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Morning Musings

I’ve tried for several hours to get myself sleeping.  I’ve tried reading, lying down, but I’m too hot or my brain is too wired to shut down.  So I’m writing.

Christmas was great.  It felt like my family was really together in this one.  By that I mean, ‘together’ by celebrating one another’s presence, happy to be in each other’s company.  We’ve all had a hard year; no bullshit about it.  It’s been rough.  Yet, as we opened our presents and laughed, sang at times, I felt more connected to my family then I have in a while.  The Ancestors were there, for those of us listening, and They seemed pleased.  Most of my family is as Catholic as I am Pagan, and yet religion never became an issue, even really part of dialogue.  The family prayer was said at mealtime, and those of us who are Pagan prayed in our hearts, thanking our Gods, spirits, and/or vaettir besides in our own way.

The Christmas tree glowed in the basement family room, drawing us down like some beacon for aircraft.  We all coasted to our spots, kicked back, and the presents were passed about like happy, excited drivers delivering cargo to the aforementioned planes.  The kids were great, tearing apart the boxes with unrestrained glee.  The only pang of sadness I felt was the absence of my son, and he was absent for a good reason.  The poor boy was abominably sick, and my grandpa is operating on one wire for his pacemaker.  No one in the house can afford to get sick; most everyone is on pins and needles as far as finances go, and needs their hours.  Going to work with the flu doesn’t just suck, it makes the illness, in my experience, last that much longer.  I’ve gone to work with the flu.  Soon the whole staff gets it, and you look like an ass because you didn’t have the wherewithal (note, here this means lack of sick time if you even get it) to call in.

So yeah, I’m feeling kinda down about my son not being here, but not burying my grandpa or listening to grandma flip, or hearing that everyone’s caught this crap and working mitigates that.  Besides, he needs bedrest and not being moved around or talked at or given presents he’ll have more inclination at that point to puke on as open.  So, the guy sat to home and watched Thomas the Tank Engine and The Polar Express.  Ye Gods, he may be a train engineer someday…’course, I watched Thomas as a kid and I went a wholly different route.  In any case, if he is better we’ll have Christmas-time with the grandparents (his) at their home.  Good thing; he’s got a lot of gifts and I’m sure I can get someone to film it on my camera.  I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff.

So besides a lot of really cool gift cards (I’m one of those people that like getting those a lot), and some nice chocolate and/or nut-based gifts besides, I have new manga which I’ve already torn through: Wolf God, a kind of shoujo starring a non-transforming wolf-teen.  It’s a good story so far, the character are actually somewhat believable, and the female character (thank the Gods!) is strong and doesn’t just cave to the male lead’s whims.  One could say she’s more the main character than the male one…which is nice for a change.  She’s a bit cutesy (the characters in this are 15 like every other manga it seems) but she possesses a matron-like backbone.  Although a potentially dangerous guy, she has no problem ordering him to bed while he’s sick, scolds him for making her worry.  Yeah, it’s kinda sweet, perhaps a little piled on, but I’m a romantic and the author/artist isn’t ham-fisting this.  There’s actual character depth one book in, so I’ll be looking for more of Wolf God.

Another manga that I’ve looked forward to getting is Bleach, Vol. 1.  I followed the anime when it was one Cartoon Network regularly what, a year or so ago?  Prior to the station upstaging anything ‘cartoon’ and putting ‘stupid fucking live-action B.S.’ on Adult Swim and ‘LSD-laden shows that make me go “How the FUCK did that get on the air?” (evidence: Adventure Time.  This cartoon is made by a groupful of people taking hard drugs and turning it into a kids show just after the high wears off).  So I’ve been following this anime for quite a while; I found streaming fansubs online which made it way easier to follow because my weekends when I didn’t have my son or stuff to do were full of time to watch streaming episodes of anime.  So, I was up to about episode 400 by the time I stopped following.  This was about 1-2 years ago.  The plotline had gotten murky as hell, I was finding it hard to remember characters’ names, let alone their motivation, plot, or relevance to anything aside from having one more screwed up character (like some DM had gotten a serious grief-on for named monster fights and rolled a bunch of humans, then dice-rolled their plots using some fucked-up compendium with the obligation that someone in the character’s past had to die or be owed something at some point), and stopped watching once my classes really picked up.  So when I opened Vol. 1 I remembered “Oh yeah…this is why I liked the plot.  Gotta grab the rest of this…” perhaps so I’ll have a reference for what in the hell is going on when I watch the anime?  Not just that; the series really is good.  I think the filler episodes coulda waited though.

The last, but certainly best of the manga I got this year was Spice and Wolf. Oh my Gods it is so good; the artwork is crisp, the plotline constantly moving while neither plodding or introducing you to plot-hole hell with its speed.  Dear Gods, this series is a work of art.  I have Vol.1-3, and I am positively drooling for the next.  The story synopsis begins like this: a travelling merchant in a medieval town heads out with furs, and suddenly picks up a wolf goddess by accident.  I really don’t want to spoil the plot; the mechanics of it actually make sense.  When I first opened it and found Holo was a harvest goddess I went “Wait…what the fuck?” but sticking around the mechanic is explained, and it makes sense to me given that sometimes we can make deals with spirits in aspects they may not understand that great right away, or may have a hidden knack for.  In any case, this series is absolutely fantastic, and I loved reading it.  One of the most endearing parts of this series, besides the well-fleshed out characters, is that the plot is actual written in layers that execute quite nicely with, so far, no plot holes and in a way that actually surprises at times.  Unlike a lot of fantasy manga, it isn’t a hero’s quest to find “that Ultimate WEAPON!” or “protect the world in form ‘x’ or ‘y'”, nor is it a harem manga, and what sexuality is expressed (there are no sex scenes or panty shots), is adult, nuanced and comely.  The human body is treated as normal, and the goddess-character isn’t embarrassed by it, or expresses disgust at it.  The plot moves along with this; she acquires her own clothes quickly, and adapts.  She isn’t treated like a child, and he is not a bumbling idiot as is expressed in so many other manga, comedy or no.  They both speak, act, and interact like adults.  They have moments of cute amusement, moments of seriousness, and moments of hints at dreams, love, and life.  It doesn’t end on a clichéd cliffhanger, in fact, it seems to dodge stereotypes and tropes quite well in every manga I’ve read so far.  I can’t wait to see the rest of the series.

Aside from the manga, I received Watchmen on Blu-Ray (loved the movie) and Princess Mononoke, which I have pined for a long, long time.  If anything was at the top of my Christmas list, it was Princess Mononoke.  I think what I find really weird about this Christmas are all the presents.  I’ve been flat broke and could barely afford a present per person here at home, and the two for the White Elephant Christmas we had at my grandparents.  My folks constantly repeated how “Christmas was going to be tight”, yet they went out of their way to get Watchmen, and Princess Mononoke and gift cards besides.  On the one hand, its incredibly surprising, endearing and warming.  On the other, it’s worrisome.  I don’t want my folks to suffer because of trying ‘make Christmas nice’.  I spoke with Dad on  this and I’ve been assured they budgeted everything…for which I’m happy…but I sometimes wonder if they give too much.  It was incredibly nice of them…and they liked the gifts Nicole and I got for them, but all the same I hope that everything goes well for them in the next year and Dad can retire.  I would hate for him to be kept back from that because he blew money he could have saved during Christmas.  I know their finances are really not my business, but I care about my folks and want Dad to be able to retire and for things to be easier around the house.

Aside from those concerns and the sadness at my son not being able to join us, this has been a fantastic holiday.  I really felt the love, the warmth, and the coming together of family.  There have been times where I have railed against them, even refused to talk to them…but we’ve been supportive of one another when it counted, especially them.  When it comes to them needing, in good old fashion, I will be there one way or another for them.  This support, like in , as well as , is something I’ve been taught my whole life by my folks.  I’ll be happy to teach these qualities to my son.  It’s been a good Christmas for my soul more than anything else.  I thought about posting this more introspective stuff up top…but I like the meandering of this post.  I needed something like this.  Anyhow, Ves Heil and Merry Christmas and Happy Yule to all of you!

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