Meet the Annas – Anais Acantonat

Art by @arcanagoat on Twitter

Anais Acantonat is a level 7 Grave Cleric of Bendis of the Moonbow, a demigoddess of Kitavru, the Goddess of Time, Death, and Dreams.

Anais is a High Elf, and very very tiny – only 4’10” tall, and about 80 lbs. She has chocolate brown hair that is heavily streaked with silver, and bright green eyes. She seems fairly sturdy, for being both tiny and extremely thin.

Her gear is all black and dark-iridescent and navy, and it’s in really good condition. It also was, at one point, expensive. She has pretty navy on black lace details on her heavy skirts and her sleeves, and though she is wearing armor it all has the look of having been purchased or designed for her. Across her chest is a bandolier that holds a series of holstered handbells of various sizes, and she has at least one heavy, midnight colored cloak that easily would cover two or three of her, that she uses to blend into the shadows. Her hands are clean, with short fingernails, but look as though she is familiar with work, despite the fineness of her gear.

She carries an dark metal shield on her back, and a damascus-steel mace at her side, but she doesn’t seem the type who would be much use in combat.

Anais will occasionally blank out of conversations, only to chime back in with something totally out of left field – though usually it’s relevant, so maybe she WAS listening? She also is known to make prophesies, though their accuracy is still to be determined.

Divination is a big part of her character, which she does using either direct contact with the Moon, or through a moon-quartz pendulum. She keeps a journal which is full of notes and doodles (and prophesies), and she regularly writes letters to her aging father, to whom she is deeply devoted.

From a character standpoint I’m trying to shoot the gap between Luna Lovegood, Jester Lavorre, and Caduceus Clay – definitely Pastel Goth. She’s adorable, sweet as pie, and an absolute space cadet. Anais Acantonat means “Little Anna In-Between” in Middle-French, and hopefully she’ll live up to her name.

Dusting Things Off for D&D

Thanks to a bunch of inspiration from my friends who play D&D, I’m going to be doing more posting here about the D&D stuff I’m doing. I’m in three campaigns right now, and all of them are VERY interesting, and very different.

We just started up the Pan Flute campaign again, and I have a new campaign called Gathering Storm that I’m playing with some new friends I met through my WoW Classic guild, so I should have plenty to talk about, especially since Korvosa is still going strong.

There are two new Annas to introduce – Anais and Aine – and I’ll be working on getting them their character pages here. As well, Anais is a journal writer and a letter writer, so I’m hoping to post her in character stuff here as well. It may be photos – since I kind of want it to feel hand-written (and doodled).

So keep an eye on this space, as well as https://panflutecampaign.blogspot.com – where Fuzz is going to be doing IC journal entries for the campaign as well. If there are other blogs that come about, or things to share, I’ll make sure there are links to them!

Seasons and Scarves

Back in February of 2018 I did something that I’d toyed with for a very long time – I started covering my hair. (Note: I typically cover tichel-style, not hijab-style.) I can’t really explain why I did that, or what I was hoping to achieve. Some of it was playing with beauty expectations. Some of it was an acknowledgement of the ritual and spiritual work I was doing. Some of it was because I’d followed Wrapunzel for years and been interested in scarves and covering and just finally got up the guts to try it out.

Altogether, though, it’s been an interesting process and one that I’ve gotten a great deal of satisfaction out of. I’ve flown with my head covered (no shaper), driven across the country, gone to Jury Duty – it’s just been my life.

And then, suddenly, sometime around last fall, I stopped. Part of that was because I was doing yoga, and it’s hard to do yoga with more than a very basic scarf on. Also I was feeling a lot of pressure to “blend in” at my yoga studio (which… is problematic but that’s a story for another day), and that meant looking as much like everyone else as possible – which didn’t include scarves except as loose flowy wraps that accentuated how boho my style was (eyeroll). Anyway, from yoga and then to a couple of trips where I wasn’t feeling up to covering and then I was only wearing scarves when I was getting “dressed up” to go places.

That lasted close to a year, with my scarf wearing dropping to maybe 30% of the time at some points.

And then… all of a sudden, a few weeks ago, I got dressed and put a scarf on again. It felt right to do so – probably again as a symbol of my increasing spiritual and sovereignty work. I’ve always covered sporadically at home, but now I’m back to scarfing-up most days, even getting out some of my bigger shapers for that poofy look that I love so much.

I even ordered a few solid, DYT Type 4 colored scarves, one of which I’m wearing today. Bold hues look great on me, and I’ve settled into a few styles (crown wrap, shira tails, fan wrap) that I think are most flattering.

Will it last forever? Who knows! But right now covering feels better than not covering, and it definitely lets me get away with bad COVID hair, so there’s that too.

Saying Goodbye to a Piano

I’ve played the piano since I was 5, though I haven’t played in the last almost 15 years. For complicated reasons. But this winter I decided to try to play again, and it turns out that the piano I learned on is no longer able to be maintained as a playable instrument. It’s 100 years old, and that’s just longer than a factory made piano is really meant to be in service.

So I made an appointment, set a date to have it hauled away and disposed of, and they’re on their way.

This morning I sat down as best I could, and (quietly) played the bits I could still play of Gerswin’s 3 Preludes for Piano (and cried a little). It wasn’t much, it’s been a long time, but it’s the one piece I used to be able to play that I most miss playing. Listen to it this morning for me? (I mean, if you hate Gershwin, don’t listen of course.)

Farewell, my old friend. Your service has been faithful for almost 100 years. May you always be remembered.

“Just One” Tabbouleh Salad

Note: I make my tabbouleh with quinoa, because I like it better and because it’s gluten free. You can easily use whatever your preferred grain is for this!

Tabbouleh is a staple in my kitchen in the warmer months – made with quinoa, it’s a complete meal, it’s cold and refreshing, full of vegetables, and vegan! (Which is always useful when you have a vegan best friend!) This is not a recipe that I got from anywhere, but one that kind of evolved over time. It’s a pretty lazy recipe too. You need “just one” of everything.

  • One bunch scallions/green onions, finely chopped
  • One pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • One large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
  • One bunch mint, finely chopped
  • One bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • One cup uncooked quinoa, prepared
  • Salt, lemon juice, olive oil to taste

Basically you cook the quinoa and then toss it in the fridge to cool. While it’s cooling, chop up everything else. Dump it all in a big bowl, season, and it’ll keep for several days in the fridge.

I like it best the second day, after the flavors have melded.

The Anxious Scroll

I saw a thing on a Vlogbrothers video recently, where Hank was making his usual Friday video for John and it was 2am and he was doing a lot of what he called “the anxious scroll“. I feel that so hard right now. I’m an anxious bunny on the best of occasions (it’s one of the reasons I identify so much with bunnies – all bunnies are, as prey animals, a little on the hypervigilant side).

But recently I find myself staring aimlessly at the computer, scrolling through but not really actually absorbing anything, simply feeding and amplifying the weird cognitive dissonance that stretches between the fact that my day-to-day life is really largely the same today as it was a month ago, and yet also that there is this unmitigated global emergency going on, and it’s affecting people I know. I have a coworker in the ICU in New York. Hell, the telehealth line says I had the stupid virus myself (and that sucked a lot, even if I did bounce back from it).

This is going to be part of my lexicon from now on, because it really does talk to how I’m feeling and how I’m (badly) coping with everything.

Are you doing the anxious scroll too?

Balance versus Perfection

So I tend to be the kind of person who has two speeds – 0 and 110. There is no in-between, it’s all-or-nothing. This is how I can be a person who so desperately craves order, stability, and tidiness and still have a messy apartment. If I can’t do EVERYTHING, I just don’t do ANYTHING, and then I marathon clean.

Through the years I’ve tried a number of “methods” for dealing with this. Some, like FlyLady, made me absolutely batshit, from the gender essentialism and the Jesus talk to the idea that I should be spending 15 minutes 3-5 times a day cleaning… it wasn’t a good fit. Especially now that I work from home. Some, like The Organized Mum Method (TOMM), were clearly designed for someone who wanted to be cleaning way more than I do, and who was working around little kids as the primary caregiver (though with less gender essentialism, thankfully).

The only one that’s ever really made a dent is UnFuck Your Habitat, by Rachel Hoffman. Hoffman makes no bones that cleaning kind of sucks, but that everyone has to do it. She vehemently speaks out against gender bullshit, actively advocates for those of us with mental health issues, and is generally speaking someone whose advice I have gotten a lot of good from.

The problem? It still relies on my doing a little bit of something every day, and while I’m slowly getting better at that, I’m still not good at it.

Enter my current life situation – I’m moving on May 9. That’s 66 days from today – nine weeks from Saturday. And I’m kind of thoroughly ensconced in this little apartment, and the place I’m moving to is smaller and has less storage, so I’m needing to declutter a lot. I could ignore this until April 15, pack in a whirlwind, stress myself to kingdom come, get it all done in a fit of furious work, and end up being just fine, but the last time I did that, I was getting divorced and it was frankly really traumatic.

So instead I’m trying a different method. I’ve committed to spending at least 20 minutes, six days a week (I get one day off) doing SOMETHING that will make moving easier. Decluttering, boxing things up, moving clothes from my closet into my chest of drawers, taking out trash, taking trips to goodwill, whatever. As long as it is taking steps towards moving, it counts. And so far (I’m a little over a week in) I’m actually sticking to it.

It’s not fun exactly, but it is fun to see my apartment coming together, especially as I clear out layers of clutter that I haven’t really looked at in three years. (Also I’m astonished how much STUFF I still have, for living in a one bedroom apartment.)

So here’s what I did with today’s 20 minutes:

  • went through my earrings and pitched all the ones that I didn’t love (this was most of them, as they’d all gotten very tarnished and most were cheap)
  • packed up all my RPG stuff that isn’t my actively-in-use 5E books
  • discarded some old shoes that I don’t like/don’t wear/etc

It’s not the most organized process, and that’s a bit unlike me (normally in the past I would have spent three hours making a spreadsheet), but I’m slowly making a dent in the “moving sucks” pile, and it’s felt really good. Depression is kicking my ass, but I can still do 20 minutes on a break from my work day – I find if I don’t do things early in the day I run out of spell slots and end up not actually getting anything done.

I’ll check in with more progress as we go, but for now this feels like I’m at least chipping away at something instead of ignoring it until the last minute and then doing it all in one fell swoop (and hating myself the whole time).

The Moody Blues

Note: this is not about the English rock band

So most of you who’ve been around for any length of time know that I have bipolar disorder. I’m not quite true Bipolar I, but it’s more intense than Bipolar II. I’m Bipolar 1.5 (lol).

For the last 10 years I have gotten meds stable, gone to therapy every week, revamped my entire life, and generally spent a lot of time and energy ensuring that I could still do what needed to be done. I live alone; I work a regular 9-5 job; I have pets; I have a 401K. I’m largely a successful adult – and I do a lot of work to maintain that.

Sometimes, though, I get reminded that no matter how much I do all the things, my brain is still going to kick me sometimes, and the brain chiggers (thanks Ursula) are just a thing that happens. These aren’t “weasels” – brain weasels are usually something I identify as part of my brain that is trying to help but that, because it is a weasel, doesn’t have the frontal cortex to do a good job. Depression is not like that.

So this is me saying it out loud – I had four incredibly intense months of over-functioning, finished off by an exceptionally intense weekend, and when that was over I crashed off the side of the cliff.

My (very wonderful) boyfriend tanked a total meltdown last Monday night, and things have kind of lingered around there since then. Stuff I’ve been looking forward to for months just seems like work, or worse. In fact, that’s a good descriptor of how things feel right now.

Everything just feels like work.

Got a birthday package in the mail? Finding the scissors is work. Opening the present is work. Yeah there’s a little dopamine hit when I get to the new thing (in this case, a Patreon present from an artist I support), but now I have to dispose of the box, and that’s just work.

Work is, of course, still work. But even the joyful things are work right now, and my brain is actively sabotaging my attempts to help make things better.

But I know that. Oddly, knowing that this is a bipolar mood episode makes dealing with it easier. It makes my perspective shift from “why is everything in my life suddenly awful?” to “oh, here we go again.” Mindfulness is a hell of a thing, and just being aware of the thoughts and what they are takes away a lot of their power, especially the dangerous, intrusive thoughts. It changes the story from “wow, why does everything suddenly suck?” to “nothing is different, your brain just needs defragmenting.”

My life isn’t miserable, my relationship didn’t suddenly tank, I’m not suddenly surrounded by people who hate me. My brain just took a trip to chigger-town, and it’ll take about a month to get back.

And that, I think, is a pretty amazing thing. Thank you Donna, Christina, Connie, and Russ (my four therapists). It took me a week to put it together, but once I did, I’m living a better life despite being pretty critically depressed. I might not get out of my pyjamas today, but I ate lunch, I made tea, and I’m going to play video games with my boyfriend tonight.

I can do this. It’s only a month. I will be okay.

Morning Pages and Morning Blogs

A Patreon I support has started a new sub-community for artists that involves The Artists Way practice of morning pages. I’m not sure I want to commit to 750 words longhand every day, but I would like to try blogging every day. Most likely it’ll be “some days” because sometimes I post private posts here and don’t care to share them, but otherwise I think it’d be a good exercise for me to get back in the habit of writing and sharing on a regular basis.

Posts will either be on Little Druid on the Prairie (for religion and spirituality) or here (for everything else).

A gripe about recipe commenters

If, by chance, you are perusing a blog that is dedicated to Instant Pot recipes, it is really really pretentiously shitty of you to say something like “I don’t ever intend to buy an Instant Pot. Please convert this recipe for a Slow Cooker.”

DOES GOOGLE NOT WORK FOR YOU?! Do you not know how many slow cooker blogs are out there? I PERSONALLY know of at least four recipes for red beans and rice that you can get for a slow cooker. Google probably can get you seventeen more. This blogger is dedicated to perfecting recipes in an Instant Pot. WHY ARE YOU EVEN ON THIS BLOG.

Ugh.