Mrs. Witch Writer and Mr. Piano Man, One Year Later…

One year ago, at around 3:13 pm, my Piano Man and I exchanged our vows while encircled by a handful of people very close to us. It was a day ruled by love, music, food, smiles…
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This doesn’t mean that the ceremony went smooth. Doing things while your hand is tied to another person’s hand is difficult: we dropped a bowl of raspberry dressing, we cleaned up the mess together; my Piano Man couldn’t tie his shoes, I helped him; I stepped on some mint and my feet began to itch, he washed them for me… We made it work, and laughed madly while we were at it.
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Getting handfasted was a natural thing; a comfortable thing that made us more…
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…much more and greater than we were before.
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The Little Princess was a star. She changed her dress 3 times, and danced like a lunatic.
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My Boy kept us smiling, and made me dance like a lunatic.
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Papi was quiet, shy… and quite handsome, if I may say so myself.
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My Piano Man’s Mom was wild. She danced probably as much as the Little Princess.
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My Piano Man’s Dad did a lot of smiling, and danced even though his knee was killing him.
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At the head of the ritual, helping us tie the knot (literally) were two great men, whom we chose because of their huge hearts and our admiration for their love for each other.
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My maid of honor, more like a sister really, might beat me senseless for sharing this picture. But I will take the pain, just so I can show you the glow of her smile.
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Meet my Piano Man’s best man, one of his best friends. Can you tell how much he adores the other lady in the picture? Yep, we were surrounded by pure love.
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After one year handfasted to my Piano Man, I can’t predict what the future might hold for us; but my witchy senses tell me that regardless of what it might be, my husband and I will walk towards it together…
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Back to Eating Like When I Was Thirteen… Mostly

When I get so lost that I forget where I was going… I stop, take a few deep breaths, and then continue paddling forward. My gut and I have been approaching eating in this way since last October… But fresh focus and deep breathing has not resulted in the revelation of a dietary plan we can follow for good. The most recent attempt, which never materialized (thank goodness!), consisted of a designed diet that was to take into account all my health needs.

I spent a week or so reading about how this food molecule reacted with that other one; and how a different food was great for my stomach, but if I ate it too close in time to this other one, then the combination would turn the bacteria squatting in my intestines into The Hulk.

In a moment of pure frustration… right after my nutritionist and I realized that regardless of how we approached the situation, I would end up eating the same things over and over and over… I said, “You know, I had no stomach problems when I was a kid. Maybe I should just stuff my face with what I used to eat then, and see what happens.” To my relief—and if exhales are any indicators, to the relief of my nutritionist, too—he agreed with the spirit of my outburst (I might’ve been yelling when I made the proposal *cough*).

While growing up, the bulk of my diet was fruits and vegetables. Egg, fish, poultry and meat were used almost as condiments. I drank tea in the same way other children drank milk; I hated milk. And I would not touch rice or beans without the encouragement of bribery.

My days started with wormwood tea, chased with a cup of sweet ginger tea. The first was intended to treat intestinal parasites; the latter to keep me from going into dramatic shock, due to the disgustingly bitter taste of wormwood tea. Breakfast was a boiled green banana or plantain with a boiled egg. Sometimes we would go wild and have some cassava or white-fleshed sweet potato instead of banana or plantain… the egg was rarely substituted.

Lunch was rice, beans and some kind of meat or fish or vegetable in sauce. Whenever I got my way, I would eat a fried or charcoal-baked green banana. Dinner and breakfast looked very similar, but the egg was fried or substituted by something like salami. I didn’t like the smell of salami, so I just ate my banana. On cool days, we had hot chocolate and bread, or something like it. No milk in my hot chocolate… unless someone wanted to see me gag.

So… I can’t really replicate what I ate when I was younger and wilder… and with a less ridiculous digestive system—I mean, we grew or raised most of what we ate—but I can eliminate processed foods (and things like dairy and too much meat) almost completely.

And if this doesn’t work either, then I shall crack my fingers, bare my teeth, rub my tummy, and come up with something else… How do you get over life’s hurdles, my Wicked Luvs?

Baked Shrimp and Veggies with Ginger, Dill and Orange Juice
(last night’s dinner)
Baked Shrimp and Veggies with Ginger, Dill and Orange Juice

Ingredients
– 13 shelled shrimps (defrost and pat dry)
– ½ cup baby red potatoes (sliced)
– ½ cup carrots (sliced and then cut into half inch chunks)
– 1 medium orange (juiced without pulp… about 2 oz.)
– 2 oz. ginger (cut in strips)
– 1 tsp. dried dill
– ¼ tsp. of olive oil
– Salt to taste (I use less than ¼ of a tsp.)

Instructions
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
• In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil
• Add shrimp, ginger and dill, and sauté over high heat (stirring frequently) until there is no visible moisture left in the pan
• Add potatoes, carrots and salt; stir for a few seconds;
• Add orange juice and remove from heat
• Pour the contents of the sauté pan in a small baking pan, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 21 minutes
• Remove foil, and bake uncovered for 13 more minutes

* makes about two cups

Green Love in Stone Bay

I handed the pistol to Corporal Sanz. “I’m having problems pulling the slide back and releasing the magazine.” The sleeve of my camouflaged blouse was damp, but I wiped my forehead with it anyway. Summer was waging war on Stone Bay, North Carolina.

“Just a minute, Sergeant,” Sanz said, and gave a twenty dollar bill to a Lance Corporal. Then he turned around, disassembled the M9 Beretta, and held the bolt between his index and thumb. “This is nasty.” He stared at me.

“Really?” I said, trying not to grin at the outrage in his eyes.

Really. Bring it back minus the carbon.” He reassembled the M9, and placed it in my hand.

Forty-five minutes later, I cleared my pistol and handed it to Sanz.

His swift hands field stripped it in a couple of seconds. “It’s clean,” he said, sounding dubious.

I grinned.

Sanz ran a finger over the M9’s serial number, and said, “I see. This is a different weapon. Where’s yours?”

“That is the pistol I shot this morning,” I said. “The other one belongs to one of my Marines. He was dropped from the range because the pistol was acting up. I sent him home.”

“You should’ve said you weren’t here for inspection, Sergeant.” Sanz almost smiled. “I apologize.”

“I only accept apologies that come camouflaged as beer.”

“I see.” Sanz laughed. The man had one of those laughs that made you want to taste it right out of his mouth. He looked past me, and pointed at the Lance Corporal he gave the money to earlier. “Do you mind, Sergeant?”

“No,” I said, but it was a lie. I was more than put off by the way his face lit up when he saw the other man.

Sanz took a small package from the Lance Corporal, and they laughed about something I couldn’t hear. They looked happy.

“It must be nice to have someone here,” I said when Sanz came back.

“Lance Corporal Brook?” Sanz threw his head back and roared. “It’s not like that, Sergeant.”

I didn’t say anything.

Sanz bit his lower lip. “You know, I was just waiting to inspect your weapon before closing the armory. So I’m ready to pay if you want to collect.”

“Collect?” I said.

“Your beer apology?”

“I’m ready, then.” I smiled.

“Brook’s my ride, but if you don’t mind the CLP fumes, I could ride to the barracks with you.”

“I’ve always enjoyed the killer scent of gun cleaning oil,” I said, and we both laughed.

.
I was sitting in my Mustang, tapping a finger on the wheel, when Sanz got to the parking lot. I reached over the passenger seat to get the door for him.

“Thanks, Sergeant.” He sat down and put the package from the Lance Corporal on his lap.

“Call me AJ,” I said.

“Only if you call me Ishmael and keep the White Whale jokes to yourself.”

“No Moby-Dick jokes, I promise. Any plans after we drink your apology, Ishmael?”

He pointed at his lap. “I have to make a video for a special someone back in New York.”

I glared at the package before looking straight ahead. “Let’s skip the beer,” I said. “You don’t want to look tipsy in your video.” I didn’t speak to Ishmael for the rest of the ride.

.
“Are you sure about skipping the beer?” Ismael said.

I nodded without looking at him.

“Okay then. It was nice talking to you, AJ.”

I nodded again and watched him walk into his barracks room, before climbing up the stairwell to get to mine.

.
Later that evening, I was coming back from a run when I bumped into Lance Corporal Brook.

“Excuse me, Sergeant. Have you seen Corporal Sanz?”

“Not since this afternoon.”

“Damn,” he said. “I thought you were with him. He told me you were grabbing drinks, so I figured he would be fine.”

“What’s going on, Lance Corporal?”

“Nothing.” Brook shook his head. “It’s just that corporal Sanz gets in a mood after making Joe’s videos. I stay away from that stuff. Long distance relationships can break you in two.”

“Right,” I said, and faked a chuckle.

.
Sometime after midnight, someone walked into my room without knocking. “Are you fucking lost or…?” My words got lost between a toned chest and two dark eyes.

Ishmael didn’t turn around to close my door. He just leaned against it. He was a few inches shorter than I was, but at that moment he could have been a giant summer god in green running shorts.

He looked at his feet, and said, “I was afraid I would lose my courage, if I had taken the time to get shoes and a t-shirt.”

I should’ve told him to get out, but I just stared. I wanted to absorb him whole and keep him. I wanted to forget about the man waiting for him at home. I wanted Ishmael for me, but reminded myself not to be stupid. “I doubt Joe would appreciate you showing up here in your shorts,” I said.

Ishmael laughed softly. “Joe walks around naked, I doubt he would care.”

I felt my expression harden. “Please leave,” I said.

Ishmael didn’t move. “You have no sense of humor, AJ.” Still leaning against my door, he extended a hand that held a wallet size photo he had pulled out of his waistband.

I took a few steps towards Ishmael, looked at the photo, and blinked. I searched for the man who I knew had to be hiding somewhere behind the white Pit Bull in the picture. “You’ve been sending videos to a dog?”

“Joe can’t read or talk on the phone, so I send him videos.” Ishmael looked away from me. “I don’t want him to forget me.”

I walked to Ismael and pressed my body to his. I didn’t kiss him hard and desperately like I always imagined I would. Our lips barely touched. Then he took my mouth, and I tasted happiness for the first time.

.
***
for my Rainbow Boys, from their Iron Witch Ally

Blouse – the shirt or top of the Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform.

Process Note: The events that inspired this tale took place many summers ago, while I worked as an armorer (a Small Weapons Repair Technician), in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. I was teaching a rifle cleaning class to a group of Marines, when I noticed two sergeants who couldn’t stop looking at each other. I was about to give them a piece of my mind, but stopped… there was such panic in their eyes. At first, I thought they were afraid of me—an armorer inspecting weapons has that effect on shooters. I can’t remember what, but something in their gestures told me that their fear had little to do with my inspection. So I kept an eye on them after that… Two weeks at the rifle range (and my power of nosiness) gave me enough time to find out that the two sergeants cared about each other. They were both single… so of course, I set them up. Some years later, they got handfasted, in a discrete ceremony, in the middle of the night, in a warehouse that smelled of gun cleaning oil and solvent agent. They’ve been together for a bit over eleven years. I haven’t spoken to them in a few months… I’m not sure what they are doing at this exact moment… but I suspect that they, too, are celebrating love, common sense, the freedom they’ve been defending for two decades, and today’s Supreme Court’s decision, ruling “that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage”.

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