As I apply to random literary magazines that I have found, I find myself yelling at myself. THEY ARE NOT GOING TO READ THIS. YOU CAN MAKE A REJECTION COLLAGE WITH YOUR GOD DAMN SEASHELLS. And then I do tarot cards.
There is this part of me that wants to immerse myself with pagans in a forrest or study with one. Like Elizabeth Gilbert traveled to Italy to eat pizza, and then went to an ashram to study yoga in indonesia, then studyed buddhism with that monk guy- She was on a quest for healing from a depression that nearly killed her, a contentment in her life, a journey for everything. I guess you could say that I could write a memior. Memoirs of a Moron. The Beauty of discovery, magick, and Lemon cake.
But seriously, rational thoughts aside, I really need to do this. Not because it’s out there, or a funny thing to put in my notebook, but because when I hold the tarot cards in my hand I know how to shuffle them and what I need, and when I see the cards before me those three cards are so accurate at exactly how I feel I set them on my floor and run outside like a little kid on a sugar rush.
The question really is, where can I find a pagan to teach me?
Today I took a writing with the element’s class with a pagan man at an Imbolc festival. When I had to drive twenty minutes into the middle of nowhere, and turn three times on some random roads in the woods past a sign that read “Fox and Squierrel crossing’ I felt like Dorothy from the wizard of Oz. I parked in the forrest, took off my flip flops and felt the earth as I walked around. However, it wasn’t until a man in a red tye dye bathrobe popped out of his tent that I knew: I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. “I tried bare feet yesterday. That gravel is a bitch.” He said. Oh, but it get’s better. After walking around, and talking to some older women, I sat down underneath a tree to write. A man came up and took a seat next to me like the old nursery rhyme little miss muffet except instead of a spider, he looked like a middle aged jewish lawyer with a yellow bong. He was wearing a grey Life is good t-shirt and a burnt seina skirt that was way too short with stars and horses on it. I try to bite my lip from laughing and listen to the woman talking across from us in a circle. Then it hits me.
“Are you the writing teacher?” I said.
”Yes, I’m Salvatore Marici” He has a chicago accent and he adjusts himself on the dirty lawn chair in such a way that I know that this man never learned proper skirt ettiquete. He’s been published in Circle magazine, a pagan magazine and most recently a Literary magazine called Toasted Cheese. I CANNOT MAKE THIS SHIT UP.
I look down at my feet, covered in sand and dirt. He talks about evil adverbs and adjectives which upsets the other people in the workshop. I try to explain to the women “She wept’, is more powerful then “She wept hard and violently shaking and heaving’. He asks us how much we write. Everyone else journals, I say about seven pages a day. Then he has us write verbs and nouns regarding the elements earth air fire water and we share what we wrote for the five last minutes we had to free write. Most people have left because they were bored/ wanted to learn flute/drink in a circle. I share mine:
The damp twigs whispered
the flames of yesterdays women
who danced in the air of change
She kissed the ground
the way the ocean always kisses the shore
Her beginning is the sky that opens like a river
that bends like time bends
like love bends
like hearts stop
the drums of the circle
pulsing against calloused hands
“you wrote that in five minutes?!” He says. “You have a lot happening! You need to spend some time with that. I love the imagery.”
And so, Salvatore Marici and I chatted around the circle about writing. We all drank wine straight from the bottle and passed it around like vikings sharing stories. Then I ran into a man I did the crystal bowl meditation with. He studied christianity for 35 years, but something was missing. Science and metapyshics went hand in hand. The energy you release at a concert, the energy at a football game, the calcium in our bones that are in stars- it’s all connected. He researched pagan and wicca. He tried to decipher it, and found the pagan group at fort meyers where we did crystals last sunday. He told me about his visions- and the sickness he felt for days after doing the crystal. (Some people with high sensitivity to the vibrations may expierience vomiting or headache) I told him about my visions, and asked him if he thought I was crazy. He told me I wasn’t, that he could never talk about this before and really did not know why he was talking to me about it. It was cold and dark and he gave me his jacket and beer from his tent. Once again, we all sat in a circle and listened to the earth. Another pagan I did ritual with last week came up and hugged me. She was so excited to see me there, and proud of the way I handeled helping her cleanse people with ash. Next year you will be in a cape! She said.
There was a wiccan rock band and the ritual was fucking fantastic! I wont go too deep into details, but the people in charge of the festival closed/locked the gate so that other’s would not enter. People have so many misconceptions against pagans/wiccans. They might fire you or destroy your house, kill your dog, threaten your loved ones; but staring up at the nightsky as we danced in spirals- there was no evil envoked, there was love instead.
If our practice was our life?
If prayer was our words?
What if the temple was the Earth?
If forests were our church?
If holy water - the river, lakes, and oceans?
What if meditation was our relationships?
If the Teacher was life?
If wisdom was self-knowledge?
If love was the center of our being."
— Ganga White, Founder of the White Lotus Foundation
Eternity is a long time. Bored
· My name is Bobby Hughes and I don’t really know what to say except I’m new to this sort of thing. My life is a hit boring, but if you want the truth I will tell you. I got married to a woman when I was 20 while I was studying law school. We used to have such great sex, well as great as it could be. Now she comes home from work each night and runs to the bathroom to pee on a stick, track her mucus, mark her days on a calendar. Mmm. hot right? Ever since she turned 30 all of our discussions have been about Babies and her biological clock’s ticking. Sometimes she will come home early and make us dinner, one of her specialties she bakes in a casserole dish. There would be candles lit, and The carpenters playing on our new stereo set her father bought us. Her transparent crystal eyes would gleam in the light of the flame and she would smile in a way that left me feeling left out like a kid brother she just needed something from. We sit and eat together in silence, so frustrated after our year of trying that we are completely alone. Each act is timed and planned, and as she takes my hand I feel like a tight rope walker about to ride a unicycle with a bear on my head. She guides me to the bedroom and I kiss her. She tastes like coffee and sweat and I want to rinse out my mouth, floss and all, strip myself clean of this terrible mess. She takes off her pale blue nightgown. Her arms are soft and fleshy, and she would always complain about them even though I thought they were fine the way the were. They still are fine. I come quickly, after pumping hard and fast and she arches her back up, sits with her legs above her head for an half an hour. I go outside and smoke three ciggarrettes my mouth dry and my hands shaking. I’m looking for sponatenuty- fun- a night without scheduals and positions, and fucking lasagna. I’m a simple guy looking for a simple guy to play with. No commitment and secrecy would be necessary. Average build. Gemini.
Bobby sat in the Walgreens parkinglot, looking at the message he received from B3autiful Nightm8re on Gothic Love.com. He could feel his heart racing as he scrolled down with his iphone on the young man’s page.
I know the pale things in the darkest of places
· Hello :3 I’m always looking for an adventure.My name is Dexter. I have fangs, nipple piercings and three tattoos strategically placed. One is of a piece of toast on my thigh. The rest you’ll have to see for yourself. 25 average build. No commitment is necessary. Meet me at Walgreens at 12:45, I’ll get off then. Maybe.
Bobby took a deep breathe, and exited the car with a cigarette in his hands. He had meant to stop smoking weeks ago, but there was something in the way Meredith looked at him that kept him addicted. What had made him stay? They had no kids, nothing was holding him there. But more importantly: What had possessed him to place an ad on Gothic Love.com?! He guessed it was his need for something more than his marriage, something that left him feeling badass and dark because it was supposed to. As Bobby approached the Walgreens counter he saw a head of pink.
“Well hey there, ” Dexter said. “I was just about to go on some errands.”
“ Oh.. I thought”
“You’re coming, dude. “ The pink haired boy gave him a playful punch on the shoulder. He walked fast, the chains on his black pants jingling like a carol, as if he had known Bobby a long time and they were late for a meeting. Bobby had to practically run to keep up with Dexter in the parking lot. When they reached a black hearse with a slew of rainbow bumper stickers and the symbol of two men holding hands on the gas tank, he was remarkably unsurprised.
Dexter opened the door, and then when they were both inside he turned to face Bobby. “So I need you to help me.”
Bobby buckled up his seat belt and looked at the pink haired man next to him. As Dexter spoke, his angel kiss piercing sparkled in the mid afternoon sun. He had 6 piercings in his face alone and Bobby never felt older and more out of place then in that moment.
“I want you to be a part of my gothic movement.”
“My movement.” Dexter said. He drove manically in reverse then, and swerved away from a black dumpster. “ I want to dismantle the non-inclusivity of religion by installing a system in which people do not strive for eternal love from some guy with a beard that lives in the sky, but in the love that is always there for us, the love in the trees.”
Suddenly, Bobby felt something twist in his chest. He often wanted to be a part of something bigger than himself but felt awkward, like there was something in him that was not good enough, and would never be.
“And how do you suppose to do this? You’re talking millions of years of oppression; the ancient people of the bible even discriminated against-”
Dexter stopped the car then, quick. They were in front of an catholic church that was just about to start it’s mass. He turned from his waist to the back seat and grabbed a child’s pig mask and a panda mask. They looked like those zoo pal plates that Meredith’s sister fed her kids on, except the eyes were cut out and there was a string duct taped to the inside.
“We’re going to dress up.”
“That..makes no sense.” Bobby said this slowly, the way someone would talk to a child who just skinned their knee.
“It doesn’t have to make sense yet. We just want them to think.”
Bobby took the pig plate and touched the paper etchings. “Okay Let’s do this.”
Dexter placed his Panda mask on and beamed, his eye brow piercing sticking out of the whole. A woman in the car dressed in a beige dress looked at them, puzzled. Bobby waved, timidly, following the woman into the huge cathedral.
As Dexter grabbed bobby’s hand, Bobby thought of innocent Meredith singing 70’s ballads and their wedding in a beautiful catholic church with 60 foot stained glass windows a lot like this one. He should have pictured his wife walk down the aisle but he saw her shooting herself in the ass with estrogen instead. It had been years since Bobby had been in a church, mostly because he simply didn’t feel comfortable around the environment. He had always loved Meredith, She was his best friend but there was something that was gone. He was always running on empty. He questioned it for years, and after Meredith was having trouble getting pregnant five years ago they started going to therapy. Three therapists told him the same answer: He wasn’t gay. It was normal for a man to have these feelings. But why then, couldn’t he get his wife pregnant? Why did he constantly think about his best friend from high school and the night they slept underneath the stars, the way he tasted in his mouth? Why then, did he dream about the warm hard arms of someone holding him and telling him he belonged? More than just belonged, he was them, their entire existence. The realization of it came to him one night when he was taking care of Meredith after a Christmas party. She was drunk and falling asleep on top of the bed, and for a moment Bobby contemplated taking off her black suede boots but then thought No. He needed to say this before he chickened out once more, and before he exploded into a million little pieces like the life he has spent so much time trying to create out of nothing.
“Meredith.. I’m gay.” Meredith rolled onto her shoulder, her pencil skirt twisting upwards on her hips. “Baby, please don’t go to sleep. I’m not going to leave you. You’re my best friend.” Bobby touched her blond hair on the verge of tears when Meredith opened her pink lipsticked mouth.
“That’s fine honey”
She smelt of vodka and another man’s cologne and Bobby was so nauseated he wanted to throw up but instead he wrapped his arms around her and fell asleep on top of their grey comforter. It was fine, just fine.
Dexter fidgeted in the pew, he was still in his Walgreen’s polo when he took out a plastic bag of candy from his pocket. When he unwrapped a Krackel, all eyes were on the freaks with the Zoo pal plates on their faces.
“Sorry. It’s a habit.” Dexter said. He simpered and put the zip lock baggie into his pocket.
“What are you like 12?” Bobby whispered a bit hastily in the crowded sanctuary.
“I don’t smoke. There are cooler ways to die.” Dexter said. The two men watched the father looking at them and whispering.
“We’re going to be kicked out, you know.” Bobby said as Dexter squeezed his hand tighter with glee.
“Oh my goddess! There is an anti-abortion guest speaker!!”
A man with a mint green dress shirt turned to face them and shook his head. The acolytes carried the flame when Dexter turned and grabbed Bobby’s face.
“Do you know that movie Rosemary’s baby?”
“Cool. We are going to preform it.”
“I took drama in high school. What, like it’s hard?” Dexter said.
“Dexter, You can’t-“
Bobby grabbed at his wrist, but he was already standing up in the pew, making his way through the aisle with that crazy panda plate on his face.
“What have you done to it?! What have you done to his eyes!” Dexter said. He jumped up and down dramatically, looking at Bobby, trying to get him to join in but Bobby just shrunk down in his seat.
“Tell me what you have done!! “ The panda’s roar filled the cathedral. Bobby felt hot,like riding up the hill of a roller-coaster waiting for the drop on a July day and stood up in the aisle.
“He has his father’s eyes.” Bobby said.
“What are you talking about ? Guy’s eyes are brown! What have you done to him you maniacs!!!!? His name is Adrienne! Hail satan! Hail satan!” Dexter said. He was skipping up and down the main aisle like a crazy person. “HAIL OURSELVES! THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO WILL EVER TRULY RISE AND BRING EQUALITY AND LOVE TO THE MASSES! Hail me! Say it my tired, hungry, ridiculed, objectified and ostracized people- Hail me! I am the one that I have been looking for! Ale-me-iah! “ Dexter pranced. “Ale-me-iah! Ale-me-iah!”
When Bobby, who couldn’t take the stares of the church any longer, grabbed him and kissed him to shut him up. Dexter’s mouth was warm and Bobby felt like the rollercoaster had finally cascaded down the hill and did a loop upside down.
“Let’s go.” Bobby said. The panda and the pig left the catholic church hand in hand, kissing sometimes, and singing Ale-me-iah.
“Is the big bad wolf going to blow your house down?“ Dexter said. They were back at Bobby’s apartment. Meredith was at a baby shower for her friend who had wanted to tell her about invitro.
“Nah, would you like something to drink?” Bobby said. He frantically grabbed a bottle of red wine, butterflies dancing in his stomach.
“I’m okay.” Dexter said. He kicked off his combat boots and went to look at the rack of cds. “The Carpenters? I pegged you as a Dan Fogelburg guy.” He simpered.
“Haha” Bobby said. He looked at the clock on the stove and figured if he wanted to make a move, he better do it quick. He took a big swig of the wine like a cowboy taking a shot of whiskey before his draw, and then stood next to Dexter at the Cd rack. Bobby contemplated a million different witty scenarios he could use to stick his tongue in Dexters ear, but instead he just stood there wishing Dexter would kiss him.
“Oh, The cure. I love them. “ Dexter said, sticking the cd into the radio. “So what is a sweet carpenters loving, pastel wearing guy like you putting an ad on Gothiclove.com for?”
“I wanted an adventure” Bobby shrugged, but Dexter smiled at him sadly, the way one would smile at a woman paying for her groceries in stamps and quarters.
“You wanted someone incredibly different than your wife.”Dexter kissed him hard, pushing him back against the cabinet then stopping as abruptly as he started. “Bobby, I taste your alcohol!” Bobby kissed his neck, confused, as Dexter moved away from the glass on the table. “I’m an alcoholic”
“I’m so sorry” Bobby said. He dumped the wine out in the sink and washed out his mouth underneath the faucet as Dexter looked away. He came up behind him and hugged him, an apology for his reaction.
“You don’t have to go to all that trouble.. It’s not like that.” Dexter said. Bobby turned around then, his face inches away from Dexters.
“What is it like? Please tell me, I would love to listen.”
Dexter smiled faintly. “Recovery based on a higher power is hard when a higher power tells you you deserve to die.” He wrapped his tattoo covered arms around Bobby and suddenly they were kissing. As Bobby lead him into the bedroom and turned off the light Dexter moved his hand away.
“Let there be light!” Dexter said. Their clothes were on the floor and they were on top of each other feeling the sweat rise through their pores like moonbeams. Bobby reached for him, feeling himself rise and fall. He felt like he was taking a huge breathe and letting go- an astronaut without gravity to hold him down. They held each other together, listening to the sounds of the cars passing by on the freeway next to the apartment complex.Dexter had his leg swung above Bobby’s listening to his chest. When Bobby looked down and saw Dexter’s toast tattoo he laughed out loud.
“I think I got some.. butter on your toast.” Bobby said. Dexter looked down and smiled. “Why did you get a tattoo of toast?”
“I like toast. “
“It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.”
“Really?” Dexter said.
“I love it.” Bobby said, and he truly did.
“I guess I like to think about toast. Life is this incredibly short scene that we can never truly take for grantagde because even something as simple as Toast is a miracle. The bread is grown from grain that makes us oxygen, it’s picked by a beautiful young woman who makes blankets for her family, and right now toast is being served by a father to some little girl in pigtails asking “Daddy where do babies come from? ‘We are all a part of something bigger than ourselves.”
“You got all that from toast?”
“Look at this moment, Bobby. Right now. Right now we are happiness and love and peace. We cannot fix forever until we see now. “
That night Meredith came home from the baby shower, a little bit tipsy. She brought home left overs, toasted finger sandwiches that reminded Bobby of his afternoon.
“Meredith” Bobby said. He sat down at the kitchen island, taking a deep breathe. He watched himself from above himself, knowing what he was doing before he even opened his mouth. Meredith came up and sat beside him, gazing at him in such a way that one would look at a wild animal they desperately didn’t want to frighten away. No sudden movements and maybe we’ll stay married and have a baby afterall. Bobby swallowed hard picturing Dexter’s face in the afternoon sun, the lines around his mouth form laughing, the way his five oclock shadow tickled his face when they kissed like soft blonde straw. He had it bad for that boy man oh man. There were times in their marriage that Bobby had contemplated a divorce but those times only lasted for about two weeks. Bobby had been with Meredith for over ten years but never felt more complete or whole- but somehow, this goth guy with chains and found his way to the deepest parts inside him lighted him up and set him free.
“Meredith, We cannot fix forever until we see right now. “