Glasses and the priestess

Around a month ago, I started noticing increased eyestrain headaches, and got my act together to go and get my eyes examined.

Now, I’ve had glasses in the past – both times briefly, as my eyes got better, and there were some practical issues (computer-only glasses are a really poor choice for a librarian: I’m often up and down talking to people, looking at a shelf, getting a laptop for checkout, and all the other parts of it.) The end result? I have a mild astigmatism in both eyes, enough that everything’s readable, but not crisp. Hence, eyestrain.

The nice optometrist I talked to about this agreed that for library work, computer-only glasses would not work very well (they’d be constantly on and off, with all the wear and tear that brings), and so wrote my prescription for all the time wear. This is fine by me: as I pointed out, it was the only appearance thing I was missing on the librarian stereotype list (I have long hair, often in a bun, and I generally wear skirts and sensible shoes…) And I hang out in geeky-type crowds, anyway, so there are more people around with glasses than not, most of the time.

I picked up the glasses on Sunday. Being me, I also started thinking about the ritual and magical implications. And, since I’m finding less out there about how other people handle this than I thought I might, I figure a post about it is a possibly useful thing.

I do have some options, since I do not actually need them to read and can function just fine with them off (except for the eyestrain aspect if they’re off too much). In fact, I’ve been taking them off when I go to bed, even though I generally read for at least 15-30 minutes before sleep, because I both read and fall asleep on my side.

There are, I am told, some groups out there that heavily limit items like glasses in ritual. (I’ve seen different arguments for this, some of which I’ll address below.) We are not one of those groups: my covenmate wears hers pretty much all the time.

Our ritual work (as you might have guessed from my general description of approach) is something we take seriously, but it is not necessarily very formal. Our current ritual clothing is generally ‘whatever suits the ritual’. But since before I can remember, I’ve also been a big believer in the interaction of ritual and theatre, and very aware of how people pick up mode, mood, and focus cues from choices in dress, word choice, body language, and so on. (This makes even more sense when you know my father was a specialist in ancient Greek theatre, and a theatre historian in general.)

Taken this way, glasses are interesting for two reasons. First, they are a physical, obvious difference: they’re on my face, after all. But second, I’ve already noticed some changes in body language (not just from the lack of tension in my jaw and neck, but also in how I hold my head, move, adjust them, etc.)

Does it matter if they’re on my face? Good question.

For most rituals I’m likely to be taking part in, I don’t think it matters: they aren’t going to affect my ability to priestess or otherwise lead or participate in ritual.

There are times, though, when I think taking them off may be a good idea.

1) One obvious time is if we’re doing something either messy or potentially messy. For example, we’ve talked about a ritual using either body paint or henna: I’d rather take the glasses off rather than risk splatters (and also because it gives more choices for face art.)

2) When they’d be distracting to me. I haven’t yet figured out what I want to do about meditation work, for example. I normally work with my eyes closed, and either sitting up or lying down on my back. I don’t know if I’ll find the weight of the glasses (or something like them shifting slightly) distracting.

3) When they break mood. For example, I’m likely to remove them for ritual theatre, or for Drawing Down, because in both cases, they may be one more thing for people to edit in their heads about presentation. As in good theatre, paying attention to the little details often helps. (Also, from a purely personal point of view, taking them off may be a good indicator to my brain that stuff outside my norm is happening.)

I don’t know which of these will end up happening, but they’re the things I can see as potential options right now.

Daily Wear
But aside from ritual, there’s another aspect that intrigues me.

See, I name stuff. Especially stuff that’s core to my daily function. I have named my computer, my harp, my car. My iPod. My cell phone (ok, so that one I don’t actually use very often.) This is not actually all that weird: many people name their cars, technology, or major musical instruments (or have some sort of consistent pet name.)

I often have small personal ritual moments – I’m not talking big weird things, but I do talk to my car (and my computer, and my harp, and…) and I have *far* fewer technical glitches than you’d think the law of averages would suggest. Treating the glasses in the same sort of ritual sense I treat those things is probably not a bad move. (And even if it’s weird, at least it’s an internally consistent weird.)

I’m not sure yet how I want to handle this with my glasses. Some obvious possibilities include having a specific place they’re kept at home, cleaning them as part of my morning devotional work (in part because there’s such a clear link to some of my primary vocational stuff), or naming them. I’ve been thinking about this since I got them, but I’m still trying to decide which things are meaningful and useful to me, and which things aren’t.

A day in the life: Sunday, April 13, 2008

Time for another ‘day in the life’ post, I think.

8:15: Wake up, having not set my alarm until later that morning. (8am is about normal for me on a weekend: I finally stopped waking up at 6:30, regardless of when I went to bed, which is nice.) I’d gone to bed fairly late, due to having been out at a concert the evening before (a local Baroque ensemble: I’d gotten a comp ticket from my boss, who plays with them.)

8:15-10am: Catch up on email, online forums, and other various tasks (a question about some web research for a friend, who’s getting stuck on something, re-uploading an old essay of mine someone’s asked about to this site, and do other miscellaneous puttering around.

10:30am: Leave for the day’s activities. I have a meeting near where the friend I walk with regularly lives, so we’re walking beforehand.

11am: Show up, walk with her for almost 45 minutes, doing some very excellent and needed conversation about various topics of interest in the current shiny-new-coven work (managing, I think, to resolve several points of concern.) One of my tasks for Monday is sending email to my covenmate to discuss them.

noon: Walk into the place we’re having our Pagan Pride board meeting. The event is in October, and we just finished filing for 501(c)3 status (the topic that’s been eating our meeting time and energy for the past few months), so we spend a lot of time discussing various issues like our budget, the fund raising we need to do *have* the budget we like, and what implications this has for future events. We set up a wide range of things – two people take on exploratory research for simple fund raisers. We talk about the web site (one of my current projects), where I need to do some serious work in the coming week to get the forms up we want for programming and vendors, so we can get mail out about those.

The meeting lasts about 3 hours, which is par for the course for us, but we all feel it’s been generally very productive and a good time, which is really good.

3:00pm: I stop by the library branch I use in this neck of the woods to pick up a book that came in on hold (I use two different library systems – Minneapolis and Ramsey County – fairly regularly. ) Drive home.

4-6pm: Take a break in my day to play World of Warcraft, getting a chance to chat briefly with one of my friends, and setting up an older (long-unplayed) character somewhere I can get used to her again.

6pm: Have a bath, as my back is stiff.

6:30pm: Finish up other computer things.

7pm: Tidy up around the house for 30 minutes or so (mostly putting laundry away). I need to do more cleaning sometime soon, but this was apparently not the weekend that was going to happen.

7:30-8:15pm: Take notes on one of my current personal practice projects: reading the book in question and making notes in a blank book for later review. Have about 10 minutes of the cat insisting on sitting in the middle of the book and notebook in the middle of this, so pause for petting of the cat.

8:15-8:30ish? (I didn’t actually look at the clock when I was done): do the meditation work I intended to do tonight. I didn’t have a particular time requirement: this was more about ‘get in, do what I need to do tonight, get on with the evening’

8:30ish to 9:15: Read and make notes about a book my sister gave me for the holidays, because she’s going to be in town next Saturday (she lives about a 4 hour drive away), and we will probably talk about it.

9:15: Pick up my current pleasure reading (related to the personal practice topic, but not one I need to take notes on) and read until my eyes start closing. Turn off the lights, pet the cat, fall asleep.

I’ve been sleeping somewhat poorly the last week or two (lots of weird and disjointed dreams, waking up several times briefly overnight, etc). I keep a variety of sleep-enhancing oils on hand, and I think it is perhaps time to try a different one tonight.

Predictably, been busy again

Why is it that coming back from vacation always feels far more tiring than before vacation? This week has been full of work, and catching up with other things (like a professional self-education project that’s got an April 16th deadline.)

On top of that, I’ve been feeling somewhat stuck and therefore crabby in the ongoing job search, and as with many reasonably self-aware witches of my acquaintance, am trying to figure out which things I could be doing better, which ones I’m okay at, and whether magical or ritual work might actually help any of these. (The last one, naturally, is what makes it ‘witches’ of my acquaintance, rather than ‘people’)

My weekend, however, promises slightly more sanity: after some schedule conniptions, I have tonight free, am gaming tomorrow (after a walk with a friend), and have Sunday to work on a couple of larger projects (some form design for Pagan Pride Day, for example) before a new moon ritual in the evening.

Of course, there’s a lot of other miscellaneous tasks in there, too – I’ve got to go food shopping tonight for food for both tomorrow and Sunday (pepperoni, and a small chicken to roast) and I need to start a loaf of bread for ritual and so on and so forth. But I can also look forward to a nice long bath by candlelight, and reading, and good company, and those always improve my world.

More content forthcoming, maybe this weekend, maybe early next week.

Ten things I love about my body

Sylvan, whose writing I adore, posted earlier today about ten things she loves about her body – and encouraged those reading to do the same. Here’s mine.

1 ) I adore my hair. It is long (waist-length) and fine. I adore it. It is dark brown, with silver coming in, shot through, but with a silvering strip running back lightly from each temple. I love the silver in the midst of the brown, and I love the two strips that are forming.

I almost always wear my hair up – it’s impractical down, and especially in the winter, it tends to be all static, all the time. But I wear it down for ritual, and for special occasions. I love the feel of it down my back, and twining my fingers in it behind my back. I do hack the end off with scissors every few months to get rid of dead ends, but I haven’t been to a hairdresser in almost a decade.

2 ) I love my eyes. My driver’s license says they are hazel, because they don’t have an option for ‘pale green with a copper-brown ring around the pupil’. But really, that’s what they are: a gorgeous pale green with a rich brown inside. An ex of mine called them topaz, which is near enough to get the idea.

I also love that my eyes work: I wear glasses infrequently for computer use, and they have quirks, but my eyes are what lets me read and learn and experience so much cool stuff in the world. (I read far faster than people talk, so books on audio, while a useful thing when I’m doing stuff where I can’t read, like driving, don’t make up for it.)

3 ) I love my ears. They have a tiny little angled point at the top which amuses me greatly. (I also love how my ears work, because the other thing that really gets me going is music.)

4 ) I love my height. Which sounds a little weird, when I add that I’m 5 foot and a half inch. But really? I love my height, except in crowds. I almost never have to duck my head under anything, and it means I’m often really comfortable in smaller, enclosed spaces. And my feet never hang off the end of the bed, and they’re almost never up against the back seat in an airplane or car.

5 ) I love my feet: they are relatively small, and I have quite high arches, which means I can play with leaving amusing bare foot prints if I’m careful. More than that, the feet work, and they do what I tell them, and it’s all good.

My toenails are almost always painted some shade of blue, too – it’s part of a deity devotion I’ve done for years, as a small personal reminder during my day. (I have a extensive collection of blue nail polish. You can never have too much.)

6 ) I love my hands – they are not conventionally beautiful, being short-fingered, stubby, and small. But they’re mine, and I’m continually amazed by all the stuff they do, and do well. They play harp, and sew, and knead bread, and spin yarn, and type, and draw, and doodle and pet the cat, and braid my hair, and feel all sorts of things.

7 ) I love my curves. My favorite description of myself to people who haven’t met me in person yet is that I come from a long line of European peasants who were good at surviving famines. This is very true. But I love the curves that gives me, especially the one from the waist to the hip.

8 ) My lungs. It’s hard to say, entirely, that I love them, because I have a very complicated relationship with them. Besides the obvious staying-alive part, it’s my lungs that let me sing, and talk, and teach, and hang out with friends, and play music, and so on.

But it’s also my lungs that are my most overt medical issue (asthma) and the one that scares me most. The past year has been a lot better, though: work with a herbalist has helped keep the asthma far more manageable, and they’ve had a chance to heal. (And how cool is it that lungs heal in the first place?)

9 ) My calves. Anyone who knows me knows I almost never wear short skirts – my legs are fairly bow-legged, still. But my calves are very strong, and very much about the muscle, something that started with horseback riding when I was young (and skiing, swimming, and biking didn’t hurt) and that I’ve come back to with walking regularly. I’m amazed by them, honestly, especially when you think about all the different ways a leg has to move.

10 ) My shoulders. My father was required to play rugby when he was growing up (he was over 6 foot, and built for it.) I got his shoulders and build, and Mom’s height, which is not the ideal combination. (I also got his teeth size, and Mom’s jaw size, and some excavator 200 years from now is going to write down that I am 8 teeth short as a result. I digress.)

But I like my shoulders. They carry things well. They match my hips proportionately. And when I was growing up, one of my cats would sit across them. There is nothing more satisfying than a cat draped warmly across your shoulders in the winter keeping the back of your neck warm. (Current feline resident is very much a ‘sit next to’ cat, not a ‘sit on you’ cat, or she could too.)

I got tagged.

(In a break from our regularly scheduled theoretically deep thought.)

A meme from a source that greatly delights me: Donald Engstrom (who I am most fond of) tagged me for this one.

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

There’s always the question of ‘what’s the closest book’: my children’s books are mostly the closest to my computer.

From _When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit_ by Judith Kerr
(My copy, incidentally, is yellowing, held together by tape, and this copy dates from around 1980.)

“The girls had been reciting something in unison, but when Anna came in with Colette they all stopped and stared at her. Anna stared back, but she was beginning to feel rather small and suddenly wondere, violently, whether she was really going to like this school. She held on tight to her satchel and her sandwich box and tried to look as if she did not care.”

(Hey. It could have been Noel Streatfield’s _Skating Shoes_, or Enid Blyton school stories. Or L.M. Montgomery. This one’s particularly interesting – and in my collection I’ve lugged half-way across the country, because it’s evocative of my mother’s experiences in some ways: she and her family were also refugees from Hitler, though they ended up in Northern Ireland and Wales.)

I tagged people from my LiveJournal (you can see the post here, and unlike most of my LiveJournal, it’s public.) If this meme amuses you, feel free to pass it on, and drop a link here to let me know what book you picked up.