Spies: James Armistead Lafayette

Spies: James Armistead Lafayette, a Choose Your Own Adventure Book

A new book coming out on May 1, 2019

I was excited to get a chance to look at a preview of this book by Choose Your Own Adventures after I had written about the Black Mirror movie, Bandersnatch, a CYOA type of interactive movie, which was a bit meta because that movie was about a guy who was writing a CYOA-type of game based off of a book. And, well, it made him crazy.

SPIES: James Armistead Lafayette, written by Kyandreia Jones, is not nearly as maddening. It’s part of a series of books on spies, such as Mata Hari.

I was wondering what it was going to be like to read about an enslaved person (and then free Black person) in colonial America. But I had confidence that reading about Lafayette’s life through a Black woman’s eyes would be a great experience. And it was.

I grew up reading CYOA books and they were a bit somber, mainly because there were so many way you could die. And mind you — I didn’t mind the serious tone. It made me feel like I was a grown-up reading, making serious choices. It’s one of the things I love about this book series. So when I started reading this book, I was expecting that same sort of serious tone.

It was still serious, but Jones weaves some humor and lightness throughout the book. There’s a bit of speculative fiction elements in the book, which I didn’t expect but definitely appreciated. I think younger readers will also love all the squirrel references…which are a bit squirrely! 🐿

For example, there’s a moment that Lafayette meets General George Washington and he’s noticing his teeth. I thought, oh boy, here we go. You probably know by now that Washington’s teeth were not wooden but human. As a reader, you have a choice to ask Washington about them or to talk about something else. Jones handled this moment well, with a bit of dark humor, but also unflinchingly honest.

Jones doesn’t shy away from the realities of being an enslaved person, from the moment Lafayette is able to escape the plantation. But if you’re concerned if this book is violent, the violence comes from being in war. So yes, there are places where the endings involve death.

You’re able to witness Lafayette’s “double consciousness,” knowing that although he had been freed by his owner (in this story, but not in real life), he was still a Black man in 18th century America where freedom for his family and friends would come for another 80+ years. That tension is played out in the book, even though General Marquis de Lafayette was against slavery.

Lafayette’s spy work effectively ended the Revolutionary War, and in the book, you get plenty of chances to spy and get the intel needed for the American forces. There’s also a bio of Lafayette in the back of the book, along with a timeline of enslavement in America, from 1619-1865.

For readers young and old, if you want to learn about a key person in the Revolutionary War in a fun, engaging way, then SPIES: James Armistead Lafayette is a great book to pick up.


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Bandersnatch – The CYOA Way

The only spoiler in here is more of a big picture or process spoiler. But even still, it’s probably best that you mess with the film until you’re exhausted, and then read this afterward.

OK. This is one of these experiments where if I was on Twitter, I’d just write a whole thread about what I just did for the past three hours. But I’m not due back, by my own doing, for the next eight days. So let’s see if we can do that “don’t write a thread, write a blog post!” thing.

Choose Your Own Adventure

First of all, I love Choose Your Own Adventure book series (also the less popular version Which Way…and there was some YA romance version, too) and, most likely, I love it more than you do. I have many of these books in storage right now that I haven’t even read.

I wrote some sort of essay in grad school that could have been something similar a few years ago, but I can’t fully recall. I just remember my instructor asking me if she could use this method or was I going to? I said I was going to, but I don’t remember what I wrote. That was in 2012.

Before then, I grew up going to Walmart as often as I could, buying these books (for $1.95 to $2.95) with my allowance. I loved them into adolescence. My favorite title was You Are a Genius. I would read with fingers kept in key parts where there was a seemingly fateful decision where one could mercilessly die. If I died, then I could go back to the last choice and choose differently. Ah, if only life were so easy!

For a YA book, it was pretty macabre–but not in a completely gruesome way. It’s more of a very final, existential way. I would dread reading words like this:

You are never heard from again. 

🥺

I’m not really obsessed with much as a dilettante, but my passion for CYOA books is as obsessed as I could be. Although, I wasn’t obsessed enough to be interested in the authors. It’s just my version of Pokemon-gotta-catch-em-all. I’m a collector if you will. I probably have at least 40 of these books, and that seems like a low number.

It’s more than a book–it’s a philosophy

As a teenager, I adopted the CYOA mindset as a way to deal with the theological conundrum that my friends in my church’s youth group would love to debate on occasion: do we truly have free will or is everything predestined (by God or life or whatever)?

In my mind, CYOA meant that we did have the freedom to choose, but the choices had fixed fates, fates you couldn’t necessarily choose your way out of. Even the choices weren’t up to you. And the choices that you think matter–they really don’t. But then there are inconsequential choices that can completely change your fate.

Enter Bandersnatch, Netflix’s latest film from the Black Mirror series. It dropped today. I actually renewed Netflix for Black Mirror, as I usually do for this series. And being the CYOA freak that I am, I was especially excited to see this on…my own black mirror.

Sidenote:

This would be a great short tweet thread here, but ever since I was researching 2001: A Space Odyssey and thinking about the black monolith, I’ve been viewing my TV as one–which it literally is and also, in a sense, is the same as it was intended in the film–some tool that ended up accelerating human evolution (TV has been revolutionary indeed).

So lately, my TV has creeped me out. It just looms over me in my bedroom. Although I love the images that Chromecast displays–art, space, landscape–when I move, I don’t think I’ll keep a TV in my bedroom anymore–or at least one was big as mine. It’s just imposing and leering and a little too…dark and ominous.

I bring this up because 1) I’ve been dying to share that but 2) it coincides with what Black Mirror is, according to the TV series creator Charlie Brooker.

The “black mirror” of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.

I cannot believe I just learned this today.

Anyway, cue “Virtual Insanity” by Jamiroquai…

jamiroquai

It’s Black Mirror, or the “Coming Attractions” of our present dystopia!

Bandersnatch is a choose-your-own-adventure type film–interactive film as Netflix calls it. I had a Smart TV (a rather ancient one from 2012, but it still works…), but I had to watch it on my computer because it requires a mouse for you to choose.

Another technical note: On my Smart TV, I saw that the film was only two minutes long. I clicked to watch it, thinking that this is different from the trailer, or maybe I misunderstood the two minutes length, especially since this was an interactive film. So after clicking, I received a proper British apology about having the wrong technology to watch the movie. And by the way–you can’t cast from your Android phone either. 

Anyway…you have about 10 seconds to choose each choice. But if you’re really not into choices, then you’ll have choices made for you. I found that out while multitasking on my phone. So if you just want to watch it as a film, you could just let the time expire and let “fate” choose for you.

(I think I’m only going to watch this one more time, as a film, without choosing anything. It will be hard to be passive, but after spending so many hours going back and forth, between reality, dream, and delusion, it will probably feel like a deserved break.) 

If you do find a “you are never heard from again” ending (and believe me, it’s Black Mirror–so it’s no spoiler to say that there’s death in this film), interestingly the film does the bookmarking/finger held in place for you–to a certain extent. After a not-so-favorable ending, you’ll be brought back to key choices. “Try again” is a phrase you will hear often and, if you’re crazy or patient enough, you will do often.

I don’t want to give too much away. But, if you know Black Mirror, you know how everything is allegorical. Brooker does not shy from hammering home his points, almost in a hamfisted way. And, well–it’s a British show and I’m a stupid Yank who is a sucker for these limey accents. So the moral hamfisting–I guess I will just allow it.

But really, I allow it because the points being made are good ones and it’s part of the whole Black Mirror…schtick? Schtick may be the wrong word. Ethos is probably a better one.

The interactive quality involves more than the choices you’re making, but how the film is interacting with you. It’s not like going to see Captain EO at Epcot, or other films that bring in smells and sensations (think IMAX). It’s more psychological–and again, I don’t really want to spoil it much at all. Please watch it if you can.

I actually came to write about this tonight because there was one choice I made that I’m sure I made, and the movie chose the other choice. That only happened once. But I was pissed.

Maybe I didn’t click hard enough or correctly? It’s possible.

But even the questioning of myself falls into the realm of this movie. It really is a mindfuck, but not in the typical Black Mirror way. 

Is it art or is it a game? Can a game be art?

But unlike previous Black Mirror episodes, it is a game–and that’s what makes this a bit different. I’ll get into why in a little bit.

Lately, on mobile games (and I can only speak for those–I’m not a gamer with a gamer consoles), there are games that take on this fiction-as-gaming methodology.

There are a plethora of games in this genre, like Episodes (I personally find this platform to be trash because of poorly written stories, but it’s highly popular), Moments which, surprise–it has its moments, and my personal favorite, Choices.

In the past few years, these “interactive novels” have become increasingly popular. I’m pretty sure shoot-em-up games are more popular–but even those have become very entrenched in story. I was blown away when Halo first came out and how story-oriented Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was. I’m not a console gamer, so I can only imagine how story-oriented the shoot-em-up games have become.

So let me say in my most writerly voice: we live and thrive from our stories.

So these mobile games can be played for free, but it’s a freemium model. So, if you actually want to have fun or get a richer experience, it can all get a bit pricey because unlike Bandersnatch, if you want some more appealing or sexier choices, you’ll need to pay for them with diamonds.

You can earn a few gems by watching ads or logging in or reading a chapter…or, if you’re impatient and really dig the story, you can buy them. Dammit, it’s a good profitability model, but one that can easily bleed you dry. You’ll be stuck with a choice you know you want to make, but then it cost ten gazillion diamonds. Curses!

The quality of writing on some of these platforms leaves a lot to be desired–typos, plot holes, overused tropes, stupid characters, etc. These games are mostly aimed at a population which identifies as female (as far as I’ve seen) and most likely skews younger.

But after watching Bandersnatch, it makes me wonder if they will be more films made like this or if there will be even more games created as interactive novels for wider audiences–and hopefully of the same caliber of Brooker’s writing.

From my personal experience, when you’re involved in a story, it’s easier to become more emotionally involved and attached (thus the freemium model being so lucrative and effective). I believe it can make for a more deeply entertaining experience–hey, it’s why I’m talking about some book I bought over 20 years ago.

So why did I bring up gaming for Bandersnatch? Besides the fact that the genre of interactive novels has risen in popularity, it’s how I felt when I watch the film.

When you go through your first passes of Bandersnatch, you start to wonder if you can go back to a previous choice and get a similar result without some other unforeseen outcomes. Unlike a book, you can’t really go backwards at will, so I wrote down what I chose as a way to somewhat keep my finger on a page of the story. But you start to see if you can game the game, in essence.

But the game can’t be “played” like that.

What choices can we freely choose?

And that brings me back to this: the choices we “freely” make and having unavoidable fixed fates–that’s really enough of a spoiler, honestly. A CYOA-type book or game can bring a sense of madness. And it’s easily a metaphor for life.

Even if you could go back and change things–and you don’t have to talk about time-space continuums or changing other things in history or the butterfly effect. It’s not even that sensitive or precise.

Even if you could go back to change certain choices, it doesn’t matter. Some choices are made for you, whether you like it or not. That also means that some outcomes are unavoidable. It’s a bit of a wearying truth that comes from not only Bandersnatch, but from reading CYOA books and playing CYOA type games. We’re not as “free” as we think we are.

And it sounds like I’ve fallen on the side of predestination. But really, it’s a blend that has so many variables, including other people’s “free will” choices. But it’s not some big deity is the heavens making all the choices. That’s a type of dangerous fatalism and nihilism for people who think they have no agency or autonomy.

It’s all of us, together, making choices which affect all of us–including people we’ll never meet.

If you watch this film, I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below! What did you most like or hate about it? What left you with more questions? What ideas or lessons did you come away with after watching? How long did you watch it for? Did you go back to certain choices repeatedly? What was your favorite ending? Looking forward to reading your thoughts!


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the book

2017-07-18 18.29.16I need to write a book.

So says two astrologers, a medium, and two intuitives, over the past few years.

I’ve written two books. One is my master’s thesis, which I haven’t touched in 4 years.

The other is a hopefully literary romance novel, which I I wrote during grad school and two rounds of #NaNoWriMo.

The novel needs major revisions and time. And I need to start doing that this month.

And this kind of writing is really important, to me, and to my life purpose. One intuitive told me recently that my guides said copywriting was “too mechanical.”

I agree, but…here’s the healthy fear–trying to create a living for myself.

It seems like I’m looking at a washed out bridge and being told to cross over to this land of creative writing…which I left when I graduated from grad school. I never thought of this as a viable profession.

The memoir…I don’t think I can publish that until my parents pass. I am sure that I have four years and counting of wisdom that would re-work that memoir anyway. That’s a life’s work.

I do know the steps I need to take with the romance novel. This is what I learned in grad school.

Revise, revise, revise. Start looking for an agent. Start pitching to publishers.

I don’t think I’m being told to just drop everything and start doing that, too. I still have to support myself. Eventually, supporting myself will happen.

Right now, though, supporting myself is the main priority/anxiety. And it’s consuming me–although not as much.

It’s a lot of work to connect with people and convert them into clients, especially when you need the work now now now.

Things are looking up, though. And at this point, I need to get out of the fear of screwing this up.

I need to just start doing something, like revising that romance novel this week.

This is a part of myself that I used to not be in touch with as a kid. And I met someone recently who also was really into writing as a kid, but feels like that’s all behind him now.

For his sake alone, I hope that isn’t true. In my 30s, I went back to writing, to the daydream of working with a steaming cup of coffee, in my PJs, with a typewriter. Thank goodness the typewriter doesn’t need to be a part of this dream now, but I’m pretty close to what I wanted to do.  And I have no regrets about retrieving those very precious parts of myself.

I had a conversation with an old friend last night who I had no idea was a creative. I have known her for at least a decade and that’s because we sang together at church. So I only knew about her musical side.

Specifically, in her younger years, she was into acting and dancing. She loved musical theater when she was younger but didn’t pursue it in college.

I was so excited to hear that she was getting back in touch with those creative parts of herself that she had abandoned after her mother’s death when she was a little girl.

I’ve had Lyz Lenz’s piercing essay about the importance of writing during times of despair, like what’s going on in America…like what’s going on in the world. It’s a great essay and you should read it.

I’ve journaled to make sense of ineffable pain and suffering. I’ve written to beg someone to come back to me. I’ve written introductions and conclusions. I’ve written a myriad of letters by hand. I’ve typed thousands of emails.

I’ve written about myself here and elsewhere–and rarely has that been uplifting.

But when it comes to fiction, I’ve written mainly for my own pleasure.

I realize I don’t even think about writing like this anymore, so I’m glad it’s back in my view. I should be reading The Rumpus. I should have my writing in The Rumpus.

But life has happened, over and over. That distracting little minx, LIFE.

But also, life has been asking me to write books. So I’ve been ignoring that call. Yet it’s easy to ignore when you’re just focused on trying to survive and create a copywriting business for yourself. I’m starting to see the fruits of my labor recently, too.

But dreams, little girl dreams of writing a novel. I have to feed those hungry dreams now.

But but but…it’s scary, for some reason. To start revising this novel, this means that this wasn’t some writing stunt.

I’m revising it so other people can read it. Publishing. Sending it out into the world. To share.

Unlike here, where the readership is so low, this is like writing in a diary. Although I value every little eyeball that looks at what I write.

I went to school for this. And yet. I really didn’t think I’d be doing anything really special with writing, not for a long time.

But here come these dreams, begging for nourishment.

My fears of rejection (and maybe of success) have to be pushed aside now, fear that seemed to have kept me safe.

Deep down, I’m actually a little excited. I loved the world I created and it was great respite and healing for me as I wrote those characters. It’s just strange to really take this seriously. And that may be the literary snob that has been beaten into me from earning an MFA.

But that’s the thing about writing that I love the most–the world building that ends up nourishing you. And you can only hope that other people will find the same nourishment, the same pleasure, the same solace, the same joy, the same wonder…

Writing is magical and alchemical. Even after doing this on and off since I was a 1st grader, I still don’t understand how it all works.

The connections it creates between people. The worlds that are impacted and created. The characters that we come to know and love as friends and family. The parallels that start to run through a writer’s life and the lives of their characters.

And as I think about it…it’s the creative process that mirrors the natural world, and it puts me more in tune with the earth itself. It’s something so tangible and yet something so immaterial at the same time.

And for you, reading this–I hope that if you’ve let some little children and dreams behind, for whatever reason, that you’re able to retrieve those children and bring them up as your own.

It’s never too late to find that nascent creative spark.

If you liked what you’ve read, I’d love your support as a patron on Patreon. Tiers starts at just $1/month. I blog about things that I don’t post here.

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dream true

2016-09-03 13.38.15

An old silver necklace of mine.

Write it down, make it happen?

I’m going to spoil the end of the work-in-progress I started in grad school and worked on during #NaNoWriMo for the past two years.

The last word is dream.

Dreaming hasn’t come very easily for me for the past few years. It’s been a “just the facts, ma’am” Saturnian life. Chop wood, carry water, try to make it through the day.

Try to remember to be grateful.

Try not to drown in the bitterness of life.

Try to keep your head up.

Try.

Writing this novel started off as an assignment for my fiction workshop and as a way to understand a ghosting that happened with some guy from Twitter. It ended up being a needed escape, a needed healing, and possibly a conjuring of the life that I want–beautiful transformative relationships with others.

That last part still freaks me out, especially since a lot of it was written before things started happening in my life, but that’s part of the beauty and magic of fiction, even more so than creative nonfiction, my speciality.

I’m not sure when or where I realized how dreamless my life has been, but I’m sure when I finished the first complete draft of my novel, I realized that I don’t have many dreams of my own anymore.

I may have said this before here, but it’s a realization I keep coming back to: after grad school and writing my thesis/memoir, I felt like I had come to do what I was born to do. It was the toughest mountain to climb, a mostly solo journey, and I reached the summit.

I was done with my life’s work at age 36. And I haven’t even worked on it or published it yet.

So ever since then, I have been coming down, or I’ve been rolling down the mountain like a nonstop avalanche of loss, a loss I keep talking about even though most of it is over. That’s how trauma works. It’s also because it’s been unfathomable, even when I list everything I lost…

What matters now: I survived it all.

It was the a hefty price I paid to write my life story and to follow my dreams to become a writer and editor without much support.

So now what?

I feel like I have written this post before, because my life seems to be revolving around what seems to be a swirling empty space, the seemingly elusive domestic life that I thought would be pretty easy to obtain.

Surprise, a double Capricorn overcomes overwhelming odds in her professional life while her personal life looks like a life after a major storm.

It’s a pretty boring story that needs a re-write.

It’s all in the gotdamn timing.

Last Monday, I was talking to my long-time friend who has been my partner in spinsterdom. She and I met in church in Chicago. We used to sing together on the worship team, and we got back in touch a few years ago.

A full moon in Cancer, talking to my Cancer friend while watching The Bachelor with salt-and-pepper dreamboat, Arie. The way that dude kisses alone–it should be patented and taught…

Anyway, I knew the holidays were going to bittersweet for both of us, and in some ways, even more so for my friend. So I wanted to check in her dating adventures and just her in general (she had back surgery late last year, right before a couple of big runs for charity).

She has a big family with all her younger siblings being married, two of them with kids. I’m pretty sure all of her other close friends are married or will soon be married (she told me about three engagements over the holidays (cliche, cliche, cliche)).

It really stinks if you want to be “there” and you’re “here,” alone. 

She and I are at that point where we’re pretty fulfilled people. I’ve lived a pretty full life already and I’m grateful for all the adventures Chicago gave me. I only wish I traveled more, but my life isn’t over yet.

My friend is in management in a therapist group. She has a great church, great friends, loves to run for charity–you can see all that and more in her annual holiday card.

And I don’t really mean to exalt marriage and family as “the” thing. My thing was and is writing. I believe her thing is being in service to children. I really believe you need to have a thing that has nothing to do with any life partner or spouse.

But if I have to be Jupiterian/Sagittarius about it, marriage and family is the next thing I want to experience. There are things I want to do, and maybe even need to do, in that social construct that I can’t do myself.

Can I get even more esoteric and spiritual and weird about this? I feel like I’ve met two of my kids already, in spirit.

To sidetrack myself even more, I have realized during my sojourn in Florida how little I could do without help, and how easy it was to be forgotten. There’s always an assumption that your family of origin will be there for you, especially during the holidays. It’s like an umbilical cord that is never quite fully cut.

Mind you, I’m not really comparing being single to being completely forgotten, though. I’m just layering on the lack of community part that I’ve experienced that my friend has not.

But at the same time, let me be super blunt here: loneliness kills. Even still, as a single person, you can totally have your peeps, your tribe, and not need the life-draining addition of a marriage (I’m saying that for women, since for men, it adds life expectancy).

So let me get back on track as to why I’m bringing all this marriage and family stuff up in the first place.

I got caught up on my friend’s dating life–it was more of the same. Close, but no cigar in terms of spiritual connection. She really wants an “on fire for God” Christian, and I want that for her, too. If it’s that important to her, then it’s that important to God (until she says it’s not) and she should not settle.

But the woman she met back in the early aughts is not the woman I am now. If my relatively short track record of dating is any clue, both serious relationships I had were with men who were in the fringes of Christianity–pondering, questioning, unsure. I don’t think either of them are in church anymore either.

In talking to her about where I was at, all the unrelentingly cruel shit I went through since 2012, even being in this crazy house, has brought me to a spiritual plane where I need to be.

(I knew one day I’d see that, but not while I’m still in it. So I am super hella grateful for this early hindsight.)

It’s hard to learn about boundaries when everyone is respectful of yours.

It’s hard to learn about relying on the Universe when everyone has your back and all your needs are met.

It’s hard to learn about kindness when you’re in no place to really receive it or need it.

It’s hard to learn about humility if you haven’t been humbled over and over.

It’s hard to see through evangelicalism if you’re not on the outside of the church, looking in.

All the spiritual practices I have learned have been out of desperate necessity. I bought my first crystals while living with a crazy Pisces. I burned sage for the first time when I was in a shady Airbnb placement and a cop came banging on the door of a man wanted for child support. I continually reached out to tarot readers and astrologers when my life yielded more questions and confusion than answers and clarity.

So, if I had gotten married to some “on fire for God” Christian man when I thought I would (around 30), I wouldn’t be here–which, well, living here sucks. But I wouldn’t be me. I don’t think a marriage could have survived the hell I went through, that I seemingly needed to go through.

That’s really sobering, because I didn’t sign up to give up my Christian faith (or, more likely, greatly expand it). To put this in astrological terms, not only did my Saturn return revamp what I was to do vocationally, it also radically revamped where I was headed philosophically and spiritually.

And this isn’t to say I went through all this so I can finally get a man. I don’t think this was about me becoming a better life partner, but becoming a better person. My 30s were a decade of deep reinvention, and most of my relationships did not survive the changes. And, they weren’t built for that, especially in the evangelical realm with its brittle dualism.

But what I thought was an easy dream, heck, even an inevitability, has started to become multivariate and more intricate (and that’s usually the case anyway, since all dreams involve more than one person).

I can finally say, with at least partial recognition and growing gratitude: the Universe cockblocked me for a reason–for a lot of good reasons.

I shared all that–well, not all, but the gist of it–to my friend while we’re growing bored and restless and frankly, a little sad and forlorn, in the waiting room of life, waiting for the next phase to begin. It may not even be about us being ready for what we want and need, but that our wants and needs to be readied for us.

This is so easy to forget while we all have our own separate and yet collective journeys, as we drown in self-help and personal development and gurudom and advertising that’s saying that you lack this one key thing.

Most of the time, it’s really just patience and compassion for yourself, because the waiting and wanting and desiring is neverending. It’s always something….

As the dust settles on this life renovation, I can start to see who is going to to stick around (well at least who I want stick around) in this newer, truer version of my life. For now, I’m almost done battling the hierarchy of needs war and am walking into the cozy, comforting warmth of peacetime, finally.

The luxurious energy and the utmost necessity of dreams – a paradox

Dreaming seems like a luxury when you’re worried about your car being repossessed or where you’re going to sleep the next night. But dreaming is essential, because it can’t be chop wood, carry water endlessly.

Being a writer was a dream. Going to the University of Chicago was a dream. My first boyfriend was a dream that I didn’t even know could exist.

There’s got to be something else that gets you up in the morning besides that there’s this golden ball in the sky peering into your room with light which is getting into your eyes.

Last week, I went to Tarot.com and bought a past life astrology report based on the teachings of Edgar Cayce, a 20th-century American Christian mystic.

One natal aspect jumped out at me–how Mars, the planet of energy, power, action, and desire, is in a harmonious relationship (or trine) with Neptune, the planet of illusion, dreams, psychic abilities, and spirituality.

With the spiritual protection which surrounds you, together with your integrity and strong compassion, you are a practical idealist who can “dream true.”

That is, rather than being deceived or deluded by your dreams and visions, you can be guided by and act decisively upon your dream, meditation and prayer experiences. This unique quality gives you great potential for much-needed spiritual leadership in the present.

I remember my first Aquarius best friend/emotional boyfriend telling me how he was a reluctant idealist. Or did I tell him that’s what I was? However that came about, 20 years later that has stuck with me.

Dreaming can be a little dangerous and wild, and those two dear children of Saturn were a little wary of letting our guards down and letting hopes and dreams for ourselves, and the world, run amok.

And maybe we should have. We may have learned that our dreams are truly trustworthy.

In dreams begin responsibilities (a dance between Saturn and Jupiter)

It’s Capricorn season, and good ole Father Time/Saturn has returned to his kingdom, getting the lay of the land, surveying what needs to stay and what needs to be rebuilt in our individual and corporate lives.

And Saturn pulls no punches. There is no sugarcoating in what Saturn finds, whether it’s wrong–or right. Though I was glad that Saturn left the loosey-goosey confines of Sagittarius, it has not been a happy Capricorn season for me.

But Saturn isn’t really here to make me happy, but to make me better.

Now that I’m 40 (and I have to write about the mindfuck this number is next week), I don’t want to dream to simply escape the drudgery of my life. I want to dream to build real and true things because life is short.

Dreaming takes energy, and a little bit of faith and hope. I’ve had to focus on other things for so long, it feels weird to return to the waking land of dreams (Astrological sidenote: my solar return moon is a Pisces moon, so this year is a dreamy time for me indeed).

Part of me is still exhausted from grad school and the years after it–exhausted and a little afraid.

What if I dream and receive another dream deferment? Can I dare to dream again?

I had no idea what my life would be like post-grad school. Writing that thesis was the thing for me. I gave birth to the biggest dream that I have ever dreamed in my life. It’s really hard to pivot from that to think about another dream, big or small.

I knew that didn’t really want to stay in academia and that with whatever work I found, I wanted to be able to support myself. But that was it. I didn’t have a plan for it.

I had a very ambitious plan for being a child psychiatrist and my life after that. It’s a dream, although deferred and now dead, I haven’t forgotten. It was structured and safe.

But the Universe wants much more for me.

So since 2014, I’ve been a bit of a lost seagoat, wandering around in the IKEA of life choices. Capricorns and other Saturn-influenced people do not like wandering nor wondering nor being lost nor any sort of confusion.

But not all who wander are lost–at least according to J.R.R. Tolkien.

Still, even in my wondering and wandering, the things I want and desire really haven’t changed much since I wrote them down when I was 12–and ultimately, it’s having good people in my life. Besides having a connection with God, that was the basis of why I loved Christianity so much, the insta-community that seemed to occur with shared faith and values.

Jupiter, the planet of expansion and more more more, is transiting in deep-feeling and probing Scorpio. That planet has been in my 11th house of community and friendships. With this transit, it feels easier to think about the community I want to be a part of, that I am already a part of.

I want to build real and true relationships with people meant for me, even as, and definitely because, the world is seemingly imploding in rage, war, abuse, narcissism, cruelty, and neglect (or, it’s always been this bad, but we are just more aware now).

Beyond that, and those kids that keep popping up in my consciousness, and other places and people that the Universe seems to keep pointing me towards, that’s all I’ve got. That’s all I have energy to hold space for right now.

And honestly, it’s enough…for now. I’m saying that mostly for my benefit, since at times, I’m sad and bewildered that I’m not feeling that ambitious anymore.

Yet if I look back with a more discerning, compassionate eye, all that I have seen, done, and endured–it may not have equaled to fame, fortune, and fun. What it did was create a solid foundation for the good life to come–even if it scares me to say that life will be good soon.

Go beyond…

Beyond my life with friends and loved ones–to dream, to wonder about life…there has been so little space for that. Being in nature has helped, but to just go beyond my little neighborhood, my yard, my room…

As much as I welcome Saturn’s restructuring of my life, I also welcome Jupiter’s expansion.

As constricted and bound up as I feel right now, I know I’m going to be repotted somewhere soon and it’s a little scary to think about. Where (OK, I probably know where, but still!), when, how?

And, most importantly (in true Capricorn fashion): how much control will I have over these needed changes?

Even in the face of uncertainty, my tenuous but solemn hope is that in 2018 and beyond, I can and will start to embrace a new sense of adventure and awe, grounded in experience and wisdom.

2016-09-03 13.46.07

Another old silver necklace with a bit of an out-of-focus but familiar message.

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Sorry, I was NaNo-ing and working…

Dear sun opposite moon reader, 🤗

I had intended for this place to be treated professionally, to write every week, as a commitment to my creative writing practice. But I got called away to other things, paid things. 🤷🏾‍♀️

After the latest post, the greatest wound, the greatest healing, the following day, I was slammed with work for three weeks. 🤦🏾‍♀️

But I was grateful because it was a scary time. I had a huge lull in work in October. 🙏🏾

This is also National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo is the hashtag on Twitter). ✍🏾👩🏾‍💻 #️⃣

I finished my novel in 9 days total (50,182). 😲 🎉

I did NaNo last year and something similar happened. I couldn’t start until the last week. I finished the first half of my novel in 8 days. 😱

Last year, I was a lot more sleep deprived. This year, tired but not deliriously tired like I was this time last year. 😴🤤😪

So, TL;DR, bills had to be paid, a contest had to be won. 🙃

The things I have wanted to write take up a lot of room in my heart, which means it takes time to untangle all the words and the meaning into a blog post. 💗

I have work waiting for me tomorrow, which is a very good thing. But I have to think about my commitment to sunoppositemoon-motion–as in, it needs to be a priority. 🔝

But it can’t just be a diary. It needs to be art, or at least artful. That takes time, to write about your life creatively. 🤔

I definitely have stories. I just have to figure out how to balance the paying of bills with the art of my life–like most people. ⚖️

So, as much as I can, I’ll try to double up here to make up the time I lost. ⏱

But tonight, I’m going to give my hands and my brain a needed rest.. 🤯

Before I go, though–this month was so transformative. I worked out things in my life through my novel. 💪🏾

Peace lays heavy on me now, which is a wonderful way to go into the last days of being 39. 🕊

Thanks for your patience and hopefully I can get back to writing here this weekend. 🤓

Deborah 😘

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If you want to give a one-time gift or monthly gift, hit me up on Paypal.

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