Thursday, December 8

Presented With (little) Additional Comment: #TarotSpreadDecember Days 1-5

Also, my deck collection, my crystals, and gratuitous cat, knitting, and planner pictures.

the "Month Ahead" Spread from the #tarotspreaddecember challenge

my usual Monthly spread from Angie's Tarot Planner

the Past/Present/Future spread from the challenge

my Project Peace cowl and relevant notes from the daily blog posts over at The Healthy Knitter.

my Current (ish) reading space.  except when I use the kitchen table.  or my desk. (this is the pretty one.)

the cards, the cat, and cards+cat

the current collection of stones and crystals

planning tools for the #planwithmechallenge

the week ahead spread for the december challenge

a variation on the celtic cross from the december challenge

a deck interview spread with my Gaian tarot

Monday's card for the day
The decks (in order of appearance in the spreads above):
Rome Choi and Kwon Shina's "Dreaming Way Tarot"
Julia Jeffrey and Barbara Moore's "Tarot of the Hidden Realms"
Vanessa Decort's "Sun and Moon Tarot"
Gertrude Hirschi's Mudra Cards
Joanna Powell Colbert's "Gaian Tarot"

Tuesday, November 1

Hi!  How are you? I miss you like crazy even though it may not seem that way.   I'm sorry I abandoned you*.

I keep popping up and vanishing again.  I've felt more than a little like that's been true in my actual life too (as if this wasn't just as valid a part of my life, maybe more so, which it very much is).

I have a new job (which I'll probably talk about as much about as I ever have because I just don't feel comfortable mixing work and the internet, even less so now) - but in brief I'm a business systems analyst now instead of a customer service agent, which means salary and flexibility and Ease and Flow and brain-twisting puzzles to solve.

I've been in a Hermit year, reconnecting to Tarot and art and my spiritual and Witchy sides.  I got completely burnt out on fandom and heart break, and made a combination of conscious and unconscious decisions to remove the things in my life that weren't serving me, supporting me, or bringing me joy.  Desire Mapping happened.  Some things, I found I missed and I've started slowly adding them back in (knitting, how've you been?), other things I'm happier with out (goodbye, news media, I don't miss you at all) - and still other things I realized I'd set aside ages ago and was so burnt out and empty I didn't remember how much I needed them (art, witchcraft, and so forth).

Slowly, very slowly I'm adding things back in.  Fiction and fandom has been particularly hard; I invest so much mental energy into it, particularly when I dive all the way in as a writer and fangirl.  Confession time: I haven't even read fiction books all year, and I'm a full half season or so behind on Blindspot, and missed almost all the movies this summer.  I have been listening to The Black Tapes, and Tanis (I cannot recommend them highly enough, they're fantastic), and watching a lot of YouTube on Tarot and planners and magic and art.  (And true crime. So much true crime.)

And oh yeah, it's NaNoWriMo again. ;)

SAFF 2016 happened last weekend. So. Much. Yarn. ;)

*You, I suppose, being my  blog itself, or an intersection between the blog and the Reader, perhaps.

Wednesday, May 18

The100DayProject: Day Seven (and Eight) - Daily Draws for Tuesday and Wednesday

Despite having a rough start this week (the "pollen count" weather pages are all lying to me and trying to claim that the pollen count is low. HA!) - I managed to lay out one of my favorite daily spreads (the lovely Morning Mug Energy Spread by so-aimless) two days in a row.


I am in love with this deck...

1. Black Coffee-What will energize me? (Strength)

This deck's take on Strength is all about breaking through obstacles to creativity with a combination of active energy (yang/animus) and and the knowledge and certainty that comes from listening to your heart (yin/anima).  This is all about engaging directly with inspiration and my creative drive, not just thinking about it but acting on it will be the most energizing action for me today.

2. Earl Grey-What will inspire me? (Judgement)

The Judgement card is all about reckonings, inspiration, dramatic changes, and new opportunities.  Here, it's all about getting sparked by new ideas and possibilities. (Note: I stumbled across a wonderful online mixed media course that I'm going to sign up for this summer and I'm really excited about it.)

3. Chamomile Tea-What will calm me down? (Six of Swords)

Focus.  Looking at things analytically.  Trying not to multitask too much.  (I love how all six swords zero in on the book he's reading.

4. Last Dregs-What will I put to rest? (Five of Wands)

Struggle and resistance.  (Note: In retrospect, this seems to be linked to both my tendency to think about artistic projects and opportunities and then bypass them (the above-mentioned class I'm going to take) and also my ongoing struggle with sleep.  I managed a full 8 hours last night, which was sorely needed.)

5. The Handle-What will hold everything together? (The Eight of Swords and the King of Cups)

Both of these cards "volunteered as tribute" (as it were).  In this deck, the eight of swords can indicate not only the somewhat false or surface sense of being trapped and blind to the situations around you, but also a multitude of choices being brought together and synthesized into a more complete whole.  

Combined with the King of Cups (air of water, or the considered, rational expression of emotional and spiritual reality), it's saying that the best way to keep things together and flowing today is to look at situations with both rational logic and heart-centered intuition.  Not just what seems like the best option on paper, but which one(s) generate an instinctive sense of "yes. This."

And now a "sneak peek" at today's spread: 

The Sun and Moon Tarot by Vanessa Decort

I'm kind of liking the approach of coming back in the evening or the following morning to write up an analysis of the spread, so I'm going to try that the rest of the week.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 10

The100DayProject: Day Six (I Do What I Want, Thor!)

I like to make my own rules.  While I have no desire to break local or federal laws that might land me in jail, when it comes to arbitrary "rules" I have a weird back-and-forth relationship with them that involves both a deep desire to do things by the book, and a complete inability to actually follow them.

This might be related to my tendency to plan and imagine things in the ideal, versus the realistic.  Maybe.

Case the first: #the100dayproject.  If you're playing along at home, you're probably on day 20.  I inadvertently missed some days took a vacation, so instead a. trying to play catch-up or b. just skipping ahead, I'm picking up right where I left off.

So there.

Case the second: when it comes to reading tarot or oracle cards, I don't like using "outcome" positions.  I believe in too much of a multiplicity of possibilities (difficult but fun to say) to want to hear what the likely result of a pursuit or period of time is going to be.  I also believe in self-fulfilling prophecy, and live with an anxiety disorder, so it's better all 'round for me to leave them be.

Anytime I see "outcome" in a spread that I want to try, I'll usually change the position to "things to remember" or "key focus" or something else from that oeuvre.  Beth over at littleredtarot (a fantastic site that my Dreaming Way Tarot cards seem particularly in sync with) has a post about this very same thing that helped me come to terms with my approach.  I may have an unavoidable instinct to break the rules, but I have a deep-seated desire to have those little rebellions validated.)

Case the third: Miracle Mornings.  This is getting a lot of buzz around the internet (for good reason), but true to form I struggled with the format as it was presented.  Make time for deliberate actions and practice in the morning? Yes, please.  Follow exactly his interpretation of what that should entail? Eh... not so much.

What I did do: I talked to my supervisor at work, and got my scheduled shifted to a later start.  Instead of having to be at work and on the phones by 8:15 am, now I report by 9:30.  It does mean I'm here until 6pm, which if you'd asked me a few months ago I would've said I hated, but I realized that I was looking at what ideal, younger, night-owl me would've liked, not what would work for me now.  The key is this - I used to get my best work done later at night.  I'd stay up late, skimp on sleep, and still manage to push through the working day.

I can't do that anymore.  I became a morning lark at some point, and I need my desk and a sunny window (along with a big mug of tea and coffee) to really get shit done.  I was resenting the hell out of only getting around to the things that were important to me once I was physically tired, emotionally worn down, and mentally drained.  Now, I can do my stuff in the mornings, go to work, then come home and unwind, and really look forward to getting up the next day.

The view from my desk of a morning. :)

I've got some ideas of how I'm going to adapt some of the other elements of the Miracle Morning for my own purposes, but I'll get to those later, because this is already super long and rambly, and we've 94 days to go.  ;)

Friday, April 22

The100DayProject: Day Four

Another photo offered without much comment since it's Passover Eve and Seder preparations are in full swing.

The100DayProject: Day Three

Due to work overtime, Barre class, and our anniversary, the following is offered ever-so-slightly late and without comment.

Wednesday, April 20

The100DayProject: Day Two!

This morning I laid out the same spread I used yesterday (yes, I shuffled, and since I still used the "stir the cards in a big face-down pile and then grab some with your eyes closed" method, forgetting to do so wouldn't account for the return of the Emperor.  Heh.) 

Today was about being energized by being decisive (yes I'm going to change the headlight bulb on my car, no I'm not going to get that gorgeous journal that's on sale (bills are due), yes, I'm going to go to the grocery store on the way home instead of stopping for fast food.)  I also pushed through the next step of the Desire Mapping process even though it felt overwhelming and kind of made my head spin.

The Ace of Wands, meanwhile, is meant to indicate new projects and new ideas.  Kadollan and I talked, albeit briefly, about the idea of doing some kind of "planner summit" (by which we mean geeking out about our planners around her kitchen table with coffee and washi tape, and quite possibly cake) and what that might look like.

The thing to calm me down is the Queen of Wands, which made me think that the best way to stay steady today would be to just do the things I need to do rather than worrying about mulling over them first.  I think I did okay at that one, although along with dynamic action I got a solid dose of the "restless antsy" thing going on.  I think for quite a bit of the day I felt like I was around five or six years old and being told I had to do write-offs instead of going out to play.  

The Queen of Pentacles in the "Dregs" position, though, gave me fits trying to figure her out.  Ultimately, I decided that she was there in her "business woman" persona, and realized that the best and healthiest option for me this afternoon was to leave on time, make sure to get groceries on the way home, and let go of pushing myself past my limit just so that the paycheck would be a little bigger.

And in the end? The trick to keeping it all together, it still seems, is organization.

I'm working on that bit: 

The planning "system", deconstructed. Some days, when I'm stuck at my desk at work on the phone, taking my entire planning system apart and then putting it back together again is oddly soothing.

The other way that I've been coping at work this week?  I've started really utilizing my desk space as an altar and shrine.  I figure, I'm spending the lion's share of most weekdays there, and that's where I tend to be the most focused and productive, so why not?  I mean, I won't be burning incense or candles there in the middle of the office for everyone to see, but something like this goes unremarked upon: 

Why yes, fox is my primary animal energy, why do you ask?

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 19

The100DayProject: Day One

Welcome to my #the100dayproject.  I have no idea what I'm doing here, but at the last minute, I decided that my "thing to do" for the next 100 days is blogging.

(That's one way to get started, at least.)

This is going to be *really* loose in the form department, rambly and random.

If I do something that you enjoy and would like to see more of, please let me know!

For lack of anything better to report today, I present this morning's Tarot spread.  The spread itself is the "Morning Mug Energy Spread" that I found on Pinterest (unfortunately, the link to the original post it references seems to be broken. :/ )

My current working deck is the Dreaming Way Tarot, which is a really fantastic, emotive deck.  It's almost a Rider-Waite-Smith clone, but with a sort of wonderland-esque whimsy that I adore.  Monday morning's spread had produced the Two of Wands, which is a card of beginning and planning out new actions, and this morning it was the card that "jumped" out of the deck as I started shuffling it.  I took the hint and set that card aside as a kind of anchor card for this morning's spread.

(I prefer the term "anchor" in this context, I think, because the card is less representing "me" than it is the specific situation that I'm doing the reading about - thus anchoring the context of the reading into a specific aspect of my reality.  It's a subtle distinction, but an clarifying one.  And that's the point, right?)

Then I stirred the cards up in a big pile (I'm playing with different ways of selecting cards this week) and pulled out the five cards for the reading.

The spread is very clever, and is set up so that the card positions are themed around morning beverages and an overall mug shape.

1. Black Coffee-What will energize me? (6 of Cups)
2. Earl Grey-What will inspire me? (The Empress)
3. Chamomile Tea-What will calm me down? (9 of Wands)
4. Last Dregs-What will I put to rest? (Page of Cups)
5. The Handle-What will hold everything together? (The Emperor)

This deck has made it clear since day one that it doesn't particularly care for the little white book that it came with, and has continually found ways to remind me that it's primarily an intuitive deck.  I do look up traditional meanings after the fact to get some additional illumination, but the cards are definitely coming up for me based on the messages from the images and my own personal associations rather than their primarily traditional meanings.  

This time, looking at the reading as one about taking action in plotting out my path and potential goals (I'm currently working through Danielle LaPorte's Desire Mapping process), this is what I got:

1. What will energize me? The Six of Cups: for me this card is all about happy, innocence, uplifting kind of love.  It's about surprising someone with a bouquet of daisies or a spontaneous hug.  It's about optimism and a childlike wonder at the world, which is definitely a state I can draw a lot of energy and joy from.

2. What will inspire me? The Empress: Over and over again, this Empress comes up for me as an indicator of stillness and serenity, particularly the content, calm serenity of knowing that you'll know exactly what to do.  It's not the deep, archetypal intuition of the High Priestess, but the natural unconscious intuition of the Mother.  And a deeply needed reminder that I need to give myself more space to be still and silent.

3. What will calm me down? Nine of Wands: A job well done.  Completed work. Being surrounded by the evidence of your productivity and action.

4. What will I put to rest? Page of Cups: This one took me a minute, but ultimately I decided that she's representing a combination of my hesitant, passive, stuck-in-a-daydream tendencies and that it's time to move from imagining doing things to just jumping in and doing them.

5. What will hold everything together? The Emperor: Getting shit done, having a plan of attack, planning in general, to do lists, outlines and instructions.  Doesn't this guy just look like someone that's got it all together and planned out?

So, today was all about some detailed time-tracking, working on my Desire Mapping process, some overtime at work, and finally jumping on this #the100dayproject adventure.

Wednesday, March 9

Happy Spring!

my Birth Chart laid out in Karma Cards

Spring has (very suddenly) sprung here, and big changes have been afoot in the House of ... well, you know what, we don't have a "house of" type of name around here.  "House of CyberMathWitch" just doesn't have any ring to it.

But!  Changes, regardless!

All the witchiness I'd kind of (inadvertently) set aside for awhile came roaring back with a vengeance around the end/beginning of the year and I found myself encountering both some old ideas (Tarot, astrology, and oracles) and some new (to me) ideas like chaos magick.  Along with that came a renewed interest in graphic arts and journaling (vs. fiction writing).  All of the priorities I'd set up for the year just... shifted.

I don't think this is a bad thing.  There's a whole big side of myself that had been (for lack of a better word) "asleep" for quite a long time.  Then I woke up and:

Oh yeah.  I'm a witch.

the newly set-up altar space including: my mala and prayer beads, a candle
for Dionysus, my bells, peppermint oil, my Persephone oil, crystals, and tarot

I mention this, because it does impact my goals for the year, and because it will change some of the focus of what I post here.  I'm not abandoning fandom or knitting by any means and planning is still high on my priority list, but there's liable to be more rambling about magic, Tarot, astrology and so on.

So!  March Goals! (Yes, I'm a week late.  It's better than not at all so I'll take it. ;)  )

- Plan and begin a Lent Observance (more on this later)
- Get 7+ hours sleep each night
- Start a meditation practice
- Set up Instagram graphics for NaNointheBoro
- Set up the Schedule for April CampNaNo(intheBoro)
- March books (more later)
- Support and participate in MarySue Boot Camp
- Choose and journal on a card(s) daily

So, since we're also looking at a week one wrap up, here goes:

- The Lent plan is about 75% done.  I just need to go tighten up and finalize a couple details and set down some specific food/menu goals and ideas so it doesn't fall apart on me from a logistics perspective.  The big focus here is going to be on purification and rejuvenation, and there will be art magick to go along with it.
- I'm not hitting 7 hours of sleep (yet) but I am getting myself into bed earlier, so I'm getting there.
- I have been looking at and playing with some binaural beats and general music meditation recordings, as well as some guided meditations, but I still need to work on consistency.
- The graphics and scheduling for Camp are slated for later in the month, I haven't actually started the books originally intended for March (but am several chapters into Benebell Wen's fantastic "Holistic Tarot")
- I am endeavoring to be support-y pants for my fellow boot campers, and
- I've been a little hit-or-miss with the journaling on cards (I'm starting out by working my way through my Karma Card deck), but I have been doing some of them, so that's going okay.

Wednesday, February 10

Sometimes I Knit Things

February, as has been stated in the Monthly Mary Sue Post, is for Finishing.  (And this?  This is super late, though not because I've been to busy knitting, I'm sorry to say.  My original plan had been to have this post and a week one wrap up both posted by now. ha.)

We've been doing some variation of this for nigh until ten years now, and it's usually a great way for me to kick-start myself back into crafting, which tends to lag at the end of the year (BECAUSE NaNoWriMo, and I still haven't figured out how to knit and type at the same time).  And then, well, there's the Holidays, which usually involves either a last minute scramble to finish a knitted gift, or more likely, that one "stupid knitting" project that you do a row on here or there while socializing with family and friends, but really spends more time in your bag than your lap when all is said and done.

By February, though, I'm "people-d" out, my writing muses are usually taking an extended holiday in Bali without me, there's not enough sunlight in a given day to inspire me to excessive feats of organization, and the idea of spending hours (days) sitting around catching up on TV and just knitting sounds delightful.

But first, there must be an accounting of projects in progress, a bit of orienteering, and a game plan.

I ended January with nine active projects on the needles*:

Clockwise, from the black lump at the top, we've got: 
  • Even Flow Cardi (by Joji Locatelli) in Morning Meadows black sport-weight alpaca 
  • This Bliss Cowl (by Fatimah Hinds) out of Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock in Big Sky
  • Burkhardt Wristers (by Tanis Gray) out of Dragonfly Fibers Traveler (DK weight) in Jocelyn
  • (Pink) Cloud Hat (by Maria Petikhina) out of 1855 Fiber Company Alpaca Merino in Petal Pink
  • Lithos Cardi (by Jennifer Dassau) out of Knit Picks Biggo in Rabbit Heather
  • Nurmilintu (by Heidi Alexander) out of Dragonfly Fibers Damsel in Mossy Bank
  • Wee Capt. Marvel Cardi (based on the Wee Brock Cardi by Gudrun Johnston) out of Knit Picks Comfy Sport in Planetarium, Creme Brulee, and Pomegranate
  • Uncommon Dragon Sock (by Lara Neel) in Knit Picks Stroll Peapod
  • Granny Spectrum Afghan (various) in Plymouth Encore
To start with, I dug all of them out, made sure my Ravelry was up to date, and then proceeded to make sure I had printed copies of all the relevant patterns in my midori (complete with any relevant notes about what the hell I'm doing, because I rarely follow a pattern to spec).  An important component of planning for February is going over each project and pattern and making sure that I know where I am, what I'm supposed to be doing, and that I have all the supplies I need.  Everything needs to be ready to pick up and go on February 1st.
The Accounting and Orienteering part of our Adventure...
Then, I bundled them all up into their own project bags with all their accouterments: 

As for my plan of attack, I started with the (Pink) Cloud Hat, since it's for the 25,000 Tuques project and I needed to get it finished.

Then I moved on to the Burkhardt Wristers, since they were almost finished anyway.

After that, I'm going to pick one of the cardigans to focus on in an attempt to finish it (it's cold in the yoga studio this winter!), with the sock to break up the monotony.

*I have about four projects in very deep hibernation that I don't count for the purposes of February.  They're typically things that are so very fiddly, or just so far outside what I have a desire to knit that I don't intend to work on them at all during the month, but still want to finish someday.  This just isn't their year.

Monday, February 1

Intentionally Begin

2016's word is "Intention".

The year got off to a little bit of a rocky start thanks to a wicked head cold and the attendant effed-up sleep schedule it created, but I think after this weekend we're back on track and ready to roll.

So let me share with you how I intend for February to go. (Otherwise known as The Very Public Blog Post of this Month's Project Mary Sue Goals That I'm Hoping Will Guilt Me Into Help Me With Sticking to Them.*)


My plan is to update how things are going each weekend.  Somebody hold me to that, 'kay?

*For those of you who are playing the home game, the rules of the Project Mary Sue Dance Party are pretty simple: be your own wishfulfillment character.  Or, to put it bluntly, imagine who you want to be, and do your best to become that person.  Because there's not a damn thing wrong with wish fulfillment.

Sunday, January 31

Planning, Week

Sometime last month (about the time I found out about Traveler's Notebooks) I had a revelation.

If I made my own inserts, I could start the week any day I damn well wanted to.

A photo posted by Koren M. (@cybermathwitch) on

This was followed quickly by the realization that part of my planning troubles were inextricably related to the combination of 80% of my chores, tasks, and creative projects happening on the weekends and the "established" systems either splitting the weekend right down the middle, or basically "back-loading" all my to-do list into the very end of the week.

It's no wonder I felt rushed, stressed, and ineffectual.

Okay, that sounds like a stretch, right?  How can the arrangement of boxes on a piece of paper cause all that?  The days are still happening at the same time, after all.

Well, yes, but.

Here's how things were typically going:

  • Plan to plan on Saturday morning.  Attempt to do the weekly review/plan for the upcoming week (assuming a Sunday start) even though most of the personal creative projects and housework/errands I'd slated for the week I was finishing up hadn't been done yet, as they were on Saturday's to-do list.
  • Make a to-do list for the day (Saturday) *and* next Saturday (subject to change), and try to make one on Sunday based on my best (hopeful) guess of what I'd get done still yet on Saturday afternoon.
  • Realize there was a family dinner scheduled for the late afternoon/evening and have to move all of last week's tasks to Sunday anyway.
  • Push Sunday's "next week's" tasks to the following Saturday.
  • Plan to do the planning on Sunday morning (the start of the week, right?) - but get stressed out and anxious because I didn't get a solid picture of Sunday's to-do list until half the morning was already over.
  • Get overwhelmed, inevitably focus on the wrong tasks, and let several necessary things slip through the cracks.
  • And then have to go to the grocery store.

In either scenario, I also spent all week looking at a huge task list of things that I wasn't in a position to do anything about until the very end of the week, which went beyond frustrating right into demoralizing.

As I was making some daily pages to try out in my new planner, though, I had the sudden, light-bulb-choirs-of-angels-singing realization that, if I was designing the damn things anyway, I could start them whenever I wanted.  Further more, if I started on *Saturday*, then I'd get that 80% of my to-do list done and checked off before the work-week began.

Which made coming home and restricting myself to nothing but knitting, reading, or coloring before bed (because I am a. not good for much else after work, and b. will not go to bed at a reasonable hour if I get sucked into doing anything too analytical) feel less like I was putting things off or slacking or worthless and more like I was taking the well-deserved break it was actually supposed to be.

And the sooner I go to bed at night, the more likely I am to actually get up early enough in the morning to use the one or two precious hours of time when I'm still mentally on top of things to get some of my stuff done before I go to the Place That Pays Me So I Can Pay the Bills.


Friday, January 22

Compare and Contrast - AO3 Meme 2013 vs. 2016

Despite how my AO3 account looks right now (sans updates - sorry guys!), sometimes I write fic.

Sometimes I write a lot of fic.

It's time for that AO3 Meme again.*

I last did this meme back in August of 2013, but I'm not sure I ever posted it. (I did save it to Evernote, though, with my answers at the time.) And since I am home on a snow day (SNOW DAY!) I thought a comparison/update was in order.

P.S. The first question was "Account Created", which of course, hasn't changed between 2013 and now - I've had my account on AO3 since 12/21/2009, courtesy of the Yuletide small/rare fandom fic exchange.

August 2013 January 2016
Total Stories 60 83
Total Wordcount 172,303 243,399
Average Wordcount 2872 2933
Shortest Story The Lesson (Farscape) The Lesson (Farscape)
Total Kudos 1936 4591
Average Kudos per Story 32 55
Story with the Most Kudos Non-Networked Solutions (Avengers) Non-Networked Solutions (Avengers)
Total Comment Threads 258 412
Average Comment Threads per Story 4 5
Story with the Most Comment Threads Heavy in Your Arms (Avengers) Heavy in Your Arms (Avengers)
Total Author Subscriptions 42 76
Total Story Subscriptions 73 299
Story with the Most Subscriptions Heavy in Your Arms (Avengers) Auld Lang Syne (Avengers)
Total Bookmarks 272 688
Story with the Most Bookmarks Heavy in Your Arms (Avengers) Heavy in Your Arms (Avengers)
Stories with No Comments or Kudos Post-Apocalyptic Sex (BSG),
In the Infirmary
(Harry Potter), Falling (Harry Potter)
Everything has at least 1 Kudo or Comment on it! \O/

Monday, January 18

X-Files Season Two: Episodes 9-12 (Firewalker, Red Museum, Excelsis Dei)

It's like "Ice" only warmer.

2x09: Firewalker

This is pretty much Ice, only warmer, and with a handful of "no really, I can go back to work now, Mulder" undertones from Scully.

2x10: Red Museum

It's interesting which episodes I forget are actually Conspiracy arc stories. But this is the return of Purity Control, along with Scully realizing that she recognizes the man who killed Deep Throat.

Scully absolutely admits that there's the possibility Purity Control has an extra-terrestrial origin.

2x11: Excelsis Dei

I love the casual acknowledgement throughout the series of Mulder's porn habit.

I'll come right out and say that the sexual politics in this episode are a mess. It's a little like the spousal rape episode of Barney Miller, both of which attempt to address what were "new" (in terms of media attention) subjects for their time, and in both cases, looking back decades later, did a horrible job. I'm in no way qualified to address those kinds of points, but just be warned, it's uncomfortable to watch and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. None of which is helped by Mulder (in particular) being written quite a bit outside character here, in terms of how he reacts to the nurse making the rape allegations. There's a very narrow segment of people that Mulder dismisses like that, and it usually includes government suits or people deliberately trying to derail their investigation, and doesn't make any sense here.

Also, DANA KATHERINE SCULLY. You know VERY WELL that mushrooms and fungi can cause hallucinations. YOU JUST SAID THAT. Why are you all of a sudden like "no, nothing could be causing that I don't know what you mean"? Have I mentioned the writing in this episode is just terrible? Because it is. (It was bad enough that I had to go look up the writer and make sure that it was a one-off and not a normal series writer. I mean yes, we joke about John Shiban and the animal episodes, but this was so much worse.)

2x12: Aubrey

Nothing struck me as requiring much commentary on this one.

Sunday, January 17

X-Files Season Two: Episodes 5-8 (Duane Barry, Ascension, 3, One Breath)

"Monster" lighting...

2x05: Duane Barry

So this agent is a terrible hostage negotiator. I'm just putting that out there. Geez.

"That man is afraid, and the only way you're going to win his trust is by trying to understand what he's afraid of." - Can the approach Mulder elucidates be extended to the method the conspiracy uses on him to win his trust?

Krycek is a rat bastard. But we already knew that, didn't we? (I did.)

The suiting up of Mulder is awesome. And in a way it reinforces how young he still is. (But I'm a sucker for this kind of scene.)

What Mulder tries to do with Duane Barry? (talking to people who've been overlooked or ignored) - this is what Mulder does. This is why he pursues the truth, even if he doesn't consciously realize it yet. Is this what makes him different from X? Is this what they think is his weakness is and ultimately what makes him who he is? (Compare and contrast this with X later in 1 breath, and did X end up in the game to find out the truth for "the truth" or because of the people it impacts?

The idea of Scully in Mulder's ear (and vice versa) is an extremely powerful one. I love this.

**Mulder believed him**. I cannot stress that enough. Mulder believed - wanted to believe - that Barry was really an abductee and that he was telling the truth.

2x06: Ascension

Maggie verifies that Dana isn't really "a believer" but she (Maggie) is, at least somewhat. (We will, of course, later get Melissa at the other end of that continuum.)

The really fascinating question is how much of Duane Barry's experiences, escape, and actions in these episodes is orchestrated by the Consortium to get Scully out of the picture? (The music playing in Barry's car reinforces that - Nick Cave's Red Right Hand.)

The level of aggression Mulder shows to Barry is so very antithetical to his usual character. Scully is usually the more aggressive one, but if anything is going to drive either of the two of them to violence, it's going to be the endangerment of the other one.

Krycek seems to doubt his mission, which is interesting.

This episode really shows scope. There's a really impressive shadow war going on in in the background.

"They have something on everyone" - so what is it? What do they have on, say, Skinner? Or Krycek? Or X? How did all these people come to be involved in the conspiracy?

2x07: 3

Note the changed episode header, which is an odd choice for a stand-alone episode, even given that it's happening in the middle of the major Scully-Abduction arc. (DENY EVERYTHING)

Skinner wants to protect Mulder.

Skinner also gives Mulder back the X-Files.

Mulder falls back on his profiler training to deal with going back into the X-Files alone. So where is Mulder's head? He's dulled. His speech, his countenance - he looks like he's in a stupor and sort of on autopilot, at least until the case gets "interesting" when the guy supposedly dies of burns in the cell. He played a hard card with the suspect's delusion, but honestly didn't think it would hurt the guy. He really believed it was a psychological artifact.

Sidenote: we had a very different relationship with blood back then. Yes, he asks Kristin if she's afraid of AIDS, but over the course of the first two seasons of the show people are a lot more blase about being around open blood.


He's back to being alone and it's because of his mission - go on as you began - (and how many times over the course of the series will Samantha and Scully parallel?) EXCEPT, and this is a big difference, the show never gives Samantha her own agency. She is, functionally, an artifact of Mulder's psyche. SCULLY on the other hand, is very much not, she is nothing *but* agency, and while he blames himself for things that happen to her in a self-loathing sort of manner, he's never functionally responsible for them, nor for saving her (with the possible exception of Fight the Future, but we're not there yet).

2x08: One Breath

Contrast Dana as a child vs. the Dana who will kill - and relatively easily.

Would Scully have gone to the hospital or taken out the bad guys in the apartment? (I almost want to say that we'll actually see a similar situation with Scully later in the series? But I can't swear to it. She's certainly more cold-blooded about this kind of thing than Mulder is, or can be. Although in part that's my utter devotion to Wintersong's "The Lost" talking.

Watch the lighting in the scene of Mulder's apartment right after they get the tombstone and before he gets the phone call that Scully is alive. It's exactly like the lighting they used on Tooms (and possibly other "monsters" who blend out of the shadows). "Monster lighting" if you will. Will Mulder become a monster? If so, which kind of monster will he be? The bestial, impulse driven kind that Tooms is? Or the methodical, impersonal kind that the shadow conspiracy members are?

Please note - the FBI notified the hospital of the terms of Scully's living will. I'm not sure if that's standard procedure, or if it hints at someone at a higher level deliberately trying to leverage her demise.

(Side note: she decided to create a living will after joining the X-Files. Stick a pin in this, we'll come back to it in just a bit.)

Then we have the dichotomy of Mulder and Melissa Scully. Mulder *should* be the believer - he always claims he wants to be a believer, but he openly scoffs at Melissa's beliefs and practices. He denies that Scully could've told her anything because the EEG didn't show any record of it. (Essentially he's asking for hard scientific proof.)

(Note the tiny tiny glimpse of very early internet here!)

So, who (or rather, what) is Nurse Owens? (Also, nice job on the Sixth Sense-style camera work - Mulder's eyes never actually track on Owens, nor does he given any sense of acknowledgement that there's someone else in Scully's room.)

So, X is frantic about Mulder pushing too far, and I do believe him when he says that it's for/because of his own sake. Is X Deep Throat's heir in whatever war they're waging? And there's fantastic commentary here from X about how he used to be Mulder (like Mulder) and the visceral evidence that the difference is the willingness to do terrible things and his "you'll be able to live with yourself Mulder, on the day you die" (implying of course that X certainly won't be able to live with what he's done).

Maggie both brings Mulder in and pushes him away. She draws distinct lines that Mulder can be involved in Scully's death, but that she doesn't consider him part of the family. The look on Mulder's face is heartbreaking.

Skinner knows more than he's letting on, and I loved the "No Smoking" sign nod. CSM says "If you're having trouble sitting on Mulder", which implies that CSM's faction of the Conspiracy (which seems to be the visibly acknowledged faction) has at least assigned Skinner to keep an eye on Mulder because of where he is, if not actually placed Skinner in that position for that job. It's further evidence that even CSM's "official" faction sees Mulder as important, because really, why the hell else wouldn't they just get rid of him? And Skinner is obviously deeply involved.

What does Mulder know that we don't know he knows? It's easy to forget that as viewers, we don't necessarily know everything our POV characters know.

Mulder tells Skinner "I didn't warn her about the potential consequences". Remember that pin we put in Scully's creation of a living will after joining the X-Files? Mulder thinks that he didn't adequately warn her, but something spurred her into creating the will. And she was well aware of what had happened to the DNA researcher, and even Deep Throat, back in season one. He may not've sat her down and bluntly said "Scully this could cost you your life, or worse", but she was well aware of what was going on around them.

Does Skinner believe Mulder killed the man in the garage like CSM claims he did? For that matter, does CSM believe that he did it, and how does that change his view of Mulder?

My favorite moment of the episode may be Skinner coming down into Mulder's office and stating that "I do not accept resignation". Not "I don't accept your resignation", but "I do not accept resignation". He's not just talking about Mulder trying to quit the FBI.

"I can't tell you why she was taken, it's too close to me" We effectively know that Scully was taken to remove her from Mulder's equation. She wasn't meant to survive, either. That was all Scully's (and possibly god's) doing. Then X offers him the men that took Scully, and we finally see why Mulder had "monster lighting" at the beginning of the episode. He's given the choice between taking revenge and stepping on to X's path, and turning around and taking the higher road. I don't think he sees it that way, for him it's a choice between facing Scully's death and distracting himself from the reality of it by trying to tell himself revenge on her abductors, but regardless he's on the edge of a precipice just as much as she is. To choose to take the lives of her abductors for revenge will destroy him just as surely as Scully's death would be the end of her life. Instead, we get Mulder at her bedside (thank you, Melissa) and he says "But I'm here". The tonal emphasis is on "here" as an indication of here rather than there and indicating Mulder's choice of location, as opposed to the more common "I'm here" that emphasizes as aspect of support as in "I'm here for you".

Photo from Shadow of Reflection

Saturday, January 16

X-Files Season Two: Episodes 1-4 (Little Green Men, The Host, Blood, Sleepless)

And we're back! Moving, NaNoWriMo, the holidays, and then a monster of a head cold derailed the X-Files rewatch project, but over the next few days I'm going to offload my various comments on X-Files Season two.

2x01: Little Green Men

I'm going to keep harping on this for the rest of forever, but as previously mentioned, I think fandom as a whole oversimplifies the "skeptic vs. believer" dynamic between Mulder and Scully.

Neither of them seem to be coping well with the separation - on the one hand, there's a level of shock from how the final moments of Season 1 played out... I think that's the first time they've really seen that particular casual and deliberate level of murder before (the DNA researcher Scully had taken the sample to as well as Deep Throat being killed). They've probably known intellectually the risks of what they're doing, but it's suddenly incredibly visceral and real. Added to that, there's the knowledge that anyone they take something to or bring into this equation even in the most innocent of circumstances, could be in put in danger.

Please note that Mulder has pretty much given up. He's questioning himself, whether or not there was ever anything to actually look for or investigate - it's Scully who is insisting that "no, we shouldn't stop" and that there's something real to work on. (Also I love the way she ruffles his hair. It's comfortable, and comforting, and she's trying so damn hard to retain a connection to him because she can tell he's slipping away from her by degrees.)

They do a fantastic job throughout the episode with Skinner and CSM. Skinner initially comes across as a "bad guy" - but they're making it very clear here, when he tells CSM firmly that he doesn't smoke, that he's not on the Consortium's side of this thing. He doesn't like or trust CSM, that's obvious, too.

I have to wonder a bit at Matheson's agenda, and I'm not sure it ever really gets explored. We know that Deep Throat at least claimed to be wracked with some guilt over his part in his previous activities (E.B.E.), but we never get any kind of information about why Matheson is involved of helping Mulder out.

"Now I can only trust you." Trusting no one is hard - now Mulder has a new level of doubt. He also doubts himself. He's come to rely on Scully's input, and without that, he doesn't seem to be sure what really happened and what did he really see?

The wire tap shocked Skinner, and then he kicks CSM out. Is the wire tap what turned the tide for Skinner? Was that his last straw? (And by extension got the X-FIles back?)

The lack of translation/subtitles while the truck driver is ranting heightens the sense of how out of his depth Mulder is here and keeps us in his shoes.

Remember how in Season one, we talked about the reaction Scully has in the face of possible real, visceral evidence? Her tone of voice and level of deference shift, and they do it again here. Scully asks "is that them?"

2x02: The Host

Mulder is thinking if leaving, Scully asks "What would you do?", Mulder says his only reason to stay would be to work with her and "they won't let us work together". There's a direct parallel much later in Fight the Future when Scully talks about leaving the FBI.

And we have the introduction of Mr. X. "Reinstatement of the X-Files must be undeniable." Why is that the case?

2x03: Blood

Mulder is obviously dosed with the same chemicals the inadvertent murderers are. Is it just that Mulder's anxiety isn't triggered? Or that he doesn't, on a base level, have the same sort of anxiety issues the other victims do?

2x04: Sleepless

Compare and contrast Krycek's first approach to Mulder (I followed your work) vs. Scully's - Krycek emphasizes Mulder's conspiracy work, while Scully implied respect in general but also in a non-sycophantic way. She implies respect even in disagreement, she doesn't try to manufacture trust by falling in line with Mulder's ideas.

I love the body language when Mulder and Scully hunch close and shut Krycek out.

X tells Mulder "I don't want to be here" - so what does X want? There's implication that he's doing it out of a respect for Deep Throat, and that he has regret about his death, but he's certainly more reluctant to give Mulder information, and he's obviously not in anywhere near the same level of power that Deep Throat was.

There's this beautiful hesitant longing between M&S when they're on the phone together. <3 <3 <3

Mulder goes nuts and Krycek is all like WTF and then Mulder floats his psychic theory Krycek just accepts it.