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The stones of the land are kin to my bones so I hail the holiness of the land that spreads broadly. The brine of the sea is akin to the blood in my veins so I honor the power and wisdom of the sea. The air of the sky is the same as the breath in my lungs so I venerate the sky’s divinity. With words of praise I honor the four winds, the night and the day, the sun and the moon, and whatever god or goddess rules over this place. Let the Goddess of the Dawn hear me today as I speak these lauds and make these offerings, as she shines her light across the land, water, and sky.

Bright One, Shining One, Goddess of the No-Longer-Night and Not-Yet-Day, will you open up the gates of morning? According to the order of things and the way of this world, I know your divine power will spill over the horizon. You will come from the east. Goddess, you will rise. You open the gates, goddess of the first light of day, as song birds sing furiously, as the world awakens. Your power and beauty are great, goddess, and so is my adoration for you. The devotion I work today is to call upon you, to be honored in my home, to be honored as I worship under the open sky, to be beloved and worshipped in my heart and on my altar. Goddess, white as birch bark, pure one, I honor you, I pour this libation to you. The blessings of your youth, your brightness, your movement over the horizon, I hail on your holy day, and worship you at your holy moment, your sacred time.

Let the favor of the Goddess of the Day’s first light flow into this nectar. And also, into this libation flow divine currents as I invoke holy things to worship the Dawn as I do: the frost of the northern places, and the heat of the deep earth, the brine of the seas, the cool waters that flow broadly across the land and the upward welling waters, Let this libation be blessed by the light of sun as it shines victoriously at the seasons’ stations, the light of the moon as it waxes and wanes, and the shining all of the lights of heaven as they fall to earth into this little sea that I hold in my hands. Let it be blessed by the oaks and the pines, the thundering of horses hooves, the speech of songbirds, the flight of cranes, and the movement of serpents across the land.

To the Goddess of the Dawn I pour this libation.

Goddess, bless me with the renewal of spring. Renew my health, renew my happiness, renew the depth of my learning and my quickness of my mind, and also the vigor of my body. Renewed troth, renewed purpose, a renewed journey. Let your light banishes the loneliness of the dark. Bless me with new possibilities and luck in my endeavors. Guide me in what ways that you can, knowing that mortals often struggle to hear a divine voice. Speak clearly to me. Be assured I honor you at my hearth, at my altar, and under the open sky, hailing and worshipping you among my most beloved among immortals. Help me to move forward. Let your light’s movement across the realms be my inspiration. Let your favor meet me at the beginning of each day. Bless me in the ways that I ask, and in the ways that I lack the wisdom to ask.

The Divine might of the Dawn Goddess flows into this drink I hold in my hands, and I take into myself her blessings as I drink it down.

So let the Shining, Rising Goddess who breaks apart the darkness in the east ward and bless me, my kin, our homes and our animals. Remember me because I remember you; remember me as I make my way across the land and across the seas, and as I hail and honor and love you. Remember and bless this true worshipper of the Dawn.

This rite has ended.

*** ( this libation draws heavily from Ceisiwr Serith's book "Deep Ancestors" )
matthew_wright: (pic#)
My favorite story about my little sister is also one of my favorite stories about New Mexico.

Alongside New Mexico’s deserved reputation for being a place of rich aesthetic experiences, a place of taking into oneself sensations like the texture of an ancient adobe wall or walking barefoot on a sidewalk so hot it can cook an egg, or the famous flavors of it’s regional cuisine, the smell of pinion-pine smoke and roasting chilies, the otherworldly sights of it’s geology that are like something out of a science fiction movie where an astronaut crash-lands somewhere, there is another, darker, more infamous, more dangerous claim to fame involving high energy physics. No, not the UFO thing ( although we all know the UFO thing really happened ).

My family moved to New Mexico when I was 6 from Black Hawk South Dakota, which was a town of 1,000 people at the time. In spite of being taken in, as anyone would, by the aesthetic, sensory and cultural richness of that place, we would often miss the Black Hills, and out of nostalgia, take family day trips into the mountainous, forested parts of northern New Mexico which reminded us a bit of our former home. We would take a back way through the Jemez mountains on which we would always stop to get this native American bread that was sold alongside the road. No, I don’t mean fry bread.. I mean this white bread made with lard I think, with such a rich flavor that I can't even adequately describe it. It was dense, and sweet and was meant to eaten slowly with a slab of butter. Into those forested mountains we would drive, in a circuit that would take us to Los Alamos, then to Santa Fe, then south to the suburbs west of Albuquerque in a circuitous route that had the cumulative effect of bonding us to our new home.

One of our usual stops was this Atomic bomb museum in Los Alamos. We split off from our parents, took interest in the exhibits, walked around a bit, looked at life-sized models of the bombs, and eventually were rounded up by my mother so that we could continue our journey. When we were ready to go, I sat in the car, noting a lizard sunning himself on a slab of granite beneath a pine tree in the landscaping outside, as my younger sister Raina got into the car on the seat next to me. My mom looked back to see if my sister was seat-belted in.

And mom completely lost her mind.

“Oh god. Raina, what is that. Oh my god. Let me see what that is. Larry,” she appealed in a panicky tone to my dad, “look at what she has. What is that in her hands? What is that? Larry? LARRY! LOOK!”

Because little sister had sat down on the car seat, with a smile on her face, holding in her hands an octagonal green crystal that was picking up light from the bright southwestern sun through window. It was longer than her hand and almost seemed to glow on its own. Remember this was in the American state where the first Atomic bomb had been tested and we were at a museum that had once been a lab where that terrible weapon was first developed. Before I left NM at the age of 20, there was a sign alongside a highway that said “Welcome to New Mexico, the Nuclear weapon Capitol of the World.” Things atomic, plutonium and uranium and radiation were on our minds and these things were on my mothers mind when she leapt to her conclusion about what my sister had brought into the car. Somehow, she believed, little sister had wandered off unsupervised, found her way into some restricted, carelessly unlocked hidden vault in the lab. In her hands, mother truly believed, was a bit of radioactive something or rather, uranium or plutonium that some scientist had absent-mindedly left in a drawer or next to a coffee pot, and we were all sitting there, getting massively irradiated at close range. And Raina of course had a perfectly innocent smile on her face. So my mother’s terror was entirely understandable and appropriate when you take into account what she believed. Had this been a real plutonium rod it would have been an actual emergency ( and a very, very bad one. ) Little sister had no idea why mom was freaking out, but I began to understand what the misunderstanding was.

Outside, in the landscaping, I saw a bed of rocks of just that type. They were greenish, bright, possibly a feldspar or a quartz, and with either hexagonal or octagonal symmetry. Little sister had not wandered off into an abandoned wing of the museum and pushed a button on a nuclear fuel vending machine. She had done a perfectly reasonable little girl thing and picked up a shiny rock she saw on the ground.

I don’t remember if little sister got to keep the rock or not but I think she should have been allowed to. I do remember I thought it was hysterical, and so did my father, and mom laughed at herself too when she calmed down and reflected upon her momentary misjudgment.

We continued on to Santa Fe and spent time there, where we walked inside a church that is one of the oldest buildings in North America, then stopped by this place we called the witches cauldron where hot springs have made a massive green bowl of hot water inside a cave in a dome of white rock, and where steaming springs empty into a small river or stream that runs alongside, and then headed south towards home, one hour on I-25, no more or less irradiated than was usual in the beautiful state of New Mexico.
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Tonight I aimed the shower at my lower back, at full-blast, as hot as it would go. As far as my back is concerned it's been a bad day, and a bad week for that matter. I remembered that it has been almost a year since my back injury. There are times when it hurts so much that my legs get wobbly. There are times when I can barely stand to stand up. I avoid lifting heavy objects sometimes because I know I will not be able and sometimes because I know I will pay for it later. I don't twist or turn very well. Tonight, my legs wobbled under me under an unsatisfyingly lukewarm shower stream. The furnace and water heater both suck where I live. Heat causes relief if you have a muscle injury; but there is this suspicion in the back of my mind that I don't have bad muscles. I think this is a deeper kind of injury sometimes. Sometimes I think this was an injury of bone and gristle that never got healed or diagnosed.

This is because of the way that the injury happened.It was not an injury of bending or twisting or picking something up wrong. On black Friday of last year I was injured by loading a gun safe onto a trailer. At my previous place of work, a large, big box retail sporting goods store filled with taxidermy, I worked in the stock room where it was very common for me to spend an 8 or 9 hour day wrestling with very heavy objects. Among my expected tasks was lifting gun safes into pickups and onto trailers by hand. The reason that we did not use machinery is that the retailer did not want the liability that would be incurred if a forklift damaged a customer's vehicle in the loading process. We would use a pallet jack to back a gunsafe up to the tailgate of a customer's pickup, tip the gunsafe, and then deadlift it from the bottom. Sometimes there would be two of us lifting the safe. Sometimes we could call over the radio and hope that enough people strong enough to lift the safe would show up. Sometimes there were a lot of people, sometimes it was not enough. The safes varied in size, from just two feet across to bigger than refrigerators and made of steel.
On black friday of last year I was loading gun safes onto trailers and onto pickups nonstop with less help than we should have had. The injury happened when a man pulled up with a trailer that was low to the ground.

So rather than being able to tip the gunsafe onto the tailgate of a pickup which cuts the weight of the safe as we tip it and deadlift it in, the fulcrum was lower and therefore much closer to us. When we tipped the gunsafe, it had a longer distance to fall. I was on the right-hand side, on the corner of the safe, with four or five other strong males helping. The only problem was that there was no one behind the safe to stop it from falling as no one had climbed up onto the trailer to slow its descent onto its back. I did, thinking I would be accompanied by one or more of the other guys, several of whom were working a second job while serving in the military. The joke was on me, however. I was the only one who went around behind the safe. All of that weight, of a steel gunsafe the size of a refrigerator was held up by the vertebrae of yours truly. My back injury happened at that moment, as I stood there, desperately making eye contact with an airman who was there working a second job. One idiot supervisor kept yelling to me that I had to lower it down. There was no way to do this without letting it fall. My back held it up for several seconds. Eventually I got help as the off-duty airmen finally made their way up onto the trailer to help me. I didn't even really feel it as I worked the rest of that night. I joked with other employees. Once or twice I may have put my hand on my lower back because I was starting to feel a twinge of something. Mostly I was exhuasted and wanted to go home, as I had given two weeks notice two weeks before and looked forward to ending my time there.

That my back was very badly damaged became more and more apparent over the next few weeks. Why I never got workman's comp is an entirely other story, and one in which I do not display the best judgment. I guess I wanted to demonstrate that even though I possess a graduate degree and am most of the way through earning another I still have the fortitude to work humble jobs. I have been criticized in Rapid City as though the injury was my fault - that I could have asked to work in another department at the store. The problem with this is that the store likes to hire people they believe to be experts in a certain area of the store - camping, for instance was staffed by supposedly knowledgeable camping experts. The stock room was one of the few jobs a person without a deep, demonstrable level of expertise could do. Transferring to another area of the store involved taking tests and writing essays about these areas of expertise.

I never got a doctor in Rapid City to X-ray my back. I was always told that it was muscles and dismissed. The pain in my back sometimes feels like twisted muscles, but it also feels like a downward, heavy pressure in my lower back. It is almost exactly like the same feeling I had when all of that weight was transferred down my spine from that gun safe when I was the only one holding it up. That sense of crushing downward weight has been there for a year now. I still don't know what exactly is wrong with it and I have little hope that I will get a diagnosis, much less treatment, any time soon. Socialized medicine in the US doesn't seem to be working out all that well.

I am writing none of this to garner sympathy. My back won't get any better because someone feels sorry for me. What I am suggesting, here, in this winding narrative of a back injury, is that when something is consumed in excess there is always someone, somewhere, who pays a price for it. I know many people will be lining up for black friday shopping; across the country we gape at news stories about people committing atrocities as they surge forward into retail stores at 4 AM. I will never find it cute or funny.

For as long as my back is injured, I will associate black Friday with being very badly hurt. I am not saying that buying gifts for loved ones is a bad thing; gift giving is a great way to create and strengthen bonds between people. But did the person who bought that gun safe need storage space for 50 guns? If the safe was bought so that a few guns could be stored along with family heirlooms I might be more OK with that. But it's still excessive. The greed of my former employers mattered more to them than the safety of their workers. It mattered more than following OSHA safety guidelines. Someone, somewhere, always pays for it.

I just wish people could stay home on that day. Discourage some of the greed by big box retailers by choosing to do holiday gift shopping at some other time on some other day. Memorialize the strong back I once had by making the choice to not join the herds; make the choice to not do something just because everyone else is. Maybe you could just think about staying home.
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When I was living in Denver I was watching the news and saw this story about a 25 year old woman and her 35 year old common-law husband who both died in a shootout with state police after robbing a bank. Normally, Denver nightly news could not be more insipid and uninspiring. But I found this to be an exceptional story. "how romantic." I thought to myself. Not necessarily the robbing of banks or dying in the trailer they lived together in a shootout with the authorities, but the fact that these two people had a vision for their own future together and followed it through.
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My Downstairs neighbor, who I think is either a strange man or a relatively normal man with a strange history, may have moved out today. I believe he may have moved out because I saw his pickup, which has a hand-welded metal camper on top, full of what seemed to be his possessions, and then later I saw the housekeeping cart next to the door. It would be strange to see the housekeeping cart next to the door because we only get housekeeping visits on Monday.

I live in a Motel, by the way. I have a number of reasons why I live in a motel by the interstate in Wyoming. Basically, Laramie, Wyoming is the worst place in which to rent in my experience as a renter. I have lived in 3 college towns, and this one has the worst rentals and worst landlords I have ever dealt with. It was easier to rent month to month in a fucking motel. The manager at the Motel is the first decent landlord I have encountered here; I get free cable, free internet, and free utilities. I abuse the free utilities by taking very long showers. I am the kind of person who needs to be extremely clean. If I feel physically dirty in any way, I freak out a little bit. What is interesting is that my personal space is often in disarray. I think a psychiatrist might find this juxtaposition interesting. "Clean body, Messy Home". That could be the title of a book about the kind of person I am. You know, if anyone ever figured that out for me. Once a week a housekeeper visits my room while I am gone and changes my towels and cleans my bathrooms. This is something I actually feel a bit bad about. Or weird about. But would you complain if someone came into your apartment and brought you new towels and cleaned your bathroom once a week?

Most of my neighbors are wind farm workers. This is a good thing because they tend to come home and immediately crash out. Several motel rooms have families in them, and several of these families have very large dogs. I can understand taking one's family along to work on a wind farm ( up to a point ) but the huge dogs are a thing I don't understand. People here live in motel rooms with labs and pit bulls and rottweilers. They let their dogs out into the field beyond the parking-lot several times a day to excrete, but many of the dogs don't make it and the snow that covers the parking-lot is often dotted with dog shit. I have to be careful not to step in it.

What I mean about this being a good thing is that in many college towns you have to deal with 20-something dipshits blasting their stereos. The wind farm workers don't have stereos. They come home from a hard day of blue-collar work, drink a few beers with names that end in -lite or -ice from twelve packs they buy on their way home, and sleep soundly.

It's quiet, and if I stand on the walkway in front of my room you can see an open field ( with a discarded couch someone left ), some of the town, and the mountains beyond.

My downstairs neighbor was strange because aside from me he was the only other person who lived there who didn't seem to fit. In his entire time there I never spoke to him. You can accuse me of being the insular one, but I have lived in places like this before, transient places where people are only there to work a job or to work for a season. The people whose stories you can't figure out usually have a story you are better off not knowing. He had dark, close cropped hair, wore dickies, and smoked continuously.

The wind farm workers leave early in the morning. They rev up their pickups and are gone before six while I am still ironing my slacks and getting ready to go teach a class. But during the day my downstairs neighbor would stay. He would pull his pickup up close to the door of his apartment and begin to work. His self-welded, self-assembled camper shell on his pickup was a little shop in which he worked. I would hear hammering, and the sound of electric tools at work. Drills, saws, that kind of thing. And then he would leave for a while and come back. At first I thought he was building an inside for his camper so that he could use it in the mountains for camping or something, but I was wrong. This has gone on for six months.

I never figured out what he was building because I never spoke to him. He lived in his room with a sandy-haired, middle-aged woman who would sit at a table in front of the window and smoke. When I climbed the steps to go up to my room this woman whose name I have never and will never learn stares at me with a sad look in her eyes. The table ( that is not part of the furniture of the motel room - they must have brought it themselves ) was used for puzzles. You know what I mean by puzzles. Images that come cut into pieces that must be assembled. They could both be seen assembling them at night, with their curtains open. Both smoking. There were knick knacks ( ceramic animals and shit like that ) on the table like you would find in a lower-class home.

His shop had spread outward away from his room and into the space beside the motel building. He had stacks of wood, stacks of rocks, and cans of paint and other substances. He had a barbeque grill and several bags of charcoal briquiettes.

They were always quiet, and even though something about them made me just a shade uneasy, I value that they never made much actual noise. In a place like this, quiet neighbors seem always replaced by idiotic ones. It is part of this flow of in-between people who lead transient lives. I could get, instead of this couple, a pair of obnoxious young men with a blasting stereo and three rottweilers living with them. So I consider myself lucky, in a sense.

In this town they are always squeezing me for more money. It is like the desolation of the landscape that surrounds Laramie makes the people who live here desperate to grasp at any resources they can get their hands on. College students are squeezed dry and then some. The wind farm workers must be to the Laramie townies like fat berries, ready to be plucked, ripe and rich compared to students and other young people affiliated with this god-forsaken excuse for a university.

From what I know about my neighbor, I assembled the following image of him:.

He is an ex con. He had trouble finding work after he got out of the joint, and has developed that kind of self-sufficiency that people like him develop out of necessity. They no longer belong to rational society, have a hard time renting, and have a hard time getting a loan for a car. He was a carpenter in his life in the Great Before. Might have been married, but the woman he is with is no one he knew before he went to prison. He met her in a bar. They discussed their common love of puzzles, and fell in love with each other, in that later in life kind of way, and in the manner of people who have been damaged by life. The woman has a daughter but she lives elsewhere. In another state most likely. The man has a job assembling or fixing or building something. He crafted his own camper shell both because he could not afford one or get credit for one, and as a demonstration to the gods above of his own ingenuity. He assembles or fixes or builds things, gets paid, and delivers these things during the day.

I saw him once, walking the other way, away from town I mean, under the overpass. He is the one and only neighbor that I would recognize if I passed him on the street.

Today everything was packed up. He put his possessions in his camper shell, his extra furniture and other things, and he is on the road now with his companion. This is a life he is used to. I know this because he has everything figured out. He will live somewhere else and use his camper trailer for a shop. He will build or assemble or fix things, and his woman will sit in their apartment and smoke. His life is figured out, and it makes total sense to him. In conversations late at night, the two cause the narratives if their lives together to make sense in the way that most couples do. They construct a shared reality, a common mythology about what they have done and will in the future do.

My next neighbor downstairs will unnerve me less and piss me off more. That is the way things always go. It will be a younger man or pair of men living as roomates. They WILL bring a stereo and at least 3 very large dogs. They will drive enormous pickups with various opaque white stickers on the back. Half of their clothing will be in hunting cammo. If the immortal gods had any regard for me, they would keep the downstairs empty. But you and I both know that this simply is not the case.

I wish my neighbor luck and happiness in the reality he has crafted for himself and his chain-smoking life-partner. I hope they continue to weave their mythology at night in the living space they fill with cigarette smoke. I wish him luck in his unfathomable profession in which he does things with tools inside a metal camper shell on top of an old pickup. I hope they continue to enjoy assembling puzzles together.

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March 2015

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