It’s 11:13 in the p.m. I figure if I’m still up, then maybe you should be up as well. If you’re off in your own world NaNoing, then maybe NaNo to this.
My wife just told me about how somewhere some dude walked into a church and shot and killed twenty some-odd people.
She talked; I listened. And I thought about that particular event in the whole of humanity. It’s interesting to think about what motives people have for doing the things they do. I’m not singling out murder here, but since that’s the item d’jour, that’s what I’m thinking about in particular.
The Universe/God/Allah/Life/The Cosmos (whatever you want to call it) functions the way it will function and it will continue to function regardless of how angry we get over it. That’s the way it’s been for forever and that’s how forever it will be.
It’s all a judgment – the finest of lines between despair and joy.
Wow – every day’s a gift.
Chaz already had the classroom stunned with his temerity of walking in smoking a cigarette. “Young man, you cannot just walk in here and -“
Chaz waited for Mr. Huggis to get close enough before he blew the smoke from his first two puffs right in his face. The math guru (and he was at that – it wasn’t a rumor that the mayor had offered the man the key to the city after his fifteenth year of teaching) closed his eyes but did not back away.
Chaz kept blowing until every drop of smoke was in the teacher’s face. “Now look here, Mr. Numbers, time is just not on our hands today. You can lock me up and toss the key if you’d like, but I will request that you wait until after I’ve done what madness this occasion has graced me with first. And, my god, what a glorious position we have placed me in today.” He flicked the cigarette out of eyeshot somewhere off to one of the inactive areas of the classroom before Mr. Huggis’s eyes opened.
“Now listen up,” Chaz went on. “There’s some shit about to go down and I think it’s high time you all know about it.” If the classroom had ever experienced a quieter moment, it wasn’t in the record books.
“I’ve decided we should have a field trip today.”
“Oh, you decided, did you?” Mr. Huggis coughed out his contempt while still waving away the smoke. He stood now on the other side of the room and crossed his arms over his chest. “No, this is ridiculous. Insane! We’ll see how Principal Davis approves of your field trip.” He used air quotes as he rushed back across the room to ht other side where the main door of the classrooms was.
“Nope, nope,” Chaz said. “Sorry, Mr. Huge; can’t do that right now. Not really what the message was.”
Mr. Huggis reached the door and yanked in frustration. In one motion, the door handle flew off and the instructor flung himself several steps back before he tripped over the metal mesh rubbish can right by his desk and landed with significant lack of grace face-down across his wooden floor. When his body stopped, the classroom roared with laughter.
Chaz let the natural reaction play out before he gave a clap and turned back to the class, exhaling another puff from his cigarette before tossing it behind him, the butt of which smacked against a well-washed blackboard and fell to the floor, rolling to stop underneath Mr. Huggis’s ear.
“So, check it out, we’re going to be descending into one of the sub-pits of Limbo today. The bossman wants us to come down, have a chat, ask some questions; he wants to meet you is what we’re going for here, so if there are no questions…”He reached into his left jean pocket and extracted a small BIC lighter as a hand shot up from the back of the class.”
Chaz nodded in the direction. “Yes?”
“Don’t you mean, Hell?”
“Ah, no it does not. It means Limbo. Limbo means Limbo. Hell is different. Hell is Spanish; Limbo is Portuguese. They’re different things, but it’s easy to confuse one for the other. You with me? Now, let’s get to it.” He held out his hand and flicked the lighter with another hand shot up from the front row. “Umm…” Peggy Dawots always wore a perfectly-pressed school uniform. Golden curls bounced in pigtails and braces flashed as her hand went up.
“Yes, Peggy.” Chaz said, dropping impatiently the hand with his lighter.
“Okay, so my best friend, Carey, his grandma saw someone once do what I think you’re going to do right now.
“None,” said the girl. “And, umm, I was wondering if it’s safe.”
“Is what safe?”
“The trip? I mean you are playing with fire, and you know what the rule is about playing with fire.”
Chaz smirked and pointed at her. “Great point. And, yes, of course I know what the rule is for playing with fire. It’s don’t-forget-to-add-gas. Right? Okay, here we go. No more questions? No one else is gonna piss on my campfire, here? Let’s just get down there, snap some Instagrammies, and come on back to the classroom to have a great rest of the day with,” he looked back. Mr. Huggris steadily rolled onto his knees. “With this guy.”
The lighter came out again and Dusty Banes’s hand shot up from three seats back from Peggy. He sneezed loudly, covering his mouth, but missing the excess which was lost in Peggy’s curls.
“Yes! Christ, for shit’s sake, Dusty, what is it? Just ask when we get down there. What?”
“Oh no,” Dusty said quietly. “No, I just sneezed.
Chaz pulled back and slouched, giving Dusty a look of incredulity. “So you didn’t just raise your hand?”
“No, I did,” Dusty said. Freckles on his pale fat face seemed to sprout more just from being in the conversational spot light.
“No, no,” Dusty said giving a humble smile. “No, my arms go up when I sneeze.”
Chaz simply stared at the kid for several seconds. Giggles bounced around the room.
“We’re going,” Chaz said.
In one quick motion the lighter was out and Chaz held it over the center of the room. “Chaal’am Taeku!” He yelled. Then let the lighter fall.
From below the floor, orange winds rose and consumed the wood from below. Within seconds a circle of heat ate the room’s floor and howled in a circle of fire and wind. The hair on the children’s heads rose and flailed about. Chaz stood there, shielded his blinking eyes with his arms and yelled to the class.
“Don’t worry; it’s not hot. It just had to get through the floor.”
“Everything’s burning!” Peggy yelled. Dusty’s wide cheeks filled into a smile and he was already volunteering before Chaz asked who the first volunteer would be.
The class stood from their desks and lined up behind Dusty one by one.
On three, here we go!” Chaz said.
“But it’s scary!”
“No, it’s not, Violet. Just looks scary. It’s cozy. Just…just go.”
Dusty jumped. The class followed.
The fiery hole into the nether sucked in on itself and closed. And Mr. Huggis stood and looked upon the quiet empty classroom. He coughed and turned toward the knobless classroom door.
Field trip indeed!
Being a writer sometimes means saying shit you just don’t think the masses will agree with and letting them disagree. Going with the flow, with the grain of the wood, is always the safer avenue to take, but isn’t necessarily the one your moral sled dogs will leap at.
Here’s a bit of me on some topics that are bouncing around our current social consciousness. The caveat emptor here is that I don’t know about any of it. I’m not by any means au courant on the scholarly articles addressing these issues, but I also know that no one has to be. I’ll just be the writer, do the work and know that what I end up saying is something that people will judge one way or another for whatever reason. That’s just what people do, right? All you can do is be true to yourself.
Inclusion, equality, and inclusivity – huge topics on the sociopolitical board in recent times, and the reality is the sense of it all is likely heightened because of the recent election of the current American President. I’m not here to talk about him or gripe or anything politically active like that; I’m just not that person. I’m just noting an observation. I’ll start by saying I don’t believe everyone has to be included in works of art. They just don’t. There is no rule out there that mandates we have to be “fair.” That word, ‘fair’, is a human fabrication. There’s no rule book to life that says we have to do anything – one way or another.
At the same time, I’m not saying that it doesn’t feel good to be included; but that’s not the issue. The issue around the nation is that I feel there’s this movement that people HAVE TO include certain other people. It says that everyone should be included. We should all include everybody else because they’re not you. Include them because they’re: black, yellow, green, purple, male, female, short, tall, fat, skinny, uneducated, poor, uneducated, unhealthy, have different viewpoints, come from different cultures, dog/cat owners, multilingual, Lady Gaga lovers, horse-haters, puppy-kickers, and so on ad nauseam. Include them all. All doors are open; everyone’s welcome.
Guess what, I don’t leave my door open at all times of the day for anyone to walk in whenever they want. <shakes head vigorously> It’s my house, not public park. Doesn’t work that way.
Okay, so there seems to me to exist an implicit understanding that we (artists) haven’t been including “the other” on purpose for ages. I would challenge this. I don’t have the proof on me, but I’d be willing to wager that “the other” has guest-starred in art since art’s debut way back to who-knows-when. This isn’t something we have to look up now, but I guess is that the data’s there when you’re ready. I get the feeling that the lack of inclusion isn’t the issue here, but wanting the masses to “like you.” And that makes sense. Humans enjoy the feeling of being included, of people liking us. Yes. I completely agree with and understand that. But hey, check out that elephant there in the middle of the room – people aren’t always going to like you. It will never happen 100% of the time. Never. I’ll take that bet.
The aforementioned goes especially for artists. You’re an artist, guess what? You’re playing the lute to an audience of skeptics and “beauty analysts.” Yes, general analysts of a subjective concept. You’re just not going to with with everyone.
BUT! … You will always with with SOMEONE! Even if that someone is only you, there is always someone out there who loves your stuff! That fan could fall anywhere in the color schema of humanity and they love it.
Look. There’s no rule out there that says in life we have to play fair. In fact, once we (society, political institutions, Big Brother) start making it a rule that we have to play fair, then we lose our ability to love what we choose. Once we start telling citizens how they have to play fair, (depending on the topic – or always?) we’re placing more restrictions on the citizens within that country.
At the same time, I’m not saying it’s okay to be a dick, either. If you don’t want someone to join your Easter Egg hunt, that’s fine. It’s your party, but there are understandable reasons and not-all-that-understandable reasons for this. In the end though, it’s still your party. You don’t want to include people, you don’t have to. Period. We were taught the rule on sharing (ideally – if we had parents who made an active effort to bring that to our attention and tattoo it on our hearts. As adults, I think it’s ridiculous that we have to be told this.
None of this is the issue. The issue, as I see it, isn’t inclusion; it’s kindness/compassion. If I wanted to, I could totally play the politically correct game and smile and open my door to everyone. “Look,” I’d say, “I’m being the friendly inclusive patriot of the good ol’ U.S. of A! Come on in, y’all! Yee haw!.” Shit, you could mandate me to “include” someone all you want, but let’s remember two things:
Thing 1: The kid who gets his mom to make the other kids include him loses respect when mommy walks away.
Thing 2: My inclusion of you does not mean we are suddenly best friends.
I could be a total asshole and still include you (to make mom happy, to make people see me in a better light; to boost my sales, etc). But none of my including you says I have any more of an intrinsic desire to form a closer bond with you.
As a writer, I don’t feel obligated to put a check mark in the inclusivity box while creating something. Here’s the deal, I (artists) are going to be criticized. Why? Because whether I identify a certain way or not, it’s not necessarily how I see myself here, but how other people see me (using their own backgrounds, potential prejudices, and stereotypes) which lends itself to how those around me label me.
In my life, I have worked with a Skittles packet of humanity; skin color, gender, religion, etc., were not determining factors. The apparel did not proclaim the man, as it were. What did make a difference was their respective characters. Were they good people? Did they give of themselves instead of asking to receive? The more the kid in the corner whines about not being able to join the fun, the less the kids at the game table want to let him in. Patience and quiet perseverance, on the other hand, kindness, honesty/trueness to oneself are the sweeter sounds to which our kind has a greater proclivity to listen. Whining is regression. Art is, as a potential definition, the expression of spiritual progression.
The plumage of our art loses its luminescence when it yields to the mandates of a manmade system. It becomes listless, dull, sick. It’s some dead fowl whose once pretty wings now quickly fade as they flip and flop on the side of some construction-laden highway of mediocrity. A dead phoenix attracts the same attention as a dead vagrant. Dead is dead. Yesterday’s beauty can’t bribe enough to step on today’s stage.
Make your art the way your art cries to be made. You don’t have to be white to write white, just as you don’t have to be transgendered and Laotian to write transgendered and Laotian. Art is art and it comes through you as it is. It will be ridiculed, laughed at, derided, scoffed at, discarded, and potentially ire-fueling. In the same moment it can be uplifting, life-changing, motivating, and inducing laughter, beauty, and song.
Critics are like roaches, and in saying that I don’t imply they can live for three days without their heads; though that may be questionable. The point is if you sit around and listen all the time to what the social club-toting Neanderthal threatens you to do.
No, you don’t have to include; you don’t have to do anything.
Be kind; be true to yourself; keep your pearlescent wings flapping over those highways. You be you; let them be them. It’s that easy. There are no rules up here.
Depending on who you ask, I think it’s rather accurate to posit that it’s how you perceive things that determines how the thing is defined for you.
For quite a while I was working on a manuscript, and I was up around 95,000 words. For someone who doesn’t write all that often, that’s quite a lot. For someone who writes, this amount may or may not be a lot. For me, it’s a pretty good amount, but I’m not crying over it. While the story may still be in the proverbial cloud somewhere, but it’s not all that important that I find it now – at least that’s what I believe. I’ll find it when I need to find it, and that’s that.
I haven’t written in some time – written at length, that is. But here I am. I thought I would make it a commonplace habit to write at least once a week. You have to, right? If you don’t, when are you going to write?
So what’s been happening? I’ve relocated. We’re still in the process of setting up the house and that’s coming along. It’s a process, moving, and one which generally requires a certain degree of patience.
Jer and I are still reading the Wheel of Time. As of this writing, we have just completed the Fires of Heaven, and are going back to the prequel of the series in our homage to one of the main characters who seems to have been killed off in the most recent book.
All right. This post is officially cut short because bro is up five chapters on me and I get to play catch up.
Yesterday’s a story,
Perfect skin, curious. frolics in the garden
Today that boy is me,
The man who once had it all figured out,
Crossed fences, opened doors,
Knew what it was about,
But yesterday was now…just moments ago,
And if then was now, then now is…
And tomorrow…Damn. Tomorrow.
It must be late,
It’s dark outside.
I sit here wondering, maybe dreaming of a garden.
Jer and I have rolled through Book V of the Wheel of Time series. Damn. I’m still surprised we are where we are. I’ve tipped my hat in this direction before, but if you’ve never read the Wheel of Time and you’re into fantasy and terrific writing, you’d be in for a treat. The yarn Jordan spins is well worth the time.
Check out our progress Across the Wheel and join in if you’re up for it.