One Lovely Blog Award – Thanks!




Originally written on 7/23, on my way back to dry land and a much needed softshell Po’Boy.

Back in March, Kourtney honored me with a Versitile Blogger Award nomination and I had to bow out of the nomination process due to time constraints. This week, Neferet of Stay for a Spell has done me the honor of passing along a Lovely Blog Award nomination. And I feel like a real pinhead as I must bow out again. On vacation, on the high seas, with little to no internet access, I am typing up all of my blogs to publish when I arrive back in the states. (Prepare for a deluge – Oh, wait, if I do them in order this will be last, doi.)

But I do want to thank Neferet and other bloggers like her for your constant support, your joy at my joys and your sadness at my sorrows (believe me, this is actually rare to come by), and your friendship – yes, I consider many of you my friends and fellow seekers. Neferet, this came at a perfect time. Not exactly because of Abby, but because of the whole atmosphere in which I’ve been toiling – knowing that readers like you are out there and that I am touching you in some way makes all the little things fall like so much chaff.

I also I admire the tenacity of those, like Neferet, who participate in blogger awards. It’s no small thing to find, contact, and list fifteen bloggers worthy of these awards. (In my truncated efforts, see my blogroll to the right.)

To fulfill as many of the nomination’s requirements as I can, I will share 7 things with you (I’ll try not to repeat those I posted in March). I’ll try to also keep them to things I am learning about myself on vacation.

1. It took me two days on a cruise ship to get used to having people wait on me beck-and-call. Yes, yes. I too believe that I should always have a personally assigned waiter who dances for/with me after dinner, a constant and meticulous housekeeper who leaves my towels folded in animal shapes, a Michelin starred chef, and an entire staff dedicated to entertaining me and my children. But alas, when we finally get what we want, it sometimes takes a little acclimation.

2. I typically overpack, this time I underpacked. Hello, duty-free shop!

3. New Orleans makes my soul feel alright all the way up to the corners. Something about standing in Jackson Square (were I met Mama Lisa, BTW) makes me feel like I’m glowing from the inside.

4. I had a vegan friend ask me — and I realized that I cannot tell you what alligator tastes like. It doesn’t taste like chicken. It’s vaguely like turtle – only meatier and less fishy (but not altogether un-fishy). It’s not at all like rattle-snake. Once I realized I was attempting this feat with a vegan, I settled for, “Home.” Alligator tastes like an eider-down pillow wrapped in your toastiest fuzzy socks and favorite over-sized sweater.

5. It turns out that I have never had REAL tequila. Until today. The queen of the margaritas always thought Patron was “pretty good.” Upon touring a real distillery, I learned the difference. The difference is magnificent.

6. I love floppy hats. I love hats in general. I am a hat girl. My head is the right size and shape for hats and I look good in them – especially with giant Jacky O sunglasses and a silk scarf. But floppy hats? Yes, thank you. I love horse-show days for many reasons, but the opportunity to wear a floppy hat specifically coordinated with my show-mom sundress? Amen for horse-shows. (No ribbons on my hat, thanks. Those are for the horses only.) Amen for sunning at poolside. Amen for convertibles (when I have a hat-pin, of course). Amen for the Yucatan. Amen for floppy hats.

7. I am utterly blessed. I make friends easily and have met a veritable horde of new pals on-board (as long as I don’t say “War Eagle” in The Who Dat Nation), I keep (most/real) friends for an eternity and have a suitcase of chachkies to distribute to folks I’ve know since before Billy Ray Cyrus had a career, and I have people in my life that I can trust absolutely with my house, car, animals, children, and PIN number. KB, I cannot thank you enough for the peace of mind you give me every time I leave town. XO (Once I get back and start publishing these things, be sure to read: “The Bad Witch in Traffic.”)

My cruise director is calling me to the Lido deck for some line dancing. It’s goofy, yes. But I’m on vacation and it’s electric. (Boogie woogie, woogie.)

TBW signing off for now!

The Bad Witch on The High Seas

Originally written on 7/19. Now that I’m back on U.S. soil with the internets, I will show you what I’ve been doing.

I watched the bayous slip behind me for several hours today. I kept thinking, “I have the sun (fire) and I have the water and I have the wind (air). Will I miss the earth?”

As an aging Sagittarius with mouths to feed and mortgages and tuitions to pay (and an airy spouse to keep on some kind of beneficent tether), I have had to learn to temper the blazing fire in me and become more practical, more pragmatic, more pedantic. My moon is in Gemini and the air likes to fuel my Sagittarian fire. However, as I work toward equilibrium with all elements, earth seems to win out more and more these days – which may not, in the end, be a very good thing at all.

I have the intuition and generosity of water, the bookish rationale and wit of air, the passion and inspiration and gregariousness of fire, but more than all of those things I am all about longevity. I tend to be tolerant of bullshit (to my own frustration). And I tend toward physicality in my expression of affection, in aesthetics, in emotional outlets, and in my sense of humor – which tends toward the lower stratum. (Like many folks of Scottish descent, TBW loves a good poop joke – but it has to be a *good* poop joke.) I can be very bull-headed indeed. But I am also very well-grounded. Fortunately, I don’t have any of the scarier earth problems like stagnation or agoraphobia. That would never do on a ship like this.

So, as I sit with the sun above me, the wind in my hair, and the uncustomary roll of water beneath me, I want to look at earth. More particularly my relationship with earth.

A fire/air native, you can imagine what a ball of intensity I was at twenty. Fiery red hair to boot. I had already lived through more commotion than most adults ever meet, and I seemed to burn the brighter for it.[1] I had become accustomed to the audible gasp folks made when I walked in the room. I perceived it a normalcy that traffic and attentions and great bodies of water parted when I walked past. Not because I was particularly more attractive than anyone else in the room, nor because there was anything especially charismatic about my demeanor: just because I was a living blaze of dynamism.

Eventually, I grew to realize that I couldn’t just pour out my energies unreservedly lest I deplete myself. I’m not sure when that happened. I was sincerely wild, rebellious, idealistic, imaginative, and entirely emotional. But unlike many fire/air natives, I was able to channel all of those qualities toward results.

Despite a family of origin where a high school diploma is rare, I had already had (and abandoned) a career in finance,[2] had already had (and abandoned) a military fiancé, had married a man I fell in love with (literally) at first sight and had three children with him and together we owned a home in a major metropolitan area. I had earned a double-major BA and an MA (without financial assistance of any sort aside from scholarships and fellowships), was teaching at a fairly-competitive private university, and was a published poet. I had also completed three of five arduous levels of magical training at the knee of my exacting mentor and had (momentarily) converted to Anglicanism and had become a postulant.[3] All before my thirtieth-birthday.

In my mid-thirties, I had moved a thousand miles from home, had earned a PhD, had published a number of academic articles, had resolutely returned to my Pagan roots, was elevated to the fourth of five arduous levels of magical training at the knee of my exacting mentor, and had climbed well into middle-class-dom.

At thirty-seven, I got tired.

Damned tired.

In my exhausted folly, I recklessly mistook age for wisdom and followed the bad counsel of an older friend to let the fire inside me erupt. Inside four months I was left with nothing but smoking ashes – even the bad counselor had deserted me. As a reaction, I used all the earth I could find to smother the flames I had brashly ignited. Terrified of backdraft, I built walls of earth to brace against the wind that swirled around me.

This is a fairly understandable reaction, no?

But the long-term consequences of burying my innate disposition in earth and stone have been a little more unkind than self-immolation would ever have been. About two years after the initial explosion and subsequent um . . . snuffing . . . we’ll go with “snuffing,” the residual effects of that short-term burst continued to decompose the landscape around me. So I threw waddle and daub at the problem.

For two more years I remained fearful of a sudden flashover, so I built my temple of earth, earth, earth. Then, not too abruptly, I realized that in meditation, I would “get stuck” in my third chakra. Know what I mean? If you do, then you do. If you don’t, then I can’t really explain it. Everything was quiet on the southern-front: too quiet. I had sacrificed my nature in the name of balance.

Eventually, I realized that pyrolysis was inevitable, even the earthiest edifice would eventually crumble. I was honest with myself. I knew what I was: unadulterated fire with an abundant oxygen supply. I realized that if I put enough earth on a volcano, it would blow sky-high at its inescapable ignition. So I spent two more years working toward digging at the embers of my being while maintaining a safe perimeter.

  • Silly as it may sound, I dressed as a phoenix for Halloween.
  • Silly as it may sound, I wept openly when Danerys Targaryen survived her own death-pyre and brought dragons back to The Seven Kingdoms.
  • Silly as it may sound, I asked for a Kindle Fire for Yule and got it – with a red case.

As most of you know, I had a shite week-from-Hades about a month or so ago. The unrelenting emotionalism of that particular roller-coaster-ride left a crack in my edifice.

Just enough for the smoke to rise and make the whole dadgum neighborhood smell like barbecue.

Just enough for the heat to make ripples in the air around me and flat-out-frighten the idiots who had been carelessly pouring gasoline around me for the past four years.

Just enough to make a whole group of cold and hungry folks (knowing the warmth and nourishment found in flames) come out of the woodwork saying: “Ooooohh” and “Ahhhhhh” and “Ohhhhhhh.”

Just enough to make me sit up and say, “Enough dirt, dammit.”

Just enough to land my ass on a cruise ship with no earth to be found.

This is the art that was just outside The Bad Stateroom.

So, as I sit with the sun above me, the wind in my hair, and the uncustomary roll of water beneath me, I want to look at earth. More particularly, at sloughing (some of) it off.

I think y’all might just be in for viewing a metamorphosis.

Imma toast this unfamiliar fruity little drink that my waiter, Fernando, just brought to me to the phoenix as she rises from the ashes. Join me?


[1] I grew up in Latin Kings’ territory on the South Side of Chicago but ran with a number of Satan’s Disciples just before the big war between SDs and Two-Six; TBW could whip a Two-Six-Folk gang sign like no other white-girl. We met in Brother Preacherman’s church and hung out in the church parking-lot; many of my other “brothers” became Evangelical preachers. This makes me giggle.

[2] For which I had a real estate license, a securities agent license (Series 63 and Series 7), and state and federal insurance licenses.

[3] That lasted about two years. Considering what I learned in those years, I don’t regret a minute of it.

The Bad Witch in Traffic (With 80s Tunes)

I wrote this over a week ago, on 7/18. Over the past week, while on vacation and out of internet contact, I have written all of my entries and saved them for proofing and posting upon my reemergence in the “real” world. I’ll try to space them out so as not to bombard you with TBW Files.

As I sit on I65 in bumper-to-bumper traffic on my way to Mexico via New Orleans[1] while listening to 80s music, it occurs to me that I should learn to blog from my Droid.

It also occurs to me that I should check in on my thoughts concerning wakes and funerals. I actually started thinking about all this long before folks started dropping like flies around me.

Not quite a month ago, Neferet posted a “rant” about Pagan funerals. She really made my brain work that day; it’s been ticking ever since. Especially since I have been attending to death with such frequency of late.

My comment was this: “. . . passing ceremonies for those who die suddenly. . . . are generally (like wakes and funerals) for the living, so that we might have some sort of ‘closure.’ For those who are elderly or infirm and travel the longer road to death, we do an ‘easing’ ritual while they are still alive. One that is intended to prepare the body to die with the least pain possible and to help the spirit/mind to make the cross beyond the veil less traumatic. . . . [As those we know and love pass over,] we prepare for and celebrate [our own] next incarnation, but with the understanding that there is a bit of a ‘layover’ in oblivion (some call this Summerland – I don’t). You are right to say that we celebrate the path they laid for us. Let me be clear, Pagans do mourn the passing of those we love – it’s not all Irish Wakes and ring-dances. We celebrate the life of the one who has passed, we are joyful for their rebirth, and we grow from what we learned at their passing. But growth, we must admit, is often painful.”

The growth I have recently undergone comes in the guise of perspective. You see, TBW had previously put all her eggs in one basket, so to speak. There was this “one thing” I felt I had to work out in this lifetime lest I repeat the whole damned thing again in the next incarnation. I know that I know that I know that I’ve faced this idiomatic demon in my past and I couldn’t stand the thought of reiterating it again. Unfortunately, this means I was neglecting some of the more rewarding parts of my life. Given my multiple recent “cosmic memoranda” that tomorrow is not a promise and that folks slip past without any given notice (and certainly without our consent), it occurs to me that I should be more thankful for the healthy parts of my life and let the chaff fall to the wayside.

In that spirit, I thought I might share with you a few of the folks I love, and folks who – for some inexplicable reason – love me back. Maybe it’s a bit of maudlin setting in after so much personal loss. Maybe it’s just time.

To begin, I won’t mention The Bad Eldest, The Bad Son, or The Bad Baby. Obviously, I love my children.[2] I also won’t mention my parents, my siblings, or my nieces and nephews. That’s a whole ball of wax that anyone with a family-of-origin understands is anything but straightforward.

But I will tell you about The Bad House-sitter, The Bad Barista, The Bad Catholic, and The Bad Newbie (and by “Bad,” I mean “Awesome”). These are the folks I trust with my house-keys, my animals, my children, and the combination to my safe. I’ve told you about them before; these are my hot, politically challenging Christian friends who regularly rock my socks, love me unconditionally (and not just because Jesus told them to), and reinforce my belief that it is not the path but the traveler that matters.

I also have this long-time friend, Lizzie, a supreme brainiac[3] with a loving heart and a magnificent sense of humor. Along with being completely proud of Lizzie, I often gauge my decisions based on whether or not Lizzie would be proud of me.

Then there’s My-Mikey. Somehow Mike can tell from just a “Hello” whether his next question should be, “What, when, and where are we drinking together next?” or “Whose body do you need buried?” And he would bury one for me too. And then turn it into eco-friendly compost.

Baby Mae, Norma Jean, Boo, and Bing are all women who, under the pressure of a midterm crisis or a family crisis, despite their tough exteriors, have given me the great honor of falling into my arms and letting go just long enough to find that grain of strength to pull themselves together and face another day of life’s shite. None of these women were dealt their hand from a remotely fair deck, yet they manage to bet to their limits without ever playing a victim card. Now, there’s someone worth playing poker with, no? And my greatest joy in life is being worthy of their love and respect. I think their greatest joy is lasagna night at The Bad Witch’s table.

One of the most beautiful women I know is Miss EC. She and her husband are the ones who agreed to be my children’s guardians should there ever be a need. Now, that, my dear reader, as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti, is the truest friend. She is drop-dead-gorgeous on the inside as well as the outside (the woman looks like she was carved out of cream cheese). I’m not kidding. This is not one of those – “she has a great personality” moments. This woman is as near a perfect human being as I can imagine. Perfect skin, perfect teeth, perfect pitch, size 4, genuinely kind, brilliant, funny, runs the children’s musical theatre summer program, and is in-absolute-love with her husband. If I didn’t love her so well, I think I’d hate her on principle. Though you’d bet your last dollar that she was pampered and protected through childhood, her life has not been easy. But, alas, victimization didn’t look good on her either, so she went with the classic twin-set of grace and generosity. I love that she knows me completely and loves me anyway, trusts me with her precious children, and mentors mine from time to time.[4] Miss EC is always my voice of reason.

One of the most brilliant women I know is Mama. I envy her shoes, I miss her company when we’ve been apart more than a week, I value her way with words, I long to install that immeasurably-awaited Jager-pull in our communal opium den, I recommend her novel(s),[5] and I don’t know where I’d be without her wry humor laced with deadly compassion. Mama is never my voice of reason. Thank the gods. Here’s a highball.

P/SB, you know I love you more than my luggage. Believe it or not, you keep me sane. I’ve met some great people due to TBW Files over the past few years; I don’t know how to thank you for turning a cyber-friendship into a real friendship. Well, not without over-sharing, har-har.

Not quite a year ago, I had the profound luck to become friends with Lady Ishara (& Celt Wiccan). After a brutal witch-burning, I was just toying with the idea of coming out of my witchy shell again and working on community building (after receiving a series of emails from about a 50 mile radius – prod, prod). It was as if the cosmos sent these two along to give me a swift kick in the arse. Over the past eight months or so, Lady Ishara and I have seen a lot of personal ups and downs and we have learned to call each other “sister.” Wherever it is that this next segment of path leads, I will be always grateful for having had her by my side.

Now, hold on to your hats. I have this one friend, KB, who has taken more shite from more corners than I have ever faced in my life. Her aggressors make any amateur volleys lobbed at TBW look like pea-shooters. Yet, she is perpetually poised with pistolas ready. We couldn’t be more different and I think that’s what we love best about us. I am honored to call this woman my dear friend and I take her advice to “give’em hell” very seriously. KB looks out for me and supports me like a Mama Bear. I’n’t that right, Mama Bear?

My most recent batch of students, Sele, Ryan, and Teak, are about to finish their first year-and-a-day. Anyone who has been a mentor or who has had a mentor knows what these youngon’s mean to me. Anyone who hasn’t – no words can convey it.

Same goes for Bertie, The Late Brother Preacherman, and The Late Mama Lisa.

You’ve heard me talk about The Bad Bestie. She and I go back to the Reagan administration. She and I explored Paganism and “the paranormal” while we were still listening to Prince and wore Fergie bows in our hair. What can I say that over a quarter-century of friendship doesn’t already convey? “I love you,” just doesn’t cut it: “I’m hopelessly devoted to you” might get a little closer. And The Bad Bestie’s husband, also a friend of 25+ years, has been a great source of love and support too. Though I may always owe him a groom’s cake, he never seems to reach his limits of the BS he puts up with on my account. Now, that’s devotion. (Either that or he didn’t know he had a choice.)

My longest friend, Blackbird, is also my kin. It’s just plain good luck to have someone who shares your DNA (and admits to it in public) and has known you through “that awkward stage” and yet loves you. Learning that we have the same spiritual proclivities was – well – a relief to tell the truth. I always said that there was something to the way Mom raised me that made me Witchy. I’m glad to not be alone. (I say we gang up on Aunt Millie’s girls and fight them for that giant cauldron, eh? Think we can take them?)

You’ve heard me talk about The Bad Adoptee, I’m sure. Well, I ain’t gonna tell you no more until she brings me The Bad Grandbaby again. ❤

Until then, I will just tell you about Syl and Court. There is a bond between folks who share a trauma that is unlike any other. Whether it is the blood-spatter of a horse’s head wound or the common screwing-over by the same local business-man, bonds are forged, no?

Syl was a girl when I met her; she’s become a grown-woman before my eyes. That is both wonderful and heartbreaking all at once. I never want anything bad – like adulthood – to hamper the innocent charm that Syl has about her. But I don’t want to stand between her and “completion” either. Best I can do is step aside and enjoy the show; it promises to be a good one.

Court is not one of my most intimate friends but she has been one of the truest. Court is one of my few friends whose husband I would be friends with for his own sake. Plus, I love watching Court be a momma.

Finally, I know you’ve been waiting for it, let me tell you a little (but not too much) about The Bad Husband: my champion, my sounding-board, my punching-bag, my partner in everything. (I wish I could be as complete as the light and heat I see in your eyes.) There is something downright magical about sharing twenty-three years with one person. It seems to outweigh all the minor irritations of daily life. And to have that person be the father of all three of my children is a treasure, indeed. Let’s face it, there’s a feat in this day; and being the better-half of TBW ain’t a cakewalk.

Of course there are loads of other meaningful people in my life. Just because I didn’t mention them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. And it really doesn’t mean that they mean less to me. It just means that the traffic has started moving and there are some beignets with my name on them.

Hasta luego, mis amigos!

Bendiciones, los quarks, noventa y tres,

La Bruja Mala

[1] From whose port The Bad Family will set sail to Mexico.

[2] Also, they tend not to read my blog unless it has to do specifically with their ponies.

[3] Not kidding, she’s a rocket scientist.

[4] One of my favorite stories (that I haven’t even told her yet) was when Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” came on and I blurted out, “Every time I hear this song, I think of the sexy-dance Miss [EC] does.”

I said this in front of my children – who replied in near unison, “Ewwww, Mom. That’s Miss [EC], we don’t want to know!!”

[5] Homegirl! (2011) and the other one that I don’t know if she wants me to talk about on my blog (Forthcoming).