Me, me, me, and a little bit of me

June 5, 2017

sometimes i feel like i’m disappearing. so over the last 9 months or so i’ve been writing this on my phone (please excuse the lack of caps). it’s completely self-indulgent, probably boring, and just an attempt to state who i am to the universe. i will update it with more fascinating details as i think of them!


i was born and raised in a white, middle class suburb of chicago. in “chicagoland.” which, if you’ve grown up near that glorious city, you know sounds a lot better than it actually is. while there were latinos in my class, there was only one african american, and he was deaf. i didn’t know any jews and certainly no muslims or any other minority faiths. i was raised catholic and everyone i knew was christian or (a few) “no religion.” i was not raised for a diverse world.

i am white. being privileged, i often don’t think about it. then i see a POC and i’m unthinkingly thinking, “a black person!” and then i’m tearing my carefully coiffed hair out in despair that i will never be able to root out my inherited racism. since black lives matter came on the scene, i’ve been reading books regularly on race, class, and gender to try to change my consciousness. it’s slow going. institutionalized isms suck.

i am either 5’5” or 5’6”. no one seems to know. perhaps it’s the hair. i have an eating disorder which makes my weight swing by 50 pounds depending on whether i’m starving or bingeing. my lowest weight was 109, but i’ve been bingeing over the last six months. it’s a big challenge.

i am a singer. i am a Witch. you can strip all else away and find these two things at my core, two strands of DNA. i didn’t know about the Craft until 1989 but it was a homecoming. i have never doubted my path. i have sung since i was born. went professional at 11. got into IU’s music school when it was number one in the country. it tore up all love of music i had and i stopped singing for five years. getting my voice back is entwined with my spirituality and now it’s in its rightful place.

i am pansexual, though i usually just say bisexual because it’s easier. i used to be hetero but when i was in england on my internship when i was 23 i started falling for the glorious liz, goth grrrl of my dreams. i sat in my room one night and investigated these feelings, feeling the old arguments against same-sex relations come up and then…i saw clearly that those were all based in a religion i no longer believed in and they just floated away. my darling liz leaned towards me but fell for a boy before i could gather the nerve to ask her out.

these are some of my heroines.

my mom wanted to name me amy but her mother (grandma mclaughlin) lobbied hard for “carol.” i was born on 23 december, so i became a “christmas carol.” a remarkably appropriate name. “to carol” means to sing and dance in a circle. very me. then i had a nervous breakdown at 18 (a real one; psychosis) and in the midst of it the spelling “cairril” came to me. i would say it was given to me by the Goddess but i didn’t know about Her then. i just knew i had a new name. i legally changed it the following year. it’s very close to an irish spelling so i just tell people it’s irish, but it’s actually unique. as far as i can tell, there’s no other person on Earth with that spelling.

i was an empath until 2000. it wasn’t just that i felt intense sympathy. it was more the sci-fi meaning, where i could actually feel what other people were feeling, usually people i had a close relationship with. i would get hit with something out of the blue and have to start making phone calls to friends to see who’d just gotten bad or good news. since a trauma in january of 2000, i don’t feel much of anything anymore.

following on that, i do still have what i call physical empathy. when i look at someone, i involuntarily feel what their body feels like. or i guess, what my brain imagines they feel like. so i hate watching westerns. everyone is so filthy and sweaty i end up feeling skanktastic. i don’t know of a name for this condition and i’ve never seen it described anywhere else.

i experience multiple realities at once. one of my least favorite questions is, “what’s real?” i call your reality “consensual reality.” we agree that a table is a table, a door is a door. but color? sound? intent? i experience these things in multiple ways and consensual reality often comes up short.

following on that, i have synesthesia, which is a condition where more than one sense gets triggered by a single phenomenon. so i hear what i see and i see what i hear. that makes for a very noisy head. i am super-sensitive to noise but the type of noise determines whether i go into complete meltdown or dance like a loon. a live auction sent me running from the room once.

i am of primarily german stock from the great 19th century migration, with a healthy dose of irish from the famine and lots of english and some polish thrown in. and i somehow ended up with 2% north african ancestry from the 18th century! i love surprises. i have four ancestors who came over on the mayflower so i feel “ethnically” “american” too. i am way into genealogy and have traced several lines back to the 15th century. one ancestor, nicholas wylder, was a german mercenary who fought with henry tudor against richard iii. no, nicholas! we needed you on the other side! i have slaveholders among my ancestors (i want to do more research there) as well as heretics and an accused witch. we are a rambunctious lot with a LOT of strong women.

i am the spinster aunt of eleven nieces and nephews, some of whom i’m close to. i am goddessmother to two incredible girls i’d be proud to call my own. friday afternoons are ours.

i am not a fan of fine art. art museums bore the hell out of me. the impressionists and modernists are the worst. i love ancient egyptian and celtic art because of the religious component. i am intrigued by a lot of early 20th century european art (vienna secessionists particularly) but the only “real” artist that gets me is kathe kollwitz. i like art that makes me FEEL. i want a reaction. i want intensity. landscapes just don’t cut it. speak to me, transform me!

the core of my spiritual belief is tiocfaidth an samhradh: “summer will come.”

i am a capricorn near the cusp with sagittarius with five planets in virgo, which basically means i will organize your ass off. i am very capricorny, focused on work and money and tenaciousness, yet i have the sagittarius streak of passion. i also think of this as my german and irish sides. mostly i think of myself as goaty grrrl.

i am proud to identify as a feminist. in the last few years i have worked on my understanding of intersectionality and believe that’s where the real juice is.

i love love LOVE to dance. back in the day when the drovers would come to second story i would be practically on the stage, thrashing all over the place, dancing with every part of my body. i used to be able to be really physical. you can see on the video for ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ‘round from an MLK Day performance kaia did. but then my psychiatrist put me on a new med to help untangle my thoughts in the morning so i could be more functional. now i can’t dance anymore the way i used to — i stay very confined and uncreative. i also have a harder time conducting. don’t get me wrong, i like being able to get out of bed in the morning, but i do so miss that utter abandonment unto the music.

i graduated from IU phi beta kappa. this has had zero practical impact on my life.

tarot me

these are from robin wood’s tarot deck. the High Priestess is an aspect of me i am always striving to grow. she has knowledge and vision. she is of the Moon, not harsh like the Sun, and she is halfway between light and dark. she easily draws on intuition and balances mind and spirit. she is confident, curious, powerful. Queen of Swords helps me with my social anxiety. she shows me how to extend the hand of friendship while having the sword there to protect me should i feel threatened or too scared. and Nine of Pentacles describes much of my life: me tending to my beautiful garden, with a falcon to send out and bring back news of the day.

i love being with women. at least in bloomington, and with my sister’s kith, there’s an automatic goodwill there that allows us to talk about real things in an authentic way. i’m generally leery of men because of the abuse and harassment i’ve survived. but once they prove themselves safe, i can bond with them. it’s just that they have so many grabby brothers…

i consider girls girls until they’re 16, when they become young women. around age 21 they are women. i deTEST calling women “girls.” it always makes me think of those black men on the picket lines in the civil rights movement with signs saying, “i am a man.” we are women. we are free to make sexual choices. we are free to make all kinds of choices. infantilizing women is patriarchy at its worst.

i have had three soulmates, but the most important of my handfastings was with my self.

i find the Pagan categorization system of “maiden, mother, crone” extremely tiresome. inspired by goddesses in older women i’m experimenting with the system “child, young woman, mature woman, wise woman.” though i hate fours so i’m exploring a fifth dimension, a sort of meta-female, but that may end up too binary. i was inspired by jailbreaking the goddess and believe it’s a watershed for the next generation of Paganism but why the hell did she have to use latin names for the Goddess, the most patriarchal language ever?? my concepts are a work in progress. stay tuned. i was inspired by a nietzsche quote i read recently about approaching existence with “ecstatic honesty” so that, at the end of your days, you will want to live all your days over and over throughout eternity. it ends up being similar to mindfulness but really, how excited can you get about “SEE the raisin, FEEL the raisin, TASTE the raisin”?? so i am experimenting with total honesty for now, with hints of ecstaticnaciousnous (more will come later) and have had some really good results. i love truth anyway, so it’s about being completely truthful about where i am in the moment. promising.

i am terribly self-conscious about my teeth. on the other hand, i love to tell the story about how i got hit in the mouth with a softball which permanently knocked one of my front teeth back. and i love that the unladylike gap between my front teeth comes from my paternal grandfather. when i look at that gap, i smell his pipe and see him doing crosswords and hear him yelling, “babe!” to my grandmother. that little gap says, “hi, granddaughter! i see you!”

when eating at home, i try to keep each meal’s cost under one dollar.

my earliest memory is pre-verbal. i was in an automatic swing chair in the kitchen of our house. my mom and another female relative (aunt dolores?) were moving around me, working and talking, not paying attention. i wanted out. i stretched my legs as far as they would go but my toes couldn’t reach the ground. i wrestled with the strappings. nothing worked. i wanted out, out, OUT! it is still a recurring theme in my life — “i don’t want to be here. take me anywhere but here.” it’s not healthy.

i blush easily.

i am a priestess of brighid and lifeanddeath. i was initiated by them during a deep healing ritual on may 15, 1997. brighid is the irish goddess of poetry, smithcraft, and healing. i also think of her as a professional woman, not defined as maiden-mother-crone. the lifeanddeath initiation was not one i wanted but it wasn’t up to me. it means facing death and all darkness and weaving it all into the shadow and light of the world. it has a lot of consequences.

my middle name comes from my maternal grandfather, a second-generation irish-american who was a prince among men, according to all the stories. he didn’t talk a lot but had a great sense of humor, worked very hard, and loved children dearly. he never had a lot of money, so he would take my cousin tom on a bus ride around hammond every now and again to be able to do something special together. grandpa mclaughlin died before i was born but i call on him all the time in my relationships with the ancestors. what i would give for a bus ride with him…. i was named after him (he was leo; my middle name is lee).

i am a Walker Between the Worlds. i shift states of consciousness very easily. this is not always helpful. like when i’m driving.

i have two secrets. i think. i don’t tell every single person every single thing about me, but i live my life OUT LOUD.

when i was in eighth grade my friends and i dressed up in blackface for halloween. i was kunta kinte and my bestie was kizzy. we laughed and laughed. oh, those hilarious black people with their crazy hair and outlandish names! to this day it infuriates me that no one in that soulless white middle class hateful town responded with anything other than laughter.

if i were in hogwarts, i would be in either ravenclaw or gryffindor. if i were reincarnated (i won’t be; i don’t believe in it), i want to be an otter because i’d get to swim all the time and be clever with tools and play all day and hold hands with my friends while i sleep. if i were in the hunger games, i would kill kill kill in order to survive.

i am the youngest of six children. so there were 8 of us in the family crammed into a 3-BR house (my dad fixed up space in the basement for my brothers), always making noise and getting into each other’s faces. now i live alone and work for myself, which means everything is quiet and in its place and no one gets in my space. it’s lonely. and other times not.

i would love to go to berlin, vienna, prague, anywhere having to do with ancient egypt, rome, crete, anatolia, more into wales, and all over ireland/eire. i would love to return to wiesbaden, germany, and i can of course never get enough of england and scotland. lacking independent wealth, i’ll never get to most of these places. sadness.

i am driven by incredible willpower. seriously, you’ve never met anyone with a greater sense of will than i have. somewhere inside of me is a toddler with her little hands balled up on her little hips yelling, “I AM!” when i was growing up people used to call me a mack truck and they should throw themselves out of the way. i go after what i want.

my guilty pleasure is majesty, “the quality royal magazine.”

sometimes when i’m just puttering about the house i’ll suddenly yell “LA!”

i think THE quote for the 21st century is from rodney king: “can we all get along?” i think the boomers had it all wrong when they said, “all you need is love.” we’re not all going to love each other. not gonna happen. but we can, if we try, just get along. be civil. that to me is a more realistic goal. and one, i fear, we will not reach.

i identify with salieri in the movie “amadeus.” i have a deep, deep, demanding desire to do Great Things yet i do not have the tools. i HATE it when people say, “you have so much potential!” it’s SO maddening. what good is potential when no one wants what you have to give???

i want to learn how to execute the perfect curtsey.

i have a variety of brain diseases: generalized anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD, psychosis NOS, dissociative identity disorder, developmental trauma disorder. i have blogged about these things at length. i have 13 posts under “mental illness” in the right column of this page (see the link??). “shakespeare and depression” is on of my faves. my mental illness is inherited and a product of my upbringing and traumas, both developmental and acute. my brain diseases are a constant focus of my thinking. maybe because it’s my brain talking???

i am an intense person. i live in baz luhrman’s moulin rouge. that’s how intense life is to me.  i’d much rather scream my head off at a rally than set politely in a church listening to someone prettily preach about justice. i am uppity. i am rude. i interrupt. i listen intently. i work hard. i laugh hard. i trance hard. i dissociate hard. i drive fast or stop suddenly. i crank the jams. i love fiercely. i am prone to violence in the privacy of my home. i believe you’ve got to stand up and TAKE the power. MAKE it happen. i dream big. i plan intensely. I LIVE OUT LOUD.

on a ferry from rotterdam to england i pressed myself to the prow, wind skinning my head, grin splitting my face. in whitby, england (the setting for stoker’s dracula), i walked the one-mile pier into the north sea and screeched, “i’m here!!” into the screaming wilds of wind and sea. on a scottish mountain i reached the summit in the night and leaned into a wind so strong it blew my eyelids back upon themselves. i LIVE for this shit. it’s so completely luhrman, so huge, a stage big enough for my towering passions. it’s LIFE, in shrieking technicolor.

i hate wind chimes and drum solos.

my fave books are pride and prejudice by austen, kabuki: circle of blood by david mack, gone with the wind (so feminist though so, so racist) by margaret mitchell, peter the great by robert massie, gloriana by mary luke, barbarians by terry jones, the little house books (i’m related to almanzo wilder), mrs mike by benedict and nancy freedman, traitor by matthew stover, ordeal: the story of my life by queen marie of roumania, the highland clearances by john prebble, the house at pooh corner by a. a. milne, leaving mother lake by yang erche namu and christine mathieu, and on and on and on. i read at least one non-fiction, one fiction, and one Pagan book at once so i have a book for every mood.

i am a huge star wars fan. princess leia changed my life. the best extended universe books are the new jedi order series.

my parents taught me responsibility, thrift, hard work, excellent manners, and to think for myself. they have had reason to regret the last.

i want to be a Pagan nun: live in community where intense faith is put into transformative action by working with the less privileged. i want a constant, joyous, tangible celebration of faith.

i’ve been to europe six times, three times by myself. on my first trip my best friend and i stumbled upon avebury, a then-unknown tiny village in the middle of an ancient stone circle. it’s part of a vast complex, from the wooden “sanctuary” circle that was built on a hill 4000 BCE to silbury hill, the largest human-made mound in europe, to the west kennet long barrow, a five-chambered burial mound, to “the avenue,” a mile of monoliths tracing a path back to the circle. i felt incredible power in the long barrow. i got “graveyard hands”: placing one hand on a stone in the “head” chamber, i saw all the flesh blow away till only bone remained. from that moment on the area in general and the barrow in particular have been the center of my spiritual universe, and my most important life commitments have been sealed there. i live for the day when i can return.

when i don’t like what’s happening around me i will often dissociate. i go into a detached state where i lose time and “come to” later having no idea what i was doing or how the time passed. this is DID. people on the extreme end of the spectrum have distinct personalities that don’t know of each others’ existences but i’m not that bad. i just go into this grey space. it used to be a lot worse – since my semi-retirement i’ve had so many things to enjoy that i’m not nearly in as much psycho-spiritual pain as i used to be. the grey is also a product of depression, which i’ve had since i was 14. but as i said, i’m doing much better these days and am making good progress in therapy.

i take 19 pills a day to maintain mental and (less so) physical health. i am a slave to my meds; if i forget to take them i am a complete basket case. i HATE feeling so vulnerable.

i wanted two daughters. i gave up living in england to come here and have them close to family. my best male friend and i promised we’d have kids if we were still single at 30 but he wasn’t. i tried to sell my eggs as a desperate last attempt but i missed the deadline by three weeks (i blogged about that (a little) here). now i have no daughters, unwanted eggs, and a really strict immigration policy in england. not all capricorns get to execute their plans. there are no words to describe the constant ache of childlessness. it is an ocean of grief i can never get across.

i hate to cook. i love to bake, especially while singing along to the smiths at the top of my lungs.

i don’t remember names and faces. if i’m being introduced to someone, the first letters of their name fly out of my head even before the rest if their name is said. i’ve even forgotten the names of people i’ve had to dinner at my house. mytherapistlynn attributed it to PTSD. it’s hardest with normal looking people. you all look alike. i eventually recognize faces after a LOT of exposure in close succession but names can escape me for years. so i live in this hell where people CONSTANTLY say hi to me and i have no idea who they are, if we’re casual acquaintances or have shared soul-bearing confidences. my default is to look Impressively Busy, give them a big smile and a “hey!” and sometimes a “how are you?” as i breeze past them. i HATE it. i feel like i am not respecting others. i feel so ashamed. and i’m so easily recognizable…. it’s hell.

my favorite disney villain is maleficent (the original). such a badass.

my favorite disney heroine is belle, because she’s smart and strong and brave and learns to love.

i love playing charades. i am really, really good at charades. i also love canasta, bullshit, spoons, cards against humanity, and any game where everyone can have a good time. highly competitive or strategy games are not for me.

i don’t eat any vegetables. any.

i have a number of invisible maladies that keep me in constant pain. bad knees, bad hips. i broke my lower back when i was 15. i have carpal tunnel syndrome (which is why i so frequently write lower case — fewer finger movements). several car accidents have ruined my lower and upper back and given me permanent whiplash. no one knows how much pain i’m in – i have a high pain tolerance and i think like an 8-year-old and believe i’m invincible. but beyond that, i have a deep-seated need to look completely competent and in control at all times. a lesson learned young and never forgotten.

my sense of humor and sarcasm are deeply indebted to bugs bunny. the later “sophistication” of my humor (if you can call it that) is pure python.

i am introspective and a terrible introvert. every night i write the day’s doings and my thoughts and feelings in my journal along with 1) a positive facet of myself on display that day, 2) the answer to the question “do i know who i am today?, 3) a positive memory, and 4) a prayer. takes me an hour but it calms me down, empties my mind, opens my psycho-spiritual self, and helps anchor me to my own life. spending so much time alone and dissociating means i can get lost in the blur of my days. at special anniversaries and holidays i go back and read chunks of my journal to see who i was in that snapshot of time. i try to see patterns and learn so i can grow.

in the 90s when i was a Very Important Pagan i was interviewed by the new york times for their religion section. the reporter was super easy to talk to, which made me relax. this is unfortunate, because when he asked me how many Pagans were in the US, i said something like, “my guess is around 100,00, though some of my comrades wish it were a lot more.” comrades! comrades! now everyone thinks we’re communists! brill move, cairril adaire.

i’m terrified of flying. i try to be the last one on and the first one off. i know you’re more likely to die in a car accident but at least it would be quick. you wouldn’t have 30,000 feet to think about it. turbulence terrifies me no matter how many xanax i pop. on the takeoff from phoenix there was so much turbulence i clutched andrew’s hand ’til his bones ground together and i was literally a hair’s breadth from screaming at the top of my lungs get me the hell off this plane!!!! traumatizing. trying to land during a thunderstorm over LAX there was this huge BANG and the whole plane dropped enough that i slammed into my safety belt. there was complete silence in the cabin for a Very Long Time (classic example of the mammalian freeze response) until the captain rather laconically said, “you may have noticed we had some static discharge.” uh, yeah. the truth which he neglected to tell us was we’d been hit by lightning. these things happen and i say never again and i looooong for bullet trains across the country but alas, alack, and alaska, i find myself getting frisked by the TSA once again.

i drink 3-4 gallons of milk/wk and 4-6 liters of water/day.

my two biggest character flaws are impatience and insensitivity to others’ feelings. i get enRAGED when i have to go at a slower pace. voice-prompt tech support lines leave me yelling into the phone. waiting to be picked up or for phone calls causes massive anxiety attacks. i am not about the journey; i am all about the destination. as for others, i am practical and painfully blunt. not surprisingly considering i spend literally 99% of my time with no one but my cat, i say things that hurt people’s feelings. it’s agony. i make the best apology i can, come up with a plan for how i can meet their needs better in future, and then wallow in the feeling of churning stomach and veins on fire and i am damaged goods and a horrible human being and i should never talk to anyone because all i do is hurt people. i hate myself.

possibly my best characteristics are i am brave, loyal, honest, compassionate, and deep. maybe.

we had five rules to follow before we could do anything when we were growing up: teeth brushed, hair combed, bed made, breakfast over with, and get dressed. on saturday mornings i got up before everyone else to watch bugs bunny and ate breakfast while i watched. i couldn’t POSSibly brush my teeth until after i finished breakfast, and i wouldn’t DARE wake my sister (with whom i shared a room) by getting dressed or making my bed, so i pretty much ignored the rules whenever i wanted to.

i have over 23 days worth of music in itunes of almost every variety. i move between maria callas, the cure, billie holliday, rasputina, ricky martin, little cow, alexander rybak, voco, everclear, patsy cline, the gap band, cake, javiera y los imposibles, the black keys, music of the baroque, karolina cicha, the clash, clarence gatemouth brown, cab calloway, trio mandila, flogging molly, portishead, and more easily.

when you tickle the inside of my arm, the side of my tongue itches.

i have the world’s most sweet-tempered cat: sasha. she is the perfect companion for me. she never tries to run outside, she’s patient and loving and CUTE and just the right amount of playful and never pees on the furniture. i love loving her.

when i want to remember something and i don’t have my phone, i “write” a keyword on my left palm with my right index finger, underline it three times and then punch in three exclamation points. works like a charm. grandpa mills taught that to mom and she passed it on to me.

i quick-tempered and tempestuous, possibly the same as my great-grandmother jenny mullane mclaughlin, who was know for her irish temper. i’m not afraid to yell when frustrated. working with technology is maddening. i get so angry and frustrated i can’t think straight. it doesn’t take much to set me off. usually comes down to my not being able to do what i want.

i will hold onto the oxford comma to my dying day.

i am single. that makes me a ms. not a miss. not ever a miss. and not ever a mrs. if in the highly unlikely event i got married, i would still be a ms. that’s the whole point of it. why should women have a prefix that denotes their marital status? it’s a holdover from women as property. i’m no one’s property. i belong to me. and the Goddess. i am ms.

i can flare my nostrils at will.

i am celibate. i blogged about that here.

i am a lover of shakespeare’s plays. not sonnets, only plays. i inhale them. the language! once i read so much i started dreaming in shakesperean english. i watched all the BBC versions from that series they did in the ‘80s and fell in love with the winter’s tale. my fave movies are the richard III with ian mckellan, branagh’s much ado about nothing and his breathtaking hamlet, david tennant’s hamlet except i hate the security cameras and patrick stewart’s shrug, and baz luhrman’s romeo + juliet, which makes me SOB every time i watch it even though the traditional play bores me to a coma. i want to play volumnia in coriolanus, gertrude in hamlet, rosalind in as you like it, the goth queen in titus andronicus, lady capulet and mercutio in romeo and juliet, paulina in the winter’s tale, and especially margaret of anjou in henry VI parts 1-3 and richard III!

even though i wear almost nothing but black (with a splash of white now and again), my favorite colors are actually jewel tones. they make beautiful sounds in my head.

apart from hello and thank you with store clerks, usually i spend just over 6.5 hours a week interacting with other humans face to face. the rest of the time i’m on my own.

i haven’t felt emotions besides things like loneliness and anguish since 3 jan 2000, when The Bad Thing happened. mostly i live in a grey zone. sometimes i feel the physical effects of a positive emotion such as increased energy and a lightness to my body, but the actual emotion isn’t there. i do sometimes feel love when it’s very strong but it’s like there’s a filter that keeps me from experiencing the fullness of the emotion. that’s dissociation and depression. i do laugh a lot. loudly.

i think leonard cohen’s hallelujah is one of the stupidest, most boring songs i’ve ever heard. i realize this is blasphemy.

i am an atheist. i don’t believe in an afterlife. i suspect there’s a part of our selves that for lack of a better term we call soul, but it transforms into different energy at death. we just decay at death — return to the Mother.

i detest alcohol. i have seen it destroy too many lives of people i’ve loved. i cringe at the sight of it. the smell makes me physically ill. if i had my way, all alcohol would disappear from the planet, never to be seen again.

i am a survivor of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, in every decade of my life. men have not always been kind to me.

i am a politics junkie, mostly national, then state, then international, then local. i know very little about local affairs, which is ridiculous considering my belief in grassroots organizing. but Big Issues fascinate me and i like to understand those mass currents. i have always been more interested in fiction that includes politics (like the hunger games) than that which doesn’t. i suppose it goes to my favorite question for life: “why?” this is followed closely by: “how?” everything else falls far behind.

i have a violent past but am committed to nonviolent civil resistance.

i adore movies from the ‘30s and ‘40s. so many strong women. so much snappy dialogue. and towering passions that last through years of troubles rather than today’s romances which start at the very end of the movie or book. my faves are it happened one night, now voyager, gone with the wind, little women (june allyson), the thin man, to have and have not, the philadelphia story, the big sleep, random harvest, the adventures of robin hood, and oh, so many more.

i love british cuisine. fish-n-chips under a heat lamp for too long and chocolate hobnobs (one nibble and you’re nobbled) — yum!!

i began my business with a prayer in 2001: “let me put my talents and skills in the service of the greater good.” and i have done that. i have chosen to work with organizations and businesses that in some way make life better. i don’t do any work for the military. and my motto has always been, “if the world goes to hell, i want bloomington to be the last place standing.” in my small way, i help my clients make a little more money so they could help bloomington thrive. if i work with a client whose business i’m not completely in favor of (but not so much that i won’t work with them), i donate a percentage of my profits from their job to a charity in direct opposition to what they’re doing. so my work is still in the service of the greater good.

i love bed. i love being all toasty warm and comfortable, my back finally not hurting so much, curled up with a great book with a candle lit on my altar. and on sunday mornings reading the paper in bed. and every morning that i can wallow in pain-free comfort for half an hour or so before getting up. and lying down for a 40-minute cat nap in the afternoons. and writing in my journal. and spending such lovely time with my friends on facebook via my laptop. i love staring off into space vaguely centered around one of my altars, cocooned in warmth. there’s no other place i’m so pain-free except for when i’m on my land or in a hot tub. oh, and when i took lovers i adored spending hours in bed talking, laughing, and reading to each other. sigh. i love bed.

i believe judy garland was the greatest entertainer of the 20th century. there were those who exceeded her in technical ability but she was not only a triple threat (dance, act, SING), she knew how to put on a GREAT show.

a regret from k-12 education: i never had a food fight.

i believe in agitating and protesting and speaking out because it is the right thing to do. i also believe it has the potential to bring about social change from the grassroots up. but i speak because i will not remain silent in the face of injustice. i have blogged about that here.

i reject the terms masculine and feminine. they are outmoded and heterosexist. i was constantly pressured to be more “ladylike” when i was growing up. that meant feminine. that means passive, receptive, nurturing. well, guess what, i’m a loud-mouthed, sarcastic, bull-in-a-china-shop full-on woman and i call that feminine. if we’re going to equate femininity with being female, here’s your new definition of feminine. i am all woman, all the time. don’t try to water me down.

kaia, kaia, kaia. world vocals and percussion from the raucous to the sublime. seven women taking you on a dizzying ride through life, death, politics, sex, seasonal rounds, and more more more. i started it in 2004. at times it has been the only thing keeping me alive. if the stars would align correctly, i would be singing this incredible music with these incredible women all. the. time.

i have four foundational beliefs:

  1. there is no immortal or supreme being of any kind. we have one life and when we die, we’re dead. there is no afterlife.
  2. humans are capable of profound change.
  3. there is more going on than our five senses comprehend and NO ONE has the bead on that reality.
  4. love is the best thing.

i am impassioned, completely impatient, angry, deeply spiritual, anxious, driven, depressed, curious, brave, dynamic, compassionate, sarcastic, funny, i have a big laugh and a sharp mind and tongue, i’m self-reliant, smart.

i love to learn. the sound of synapses firing is a total rush to me.

i green eyes and brown hair with red and gold highlights, dyed natural blue black since age 19, now streaked with grey.

i have thought about suicide every day for the last five years.

i inhale books on history, particularly those about powerful women in turbulent times and the relations between church and state. my heras are elizabeth i of england and pharaoh hatshepsut of egypt. i have read extensively on western europe 10,000 BCE-1604, 1890-1945, and early 20th century america.

in this life, i fear only rape and losing my mind, maybe because i’ve experienced both. after my death, i fear only being forgotten.

i get my news from PBS, BBC, CNN, al jazeera, the guardian, wtfjusthappenedtoday, facebook, the daily show, and last week tonight.

i have voted for every political party.

on my birthday i scream along and dance to everclear’s santa monica. it used to be directed at my ex-fiancé but now it’s just fun.

i still cry over princess diana’s death.

independence day is my favorite secular holiday. i read the declaration of independence, the bill of rights, FDR’s Four Freedoms speech, and other civic-minded inspirational works. i love the parade, which is this total cross-section of bloomington and a place to crush small children while fighting over tootsie rolls.

the lotus world music and arts festival is the high point of my year. all that fabulous new music! it lights me on fire. my delight is doubled because my sister and her daughters come down for it and we’ve developed all these traditions to make every moment fun. Goddess, how i love these women. kaia has also been mainstage performers there twice, which is a total honor and high. i am a rock stah!

i walk super fast. even when i was among the milling throngs on campus, no one ever passed me unless they were jogging. likewise, i love to drive fast. when i can get away with it, i drive 100 mph on I65. i rarely even notice speed limits. i drive fast because the longer i drive, the more pain i’m in, i love the feel of speed, and i’m so bloody impatient i hate the downtime between starting point and destination.

my largest audience for singing a cappella solo was over 22,000 people at comiskey park, home of the white sox. i was 17.

i left my parent’s house when i was 18 and never moved back. it pains me to visit that town, where my sisters still live. i hate hate hate it. flat, asphalt everywhere, chain stores, constant driving (in bloomington i walk almost everywhere and drive only two days a week). absolutely nothing to do but go shopping (ugh). all the worst of america. the opposite of my beloved bloomington, the home i moved to in 1986.

bernie sanders is the only politician i’ve ever believed in. i liked paul tsongas for a while until the stupid “pander bear” crap he pulled. i believe in bernie sanders. he fights for what i want.

i am lucy van pelt.

i wrote a book in the ‘90s called of death, the universe, and hanging men: suggestions for change but no one picked it up. then gloria steinem came out with a similar theme that was much better so i gave up. my focus was on change from the personal to the societal. i have long wanted to write history: the interesting bits, a book comparing the relationship between thomas beckett and henry I with thomas more and henry VIII, and another putting the scholarship and theories about richard III side by side so you could come to your own conclusions about whether he was a good guy or bad guy (i lean towards good).

proudest moments of my life:

  • don: in the late 1980s i worked at mcdonald’s as a crew chief. one day i saw a new man in the back, about 65 years old, being “trained” by some young huffy grrrl. she kept yelling and flouncing. i finally swapped places with her and just slooooowed everything down. every single step of the process is carefully thought out at mcdonald’s so it was just a question of helping him learn the individual steps and then seeing the gestalt. he learned right away. and he told me connee boswell was disabled, something i never would’ve known otherwise. it’s one of the few times in my life i can remember being patient and i patently improved his quality of life. i love that i was able to do that.
  • Pagan freedom: i founded the Pagan Educational Network in 1993 to “educate the public about Paganism and build community.” it kicked ass. i worked with national organizations (more on that later) but our members were all grassroots activists with triumphs great and small. i worked with the officials for state prisons to come up with the guide for Pagan religious practices in the system. one july 4th i went down to the post office box and found a letter from the head of a smalltown prison saying, “i wanted to let you know that Prisoner X now has the freedom to worship as he chooses.” one of the proudest moments of my life. religious freedom for my people. and on independence day, at that.
  • pallbearer: at the last minute my mom asked me if i wanted to be a pallbearer for my paternal grandmother. it was incredibly moving to undertake such a sacred task. and there have been so many funerals where i’ve been barred from this because i’m female. it was humbling and loving.
  • person X: i saved the life of someone close to me, someone i love very much. they were at a total low point, ready to kill themselves, and i offered them safe harbor and support until they could get back on their feet. the four most important days of my life.
  • the summit: in march 2001 i hosted the first-ever summit of the leaders of almost all the major national Pagan organizations in the united states. this is a HUGE deal. it had been attempted off and on since the 60s but no one had been successful. isaac bonewits broke the damn with a personal letter to the invitees telling them how he believed in this summit and was making the commitment to come. we were together from friday night to sunday night in a frenzy of activity and communion, focusing not on beliefs but on the structural problems facing our organizations and how to overcome them. it was an incredible success. it spawned regional summits across the country for at least ten years afterwards. i believe it would’ve changed the course of the Pagan movement if three planes filled with 19 hijackers hadn’t changed everyone’s focus to interfaith work in september of that year. it was incredibly significant and i am so proud of it.
  • my first political rebellion: in 1984 famine was sweeping africa and i was swept up by bob geldof. i felt the cause incredibly deeply (as only a teenager can) and proposed that we end our school christmas concert with feed the world. the older, fuddy-duddy choir director forbade it (“we always end with the same song, it’s TRADITION”), while my new fabulous choir director (aided and abetted by the auditorium director) gave it a go. so on the down-low we organized people from both choirs and at the end of the planned program swarmed the stage and sang along with feed the world blaring from the speakers. mr Old was apoplectic but i was on a huge high, victorious with a good cause. i had never rebelled against authority so openly before and am proud of my high school self for doing it. the only downside is we raised a paltry $250 for CARE. fucking highland, indiana. i hate that place.
  • my first priestessing gig: i was asked by a co-worker to priestess a stealth Pagan handfasting/wedding. no one in the couple’s families knew they were Pagan, so they were holding the ceremony in beck chapel on campus and had written the whole ritual themselves with little code words in it so it would just seem like a standard beautiful ceremony. i remember standing on the dais looking down the aisle to the bride as she began her entrance and i was just swept with power and pride that my spiritual ancestors would have been tortured and burned at the stake for daring what i was doing (standing in the place of a man and exercising spiritual power), and Here I Was. such a feeling of history and gratitude that our people had made it. and feeling so blessed that i had the opportunity.

i swear. a lot. and i like it.

this is my life’s purpose: to bring fire.

i used to have a deep, commanding speaking voice. now it’s higher, thinner, and impossible to hear at parties.

i have a green burial plot at white oak cemetery on 7th street with my headstone already made. in nice weather i love to go down there and lie on my grave. i find it so comforting to know that, even after all living memory of me has passed from this earth, there will be this curious gravestone in the “grave garden” (as goddessdaughter #1 calls it) that lasts for hundreds of years. i love lying down and imagining pulling the sod over me like a blanket and going to sleep forever. just lay all the burdens down and REST. return to the Mother in the physical sense. so, so comforting. what is remembered, lives [this phrase originated with my tribesister Angie Buchanan and has traveled far beyond the Pagan movement. thank you, love].

all my nicknames growing up were male (tarzan, rhett, james bond, etc)

i have the perfect house. it looks like a monopoly house only it’s blue-grey. it’s a little grandma and grandpa house with everything comfy, lots of big open spaces in 960 sf, lots and lots of light, incredible hardwood floors, a curve on top of the entry to the hallway, a big kitchen, whole-house sound, a wonderful paint kaleidoscope, and the world’s most kickass couch. everywhere i look in my house i see something Pagan – a figurine, an altar, a poster – everything fills me with connection to Spirit. AND! in addition to all this, i have an aMAZing temple set up in my bedroom with absolutely everything i need for absolutely every type of ritual. i love love luuuurve it!!! my house sets on the best-kept secret in downtown bloomington: The Land. 150’-deep lot with a high white PVC fence around it and all native plants inside — lots of trees and about twelve million virginia sweetspire shrubs because those are my favorites. there’s a big open spot close to the house perfect for a wading pool for the goddessdaughters and a firepit for my sister and nieces, and the back half is dedicated as a nature sanctuary. each tree was dedicated to a particular ancestor and i threw in a dead fish when it was planted in honor of squanto, the native american who helped save the lives of my pilgrim ancestors. my sister says my Land is like a park. it’s very restful. when i have any sort of emotional turmoil (pos, neg, in between), i throw myself down on sweet Mama Earth and she just takes it all away and gives me equilibrium. i love to feel the different trunks and leaves of all the different trees. i have cloth ribbons tied to my big ancestor ash and i leave incense offerings. Gods above and below, i have it good.

i’m self-conscious about eating in front of people i don’t know very well.

i love being a woman. i grew up contemptuous of women because of family dynamics but after reading my mother, my self and taking a women’s studies course i came to fall madly in love with my womanness. i love the community that can quickly be established by women. i love how we support each other. and in some ways, as a female Witch, i enjoy being largely invisible to the dominant culture because it gives me the greatest freedom to be myself. patriarchy sucks for women but at least we privileged ones can carve out little enclaves of cackling sisterhood. men under patriarchy – hoo! i feel sorry for them. so much pressure to conform. only one way to be. your only freedom is the color of your tie. i celebrate Pagan men, who so often examine and reject patriarchy and consciously create safe spaces for women and men alike. but i will always instinctively trust women at first glance over men. maybe if men would stop assaulting me that would change. but for now i am perfectly thrilled with my wimmin tribes.

i am an amateur genealogist and family historian. i can never get enough of learning about my ancestors. in ritual i feel them at my back, supporting me as i lean over some chasm. in therapy they are always present to lend a hand to wounded parts. i love my people.

i am a puppy when it comes to touch. while in reality touch is limited to hello-and-goodbye hugs, i thrive on holding hands, having my back petted, my feet massaged, spooning!, my legs stroked. i love piling up with people i love, putting my head in someone’s lap, holding someone’s feet in mine. i feel more real. more rooted in physical reality. but in consensual reality i live almost entirely in my head, my body too pained to bear.

when i first learned about christopher columbus i was disgusted. we call the indigenous people of this country “indians” because he was an idiot and thought he was in india?!?!? it was infuriating. this was what, fourth grade? and i’ve never gotten over it. i recognize some tribes embrace the term but i am just too angry and frustrated to respect that. what if some white guy stumbled upon me and called me argentinian? ridiculous!

princess leia changed my life. raised catholic, i was no virgin mary, meek and mild. princess leia showed me i could be fully myself and fully female instead of having to choose “whether she’s going to be a boy or a girl.” i wrote about that a little here. as an adult, xena exploded on my consciousness and her whole world is one i draw on frequently in therapy and spirituality. when i need courage i sing her theme song. when i need wisdom i watch “the debt” or “the bitter suite” or any of a number of other episodes. i identify with xena as a flawed fighter seeking to redeem herself and i set at the feet of gabrielle to train myself how to act from compassion. search on “xena” at and you’ll see what i’m going on about.

i adore the olympics. not so much the sports (women’s gymnastics and figure skating are the only things i watch), but the opening and closing ceremonies, the background pieces on the host country’s culture, and seeing excellence. it is such a creative jolt for one thing but it’s also the closest we’ll ever see to “dancin’ in the street” — everyone coming together from around the world to celebrate diversity and unity. love it!

emma thompson is the best actor/actress alive, hands-down. she is absolutely brilliant and chooses great vehicles. you will never convince me otherwise. viva, emma!!!

i take up space. physically, psychically. there is no getting away from me.

i’ve picked up colloquialisms from everywhere i’ve lived. everyone makes fun of me for saying, “aboat” instead of “about” but i picked it up in england and never lost it. likewise “ring me” (“to call” means someone stopped by), come round, postbox, post, whinge, crisps instead of potato chips, icing sugar instead of powdered sugar, brolly instead of umbrella, etc. from southern indiana i have picked up “you all,” the dropping of “to be,” as in “she needs dropped off” rather than “she needs to be dropped off,” pitch-in instead of potluck, and setting instead of sitting. while i’ve lost most of my region rat extremes, i do occasionally cringe at the flat, piercing, obnoxious vowels that come out of my mouth. i can still pronounce like julie andrews when singing broadway songs but sadly lost my much-loved ability to do any accent when i started taking saphris. and half my lexicon comes from the georgia nicolson books by louise rennison. i luuurve them.

i love diversity. i was reading the first chapter of trans bodies, trans selves and got totally stoked at all the different terms that people use to define their sexual orientation and gender identity. what a complex, exciting world! and i love the darkening complexion of america. by 2044 whites will be a minority in the US. i get really excited about living in a truly multiethnic society. just think of how much we will learn! how we will grow as our prejudices get challenged! absolutely thrilling.

this is the post where i named the man who raped me when i was a child.

someone once loved me enough to want to marry me. i blogged about that here.

i could go on (believe me, there are enough people in my self that to describe all my facets would take the rest of my life), but this is already going to be a total bitch to scroll through. so enough. i leave you with a list of some of my most-played music. i am a singer. i am a Witch.

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