I woke up feeling like I had a hangover, with the taste of sweet dill pickles on the back of my tongue… and the terrifying thought that I had almost gone down on an incubus.

That’s not the kind of thing you really want to think in the morning. Not before breakfast.  I should in all honesty add, “Not after breakfast, either.”

Could have been worse.  I could have slept with my ex-.

E’s not bad as far as ex-boyfriends go.  I’ve had worse, much worse. We looked pretty good together, which isn’t all that’s important, but it made a difference.  He’s a bit of a pretty thing, with a shy smile, but he’s way too intense.

I like to relax, have a good time… leave the windows open.

You begin to see what I mean?  I see the little nod.

Most artists don’t mind knowing we are just one of infinite dimensions.  It means more possibilities, and much of the art is definitely the manipulation of coincidence, or the nudging of those possibilities.  I like to think of us as bubbles in the larger multiverse, floating gently around, sometimes touching each other, somewhat permeable, basically self-sufficient.

Of course, not everything out there is bubble.

I think that’s why we have the arts; to protect us from the things that might go bump in the night… `the night’ in this case being what’s out there between the bubbles.  Gods and shadows, lovers and listeners, parasites and pestilences, all spawn from some strange cosmic source, a sinkhole the bubbles rise and fall from.  A place of madness, an abyss from which we’ve all felt the thin, cold touch.  Arts to protect us with whimsy, with honest, loving laughter from the alternatives.

I do wax a little poetic when I talk about my real job.

During the day I push papers with pride in property portfolios. I schedule with panache.  I answer phones, should the caller weave his or her way through my carefully crafted web of alternative information.  I make my bosses look good.

I roll up my sleeves once I get home.  Take off the hose and heels and get my feet dirty, if needed.

I needed to get out into the garden.  Far from sowing my wild oats, I needed to recharge, root into some of the source of my power.

I hadn’t liked doing what I did last night.   Blatant manipulation of memory and motive is difficult, but at least groups reinforce each other.  It also could get me on the hit list of a lot of self-proscribed guardians of human virtue.  Do I sound sarcastic?  There are arcane wars between organized groups of artists every couple of years.  Independent operators like myself are usually the first to be picked off, which is why we have to be subtle and effective.

Organized groups all have names implying they’re the righteous folk keeping the rest of us in line.  White wardens.  Councils bound by codices of ancient laws that tell people what kind of magic is acceptable practices.   Stuff and nonsense.  The only kinds of magics that should be proscribed are the arts that are stupid and dangerous to your or others’ health and sanity.

There’s no Unseen University, or if there is, I haven’t found it.  (Heck, it might be invisible.)  You pick up what you can, where you can.  I have had a variety of teachers.  I don’t have the talent E does as a closer, but a lot of his is natural aptitude.  He just seems to pick up the edges of reality and hold them close.  I would have to name them and tie them, sealing them shut with careful stitching.  It’s the difference between ritual and a knack, like using a ruler to make your letter straight, and people whose quick printing is calligraphy.

But he means well, which is the important thing.

Me? I like to think I make things  better, a little bit at a time.  That’s really the secret to not opening those doors; smile a little, improve someone’s life a half step.  That’s all the magic you’ll ever need.

But really?  You want to know why I broke up with him?

I’m not like him.  I don’t want to save the world.