Blog News, Soul Bites Podcast

How does this share new podcast from Anchor button work anyway?

I just published the first episode of my new podcast! Listen to Soul Bites Podcast on Anchor https://anchor.fm/m-ashley/episodes/A-Pagan-take-on-the-lizard-people-conspiracy-e1cpdso

Oh! That’s how it works. But don’t listen to it there. Listen to it on Spotify instead. In my first episode, I discuss the spiritual significance of the lizard people conspiracy and declare myself the undisputed winged albino lizard people queen. You don’t want to miss that. Here’s the link:

https://open.spotify.com/show/5DtVU9iETBk1Ag50zXBJap

Thanks in advance for the listens, subscribes, and obviously five star ratings. The recording is pretty rough, but your winged albino lizard person queen says you love it, so you love it.

-M. Ashley

PS
It came up in today’s episode that I am apparently in the market for a Satan-level worthy adversary. If that’s you, HMU.

Blog News, Daily Calm

Podcast Cult to Come Accepting All Comers (Daily Calm, Day 10)

“We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished…” -Martin Luther

To start with, my sister, as a kid, was a mean, mean, mean, rotten, mean sucker. So many stories fit only for therapy, but here’s this one that’s relevant:

One day, at my great aunt and uncle’s house, after school, my sister, my cousins, and I built a clubhouse under the kitchen table. We threw king size electric blankets over the top of the table. They hung in great burnt orange and harvest gold irregular drapes all the way to the ground. We furnished it with so many pillows it looked like the inside of Genie’s bottle, only also in the glorious early 80s golds, oranges, and greens. We stocked it with snacks, assorted Barbie paraphernalia, and shoeboxes full of Transformers and Hot Wheels. We made a sign on yellow legal pad paper that read, “Our Clubhouse” and Scotch taped it over the entrance.

My sister crawled in first and propped herself up high on three round sofa pillows. My red headed cousin followed her in and ensconced himself by the shoeboxes full of boys’ toys. My younger cousin, also red headed, went in third, grabbed a Capri Sun and started poking away at it unsuccessfully. I was last, headed right for the Barbies, ready to enjoy the fruits of my construction labor. When I was but one paw into the clubhouse, my mean mean rotten big sister leaned forward and, with all her might, pushed me back on my butt. She said, “You’re not cool enough for this club. Only cool people allowed.”

Mean, I tell you. Mean!

The moral of this story is: I’m starting a podcast on faith and spirituality from a polytheist perspective in order to realize my cult leader destiny and I wanted to proclaim right here, to one and all, that once I do become the cult leader I am surely destined to be and we get this cult really humming… I mean, really really up and going… no one is not cool enough to be admitted. No one. No one will be shoved away from the door. No one will be kept from all the spiritual goodies we will have inside—and there will be plenty of goodies, believe me, because that’s the kind of cult leader I’m growing into being, (see what I did there, connecting it to the daily quote? You had to believe I was going to get there eventually. Faith. Faith).

The podcast is coming. The cult is sure to follow. You are all welcome, cool and uncool—and maybe even especially uncool.

Look for it. Anticipate it with great anticipation. I know I sure am.

I’ll see you there.

M. Ashley

Confession, Creative Nonfiction, Personal Essay, Photography, Prose, Writing Life

Self-Portrait: 2022 Is Also All About My Hair

“There is a lot of breakage.” Don’t we all feel that way?

I balked when she said it and immediately went to defend myself. It must be the scrunchie I had near permanently in my mop since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s because I hadn’t had it cut since then. It’s because the hair is in terrible condition because of pandemic neglect and not, dear gods, because it’s falling out. It’s just broken not heading for the hills. It’s just broken, not endangered. It’s just broken—more, healthy, unbroken hair is just behind it.

I got it cut in December 2021 and I feel like a human again. The broken hairs are still broken, but the unbroken ones are no longer frayed like D-grade straw, looking like a witch’s hair. Gods, was I ever embarrassed when I walked my straw haired witch’s self into the Great Clips and asked them to whack the mess off. The stylist was understanding, matter of fact as the hay hit the floor, and gave me a marvelous new start, jawline length, relief from all the burden of the last two years that had fallen well past my shoulders and almost all the way down to my waist.

So the broken ones are still broken, but they’re also still growing and now don’t have so far to go to catch up to their unbroken sisters. The mop isn’t so long that I have to keep it up in a scrunchie anymore. I don’t have to be bound all the time. No more mass breakage is imminent. 2022 is going to be a good year.

How much further can I carry this hairy pandemic metaphor? Let’s see:

The thing about the short curly hair is that there is no second chance. There is no second day hair so, if you’re going somewhere, if anyone else is meant to see you, you must must must take care of it day by day. It’s a hassle when we’ve all gotten so used to not caring much about ourselves as we huddle and hide away. But also a sign of health, this hassle, and anything, even if it’s vanity, that forces you to bathe and primp and proper yourself, is a good thing and a godsend in a time when it’s far too easy just to let go.

With the short curly do that gives no second chances, I wake up from tossing nights looking like Einstein. That’s why I was able to come up with such completely original, genius, and insightful observations about the pandemic vis-a-vis my hair.

Original, I tell you. Original.

I wish you all the best and healthiest in 2022. My goal is to be here more and make more super genius and purely original observations with both my words and my art, photographic and otherwise. My goal is to read more of your work as well. My hope is we will inspire each other. My hope is we will inspire each other enough so as to give each other the tingles. My hope is we will inspire each other enough that, tingling together, it makes our collective hair, broken and unbreakable, stand on end.

-M. Ashley

Photo: My submission for this week’s 52 Frames challenge, “Self-Portrait” I’m calling it “Gallows Humor.” Taken with an iPhone 10. Flash did not fire.

Autumn Walk Diaries, Personal Essay, Prose, Writing Life

Autumn Walk Diaries: Smoke and Fire

Next-day smoke from the University Fire

The thing this morning was smoke.

We walk at around nine or ten and, at around nine or ten, the scene over Little Mountain towards Devore and the Cajon Pass was bleak.

We wish for gray skies here. We hope for it. We pray for it. Some of us may even bay at the moon and dance for it—thirsty, drought stricken, dead lawn denizens that we are. But that gray ain’t rain clouds, brother.

Little Mountain was on fire yesterday—not our bit of it, but the bit of it one neighborhood away, closer to the freeway where my great aunt and uncle lived for forty years, north of the 215 freeway, south of all those houses… all those houses. Everyone was evacuated. Water drop helicopters landed in the neighborhood park. City and county fire descended and ascended upon it from all possible angles. They put the fire down so fast, it barely made the local news and was but a mild ripple even amongst the busybody neighbors on Nextdoor.

Little Mountain is on fire a lot. Our people know how to fight that fire. Our people have always been victorious. Not a single house or business has ever been burned in that spot. We are very blessed. We are very lucky. We are willful that we go on living here, year after year, fire after fire… after fire after fire after fire.

So this morning, the thing was a sky over the mountain filled with orangey gray that smells like God’s barbecue and promises nothing but swimming pools, A/C filters, and formerly pink lungs full of ash.

Weirdly, though, a hopeful sight: smoke in the sky, no longer connected to the earth below—no longer a real threat, no longer a panic, no longer everyone’s nightmare. A little relief. More than a little gratitude all those houses were saved and we can go back from praying our neighbors make it, to praying one day we get friendlier clouds filled with rain.

-M.

Autumn Walk Diaries, Creative Nonfiction, Personal Essay, Prose

Autumn Walk Diaries: The Mailman Knows Too Much

There wasn’t much afoot on our walk this morning–how very clever of me–and we pretty much had the neighborhood to ourselves, which is just the way I like it. I pretend Kismet likes it that way too, but I’m sure her mighty, sporty poodle heart would prefer some action.

Rounding the last turn from Sheridan onto Clemson, the mailman swung around to the box next to us as we passed the last house. We see the mailman every day, but usually he is across the street and we prefer it that way because yuck–human interaction and, yuck–having to be conscious for a few seconds of our walk just long enough to say “good morning. “

I’m feeling a bit like the troll who lives under the bridge today when really, in my own mighty sporty poodle heart, I love saying good morning to people on our walks and look forward to announcing to my family, upon my return, who all I had the polite exchange with. (With who all I had the polite exchange? “Who all” is the problem with that sentence I think.)

Kismet and I talked to our mailman once before. She barked at him and I had to reassure him it was just that she is afraid of cars. Nothing personal.

“It’s not the mailman thing then, huh?” He said and laughed.

“No,” I said. “I’m sure she’d love you if she knew you.” Then I felt weird, like I accidentally flirted. Another one of the 50,000 ways Michelle makes herself uncomfortable while the other party thinks nothing of it.

Before pulling off to the next mailbox, he said, “I dropped a package for you at your door.”

“Thank you,” I said and walked away, feeling oddly creepy that, although we met a street away from mine, the mailman my dog barked at and with whom I accidentally flirted knows who I am and to which house I belong.

Shouldn’t that be the most natural thing? I know where he belongs: in his truck, doing his route between 9 and 10 every day. Why shouldn’t he know where I belong: walking past his truck, going in and out of that one house, albino plus black and white poodle in the neighborhood between 9 and 10 every day?

Nothing even remotely creepy in it except my own creepy mind.

Cheers to the mailman then. I know we shall meet again.

I would say “Happy fall y’all” but I’m a Southern Californian which is the wrong kind of southern for that. So instead, have a like awesome autumn or whatever. There. That’s much better.

-M.

PS
Thanks for the package.

Humor Poem, Love, Love Poems, Poetry

Sulfur Kiss

We put up with a certain level of
Gross from our lovers and
Farting on each other in bed and
Giggling about it and
Don’t you dare Dutch oven me
Again… Chester!
Can be as intimate as
The world’s sweetest
Sulfur kiss.

-M. Ashley

Find me on TikTok at: MNAshleyPoetry

Find me on TikTok at: MNAshleyPoetry

Confession, Confessional Poetry, Memoir Poem, Mental Health, Poetry

Colleen Whose Name Means Girl

Maybe I should be out
Loud about it. Maybe I
Should talk. I know it
Sure would have helped me
A lot if the woman they
Kept in a box under the
Bed for seven years had
Been a little more chatty.

“These things do happen. They
Do.” We would commiserate
With each other through the
Knothole in her box and the
Keyhole in the door I was
Locked and chained behind

Also for seven years.

Lucky lucky.

“Colleen,” I would whisper so
The bad men wouldn’t hear.

Colleen whose name means
Girl

“Colleen,” I would whisper
“I get you Sister.
I do.”

-M. Ashley

If you are a survivor of sex trafficking, I cannot recommend the organization Journey Out enough. They have helped me tremendously and I am grateful every day that I found them.