Writer. Editor. Leximaven. Game Girl. Vorpal Blonde. Midas's Touch. Schrödinger's Brat.

all my life I was a bride married to amazement

posted on: August 23, 2014
in: Blog

Sometimes you stand looking forward and step back and back and back. You think there’s nothing good behind you, just an expanse of future failures, missteps, tumbles, the hole that you accidentally dug for yourself ten years ago, the broken ankle, the quicksand, the cold shadow of that lie you told, an old disease come back to ache your bones, a swarm of wasps buried in the ground.

But then you step back once more and your hand touches silk, brushed cotton, a sheet on a line that smells of the ones you love. A dog’s tongue along your wrist. A tiny flower that releases a drunk, vanilla-scented honey bee. A laugh over something funny that you haven’t heard yet. The unexpected kindness of those who flit about your life, sweet moths. The good things you did last week, last month, last year, that come back to you, filled with light.

This year has been like that. So much dark and you step backward through it, falling, falling, having fallen, and feel stunned when you look up to find the promise of stars to guide your way.

The last time I blogged here, my grandmother had just passed away. I was heartbroken, away from my family, and to top it off, buried in the middle of what might have been the worst work experience I’ve ever had. Someone that we trusted completely dropped the ball on us. The action wasn’t malicious, but the result was the same: in the middle of grieving, I suddenly had to start working 16- and 18-hour days seven days a week to do a job that we had already paid someone else for (on top of my own work, which already exceeded a full-time job). That went on for weeks, and the repercussions of it all lasted for months, and affected our entire team.  I didn’t go home to be with my own family during my grandmother’s death. I had to cancel a trip to see my partner’s family. I worked through sickness brought on by the stress of everything. Everyone else took on more work, because I couldn’t do it all. I was turning into a horrible person from lack of sleep, no exercise, and too much stress. The low point for me was sitting alone in the house, so sick I could barely sit upright, while my partner was away visiting his family, and I realized I’d done nothing but work and sleep since he’d left three days before — and that I had another three or four days left of the same. 

It was a dark, dark time. I felt like the stars were just being snuffed out around me, one by one.

~

Why am I telling this story? Why do any of us tell stories of our darkness?

I don’t think it’s for sympathy. Or to show how brave we are. Or even to have other people respond with nice words and kind thoughts. I think we tell stories of the dark because it shows that none of us are alone. That we have all wandered in the shadow, and that sometimes we are wandering there side-by-side, and we don’t know it because we can’t see each other or reach out or even call out for help. 

The shadow didn’t lift for a long, long time. I can’t remember when it started going away, but I know that family, friends, and loved ones helped, that getting the work done helped, that finding a way to grieve for my grandmother and connect with my family helped. I tried to remember what I loved — great books, music, writing, movies, exercise, cooking, playing games — and I brought them back into my life. Even if sometimes I didn’t want to, I faked it. I faked loving those things until I could actually love them again. I remembered who I was. I apologized for who I’d been. I started to look forward again, and to walk more confidently in the world.

That seems so long ago, but really it isn’t. The light has been so bright since then, and I am so grateful every day for that. Here are the stars that are currently shining away my dark:

We adopted a dog from the Everett Animal Shelter. Her name is Ampersand (we call her Amp for short). She’s 2+ and a lab-something mix. She’s wonderful and there are few things as star-shining as belly rubs and face licks.

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photo 4

My baby sister (she’s 15 years younger than me and is awesome) got married and I got to be her maid of honor. She and my dad and I cried a lot, but always in a good way. Also, yes, that’s my dad in a pimp hat hanging with his two daughters. He’s a very good sport.

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We went to Gen Con, and Numenera — the game of our hearts — received a number of ENnie awards, including Product of the Year. I can’t even begin to say how much it means to me that the gaming community gave us their support in this way. It’s such an incredible honor. We also came out with our new game, The Strange, and so far, it has been very well received.

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~

It is light now, but I know that it will be dark again, and I know that I can live with that and through that. Despite it all, I don’t want my life to be only light. The darkness molds my bones into steel weapons with its cold hands. Dark squeezes the muscle of my heart until its beat is fierce enough to thrive anywhere. The shadow I’m walking through is my own, and it means somewhere there is light enough to cast it.

I want what Mary Oliver wants in her poem, “When Death Comes”:

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

~

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

PPS — Did you know that the average color of the universe is called Cosmic Latte?

 

There’s no getting out alive, but you hope to avoid a deadline

posted on: March 14, 2014
in: 42., Blog

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A few years back, I read Haruki Murakami’s book, “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.”

“I run,” he writes, “to seek a void.”

I wanted to seek a void too. But I had a complicated relationship with running. I used to be a runner. And I used to hate it. I was a smoker then, a wheezer, even though I looked like I was in perfect health and I hid my smoking habit from everyone who might think it was shameful. I did a couple of half-marathons, even a couple of full marathons. And I never, ever got my promised high. Agony and agony and agony. And yet, I thought it was something that needed to be mine. My dad does triathlons (and he’s spectacularly fast — or he was, until he had to get knee surgery). My sister and her fiance are runners (I don’t know if she’s fast, but I know that she is driven, and thus she is as fast as she can be, mostly due to ferocity of will).

I no longer smoke. It’s been years and years. And I no longer run.

I write. I have learned that the void is the period at the end of each sentence. The void is the thing that characters don’t say to each other but that the reader feels in their spine. The void is the place where you close a book and you forget, for just a moment, that you aren’t there, in that life, with those people anymore.

My grandmother passed away this week, and I am seeking a void. Is it possible to seek a void with someone else in it? If so, that’s what I am doing. I want to seek that place where she bought me choose-your-own-adventure books every Christmas. The place where she tried to teach me how to play the organ–and then taught me how to plug in headphones so only I could hear the caterwaul that came from my determined and supremely untalented fingers. How she always wore blue jeans in the winter and had her colors done regularly so she could choose clothes that were good for her skin.  How last time I saw her she teased me, with a kind of delight, “So I should look for your books in the sexy section of Amazon?” The place where she always put her cool, dry hands on the sides of my face when she looked at me, and then leaned in and kissed both my cheeks with a love so clear and true that you felt it in the very softness of your heart. She was 85, and glorious.

I write. And discover that the void is the period at the end of these sentences. That the void is the things you didn’t say to each other but felt in your spine. That the void is the moment where you close a book and remember, just for a moment, that she isn’t there, in this life, with you anymore.

It is agony and agony and agony. And worth every word.

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

**Title line courtesy of Galveston, a novel by Nic Pizzolatto (he of True Detective). You should be reading this book. I promise.

 

Yesterday’s Words: 5,000

 

 

Miles Walked This Year:

 

Words Written This Year:

 

My 42 Writing Projects This Year: 

7. Numenera Short Stories (gaming/fiction) 1,000/12,000


6. Sir Arthour’s Guide (gaming)


5. The Ninth World Guidebook (gaming)


4. Numenera CO (gaming)


3. Izaltu’s Needle (gaming) 3,500/8,000


2. Love and Sex in the Ninth World (gaming)

1. Kinky Rewrite (non-fiction book) 50,000/60,000

 

Mothership

posted on: March 8, 2014
in: Blog

(An old poem of mine, a little something for International Women’s Day. May we all deflect our bullets).

 

Mothership
Shanna Germain

When observed from across the kitchen,
her bracelets are unending coils of red and blue

curved around wrists of steel, gauntlets that
deflect bullets, laser beams, showers of crushed cubes.

Look closer: it’s just a mother
keeping madness at bay with

paper cups, the bottoms cut out.
Instead of ice, she chews the edges of

her veins. The cold bothers her teeth,
makes it hard to hear the rabbit in the window.

Once, she opened a man’s heart.
Once, she stopped the moon from breaking.

Her apron strings unravel, cascading toward earth
in a coiled arc. If she knots them again and again,

she can turn back time. Before my birth, her tongue
tasted a dozen languages. Now when she crosses her wrists

in front of her, even her daughter cannot get through.
I am a weapon of her own making, gravitational

planet crashing every moment.
Wait. 

She will reach up to find the coarse salt,
expose the soft underbelly, the Amazon heart.

Once, she saved the planet.
Once, she took off her bracelets.
Once, she saved her fury

for a better place.  The earth moves.
Light speeds  
through glass, freezing us

in this island of kitchen. Her truth
rubs our hearts raw with its constant shift.  

~

My Butt Hurts

posted on: February 26, 2014
in: 42., Blog

That is to say: I’ve sat on my keister and written for about sixteen hours straight the last two days.

Despite how it may seem, this, as Martha says, is a good thing.

Words, baby, words.

Kiss kiss bang bang, s.

 

Words for the Past Two Days:

6,000 gaming

 

Miles Walked This Year:

 

Words Written This Year:

 

My 42 Writing Projects This Year: 

7. Numenera Short Stories (gaming/fiction) 1,000/12,000


6. Sir Arthour’s Guide (gaming)


5. The Ninth World Guidebook (gaming)


4. Numenera CO (gaming)


3. Izaltu’s Needle (gaming) 3,500/8,000


2. Love and Sex in the Ninth World (gaming)

1. Kinky Rewrite (non-fiction book) 50,000/60,000

 

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