Today I went down to the Bureau of Words to trade in my autumn onomatopoeia. Usually I put it off until at least the end of November, but this year the squelch-thud of my boots in the mounds of soggy leaves brought me up sharp. I went home, gathered my dry snaps, crackles and swooshes, as well as the cheerful spthooshk of a water balloon left over from August and headed down to the department. The rain hurried down to meet my umbrella, an excellent winter sound for which I had no words. But that would soon change. The stooped man at the front desk greeted me with a finger to his lips. "We're running the barnyard tests, so we've got to be very quiet. Get me?" I nodded. Fortunately, the entire antechamber of the Bureau is soundproofed, so my rubber soled boots made no sound on the white carpeted floor despite leaving a great deal of mud. "What do you have in mind for me today? I'm here for the seasonal trade-in deal." "Well, we've got snow falling on cedars, rain dripping into a puddle of slush, and ice skates on a frozen pond on display, as you can see" he whispered, leaning towards me. "But if you've got something specific in mind, we can check the back-catalogue." His voice had the quality of very thin paper. "How much can I get for these?" I spread my prior acquisitions on the mahogany desk, each making its proper sound as I touched it. A beautiful cacophony of leaves, sunshine, the murmurs of children and crunching gravel filled the room. The man at the front desk picked up a shcwisk and examined it. "Are these second-hand?" he asked politely. "A few are from here. Some of them," I blushed, "I made myself." He smiled beatifically at me. "They're lovely." I felt a warm, silent glow in my chest. A drop of rain fell from the tip of my nose to the desk below, making the quietest of pings as it hit the wood. We sat down to make a deal. I bought several of the featured items and a couple I needed for a story set in India, but at that point what I really wanted was a little personal. I stammered it out when he asked me if he could get me anything more. Snick, snick. My eyes rubbed against their sockets. "Could you," I leaned closer to him, "whisper for me?" The man at the desk looked at me in confusion - then threw back his head and laughed. Who would have thought such a deep, rich sound could come from so wrinkled a throat? In another room, I thought I heard a rooster answer. He nodded. "But," he cautioned, "a whisper is not onomatopoeia." "I'm going to use your voice for the winds on cold snowy days, when the trees speak with one another." A pause. "Yes. Yes, I can do that for you." The wizard's face crinkled. He lowered his eyes and brought a scrap of yellow paper to his lips. All the things he told that sheet, I couldn't tell you. I only heard the rustle of his voice.
her name is alice. there is a slight blood stain on the valley where her lips part, and her eyes are two supermassive black stars that can't show anything but hurt. she can't bring herself to look in the broken mirror puddles that are all over the ground.
(and i don't blame her)
she borrows her mother's raincoat because it smells like home. not the homes that are flooded with laundry soap or soft candles burning in the family room, but more like the paint she spilled on the carpet, or the whiskey on her father's breath.
(and sometimes, she swears she can smell her mother's sadness.)
when alice was little she remembers playing freeze tag with her mother. she remembers feeling anxious, and now she feels sick. "if daddy touches you, stay still, and don't make a sound."
(alice is the best at being numb.)
alice plays the piano, and the sounds are broken, and slow. sometimes she plays to the beating of her heart, irregular things are what she loves, like tracing the lines in the wall where she counted the days she was alive.
(a black cloud covers my heart at night, and eats through my soul, and when i wake up, i feel sick, and scared, and at night, i cry before i go to sleep. and all i want is the moonlight to pass over my skin and help me know that i'm alive, just one more night.)
I know sometimes the days seem long and the nights even longer. I know there are times you would hide from the world. You feel the weight on your shoulders, and see the accusing glares.
I'm here to tell you that it does get better. The sun does shine through the worst of our depression. It's there when you're ready to reach out and grab onto the ribbon of laughter.
Don't worry about those flashbacks, honey. There was a time when you had to deal with it alone, but that isn't the case anymore. No matter where it takes you, when you come back, you'll always have a strong person who loves you for who you are...imperfections and all. He doesn't care that you check out for chunks of time and can't always explain or even know it happened. He loves you and will watch over you while you're gone.
Don't fret about the past. Don't fret about the future. You can keep on living. Everything is going to be okay now. Not everyone may understand, and hell, some may look down on you for it, but you are the one who has to deal with this illness day by day. You're doing a fine job of it considering you weren't told how to do so. It's not your fault. You were abused and mistreated. This is not now, and never has been your fault.
You are beautiful, inside and out. Through the deepest of your depression, you've found something to hold onto and laugh about. Through all the times you've checked out, you've become less afraid of what they think. Labels? What are they? Nothing to you anymore.
No one truly knows what you go through day by day, and that's alright. You're alive. You've been fighting the good fight, and so far...you're winning. That's a good thing in my book. Keep on living this life. Love with all your heart, laugh with your soul. Just remember...when it seems like it's going to cave in and bury you...say these words, "I am not my illness."
Instead remember who you are. You're someone's child, a wonderful man's fiance, and a sister. You're a cousin and a friend. You are laughter in the night, and peace in the day. You're an angel's mother. You're a treasured member of this world, and it would be a little dimmer without you. No longer are you the unwanted, the stupid, and the careless. You are unique and beautiful.
Yes, you are a treasure. You are not your illness.
it's twenty degrees outside, and when he breathes into the air, the smoke spells sex.
but not the loving kind, the kind where taking a shower just isn't enough to get the smell of him off of me.
he's all wrapped up into disney movie, magic shit. when i know that he is just some dirty subliminal message, and i'll get sucked in.(but i'll tell myself it's not my fault, because my sub-conscious should be more aware, and i'll pinch myself to make sure i'm sleeping.)
i know that's not right. (anything to keep me asleep)
if and when he holds my hand he squeezes 3 times, and that means "i love you." and i am aware that i should squeeze back 3 times because that is just courteous to do. but for some reason i squeeze once, and that just means, "okay."
(there is this part of me that wishes my subconscious could catch onto bullshit, and i'd shove all the messages into a jar and make you eat the words you bury into my brain.)
it's the mistakes about you that are my favorite, your freckles and the gap between your two front teeth(you should have got that fixed). mostly it's the imperfect way i am reflected into your eyes, my face is all distorted, and my mouth is crooked, and bent.
(because you see me the way i really am, and no subliminal message can ever screw you into thinking anything different.)
The dynamic between core staff, volunteer staff, and the community can at times be pure quality dArama.
It's worth noting that for years I've worked pretty hard to remain neutral on community politics. Today, I'm going to shatter that concept.
Needless to say, I am extremely politically aware of the inner workings of the deviantART community. I read *a lot* of journals, comments, forums, chat rooms. I have fake accounts. I spy.
But I don't spend my time talking politics, instead I focus internally at deviantART designing technologies and implementing understandings with core staff to address the issues I see pop up.
It's time to take a moment to be a bit more petty.
In the inner workings of our politics exists the soul of deviantART. What is this place? What was it meant to do? What does it do? What could we do better? And it's the politics that give insight into how well the greater plan is running.
There's $core staff who are employees or contractors and work 8+ hours per day. And there are teams of volunteers in artist relations and community development doing various fun to tedious things to support specific sections of the site - like galleries or chat rooms. Honestly I have far fewer direct interactions with the volunteer staff than I should. I have guilt over that, but my time is insanely structured so I do my best. I spend a lot of time with much of the core staff, that has recently reached 60 people and growing. Did you know that core deviantART staff was made up of 60 people? You're already learning things. Keep reading.
And then there are some fascinating people who fit outside this "box." mikeylove and ekud come to mind. Note that both have staff-like symbols, and aren't really core staff or volunteer staff. They're just old school staff and they have privs that they can use to do stuff when they feel like it just like volunteers can except without real oversight. Volunteers have volunteer leads that they talk to, and if volunteers want to help out with things that require some extra access they get the extra access. They use features that all community members have (like journals or news) to post contests that are officially supported by deviantART with prizes and things. But ekud doesn't do any of this. He simply posts daily deviations.
This capability is a dream held by many deviants. Posting a Daily Deviation has the ability to direct a solid surge of traffic to a deviation, and therefore it is a very powerful privilege that many deviants seek to have, or influence.
I've heard it all.
Now, issues arise with staff all the time. If you think you're having a unique issue with a staff member, you're wrong. I've heard it all. Examples?
* One guy left staff, a bit later we got a note that he died of cancer. We had no idea he had cancer. It was one of the saddest days I can recall at deviantART. I sent out a hot topic to the community (to millions of people!) celebrating his life and who he was to us - a person we deeply cared about - it was a miserable day at deviantART. A year later? He informed us it was a joke.
* Some people have built up profiles at deviantART and have gathered a bit of fame and good faith with the community. They have then turned around and blackmailed me for stock or money, citing that they'll go tell the world I'm a terrible person just like some people have described in the past. My response? Enjoy hell.
* There was a guy that tried to kill me for a while. This turned out to be a good experience. I now have relationships with multiple members of the F.B.I. in various states, along with numerous relationships with various police agencies. Not to mention really great private detectives and a whole rolodex of lawyers. I own guns, I realize this is controversial. But when your life is in danger, the police tell you to buy guns. And lawyers tell you what to do in a situation where you have to use guns. I'm not kidding.
* Countless instances of scuffles between members. The lit community on fire over a gallery director, or political maneuvering to get someone on staff. The stories are countless. If you catch me at a devmeet sometime I'm happy to dish out all the exciting details if you ask, they're usually fun tales that are healing for me to tell as they were quite stressful to go through.
Never the less, there are lessons you learn over the years, like the fact that giving some people privs and different symbols sometimes completely demotivates the good behavior that "earned" them the new status. That's right. Sometimes giving someone staff privs creates an irreversible negative effect in that person, or worse sometimes they literally become ego maniacal crazies. You wouldn't believe.
There's some really bizarre stuff that happens in the inner political society of deviantART that has dumbfounded me from time to time.
But I'm here to tell you, I've heard it all. Yet it's virtually impossible to track everything that happens every day here at deviantART. There are well over 1.5 million comments of all kinds posted per day. Within that there are thousands upon thousands of comments that (believe it or not) are full of insightful, deeply political thoughts on our little society and those comments (specifically) represent a reflection of the status of the culture of deviantART.
I worry about this culture every day of my life.
Back to Ekud.
I haven't spoken to ekud for a while, so it may surprise him to find his mention here. HI EKUD!
About three weeks later he had an altercation with an individual via notes where a work of art was suggested for a daily deviation feature and ekud nothing short of freaking puked on this person. Having reviewed this message, which was escalated to staff by the recipient; it was a pretty sharp, rude response. Of course the reaction by the recipient was crystal clear; they immediately escalated the matter to the help desk, complaining they were being harassed by a staff member. And since ekud doesn't have oversight from another staff member, it was escalated to me since I'm ultimately accountable.
It bothered me for days how ekud reacted to this person. I was convinced it must have been a n00b acting like a fool suggesting a masterpiece created in Microsoft Paint. So I went and I looked, and the person suggesting the DD feature has been active since 2004. Even has some pretty solid design skill if you look closely at her deviations.
It strikes me that this is either a complex matter, or an open shut case of a staff member being rude.
Now for a greater perspective, if you magnify the volume of issues like this by 10,000 you get some insight in to the massive challenge of operating this community in a fashion where everyone can say great things about interactions with staff all the time. Keeping in mind that we don't just do customer service here... we are the customers, and we talk to everyone inside staff or outside pretty candidly. This is an *awesome* differentiation between deviantART and virtually all other companies I can think of.
And just right there, that's where it all came together.
You see, deviantART isn't just an art community service for sharing and interacting with artists. deviantART is actually primarily focused on celebrating, empowering, nurturing and fostering the creative genius.
Lets talk about the side of the story that this person didn't bother to look in to before escalating the matter to staff. A mistake I *know* many of our members make.
ekud is a creative genius. He always has been. Like many of our naturally devious leaders from a variety of genres and all corners of the globe; in the inner mind of a creative genius sometimes lives a "moody little bitch" (to put it crudely) full of emotion and sensitivity. That's often times some of the juice that makes up a good artist!
ekud has stood out in this community since joining in June 2001. Having Co-Founded depthCORE (one of the most awesome art groups I've seen) ekud has exemplified walking the walk, talking the talk, living the joy and hardship of being a digital artist for life. His work is unquestionably top notch in his field.
Having the capacity to feature work is not a privilege that he has at deviantART. No no, see, the privilege is ours that he chooses to do this for us.
And along comes this person, with her bland suggestion for a daily deviation. Citing that it's a "must feature." Using a tool that's been created to virtually spam all people who have daily deviation posting capabilities and target those (in this instance) who feature Digital Art - cramming this suggestion down throats with a sense of entitlement as to the result. Completely not acknowledging WHOM the suggestion is being lunged at and certainly not taking in to account the integrity of the people with access to this very important and powerful function.
What is with this sense of entitlement?
You know damn well that this place isn't like all the rest. It isn't here to be another dumping ground. It's an asylum from the insanity out there, where for once, somewhere, some people decided to actually build a place with values and a direction towards a common goal of bettering one another no matter how big the place got to be. I know there's lots of people who put that in to question here, but that's part of the evolution of the place. And it's posts like this, and the very significant and truly important people who have the dedication to actually read a post this long that truly matter if we intend to change this. That's right, YOU. The reader of this highly political in depth post about the deviantART community. If you've made it this far, you are a very important person at deviantART. You have the capacity and the time to make a difference. And I very much would like for you to do so.
I want you to combat THIS:
Never mind who you are, ekud or what your history here is. Never mind the journal you just wrote addressing just this matter. Never mind what your values are, or the integrity with which you choose daily deviations and the pride that you put in to your career as an artist. Just cram this deviation in your queue and deal with me, deal with this, deal with it. Because here I am, another deviant with the capacity to send you a note and ask you for favors and aimlessly try to get my way.
Here's what ekud actually said in response to this sense of entitlement:
"Thats not a must feature, thats a second rate piece of amateur art, and your poor taste in conjunction with your ignorance in noting several admins will accomplish nothing more than having me ignore you henceforth."
Pissy? Sure. Right? From my perspective, in this greater context I bring to you?Absolutely. Absolutely. Say it again. Say it louder. Just as rudely, maybe even more so if that's what it takes to strikingly correct this dynamic.
I am right behind you, right there to echo this sentiment of frustration with the contradiction to what this place was designed to be, and the cultural misalignment that's occurring that infuriates those of us who know and believe in what being a deviant really means. So I suppose, ekud's response resonates with me, and I understand where he's coming from.
Look, ekud doesn't work for deviantART - he's an artist, he's a deviant, he's just like you. In fact the entirety of the community development teams and the majority of deviantART core staff are also from the community directly. Do you think we hire people from craigslist or something for these positions? These are people from the community, by the community. We are of the same cloth and we come together as equals. You aren't speaking to some corporate empire when you write to suggest deviations, or when you ask questions in the help desk. 100% of those contact points are represented by people who were not only members of the community but in fact long time members before they became staff!
You may take deviantART lightly, but we do not. Daily Deviation privileges, volunteer privileges, staff privileges, etc. are absolutely sacred. They come from a long line of what are now generations of different deviants who hold deviantART itself in the highest of regards and their fellow deviants as well. Each of us aims to improve and enhance our gifts as deviants by bettering our craft and our environment. We all aim. And we hold in high regard those who have aimed high and achieved.
To be truly effective here - in this place - you have to learn to Love. If you Love, if you truly seek depth of thought and depth of interaction with people who themselves are capable of such things you will find great empowerment here. Meeting people is a strategy for popularity that is effective at facebook or myspace. deviantART is a place where the most effective strategy for success is getting to know people. Getting to know someone is an act of Love.
"Love" is the most searched for word on deviantART. A lot of people don't know that.
We're very emotional people here. Quite expressive, too, if you've not noticed.
With the last hieroglyph finished, Wati set aside the scroll he had been working on. He closed The Book of the Dead and ran his hands along the cover. Despite the fact he wrote these words on a regular basis, never had it been so hard. Ra had long since disappeared for his usual voyage, and the wick of his lamp was nearly burnt to the end. As the flame died its orange glow was replaced by the ghostly light of the moon filtering through the linens that covered the windows and door of his small hut.
On either side of the doorway, stood the shadows of two pots. It had been many days since Tiankhit had left him, but still the barley continued to grow. Wati had so hoped for the emmer wheat to sprout first. Like all men, he wanted a son, but had come to love the idea of his daughter just as much. They were overjoyed when the first leaves pressed their way up through the dirt to tell them the news of their child, and the days passed with excitement as they waited to see if they grew to be barley or wheat.
Wati tore his gaze from the silhouette and made his way over to the bed. Under his feet the ground alternated between cool reed mats and the still cooler dirt that lay beneath. Another night of restless sleep was all that waited for him now, and Wati embraced its call.
It must have been hours that he slept, for now the disk of the moon shown more brightly through the other window, its crisp beam of light falling on the Utchat that hung above the door for protection. The cool breeze was surely what roused him, or perhaps it had been a dream. Wati scanned the room. It was hardly big enough for one, and yet it felt so empty without her there.
A shadow passed across his face and he looked over to the window. There, framed by white mud brick sat the shape of a cat, its head held high and proud. Wati sat up running the back of his hands over his eyes so he could see the feline more clearly. He watched as it moved towards the edge of the window, the linen rustling as it pushed past and took in the small room. Once the creature assessed that it was in the right place, it leapt from the window.
Wati saw the shape of the cat change, its hind legs curling up underneath it and elongating, the paws spreading into hands and feet that landed silently on the ground. Her face stayed feline, adorned with gold and silver, red robes flowing down over her shoulders, and piercing green eyes that were like a watery reflection in the moonlight.
As she moved closer towards Wati he noticed the grace and silence of her movement. Each step was so soft that not a grain of sand was disturbed, robes so light that that no dust clung to them. Even the jewels around her neck and the bangles on her arms were silent.
"Bast?" His mouth formed the word but his breath stayed the sound. Her thin feline lips curved into a slight smile and she leaned down to pick something up off of the ground. Elegant fingers traced the image carved into the amulet before she held it out to him, but Wati stared, transfixed by the Goddess before him.
"Your wife, my priestess," she said. Her voice was soft and feminine, the sounds rolling off her tongue as a cross between a purr and a growl, undercut with a silent chorus of angry yowls. "Murdered and with child, two of my daughters slain by one hand."
Wati looked down as she pressed the amulet into his hand. He had seen it many times before as it hung from the neck of his Tiankhit. The mother cat and her kittens shimmered by the light of the moon, but when he looked up into the eyes of the Goddess their reflection was alive. The kittens climbed over one another to reach their mother's milk; small legs not even able to hold their tiny bodies up off the ground. As Wati's eyes shifted back to the amulet the graven image was still, the dancing moonlight a mockery of the life he had seen in the eyes of Bast.
"Find the cretin responsible for this atrocity and by your hand condemn him. Let his heart weigh heavy in the eyes of Anubis; let his blood stain the lips of Ammit."
Before Wati had any chance to respond she was nothing but the smoky image of a cat riding out the window on a cool breeze that once again filled the room. All that was left was the sound of a mournful mewl echoing in his ears.
The light of Ra glinted off the amulet still clasped in Wati's hand; his tired eyes squinting to see it despite the long hours it had spent beneath his gaze. At last he stood wrapping the fine linen of his kilt around his waist. With another glance at the feline family he twisted the rope around the cloth so that it too hung from his hip. The words of Bast continued to weave themselves through his mind as he took the scroll and slipped past the curtain on the door.
Already the heat was fierce and the white buildings of Bubastis were blindingly lit by Ra. Wati made his way through the city, tracing along the familiar path that would lead him to the temple of Bast. She had given him her command, but what did a scribe know about avenging the Gods? Each step he took towards the man-made island brought more thoughts to the front of his mind. It had been more than sixty days since her feet had last tread these roads, but to his eyes, each footprint could have been that of the priestess Tiankhit.
The farther he walked the more the sounds of the city met his ears. Farmers and artisans showed their goods, and the people were filled with song and drink for the festival to come. It was hard not to get caught up in the joys of the people, and Wati was nearly singing with them by the time the temple came into view.
The water around it shimmered its own dance to the music of Bubastis, the leaves of the grove that lined the trail rustled like a drum beat to the whistle of the wind. The building rose high into the air, white walls like pearls in the gleam of Ra. Even before Wati set foot in the temple the aroma of incense had already cleansed his mind, and his steps were light like those of a cat at play.
His first step inside the temple Wati nearly tripped over one of the many cats that wound its way between his legs. Their meows filled the hall, a song of their own by any definition. The elegant creatures were perched on the smallest ledges and the most precarious perches. In the center of the room stood a huge statue of Bast and the way the many felines moved across the stone made her appear to have a skin of constantly flowing fur and ever changing color.
The priestesses who were draped in red linens served the offerings of the people to the sacred animals, their every movement a sensual dance as they spun themselves across the floor and off into various side rooms. This was what Tiankhit had done, and even when they were alone together he could still see the grace in her movements that dictated her life in service of Bast.
"Wati." He turned to see one of the eldest women who not only worked but lived in the temple as well.
"Banafrit, the Gods must smile upon you, for you appear in perfect health."
The woman's lips twisted upwards making her lightly wrinkled skin stand out. "Tell me child, what brings you here today?"
"Two things, dear lady." He held out the scroll in his hand. Banafrit took it and held it close to her chest.
"The Book of the Dead?"
"Yes. It's for the burial."
She nodded almost imperceptibly save for the swaying of her hair. "And what else weighs your mind?"
"I wanted to ask if I could see the place she was killed." Wati felt his breath catch in his chest for a moment as her eyes seemed to peer past his flesh. He almost missed her curt nod before she turned and walked off to one of the rooms that led away from the main hall.
She stopped in front of a door and waved her hand for him to continue on. "Kebi will answer your questions."
He was reluctant to cross the threshold and enter the room. Wati knew that his wife was gone, but he felt as if seeing the place where her life left her would make it much more real. Before he set foot in the room he took a moment to look around.
He had been led to the room where sacrificial offerings were made. The cat was a sacred animal and the temple was full of them, but in order to keep them healthy litters of kittens would occasionally be culled in hopes that Bast would continue to protect their city. The altar stood at the far side of the room and Kebi was positioned on her knees in front of it. Wati noted the way her black hair fell in waves down her shoulders, accented by beads and red strips of linen that had been tied into it. From the back she looked remarkably like Tiankhit, and for a moment he almost believed it was she who was kneeling there.
As he took his first step into the room several cats swept by, the sound of their purring amplified by their numbers. They ran over to the priestess and rubbed their sleek bodies against her. Kebi turned and stood, letting her hands linger on their soft fur. She smiled inquisitively at Wati and waited for him to speak, though it took a moment to draw his mind away from the images of his lost Tiankhit.
"This is where-?" He couldn't bring himself to finish saying it, and he wasn't even sure that those words had managed to leave his mouth. Whether they did or not the young woman smiled. Wati still hesitated to take that first step into the room but soft furry noses were pressing at his calves. The words of Bast rang through his ears, and with a deep breath he let her children push him into the room.
Kebi motioned to a place just in front of the altar. It was not what he was expecting to see, but then what was he expecting to see? Perhaps he expected to see blood staining the stone floors, or an outline of where she had lay. There was nothing though, save for a blank expanse of stone that masqueraded itself as if it were no different than any other part of the temple floor.
"I was the one who found her." Kebi's voice was soft and sad, but still her eyes sparkled with love for the Goddess. Wati nodded, unable to speak for the tightness in his chest.
"I came to the temple with Ra, and the cries of mourning met my ears. The children of Bast led me to this room. That was when I saw her," the woman slid gracefully onto her knees and laid a hand on the cold stone, the other pressed to her breast. "She was here, surrounded by our brothers and sisters who tread the room with deep growls in their throats and tears in their eyes as they kissed her hand."
"How Could you tell what had happened?"
Kebi's hand slid up to grasp her throat as she spoke. "She bled with unbroken flesh, a call for help still lingering upon her lips."
"Might I be alone?"
The girl stared at him with confusion. "We are never alone, forever with our Goddess and brethren until we join Osiris in the afterlife."
"Alone in this room." She frowned and left, her light footfalls still showing her malcontent.
"I didn't mean to be so short with her," he said to one of the cats. It batted its green eyes at him. "It was clear what I meant!" Again the cat blinked.
Where was he supposed to start? Surely the Goddess would not have given him a task with no guide. His fingers traced the grooves between the slabs of rock, searching for some indication that he was fulfilling her command. Row by row he followed the dirt lines until at last the cold stone gave way to cold metal.
Looking down Wati saw two small golden pieces, one end on each rough as if it had been broken, the other smooth and clean. The little strings of gold had to mean something, but Wati did not know what, and so he continued to search.
He made his way through the entirety of the room before at last he found himself sitting next to the altar, his head resting on the short wall that surrounded it. His eyes stung with the effort of straining to see even the most insignificant detail, and still they managed to fall upon something out of place. There in the ashes of incense that surrounded the altar was the imprint of a hieroglyph. It appeared to depict a hawk and a serpent, though it was difficult to tell as part of the impression had been disturbed. Which man marked himself with a hawk and a serpent?
Lost in thought and trying to recall the sign of every man he had ever seen Wati left the temple. His ears were deaf to the farewells of the priestesses and to the chirring of the cats. He did not even stop to acknowledge Banafrit when she asked if he found that which he was seeking.
He was exhausted as he spent the day scribing records for various farmers of their inventories and their profits. By the time Wati made it back to his small house he found himself debating if he wanted to eat or just go straight to bed. He climbed the stone stairs that led to the roof and glanced around. There was a single piece of bread left and Wati wrapped it around some figs and bit into it. He washed it down with a long drink and stumbled his way back downstairs to collapse into bed.
He woke again when Ra brushed his face and tried to recall if the events of yesterday had been a dream or real. Once he noticed the amulet that still hung from his kilt he was sure that he had not imagined it. It was a hot day but the cold winds of the desert were sweeping through the city as he made his way to the north side of the f the boarders. At that far end there stood a cliff, many feet high and marked with thousands of holes that served as the tombs of some of the city's many cats.
Many people had already arrived at the stone that marked the final resting place of Tiankhit's body. She had already been laid in the small tomb, several statues of Bast alongside her and the four sons of Horus guarding her organs in their canopic jars. Even many of his friends and family had made the three day journey from Giza to be there.
His parents embraced him and offered their kind words, as did his friends of old. His childhood playmate Odji had brought along his wife and the two spent their time catching up until Ra was high above them. It was only then that Wati caught a glimpse of the rings that adored Odji's hands. His seal bore the glyph of a hawk and serpent, and his protective scarab was missing two of its finely wrought golden legs.
For days Wati toiled over his past. What signs he had pointed to Odji, but why would his once dear friend take his wife? He wished not to believe it, but the circular argument in his head always led back to the same place, two years ago when he and Odji had both been suitors of the desirable priestess Tiankhit. Odji was married though, why would he act out against her?
Wati thought back to the days when he and Odji had vied for the hand of Tiankhit and he recalled how her parents had longed for the dowry that would come from her marriage to Odji. He had less to offer than his friend did, but still his heart yearned for the young girl. Ultimately it was Tiankhit who made the decision, determined that love was a better reward than wealth.
Anger seeped through his mind as he paced the floors of his hut. This man, who had dared to call himself friend, was the cretin who took his Tiankhit from him. Wati never remembered making the decision to leave; in his mind the decision had already been made. He took the Utchat down from the door and hung it from his neck to protect him on his travel, and shoes in hand he set out on the road for Giza, the hot sands of the desert cutting into his feet.
In the three days it took to travel the distance Wati's anger had swelled to the point of hatred. The very thought of Odji made him ill, and his dreams were filled with the pleasures of avenging Bast. Ra was just leaving for the night when he arrived in Giza and a distant wind arced the sands into a crest above the 3 massive pyramids that marked the landscape of the city. Nightfall. This was the realm of Bast, as wild and unpredictable as she was, both protector and hunter. Good, by the hand of Bast he had been led to this moment, and by her will he would send Odji to face Anubis and weigh his heart against the feather of Ma'at.
It had been many years since the last time he had been in Giza, but still he knew his way between all the temples and around the huts and markets to the secluded piece of land that Odji called home. Wati watched and waited, eager to see the orange glow of the lamp go dim in the windows, and then he stirred. He toppled earthenware dishes and knocked over chairs, creating a path that would look as if a thief had been there.
When Odji came out to investigate the cause and search for the crook Wati pounced. He knocked Odji from behind, hitting him in the knees and felling him to the ground, and Wati easily held him there with a dagger to his throat.
"Why?" He had wanted his voice to sound harsh and menacing, but to his own ears it was a plea. A plea to have her back and a plea to know he had not been betrayed by his best friend.
"Because you never deserved her." Odji's voice was strained by the sharp angle at which Wati held his head, and a note of bitter resentment was all too clear. "You took her with nothing to offer but yourself and left me to a barren whore. Tiankhit should have been mine, and so should the child growing within her. Neither was ever meant to be yours, and so I took them. I told you I would have her in the end."
Wati had heard more than enough, and the tears of betrayal and loss stung his eyes as his dagger slid across Odji's throat, making it yawn into the desert sands. His hands shook and he dropped the dagger beside his prey. The command of Bast had been fulfilled, and the life of Tiankhit avenged.
When Ra rose only a couple of hours later, he woke to find Wati sitting with his back against a merchant's stand, his eyes locked on that of a dark cat perched on the paw of the sphinx.
I've had depression for three years, and I used to hate the way my illness had changed me. I thought I could never be the girl I used to be. But my psychologist helped me to see that my illness can never change the inner me. In the end, I will have changed I will be stronger for this battle but my central values and the things that make me 'me' will always remain the same.
I am not my illness.
I have schizophrenia. People call me crazy, and avoid me, because I hear voices and talk to them. Maybe I am crazy sometimes, when I have an episode. But I'm not always crazy. I may be schizophrenic, but schizophrenic is not all I am.
I am not my illness.
The girls at school all tease me because I always stutter when I talk, and sometimes I try to speak but my mouth can't form the words. They call me retarded, dumb. I've never really had any real friends, all because I have autism. They can't look past my illness and see the real me, the 'me' who longs to be accepted like any normal person. I may be autistic, but I'm still human. I still have feelings.
I am not my illness.
I have bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. Many people consider me 'unemployable', because of my illness. They say I'm 'unstable and unpredictable'. But just because I have bipolar, doesn't mean I'm unstable. I take medication to stabilise my moods, and though I have to take care not to stress out too much, my condition doesn't prevent me from working, and working well. I can actually be very efficient and organised with what I do. But people don't see it, because they never give me the chance. Bipolar disorder may be part of my life, but it doesn't define who I am or what I'm capable of doing.
I am not my illness.
The guys at school call me a wuss, because I freak out so much before exams I throw up and faint. They reckon I'm chicken. I can't tell them I have an anxiety disorder. They reckon mental illnesses are for weaklings. They don't understand. Anyone can be affected. Anxiety has been part of my life for a long time, and mostly I still manage to live normally. Why can't they see that?
I am not my illness.
I had a nervous breakdown two years ago, and it led to me slowly sliding into mental illness. I missed almost a whole year of school last year. Now I'm back, and even though I know I'm not meant to take things too fast, it bugs me that people treat me like I'm going to go crazy at a moment's notice. I know I'm fragile, but why do they have to always make such a big deal of it? I'm still the same person I always was.
I am not my illness.
I have suffered from anorexia for my whole high school life. At first I got so many compliments on how skinny I was, which only pushed me further. Then people started to notice that I wasn't just pretty skinny any more, I was skeletal. They call me crazy, that I can't see myself for what I actually am. They say I'm delusional. I'm not delusional. I'm sick. I know what I'm doing is wrong, but I can't stop it. It's the illness. It's not me.
I am not my illness.
Ever since the girls at school noticed I had scars on my wrist, I have been the subject of merciless taunting. My friends have turned their backs to me; they say I'm crazy. They look at me with disgust. I'm not crazy though. Or at least, I'm not crazy all the time. I'm sick. It is an illness, this addiction. It's paralysing. I still cope though. I'm still me, whatever my illness. I'm still me.
I am not my illness.
I am not my illness. My illness is not me. I am above this. I am above my illness. I. Am. Not. My. Illness.
Edit: Oh. My God. OK, so I showed this to my psychologist, and she liked it so much she asked me to email it to her so she could frame it and put it on her desk for all her clients to see. That part is amazing enough. But yesterday she told me that one of her clients was so touched by it that they asked if they could have it, and they took it home and they keep it on their bedside table, and every morning they look at it and it helps them stay strong. She also told me that this person one morning just could not get out of bed, so they rang her, and she told them to pick up the frame and hold it to their chest and just tkae it one step, one leg at a time, and at the end they were standing, holding my piece of writing to their chest !!!!!!! There is no words to describe what I feel about that....
Edit 2: OMG I came third!!! Thank you so much everyone!!!
Only one of these is real - the first one, and it's me. The others I made up, but they represent very real, very possible situations when people with mental illnesses are confronted by others. Remember - there is more to us than our illness. Don't judge us.
My entry for 's contest: "I am not my illness." Click: [link] to see more information.
you're a disco dancing, drama queen with dirty hair and the permanent smell of stale cigarettes. but god, are you beautiful, twisting and dancing under circular lights,
and vomiting when you're done.(acid does some crazy shit)
your hair was once blonde and beautiful like your eyes, but now it's laying in clumps almost everywhere, because you fucking pull out a strand whenever i'm around, i don't know why i do that to you.
but i never really ever offer to leave, either.
there's that one song that i always hear you listening to, it's the same old shit about love and loss and never being able to forget that special someone, i use to get mad at you for giving in to such conforming types of art.
but now i just let you go, because last time i actually made you cry.
"would you rather fly, or read minds?" i told you i'd rather read minds, and know what everyone thinks, because you can fly on a plane anyday, but no one ever thinks the same. and you nodded and pulled out some hair, turned over and watched the walls turn colors.
but that night i saw you jumping off your porch, and now my stomach hurts.
whenever you'd get fed up with me you'd leave out the front door, but you never slammed or shut it because you said you wanted me to feel sick as i watched you get smaller and smaller the longer i stared at you.
but i never told you, that i really did feel bad, and once even put on my glasses(and i watched you walk away longer than i ever have before)
i don't know when the time came that you just weren't happy anymore, but i remember the day that i forgot you altogether, but cigarettes just don't taste the same anymore, and i can't go on a plane without wishing i was falling from it,
but disco lights still spin, and sometimes i can see your eyes behind them.
Dear Diary, Today is my birthday and my loving husband bought me a wonderful gift - you. I guess after we found all of my old diaries stored in the attic, he knew I would love to have a new one. So today I am overjoyed to have such a loving husband. By the way, Diary, his name is Kurt. We have been married for 3 years and we have never been happier.
Kurt couldn't get out from work early, or so that is what he told me. He wants me to meet him at my favorite restaurant tonight. Of course, it's a surprise party. It's more than obvious; but I'm still wondering who will be there. Sally and Steve, for sure. Maybe the Carlsons will be there? Maybe my parents? I'm so excited this morning I woke up and he had this beautiful dress hanging on the door with a note. That said how much he loved me and
Dear Diary, I killed another woman today. She was very pretty, Diary. She looked almost like Sarah. She had the same long brown hair and slim figure. I really miss Sarah.
Today was such a long day, Diary. I followed her useless husband around town. I had to make sure that he would give me enough time to be alone with her. So after he left towards the flower shop I hurried to her house. I had thirty minutes to get the deed done; but I really only need two. She was too busy writing in you. So, thank you Diary, you made it easy for me.
The hunger to kill subsided today. I don't know when it will return but it will. But now thanks to you, Diary, I won't be alone.