Quickie #26 Magick with a K

PROMPT: What is something about you someone might misinterpret that you want to explain? 

Well! I am one whole mess of misinterpretation to be honest.

My family spoils me by seeing past my someone tactless dialogue to the meaning of my words. I have to back pedal a lot with strangers because they don’t quite understand my particular brand of communication. This is why writing is so much easier. Backspace button, YEAH!!

I cry at everything, even when I’m not sad. I cry at dog rescue videos on Facebook. I cry during movies, sometimes at the same part every time I re-watch it. I cry when people do nice things for each other. I cry sometimes when people compliment me. (I blame this on my tear ducts being probed a couple of times as a kid. They’re extra-large now, ya know?)

But for this particular prompt I wanted to talk about something that is passingly familiar to most people and yet widely debated.

The Tarot.

Quickie history lesson:

A set of divination cards most commonly used by pagans and occult groups but there are variations used in many different cultures. They originated as a simple card game called “Triumph” or “Tarocchi” brought over from the Islamic countries into Europe. Then certain occult groups saw further meaning in the cards and adapted them into their philosophy.

The deck has 22 major arcana cards and 4 suits of minor arcana 1-10 plus 4 court cards. The suits are the cups, swords, wands and pentacles. Each suit has a general meaning and each card an individual one, which play an important part in interpreting the layout of the cards in a reading.

Now I get why there’s so much controversy surrounding the Tarot. I’ve heard all the arguments and I’m not going to get into them. What I want to tell you is how I use them and how they’re helpful for me.

I’ve been interested in Tarot since I was a kid. I came across a young adult book series called Circle of Three by Isobel Bird (FABULOUS! I’m re-reading it now.) It follows three girls as they explore Witchcraft for a year and a day and one of the things they learned about was Tarot. I read about them in books but I was never given my own deck (because Tarot works best when gifted and not bought.) As an adult I remedied that. But I don’t really use the tarot to try and divine my future, as is the common misunderstood use for them.

What I use tarot for is to focus my thoughts.

Sometimes my head gets so muddled and confused about an issue I feel my brain is going to wring itself to death. So when I get out my deck it’s with the intention of trying to focus on the heart of the issue, which is the first step. How do I put what I want to know into a single question? This intention stops my brain from being a headless chicken for a second and it’s forced to think of a single line of words.

While I think, I shuffle the deck, which has always been a long time relaxation method for me. I would sit for hours in my room just shuffling cards as a kid and letting the rush and thwack of the plastic lull my mind into quietude. Then, when I felt the cards had been sufficiently shuffled and my question was clear in my head, I would lay out the cards.

There are different kinds of “spreads” you can do in Tarot depending on how in depth you want to go with a question and what kind of question it is. If it’s a simple advice question like “What do I need to be reminded of today?” then usually a one card draw is sufficient. If one needs to ask a question that has choices, it might be better to use a two or three card draw. If one has an in-depth soul-searching question like “Why do I have so much anger?” then a larger spread might yield more answers.

Now I’m not proficient at reading the individual cards yet. I still need google to help me figure out what they all mean. But this, again, helps me focus my mind in an orderly and step by step fashion. Even if some folks believe Tarot manipulates people into believing in generalized advice (like horoscopes), I still like to use it. It often gets me to realize things I didn’t notice before; a branch of thought that may be the lynch pin for all my turmoil. Plus, the illustrations are beautiful and soothing, adding another layer of distraction.

I find that after doing a reading, my mind is a lot calmer and I feel less stressed. So isn’t that a good thing? I don’t care about controversy. I care about a peaceful mind. Tarot is my counselor and trust me, it’s a lot cheaper. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

(P.S. Were you wondering why magick with a ‘K’? To differentiate from sleight-of-hand magic 😉 The image featured is the tarot deck I use drawn by the super talented Stephanie Pui-Mun Law)


Quickie #25 Writer’s gonna Write

Prompt: Does writing Change you? How does writing make you a better person? 

I’ve been writing since I was in grade school and I’ve always found it to be beneficial.

At first it was just fun. School assignments or characters I would make up. Poems and plays for my friends. Super hero girl power stories and doomed romance stories with secret crushes. The summer going into my sixth grade year was also when I started to hand write my very first novel. It got up to 900 pages of lined college ruled paper before I moved on. (I spent a lot of time in my room avoiding my step dad.)

Then it was therapy in middle school. I would write about the turmoil of boyfriends and catty jealous girls. I would write about my abusive step dad and my vagrant sister. Problems with my friends, school dances, summer vacations, shocking revelations (Like when I could finally reach the top shelf of the cupboards and my first kiss). All this sprinkled with various stories snippets and pieces of dialogue. Middle school was when I first started to write my Silver Sun novel and I wrote a couple of poems that got published.

High School was when I first started to realize that my dream really was to become an author. Glimmers of it would waft through my mind while teachers and college reps touted science and math majors at me. (As if!) I was still too shy to share my ugly baby stories with the world but I would lose myself in writing. I got my first (used) computer in high school and I still remember the huge clunky keyboard and the loud clacking keys. Floppy Disks! The huge boxy monitor barely fit on my small fold out table but I loved it. I would spend hours on it, hunched over, totally absorbed in writing.

Taking English and literary classes in college was what really sold me on the idea of writing and publishing. I’ve been writing steadily ever since and the journey has culminated in this blog.

Writing got me through the trials of having two young girls at home alone with me. It got me through rough patches in my marriage. It got me through my isolation and anger and loneliness.

I would say, without a doubt, that writing is the thing that saved me from myself. I would not be Jessica Jordan without my love of books and writing. I don’t even want to know that person. It’s too terrifying to contemplate o_o

Quickie #23 Fear not, gentle citizens

PROMPT: How do you act when you’re afraid? 

I haven’t been afraid in a long time.

I actually find that kind of depressing. I know that sounds weird but the fact that my life holds no panic instinct I think means it’s too safe. I’m not saying I’ll move to Johannesburg, Africa or something but a health dose of fear keeps us on our toes, no?

After thinking about it some, I realized there’s different kinds of fear and different reactions to it. There’s the Fight or Flight instantaneous fear like a car is speeding toward you or you misstep on the stairwell and pitch forward. This is handled by pure instinct and the conscious brain has little to do with the outcome.

This is the most common type of fear I think and I deal with this just about the same way everyone does. I think I’m going to die for about 2.5 seconds, scramble out of harms way, cling to something while my body freezes and tries to unlock my frozen muscles and I breath through the heart attack. Maybe I need to change my underwear too, depending on the severity of the scare.

There’s the kind of fear that’s controlled. It’s the CHOICE to be scared, like going into a haunted house or on a roller coaster. That’s more of a laugh/cry kind of scared that’s exhilarating and adrenaline-fueled. I actually am pretty unphased by this kind of fear. Once I decide to do it I’m like…meh. It’s here. I’m quiet, usually, even when monsters are coming at me or I’m doing a corkscrew. I don’t scream or cry or laugh. It’s stoicism at it’s finest. Sort of.

The last time I was truly, heart stoppingly afraid was the day my neck closed up and I had to be rushed into surgery. I remember laying on the couch a couple hours before, starving, dehydrated and barely breathing, trying not to go insane or cry. It would only make things worse.

I laid there, trying to sleep, to go into oblivion for awhile to stop the silent torture my body was inflicting on me.

“You’re okay. Don’t panic. Breathe in, and out. Do it again. Don’t panic. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Keep doing that. You’re not going to stop breathing. You’re not going to die. In and out.” 

This was actual dialogue from my head at the time. FOR HOURS. DAYS! It was all I could do not to scream, trapped in a slowly suffocating body with my heart beating so hard on my ribs it moved my body on the couch. As if I could scream though. I couldn’t even talk or breathe.

I wasn’t scared when they told me they might have to trach me. I wasn’t scared of the drugs not working or not waking up or the pain afterward. But the feeling of slowly having my air tube close over days, especially when the doctors had already looked at it and sent me home, was terrifying.

My faith in health care capabilities was shaken to the very core.

I find that my dislike of hospitals has increased, despite my life being saved. I’ve found that any blockage in my throat or nose now makes that panic resurge. And I found that in time of extreme duress, I don’t lose my damn mind. That’s how I deal with extreme fear. I’m calm until I don’t have to be anymore.

“A woman is a lot like tea. You don’t know how strong she can be until you put her in hot water.”

Split Personality: lexicon Sabotage

Dr. Jessica and Mrs. Hide-the-beiotch psycho Jess. This has been my life this month.

I was set to do a challenge: 52K in May that my bestie Owen generously crammed into my busy stay-at-home-mom schedule. It was only two thousand words a day. Seemed easy enough. Even challenged myself to try to finish a rough draft.

You may have noticed I was speaking in the past tense. Yeaahhhhhh. I haven’t even hit the 20K mark.

I can’t say I didn’t see this coming, especially given the life-changing events that happened in the first week of May. Plus I just know me. I did tell Owen I would start strong and peter out. I haven’t developed that fine skill called “discipline” yet. I write my blog posts because I must but I have about 7 half-finished Mother Project stories and uncategorized fiction pieces. My story has one and a half scenes done in it.

I tried many days to sit and force myself to write at least 1000 words. Then it was 800. Then it was even 200. I was slipping away from reality.

It was overkill. Emotionally strapped. Mentally tapped. Physically exhausted from the stress. Happy Pinkie Pie Jessica was gone. Mrs. Hide-a-beiotch came out to glare. There was no way I was going to write another damnable word until I was good and ready. This started a downward spiral of “not caring”. This was different that the “take a break and come right back” situations. This was a full-on “I EFFING HATE YOU GET AWAY FROM ME” situation.

Boycott for three days.

I did nothing except the basics. Fed the family. Got the kids to and from school. Fought off the outbreak of the Norovirus going around. There was a cease-fire in my life.

Normal Jessica could only sit and watch helplessly as one, two, three days went by with no progress. She watched as Black Jess moved listlessly from activity to activity, trying to find something interesting to do. It was just too much to even do those things. Lots of naps were taken.

Congratulations are in order though, for the part of me that’s developed enough to recognize the urgency of needing to write. That was something I hadn’t been able to cultivate before. I sat within my own skin and as my deadline got closer and closer, the more I pressed against the skin of my Stubbornness to try to break free. I am sabotaging myself and I can see it. One step forward, two steps back.

“WRITE!” I screamed to unresponsive fingers. “Write anything! Just put words down!”

Black Jess summarily ignored the pleas and proceeded to eat a second brownie.

This post is the first thing I’ve written in four days and it’s only being written because I’ve trained myself over the last year that Monday Blogs are Necessary. Yes, it took a whole year of consistency to get this small victory locked in and it’ll take even longer to move past the other barriers keeping me from being a successful writer. I AM proud of it. I can give myself credit for this. But…

How does that saying go? “Leo the late bloomer…?” AKA extreme procrastinator. I’m the Queen of it.

You see, my split personality sabotages me. Black Jess is very much a self-satisfier; child-like and demanding. She will absolutely refuse to do anything that doesn’t please her. Nothing will shake her out of this mood until she’s good and ready to be shaken. I believe this will be the biggest stumbling block of mine. Publishers and agents won’t take tantrums as an excuse for unwritten manuscripts. They don’t got time for that. Time is money and they will cauterize any leaks the suspect will be a long-term problem.

I have to write like my life depends on it. My happiness certainly does. It’s my biggest dream after all and it deserves every effort from me. But I don’t know how to force myself to write when Black Jess comes out. I don’t know how to do ANYTHING when she comes out except sleep. I’m genuinely concerned about this Mr. Hyde quality in myself. Is it manifestations of the stress I’ve been feeling? Is it the culmination of a lifetime of being sheltered and spoiled? Do I just wait it out and come back when I can? Do I schedule “writing vacations” so this doesn’t happen randomly?

I have no answers for these things and I know I’ll have to figure it out before I start to seriously query agents.

How do you deal with these types of things? I sincerely want to know.