August 5th, 2011
"There are two of us there will be many more,
They'll show up, yeah they'll show up
And so they sunk every ship we sailed
But we stood up, we stood up
And they fought hard, but somewhere fighting failed
They're all shook up, they're all shook up
All shook up
Steel and concrete break
Beneath the steady waves
Of fearless hope and grace
In kindness there is strength.
Cos' we are not frightened anymore,
We stood up, we stood up
And there are two of us there will be many more,
They'll show up, yeah they'll show up..."
A Fine Frenzy, Stood Up
So. This is the beginning, it seems.
It's just Gunnar and I, for now, for sure. But we're pretty confident that Nate and Hercules both are going to join when the time comes. I trust Nate, and I trust Hercules. Those are both good calls, I was just wondering how he was going to decide who else to approach in the future.
We've kinda talked about it a little bit already, back in Berkeley. Feels like forever ago. It was a conversation that started on the ride back from Chicago, but neither of us wanted to really talk about it in public. And by public I mean in front of Jack and Sly. Mostly Sly.
So when we got home, and got the kids settled down and found some time to talk privately back in May I asked if he had a plan for the pantheon thing. Then a better question came to mind and I grinned and asked that one instead.
"Do you plan things?" He doesn't, not really, but that's kinda one of the things I like about him. That and his Cubs fandom, but I'm getting away from the point.
He answered, "Yes. No? Sort of. I mean, mostly no. It's really politics that make me want to do this. And I mean that very literally. I hate politics, and most of all I hate that politics get in the way of getting stuff done that needs to be done. If the Titans are really such a big threat, then the gods shouldn't be quarreling amongst each other, shouldn't be pursuing personal agendas, and certainly shouldn't be double-crossing each other. There's bigger shit at stake.
I don't want to be tied to the political nonsense anywhere up there. I think I'd prefer the Aesir's nonsense to most of the others, but there's still a level on which it's nonsense. Anyone who can dedicate themselves to the important shit first, and all the unimportant shit afterward is welcome to stand with me." At this point we hadn't really figured out what constitutes the "important shit." We still haven't completely got it nailed down, but I figure no matter how much we think we've got it figured out we'll still be figuring it out as we go.
After a pause he went on. It's not exactly unusual for him to talk, but it doesn't happen often that he has so much to say so I tried really hard not to interrupt him. "I know this will piss some people off too. My dad will probably hate the idea, and Odin might not like me much either. But they're both level-headed people, and I don't think either of them will consider my reasons bad. I mean, if this could be accomplished without making a pantheon unto itself, I'd go about it that way. But I know it can't. Old world names and organizations bring about old world rivalries and alliances. This would basically be my line in the sand. I wouldn't distrust those who didn't cross it, but I would like to know who all I can trust without a doubt, and forming a pantheon unto itself is a sure-fire way to see who is and is not willing to stand not with the armies of the Tuatha, the Aesir, the Dodekatheon, or the Amatsukami, but with humanity, and against the Titans." He paused again, thinking. "As for logistics, I havn't a fucking clue. I mean, can you just find a bit of unoccupied over-world somewhere, build some houses and call yourself a pantheon? Do you have to negotiate with fate itself? Do you have to fill out all the major purviews with avatars?" He shrugged, which he does a lot. I think almost in place of punctuation. "But whatever you have to do, I'm gunna do it, and I'd love to have you there with me."
I told him then that there wasn't a whole lot that would keep me away from him. Forget that "until death" noise, he's gonna be stuck with me until the end of existence itself. But back before the wedding I was a little worried about how things were going to work with us. I can't say for sure what kind of god I'm going to be, assuming as I usually do that I'll live that long. I mean, there are some myths where the people call gods husband and wife but they almost never see each other. Tied together, but forever kept apart, like the Sun and Moon in some Indian stories. That part wasn't important though. I mean, I know we'll figure out a way to make it work. The important part was when I asked him where on the list of "important shit" our marriage was going to fall. Yeah, it was kind of a test. A test he passed. Basically I wanted to know he was going to take us seriously, but not so seriously that he was going to be stupid enough to let other stuff go by the wayside.
After babbling like I usually do, I finally got around to the question. "I'm pretty sure I know my own answer to the question I'm about to ask, but I'm interested in hearing yours, too. If some titanspawn, or higher up in the ranks some titan, gets smart and makes you choose between saving me or stopping the bad guy, which would you choose?" At that moment I was thinking, Me? I'd figure out a way to choose both. It was all I could do to keep from laughing in relief when he answered me.
"This is probably the most conceited thing I've said since I was seventeen, but both. I can't imagine that someone will actually put me in a situation where I have to either stop the bad guy or save you, if simply because I can't really imagine you needing saving. I mean, if someone held a gun to your head, I think I might laugh at them. I've seen you take a lot worse than bullets and shrug them off. You're a strong woman, and I don't really think it's a problem that we would need to worry about." It's flattering, if not a little foolish, just how much faith he seems to place in me. I know there's plenty of things out there that could end me in a heartbeat (I met two of them in Guinnee), if they were so inclined.
His smile faded a bit. "But in the interest of answering the question at hand... I'd stop the bad guy. But you probably already knew that."
I did already know that. I was counting on that, but it was the one thing I absolutely had to make sure of, the one thing I had to hear him say before I married the guy. Everything else we can work out later, but if he'd answered differently I would have called everything off and we'd have been... I don't know what. Not married, for sure. Fortunately for the fate of the universe and the future of our new pantheon, he's got his priorities straight.
The other part of the conversation, which I guess isn't really over and probably won't be until our pantheon is over, happened on the way back home from New Orleans.
I guess after having that Nommo eye in his mouth for so long he wanted to make up for lost time, because he was a lot more... loquacious this time around. At one point conversation devolved into several games of "I Spy," which I didn't really think was fair because I always lose (apparently, the rules have changed and now things he can smell and taste, which is like, everything, are fair game). Seriously. It was like, "I spy with my little eye... something about two towns over." It's seriously impressive, but not fair for car games.
Anyway, getting tired of playing "I Spy, I Smell, I Taste" with Gunnar, I decided this was as good a time as any to ask some more questions about the plans for the new pantheon. There were a couple of things I kinda felt like he should think about, if he hadn't already. And I say that he should think about because it kinda feels right now like this is his gig, I'm just along for the ride. But he probably should think about how he's going to pick who else to recruit. So I asked him, "I absolutely trust Nate and Hercules, but beyond that, how are you deciding who to recruit? Is it anyone who's willing, is there some sort of qualification process?" No, I wasn't thinking like having some sort of questionnaire. I don't even know what kinds of questions we'd ask. Are you now or have you ever been a Titan sympathizer? Are you willing to be eviscerated for glory? Ragnarok, for or against?
His answer was pretty good, though."Well naturally I don't intend to just recruit anyone who's willing, but at the same time I don't intend to kick people out just for not being too powerful either. I mean, a god's a god right? And so long as we can confirm in some satisfactory way that they're on the level and on board with our values, I think they should totally be allowed to join up." Yeah, we should get around to figuring out exactly what our values are and which ones we're willing to compromise and which are non-negotiable and which ones we'll kill for.
"With one exception," he continued. "We can't just have five sun gods or something. It would get really problematic. I haven't thought of exactly how to handle that yet."
I thought for a second before I answered him. "No, I definitely think we should be more interested in... trustworthiness? I guess that's the word I want. I would want trust over power when we're sizing people up. If I'm worried someone is going to betray us to the titans, or abandon us when we need them most, it won't matter to me how powerful they are, I won't want them around. I won't let them in on my plans and I'll waste time and effort watching my back when I could be dealing with more important shit." That's why I could never hang out with Sly.
"The five sun god thing, I mean, in the incredible event something like that happens, I guess some can be backup? The Greeks," I purposefully constructed it as a they statement instead of a we statement, "have both Helios and my dad, but Apollo is the sun god. It wouldn't be terrible to have some overlap. I mean, if the Tuatha had only had one death god, Camila really might have screwed that pooch. But we can probably sort out who gets to be what based on power, dedication and... witty banter? I dunno. We'll figure it out." And that much I'm sure of. It might take us a while to come up with an answer, but we'll have one by the time we need it and we'll do our best to make sure it's a logically and ethically sound one.
Then, mostly because I was struck by the ridiculous image of Gunnar with an eye-patch, I had to ask, "So, are you planning on being like the All-Father?" Here I was trying to figure out exactly what was in his head as far as the power structure was concerned. I had asked something similar before, and I wanted to know if it was a Gunnar thing, or a Gunnar and I thing. "Is this going to be a dictatorship, a democracy, a triumvirate? How are we going to make our decisions and is there someone who will get the final say?"
I wonder if he got the same mental picture I did.
"As regards being the all-father. HAH! No. But a democracy runs the risk of infiltration, manipulation, and corruption." Those of course were good points, points I'd considered as well. Even if the 'government' were Gunnar, Nate and I, dissenting opinions might slow things down. "I mean, obviously more dictatorial governance runs that risk too--but if we keep it to the two of us I think we can be sure to keep each other in check. Or, you know, we could set up some ridiculously complicated system where a set of judges will elect leaders who aren't actually demanded in popular election. ... did I just make a decade-old George W. Bush joke?
I'm just afraid of failing to see bad shit coming--laugh if you like at that--and getting screwed if we set up a system that allows power to shift away from us. I mean, I certainly don't expect to micro-manage shit, but I think we should reserve some veto power just in case."
Then he shrugged again, a very Gunnaresque motion. "I mean, if you've got any good ideas on the details I'm happy to hear them."
I couldn't help but chuckle at the terrible and terribly old joke, but more entertaining was the mental image of us being one another's system of checks and balances. It probably wouldn't be as funny when it actually started happening. "Yeah, I think we could keep each other in check. In all honesty, I'm not sure how readily I'd let anyone else keep me in check, if circumstances were dire and I got... stubborn." I can think of a couple of occasions where I've had the same conversation with Nevermore, Nate and Gunnar, and they all said the same thing, and only Gunnar was able to persuade me. "And it might be better if it's us making some of the calls, I'm not sure anyone else would be as... dedicated as we are. I mean, we put someone like Brendan in charge of a rescue mission, he'll probably leave them behind to go get cut in half. But I don't want all the control, either." I also don't want to be the type of people who do want all the control. Some of it, though, I think we can handle. "Maybe we can find some system that's a happy medium. We get input from everyone but the final say is ours? Though, if we're ultimately making the calls then we're ultimately taking responsibility if shit goes really wrong." I was okay with that last bit, for my own part. That's something I picked up from my mom, something that was reinforced in the army, a feeling that's only gotten stronger since January. You take the power, you shoulder the burden.
So then I had to come back around to how we were going to handle politics. I think I'm getting a slightly better feel for politics, I feel like maybe if I understand the game I'll know how not to play it. "Are we going to make alliances and, consequently, enemies with other pantheons, or do we want to try to maintain neutrality?"
"I intend to completely ignore politics between other pantheons. If they don't want to help us, fine, and if they're going to try to force us to forgo our priorities on their behalf, I'd tell them where they can shove it."
I had to grin at that. "What's our tolerance policy for titans? Um, and I dunno how you feel about it, but I'd recommend a no bullshit policy between our members. No lying, no secrets, no manipulation." That's one of the few things I've really gotten set in my mind. I really want to be able to trust the people we're supposed to be spending eternity with. Not near as far as I trust Gunnar, I'm not hoping for that much. It wouldn't be realistic, really. But with all the shit we can do, all the tricks I know I can pull on other people... I want to be confident that my allies aren't pulling those tricks on me.
My question was semi-eloquent. His response, not so much. That's why I love this man. "Fuck titans, and fuck bullshit. Lying and manipulation is something that I agree we would not be able to tolerate."
And that's what we've got so far. Maybe we'll be calling the shots, no bullshit, fuck titans, and if you're on board with our values - which are not currently clearly defined but we'll work that out - then you're probably welcome to join.
It's just us right now for sure, but I'm sure there will be others. Hell, we've already pretty much got Nate and Herc.