Tag Archives: magic

Making Magic for Ecuador: You, Canoa, and a Call for Tents

23 Apr

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time (also hey, welcome newcomers), you’ll know that “I was raised on fantasy literature” is a pretty common theme to my posts. And you’ll know that those fantasy books – the ones with Dumbledore’s Army, and wizards banded together for Timeheart, and troupes made of Luster and Earthfolk alike, the ones with people (a term loosely used, here) who went out and saw the universe and did important things in it, for it – those are the books that shaped who I wanted to be. All my life, I’ve pretty much wanted my job description to be something along the lines of “saves the world.”

It’s why I pick up litter on the beach. It’s why I’m a practicing emergency medical responder. It’s why I tell people when I care about them. It’s why I’m going to veterinary school.

And it’s why when a 7.8 earthquake happened on April 16th in a country where I knew people, I messaged those friends to ask how they were doing, how their country was doing.

They were sad, and frustrated, but hanging in there, they said. But the country? Not well, was their answer. Whole towns were in ruins.

The bodies, they said, were piling up in the streets.

…When your friends tell you there are bodies piling up in their streets, you goddamn ask what you can do to help. And when they tell you what that is, you do it.

In this case, what I could do – what you could do – is get them tents.

There are bodies in the streets, but there are survivors too. Unfortunately, their city being a pile of rubble and devastation, there is nowhere for them to survive in.

So they’re building themselves a temporary settlement, and it shall be made of tents.

A couple days later, and I’m now heading up the West coast efforts for the U.S. relief team working in conjunction with my friends’ local organization, the “Surfers for a Roof” Brigade. As for the U.S. team’s efforts, my East coast counterpart and I want to get 50 tents to Ecuador – Canoa, to be specific – by Monday to help make a dent in what the 200 surviving families will need for shelter.

There have been Facebook posts, and emails with city councils, and CARVE surfing magazine even did a piece on the effort, and so far, we’ve gotten 25 tents. I want so badly to keep the momentum going. I want to hit 50 before Monday arrives. I want the world to care, and to not just sit there caring, but get up or speak out or just do something about it.

Here in this world of dust and reality, we cannot fight the source of all evil for the fate of the world.

But we can fight devastation. We can fight disaster. We can join this effort, and throw relief in the face of the ruin. We cannot fight “ultimate evil,” but we can fight this one.

To put it more pragmatically: the relief effort has an Amazon wish list going. People can donate tents directly, or, barring being able to contribute the full cost of a tent, can email Amazon gift cards of any amount to the relief effort’s account, and we’ll pool those funds to purchase more supplies. We’ve already gotten one tent on the way from people’s compounded gift card donations. We’re about halfway to another one, with current funds.

Physical donations will ship to a hangar in Miami from where a volunteer pilot – the relative of local leadership in Canoa – will fly supplies to ground zero. Tent city construction will begin May 7th.

The Amazon wish list and the email account associated with it have been created specifically for the relief effort, to allow for specificity and transparency. Anyone with questions about our financial or other records is totally welcome to ask, and we will send you literally our entire backlog of documentation. Honesty and integrity, in this effort, are paramount.

So, dear readers, I invite you to join me. Consider this your official enrollment call. I cannot off you a DA badge or a manual saying you have joined the ranks of wizards, but I can offer you the knowledge that your help here matters. That herein is a chance to know that you have helped fight to make things better for the world. Whether you donate or “just” spread the word (social media, word of mouth, sky writing, traveling bards – it’s all good) – you will have been someone who, even if just for a moment, got up and looked out at what was happening to the universe and did something about it all.

And for me, at least, that is a little bit magic.

To donate to the Canoa tent relief project: http://amzn.com/w/XLL6FUTGKU91

To learn more about how the relief effort works: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MzRn9oHb73jV3rQ0QmvPmI1twKFiNfhf7Xbk1gFKdEU/edit?usp=sharing

Adventure In The Great Wide Somewhere

7 Mar

I have always wanted a Tardis. I have not always known the name for it as such. But to see all of time and space – and, if Dr. Who is any precedent, to have uncountable many adventures while doing so – is what I have, and will always, desperately want. I want it so badly it hurts.

But I was not always a Whovian. The seat of my yearning was not always a mad man with his box. No, my wanderlust came with other names – a wardrobe, a letter upon my eleventh year, a snag on my finger in the bookstore with an oath to follow, unicorns with amulets, wrinkles and tesseracts. My mind has always been an amalgam of Ella’s who have more adventures than their Char’s, Wilma’s who make incredible wishes, Sara’s who create kingdoms out of attics and words and poverty, Mary’s who find gardens tucked away in, well, space and time.

It’s always been books, of course.

Sometimes people seem to think that books make people sedentary dreamers. Perhaps this is true, for some. But for me, all it did was make me yearn for adventure in the great, wide somewhere.

I’m going there on Sunday.

There have been so many, many times in my life when I’ve had the thought, “I wish I could do [something].” But there’s always a barrier. Time. Money. Health. Sanity. Money. Energy. Money. It’s hard to make our own adventures in a world where experience belongs to the old and expediency to the wealthy. It grinds a bit, settling for the smaller scope and pretending you feel like you’re doing something more. There’s always that answer to keep us in our place, “Now’s just not the best time.”

I’ll just wait until things in my life become more certain. Then I’ll know better what I’m dealing with. Then I’ll be able to better move around the pieces.

This is reasonable. This is good. This is clear, logical, totally appropriate thinking.

But I personally realized that unless I was suddenly very, very lucky, I was never going to go anywhere. There was never going to be a “best time.” There was probably never even going to be a good time. I wasn’t ever going to be able to have it all. I was going to have to risk something. I just needed to figure out what I was willing for that to be. Money. Job security. Time. Not feeling alone. Absolute certainty that everything would work out.

Adventure means risk. You’re going to have to be willing to lose something. That’s what all those books I read growing up had shown me, right? You want the world. What are you willing to give it in return?

Sure, adventures aren’t inherently about taking stupid risks. I mean, we’re talking about my wanting to go exploring, not saving the world from the forces of evil. I can at least make the risks I take calculated.

And so I am. Five months ago, I saw something that I wanted. A bookstore. Of course, a bookstore.

In Portugal.

But… it was the bookstore, in a way. We’re not talking corporate white walls with B&N logo slathered everywhere (though B&N is lovely and I buy books there and that’s all well and good). We’re talking… well, we’re talking about that library that Belle found in the Great Wide Somewhere. Bookshelves on the scale of glory. Red carpet and graceful bannisters and dust hanging like history in the light shafts, giving the place an irrefutable air of magic and tales as old as time.

It’s called Livraria Lello, by the way.

I found the place while doing random internet browsing. I wasn’t searching for anything in particular. I was just flick flick flicking, procrastinating my time away while breathing between grad school apps.

And then there it was. The most beautiful, magical bookstore I had ever seen. Because it looked like the one I had grown up dreaming about. The one that I had always, always wanted to be real.

It was a bit like finding a wardrobe.

But… Portugal. That was so far away from ocean-locked United States. It would be soooo expensive to get there.

Sigh. Put it on the mental docket. “Places I desperately want to go before I die.”

*PANIC PANIC PANIC PANIC PANIC PANIC PANIC*

YOU DON’T KNOW WHEN YOU’RE GOING TO DIE! YOU CAN’T JUST DO THAT AND EXPECT TO ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO EVER GO THERE!

Holy moly, Anxiety Man! You’re right!

Sometimes my mental demons have a point. Knew there had to be some kind of reason I keep them around.

So. I sat there, staring at my screen. Doing some calculations in my brain. Thinking about time and energy and money and certainty and dreams.

And I’m going to Portugal tomorrow. And then France a few days after that. And then a few days more and I’ll be in Ireland, where I’ll be volunteering with that project I’d wanted to be part of since something like a month after I left Burning Man. The one about art and community and fire and redemption.

You know, things that sound like magic.

I am going adventuring, tomorrow.

Sneaky things, Tardises, when they go looking like plane tickets.

Magic at the Edges

25 Jan

Originally deposited this on my crazy ramblings tumblr, but decided to include it here too. It’s a pretty good narrative of what’s been a large lump of my current frustration.

I wait up for people I shouldn’t.

I flock to artists,

people who breathe stories

and know how to put the

soul back in your eyes.

People with hands and mouths and voices

that mean something.

I like brushing fingers with those.

There’s magic at the edges.

But ours is too pragmatic a world

if you cannot always live at the seams

and I befriend too a more practical sort

with data and trends and facts

and a reality that will crush any of the hope you had

because there is no god anymore.

Not these days.

But I glory in the realness of what they hold,

the light in their hands so tangible

and undyingly right to believe in.

Here is a world of truth, they say.

The magic is in finding it.

Art and reality make such beautiful children.

I wish I weren’t just harboring nightmares.

Monsters, distortions, twisted fact flinging fate

at you like you were dead to begin with.

Even darkness can have opaque eyes.

I wish that I could see again.

Totally Not The Season (i.e. “Christmas Monster”)

21 Sep

Today has been a day of adventure and art and literature and yearning ’round all three for me. I was in Santa Barabara, California as part of a spontaneous road trip with two of my best friends. It was incredibly sunny up in SB – so much so I was worried for a bit that I sunburned during our stop at a gloriously human-vacant beach – so it really didn’t even feel like fall, let alone fast-encroaching winter. But then my internet wanderings meandered me over to an illustration by the fantastic Eric Orchard that he called “Christmas Monster” (not currently featured here because of lack of explicit permission to do so). And the artwork – the storybook quality of the illustration, the whimsical subject matter, and the flat-out wintery snow – well, I ogled it all, and out popped a poem.

So, here you are. The totally unseasonal narrative, “The Christmas Monster.”

(Inspired by this illustration by Eric Orchard)

The Christmas Monster

There is a Christmas Monster in the sky
who once a year comes down the hill
and makes the fluffy white snow fly
and frost above the sill.

The Christmas Monster in the sky
bites his lip and sets to work
knowing soon the time is nigh
for the elven cirque.

The Christmas Monster ‘bove the hill,
if you ask a jolly ride
then in his sleigh he’ll with a thrill
tuck you by his side.

Then off the Christmas Monster flies,
sending all ‘round the snow
and a tinge of red on nose
and that glimmer, in the eyes.

Accio Books!

15 May

accio books prefect badge

Happy (almost!) Friday lovely readers! So, I’m a prefect for the HPA (that’s Harry Potter Alliance, for all you muggles) 2014 campaign called Accio Books! The idea, put simply, is that books are magic, and magic can change things. Big things, like communities. So, we’re bringing books to communities that are in some pretty desperate need for them.

While the overall Accio Books campaign is doing great (11,000 books and counting!), the donations to the Brightmoor Community Center in Detroit aren’t quite leveling to the goal. Right now, we’re at 2000 books of 10,000, and with only a few weeks to go!

But don’t worry! There are toooootally spells that even you Muggle-iest of Muggles can cast! Dig in your closets and find your old paperbacks, your discarded picture books, your impulse buys collecting dust and send them off to Brightmoor! The process, the address, and the logging form (yes, you can get points for your House at Hogwarts!) are all below. So go be a wizard and accio some of books!

Oh, and if you don’t have a Hogwarts House, you could totally just log your donation for Ravenclaw. 😉

How To Participate: http://thehpalliance.org/accio-books/how-to-participate/

Record Your Donation: http://thehpalliance.org/accio-books/accio-books-submission/

The Infographic:

Accio Books 2014 infographic

Magick

2 May

 

Magic

I want a world where there are dragons.

I want a world with traveling circuses at night.

I want a world with flying carpets, mermaids, selkies –

where colds, flu, and heartache can be magicked away

with nothing more complicated than some herbs in a pot

and the right words, already written down in a book for you.

In this world of pragmatism,

it’s too hard to know the right words to say.

I want a world with beasts and beauties

requiring no photoshop to recognize,

where illusion makes you think about what life is

instead of trying to convince you the other way around.

I want unicorns,

phoenixes that can rise from ashes and second chances that really matter.

I want the impossible.

I want something more than indeterministic fate.

I want a way to cats-cradle the strings of the universe together

into something better than what it handed me to start with.

I want not the power but the plausible hope

of a world where your will could actually change things.

Where try hard enough and you can succeed,

instead of just the lie they feed you about that here.

I want a world with beautiful rules

and even more beautiful exceptions,

instead of just the shit stochastic

we all give our breath and brains and beatings to.

I want a world where words can fight fists

and win in the moment, there and then.

Words can already bruise people beyond belief

but at least with magic they could provide real safety too.

I want a world with fewer bruises.

I wish more people just hid flowers up their sleeves.

I want a world where more hearts could roar

when they hear that uttered, muttered phrase –

Here be dragons.

I want a world that will offer me greater possibility than this world has to offer

where the only magic that people can ever know –

love, hope, faith, dreaming, a kiss –

is more often that not mere slight of hand and even the best of pixie dust

will end up dead.

 

Anger

2 Mar

Anger

I told you that I needed to

but could not cry,

and so the sadness

just settled there,

like murk in the deep waters.

 

And you, you just drew me

in a magic circle against the world,

an untouchable white line

of your arms around me.

The oddly comforting weight

bearing down on my shoulder blades

while you hold me to your chest.

And for a while, the world is blocked out;

can’t get past you to harm me.

And I am safe.

 

I don’t know if it’s the anger or the upset

that’s making me so touchy,

jumping at every noise

because my sensitivity’s been turned to high.

I can feel the pulse in your neck on my cheek,

and for a while, my muscle twitches

try to sync to that evenness,

the lub dub of your heart underneath.

 

The only beating I can handle,

here in my overly caffeinated jitteriness.

 

At least it stirs my consciousness enough

that the murk is disturbed, too, wells up

in the deep and churns the water so that

no particulate in particular is noticeable,

and once more emotionally homogeneously obliviated,

I can get going on my day.

The Kindle Addiction

2 Feb

books in kindle

Lovely readers, I know that it is absurdly late for a typical day to be so desperately under-caffeinated as I am, but hey, it’s Sunday, and Sunday isn’t a real day, so you’ll just have to forgive me. Well, you don’t have to. But you get what I mean.

As I sit here on this Sunday morning I MEAN IT’S TOTALLY AFTERNOON AND I DEFINITELY DIDN’T JUST GET UP, sipping my way into my first cup of emotional and ever more physical addiction that is properly composed French-press coffee, I discover another addictive activity that the corporate behemoth that is Amazon has slowly dripped into my life.

Kindle shopping.

Now, I am not a shopper by nature. That genetic (or perhaps epigenetic) quality went to my sister. Growing up, my birthday money was more likely to go into the oddly unbreachable bounds of a plastic piggy bank than into yet another new handbag. Even when it came to “fake” money in the form of gift cards, I more often had to throw them away because they’d expired than because I’d used them all up. (Note: this has since changed in the case of book store and coffee shop gift cards. Bring ’em on.) Shopping? Especially clothes shopping? Terrifying activity. Oh god, the decisions, and the arbitrary evaluations… it’s quite honestly panic attack-inducing. Major ethical decisions? No problem. New wardrobe to replace the one I’d grown out of or worn to bits? Fuck no. Send me and my sister into the same store, and I’ll come out of the dressing room looking like a passably style-informed person. My sister? She’ll come out of the dressing room looking like a fucking super model.

I may have delegated all of my dress and shoe shopping to my sister for a few years back in high school…

But anyhoo. The Kindle. So, I do not like shopping. But I love books. Holding a new book in my hand and opening it up to a virgin page, the words of which I’ve never read before – might as well be shooting up heroine. Hand me a book to have, and you’ll induce some mega-oxytocin-bonding in my view of you for a while. And let’s be clear: I do prefer physical books. The shape, the size, the feel of the cover under your fingertips as you hold it on your lap or against your chest – it’s what makes a book an individual, an entity unto itself. There are memories that get enfolded between the pages, sensations locked into the very book itself. Time and again, I have clutched a book that’s been with me since childhood to my chest and cried while holding it, the same way you clutch onto a friend in a time of needing comfort. And the times that I’ve come across old bindings of books, first print run versions or tombs that have stood on shelves for decades – ooh, there is a magic to the crackle of opening that cover and gazing through the cloud of dust released into the air to the life of old ink within.

So. If you hold out your hands and offer me a physical book and a USB with its .mobi file on it, I’ll choose the physical book, every time.

Buuuuut sometimes I’m not offered that physical book. Sometimes, authors only release certain writing in Kindle form. And sometimes, Amazon’s lovely daily email to me that might as well be titled “oh, you just bought a book from us, so here are five hundred more we know you’ll enjoy funneling all your money to us for” doesn’t feature physical books – it’s about some releases for Kindle.

And those releases for Kindle… there is a seductive gleam to them. As I said, I am not a shopper. I flip out over spending money. But ah, therein lies the magic of Kindle advertisement. Amazon may send me an email about a book that I’d have quite the inner debate over when it would come to buying the physical version of the book – $15? Is this book really worth that? I could spend $15 on another book that I know I’ve been wanting to read. $15 doesn’t seem like a justifiable amount on a book impulse purchase… I should really just save this $15 anyway…

And tack on shipping costs? And the delay while I wait for the book to get here? $15 for a physical book that I don’t know much about becomes an inhibitory high cost to purchase. No new book for Miceala.

Enter Kindle.

What’s that? This book that I’m not so sure about has a Kindle edition? And I could have that book right now? (*cue dilated pupils and heavy breathing of a tempted book-lover*) And the Kindle version is only $5?

kindle buy

Done and done.

Behemoth Amazon really took a step back and figured out what they were doing when it came to creating Kindle. Instant gratification of owning a new book? Check. Reduce price to eliminate deliberation over justification of cost value? Check. Suggest five hundred billion other books you could have right now for less than the normal price of their hardcopy and not require you to re-enter your credit card information and so allow you the time to think about this purchase but rather let you hand us that money with one click and move on to the next morsel of literary goodness? Check, check, and check.

The space efficiency of Kindle is pretty damn attractive, too. I would have loved to have had a Kindle as a kid. I’ve always read pretty damn fast, so one measly book wasn’t going to cut it for a family trip somewhere. No, I needed at least two. Probably three. And then what if I changed my mind and decided I actually wanted to read one of these other two books? Better bring them too. And of course I have to add in this entire shelf, considering it’s my favorite series and is going to give me just as much comfort as bringing along a stuffed animal would have for another child.

And just like that, I’ve filled my two-foot-by-one-foot kiddo roller suitcase with fifty books and two items of clothing. Make that one item of clothing – couldn’t believe I’d forgotten I’d need that space to bring a notebook and pen!

Yeah, this kind of travel packing did not fly with my parents.

The first few times, I managed to get away with it. My parents would make some joke about “what are you bringing, bricks?” as they hauled my suitcase into the trunk of the car, and I’d just nervously mumble some non-words and hope my awkward laugh slid by.

But then, oh dear god, then, my mother decided to open my suitcase.

“WHY THE HELL ARE YOU BRINGING FIFTEEN BOOKS?! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! YOU CAN’T DO THIS! GO PUT THESE BACK!”

But Mom! I NEED them!

Yeah, that didn’t work either.

So, I’d have to mope back to my room, tear out a piece of my soul as I was forced to designate two thirds of my beloved books as not worthy enough to come along with me, and return to my parents with a much, much lighter suitcase.

Ah, but then I grew older, garnered a larger suitcase, and decided to try my hand at being devious.

Well, devious enough for a ten-year-old.

I’d learned that leaving my books in plain sight clearly wasn’t going to work. So I’d just have to hide them.

I learned to tuck my books into the various compartments of the suitcase, even behind the weird cloth strappy swath thing attached to the back of the suitcase that I think is supposed to go in front of your clothing to help stuff it in but I’m not really sure. I’d wrap my books inside shirts. Stuff them up pant legs. Stick them between layers of clothing. Then I’d put a decoy book or two on top of it all, to make it seem like I was still just leaving all the books I planned to pack out in the open. Of course, I never meant to read those books at all. I had ten others stashed away. Those decoy books were entirely expendable.

“Miceala, why is your suitcase so heavy? You’re not bringing lots of books again, are you?”

“NO!” *frowny huffy face meant to make me look clearly offended* “I’m only bringing two!”

*Parents open suitcase. Only see two books on top of clothes.* “Oh, well, okay then…”

Ahahahaha! I am a villainous mastermind!

A couple trips later, my parents learned to start looking *behind* all the clothes, and the gig was up. Damn them.

But my point here, other than to tell you all a very long story about one of the many things that made me a ridiculous child, is to point out that if I’d had a Kindle, this whole parent-child literary warfare could have been spared! I actually could have taken along entire shelves’ worth of books, all in one lightweight little technological gift from the gods. Had Kindle been invented when I was young and hungry for words and without more hours of homework than there are hours in the day to do it, I would have been unstoppable.

Or, you know, really pleased. Something like that.

And so here I am, I twenty-two-year-old writer with her own bank account and a Kindle she got some time around sophomore year of college. I’m really rather surprised I still *have* a bank account. You know, one where the digits that show up on my monthly statements aren’t in red because I dug myself into a literature-haze-fueled hole of debt from all the Kindle books I’ve bought.
The un-shopper in me may still have some hold on my inhibitions.
But anyhoo. Thus goes the story of my Kindle addiction. Click! Book. Click! Another book.
And oh! Have I mentioned the fantasies I’ve been having about Amazon’s latest e-reader release, the Kindle Paperwhite? “What’s that? You prefer that your ebook experience feel more like reading an actual book page than a laptop screen? Oh, okay! Well, here ya go then…”
Next thing, Amazon’s just gonna set up a system where we hook up an IV directly from our bank account to their Kindle headquarters. Seriously.
But oh, it would be worth it… 😉