Saturday, May 30, 2015

How to Fall Asleep

Imagine, as you lie in bed with no way behind your shut eyes to bring about sleep, that you are in space. Imagine you are in that inky blackness with the light from innumerable stars shining around you and lighting up everything you can see. Breathing and exposure are not issues here, for in this version of reality, you are a disembodied consciousness that perceives and feels but does not need to physically be.

Imagine that you are floating, drifting like a scrap of paper on the surface of the open ocean. You pass through nebulas, with gases misting around you and the beginnings of stars, bits of matter growing in size and gravity. You drift through solar systems and pass by their beautiful planets. You float around the awe-inspiring might of red stars and blue giants.

Now, imagine that you are no longer a scrap of paper on the ocean’s surface but instead a rock sinking through the depths of the water with no way to change it. You become a falling object in space, like a shooting star but with no one to see you and make any sort of wish. The stars and galaxies fade from view and you are in one of the black spaces of the universe, where there are no stars or planets or anything, and there is no light, and you cannot scream, not even for the release that would come from pretending you weren’t completely helpless. You do not know when you will fall into a place with light. It is entirely possible and in fact likely that you never will and you will forever plummet through the darkness of space, immobile and voiceless.

This is the image that you will be stuck in as you lie under covers in a state of semi-consciousness. It will take you, and you will sail away into the darkness. Goodnight.

Friday, May 1, 2015

one way to get a story done

So the day before yesterday,  I wrote a few paragraphs that seemed like the opening to a short story. This was in the afternoon. 

Yesterday, without reading that opening, I continued from where I thought it left off and wrote a reasonable-length short story. For some reason, I ended up making breaks of a line’s worth of space, like I was breaking the story up into sections. This was between 12 PM and 1 AM.

Today, I read the first section compared to the next ones and found that they were almost completely compatible (I just had to change some of the names and phrasings I’d used in the first paragraph, which were not applicable to how I’d written the rest of the thing). I’m now wondering what it’d be like if I put the sections in the wrong order (I wrote it all chronologically) and I used a random number generator on the internet to put the story into eight different orders. I chose eight because that’s the number of sections that were in the story. This is from 6 to 7 PM.

Tomorrow, I’m going to read all eight of the different versions (or “remixes”, as I saved them) and see which I like best, or if I want to put them in a less-random but still anachronic order of my own. Or maybe I’ll decide that the original was perfectly fine as it was. I don’t know when I’ll do that.

Well, it’s one way to get a story done.

Friday, February 20, 2015

From good to different

When I was very young - and when I say "very young", I mean something like thirteen or fourteen - I liked who I was, and I thought at the time that this meant I should never want to change. Which makes sense, in a way - if you like something, why would you want it to change? You like it just the way it is. But again, I was very young, and nobody really has anything figured out when they're very young, and the things you hold with great conviction may change into different shapes of idea or even be discarded altogether, hopefully for the better.

I grew a little older - and when I say "a little older", I mean something like fifteen or sixteen - I was a bit of a different person than I was when I had the idea that I didn't want to change. The overall shape of my personality and interests and way of going about things wasn't that different from what it was like before, and one could see how it had progressed into its current form compared to what it used to be, but it was different. I didn't entirely like myself, but that's natural for somebody of that age. And in the vast most of cases, it was less that I didn't like the way I was so much as I didn't like the way others treated me because of who and what I was. I didn't think about changing very much during that time. I don't know why. If someone had asked me about whether or not I would have wanted to change myself, I don't think I would have said yes.

And then I grew a little older still - now we're at something like seventeen or eighteen - and I had at this point begun to examine a number of ideas and philosophies that I had been vaguely aware of until then but hadn't really begun to form my own opinions on until that time. I suppose this sort of thing is to be expected, or at the least, it isn't unusual. Some of these were ideas I had to apply to the world around me, and some of these were ideas I had to apply to myself. To tell you what they were and how I went about doing that is a long story and best saved for another time, but one of the conclusions I reached was that:

  1. Things change.
  2. People change.
  3. That's okay.
  4. That's actually kind of fantastic, because if you're the one doing the changing, you don't always have to change for the worse.

Isn't it true, though, that some changes are not for the worst or even for the better but just for the different? There are different kinds of good things. Salvador Dali's art is good, and Vincent van Gogh's art is good, and Carson Ellis's art is good - or at least, in my opinion they're all good. But they're all quite different, aren't they? Yes. They are.

And when I made that revelation, the idea of changing as a person became exciting to me. I could be all sorts of people in my lifetime, with different ideas and traits and interests and ways of doing things. There was more than one way to be an interesting, awesome person. If I changed - not on purpose, mind you, but as a matter of how things work - then I could be any number of such people. The fact that I have taken so many fantastic forms and am yet to take many more is one of the most exciting facts of my life as I understand it now.

I'm still very young - and when I say "very young", I mean that I am twenty and in a few months will be twenty-one - but I think I understand a few things, and I think that one of those things is that change is not always bad, nor is it always good, but sometimes change is simply a good thing turning into a different good thing. Does that excite you? I hope it does. It excites me.

Friday, February 13, 2015

I hate love

I hate love.

Not REALLY, but I made a statement to this effect on another social media website that I'm on. I made it pretty casually, too - I was talking about why I dislike Valentine's Day and why I was happy that Caustic Soda (my favorite morbid podcast) had made an episode about love just in time for Valentine's, "because I hate love and this makes everything better" - and someone asked me to expound upon what I meant when I said "I hate love".

My response got very long and I figured I'd share it on this blog because I think it has some value.

Firstly: I don't actually hate love. When I say "I hate love", it's a case of both hyperbole and incorrect word usage. I don't hate love; I hate cruelty, I hate bigotry, I hate abuse. Those are examples of things I actually hate. I don't even "hate" love in the same way that I "hate", say, spiders or hot weather or grape-flavored candy. Those are things I strongly and unambiguously dislike, albeit not to the deep, profound extent to which I hate the aforementioned Actually Hated things.

When I say "love", I don't mean just romantic love, either. As most of you know, I'm aromantic, and I therefore feel alienated in the face of statements and sentiments that consider romantic love to be universal or necessary on an individual level as well as in the face of romantic love itself. Honestly, romantic love itself just. Alienates me for some reason or another. It's not even romance repulsion per se, in that I'm not like "ew romance get it away from me" - sometimes I'm like that but not always or even most of the time. It's more like "what is this even, does not compute" and my computer brain just sort of crashes in the face of something it can't process but is trying to process nonetheless. (Does that mean I have a weak mind? Probably.)

Love is a really really weird thing to me. The lie I tell most often is "I love you", and I tell it to family and friends alike. (I don't tell it to romantic partners because I don't have any, which is a good thing for everybody, but if I had them, rest assured I'd tell them that lie, too.) I say it often just as a social thing (a means of making people feel better in the face of certain situations, of maintaining a social structure others view as being held together by love, something that makes people happy, et cetera). I say it so often that it means anything outside of the ways in which I use it. But honestly, love doesn't make sense to me. No forms of love make sense to me. I like people, sure, but I like them the same way I like my favorite books, or English Breakfast tea, or overcast days. 

Sometimes I like them so much you could almost say I love them - not actual love but a specific kind of not-actual-love that's comparable to the previously-discussed not-actual-hate. 

Sometimes I love people like I love the Voynich Manuscript - I'm so fascinated with them and I think they're so beautiful that I have intense and consistent feelings of appreciation and fascination and happy feelings for them. Sometimes I love people like I love this one pen I have - someone once summarized my feelings towards that pen as, "This is my pen; there are many like it, but this one is mine", and I get like that about people, too. Sometimes I love people like I love the place near my house where the library and the taco shop are - they're deeply familiar and I feel comfortable and relaxed around them, like nothing bad could ever happen when I'm in their presence. Sometimes I love people like I love my anti-anxiety pills - they keep me sane and frankly I need them.

The thing is, even though I've described me having Real Feelings towards people, these feelings are still comparable to those I feel towards objects. To be honest, they're not just comparable - they're almost exactly the same. And the only reason I say "almost exactly" is because I don't believe it's possible to have the EXACT same emotions towards two different things, but they're so similar they may as WELL be exactly the same. I've been told by therapist and layman alike that I see people as objects, and I agree. I don't experience empathy, and I don't see others as People the way I'm a "People". I can care about them in a way but only in the way you'd care about an object you really cared about. Is that love? Maybe. But maybe it isn't. It's certainly not the kind of love people are talking about when they say "love makes us human" or "love conquers all" or "all you need is love" or "there is no greater thing than love". Regardless of whether or not these statements are true (and regardless of whether or not the people saying them are talking exclusively about romantic love or not), I personally believe they're all talking about something that really exists, in much the same way that it's possible to say false things about something that's real. I don't experience the real thing they're talking about. 

And I hate that. Not in the real-hate way, but I hate that I can't experience the thing they're talking about, and I hate that I live in a world where the thing they're talking about is so prized, and I hate that love - romantic, platonic, familial, whatever - truly is a common human experience (in that it's an experience that humans, regardless of (a)romanticism, commonly experience), and I hate that my lack of real love is one of the things that detracts from my humanity, and I hate that any statements about love just remind me (consciously or unconsciously) of how inhuman I am, and I hate that love exists.

When I say "I hate love", what I really mean is "my experiences with and ability and lack thereof to experience love - platonic, romantic, familial, and otherwise - are such so that I am alienated and made unhappy by discussions of love, and, indeed, the existence of love itself".

But of course it's easier to say "I hate love".

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

To ruin someone's day

There was a time, very early on in my Submitting Stuff To Publishers career, where my justification for sending people things was "to ruin someone's day". The implication was that my poetry and stories were so terrible, so awful, that to force someone to read them would effectively ruin their day. To send my writing out there was to doom someone to read it and thus to doom them to a day that had been irreparably wrecked by exposure to my creative processes. My stuff was just so bad that it had the power to ruin someone's day.
And I liked that.
wanted to ruin people's days. And I wanted to ruin people's days with my writing
I sent out my stuff to literary magazines and blogs and stuff with the justification that I was doing so to ruin people's days. I got a lot of rejection letters but I also got a few acceptances and all because I wanted to ruin people's days. Incredible.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Baudelaire and children's parties

Yesterday, my little cousin celebrated her sixth birthday party. She's the youngest of three, and I brought her a Frozen necklace as a present. I also brought Flowers of Evil, which wasn't for her but for me, so I could read it conspicuously and potentially garner reactions. While I genuinely do like the poems in it, I sort of also use it as a prop because I like the idea of Being The Person Who Reads Baudelaire In Public Places. Or at least places where there's other people. You understand.
The eldest of my little cousins (who is nine and likes science) asked me what I was reading, and I held up the cover (he originally misread the title as Flowers of the Devil, and I corrected him). He said something to the effect of, "That's cool", and then when his friend came by, he went off with him and said, "Guess what book my cousin's reading..." (I didn't hear the end of that conversation.)
The wife of one of my adult cousins (who is in her forties and likes Doctor Who - I refer to the wife, not the cousin to whom she is married) saw me reading, asked what it was, and I said, "Flowers of Evil. Baudelaire." And she kind of laughed because she knew what it was, and she didn't find it funny per se, it was more like "so this is what you're reading now, oh my gosh". So I added, "I'm happy like this." Like reading Baudelaire is or indicative of some questionable life decisions.
I just like getting caught reading books with titles like Flowers of Evil and I like people's reactions to it.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bad chocolate

Last Christmas, my dad (who's a music teacher) received a lot of chocolates due to a combination "Merry Christmas, here have a present" and "thank you for teaching me music this year". Some of the chocolate was good, and some of it was not-so-good. Needless to say, we all ate the good ones first, and last night, when my sister and I were home, he broached the subject of some of the not-so-good ones.

When my dad got them out, my sister asked if they were "like Easter Egg chocolates". His response was, "Eh, they're probably not as bad as Easter Egg chocolates," to which she responded, "Like Christmas chocolates?"

"Yeah, somewhere along those lines," my dad said. (I made some remark about how this judgment was the obvious one, given that these were in fact chocolates given us for Christmas.)

Imagine a bunch of pecans indiscriminately crammed into a ball of caramel, and then imagine that caramel being coated in chocolate. Now imagine a box of, what, twelve of these, and you'll have our box of chocolates. It wasn't even a typical Box Of Chocolates, where they're all different flavors and you have to consult the guide at the back of the box (or, in the absence of such a guide, either cut them all in half or else choose one and hope for the best).

The weird thing is, they were kind of good. They weren't good good, naturally, but they were okay. I have consumed things - overly-hot peppers, cheap pie, whiskey - where my response to putting them in my mouth was, "I immediately regret this decision". This was not one of those things. My response to putting this in my mouth was something more like, "Huh, I don't immediately regret this decision. That's interesting. If I were to eat another of these, I wouldn't immediately regret that decision, either."

My dad asked if we wanted another, and I said yes. Just as I'd suspected, I had no regrets about eating it.

There was this kind of sense of amazement afterwards. I had eaten bad chocolate, and I had enjoyed it. And this amazement was something I'd never get from eating good chocolate. With good chocolate, you expect it to be good, and it is. You don't go, "wow, I actually enjoyed this", because you expect to enjoy it. With bad chocolate, it's another story. If you enjoy it, then not only do you enjoy it, you enjoy the fact that you enjoyed it. There's two layers of enjoyment going on there.

In other words, I may have discovered that bad chocolate makes you happier than good chocolate. Good chocolate is better quality, obviously - I mean, it's in the description (good vs. bad) - but does good chocolate make you have not one but two positive reactions to it? Most of the time, no. There was that time I had good chocolate that was shaped in different-colored spheres and they kind of looked like planets to me, but with the exception of chocolates that look like celestial bodies, good chocolate makes you have one and only one reaction: "hey, this is good!" Bad chocolate, when it is at least passable, makes you have two: "hey, this is kind of okay!" and "I'm amazed that I was able to enjoy this!"

The good things in life are just uncomplicatedly good but the bad things, when they're still kind of good, have that goodness on numerous levels and that's kind of incredible.