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Set in darkness

I have some deep, dark fears lurking in the shadowy corners of my mind. Like Cristian said, I ignore them most of the time. But I have been trying to carefully, gently, shed more and more light on these issues so I can deal with them and grow. The one thing I never want to be is monotonous. Stagnant. This post really spoke to me today.

The Foreigner

The Foreigner Ch.9: Jessick’s Country

Like a person, the countryside has all different faces and flavors. It can be the glory of the great Earth, with sparkling waters and rolling green hills. It can be daunting and mysterious with dead trees rising above you in the night, their jagged edges stabbing the dark sky.

In the morning it is quiet, like the most precious secret. The soft rays of the early sun brush feather strokes on the hovering mist, turning it from silver to gold as time seems to stand still. From a high perch, one can watch the mist rise in curtains, making the great ascension from their early morning grave to the white fluffy clouds in the heavens.

For Jessick, it is mostly simple and dirty. There was mud, the occasional waste of the animals, swarms of gnats and sticky sap from the trees. Her skin scuffed with dirt, her hair matted, the knees of her jeans green with grass stains. There is always that decision to make: should I keep my careful distance from the great wild, my hair clean and tame, my boots protecting me from the dirt, or should I just give into it and let it take me over? As a child there was no question: let’s dive in! She ran, she rolled, she skidded, she swam. Now, as well-composed adult, she preferred to only allow the great country just a step in her door, a breeze through her window. Even enjoying a day outside with a paintbrush in her hand, she wonders how, as a child, the mosquitos never bothered her. Perhaps there weren’t as many back then.

Bright green eyes greet the late-morning sun with a shine of their own. A faded tee-shirt hides a short, medium-sized frame. Old jeans that still fit just right show off her curvy figure, ending in frayed edges around her boots. She stands in the great outdoors, a broad field stretching across several acres. Several yards behind her is an old country home which is two and a half stories tall with a porch that wraps all the way around and has a built-in gazebo.

She drinks tea from a mason jar and sets it on a make-shift table: an old box. Her palet is a recycled piece of vynil from an abandoned, tattered grill cover, now holding pools of paint in blues, greens and browns, dashed by random streaks and swipes where she has pulled colors and mixed them together. The painting shows a countryside but not the one in front of her. Instead it depicts a field with a pond and a nearby line of trees; the beginning of a forest.

She smiles and takes another drink, lifting her brush to add some blue to the sky, making white whisps for clouds. With another brush, she adds a hawk flying high, searching for prey.

She steps back for a moment, using one small hand blotched with dry paint to sweep chocolate-brown locks of hair from her brow.

“Jessick!” An old man yells across the field, standing in the doorway, leaning on a cane, “you have a phone call!”

“Oh bother,” she says, tossing her brush on the vynil. With her old, clunky boots, she trots through the dry summer grass, entering the door open door into a clean, sunny, kitchen with wood floors and a large island. Her cell phone is on the island and she picks it up.

“Sanders.”

“Jessick. Hi. My name is Theo Montgomery and I have a proposition for you.”

“I’m listening,” she says, perking up an eyebrow.

“I don’t know if you remember, but we worked together years ago during the Reform.”

“Oh, Ted! I didn’t realize it was you. The Truth Behind the Movement was a great film to be involved in. What can I do for you?”

“Well, Jessick, I have another project. It is government-related, but small time. Well, small government… big project.”

“If you think it’s interesting, I’m in.” She reaches for a sip of tea and realizes she left it outside.

“Well, you might have not have as much creative freedom as I’m sure you’d prefer. But I think the project could use your insight. The location is–well not TOP secret, but an off-the-map research facility.”

At this point Jessick’s eyes and mouth are hanging wide open. Secret research. Government facility. She gets a hold of herself.

“Yes? And the subject of your film?”

“Well… it’s a complicated situation. They’re doing research on a recent discovery, but they want it documented professionally. Not just a bunch of amateur hand-held crap. You know, something tasteful. Something for the history videos. I can tell you more when we meet–that is, if you’re interested.”

“Ted, I can hardly define just how much interest I have right now. I tend to get a little overwhelming when I get excited, so let me stop talking before I embarrass myself.”

The man on the other side of the phone chuckles affectionately.

“Well, hell, when can we meet?”

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From Dawn till Dusk

When you write in short bursts, change and rearrange some segments, and patch them together, you sometimes end up repeating or contradicting yourself. I’m going over my draft of The Foreigner, still patching some things together and smoothing over the bumps, and sometimes I run into hilarious contradictions.

In the chapter I’m looking at, the character is on a train and I go into a lengthy description of the sunrise and the morning air. After what I specifically describe as a short ride, he watches as The last light of the sun burns bright orange on the horizon, soon becoming blood-red, fading into russet, and finally the dark, velvety blue of the night sky, now twinkling with stars.

Hmm… that was a short day.

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True Love

People used to tell me, “Lower your standards.”

“Get out more.”

I’d tell them, “I’d rather be single than compromise.” But that was in my twenties–when I was more confident.

As a young girl, like any other girl, I wanted more attention from boys. Actually, I wanted ANY attention from boys. There were certain limits to what I would do; like wear pink, bat my eyelashes, etc. But I was extremely awkward and very uncomfortable with myself and romance and boys.

One Halloween, while I was in high school, I was late choosing a costume as usual, but I HAD to have a costume because I live for the stage (though I am never on one–ah, life is a stage, and I dress appropriately.) Browsing the over-priced selection at Party City (this was before the Spirit days,) I figured I had to get something from the adult section because I was tall for my age. It didn’t occur to me that there is one goal to contemporary main-stream Halloween costumes: Sex appeal.

So I got a really neat-looking “mummy” outfit because I didn’t want something hella cliché like a witch or a pirate wench. It had leggings and arm-warmers, which I was really excited about. Not until I was dressed and at school did I realize how short the skirt was. I’m surprised I didn’t get kicked out.

But something happened to me that never happened before.

I got hit on.

Buy a guy.

Actually two different guys in the 15 minutes since I’d arrived.

“Oh,” I said, “I get it now.”

I ended up going home and changing, because I felt uncomfortable, but after that I played around with dressing more saucy: Shorter skirts, tighter jeans, etc. And I attracted some guys, but they were the WRONG guys. So I realized I was putting off the wrong messages, that these messages were not true to my desires, and I went back to dressing like good old normal dorky me.

Over time, I became more and more comfortable with myself. I learned the difference between being attractive and being “sexy.” I learned to be true to myself and wait for someone who would love me for me.

Ten years after the Halloween debacle I found the love of my life.

It was worth the wait.

Inspired by Daily Prompt.

The Foreigner

The Foreigner Part 2 (ch.8) Blake and Martin

A note from me: Yes, there is more Foreigner! Nothing in the way this story is structured was planned ahead of time, so I am still figuring out how to present it. It would have been better to initially present the first 7 chapters as “Part 1” or a prologue. But it’s not like an optional prologue. Are prologues usually optional? Anyway, thank you for continuing this journey with me. Unfortunately the story has still been copied and pasted in too many various text editors, so off to code I go 🙂 Enjoy!

*~*~*~*~*

WARNING This chapter contains obscenity, and is not work or child safe.

“Benjamin Taggart, a local fisherman in the small city of Pittenweem, Scotland, has become a household name for many over the last few days. But we just received this footage showing that Mr. Taggart was last seen running madly along the beach, holding a bundle believed to be the alleged creature which he was supposed to reveal to the public…”

CLICK

“OK, today for our Weird News, we go to a crazy video posted this morning, which has gained over 3,000 views on Youtube. Apparently this man is supposed to have discovered some kind of creature, I don’t know have you heard about this, Ted?”

The other man laughs. “Ah, I saw a little blip about it somewhere. It didn’t really catch on, but some people think he found an alien–”

“From outer space?” The first man interrupts incredulously.

“From outer space!” His co-anchor confirms, and continues, “–Discovered… ah… washed up on the beach by this man in Scotland.”

“Well, that is hilarious, but even more hilarious is the fact that he apparently went mad and was caught on film running across the beach holding… something. Looks like some rolled up clothing or a blanket or something. And the last thing you see is him running out into the water.”

“You know, Ted, anyone with any sense knew this whole thing was a hoax. And this just proves it. It’s just another kid trapped in a flying saucer: It’s people trying to get attention on the internet. I feel bad for all those X Files buffs who –” The man starts laughing again, “–will be sorely disappointed!” They both laugh together and the television clicks off.

The man holding the remote continues to stare at the television. He is short and stalky, though well-built, with a square forehead and square jaw. Usually pristine, his short dark hair looks ruffled and his tie is sloppily tucked into a white button-up shirt covered in wrinkles and creases. His lop-sided shiny metal nametag reads “W. Blake.”

The other man in the office sits in a rolling chair, leaned forward with his head in his hands, looking similarly tired and distraught. His light-colored ginger hair is sprawled atop a comically long face. He looks up, not making eye contact with the shorter man or the television, but stares off into space. His almond- shaped green eyes are bloodshot and accentuated with dark circles. His name tag reads “I. Martin.”

“Shit,” The first man says, finally lowering his arm, tossing the remote into a mess of papers.

They both sit in silence for several minutes. The office, usually decently chic and neatly arranged, is currently covered in disarray. Papers cover the two desks and many have migrated to the floor. Some lay intact, while others have been stamped with shoe prints or rolled up under the wheel of one of their erganomical wire-mesh computer chairs.

“This could be a lot worse,” Martin offers, obviously trying to ease his partner’s rage.

“We can’t tell anyone,” Blake says, “No matter what happens, we absolutely can’t tell anyone.” There is a note of panic in his voice.

“Wulfric, relax. No one believes this guy,” The red haired man replies tiredly.

“No!” The other man yells, banging his fist on the desk, “I will not relax! There is no solution! This is a catastrophe! Best case scenario: We are out of a job!”

Martin looks at him darkly.

“Panicking is not going to help. Come on… sit down.” He turns in his chair and reaches for the mini-fridge, popping the door open, “Have a beer.”

Hours later, as the setting sun casts a blazing yellow sheath of light across the office, the two of them are kicking back a couple beers. Martin has his feet propped up on his desk.

They try to keep conversation casual and off-topic, but that only lasts for so long.

“Seriously, pretty soon this will all just disappear, man, and nothing will come of it,” Martin says, as Blake starts exclaiming expletives and becoming pessimistic again.

Somehow this upsets Blake rather than calming him.

“What about the reports, MAN. What about the God-Damned research grants!”

“It flopped,” his partner says, with a dramatic shrug, “It’s gone. It didn’t work. Big deal.”

Blake huffs loudly and, after a moment, calms down. His wide gray eyes look at the floor, wild anger replaced with despair. His expression is unfitting on such a masculine face, such an otherwise professional appearance.

“Ok,” he say, “Let’s go home.” As they leave, his hand lingers on the desk for a moment, brushing over a report sitting serenly among the chaos. Under the transparent cover, the front page is broadly titled “A New Brain: A New World.”

Prompts

Personify–The New Way to Study Ancient Computers

Personify: your modern answer to mindless hours trudging through countless boring, obsolete document files, picture files, and myspace posts.

{WARNING: This post contains obscenity and excessive nerdiness}

The year is 2214, and digital technology surveyors find it more convenient to personify ancient computers, so that instead of spending long hours sifting through old text files, selfies, and e-books, they can simply speak to the computer.

From her studies, she knew the semi-completed circle with a line through it usually indicated a power button. This one was very small, a narrow silver bar with a dot that would likely hold an LED. With the appropriate plug in place, (she checked the diagram displayed on her lap desk just to be sure,) she pressed the button. Sure enough, the little clear dot lit up.

Janna scoffed at the prosaic design, the bulky machine and its magic little lights.

Once it booted up, she loaded the Personify program. Luckily this computer fell within the 2005-2033 range, when they had a little SD card slot. The Personify program had been converted onto an SD card just for such machines.

As the program loaded up, she opened her visi-pad and set it on the table next to the old laptop. Lasers worked under a transparent surface, and soon a holographic image was drawn, line-by-line, from the glass surface upward, until a miniature human was standing in front of her.

Depending on the settings, a user could select a generic avatar, or one representing a famous person, a selection of amusing cartoons, or the user’s own appearance. But, for research purposes, Janna enjoyed talking to Personify’s approximation of what the computer’s owner actually looked like. Ever since the early 2000’s, most people living in modern society had thousands of pictures on record. Thousands. That was a lot of data to go on. The figure in front of her was slender and tall for a woman, from the looks of it. Her face was long with a narrow chin, long nose, and almond-shaped eyes.

“Name?”

“INAPLACEANDTIME.”

“Conception?”

“Hewlet Packard. August 2012.”

Janna blew out a long breath. 2012, this thing really is more than a century old. She smiled. Let’s have some fun.

“Open text files. Random document.”

“November 5th,” the hologram dutifully announced, “2014.”

Janna took in an anticipatory breath as the small representation opened its mouth. She was confused, however, when it began speaking in a robotic iambic pentameter:

Accio-my-jam-bitch,

Imperio-your-ass,

Ne’er mind that’s forbidden,

I-got-more-class-than-that.

AVIS up in this bitch,

the bird is the word,

I-silencio-you,

Before you’re bullshit is heard,

SO – NOR – US

Everyone can hear me,

Occulus reparo,

I got something you want to see.”

Janna drew her eyebrows toward each other and stared at the hologram in silence. What is this… song? Partially in Latin? Latin poetry didn’t usually contain rude language. She pondered. But then… those specific Latin words struck a chord in her memory. Weren’t the magical spells in that old folk tale from the early 2000’s in Latin? The one about wizards?

Harry Potter! She knew about Harry Potter. Most of her friends read it as children. The History Appreciation Museum was putting on a stage production–reimagining it as a space saga where all the characters would be androgynous beings and the dialogue would be completely monotone.

Some of her friends were just in a chat about possibly going.

“Hmm.” In 2014, it seemed, primitive peoples were still writing songs about widely spread cultural stories. She took some notes and made sure to rent the computer for further research.

What else did this strange person save on her computer?

“Next document,” she said.

****
This was a very off-the-wall response to a Daily Prompt.

***Post edit: Ohhhh my god… I still can’t believe I published that. But you know…. all in the name of candid.***

Life

My Morning With Depression

You could say I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. Or the wrong side of my brain.

For a disclaimer, let me say that I have been mostly happy lately. The last several years have consisted of long, consistently positive times, punctuated by a few dreary occasions when my depression crept up. This morning was unexpectedly sad. The plan was to get up early and do yoga. But as I rolled out of bed after laying in for an extra hour, I found I didn’t feel like doing anything except sitting on the couch. I snapped at my boyfriend a couple times, which is very unlike me.

My good friend texted me.

One thing every person suffering from depression needs is a friend who understands depression.

When she asked how my morning was going, I answered honestly. “Shitty.”

“What’s wrong?” I used to hate this question. I didn’t want to face my problems or my feelings when I was younger, but now I appreciate it as an opportunity to put my issues into words and hopefully find solutions.

I explained that I felt like I had no direction in life (which is usually what my anxiety attacks break down to.) There are two compents to depression in my experience. One is the whole chemical imbalance thing: feeling sad for no good reason. But, while the emotions can fluxuate and quickly become escalated, I don’t feel like they are completely groundless. In my case, at least, I found deep-seated fears and anxieties that were at the base of my mood swings.

Before my friend kindly consoled me, I went out onto the porch. It was a beautiful day. I love the sun reflecting on the leaves on the trees towering over my neighborhood, the soft whisper of the wind passing through. It’s been chilly, but today was warmer, and before noon the temperature was perfect. I felt instantly calmer. I thought of a couple things I might accomplish today. By the time I went back inside, I felt better.

An hour later I went on a walk with my neighbors–some really wonderful friends of mine as well as friends of theirs whom I don’t know, and their kids. I got into a long conversation with one of the women.

While trying to explain my situation to this new friend, I found myself putting my whole situation into words in a way that it made more sense to me, which resolved my anxieties and questions from earlier.

And the rest of my day was pretty great.

I had some new insights, read an interesting article, thought about life, and printed out some more Passion Planner pages, which always makes me feel better about life! I think it is amazing that I can wake up absolutely hating life, and then go on to have a really great day.

Life

PhilosoFREE

Philosofreedom

Philosokingdom

The philoso fee

of your thoughts is free

You can’t take free speech away from me.

*I thought of this little poem while trying to conceive a new title for my blog, but I felt “Philosofreedom” might be a little too pretentious.

**Also, when I studied the brain in massage school, one of the purposes listed for the frontal lobe was “Ideation.” I marveled at that word. “Ideation.” Our whole world, our lives, our society, is built on “ideation.” So, just now, I wondered if “ideate” is a verb… ? One Google search told me YES IT IS. So go, my people. Go ideate today.

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Na… Blo… Po…. Mo….? National Blog Posting Month!

I discovered Nanowrimo thanks to a youtuber I used to follow called Frezned, kind of tried it in 2009, and then succeeded (50k words!) in 2013 (hence, this is where The Foreigner came from!) I was all geared up for another raucous, caffeine-infused, hair-pulling month of frantic writing but November 1st has rolled around and I have … NO idea what to write.

So I heard about NBPM about a week ago and it sparked my interest. Or rather, it called to me. This blog started as a random project and has become a discipline, an inspiration, and a link to a really awesome community. I think Nanowrimo sounds a little too ambitious considering that I completely failed to prepare any idea, prompt, or, heaven forbid, an outline relating to what I might focus my 50K words on. I have a lot of unused blog ideas, so NBPM sounds… just right.

BLOG SPRUCING
This blog needs to be spruced up.

NEW TITLE? My sister, who writes regularly for Art Practical, asked “What is the name of your blog?” I winced with my response, “Exploring worlds through words?” She honestly and candidly said, “Elgh! That’s awful!” I nodded sadly. “I can’t think of anything else!” And it’s kind of grown on me.

NEW LAYOUT? I threw the presentation of this blog together because I really just wanted to start writing. I like the colors and the simplicity of it, but the font is HUGE and very limited. I might need a more flexible layout for different projects.

GOALS! I would like to add more media to my blog: pictures and videos. If pictures don’t go well with my normal posts, I could have some posts based around photography, or using pictures for writing inspiration!