knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
I just got done watching Snowpiercer a little while ago. Me = behind-the-times.

I mean I liked it, but it's left me wondering about some things. Namely, when did I get so literal? I actually had to remind myself at several points that the film wasn't an attempt to portray a possible or likely future. I mean seriously. Why does that even need to be clarified? Huh? Me? Why?

I'd like to point out to me that I'm the guy who wrote a story about magically animated garbage struggling to understand the limitations of its own consciousness. The most promising (to my mind) story I have on the back burner takes place in a world whose landscape is highly mutable according to a large number of variables, some of which are mediated by human thought. On the front burner, I'm developing a story about magic and have to remind myself from time to time that that means I don't have to worry about physics. When? When did I get so literal?

Rargh.

Blip

Jul. 4th, 2014 03:07 am
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Sometimes I [X] a thing, where [X] is like some kind of verb, y'know? Like "realize", or "read", or "encounter". That sort of sentiment. And I think to myself, "There are two options here."

Option 1 is I can devote the entire rest of my life - every fiber of my being - to that thing. Learning/Practicing/Knowing/Mastering/Understanding (take your pick) that thing.

Option 2 is I can ignore that thing. Try my damndest never to think about it again.

There's never an Option 3.

This actually happens a lot actually. Like a lot alot.

It prolly isn't that healthy.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Shout outs to Rinue:

Everyone should post their ten most CRUCIAL CRUCIAL CRUCIAL-ASS movies, like the movies that explain everything about yourselves in your current incarnations (not necessarily your ten favorite movies but the ten movies that you, as a person existing currently, feel would help people get to know you) (they can change later on obviously).

In no particular order:

01. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1990)
02. The Fall (2006)
03. Mumford (1999)
04. Gattaca (1997)
05. Pi (1998) (fucking MATH)
06. Flight of Dragons (1982)
07. Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) (or the anime Hikaru no Go; same sentiment)
08. Groundhog Day (1993) (act 3 more than the rest of it, but still)
09. Wonder Boys (2000)
10. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Hahaha. Successfully avoided including Her, Garden State, and Can't Hardly Wait.

Was going to put State and Main on there, but felt that Mumford basically accomplishes all of the same things in a description of me, plus one more.

Wanted to put War Games on there, but I don't feel like I've earned it yet.

Honorable mentions go to Rounders (1998) and Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

The romantic aspect of my character is a little overemphasized in this list, but I did my best to pair it with other stuff wherever it showed up.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
I'm struggling at the moment (and by at the moment, I mean literally at this moment, which will pass) with the sneaking suspicion that I can't take a joke. It's been creeping up on me through a conversation with a friend as part of a thought process revolving around my history of being pranked and the reactions I've had to same. In the past, I haven't reacted well to being the butt of jokes, which bothers the crap out of me. I've prided myself for a long time on not taking myself too (emphasis on "too") seriously. I'm uncomfortable with how the possible refutation of that self-image reflects on my character. Dunno if there's much to be done about it. Dunno if it needs to be done about.

I've just started reading "Leisure: The Basis of Culture" as my philosophy class will begin focusing on it tomorrow. It's perturbing because I'm so far despising what I'm reading, and I'm worried that my professor is going to be espousing its virtues. That could very well lead to me getting buzzed out of the conversation again, which is infuriating when I consider that this is supposed to be my fucking self-enrichment course for the summer. I've been uncomfortable for some time with the notion that philosophers are searching for answers because it seems irresponsible, even arrogant, to me to believe that the human experience has yet produced any sort of mental state in any individual that is capable of producing all the freakin' questions. I'm still working that conflict out though. Could go either way. Maybe. That said, it's immediately hard for me to take a guy seriously when he tells me, "I've got a point. I know what I'm talking about. Thomas Aquinas says so."

By way of an offhand comment made by my government professor a few days ago, I have become aware of the Mars One project. So my brain's on fire. It's hitting me with all kinds of introspective crises, though what doesn't these days? Sometimes it's like, "Jesus, man. You get hit by a cool breeze and it makes you question the very core of your being." There's four or five hundred concerns I have about what I'm reading so far, but the thing that really hits me hard is that I don't know if I would really go (assuming all other roadblocks other than my own choice were eliminated). Part of the problem I have there is that it's very unlikely that I'd be allowed to go because all other physical reasons aside, my family has a history of high blood pressure, which would present long term problems not worth risking. Also I'm a fat smoker, though the latter is gone soon enough, and the former, hopefully, soon after. Really, it's just hard to address the core question of my willingness to go when I'd have myriad other, more pertinent, roadblocks to overcome. So that's a problem. Off-earth colonization is a big thing with me, conceptually. So. Brain on fire.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Drive by quote of the day:

C.J. Cregg: Duchamp was the father of Dadaism.

Toby Ziegler: I know.

C.J. Cregg: The Dah-dah of Dada.

Toby Ziegler: *pause* It's like there's nothing you can do about that joke. It's coming, and you just have to stand there.


I am increasingly fond of getting art jokes and references after my art history course. Watched the first half of Clueless a few weeks ago, and at the scene where what's-his-head is commenting on what's-her-head's father's art collection, I was thinking, "Biiiiiig Clothespin. Na na naNa!"

I've developed a theory over the past couple of weeks, watching my current professors and thinking about the ones this spring, that one of the reasons students seem to a lot of teachers (that I've observed, so it's a small sample) to be disconnected from the classroom experience is that the students are actually identifying (consciously or not) the professors as trolls. We're talking about a generation that's gone through the majority of their life with the internet now coming into a learning experience based in some cases around the dialectic method. The problem is that several of my professors have had a habit of asking a question in a way that makes it clear their expecting a specific answer. When the answer is provided, they understandably want the student to engage more, so they argue the opposite side. So what you have is a person expecting a specific answer and arguing against that answer in order to get a rise out of their interlocutor. Bam. Troll. Disengage.

On: The Giant Mechanical Man: It's almost like there's this subgenre of film based around attempts to satirize certain types of behavior or certain value systems by people who don't know how to satirize. Anything. So what you get is this sort of toxic character who, rather than providing the film with an avenue to saying anything meaningful, just feels out of place and alienating. I spent basically the whole film thinking, "I really like this except for everything Topher Grace is being asked to do." It felt like a direction problem, but I don't really know if that's a valid observation.

The worst part for me though is when I confront myself with why I like the rest of the film (aside from the performances, which I thought were good). It's nice to think there's this inevitability in any life dominated by feelings of futility, that eventually you'll find someone else who feels just as broken and that'll be magical. It'll be a connection. And you'll fix each other because that's how it works, so you're excused. It ain't your fault. It's just a matter of time.

There's this sort of gut-wrenching banality there, which feels beautiful in a way that makes me want to keep regurgitating nonsense about it because then I don't have to think about why I identify with banality.

Maybe two months ago? I had an "artistic revelation" that the purest method a writer has of reaching an audience is to stop trying to say anything. That's when it becomes possible for the reader to get something from the work. It's all by way of saying that I want to throw myself at a brick wall. Hard. Stomach in knots and all that's left to come up is inefficacy.

I've been telling myself for a long time that one of the fears I'm dealing with in this depressive epoch I'm going through is that I actually do have something worthwhile to say, but that I am incapable of the thought processes necessary to articulate it. It's all by way of saying that it's easier to extrapolate it to others, to ascribe significance to one's own ...

For fuck's sake. Nevermind.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
I think that this book is very important to me. I'm going to have to read it again soon, but I definitely feel more thoughtful than I did 4ish hours (cumulative) ago. I started getting angry at the narrator near the end though, and I'm getting the impression from various sources that maybe I missed the point. Hard to say. That's why I need to read a few more times.

My first read of it has exacerbated my impatience with the pestilential attention span I've been struggling with for a very long time. Possibly a decade. My mind wanders as I read, regardless of what I am reading or how invested I am in the material. I think part of it's that I'm just out of practice. The rate at which I consume fiction (or non-fiction now that I'm at a point in my life where I've learned how dumb it is to not read non-fic) dropped dramatically ten years ago. It didn't peter out or disappear or anything, but I still go weeks on end without picking up a book.

I think that's the real lesson right now. I need to nip that bullshit in the bud.

And no scheduling btw, self. None at all. Don't be stupid.

blip

Jun. 13th, 2012 02:46 am
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
"Everything is fine. Nothing is ruined."
-Strong Bad's computer?

I'm quite hungry. Haven't eaten in about fifty hours.

Interesting thing about this brand of hunger (in my experience) is that it isn't physical. It's a mental thing. You just have trouble actively thinking about stuff that isn't food.

This "being bad with money" bullshit gets old.

So, at some point, I think I'm going to stop being a fucking idiot. Some point soon, if at all possible.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
So it's looking like the plan is to embrace the whole "prodigal student" ... ... milieu.

There's about a million things I could say on the subject as regards my own emotional baggage, or - as I like to call it - my personal bullshit collection, but what it boils down to is the question I asked at the end of the first entry of the Self Actualization Project:

At what point does the inclination toward getting over yourself become the act of it?
In the current "grand design" of get-the-fuck-out-of-latest-horror-job-situation, I've adopted a very "if you can't beat 'em" sort of mentally, which is also stupid and something I've been trying to suppress. I dunno. Maybe there was something in there somewhere where I viewed the expectations of those who bothered to have expectations of me when I was first going through school as a personal attack on my value system and decided the best way to combat that was to launch a preemptive strike on my own well-being. Maybe I just got too caught up in youthful dreams of pulling myself up by my creative bootstraps, whatever. The short of it is, I did not pursue the goals that I set out to pursue. So now it's time to try something different. Maybe "something different" will entail a life plan that works.

My mother has offered to finance half of a four year degree (though the plan is to do it in three years). She's suggested finding a way to make "student" my full-time job: summer school, the whole works. I'm open to that. If nothing else, it's (to steal terminology a friend recently used to describe life experiences) research I haven't done yet.

Though I'd have to do it again given the rhetorical chance, if for no other reason than to repeat the connections I've both missed and made over the last ten years, I'm willing to admit I've done me wrong. That is, after all, what this is all about.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
So I've been wrestling with the old writer's crisis of "Am I good enough or just fooling myself?" bullshit again. This time, it may actually be fairly constructive. As I was telling Ciro awhile back, I'm confident that I could become a professional writer given enough time and effort (the former, I still have, barring freak accidents) because perfect strangers have told me they enjoyed certain stories I've written when they have no reason to lie about it. The problem right now is one of scope maybe? I know it's going to take a long time to get where I want to go. I've always known that, which maybe be a contributing factor to the last decade of unmitigated faffing about. I went rooting around in an old folder my computer inherited from its predecessor and found a critique Val did of an old story of mine ("Cricket Season"), and at the end was a wonderful paragraph of her rhetorically beating me up for not reading and writing enough. She wrote that critique seven and a half years ago. So basically, it's bullshit how little I've progressed since then.

The weird thing is that I have progressed. I've got more life experience to draw from (though still not the sort of experience in the amounts that I might like). I've written more than I had then, which is a cop out. One thing I've steadfastly tried not to think about over the past couple years is how STARTLINGLY LITTLE I've written since I dropped out of college to "pursue my dream". I'm referring specifically to fiction. I've done a fair amount of blogging in that time, some of it constructive, some of it not. There's no denying that I'm still at a stage in my development as a writer where I need to write things as much for practice as production. The novella was a start, what I need to do now is write short fiction in spades and maybe some extensive outlining for some of the novels I have on the backburner. That's nothing new. What is new is the list I'm about to draw up of my actual body of "completed" works because it's about time I had something to slap myself in the face with so I can SEE how conactive (I declare thee a word!) I've been:

Closest I can get to chronological order:

0: "The Cleric Rod" - A "novel" I started trying to write when I was in my early teens? Somewhere around there. I include it solely in the interest of full disclosure, though now I'm wondering if the draft is still around somewhere in my mom's house.

1: "Eternal Damnation and Other Things That Go Bump In the Night" - Short story. First I ever wrote. Assignment for my Fiction Writing class in Iowa. Absolutely teeming with cliches.

2: "George Was Curious" - Short Story. Hahaha! Might actually be fun to bring back though I'd have to find out if Curious George is public domain, which it probably isn't.

3: "The Day the Dragons Fell" - Short Story. The first thing I ever submitted to a market: "Realms of Fantasy" back before it closed. Premise was fun enough I suppose, and there was one scene that I still think back on fondly, but the story as a whole was very indicative of my age when I wrote it.

4. "Cricket Season" - Short Story. Surprisingly upstart in my current personal zeitgeist, but that's really just because I'm back working at a gas station. On the whole, way too autobiographical.

5. "On the Fly" - Short Story. And here's where the wheels start to come off the wagon. "On the Fly" came maybe three? Years after "Cricket Season". I think back on it, and I still think the story has merit. It's just never a piece I was able to get going satisfactorily. It's also the only thing I've ever written (or in this case attempted to write) that felt less pulpy and more meaty, literature wise. That's probably the wrong way to put it, but I can't think of a right one.

6. "Who Shapes the Shaper" - Short Story. Sigh. My only legitimate publication to date, and I still look back at the prose and shudder sometimes. That problem aside, I'm proud of the piece on the whole.

7. "Skies of Blues" - Short Story. Inspired by a typo I read once. Nice enough attempt I suppose, but it got preachy and went nowhere.

8. "Lady of Knives" - Short Story. Grarr. My only illegitimate publication to date, and the only one I will ever suffer if I have my way. I like the story. I can read it and go, "Yes, I am satisfied with this." The problem is that it's indicative of a crisis I've been going through for awhile concerning the possibility that my work is (and, horribly, might always be) too sophomoric to make me the writer that I want to be. That's crap though. That's something that can be overcome.

9. "Into the White" - Short Story. Sigh. Let's face it. This one is the monkey I'll probably never get off my back. If there was ever a point where I resolved to attack my problem with revisiting and retrying old pieces, this would be the story I started with. It got a personal rejection from Strange Horizons. That was pretty cool.

10. "The Test of Time" - Short Story. Meh. It was a fun attempt, but it didn't amount to much. Val hated it as I recall. Also the title's an unforgivable bit of flim-flammery.

11. "The Seventh Son" - Flash fiction. My first real attempt to write straight sci-fi, and it was awwwwwwwwfuuuuuuuuulllllllll. I submitted to Daily Science Fiction fooooorrrrr some reason. I might delete it. No, but posterity! Argh it's horrible! POSTERITY.

12. "His Face is in the Glass" - Short Story. It's hard for me to think about this one because I think there might be something there. It runs into the same problem I have with "The Battle that must Always Be" except that I finished "Face". Or finished a draft of it anyway. I'm just not sure what medium it wants to be: novel? short? graphic novel (ha! who am I kidding?)

13. "The Effluvian Heresy" - Novella. Wounds are still a bit too fresh.

So there it is. Fourteen pieces, at least two of which don't really merit the name. That's my fucking portfolio and THAT'S the reason I don't tell people I'm a writer when they ask me what I do.

Sometimes, you find yourself wishing you were flexible enough to kick yourself in the nuts. Can I get a "what what"?
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Alternative Titles:

"If You Love Something, Set it Free or Die With a Harness on Your Back"

"The Best Laid Pits Catch Mice and Chickenshits"


"The Effluvian Heresy" is away (as of Tuesday. I = lazy blogger). Tracking confirms it has been delivered to F&SF. My mental map of everything is all crosshairs and little pop-up menus in small-type. It's very Paul Greengrass. Or maybe Michael Bay. Meh and ugh respectively.

Of course I'm hoping for an acceptance, but at this point in my career, I'd probably frame a personal rejection and put it on my frakkin' wall. Tempered expectations. Tempered expectations.

It should have been away about four days earlier, but I decided to waste my own time for some reason. I don't know that I'm particularly mad about it. I suppose I'm a little upset at why it happened. The old fear doesn't exactly go away, it just roils down under the surface, baring its fangs and asking those valid unproductive questions it loves so much.

One part of the problem (in a "this is wrong with my process" sense) is my continued adherence to the belief that setting up straw-doll accountabilites will somehow motivate me. This is an Einstein's-definition-of-insanity sort of habit of mine, and it's annoying. Announcing to everyone in my general vicinity that I'm going to Get Something Done, doesn't actually make me feel like I need to do it. I don't feel accountable for that agenda. Blah.

The novella's away. No-blood-no-foul. Though there was blood involved. All sorts of blood went into that thing. That's part of the reason I had to just cut ties with the revision process and submit it. It's not as polished as I might have hoped, but it was close enough that continuing to poke at it was becoming a new fangled form of procrastination. "Can't submit it yet. Needs just a little more work." is the new "I am afraid of what it says about my life decisions if I try and fail."

Self-doubt is the new stupidity.

Doesn't really matter if I'm not good enough. If I do not try, then I HAVE FAILED. This actually parallels a debate I've been having with myself about the logistics of getting into a battle of wits with an omniscient or quasi-omniscient being (also, an idea I've been mentally gnawing at about time travel and precognition, but I digress). Possibly, I need to go ahead and toss off "Go Starward, Young Octopus", which is the working title of a short I haven't mentioned here because it's weird and has no plot (also? maybe a little pervy).

More likely I need to READ EVERYTHING IN SIGHT. Actually, on that note, shorts would be a good way to go right now as I can break with them to read more or less at will. The novella was ... exhausting. Took FOREVER by my standards: four and a half months, very possibly a week cumulative. The argument in favor of a novel attempt (yuk yuk yuk) is that "Allwhere Anchorage" isn't a project I'm invested enough in emotionally or artistically for it to be that stressful to write, but considering the revision process I went through with "Heresy", it's daunting to think of immediately tackling another project three times longer.

Reading isn't an undaunting prospect at the moment either. Lots of books on my table. Lots more out there, and the one at the fore is more than half of "A Dance with Dragons". That's a fairly large time investment, though I could knock it out in a couple of days if I wanted to go full-on tunnel vision. I probably need to.

Mostly, I'm trying to find a way to motivate myself not to use this exhalation of relief as an excuse to lapse back into a depressive state wherein momentum is the sort of mystical whirlygig they only talk about in fairy tales.

Oooooo. Fairy tales ... ... ...

"Nope. Nothing's there. Nothing's happening."
-Josh, "The West Wing"
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Most days I just wank myself into a stupor and hope I go blind. It would be a mercy at this point. I've transcended the libidinous compass and become a needle that points to true horny.

She came by the store again the other day, with her absolutely eye popping cleavage and those pajama pants that show the requisite number of inches of well-rounded hip to inspire phrases like "hourglass figure" and "Oh ... my ... GOD"; that subtle dusting of rosacea that makes a person adamantly and implacably real in a way that's hard for me to articulate. I rang up her items and told her to have a nice day, when what I'm really thinking is:

Tie back your hair. Put on a sleeveless scoop-neck dress that falls the length of a batted eyelash on the slutty side of modest and a ribbon choker that I lack the fashonistic vocabulary to describe as anything other than 'elegantly simple' and I'll transport [me] to places you've never known.

How fucked up is that? Its kind of scary when you reach a point where inspiring your lust doesn't automatically make someone a participant in your fantasies. Whether or not they'd want to be a participant doesn't even enter into it, which is also kind of fucked up. When exactly does one reach a point where one loses the ability not to objectify people? Where is the point at which discrete ogling is the most useful skillset for human interaction? Is there such a point? Because it feels like I passed it somewhere along the way.

It doesn't help that the beautiful people just walk around all over the place. Where do they get the nerve, right? Why is it even allowed? Who thought that would be a good idea?*

The problem becomes one of approach. I'm not a "put myself out there" kind of guy in the first place. I don't have an easy rapport with strangers I'm attracted to. I don't occupy a personal wonderland of virility populated by cowboys, toreadors or the editorial staff of Cigar Aficionado. I'm just not that guy. I'm not other people. What I am, is a fella prides himself on taking 'no' for an answer. I make a point not to focus my attention where it isn't wanted, but when you've reached a point where you can almost feel your own miasmic reek of desperation, it becomes safer to assume that your attention isn't wanted anywhere. I assume that I'd be an unwelcome guest in any courtship ritual almost as a public service. It saves everyone involved the embarrassment.

There are other obstacles there of course, both social and personal, but none of them are insurmountable. What really gets in the way is my own insecurity.

None of this would be a problem, except for the horny. It won't go away. And it's not just sex, though that's the biggest part of it anymore. If all I wanted was a collaborative orgasm, I'd just go buy one. I want a lot of things, none of them easy to articulate because I can get by without them. Where my emotional well-being is concerned, Me and Me is about as nourishing as You and Me except that You and Me has Bruce Lee on tambourine. Though, the real difference is measured in cooperative emotional landscaping and ... simultaneity. What that sort of mentality results in is lack of confidence and an inability to invest in the pursuit of anything where romance is concerned.

Thus: horny.

He came by the window the other night. I had his dip ("Yeah kinda gross but no one's perfect", said the smoker) out for him before he got all the way out of his car, and he commented that he was surprised I recognized him without the beard while running his hand over a chin full of dirty-blonde scruff that I wanted mashed against my thigh. I just made some lame remark about him being "eight feet tall" (and every inch of it a winner) and thus, easy to remember. When what I was really thinking was:

Yeah well, you're Mountain Man sexy. I could spread you on a god. damn. cracker. The bulletproof glass, social convention, and inevitability of you being straight are about the only things standing between you driving away and me pushing you down on a bed and putting my head under your chin and my ear against your throat so I can listen to you bite back the groans while I stroke you well and fucking off.

As the fat guy in a polo shirt running the register at a gas station in the middle of the night, I felt that would be a little off message.

*I'm not much of a historian, but I believe it was James Madison and the Virginia Ratifying Convention of 1788 and '89.**

**Also: Anyone with any functional level of common sense.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Things have not been going ... ... yeah. At all. I suppose neglecting my blog would be the first symptom of succumbing to depression. I'll be beginning the requisite job search soon, a forgone conclusion I am less than excited about.

The novel manuscript is in limbo. I haven't lost interest in the project. Truth be told, I lost interest in myself there for awhile, letting the old patterns of laziness, procrastination, depression and general bullshit get the better of me. Blah blah blah.

I've started what I think is a novella. I'm very excited about this new project (at least at the moment if I want to be perfectly honest with myself). I'm having a lot of fun writing it, and it's fairly easy to write since it's one of those fractured worlds I'm inexplicably fond of. I've got a bit of caught-a-tiger-by-the-tail syndrome with it though. I'm calling it "The Effluvian Heresy", and it's like riding a really weird wave to see where I'm going with it. The big problem is that, where fiction is obviously about making shit up, I've really cranked the making shit up to eleven with this one. I may or may not be creating a world and writing six or seven different slangs at the same time. It's hard to tell. It's also a threat to both the project's readability and its assessability. I tell myself that premise is secondary to character and story as though that will protect me from the looming possibility of bad writing. You are my talisman, o truism. Do right by me.

I like the project thematically, and if I could accomplish the tenth of want I want to do in that arena, I think I'd be happy, though not necessarily satisfied.

"Faded dead headspace
And I am in a bad place
I can escape from"
-Me, once upon a time
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Only about 1700 words today. It's a bit harder in chapter 3. Chapter 2 was an extended action sequence, which is what I was writing yesterday. Today it's all: transition to the next high event without infodumping like a bull in a china closet and watch your pacing so it doesn't get boring and lets try to keep the dialogue from getting too cutesy alright there, pal? It does present a bit of novelty though. "Hey! Look at me! I'm writing something that has chapters!"

I'm also starting to really confront myself with some of the inconsistencies of the premise, which is kind of scary because the central premise might actually just boil down to, "She's got magic!"

Good for a lark I suppose. I'll fix it in post!

I'm having a lot of fun with the dialogue for the moment. This is probably the first work where I've really been making myself pay attention to the necessity of giving the characters (all two of them) unique voices. Cuts down on the need to tag it, which I like. I may not be succeeding where the unique voices thing is concerned, but at least I'm thinking about it. That shows growth.

And I'll fix it in post.

What's with mantras anyway?

It's been striking me as I work on this project how much I'm laboring under the NaNoWriMo work ethic. I mean, it's not specific to November really. If I can ever get this damn career whatsit off the ground, I'd consider writing one to two thousand words a day a triumph. That's like three novels a year, baby! Well it is if you're intent on poo-pooing the book bloat thing.

Which I am.

And I'm just about as afraid as I've ever been in my life. It's a good feeling because I'm confronting it for once, even if I am still making a point of distracting myself with chess and baseball and fantasy football ('bout two of which I really care about).

Fear's been this thing for the last ten years or so. Sort of looking over my shoulder and making tsking noises. I only first acknowledged it within the past few years. Only first articulated it recently. I suppose at some point you get tired of running away from yourself or you die.

I prefer the former.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
My conversion to deism (whenever it happened) centered around a central idea:

If God exists, then he cannot be quantified

And this thing that has happened is an inevitable result of the amalgamation of rational ideas, which just won't quit, go all the way down to the floor, and will KICK your LAZY ASS out of bed.

It's Support Your Local Wizard and it's talking to people who are smarter than me and its information theory and Sagan's implacable brilliance and it's a morning confrontation on the bus with the realization that I have never believed in the soul.

Information, matter, and energy can be quantified. The universe is a thing which is defined by the Enemy. If it cannot be quantified, it cannot be because that is what being IS. "Supernatural" is an oxymoron. If something exists, it is natural BY DEFINITION.

If God exists, then he cannot be quantified. If God cannot be quantified, then he does not exist.

BAM.

DONE.

End of line.

I do believe in the devil though because entropy makes me so mad that flames.

Flames.

On the side of my face.

Fuck you, entropy. I fervently hope that you cry yourself to sleep at night in fear of the possibility that life might eventually discover a way to invent forever.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
It's a little daunting actually, the resilience of my unconscious decision to suck. I fall back into the dominant patterns all too easily. Recurrent depressive episodes at work. Possibly psychosomatic exhaustion on my nights off. Gets a leetle old mon. I've cause for optimism, though.

I mean, other than my natural tendency to be optimistic.

I have reinvigorated my determination to get out of Dallas permanently by way of getting out of it for a week. Exodus isn't a snap decision for me, though. I've matured enough over the past three years or so that I want at least a modicum of financial stability, so:

It's gonna take money. Saved. A lot of it.

Right now, I'm thinking - give myself eighteen months or so. Prolly a little more since I wouldn't want to move up north during the winter. Every paycheck I get that isn't earmarked for paying rent gets five hundred taken out of it and put into savings. After eighteen months, that's nine thousand dollars. I can move on that, and probably have more left over to get me through any transitional period if I can't immediately find a job at a Whole Foods wherever I end up landing. Eighteen months could conceivably give me time to earn some PTO to visit a few of the cities I'm interested in and take a look around. I know I love Boston and Chicago. I think I love New York. It's possible I get along with Philly and Seattle. That's on down the line though. I've more time than I need to conduct auditions (though right now the part's essentially written for Boston since I currently have friends there, but things change so I'm keeping my daydreams open). Saving money isn't exactly something I'm good at, so the very fact of pursuing this goal furthers the SAP. Some changes will definitely need to be made though, so:

It's gonna take making food out of ingredients.

I've never had a knack for cooking, and I don't actually enjoy the process. Both of these things are going to have to change. I have got to learn to subsist on significantly less money than I do. I'm not in trouble or anything, but the undeniable fact is that the man that I want to be? He doesn't live paycheck to paycheck, and he occasionally brings a lady home for the night (another subject for a much later date). And when he does, he's able to fry her an egg in the freaking morning! Possibly there are orange slices and toast and a little vase of porcelain with a sprig of flowers in it or something, I don't know.

"I'm lonely and wish to have sex with interesting people who find me interesting" asides ... ... aside, the cooking thing has been on my radar for far too long. The only reason it's still a hostile contact is sheer frakkin' laziness. Let's just get that out in the open shall we? I'm an incredibly lazy person and it's making me less. Less than I could be.

Okay that's not the only reason. There's also the crazy. Y'see, the thought of actually doing the sort of cooking where you stand at a stove and stir things? Active cooking? Imagining it actually elicits a mild fear reaction from me. Not because of heat or burns or anything, I've actually worked in a restaurant's kitchen. So basically it's because of insane. Big fat heaping loads of it.

It's also gonna take writing. To be frank, there's not a whole lot of reason to make the large changes in my life if I don't make the small (incredibly significant) ones. There's good news of a sort on that front. I've several projects I'm starting to get excited about right now, which is a new development. Inspiration hasn't been an operative part of my life for awhile, so at some point I'm gonna have to jump up on the board and ride the hell right out of that wave.

Otherwise, what's any of it about?
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
It's amazing the depths complacency and laziness can sink you to if you give them half a chance. I might make progress in some areas. They might even be the important ones, but in other areas, stagnation is the order of the day. Discouraging, when your goal is to remake yourself in your own image, or whatever poetic bullshit I'm spouting this sentence. In the midst of an identity crisis I'm not even sure merits the name, I find myself at times stymied by the multitude of possibilities re: self improvement.

Maybe that's a good thing. With a billion, billion mes fluttering about trying to manifest themselves, the difference between the I that he is and that I that he could/should/would be is blah blah blah fucking BLAH.

I threw away some cutlery today because a year ago I decided, perhaps subconsciously, that I'm a ridiculously stupid person and proceeded not to wash them ever. Then, at some point, I decided that I was instead productive, at least for the five minutes it took to fill a pot with water "so they [could] soak". Then the lazy reared up and grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and shook the fucking sense out of me, and I left them there for months.

Tonight I put it on myself to take on the project of making my kitchen less of a train wreck, and I soon found myself faced with a choice: I could spend hours and hours meticulously cleaning rust and old food from cutlery I never use, or I could wipe the slate clean.

Ultimately, there's a bloody Target down the street.

And that is one clean. frakking. slate.

I do make progress, justifiably mad at myself though I get. I'm reading every day which is a triumph of self actualization right now, which is pathetic or understandable depending on how much I'm hating this disgusting skin of a self-image I'm trying to slough off.

Sometimes, in the darker moments (often at work when I find myself needing to cry and unable to (which only happened, once, Chad, don't be melodramatic)), I remind myself that I cannot imagine a self image for myself that doesn't include books and story. Reading and writing define me in ways few other activities can. Thus, whether or not I'm capable of success, I'm headed in the right direction.

Pulling myself inch by inch toward the land that was promised to me by

ME.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
As a creature of deeply ingrained habit, I find it difficult to consciously change my behavior. The preceding is an enabling line of reason, and I am trying to excise it.

I have made little progress lately, though what progress I have made feels significant due to its nature. A week or two ago I bought a messenger bag so that I could more easily carry my laptop and a book with me wherever I go. Availability of these things outside my apartment should lead to their more frequent use right? Well, I'm reading on a daily basis again. That's what bus rides are for now.

I look at that paragraph's penultimate sentence and it makes me want to cry two different genres of tear. I am actually unable to explain how the past decade of not-reading happened. It doesn't even make sense when I look closely at it.

I go through cyclical periods of interest in various games/past times, wherein I get intensely obsessed with some family of activities just long enough to find another group, then I lose interest. The cycle affects gaming mostly, going from eff-pee-esses to board games to strategy games to whatever else and back again. Television shows are also included in the cycle as witnessed by my brief love affair with Lost last winter.

But what never loses its lustre? Reading. The only other thing that comes close is chess, but my interest there is still tidal. Reading never gets old, and it never gets dull because I can just set the book down and pick up another if I'm enjoying it that little.

So maybe that's a rung on the ladder that I'm nervous about grasping, but grasp it I do (or at least more firmly than I always have). Part of me fears the possibility that throwing myself as fervently as I am back into the world of books means having less time to devote to my writing.

Another part of me is looking at the first part with a quizzical look and wondering when exactly it was that I became not smart.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
I just got done watching Wristcutters, and am left in a quandary of feeling. I suppose I liked the attempt, but not the execution? Is that fair? Though you can sell me on almost anything if you lure Tom Waits in to get his Tom Waits on.

I have a certain fascination for broken worlds, just as I have a hard-on for professional killers and ... well I can't think of a third one right now, but I'm sure it's out there.

But come ON. There's writing your story in your world instead of about it, and there's taking that too far. When did we become obsessed with a lack of curiosity and imagination? When did those become sexy personality traits?

[begin thought stream]

You confirm there are bugs. I was ready to kill a rat and see if it decomposed, but YOU confirmed there are BUGS. Do you even begin to ask yourself what that MEANS??? There are plants. PLANTS!!! There are gas stations. Try to wrap your head around the fact that there are Gas. Stations. Is there trucking? Does order impose itself on an orderless world? There are no signs of anarchy. Does suicide make you a malaise breather? Is it in the fucking air??? You are driving around with a pseudo-black hole, wormhole, bottomless pit thing under your passenger seat. You refer to it simply as a black hole because the term is convenient to the mechanics you've imposed on it. Why am I the only one who wants to throw half a rope down there and see if I can pull it back out? If that works, try tying a lit cigarette to it and waiting an hour. Try a cockroach. Try a snake. Try an ice cube. Try anything! I've met the girl who died from an overdose. You introduced me to her. She's here by mistake. You Admit This. I've met the girl who froze to death and ended up here for no reason. Why haven't I met the soldier who threw himself on a grenade? Why not the fella accidentally strangled himself attempting autoerotic asphyxiation? Is that too much like the OD? There is electricity. There are power lines. That's all fine because the world is broken and rules stop mattering at some point, but here's the thing: There's Fucking Radio. Does magnetism still happen under any circumstances at all? You've made a point that there are no stars. There's clouds, so there's weather. But there is no visible sun, and there is radio. There's currency (presumably), and everyone speaks English. And YOU have confirmed there are BUGS.

[end thought stream]

Why is it that people are uninterested in asking questions of a broken world? Are the answers scary? Are you so in love with dysfunction and so limited by a lack of imagination that you are afraid to even try to define the indefinable?

"Don't stop asking questions, baby."
-Tommy Corn, "I Heart Huckabees"

I'm actually a little surprised by the intensity of my reaction to this movie while I was watching it. I've seen quite enough of the looking-for-love-in-all-the-available-places genre to find it a bit tired anymore. I suppose it's another symptom of my recent overhaul of my ideas about story, a process that began with Inception.

I actually had a similar reaction to The Adjustment Bureau after it was clear that the filmmakers were asking me to fall in love with Her for the five hojillionth time so that I would be invested in Cookie Cutter VonMattDamonIsAwesome's sole motivation. If I'm sitting in the middle of your climactic chase scene wondering when your friendly Bureau agent is going to show up and give me the inspiring speech about how everything's turning out all right, you have done something Wrong. The only thing I can say about that movie is that it made me redefine my personal argument about the Free Will question from:

The difference between free will and the appearance of free will is irrelevant.

to:

The difference between free will and the appearance of free will is irrelevant as long as the decision making authority in the latter case is infallible.


So bully for you I guess.

This is a common theme these days. Perhaps artistic identity crises have that effect.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
or:

"Is that a 25lb. bag of rice in your pantry, or are you just happy to see me?"

I've been noticing lately just how much it bothers me when I have nothing of interest to say to people who ask me what I've been up to. I'm a fella should be up to stuff. Instead, I tend to answer vaquely: "nothin' much" or "workin' mostly". I hate that. It is one of the underlying problems with this grotesque thing that I'm calling "me" right now.

So what have I been up to lately?

Well, lessee. I've been undergoing something of a science renaissance for a few months, mostly due to watching Cosmos, which rocked my socks off. Seriously, I am literally barefoot right now, and one totally has anything at all to do with the other. There's a hopeful aspect to Sagan in spite of his dread of that pesky "global thermonuclear war" thing. That attitude toward one's personal relationship with a greater understanding of the universe appeals to me. It's one I look for in myself. I've also been reading a lot of good sci-fi lately. Currently, I'm reading "The Uplift War" by David Brin, which I will probably have something to say about once I'm done.

I have been intermittently trying to write, but that has not been going well. I feel (and have for some time) almost artistically dead. I blame myself, and so does he. It's mostly a product of laziness and abject fear. I started a short story in December but stopped about seven hundred words in because I realized I hated it. Actually, I began again with the same story a few weeks ago, telling it from a different viewpoint, but it still isn't engaging me much. I doubt I'll do anything with it in the future, but it's nice to know it's there if I need it. I'm more excited about another story I started a few weeks ago, which has the honored distinction of being the second science fiction story I've ever attempted. The first was an absolute piece of crap that I wrote late last year. That one was fun to write, but just no good. This second attempt will also be fun to write, but will also probably be no good. That is my lot where sci-fi is concerned right now. I'm so new to the genre, it's like I'm thirteen again, writing manuscripts of stories that have everything to do with what I've been reading lately and nothing to do with actual craft. My enthusiasm for the task is good. It's writing, whether or not it's publishable, and that's something I need to wrangle out of myself whenever I can.

Where writing is concerned, I've been speculating that my hangups are largely neurotic rather than physical. I've been blaming exhaustion from holding down a full-time job for some time, and even though that's a valid observation, it's not the root of the problem. It's too easy. It hurts to think about it, but I really think the problem is a lingering sense of self-doubt and fear. I know that I'm a pretty good writer, though I don't know if I'm good enough to get where I want to go. Moreover, I've been for the longest time allowing myself to be undermined by a fear that stems from my parents' reactions to my lifestyle. Nine years ago, I was told in no uncertain terms that dropping out of college was Wrong. I was screwing up my life. Then, my detractors proceeded to try and force me to stop doing what I was doing. I've been looking at that for awhile now, and I think that on some level my artistic inaction is based on an irrational train of thought:

1. They tried to destroy the person I was trying to become.
2. They did this because that person, to them, is not the right person. He is making the wrong decision.
3. If they are right, I lose. Because that Makes Sense. It is totally the attitude of a Non-moron.
4. If I Try and Fail, then they were right, and I Lose.
5. If I do not Try, I cannot Fail, and the game is eventually Drawn by lack of progress.

Apologies for the chess metaphor, but it resonates with me. I can look at that train of thought and think, "That's happening in me on some level. And it's a load of crap!" Taking steps to derail the train and evacuate myself from it isn't an easy thing to do, but I've got to try.

Otherwise, what's the fucking point? I might as well cut the wires and let myself fall down the bottomless shaft of blue collar middle management work for the rest of my life.

"See, he didn't teach you how to win. He taught you how not to lose. That's nothin' to be proud of. You're playing not to lose, Josh. You've got to risk losing."
- Vinnie, "Searching for Bobby Fischer"

Gaming still occupies some of my time. My last entry wherein I ranted at myself about blitz chess helped a little there. I've stopped playing blitz. I actually played a few longer time control games online tonight, and god that was exhilarating. The game is so much more what I want to get out of it when I can think about a position for longer than three bleeding seconds. I've also got a "bankroll" on my online poker site. It's only about forty dollars, but my poker obsession has been fully curtailed by now. I'm actually having fun occasionally buying into single table tournaments for five dollars at a time. I'm never going to make any money doing it, but who "cares". Poker isn't, and can't be, about profit for me. That is not how I interact with the game. It does not reflect my relationship to money.

I've been distancing myself emotionally from work. There was a scary time back around Christmas I guess when I realized I'd allowed myself to become invested in my job. I had to stop myself one day and remind myself that I don't care about my job. I don't feel strongly enough about it to hate it, or shouldn't care that much anyway. It's only purpose is to feed and shelter me until I'm a professional writer. That ties into the whole "not trying" thing. After all, trying is the only way I get away from that place. It's the only way I will ever make a living doing something I don't have a merc sensibility about. Or the only way I'm willing to acknowledge right now. Why not? Until I try, I have not failed, so there's no reason to consider the necessary alternatives. That's a stop-gap measure if I end up falling short of the mark. Before I have to seriously consider that path, I have to loose myself from the string on which I'm currently nocked.

Look at me. I'm an arrow alluva sudden!

What else? I've started cleaning my apartment on a more regular basis, which means "on occasion" rather than "never". I remember if felt really good sweeping my floor before Bork came over to hang out and having him notice it was cleaner. That was a Good Feeling. Also, spraying large amounts of Tilex on my shower walls is fun. Maybe that's just me. Now if only I'd wash my frakkin' dishes ...

Finally, in the grand tradition of me talking a good game and then frittering my goddamn life away: I've begun trying to get myself to cook again. Y'see, it is in fact a 25lb. bag of rice. Although, I am happy to see you.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (pic#766601)
It's a hard thing for me to admit that I've betrayed myself. Perhaps I haven't admitted it yet. Perhaps I'm in the process of admitting it. Perhaps I have admitted it. Who knows? Who cares? These are all irrelevant questions. What's relevant, is that somewhere back there I started to suck. Big time.

At some point in the recent past, I realized that I had long since abandoned the habit of introspection. I had a blog I didn't update, and a habit of burning my free time on activities that gave me nothing of value. Couple that with a deplorable natural talent for procrastination, and you get an individual who doesn't grow.

"Daddy, I wanna grow!"
- Carlton, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"

Introspection isn't really going to fix anything in and of itself, but it's a start. I've made other starts recently, some false, some real, none pivotal. The idea isn't to initiate a sea change or force an epiphany, neither is possible. The idea is to figure it the fuck out already. Irrationality doesn't suit me, but it does sustain me. Quite frankly, I'd like to run on something a little more powerful and nutritious.

So who do I want to be? Where's my adventure hook? I knew the answers once. It turned out that, as I got older, the answers went through some minor changes, and I wasn't brave enough to deal with them. I'd like to think I've gotten over that by now. This isn't about getting back to where I was, or getting to where I wanted to be. This is about starting the whole process over. Format C:. End of Line. My whole self-image needs a frakkin' reboot.

This isn't a beginning, and it isn't an end. There's nothing poetic about it. It's so far from poignancy that the light from poignancy doesn't even hit it. "Systematic" is not in it's vocabulary, and "constructive" is only a single note in it's prelude. It's an ugly little thing whose metaphors need pruning, which doesn't know what it really is and doesn't care.

What it's trying to be is a means of finding a way to address two fundamental questions: "Who am I?" and "At what point does the inclination toward getting over yourself become the act of it?"

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