It's no real secret in my circle of friends that I'm the SciFi/Fantasy/Geek girl. Notice I'm not giving in and spelling it the way one of my favorite channels did when they underwent their re-branding efforts (trust me folks, super spiffy spelling is not going to broaden your audience). I'm not as hard core as some people, but I know what a Bantha is, I can slice and dice the various mythologies of pop culture vampires, and I still carry a torch for Spock. Both of them now that Zachary Quinto has taken up the mantle. I didn't realize how deep the association between me and the mythical, mystical madness had become until I heard a couple of my girlfriends refer to the upcoming movie Sucker Punch as, "you know, R's movie."
While many of the women I know have fallen hard for the Twilight series (and True Blood, and a myriad of other hip vampire stories), their interest seems to go as far the story lines and the sexy stars who play them, but stops there. I get that - I like those stories and characters too, but my passion extends to more than the current rage of vampires.
Of course, there are the vampires. I am a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff, Angel, but mainly because I'm a huge fan of Joss Whedon - the genius who created those worlds, plus Firefly & Serenity, and Dollhouse. The language, the story arcs, the anti-heroes - I could go on and on, but this isn't about Joss, this is about me. Tolkien (print & screen) is another favorite. Asked once which character I would be in his works, it wasn't the luminous Arwen or the fiercely brave Eowyn who I aspired to be, but Aragorn - preferably when he was known only as Strider - who captured everything I wanted to be. Both Marvel and DC Comics house characters I love to love. Yeah, DC is a little older, and maybe a little darker, but as far as I'm concerned, there's no competing with Marvel's X-Men. Clarify - there's no competing with the Phoenix (even when she's dark). After we were together for a while, my husband and I combined our comic collection (oh, foolish, foolish flies), and to this day still argue over who actually owns the various issues. Especially the unopened ones. Yes. I do that. And for the record, the Wolverine ones are mine.
Currently (as in, "since I discovered Facebook"), I'm involved with an online fantasy RPG (role playing game) called Castle Age. There are heroes, generals, quests to complete, dragons (and other beasties) to slay, armies to build, arenas to fight in. It's been called, "extremely deep and complex," and was rated "one of the top ten most significant social games" of 2010. It is the reason I have over 450 friends on Facebook. Which leads me to the point I started to write about when I first sat down.
Sometimes I feel absolutely alone as the SciFi/Fantasy/Geek girl amongst my friends.
Because none of the women in my real life circle find this stuff even remotely interesting. I teasingly ask them to come see Thor on opening weekend with me - knowing full well that we're going to wind up seeing the latest cute chick flick. I try to explain the appeal of building an online army to slay the next beast and get halfhearted smiles (which I truly appreciate, by the way - hey - they're trying for me). Even my mom, who loves all aspects of me - good, bad, and weird - sent me a sympathy card (yes; the kind you send when someone dies) when she found out I was going to see Interview with a Vampire all those years ago.
An image I love for my CA character, Lady Talon
Funny thing though … since I discovered Castle Age (thank you Facebook!), that "alone" feeling doesn't pop up as much. As mentioned, at least half of my online "friends" are there to help build my army (Army, Guilds, Orders - it goes on and on), and you have no idea how amazing it is to find all kind of women from all over the world who are as passionate (if not more so), about Castle Age and the whole SciFi thing as I am. KW from Ohio is one of the most organized that I've met. She's tough, she's consistent, and if you're on a monster with her, you know two things: the party health is staying up, and that monster is going down. AMS from Italy has a powerful build (and no, that does not mean physical) and consistently returns hits and leaves hearts on my wall. VR from Alaska always has my back; AH from South Carolina sends great "gifts;" and TH - who I think is from Australia (maybe England?) - always has the best advice linked to her wall.
No, these are not my BFFs. We don't go out for coffee. We're not in a book club together. But we do wind up chatting about our real lives from time to time. And we do have a strong connection in common. Yes, we all probably all spend way too much time on our computers; on Facebook; on Castle Age, but more than that, we are the women who run with (were)wolves and other beasties of the SciFi world. We run with them. And we slay them. And we're pretty damn good at what we do.
A note about the whole [Part 1] thing. I'm not entirely sure that I'm writing anything else about this, but then again, I'm not entirely sure that I'm not. I like to leave my options open
A later update. Well, the blog has taken a new direction, and while this was fun to write, it doesn't really fit with my current theme, so it seems like this will be it. For now. Thanks so much!
I suppose if I'm going to talk about this union, I have to talk about the one that came before. And all the ridiculousness that led up to it. Starting somewhere around age eighteen, I had a total of six marriage proposals. This used to impress the heck out of my friends. It didn’t do much for me. I didn't find myself until I was about twenty-seven or twenty-eight, so in the beginning, I floated along with my engagements like I floated along with most other things in my life. Number five finally stuck - the former best friend of number four. I actually married that one, and thought it was IT. We had THE BIG WEDDING with THE BIG DRESS and THE BIG WEDDING PARTY and THE BIG CAKE and all that hoo hah.
In the end, the big IT turned out to be a big disaster of epic proportions, and I left the union with enough disillusion about men, marriage, and monogamy to sink whatever hopes might have survived another story. I went through the cycles of grief, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and at least three Borders-sized shelves of self-help books. And then just when I was finding my balance and setting my course again, he showed up.
Of course he would. He had no idea I was determined to be uninterested or unavailable. He just showed up. And that was the beginning. There were so many "I will not's" that I broke without thinking about it. I will not date anyone from work. I will not date anyone younger than me. I will not date blondes (don't even ask). But I did. I did a lot of other things too. And before I knew it, there was another toothbrush in my bathroom and a man to deal with again.
I was, of course, skeptical, critical, and pessimistic about any long-term results. I made that clear right from the get-go. This relationship was going to be about fun, hanging out, movies, and nothing more. Before our first date, I explained in detail about the big disaster and why I would never have another long-term relationship. He took it in stride, although he has since told me that he wasn't really listening, because as far as he was concerned, I was the big IT for him. I'm really glad I didn’t know that then.
This relationship is, as far as I'm concerned, one of the most amazing things on the planet - excluding long-distance phone calls, post-it notes, and instant messaging. It is perfect. And before you gag and fall off your ergonomically balanced chair, understand that I'm not talking about perfect in the sense of Barbie's Cinderella land. Perfect in the sense that I found the elusive thing called a soul mate. Best friend. Life companion. Whatever. I have found the right other half of me that fits in a Jerry-Maguire-way-too-famous-line kind of way. I love him to death and he makes me crazier than anyone I know. No one I know can lose time like him. No one can make excuses like him. And no one else has ever cleaned the bathroom with my toothbrush and then put it back in the holder. But on the flip side, no one else I know can make me laugh like he does. No one listens with such impressive objectivity. No one else has the patience it takes to be with me. And no one - not even my parents - loves me like he does.
We have survived battles with parents, custody wars, unemployment, and near death. We have been stretched and pulled and pressed in more directions than I care to think about. And through it all, though we have yelled and glared and sat in stony silence, we have stayed together. And we are stronger for it.
In the beginning, I would have told you that love is enough. Period. After that, I would have told you that not even love is enough. Period. Now, I can tell you that love - when love is a verb hitchhiking around with a thesaurus that includes words like passion, commitment, communication, determination, laughter, and a bunch of other good ones - is truly enough. Period. At least in our union.
Notes from the continuing journey: There is no date on my original manuscript, which I only have in hard copy (and lose from time to time, much to my anguish and chagrin). I think I remember writing this sometime before we started trying to have a baby - so pre-2004. I think I remember the job I was at when I wrote this, so between 2000 and 2004. I love this piece, because it captures everything I felt and continue to feel in a timeless way. Everything in our lives has changed since I wrote this. We moved (three times in eighteen months), have an amazing little girl now, have had good jobs, bad jobs, and are gainfully unemployed again. We don't yell and glare as much, although we still do that too. But we're still together and still moving forward (however slowly). And I still think our relationship is perfect in the most frighteningly imperfect way. It's still true that he makes me crazier than anyone I know, but just as true (if not more so), that I am an impossible person to be in a relationship with and maintain one's sanity - I have no idea how he does it. We have truly walked a hard path in this relationship - lots of craziness coming in from all sides.
If you take nothing else away from reading this, know that marriage is hard work. Really hard work. Probably the hardest work you will ever do. Even more so than parenting, I think, because your kids are from you, part of you, and you love them. No matter what. Parents are just wired that way. Your marriage partner, well, you chose that one, and you have to continue to choose them every single day. Did you hear that? Every. Single. Day. There will be times when "you've lost that loving feeling," and you think it's never going to come back. It does. It might change and grow, but it comes back. And inevitably, it comes back stronger. So, hard work. But also know that this will be the best, richest, truest love you will know here on earth. There is nothing like being married to your best friend. Don't quit. Don't give up. Nothing in the world comes close. Period.
Oh, and just in case you're wondering, this union celebrates seventeen years this year.
I can't tell you exactly when I was introduced to the books of Madeline L'Engle, but I do know that it was sometime as a child by my mother - most likely over a cup of tea. The first was A Dance in the Desert - published the year I was born. It tells the story of a young family crossing the desert and the animals they encounter along the way. As a little girl, I listened with wide eyes and was entranced by the illustrations and enchanted by the idea of creatures like lions, eagles, dragons, and unicorns - seemingly predatory at first - coming to dance and interact with the family's young son. It wasn't until later in my life when I re-read the book (after many other readings), I realized the family in the book was the holy family fleeing into Egypt.
In late elementary school, I read - well, devoured, A Wrinkle in Time. It had the perfect combination of reality: Meg, the un-heroine with a one-sided brilliant mind and a temper like a tempest. Calvin: her unexpected hero with a troubled home. Charles Wallace: her genius little brother with a penchant for liverwurst sandwiches. And fantasy with the Mrs Whatsit, Who, and Which: mystical magical creatures who could tesser through time. The sequels, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet followed, and were the perfect antidote or accompaniment (depending on the day) for the ups and downs of Junior High and High School.
Those early books were an introduction to the realm of what is now genre-titled "fantasy and science fiction;" a niche of literature, television, and film I love to this day. But had you asked Madeline L'Engle is she were a fantasy fiction writer, I believe she would have laughed. She once said in her acceptance speech upon receiving the Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association that, " We live in a fantastic universe, and subatomic particles and quantum mechanics are even more fantastic than the macrocosm. Often the only way to look clearly at this extraordinary universe is through fantasy, fairy tale, and myth." Madeline L'Engle's ability to transcend genres and to break down walls between what many looked to as "normal," both in literature and in how she lived her life, encouraged me to constantly look outside the lines that were frequently drawn around me to discover the extraordinary in my own world.
I often jokingly say that I've been writing, "since birth." Not likely, but my parents seem to support the idea that this might have been possible. Writing has been my passion for as long as I can remember, and a vehicle not only for communication, but for that discovery of the extraordinary. Sometimes the extraordinary is a poem that comes to me with a whisper and a thought. Sometimes the extraordinary is being able to capture an event in the memory of my journal. And sometimes the extraordinary is just being able to put into words truly and simply my feelings for someone I care for.
And it isn't just my personal writing where Madeline L'Engle has left her mark. As a communications professional, I'm constantly striving to make connections for people: whether it be to a product, to other colleagues, or to their customers, and one of the best ways I've found to do that is through the story. Stories make things personal. They give the audience a reason to be invested in the idea. They make things matter. And no one taught me more about the story than Madeline L'Engle. Whether it's an admonition to keep the story moving, encouragement to stop and read what I've written aloud to make sure that it sounds authentic, or a lesson on writing my way into a story. Thankfully, many of her lectures and classes have been captured and excerpted in pages of a book called, Madeline L'Engle Herself. I keep her words with me on the shelves at work and at home as my own North Star.
Madeline L'Engle was a woman of faith, a woman of fantasy, a woman of mystery, a woman of strength. She has shown me through her words and through her writing that it is possible to have a deep spiritual faith and still be open to the mystical ideas of the universe and of the imagination. By reading her candid autobiographical trilogy, I have been encouraged to consider the road not taken - or at least to mind a little less if I took that path with fewer companions. Through her reflections on a writing life, I am gifted with gems of wisdom that hone and improve my writing and my ability to share a story with an audience. I will always be grateful to my mother for making this introduction and ever grateful to Madeline L'Engle herself for never giving up, but honoring her gift that has gifted me.
For as long as my husband and I have been together, we have named our cars. My first "real" car (e.g. one that was younger and shinier than I was) was christened with the odd name "three bees in a blue bonnet" or "Buzz" for short. Odd because, well, who gives their car a weird moniker that's more like a pioneer woman's annoying afternoon than a name. Odd, because we immediately called him Buzz.
But when we bought this little bit of a car, there were three bees stuck in the reverse light in the back window. And we were constantly arguing over the color - blue or green (remember that hybrid from Ford that was popular in the 90s?). I voted for blue. It was my car. It was a blue bonnet. And that was Buzz. I haven't had Buzz in years, but it seemed like a fun, quirky name for an attempt at a blog. And there are so many fun offshoots I can play with: buzz words. buzz worthy. buzz bites. buzz off. I could go on and on. And I will eventually. But I'm just getting started. Welcome to Three Bees in a Blue Bonnet.