mdlbear: (rose)

I'm not sure whether to lead with the back-story, or the song. I think the song. One of the songs. For some of the back-stories.

Today's song is Janis Ian's "Welcome to Acousticville" (Lyrics). It's on her album, Hunger. Go and listen. I'll wait.

Back-story - the song

I first heard "Welcome to Acousticville" the one time I heard Janis perform live, at a little Mexican restaurant called Don Quixote in Felton, CA. (You might want to look at my post, though it doesn't say very much.) "Welcome to Acousticville" was one of my two favorite songs from that concert; the other was "The Last Train" (lyrics. I've sung that one quite a few times, though not recently. Never had the guts to try "Welcome to Acousticville".

Janis Ian is a science fiction fan; I find it interesting but not surprising that my two favorite songs of hers are fantasy; neither would be out of place at a filksing.

Back-story - the title

This post grew out of comments by me and [personal profile] technoshaman on bairnsidhe's poem, "No Simple Highway". I've already posted a Songs for Saturday about "Ripple"; what brought this one on was the later discussion of my purple rose icon (which you can see on this post) in connection with psychopompery. (I know it isn't officially a word, but it's what psychopomps do, and I'm not the first one to use it.)

Back-story - the icon

The rose icon started out as a gif that somebody posted on Usenet; I took out the background and adjusted the color balance until it looked right. I created it in 1990, in honor of my daughter Amethyst Rose. I first used it as an icon on LJ in 2003; it appears to have been the second icon I uploaded, after the fractal that I still use as a default.

Since then, I've been using it as my standard icon not only for the Amethyst Rose posts, but for most posts and comments about grieving. Most people use a candle.

mdlbear: (rose)

This would have been Ame's 27th birthday.

I'm mostly over the grieving now, more than a quarter-century after our middle daughter was stillborn. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that our other daughters have both moved out, so that we see them only every month or two. In a sense, Ame's a little closer than that now. It's ok.

I'm okay. It's actually been three years since I last posted, and that was a short one, a couple of days late. We don't have much to talk about these days.

Good night, Ame. I love you.

Good night, Daddy. I love you too.

mdlbear: (rose)

A little different this time. This week I'm thankful for

  • Time
  • Healing
  • and Amethyst Rose

Our daughter Ame would have been 24 years old on Monday. I'm thankful that the pain has faded to the point that it was pretty much a day like any other. Though she did have to reassure me a couple of times.

Ame: 21.

2011-08-04 09:57 pm
mdlbear: (rose)

A man walks into a bar; a bearded, bespectacled geek in his mid-60s; and puts a pair of dollar coins on the bar. This being Callahan's, he is shadowed by a blueish aura, a fractal that looks vaguely like an alien bear with a heart-shaped head and branching antennae. It suits him.

"The usual Genever for me, Mike, and..." he glances at the young woman beside him, her arm around his waist. "Cranberry martini for you, I think?" She nods shyly. "A little light on the gin".

She is an inch or so taller, but clearly his daughter, with dark, slightly wavy hair like his must have been forty years ago, the same nose and face... She has her mother's eyes, though: grey like the sky just before sunrise, with golden highlights. Her skin, also, is like her mother's, pale with a sprinkle of freckles. Very pale.

"I don't have to ask, do I?" the bartender says gently. "And I'm pretty sure they don't have ID where you come from. But I know you turned 21 today -- your drinks are on the house." The man smiles and leaves the coin on the bar -- he knows he'll be wanting another drink tonight.

She is slightly transparent, and vanishes like the Bear's aura when they pass briefly under the light that shows only reality. He deftly takes her glass and hands it back on the other side. They sit for a while, sip their drinks, and chat; more like old friends with years of catching up to do than a father and daughter.

Finally she nods, and they walk over to the chalk line in front of the fireplace, where they stand with her left hand on his shoulder, his arm around her waist.

"Friends," the Bear says, "Allow me to introduce my daughter, Amethyst Rose. She was stillborn twenty-one years ago today, and we've only recently started to get re-acquainted. She prefers to be called Ame now."

He looks at her with what he hopes is an encouraging smile. She laughs lightly. "Silly Daddy. I don't know how often I'll get here; it's a long trip. But I'm glad I'm here."

They raise their mostly-empty glasses. "To coming out!" she says, and looks sternly at him. "Don't say it!"

"To Ame!" They throw their glasses into the fireplace, where they crash and mingle their shards in a cascade of blue flame.

They hug tightly, until she finally lets go and says, "I guess I'd better be going."

"Keep in touch?"

"Of course, silly! You know how to reach me." She turns and walks toward an X-window on the wall.

It shows a twilit clearing among tall trees made of stone; a single rosebush with jade leaves, obsidian thorns, and a single purple blossom stands near the far left edge. She walks through it and the surface ripples like water. The blossom opens as she walks past it into the darkness.

The man stares after her for a moment, blinks, and goes back to the bar. "I think I could use that second drink now," he says.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

Another productive day at work, and I picked up tweezers and oral anaesthetic on the way home, and got the glass sliver out of my foot. Nasty thing: a little round, flat flake with a sharp edge. And I had a good, long conversation with Moira, and of course Prop 8 was ruled unconstitutional. Good day, on the whole.

On the other hand, it was August 4th. So...

Some good links; my favorite was For Better or For Worse on "the only way to fight". Oh HELL yes!

mdlbear: (rose)

It says something, I suppose, that for the second year in a row I've let August 4th slip by almost unnoticed. If Moira hadn't mentioned something last night, I probably would have.

Our stillborn middle daughter, Amethyst Rose, would have turned 20 yesterday. You'll find the full collection of annual posts here.

To answer your questions: Yes, I'm really OK. No, I don't mind talking about her. I don't think a child I loved should ever be forgotten, even if I never got to touch her. My next CD will be called Amethyst Rose, and I hope to get back to putting down scratch tracks this weekend.

Thanks for listening.

mdlbear: (rose)
TOAST: Amethyst Rose: 18 )

I'll be OK. I am OK. Going to go snuggle my Cat now. Thanks for listening.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

When I was about four years old I choked on a banana. I still can't eat them. I like them cooked, but the taste and texture of a raw banana is simply intolerable.

My freshman year in college I made a real effort to get dates; cold-calling several girls every week. I got shot down consistently, of course, and the calls got harder and harder. Finally, forty years or so later, I am sometimes able to make a non-emergency phone call to somebody I know well, if I have reason to think I won't be intruding. The only other time I was able to do that was the year my father was dying of cancer. That didn't get a whole lot easier, either.

It's not only negative experiences that leave a permanent mark, of course. I still remember every detail of the night I lost my virginity. So do most people, I imagine. If there had been music playing, it would probably be my favorite song.

The association doesn't have to be negative, either, even if the experience is painful. I still love genmaicha, the Japanese green tea with toasted rice, in large part because it was what E served the night she dumped me. It's the level of emotion that casts the association into stone.

It doesn't happen at a rational level, of course, and it can happen very quickly. I didn't decide never to have bananas again; I didn't have to. The association just happened, before I had time to think about it. The habits you form in a moment can take a lifetime to break. It can take decades before you even track them down to their source, let alone start to work on them. Often it's not worthwhile.

I'm still working on telephones, though I'll probably never be particularly comfortable with them. I don't think I'll ever like bananas.

mdlbear: (rose)

It was a rather subdued Father's Day yesterday, as they often are these days. Partly missing Dad, of course, and partly the fact that, coming back from my walk by a different route, I passed by the little roadside memorial to a 12-year-old girl who was killed last Thursday by a careless driver, riding her bike to school. *Shudder*

We used to go out and do something with the kids; now that they're older, probably the best gift they can give me is to get out of the house and give me a lazy, contented afternoon with their Mom. We went out for a drive.

Saw the kids briefly as they were coming back from one activity (which included Burger King, so we didn't have to feed them); hung out in the living room with our lappies and ate leftovers from Saturday's party for dinner. Took the kids to their regularly-scheduled Sunday gaming session, about 6:20.

Then went to bed with the Cat. While the mice are away...

Late dinner consisted of BOAs -- bacon, onion, and avocado sandwitches. Yum. Worked on -- and discussed with the Cat -- the drafts for a couple of upcoming River posts.


Did a little work on "Waltz" -- not my best work, I'm afraid, and I'm still not happy with the middle verse, which needs to be split up and expanded. But it'll get there, even if "there" turns out to be well-deserved obscurity somewhere in my filkbook.

The real high point of the day, looking back, was reading a (locked; sorry) post by [ profile] _amethyst_fire_ and corresponding enough via comments to plan on getting together during our Seattle trip next month! Amy isn't one of my children, but it feels that way sometimes.

mdlbear: (rose)

Every grief is different, and everyone processes it differently, but the broad outlines of the grieving process are fairly consistent. It doesn't matter whether you're mourning a parent, a dear relative, a child, a friend, a pet, a home, a relationship, a project at work, or something even more abstract: a possibility, a missed opportunity, or your youthful sense of invulnerability. After a certain age, losses become inevitable. It takes not only time but work to get past a loss.

Remember that the objective is acceptance. Not forgetting your loss. Acceptance. In some ways, it's even harder than forgetting.

Acceptance means coming to terms with your loss: making it part of your experience, and putting it in its proper place in your memories. This may involve analyzing what happened so that you can learn from it, in hopes of not making the same mistake a second time. It may involve writing a poem or song, or a letter you will never send. It may involve a very selective kind of forgetting.

It means putting your loss among your treasured memories, carefully, so that you're not thinking of it day by day or letting it get between you and your life, or between you and other people. You'll always remember. There will always be reminders: a chance bit of overheard conversation, a long-out-of-touch friend, a scrap of memory, a color, a flower, a name. You have to make it safe to remember. You must learn to remember the person, not the pain; the lesson, not the loneliness, the good times, not the grieving. You have to get past your loss: make a part of your past, a landmark on your journey.

When most people tell you to "get over it", they mean for you to step over it the way you would step over a mud puddle or a fallen branch: forget it, and move on. (If your friends see you wallowing in the mud, or weeping for months beside a fallen tree-trunk, they can be forgiven for telling you this.) No. Build a bridge of smooth stones across that little stream, and put a pebble in your pocket to remember it by. Take a chainsaw to that tree-trunk, and carve your name on the fresh-cut surface.

It's a healing process; wounds take time to heal. Don't rush the process, or let well-meaning friends rush you, but don't hold back, either. Do the work.

Make an entry in your journal, and tag it so you can find it again. Mark its anniversary, if it's sufficiently important. Write a song, and practice it to the point where you can sing it in public without choking up. Not a miserable song that says how sorry you are for yourself. (OK, write one of those, too; it's part of the process. Burn the manuscript as soon as you can see how awful it is.) Perhaps wistful, perhaps angry, perhaps ironic and funny. Preferably hopeful and maybe even happy. Tell the world you're OK now.

Get to the point where you mean it, when you say that. You will.

mdlbear: (rose)

The half-moon shines through my kitchen window, wrapped in a gentle hazy glow. I imagine ragged clouds, a high haze of cirrus; it's only that I haven't put on my glasses. Outside, the moon and one bright planet disentangle themselves from the sharp fronds of the dragon-tree; the gray sky is lightening toward blue to Eastward, and a lone bird tentatively warms up its voice for the morning chorus.

Once again I set out to write about something specific and recent; older memories persisted in taking over. Are you trying to tell me something, Amy? Am I being stupid? Maybe. Yes.

The roses beside the driveway fence have started blooming, struggling free of a sea of grass and weeds to preen themselves for anyone who might be watching.

Everything I touch seems to fall apart these days.

I seem to be unable to start things. Work, home, wherever; I putter around the edges of my to-do lists without getting very much done. A house full of unfinished projects mocks me wherever I look. A year into my seventh decade, I've lived in this house half my life. The back yard desperately wants weeding.

There are worse things than growing old together. Thank you, Love.

The birds are quiet now, and sunlight brushes golden highlights onto the curtains.

mdlbear: (rose)
Can one mourn for something that never was
    never will be
        might have been?

This path is broad and smooth
    here beside the river.
        Brambles hide the other bank.

See that dead tree, leaning there?
    Soon it will fall and block the way,
        have to be cut apart and carried off.

Someone could have felled it,
    pushed it the other way,
        made a bridge.

Never mind the path not taken;
    here there was never a path,
        only a place where a bridge that never was

never will be,
    might have been.
        Yes, one can.

			-- Stephen Savitzky, 2008-04-25

I don't write poetry very often these days. This one just fell into my lap. I'm not sure I wanted it there, but muses are fickle creatures, and I suppose one must take their gifts as one finds them.

Dumb bear

2007-11-25 08:33 am
mdlbear: (rose)

In general I've had a very good time here at Loscon. My mood was dragged down a bit when I made the mistake of singing "For Amy" in the circle last night -- with the [ profile] chaoswolf sitting next to me. I hadn't realized she hadn't heard it, and it hit her pretty hard. No, that's an understatement. I already knew not to sing it when the [ profile] flower_cat is around. I get the feeling that the next album is going to be one that some people are going to buy, listen to once, and put away because it's too painful. I have a couple of those myself.

I may have to sell custom burns so people can buy a copy without the songs they can't handle. Or something.

I'm sorry, Wolfie.

mdlbear: (rose)

Talk about a long, strange trip. In about a month I'll be starting work on my next album, which hopefully won't take nearly as long as the first one has. It will be called Amethyst Rose.

Here's why, and what I've been thinking about most of the day. )

The album after that will be called Hacker's Heaven, and will be mostly a mix of computer and space songs.

mdlbear: (rose)

Rather than hop in the car and drive to my usual walking trail this morning, I got my hat and water bottle out of the trunk and headed over to the Rose Garden a little before 10am.

The air was cool and a little moist -- just right for walking, unlike yesterday's heat. It was a good walk. Encountered a huge crowd of people going the other way around the garden; many were wearing T-shirts that proclaimed them members of the Rose Garden Dog Walking Club. Fun!

I took two turns around the garden (about half a mile, which brings the total up to about three for the walk), then went inside to look, as always, at the Royal Amethyst blooming a little inside the front gate. Feeling a little more nostalgic than usual, I wandered around for a while and sat for a few minutes on one of the benches, content to spend a few minutes gazing at beauty and not thinking about much of anything.

Came back to find that my kids had given me a Father's Day card, and I got a truly wonderful French press/coffee mug from the [ profile] chaoswolf. Altogether a delightful Father's Day so far.


2007-03-21 09:34 am
mdlbear: (rose)

Listening to my current dump of CC&S in the car this morning I choked up a little listening to "Daddy's World". The next CD might be a little difficult.

When [ profile] chaoswolf and [ profile] selkit were cleaning out the Wolfling's room they ran across the platypus (made by the now regrettably defunct Lucky Star Toys) that would have been Amy's. Nearly got tossed; luckily they were able to find it.

Fortunately for my state of mind, I have to leave for work now. That means I'll be listening to the rest of the dump CD. I'll be OK.

mdlbear: (rose)

It's worth noting, I think, that this LJ post is the first time humor has found its way into any of my August 4th memorial posts. Interesting.

mdlbear: (rose)

It's been more than a year and a half since I had a news server at home, and I haven't been reading alt.callahans much for even longer -- the traffic just got to be too much, and my writing has moved onto LJ and the web for the most part. But I still try to make a post on August 4th. It's odd: I don't make a memorial post for my father, or Colleen's mother, or any of my friends who have passed away. But I make one for Amethyst Rose, who was never part of my life at all. Maybe that's why.

The post from alt.callahans is behind the cut, since I doubt whether many on my friends list are reading the Usenet these days. I'm not. )

Why does a wispy trace of [ profile] cadhla's "Pretty Little Dead Girl" flit through my mind at this point? Or was that "Mary O'Meara"? There's much to be said for not taking oneself too seriously. I'm sure Amethyst would agree, if she were here. If she were anything like her sisters, she'd no doubt be telling me to shut up and go to bed.

I need to re-record that song, I think. But not tonight.

mdlbear: (rose)

Good article on preeclampsia in this week's New Yorker.

Karumanchi believes that women who have closely spaced pregnancies have a lower risk of developing preeclampsia because the blood vessels in their uteruses don't have a chance to return to their pre-pregnancy shape. They are able to supply relatively robust amounts of blood to the fetus early in pregnancy, thus minimizing the likelihood of oxygen deprivation and the need for the placenta to produce soluble FLT. "People in the field say that the uterine vessels can be thought of as a panty-hose stocking," Karumanchi said. "Once you expand them, it takes a long time for them to return to their original shape."

Which may explain some things. Sorry -- I think I need to crawl back into my hole and go back to being a geek now.

mdlbear: (rose)

I'm sitting here feeling drained. I don't know whether it was helping [ profile] chaoswolf install a piece of plywood over the slats on her bed (which proved to be a bit fragile and need something to spread the load), or not getting quite enough to eat, or I'm coming down with something.

I'm pretty sure I'm not depressed, but there have been a lot of deaths, and anniversaries of deaths, and the memories and ghosts of memories have been flocking around me like dark-winged birds. I need to get some underwear out of the drier, now that it's stopped, and go to bed before I start writing utter drivel.

mdlbear: (rose)

Possibly painful stuff. [ profile] flower_cat, expecting parents, et. al. please skip.

Every once in a while, amid all the horror and tragedy of a world full of war, natural disaster, and human cruelty, you run across something totally unrelated that touches you in a way a half a million homeless refugees and their shattered lives cannot.

OK, you were warned, as if the icon weren't warning enough )

I'm OK, really. Thanks for listening. Or not, if you skipped the cut tag.

mdlbear: (rose)
I was busy enough yesterday not to remember that it was an anniversary. That's probably a good thing, on the whole. I may post something on alt.callahans later today; I've sort of gotten out of the usenet habit since the server crashed a few months ago. For now, things are still busy; I'm sitting in the main ballroom at OSCon listening to a keynote on "open source biology" and thinking, in one corner of my mind, about Amethyst Rose.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
Twelve years ago tonight our second daughter was stillborn. Her name is Amethyst Rose. Today I finally wrote a song for her (lyrics) -- somehow I never could do it before. I don't think it's a song I would have -- or could have -- written a dozen years ago.

It's based on my series of annual posts on alt.callahans; you can find them by searching on Google for "amethyst rose". (Maybe this year I'll finally put them on my website.)

It's strange... somehow, even the first year after, I've always pictured here as a girl of twelve: dark hair, tall, a sprinkle of freckles on her face. What will become of that image, now that her age has come to match it? I can't tell. But it's a comfortable place now, that fantasy. I imagine I'll be back.

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