Danny’s Hawk

redhawktattooWhen my cousin Danny would drive up to the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican reservation, red tailed hawks would follow him. They coasted next to his truck sometimes for a mile at a time at eye level.

When Danny made the bustle for his regalia, he used red-tailed hawks. He was too kind hearted to kill them; he used roadkill.

When he died suddenly and without any warning from two heart defects we hadn’t known about, his chosen family from Stockbridge led a traditional funeral for him and for his family down in the Chicago area.

When folks started to look at the sky, I was surprised. Eagles only come to Native funerals, I thought.

I was partly right. It wasn’t an eagle. It was a red-tailed hawk.

After we were through, it landed on a chain-link fence next to us, and waited patiently until we’d all assembled. It especially waited for Danny’s mom and brother.

After it was sure it had all of our attention, the hawk turned west — the direction of death in both the Irish and Mohican traditions — and flew away swiftly.

This tattoo is for him, and for that hawk. It is a combination of Irish influences (specifically, the Book of Kells) and modern Mohican artwork. I also incorporated a Celticized version of the medicine wheel Danny used when helping people who were sick or lost in his role as a Pipe Bearer: the colors of the four directions that mattered to him, but in a modified quadruple-spiral (rather than the triple spiral in most Irish art).

I miss him so much. My heart still twists like a shard of metal is trapped in it when I think of him, even when I am smiling through my tears. He was too young, and he was too kind, and he was too smart to leave us this soon. So says me, selfishly.

Danny and the hawk had other ideas.

So much thanks to Awen Briem, Art With a Point, for bringing this to life for me. You are AMAZING.


Geese Season

canada-gooseI am being stalked by geese outside of my office window.

“Oh,” one of my coworkers at my newish job just said grimly. “It’s geese season.”

They apparently nest in overhangs of the building. One goose in particular is pacing by my window, looking in, glaring.

“I’ve got my eye on you, bub,” s/he’s saying. “You better watch it.”

Wait’ll they find out I always carry a stick.

Here’s the thing about Irish stereotypes on this day.

img_2146It’s not that Irish Americans have no sense of humor, by and large. And most of the white Irish-Americans (plenty aren’t white, of course) are aware that we are white people and have privilege this way. I laugh at a lot of cute and funny images on St. Paddy’s Day.

But sometimes it goes beyond humor into viciousness. Not only jokes about car bombs, which seem fairly obviously offensive and hurtful — I know people who have lost dearly beloved family in The Troubles. The one that gets me and so many others are the drunken stereotypes — many of our families have been torn apart by alcoholism. Whether it’s because we come from a colonized people or it’s genetics or culture or what, you guys are pointing at some of our deepest, most personal wounds and laughing when you pull this shit. So if you want to laugh and tell us to lighten up, maybe don’t stick a burning ember in our eye, first.

My MarsCon Schedule

HWandFohmyI hope I’ll be seeing some folks at MarsCon this weekend! Beyond toting around a kid who will be gaming, here is my schedule:

The Dark Side of the Fey
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 11:00 am

Traditionally capricious and dangerous, the fey are now often portrayed very differently. Why have we moved toward a purely cuddly and kindly fey? What authors are bucking the trend to draw on the more traditional characteristics and who does it well? Why does this work? What purpose do tales of the dark fey serve? Why should we “stay on the path”?
With: S.N. Arly, mod.; William Alexander, Haddayr Copley-Woods, Catherine Lundoff, Kathryn Sullivan

Animals in Fantasy
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Saturday 06:00 pm

Animals play various roles in fantasy literature. Some behave naturally. Others have magical powers or are magical beings. What are the advantages and pitfalls of animals as characters? Which books really get it right?
With: Kathryn Sullivan, mod.; Eleanor Arnason, Ruth Berman, Haddayr Copley-Woods, Ozgur K. Sahin

Sleepy Hollow (TV)
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Sunday 12:00 pm

We’re a couple of seasons into the adventures of Abbie and Ichabod and their valiant crew. The show has a diverse cast and a diverse fan base with deeply held opinions on what works and what doesn’t. Let’s get together and discuss.
With: Catherine Lundoff, mod.; Haddayr Copley-Woods, Joellyn Ackerman

Storytelling vs Story Writing
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Sunday 01:00 pm

Is there a difference between these two arts, and if so, what is it? While they are often lumped together, are they really that closely related? What skills are absolutely essential to storytelling but useless to story writing and vice versa? What is the difference between the markets these two arts aim for? What are the advantages/disadvantages of one over the other? What tools or methods are out there for refining your storytelling skills, and how do they differ from writing? Skill, talent, both, neither?
With: S.N.Arly, mod.; Haddayr Copley-Woods, Michael Merriam, Susan Woerhle

KFZmainflyer copyPS I also hope folks will go to Mouk’s AMAZING-looking talk on mental illness, demon folklore, and witch doctors in refugee communities:

Kung Fu Zombies vs Shaman Warrior
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Friday 05:00 pm

Mental illness for many communities is often explained as demonic possession. Beliefs like this stem from centuries of folklore about demons, ghosts, monsters, and witch doctors. I want to talk specifically about refugee communities and the second installment from my Kung Fu Zombieverse anthology of stage works.
With: Saymoukda Vongsay, presenter