyched to eat food that wasn’t garbage. And that’s key too.
- Be more giving. I have a lot of trouble giving when it’s not expected. Like a birthday gift, a Christmas gift, no problem. But randomly? As kindness and generosity? I might need whatever later! My little giving table has helped me unclench about it and realize that I’m more prosperous than I think I am. I’m flooded with clothes I thought would work but didn’t (so were never worn or worn once), unused make up samples and author copies of books. So now when I’m seeing a friend I haven’t seen in a while or going to a party and need a hostess gift, I look at the table and pick a bunch of stuff I think they would like. It makes me happy to be able to share and not be so tight fisted.
- Get lost in something beautiful. Right now, I’m yelling at myself for not cleaning the house or being productive but like, I need down time that’s not garbage. So I’m writing to you and falling down an NPR Tiny Desk Concert rabbit hole which is just so lovely. And writing is worth getting lost in. It’s why I fight, it’s why I work, it’s why I struggle. That voice trying to force me into drudgery servitude needs to shut up. And the only way to get it to do that is to ignore it sometimes when it should be ignored.
- And when in doubt, St. Germain in the tiniest fanciest cordial glass you got from the thrift store for fifty cents.