Everything Unique

Entry #8 – February 27, 2017

Dear Kath,

I aspire to be like William Blake. (I will probably never reach his level of talent, but wouldn’t it be nice to dream so?)

Seriously though, he put such care into all his work. He was a multitalented man who not only self-published all his work, set the type for it all, he also did all the artwork for his volumes, and no one edition was completely similar to the other. There were always differences, always comparisons and parallels that you can look at.

On the other hand, what do I have to my name but a humble collection of blogs and a talent for the written word? I love them, without a doubt, but they should only be a start. The skills I currently seek to master (Photoshop, performing for YouTube, and HTML/CSS) are skills that probably most everyone has already sought out.

Do I sound like a power hungry tyrant? I might. Ah well.

-D

The Frills of History

Entry #7- February 27, 2017

Dear Kath,

I’ve had conflicting feelings concerning writing recently. Nowadays, I favor a more minimalistic style and I seek to be much more matter-of-fact, casual and straightforward than before. It fascinates me looking back, where I had a lot of historical influences- the dry nature of Voltaire, the disgust with perceived unfairness and corruption instilled in me by American muckrakers like Ida Tarbell and Thomas Nast, and my language was so (to use current slang) extra, flowery and complicated to a Robinson Crusoe (read: annoying and irritating) level.

Texts of the past are full of formalities and frills and we as a civilization and a media seem to be moving further and further away from them in a way that isn’t concerning – yet. Our society- where Instagram and Twitter rule supreme remind me a lot of the way Beatty of Fahrenheit 451 talked of society before the Fire Men, where everything grew faster, where images and sounds slowly took over where text left off, and where text was slowly condensed into comic books and short articles and summaries before it was finally squished to death.

How long will it be until we reach the age of 1984? The age of Newspeak, a language that takes the minimalism of language to an extreme that removes emotional responses and a freedom of response, that both “maximizes” and minimizes communication?  

That sounds extreme, I’m aware. But hey! I always had a flair for the dramatic. And what with the recent article that’s been circulating about some of the Business School dipshits complaining that my uni brought in an ex-Poet Laureate to speak instead of a CEO, I’m also kind of pissed.

Anyways (we used “anyways” as a transition quite a bit- became quite the catchphrase, didn’t it?), the question remains- how do we preserve the language and lessons of the past while still allowing ourselves to move forward into the future?

Part of me feels doubt that education is the answer. Because a lot of us (I fear myself included) cannot be forced to care if we think something irrelevant. Minds cannot be changed forcibly, and people will not simply accept that something is “necessary”.

So what then? Is all this doomed to one day be forgotten? Will some custodians choose to rise up? Who knows?

All I know I can do is try to learn. Try to remember the authors and poets of old and to learn from them, to pay respect to their work in mine.

(And hopefully be a little succinct because daaaaaaamn Robinson Crusoe has so many run-on sentences.)

Thanks for listening,

-D

Hell Week: A Mental Breakdown

Entry #6.5 – February 25, 2017

Dear Kath,

Now, this is where it gets nasty. I have several projects, presentations and exams all at once. These are the low points of uni and truly make me question whether or not I belong here since my tolerance for such bullshit has progressively shrunk as I’ve dealt with it more and more as I progressed over the years.

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Photo credit links here!

Naturally, I need to do preparations over the weekend but it’s Sunday night and I haven’t done close to enough at all, leaving this week even tighter on time than I normally am at my tortoise-like pace. In very simple terms, I’m falling apart at the seams, hahaha.

So if you’re in the mood to watch or read a mental breakdown, then you, my friend, have come to the perfect place.

9:00-10:00 am- I jolt awake from a long forgotten dream and feel everything ache. One of these days, I need to travel all the way out to Bed Bath and Beyond to get my hands on a mattress pad because the current bed is literally only made out of springs- I might as well be sleeping on the floor. Hopping out of bed, I move to brush my teeth and prepare for the day ahead.

10:00 am-11:00 am- I jog through campus just in time for the cafeteria to open for breakfast. It’s shitty as usual and the cafeteria worker who always gives me a smaller portion is on duty. Ain’t life great? I love paying for food that I’m never going to eat.

11:00 am-12:40 pm- I next trek to the library and settle to my work. I manage to study for my oncoming midterm ’til about 12:40 before I can’t focus anymore. Word to the wise, British Literature ain’t as fascinating as it sounds. Gulliver’s Travels as a satire is interesting enough. The Hobbes and Locke debate plays out pretty well and Mary Astell’s sarcasm and feminism are on point. William Wycherley and Daniel Defoe are undoubtedly the driest authors I’ve ever had to read in my life. (I have tried to finish Robinson Crusoe eight times. I have fallen asleep all eight times.) There’s a lot more to this, but this is what I tried to retain today for my exam. I’ve got a notion of everything except Wycherley and Crusoe.

12:40-2:40 pm- This is where I would say I began to lose control of my life and my break ran far too long. It was at this point that I got up and moved back to my dorm’s study lounge. (This timeslot entry makes me sound like the narrator of The Stanley Parable.)

2:40-5:00 pm- Putting on Merlin and an assorted list of YouTube videos in the background, I managed to work my way through my creative writing readings and draft markups. Success! I did not manage to write the letters, but that’s alright. Those don’t normally take too long to complete.

5:00-7:00 pm- Fuck my life. Ate like 8 pieces of ham for dinner. That counts, right?

7:30?-12:00 am- went to my room for a brief break. Fell asleep for five hours.

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via GIPHY

Past me, about future me

Which brings us up to the present day! This very moment! Hooooo joy!

(…what the fuck am I doing?)

Sometimes, I wonder what you’d think of me now, Kath. And I don’t mean that in some wise old philosophizing bullshit kind of way, I mean as in you saw me as this wise, studious, focused person with a stick up his ass. And I kind of was that guy. Look at me now. Unfocused on work that bores me to death and on work I enjoy.

Like this post, for example- it started out as a look into how a normal day of mine goes and quickly decelerated into silly, unfunny jokes, and falling asleep.

At any rate, nobody likes moody grunge or emotional reflection, so I shall leave it off here for tonight. And I shall pick back up with a real essay tomorrow. Hopefully get my life back together, but that’s a long shot. Like “A Beatles getting back together long shot.”

I wonder what you would have thought of a letter like this since I was oh-so-serious and cringey all the time back then….

Thanks for listening.

-D

If politics is meatloaf, is there a vegetarian option?

Entry #6- February 25, 2017

Dear Kath,

I’ve been trying to eat healthier recently. As a kid, I was such a picky eater. I couldn’t stand everything, and I had digestive problems and my parents always worried about me. And they were right to, I gorged on junk food and my favorite meals are normally the ones that aren’t the most conducive to my health. But as I’ve aged, as I’ve matured (I hesitate to use the word, it probably doesn’t actually suit me), I’ve been trying to get better and my body naturally inclines towards healthier options. I still enjoy the occasional snack (and I cheat a lot on this diet when I’m stressed, which is a considerable amount of the time here at uni), but I’ve learned the truth behind that old, tired maxim of “Everything should be in moderation. 

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“There is no such thing as moderation.” – Katamari Damacy (Photo credits here)

This is a lesson I think people could stand to remember nowadays as they gorge on political content. Because everything feels political nowadays. I’ve been sorely tempted to delete Facebook so many times, mostly because of all the politics that came with this past election and now with the questionable actions of the Trump administration.

 

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What’s the difference between the President and meatloaf? While both look absolutely unappetizing, one is a much more natural color and the other is Trump. (Photo credits to Wikimedia Commons)

Nowadays, I can’t scroll down without getting absolutely flooded with the newest rants or praises on recent policies. Entertainment is definitely a lot more political now (see SNL, for instance). Hell, food is political now (If I promise that I will never eat a piece of meatloaf, will everyone shut the fuck up about an orange potato’s food preferences?). Even in church, you hear the priests pray that politicians will do the right thing, walk the path of God and carry out his will. (I’d ask you about your thoughts on that if I could- do you believe in the separation of church and state?)

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There is no such thing as a sanctuary from politics anymore.

Part of me is not complaining at all. Of course, politics and the government are an important part of our life that impacts how we live, and I think that it’s for the better that it takes a bigger role in our society, that we encourage discussion and the distribution of facts. No, the problems lie in microcosms made up of people who are unwilling to listen to opinions different from their own, in those who cling to false facts, in the fake news that make all this talk and debate pointless- because no one will listen and all we are left with is a foul taste in our mouths.

Of course, the solution to all this is not to stop discussion, nor to regulate it. Avoiding writing political articles like I have or staying away from social networks is not the answer. As much as I’d love to hit the “pause button” and reset the whole discussion from the top because it’s so overwhelming and tiring, there’s no such thing. While there is no real solid solution, I would advise this to the American people. Obvious advice, perhaps, but I think it needs to be said to some very militant people.

Let’s just live. Relax and breathe and take time away from politics. Love your family and your friends and go see some cute animals somewhere. And if politics is your life, God bless. Go fight for change. But please try to do so with compassion in your heart that you feel that others lack, and do try not to be patronizing.

That would be my prescription concerning politics (that made me chuckle a bit, since you were supposed to be the scientific one.) – everything should be in moderation.

But hey, what do I know, right? I’m no better or no different from anyone else. And I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do. They can do what they think is right.

You do you, fam (ugh, not a fan of the slang nowadays.) Me? I’ll be off somewhere else.

Thanks for listening.

-D

 

Concerning the Validity of Fan Fiction

Entry #5 – February 22, 2017

Dear Kath,

A week or so ago, I finished my first major short story for a class. It clocked in at 11 pages written over the course of two days and I have never felt so proud. Having always been arrogant and narcissistic, I wrote about myself in the light of your departure. That was an interesting time, indeed. And I look back on it now with a different set of eyes than I did even a few months ago.

But enough of that. After all, that’s not what this entry is about. 

It hits me now more than ever that we’re so far from “Once upon a time,” when you told me not to write fiction because I was above it. And now I wonder what you’d make of me. I wonder if you’d insist that I really am above it, what you really saw fiction as. (I never really thought to ask, I just presumed that you held it in a low regard.)

You would probably be even more horrified to hear that nowadays I’m writing fan fiction in my spare time. Again, I think that life’s funny that way, eh? You’d probably ask if I was so desperate for attention or renown that I’d act the way I am now, and who knows? Maybe I am. Or perhaps this is much more about doing and learning something that I want for a change. Perhaps I will look back on these times and think that I was mad, or a failure for not seeing a clear path laid out in front of me.

But in this moment, I want to try everything.

But I digress again. 

Or do I? Because that would be my first point about how fan fiction benefits me. For me, fan fiction feels a lot like a testing ground for me. It’s where I use characters that I already love, whose characterizations have already been cemented, that I don’t need to take the time to flesh out and explore myself. It’s how I can try to teach myself to create some better narratives. For me, it’s a lot about having a chance to experiment with new techniques without having to constantly develop worlds and characters in a time-constricted environment (uni).

Moreover, and just as importantly, it’s fun. Over the past few years, I’ve forgotten how to write for myself, and I’ve forgotten how to enjoy writing (another reason why I failed to start blogging again for such a long time)- and that’s something that I intend to change by writing what I want, when I can. In this case, fan fiction allows me to write something that I’m personally invested in with low stakes. I don’t have to write something that’s going to sharply influence my future or be constantly evaluated or prodded and poked to give me an academic ranking or to be considered as part of my resumé. It’s quite liberating.

There’s more that I’d love to expound in this little journal entry, but I’m trying to cut down on the writing about writing a bit (especially when writing time is so valuable), so I’ll end it here. Thanks for listening.

-D

“Here are all my fears and insecurities.”

Entry #4 – February 21st, 2017

Dear Kath,

Maybe you knew this before, but if you didn’t, here’s a bit of a secret for you.

I am terrified. I feel paralyzed. And I do not know what to do with myself.

I’m scared of not knowing what to do with myself. I’m scared of this lethargy, this lack of purpose I feel, because while I may not die if I stand still like a shark constantly in pursuit of prey, I feel as if my future is in constant peril if I’m not working to establish a foundation for it.

And I am not currently establishing- or perhaps I feel as if I am not currently establishing- a foundation for the future. Instead, I am buried in schoolwork that feels shockingly irrelevant and live in a pointless, I would stretch to say immature social structure that feels too close to high school for comfort. I have no energy, no motivation to write, to explore, to try new things and to even take care of myself and accomplish the bare minimum of work, much less lay my foundations with writing and applications and such.

 

I’m so scared because I look to the people I am surrounded with and they know how to conduct themselves to seem funny and clever and charismatic whilst I- I am clumsy and unkind and insensitive- or perhaps too sensitive to the wrong things, and I don’t have the looks or the money or the influence to hide my arrogance and my flaws. I feel out of place in the world and as if I can do no right. And I’m angry at how I have to hide it. At how everyone hides it. I never thought I would ever sympathize with Holden Caulfield because I thought he was annoying as hell, but ha. Here I am.

I’m so worried that this entire series is an unhealthy mental exercise rather than a diary like I said it is. And I very much fear that the people I care for will blow away like smoke on the wind.

And I know. I know that my best friend is gone. I know that I’m venting all this to thin air. I know I need to get it together. I know in the end, I’m going to get up and move forward. I’ll hide all of this under a veneer of confidence and a happy-go-lucky attitude like everyone else.

But for this moment, can’t I just show a lick of sincerity, just feel and talk to my best friend for a little bit?

-D

(Author’s Note: I was debating on whether or not to post this, but I ultimately did because I want to show that it’s alright to feel negatively. That you don’t always need to be happy. And to say it’s going to be okay. Because God knows I wish I could hear that and believe it right now.)

Alexander Pope Got It Wrong

Entry #3 – February 20, 2017

Dear Kath,

I wonder what you would have thought of Alexander Pope. (Apparently, Voltaire was a huge fan of his.) We read his Essay on Man for class and it talks of justifying the ways of God to man and about man’s place in the natural order of things, and how man should not question the motives of God.

Pope is true to his word. He wrote “a general map of MAN, marking out no more than the greater parts, their extent, their limits and their connection but leaving the particular to be more fully delineated in the charts to follow.”

And yet, I feel that his map is far too vague and simple. It doesn’t begin to describe the human condition. As much as we like to talk about spirituality and God, we do live on Earth.

And our existence is so complex. It’s vast and terrible, happy and warm, hopeful and hopeless. There are so many possibilities, so many layers, so many memories and sensations to every person, all unique to them.

Possibility. I guess that would be the word I would use to describe the essence of life. Possibility.

It’s entirely possible that you will be born into a loving family, beginning life in a warm serene embrace of baby blue that lulls your fears and nurtures you until you’re ready to face the outside world and with it, the cruelty and the prejudices and the savage scarlet wounds as it screams and lashes out and tries to toss you out.

It’s entirely possible that your parents are not there, or worse, they are and they are what makes your life a living hell. Maybe they are the ones who cut you open, attack who you are and what defines you, violates and destroys your personal space so when you face the outside world- it’s nothing new unless this newfound freedom and solitude is freeing.

Maybe it’s when you’re with your friends, when you hear their laughs and their voices speaking their minds, chatting or ranting or joking that you feel your muscles relax, that you feel the peace of not needing to keep up the pretenses, like a lonely soldier lowering their gun, tossing aside their shields and uniforms at ease.

Or maybe life is solitude. A forever silent void that somehow manages to scream at you, tell you that you are worthless. You are alone. That no one loves you and that perhaps they never will. That you are a failure. Maybe life is looking in a mirror and hating your reflection- and no one being there to tell you that you shouldn’t.

 

I could go on. But you get my point.

The world is cruel. It’s populated with monstrous people and ruled by unforgiving, machinating systems that wait for no man. And for the most part, you probably end up marching on in drudgery and work and misery until you die. And you live for those brief moments in life where the world is yours, laying open at your feet- I wonder where I heard that phrase and I wish I could cite it- where you are free and where you are happy.

And now I ponder what happiness is, but perhaps that’s for another time.

If there’s a point to take away from it all? There’s no mapping the human existence. But hey, I welcome people to try.

-D

(P.S.- Something we were rotten at was calling out each other’s bullshit. So now that you’re gone, and it’s just me, it makes me wonder how much unchecked bullshit I’m cranking out. Just a thought.)

The Freedom of Expression

Entry #2 – February 19, 2017

Dear Kath,

A question that’s been plaguing me as of late concerns where the line is when it comes to the freedom of expression that has been granted to us.

See, last year, I would not have even considered the idea that there is a line to be crossed. I wrote about my frustrations concerning the lack of freedom of expression when it comes to opinions held by a minority on my college campus, and my editorials often expressed those opinions and argued towards an absolute free speech that should be unchecked and unregulated by anyone or anything.

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I didn’t say that, motherfuckers. (Photo credit here)

I quoted Voltaire like any pretentious pseudo-Ivy League Student would. You know that quote that everyone uses- “I don’t agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” (Funnily enough, Voltaire never actually said that. Does that make us university students look more pretentious? It certainly makes me feel that way.)

I still stand by this statement, but at times, I do question it.

There is an answer to my question, of course.

The minute free speech becomes an issue is when the speech is crafted to hurt others.

Last year, when I wrote my grievances about the limitations that political correctness placed upon my freedom of expression and when I wrote about how the reactions to the chalk graffiti on my college campus were blown out of proportion, I confess that was out of line and that I remained insensitive to the legitimate fears of the people (which have only grown in light of our new president). I was in the wrong, and I hurt them, even if that wasn’t my intent.

I own that mistake and apologize for it.

I revisit these thoughts in light of the recent drama surrounding Pewdiepie and the anti-semitic accusations against him. I see that his content has hurt others, and I see him paying for his mistakes. But I also see that his content was taken out of context and manipulated. So it makes me think.

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This is the face of an antisemite (and this is sarcasm). (Photo credits here)

So perhaps I should amend my question. How big of a role does context play? What do we do with free speech when the intent was not malicious? Does the message matter more than the intent, and what does one do when the original message is twisted out of existence or disappears completely?

But that’s a question that I don’t really know how to answer, so I shall leave that for you and for others to decide.

Thanks for listening.

-D

Return to Regularity

Entry #1 – February 18, 2016

Dear Kath,

While I came to terms with the fact that you are gone a long time ago, I still have a lot of things on my mind and a lot to say. So I hope you don’t mind if I address some of these thoughts to you.

The one thing that I want to work on at the moment is a sense of regularity and consistency. During 2016, I’ve written less than I ever had, I’ve read less than I’ve ever had, and I’ve had the lowest amount of motivation that I’ve had in years. It feels everything I’ve built up and learned in the past few years has come crumbling down.

So the only thing I can do is build again. I have to learn the right lessons this time around, and I have to build up the good habits that I struggled to learn before, and I have to be better. And one of the things I’d like to rectify is not writing regularly. So this (daily? I don’t know how often this will update) journal will help with that.

Regularity. I think you’d like that (Remember when you wished me a normal life with a family and crazy in-laws and a white picket fence?). But before I even think about the future (whatever it is I want or will want), I should focus on the present.

In one of my low points, I wrote you a much more detailed apology. But for the sake of completion, and of moving forward, I want to apologize again for driving you to leave.

I understand why you did what you did.

I hope you’ve found some happiness and satisfaction in your life that we both lacked when we knew each other.

And I’m sorry. I hope I can honor you in how I live the rest of my life and in this work, which I address to you.

-D

flower in the fountain

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Photo credits to Jewlsies (jewlsies.tumblr.com)

He experienced everything.

His feet felt the cobblestone. It was strict, unforgiving, solid ground marred with straight borders outlining each brick. He stepped gently, as if at any moment, a stone might break through the thin canvas of his shoes and stab his heel.

He knew it wouldn’t though. The passage of time and all those people who had treaded where he now walked had worn the road much smoother than the coarse bricks that made up the houses in the tight alley around him.

He heard the scattered chatter of the people around him. Laughter, arguments, and desperate tourists trying to discern directions permeated him and he understood the arrhythmic taps of every step someone took overlapping with one another.

He breathed in the crisp air, tinged with the smell of cream sauce and the smoke of the grills inviting him to a feast. Oh, he wanted to just sit down so badly, or perhaps even go running in the sunset, away, away from his final destination. But he tiptoed on, wishing that he could still feel the burning tears cool on his cheek as they were buffeted by the air.

But he was at the end. He felt nothing and no tears came.

As he finally arrived at his destination, the maw of the path opened up into a large, rectangular courtyard lined with buildings and benches and geometric, perfectly cut patches of grass. And at one end, opposite a tan bricked building with wall-sized glass windows, was what he was here to see.

He took a seat at the stone basin of the fountain. He didn’t mind the occasional spatter of water as the fountain’s spouts continued to shoot water into the full fountain. Reaching into the pockets of his jet-black coat, he pulled out a single chrysanthemum. He twirled it around his finger tips, admired the many pink petals before leaning down. Leaving one hand on the slightly wet off white concrete of the basin rim, he gently set the flower down in the water with his other.

As it floated away merrily along the ripples of the fountain water, he smiled.

This was goodbye.

And she was finally free.

-a flash fiction to say goodbye