On New Years, Faraway Friends, and Fairy Tales

Photo by Eight Eyes Photography.

They take their mugs, then their seats, and fill the room; the empty chair holding everything they do not say. Until she speaks to raise a mug and, in remembering, cracks the silence, spills everything, and takes them back with, “I remember when” and “He always” and “I will miss” and “If only.” (Seven,” KROnline )

I’m delighted that my new short story, “Seven” has been published by The Kenyon Review Online. The story is essentially a love letter to friends near and especially far, whom I don’t get to see often enough. It was also born out of something I was thinking a lot about at the time: What may have happened to the fairy tale heroes and heroines, victims and villains, as they eventually faced aging and death? It’s not the sexy part of the story, but I feel like there is beauty and grace to be explored there.

So much of 2015 was spent working on Geek Parenting, that I wasn’t able to write and submit a lot of short fiction and poetry. “Seven” was an exception, and I’m grateful to begin this year by having it published it in such a well-respected and widely-read journal.

Thus the wheel turns and we leave 2015 behind, having lost loved ones, having turned parts of our lives upside-down, having welcomed new relationships and projects, hopefully having created a few new treasured memories. We look ahead to 2016, beginning to write onto those blank calendar squares, planning the ways we hope the year will play itself out (although it will surely surprise us).

I have not traditionally been a fan of New Year’s Eve. Many of my best eves have been spent “writing in the new year” in a quiet house or apartment, a cup of hot coffee beside me (maybe with a splash of Kahlua). However this time it felt appropriate to celebrate the threshold between the years with something more creative and dramatic–with a Celestial Ball in three stories of a festively decorated historic New York City Romanesque Revival building filled with live music and occupied by all manner of beautifully costumed people meandering about, drinking, dancing, and laughing. It felt very much like the shimmery veils between so many fantastic worlds were lifted to allow for such a congregation of sparkly, mythic creatures.

I was swept up in all that that magic and forgot to take photos, but thankfully photographer Steven Rosen was there, and he took this beautiful portrait. (Oh, the light!)
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(If you’d like to see his other breathtaking portraits from that night and others, you can find them on his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stevenrosenphotography)

There’s so much out of balance and broken and hurting in our world right now. I want to believe that the systems in place that continue to perpetuate hatred and injustice will finally be dismantled, that new models will spring up to reshape a future where all people are treated with dignity and respect. I have hope, and I want to do my part.

In so many cultures, the end of an old year was a time for magic, for fortunetelling and storytelling, for casting spells and making wishes. My wish for 2016 is not long: May we find our way to love in 2016–in the people, animals, activities, and ideas that nourish our authentic selves and connect us with humanity as a whole.

Happy New Year.

 

Beginnings and Believing

A new year–the way we name one cycle of the earth’s orbit around the sun.

So the old year comes to a close, and we collect the major events of those 365 days. We review them like a catalog or a library or a photo album. The years do seem to take on personalities, smaller characterizations that pertain to our selves or our circles, a larger Zeitgeist when we attempt to look at the year globally, greater than the sum of our personal experiences.

Then we move into a new set of days. While I’m generally not a fan of the flashy side of the holiday, this is what I do like about New Year’s Eve. When we end one thing, it creates a new beginning. That’s a rather remarkable gift. It’s permission and a challenge. A new year gives us the time and space for new beginnings, to pay attention to things we may have missed, to make something out of nothing.

Last year was not an easy year. 2014 had a lot of heartaches and challenges. Overall, I’m not sad to see it go, though there are moments of grace and beauty that I treasure.

To use a running metaphor, I feel like 2014 was a series of sprints. Professionally and personally, I moved in small, productive bursts, counting the days in between deadlines and holidays.

Last year had a lot of in between days.

In 2015, I’m shifting my focus to goals that may stretch a bit further into the horizon, to longer projects and novels, to seeds planted last year that require still more nurturing to come to fruition.

If 2014 was made up of sprints, 2015 will be a marathon. I hope to move through the new year with better organization and momentum. I think I’m a creative sprinter at heart, so this feels counterintuitive, but we’ll see.

As far as the world and those I love, this is my wish for the new year:

May we treat each other with more kindness in this next circle around the sun. May we cultivate relationships with people to whom we can entrust our hearts and our dreams. May we find ourselves looking into the eyes of someone who truly sees us and believes. At the end of the next 365 days, I hope we are all paying closer attention, and I hope that somehow there is more love in the world.

Happy New Year.

 

In the Cards: The Amanda Palmer Tarot

For hundreds of years, the Tarot has been used as a system of divination, reflection, storytelling, and inspiration. There are decks inspired by gods and goddesses, decks of cats, decks inspired by fictional worlds like Harry Potter or Star Wars, fairy tale decks and complex metaphysical ones. People are drawn to certain decks because they identify with the imagery or connect with the artwork or theme.

It comes as no surprise that fans of singer Amanda Palmer decided to draw upon the iconography of Amanda’s work, both as a solo artist and member of the Dresden Dolls, to create a Tarot deck.

For those unfamiliar with her work, Amanda’s songs, while fiercely intimate, are also iconic. She sings about abuse, addiction, abortion, heartache, love, abandon, regret, and hope; and her songs give voice to the dreams and fears of fans around the world. That would be enough to endear Amanda to her fans, but she takes it further to connect with them on a personal level at shows, ninja gigs, and online. Amanda opens herself up, and people often walk away saying that the experiences were intimate, inspirational, and transformative.

That is what the Amanda Palmer Tarot is about: Intimacy. Inspiration. Transformation.

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When Madeline C. Matz, told me she was going to take the collaborative deck to Kickstarter, to use the crowd funding tool for preorder and distribution of the tarot deck and to pay the 78 artists involved, it made perfect sense. Collaboration brought the deck into existence; collaboration would get it produced.

***UPDATE: The Tarot was fully funded within 24-hours of launching the Kickstarter Campaign, but you can still order a deck until September 3, 2013!***

At its heart, the Amanda Palmer Tarot is a one-of-kind creative collaboration, a tribute deck featuring the work of 78 different artists, including Molly Crabapple, Kyle Cassidy, Walter Sickert, Kristina Carroll, Zelda Devon, Katelan V. Foisy, and more. Even fans unfamiliar with Tarot as a system of divination can enjoy the beauty of the unique cards inspired by all-things-Amanda.

Tarot is like a mosaic or patchwork of our lives at any given moment. People look at the cards to gain insight, to glean something new, to be challenged, to connect with a larger picture. (Interesting that those are some of the same reasons we encounter art.)

It will be interesting to find out what Tarot readers will think of the Amanda Palmer Tarot, because of course, the cards are sexy, symbolic, and provocative.

But then again, Art should provoke, and Tarot should provoke. Any deck inspired by Amanda would have to be provocative, and I think that translates into a beautiful and powerful collection of cards.

You can read more about the kickstarter campaign and order your deck here.

There are also Facebook and tumblr pages highlighting the artwork, and a twitter account: @afptarot

Check it out and spread the word.

Aren’t you curious to find out what you’ll see in the cards?