Building users

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been brainstorming how each of the different factions in my story might be using their abilities. If a society is capable of using Water in whatever way they’d like, how might that differ from a society that can terraform or grow plantlike in whatever way they want?

It didn’t really hit me until I realized that if these two groups tried using the other’s ability in a similar way, each element would react differently. Water is not as heavy as dirt can be, so what would happen if someone that can terraform attempted to do so on water? What if someone tried to “flow” dirt? The force required for each wouldn’t match, and one might create mist by pushing too hard on water, while the other might hardly affect the dirt, in trying to flow as water might.

If a society has built their architecture and other technologies around a forceful use of terraforming, they are unlikely to value the delicacy that goes into slower, subtler motions of a society built around water. The stoicism found in forests and tranquility in rare uses of explosive strength, would not relate well to the impulsive nature of a society that uses flame and glass structures in the desert. The exertion required to build stars on a whim would require far more rest in between than might those who just control the way the wind moves, which would require far less density to be generated/transferred. The weight of a small star vs. the weight of water, flame, ore, would require a far more advanced control. These are simpler observations, but they are heavily influential on how these different societies pan out. What does it look like for technology to develop in a world where Steam and Water propulsion are the most efficient method of power? What about a world where plant life and earth can be sculpted and grown on whim, but other things like Water and Fire are not? Would any of these different cultures be more prone to reserved use of their power? Which?

All of that has to be considered, because these aren’t simple cultures that exist in similar worlds, they’re heavily shaped by their Element. What does this mean for the Conductor? How and why do they continue to use their power? This helps me brainstorm.

Top Five for August

So here we are. An old coworker of mine, Danielle Famble (who is an awesome voice actor, btw) had given me the idea to do a top five list every month because of how many different things I’m always looking up/at. This doesn’t mean that all or none of the things are new, it’s just things I’ve stumbled across this month that really made me smile, think, or just felt were important. Of the five, my friend Betsy managed to influence two of the things. Two came into my view from my friend Dan, but involved my own digging once he gave me the shovel. The last of the five has just been a joy with my Fiance. Big thanks to both of them, because they made this a fun month for YouTube clips and finding new channels. I’m going to try and always share at least one book, one TV Show/Movie, one Company I like, one content producer, and #5 gets to be a floaty freebie for me. But, rules are made to be broken.

That being said, let’s get on with my top five things for August.

1. Linus Tech Tips. Dan showed me this while we were discussing the magic that is the Playstation 5, and all it’s glorious proprietary read/write technology that Sony has made. Linus’ dove into it’s power with a strangely sincere apology video, linked here. While the video itself is close to two months old, I only saw it in early August. That led me down a further rabbit hole of things Linus linked in that video, and my fiance and I are actually going to be buying PS5’s at launch, no doubts whatsoever.

2. Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson. Dan… Daniel… Okay. You win buddy. You’ve been saying it for about a year and a half now, and I have to say, you were more than right. You were so right, it’s kind of scary. This is probably everything I’ve wanted and needed in a fantasy series to help me better frame my writing and draw some context and world building techniques from. I am warning you, if you like a story that occur over multiple books, a world that is VERY well developed, and characters that actually feel like they have different personalities, you’re going to become somewhat obsessed. I’m only about 150 pages in, and I wish i could read faster and had more time in a day.

3. Ew. This is still making me chuckle. This was just another random clip that Betsy sent me, because she sends me fun things that make people laugh. I don’t watch Jimmy Kimmel, but this little clip just made my day. The sort of exchange that Jimmy and his buddy had together reminds me of some of the exchanges that Kailey and i have in our day-to-day. I’m actually laughing now, thinking of it.

4. Andy Dwyer. Thank you Betsy. Thank you so much. I did not know that Parks and Rec was worth watching after Season 3, and am now fully hooked into watching the rest of the show. Andy Dwyer makes me laugh, a lot. Out loud. Surprised laughs. He’s also heartwarming like a five year old with a platform and absolutely zero filter. Also, Ron Swanson. Oh my sweet jesus, Ron Swanson.

5. and the last thing on the list, if you haven’t already seen it, is Guy Ritchie’s latest film, The Gentlemen. I would rather you just go see the movie and not have a link to a trailer or anything, because most trailers end up telling you an entire movie within three minutes, which ruins the point of watching a movie.

Let me know if any of these things made you smile too, and if not, at least now you know they won’t! I hope you’re all taking care of yourselves during quarantine. Keep being safe, healthy, and humorous.

A new middle of the road

I’ve spent a long time fighting with myself and dealing with a few shortcomings that I couldn’t say aloud. Tonight, instead of sitting down and burning through tons of short productivity hack YouTube videos or faux motivational videos that hype me up to clean the bathroom, or even sitting down to play video games for a full night, I worked. I’ve gotten so used to the habit of working eight hours, then sitting down and playing video games for two or three, that I forgot most of the plans I had for this year prior to the pandemic.

I went ahead and shut myself in, hid behind video games, fast food, and the ever popular “well, I have to clean before I can actually work on that…”

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I intended to have a short story written a month ago, which hasn’t been started. I intended to have my A+ Certification done, which I haven’t. I even anticipated that I’d have a well established running habit done, and I don’t. I thought this over, and decided to take up an offer one of the aforementioned YouTube channels had and try out Skillshare. I began with Nathaniel Drew’s course on Creativity, and found that I was waiting for someone else to throw command sense my way. Drew’s course asks in it’s fourth module to list our limiting beliefs and tackle them as we would for a friend or loved one. I can’t imagine how hard I might fight for a friend, sibling, or my partner, if they came to me with this short list of lies. So here, for myself to review, and for you to look over, I’m fighting those four limiting beliefs, and arguing against myself on the fifth item.

The first of these idiotic beliefs, is that I have too limited a view of the world in order to say something worthwhile. I’m not well-traveled, I think. The truth of it is, I’m likely better traveled than most Americans though. Having grown up in New York City, I lived among quite the salad bowl of cultures and ideologies. I lived in Miami, Florida for fourteen months, and have now lived in Wisconsin for a year. I don’t know anyone else who has managed to live a New York lifestyle, and moved to middle America. I only know a handful of people who have done the opposite. To some degree, furthermore, every last person on earth has a biased view of the world. This doesn’t make me “unqualified”, it’s actually the only thing that does qualify us to share with each other.

Next, I worry that in writing from the perspectives of others, I won’t be able to do them justice and ensure their stories are told properly. This, is also a very stupid thing to let limit you. This is like saying you’re afraid to swim because you won’t be able to swim. The act of writing and practicing the perspectives of others is exactly how i’ll manage to build perspectives of others. On top of that, the incredibly diverse pool of people I know and still meet will allow for me to ensure that I’m always kept in check. Most importantly, I have to keep getting out there and talking to others, sharing their perspectives, and never letting my own feel more important (I try), if ever I intend to write something that shows how beautiful our diversity is. This is the hardest thing on the list, really, because to a degree i’m right for fearing it, but I can’t overcome it without actually working on it.

The third limiting belief I have is that I think I can’t write a short story. The only way this is true is if I weren’t allowed to take credit for the things i’ve done in the past. If somehow my teenage, and early twenties aged self isn’t allowing credit to who I am today, we all need to talk. I once wrote a story in my freshman college course that a professor asked if I plagiarized, or had someone else write for me. This was because he didn’t know i’d grown up in New York City, and thought I wasn’t capable of writing from that perspective. In truth, this should only help me know i’m full of shit for thinking I can’t write.

The fourth is something that i’m sure most people get mad at themselves for, and that’s the idea that whatever I want to create is an amalgamation, or outright copy of something i’ve seen before. Let’s be clear, self, everything has been done before. I want to do it again. Yes, universes have been built. Build another. Yes, your life story is completely similar to someone else’s. Tell it anyway. You’re special because we all are, you fucking twat. The only reason you’re not special is because nobody owes you something for it.

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Last, I’m a relatively obnoxious and loud person, that likes to always be right, and to some degree enjoys philosophical conversations too much. The hard part being, I don’t like hearing myself talk, I just love hearing a well-constructed argument, and I do not mind poking holes in every single poorly-constructed one I come across. This translates to me throwing facts at people, cutting people off when they have poor examples, and getting frustrated with people that don’t properly frame their arguments. I sound like i’m defending myself, because I am. On the bright side, i’m working towards identifying the ways I can improve on that. In a way, my job is helping to overcome it with some focused analysis. Therapy, and a brutally honest partner doesn’t hurt.

So far, I know I’ve got a problem with listening to others state their full argument before chiming in. I need to be sure we both agree what their statements are before I counter or agree with them, this will help avoid moving goal posts, and ensure we’re having a fair discussion. I need to let other people speak, even if I think they have a poor argument, because that’s the only way to actually learn something from them. I can’t help but think this is an American issue, not just my own. However, as an American issue, it would still be my own. These are all a part of how I behave. If I intend to be a better person, I can’t just overcome it, I have to enjoy the process of doing so. I hope this helps you somehow.


This list of five is thanks to Nathaniel Drew. His Skillshare course on Creativity helped me crank all of this out with roughly 30 minutes of time, but really an hour or so of watching. My attention span is poor, and I often need to jump back to ensure I heard him properly. I don’t know what comes next, but it’ll get posted when I do.

CG Jung and Shadows

Roughly a month into my brush with C.G. Jung and I’m finding this isn’t going to be a light trip through an author/philosopher. For anyone else who has yet to read Jung, I have started with “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” which is a dictated memoir of sorts. It’s essentially Jung speaking on anecdotes and (at least so far) his foundational moments and what led him to psychological studies and diagnostics. Fascinating. One choice passage:

“… I came up against the steel of people’s prejudice and their utter incapacity to admit unconventional possibilities. I found this even with my closest friends. To them all this was far worse than my preoccupation with theology. I had the feeling that I had pushed to the brink of the world; what was of burning interest to me was null and void for others, and even a cause for dread.” (p.100, Memories, Dreams, Reflections)

I read this and had to stop and think it over for a moment. I remember moments like this in my teenage years, where I needed to discuss death and afterlife on terms that most wouldn’t entertain. Whether morbid curiosity or a necessity for a child to cope with sadness I couldn’t quite understand, I can’t say. As much as I enjoy reading about how the human brain works, I can’t say that I could turn the lens on myself with accuracy. This passage is taking place in a time where Jung was still deciding what to study at the University level, so we’ll say he’s in his late teens. That would be a time when most young people are still trying to figure themselves out and understand who they are, his thoughts aren’t necessarily unique for that time of life, but thew insight to know others couldn’t relate was.

“… I realized that for all it’s wealth of learning the urban world was mentally rather limited. This insight proved dangerous, because it tricked me into fits of superiority, misplaced criticism, and aggressiveness, which got me deservedly disliked. This eventually brought back all the old doubts, inferiority feelings, and depressions– a vicious circle I was resolved to break at all costs. No longer would I stand outside the world enjoying the dubious reputation of a freak.” (p.100)

Jung also dives a bit into the premise that certain ideas which he would’ve taken at face value in childhood seemed to be too much for people to even consider now that he was reaching adulthood. The part that strikes me as most interesting here is that I doubt it was a matter of Jung touching on anything particularly “new”, but rather addressing something relatively uncomfortable. As the oldest of my parents children, there have been multiple times where my sisters and brother have made commentary or addressed topics my parents would likely not entertain. There have been conversations where I’m certain they were in my skull, right at the brain stem siphoning thought. They have said things without my prompt or prior allowance to converse on a subject because I don’t want to risk tampering. A slight digression:

As someone who grew up in the Catholic Church, it has been of extreme importance to me that certain ideas are not forced onto those younger than me. These ideas being mostly tied to religion and politics. I have shared the names of authors, titles of books, but I try my best to disguise and hide the contents within because while I’d like to believe my siblings dive into the things I say, I don’t ever want them to be in a position where they believe something only because I’ve said it. I would prefer they find truth, that it reveals itself to them. I don’t ever want to impose truth, because that would mean that somehow I’ve attained it (and to a point, outside of common decent behavior, I don’t believe there is a ‘truth’ to most things).

I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I knew I’d done to my siblings what had been done to me. It took me so much longer to develop a proper philosophy because of it, and far more time spent rereading what I could’ve originally absorbed and mulled over on my own without the interference of an overriding philosophy. Returning to the above paragraph, there have been moments with my younger siblings where content is produced that is their original forming of thought and I wish I could take credit. There have been moments of clarity and maturity in them that stun me, and remind me to be more mature and clear in my own thinking because of it. I hope I have the self-security and lack of pride to accept this in the same way when my own children do it. I believe the only reason Jung wasn’t given the opportunity to grow in those moments where he seemed to challenge those around him is they couldn’t admit he might know something they didn’t. Can you imagine?

What a terrible thing for an adult to have to admit to a child!

Point being, Jung has been helpful in self-analysis. I’m only reading this memoir at the moment, so I can’t speak to his ability to clearly express his thoughts and philosophy in his published works, but I hope that these dictated words are a window into his work. What strikes me as fascinating is that there is someone who can fire up my brain like he does. Previously I’d only had Camus and Nietzsche ever do such things to my thoughts, but here we are! I worry that these three might be the only ones to get my brain a buzz, but I’m also a bit early on in my dive into philosophy, as I’ve still so many more of Jung’s works to read. I currently have a synopsis book of his, which is on Synchronicity. It is a short read taking from his collected works, out of a new more accessible edition which has recently been published. Here’s hoping more of his works become accessible, as he currently has entire volumes of writings on the human psyche that are essentially textbooks and cost roughly as much per volume ($40-$90 per book).

You might think, “what does this have to do with your story?” well, yes. Interestingly enough, Jung answered a dilemma for me in regards to one character. The Jungian idea of “Shadow”, is less like an evil twin and more like “Personality No.2”. It is an idea that he addresses very precisely in the memoir so far, and while I’m yet to finish it, the influence and importance it bears on developing the Terranaut is significant. In the creating of a secondary persona which we do not reveal, Jung shows that many of our mental stressors are caused not buy outside conflicts, but the internal conflict we cannot place. There are essentially two personalities at all times, and the dance these do to balance an individual into functional society is delicate. When addressing a moment from childhood, Jung describes that the no.2 enjoyed simply sitting on a rock and thinking, feeling, observing, whereas no.1 enjoyed playing and running about. This isn’t exclusive to Jung, I think.

I’d say most of us have a secondary that is with us, and while the primary can be social and agreeable, the secondary has its solid foundations on what it believes and seeks to overtake the primary. The word primary is difficult in this sense, because it makes it seem as though both are not equally important when they are. The secondary is a sort of “superego” in the Freudian sense, which oversees and judges the actions of the “id/ego” which the primary is most like. This isn’t concrete and is subject to a different interpretation in every single human being. Jung states clearly that when he came to diagnostics, he was not satisfied simply with knowing the symptoms and diagnosis, but rather the entire individual and their whole story. It was only with that full, complete context that he could accurately help:

Humanity is not an easily explained and simple phenomena. While it may seem at first that people behave in similar ways, they do so for different reasons, to different effect, with different response, and end in different conclusions/resolutions. That might seem like it’s a simple discovery, but living your life and thinking of the world in that way changes you. Drastically.

As someone who aims to write a lengthy literary project over time, this concept is vital. In developing all my characters, it would be impossible to make them feel real without having some strange motivators thrown into them. The Terranaut for example, will have his second with him throughout the journey, but no one else will ever see it. There will be no way of anyone else ever encountering his second, but it will be there with them the entire way. The same applies to all characters in some shape or form, but the Terranaut will actually have a distinct manifestation of said second persona, allowing for the reader to more clearly interpret it. I’ll be using it like a hammer instead of a screw. I really hope that this doesn’t ruin the story for anyone.

 

This is for Timmy Seo, who will one day be an incredible professor.

three week gap

Nearly a month ago I was talking about Star Wars and how that universe shaped and influenced me. Another major influence, I realized over the past week is the Aliens series. Honestly, if I wanted to spend all my time explaining and elaborating on what influenced me, I doubt I’d ever stop with that topic. There’s always another to mention. The truth of that comes down to something that my partner pointed out to me today. In one way or another, everything that I’ve watched has played a minor role in affecting how I work through the writing of this epic. I have a good foundation for things because of it, though I need to learn how to allow the current projects remain as they are and move forward with other projects at a later date. A prime example would be Star Wars setting aside I, II, and III, opting to begin with IV. If IV is what was ready, then IV is what needs doing. 

I started reading Jung, who I’ve never dove into. The benefits of reading his work are almost immediate, and I’m really glad that Jordan Peterson has so heavily discussed him. I have difficulty with execution, but I’ve already begun a little bit. On that note, I’m going back to the actual writing again. This was just a quick little aside I needed to make in order to be sure I updated and stayed on task. I’m a little upset that I didn’t do so over that past month, so I had to actually do so now. 

This is for me, because I need to keep on task. 

Universes; A Rant

I’ve loved Star Wars since I was a kid. My first jump into the Universe Lucas built came when my mother had a work event that was allowing for the children of her employer to go see Star Wars A New Hope in a private screening, and receiving a few small toy star ships. I can’t say for certain how many people attended, but I can say this for certain; I don’t even remember my mother at the event. I vaguely remember her being there when we were leaving, but the entire evening for me was just Star Wars, and those little metal mounted ships that were small even in my child hands. I’d imagine they were no bigger than those small “Hot Wheels” cars. I had gotten a Y-Wing, A-Wing (or as it’s come to be known, a Jedi Starfighter), the B-Wing which I couldn’t figure out how it flew best, but the X-Wing is what did it for me. That ship, in all it’s glory, took down the Death Star and ensured that the rebels lived to fight another day. That wasn’t just any ship, that was Luke Skywalker’s ship! My childhood self can’t contain the nostalgia I still feel to this day when I see an X-Wing spread into attacking formation and the four wings fully extend.

Those moments in childhood would only be cemented as I got older, flying my own A-Wing in “Shadows of the Empire” on my cousin’s N64, and much later flying an X-Wing (AT LAST!) in “Rogue Squadron”. Sure, Han Solo was a badass, but the real badass for me was Luke. He trained, learned, and could only get stronger. Han just had a blaster, and Leia… Eh. I wanted to have a lightsaber that actually worked, and didn’t just bend when I would hit something. I wanted to be a space knight Jedi, to save people and need no one. I wanted to stand apart and be a part of the secret Jedi order, knowers of all secrets, masters of the unseen Force that drove everything.

I’m almost 31 now, playing Jedi: Fallen Order on PS4. That same sort of majesty when uncovering new species and finding new Force powers hasn’t left me. It still amazes me how easily all the new information fits into the Universe I’ve fantasized in since I was a kid. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to what I see in the Star Wars universe. The versatility of the stories that can be told within their framework is incredible. In the past five years alone we’ve seen a new trilogy, A bounty hunter origin story (Solo), a war movie (Rogue One), and a Western (The Mandolorian), all told within the exact same universe at different points in time. The magic of that universe isn’t that these things all happen, but that we’re always ready for more and more and more of it all. At no point have I seen something taking place in the Star Wars universe and thought to myself… “okay, I’m good”. There’s so much that can occur within the rules this universe has developed that it all makes perfect sense when you start watching.

This isn’t unlike the Marvel, DC, or even Stephen King universe’s. I think of all of these however, the one that really amazes me is King’s. The reason for this, is King doesn’t even stick to the same settings while he weaves the tale. We have the Vampires of Salem’s Lot, Pennywise the Clown, John Coffey, Danny Torrance, Bill Hodges, and so many countless others tied together at their center by the Dark Tower. It’s an ingenious mechanic that allows King to play a universe filled with whatever he might desire and still remain canonically relevant if he should choose to lob us an Easter egg here and there (it never ceases to make me smile when he does). The fun thing about this common universe motif, is that it reminds you of the truest truth of human life; everything is happening to everyone at the same time. Despite our inability to understand how everything is interwoven, this doesn’t stop everything from being connected, no matter how unrelated the events are. This “Butterfly Effect” without direct cause and effect is one of my favorite parts of reading King’s work, reading Comics, or watching/playing Star Wars. The over-arching idea that there is always something else happening at the same time, and we have the privilege to experience THIS moment. That’s something truly beautiful.

The reason I love this so much, is I would love to capture that sentiment. I will write more over the next few days in regards to what and how I believe that is best conducted, but for the time being, I wanted to at least hash out a small rant on what makes the idea so important to me, and what inspired it for me. This is why I can’t simply write a single story, but instead must build a full universe. The process is much longer, but it convinces me of the truth in it. If the stories I write aren’t true fictions, they aren’t really worth my time writing, or your time in reading.

This is for you Mama. Thanks for always letting me run wild in those majestic worlds, and enjoying them with me so I never felt alone back on Earth.

Beneficial shame

It’s difficult to take credit for the messes we’ve made. The histories of other countries could tell you what atrocities 50 stars have caused. Not only is there the slavery on our soil, there’s the wars we’ve started for the sake of money, oil, political control; at the end of the day the word PROFIT is all that seems to matter. We’d like to believe some grand idea is behind this all that we can’t comprehend. Truth be told, it’s the same sort of god-thinking that made us mark ourselves “a Christian nation”. Truth be told, there’s very little that’s Christian about us, unless we’re discussing an Old Testament premise of the model Christian. We allow sex scandals to dominate our newsfeeds because we enjoy the villainy. We feel better when someone else is worse off than we are; instead of trying to help the victims we find a way to make them the culprit. Instead of learning how to check our neighbors have as much as we do, we look in their bowls and curse them for having more than or even just a different kind of grain than us. We look and we curse them because we feel that extra grain should’ve been ours. Why? What makes us believe we deserve more? Why not deserve less? Why not check to see if they have less and share our own? What pulls our sails toward greed instead of generosity?

I used to think that Capitalism causes it, but I no longer think that to be the case. Other countries rely on the capitalist system and they aren’t quite as egotistical and self-promoting. The narcissism is our inside joke that we share and feel embarrassed when faced with the truth. “What is there to be narcissistic about?” A species that hasn’t evolved it’s self in a few millennia. Taller, sure, but more adaptable? Hardly. Most of us aren’t “tech people”. Here we are 2,000 some odd years past the birth of “the savior” and we’re finally learning that skin color doesn’t dictate behavior. The shape of our heads and eyes don’t necessitate a personality, just a genetic origin. This was a major breakthrough for the human population, though it’s relatively common sense. Considering we will someday be scattered out into the stars (if we aren’t already, unbeknownst to us) it might be good of us to start letting differences be a source of happiness and not resentment. I appreciate that we’re trying, it just seems so trivial that anyone could still be clinging to an identity like nationalism or racism in 2020.

What I think irks me most about it is the willing ignorance to turn away from anything suggesting there’s no difference grand enough to make us less or more human. Despite the atrocities of any hateful human being, I do not fool myself into the belief that they are NOT human. They might be less intelligent, less aware of their fellow man, but not less HUMAN. Less humane, I’ll give you that. For me, this is the difference that really seems to divide us most. We think we’re incapable of being reduced to these deeds. We think we cant be swayed to hate others in such a repulsive way. We would be wrong to think this. I can recall a time when i was less intelligent with my anger. That time saw me hating many people without reason or just cause. If you were to dig back into my childhood and search, you could find people who might have thought me racist. I was bullied, and with that bullying came the confusion that a certain type of person was the reason i was bullied. For a time, i believed that only certain kinds of people bullied. Over time, I learned that it doesn’t take a specific ethnicity to insult, demean, degrade, and disgrace. It just takes differences, and the willingness to be threatened by them. That was a strong lesson for me as i grew older, and to this day I am happy to discuss it with anyone who asks because it was important.

Being wrong is important.

If you are wrong and learn to see that, you can grow from it, and doing so makes you evolve. You become a stronger person, a stronger human. When i finally realized that I had only perpetuated the cycle i was caught in, I stopped being so angry. I didn’t learn this in therapy, I learned it in literature. I can’t give you a precise quote, though i know this realization struck me while reading Albert Camus. While i can’t say i agree with everything Camus said or did, there are large portions of his philosophy that drive me to glee and shouts, simply because he gives reason and understanding to what i felt so long and couldn’t name.

This being said, let me come back to my original idea; It is difficult to take credit for the messes we make. The simple idea is an unmade bed; we must admit it is unmade in order to move forward and make it anew. This simple concept branches to all of life’s dilemmas. We cannot fix what we do not believe to be broken. With that in mind, i urge you all to review what is wrong in your life. Even that which you do not believe is your fault, and detach, align yourselves with “the vast indifference of the universe”, as Camus puts it in The Stranger. Find the things you are doing which bring you back into the cycle, and how you can alter them. I can say for certain, that as a country, we here in the USA have a tendency to blame the other half of the political sphere, and instead should take a gander at what our slant is. What have we done to participate, to perpetuate? It becomes a fun exercise in shame, and progress.

This is for you Gareth. I love you and miss you.

Checking in

This is the first post of 2020. Hopefully that means something important, and I’ll actually get around to doing things in the right way this year. I’ve been working on my story for roughly ten years now, and it’s finally carved off enough of the original marble slate so that there’s some semblance of a statue underneath it all.

That doesn’t mean I’m anywhere near done, I’ve just removed enough of what it isn’t so that I know now what it really is. Most people have a snippet or two, some people have a secret but don’t know where it is along the timeline (or even who is involved), and one person other than myself has an inclination as to what is happening but if my ability to speak without communicating has done me any good, she’ll also be surprised in the end. It’s my hope that I can write about writing the story without telling the story itself. That would be reserved for actually reading the completed work. I hope that in recording the process I’ll be able to convey the difficulty in world-building (universe-building? literally?) without ruining the story itself.

That’s all for now. More to come. I promise.

 

This is for you, Fubba. I love and miss you.

Dear Moms and Dads, I Am an Atheist

More talks on religion with myself and the late Christipher Hitchens lead me to a conclusion. I have to apologize to my parents, because if their God is the one true God, I am certainly going to their version of Hell. That’s not something I can console them for, or even help them to reconcile with me. I don’t know that they believe in my being a good person to absolve me of my sins, or if the priest must first forgive me of my minor transgressions against mankind in order to be saved. That’s just an odd thought though, isn’t it?

Imagine reaching some giant gates where a saint in emanating robes tells you “look, you didn’t do a bad job. Honestly, if it were up to me, I’d let you in and let you join everyone. The fact of the matter is, you didn’t sing about God or tell people how amazing he is, so we’re going to have to torture your soul for all eternity in the depths of hell. You should’ve learned to be grateful to the almighty and given praise where praise is due”

I would hope it’s easier for my parents to reconcile that idea rather than condemn me as “dark-sided”, but it’s just the way they had been raised. I’m not certain that it’s fair to condemn people when the texts themselves all state in one way or another that only God has the power to judge us, worse still that there is no greater conceivable God than the God they follow… Yet, I’d like to offer you an example. What about a God that doesn’t want to be worshipped endlessly for what it has done, and instead looks to us as a hero does to the people they saved?

I’ve never heard of Superman or Spider-man zooming in to save the day and then stating “Now, you’d all better sing and offer up symbols of how grateful you are, otherwise I’m coming back and I’ll make sure you pay for it with your eternal soul.” Can you imagine what sort of God it must take to be so conceited or insecure that it needs to receive such constant praise for actions it committed ages ago? I’m only 30, and if anyone were to praise me for the kindness I’d served them last year alone, I’d be worried for their health. Imagine a God that wants constant recognition for the fact that it created everything at the beginning of time? Doesn’t sound like too good of an individual. This is why I don’t consider myself a part of these religions. They aren’t healthy for the individuals, and it doesn’t exactly bring comfort or joy to those involved. It’s a nice way of falling back when all is lost and saying “it will all work out somehow”.

I’d like to propose an alternative; instead of letting God be the reason you say “it will all work out somehow”, just let it all work out somehow. It always has before, better or worse. Whenever things went south and the worst came to light in the past, you kept moving forward. Why should the future be any different in that regard? Granted, you might Die. That would in fact be worse than anything that’s happened before, because that means you’re done and the story isn’t being written anymore.

I used to scare Joel back in Brooklyn when we’d smoke and talk about existence; “your window is open right now, but someday it closes. Someday that window closes and—” he’d yell at me and tell me to just enjoy myself. I was enjoying myself, and it just wasn’t the same way he always would. Sometimes the truth is terrifying, so we’d rather keep going with the lies. I like to think that I’ve done pretty well with the truth so far and can’t foresee a time when I’ll prefer lies to it. So moms, dads, and everyone else, I want you all to know now and forever, that I’m an atheist.

I don’t believe in a God, or some magical being that did it all for us. I think we’re hurtling forth through the void of all existence towards more existence, and there is no warmth waiting for us when we die. I think the tragic loss of losing loved ones is more tragic than we’ll ever be able to comprehend, definitely more so than your religions let you believe because they’ve told you that someday you’ll see them again. You’ve told yourself too. That’s too big a lie for me. I spent years distraught over my dead brother who I’ll never get to know. You were all so worried about me, but you all gave me the same lies that other people gave you, so i couldn’t trust your answers. I like the truth that you can’t stand better, because at the end of the day while it breaks my heart again and again, I’d rather have my heart broken and know that it’s mine for the 100 years I get here. I am the only Me, and I might have you to thank for that, and the pantheon (the inconceivably long list of chance happenings!) of choices that all my, your, and their, ancestors made all the way back throughout time and space, that allowed me to exist. THAT is so much greater than the cookie cutter response of “thank god”.

I believe the future is always better than the past in some small, inconceivably better way. If all the human race ends, it is because that serves all of existence better for having sacrificed humanity. ”So it goes”. We cannot let ourselves just be for our own sake, we have to live for each other. I can’t and never could live for a “God”. I love you guys, and I’m sorry if you think this is a sad moment. I’ll gladly tell you why it isn’t in another post if you want to know.

Moving to Wisconsin/Parents/Honesty

Turns out that if you leave me to my own devices and don’t giv me a deadline the only thing that ends up happening is I drink and watch TV with the love of my life. Happiness has a problem, folks. It breeds complacency. I have to start actually looking for the things that piss me off now that life has been upgraded. Despite all the new stressors that renting a home comes with, I do firmly believe that they are all worth the struggle and by far better than the struggles of living at home with parents. While it took me quite a long while to reach this point, I do not feel I should’ve done things differently. Here at 30, I was able to undertake all the alternatives and understand what a life of parental dependency might look like, which provides the joys of this alternative: living on your own with someone you chose far outweighs the difficulties of living with the people you couldn’t choose.

I want to draw the distinction between loving my parents and not wanting them as room-mates. My parents have always held me close and kept me as their own. The difficulty with this is I couldn’t establish myself as someone who deserves a voice (let alone actually deserving a voice) in matters of the household. No one should be able to dictate what their parents do in their own household, and I can state from experience that things grow worse if you try to. Being given parental control on your parents is a terrible scenario to be in, because you will start to resent them for their shortcomings, instead of accepting them for who they are. It’s a very shitty feeling, and I don’t wish it on anyone, but I’m certain that anyone who has parents that have lived to an older age can speak to it. It becomes a very frustrating situation when you start to understand people’s behaviors better than they do. This isn’t to say my parents aren’t good people, because on their own and without my impositions, they really are. They’re fascinating individuals that give their children everything they can, and that’s all anyone can ask. There is some tragedy to that, and i’ll cover that in a bit.

It took leaving NY to understand that everyone would be okay once i stepped away and let them all get on with their lives. This is an issue i’ve always had; control is my natural setting, and Kailey might be the only person on Earth that i fully love enough to get things done. That’s a harsh statement for the people i love to read, but it’s the truth. I don’t accept my parents flaws because I’ve seen them as Gods in my childhood, thinking they’e capable of so much more than they do now. I have a perceptive flaw that leads me to believe they can do so much more, but i forget that the things they did when i was a kid were just as much happy accidents and seat-of-their-pants decision making as I do today. They didn’t let me see movies above my age-range because they were cool, they did it because they didn’t know I shouldn’t be watching any of them. They didn’t tell me what they felt about each other because they thought i should understand their internal conflicts, they did it because they were pissed and had no one to vent to. That’s a really important distinction; it made them less human in my eyes to think that they could and should share their thoughts with their loved ones. The problem there arises in how I came to understand honesty. People usually lie. People don’t often think their feelings over and give exact reasons for what they’re feeling. This means when I tell my parents how i’m feeling, they expect it’s something i’m saying to butter them up or make them feel good; It’s not. They really are amazing individuals who did their best, and I know that. The shitty thing is, that also means they have to accept that however I turned out is their “best” effort. That’s not an easy pill to swallow. I know this because i’ve undergone it to some degree, and can’t imagine what the full effect must be. 

Few things hurt worse than giving it your best and still falling short of your goals. The caveat is, if you never did it at all, you’d carry that regret your entire life through. Worse still is knowing that you can’t face the part of you that makes you do it, and knowing you’ll have that come up again and again. It is a widely used idea of hell; repeating your worst mistakes over and over without any power to correct them. 

I say this because I’m certain that moving to Wisconsin was the right choice. It wasn’t some idea I tossed around. My partner joked that I might have cold feet in the moments leading up to our moving in together. She joked because she knew there was no chance in all reality that I would. I can say for certain that I made the right move because no part of me doubted moving in with her, and it’s one of the only things i’ve ever done in my life that i can say that about. That’s what heaven really is, by the way. It’s committing acts so pure and free that no harm comes from it whatsoever. These are very rare things, I might add. In all our joys and sorrows, we should strive to commit truly harmless acts and avoid repetitious harms. Couldn’t help but plug some moral philosophy, but you’ll come to know that’s just how I work. 

To anyone reading, thanks for taking the time. I’m going to try to be more consistent with this, but for the time being I can’t guarantee my next post date. Erratic posting will be a thing for at least the next month or so, until a solid schedule becomes routine. I appreciate any and all support, and home you’re all well. Frustrations and honest attacks are welcomed. 

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