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Nov. 5th, 2007

Soriya, Pt. 4

The days following my mother’s whispered confession to me were tense. I spent as little time around her as possible, which really wasn’t all that hard to do. After my lessons in the morning, I spent the afternoons with Akara in her rooms or in the courtyard she shared with the other royal children. I was reluctant to go anywhere near the Siem Reap, but couldn’t explain why to my friend. Luckily, she was as easy-going as she was beautiful, and she never asked me why I avoided the riverbanks. She knew there was a reason; I could see her watching for my reaction whenever someone mentioned the water. Akara simply accepted my sudden distaste, and suggested other venues for our walks and our picnics.

I wanted to tell her. The secret that I was keeping locked away was making me distracted at my lessons, and short-tempered with those around me, but I couldn’t burden her with the story that my mother had told me. I trusted her implicitly. I knew she would never tell anyone anything that I told her in confidence, but I couldn’t bear the thought that she might begin to look at me differently. It was enough that I felt my family, my very life, was dishonored. I was ashamed.

I probably would have been able to stay away from the water indefinitely, but the time for the yearly festival honoring Jhulelal was fast approaching. I have never dreaded anything more, I think, than going out on the Siem Reap, pretending joy at my mother’s side, and honoring the god that she said was my grand sire.

How could she have done this to me? Oh, I didn’t believe for a minute that I was the granddaughter of a god. I believed that my mother loved me very much, and had made up the story entire. I suppose she thought it would be easier on me to believe that I was the granddaughter of a god than to think that I was the product of some distasteful encounter she had had one night upon the riverbank with an unknown man.

The day finally dawned that marked the beginning of the festival honoring Jhulelal. My nurse woke me and indicated the clothing she had laid out for me to wear, then bowed her way out of my bedchamber to fetch some fruit to break my fast with. The silks and the headdress were beautiful, but I felt no enthusiasm for dressing up and going out on what would be a very long ordeal for me.

I felt a strange twinge deep inside my belly, like something had loosened, and then realized that fortune was with me. I know had an excuse to miss at least the first day of the festival: I had become a woman.

Channary brought in a plate containing sliced chék, mango, and some papaya, and then started to bow her way out of my chamber when I stopped her. “Please inform my lady mother that I shall not be able to attend her today. Tell her that my moon time has arrived.”

Channary’s eyes widened, but she bowed quickly, and hurried down the hall, her sandals clicking lightly on the tiles. I fetched the cloths I had had prepared against this day, and after putting them in place, retired to my bed, happy at being spared the ordeal I had dreaded so horribly.

I couldn’t return to sleep, however. The morning was very fine, and the light streaming through the fine silk over the doorway to the courtyard was intense enough to make my head pound. I rose and lowered the heavier bamboo blinds over the window. It would restrict the breeze, and my bedchamber would become hot quickly, but it was better than lying in bed with my head thumping from the light.

I must have dozed off, because the next thing I knew, my mother was in my chamber, pulling the bamboo aside, and jerking the thin sheet off my damp body. “If you think you can continue to ignore me, on today of all days, you are very mistaken,” she began.

I moaned as the bright sunlight struck my face. “Please, mother! Put the blinds back!”

The expression on my mother’s face changed from one of annoyance to one of concern, and she rapidly crossed my sleeping chamber to my side, and laid a cool hand on my forehead. “Soriya? Are you truly ill?”
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Nov. 4th, 2007

Soriya, Pt. 3

My mother whispered the story to me one night, about the time that a suitable marriage was being arranged for me with one of Akara’s many brothers. The prince chosen for me was a boy I had known all my life, and while I wasn’t particularly excited at the prospect of marriage to Sovannarith, I realized it was a very good match. To be quite honest, I was more excited by all the new clothing I would receive as part of my bridal portion.

At any rate, I hadn’t become a woman yet, and couldn’t be married until I was. My marriage existed only as a future possibility, and not something that I had to worry about quite yet. In the meantime, I occupied myself with choosing beautiful embroidered silk for my wedding clothes, and giggling with Akara over what happened in a couple’s marriage bed – until my mother stopped me from going to my bed chamber one night.

“Soriya.” I heard her call my name just as I was about to leave her, and retire to my bed for the evening.

“Yes, mother.” I turned and waited for some request on her part. I was an obedient daughter.

“Come here, child. I have something I must tell you.”

I crossed the room to her side, where she lay on the bright silk cushions she favored, then kneeled next to her. I waited some time for her to speak, but when she finally began to tell me the story she had kept to herself for so long, the words came flowing out as if she couldn’t wait to get them told, and in the keeping of someone besides herself.

“After your sister, Sovanara, was born, there were no more children for a long time, and I felt that my time of bearing children for your father was over.”

“But, mother,”

“Hush, child. It is rude to interrupt your elders when they are speaking.”

“Yes, mother.” I bowed my head again, and resigned myself to listening to yet another long and boring story of the kind that older adults tell to those that are a captive audience.

My mother ran a hand over my head, petting me to balance out the reprimand, then began again. “I was on the banks of the Siem Reap, up at the waterfall above the temple. It was growing dark, but it is always so beautiful at twilight that I stayed longer than I had planned. It was almost full dark when I stood to leave, and when I had started down the path next to the river, I saw him standing in the middle of the path.”

“Who was it, mother? Was it a bandit?” My mother’s story was growing interesting, after all.

She tapped my knuckles sharply with her fan, but otherwise acted as if she hadn’t heard me. “I felt no sense of menace from him. I wasn’t afraid in the least, although I knew somewhere in my mind that I should be. He was…beautiful. It is the only way I know to describe him. It was as if he had gathered all the remaining light to himself, and he almost…sparkled in the twilight. I had never seen such a man.

“He didn’t speak, but just held out a hand to me. I took it, and let him draw me closer. I knew that it was time for me to be returning home, to see to the evening meal, but being close to him felt right. I felt like I was supposed to be there.

“He pulled me to a small clearing off the path, and I stood there, and let him pull the silks and the veils off my body. He still didn’t speak, and I don’t know why I didn’t, either, except that I didn’t feel the need to.”

“Mother!” I was beginning to see where her story was leading, and really didn’t want to hear the rest of it. “Do not tell me that you dishonored yourself and father with another man! I do not believe you!”

She looked at me now; looked me directly in the eyes. “It is true, Soriya. I cannot tell you that what I did was wrong, even though I am sure you believe it was. It wasn’t wrong. From that meeting at the edge of the Siem Reap, you came. I had thought I was too old, that Darany was too old, for us to welcome any more children into the world, but that man gave me a gift that night. He gave me you.”

I stood quickly, and began pacing, unsure of what to say. It couldn’t possibly be true – Darany was my father. “You are lying! I do not know why you wish to hurt me this way, but it cannot be true. I know who my father was, and he was not some…some man you met at the edge of the river one night! Perhaps you have had too much to drink this evening, or you are ill, but Darany was my father.”

I paused in my tirade, and glanced at my mother. She wasn’t even looking at me, but at some far away place in her mind. A tear escaped the corner of her eye, and rolled unnoticed down her still smooth cheek. I was at once sorry for the things I had said, no matter that she had brought them on herself. I crossed to her side, kneeling next to her again, and took her hand. When I spoke, I was gentler with her. “Mother, tell me: why do you say these things?”

She turned to look at me once more, love shining in her eyes. “You have long been my favorite, Soriya. You needed to know who your father was. I don’t know his name, for he only whispered one sentence to me before he left, and that was You have been loved by the son of Jhulelal."

And with her last sentence, the world as I had always known it ended.
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Soriya, Pt. 2

My parents were nobles. Long after their deaths, I realized that the man I had known as my father wasn’t my father – he couldn’t have been. Still, Darany was my father in all ways, and loved my mother, Achariya, until his death at what was then considered a ripe old age. I believe he was somewhere in his fourth decade of life when he died, but I don’t remember.

It used to make me very sad to realize that specific details of my early life, and my memories of my parents had become indistinct. I suppose I have grown used to it now. In any case, there isn’t anything to be done for it.

As I said, we were a noble family, and I was born during the reign of Jayavarman II. Life was certainly good for a pampered daughter at his court, and I of course was taught to dance and sing so that I might one day make a suitable marriage into another noble family. I was a bright and pleasant child, and was welcomed most everywhere I was wont to go. I often performed for the god-king, singing and dancing for his entertainment with the other children at his court at his request. He had many children himself, among them my best friend, Akara. Akara was the daughter of one of the lesser concubines, and thus free to roam after her daily lessons as I was. I often wonder if she made a good marriage, or if she succumbed to one of the childhood illnesses or seasonal maladies that often plagued the people. Such are the regrets of my life.

I was remarkably healthy at a time when more children than not died in infancy. None of the passing sicknesses affected me, although no one thought to question it at the time. As it was, I was the last of seven living children that my mother bore my father – or so we thought – and was petted and indulged at every opportunity, and they gave many offerings of thanks at the temples of Angkor for my continued life. Darany and Achariya were considered middle-aged when I was born to them, and so there were no more children.

It was only after his death that my mother told me the story of my conception, and my birth. I chose not to believe her, was hurt and appalled that she could fabricate such a story, and so dishonor my father. But she wasn’t lying, and her mind and souls hadn’t started wandering yet. She told me what she knew, but even she, so involved that the story is just as much hers as mine, didn’t know it all.

As children, we used to listen to stories of children that were half god, half human. These children hid from the gods that were their fathers because they wished to stay on earth. They were in love with the humans, jealous of their humanity, and wanted it for themselves. As a result, they often courted and won women as their mates. The children of these matings were neither gods nor humans, nor even something in between. They were a new race, and new species, and considered damned.

As little girls, Akara and I used to spend many a night in terrified whispers, discussing what we would do if confronted by one of the half-gods that roamed the earth. In our discussions, we decided we would be very brave, and that we were fierce enough to defend ourselves from them if we should chance upon them at the reservoir, or on the banks of the Siem Reap one night. Of course, our parents, tutors and nurses would never let us out at night alone. Just the thought of us being out after dark alone was enough to send one of the adults entrusted with our care into paroxysms of fright, but we discounted that. It wasn’t important to our girlish warrior fantasies. We were Khmer. We were fierce and strong.

But the half-gods were real. One of them was my father.
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Nov. 3rd, 2007

NaNoWriMo time...once again

So, I'm gonna try NaNo again this year. I'll post what I have here, just as a way to prod myself to keep writing. I hope you enjoy it.

**********

I was christened Soriya at my birth. I have kept that name throughout my life, although it’s meaning is most ironic. Soriya means “the sun” where I was born, in what is known now as Cambodia. I haven’t seen the sun in longer than I can remember, but I keep it anyway, in honor of the parents that gave it to me. Their memory is as distant as that of the sun I am named for.

I have witnessed the rise of the Khmer Empire - the construction of the beautiful and intricate temples at Angkor Wat. I also grieved as I watched the empire fall, and the once cultured and educated Khmer fracture and fade into obscurity. I was in Paris during the revolution, and may have had some small hand in the intrigue and so forth that was rife at that time.

I sailed the oceans of the world, first with the Chinese of the Qing Dynasty, and then with the legendary Jean Lafitte into the bayous of the Louisiana Territories. I danced at quadroon balls, made an enemy of Marie Leveau, and lived as a rich and pampered noblewoman in the old French Quarter. I watched the bloody birth of a new nation – one called America, and watched it tear itself in two, and try to put itself together again.

I am still here, and I still watch.

I have been called a vampire, a succubus, a witch, a demon. I am all of those things, and yet none of those things. I am…the only one left. There are no more like me. The old gods have gone the way of the gods that were here even before them.

But, I am still here, and I still watch. I will tell you the story, so that even if I go the way of the gods that created me, there will be someone who knows, who will have it in their keeping when I have faded into the mist that rises over the Siem Reap – the river of my birth.
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Jun. 8th, 2007

Freedom of Religion for Native Inmates

Most who know me even a little bit know how passionate I am about Leonard Peltier's case and issues related to it. Now, I'm asking people to help out by just adding a signature to a petition asking that Native American inmates be given the same freedom of religion that other inmates receive. Please sign the petition, and spread the word - thanks.

This is the letter I received:

Religious freedom is a fundamental right of all, including American Indians, yet the struggle to preserve and protect our religion has always been a difficult one. More so when incarcerated Native Americans are concerned who tend to be given second rate acknowledgment by prison officials and mainstream faiths.

In 1984 Robert Wilson, (Standing Deer) Albert Garza and I fasted for 42 days to draw worldwide attention to the deplorable conditions at the USP Marion and to no longer allow the United States to continue denying Native American brothers and sisters the right to practice our religion. For over 500 years our religion has been trampled on and disrespected by those who invaded our lands, and who have tried to take away our culture, our traditions, our language, our history, and our religion. When we fasted for 42 days we did not fast out of depression or despair, but with a joyful commitment of total love and dedication to our people. We were willing to fast until we were granted our constitutional right to practice our religion or until we returned to our Creator.

In retaliation for our 42 day fast we were held in solitary isolation for 15 months with nothing in our "cages" (cell) except for a steel bunk and toilet. The door to the "cage" (cell) was never opened unless we were handcuffed behind our backs, and four guards with clubs were present to supervise our every move. After a year of confinement attorney Margaret Gold filed a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons that secured in having each one of us transferred to a separate maximum security prison where we were allowed to practice our religion.

In 1985 I was transferred to USP Leavenworth; Alfred went to USP Lewisburg and Standing Deer to USP Lompoc.

As of August 15, 2005 I have been at USP Lewisburg and since November 2006 I have not attended an inipi ceremony (sweat lodge). When I say I have not attended an inipi ceremony, I must add I have refused to attend an inipi ceremony, as my way of refusing to participate in the ongoing disrespect for our religion and sacred ceremonies by the USP prison system. I can not allow the United States to continue denying Native American brothers and sisters the right to practice our religion.

The trend within the past several years throughout the United States prison system has been to restrict the traditional spiritual practices of Native Americans. Nationwide the current trend of prison officials is to limit the amount of time Indian prisoners can participate in inipi ceremonies, talking circles and spiritual gatherings. The new restrictions in U.S. prisons are racist and undermine the sacredness of our traditional ceremonies. Those restrictions include time limits and the rationing of firewood for the inipi and an English-only mandate. Mandating the English-only requirement for the ceremony is discrimination and racist, because the Native language is used and needed for the songs and prayers to be blessed by the Creator.

The new restrictions include a four-hour time limit on the Sweat lodge ceremony, which is unrealistic since the inipi includes the heating of the stones, which takes two hours, and two hours for the actual ceremony. The stones need to be heated for at least two hours, otherwise they are cold and the ceremony is neither complete nor beneficial to the healing and prayers. The rationing of firewood in U.S. prisons has deliberately undermined the heating of the stones for ceremony.

Rushing through an ancient ceremony is not proper, it is very sacred. The deliberate attempt to shorten the hours and circumvent the ceremony is sacrilegious and undermining the seriousness and sacredness of the spiritual healing and blessings. Traditional ceremonies are to be held in the ancient and sacred way and manner.

Prison chaplains continue to oversee American Indian ceremonies. The supervision of our inipi by the chaplain is not necessary, because it takes time away from other spiritual and cultural activities. These include talking circles, drumming sessions and Pipe ceremonies that also mandate the presence of the chaplain. During the inipi Ceremony, tobacco, or kinnikinnick (a mixture of sage, cedar and sweet grass) is used for our sacred pipe or Canupa. Very limited amounts of tobacco are allowed for our sacred pipe ceremony. I am a pipe carrier and am not allowed to smoke my pipe with tobacco, kinnikinnick is also not available. I have asked to smoke my pipe in the sacred lodge area and have been told that while the present Chaplain is working for the USP Lewisburg, I will not have access to my pipe.

A part of the ceremony is having a meal after the ceremony has been completed. The USP prison system is denying us the right, to eat this meal after our ceremony. The Native American brothers, are the only group that receives only two meals on the day we have our ceremony. This also changes the way our inipi ceremony has been taught to us by our ancestors.

I ask that those of you who can practice your religion freely do so and keep those of us who continue to fight for our religious freedom, preservation of our Culture, traditions, language, history and dignity in your thoughts and prayers.

Yours in the struggle,

Until freedom is won,

Leonard Peltier

May. 14th, 2007

The Tudors!

The Tudors

Anyone else watching this as avidly as I am? I can't even wait for the new episode to air on Sunday night - I have On Demand, so I watch it as soon as it's made available. I'm currently a week ahead of the regular Sunday night schedule.

King Henry, played by Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, is far from the fat Henry VIII that we've all learned about in Western Civ classes, but is instead an easy-on-the-eyes 25-year-old royal. And his entourage! Not an ugly one in the bunch.

It has more allure and sex than a soap opera - even guys getting it on with each other - and is still able to go into detail on the plotting and behind the scenes machinations of the politics of the time.

I'll definitely be buying this as soon as the DVD is out, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Showtime will continue the saga for more than just this season. I'd love to see their take on different royal dynasties from history, as well.

Mar. 8th, 2007

Software woes and the wonder that is outsourcing...

I got a new cell phone for christmas (well, I really bought it for myself, okay?) - it's one of the new RAZRs. I love it - it has all these near useless but really cool features that I'm still learning to use, but I tried to find the software that would let me hook my phone directly to my PC so that I could download ringtones, pictures, etc. to my phone.

Took me a couple of months, but I finally found ONE lonely copy of the software. Happy happy joy joy.

Not.

I installed the software, and managed to get it to work exactly once. (Of course, that one time was sheer genius - I clipped the MP3 of Dennis Leary's song "I'm an Asshole" so that it was just the chorus, downloaded it to my phone, and now it's my husband's ringtone when he calls me). Since then I've haunted the company's website, in particular the support page and the FAQ page.

No joy. It says I have to download the driver specific to my phone. Okay, I can do that.

I also have to download an update for the software. I can do that, too.

Still no joy.

I finally gave up, after printing out all the help manuals, and emailed customer support. They must outsource their help functions to some third world country, because what I wrote was a short description of the problem I was having, and a plea for "Help, please!"

What did I get in my inbox from them just awhile ago?

"Thank you to reaching Mobile Action USA Service Center. You feedback and comments are important to us company."

That's it. No help.

*sigh*

Feb. 22nd, 2007

An interview!

Okay, I know I'm silly to get this excited about a (very) short interview, but what can I say? A REAL publisher (paper - books in Barnes & Noble, etc) has picked up our "Coming Together" anthologies, and I did a quick interview with Victoria Blisse for the Coming Together Blog.

I snagged this video from Alessia Brio who did it as a promo for the Hurricane Relief Edition (I'm "cloudy"). Cool, huh?

(no subject)



Your Birthdate: July 18



You are a cohesive force - able to bring many people together for a common cause.

You tend to excel in work situations, but you also facilitate a lot of social gatherings too.

Beyond being a good leader, you are good at inspiring others.

You also keep your powerful emotions in check - you know when to emote and when to repress.



Your strength: Emotional maturity beyond your years



Your weakness: Wearing yourself down with too many responsibilities



Your power color: Crimson red



Your power symbol: Snowflake



Your power month: September

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ok, this is funny.....

Your Stripper Song Is

Closer by Nine Inch Nails

"You let me violate you, you let me desecrate you
You let me penetrate you, you let me complicate you
Help me I broke apart my insides, help me I�ve got no
Soul to tell"

When you dance, it's a little scary - and a lot sexy.

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