it falls apart it comes back together it rocks it rolls it splits in two again it splits in two again
i used to think about it like this: i don't know if i used to think about it. i did things, i made things, i put things together. there are a lot of things like that, things i didn't think about, things that fell apart before i'd even realized they needed to be assembled. i used to think about it like this: there wasn't a damn thing to think about. i took a shower, i put on a skirt. i found one combat boot near the closet or maybe not even, at times these things end up in strange places. at times i end up in strange places. strange places, strange times. strange times for strange places. i took my shower without a second thought i put on a skirt without thinking about it real hard i did what i did and i said what i said and there was not this panic, this awful encroaching shame, about the resources i was wasting or the destructive gender norms i was enabling and where the fuck did my other boot go? i did have two of these things, right? i started out with two? i think?
space dyed fuzzy socks or kmart moccasins from 1989 aside with the rest of it, with the buttons-short flannel work shirts and the strathmore toned gray sketchbooks, the miso cup packets and elastic hair bands, the out of date library stamp, the empty pilots, half-knotted cords and partly burned sage bundles, lodestone scraps and scrapes of iron, the cracked up candle cups and everything else i intend to eventually fix, and books, and books, and books and books and books always more books, my books, his books, your books, with the things that had meaning and the meanings that had things: this meant something you know this was important this was something i was going to work on, something i needed to address, something i needed to put in the mail or make a call about:
now, where was i going with this? because i'm always going someplace from somewhere, whether it's to the kitchen or to austin, whether it's up the concrete stairs or around and around the roland water tower. i'm not always sure where it is i'm going, but go i do. hello again hello. hello again hello. hello, again, hello?
my first altar worked like this: i bought a seven dollar assemblage-required round lamp table from, let's say, target. possibly with a couple two foot tall unscented pillars and as many virgin vigil candles as i could reasonably fit in my canvas shopping bag. i screwed all three legs into that infinitely depressing pressboard non-construction and covered it with a black cloth. i placed on it, according to instructions: a green glass water goblet from the kitchenware store at the mall where i worked, an olive tree branch fallen at my father's recent pruning, a wood circle from frank's made into a pentacle with a wood burner purchased from same, an eleven dollar boot knife
proudly mail ordered from the azuregreen print catalog and subsequently ruined with my enthusiasm for entry level wood burning. it should be simple, right? you plug in the thing, you let the thing get hot. then you use that hot thing to make marks on wood surfaces. the thing about wood is that it is all very different. some of it has been treated. some of it burns very fast. some of it hardly burns at all. one's first projects should possibly not involve quite so much intricate celtic knotwork, but go ahead and try to tell me that when i was a teenager. go ahead. i'll wait. or whatever, just go ahead and do it, i'll keep writing for now, maybe this entry will be finished when you get back. or maybe i'll still be adding to it, you never know with me.
the thing about making marks is that it is never nearly so easy as you think it should be, at least when you are trying to do it deliberately. deliberately, you say? deliberately? should you really be trying to do that, in this day and age? isn't there enough of that going on as it is? can't we leave one matter unspoiled? let it live on in our memory pure, virginal, unmarked? i might not be the right person to ask about that. hey, i
didn't get to be a virgin. lots of us didn't. we lived. it only fucked us up for life.
whatever the case, i assembled my tools, the tools i was supposed to have, and i bought my circular table, the shape an altar was supposed to be, and i arranged my goods on my altar the way i was supposed to arrange them: this at an exact measured angle from that. it was my most minimal altar ever, including the one that was just a rose and a candle. it was my most meaningless altar ever, and i hated it. let me repeat that with some emphasis: i hated having an altar.
let that sink in. it took up space. it got in the way. it showed every speck of dust. it looked like a cheap horror film prop. it offered no solace, just served as a reminder that i'd decided to be a witch but didn't really know what to do about that. all the same, it's what i believed i was supposed to have. in order to be a witch. so i dutifully set it up in my room at my parent's house; a year or two later, i dutifully packed it up, drove it to iowa, and set it up again in my first dorm room. woke up in the morning, looked at my altar, thought: there's my altar. the altar i was supposed to make.
went out to class, came back from class, thought: there's my altar. i sure did make that.
when my friend brought over her current sort-of boyfriend one night before he took us both out to dinner, he walked right over to my buckland-perfect spiritual practice uninvited.* without a word, he picked up my athame, unsheathed it, and twisted the tip of the blade into his left hand. not hard enough to draw blood, i don't think, he would've had to work a lot harder than that: but still. i sat on my bed with my mouth hanging open. this is not a thing random visitors are supposed to do, whether or not they are sort of dating college bff. college bff noticed, but did not say anything: we were processing a thing where i'd accidentally convinced her to let me put a single wash-away streak of “deadly nightshade” manic panic in her hair and she did it, she went along with me. then she had remorse, extreme remorse, passive-aggressive remorse, remorse to an extent that seemed ridiculous in light of my full head of gloriously deadly nightshaded tresses, but nevermind about that. she felt it looked tacky. i felt bad. also tacky. all the same, she got me back for it, several times in fact, starting with her now-i-wouldn't-say-boyfriend desecrating my elemental tools while i sat there silent and gape-mouthed.
"you know i regularly anoint that thing with my menstrual blood," i thought about saying, but then thought better of it. not because, you know, way to find out more than i was ready to know about the iowa city fetish community and hey judith, think you could anoint some stuff for me?
but because i didn't really do anything with witchcraft with any kind of regularity. clearly, i was a poser. clearly, this peculiar violation of my privacy - key word: violation, for i felt violated, i felt very violated. the athame represents the will. you use it to direct your intent. to establish sacred space. to banish that which you don't want: nineteen year old boys, unsheathing your consecrated object without your consent and twisting it into their palms -
but clearly, this peculiar violation of my privacy had occurred: to call me out as a poser. to put me back in my place. stop having ambitions toward positive change, woman, it only gets you violated in the end. that's what getting noticed does:
it gets you violated. so do not get noticed. do not make a mark. do not make that entry public. do not even try to publish that thing. college bff waited until not-the-boyfriend had pulled the knife back to bump him in the arm. they made eye contact. their eye contact smirked at me. worse, their eye contact smirked around
me, belching up memories of every grade school smirk around i’d been bruised with since judy germs eats the worms
. why the fuck do even the people i thought i could trust respect me so little that they do this shit so i can see it?
and then the awkward silence, the should i say something?
the no, i should not say anything
, the i only have a few friends
, i should keep the few friends i have, i should keep my mouth shut: so shut i stayed. but i decided, right then, that i would work to not use eye contact as an act of violence against another person. around another person. i would not use my eye contact with another to make a third party understand explicitly that they were being excluded. i would not turn everybody else in the room against somebody with a glance. so i'm grateful for that, that realization easily compensates for my awful first altar experience: but i still didn't say anything to my triggers. the labels-are-so-limiting
-boyfriend re-sheathed my dagger and dropped on the
altar (no longer my
altar) with a dismissive thunk. then we left for dinner.
i let the altar gather dust for another week and then i broke it down. i put my tools in storage or whatever passed for storage at the time. i gave the crappy lamp table to my then-boyfriend's mom. coincidentally, tellingly? she loved it, though she did use it for its intended purpose, which, to be honest, always seemed kind of wobbly and meaningless to me; as much as i liked her, that was her demonstrated aesthetic. eucalyptus swags in the bathroom. inched off the slippery couches by slippery throw pillows. everything rattling in a slight breeze. clean lines and way too many damn mirrors you were openly critiqued for standing in front of too long. i was always a little nervous in her house, but then again, that had absolutely nothing to do with her. i used to think about it like this: i don't know if i used to think about it. i did things, i made things, i put things together. there are a lot of things like that, things i didn't think about, things that fell apart before i'd even realized they needed to be assembled. i used to think about it like this: there wasn't a damn thing to think about.
so think about that for a change.
anyone seen my other boot?
* do not do this.