Diana Rajchel

differently Wiccan: Contemporary, Urban, Integrated

Providing you with an entire trigger warning post (the whole Kenny Klein fiasco)

April 22, 2014 by di | Comments Off | Filed in Insights

In the next few days I am going to be posting my .02 on the Kenny Klein scandal. Almost everyone in the Pagan community has heard about this already but there are people who follow my blog even though they aren’t Pagan. The synopsis: a prominent member of the Pagan community was arrested on 25 counts of child porn possession and distribution a few weeks ago. So what’s going to happen: the next post, or possibly series of posts depending on what I find that still needs to be said, will deal with:

Child abuse, sexual violence, gendered violence and emotional violence. For some of you, you’re better off watching Tangled on repeat.

The one piece I definitely have planned is, to some guilt-ridden minds, going to sound accusatory. I want to say “oh, no no, I don’t mean that,” but I do and I don’t, I will and I won’t. Violence isn’t something that happens on a scale, it happens on a spectrum – and if you don’t live on that spectrum, you can’t even be remotely conscious of how you may well contribute to it. Just like practicing a non-mainstream religion takes a re-acculturation process, becoming a person who deals with violence instead of ducking it in culturally prescribed methods takes a total relearning of self. Most of us have, for good or ill, not had cause to learn the other language of behavior.

It makes me glad I’ve turned off comments. I’m tired of people reacting. You read, you react in the moment. With what’s coming I prefer to see a response – I want to see you sit down and really think about what I’m saying before you answer it in any way, if you do at all.

I have had my energy elsewhere – finishing contracted books for Llewellyn (got one more to go) and promoting the book I printed with Moon Books. But I also waited to dive into the discussion for other reasons: I wanted to see what facts floated to the surface, and while I never pay enough attention to climb on to the illusion of Pagan celebrity bandwagon (we all know who Gerald Gardner is but most have no clue about Cybill Shepherd, for scale.)  But for the rest of this week, now that I’ve done all that hard stuff with scheduling book appearances and the like, this horrific story has my attention.

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Supplies: the complex thing about Mikey

April 22, 2014 by Diana Rajchel | Comments Off | Filed in Creativity
Women taking a course in car care, maintenance, and operation in Tallahassee, Florida

from Florida Memory Flickr Commons Archive

The complicated thing about Mikey is that I did have sounding boards who kept warning me to get out. But they were other types of crazymakers, other types of blockers. They wanted this predator cleared so they could get a better crack at me.

Mikey did make it clear to me exactly how bad the women I called my “best friend” for years was actually for me – how bad her intents towards me almost always were. She liked the idea of Mikey and me together. She thought his calling me at 6 am when he knew I needed the sleep was romantic, not the abusive that it actually was. She figured I would eventually relent to his constant demands I take care of him.

There were others, of course, but most just sort of rolled their eyes. They didn’t recognize what was going on. One girl who had a thing for Mikey was relentlessly jealous of me – I can only imagine how bad he would have messed her life up if I hadn’t presented a distraction. While I have no liking for her as a human being, she is a human being and deserved to be treated as one. That’s not how this  guy would have treated her.

My sudden onset illness, as frustrating as it can be, probably saved me from what would have been one of the most abusive relationship of my life and also ended a female friendship that I have only come to recognize as abusive.  The constant hiving and allergies forced me to be reclusive.

It’s normal to have these patterns when you come from a dysfunctional home. You have to recognize dysfunction at home before the rest of the alphabet falls into place and you get the correct read on things. It took me awhile to see the source of it. Now I see all of it.

Now I have friends who would spot that kind of madness and tell me so right quick.


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Supplies: the Creative Desert

April 21, 2014 by Diana Rajchel | Comments Off | Filed in Creativity
Orange mallow, showy desert flower, 05/1972.

from US National Archives Flickr Commons Collection

The creative desert is that uncharted territory. It’s the idea that just might work that people think are absurd. I’ve spent most of my life there, long enough to see rather a lot of vindication.

In high school, I went through a phase where I wrote letters to the editor all the time. Most of them were published – to the annoyance of adults who wanted that space for their own sounding board. In one of them, focused on the environment, I proposed that we mine landfills for recyclable material. At the time, landfill mining was unheard of.

My uncle read some of these missives of mine and had an absolute fucking fit. The landfill mining really sent him over the edge – it was just “absurd.” It’s far from the only thing he’s disagreed with me on where time has taken my side. Really, most of his attitude just had to do with me being female and his least favorite sibling’s least favorite daughter. I have to wonder, if one of his children had proposed it, if he would have taken offense to it the way he did with me.

Of course, now we have landfill mining.

Around 2003, the mass transit system in the Twin Cities was under heavy discussion. There was talk of building yet another highway that looped around the Cities. Thankfully people decided to move towards building mass transit inside the cities instead, helping to reduce car ownership and thus not just pollution but cost of living for city residents as they can. (It’s still necessary to own a car because of winter around here. However, using a car less is still pretty good.) I had posted on the Star Tribune suggesting they look into the old trolley system – there are still tracks and cars languishing in a corner of Dinkytown. Someone immediately posted a tirade about “pipe dreams” and “craziness” directed at me for daring repropose it.

Yet two years later the city had a feasibility study.

Last year, the mayoral election had installing a street car line down Central Ave. as one of its major platforms.

As I paraphrased before, new looks like crazy to dumb people. There are a lot of people who have tried to make me out to be completely nuts when not only am I quite sane, I’ve got a good sense for solutions.


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Supplies: My True North

April 20, 2014 by Diana Rajchel | Comments Off | Filed in Creativity
GOODS Chandra Deep Field-North: The Secret Lives Of Galaxies Unveiled In Deep Survey

from Smithsonian Institute’s Flickr Commons Page

True North is difficult for me because I made a conscious choice to operate without a navigation system when I was about 19. Before then, I was under a great deal of pressure to “plan my life.” My parents informed me I needed to pick a major, stick with it, stay at the same college if I could, should take no breaks from school ever … you get the idea.

My parents were setting me up to fail. They were using their map, one that went obsolete in 1969. When I pointed out that they had an obsolete map I got a lot of abuse and denial heaped on me. It was my mother’s “advice” that got me to pick the wrong school in the first place. She thought I’d “be able to study there, with few distractions.” Looking back I realize that she was insulting my work ethic and slut shaming me simultaneously. This conception of me was so outer-space and inaccurate that it took me years to process that that’s what she was doing.

Throwing away the navigation system completely was the only way to banish her influence.

My life – my happiness – improved almost immediately. The only true north my mother wanted me to have was her.

That’s not true north. That’s letting a narcissist ruin and run my life.

I knew for sure that leaving my family made my life better. It wasn’t total direction, but it was a start. Without the map, I still worked plenty hard. I still wound up on the dean’s list every semester. I still found a job even in economies with no jobs available.

But making that choice to abandon the map has had its problems. In graduate school I was hopelessly out of the loop on most of the reading. I had done undergrad in journalism. The MFA in writing was lit focused and most of my class had voraciously read all that stuff that just kind of bored me. I’ve missed so many opportunities as a writer I try not to think of them. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I’d just stuck out that Wal-mart job or applied for that program in Dubai my life would now have a grander, more interesting dimension to it.

The other part of this is that in writing, your True North shifts. I have already been published. I will have three books out by 2015. So what next? Those were my major, elusive goals.

Perhaps I’ll try writing fiction, going down the tougher road of getting that published.  Mostly I want to gather up my wounds and get them healed and then look for direction from there.

All I know for sure is that I want to live a life I truly enjoy.

 


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Supplies: 20 “in a perfect world” statements

April 19, 2014 by Diana Rajchel | Comments Off | Filed in Creativity
Duplex Corset 1/3 ca. 1885

Library Company of Philadelphia Flickr Commons Collection

In a perfect world, I would

1. live somewhere warm

2. travel freely and often

3. dance a lot more

4. be able to see friends often

5. have the perfect social/home life balance

6. be able to write without back pain

7. never miss gym time ever.

8. find a yoga class that is not one of those obnoxious “flow” classes

9. get my herbal certification

10. maybe finish grad school (?) feeling a little weak on that one.

11. go on a writer’s retreat at least once a year

12. have Tae Kwon Do/Aikido training

13. have a housekeeper I trusted to clean my bathrooms

14. live in a place where I could safely walk everywhere

15. live near a major airport

16. find a spiritual group that I work well with (coming to terms with of all things a possible Celtic-inspired role/explanation for myself)

17. be able to see the beach/ocean daily

18. wear pretty, comfortable clothing

19. publish some fiction

20. be cured of my allergies

… I have a pretty damn good life already. It’s just the internal noise I’m trying to correct.


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Supplies: the Goodies

April 18, 2014 by Diana Rajchel | Comments Off | Filed in Creativity
Goody Two Shoes; J. C. Williamson's gorgeous annual pantomime. 1919.

National LIbrary of New Zealand Flickr Commons Collection

I could get attached to…          Because                                                                                             How I could get that feeling myself

1. Travel                                         I want to see everything                                                              it’s travel. Travel is my favorite thing, right next to dancing and writing.
2. Attention                                 Yay, people are finally noticing me!                                       Write a list of my real friends and how we met. Most sought me out.
I must be moderately important!

3. Praise                                         I felt starved for it when I was younger.                               Look at my box of letters from true friends.

4.Money                                        It expands my choices.                                                                 Continue to find frugal/free things to do. I have a rich life that way.

5. The in-crowd feel                 I too have childhood nerd hangups                                          Look to my values. The in-crowd isn’t among them.


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Supplies: the Chorus of Woes: the most ridiculous complaint I’ve heard

April 17, 2014 by Diana Rajchel | Comments Off | Filed in Creativity
Exercising on the Beach

National Media Museum Flickr Commons Collection

What Cameron speaks of here is not the real Greek Chorus coming out to warn the hero (like the hero can even see them, anyway) but the one that we conjure in our heads … sometimes just to have something to complain about.

So, going through the questions – there’s one guy I’m picking on because he does so very much of this crap, and it’s all crap. When you tell him it’s crap and self-created he tends to throw temper tantrums. But gods help you if you try to talk about anything else but him. It’s enough that I avoid events with him at it now unless I am surrounded by people that will help me ignore him.

Most ridiculous complaint:

“Everybody knows who I am everywhere I go!”

Really? The grocery store? The post office? … .wait, aren’t you going to like, the exact same three to five places over and over. That’s not the price of fame. That’s being a regular and lacking imagination.

He’s actually a host of other similar ridiculous complaints/humble brags. I dare not get more specific than that.


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Supplies: My Positive Role Model

April 16, 2014 by Diana Rajchel | Comments Off | Filed in Creativity
Queen Rumania  (LOC)

from Library of Congress Flickr Commons Collection

Actually, I have so many positive role models it’s hard to pick one.

Right now I”m thinking of Dawn. Dawn decided what she wanted to do and did it. She has told me she has a no-drama policy. If someone is too prone to madness she drops them or just refuses to engage. She is surrounded by really great friendships and she is a great cheerleader to her friends and their creative projects. She’s an example of doing life and career right – with sincerity, based on real relationships rather than on relationships-for-a-reason.

So far, it’s worked quite well. I often refer to her as a fairy godmother. Don Fairy Godmother.


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Supplies: My Negative Role Model

April 15, 2014 by Diana Rajchel | Comments Off | Filed in Creativity
Gunmen going to Sing Sing  (LOC)

From Library of Congress Flickr Commons collection

Oh boy do I have a negative role model. Actually, I have at least three, possibly more. I’m going to hybrid them and pick things I’ve seen or heard from all of them. It’s like an archetypal negative role model. I should add that to my tarot deck – or maybe that’s what the Devil card really represents.

What bothers me specifically about the collective behavior is that it’s delusional, narcissistic … and really unimaginative. It’s the person that got upset that Mark Wahlberg went from Marky Mark to a successful career as an actor/film producer.

“So what, he can only do one thing?”

“Yes!”

Well, that’s bullshit. 

I am a more-than-one-thing artist and I reject this message.

************

There are the name droppers. “Oh I met this famous person whose name you don’t know and he just adored my painting/book/personal style. You really should go meet that person and see what it might do for me – I mean, uh, you.”

… or I could focus on sincere relationships with supportive people and not take into account their connections or fame unless I am encouraging them to use those for themselves in some manner. When it counted, my real friends helped me in the ways that mattered. My name dropped from a celebrity’s lips means jack especially since most people will remember the celebrity and not what the celebrity says unless locked in a good hate-on fever.

**********

There are the “suffering artist” stereotypers, and that one stretches far and wide. Most recently a well-meaning friend posted some biased, very poorly researched Thought Catalog drek to my Facebook wall that encouraged the idea that all artists – especially writers – have something wrong with their brains that turns them into depressed crazy people, the implication being that maybe if we didn’t right we wouldn’t go crazy.

The article enraged me on multiple levels. First, Thought Catalog is a cess pool of confirmation biased base shit. I followed it for awhile just to see what it had to offer  and it is one of the great shames of the Internet. Essentially it’s people who are great at expository writing and terrible at critical thinking. Second, anytime you imply an entire population is x/has x without evidence based research to support it (and this had none) then you are currying bigotry for some purpose. Third, it stigmatizes depression. Fourth, the article stigmatizes creativity. Fifth, it seems to fail to connect that when depressed people are in their extreme low points they aren’t creating. Creation – art therapy and upward – is the neural activity that gets people out of depressive loops. It’s not 100% but it’s a factor. To assume a writer is automatically depressed or will get depressed because s/he writes is just offensive.  Depression and creativity are both complex. But creativity is NOT  disease, is not psychological smoking that will lead to a disease and in most cases probably does not exacerbate a disease.

Writing does not do bad things to my organs, least of all my brain.

*********

There’s the whole special snowflake shit. Oh the writing life is so difficult. Oh, all good writing and creation comes from a certain self loathing. Comedy comes from self loathing. Oh, you can’t be healthy or seek healing and still create.

Every day of my life informs me that this above line of poison is absolute screaming bullshit. The times in life that I suffer are the times in life that I’m not writing. When I’m writing I’m getting progressively better and working on my issues has made me a better, more empathetic human being and writer. I can also be funny as hell – and it’s not centered in self-hatred. The self-hatred schtick? Blech. Boring and predictable.

We are not special snowflakes. Originality isn’t worth thinking about – enjoyment is what really makes a difference.  Writing really is like dating: nothing good is going to happen unless you find a way to have fun with it. The acclaim/flattery/critical praise is for people that would rather read reviews than go on to the next project.

In a way, my writing career does have something in common with my corporate career: in corporations I hated, I always stepped away from office politics and reminded myself I was here to do my own time. Writing is my calling – so rather than doing my time, when I’m dealing with attention-seeking colleagues, it’s really about having my time. That means not giving it to them by not indulging the rhetoric of the special snowflake.

 


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Shutting down blog comments for good

April 14, 2014 by di | Comments Off | Filed in the Big Picture

After a blog career that goes back to 1999, it has come time for me to shut down comments on my blog altogether. Even in the early days the comments feature was often abused: strangers or ex friends and lovers loved to use the anonymous option to post sniping comments, thinking I was helpless to come back at them because anonymous equaled invincibility in their minds. Still, for the most part, the comments I got were sane, reasoned, continued a conversation – or, if the person was really worked up, s/he posted their own blog commentaries about what I’d written.

Protest by an Internet group calling itself 'A...

Protest by an Internet group calling itself ‘Anonymous’ against the practices and tax status of the Church of Scientology. The protesters believe the church is a cult that harms it practitioners, and that its tax-free status as a church should be revoked, as, they claim, it appears to be more of a corporation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This weekend I sat through a Millennial Driven workshop on anonymity where these gems were dropped:
“My friend at Livejournal says that most trolls use a variation of their real name anyway ..”
1)it’s a variation 2)are they using that name on strangers or on people they actually know 3)there’s a 95% chance the person that said this is a liar, since Livejournal hasn’t had American employees/employees concerned with trolling since the Russians bought it, what, five years ago now?

2)Well, people are going to be jerks once in awhile. (Develop a thicker skin!)
My face cream isn’t so good that that wasn’t an insulting dismissal. Since this also came from the girl that dropped the Livejournal line of bullshit, which makes me suspect she herself enjoys trolling and harassing. Dismissive comments make enemies for a very good reason.

3)They were talking about anonymity LIKE IT’S A NEW CONCEPT. There was no discussion of or interest in why the Internet started with anonymity and then rolled it back. They even brought up some of the new apps – like Secret.ly. Notably no one seemed to know or want to acknowledge that Post Secret itself had an app, that they dropped, because it got abused in nasty, ugly ways – nor did they seem to acknowledge that happened in the last year. Seret.ly is worse because you can actually link it to your contacts list, thus making it possible to suss out who in your own circle feels the need to confess.

Reading comprehension, empathy or the ability to drop an agenda for the sake of context has not improved since 1999. It’s only gotten worse. This is why so many places have moved to Twitter and Facebook logins. It’s why I delete so many of the drooling pieces of coal dropped here.

Clearly, there’s a culture shift – and young adults with a lousy sense of history, i.e. a lousy sense of “why” at its deepest levels. Because history, recent or distant, is our answer to every “why” we can ask.

So I must respond to this cultural influence, as culture, like oxygen is unavoidable. In the last year, I have had to delete more comments on this blog than I have posted. The majority are angry, unreasoning and very self-centered/narcissistic, reacting badly to ideas that upend assumptions. I’m not an intentional iconoclast. What I write is intended to be as sensible as I can make it unless I say otherwise. If that comes off as iconoclastic, the problem does not lie with me. Still, since I am responding with dread to a comment on my blog field and it’s not like I owe any reader any money back for reading the blog, I am removing that source of irritation in my life. There is a difference between sick and crazy: I am fucking tired of indulging the crazy, especially the crazy who coopt the language of the legitimately ill to get away with their bad behavior.

My cultural response to this over-indulgent shift is to shut off comments. So at some point this week, all comments will be gone across all my blog platforms. If you want to discuss my ideas, or discuss them with me you’re just going to have to write your own responding blog post, find me on a social platform where you’ve already earned the privilege of connecting with me (earned by behaving like a civil human being) or talk to me about it face to face like a responsible adult.

You people already have 4Chan. I don’t owe you a goddamn thing.