Small, Strange Businesses

Kage Baker absolutely loved to shop. When she had no money, she went window shopping and made lists for when she did get money. She never carried her own credit or debit card, nor even kept them in her desk – an idle hour on her computer could turn into a budget-devouring shopping trip.

She liked getting boxes delivered, too. But delivery men hated our house,  especially given Kage’s preference for living on upper stories …

Christmas was a great time for Kage. Before we began working Dickens, she had me drive her to favourite malls or department stores, where she would spend a happy afternoon working her way through her Christmas list. It was always enormous – she was one of 6 true-born and a few foster siblings, most of whom had also promptly had offspring; she was a several-times-over honourary aunt, too. The pile under our Christmas tree was always huge – at least until we took most of it over to someone’s house on Christmas morning.

Even before Black Friday became a national holiday – and before Small Business Saturday sprang up in defense of local merchants;  or non-shoppers established a stay home and hibernate counter-movement in defense of comfy sloth – Kage liked to tour her favourite local stores.We lived in so many peculiar small towns, full of very odd stores: old, strange stores that sold exotic shells, micro-distillery jams and lotions, paper made from seaweed and rose petals …

She ranged from Halcyon to Cambria-By-The-Sea when we lived on the Central Coast, a 50 mile arc through vineyards and meadows full of white cattle and egrets and matillja poppies … from the post office  across the street from the Temple of the People (you could buy essential oils and activated crystals in both places), via the lead soldier store by Moonstone Beach to Heart’s Ease Nursery: the small businesses Kage favoured outshone Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley. And they were real.

When we lived in Los Angeles, we made a day trip to the Farmer’s Market on Fairffax each winter. Now it’s attached to the ultra-posh Grove, and I haven’t been back yet … but I’m hoping it is still stone-floored alleys where the rain leaks through the canopies, alleys lined with tiny bizarre shops and strung with miles of aromatic green wreaths and huge crimson satin ribbons. We’d eat hot chestnuts and sloppy French dip sandwhiches, sip exotic fresh fruit juices and cups of hot chocolate … we wandered about buying strange things that sparkled, or perfumed the air, or shed unearthly lights for the people on our lists.

It’s got the  the widest selection of improbable foil wrapped chocolates, too – want crickets? Lady bugs? Robots? Edible Legos? Farmer’s Market’s got you covered.

You know, Dear Readers … I was gonna post an itsy bitsy excuse of a blog today, explaining I had gone out for a Small Business Patronage trip with Kimberly and worn my self right out. And I did do that, too. I must recommend, in fact, a place here in Atwater Village called Potted – it’s been selling garden doohickies of diverse sorts (mostly gorgeous pots)  since I was a wee girl and had to go through the shop with my hands firmly in my pockets: so much glass! So much clay! So much glittering potpourri!

(Now that I’m a grownup, though, I get to touch things. And advise other people to come out here and see this wonderful place. Kimberly and I bought a squirrel feeder with a roof, and wildflower bombs, and felted wool mistletoe, and a glass Brussels sprout ornament. As you can see, there’s something for everyone … )

Anyway, I started this and got dragged into the stream of Memory, and why even I enjoyed shopping when it was in magical places like these.  So I’ve gone on and on, and now all I have to say is: go to the small, hidden places. Go to the shops you found behind an old wrought iron forge one afternoon, and marked in your memory; go to the narrow, crooked streets and the shops with hand-lettered signs and a plate of strange cookies on the counter. Go find perfume distilled in someone’s bathroom; scarves knit beside a sea-coal fire; cards painted in someone’s solarium, and hand-lettered by someone else with a brass nib and a peacock’s feather trimmed to a pen-staff …

Go find magic, Dear Readers, and give it to the ones you love.



© 2005 Ron Reznick [#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon D2X Focal Length: 200mm Optimize Image: Color Mode: Mode II (Adobe RGB) Long Exposure NR: Off High ISO NR: Off 2005/12/04 14:29:04.6 Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority White Balance: Color Temp. (5300 K) Tone Comp.: Less Contrast RAW (12-bit) Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern AF Mode: AF-C Hue Adjustment: 0° Image Size: Large (4288 x 2848) 1/250 sec - F/5.6 Flash Sync Mode: Not Attached Saturation: Normal Exposure Comp.: -1.3 EV Sharpening: Normal Lens: VR 200mm F/2 G Sensitivity: ISO 100 Auto Flash Comp: 0 EV Image Comment: [#End of Shooting Data Section]MatilijaPoppyAncient_White_Park02
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Interesting Stuff

Kage Baker loved the quiet parts of the winter holidays – the off-days, the filler days, the days between the great high holy days when one could lie about and eat leftovers and engage in  entertaining research. When the King Tides of the main celebrations had retreated, she liked to go stroll along the empty beaches (as it were) and see what fascinating sea-changed treasures had washed up on the dark ballroom stretches of sand.

The day after Thanksgiving was one of her favourites – even though, in the last 10 years of her life, we spent it at Dickens being frenzied Victorians. At least we weren’t out shopping at Black Friday madhouses. (If Black Friday is one of your favourite sports, Dear Readers, please do not take offense. It’s just me. I don’t like football, either.) And in the evenings, Kage could roam through the aether, sharing out funny bits from her Buke as we all sat about weary and happy in our 19th century underwear, eating hot biscuits and swilling rum and chocolate milk … her favourite kind of scholarship.

I, too, like those quiet times. They are great occasions for casual wandering through the groves of scholarship, sipping from the weirder Pierian Springs, adding a bit from one’s pocket flask. As kids, we always made sure we’d gone to the library before a long holiday; nowadays, I anxiously load up my Kindle so as to have survival rations in the case of an emergency. Two nights ago, for instance, we had a power failure here near Griffith Park (someone had a bad evening and hit a power pole). My family lit a lot of candles, and spent a pleasant evening reading their Kindles and discussing strange science … we were the only house on the block with lights in the windows (candles and oil lamps are everyday items in my house.) For all I know, we were the only people talking to one another, too.

In the interests of that civilized pastime, here are few of the more interesting things I’ve found amid the aether lately.  They’re just fun.

Do you like trilobites? Come on, who doesn’t? They’re the original cute critters, adorably ergonomic designs even before Bambi eyes and fur were invented. I’ve always suspected they probably tasted like shrimp, too. And one of their amazing traits was their sparkling crystal eyes – made of aragonite: which is calcium carbonate: which is freaking limestone. I have always loved the idea of all those trilobites, from the size of a baby’s fingernail to a good yard long, flitting about the Permian seas with their glass eyes glinting. I think the world is a poorer place without their glittering optics.

Luckily, there are chitons! Modern animals, these, many coloured like musical comedy cocktails Kage adored; each studded with hundreds of aragonite eyes! Read and rejoice, Dear Readers.

Next comes a sheerly romantic tidbit: a cyborg rose has been grown. The components were induced to spread via the rose’s own circulation and cells, producing a true cyborg. What it does – or can do – I have no idea. Maybe it sings softly, repeating your vows of love to your beloved; maybe it spreads customized perfumes, or radiates in glowing colours. Maybe they can be programmed as wifi hot spots, and you can communicate through the aether via the chaplet in your hair; like the aristocracy of the Sidhe. It’s just an incredibly cool idea.

Next, we have an article on the ever-fascinating Underworld of Los Angeles. For a city on  the constant literal edge of plunging into the Abyss, there’s an amazing amount of tunnels and subterranean kingdoms under our grid-locked streets. There are still-undocumented mazes under Chinatown, some of which connect to weird corners of Union Station and Olvera Street; there were several attempts at subways, of which the doomed Red Cars were the acme and apogee. (Kage always maintained that Roger Rabbit was a documentary.) And of course, there were the Lizard People … and as the Company has taken over all these derelict metropolitan Morias, this is relevant to our interests.

Last of all, I give you another hilarious example of pareidolia. The photographs from Mars are an unending source of these goodies, ranging from sublime Faerie Queens to this charmingly homely ROUS. While you can tell it looks like a rodent, it also looks a hell of a lot like a rock. Which is what is is: unless you are one those hopeful and determined armchair xenologists who spend all their spare time looking for cartoon characters and cryptids amid the Martian rocks.

In any event, all these tidbits are marvellous fun, and certain to inspire invigorating conversation among your friends and families. They’re somewhat safer to discuss than religion or politics, too. And for once, you can out-weird your crazy uncle.

Feel free, Dear Readers, to discuss these among yourselves. I hope you like them as much as I did. And enjoy your leftovers, too.

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Good Times

Kage Baker always espoused a quiet, contemplative Thanksgiving Day.

Why she did, I do not know. She never got one. It’s a primary family holiday, of course, so when we were small it was all loud and confused bun fights with rotating family casts. Sometimes literally – it was sort of a family tradition, when I reached driving age, to send me out for forgotten rolls and have me return having gotten into an automobile accident. And Kage was always my co-pilot for those festive occasions of flat tires, dead batteries, running out of gas, hitting trees, hitting fire hydrants, hitting brand-new Mercedes Benzes … not quiet. All Kage contemplated for years was why the hell anyone let me out in the first place. Good times!

As older  adults, Kage and I flitted around between Thanksgiving feasts; on average, 3 per holiday. It was an insane asylum in multiple acts, the last one performed in a trance of tryptophan, pumpkin pie and narcolepsy caused by all available blood supply having retreated to our digestive systems. Neither quiet nor conducive to contemplation, except maybe when the cooking crew settled in the dark dining room after dinner to giggle, finish off all the wine bottles, and eat the last olives and cranberries so we didn’t have to get them back in the jars.

. We lived on leftovers for a week, though. Good times.

For the past 15 years, I’ve been working Dickens Fair in Northern California during the season. Between rehearsals, and the natural proximity of Thanksgiving to Christmas, our Thanksgivings were often spent finishing building our set in the Cow Palace. Our producers always put out a feast for the workers during Hell Week; I have wonderful memories of pie and turkey and beer from paper plates, sitting on the icy concrete floor to paint the base of our Bar, singing “Jerusalem” in harmony with Kage. Oh, very good times in old England …

In these later years, as we’ve gotten our construction act together rather more featly, Kage and I went up the day before Thanksgiving, to mooch off kind friends and be ready for the Friday after – which is always a performance day for us. Steve and Carol Skold, who are technically the parents of some of my playmates but are actually my friends as well, have taken us in for years now – first Kage and I, then just me, and now me and nephew Michael. Neither quiet nor contemplative there either, but we learned to be grateful for the miracle of instant family wherever we went. I miss you folks in Santa Rosa, and wish you the best of good times today.

Today, Dear Readers, for the first time in 15 years, I am at my own home for Thanksgiving Day. I will eat only one dinner. I will sleep in my own bed, and not drive insanely through the night and the wonders of I-5 to leap immediately into Extreme Christmas. And although I miss many, many people – with whom I have spent some of the most peculiar Thanksgivings imaginable – I am alive and well with Kimberly and Company, and glad of it, too. Good times!

I’m thankful to be here. I’m thankful to be anywhere, Dear Readers,and a turkey TV dinner would be enough to content me this year. But I’m with my family, and in fact Kimberly is making a wonderful classic dinner for us even as I write, and the atmosphere around my desk here is redolent with roasting turkey, and bacon, and fruit cake, and gingerbread … there will be stuffing, and special vegetables (though the really weird ones will be saved for leftover meals. I’ll explain later.) and gravy and mashed potatoes and green bean casserole and 2 kinds of cranberry sauce – and probably stuff I’ve forgotten about but will happily eat far too much of later on.

Quieter than usual, I must say – although not silent; lots of giggles and occasional screams as the cooking goes on; and there’s the Twilight Zone to listen to as well. The National Dog Show was on earlier, and the Skye Terrier took Best of Show, huzzah!

I’ve certainly got lots to contemplate. I’ve had a lot of ideas lately, even after the interesting drugs stopped; tomorrow I hope to share a few with you, Dear Readers, for general thought-provokery and merriment.

And in the merry meantime: cherish wherever and whomever you are with, Dear Readers. Yeah, Thanksgiving is hardly a world holiday, and even if it were, the world is in a sorry old shape this year. But we who are fortunate enough to be anywhere near a whole roof and enough to eat and someone, anyone, whom we love and who lives us back – well, I think we owe it to the zeitgeist to be as happy and grateful as we can manage.  Be mindful of good will, and good times, and good luck, and love.

And a few thoughts for cranberries and roast turkey won’t go amiss, either. Happy Thanksgiving, all.


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There IS Someone Out There

Kage Baker was always curious about who her readers were. Not one by one, so much: she was terminally shy, and always dreaded having to talk to fans individually.  But she really was interested in who they were in general, and why anyone (other than her friends and family) read what she wrote.

Science fiction conventions were a big help to her in this. She initially dreaded them – she went to her first like Marie Antoinette to the guillotine – but you can really only talk to people one at a time, so she learned how to converse with her fans. Especially since conventions are held in hotels. With bars. Kage was a firm believer in liquid courage; and there was nothing like a little rum to ease her inhibitions and let people hear how funny, clever and erudite a raconteuse she really was.

The internet was also an enormous help. Again, she approached chat rooms like Odysseus creeping into Polyphemus‘ cave, only to discover that the echoing darkness hid really nice people. Also, that it’s very hard to interrupt someone on a chat – which she adored. Kage had a hesitant manner (unless very relaxed) and a soft voice, and was habitually run over in ordinary conversations by loud blowhards (like me).  But in the aether, she could hold her own. And she did.

In the end, not only did Kage find out who her readers were – they found out that she was a fascinating person in her own right. As far as I could ever tell, both sides were delighted. She became a determined proponent of talking to one’s readers, of establishing and maintaining communication: the writer, she said, had a duty to fulfill. And Kage was really big on duty.

When I began this blog, shortly after Kage’s death in 2010, I wasn’t expecting an audience. I figured a couple of friends and siblings would read some of it; I expected them to say nice things, because they’re nice people. But the main reasons I did it were for discipline – trying to write something, anything on a regular basis: and because my heart was screaming in pain. And it wouldn’t stop. The blog was an attempt to get it out, get it down in words, so I could finally start to live again.

And it worked, for that. I edited 2 anthologies, and wrote 2 short stories and a novel in that first year. Other things have arisen to slow down my writing, but they’re only health problems – for the most part, my screams and carrying-on here have freed my voice. I can write. I do write. More will be published, too, as soon as my damned body decides not to try and kill me for a few free months … and the blog remains, my constant soap box, where I can yell into the Void and actually get replies from real people!

All sorts of surprises have come my way from this.

First surprise: I have readers. My Dear Readers are, in fact, mostly people I didn’t even know 5 years ago, who have supported me all this while for love of Kage. Second surprise: a lot of my old friends have become readers, people I had no real idea suspected I could write at all. Third surprise: I’ve been implying a promissory contract with all these Dear Readers, and they expect me to fulfill my part.

That’s what floors me most. I have not been shouting into the Void after all.

A good friend of mine died a few days ago; a friend and comrade from the Faire, which has been one of the main cauldrons of my soul through this life. Yestreday, I signed on here to see if I could summon up the strength to say something – something brief, because his death was a hugely unexpected shock and it left me cold and speechless. But, you know – you gotta do something at a time like that.

When I signed on, I found that over 200 people had visited my site before I checked it yestreday. I hadn’t posted in a few days, so what were they expecting? Then I checked on who they were, and I realized – Faire people were coming by to see what I had to say about Gerald. I had an audience, all right. And an obligation. I owed a duty to love.

So I wrote what I could. I can only hope it helped you, Dear Readers, as much s it helped me. I wept while I wrote it, remembering the towering young titan that was Gerald in our shared youth. That gave me an interesting problem in editing and proof-reading later, which I hope would have given Gerald – who edited and proofed professionally – a good laugh.

Mostly, though, I was reminded – and astonished – that someone is Out There. I’m neither wasting nor marking time; despite advancing age and physical ills and the insistence of my friends in freaking dying on me, I apparently still have things to do. I cannot adequately express how that amazes and inspires me. Because I have felt pretty used up and worthless lately … but I’m not dead! And apparently, everyone knew that but me.

Thanks, folks. I really needed that.

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Non Requiescant In Pace

Kage Baker didn’t want to know when her friends died.

It wasn’t that she didn’t care – she did, tremendously. But we’d entered that time of life when one’s playmates start dying a lot; and she couldn’t stand the increasing list. I was the one who kept up on social media, just to see that everyone was still alive. She finally forbade me to tell her the casualty list.

Every now and then she’d ask me “Okay, who’s died recently?” And I’d tell her; and she’d go so pale her freckles glowed like embers across her nose, and her eyes would become black ice. And then she’d be very quiet for awhile, and finally tell me, “Don’t tell me anymore unless I ask, okay?”

“But you always do ask!” I’d protest.

“Fine; but wait until I ask, all right?” And then Kage would usually find a way to write the most recent beloved loss into a story. Which seemed to ease her heart – until, of course, she made the Hit List and left me to cope all by myself with the relentless tide of loss …

That was 5 years ago; since then, a lot more of our dearest friends have died. We’re all getting older, after all; and while there may well be a few immortals concealed among the very peculiar people who work Faires and write science fiction, they all  keep to the rules and appear to kick the jam jar (as Kage liked to say) after a reasonable amount of time.

The main reason I check Facebook every day is to see who’s survived another night.

Yestreday, Gerald Zepeda –  yet another brilliant old friend and companion – went into the Uttermost West. We call it Skyfaire, in our peculiar tribe: by now, it has the best community theatre, orchestra, choral groups, costumers, armourers, fighters, dancers and general performers anywhere since the original Globe Theatre burned down.

Gerald was one of our best. He was a street performer of the very first water; a matchless improviser, a fine director, a selfless administrator. He dealt with the Front Office long past the time when most of the rest of us sensitive artistic types had set our hair on fire and run screaming from the insane demands of the Business Mind; he always did his very best to keep The Show pure and alive and running. Because he did have to sit at the Grownups’ Table in order to keep the playground open for us less responsible actor types, we clashed a lot – but he was my friend, nonetheless, my playmate of old, someone I always admired when he got to put down his burdens and come play with the rest of us loonies.

He was part of my life for over 40 years. He was someone I would always recognize in a crowd – from his walk, the set of his shoulders, the back of his head.We weren’t bosom buddies – I don’t think I ever even kissed him; and believe me, at Faire, you kiss everyone … but Gerald was one of my brothers. I’ve fallen in the mud with him, yelled at him, yelled for him, poured beer and water and lemonade in his cup and over his head.

He started out as a Monger, selling hysterically gross deceased and decaying items to horrified tourists; I met him when he was the fierce paternal guardian of the little girl Mongettes on the Actors’ Bus. He invented an hilarious group of Puritans, and was a great stump preacher. He was a slimily evil Sheriff, a pompously evil Spanish Ambassador, an eye-rolling insane Bad Bishop …

Gerald was my boss for many years, too; me and the other insane, unreasonable, un-herdable, barely-domesticated performers making art under the oak trees. And he was always good to me. He was good to all of us, which was one of the hardest things any administrator must ever have done: because he worked his ass off to give us the freedom to be mad creators when he could have been right out there upstaging most of us if he hadn’t been such a responsible director. And he did  it when it would have been a lot easier to just haul us all up on charges – perfectly justified – of being rude, crude and socially unspeakable.

He was kind enough to praise my own skills at improvisation – which was Gold Standard Praise from the Praiseworthy, because Gerald was light-years beyond me. He praised  the folks who could be trusted to talk to the press; at the same time, he lauded those of us who did good stuff by deciding to ask for forgiveness instead of permission. He encouraged us to be independent, and kept us as free from stodgy interference as he could. He did that for all of us whose art he was delighted to see, as long he didn’t have to know about it before we did it … and he had a new show opening at Dickens this year, too. It will open, with the rest of Extreme Christmas, this Saturday in the Cow Palace: I cannot imagine his cast does not intend to be on the boards in his absence.

He was a good man, a fine actor, an exemplary scholar. He was a beloved husband, father, friend, mentor. He was a devout man, and yet always tolerant of others’ religion. He was laugh until milk comes out of your nose funny.

Rest not at all, Gerald! Pick up where you left off, resume your role as brilliant actor and instigator with all the vigour of your endless youth. There are dead chickens and pig’s heads to sell, Puritans to lead and harass, sinners to exhort, widows and orphans to threaten.  There’s a place at the long wooden table under the oaks, where the afternoon light comes down in curtains of golden dust, and all the world is young and strong and laughing.

Man, you will be missed.

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Reserves or Springs?

Kage Baker used to worry about running out of ideas.

Probably most writers do that. Some, obviously, do not – there are some quite successful writers who have been writing the same story over and over through their careers. There are some who even do it loudly and deliberately – re-writing their most famous works from the viewpoint of another character in the story line, and touting it as a new book. It must work with a lot of readers, since I can think of 3 or 4 wildly successful authors off the top of my (not at all jealous) head, who have famously done this.

For me, as a reader, it doesn’t work; in fact, it offends me so much that I usually end up never reading that writer again. It’s like being served room-temperature leftovers when you expected a fresh meal – room temperature, small portions, and on a dirty plate. Thanks so much, I don’t want your watered whiskey in a highball glass with lipstick smudges on it!

As a writer, I am also offended – but I have to admit, in all honesty, that part of what offends me is that I’m jealous: I don’t have the chutzpah or talent necessary to pull off this trick. I can’t guarantee that I wouldn’t try it, either, if I thought I could get away with it … but I know I wouldn’t, so I despise the ploy. It really seems like cheating to me – it’s breaking that contract between the writer and the reader, which Kage taught me was the basic sacred quality at the root of writing at all.

I don’t mind series, mind you. When I like a series, the more the merrier for me! But I like the ideas to mutate and evolve and even occasionally fail (I actually liked Stephen King’s Cujo …), because it at least shows the writer was trying.  Kage herself, although sometimes encouraged to write More Of The Same by publishers or agents, went out of her way not to do it. She too thought it was cheating. The result was a couple of books that no one really liked but her and me (Not Less Than Gods springs to mind …), but she at least was secure in the conviction that she had been honest.

But because of her desire not to take the easy way out, Kage did worry about running out of ideas. Why, I cannot really imagine – she had so many ideas that she literally never stopped writing for more than a weekend throughout her entire career: that was 14 years or so of writing ALL THE TIME she wasn’t asleep or gaming or performing something, and sometimes even while she was. It was not uncommon for her to sleep walk, heading to her desk in the middle of the night and mumbling about the next plot point she meant to hit. I was usually awake and so put her back to bed – because she didn’t actually ever wake up, and the resulting copy was an exercise in glossolalia.

If I was asleep, she woke me up to help. Sometimes it was to help doing something extremely weird – making stained glass popped up a lot at 3 in the morning, for some reason – often to do with the current plot. I have tucked my babbling sister back into bed many a time while assuring her that the air lock was closed, the cows were in the byre, or I would check the pineal tribantine on the stove first thing in the morning …

Was this mental static, or the unconscious springs of creativity simply overflowing? Damned if I know, Dear Readers. I only know she was worried about repeating herself or coming up dry on a fishing trip, and so must have been constantly trawling the depths of her own mind for ideas. Some writers are like that. Some … aren’t.

My unconscious is evidently of the 24/7 variety. I assume Kage somehow adjusted the factory settings over the years, so it would never shut down (or shut up). My dreams are about as interesting as a person can stand … and consequently, I am accumulating pages and pages of story idea. I think this pretty much how Kage did it, so I don’t mind too much that someone seems to have broken off the governor switch on my mind with a big   wrench …

And so far, a lack of ideas is not a problem. My big pitfall is a lack of energy, at the moment much complicated by recovering from surgery. Still, the various holes in my integument are healing; it’s becoming clear that  I was being dragged down by a lot more evil weight from the evil kidney than I had ever imagined. Several aches and pains, that I had attributed to advancing senescence, have turned out to be due instead to the Black Sea of infection bubbling under my liver: now it’s gone, and so are they, and it’s astonishing how mach clearer everything is!

Kage never did run out of ideas. She couldn’t even get to them all, in fact, so I have a lot to work with here. And as I slowly emerge from the funk of 3 years or so of kidney failure, more ideas crystallize into actual plots and characters. Even now that I’m off the really good drugs … So my reserves and reservoirs and the Pierian spring of my unconscious are working away in there.

Gotta get the filing system back up to speed, though. But it’s all coming along.

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Looking Through the Thorns

Kage Baker suffered from migraines. She left them to me, along with all her writing notes and Beatles memorabilia.

I had no vestige of a migraine until menopause heaved over my personal horizon. Kage, Kimberly and Anne all did – I held a lot of hair out of the way of helplessly vomiting siblings, and dispensed a lot of strong tea and black coffee in darkened rooms: but me, I never had so much as a hint of an aura.

Then, about the time that I developed hot flashes and a 1000% increase in chocolate appetite, the migraines started. I’m lucky even so – they are rarely painful. Instead, they mostly rely on vertigo and visual distortions to do their evil work. And thus, the only way to get through is still to lie down and sleep ’em off. I can’t even rely on a painkiller to help, since the buggers don’t have the good grace to hurt.

Instead, I get black and silver patterns of thorns growing all over my visual field. It’s like Sleeping Beauty’s castle being over-run by roses in fast forward, and in a Gothic style. Metallic lace, mirror-and-jet thorns, a rose garden out of a Cocteau film … rather lovely, really, but when you’re peering at the world through the edges of the daggers and thorns, it’s very confusing.

Besides, I can see them growing. Unnerving to the max, lemme tell you.

Anyway, I spent this afternoon lying down and sleeping it off. The Orange Fluff Cat came and slept with me, which was very nice; and I managed to stay actually horizontal in my own bed for quite some time before Harry decided I had probably died and started bugling in alarm. A bored parrot will reliably raise the actual dead, Dear Reader. I am sure one travelled with Jesus and the disciples.

Anyway, I am still sorting through my thoroughly disabled sensorium this evening. The exploration of how lucid dreaming and good painkillers effect post-surgical awareness of spatial relationships will have to wait. Heaven only knows where I think I’m waking up in the middle of tonight – last night, I thought I was in the Great Cabin of the HMS Surprise from the film Master and Commander. She lies at anchor these days at the Maritime Mueum in San Diego, and I was privileged one very early morning to run all over her with Kage before the day’s crowds appeared …

It’s the only way to get through the little hiccoughs that crop up during migraines and post-surgical healing. Use your thoughts’ disorder to make your dreams more interesting! If the brakes are off your imagination, head for a good downhill grade and let ‘er rip!

Sometimes I understand why people want to do drugs …

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