Personal Thing

I've been dealing with a lot of pain lately, in my knees, hips and back. The knees are an old pain, one I've become accustomed to since I was a teenager. But the hips and back are new, or at least haven't been bothering me for a long time, and are keeping me from standing up or doing certain kinds of work for more than a few minutes at a time. I finally went to the doctor when simply taking the dog out to do his business was enough to feel some pain. They diagnosed me with arthritis in my lower back and knees, and bursitis in my hips, and told me to get x-rays to confirm. I was pretty freaked out, not so much about the knees as about the back. The knees were basically inevitable. Diagnosing them with arthritis now is just sticking a label on it. And bursitis can be made to go away, eventually. But arthritis in my back could seriously prevent me from doing things I love in the long term. Could stop me from getting a job in the short term, since a lot of jobs I've been applying for are standing-up types of things. So I worried and I fretted and I worked myself up. My doctor's office has this cool new thing where they make your results available online, which I love. I got a notice that I had new test results, and that was my knees, and yeah, arthritis. I got another one, which turned out to be the blood panel they made me do, and everything was fine except my liver enzymes blah blah blah nothing to worry about. (Hey, that means my cholesterol is back down.) So then I was just waiting for the results on my back, which took a day longer than expected to show up. They finally do and I go look, and I read: Interestingly, your back xray shows an extra vertebra in your lumbar region and also some slight scoliosis. This may explain your back pain. I still recommend the treatment plan we discussed. I have an extra vertebra? What? What? That took a while to digest. I was pretty freaked out at first. It's weird to discover that your body has such a serious deviation from the norm. And it's yet another in a long line of random problems that my body develops. Bad knees, migraines, random aches and pains and brain issues and... well. Every time something else comes up, I feel frustrated and put out with my body. I feel like I'm broken, and helpless against it. But I'm getting used to it. Making jokes about having more backbone than most people, and being a mutant. Sannion connected it to my interest in death and dying, referring to it as "the bone-white road". I like that....

Delays and problems

Personal matters have badly delayed… well, everything in my life. Some of it miserable, some of it potentially very good for the future. We’ll see. Anthesteria… did not go as expected. For my first day, I covered my usual altars and set up a new space. I got out the stable from creche set, and set it up as the Boukoleion, the “ox shed”* temple in which the queen of Athens was joined in sacred marriage to Dionysos. Fourteen priestesses presided over this ritual, and only they and the queen knew what mysteries took place within. I took a stone figure of a kneeling woman, which used to be an altar piece, and crowned her queen, and put her in the stable with my Dionysos figure and phallos (a ceramic piece made by the marvelous Sherry Kirk, who did a very small run of them for a very select number of people some years ago), framed it in a grapevine wreath, and covered it, because those are mysteries to which I am not privy. I connect the fourteen priestesses to the nurses of Dionysos, although no source gives that number for them, and I think the fertility aspect is significant, so I thought it was important to commemorate this mystery, even if it could not be enacted. Another thing I find important is the community aspect of the festival, so I planned a few things with friends who, while they do not necessarily worship the same gods I do, are of similar minds. The idea was for my friend Steph to join me for the opening and watering of the wine, to drink and dance and drum in company on the first night. For the second day, the plan was to meet up with Steph, her nine-year-old daughter, and our (very gothy) friend Jilli, for the Aiora, to swing in commemoration and appeasement of Erigone. My drinking that night was supposed to be alone, to stand for the drinking competition where each man (precisely) drank from his own pitcher, instead of a communal one, alone even among his people. The third day, of course, was intended as a day of purification and offering to Hermes. Well, I got the first part done. Steph and I drank and danced and drummed until late in the night. I went to bed as soon as she left, being out of sleeping pills and wanting the wine to help me sleep. Apparently, my prayers that the wine use of the drug might be harmless were not thorough enough. I woke up after four hours with a nasty hangover, which turned into a migraine, and I didn’t sleep again until late afternoon. Perforce, my Aiora plans were cancelled, since I could neither drive nor stand sunlight. Since Steph and I had drunk all the wine (I couldn’t afford much, and had meant to save back a bottle from the first night, but, um, hadn’t), and really I wasn’t in much shape to do more drinking, I didn’t have more than a symbolic sip of port. Still in terrible shape on the third day, and facing the beginning of those personal matters, I managed prayers to Hermes and shooing the keres out of the house, but not even panspermia as offering. To some extent, I feel like I failed in this holiday. I did not do all the things I planned to do, did not keep the full rites, not even those I found most important for myself in my research. But I know that in ancient Athens, while it was a holiday for everyone, levels of participation must have varied. Very few were priests or priestesses and performed full rites. Most people would have attended some but not all of the public ceremonies and celebrations. And while I am a maenad, and dance the ecstatic rites of Bacchus, I am not a temple priestess of Dionysos. It may be that my Anthesteria was appropriate for my role, and for my first experience with this holiday. Next year, I’ll try for something more elaborate, but for this year I have to try to be content with, or at least accepting of, the experience that I had. *There are a number of terms associated with the worship of Dionysos that are related here. The temple, of course, and one of the chief priests of Dionysos was called Boukolos, which is usually translated as oxherd. But in English, an ox is a castrated male beef animal. I somehow doubt that anything that serve Dionysos the Bull is intended to be castrated. Instead, I suspect that the original is a gender-neutral term for beeves, something which English lacks in the singular, other than “beef” or “beef animal,” and that “ox” is used...

36

It's my birthday. I'm 36 today. It has, in many ways, been an extremely rough year. Both of us have been out of work for all of it, and indeed I've been out of work for much longer. Money's pretty desperate. But we got married this year, and that's been so incredible that I can't help but count it a good year anyway. My wife makes me so happy. I have, in general, found my thirties to be a much more enjoyable decade than my twenties. I spent a lot of time suffering from and learning to deal with my mental illness in my twenties. I dropped out of college three times. I did manage to move across the country and to start culinary school (although I graduated after turning 30), but the bulk of the decade was pretty miserable for me. So I'm never sad to be a year older. As hard as things were after the restaurant closed, it did not match the utter despair of my early twenties. I drew a letter for the upcoming year during morning ritual. Pi. "Completing many contests, you will seize the crown." I have a lot of hope for this year....