Thursday, April 30, 2015


The present author - that is, the one who is writing this post - has had no luck over the course of his relatively short and non-prolific existence of getting his short stories published by literary journals both physical and online. Presently, said author has entered his current favourite work - that is, the one he hates the least - into a sort-of crowd-based rating contest where stories are critiqued by contestants and the worst are eliminated over the course of several rounds, until a few remain to be published in a literary journal, and reward their authors with cash prizes. Given the author's propensity for failure, even making it past the first round would be a success (and would be a victory over the odds), and cause a short term celebration which will be quickly replaced, as always, with crippling self-doubt. Such is life. If nothing else, it should be an opportunity to read people whose talent level exceeds the present author, and who are also shorted by the inescapably random, competitive, and long-odds trifecta of the publishing industry. Such, to say it again, is life.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kicking and Screaming and Traveling

My parents made me.

That's a phrase that was common in my lexicon as a minor, but for the purposes of this post, my parents not only made me, but spent thousands of dollars to do so.

I went kicking and screaming, of course, whisked away on a 4.5 hour flight from Detroit to LA, then a 14 hour flight from LA to Sydney. It was the summer before my senior year of high school, and I, along with about 25 other people, was a "student ambassador" with the People 2 People program, a sort of short term foreign exchange travel program in which I would go all around Australia, seeing the sites and sounds, and also would spent time with a host family and attend school for a day. The entire trip would last about 3 weeks.

Little did I know before I went that, just a week or so in, as I left a message for my parents from a payphone somewhere in the middle of Darwin on a warm evening, I would be having a fantastic time.

Australia was my first travel experience. Previously, all I had done was Toronto with the family, and many trips to Disney World as well. That was it. I didn't think I'd like travel much. Especially in this case, with students not from my school, whisked away from hotel to hotel without my bedroom or my laptop or the comforts of home.

There are things that stick out to me that are slowly fading to time. How the Sydney Opera House is much bigger than you would first think. A beautiful sunset on a beach in Darwin, warm water slowly drifting up to my feet, everyone taking pictures set against the background. Another beautiful sunset after a hike up to a plateau somewhere near the outback, we all stood and sat on the edge looking out over the spread of wilderness before us. I recorded the sunset and literally was talking aloud to myself I was so overcome with the beauty. There was the first time I swam in the ocean, taken aback at just how salty the water tasted on my lips. All I had ever known was swimming in freshwater lakes and pools. There was snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, coral sharks and fish darting around beneath me, a vast array of colours spread like a bustling metropolis. There was a zip line over a valley and through the forest outside of Sydney. There was laughter on the bus in between cities as I gradually befriended some of my fellow travelers. There was the purchase of a hand-painted didgeridoo that would adorn my bedroom. There was throwing a real boomerang for the first time.

The end result, of course, was a travel bug, and since then, I've found myself in Europe twice, the east coast once, and, fingers crossed, Asia next year. My parents no longer drag me kicking and screaming, but they can say they told me so back then. I hate to imagine where I'd be without it.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Idle Weekends

Idle weekends pass by glumly, of course. Fill the time with movies or music or games as best one can, but the slow despondence of time is inescapable. Idle time leads to idle thoughts of which none are good, think too much and things get negative, quickly, try to fill in the gaps with activity. More movies, more music. Maybe lay down and see if sleep is possible, the dreams are wild and ordinary at the same time, surreal events happening in a realistic past, if only they could seep over into the "real" world when awake. It's only been 14 minutes and the laundry isn't close to being done but it felt much longer, how many times can the same song play over and over and over documenting time as it goes by, back is sore because the laying and sitting renders it weak, a bit of outside activity helped but there's 48 hours of weekend and only an hour of mowing the lawn, such a small percentage. Sunday night comes with an air of displeasure at the approaching week, but weekdays and weekends are slowly blending together into a cacophony of displeasure, so what's the difference?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


One finds that, in grade school, from elementary all the way through high school, the general consensus is that people wish to be older. People do not want to be the youngest in a class, or to look the youngest in a class. Endeavors many people pursue include things like driving, drinking, fucking, or voting, and one finds that these things are generally reserved for those who have compiled a certain amount of days in which they have existed on this planet as a human.

After leave of school, it becomes equally clear that people often then wish to be younger. Most wish to look younger - to be carded when going drinking - or to feel young and full of energy like they did when they were a young adult. Endeavors many people pursue include things like driving, drinking, fucking, or voting, and all of these things are easier, relatively speaking, when one is younger.

It strikes the present author that humans, then, spend a non-negligible amount of time wishing they were any age but the one that they currently are; whether spending their youth wishing to be older, or their old age wishing to be younger. Draw any profound conclusions from that as you will; one may suggest that the author would write something here which ingratiates the reader to a "live in the moment" type existence, but considering said author also spends a non-negligible amount of time wishing to be younger, such conclusions from the author would be, at best, hypocritical.

Monday, April 20, 2015

On Doing Things Alone

Present author has a very, very limited social circle. In fact, it's limited to people I know vis-à-vis internet-based communications. I have been blessed to meet some absolutely amazing people this way, and while I have meet several of them in person on trips to foreign and local shores (of which I had a blast), I still lack the ability to, say, call up someone and go to a movie or a concert with another person. Admittedly, present author is rendered somewhat uncomfortable by doing things in solitary. But in a re-occurring effort to get out of my comfort zone, this author has purchased tickets to both a concert in Detroit, and Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, during which I will be staying in a hostel, in a room with 9 other people from various backgrounds and nations, both men and women, and likely of around my age. Which sounds somewhat uncomfortable, truly, but we will see how it goes. The big thing is me learning to accept that it's ok to do things alone. I don't owe explanations to anyone as to why I am doing things alone, and frankly, the positives of going to a music festival by myself are pretty apparent - I get to go to the bands I want! Nobody will disagree with me! Anxiety will certainly run through my bones when the occasion becomes closer to reality, but hopefully I will enjoy, maybe meet some cool people, and if nothing else, I get to rock out to some badass bands in the middle of a park in summer in Chicago. That alone should be worth any social awkwardness.

And then, in September, I will be going to Miami to meet one of my closets friends. This will be a 4 day weekend affair of sorts, and the challenge I will face is finding things to do during the time my friend and I are not together. This is the biggest challenge with me and traveling. I have been dying to go to Asia for years, and there's a chance I may have to suck it up and go alone. So Miami will be a good testing exercise. I will hopefully find a group of people at a hostel to hang out with or some such. Or at least learn to travel the city alone and be cool with that. If nothing else, I could go really wild in Asia and couchsurf.

And maybe this will all allow this author an ability to do things alone more often. Because too many times I tell myself not to. But really, other people do things alone all the time. There's no reason I can't, if it's something I enjoy. The same goes to you, too. Sometimes, a party of 1 is all the party one needs.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Childhood Experience

I was young, of course. 1997 was only 8 years after I was born. But my dad was intent on sharing this with me, he loved it when he was in his twenties, still did, and now I was going to see it.

It was love at first site for me too.

It was only a couple years later, after many video game hours had been consumed by the fictional universe, that I began reading earnestly novels set in the same place. I spent a good part of 5th-8th grade reading an exorbitant amount of them. I became an expert. I'd quote lines all the time at home and even at school to the one friend who wouldn't make fun of me for doing so.

But I still remember going to the theatre with my dad, maybe more than anything. It was the crummy, mildew-laden theatre that is now long gone, in the back of a strip mall that was half empty, the glory days of another rust-belt city long gone, flights to suburbia leaving this urban location in disarray, on its way out then, supplanted by all new theatres with all new sound systems and newfangled stadium seating. But it was home for the evening and there I was flying and lifting and imagining and swinging and roaring. And we would see the other ones at the same theatre, sharing a bucket of popcorn, and I'd go to school the next day and we'd all huddle around at recess or lunch and make the sound effects and smile and laugh and how amazing it was, everyone liked it at that age, boys and girls, we were talking, and we were anticipating the next entry, one kid even came in wearing a t-shirt one day, emblazoned and all, and we congratulated him on his great taste.

I'm 26 now. 1997 is a long way away, 1977 is a longer way away, but for a galaxy far, far away, I've never felt closer.

Can't wait until December. May the Force be with you, always.

Monday, April 13, 2015

On the Paucity of Subjects

It was, for awhile, going so well. One post every weekday, sometimes even more, and some 29 posts in the month of March. Alas, I hit a wall last week sometimes, and realized that I had little to nothing that was jumping out at me to write about. Coincidentally, it hit at the same time I ran out of short story ideas, too, rendering my progress in writing as nearly nonexistent for several days in a row. I don't know of nay cure other than reading, movie watching (both for inspiration), and time, hoping that the old writing gears get fired up again. If not, well, I am happy with the results I made, and hopefully, even if it becomes slightly less consistent, I can keep up some manner of regular blogging and writing. Given how poor of quality it is, though, one wonders if I should bother.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Writing Who They Want To Be

A funny thing happens when you get older, suddenly, books that you enjoyed you no longer do, suddenly you take a critical eye to the main protagonist - another white dude who is rude but so smart and talented everyone puts up with him - getting to fuck three different women all with some no strings attached deal. You can feel the author vicariously living out through the pages of their book. Wish fulfillment characters aren't inherently bad, but they do tend to easily fall down the rabbit hole of cheap character archetypes and authorial projecting. Hey, that's great and all that your protagonist gets to have sex with three women who are suspiciously attractive by modern societal standards, tell me more about how the author is frustrated sexually or is living out his erotic fantasies through his book. I don't need to read that, it's usually dull and trite at best and sexist at worst, and frankly, I don't pick up sci-fi or fantasy to read about how one dude wishes he was banging three gals at once. I pick it up for, you know, imaginative worlds and characters and the like.

My suggestion, as always, is to read more women authors.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Feel-Good Feel-Bad

I wasn't going to make a blog post today, was fresh out of ideas. Done a lot of reading lately, try to get neurons firing, try to get some short story ideas, some blog posts, something, but exhausted, and waiting to hear back and see all my other short stories and flash fiction getting rejected. Such is life.

Read another article about people retiring in their 30s who now travel the world all year round, ignores the fact the couple landed cushy jobs out of a well-to-do educational institution that they had scholarships for, if only everyone could get a full ride, graduate, and then land a well paying job, we'd all be retiring earlier, but for fucks sake, that's not how this world works, and I am tired of people trying to pass it off like it does. There's a whole cottage industry around this, sell your stuff, retire early, travel often. I've spoken to it before. Realism isn't necessarily where people live, I won't fault them for optimism, but not everyone is going to make 60k out of college, or whatever it is they do. Thank you TED, maybe if some of your talks had more substance to them and you didn't insinuate ADD was "made up," I'd take your pop-science more seriously, in the meantime, go back to the drawing board. Or rather, don't. I'd hate to see what holier-than-thou drawing they would come up with.

In the meantime, it's gray outside today.

Monday, April 6, 2015

On Cynicism

My relationship with cynicism has been a rocky one. I spent my teenage years convinced of the following:

1) All people are liars
2) All people (including myself) are stupid
3) All people (including myself) are shit

It wasn't until I got into my twenties that I realized such cynicism and misanthropy was getting me nowhere, and that I had met, over the years, plenty of people who directly refuted these claims.

But then again, I've never been cheated on. I've never been a victim of a crime. I've never been backstabbed or horribly treated by anyone except some "friends" who bullied me in school. I have had little reason to lose faith in humanity, and for some people, I do believe a defense mechanism of cynicism is at the very least understandable.

For now, I press on with optimism about most people. I find that life isn't so dark and gloomy that way.

Friday, April 3, 2015

On the Narcissism of Blogging

It occurred to the author, many weeks ago, that blogging - as in, the form of communication in which one essentially writes whatever one wants, generally for the purpose of having other people reading it - has the reputation of being narcissistic. That one must have an accompanying over-indulgence of self-actualization to think that other people would derive pleasure from reading one's blog. But truly, blogging is not so different from what we, as a social species, do in social gatherings. When one gathers friends around to tell a story, or shares a recent escapade with family over dinner, or complains about work to a spouse, one is, essentially, blogging verbally. That a blog takes the form of the written word seems to create a disconnect between the fact that most people, are, at some point or another throughout their lives, a storyteller; even if they never touch a blog in their life. To wit, nobody seems to consider popular bloggers or writers too self-indulgent, because people have expressed an interest in said blog or writing, but if said blog or writing was never started, then said interest would have never been realized.

In summary, blogging is, ultimately, no more narcissistic an outlet than what many humans do in their day to day life. That this author finds much of that behavior somewhat annoying, however, likely makes the author a hypocritical, trenchant fool.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

On the Difficulty of Reality

One finds that, as one gets older, one's view of the world becomes such that one realizes what they can't do, compared to a younger stage in one's life, in which one might simply focus on what one wants to do. As a child, the can do and can't do dichotomy doesn't exist, one simply finds something they enjoy and, declaratively, wants to be that when they are older. It is only when one gets older that one realizes that such desires, even if they have changed, are likely impossible, and what one wants to do is replaced simply with what one can do, or has to do, particularly vis-à-vis money. Of course, this is an altogether disparaging and depressing realization, so one searches to fill the time in which they are not doing what they have to do - but likely don't want to do - with something they want to do, or, even more depressingly, what society has instructed them to want to do. Which then leaves us with the question that if what one wants to do is impossible, and what one ends up doing is both A) Something they do not want to do, and B) Something society instructs them to do, is the self really a tangible experience, or are we all merely machinations of a larger and more cruel design?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

On April Fools Day

I imagine, given the propensity of phoned in pranks that this "holiday" creates, that April Fools Day was probably more enjoyable before the advent of the internet, and perhaps even TV, when word of mouth wasn't quite so easily debunked and disproven, and sites like Wikipedia, Snopes, and other resources couldn't be used to attempt to instantly verify or debunk things. Swedish spaghetti farmers and the like could be bought into by those unawares because the world wasn't nearly as "small" as it is today.

Given how many technology sites are on board with Aprils Fools Day, too, it becomes entirely expected that a "prank" will be pulled, which totally negates the potential a prank might have. There is no ability to catch anyone unawares. At this point, the holiday is merely a collection of little website tweaks, fake product launches, and other things that I imagine some people laugh at and treasure as an offshoot of "nerd humour" but that most people just sort of sigh and move on about.