Archive for the Seven Deadly Sins Category

Open Letter to People Who Do Not Matter

Posted in Rants, Seven Deadly Sins on February 27, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Why do I address a letter to you, if you do not matter? I address it to you because I am endlessly hopeful that someday, you will listen to me.

You see, I am a patient person. Laugh for a moment. Get that cleared out. Yes, I am a volcano, sharp-edged and passionate. But that is the surface. The waves may whip up, but it passes quickly and without incident. I am patient when you playfully mock my speech, not understanding that I choose my words so carefully because there are days when I cannot speak at all, days when I stutter, days when the words are in my head but not on my tongue. I smile and joke back, because it is good to talk, and I did not do that for too long.

I laugh when you say that my aggression, my temper and impatience are an act. I don’t care if you think my music, my clothes or my hobbies are silly or a reaction to my upbringing.

I am not easily angered. But there are things which do anger me. Let me share those, so that I won’t be tempted to claw your tongue out next time you talk to me.

Please stop telling me that I just need to find the right church. That I should keep going until I do. Do not talk over me, reprimand me, or become condescending when I say I do not need a church.

I do not need to find the right church. I do not need a church. This is not reaction to a bad childhood experience, nor backlash against my conservative upbringing. It is because I find church to be meaningless to me. I gain nothing from listening to someone else tell me what his experiences, his beliefs or passions are. I can get that from a book, and have tea too.

I do not need fellowship. If you knew me, you would understand that I have a low tolerance for other people. I have had everyone in my head but myself for years. The most holy experience that I can have is utter silence, and that cannot happen so long as one person is in the room.

I do not need your god. He is not my god. I do not hate him, but I find him contradictory and judgmental. He has no meaning to me, no call to serve. Believe me, I tried. I tried with all the passion of a child who believes that she is going to hell, that she can be saved if she just loves hard enough. I have my own gods now, and your god does not like that. Save the lightning, please.

My church is the rugged face of Pyramid Peak. My cathedral is the Desolation Wilderness. My chapel is the open hillside where I watch the storms that are my hymns. My fellow worshipers are the hawks, the horses, the coyotes. My reverence is the total peace of a night without people. My prayers are songs and my songs are prayers. Please, don’t try to judge me for this. You don’t understand. You don’t need to understand.

I won’t tell you my beliefs. Please don’t tell me yours. That is not something that needs to be known. We are in a world of over-share. Let this be personal. Leave the sacred secret and cherished. This is what keeps me alive, please do not try to haul it out for autopsy.

Also? I said I don’t want children. I will not be ‘changing my mind in three or four years’. If you think I am, you do not know me, do you? There are things that change in my life, but they are not many. This is something I have known for years. I am not wholly a woman, it is true. I do not identify entirely as a woman, either. It is a gender that I have worn uncomfortably, even as I love it and luxuriate in some of the gifts it brings. I have never thought of myself as a mother, nor imagined myself with babies. It is fine for others, but it is not my path.

There are enough unwanted children in the world. I have worked with some of them. They left an indelible mark on my heart. It was not the fat babies and cooing cherubs, but the little-old girls with HIV, the beautiful girl who took my hand and made me her eyes. It was the boy who had been burned, with his plastic-skin skeleton, and the boy who hit a horse on the nose until he was shown how it hurt the horse. It is the kids that society misses that I love.

If I ever desire children, I will reach for them first. Not out of pity, oh gods no. It is out of admiration, honor, respect. These children saved my life. The autistic, the brain-damaged, the abandoned. I would die for their memory, and I would selfishly keep every one of them.

I will not change my mind. Please, keep your judgments to yourself. I don’t hate children. I love watching my friends with their children. My young cousins can bend me backwards with a look. One of my special children from years past can reduce me to tears with a word or touch.

I am used to being judged. I have been judged since before I could speak. That does not matter. What matters is that you do not listen when I try to speak.

I am not easily angered. Irritated, yes. Yet these things will always make me angry. Judge me if you wish, but remember, I will lose all respect for you. When you judge me and dismiss my opinion, it reduces you to the level of the people I have struggled to leave behind. The ones who give religion a bad name. I used those people as examples of what not to be. I used them to become who I am today.

You Do Not Matter because I have ceased to listen to you. You have become the noise that I flee, the irritations that I see over my shoulder in the mirror. You do not matter because you do not listen. So much white noise in your own ears, you’ve forgotten that there are other ways.

You do not matter to me, but I hope that someday, a blanket will fall over your head. I hope it drowns out the noise and lets you look at the world from someone else’s eyes. I hope you will someday find peace in silence, strength in your own eyes, and love in your own heart.

Then you will matter, not just to me, but to the world, to your loved ones, to yourself. Good luck.

Light and Night

Posted in Musings, Seven Deadly Sins, Theories and Thoughts, writing on September 17, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Dark. Left-hand path. Descent into Hell. Root of all evil.

Evil is dark, walks to the left, below everything.

Light. Right-hand path. Ascending to Heaven. Pinnacle of good.

Good is bright, walks to the right, and is above all.

This is in mythology, religion, fiction, every day usage.

A friend and I used to spend hours debating the usage of light and dark as concepts of good and evil. We never did come to an agreement.

What is light without dark to give it depth and beauty?

The left hand path is seldom chosen, but there is no path inherently evil.

Without the depths, there is nowhere for roots to take hold, no ground for our feet.

There are two sorts of dark. There is the dark when a bag is slipped over your head, a suffocating, blinding darkness. That is the evil, the darkness that doesn’t want to see what is around it. Selfish and willfully blind.

There is the darkness of night, rest. The darkness that is not evil, but gentle and protective of secrets. It’s the stars, the wind, the lovers and the dreams.

Next time there’s a discussion of light and dark, good and evil, consider them not as flat conceptions, but living and multi-dimensional elementals. It leads to such amazing discussions, and makes magic that much richer.


Posted in Seven Deadly Sins with tags , , , on August 25, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Every time I get on a horse, I’m afraid.

Every time I hit ‘send’ on an email, I’m afraid.

Every time I walk into a room of people, I’m afraid.

I’m not afraid of injury on a horse, been there, done that.

I’m not afraid that I’ve said something wrong when I send the email, I almost always do.

I’m not afraid that people will think I’m strange, they usually do.

Fear has been a huge part of my life, for as long as I can remember. The form of religion I was raised to hardly celebrated confidence, personal strength or pride. On the contrary, I can’t help but compare my old self to the mice from ‘Despereaux’.

I had to be self-sufficient, but not self-confident. That’s not a real good balance. In fact, it tends to leave on feeling like there’s about half an earth under their feet. It leads to false fear…and false confidence.

I know that I’m good with horses. I know I’ve got the reflexes, the understanding, the strength to handle even the most difficult, demanding horse. Yeah, I might get beat up or kicked or be sore for a few days. But I will come out on top.

Why? Because there’s a point where fear gives way to instinct. When you don’t have time to think about it or be afraid, your reaction tells more about you than a dozen years of thought. Fight or flight.

Problem is, I can’t just react when I’m writing. I have to think. And damn is it hard.

It’s worse with a novel, not so hard with a short story. It takes months–at the least!–to write a novel. Months of thinking about how much of a failure this could be. Months of imagining how badly it could be received by test readers. Months of imagining months of work going to waste.

It’s tough. Really, really tough for someone like me. It’s almost paralyzing sometimes.

But isn’t that the foundation of success? Believing in yourself?

At least I know I don’t have to worry about my challenges for the next few, oh, decades. I’ll be over here working on getting over that fear issue.

Black Mass

Posted in Seven Deadly Sins with tags on June 16, 2009 by Jaym Gates

I am in love with Black Phoenix Alchemy. Forgot to mention that in the earlier post.

Anyways, I’ll do a freewrite based on their ‘Hellfire‘ blend today.

Pipe smoke, heavy and rich, acrid, burned her nose, as sharp as a cigarette burn. Lucia wondered at the heat of the floor, the candles burning around her, hot leather and musk; chalk gritty under her bare back and the stifling scent of ambergris and myrrh and dragon’s blood.

The first fiery touch startled her, came from deep within. A claw in her spine, a probing wing trying to stretch in her belly. Hot breath through her lips. The chanting swelled around her, calling for some primal thing she could not understand, and her body writhed against the burning leather and hot chains. Fire seemed to sear under her skin, until she was sure flame would erupt from her fingers. Then the chains melted and pooled around her; she rose and looked at the men around her.

“What is your desire, mortals?”

Pro-Lifers Commit Murder

Posted in Rants, Seven Deadly Sins on June 2, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Does everyone see the irony here?

I grew up in an environment that was pro-life, racist, homophobic, misogynistic. I put my foot down on attending family gatherings after listening to the men sit and talk about how the Hispanic cashier probably had AIDS and how they should all be deported, how gay marriage would be the downfall of America, etc etc etc.

I can imagine them crowing right now. Hallelujah, the spawn of Satan is dead. Hallelujah, he’s going to hell. The misogynistic, racist, homophobic members of my family might as well be waving torches and donning white robes at this point. It is the sort of thing they would deeply approve of.

Read the accolades to Tiller’s compassion and care for his patients. Go read the other side of the story, the one you don’t hear about how abortions aren’t the screaming, bloody butcheries so many pro-lifers would have us believe. Read about the church usher, the man who toughed out attacks, burgleries, gunshot wounds and hatred and still gave up his life for something he believed was right.

Tiller didn’t provide an easy-out for anyone who happened to change their mind about their child. He aborted women whose children were so impaired that they couldn’t hope to lead a healthy or happy life, or women who would never recover from having a child. His concern was more long-term, more encompassing than perhaps those who scream for his death have ever considered.

The issues surrounding abortion are possibly the stickiest of any debate we face now. This isn’t gay rights, where it’s an issue of equality, as important as that is. It’s not equal pay or support for third-world nations. This is about life and death, and deciding when a procedure becomes murder, and who would be responsible. When do you ok ending a life? When is it a quick and easy fix for a mistake?

I believe in choice. But I also believe in responsibility, and that this isn’t something cut and dried. It may never be solved, and certainly not to everyone’s satisfaction.

But there’s no question what Tiller’s death was. Murder. Flat-out, stupid, small-minded, hateful murder. And everyone who cheers the murderer takes part in that murder.

If you advocate life, you don’t get to play God. You don’t get to pick and choose who lives and who dies. Either you argue for all, or you argue for none.

And that, I do believe, is a cut and dried issue.

A Case Against Magic

Posted in Musings, Rants, Seven Deadly Sins, Theories and Thoughts with tags , , , , , on May 15, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Magic is the cure-all of fantasy. It’s used for everything from illumination (because it’s so freaking hard to pick up a flashlight) to resurrection (Sorry, I believe dead should stay dead). It’s a sort of Deux ex Machina with the added glamor of looking cool and being PLOT-RELEVANT!

I can imagine if we had magic in every day life, if it was so common as stories make it out to be. Instead of picking up a piece of paper, you levitate it to yourself (or telekinetic it or whatever you use) You don’t get wet, because you have a rain-shield around you. The traffic is moved out of your way because you don’t like it there.

Magic is laziness in a cool suit and shades. Picking up the piece of paper via mind power means you don’t see the urgent piece of mail underneath. Because you don’t get wet, you miss a really cool moment where the day just stops and all you can do is stand and stare at the sky and cry because no one can see your tears and you just realize how wonderful real life actually is. Everyone wants traffic moved out of their way, and so it all tangles horribly. Actually, when you consider the Jersey Turnpike and LA, that’s the best case for magic already existing than I could invent!

Everything is action and reaction. By making a choice, you affect the rest of your life and that of everyone in the world. “No man is an island” is especially true in the sense of choices. Using magic offers the chance for worse snarls, tangles and troubles than before. Black magic and vengeance aren’t even included in this. Just ‘harmless’ little white magic spells. And in the end, is it any easier to focus on the piece of paper, lift it, and float it to you? Why not just walk over and pick it up?

Magic solves all our problems in fantasy, and gives the author a way around having to creatively solve the problem. Oh, no torches? Ok, we’ll cast a light spell instead of feeling through the dark and learning to rely on senses. You are wounded? Oh, let’s just magically heal that. Don’t bother learning to fight better/be smarter. We’ve got a cure.

I see too many people taking the easy way out of life any more. Coming from a background where I was expected to learn everything myself, earn each accomplishment, and not receive any reward except the job well done, it still tweaks me to see the entitlement in society. It’s as though they do expect magic to just leap up and make their lives easier.

In reality, magic would be as difficult as any other science or discipline. Years of practice and study. Uncertain results. Frustration. Lack of sex because you are holed up trying to snuff the candle. Is it REALLY worth all that to avoid standing up for that piece of paper?

Imagine where we would be as a society if we stopped believing in serendipity and miracles and things being owed us and started realizing that the best way to happy success is putting aside the tv and cheeseburger and going out and taking life in our own hands.

Happy thought, isn’t it? There’s a place for magic, serendipity and miracles. In stories. In those once-in-a-lifetime-and-I-will-never-forget-them moments. In the time when you really have done absolutely everything you can, and there’s nothing left to try. Life doesn’t owe you magic. It doesn’t owe your protagonist magic. If you want to use it, have them spend years learning to snuff a candle.


Posted in Seven Deadly Sins on November 12, 2008 by Jaym Gates

Cloudy days promising rain are the perfect time for introspection and consideration of life’s challenges. Quiet and still, nothing intruding into the peace, it leads to deeper thoughts that might not be wished for on a sunny or stormy day.

Lately, most of my introspection has been taken up by the topic of my own struggle with the deadly sins. I know very well that I suffer from chronic fear, anger and pride. Anger is the easiest of these, and fear is the one that seems to be making the most damage. So I thought I’d explore my own struggles with the sins a bit.

Growing up as a child, I learned the meaning of fear quite quickly. My mother, single in a devoutly Christian family, was threatened with being disowned if she didn’t allow my grandparents to raise me. My real father’s name is not even listed on my birth certificate, and I was formally adopted by my grandparents, with all mention of my father banned. My mother was the oldest of three children, and in a sense, I was then raised as the youngest. But the youngest daughter, at three or so years of age, had started showing disturbing signs of problems. These things only worsened by the time I was born. Doctors couldn’t find a cause of her symptoms, and so my family lived in their own personal hell of constant seizures, abberant behavior, severe emotional disturbances, and violence from her. With less mental capacity than a toddler, she took constant care from the entire family. When I was two years old, the house of cards my family had erected crumbled, and she died. I saw her die, and the repercussions have haunted me throughout my life. She drowned during a seizure, and the evidence points damningly towards certain family members. It shouldn’t have happened. My mother was kicked out about a year later, leaving me without the most basic supports a child should have. She was only allowed back when my grandmother felt benevolent or guilty.

I only remember my childhood from what family pictures and stories exist, and certain moments of terror that broke through everything else. Every other memory I have can be directly traced to some later retelling of it or picture, leaving a gray haze in the back of my mind.

My grandfather suffers from grand mal seizures also, due to his diabetes, and one of those memories is of me, probably five or six years old, huddling in the corner of his bedroom while he shook, asking my mom if he was going to die. Others involve the terrible, destructive nightmares I have suffered from my entire life. I remember every one of those!

With physical and emotional abuse, isolation, severe anger issues with the entire family, a history of psychological disturbances, and a complete lack of trust, I finally walked away from it all at 18. My grandparents and every family member except my mother disowned me, and it’s a credit to the skill of my family that I still struggle not to feel guilty about leaving hell. Extreme mood-swings, apathy, general fear, feelings of isolation and an inability to form real relationships made the next couple of years a struggle to keep my head above water. That I did so is a direct testimony to the few friends who have known what was going on, and to the power of writing in my life.

Fear is a powerful motivator in our lives. As Gemmell once said through his writing, “fear is a friendly guard dog, warning us of danger. But if we aren’t careful, it becomes a slavering wolf, chasing us through life.” Or something similar, mild paraphrasing can be excused on the basis of the book being about two feet out of reach.

Fear has always been my worst sin, the one that all the others spring from and the one that weakens and holds me back. Walking into a room, driving to work, going to a friend’s house, making a phone call, going to sleep, every one of these things used to leave me shaking and nauseous. They still are difficult sometimes to do, but possible. In fact, people often ask how I can be so confident, so fearless and tough.

Not hard if the only way to go is up.

Fear holds us back from reaching for that golden star above us, from asking that one girl out, keeps us from getting back up after we fall.

It CAN be conquered, it CAN be tamed. And by God, if it takes the rest of my life, it will be the least of my sins.