Sting Performs Dowland

Alright, I admit his vocal delivery is a bit too contemporary at times, but it’s wonderful to hear Dowland’s work getting some attention these days regardless, and Sting doesn’t sound bad really.

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Not Again…

Long story short, Mom’s not taking the gender transition thing well, she said some things that were deliberately hurtful to try to bully me into not “replacing her son,” and that put me in a very bad place emotionally.

On the plus side, her reaction- written, for once so I have a paper trail now- has pretty much proven that she has an abusive personality and likes to manipulate people by knowing exactly how to hit where it hurts, and that I wasn’t just blaming her for my problems out of a moral failure like she wanted me to believe.  Granted, she’s not the only one; I’ve had coworkers, roommates, ex-friends, and even a college dean pull the same mind games on me in just the last five years alone.

On the down side, I’ve been triggered again.  I feel that same anxiety building in me day by day, and I’m starting to go emotionally numb again.  I’m not sleeping very well.  I can’t focus on coursework and my hearing is really acute, which makes me jumpy when I’m out and about because every sound makes my fight or flight response go wild.  I feel like a wild animal, I can’t trust anyone.

The past life memories that often come when I’m triggered nowadays are a bit troubling, and a new development that is hard to explain since I’ve been having this same basic type of meltdowns since I was in grade school, but never with a sense of having had past lives.

As I see it, there are only two ways to explain this: either I’ve actually had such horrific trauma that I’ve blasted through to past lives or some collective consciousness of pathos, or I’ve had PTSD much of my life and I’ve been triggered so badly and so often in recent years that I’ve begun to lose my grip on reality.  Fortunately, enough details I’ve recalled about John’s life matched verifiable facts about him that I can give myself the benefit of the doubt for now.  Unfortunately, that means that whatever these memories are, I have to live with the prospect that there may be more of them, and worse to come.  I’ve already recalled such horrible things…  I don’t look forward to these flashbacks at all.

Hopefully this is a sign I’m finally getting to very old past life traumas, and not a sure sign I’m going crazy.

John experienced much worse than I ever did, by the way, and I feel ashamed saying I had a bad life when I think of his life.  And yet, I can’t ignore that 29 years of being invalidated by someone is enough to make anyone disturbed.  Comparing traumas is the trap I fell into when I first started having these symptoms again and refused to recognize them as PTSD because I felt like if I claimed I was traumatized, I’d seem like a spoiled child of privilege overreacting to hurt feelings.  I didn’t want to feel a bad Millennial stereotype of a self-pitying brat, so I tried to play it off and work through it, but it got worse and worse.

When your emotions get so out of control that nothing in the world changes your downward spiral, it is a bad sign no matter what.  I should have known that and not assumed it was just a deflated ego.

My First Experience with “Past Life Travel”

I did something yesterday I had never done, but had been planning to do for a very long time: I rented a car and drove to the Pacific coast with the sole purpose of jogging past-life memories and possibly getting a feel for being “on the ground” with the knowledge that the deja vu I had felt the first time I was there was from a real place.

I was not prepared for the reminders of other past lives besides my most recent one; I was reminded more at times of my life as a Tommy than my life in California in the 60s.

My fiance and I took the long way out of the Portland area, through the suburbs on the west side of the hills and before long found ourselves in an idyllic area of rolling hills and hop farms along a stretch called Cornelius Pass Road.  It looked an awful lot like the hop farms outside the city of Hereford, and it’s strange to think I live so close to hop country in this life too.

We took Highway 30 across the beautiful forested slopes of the Coastal Range to Astoria, where we stopped for a short time.  The first place there we visited was an antique store.  There, I noticed a large number of post cards and photos from the Victorian and Edwardian eras very close to a framed photo of a man who appeared to be in a WWI-era US Navy officer’s uniform, so I gave it a look.  Sure enough, there was a WWI-era post card of French army life.  I got it for $2- practically stole it really.  It’s an elaborate fold-out piece in beautiful color with many pieces that looks absolutely excellent for its age; it would have gone for ten times as much on eBay.  It got me wondering just how much cheap WWI ephemera I’ve been missing while looking for other items like cap badges and war diaries.

Also in Astoria is the Doughboy monument, which I did not know about until I saw it mentioned on a tourist map at a sub shop where we had lunch.

Further on, as we hit Highway 101, we changed to the playlist of songs from my previous life.  The mood became more thoughtful as an intense feeling of familiarity came over me and even though I had never driven that road myself in this lifetime, something felt right about it.

We drove all the way down to Lincoln City before I decided to go ahead and look for beach access, but Lincoln City’s beaches have very little parking unless you’re a casino customer.  We decided to back-track somewhat until we found a nice area for beach access.  We finally found it after a drive down a stretch called Sandlake Road.

I walked along the beach for a short time with my fiance.  I used to go to the beach a lot in my previous life and the Pacific Coast has been reassuringly unchanged with its many nooks that are still unspoiled by development and overcrowding.

As the day faded, we headed back, trying to get to Highway 26 as quickly as possible, but I missed my turn for Highway 53.  Somehow, I ended up on 53 anyway (a look at the map tells me I missed the right turn in that town where the road cut 90 degrees).  I noticed the road becoming narrower and with sharper curves; I could no longer carve along at 55 like I could on the 101 and after a while of even moderate speeds my fiance began to complain of motion sickness.  Then the wildlife showed up; several deer, a raccoon, and three mice all in the space of a few minutes of each other.  Luckily, I slowed down enough that they were able to get out of my way.

I ended up at the 26, a bit stunned at having gotten there without knowing how, and we continued our drive home with medieval metal (like Corvus Corax and In Extremo) playing on my .mp3 player through the car’s stereo.

The whole experience was ultimately a positive one, and although I didn’t have any earth-shattering revelations, I feel better for having seen for myself that I can still go back to places like these, that there really are places that haven’t changed much since I was there in an entirely different life.

By the way, I did not take many photos.  I’ll post what little I have along with a pic of that post card when I get a chance.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow I’m going for a drive down Highway 101 along the Oregon coast with my fiance, the way I used to drive along the same highway along the coast of California (and probably some of Oregon) in my previous life.

I’ll have an .mp3 player loaded with songs from my previous life.  I’m doing this as much to try to bring back memories as I am to sort of say goodbye to that life formally, since I died kind of suddenly.

At sunset, I want to find a spot to park, open the doors, and play something I loved back then loud enough that it will carry for some distance, until the sun disappears from view, or until the diffuse daylight of the overcast Oregon skies is such that I can no longer read without artificial light.

After that, I’m going to head home and try to think about what I’m going to do with my life now.

It’s still so tempting to say to the world “Dammit, I’m still here! Don’t eulogize me, I’m not done!”

Maybe it will give me some strength to see Highway 101 much the same as it’s always been, with quaint little seaside towns strung along dramatic coastlines and picturesque lighthouses.  I should consider myself lucky to be in much the same position I was before, and I need to find the motivation to put forth the same amount of effort if I want to go anywhere as a writer.

Tomorrow, I say goodbye to an unhappy past and hello to an uncertain future.

More on William Longespee

First, I found the relevant passages from Roger of Wendover’s “Flowers of History” related to William Longespee’s shipwreck, return to England, death, and funeral.

I have some thoughts on it.

First, on the legend involving the virgin and the candles- I can see there being a kernel of truth to this because one of the recurring themes across several of my lifetimes is an affinity for the Divine Feminine and although I have no specific belief in a god or gods, I acknowledge that the thought of paying devotion to a female aspect of the divine has a powerful draw for me, just as it did in my previous life and, I’m sure, in Longespee’s.  Keep in mind that at this time in Europe, veneration of the Virgin Mary had reached its apex to the point where she was, very much, regarded as greater than God.  This was due in part to the rise in esteem of women in the 13th century, a legacy of Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Eleanor was also known to have been an early proponent of the Troubadour culture, which Longespee is known to have embraced wholeheartedly.  I believe that he did see something- whether it was St. Elmo’s Fire (presumably a form of ball lightning that forms on the rigging of ships) or some sort of brief vision of the divine, or something else entirely.  

The story of how the candles at Longespee’s funeral remained lit through the wind and rain of Old Sarum (quite a feat) was probably added to give the narrative some symmetry though I’d like to believe it, as it ties in rather romantically with my affinity for fire, and the Olympic torch passing our trailer on its way to Los Angeles shortly after I was born (and the fact that it passed through Yeovil in 2012).

Wendover’s account of Longespee on Ile de Re is a bit perplexing; he claims that he was only on the island for three days and then spent three months adrift at sea.  The reason for his supposedly leaving the island was because the French lord who had been given charge of the island, Savaric de Maleon, had sent soldiers to capture Longespee, who was tipped off by two soldiers whom he handsomely paid off and set to sea, only to arrive in Cornwall three months later on Christmas day and that he lived for some months thereafter.  My memory is that he stayed on the island until the first signs of spring and left for England while he could still stand on his own two feet, was in great pain for some weeks, and died shortly thereafter.

I’m pretty sure most historians agree that Longespee was actually at Ile de Re for some months, but why would Wendover lie?

Perhaps a clue is in another subplot of this narrative, the supposed poisoning of Longespee by Hubert De Burgh over the hand of Ela.  It is known that Ela became abbess of an abbey after William died, but it has been understood by historians that this is simply because she and William were both devoutly religious and not to escape marrying Hubert’s son, so De Burgh’s motive for the poisoning is very much in doubt.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Roger of Wendover did not like Hubert de Burgh very much, but not that there is any merit to the case for his having poisoned Longespee.  The arsenic story is almost certainly a complete myth because Wendover’s account- the only source for the poisoning story- describes an acute attack and does not ascribe his death in any way to his earlier illness which had been ongoing for some time.

But perhaps there was another motive there too.  Perhaps either Longespee or Wendover wanted the story to be a literary eulogy for England’s first Renaissance Man, in the form of a story mimicking Homer’s Odyssey.  I’m pretty sure that was something Longespee may have had a hand in and that he lied about being ill in the infirmary of Notre Dame de Re, since my memories suggest a long time spent in the abbey and a spring time departure.

I’m not sure what to think of Wendover’s mythologizing account.  It’s not accurate, that much I’m sure of.  But it’s a romantic fiction of high caliber for the era, and it apparently inspired an 18th century romantic novel called “Longsword: Earl of Salisbury” that is widely regarded as England’s first historical romance.

Incidentally, the source that cited Wendover directly was the foreword to a 1952 edition of the above that my university library just happened to have.  From what I’ve read so far, the actual novel isn’t great.  The language is preposterously archaic even for 1762, and the story is very formulaic by today’s standards.   It was one of those books that was good enough in its day but has not aged well.  But because it was “good enough” way back when, it became highly influential in the development of the historic romance, and not surprisingly, it draws heavily on Roger of Wendover.  Also, the foreword incorrectly states that the elder William Longespee was not in the crusades; I’ve seen sources that state quite to the contrary, that he was involved in several battles in the Third Crusade, although I know nothing of this from memory.

I’d say that “Longsword” isn’t the first English historic romance, however; I think Roger of Wendover’s “Flowers of History,” which was written with the exact same plot while Longespee was hardly cold in his grave, takes that credit.

Speaking of Lea and Perrins…

I found this:

http://www.advertisingarchives.co.uk/detail/14656/1/Magazine-Advert/Lea-and-Perrins-Worcestershire-Sauce

By this point, the famous sauce had already become a household name in pretty much the entire English-speaking world.  From what I’ve read it was one of many early British attempts at a curry sauce from the 19th century, initially rejected for being too strong but when fermented, the recipe became a legend.  Its origins as a failed curry are interesting because of their claim in this ad for mixing it with jam being a suitable substitute for chutney.

Not surprisingly, the bottles are a common artefact in excavated trenches.

Two Recipes from One

Last night, while experimenting in my kitchen, I came up with one recipe while remembering another we used to make back in 1915 that was prepared with some of the same ingredients and techniques (and by “some of the same ingredients,” I mean Lea and Perrins).

Recipe 1: Zesty Sausage Dressing (2013)

You need

2-4 sausages, peeled and crumbled

2-4 slices of bread, crumbled (or about 3/4 cup of bread crumbs)

Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce (I’m not huge on brand loyalty but it is the original that I’ve enjoyed over three lifetimes).

Sweet and spicy mustard

A handful of mild and buttery cheese like Colby-Jack or Double Gloucester, grated.

In a skillet, add crumbled sausage and Worcestershire Sauce to taste.  Brown sausage on medium heat.  Add mustard and bread and continue stirring until the bread has soaked in the sauce.  Remove from heat and stir in cheese.  Goes great with turkey.

Recipe 2: Trench Pudding (1915)

You need:

1 tin of corned beef

2-4 pieces of hardtack (also called Pilot Bread)

Colman’s English Mustard

Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce

First, soften the hardtack in a bowl using hot water until you have something resembling a dense porridge or thick mashed potatoes.  Be sure to add water slowly so that a spoon stands up in the mix.

Mash up the corned beef, add worcestershire sauce to taste and about 1/2 tsp. of mustard, and brown it in a skillet over whatever heat source you can find.  Add the hardtack mush and mix it all up.

You could do a number of things with the resulting mixture.  If it was dry enough, it could be pressed into thick cakes or bars and wrapped in paper, and carried into the field with you, and it would keep for several hours.  If there was a village or an Australian unit nearby, you could sometimes barter for a bit of cheese to cheer it up (though I doubt it would have been an easy thing to come by on the Western Front and I don’t recall if any Australians were there at the time).  Other things, like eggs, nuts, sauces, and even local vegetables could be added if you could get them but the eggs made it very unappealing after an hour or two.