I Have a Desire Monster

I have a desire monster. She is enormous and I am five feet, six and three quarter inches. I generally say I am “five-seven,” because that is one body measurement I have found advantageous to round up. Sometimes I forget I am not a 350-pound line backer. Sometimes I will see a photograph of myself and be surprised by my size. I look so much smaller than I feel. I think it is because somehow, some way, each day, I manage to fit my desire monster inside the relatively tiny space of my lower belly.

As a woman, the world asks the impossible of me. Tend to your body/deny your body. Be firm, soft, full, thin, long-haired and hairless, fragrant, scentless, plumped. And hungry. Know which is appropriate to which parts. Need nothing. There is nothing worse than a needy woman. Quietly wait. When the male gaze responds to your hard work, smile and nod. Do not be afraid (though you may be in grave danger). And do not let them know you have been waiting. If they know you want them there, they may be compelled to leave. You want them to stay. So sit silently, beautifully, perfectly groomed. And whatever you do, DO NOT FART.

I have a desire monster. I am overwhelmed by her thunder. I am afraid others cannot handle her or her hunger. I lose sleep worrying the world won’t let me live here and keep her. I have sung her many songs hoping to lull her to sleep. Afraid the village would lock her up (and me, her kept keeper). But despite the beauty of my singing (or because of the beauty of my singing), I only wake her more.

I have a desire monster. She is insatiable. She breathes life in the form of fire. Air and friction. Oxygen and spark. Many men, too many men, have run from the power of this flame. Moths drawn in by my light, retreating once they feel my heat. I have tried to make the flame smaller, cooler. But the flame refuses to go out. Red hot heat can only burn. And I am looking for the ones who come closer.

Sometimes my desire monster pokes me in the eyes. Tears fall and will not stop. How do we do it? How do we not burst into a million stars? How do we stay here? How do we manage to contain it all? Why are we not all expected to go completely mad in our wanting for nothing and everything all the goddamn time? Sometimes my desire monster pulls my collar bones in opposite directions. Sometimes my desire monster squeezes my upper thighs in that way that makes me laugh vomit. Sometimes my desire monster mistakes my heart for a speed bag. My desire monster will Rocky the fuck out of my dangling heart. And somehow, someway, my heart can take it. My heart is a champ.

I am crying to write this.

I was recently told that I was undeniably a mermaid in a past life. A half this and a half that. An eternal longing for wholeness. An endless ache to make sense. I picture myself with my seashell titties and my long undulating hair. My undulating hips. Underwater breathing. Half of me no doubt drowning, longing for land. The other half perfectly held in a wet embrace. 

Always two sides needing different things. Never fully settled in one place. I am a Gemini. I was born the end of May in 1980. I was 9 when The Little Mermaid came out. Though we didn’t have a theater in our tiny Bible Belt town, so I think I saw it a year or two later. I probably watched that movie 3,692 times. I knew every line to every song like it was breathing. I sang them all the time. They called me Ariel in middle school. You couldn’t shut me up. You still can’t. I think I might be ready to stop apologizing for that.

The Big Mermaid, maybe that’s the name of my desire monster. She is sexy and sleek and huge but not impossible to hold. Not if you are huge too. Not if your curiosity is stronger than your fear. Not if you are willing to surrender to not knowing where we are going. Well, are you? I want to know you. Call me. My name is Bethany and my number is written in the stars. 

It is not uncommon for me to still randomly break into Ariel’s song. Aaaaah aaah aaahh, ah ahh ahhh aaaah aaaaah.

I have let mean old women steal my voice a few times. Many times actually. Mean old women. Mean young women. Scared boys. Scary men. “Here, take it. It is my everything. You can have it.” My hands clutching my throat. My body no longer making sense to me. My song has always been the cord, connecting me to heaven, anchoring me to earth. When I sing I forget there is an end or ever was a beginning. 

I recently re-watched The Little Mermaid and wondered for the first time, what the hell happened to Ursula? What drives someone to turn beautiful, vibrant, full-chested Merfolk into weird gray shrimp ghosts trapped in the prison of their own unmet longing? Watching the movie as a grown woman really shifts the perspective. I am now closer in age to Ursula than I am to Ariel. Ursula certainly had a desire monster. Perhaps she simply was a desire monster gone rogue. One thing that is clear is that she was really pissed off about something. Being a woman provides you with plenty to be pissed about. Being a powerful half-woman half-octopus sea-witch probably has a fair share of frustrations. Ursula just wanted to rule the sea. King Titan was holding her back and keeping her down. I’d be pissed too.

I am pissed. Though less so now. Not because there is less to be pissed about. No, there is more. But because I am learning to not let others steal my voice. 

I don’t sing as much as my desire monster needs me to. At birth I was gifted the ability to sing my own lullabies. A way to calm my inner screaming child. A way to soothe my desire monster in constant need of soothing. It is hard being alive. A fish lady finally on land, thirsty, longing for sea. I am terrified of the ocean. 

My desire monster isn’t afraid of the ocean. She is the ocean, and the infinite wet kisses of water on the shore. My desire monster refuses to ignore the atoms quivering in every thing. Strollin’ along down a (what’s the word again?) streeeeet. She feels the ground as it continually greets her feet. She bears the unbearable urge to say “I LOVE YOU! You are enough! You are beautiful!” to each passing stranger. She smiles at all of them. Some smile back. 

My desire monster asks for so much, but I want to believe it’s not too much.

All I want is to sing scorching songs. To whisper great truths. All I want is to be held. And to do the holding. My desire monster makes a great big spoon. All I want is to love and be loved. All I want is to connect. To be a bridge. To be the space between earth and sky. All I want is everything. To be everything in the presence of another’s everything. Too often we only find the courage to be a little bit of everything we are. It is not the content of the secret that wounds, but the keeping.  

I am just trying to make sense of me. I miss feeling safe in my watery home. I miss my seashell titties. On a good day my breasts feel full and capable of satisfying a hand. On a not as great day, they feel like sad empty sacks craving a mouth to blow life and form back into them. It’s like they need an audience to show up. Right now I feel like I have the chest of a slightly chubby 8-year-old boy. 

I also think I was a slightly chubby 8-year-old boy in a past life. Probably longing for a flatter chest. We are so many things.

I have a desire monster and she wants to suck your dick.

When I was younger I was sure (and terrified) that if I offered up my mouth, a line impossibly long would form instantaneously of dicks eager to fill that space. Now, that I am 37, rooted quite confidently in my power. Greatly connected to my desire monster. Mouth. Wide. Open. No such line is forming.

For most of my life I thought I had to protect myself from the force of the male phallus. You must imagine my surprise (my disappointment) that as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand that they have been protecting themselves all along. Such wasted energy. On both our parts. Our parts. Our parts protected. From what? From pleasure? From connection? From deeper access to higher selves? I wanna be a sexy scuba diver. I wanna go deep. I wanna be a sultry rocket scientist. I wanna blast off. We are not always meant to stay down here. 

I will not destroy you. I may destroy you. I may destroy you. But trust me, you are wanting to be destroyed. And the destruction will only make room for more of what you actually are. More of what you have been missing. 

You see, I have a truth monster. She is also insatiable. She also breathes fire. She sets buildings aflame. Entire cities burned in a sentence. But they were all things that needed to be burned. It’s not her fault. She simply pointed it out.

I have a truth monster. She just wants to know who you are. Who you truly are. Not who you are afraid you are, so pretend the opposite. Not who you wish you were and therefor never attempt to be. I want to know who you actually are in this very moment. I want to hold you in your truth. I want to meet you in your messiness. I want to match you in your willingness to be seen. I want to lay down with you. I want to lay down my guard. I want to stop pretending that I’m not what I am. A woman full. Full of desire. Hungry for truth. Unwilling to accept less. 

I want you here. That is what I long to say. That is what I long to hear. 

find the cost of your paper

Sep 13, Grand Remembrances

Today is Grandparents Day in the United States. Being a Grand is a special honor. I feel very blessed that my wife and I have two grandchildren. We were able to visit them today. Yes, we are still being cautious with the coronavirus, but we also find it very difficult to not see them when they live so close. So today we did drop by to visit Jacob (age 10) and Sophia (age 7) along with their parents. We brought donuts and caught up with them. Our grandchildren are still pretty young and this is a precious time in their lives – and ours!

I wish I had known my grandparents better. We never lived in the same place. Dad was a career Air Force pilot, so we moved around a lot. But we did get to see them once in a while when they would visit us, or we them.

A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.

Enter the Hathrim giants, or ‘lavaborn’ whose kenning is fire. Where they live the trees that fuel their fire are long gone, but the giants are definitely not welcome anywhere else. They’re big, they’re violent, and they’re ruthless. When a volcano erupts and they are forced to evacuate, they take the opportunity to relocate. They don’t care that it’s in a place where they aren’t wanted.

I first read Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books and loved them (also the quirky The Tales of Pell), so was curious about this new venture, starting with A PLAGUE OF GIANTS. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender meets Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. Elemental magic, a variety of races, different lands. And it’s all thrown at you from page one.

But this story is told a little differently. It starts at the end of the war, after a difficult victory, and a bard with earth kenning uses his magic to re-tell the story of the war to a city of refugees. And it’s this movement back and forth in time and between key players in this war that we get a singularly grand view of the war as a whole. Hearne uses this method to great effect.

There are so many interesting characters in this book that I can’t cover them all here. Often in books like this such a large cast of ‘main’ character can make the storytelling suffer, especially since they don’t have a lot of interaction with each other for the first 3/4 of the book–but it doesn’t suffer, thankfully. And the characterization is good enough, despite these short bursts, that by the end we understand these people and care about what happens to them.

If there were a main character it would be Dervan, a historian who is assigned to record (also spy on?) the bard’s stories. He finds himself caught up in machinations he feels unfit to survive. Fintan is the bard from another country, who at first is rather mysterious and his true personality is hidden by the stories he tells; it takes a while to understand him. Gorin Mogen is the leader of the Hathrim giants who decide to find a new land to settle. He’s hard to like, but as far as villains go, you understand his motivations and he can be even a little convincing. There’s Abhi, the son of hunters, who decides hunting isn’t the life for him–and unexpectedly finds himself on a quest for the sixth kenning. And Gondel Vedd, a scholar of linguistics who finds himself tasked with finding a way to communicate with a race of giants never seen before (definitely not Hathrim) and stumbles onto a mystery no one could have guessed: there may be a seventh kenning.

There are other characters, but what makes them all interesting is that they’re regular people (well, maybe not Gorin Mogen or the viceroy–he’s a piece of work) who become heroes in their own little ways, whether it’s the teenage girl who isn’t afraid to share vital information, to the scholars who suddenly find how crucial their minds are to the survival of a nation, to the humble public servants who find bravery when they need it most. This is a story of loss, love, redemption, courage, unity, and overcoming despair to not give up. All very human experiences by simple people who do extraordinary things.

Hearne’s worldbuilding is engaging. He doesn’t bottle feed you, at first it feels like drinking from a hydrant, but then you settle in and pick up things along the way. Then he shows you stuff with a punch to the gut. This is no fluffy world with simple magic without price. All the magic has a price, and more often than not it leads you straight to death’s door. For most people just the seeking of the magic will kill you. I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Ahbi and his discovery of the sixth kenning and everything associated with it. But giants? I mean, really? It isn’t bad enough fighting people who can control fire that you have to add that they’re twice the size of normal people? For Hearne if it’s war, the stakes are pretty high, and it gets ugly.

The benefit of the storytelling style is that the book, despite its length, moves along steadily (Hearne is no novice, here). The bits of story lead you along without annoying cliffhangers (mostly), and I never got bored with the switch between characters. It was easy to move between them, and they were recognizable enough that I got lost or confused. The end of the novel felt a little abrupt, but I guess that has more to do with I was ready for the story to continue, despite the exiting climax.

If you’re looking for epic fantasy with fun storytelling and clever worldbuilding, check out A PLAGUE OF GIANTS.

The post A Plague of Giants appeared first on Elitist Book Reviews.

The Artwork Of Gary Choo

Gary Choo is a concept artist/illustrator based in Singapore. I’ve know Gary for a good many years ( 17, actually ), working together in animation studios in Singapore like Silicon Illusions and Lucasfilm. Gary currently runs an art team at Mighty Bear Games, but when time allows he also draws covers for Marvel comics, and they’re amazing –

The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo
The Art Of Gary Choo

To see more of Gary’s work or to engage him for freelance work, head down to his ArtStation.

The post The Art Of Gary Choo appeared first on Halcyon Realms – Art Book Reviews – Anime, Manga, Film, Photography.