Channeling one’s inner Ogoun, plus signs from Puck

I just returned from a sci fi convention in Western Washington. We rode up with a couple of friends and spent some time with another friend who lives over there, whom I’ll call Phoebe. At one point during the weekend, Phoebe and our friends were talking about my girlfriend Anne and I in our absence, and their general opinion of us is that we are gentle people who do really disturbing art. I found this amusing.

Amusing, because they are correct—our art is disturbing. Mine is full of monsters, blood and suggested violence. Anne’s art exposes the ugly underbelly of society’s rejected people. I was also amused because I am very aware of my darker side—the side that is aggressive, ruthless and has potential for violence. I am Therian, after all, but this is also a very human trait, of course.

There was some terrific art at the convention. On Thursday evening I spotted a relief that took my breath away: a realistically sculpted tiger head wearing steampunk gear. This doesn’t happen often, as the art scene (particularly the Seattle gallery scene) is full of conceptual crap by people whose work suggests that they don’t know how to draw. The tiger affected me deeply as an artist—it made me see my shortcomings and want to improve. I wanted to bid on the piece but there was no bid tag posted.

I returned to the art show on Saturday afternoon. Hardly anyone was bidding on anything. When I went over to visit the tiger, I was delighted to find a bid tag. The minimum bid was a mere $48 for an amazing piece of art. Of course I had to bid. I also bid on some jewelry for a friend and a print. I knew bidding closed at noon the following day, so I made a mental note to return before then and check on my bids.

Sunday morning I arrived at the art show around 11:30. Much to my dismay, there were higher bids on all three items that I had bid on (evidently I have good taste), including the wonderful tiger relief. It had been bid up to $60. I placed an additional bid on it for $65, just to ensure that it would go to auction and I would have another shot at it.

My friend Phoebe knew the other bidder, whom I’ll call “Mac,” and said she would talk to her about backing down and letting me have it. I shrugged, but thought it would be nice if I didn’t have to go to the auction. Phoebe came back a short time later saying that she tried, but had no luck. Apparently Mac was buying it for her daughter, who was sitting outside the art area and heard Phoebe and I talking. The daughter commented that she had fallen in love with the tiger and that I did not have a chance [to get the tiger] against two Macs.

Phoebe pulled me aside and suggested I at least go to the auction and bid on the tiger, to not let them have it cheaply. I was disappointed, but also  irritated by the daughter’s assumption that I did not have a chance. I hate assumptions, and am not sure why she thought that. Perhaps it was because I was quiet and not throwing a fit. Or maybe because I look Asian (nice, quiet, submissive Asian stereotypes, blah). Or perhaps she assumed that I’m a starving artist and would not be able to bid very high. (I have a day job. I’m not rich, but I’m not starving either.) Or perhaps she simply misread my reaction to what she said. I heard later that mother Mac told her daughter, “Don’t worry, we’ll get it.”

Their combined cockiness irked me. And it aggravated my latent competitive streak. I used to be an avid eBayer, after all, and master of the snipe attack.

In the hour that remained before the auction, I mentally calculated how high I could afford to bid. Phoebe told me that the Macs had money; that the mother had recently been promoted and gotten a raise, and had previously paid $200 at an auction. I was not sure exactly how high I was willing to go (and would change my mind several times during the hour), but the more I thought about it, the more irritated I felt and the more I wanted that beautiful tiger. I knew I would bid at least up to $150 (the after auction price of the piece, if no one had bid on it), but felt ready to go over $300 if necessary. I felt my cold calculating side take over, or what I now think of as channeling my inner Ogoun. Ogoun is the lwa of war, weapons and the battlefield, among other things.

The auction began late and I sat through over an hour of bidding before they brought out the tiger. I even refrained from bidding on two of the other items I wanted, in order to save funds for that tiger. By the time it was brought out, I was starting to get anxious. The auctioneer read off the title of the piece, and then read my last bid as the starting point. Immediately Mac Sr. upped the ante to $75.

From then on the auction was a succession of quick bids between me and Senior Mac–$80, $85, $90, $100. $110, $120, $130, $140. When Sr. Mac bid $150, there was a finality in her voice as though she knew she had won. Wrong. I bid $160, steeling myself to go past the $200 mark. But then, much to my surprise, Mac Sr. fell silent.

Phoebe was surprised as well. I heard her mutter, “What?”

$160 going once. $160 going twice. Sold! To yours truly. I couldn’t suppress a victorious “YESSSS!”

$160 was only $10 over the regular asking price for this wonderful piece. If I commissioned the artist to make another one, I’d have to pay for shipping from Colorado. So overall, I felt I got a good deal. I plan to hang the tiger near my art table for inspiration. As I sat through the rest of the auction, I felt energy suddenly leave my spine, which then felt a bit sore and stiff. Almost as though Ogoun were leaving me for now. Silently I thanked him for his help. I shall have to find him a nice offering.

Afterward I ran into Sr. Mac at the payment counter. She took it all in stride, but mentioned that her daughter was a bit upset. I didn’t gloat, but I wasn’t sorry for the daughter either. I felt she needed to learn a few things: 1) Don’t get cocky; 2) Know your enemy or at least don’t underestimate them; and 3) Don’t bait someone. If she had played her cards differently, played on my sympathies and perhaps said how her heart was set on the piece and it reminded her of a favorite character from a book or some such, perhaps I would not have tried as hard to win it. But again, I’m not sorry. I LOVE my tiger.

For some reason, since returning from the con, I keep thinking about Puck. I miss him so much, even though it’s been more than two years since he crossed over. I used to hold him, and he would place a paw on each of my cheeks and lick my face.

Luna, my young Devon, usually does not do anything like that, but last night it seemed as though she knew how I was feeling. I was lying on the bed, and she climbed onto my chest and licked my face.

Then today, at work, my Windows Messenger ID suddenly changed itself into one that includes Puck’s name. Obviously I must have changed it a while ago, but for some reason the online version of Messenger has been displaying one of my other aliases for months. Now suddenly this morning, I see Puck’s name. I think he knew that I needed to feel his presence.

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