Letters From The Fishbowl

The life, times, fiction, and mind-lint of V.B. Rising. Enter at your own risk, traveler, for here there be rants and misplaced modifiers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

It's A Girl Thing

My mom keeps telling me it’s no big deal.  I don’t need to get so cranky about it.

“It’s just part of being a woman,” she says.  “We’ve all been there.  Me, your grandma, your aunt, your cousins, and even your sister, although you know how embarrassed she gets about her ‘personal business,’ so she’d never say anything!”

Mom laughs; I don’t join in.

“It’s nothing to be scared of.  Sure, the first time you wake up covered in blood is pretty freaky, but after that it’s just an inconvenience.  You clean up and move on.  And you learn to count the days a little more closely,” she said pointedly, nodding her chin toward the calendar on the wall.

“It’s gross, Mom,” I say.  “I’m not scared.  Jeez.  It’s just gross.

Mom shrugs.

“Nah, it’s just a girl thing.  Just part of the curse,” she teases, drawing out the words like one of those cheeseballs you see on the late-night movie.

She smiles, and leaves my room to go save dinner from Dad.  I scowl at the calendar, where (despite her nagging) I have dutifully marked off the days carefully in red.

“Just part of being a woman,” I remind myself.  “No big deal.”

Of course, that’s all fine and good, until I wake up later that night, soaked.

“Not again,” I groan.

I roll out of the mess in the sheets and head to the bathroom.  I am scrubbing blood off my hands and seething under my breath when my mother walks in.

She is bleary-eyed with sleep, but she raises an eyebrow and says wryly, “I told you to watch the calendar.”

“I did watch it,” I snap.  “You know it doesn’t regulate for the first few years”

She nods; she knows, but she likes to make fun of me.  She leans back to peek into my bedroom.

“All over the bed?” she asks.  “How’d you manage that?”

“No idea,” I say through my gritted teeth.

“Well, I’ll help you clean up.  Get in the shower,” she sighs, and in that moment, I love her.  A little.

I turn on the water, strip, and toss my torn pajamas into the corner.  Since I turned thirteen, it’s the third pair to get turned into dishrags.

All the blood used to scare me, but (and I’ll never admit this to her) Mom’s right.  After the first few times, it’s just a drag.  It’s amazing what you get used to it when you become a woman.

I jump into the steamy shower, the water immediately going bright red like licorice.  I scrape a hank of blood-darkened hair off the back of my air and spit a tooth onto the shower floor.  It’s not mine.

My mom clucks over the remains in the bed; whoever he was, he’s past identification now.

What can I say?  The Curse makes me cranky.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

There are moments
in each of our quiet lives
when we are told
to give it up,
to let it go,
and only a fool will go on.

And we look up from the dirt,
where we landed due to our own clumsiness,
and we acknowledge those truths.

And we stand
and unsheath
and go on
and fight.

These are the beginnings of the stories we tell and then:
She said yes.
He backed down.
I got it.
I won.
And look at us now.

But for every one of those moments,
there are ninety-nine
where we swallow
and ache
and look up
and we say,
"If that's what you want."

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Variations on a Theme - Two Short Poems

The chill of the wind has crept inside
between the seams in these old walls.
The damp is even inside the sheets,
which cling like sodden shrouds,
and my chest has gone crystalline and cold.


I wear a coat that is dirty
and only just too tight.
Sweat gathers under the seams.
I am always too hot
and it weighs me down.
It clings in the wrong places
and I trip and can barely walk.
The sleeves catch my coffee cup,
but no one can see the stains.
The buttons never fit in their beds,
and I am so often confused.
On the days I can peel it off,
its damp has seeped into my skin
and into my hair like stale cigarette smoke
and it leaves little spiders on every dress I own.

Dark Moon

The sky is absent its satellite
and the velvet quiet hangs heavy
over black-cherried grass and trees
and their glowing, animal eyes.
Even the glare of the snow is banked
and the chuckle of the stream at the Crossroads
is jaded, the laugh of the oldest woman at a dying party.
As the hours dim, an electric aura ignites the air,
a slow and lurking burn,
as hot as the scrape of ice when it draws blood
to mark the stones below.

I lower my eyes
and I touch the ground
and my fingertips spark
and my bones root deep
as I breathe in the Night.
There is a touch on my brow,
and my mouth opens, and my womb.
The dark slides in and fills me,
and it expands, that blackest place in my throat and belly,
and it sizzles and spreads in my flesh,
and it awakens what it finds
and coaxes it up to a roar in the blood
that beats its fists
to break free from the surface of my skin.

The world is dark.
And I am dark,
and I quake and hum
as if I am twisting in sheets.
I hear a voice
and a catch of claws
and the rock of an empty cradle.
The air is rent and whipped,
by sword and scale.
I am silk and steel.

I do not open my eyes
where the black within pulses pounding half-light against the lids.
And I am not afraid.
And she has come.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Let Me 'Splain. No, There Is Too Much. Let Me Sum Up.

Let's clear something up here, once and, hopefully, for all.

Faith is involuntary.  Religion is a choice.

That's all there is to it.  You can have one without the other, so it is important to realize that they are not the same.

I bring this up because, although I don't like to go on and on about my religion on this blog*, I am noticing a disturbing trend as far as the general public's spiritual awareness, and if I address it here, then whenever I run into it, I can post a link and not have to repeat myself.  Also, traffic, yay.

As most of you already know, I am a practicing Pagan.  Some people would call me a witch, which I don't mind, and is also technically correct.  Some people would call me a Wiccan, which I also don't mind, although I would correct those people and point out that I don't follow all the tenets of Wicca, so I don't like to use the term.  It's like when people who aren't even remotely interested in following Christ's teachings call themselves Christians.

Following an alternative religion is a choice, but I notice that a lot of people seem to think believing in alternative tenets is also a choice.  I don't think that it is.

To be more specific, I present to you a typical conversation.

Person Whose Business It Is Decidely Not:  So, you're like a witch?  What does that mean?

Me:  Well, basically, it means I believe in the duality of nature and god.  Everything has a light and dark side, a male and female side, etc.  Also, I believe everything in the world is connected to everything else, and that what you send out along that web is what you're going to get back.

Person Whose Business It Is Decidely Not:  Huh.  And when did you decide all that?

Listen.  I didn't decide that these things were true.  It's not like I made a chart and weighed out whether it would be best to believe in the Christian God versus the God/dess form.  It's not like I thought, "You know what would be neat?  Karma.  Karma would be neat, I should make sure I believe in that."  I believe in a light and dark side to all things, because that's what I see, that's what makes sense to me, that's how I have always observed the world to work, and that's the only way to view the situation that sits properly in my mind.  I believe in the web and the Wheel of the Year because I see them represented in every aspect of my life.  I observe the world's cyclic nature, and because it has never once wavered, I believe in it like I believe in water.  It just is.

This is not to say that my beliefs are right, and yours are wrong.  If you believe in a single god, awesome.  I would never ask you to try not to.  I would never ask you what made you believe in the Christian god, because if you were any kind of Christian, you just would.  You would believe because you feel that benevolent or righteous presence in your life.  You wouldn't choose it consciously.  You would close your eyes, fold your hands, and reach out to whatever form of deity feels natural and right to you.  Just like I do.

I choose to be a witch because I cannot choose what I believe.

I believe what I believe.  Trying not to believe something you know in your heart and soul is true, in something you feel right down to your very bones, is like trying not to breath.  Or trying to convince yourself the sky is orange.  I believe what I believe because I can't not.  I have always held these beliefs; I just didn't know there was a name for them until I discovered witchcraft.

Believing in something doesn't necessarily mean you have to make it your religion.  Religion is a choice where belief is an instinct.  Because my beliefs line up with witchcraft, I have made the choice to pursue it.  If I packed up my candles, sold my stones, donated my books, and stopped marking the lunar highlights on the calendar, I might not be a practicing witch any longer.  But I would still be what I am, by nature of what I believe.

I'm not a witch because I think it's trendy or because I'm desperate to belong to something or because I look good in black.**  I'm a witch (whether or not I practice a religion) because when I was a kid, I used to talk to the wind in the trees.  Because I love the feel of wind in my hair, sun on my skin, grass under my bare feet, riding ocean waves.  Because I think anything we owe to ourselves, we owe to others.  Because I think everything looks better by moonlight.

I choose my path based on my beliefs, and I can't turn those on and off like I'm throwing a lightswitch rave.

Long story short, I'm a witch because I'm a witch, and y'all can either get with that program, or get the fuck out.

*Note to all bloggers: nobody gives a shit.
**Although I do.  Hot damn.

Broken Bird at a Party

"Don’t touch it," they warned.  "Touch it and it’s yours."
But I took it up in a cocktail napkin,
the soft little ball of bone and feather,
rolled it this way and that,
two storeys down from its mother.
It had landed with a thump we would never have heard
if we had not also seen it fall and land,
with so little ceremony,
on the newly-sealed drive.
"She won’t take it back now," they warned,
but anyone could see there was nothing left to take.
It made no move, no sounds.
It breathed and barely kicked.
Its feathers had not yet grown
over its round babybelly and broken wings.
"Someone should…" and we looked among us for the one who would.
It was my father’s drive, the nest in his eaves,
but I could see in his eyes he would end it soon,
just barely too soon.
Maybe before I had lifted the weak weight into my hands,
I would have let him take it, toss it, walk away before it breathed its last.
But I had touched it, and now it was mine.
It could not be taken back.
I had it now, and I said to my father's relief,
"I’ll take care of it."
An acre back and a million miles from where it had already been forgotten,
I knelt in my sundress behind a budding May bush.
"I’m sorry, little bird."
And I closed my eyes and placed my hands and I knew
I must be quick to be kind.
"Born of earth, and to the earth returned.  Goddess guide him home."
He was young and elastic and I was well-intentioned but trembling, and when his neck did not snap (like they do so easily in stories), his outsized beak opened wider than I’d ever imagined it could, and he cried…  In terror and pain and, I despaired, for his mother and I hope and prayed she could not hear.
It was an endless, plaintive cheep.
You would not have heard it from even the other side of our bush,
our bier,
but it came from the open V of his beak like cries from any nursery.
I used the heel of my boot.
All I wanted to do was walk away, but I could not,
not till it was still.
And later, when I sobbed with guilt and uncertainty and sorrow,
I wanted to forget.
But I could not, will not.
It cannot be taken back.
Because I had touched it, and it was mine.

Everything You Need To Know About My Mother

My mother's feet
like cinderblocks
to support her children's beds at schools far from home,
hard as rocks
tossed at cheating boyfriends,
carried her tiny frame
through it all.
From spring to snowfall,
no shoes,
no socks,
no softness in those feet,
sandpaper heels to smooth the way for pedicured daughters.
My mother's feet,
of which I am obscenely proud,
of which I begin conversations with politely-smiling friends
who cannot know by my rum-soaked telling of it
what they walked her through
and over.
Gravel prickers blacktop a thousand degrees in the high of July,
sawdust and woodchips
hot coals
Over and over and across,
they carried her.
She carries us.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Nanny Ogg to My Granny Weatherwax*

So, sometimes shitty circumstances happen to people we love.  And in those instances, I find it very helpful** to make silly demotivational posters to make those people laugh.  Thus, a cranky beagle puppy.

Also, I would take this opportunity to remind certain people to think "WWCD?"  Also, fuck everything, you shall be a rock star!

*No one can out-reference me.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Maximum Wrongosity. Also, SCIENCE!

The hardest thing in the universe is not death, disease, discomfort, love, calculus, sitting through The Wicker Man remake, not laughing onstage, or Captain Hammer's hammer.*

The hardest thing in the world is admitting you're wrong.

Admitting you're wrong is not just hard; it's damn near biologically impossible.  The human brain is hardwired to be an egotistical bastard.**  We are literally programmed to think that we are right, God damn it, and any attempt to convince us otherwise just makes us dig in our heels a little further.

Because I don't believe in half-assing things***, I present to you some SCIENCE! proof, and then submit some anecdotal evidence.

SCIENCE!  Proof of Genetic Douchebaggery

5 Logical Fallacies That Make You Wrong More Than You Think -

Now, before you bitch and moan about how is not exactly the Scientific American, allow me to acknowledge that I already fucking know that.  What I am suggesting you do is read this article, as I did, and then follow the clicky-links embedded within it to find SCIENCE!  Why did I not just provide direct links to the SCIENCE!?  Because, if you're anything like me, and nothing like my boyfriend, you prefer your SCIENCE! in pre-translated, easily-digestible little nuggets.  Also, this was way easier.

Anyshit, as you will see by reading this article and any of the other "OMG Your Brian, It Is So Dumb" articles you can find on, your brain has any number of douchebag tricks it can play on you to make you into an idiot (although, luckily, you'll be blissfully unaware of your own idiocy most of the time, so go you!).  But for my money, being dead wrong, yet convinced that I'm right (a situation I shall henceforth refer to as Maximum Wrongosity), is the most heinous of crimes.

There are tons of examples of Maximum Wrongosity in the world, and since everyone has had the frustrating experience of trying to reason with a Wronggity Wrong Wronghead, I don't think I need to list them all here.  But I promised you anecdotal evidence, and ancedotal evidence you shall have!

Yesterday, I got in a fight with my boyfriend.  Long story short, I woke up with one version of the upcoming day in my head, he had another, and when we tried to reconcile those two expectations, one of us threw a little baby fit, and I think we all know it was this bitch.  Instead of saying to Robert, "I took the day off so we could hang, let's not clean.  Let's do something else," I decided that he didn't want to spend time with me, that he should have cleaned the house himself if he wanted it clean so badly, and that he had absolutely NO RIGHT to ask me to do anthing that even slightly displeased me.

But I couldn't say that.  Rob wanted to do the responsible thing that we both knew had to be done, and I couldn't say no because I didn't want to seem like a brat.

But the problem was that, because I was resentful of not getting to do what I wanted that day (read: nothing), I was cranky.  And being cranky, I went about the day Robert had planned for us, and every single thing that didn't immediately bend to my will made me more and more irritable until finally I found myself collapsing into a crying fit because I just couldn't take this shit anymore and FUCK ROB for ruining my whole life forever.****

So Robert found me thus, and we argued some and yelled some, and finally, he said, "I'm sorry, but I really don't understand what you're so upset about.  Tell me and we can fix it."

At which point, I (the victim here, remember?) took a deep, shaking, martyred breath, and opened my mouth to tell him why he was so fucking wrong that it hurt to look at him, such was the corona of shining wrongness about him, and immediately realized I had no idea why I was so upset.  Quickly, panicking, I mentally ran through all of the reasons I was mad, only to find that it was a short fucking list and that Rob was to blame for none of the items.  I didn't have a reason to be upset; I had gotten myself worked up into this state.

Now the real irony here is that I didn't beg off of cleaning because I didn't want to look like a brat.  So instead, I slammed every door I encountered, yelled at the cats, was verbally and physically abusive the toilet as I cleaned it, and ended up sobbing and yelling and generally being a dick.  Yeah.  Way to avoid bratty behavior, V.  Super kudos.

So there I was, trying desperately to think of a reason I was right, and not finding one.  I couldn't even find a barely-plausible bullshit reason I was right, some little seed of rightness I could grow into a twisted little rightberry bush.  I mean, I had nothing, and now I knew it.

I'm proud to say that, faced with my own Maximum Wrongosity, I was able to take another deep breath and apologize, and admit to Robert that I was, at this point, just mad for the sake of being mad.  But believe me, it was HARD.  And this is coming from someone who has been actively working for years at gracefully admitting her own wrongness when the situation arises.  It's one thing to tell your coworker, "Oh yeah, that's my mistake, sorry," and quite another to have to look your boyfriend in that face and say, "That highly-charge emotional trainwreck we're debating?  About that.  I was wrong, wrong, so very wrong."

But I did it.  Every word more difficult to spit out than the one before, I did it.  It sucked.  It felt like throwing up.

And here's the real kick in the ass.  The reason it was so hard was thus: even though I knew I was wrong in every way, even though I knew I had behaved horribly, even though I knew that to not own up and apologize would make me one of those people I loathe with the entirety of my being, my brain was still screaming, "YOU'RE RIGHT!!!  YOU'RE RIGHT!!!  FUCK HIM!!!  YELL SOME MORE ABOUT SOMETHING UNRELATED AND MAYBE HE'LL SAY HE WAS WRONG!!!  DON'T YOU DARE APOLOGIZE, YOU LITTLE PANSY!!!  YOU'RE RIGHT!!!  YOU'RE RIGHT!!!    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"

See?  Bastard.

Robert was very understanding, by the way.  He gave me time to cool off, told me that bathroom looked great, and then we took the rest of the day off to have lunch together and go shopping.  During which, I was glowing with the sense of accomplishment one only gets from outwitting one's own biology and separating oneself from the animals.  Fuck you, brain full of wrong, I am better than my nature!

To recap: being absolutely 100% certain of your own unimpeachable rightness only to find out you're actually just an asshat sucks.  Admitting it is worse, like trying to pull your own teeth.  But you should try to do it anyway, because that's part of what being a worthwhile person is all about, Charlie Brown.

So, if you ever find yourself having a heated debate, and you get that stomach-dropping feeling of not having a logical leg upon which to stand your argument, do try and at least consider that you might not be as right as you thought.  Granted, the other person might just be a goddamn moron.  There's every possibility in the world that they are.

Or you might just be another tragic victim of Maximum Wrongosity.


*The hammer is his penis.
**A bastard-coated bastard with bastard filling.  Shit, I am totally out-referencing myself today.
****Don't judge me, bitches, we've all done it.
*****There's- something- on the wing!

Friday, August 3, 2012

This Post Exists For One Reason

This post exists solely so that I would have an image link to post on my sister's boyfriend's Facebook page.*

*Hi, Dave.  Be good, or next time, I'll drop you off a higher building.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Here's a poem I wrote in high school.*  It was originally published in the very short-lived school literary magazine.  I'm posting it here because I think it's cute, and I remember glowing when a really intimidating upperclasswoman told me her English class had discussed it and they'd all really liked it.**


This little poem is not my best,
a little weaker than the rest,
a little less important,
and a little waste of air.
A little something thrown together,
there's little wisdom here to share.

But with a little bit of heart,
this verse could play its little part.
A little touch of magic
and a little slice of thought
could make this poem something big...
even though it's not.

*Surprisingly not emo.
**If you think publishing a cute poem well-loved by upperclassmen-and-women is enough to make the rest of the school forget that you think "Pirate" is an acceptable fashion statement, hey, I've got some bad news for you...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Descriptive As Hell

The other day at the ice cream parlor, Robert told me he read an article about the 60th anniversary of The Catcher in the Rye.*  We both took a moment to appreciate what English 10 did for us back in the day, and then he got to the point by saying the following.

"If your blog was about fifty years older, it would sound exactly like The Catcher in the Rye.  You know, how it starts, 'You'll probably want to hear all about my lousy childhood, but that's boring.'  That's so you."**

Now, I don't flatter myself to say that I'm the next J.D. Salinger, although I will readily admit to being nearly cynical and oddball enough to be the next Holden Caulfied.  Still, it was the kind of comparison that made me glow a little bit.

In short, my boyfriend is better than yours.  Eat it, you lousy phonies.***

*Apparently, it was last year.  So either he waited a long time to tell me this story, or he only recently came across the article.  Citation, I'm ashamed to say, is needed.

**The actual opening paragraph is, "If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them. They're quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father. They're nice and all, I'm not saying that-but they're also touchy as hell. Besides, I'm not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or anything. I'll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy. I mean that's all I told D.B. about, and he's my brother and all. He's in Hollywood. That isn't too far from this crumby place, and he comes over and visits me practically every week end. He's going to drive me home when I go home next month maybe. He just got a Jaguar. One of those lithe English jobs that can do around two hundred miles an hour. It cost him damn near four thousand bucks. He's got a lot of dough, now. He didn't use to. He used to be just a regular writer, when he was home. He wrote this terrific book of short stories, The Secret Goldfish, in case you never heard of him. The best one in it was "The Secret Goldfish." It was about this little kid that wouldn't let anybody look at his goldfish because he'd bought it with his own money. It killed me. Now he's out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute. If there's one thing I hate, it's the movies. Don't even mention them to me."  I think we captured the essence of it pretty well for two idiots talking literature with mouths full of Artic Swirl.

***Incidentally, if you haven't read, The Catcher in the Rye, I hate you.  Read it.  Now.  Amazon that shit and devour it like an angsty tenth-grader.  It will do you good.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Corrections and Super-Secret Stuff!

So apparently, I need to hire a fact-checker, since my last post was rife with mistakes!  As my sister pointed out, one fills in a W4 when one becomes gainfully employed, not a W2.  Obviously, she is the "numbers genius" sibling, whereas I am the "call Mom crying, 'What do I do with this again?  God damn it, I'm an English Major, not a doctor!' " sibling.  Thanks, Shay Shay!

Also, my boyfriend wanted me to clear up that he never made Eagle Scout.  You probably didn't know that the Boy Scouts of America have some pretty strict rules about your idiot girlfriend misrepresenting your rank on the Internet, and I didn't want him to be threatened with disciplinary action.*  Robert did Scout for many years, though, and he told me his official rank, but I've forgotten it.

Finally, a note.  I have been going through my Google Documents and posting some older posts from previous websites to this blog.**  You would not have noticed this, because I have been backdating the entries so a bunch of old re-runs didn't clutter up the homepage.  The only way you really would have been able to tell was by looking at the tag cloud and noticing that it has expanded somewhat.  Maybe someday I will collect all the links so you can peruse older entries with ease, but for right now, I'm just too goddamn lazy.  Go tag-surfing, if you're interested.  Live a little.

*Seriously.  They have their own SWAT team.  It is serious business.
**God, I hate the word blog.  Can we replace it with something that doesn't sound like a misshapen, sea-dwelling slug?